Saturday, December 31, 2022

Book Ended By Trout

 I wrapped up my week, and my year, fishing with the Averbuch's -Mark, his son Jared, and his 8yo grandson Max, meeting them down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp early this morning. And, coincidently, last year my last trip was with the Averbuch's! I even counseled them that last years' trip was going to be hard to top - we had a good trip! 

We made a short run around to the bridge at Sawpit and set up to drift slip floats and live shrimp back to the pilings and it was Max who had the first hookup, yelling "Fish On". He played it perfectly to the boat but it was not to be -the Seatrout threw the hook right at the boat! But Max wasn't to be deterred, and began to get good drifts back and it paid off. - he hooked up another one and this time landed the Trout, a keeper!  From then on he and his Grandad Mark were catching Seatrout off the stern while Jared was left on the bow to try his hand at tossing a DOA plastic shrimp - white with chartreuse tail. He did hook up an land one - another keeper. Mark had drifted long, past the pilings and into the rising sun but he saw his float go under, lifted, and let the circle hook set and Big Fish On!  He worked it slowly to the net as it dug deep a few times but eventually he brought to the net a big 21.25" Gator Trout! Boy what a fish!

Our next stop as up the Nassau where we fished some exposed shell beds on the very last of the outgoing tide with jigs and shrimp. Jared kept the skunk off by hooking up and landing a lone Trout. We continued on up the river, fished a drainage, then continued on to Bubblegum Reef where we tried our hand at losing some jigs to the structure!

After bumping over to Seymore's docks we fished deep for a bit, dropped way back and fished some abandoned pilings, then moved back up a dock after it was vacated by another anglers. Here, Jared had a strong hookup, some drag ripped, then, Fish Off! Ouch. But Jared went back with another excellent cast and again hooked up. This fish was fighting different than the Trout and sure enough, when he brought i to the surface, we saw that it was a nice 17" Sheepshead - another nice catch.

We finished the day down at some docks at Nassauville. I had thought that we had a pretty good day going already, but this was just icing on the cake. From the first cast, Jared was catching Seatrout with the jig an shrimp. Mark got in on the action and caught a few. Max, who was doing an admirable job casting (better than most teen-agers- soon found  his niche and picked up some Seatrout then he was the one that had the strange hookup. This fish was pulling hard but Max was up to the task and battled the fish to the net to land a feisty Redfish - the first one on the boat for a day. Then he teamed up with his Grandfather to battle in another Redfish, this one was digging deep- they tag teamed it and soon landed a fat 24" Slot Red - another great fish. The sun was up, the weather had warmed so as we headed back we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Mixed Bag as Temperatures Rise

Finally, a warming trend! It was just a tad bit warmer this morning and I noticed the backwater water temperatures were in the low 50's. I had picked up John Raker out at Oyster Bay marina and we eased around the corner to fish some dock pilings on the first of an incoming tide. John picked up a couple of small Sheepshead - I had a nice one on but it "threw the hook", then John landed a good handful of feisty Redfish.

We made our way down the intercoastal and turned in behind Piney Island and set up off a dock and here it was John's turn to have a big one toss the hook! But boy did that drag ripping sound good! He then caught another few of the feisty Reds, then had a keeper size Seatrout chase down his jig and shrimp - he hooked it up and landed it. Then shortly afterwards he had another strong bite, hooked it up and landed an even bigger Seatrout.

We tried our hand at some other docks, but deeper, then ran further down the intercoastal to dip into a creek where I thought for sure we'd get some fish, but that's what I get for thinking. We then headed back to Oyster Bay and counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Redfish On Fire #2

 I fished a "double" today and went out this afternoon. After having a super fine-Christmas-left-overs-ham-sandwich at the Old Town Bait and Tackle picnic tables I met Tim Parker and his son Wes with plans to try and duplicate this morning's trip. I knew it would be a struggle early with that high tide we were facing - we're just not getting any fish on the high with these cold waters (water temp was 46 this morning).  But we had a plan! We made a cold run all the way  up to the Jolley River where we eased into Snook Creek and broke out some jigs and live shrimp to fish a deep hole. Although we had a nibble or two we had not takers. We worked some grass with floats then moved up into a small creek as the tide started out and tossed the jigs again. No bites!

But the tide was beginning to move so we made a run around to Bell River and set up above a dock and here Wes "knocked the skunk off" by landing a keeper sized 17" Sheepshead. He then hooked up and landed a hungry Seatrout. I was feeling a bit better and sure enough we began to get more bites and more fish. This duo landed a couple of more Trout, one of which was keeper size, then they put a few feisty Redfish in the boat. 

The tide was really getting down so we made the run back to Eagans Creek and to the "hot dock". The  minute we were set up we began to get bites - one Redfish after the other. Most of them were 16"-17.75" but we had a few that were in the Slot, the biggest being just over 20".  We fished and caught until the sun was about to go down had to "leave them biting", but as we headed back we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Redfish On Fire

 I had a couple of days earlier this week where we struggled to get some fish so I really needed this morning! I had met Brad G. and his son Jake up at the Old Town Bait and Tackle this morning - it was fairly cool, but not as cold as the past few days. But the sun was out and we had almost no wind. We made our way over to Eagans Creek and set up to fish some dock pilings on the first of an incoming tide and from almost the first cast it was, Fish On! Both of these anglers stayed busy catching Redfish ranging from 16" up to just over the Slot of 18". They guestimated they caught at least 30 fish!   We stayed there for about 2 hours, then finally made a move. Our next stop was over at Soap Creek where we drifted float rigs shallow on a higher incoming tide but we didn't get a nibble. We wrapped up the day fishing over behind Tyger Island, fishing deep, and again, to no avail. We had a good morning but as we headed in we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Frosty Fishing

I fished yesterday afternoon, and this morning, and both trips were a bit "frosty", but the weather was beautiful otherwise!  Yesterday afternoon I met Eric Feith and his son Jonah out at Goffinsville Park on a tide that had just hit high. We fished a large drainage with float rigs, then backed off and fished deep with jigs and live shrimp; we fished the Nassauville Rocks deep, then fished Broward Island deep - Jonah did get a keeper sized Flounder. We ran down to Sawpit Creek and fished the bridge, deep with jigs and live shrimp, then fished just south of Sawpit ramp and here Jonah reeled in a hungry Seatrout.  It was kinda slow but it was a beautiful day, and we had sightings of porpoise, shore birds, and a Bald Eagle.

This morning I met Henrietta Reason and her two sons Eric and Evan down at Sawpit Creek. We made the run up the Nassau to fish some docks on the first of an incoming tide. Although the bite was slow, Evan, after making a perfect cast up to the pilings and had a good strong hookup, and Fish On! Evan patiently played it to the boat and landed a Slot sized Redfish. After moving around the corner and fishing deep with jigs, it was Henrietta's turn to have the big bite. She hooked up and expertly brought to the boat a 17" Seatrout. We fished Broward Island, both north and south, then Pumpkin Hill, deep with the jigs and shallow with the floats, then finished up over at Nassauville, fishing deep with the jigs. Again, we had a beautiful day with porpoise rolling around us and a Bald Eagle keeping a watchful eye so we counted it as two good days of fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.  

Friday, December 23, 2022

We Found A Window


We've had some seriously nasty weather the last week, mostly wind and rain, and with some cooler temperatures. I had to cancel(reschedule) Tuesday's trip and today's trip, but was able to move John Raker from Wednesday to yesterday because there appeared to be a "window" where the winds died for just a bit and no real rain was predicted.

So I met John out at the Goffinsville Park and although the forecast was correct, it still was a gloomy day. BUT, we were fishing AND it really wasn't that bad. I did add a layer 30 minutes into the trip! We first ran over to Pumpkin Hill and drifted float rigs up a against a severely flooded marsh grass. We worked a couple of areas and I don't think we had even a bite. 

But the tide was at it's peak, so we ran back around to to Seymore's Point to fish a large drainage and sure enough the tide was coming out. John was making excellent casts up current and letting his float with live shrimp drift around a corner - then he'd open his bail and let it naturally drift naturally across a submerged oyster bed and BAM! Float Gone! It took a couple of times for John to get "ready" but when he did he started hooking up Seatrout. Most were just a little over 14" but a couple were of keeper size.

*NOTE- somewhere between the house-the bait shop and the boat ramp I lost my catch net! The first fish John brought to the boat I circled the boat hunting the net but it was no where to be found! So we had to lift the Trout into the boat by the line.

We moved down the bank and fished the float again and here John picked up one more Trout drifting.We moved back up to the first spot and stayed out deep and switched to jigs and shrimp and this did the trick. We started getting bites again - a few were after we tossed the jigs up to the submerged oyster bed- you could feel the jig catch, come off, and BAM! Fish On! Again, many of the fish were just undersized but a couple were of keeper size. And those were the ones that threw the hook right at the boat as I tried to lift them in! Ouch!

We fished thru the marsh at Horsehead, around to Jackstaff, throwing the float rig, then came back to some docks at Seymore's and fished the pilings with jigs, then around to Nassauville where we wrapped up tossing the jigs in some serious current - and then we headed back to the ramp and counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Monday, December 19, 2022

Cool Trout

We had a fairly cool morning today, 46 degrees when I launched up at Dee Dee Bartels Park - but it was sunny and clear with just a breeze. James Bush and his High School buddies, Andrew and Mason,  had all met here at Amelia Island for a few days of rest, relaxation, and....a fishing trip in the back waters of Amelia Island.  We made a run north and west and over to the Jolley River and began fishing the "bank" with float rigs and live shrimp on a tide that had been going out of a couple of hours. Throwing it right into the sun made it difficult to see the float. These guys were getting good casts and good drifts but we only had a couple of bites that didn't "take".  

After running further up the river to Snook Creek James was able to "knock the skunk off" with a hungry Seatrout catch. We fished the outside with the floats then moved inside and tossed jigs for a bit, to no avail. We stopped at the MOA and tossed the jigs briefly but the oysters still weren't showing so we were casting blind.

Our next stop was around at the docks of Bell River and we stuck with the jigs. Mason was fishing off the stern and went up to the pilings with a good cast and it paid off, Fish On! He worked it to the boat and landed a keeper sized Sheepshead (all fish caught today were released). James picked up another Trout off the bow before we moved down a few docks to the "honey hole".

And the move paid off! All three anglers began to catch Seatrout off the bottom with the jigs. Andrew was fishing off the stern and got in on the action, catching a few of the Trout. About the time I'd think we needed to move on, they'd catch another Trout. A couple of these were of keeper size.

Our final stop was back at Egans Creek, fishing some dock pilings on the last of the outgoing tide. It took a few casts but eventually we were able to get some feisty Redfish to round out an Amelia Island Back Country Slam of Seatrout, Sheepshead, and Redfish. Again, all three anglers put Redfish in the boat and James topped it off with another Sheepshead catch. And we that, we called it a day, another great one to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Saturday, December 17, 2022

The GPK Challenge

 We had a cold front come thru Thursday which left us with a clear and cool Friday morning when I met
Suzanna Braun, her son Mike and her friend Garland down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp. But we were all dressed warm with layers and after a short run up the Nassau we made our first stop at some exposed shell on a tide that still had about an hour to finish hitting bottom. All three anglers were making excellent casts with jigs and live shrimp to the bank but we had no real bites.

We ran over to some docks at Nassauville and set up again to toss the jigs and here we had some luck. Garland was at the stern and letting his jig fall down the river bottom and he picked up a few hungry Seatrout while the other anglers had "nibbles" from the bait stealers. After moving around to another dock it was Suzanna's turn to land the fish - she hauled in a nice keeper sized sheepshead, then a undersized Sea Bass. All three tangled with feisty Bluefish.

Our next stop was down at Broward Island where we fished one area as we waited for the tide to turn and
start back in. When it did, we moved down the island and began working back. I thru out the "GPK" for some incentive and Suzanna stepped up to the challenge - almost immediately - and after a perfect cast to the bank, BAM! Fish On!  Suzanna worked it to the boat and landed a golden-coppered-colored Slot 23" Redfish. And shortly after that she reeled in a smaller but feisty Redfish.

After working that bank we moved up to Pumpkin Hill and drifted floats long with the live shrimp and here Garland heated up with a couple of Seatrout catches. The temperature had warmed and we'd had some good catches so as we headed back we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Trying to Make a Double LImit


You know it's a good day of fishing here at Amelia Island when you make your limit on Slot Redfish and are real close to getting the limit in Trout. The wind was really howling yesterday but when I saw the forecast for this morning it called for just a breeze and when I met Fred Wommack up at Dee Dee Bartels Park that's just what we had.  We made a quick run over to Egans Creek and found some dock pilings to fish on the first of an incoming tide. (as we were running there was so much moisture in the air it felt like it was raining). 

Fred began to pitch to the pilings and I thought for sure it would be
only seconds before he got a bite. But those seconds became minutes and then multiple minutes until finally he hooked up and landed a small Seatrout. I was about to leave but thought while we were there we should try the other side and this did the trick! Fred began to hookup and land one Redfish after the other - most all of them small  - some right under the slot at 17.5",  and then one that just made it into the Slot at 18.25" He stayed busy catching and releasing fish until we moved back to the other side.

This time Fred stayed deep, fishing the end of the dock and the strategy paid off. BAM! Big Fish ON!  Fred played it expertly to the boat and landed a nice 23" Slot Redfish. And shorty after that he had another strong hookup. This fish dug deep and stayed deep for a good while and I was beginning to wonder if it wasn't oversized. But after Fred brought it to the net it measured just a little over 26", boy what a fish!

Fred kept his limit of (1) Redfish but he wasn't done! He began to catch Seatrout out deep and in short order had 4 in the box and I thought for sure he'd get his Trout limit. After catching a few smaller ones we made the run up to Soap Creek and fished a stretch of grass where we caught one small Trout.

Our last stop was over a "Millie's Spot" in Lanceford, fishing a grass patch and again, it was non-stop action, catching one Seatrout after another. We just needed ONE big one!  Fred put a couple of 14.75" fish in the boat but we just couldn't  get that 5th fish. But as we headed back to the ramp we knew we'd had a great day of fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Monday, December 12, 2022

Seatrout Bite Made the Day

 I fished Friday morning with Dennis Adams, his son-in-law Daniel, and Daniel's dad Dan, meeting them up at the Dee Dee Bartels Park boat ramp and boy what a pretty morning we had! Sunshine, clear skies, and just a very little breeze. So I made the first run up to the Jolley River where we turned into the incoming current and fished float rigs with live shrimp. These three anglers were getting excellent casts up to the flooding marsh grass, but we had no takers.

We ran further up the river and fished a bank and in just a few minutes Dan had a strong take. He reeled down, lifted the rod and let the circle hook set and Fish On! Dan worked it tot he boat expertly and landed a nice feisty Redfish. And just a minute later Dennis went to the same spot and BAM! He had a strong hookup too. He brought it n and released it right at the boat!

The tide was really high and almost to the to so we came back to Tyger, ran thru ad around to the Bell, and set up on a point to drift the floats, but had no bites. Our next stop was over at Soap Creek and here we had a some good action. We moved up and down the bank, picking up a Trout here and there, then we found one spot that seemed to hold them. All three anglers caught and landed Seatrout.

Our final stop was over at some docks at Lanceford and here Dennis picked up a nice sized Whiting. We had had some mild temperatures, some great sunshine and as we headed back to the ramp we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Sun Down Moon Up

 I did an afternoon trip today, fishing with Bill Chadwick and his fishing buddy Paul, and after meeting them up at the Dee Dee Bartels Park boat ramp. There wasn't much wind at all, we had sunny skies, and it was a perfect afternoon to be out on the water. We ran up and over to behind Tyger and fished the logs, working the bank with jigs and live shrimp on a tide that only had 30 minutes to hit bottom. 

These two anglers were making excellent casts and it paid off - they picked up a couple of Seatrout and a couple of feisty Redfish. One of the Seatrout measured at 17". We worked up and down the bank twice, then made the run up to the Jolley River where we turned into the incoming current and stayed with the jigs.

 Paul picked up a small Flounder along this stretch.  After running further up the river we again turned into the current but switched to float rigs and the live shrimp. After numerous bites and no takers, we figured out we were feeding the "baitstealers". 

Our next stop was around at the docks on Bell River, switching  back to jigs, and here we picked up another feisty Redfish. Back towards Fernandina we fished a flooding shell bed, to no avail, then made the run over to Soap Creek where we went back to the floats. The sun was going down and we noticed an almost full moon coming up and wouldn't you know, the fish bite picked up. This duo of anglers caught a good handful of hungry Seatrout, one after the other. But it was on the verge of getting dark so we headed back in and counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida 

On Golden Marsh

 Wow! What a pretty morning we had today! I had met Bob Kossman and Bruce Beauchamp down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp and as we ran up the river we had some fog issues but as we eased in to Jackstaff it cleared and we set up to fish off of a side creek with float rigs and live shrimp. As the sun came up it gave the marsh grass a beautiful golden glow. We worked that area back and forth and picked up a couple of hungry Seatrout.

After running thru the marsh we made our way down to Twin Creeks again tossed the float rigs. We had no bites there but then we eased along the bank, tossing to the marsh grass. Bruce had a strong hookup, one that "ripped some drag" - he played it expertly and after a good fight landed a nice 21" Slot Redfish. We fished on, and in just a few feet Bob had the strong bite. This fish was big!  You can always tell when the fish stays up by the bank for a while, refusing to budge. But Bob kept the pressure on, worked it out into the deeper water, then played it patiently and eventually subdued an oversized 28.25" Redfish, boy what a fish!

We then made our way back to the Seymore's Pointe area and fished a large drainage with the float rigs. Both anglers were getting excellent casts and it paid off - they would toss it up above a grassy pointe, let it drift around the corner and across a submerged shell bed and BAM! Fish On!  We caught a good handful of Seatrout with a few of them being of keeper size, but all tossed back. 

Our next stop was down to the mouth of Back River, fishing a shell bank on the outgoing tide. We had no bites, but I know I saw at least two big fish "roll" along the grass. Our final stop was down at Spanish Drop then we made our way back to the boat ramp and counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Is Florida Fishing Going Woke?


December 1, 2022

*Capt Hubbard,

We traded Emails a couple of months ago in reference to my blog post RE: the FWC commissions last minute amendment to the FWC staff’s proposed Redfish rules for NE Florida.  As noted in the post, I was somewhat  aggravated that the Commission chose to make a change to the recommendations – recommendations that Staff had arrived at after a year and half of research, studies, a Summit, and multiple workshops. In a nut shell, my attitude towards the FWC has become a bit jaded.

I realize that somehow time has caught up with me – I’m now one of the “old timers” and my thoughts on fishing, keeping of fish, and overall conservation may not align as much with the younger generation.  That said, I don’t like to kill a whole bunch of fish – I subtly encourage my customers to throw them back, but I don’t begrudge a recreational angler to keep a few for dinner. I do feel like the times of “loading the cooler” to feed the neighborhood are long gone, as well they should be.

Plain and simple, I go by the rules set by the FWC. And again, if there is any hesitation from one of my customers to keep or release a fish, I encourage them to release it. I recently “fired” a customer that pressured me to keep an illegal fish.

 I’ve had a growing un-ease in my belly that our industry is being taken over by the “woke”, tree-hugging crowd. Here at Amelia Island, a number of folks have moved in over the last 10 years and they seem to be die-hard environmentalist/conservationist, or at best, ambivalent towards fishing.  The island is becoming more and more anti-boater and anti-anglers. Our boat ramp at the City Marina is in danger of being closed, our county boat ramps are in need of repair. Heck, the City built frigging Pentanque courts in the boat trailer parking lot!

Like I said, I go by the FWC rules. But I’ve always wondered if their research may be tainted by conservationists bias-all I can do is hope that they are “honorable” scientists and will do the right thing. I was pleased to hear one of the scientists at the Summit note that the “NE Florida Redfish stock was doing good”.  I was all on board with the NE Florida rule changes and prepped my customers with notices 2-Redfish per person, 4 per boat max.  Why would the Commissioners base their decision to change that recommendation on the sentiment of a handful of people that poured their heart out at the Commission meeting? My gut tells me the FWC is gauging public sentiment to base their decisions, rather than what the science tells them.  I think they gauged wrong, but “conservation” is what they are hearing. I feel that there are adverse ramifications to we guides and all Florida anglers.

I’m a bit concerned that the FWC Commissioners may be “in bed” with the conservation groups. Those groups have raised a lot of money and have a lot of influence. Again, all of us think we’re conservation minded but what do we as Guides/Charter boat captains do when that public sentiment that the FWC is basing their rules on goes even further? What if there’s a push to ban boats with gasoline engines? What if they want to enforce speed limits off shore? What if they want to institute complete catch and release? What if they want to close the boat ramps? What if they make the rules so onerous that no one wants to fish?  As you know, they’re already doing some of this in Florida. How far do we let them go before we push back?

Just this week there was an news article about Whole Foods banning Maine caught lobsters. A move that affected the entire state industry. In 20 years will Floridians be cut out of fishing?

FYI I fished three times this week, Mon-Wed.  On Monday we fished one spot and we  were there for 2 hours. We guestimated we caught 40 Redfish, most of them “rats”, but 8 of them were in the Slot. My customers kept their limit (2).   On Tuesday we fished and caught only Trout and a Flounder - zero Redfish-not a one. Yesterday we fished a spot, and again caught over 40 Redfish. Most of them were “rats”, but the 12yo young lady on the boat counted the slots – 12 slots. They kept their limit (4).  When I was listening the video of the Commission meeting and heard some of the folks state that “they couldn’t catch a redfish” and “the Redfish stock is down”  I was thinking, “you know, it depends on the day, the tide, the time of year, the spot, the bait,  the experience of the angler, and the skill level” ‘ Some days you catch them. Some days you don’t. For the Commissioners to base their decisions on those testimonies was just…baloney.

My membership with the Florida Guides Association is based on how I think ya’ll are addressing these concerns. If I think you are getting too “buddy buddy” with the conservation groups and the FWC, then I’ll probably drop the membership. I understand that we need to work with them. I just don’t think our interests are 100% in line with the direction they are heading.


Capt. Lawrence Piper