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April, A Supreme Month in Jacksonville

by Capt. Chris Holleman


The spawn is on, it’s finally here, lunker largemouth are making their way into the shallows in the backwater brackish water tributaries off the St. Johns River. Since February we’ve been hearing about big bucketmouth’s being plucked from the beds in the far reaches of the St. Johns river. The bass spawn earlier in the year around Lake George because of the multitude of springs where warmer 72 degrees water entices the bass to do their thing. It’s different around Jacksonville though, we have plenty of largemouth and it’s been one of the best season’s ever but now’s when the J-ville bass do their thing. Soft plastics are the ticket for bedding fish, the YUM Houdini Shad or Ribbon Tail worm usually takes credit for the bigger fish. It’s just a matter of pounding the banks in the far reaches of the brackish water creeks. The best tip I have for anglers who elect for unguided adventure is to try their luck at low tide. The fish will be close to the banks at low tide when there’s less water to cover, look for bass bedding in hard bottom areas, residential canals are a good bet. The nice thing about brackish water bass fishing is all the bonus saltwater fish. You’ll find plenty of redfish, trout and flounder lurking around the tributaries.

April is also prime time for spotted seatrout here in Jacksonville. We have world class trout fishing here in northeast Florida. There aren’t a bunch of 10 pound fish caught but we see plenty of genuine eight and nine pounders and we can brag about the number of 5 and 6 pounders that we catch on the St. Johns River and Intracoastal Waterway. One of the hot stretches in the Intracoastal Waterway is the Palm Valley area. Not only are their great numbers of trout in this sector of the waterway but plenty of gator trout. The Palm Valley fish will chomp down on a topwater plug as hard as Amazon Peacock bass and they’ll hit them like they’ve never seen a plug before. “Walking-the-dog” with a zig-zagging Excalibur super spook is probably one of the most effective techniques. If the fish aren’t jumping on topwater lures drop down beneath the surface. Try tempting the spotted giants with a Bomber mullet or a Long A Bomber, mullet imitators are tops for big trout.

In addition to trout we have superb red-fishing this time of year and April is one of the top months to get these drag screamers on noisy topwater plugs. Redfish sometimes prefer chuggers and prop baits over surface walkers. Try Creek Chub’s new Knuclehead-Jr. along clumps of spartina grass in the ICW and you’re likely to get an electrifying jolt of redfish on the end of your line. As for prop baits, the long lived Smithwick Devil’s horse is still tops.

If you’re looking to experience a day of fun on the St. Johns River you can book a private charter with Captain Chris Holleman of Blue Cyclone Inland Fishing Adventures. Call 904-704-6178. http://jaxdirect.com/fishjax.html

                

 

 (Tarpon and Black) DrumRoll Please...........
                                          
By Fred Grey

       While staying in the Big Bend stretch of Florida for the FLA Cedar Key tournament I saw something I have never seen before in my life. Imagine if you will, HUNDREDS of Tarpon from 30 pounds to 150 pounds, all rolling and gulping air within a few feet of your boat! Well fellow FLA members, Ashley Kolbuss, Ken Weinstein, Myself and Dustin Hill all were greeted with this sight more than once while fishing the area. Dustin and I had spent one whole day throwing lures to these fish in June and we came up empty handed. This seems to be a consistent problem with me and Tarpon, but I am used to it. After the tournament, Dustin and I decided we would pick the brain of fellow FLA member Capt. Chris Holleman, someone I know that is well versed in catching Tarpon in "different" situations. On July the 3rd Capt. Holleman and I decided we would give these Tarpon a second chance. After many reports about jumping several fish a day (landing a few) from Dustin the week prior, we headed out at 3 am to see what we could do. After casting plugs and jigs to the Tarpon for several hours, our only results were an 8 pound Redfish, a Garfish, and witnessing a 70+ pound Tarpon that an angler had on for 10 seconds or less.

    Luckily we had a back up plan as any good anglers should have! We brought along a dozen primo live blue crabs to feed the large Black Drum that several FLA members reported seeing during our Cedar Key tournament. After a short run we pulled up to a barrier island just north of Cedar Key. Arriving at the very first of the incoming tide, we were afraid that our window of "tailing" opportunity would not be for several hours.........Boy were we wrong! After a few minutes we were greeted by very large "broom tails" sweeping the air, and this is quit the sight when maneuvering in a foot or two of water. We positioned my boat on the leeward side of a peninsula and I dropped a half a crab to one of these big fish. Seconds later I was hooked up to a 28 pound Black Drum, which turned out to be the SMALLEST one of the day! Capt. Holloman and I spent a few more hours before the afternoon storms catching and releasing about 11 LARGE black Drum from 28 to an estimated 45 pounds! We used our typical tackle that we would use for casting lures to Redfish and Trout in Jacksonville and around Florida. More than one time we had to turn down a shot at a double header, simply because there is no way two guys can land two forty pound Black Drum at one time. After fighting nearly 400 pounds of Drum in a few hours of near 100 degree air temp and 92 degree water temp.....we were flat worn out. We made our boat ride back and were greeted by several boat wakes from anxious scallopers and July 4th weekend warriors. We both had a great time that day I look forward to catching these shallow water bruisers in the future!

-Fred Grey

 

“Scooby-Doo” Found Pre-Fishing Titusville for FLA Tournament

By Capt. JD Nobles

 Well, Thursday morning while we (Denise & I) were freezing our rear ends off with the unexpected low temperatures that morning, we were in the mangrove islands just south of New Smyrna.  We had trolled to the back of this creek and let Buster, the "family dog" out onto dry land for a pit stop.  After we loaded back up and were fishing our way out of the back country, Denise poling me from the  platform and  I was fishing from the bow, we heard someone ‘holler’ for help.  Once we figured out were the voice was coming from we saw a man sitting atop some broken up mangrove trees.  You could tell he didn't have a shirt on, but that was about it from where we were.  We told him we would be there in a few minutes. He sat back down in the trees and Denise immediately got off of the poling platform paranoid that this man was going to shoot us and steal the boat (This is Denise...and I was very scared!)  As we fished on towards the man, he said he was having problems with the ex-wife's husband. I asked if he was burying him (he! he!).  He said "No, the man was chasing me with a shotgun".  The closer we got, the more we realized that the only thing this man had on was a pair of Scooby Doo boxers.  The man had cuts, scraps and slices up and down his legs and feet, not to mention the fact that it was 50 degrees out there. Come to find out, he was visiting his ex-wife without the new husband’s permission.  When the husband came home unexpectedly, the man only had time to pass the husband through the hallway, grab his boxers and run out of the house.  The man ran across A1A into the mangroves with the husband following him with a shotgun.  He would stop and listen to see if he was being followed.  He kept hearing crashing noises in the mangroves, so he just ran and ran and ran. All of this before daylight.  Needless to say, he stopped where we found him and didn't want to head back because he was afraid that alligators and moccasins were going to get him.

We called a friend for him and his friend was not able to help him out because he was 150 miles away and would have someone call us back.  So, the wife of the man in the mangroves called us back while the man is pleading for me not to give details about his predicament.  Being the typical man that I am, I quickly put together a tale of mugging and robbery letting the wife know that he quickly escaped before the men could steal his watch and gold chain.  The wife was on her way and Denise felt sorry for the man and gave him my favorite beach towel.  Only because she had a ski jacket on and was still complaining about being cold. We wished him luck and headed back out into the creek to look for more redfish. The man still had to climb, crawl, walk or whatever he could do to get out of the mangroves and back to A1A. Hope he got there!

 


My First Trip to Venice Louisiana

By Captain J.D. Nobles

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With a spur of the moment thought, Scott O’Brian made a few phone calls and before you knew it, there were nine guys on their way to Venice to ring in the New Year.  We packed up and hit the road about 3:00 am on January 1, 2004.  Not much traffic on the road, just a little foggy.  After 650 miles, ten hours and three stops for gas, we arrived at the Cypress Cove Marina in Venice. Anxious to hit the water, we immediately found the boat ramp and launched the boats.  Randy parked the truck and bought us an aerial photo (chart) of the area and within thirty minutes, we headed out in unfamiliar waters.  We ran out of Red Pass about 7 miles to the Gulf, made a GPS mark and turned right.  Not far, we found a small bay and started fishing.  The water was very dirty, so we were scrambling to find what the Red’s wanted to eat.  Not happy with that spot, we ran down the Gulf just a little bit more and stopped on a point.  Within a few casts, the red battles were on!  With 12 reds in our first couple of hours, we were looking forward to the next day.  Under the motel on the ground level was a concrete slab with a grill and picnic table, where our cook, Fred Grey, made us some of the finest pork loins with some red peppers, mushrooms and onions, you have ever eaten.  You could even cut them with your plastic knife.

Day 2 started with Randy, Kyle and I skipping breakfast. What we found was the thickest FOG you could ever imagine.  We proceeded out Red Pass at a slow rate of speed with about 50 feet visibly.  About half way out of Red Pass, I decided to make a right into the wagon wheel a very popular spot for reds. We dove off in one of the bays in the back and saw a few fish pushing around but they would not eat. That was the same problem Fred and Herb had in there the day before.  Not willing to spend time on fish that did not want to eat, we picked up and ran out a pipeline ditch toward the gulf.  The first bay we came to, we stopped on a point and immediately started catching fish.  A few here and a few there, the numbers were adding up, but no slot size over10 lbs, which was our goal.  Fishing our way towards open water we picked up and ran to the Gulf, hung a left on the outside of the barrier island.  The first nook into the marsh looked good. A small creek to the right dumped into a shallow flat where I saw a red push off.  With several casts in the area, Randy hooked up and boated a 27 inch red just under 10 lbs.  Not a lot of fish in this area, but what we caught were all big. That afternoon we ran back to a school of reds we found the first day and fished that area until all most dark.  Back at the dock, Randy and Kyle began to filet a few reds for dinner.  I set up my gas cooker and cast iron pan to blacking some red fish and a 5 lb bag of headed shrimp, which a group from Texas traded for a six-pack of beer!  What a deal.  After everyone cleaned up and gathered around the “blackening” began.  Pan after pan and they wanted more blackened red fish and shrimp sandwiches.  After we were all full, we all gathered around Herb’s truck in the parking lot for a BS session.  Needless to say, we attracted “Barney Fife”, the security guard, that wanted us to park our trucks and boats in a mud pit field.

Day three, still with heavy fog, we made our way out Red Pass into the Gulf and headed North for an outer island where we had a good bite the day before late in the evening.  With the fog and breakers on the shoreline, we could not find a pass that looked safe enough to enter back to the inside.  I plugged in a GPS number to an area we fished from Lafitte and onward we went.  When we stopped there, we found no fog, crystal clear water and sunshine.  There were reds as soon as we eased up the grass line a short distance.  After site fishing on two good sized schools, we headed back for the area that we first started out for.  About halfway back, we ran right back into the fog bank and still could not find the small pass we were looking for.  Finally, we found a pipeline canal and ran it to a small bay were we had been the day before.  Fishing our way back toward the Marina, we stumbled on Fred’s hot spot.  It had two boats from Jacksonville hammering one bank about 100 yards apart.  We made one final stop on the edge of a large bay and within a few casts, we found some hungry reds. Pushing 3 O’clock, we packed it up for this trip.  We loaded the boat and hit the road for home about 4:00 pm.

  TRIP RECAP…

650 Miles one-way

10-Hour Drive (One Way)

30 to 40 Redfish Per Day

Good Weather Except the Fog

Good Fellowship with Friends

What better way to bring in the New Year!


Copyright, © 2003 Florida Lure Anglers, Inc., All rights reserved.
For problems or questions regarding this web contact
captainnobles@bellsouth.net
Last updated: August 21, 2006.