Thursday, May 23, 2024

Oversized Reds in the Backwater

 I've probably mentioned it dad, when we would be passing thru a rural area that had cows, he said his grandfather(my great grandfather) would say, "the cows are laying down, the fish aren't biting".  We don't have any cows here at Amelia Island, but I've found that as I trailer my boat down to Sawpit Creek, there are rabbits out on the grass just past the Omni and I like to count them as I head south. I've always wondered if there was a correlation to how the fish bite would be. Today was a 5 "Wabbit" Day. 

I met longtime friend Michael Stalvey, his son Byrd, and son-in-law Tylor Deas early at the ramp and we headed up the intercoastal and then up the Nassau to make our first stop at Spanish Drop, turned into the incoming current, and began to toss float rigs to a flooding grass bank. We worked that bank thoroughly and I think we may have picked up a small Jack Crevalle and a tangled with a high flying Ladyfish. 

The weather conditions couldn't have been any better- sunshine, just a slight breeze, and almost pond-like water. We moved down the way and fished Twin creeks with the floats - didn't get a bite, but I let off the trolling motor lock and we drifted with the current. Tylor had a good bite that didn't take and Mike followed right in behind him and BAM, Fish On!  Mike played it perfectly and soon landed a Slot 20" Redfish. 

Our next stop was up at Seymore's Pointe where we drifted float rigs up by the rocks. The trio of anglers
caught a handful of Mangrove Snapper, a couple of which were keepers. But when we switched to jigs on the bottom things really picked up and they put another handful in the boat. We ended up keeping seven with the biggest measuring to 12".  I know that's not "big", but these Mangroves make for some good eating!

We then ran thru Horsehead and over to Pompano Point and worked the first 30 yards with the float rigs. After getting a small Jack and a small Trout, we eased up the bank and all "heck" broke loose! Mike had let a soggy shrimp soke up near the bank - something took it and, BIG FISH ON!  This fish was ripping drag and digging deep. Mike stayed with it, kept the pressure on, let it run, worked it around the bow, worked it around the stern, and eventually landed a big Oversized 31.5" Redfish, big enough to move him in to 2nd place in the Anglers Mark 2024 Bragging Rights Tournament-Redfish Category(scroll down the right side of this report for standings). Boy what fish. 

But we weren't finished, by a long shot!  Tylor went up to a grassy point and BAM! Big Fish On! He played it perfectly and landed an Oversized 29" Redfish to move in to 3rd place in the Bragging Rights Tournament.  Byrd went up to the same area and BAM! Big Fish On! He expertly battled this fish to the net and landed ANOTHER oversized 28" Redfish. They continued to fish this same spot, added two more Slot Reds, then Byrd, wanting to get on the Bragging Rights board, went back and caught a 29" Oversized Red. Boy what a finish!  We headed back to the ramp and counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Uptick In Redfish Bite


We waited to go until the top of the tide today, meeting at 9am out at Goffinsville Park.  John Raker and Kenny King met me at the dock and where we were the tide was still coming in. So we made a quick run over to Pumpkin Hill and drifted float rigs and live shrimp down a flooding marsh bank. We had not a single bite for that stretch but after we dropped back and fished a pocket and here John found a Slot Red on the back side of the pocket which he handily brought to the net. 

We then made a run back to Seymore's Point and fished a large drainage. The duo picked up a handful of Mangrove Snapper, four of which were of keeper size. Kenny battled a bigger fish for a bit but it thru the hook half way to the boat. Ouch.  After running thru Horsehead and over to Pompano Pointe we continued to fish the floats and it paid off. Kenny picked up a Jack Crevalle then as we eased along the grass we saw some movement up in a pocket. John made an excellent cast to the grass and the float slowly went under, and Fish On!  John played it perfectly and brought another Slot Red to the boat. He and Kenny both had good hookups later and added another Redish to the fish count. 

We moved around to Jackstaff and fished a creek and here Kenny got hot, adding a Redfish and Bluefish the catch count. John battled a FBPPB (Fat Bellied Probably Pregnant Bonnethead) worthy of some sort of Bragging Rights to the boat for photograph and release.

After running back thru Horsehead we headed down to Twin Creeks and fished it a bit with jigs and shrimp, then we moved down to a drainage and here Kenny expertly played a Slot Red to the boat while at the same town John landed a hungry Seatrout. We finished up over at Back River, fishing floats. Kenny caught a 11 Spot Redfish to wrap things up which made for another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

High Tides and Rising Winds


Back to fishing!  After being out of town for a week I was back fishing today with newlyweds Jeff and Elizabeth Parr. After meeting them early up at Old Town Bait and Tackle early we made our way out of Eagans Creek and over to the outside of Tyger to fish the first of an outgoing tide. It was High tide right when we started and boy was that water up in the grass. The duo were tossing float rigs with live shrimp and had a few bites before Jeff hooked up and landed a hungry Seatrout. 

We made our way over to Lanceford Creek and fished some flooded marsh grass (here the tide hadn't started out yet). We fished a couple of areas and Elizabeth did manage to catch and land a feisty Black "puppy" Drum. She had gotten a bite - it stole her bait, but she went back to the same spot with an excellent cast and BAM! She hooked it up!

After fishing Soap Creek where they caught another Trout, and with the wind picking up,  we ran down the river and fished some structure, this time fishing jigs and the shrimp, deep. Jeff had made a good cast and let his jig fall down the river bottom and when I saw him hookup and his rod bend I knew he had a nice fish. And it got nicer as the battle went on!  Jeff played it perfectly as the big fish dug deep and under the boat. He kept the pressure on and wore it out and landed a nice 21" Slot Redfish. They each picked up another Seatrout and Elizabeth brought to the net a Flounder to round out their Amelia Island Back Country Slam.

After fishing some dock pilings back up the river, to no avail, we headed back to the ramp and counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Monday, May 13, 2024

Temperature Drop Helps

 I fished today after we had a slight temperature drop over the weekend, one that caused the water temps to fall too. We didn't "tear them up" today, but we had a little better action than we had last week in the backwaters.  When I pulled away from the boat ramp this afternoon my thoughts were to, "fish the oyster beds".

I met Frank Wytiaz and his brother-in-law Dennis down at Sawpit Creek early this morning and with calm seas and hardly no wind, we ran up the Nassau and made our first stop at Spanish Drop. The tide still had an hour or so of going out to do so we went with jigs and live shrimp and mud minnows, tossed to the exposed shell bank. That first stretch produced no fish but when we moved up to a drainage and continued with the jigs both anglers hooked up and caught feisty Redfish. They also tangled with some high flying Ladyfish. 

We then ran up to some docks at Seymore's and fished the jigs and this paid off. Dennis had a strong hookup and fought a keeper sized Black "puppy" Drum to the boat, Then Frank had a strong bite and he too expertly played the fish to the net - a big Mangrove Snapper (for the backwater) which measured right at 14".  They caught a couple of more Mangroves, a Bluefish, and a Jack Crevalle. We moved around to Nassauville and fished some rocks and picked up a handful more of keeper sized Mangroves.

After running down to Broward Island where the conditions were absolutely perfect - the tide had just started in, the increasing wind was blocked, there were no gnats and other than one more Mangrove, we caught nothing. Ouch.

We finished the day back at Seymore's, fishing the bottom with jigs and shrimp and again, dueled with the Mangroves, adding one more keeper to the box. We had caught a good variety of fish giving us a bit of action so as we headed back to the ramp we countedit as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Mangroves and Manatee

 We must be in a "faze" right now, not seeing Seatrout or Redfish or Flounder in the backwater. Water
temps are hovering right around 80 degrees and even though we're getting some fish, we just aren't seeing "bragging rights" fish, unless you wanted to count the 13" Mangrove Snapper we caught today!

I had met Chris Pyle and his fishing buddy Byron down at Sawpit Creek boat ramp on a tide that had been coming in for about two hours. We made a run up the Nassau and fished some dock pilings at Seymore's Point and had just a bit of luck catching a few small Mangrove Snapper, with maybe a keeper or two.  We had a visit from a curious Manatee and were supervised by a Bald Eagle roosting overhead. We then motored back down the Nassau and fished Spanish Drop and Twin Creeks with float rigs and may have had a bite or two but no takers.

We fished some rocks at Nassauville and had good action catching Mangroves on float rigs up by the rocks with Chris putting the biggest of the year in the boat, a 13"er, and then we swtiched to jigs and caught them on the bottom, bringing the "keeper" total to eight. 

The SW wind was picking up so we made a long run up the Nassau, ran thru Edwards and around to Shady Rest and tossed the jigs. I think it was Chris's 2nd or 3rd cast when he had a strong hookup.  He patiently played it to the boat and landed a feisty Redfish.  We were off to a good start here but that was the only fish we got working those docks. 

We came back out of Edwards, back to Seymore's and fished an outgoing tide with float rigs and picked up a couple of more small Mangroves, then after running thru Horsehead and over to Pompano Point the duo finished up caching a large Ladyfish and Catfish. Overcast skies in the morning a brisk breeze in the afternoon, a box of Mangroves, and a visit from a Manatee made for another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Slow But Beautiful Day of Fishing


We had a "three" boat party today, set up by Tom Klien, fishing with friends after they caravaned in boats up from Central Florida. We all met at Old Town Bait and Tackle and divvied up anglers to the Captains - Jeremiah Joost-Miller, George Smith, and myself. I had Tom and his wife Gail and their friend Dave and we followed Jeremiah and George out of Eagans Creek.

Jeremiah was heading around to the jetties with his crew and he reported catching a big oversized Bull Redfish, tangling with a high flying Tarpon, and boxing a handful of fine eating whiting. 

George fished the back waters and reported putting a couple of undersized Redish in the boat, having a
huge "almost" Seatrout to the boat and then his crew settled in catching Mangrove Snapper, the biggest being around 15".

My crew and I also stayed in the back water. We had excellent conditions, other than a high and incoming tide. We hit a number of spots, drifting float rigs along the flooding marsh grass and it finally paid off when Tom hooked up and landed a keeper sized Seatrout. We moved into a creek, switched to jigs and live shrimp and here Gail put a fat old Sail Cat in the boat. It was here that David had his shot at a fish - I was the rod bend and the drag rip a bit and, Fish Off! Dang it. 

We fished a few more areas and managed one high flying Ladyfish before we headed back to the ramp. It was a beautiful day, we had a "trout sandwich" in the boat so we counted it as another great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Friday, May 3, 2024

Shrimp Fest Kick Off at Amelia Island


I finished my week and kicked off Shrimp Fest weekend by fishing with David Vice, his son Nathaniel and friend Seth, meeting them yesterday morning out at Goffinsville Park boat ramp.  We had an outgoing tide so we made a short run across the river to fish an edge south of Back River, working the bank with float rigs and live shrimp. The first stretch produced only a couple of nibbles but as we worked along Nathaniel had made an excellent cast just up current of an exposed oyster bed and as it drifted around, BOOM! Fish On!  Nathaniel played it perfectly and soon landed a nice 21" Slot Redfish. We continued moving down that bank and shortly afterwards it was Seth's turn to battle the big fish. He patiently fought it to submission and brought to the net another Slot Redfish. 

We then ran down the Nassau and fished a couple of areas from Spanish Drop up to Twin Creeks. The trioput a handful of feisty Reds in the boat, Seth had an epic battle with a Bonnethead Shark and then David put a nice keeper sized Seatrout in the boat. And then he added another fat keeper Trout. We fished Bubblegum Reef very briefly where Seth added a couple of small Mangroves to his catch total, then we finished up fishing some docks at Nassauville where we found one more keeper size Mangrove Snapper. 

It was a beautiful day, we had some good fish in the box and with Shrimp Fest kicking off tomorrow, we counted it as an other great day to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Florida. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Pretty Good Species Count at Amelia Island

Redfish, Bonnethead Shark, Seatrout, Flounder, Mangrove Snapper, Black Sea Bass, and Silver Perch -
not bad if we were in a "species tournament"!  But the ones that counted were a couple of Slot Redfish, three keeper sized Seatrout and a Mangrove Snapper. I had met Eric Stevens and his friends Mike and Steven out at Goffinsville Park early this morning and our first stop was down at some docks fishing jigs and live shrimp on a tide that still had a couple of hours of going out to do. We fished it good, had a few bites, but no takers, which surprised me just a bit.

Our next stop was down at Spanish Drop, working exposed shell beds with jigs and the shrimp and even though all three anglers were making excellent casts, we had not takers, which worried me just a bit!  But after moving up the river we set  up outside a large drainage and in no time all three were catching fish. Steven hooked up off the stern and expertly played to the net a keeper sized Seatrout, then Eric and Mike were trading turns catching feisty Redfish, then Mike had a strong bite, one that ripped some drag, and he fought to the net the first Slot Red of the day. He followed that up with a battle with a Bonnethead Shark then shortly added another, bigger, Slot Redfish. Steven, fishing off the stern, found a keeper sized Seatrout out deep. 

After fishing one more stretch of shell beds we headed over to Seymore's Pointe and fished some dock pilings. Not much happening there but we did get some Mangrove Snapper and a small Sea Bass. We then made the run down to Broward and fished under the watchful eye of a Bald Eagle. I thought I saw him smirk as he flew off, we didn't get much of a bite, other than another Black Seabass. 

Our final stop was at Pumpkin Hill, drifting floats along the marsh line and here we had a good flurry of nice Seatrout catches. Steven got hot and put a couple more keepers in the boat, the biggest being right at 18".  And then Eric caught the sole Flou8nder of the day. We had beat the wind and had a couple of spots where we had good flurries of fish catching so as we headed back to the ramp we counted it as another great to be fishing here at Amelia Island, Flroida. 

Monday, April 29, 2024

Recipe of the Month: Grilled Bluefish on Cedar Plank

 Bluefish get a bad rap in that they are a bit "fishy" but if you know how to prepare them they can be
delicious! Here's an age-old recipe for grilling Bluefish.

The key is to prep the Bluefish!  Immediately after you catch them, bleed them by cutting their gills and then put them on ice. When you get home, filet them off the bone and skin and cut out any dark meat. Place them in a bowl of buttermilk overnight.

The next day:

Soak 4 cedar planks in water for one hour, remove and rub one side with olive oil

Baste both sides of fileet with lemon juice

Sprinkle with salt and pepper

Get grill hot at 400 degrees

Lay filets over the cedar plank and grill for about 5-7 minutes

Remove from heat.  Thow filet's away and eat the Cedar planks. 

My Plan for Sawpit Redesign

It's just plain crazy how our public officials seem to disregard the tax paying boating public. City of Fernandina commissioners are moving ahead with a Waterfront Park that will severely limit boaters using the marina ramp. In the Nassau County, Dee Dee Bartels is dangerous to use when there is a west wind, and hazardous to your boat anytime you launch due to the disregard of the No Wake zone. Goffinsville Park is a nightmare to use when there is a swift outgoing current, and even those of us that launch and load everyday, our trailers take a beating there having to come in "hard" to beat the current. 

And then there is Sawpit Creek boat ramp, down at Big Talbot Island. The south dock was damaged by a storm 7-8 years ago has been abandoned. The north floating dock was damaged over a year ago and there seems to be no repairs in in the foreseeable future.  It appears the State is more interested in funding researchers and studies  rather than insuring public access to their waters. 
With all the taxes you pay, shouldn't we have better?  You have to wonder if those managing this boat ramp even want the general public using it. What happens when another storm really damages it? Will it ever be repaired? Or will it just "go away"?  Kinda like that south dock has been abandoned. I think we should all ask those officials that we pay to FIX the dang boat ramp. And while they are fixing it, improve it!  Here's my idea:
Click on image to enlarge

1) The north floating dock needs to be repaired
2) An extension floating dock should be placed north running parallel with the bank
3) A new south floating dock needs to be installed to replace the old pilings
4) An extension floating dock should be placed south running parallel with the bank
5) The temporary parking area needs to be extended a few feet to accommodate vehicles unloading. 
6)  The right angle area needs to be paved to facilitate boat trailer turning
7) The landing area needs to be repaved
8)  A No Wake zone needs to be instituted with signage installed.

Ask them to get it done!

Michelle Waterman, Big Talbot Island Park Manager

Raymond Semanchik, Parks Manager

Clay Yarborough, State Senator Contact - Clay Yarborough | Clay Yarborough

Dean Black, State Representative Contact Form