Friday, March 31, 2023

Massive Redfish Obliterates Bragging Rights

 I wrapped my week up today, fishing north again with Craig and Christina Jones. We had met up at the Old Town Bait and Tackle boat ramp and made our way out of Eagans Creek to make our first run over to the outside of Tyger Island where we set up fishing float rigs on a tide that had been going out for a couple of hours. I don't think we got a nibble! Our next stop was further up the island, at a small drainage where we switched to jigs and shrimp and it was Craig who "knocked the skunk off" with a nice Seatrout catch. And Christina, who had her lucky hat on, followed that up with a Trout of her own.

We then made our way around to the Jolley River and fished with the floats again and the oysters were just beginning to show. Other than a brief tangle with a Gar fish, we had no luck. Our next stop was up at the MOA and although we couldn't see the oysters, we could see the "ripple" so we stopped and fished anyway, going with the jigs. Christina had made a cast that I thought for sure was right smack into the oysters and when her rod bent I thought "hang up" but, nope, BIG FISH! The rod stayed bent over and the drag was ripping and the fish hung close to the shore - I thought for sure it would carry that line across the oysters and snap, but Christina worked it out into deep water and unbeknown to the fish, it was Had!

Boy what a battle! Christina would work it close to the boat then it would dive deep. We saw it "roll" once and knew it was a big Red. It finally got in the current behind the boat, Christina worked it up, then it would dive. I got the net under it once but it was too big! It dove again and the battle recommenced! Eventually we got it in the net and on the boat and it turned out to be a huge, bulky, 33.5" oversized Redfish - big enough to obliterate the existing 1st place in the 2023 Anglers Mark Bragging Rights Tournament-Redfish category! (scroll down the right side of his report for standings).

We made our way around to the Bell River, fished some docks, and picked up a hard fighting Bluefish, a Slot Redfish, and had a couple of other good bites. After fishing the MOA on a lower tide, and the logs of Tyger, we made our way back to the dock and counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Thursday, March 30, 2023

I AM Lifting!


What a beautiful morning we had today when met Rob and Pam Russell up at the Old Town Bait and Tackle ramp! The sun was just coming up and we had clear skies and  just a slight bit of breeze as we headed down Eagans Creek to towards the intercoastal. The tide had been going out for just a couple of hours so we made our way over to a large drainage and began tossing  float rigs with live shrimp to the mouth. Both anglers were getting good casts and good drifts and even though we had a bite or two, we had no takers. 

Our next stop was over at some docks where we switched to jigs and the shrimp and we began to get bites almost immediately. But we weren't getting any fish until Rob did a quick hookset and boated the first fish of the day, a Sheepshead. No wonder we were having out bait stolen!  Now having the hang of Rob wasted no time in hooking up and landing another Sheepshead. He went back for another , reeled his bait back almost to the boat when BAM! Big Fish On!  This fish ripped a bit of drag so I was thinking "Redfish" but when it came to the surface we netted a big 19.25" Seatrout, boy what a fish. 

We eventually made the run up river and fished some more docks and here the duo of anglers really got busy. Pam got on the board with a keeper sized Seatrout, then both anglers put Trout in the boat. Pam had made a good cast, let her jig fall deep when she had the strong hookup. We could tell this was a big fish by the way the rod bent and sure enough she soon landed another Big Trout, this one measuring in at 19.5". It was big but the bigger fish was yet to come!  Rob's rod bent double and his drag began to rip and his line headed East - we hauled in our lines and began chasing the fish as we saw Rob's line getting down to the spool.  I asked him to "lift" the rod up so he could reel down and he exclaiimed, "I AM lifting!"  We chased the fish down the river and I was thinking either a massive Red or one of those Big Ugly Black Drum until a HUGE Ray came flying out of the water at the end of Rob's line...and that ended the battle!

(Note, Pam's Trout put her in 2nd place in the Anglers Mark 2023 Bragging Rights Tournamnt; Rob's fish placed him in 3rd! Scroll down the right side of this report to see standings)

The wind had really picked up and white caps were in the river as we ran between Cumberland and Tyger but we were able to dip into Tyger and fish in comfort and Pam wrapped things up with a Bluefish catch. And with that, we called it a day, another great one to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida 

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Fishing With Dad and Pappa

 We were able to squeeze in a fishing trip this morning, before the heavy rains rolled in after noon. I had met Cameron Beadle who had his son Roman and father-in-law Jason along as his fishing team!  We made a short run from Dee Dee Bartels and set up fishing some dock pilings on the last hour and half of the outgoing tide. We started slowed but built to a crescendo!  All three anglers began to catch fish - Roman was holding his own with the older anglers. They put a good handful of Black "puppy" Drum in the boat and another handful of feisty Redfish. 

The bite slowed so we made a long run up the river to fish some more docks at the very last of the outgoing tide. In short order they picked up a couple of keeper sized Seatrout then Cameron and Jason had a "double" - Jason brought his keeper Trout to the net but Cameron's was being a bit belligerent - it ripped some drag a couple of times but Cameron stayed patient and eventually landed a nice 19" Seatrout, boy what a fish! The trio added a couple of "early bird" Mangrove Snapper and a couple of keeper sized Whiting, then it was Roman who hooked up, battled valiantly, and landed the first Bonnethead Shark of the day!

Continuing on around, we set up on the outside of Tyger and fished the bank, but it was Jason who had the "hot rod" fishing out of the stern. He hooked up and landed a few Seatrout and then a feisty Bluefish. Roman moved back and was intently fishing when I saw him set the hook and, Fish On!  He fought it by himself and landed a big, Big Bluefish. Jason wrapped things up with the big fish of the day, a hard fought battle with a big Bonnethead and with that, we headed in and counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Monday, March 27, 2023

Slam or Bragging Rights?

 I had to remind myself to look on the bright side this morning, knowing that there was no live shrimp to be had on or near the island. But I had my trolling motor back from the shop, I had some left over mud minnows,  I'd frozen some left over fresh shrimp from Friday, and I had a purchased pint of fiddler crabs...and the skies were clear, a beautiful sunrise awaited us, and the wind wasn't supposed to pick up until late morning!  I was meeting Ed Johnson, his old high school classmate Ken Coop, and angling buddy Don Smallwood out at Goffinsville Park. 

We made a short run down the Nassau to fish Spanish Drop, an exposed shell bed on the last of an outgoing tide. We worked that bank thoroughly, Ken tossing a jig with a mud minnow, Ed tossing a jig with fiddlers, and Don tossing a jig with "freshly frozen" shrimp. Not a bite. We moved up to a drainage and fished that but also to no avail. 

Our next stop was back at Nassaville, fishing Littlefield and although we had a nibble or two, we had no real bites. Back around Seymore's we fished a dock right at dead low, again, not a bite. We were getting skunked! But then we made the run down to Broward Island, still fishing the last of an outoing tide and as we worked the bank, Don, using the dead shrimp, hooked up deep with an almost legal Seatrout. We continued on, then moved up the island to fish the first of the incoming tide and again, Don had a hookup and landed an almost legal Flounder. He followed Ed in to one spot, right behind a stump, BAM! Another hookup. Don played it perfectly and brought to the boat his Amelia Island Back Country Slam, a feisty Redfish. 

The tide had been coming in for about an hour so we gambled and ran up into a creek, lifting the engine as we went in, and fished some downed logs. All three anglers were getting good casts to the 6' deep bend and finally it was Ken, still fishing the minnow, who had the hookup. This fish had some size - it ripped a bit of drag and came to the surface and thrashed, but Ken kept the pressure on and soon landed a big 19.5" Seatrout, big enough to kick off the 2023 Bragging Rights Seatrout Category (scroll down the right sid eof this report for details).  Although it had been a slow day, we had a slam and a "Braggable" fish, so as we headed back to the dock we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Friday, March 24, 2023

Best For Last

I did a "share-a-trip" today, pairing Bob Kossman and Dale Bullard as the anglers. We met up at Old Town Bait and Tackle boat ramp early and made a run up Lanceford, only to see that "our" spot was taken, so we turned back and fished the back side of Tyger with jigs and live shrimp. We worked the bank thoroughly and Dale did pick up a "almost legal" Flounder. 

After running up to the Jolley and fishing a flooded shell bank with float rigs and the shrimp, to no avail, we continued on around to Bell River and fished 2-3 docks, back to the jigs.  Dale had hung up once, handed it off to me, and when I gave it a tug it tugged back! I handed the rod back to Dale and he worked in an ugly 'ole Toadfish!

We then made the long run back to Fernandina and ended up almost back where we started, fishing the outside of Tyger and this did the trick. BAM! Bob hooked up and battled to the boat a fat feisty Redfish. From then on for about 30 minutes the duo were catching fish, one Redfish after the other, and once had a "double" hookup. Most were between 16"-17" but Bob did  manage a Slot Red. 

We had had a beautiful day, sunny, and only a slight breeze, but we caught fish there at the end so as we headed back to the ramp we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

High Tides and Low Tides

 It's amazing how different the fishing can be depending on the tides. This morning I met Warren Hearn and his brother-in-law Dave up at the Old Town Bait and Tackle boat ramp. We had a tide that was already high and still coming in so we went with float rigs and live shrimp as the tactic. Our first stop was over on the outside of Tyger and almost immediately Warren had a hookup and after expertly playing it, landed a big Bluefish. Then Dave had a hookup, one that pulled a bit of drag, and he brought to the net a big 18" Seatrout. We bounced around all morning, drifting edges with the float rigs  and this duo caught a good handful of Seatrout and another nice Blue.

This afternoon we were fishing a tide that had been going out for a few hours. I had met Kay Hartinger and her partner Sue at Old Town and we made a long run up the Bell to fish some docks with jigs and shrimp. The first spot produced no fish but we got in closer between a couple of more docks and fished back to the pilings. Kay and Sue began to catch fish - hard fighting and feisty Black "puppy" Durm, some feisty Redfish, then Kay put a Slot sized Red in the boat.  We came back to the Eagans Creek area and fished some more dock pilings and  for two hours we caught Redfish, one after the other! Kay added a keeper sized Black Drum, then patiently played a 23" Slot Red to the net. Sue followed that up with a nice 21" Slot fish of her own. When the dust had settled I guestimate we had caught at least 25 Redfish, four of which were of legal size.  But not a single Trout, like this morning! Hah! As we headed back to the dock we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Making The Most of a Blustery Day

 Winds were forecasted to get up to 17mph by the end of todays trip and I believe they did! I had met Alex Bournias and his friends Pam and Tony up at the Old Town Bait and Tackle boat ramp early and with a already high and still incoming tide, we made our way out of the creek into a blow! Our first stop was up Bell River, fishing a flooding point but we only had a nibble or two. 

We then made a run up the Bell and fished some flooding oyster shell and this did the trick. Tony, fishing off the stern and drifting his float and live shrimp long began to get bites and put Seatrout in the boat, 1, 2, and 3! Alex got in on the action and picked up a couple of more Trout one of which was right at 18". 

We moved over into a cove and again drifted the floats. It was Pam's turn to put a legal fish in the boat, then Alex followed that up with another 18" Trout. We had a couple more small ones before we moved on. 

Fishing just around the corner, Pam caught the only fish, another one of keeper size. We then came back to the intercoastal, fished some docks to no avail, then sought shelter back up Eagans Creek, fishing jigs and the live shrimp. Although we had a nibble or two, we no bites, so we headed back to the dock. But with fish in the box and the skies clear and sunny, we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Winter Hanging On by its Teeth!

 After getting the boat ready this  morning I came back inside and put on a pair of long underwear! The temps were in the low 40's and I just didn't want to be cold today so I bundled up and met Bob and Jana Grimm out at the Old Town Bait and Tackle boat ramp. We had a nice clear, sunny day, cool, and a bit windy as we headed north and west to set up outside of Tyger Island with float rigs on the first of an outgoing tide. It didn't take long before Bob's float rig, baited with a lively live shrimp, disappeared and Fish On! Bob played it perfectly and brought to the net a nice 18" Seatrout. We had a couple of more bites but no takers, then we crossed over the creek and fished a few spots, then moved on. 

Our next stop was way up Lanceford Creek, fishing in a spot out of the wind. I saw Bob start to reel up his float rig then it took off in the opposite direction. He had a hookup! Bob worked it to the boat an landed a feisty Redfish. We ran back to Soap Creek and fished a large drainage with the floats then made our way down the intercoastal to fish some docks with jigs and live shrimp. And boy did this pay off! Almost immediately we were getting bites. Bob pulled in a couple of feisty Reds then Jana got in on the action and put the biggest Redfish of the day in the boat - a Slot Redfish.  We had some good action, catching another handful of Reds, battled with a big one that eventually wrapped himself around a piling and broke off, then we moved on. 

The final stop was further down the intercoastal, fishing some structure, and here we put two more feisty Reds in the boat. The sun had come up and warmed us up so as we headed back to the  dock we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Friday, March 17, 2023

Slight Uptick in the Fish Catching

 We've had a rough week! That cold air seemed to put a real damper on the fish bite but today there was a slight uptick. Yesterday, I fished two trips and it was slooow going. We did catch a few trout in the morning with John Frederick and his buddy Dan Forche, but that was about it. That afternoon I fished with the Lafave family - Josh and Sally and their two sons and even though they had excellent attitudes and a strong character of Perseverance, we were only able to land a fat Whiting. Both trips we were limited to fishing mud minnows. 

But today was a new day  when I met Glenn and Patti Lanford up at the Old Town Bait and Tackle boat ramp. We headed out of Eagans Creek and made the run over to Soap Creek where we set up fishing float rigs and live shrimp and Glenn quickly knocked the skunk off with a hungry Seatrout catch. He followed that up with another.  After fishing some docks further up the creek we came back to the mouth of Lanceford and fished a run out and here Glenn put another Trout in the boat. 

Our next stop was down near Piney Island, fishing some dock pilings, but we had no luck. We moved further down the intercoastal and here Patti got on the board with feisty Redfish catch. Glenn added one as well. We moved up to a small drainage and again Patti put another Redfish in the net, and Glenn added another. 

Our final stop; was back at the mouth of Bell River and here Patti wrapped things up with a Bluefish catch and a Seatrout. Although we didn't "tear them up" we did have a bit of action, and it was a beautiful day so as we headed back to the dock we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Wind and Cold Couldn't Stop These Anglers

 I do believe it was windier and colder today than yesterday - and it just never seemed to warm up, until we headed back to the dock!  I had met Steve Roark, his son-in-law Andrew, and grandson Max up at the Dee Dee Bartels Park early this morning and the wind was already kicking. But we braved the weather and made a run down the intercoastal with a plan to fish some dock pilings on a tide that was going out enough to where the oysters were beginning to show. 

I think it was the second cast when, BAM! Fish On!  And Max was on the rod with his dad providing moral support, they worked it to the boat and landed a nice feisty Redfish. That's the way to start a fishing trip! We fished that dock thoroughly and all three anglers had good bites and got to tangle with fish.
Andrew was getting some good casts up under the dock and it paid off. He had a really strong hookup and when his drag began to rip we knew it had some size. It "boiled" once and I mistakenly called it a Redfish - nope, after a patient battle Andrew landed a big  4lb+ Black "puppy" Drum.  Steve had had a good bite out deep and shortly afterwards an "errant" cast to the general area by Andrew produced a big 18" Seatrout.

The bite slowed so we made the long run up the Bell River and fished some docks on a still outgoing tide, then fished another to no avail, then made a short run over to the Jolley and set up to fish the MOA, again, to no avail. We then ran up the Jolly, headfirst into the wind, and made our way around to Tyger Island to fish the first of an incoming tide. Here, Steve hooked up out deep and landed a hungry Seatrout. Both Andrew and Max  outsmarted a couple of "baitstealers", then Andrew wrapped things up with one more Redfish catch. And as we headed back to the boat ramp, the sun came out and warmed things up so we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Is an Amelia Island Boaters Advocacy Group Needed?

Maybe I'm just getting old and grumpy, but boy does it seem like we have some crappy boat ramps here in our area. You would think that an island, surrounded by water, would have a plethora of boat launching options. You would think that as affluent as this area is, the boat ramps would be "top notch".  You would think that with what I would consider high property taxes, our State, County and City governments could plan, design and build some decent boat ramps. 

Have you noticed that when some local issue comesup - moving the ball fields from Central Park - removing the playground equipment - a development that is being proposed - those that have an interest in those things will come out of the woodwork, scream bloody murder, and affect decision  making. With all the boaters on or near Amelia Island, I would wonder, what if, we all got together and screamed really loud?

As I write this I have an email in to Nassau County asking the status of the repairs at Dee Dee Bartels Park.  It was damaged last Fall and for months has had one of the two floating docks gated off. For the last few weeks, the dock has been completely removed.  I noticed the first weekend in March that this situation was causing a nightmare for boaters - and it's only going to get worse as we get into spring and summer.

Even when repaired, Amelia Island and Nassau County boaters deserve better.  There's got to be close to a hundred parking spots for trailers at the park, but with only two small floating docks, only four boats can come in at one time, and that's IF they tie up forward on the dock. If they tie in the middle of the dock, only two boaters can be at that dock!  The "no wake" zone is contemptuously ignored by inconsiderate boaters traveling thru the channel. Between the waking from those boaters and a strong west wind, our multi-thousand dollar boats are slammed against the docks. And finally, the County thumbs it's nose at the mention of cleaning tables. Note that one of the biggest complaints I hear against we Charter boat guys is "cleaning fish at the floating dock".  I empathize with the complaints!  But it's illegal to clean fish out in the water; customers want to take their fillets home. We gotta clean them at the dock. Call your County Commissioner! I would gladly pull my boat out and clean the fish upright at a table!

At Dee Dee Bartels Park I would like to see the County:  1) extend the floating docks south (and north if there is room)  2) direct the Sheriff to put some teeth into his enforcement of the No Wake zone, and 3) install cleaning stations. 

I used the Old Town Bait and Tackle boat ramp today(see below, why) Folks need to know that this is a "Private" ramp that the owner allows the public to use. Thank You! Although the ramp is a little rough, the parking lot a little rough and the dock only holds a couple of boats, it DOES have a cleaning table! Wouldn't you know that none of our State, County, and City ramps (in this area) have fish cleaning stations! Crazy huh?

So then you have the City Marina boat ramp. For years it appeared the City Manager and a couple of the Commissioners have been trying to squeeze out the local boaters. Have you noticed how they cater to the boating tourist, but not the local tax paying boat owners?  Pentanque courts were installed on the south end of the boat/trailer parking lot, squeezing the lot just a bit, and actually closing it during the annual Pentanque Tournament(again, Crazy, huh?) New, huge concrete curbing has been installed which makes it more difficult to back into the ramp. There are talks of expanding the Atlantic Seafood building foot print - it would have to go south - and squeeze boat/trailer parking even more.  Even now, due to lack of dredging, the boat ramp is becoming obsolete. And again, no fish cleaning station. You have to ask yourself, "shouldn't a City, on an Island, have a better boat ramp?" Just one?

In Fernandina Beach I would like to see the City pursue a new location for a City park and boat ramp dedicated to boaters. 

After purchasing my bait this morning I made the short trip down to the Sawpit Creek boat ramp, just over the bridge, on the right. This a State ramp, managed by Big Talbot Island Park. It was still dark when I arrived but the yellow tape blocking off the dock was clearly visible. CLOSED!  The floating dock(still usable) had been recently damaged so I assume that it will be undergoing repairs. That aside, the dock south of the ramp has been missing for years - there's just vacant poles. And once again, there is no fish cleaning station.  There are probably at least 50 boat/trailer parking spots for this ramp but only 1-2 boats can be tied up at the dock, depending on the tide level. This is a "one boat launch" ramp with a long lane down to it and it can get crazy on a weekend. 

At Sawpit Creek I  would like to see the State 1) repair the existing dock 2) install a new floating dock on the south side of the ramp, 3) extend a floating dock south from that dock and 4) get whatever authority there is to create a "No Wake" out in front of the ramp and 5) Install a fish cleaning station!  IF they are not going to do it, they need to turn the facility over to the City of Jacksonville and let them do it. 

And finally, there is Goffinsville Park boat ramp, off island. Even though it is off island, it does give area boaters access to waters west of Amelia Island. This is great park, has plenty of parking, has adecent 1-boat ramp, but again, only a "two boat" floating dock (have you noticed all of our Public entities just provide the bare minimum?)  But, no one uses the ramp! Why? The swift outgoing tide makes it very difficult and somewhat dangerous to launch and load there. Those of us that use it regularly have figured it out(I'll "miss" once in a while), but the boater that only launches once a month or every other month typically avoids this ramp. Again, many of our inconsiderate boaters ignore the posted No Wake signs and that, coupled with a strong East wind,  you'll end up going home with some serious dings in your boat hull.

 I was at the ribbon cutting ceremony for this Park years ago and thought it was a wonderful addition to the county. In retrospect, I wonder if the ramp had been located over where the fishing pier is, maybe boaters wouldn't have the swift current issue?

At Goffinsville Park, I would like to see the County 1) figure out how to divert the swift outgoing current, 2) add an additional floating dock south, 3)install a fish cleaning station, and 4) direct the Sheriff to put some teeth into the enforcement of the existing No Wake zone. 

I've been to other county's and have seen first hand some wonderful parks and boat ramps. There are two or three in Jacksonville with huge parking lots and multi-boat launches with plenty of floating dock spaces. We have a growing affluent county and our boat owners are growing in numbers. At this time, two of the four Public ramps are either down or limited in use due to damage.  One of them is limited in use due to the swift currents.  None of them have fish cleaning stations. Floating dock space is limited at all of them. A couple of them are dangerous to our boats or even to life due to poor location or lack of enforcement of No Wake zones. We deserve better. 

Those of us who live here or drive in from off-island deserve better. Again, I would wonder if there was an Amelia Island Boaters Advocacy Group, could we scream loud enough for our representatives to hear us?

Temperature Swing

 Just when I thought Spring had sprung - I had even planted some vegetables - then we had a good rain and the temperatures dropped!  48 degrees on my truck gauge this morning. And after driving all the way down to Sawpit Creek boat ramp to find it closed, and driving back  up to Old Town Bait to launch, we got a late(er) start this morning. Luckily Michael Gard and his crew were flexible so I met him, his son-in-law Jesse, grandson Vaughn, and Vaughns good friend Bryce at Old Town and we headed out.

Our first stop was around at Tyger, fishing the deep bank on the first of an incoming tide - a good tide to fish it but the brisk NNW wind caused a few issues, and we had no real bites. We then headed down the intercoastal and fished some structure and this did pay off - Vaughn "knocked the skunk" off with a feisty Redfish catch, then Jesse had a hookup, fought it patiently, but it was not to be, Fish Off! But he went back with a similar cast and had a hookup out deep, and brought this one to the net, a nice hungry Seatrout. 

We made our way down to Seymore's Pointe, fished the pilings of one dock, then moved on around teh corner and fished between some docks, but to no avail.  After running further up the Nassau we dipped into a creek and fished the edge. Here, Jesse had another "bump", set the hook, and landed a keeper sized Seatrout. Our final stop was at the mouth of Pumpkin Hill, drifting float rigs. Jesse stayed with the hot hand and landed a couple of Trout and a small Bonnethead Shark, the first of the year on the Anglers Mark. We then made the long run back to Old Town and although it was a bit windy, we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Friday, March 10, 2023

Neck and Neck


I finished up my week today fishing with John Stettner and his fishing buddy Doug Wurster, meeting them out at the Goffinsville Park boat ramp. The wind was already at 10mph and expected to get up to 14 and with a tide that had been coming in for a couple of hours, I was a little bit concerned that we'd struggle. But not to worry!  Our first stop was up at Broward Island, fishing a large runout and in short order the duo put a small "Slam" in the boat, John with a small Flounder and a Seatrout, Doug with a feisty Redfish. "2-1" John announced! So that was how it was going to be!

We worked down the bank of Broward and picked up a handful of Redfish and they stayed "neck and neck" in the fish count. At one time we thought a Bald Eagle was going to dive on one of the fish being fought to the boat! As the wind died we made a move, running further up the Nassau to dip into a creek and then we worked that bank.

They stayed fairly busy catching fish - small but feisty Redfish, then John had a strong hookup and it was a battle in that small creek!  He played it patiently as the drag ripped on multiple runs and eventually brought a bulky 25" Redfish to the boat, boy what a fish. They caught more Reds, then it was Doug's turn to fight the big fish. This fish ran to the boat and we thought it was off, then it would charger down stream and rip drag, then up stream and rip drag. But Doug stayed with it and landed a 20.5" Seatrout, the biggest of the year, and big enough to go on the "board" in the 2023 Anglers Mark Bragging Rights Tournament-Seatrout Category. 

We fished some more!  Doug added a Slot Red to the catch, and the duo added two more keeper sized (18") Seatrout. They also had 3 more small Flounder and a couple of Reds that were of keeper size. Our final stop was back at Christopher Creek, out of the wind, but we had no bites so we called it day. But was we headed back we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

What Does a Pirate Call a Long Fish? GaaaaarrrrFish!

Although we expected a beautiful morning today, and although it was a bit overcast for most of it, the sun did win out and it turned out to be as expected, beautiful!  I had met Derek Wilson and his fishing buddy Tim down at Sawpit Creek boat ramp and we made a good run up the intercoastal, up the Back River, and around to Pumpkin Hill and set up with fixed floats drifting a shell bottom on the last of an incoming tide. And the plan paid off! Both anglers almost immediately began to get bites and catch fish- Seatrout. They were getting excellent casts and excellent drifts and caught a good handful of Trout with a couple of them being of keeper size. Tim had a weird bite, lifted his rod and, Fish On! We could tell by the bend in the rod that this fish was big - it made a flash when it saw the boat and began to pull drag. Tim was up for the challenge and kept the pressure on and after a couple of those runs, brought to the net a big 'ole GaaarrrFish! We photographed and released it.  

We bounced around that area hitting a few spots on the very last of high tide - had a few nibbles, but no real takers, so we moved on.

Our next stop was around at Seymore's Point, fishing a large out flow with the floats, but again, no real bites. We moved down the way and switched to jigs and fished deep- had a few nibbles, but no takers, so, we moved on. Around at Nassauville we stuck with the jigs and did pick up another Seatrout.

After making a run up the Nassau we dipped into a small creek and began working the bank as the tide started out with the jigs, fishing structure as we went. I was beginning to wonder if the run was all for naught when Derek had a hookup and Fish On! He played it expertly and brought to the net a nice feisty Redfish. From then on it was on fire for a good bit with a "double" hookup for good measure. Just about every fish measured right at 17.5-17.75", so none in the Slotm but fun to catch, nonetheless. We fished down to the last shrimp and finished with a Redfish and as we headed back to the ramp we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Practice Science-Based Management

Capt Dylan Hubbard is President, Florida Guides Association and penned this editorial in the FGA's most recent newsletter... 

Your Florida Guides Association has recently updated our vision statement and purpose to make it extremely clear that we stand for and will continue fighting for science-based management in all aspects of our outdoor recreational management and conservation.

Here’s that purpose statement for 2023 and beyond for reference -

We are an association of professional guides advocating for conservation, best practices, and science-based management, while still maintaining our rights for proper recreational use of Florida's natural resources. 

We have unfortunately seen more and more frequently a move by many in multiple facets of conservation to being more subjective or opinion-based management approaches. We are seeing that with the manatees, pelicans, goliath grouper, and now a huge blow to federal waters for hire fishermen.

We must stand up for science-based approaches and make it clear that we do not want to see our natural resources managed by feelings and opinions rather than cold hard science that can stand up to a third-party peer review.

We are currently amid a potential complete closure of fishing access around certain artificial reef sites that a fishing club actually fundraised and placed off Palm Beach because a few dive charters are claiming that catch-and-release fishing is hurting the goliath grouper spawning aggregation sites! 

There’s no science and no consideration of what the hordes of divers down there all the time are doing to the aggregations. Simply some knee-jerk reactions to propose the closure of 1,000 yards to all fishing practices! That is the current proposal and it’s sickening. This sort of slippery slope and precedent that some feel-good opinion-based suppositions can be enough to completely close fishing access to a resource is extremely scary. This sets a dangerous precedent.

Then look at the current fiasco with pelicans and you get even more of an idea of what we are facing! Certain bird groups are calling for complete closures of a large portion of the largest and most popular fishing pier in the southeast and gear restrictions to the remaining portions based on some strong opinions.

We have luckily been able to make some huge strides in this issue and really have been successful in making some positive change. However, we are still seeing too much opinion and feelings being interjected on this issue.

During the recent FWC meeting, you can even hear someone in leadership essentially insinuate that they are hearing what fishermen are saying but they just love the pelicans more—Are you serious? So because pelicans are somehow more cute and cuddly they are somehow getting more consideration than logical, time-based, and scientific approaches being proffered by the fishing advocacy groups like FGA at these stakeholder meetings.

I won’t even get started on how this state is wasting nearly 30 million dollars annually feeding the manatees because we can’t keep seagrass alive due to water quality issues and instead of looking at manatee populations and the real issue of seagrass loss we are literally shipping in trucks of lettuce and employing hordes of staff to go feed these manatees. 

We see this in other facets of life too, just purely a lack of personal responsibility and more of a ‘what makes you feel better’ or what is ‘popular based on who screams the loudest’. As a group, we have to continue to set the proper example showing extreme personal responsibility and dedication to science-based management.

We take personal responsibility to mean that we are doing what is right for the right reasons. That is our goal stated clearly in our purpose statement, “We are an association of professional guides advocating for conservation, best practices, and science-based management, while still maintaining our rights for proper recreational use of Florida's natural resources.”

Best practices also come down to personal responsibility. Right? Let’s all keep grinding this year and pushing for science-based management and a renewed sense of personal responsibility to do the right thing.

Thank you for being a part of our Florida Guides Association, Get out there and crush it this spring break ya'll. I’m hoping everyone has a killer spring rush! Tight lines.

Capt Dylan Hubbard

President, FGA

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Friday, March 3, 2023

Let The Winds Blow

 I was a bit concerned about today with forecasted winds getting up into the 20's. But at launch time the wind was only around 7-10, so we thought we could get in some fishing when I met Frank Barbera, his son-in-law Jim, and grandson Tommy down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp. I had a "plan" and stuck to it and it paid off!

We first inched around to the Sawpit Creek boat ramp, and rather than do "slip floats" (which I'm no big fan of), we tossed jigs and live shrimp, up current, bouncing the bottom to deep, and it worked! The trio of anglers caught a few feisty Redfish, hooked a massive fish, then landed a respectable Blue fish. The wind still hadn't picked up so we ran up the Nassau River and stopped at a marsh drainage and fished it with the jigs, but to no avail.

After a long run up the Nassau we blew into a small creek  and fished a 6' deep edge with the jigs and boy did we catch some fish. All three teamed up to put fish in the boat - feisty Redfish, a Seatrout, then we began to inch up on the scale and get some Slots. Tommy expertly reeled in his share of fish and did double duty running the catch net to land his dad's fish. We ended up with probably 10-15 Redfish with four of them being of keeper size. 

As we headed back, we bucked the 20mph+ winds all the way to the ramp but we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Anyone Can Catch a Redfish

 Back south we went today when I met David Vide and his son Nathaniel out at the Goffinsville Park boat
ramp early.  The tide had been going out for about two hours but we made a quick run around to Seymores and set up tossing float rig up to a grassy point in hopes that we'd get a good drift with the current. It was kinda strange that we didn't have much current...and not much biting!

We then made a run down the Nassau to Spanish Drop, turned into the current (there was one here!) and worked the bank, tossing close the grass - we had no takers. But after moving up a couple of hundred yards to a drainage and switching to jigs and live shrimp, that did the trick. In fact, the "demo" cast produced a hookup which Nathaniel promptly reeled in. Then both he and David had hookups and landed a Seatrout. 

The tide had now been going out about three hours so we made a long run up  the Nassau and worked into a creek and began to work the edge with the jigs. Nathaniel got hot and put a couple of feisty Redfish in the boat, then both he and his dad caught Reds - we had a "double" a couple of times. Then as we worked up the bank Nathaniel hooked up and this one ripped some drag, then boiled, a bigger fish. Nathaniel played it perfectly and landed a nice 20" Slot Redfish. He went back to the same spot with a couple of casts and put another Slot Redfish in the boat. With our limit in the boat, we headed back to Nassauville.

Fishing a drainage, David hooked up deep and landed another Trout, then we finished up back around at Seymore's where they picked up another couple of feisty Reds. The breeze had picked up and had thankfully  blown the Sand Gnats off so as we headed back to the dock we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Rebound Day

We had a super slow day yesterday fishing south so when I talked to Bob Blalock last evening we voted to try north today! I met Bob up at the Dee Dee Bartels Park and with a loaded baitwell of live shrimp, mud  minnows, and a newly bought bag of Gulp baits, we headed north and west and eased in to the outside of Tyger to fish a drainage in hoped of catching some flounder. As usual, Bob was making excellent casts and when we didn't get any bites at the drainage, we drifted with the current, pitching to the bank on an outgoing tide. Again, not a nibble.

So we picked up and ran, up the Jolley, and around to the MOA where we set up deep, pitching forward into the current, and this did the trick. In short order Bob caught a hungry  Seatrout, then another, then another. one of which was of keeper size. Then he "hung" on the bottom, pulled it off, and BAM! He had a fish. This one ripped a little bit of drag and put a bend in the rod and when Bob boated it we measured it to be a 19" Slot Redfish (all fish caught today were released).

Our next stop was around at Bell River, fishing to the bank and letting our jigs bounce down the river
bottom.  Again, right off, Bob hooked up and landed a whiting, then we caught a good handful of fish - Seatrout, Black "puppy" Drum and Redfish. A couple of the Trout were of keeper size. 

The tide was just about to hit bottom so we made the long run back around to Tyger. We now fishing the first of an incoming tide. We had noted that a mud minnow had not caught a fish all day, but when we dragged one deep and a fish took it, boy was it a fish! This fish was digging deep and ripping drag - Bob saw it boil up and declared it a Redfish, but it was a few minutes before we could confirm it - a huge 27" (maybe a Slot, Maybe not), boy what a fish. We had done a good rebound from the previous day so as we headed back to the dock we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.