Happy Birthday to Me!-
About once a year, usually in the spring, I get an itch to go fishing. When it hits me I usually run into my husband’s office like an eight-year-old kid screaming, honey, honey, can we please go fishing? When would you like to go he asks? For my birthday I exclaim. I’ll call Capt. James and see if he has it available.
I love Capt. James fishing charter, Drumman Charters. He has been taking me fishing on my birthday for about 5 years. He has a great boat and my husband and I feel very comfortable fishing on it together. The first time I went out with Capt. James was my first fishing lesson in the Saint Augustine inter-coastal waterway. Boy did I have a lot to learn. Capt. James taught me everything I needed to know, all I had to do was show up wearing sunscreen. He has the poles, the bait, the boat, and a cooler full of water. He also has a cooler of ice to keep your fresh catch cold and my goal that day was to fill it with Red Drum!
We used live bait, so he baited all my hooks for me (now that’s service). I wasn’t too comfortable casting in the beginning, so he did that for me too. But with a few pointers from Capt. James soon I was casting on my own feeling confident and comfortable and having the time of my life on his boat. Did we catch fish you ask? Why of course we did. Capt. James informed me that every morning he goes out looking for fish, he says the trick is finding spots where the fish are not feeling too much pressure. Every year that I have gone out with him he has shown us new places to fish, new techniques and a great time.
The scenery and the fingers of the inter-coastal waterway is breathtaking. This is why I sometimes like to fish here instead of in the open water. I find it more relaxing and every time I’m out it’s like I’m on wildlife tour. Every trip, we take some time out from fishing to watch the dolphin play. I never get tired of watching dolphin and I always feel like it’s a great birthday present when they make their appearance for me. Capt. James on the other hand reminds me that dolphin are not good for fishing. So with that he starts his engine and takes me to a new spot, a secret spot.
Fish you catch yourself always tastes better (he cleans them for ya too). I have caught all kinds of things out there on Capt. James’s charter. We have caught redfish, trout, flounder and sheep-head, all great to eat. But some fish are just fun to catch. Capt. James takes us for those too, this past April my husband caught a 40 pound bonnet head shark out with Capt. James. That will get your adrenaline going and going and going. I have caught some really fun fish that fight and make you feel alive. The inter-coastal at certain times of year is full of ladyfish, they put up a great fight, I don’t know if the word lady should actually be in their name. I have also caught some Jacks that showed me a really a good time and a puffer fish who was really fun to watch blow himself up. My point is you never know what you can catch out there but I do know with Capt. James, you always catch something , that’s just the kind of guy he is. Your experience is so important to him that he gets up every day and goes and looks for fish. Who does that? He’s a dedicated Capt., a wonderful tour guide and a hell of a fisherman and that’s why I love fishing with Drumman charters.
You can find Capt. James at http://www.drummancharters.com
Early Spring Fishing Report
At the time of this writing it doesn’t feel like spring is starting. It is in the 50s and raining. Look for these cold fronts to taper off in the next month. The winds will usually continue for the month of March and April but it will begin to be a warmer wind.
This month will trigger the spawning of the sheephead and the black drum. Look for the most activity leading up to the full moon on the 16th of March and continuing through the new moon on the 30th. During this period is your best chance to get one of the big spawners. For the sheephead, look in areas within a mile or two around our local inlets. Fish around docks, rock piles or oyster outcrops. Use fiddler crabs for the smaller ones and a 1/4 of a blue crab for the larger ones. This is also the best time to catch a big black drum which will range from 30 to 80 pounds. Fish in the deeper water from the mouth of the inlet and throughout the deeper holes in the ICW. Look for water over 20 feet deep. Use a 1/2 of fresh blue crab on a 4/0 circle hook attached to a Carolina rig. Use bigger tackle that can handle these big fish. I use 6000 series reels attached to 80-100 lb. class jigging rods. Take extra time to vent these fish and revive them. Their eating quality is poor for any of the fish over 20 pounds. Read More→
There is a chill in the air. It must be November. The fish are starting their transition from eating mullet to switching to crab and shrimp. The beginning of November will have the last of the mullet run. It started with the finger mullet in October and by the middle of November the last of the big roe mullet will be heading south for the winter. The water temperature is in the high 60s. It will be dropping in the next few months with every passing cold front.
With the drop in temperatures the fish have started to move around. The winter species such as Blackdrum and Sheephead have started to show up in the creeks. Fish the deeper holes in the creeks or around structure or docks. Use a fiddler crab or a shrimp on a jig-head or fish finder rig to tempt these fish. Don’t be surprised if a nice redfish finds your bait as they will also be in the same locations.
Another species that prefers cooler water is the spotted sea trout. These fish love the water temperature in the 60s. Look for these fish along the deeper drops of the ICW or the holes around oyster beds in the creeks. I prefer using artificial lures to target trout. My favorite set up is a Z-Man paddlerz soft plastic on a 1/4 ounce jig-head. I also downsize my tackle in the winter time. I rig my reels with 10 pound Spiderwire and use 15 pound fluorocarbon leaders.
The last two years we have had mild winters and the water has only dropped into the mid-50s. These higher temperatures have helped our local snook population rebound. In the last few months there have been a decent number of reported Snook catches in our area. I have not heard of any keeper size Snook but many are in the lower 20s”. If we have another mild winter expect to have a good summer next year for these exciting game fish.
With all of these species the key is to fish your bait slowly. A fish’s metabolism slows with the cooler water so it takes them a while to eat your bait. Wait until your line comes tight before you set the hook.
This is a great time of year to get out on the water. Try to fish the days between the cold fronts, if possible. The fish are extremely hungry and the waterways are a lot less crowded this time of year. Put on a jacket and hat and enjoy our natural coastal environment. An added feature this time of year is enjoying the Nights of Lights from the Intracoastal. You will get a whole different view from the water.
Contributed by Capt. James Dumas
Inshore flats fishing – Drum Man Charters- www.drummancharters.com
The days are starting to get shorter and the kids are heading back to school. With this means cooler weather will be coming soon. This is some of my favorite fishing of the year. Starting in August and lasting into late November we have flood tides . These are extremely large high tides around the new and full moons. Look at the local tide charts for the tides that are +5.5 or higher. These are the days to go fishing. These flood tides bring the water level higher than any time of the year. This gives Redfish and Sheepshead access to areas that were previously untouched. These fish have one thing on their minds, EAT! They are swimming in a few inches of water gorging themselves on the fattening crabs and putting weight on for the upcoming winter. You can either get out of your boat and wade fish or use a microskiff like my Dragonfly Boatworks Marsh Hen and pole the flats. Look for the fish to either have their tails sticking up in the air or a portion of their backs out of the water. Throw either a purple crab fly or a ZMan crabz or shrimpz hooked weedless . Get ready for a great fight. It is a blast watching a 7 pound Redfish trying to get away in a few inches of water. This temperature drop will also start the Fall migration of mullet. This is where there will be acres of mullet and pogies working their way south off of our beaches. There will be tarpon, huge sharks, and bull redfish following these acres of bait. They will usually hang out until the second cold front of the Fall, sometime around early October. Keep a look out for the 100+ pound tarpon crashing the surface of the water in our inlets and near the Bridge of Lions and the Vilano Bridge. Use a live pogie or mullet on a 6/o circle hook attached to a five foot section of fluorocarbon . Now for some more inshore fishing. Our water temperatures are in the high 80’s in the back waters at present time. By the fall the water will be in the mid to lower 70’s . That will trigger the flounder to feed like crazy. Use a mud minnow or ZMan paddlerz in Houdini color on an 1/8 oz. or 1/4 oz. jig head . Fish near feeder creeks on the last two hours of incoming or the first two hours of outgoing tide. Retrieve them slowly along the bottom and have the net ready for landing them . They are masters for spitting the bait right next to the boat. Target the larger flounder, up to 15 pounds, with a 4″-6″ mullet on a fish finder rig. Fish around deep docks or rip rap and along the inlet rocks. Give these larger flounder extra time to eat the larger baits. If fishing off of the surf, there will pompano and black drum cruising the waves. Use a sand flea or a peeled shrimp on a size 1 circle hook attached to a double dropper rig. Use enough weight to keep you from sliding around in the surf. If you are looking for something larger, hook on a cut mullet or a cut whiting and catch large redfish and big sharks. If the redfish are over 27″ please handle them with care and release them back into the ocean after a few pictures.
Contributed by Capt. James Dumas
Inshore flats fishing – Drum Man Charters- www.drummancharters.com -904-687-9498