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What do you in the big winds
They have started, the big winds of fall. Normally, the big winds don't start until the end of October or the first of November but it looks that they have began a little early this year.
I am like most fisherman in my willingness to endure most of the elements but the big winds put a cramp in my ability to fish like I want to and to fish many places that produce nice catches this time of the year.
I started out the other day with intentions of fishing the end of the river mouth, the Mayport Jetties but upon arrival at the boat ramp I had to adjust my plans. When I left the house it was only blowing about 10 but by the time I had made my way to the ramp it was kicking up to about 15 to 18 and out of the worst direction for this part of the state for jetties fishing, easterly. I knew right away that my plans were going to change. I had, as usual, brought 18 rods and reels, just in case I had to regroup and needed different types of outfits. I still had about an hour and a half before the tide at the end of the jetties would turn from incoming to outgoing, so I knew that if I hurried and was able to get my anchor down in the right spot on the first try, I might get in about an hour out there before I had to relocate to a more protected area.
I hurried to the jetties, turned on my new Lowrance LCX 15 MT bottom machine, found what appeared to be nice bottom and sent down my anchor. I was lucky that it held the first try and that I had placed it in a spot the would allow me to let out line to position my boat directly over the bottom that I wanted to fish. I hurriedly got my rigs in the water and right away started catching a few nice croakers and everyone's favorite "toadfish". We then hooked into a couple of nice black drum and a few more very nice croakers and some more toadfish. We had been there about 45 minutes and had three nice drum and about 10 nice 1 1/2 pound croakers. We then managed to pull a few more croakers and one more drum up from the depths before the tide change swung the boat. When this happened I told my guys, "you had better make every hook set count because we don't have much longer out here". I was right, it didn't take long for the waves to get big and when they started cresting next to the boat, it was time to move.
From my years of experience, I knew that before long, there wouldn't be a comfortable place to fish anywhere near the end of the rocks, so we headed for a place that would be a lot safer and a little easier to fish. After we had pulled anchor and were motoring back up the river, one of my guys said that he was glad for the move as he was starting to get green, so it was a good thing we left the big waves and headed for calmer water.
By now it was blowing all of 20 and I knew that it was going to be hard to find a spot to fish that we could do much more than fish straight up and down. I had four guys this day and I had tried before to chunk and wind with that many people in a big wind and I knew we were better of trying to find more bottom fish than go to the creeks and work the edges on the trolling motor.
We motored along until I saw a likely spot, I saw someone that I know and his rod was bent. That is by far the way that most fisherman find spots. I eased up along side of his boat and set my anchor gently into the water as not to disturb his fishing. This appeared to be a good spot, because he had boated another by the time my anchor came tight and I had lines in the water.
It didn't take long before we found what he was catching and proceeded to put a few in the box for ourselves. We fished this spot for about two hours boating several nice croakers to 1 1/2 pounds, several nice yellow mouth trout, a few drum, a whiting or two and of course some toadfish. The action had slowed and we were experiencing a lull of NO BITES. This went on for about 15 minutes, by now I was about ready for spot number three. Up with the anchor and off we were to the next spot. We cruised up the river until I came across another spot, that I had some success a while ago, so down with the anchor and in with the baits. Before long we managed to put another nice drum and a few keeper seabass in the box. This action also slowed before long and I wont stay long on a spot that is not producing some action before I want to move. We then headed to another spot that I knew had been holding a few reds, spot number four.
As we eased up on this spot, I once again turned on my Lowrance bottom machine and low and behold the machine was marking fish stacked up about five feet thick from the bottom. I was sure all of these were not the species that we were after but it was fish.
This was a small spot and I knew that I needed to be just right with the placement of the anchor to get right on this spot. I sent the anchor down and let out a little line but when it came tight we were off of the spot by about fifteen feet. We then pulled it back up and sent it down again. Again we were off by about fifteen feet. The current and wind were working against each other which made it tough to get right on the spot. We put the anchor down four more times before we hit home and were directly over the fish.
Now that we were where I wanted to be, down with the bait, live shrimp hooked on a Daichii # 2 Circle Wide hook. The rest of our rig consisted of a seven foot Ugly Stik Light CA 1170-1M rod with a Shakespeare SKP 4000A baitcast reel spooled with 50 pound test Power Pro (the new high vis yellow), with a 3 ounce bank sinker tied to 20 pound test mono for the leader. The first guy down had a nice surprise when his bait was inhaled by a nice 24 inch red which after a little persuasion made it to the boat and then the fish box. The next one down had a nice 17 inch croaker come back to the boat. This action went on for about fifteen to twenty minutes and the completely shut down. I turned on the Lowrance and what was a bottom covered with fish now showed a bottom void of anything. We pulled in a little anchor line, then let some out, we tried to move the boat by turning the Honda outboard. I couldn't believe that all of those fish had just up and left but we could not find them. We then pulled up the anchor turned on the Lowrance and looked for about ten minutes. We could not find them again, so we were off to spot number five.
The next three places didn't show any fish and we even tried sending down lines a couple of times and drifting to no avail. We were now off to spot number nine. This spot showed a few fish so we sent down the anchor and managed to catch a few more croaker and another red before this spot played out.
By the end of the day we had moved more times that I usually have to in a week of fishing and it seemed like all that we had done was ride around all day.
When we finally got back to the dock and it was time to offload their fish, we surprisingly had a 72 quart cooler full of fish. We had several nice reds about 10 black drum, 20 plus big croakers, a few yellowmouth trout, a few speckled trout, some seabass and a few flounder. What a day, with the wind chasing us from place to place we must have moved over 20 times but still had a nice box of fish.
The lesson for this day was to keep moving and trying different spots and different techniques. We tried bottom fishing with the anchor down, drifting, float fishing and even threw around the oyster mounds in a few creeks for a while. If I had not tried so many spots and so many types of fishing we for sure would not have had such a nice box of fish. I will try this again the next time the wind blows. Which looks like will be all of this week and some of next.
Give this a try the next time you are caught in the wind. Some of the keys are to have more than one kind of bait and more than one type of fishing outfit. We used live shrimp, cutbait, Fish Bites and live mullet to end up with a good day of fishing and for these guys, several good nights of fresh fish for dinner.
Remember mom and dad, spend some time with your sons and daughters taking them fishing and you will not be looking for them come Friday and Saturday nights, as they will be home in bed waiting to go the next day.
Don't forget to check out my website for other information on fishing this area and charter info at www.hammondfishing.com/.
Starting in January my show that airs in Jacksonville Tuesday nights at 10:00 pm will air on Tuesdays at 7:00 pm.
This report is brought to you by and
Capt. Jim Hammond
904 757 7550