Sunday, July 31, 2022

New Journals Finished

 While my engine was out I was able to work on a few journals and finish them up. You can click on the image to enlarge them. Click Here for more examples.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Bull-ish Red In The Backwater


I wrapped my week up today fishing with John Raker and his friend Kenny King, meeting them out at the Goffinsville Park boat ramp early. The tide had been coming in for about two hours but I wanted to try Broward Island, being that we were right there. We ran down there and set up on that incoming tide and the duo of anglers began tossing shrimp and jigs to the bank and letting them fall down the river bottom. We didn't get what I was hoping for - a big bite, but John did hookup and land a Croaker. Ouch.

After making a run down the Nassau we made it down to Spanish Drop and began working a bank that had the shell already covered. Both Kenny and John tangled with some hard fighting Jack Crevalle, found another Croaker and finally John had a strange bite, set the hook, and reeled in a keeper sized Flounder -"skunk" off the boat!

We moved back up the river and switched to float rigs and here Kenny was in for the big battle. Hisfloat disappeared and his drag began to rip and the big fish headed west, then came back to the boat, then dug deep for the battle. But Kenny was up to the challenge, kept the pressure on, and eventually landed a big 4' Bonnethead Shark.

Then it was John's turn to battle the Shark. Both of his we speculated that it might be a big Redfish in that they didn't make the long, drag ripping runs. Maybe they knew it was to no avail? John brought both of the big Shark to the boat for pictures and release.

Back up the river we went, stopping at Pumpkin Hill and drifting floats along a flooded grass bank. They were getting some good nibbles and finally John hooked up and landed a keeper sized Seatrout, and then a small (small) Flounder. Kenny added a nice sized Mangrove Snapper to the box.

We were running low on time but luckily the tide was just changing so we moved back down the river to my new Super Secret Spot! This week alone we had caught 4 Oversized Redfish, in addition to 4 Slot sized Redfish at this spot and I was hoping that today we'd add some more. Both John and Kenny were getting good drifts and some good bites right off the bat, but no takers. I switched them to mud minnows hoping that would help but, no takers. John had went to the live well and picked out the biggest Shrimp left - there were only about a dozen. He made a good cast to the bank - it stuck on a submerged oyster shell, but when he tugged it off it slowly went back under. John tightened up and let the circle hook do it's thing and, Big Fish On!  It made such a long, hard, drag ripping run that we were thinking it was another shark - but then we saw it boil up in the shallows and knew that it was a big Redfish. John was patient with the fish, played it perfectly and after a long battle, landed Oversized Redfish #5 - one that measured right at 32", and big enough to move John into first place in the Anglers Mark 2022 Bragging Rights Tournament -Redfish Category(scroll down the right side of this report for standings).

And we weren't finished!  We only had a few shrimp left so we kept fishing and were down to the last shrimp and minnow and John had the same thing happen - his bait hung on an oyster, came off and BAM! Fish On! After a good battle John landed a Slot sized 23" Redfish! Five Oversized Reds and Five Slot Reds at the same spot this week. Now that's the way to wrap up a great fishing trip here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Super Grande Slam for Young Anglers

 I was  up north this morning - the first time in quite a while. I met Hope McCall and her two sons Bekk and Knox early, with clear, sunny skies to greet us. We headed north and west and over to Jolly Rive and set up along the "bank" and began to fish float rigs and live shrimp. The trio of anglers landed a Croaker and a couple of hard fighting Jack Crevalle.

We moved further up the river and worked another stretch and here Bekk hooked up and landed a nice Black "puppy" Drum. Knox had a strong bite -his line ripped and BAP, the whole leader was gone! It was a big one!  After running back to Tyger Island we fished a stretch and here Bekk hooked up, after drifting long, and landed a keeper sized Mangrove Snapper.

After running thru Tyger and around to Bell River and setting up at a grassy point, it was Knox's turn to get on the board when he caught and landed a hungry Seatrout. We then went up the Lanceford, dipped into Soap. and worked a grass line. We had one float off a grassy point and when it slowly went under, the hook was set and, Fish On! Bekk was on the rod and he worked it in patiently and after a good battle landed a really nice 17" Sheepshead - the biggest of the year, and big enough to top the category in the Anglers Mark 2022 Bragging Rights Tournament(scroll down the right side of the report for standings).

We then fished some docks over at Lanceford and picked up a feisty Redfish (a Grande Slam), then a small Flounder - a Super Grande Slam of Seatrout, Black Drum, Sheepshead, Red Drum and Flounder. It was getting hot and as we headed back we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Oversized Reds Keep Coming


I fished with the Hill trio today -Rob and his adult sons Alex and Robert -meeting them down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp early. We headed up the intercoastal, turned up the Nassau, and made our first stop at Spanish Drop. We were tossing float rigs and live shrimp to the flooded marsh grass on a high and incoming tide.

We worked along that first bank and in just a few minutes when Rob hooked up and landed a keeper sized Seatrout to "knock the skunk off" then Alex had a hook up and battled a hard fighting Jack Crevalle to the boat. Later he had made a good cast to a pointe of grass, saw his float slowly go under, set the hook, and reeled in a hungry Flounder.


fter a run further up the Nassau we pulled up at another grass bank and drifted our floats long with the incoming current. These anglers stayed pretty busy catching smaller fish, then Rob fought a big Jack to the boat then Alex had a strong bite and, Fish On! This fish was digging deep but then came back to the grass line and rolled and we knew - nice Redfish! Alex played it perfectly and after a good battle landed 21" Slot sized Redfish. We worked that area really good - fishing a pointe, fishing some grass islands, then we moved on.

Our next stop was along a grassy bank, the oysters still covered on a now outgoing tide. They got some good drifts but no takers then all of sudden we had Fish On! One rod went off and the big fish began to rip drag, heading north. Alex was on the rod and keeping the pressure on and....BAM! Rob had a big hookup - we had a "double" both anglers were battling big fish and it was Pandemonium! They were having to duck under each other, cross their lines, cross back, go to the bow, go to the stern, work around the trolling motor, work around the stern, all the time with their drags ripping! But it all worked out  - Alex landed his first - a 28.5" oversized Redfish, then Rob landed his, a 29" oversized Red. We quickly snapped pictures and released them. Boy what a battle!

Our last stop was back at Seymore's Pointe where we rounded out the day catching Mangrove Snapper, with a good handful of them being of keeper size. As we headed back to the dock we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Banner Day and Busted Bragging Rights

They only come around once in a while but when you have one of those Banner Days, you have to make the best of it, and that's what this trio of anglers did today. I had met Jay Mathews and two of his adult kids Will and Becky down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp early. The tide was still coming in, especially way up near Broward Island. so we made the run up the intercoastal, turned west and cut thru Back River and made our way around to Pumpkin Hill where we set up drifting float rigs and live shrimp with the incoming current. It only took a few  minutes and we were on fish! This trio  caught one fish after the other - fat keeper sized Seatrout, hard fighting Jack Crevalle, Ladyfish, more Trout, more Jacks, Flounder, and more Ladyfish. I think we were there for an hour and a half!

We finally moved around and fished some grassy patches and here Becky, after making an excellent cast, hooked up, battled and landed a nice Slot Redfish. Will followed that up with a hookup and battle with a large Bonnethead Shark. 

I had planned to head over to Jackstaff where we did pretty good yesterday but as we were passing a spot that I have had my eye on, I pulled up, turned into the current and we again went with the float rigs, drifted up by the grass. I knew that there was plenty of oyster shell submerged and we had the first of an outgoing tide and....BAM! They began to catch Redfish. All three anglers put Slot sized fish in the baot - Will, then Becky, then Jay. They kept going back to the same spot - BAM! Fish On! Will had a hookup and this one was BIG - it was ripping drag and heading north, so much so that we speculated it might be another Shark. But it came back, went to the shoreline, and finally boiled - Big Redfish. Will played it perfectly and after a long battle, landed a oversized 30" Redfish! This fish moved Will into First Place n the 2022 Anglers Mark Bragging Rights Tournament - Redfish Category. (scroll down the right side of this report for standings).

Not minutes later it was Becky's turn for the big fish. After hooking up her fish too ran like a freight train. But Becky applied the pressure and slowly worked it in, fought it thru multiple runs to the bottom, worked it up and after a good battle landed another oversized 28.25" Redfish, boy what a fish! We added one more Slot Redfish to the  catch and had a good handful of smaller "feisty" Redfish. caught.

After a brief stop down at Spanish Drop we headed back to the ramp and counted it as an outstanding day of fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Fish at Every Stop


It looks like the whole week is going to have pretty mornings, and today was one of them. I met Tommy Gray and his grandsons Alex and Henry down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp. We headed up the intercoastal and dipped into Jackstaff, then into a small creek and began tossing live shrimp under a float on a high tide that had just started out. Just like yesterday, it started slow - Henry had a hookup and brought to the boat hard fighting Jack Crevalle, then he landed a feisty Redfish. We eased along the bank and could see some large wakes and sure enough, Alex, after making an excellent cast to the grass, had his float slowly ease under. He tightened up his line, lifted his rod, and let the circle  hook do it's thing and, Fish On! Alex played it expertly, let it run when it wanted to, kept the pressure on, and soon landed a nice Slot Redfish. Then Henry had a strong hookup - another Big Fish one - he fought it to the boat and landed a nice 18" fat Seatrout. Then Alex hooked up  and battled another Slot Redfish to the boat.

I don't normally stay at one spot more than about 20-45 minutes but we were getting bites so we made another pass. Henry had a BIG bite, had him on for a while, then the fish tossed the hook - when Henry reeled it in we saw that the hook was bent! We picked up a few more feisty Reds, had few other big bites, caught some keeper Manrove Snapper, and when we left I noted that we had fished that spot for 1 hour and 45 minutes!

Our next stop was around at Seymore's Pointe where we stuck with the float rigs and played cat and mouse with some more Mangroves. All three anglers soon got the hand of it and boated another handful, some of which were of keeper size. Moving down the way, we fished between two docks and again - Mangrove Snapper and then Henry had a good bite and reeled in a keeper sized Flounder. We caught a good handful of smaller Flounder there, too.

The last stop was down at Spanish Drop and just when I thought the heat had run off all of the fish - BAM! The trio of anglers began to get hookups. Alex got hot on the bow of the boat and landed one feisty Redfish after another. Tommy was fishing off the stern and picking up Flounder and Jacks and Seatrout. Henry, fishing mid ship, began to catch the feisty Reds, then he had a good bite, set the hook, and Fish On! Henry kept the pressure on and fought a nice Slot Sized Redfish to the net, to wrap up another great day of fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Slam In The Box

 We had a beautiful Sunday morning when I met the Huffman group down at Sawpit Creek boat ramp-Jacob and his father Kevin and brother Gunner. We headed up the intercoastal and dipped into Jackstaff and then into a creek and set up fishing with float rigs and live shrimp. The anglers tangled with some small Ladyfish as I worked the bank, picked up a small Jack Crevalle, then Kevin, after making a nice cast to the grass line, had his float disappear. This fish was giving a weird fight and we should have known it - as it got to the boat it began to thrash and we saw it was a large Flounder. Kevin kept the pressure on and eased it to the net, and landed a nice 19.5" Flounder.- big enough to move Kevin in to third place in the 2022 Anglers Mark Bragging Rights Tournament-Flounder Category. (scroll down the right side of this report to see standings).

Then to top that, just another 30 feet down the bank, Kevin hooked up again and, Fish On! This fish was ripping drag and when it boiled up quick we knew it was a big Redfish. Kevin was working it in slowly and it made a couple of drag ripping runs but it was no match for Kevin as he patiently played it to the boat and landed a nice 23" Slot sized Redfish, boy what a fish1

We crossed over to the other side of Jackstaff and fished that stretch and picked up a couple of Seatrout, a couple of smaller feisty Redfish, then it was Jacob's turn to fight the big fish. His hit with a BAM and was off - heading east to England, but luckily the 10lb braid held and then we settled in for a long, long battle. This fish took Jacob from the stern, up the port side to the bow, around the trolling motor, back around the trolling motor, back to the stern, and back again. Jacob stayed with it and after a long battle landed a 4' Bonnethead Shark. Now that was a battle!

After running thru Horsehead we made our way down to Twin Creeks and fished those two drainages, again catching a few small Seatrout and Redfish and Jacks, then we moved up to Seymore's Pointe and lost the battle to Mangroves and Pinfish - they're getting sneakier! But Gunner added another fish to his "catch count" when he hooked up and expertly landed a Stingray.

Our final stop was down at Spanish Drop, fishing with mud minnows and shrimp. Both Jacob and Gunner caught some fat "almost legal" Seatrout and Kevin rounded out his "Slam in a box" when he hooked up and landed a legal Seatrout. The sun was up and it was getting hot but as we headed back we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Friday, July 22, 2022

Puffer Fish, Multi-Spot Reds and Slot Reds

 I wrapped up my week today fishing with Eddie Byrd, his son-in-law Mike and grandson Bobby, meeting them down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp. We made the run up the intercoastal, dipped into Jackstaff, and eased into a side creek to set up fishing float rigs and live shrimp to the grass on an outgoing tide. Mike got off to a hot start with a feisty Redfish catch and then he tangled with a Ladyfish. We backed over to the other side of Jackstaff, fished the bank for a stretch and here Bobby got on the board with a Redfish and Flounder catch. 

After running thru Horsehead we pulled up at Eddie's favorite dock and fished it thoroughly, putting a good handful of Mangrove Snapper in the boat with a few of them rather  nice size, and keepable!  We then motored down the Nassau to Spanish Drop and worked thru a large drainage pitching jigs and mud minnows. We had no real bites until we came along the shell bank and then it was a light had switched! 

Mike began to catch one feisty Redfish after another, a few of them had multi-spots, and one had 29 spots! He then added a keeper sized Flounder to the catch. As we reached a bend where the water was deeper Eddie went to the bank, had a hard bite, set the hook and, Fish On!  Eddie played it perfectly and soon brought to the boat a nice 21" Slot Sized Redfish. And just a short time later, Bobby, on the bow of the boat, made an excellent cast up current with his jig and a large minnow and BAM! The fish hit so hard it came out of the water! But Bobby was up to the task, kept the pressure on, and after a good battle, landed a chunky 21" Slot Redfish.

Our next stop was up at some docks at Nassauville, fishing the jigs, to no avail. It was getting hot! We came back around to Horsehead, fished a shell bank and here Eddie put a neat Puffer Fish in the boat! Boy was it now hot! We headed back, getting some breeze blowing, and counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Getting In Some Birthday Fishing


I fished with the Millers today, Robert and Lindsey, meeting them down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp early for a half day of fishing the backwaters of Amelia Island. It was Roberts "birthday trip", and time away from the kids, so we were under pressure to catch some fish!  We ran up the intercoastal, turned into the Nassau, and made a short run to our first stop at Spanish Drop. I had a bunch of live shrimp and had caught a dozen mud minnows at the boat ramp - we went with the minnows and jigs to a large drainage on on outgoing tide. Lindsey had the first bite, played it perfectly, and landed a......Catfish!  But as we worked along the two anglers began to get into some fish and landed one feisty Redfish after another. They were all small, but fun to catch.

We then ran up to some docks at Seymore's Pointe and fished some dock pilings and here they caught a good handful of Mangrove Snapper, a few which were of keeper size. After a nice run down to Pumpkin Hill, we worked a shell lined bank for just a bit, then continued on down to Broward Island where we drifted with the current. I don't think we got but one fish, but it was a nice one! Robert had made a perfect cast to the bank and I saw that he might be "hung up", but he pulled it loose and, BAM! Fish On!  Robert played it patiently and brought to the net a nice Slot Sized 21" Redfish. 

We fished the rest of Broward and with time running out, made the run back to Seymore's where we set up  along a shell bank with the tide now coming in and drifted float rigs with live shrimp. Both Lindsey and Robert were getting excellent drifts. Robert had gone long and when we both saw his float slowly go under an move against the current, Robert tightened down, lifted his rod and let the circle hook do its thing and, another Fish On!  As Robert thought this fish I was expecting a nice Seatrout or Jack Crevalle but when he got it to the boat to be netted we saw it was another Slot Redfish - what a great way to wrap up a fishing trip here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The Two Fish Kid

 Luckily those thunderstorms are holding off until late afternoon's.  Today met Sean and Kathy Higginson and their son Judah down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp - we had clear morning skies that greeted us. After running up the intercoastal and into the Nassau, we made our first stop at Spanish Drop to fish a large marsh drainage, and then a shell bed. I gave Kathy and Judah a quick tutorial to refresh their casting and in just a short time, Kathy had a hookup on her jig and live shrimp. She patiently brought to the boat a nice Flounder. Shortly after that Sean hooked up and brought another Flounder to the boat. We eased along that bank and as we worked along that shell bed Judah had a "bump", set the hook, and had hookup. As he fought it to the boat Kathy hooked up and we had a "double". Both anglers landed their catch -Judah a Seatrout and Kathy a feisty Redfish.

We moved up the river to Twin Creeks, fished it for a bit, then made a run over to some docks at Nassauville.  It didn't take but a few minutes for me to see that this just wasn't going to work - the current, albeit almost dead low, was still ripping and any cast to the bank would result in a sweep into some dock pilings. So we moved on, making our next stop around at Seymore's Pointe.

Again, Kathy had gone in with the first cast and it paid off with a tremendous bite -Big Fish On!  But this fish was already up in the pilings and ripping drag, it pulled further thru and, BAP! Fish Off! Ouch!  But these anglers weren't to be deterred - they went back to the pilings and began to catch keeper sized Mangrove Snapper (all fish caught today were released). Eventually some small ones moved in so we moved on.

Our next stop was down at Broward Island, fishing deep with the jigs with a tide still going out. We drifted with the current, working the bank and Kathy, who seemed to have the hot hand all day, hooked and reeled in a nice Mangrove then she caught and expertly landed a nice 18" Seatrout.

It was getting hot but we wanted to make at least one more stop so we went back to where the big fish broke off, fishing some dock pilings. We didn't catch any big Reds but we did get a few more Mangroves. Judah had made an excellent cast, felt the "bump", set the hook and, Fish On! This fish seemed to be pulling harder than one of the Mangroves and sure enough, when Judah landed it, it was TWO Manroves - he had caught two fish on one hookup - a first for the Anglers Mark!  And that made for a good way to wrap up a great day of fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Drag Ripping Redfish


I launched again down at Sawpit Creek this morning, meeting Garland Clark and his son Chris early for a morning of back country fishing. I'm still breaking in the new engine but we were able to cruise up the intercoastal and then in to the Nassau, moving thru different levels of RPM's, to get to the first spot at Spanish Drop. The tide was already high and still coming in so the anglers went with float rigs and live shrimp. We worked one flooded shell bank but didn't get much until we got to a drainage, switched to jigs and baited with some mud minnows I caught at the ramp. That did the trick - Chris hooked up and landed a hungry Seatrout. After we moved down the way, Garland had a hookup on the jig and had a Trout on.

We ran down to Pumpkin Hill and drifted floats long - Chris caught a Catfish, but then, after baiting up with another mud minnow and making a perfect cast to the grass line, his float disappeared. Chris tightened up and set the hook and, Fish On!  This fish made a couple of runs, all the time ripping drag, but Chris expertly brought it to the boat, and rather quickly and I was thinking, "Nope". Surely it had some more juice and sure enough, off it went again, ripping drag. But Chris played it patiently and eventually landed a nice 23" Slot sized Redfish. We added another Seatrout to the catch before we moved  on. 

After fishing Broward Island briefly we came back to some docks at Nassauville, switched back to the jigs and got in to some rather large (for the back water) Mangrove Snapper. Although these anglers released all fish today, they could have easily kept their limit of the Mangroves. Again, we added another Seatrout before we moved on. 

After fishing Seymore's Pointe for a bit we ran thru Horsehead and fished a large drainage. The sun was up and it was getting "toasty" and after Chris put a large Catfish in the boat we called it a day, another great one to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida 

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Good To Be Back Fishing!

My first trip back from "bad engine nightmare"!  I met Len Pelletiere and his grandson Scott down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp early and we headed up the intercoastal, turned west into Back River and cut around to the mouth of Pumpkin Hill to set up fishing with float rigs and live shrimp on a high and incoming tide.

First drift, BAM! We had a fish on! Young Scott was on the rod and he quickly dispatched the fight with a expert landing of a Jack Crevalle. We drifted that stretch for a bit and Scott caught a Catfish and a hungry Seatrout. After moving around the corner Scott had made an excellent cast to a grassy island. His float drifted out and just before retrieving it, he had a bite and a hookup. When the fish headed east knew it was a Shark. Scott followed it to the stern of the boat, then back to midship, then back to the stern before we netted a hard fighting Bonnethead Shark.

We buzzed back to Seymore's Pointe, fished a large runout and here we picked up a good handful of keeper sized Mangrove Snapper, then we fished back around at Nassaville and again put some Snapper in the boat.  After buzzing thru Horsehead and fishing a drainage and picking up one more Jack, we came back to the Nassau and fished a couple of drainages there. 

Scott ended up catching another Seatrout, another keeper sized Manrove, and then he put a feisty Flounder in the boat to rap up another great day of fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Engine Installed! The Anglers Mark is Back!

I picked up the boat with a new Yamaha 200 engine Saturday morning. It's a "left hand" engine and required a left rotation propeller which I ordered about a week ago. It came in late Monday afternoon and this morning Ken Supernor with Outboard Only LLC stopped by and installed it for me.

There is a 10 hour break-in period with the first hour running the engine up to only 2000rpm's, which is really just a slow crawl. Luckily, I was able to move my scheduled trip today to Friday. I launched up at Dee Dee Bartels and "puttered" out into the sound, then back behind Tyger, then around to the Bell.  After that first hour Break-in calls for getting up on a plane (about 2000rpm's), then backing off, but never letting the engine run at the same RPM's for longer than a few minutes. I did that for another hour, running it up, dropping it down, running it up, dropping back to idle, and son on. 

I picked up Carol at Atlantic Seafood and we went out for one more hour. Hours 3-8 calls for running the engine at all RPM's, but never holding it at one level for too long. We ran it up to above 4000RPM's and back and up and back and up and got in another hour. I've got five more hours of doing that but I feel like I can fish with customers and get to where we're going - I just will need to alter the RPM level throughout the trip, but that shouldn't be too noticeable.

I've got July 18, 19 open, then August 1, 8, 10-12 open. Give me a shout and we'll get us both out on the water! 904-557-1027

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Snapper Trip Offshore

 I was invited to fish offshore this past Friday, and with my engine still not ready to go, I took the opportunity and fished the day with friends and neighbors, Brian Parent, his sons Mark and David, and Andy Melville. We left the dock downtown Jacksonville early and ran the river out, passing Mayport and thru the jetties then headed another 25 miles east. Brian had already warned us that although we had a beautiful day ahead of us, there were some predicted swells of 4-6', which would make for a rough ride. It was. 

But Brian had some "secret" numbers, handed off from his son Mark, who had sweet talked a lady friend whose dad who had some numbers,  and he scored a good spot! 

The bottom was down about 70' and it was active when Brian set his Rodan trolling motor to anchor. I was a newbie to this and didn't have a clue what needed to be done but Andy and Brian were old hands at it. They quickly cut up some purchased squid and we began to drop the bait on a 1/0 hook to the bottom and wait for a "tap". It took a while to get the hang of it but we were able to eventually catch some fresh and lively Grunts to use for Snapper bait.

Brian had some heavy spinning and bait casting reels set up with 50-65lb braided line with a swivel in between and then a 6' 80lb fluorocarbon leader and 6/0 circle hook. The Grunts were the bait of choice but we did use some cut-bait on occasion.

We hadn't been fishing for long before Mark had a strong hookup and boy was it a big fish. He fought it for a while then handed it off to his dad who finished it off, eventually cranking up a huge 35" Red Snapper! What a great way to start off a trip! I picked up a keeper sized Triggerfish, then all of us were getting bites. Andy stayed busy as "first mate", bating hooks, de-hooking fish, re-rigging rods, and in between, catching Grunts.

As the morning wore on it was evident that the youngest angler on the boat had the "hot rod". David caught and landed two really nice sized Red Snapper, a couple of smaller ones, and a shark. Mark added another Red Snapper, I battled a big Shark, then Andy put the final big Snapper in the boat. Brian wrapped things up with another huge Shark catch. 

We had a long ride back, not so bumpy this time, but when we got back closer to shore there was a massive thunderstorm hanging right over the inlet, so we hung out for about 30 minutes and let it dissipate. As we cruised down the river, heading back to town, we counted it as another great day to be fishing here in north Florida. 

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Engine Issues

 Those that follow this Report may have noticed that I haven't fished since Tuesday June 21st. On that trip I had a Grandad and his 6yo granddaughter, and we had an excellent time, fishing and crabbing and playing with the bait. But it began to get hot and the young lady had whispered to her Grandad that she was ready to go in, so we ran to the first of two crab traps and pulled it up to find a whole bunch of Conch shells with Hermit Crabs. We then eased up the river and checked the second trap and found a few nice sized Blue Crab. I had turned the engine off while we were hauling in the trap and when I went to crank it, it wouldn't start!

So I had this nice fellow and his 6yo granddaughter who had already told her granddad that she was hot and ready to go in, and my engine wouldn't crank. I knew the tide had just changed and was coming and Goffinsville Park was up river so I knew we could use the trolling motor and current to get back to the dock, but it's probably take 45 minutes to get there. Oh Boy. But luckily I was able to take the throttle out of gear, give it some gas, get it cranked, drop it into neutral, then in gear, and we made it back to the dock. Oh Boy.

Later, I had mobile marina mechanic Ken Supernor stop by and after hooking up a water hose, removing the cowling, we discovered I had a leak of water down below the Power Head.  He advised me to take it to a shop where they could really tear in to it. I dropped it off to Atlantic Coast Marine where they looked at it and advised a new engine. There is a chance that there may just be a bad gasket ($700-$1000 repair), but there also could be corrosion between the two sections ($8000-10,000 repair).

This engine is a 2016 and was one of the first 200 In Line 4 Cylinders. Yamaha had come out with the 150 and liked it so much the came out with the 200.  I've had numerous people advise me over the years "Don't ever buy the first model!".  But this 200 was lighter and seemed just right for my boat,  so I bought it.  As it turns out, evidently, these first 200's were built with some cheap(er) metal blocks. You may remember that about 2-3 years ago this engine came down with a "cracked cylinder" head. Water was leaking. At that time we elected to go with "just" the $4000 repair. So it seems those blocks/heads may only have about 3 years in them.

Finding a new engine was a week long nightmare. In addition to cancelling/re-routing trips(now up to 13), engines are very hard to find. There was a Suzuki 225 down it Lake Placid with a 2 month wait time for install. There was a couple of Suzuki 200's down in Daytona but there was a 6-week install wait time. Both would require new cables, controls, and gauges. Old Towne Marine had a 150 Mercury, which would again need new cables, controls and gauges, and didn't have the power I needed. I ALMOST went to Maitland and had a Yamaha 150 installed, but after getting advice from fellow Captains, I pulled the plug on that idea. - not enough power. There were also a good handful of false leads, phone calls, messages and Emails trying to track down an engine.

I finally talked to a big Yamaha dealer down in Tampa who didn't have any ( I could be #82 on the
waiting list) but he "knew a guy" -Beagle(that's his name) who had two Yamaha 200's. But they were called for, maybe. This dealer, Alafia Marine in Gibsonton, Florida, just south of Tampa, also had TWO white Yamaha 200's coming in. The prospect was going to decide whether he wanted the silver or white. By this time, they could have been PURPLE and I would have taken one! I got the call Thursday that the guy took the silver engines and I could have the opportunity to buy one of the white ones, a Left Hand model. Evidently, as a single engine, it doesn't matter if it's left or right. And speaking with Beagle, supposedly Yamaha is building the blocks with a better metal. Let's hope so!

The alarm was set for 5am Friday morning and after a quick stop at Gate for a cup of coffee, I was on the way to Gibsonton, and arrived just past 9am. Carol and I were already debating whether the engine would fit into the back of my truck, even with my cap open. I bet that it would but I didn't account for the huge crate the engine was encased in. Carol won the bet.  One look at my truck and Beagle and crew advised me to go rent a U-haul. Three stops later, the last being back up in Tampa, I was the proud renter of a Uhaul. After arriving back at Alafia Marine the crew quickly loaded it up, Beagle did the paperwork and I was off!

Crazy how wives seem to be always right. Carol had mentioned that driving on I-75 on the Friday of a 4th of July weekend may not be very fun. It wasn't. When I got just south of Ocala traffic came to a standstill. I put me behind about 45 minutes but I had smooth sailing once I got on 301 up to I-10, where I hit more traffic. That, along with some severe rainstorms made for some anxious moments all the way into Jacksonville, but I made Atlantic Coast Marine by 4pm. We had to wait about 30 minutes for the rain to let up but then after I backed it into a bay, their techs were able to offload the engine.

The Angler's Mark is now at Atlantic Coast along with the new engine and hopefully I'll get it back before the end of next week. Cross your fingers.