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Re: Suggestions for Jacksonville Florida

Joined:
2009/2/17 21:02
From Landisville
Posts: 174
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Thanks for the updated link Mike.

Posted on: 3/11 9:37
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Slay


Re: Suggestions for Jacksonville Florida

Joined:
2009/2/17 21:02
From Landisville
Posts: 174
Offline
So, I wanted to give a follow up on my trip to J-ville and thank you all for your input and suggestions... here's the "long version"

I made it down to Jacksonville FL and covered the the business end of the trip quickly, (although it was good, I couldn't get out of business mode fast enough).
My vacation started Friday April 11th around lunch time. I took some time to spend with my wife that day who spent most of my business trip relaxing and reading around the roof top pool at the Hyatt. We walked the Jacksonville landing and ventured downtown to a museum and garden and enjoyed the trolly ride to travel. It was a good time, but now for the good stuff...

I had booked my trip with Captain Rich Santos of First Coast Fly Fishing Unlimited earlier and spoke with him off and on throughout the week about where to meet up, what times would be best to fish and what we would most likely catch. I told him I wanted to try with the fly gear, but wouldn't be opposed to spinning tackle if the conditions weren't quite right.

I have to say I was used to throwing my 7' 3# and 8.5' 5# outfits up here in PA... the 8# and sinking line outfit was a little intimidating to me!

I met up with Captain Rich at 10am at his boat... our goal was to fish a few productive productive areas but start at a hole on Brown's Creek until just before the tide was too low to escape, then sight fish out way around Clapboard Creek looking for reds or trout feeding.

The trip proceeded, everything going as planned. I blind cast to the hole using spinning gear, while Capt. Rich set up the fly outfit. Things were looking good, conditions were as expected and the tide was slowly receding.
Now came the hard part... I got the giant sequoia ~err~ 8# outfit in my hands. WOW! I was not prepared for this. I practiced a few short casts to get the feel of the sinking line, easy enough. Then a couple false casts to get about 20 feet of line out. Here is where I started falling apart... I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and thought back to a discussion I had with Tim Robinson standing on the Orvis floor playing with one of those little practice casting rods... timing, angles, double haul... my cast started coming together. I was consistantly pushing out to around 40ish feet and getting comfortable with the casting. This was almost far enough for this particular hole. Here's where Captain Rich stepped in and offered some suggestions to tweek my casting stroke to flatten/straighten it out. This proved fruitful and I was quickly casting 50+ feet. A quick reposition of the boat allowed me the right angle on my back cast to avoid any push-poles or platforms. Finally getting the distance for a good sink and "drift" that I needed, I was hopeful to hook in to a fish at this hole.

Then it happens... along comes crabby trapper, drifting down stream in his boat before the tide got too low for him to pass... right through our little hole. I dont blame him, he was just trying to get where he was going along a small passage, but that pretty much ensured no catching at this spot. Not for lack of effort, we continued to throw the fly, and a couple different colors and styles of soft baits, but the fish just weren't hungry in this hole.

Time to move on, we traveled up stream to sight fish for reds. Only by this time, the wind had picked up quite a bit, a little too much for me to overcome with the fly rod. So I switched over to a soft plastic on the spinning rig and we started pounding the shallows. I must say, these shallows of only a couple feet deep looked like endless caves in the dark stained waters. We were surprisingly often drafting in just under a foot of water but I couldn't see bottom. I routinely witnessed mullet darting around the front of the boat, jumping clear out of the water and splashing down. Captain Rich pointed out the differences in zig-zag baitfish wakes vs straight line V runs of the red drum wakes darting away. It wasn't long until I was spotting them myself. He pointed out likely spots to cast far in advance of our approach. I keyed in on them, played the wind and fished hard. We reached one of his favorite spots where he said he often sees and catches drum just off a collection of oyster beds. A couple casts to the near side, a couple casts left with no hits... Captain Rich suggested a cast to the right and in between two oyster beds close the the shore, then a slow reel with a certain twitch twitch pause... twitch twitch pause. I executed the cast exactly as directly, twitch twitch pause... twitch PULL!!! I finally felt the weight of a fish on the other end of my light tackle line. Zig left, dart right, this was awesome! Our battle was exciting each gaining a little ground at times. I outlasted this red's fight and was able to bring him to the boat. After a couple quick photos and releasing this schooly sized fish, I was instructed to continue to cast in the area... where theres one there might be two. This was not the case for us though, so we pushed back and trolled over to a small channel between the a small island and the main land. This channel was the deepest water next to a flat known to offer some feeding reds. Captain Rich spotted a couple wakes and tails of reds so we stopped here to fish until dead low tide. Somewhere along here we got distracted by a great conversation about cameras. He was using the Nikon AW1, the waterproof version of a camera I own. I put down my pole and we talked about the capabilities of this camera and I offered a few pointers and techniques that helped me with this type of camera... well a little karma came from this because my very next cast in I had a good bite and about 5 seconds of fight before another red let go of the hook. I searched for him with a few more casts until I believed he would no longer bite. Dang!

At this point in the low tide we decided to cover some water, I would blind cast to decent looking areas as we motored along en route to a couple more oyster beds. One more light bite and one more red let go of the hook. Dang!

Now as we approached the our last likely spot of the day I noticed a particular squawky bird in the distance. At first I thought it was a heron but we'll get to the identity of this bird in a bit... We now approached what would be our last oyster bed to concentrate on. A few casts near the island with no bites, I changed my angle of approach. I was pulling my lure past the island and in to a deep trough near the boat. I was informed this should be the deepest area due to a crab trap bouey placed here. Well somewhere between the island and entering this trough I felt the tug... a little different feel though from the red. This one had a little more head shake. Captain Rich quickly told me to fight this one carefully, it was a spotted trout and they have much softer mouths. Well let me tell you, this boy was like no trout I ever caught before... TEETH! Fangs to be more exact. Once landed, I was able to inspect these vampire like chompers. They were impressive for sure and I was certainly keeping my fingers clear. A quick photo op with the AW1 camera's new settings and he was back in the water. We quickly repositioned the boat to attempt a similar cast... whammo! Another bite! I carefully fought this one to hand and we got another photo. The spots on these fish are amazing, speckled across the flanks from the dorsal fin all the way back to the tail. Very pretty fish, and pretty scary on the front end too. Well, lets try that again... boom! Repeat story! 3 trout landed at this one spot, and one lost on the "last cast" as we readied to head back to the dock.

At this point I noticed that squawking bird, this time with a little more chirp to it. I scanned the nearby tree line and saw not one, not two, but three bald eagles. Two immature and one adult. Awesome sight, they soared through the air making more noise and the two young birds tussled in the sky for a moment then they all landed in the trees. Not a time to come up short on camera focal length. Unable to get any good shots of the eagles we stood by and just watched. Lock that one away in the memory back for AMAZING!

An exciting day for sure. My first saltwater inshore fishing adventure and most certainly not my last. I had a blast fishing and birding with Captain Rich Santos and would highly recommend him if you're down in the Jacksonville area. He was very knowledgable, extremely helpful and an all around great guy to fish with.

Thanks again Rich!

Posted on: 4/25 15:25
_________________
Slay


Re: Suggestions for Jacksonville Florida

Joined:
2009/2/17 21:02
From Landisville
Posts: 174
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Red drum photo... attempting to add pic...

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jpg  DSC_1357-2.JPG (103.66 KB)
2109_535abc9768200.jpg 300X200 px

Posted on: 4/25 15:45


Re: Suggestions for Jacksonville Florida

Joined:
2009/2/17 21:02
From Landisville
Posts: 174
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Toothy trout 1

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jpg  DSC_1364-2.JPG (84.83 KB)
2109_535abcff0625b.jpg 300X200 px

Posted on: 4/25 15:52


Re: Suggestions for Jacksonville Florida

Joined:
2009/2/17 21:02
From Landisville
Posts: 174
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Toothy trout 2

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jpg  DSC_1368-2.JPG (88.92 KB)
2109_535abd159f665.jpg 300X200 px

Posted on: 4/25 15:52


Re: Suggestions for Jacksonville Florida

Joined:
2008/10/8 0:36
From Florida
Posts: 281
Offline
Sorry I couldn't get back to you, but I'm glad you had a good day fishing while you were down here

Posted on: 4/27 2:17
_________________
"When one feels the rush of cold water against his waders, and pits his skill against the natural instincts and wariness of the trout, everything else is lost in the sheer joy of the moment."

- Ray Bergman



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