Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Triple Ouch and a Comeback

 I fished south today, meeting Sean Patwell down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp early and a with a plan to
catch the first of an incoming tide we made a long run up the Nassau River to our first spot.  I think it was the first cast when we had a Strong hookup - this fish was digging deep and ripping drag with no intention of coming to the boat, and it didn't - it thru the hook! Dang it. We went back to the same spot and within minutes the same thing happened - Big bite, strong run, drag ripping, digging deep, and the hook thrown again!  Back to the same spot we went and ANOTHER big bite. This one dug deep and headed for a nearby obstruction. About when the line lined up, BAP! Fish Off! dang it times three!

But we kept fishing and picked up a couple of feisty Redfish from that same spot, then moved down the way. fished for a bit, then moved on. After making our way down the river and up a large creek we fished some docks with the jigs. Sean picked up a feisty Red right off, then he hooked up and landed a keeper sized Seatrout.  We caught one more Red along that stretch and move on.

Back down the river and up a creek, we worked a bank slowly. Sean had made an excellent cast up to the bank and caught another smaller Red, then went back to the same area and hooked up with a bigger fish. He played it perfect and soon landed a Slot Redfish. 

It was a beautiful day and we  had managed to stay out of the wind except when running so when we headed back to the ramp we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The Legend Grows

 When he stepped out of the truck it was almost like all sound stopped - the seagulls quit screeching, the marsh wrens quit chirping and as the sun came up, the world stopped spinning as the  young angler made his way to the dock at Old Town Bait and Tackle. I don't know if I've ever seen such a slow, confident walk as he glided down the gangway in his camo fishing outfit, his knit hat pulled down to his eyebrows and his red bandana tied loosely around his weathered neck. I was thinking we might catch some fish today but I knew we would when The Legend quietly said, "Let's Fish".  

This was Bob Blalock, his son Robbie and their nephew Colin (The Legend). I met them yesterday out
at Goffinsville Park boat ramp as the sun came up and we motored quickly over to Broward Island and set up to fish a tide that had been coming in for a couple of hours. We quickly found that we'd have to deal with "bait stealers' all day, but Robbie did find a nice keeper sized Seatrout out deep. 

We then ran further up the Nassau, dipped into a creek and fished jigs to a bank as the tide came in. This did the trick. All three anglers were catching fish, including the Legend. I believe we had 4 Slot Reds along with a some smaller ones.  We then made our way around to the other side of Seymore's Point and fished float rigs on a high and outgoing tide. This paid off too - the caught a good handful of hungry Seatrout as their floats came across and oyster bed.  We hit two more spots fishing the floats, but the tide was up and we had no action, 

Today, as mentioned, we met up at Old Town, eased up the creek and found some dock pilings to fish on an incoming tide. Both Robbie and Colin worked thru some Redfish and weeded out a couple of smaller, Slot Redfish. 

Our next stop was down the river, fishing some structure and boy did this pay off!  Colin (The Legend) got off to a hot start and he put 2-3 feisty Redfish in the boat before Bob and Robbie could get unlimbered. Bob was on the bow and put a good handful of feisty Reds in the boat then Robbie went wild. He hooked up and played to the boat a Big 24" Slot Redfish, then followed that up with another big 23" Slot fish, then followed that up with a nice 17" Black "puppy" Drum.  

Colin was patiently fishing and landed two Flounder, one of which was of keeper size. Our final stop was over at Tyger where we added one more Seatrout to the catch. As we headed back to the ramp we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

The Reason I Don't Bet


Prettiest morning all week!  Hardly any wind, sunshine, and only a bit cool when I met Steve Locke and his fishing buddy Jason up at the Old Town Boat and Tackle boat ramp this morning. We eased out of Eagans Creek and headed over to Tyger Island and I knew, I just KNEW that we were going to get in to some Redfish. If someone had asked, I'd of bet at least 5 dollars!  Steve and Jason began tossing float rigs with live shrimp over to a grass line as the tide had just started out and unbelievably, we didn't get a nibble, not even a bite.  I would have lost that bet!

We crossed over a creek and fished some more grass line, had no luck, then headed up the Jolley River, made a stop at a drainage and fished it with jigs, then on around to the Jolley  and fished two stretches of marsh grass with the floats, and again, not a nibble. We were almost two hours in and we hadn't even seen a float bob. 

Our next stop was up at Bell River where we switched to the jigs again and finally, Finally, we began to get some bites. We put a handful of Seatrout in the boat, one of which was of keeper size, then when that slowed we moved in closer and fished some dock pilings. First cast, BOOM! Redfish on. They pulled out a handful of Redfish, two of them being in the Slot and then they tinkered with bites that turned out to be Sheepshead. One was a bit small but one was a nice 16" keeper.  That spot paid off with some good catches and a few fish in the box.

We fished a few more docks with the jigs, stopped back by the MOA, then headed back to the ramp, counting it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Boehm Lowers The Boom

Another beautiful day today!  I met Frank Boehm (B-O-E-H-M) and his fishing buddies Jack and Mark and Pat early up at Old Town Bait and Tackle and with a high tide that just started out, we made our way over to the outside of Tyger to fish float rigs with live shrimp. There was a bit of breeze coming from the NE but luckily it hadn't gotten too strong.  We had a couple of "takes" but no hook sets and I was beginning to worry that we missed our shot then Jack hooked up played to the net a feisty Redfish to knock the skunk off. He and Frank traded catches then Frank had a good bite, lifted his rod, and BOOM! Big Fish On!  We could tell it was big as the drag was ripping.  Frank fought it patiently as it went to the stern and under the boat and eventually brought to the net an oversized 28" Redfish, big enough to move in to first place in the 2024 Anglers Mark Bragging Rights Tournament- Redfish Category (scroll down the right side of this report for standings). Boy what a fish!

And shortly after that Jack hooked up with another big fish. He played it perfectly and soon landed a nice "right in the slot" 23" Redfish.  He followed that up with another 18"+ Slot Red. We did pretty good there, adding a few more small but  feisty Reds. I think Mark might have had the biggest one on of all but this fish hadn't gotten big without reason - we were in three feet of water and it must have dug down into the oysters and BAP, fish off. Ouch.

We made a run down the river and up Lanceford, fished a grass patch to no avail, then moved even further down the river to fish some structure. The first "demo" cast with jig and shrimp produced a feisty Red, then all four anglers were catching fish - Redfish. After Pat and Mark had put fish in the boat, Frank "BOOM" Boehm had another strong fish. This one was big . Way big. It was digging deep and ripping drag and digging even deeper was off! Dang it!  When Frank reeled up it hadn't broke off - the hook had bent! Crazy. 

Our last stop was back at Tyger fishing jigs and here Pat got hot with catching Seatrout down deep. Frank added one more Redfish before we called it a day, and as we headed back to the ramp we counted it a s another great one to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Spot Two of Four Paid Off

 Oh what a beautiful morning! I met Joe Cutajar and his high school buddy Joe Auty down at the Sawpit Creek boat ramp this morning and with sunshine and clear skies, we made our way up the Nassau River to make our first stop at some docks with plans to toss jigs and live shrimp to the pilings on a tide that had been going out for a couple of hours. Both anglers were making excellent casts but we didn't get much more than a bite.

We decided to make a long run way up in the Nassau to dip into a creek and fish that outgoing tide. We had probably fished about60 feet with no takers but then the duo began to get hookups to "knock the skunk off". They stayed busy catching one Redfish after another, a lot of smalls, a few that were just barely under 18", and we counted five that were in the Slot with the biggest being right at 22".  That was  a good stretch that made the day. 

After running back to the Nassauville area we fished a drainage with the jigs, but again, only a small bite or two. Our final stop was back at Broward Island on the very last of that outgoing tide, and Auty was able to hookup and land the only Trout of the day. The weather had been absolutely awesome so as we headed ack to the ramp we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida 

Monday, February 19, 2024

Young Angler Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks


Back to work after a long weekend off in Charleston, I met the Andreasen fishing party early up at Old Town Bait and Tackle boat ramp. It was Pat Andreasen, his son-in-law Bryan, grandson Mason, and friend Frank as we eased out up Eagans Creek and found some dock pilings to fish on a tide that had been coming out for a couple of hours. We weren't ready for the "demo" cast of live shrimp on a jig because right off, BAM! Big Fish On1 Before we know it, the fish was around  a piling and off. Ouch. 

But these anglers were not to be deterred. Young Mason put a couple or three feisty Redfish in the boat before the adult anglers could blink. Finally, granddad Pat, who was tossing a float rig up over some oysters picked up a couple of Seatrout, one of which was of keeper size, then he added a feisty Redfish to his catch. 

We then ran down the Amelia River to fish some structure, casting to the edge and letting the jig fall down the river bottom. I was beginning to think that we may need to move when BAM! Pat hooked up and battled a big 25" Slot Red to the net. Then BAM! Mason was catching Redfish, one after the other. Then BAM!  Pat hooked up and battled and landed a "Tournament" sized 26.75" Redfish. He and Mason had their number for a good while then Bryan finally joined in to put a Trout in the boat. 

Our next stop was back up north, fishing deep with jigs and here we got in to some Seatrout. Frank had been "laying back" but he joined in to put some Trout in the boat. All four anglers were catching fish and added three more keeper sized Trout to the box. As time wound down, Mason took home the hardware, the coveted GPK! And as we headed back to the ramp we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Beautiful Day Outstanding Fishing

I got out this morning, meeting Dick Conley, David Gray,and Henry Ross up at the Old Town Bait and Tackle as  the sun was coming up, and with a tide that had been coming in for about an hour. We eased up the creek and found a crusty dock to toss jigs and live shrimp too and it wasn't long before we were getting fish. David "knocked the skunk" off by picking up a Slot Redfish out of "door number 3" and from then on we were catching fish. He and Henry had a few fish in the boat and I was beginning to wonder if Dick was intentionally "laying back" and giving them a head start - was he even putting bait on his hook?  But then eventually he moved in with his cast and began to put fish in the boat, too. 

We all noticed that most of the fish were caught as the river bottom dropped off, in about 6' of water. The water temperature had warmed a bit since last week, up to 57 degrees. We caught fish for two hours and they caught their limit of Slot fish (1 apiece) and then we continued to count - we had about 6 Slot Reds there, the biggest being 24" .  They also added two keeper sized Black  "puppy" Drum to the catch. 

When it finally slowed we ran down the Amelia River and fished some structure and here the trio picked up 2-3 small but feisty Redfish. Back up the river came, and around to Tyger Island, fishing the logs, and did find one more feisty Red. 

Our final stop was over on the outside of Tyger and with the tide up, we eased in to some shallow water and switched to float rigs and the shrimp. I was hoping for a Trout or two to wrap things up  but was pleasantly surprised, they began to get Reds!  Most of them were small but we counted another 4 Slot Reds caught, the biggest being 23".  The sun was up, we had been shedding jackets, and we had a nice mess of fish in the boat so as we headed back we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Scuttlebutt: Boaters Under Seige Part 1

Last week a firestorm swept thru the Fernandina Beach/Amelia Island Community. One of the City
commissioners appeared to conspire with a former commissioner, now turned "journalist blogger", to imply that a Member of the Marina Advisory Board had suggested closing our only City boat ramp down at the Marina. Under that pretext, he's asked the Community Redevelopment Board to take up the subject and make a recommendation to the City. I wouldn't doubt that the CRAAB's recommendation is already pre-determined. Mentioned in the article is the use of a "study" where they may rely on a past count of boaters using the ramp. This is the same kind of thing that ousted ex City Manger Dale Martin used to try. These guys think we're stupid. The City has gradually squeezed the parking for the Marina. They close it completely for the annual Pentanque championship, and close it for other events like the Shrimp Fest. It will probably be closed for the upcoming dredging.  Of course the usage is down. The City is hampering usage of the ramp. This end game has always been to close the ramp.

Looking back a bit, you would think that the ex-Commissioner, now turned journalist wanna-be, would have gotten the message when he lost re-election. Stuff like this is one of reasons why he lost. Very sleazy the way they went about it. The present Commissioner is on his way out due to Term Limits, thankfully. Often seen as the Commissioner who promoted having Pentanque Courts down at the Marina, this guy seems bound and determined to eradicate the historical use and quaintness of our Marina. The City has for years been struggling with the need for parking spaces and this Commissioner sees the elimination of the boat ramp as a way to pick up parking spaces. Ironically, installation of his pet Pentanque Courts removed some of the parking! 

There's all kinds of theories as to what's behind this. The proposed two story restaurant to replace Atlantic Seafood will need parking and surely they view the boat ramp itself as an obstacle. But the bigger picture that long time residents  point to is the never ending push by past and present Commissioners is to build a "Waterfront Park" down at the Marina. It's like their legacy depends on the "Disneyfication" of our waterfront. Each time there is a new Commission, a study will come out. And in those study's the draftsmen will have a kids playground. A Music venue. A memorial to the Shrimpers. And Pentanque Courts. The only thing they've yet to add is a waterslide or Pickleball courts. These planners play the same game - they feel like they have to have enough recreational usages to get support for their plan.  And then the plan is presented and residents get up in arms (not literally) and protest against it. 

There's a reason why and Commissioners haven't figured it out why the public protests. THEY ARE BAD PLANS. As mentioned, they are trying to make the Marina Disney World 1.2  My gut tells me that either the Commissioners or planners or both are only talking to people close to them, or  they are listening to well meaning activists that go to the discussions sessions, and they get their input and think that is what the whole community wants. 

Just my opinion, but not having a City boat ramp is absurd.  For a coastal City, on an island, surrounded by water with hundreds if not thousands of boaters, to shirk their duty as Commissioners and not provide a boat ramp is a shameful thought. If they really think about it, they surely don't want to hang their political futures or (possibly) brief legacies on a decision to remove our only boat ramp. 

Here's what they need to do:   Clean up and beautify what's there. Maybe add some landscaping.  Keep the boat ramp where it is OR provide another City ramp nearby. Dedicate an area (north? where Shrimp boats can come in and unload their catch.. Have a viewing stand/dock where people could watch the process. Have a seafood market where people could purchase fresh shrimp, right off the boat.  Move the Pentanque Courts - they have no business down at the Marina. 

Say NO to a music venue. If it's not used weekly it's a waste and will be taken over by dust, cobwebs and dirt daubers. IF it's used weekly, then the ensuing traffic snarl will be reminiscent of the 4th of July fireworks -EVERY WEEKEND!

Say NO to a kids playground.  The City has numerous parks with kids playgrounds. We don't need another. There's grass there. Bring a Frisbee or a wiffleball, or a soccer ball if you want' 'em to play. That south, grassy area is a great place for small craft festivals, fishing tournaments or other quarterly events. Bam. Done.

Note, the present Commissioner who is pushing this has always appeared to be a vindictive dude. He does do his research, however. If he wants to dig dirt up on me he'll find that my wife and I are NOT City residents. Our homestead (and voting) is in Jacksonville. But we do own a home on south 5th Street and with that, pay some serious taxes. Carol and I were both born and raised in Fernandina Beach. We went to high school here, played sports, and were involved in service clubs here. I've operated my Charter Boat business (yes, sir, it is a Small Business) for 18 years out of Fernandina.. Before that, 23 years in another small business servicing Fernandina and Nassau County. I served on numerous non-profit Boards, coached in the local YMCA basketball leagues, and volunteered hours for the local swim team. We've got equity in this community even though our primary residence is in Jacksonville, we feel like we have some skin in the game. Hands Off our boat ramp.

Friday, February 9, 2024

There's a Reason I Don't Gamble

 I tend to lose!  I've just never been the betting type but today I gambled that we would get fish on a high
and incoming tide. It didn't happen. I had met Sean Pattwell up at the Old Town Bait and Tackle boat ramp early with a tide that was high and still coming in, forecasted it hit the top around 8:15am. We eased out of Eagans Creek and I ran up to the outside of Tyger, thinking we might work a bank with jigs and get a fish or two. But we had zero bites. 

Just at high tide we moved around to Jolley Bank and fished floats with no luck and as the tide began to turn we ran back to the outside of Tyger and fished  a flooded corner of grass with the floats. I was really counting on this spot but, nope, no fish!

We then made the run down the Amelia River and fished some structure for a good 30 minutes or so with the jigs. Although Sean did  get one bite it wasn't a taker and we were looking at "skunk" just over the horizon.  But thankfully, Sean was patient - we ran back towards town, dipped into a creek, dipped into another creek and fished some dock pilings with the jigs.  We had two bites and two Slot Redfish!  Sean played them perfectly, worked to the boat, and landed a 23" Slot and a 18" Slot.  Skunk was off!

After fishing one more spot with float rigs (and no bites) we headed back. It was a beautiful morning that got prettier as the day went on - just a bit cool, no wind, and the sun was out so as we headed back we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Monday, February 5, 2024

From Slow to a Good Mess

I must have read the forecast for today wrong last night - I saw it with temperatures in the mid 50's, partly
sunny, and only a slight breeze. When I met Ed and Madonna up at the Old Town Bait and Tackle boat ramp it was in the 50's, just a slight breeze but no sun. Granted it was 7:15am, but we never saw the sun, and the wind picked up as the day went along until it was blowing as we headed back!

But we made our first stop over at some dock pilings on a tide that had been going out for a few hours, fishing jigs and live shrimp, and when Madonna reeled in a feisty Redfish that almost measured legal I thought sure we were going to "get busy".  But the current never seemed to pick up and the tide never got to where the oysters were showing and the fish never bit again!

We hit another dock down the river, fishing the jigs and here the oysters were showing and even though I felt like we were in the right spot at the right time, not a bite. Ouch. While we were in the area we decided to fish one more dock system and this paid off. 

Madonna got things going when she hooked up and landed a Slot Redfish, then caught another feisty Redfish. Then Ed hooked up - it was a heavy fish and even a bit "haughty" -it didn't put up a real big fight for what turned out to be a 26.5" Slot Red, and big enough to take first place in the 2024 Anglers Mark Bragging Rights Tournament. The two anglers teamed up to catch a small Black "puppy" Drum, a small Seatrout and another Redfish or two.

We then made a long run up to Tyger Island and fished the logs, working the bank with the jigs and here Ed added a keeper sized Sheepshead and Madonna added a keeper sized Seatrout. They also put another Sheepshead in the boat and a couple of Puppy Drum. 

We had started slow but as we headed back to the ramp busting thru wind and waves, we counted it as another great day of fishing with a good mess of fish in the box here at Amelia Island, Florida.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Patience Is A Virtue...

I've heard!  Patience paid off today. I had met Bob Kossman and Frank Wytiaz who were sharing a trip
today, meeting them down at Sawpit Creek boat ramp early and then we headed up the Nassau River and when we reached Seymore's Point the tide had just started in. Again, being hard headed, I tried the "dock" and again, not much biting. Frank did "knock the skunk off" with a hungry Seatrout catch on a jig and mud minnow. 

We then ran up the Nassau and fished Broward Island where the tide was still going out. We worked the bank pretty good, then hit another spot as the tide started to change. I had thought about advising the guys that we needed to be patient - last week they didn't start biting until the tide stated back in. But I kept my lips zipped for some reason. Both Frank and Bob were making excellent casts but were getting no bites, not even a nibble. I could feel the doubt creeping in to the back of my brain but then Frank had a hard bite and a drag ripping run off! We decided to give it a little bit more time and then BAM!  Bob had a strong hookup and this fish was ripping drag and digging deep and ripping drag  and boiling to the surface and digging deep - Bob stayed with it, worked it patiently and eventually landed a big 22" Black "puppy" Drum, boy what a fish. And minutes later it was Franks turn - he expertly battled a big 25.5" 7-spot Redfish to the  net. And minutes later Bob fought and landed a nice 18" Sheepshead. We had one  more big fish take the bait but this one managed to throw the hook, too. I'm going to note Franks Redfish as 2nd place in the 2024 Anglers Mark Bragging Rights Tournament and Bobs Sheepshead setting the standard with 1st place in the Sheepshead Category(scroll down the right side of this report for standings). 

Our next stop was up the Nassau and into a shallow creek where we turned into the current and began to fish back. Although the bite wasn't "on fire", Frank did manage to put another Slot Redfish in the boat while Bob landed a Seatrout, Redfish and Flounder to round out an Amelia Island Back Country Super Slam (Black Drum, Sheepshead, Seatrout, Redfish and Flounder).

We hit a couple of other spots as the tide got higher, drifting floats along the marsh grass but there was nothing to be had, so we headed back to the ramp and counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida.