[b]Executive Summary[/u] - Temps 65-lower 80's, water temps mid 70's, wind 10-15 - gusts to 20 (maybe a bit more), 3 reds, 2 flounder, 1 snook. With the winds howling and only using my camera phone I was pretty much stuck using the boat for fish photos.
[u]Details[/b] I had knocked out my early AM work and was on the water at just after sunrise.
It was pretty calm in the mangroves, but I knew that the winds had been forecasted to be in the midteens. As I reached for my camera to settle into a fine day of photography I realized that I had made the error of leaving my camera at home. Nice...relagated to using the camera on the phone. It does a decent job, but is a pain to use. You just can't tweak depth of field very easily, but there's always photoshop or pixlr.com.
The day started out pretty badly - even though there was plenty of moving water the mangroves didn't hold much of anything. I worked the water with a top water. I really was hoping to avoid heading out in the winds, but I'm kinda used to it so I said to myself - "Self, time to move out to those partially exposed mangroves." I did manage to get a nice sunrise shot - the clouds would tell the story for the building front.
And as luck would have it I kept a solid goose egg. With winds picking up and tides moving out at an accelerated rate, I made the transition to "deeper" water passed the second sand bar. It was pretty easy to do as winds were probably now in the 12 mph range. With seasock deployed I blind cast and hoped for the best.
Using a recently purchased Bass Assassin I managed to pick up this fellow.
At least the skunk was off the boat - but I wasn't very optimistic for future fish. Knowing I was heading out of town for a couple days I released him.
Now about 1/2 mile off shore winds were pretty steady and it was impossible to see any fish. I decided it would probably behoove me to head back into the line of other kayakers who had anchored up 100 yards from a mangrove - they were using the island as a wind break and were hoping that fish would come along.
Heading into the building wind I managed to get quite a bit of splash off the bow, and oddly found myself singing "Mama said there'd be days like this. There'd be days like this. My mama said. Mama said, mama said." Confident that the head winds would take my offkey singing to the bay away from my fellow kayakers I didn't worrying to much about being on key.
I pushed in about 50 yards inside the kayakers line and just let the winds calm down. No fish here, but the winds were pleasant enough. I looked at where I had been and there were plenty of white caps, but figured I'll push to an opening, stand up, and let the winds take me back out there slowly - looked like winds might ease up. Maybe...
Casting in 6" of water I continued a rock solid goose egg. More "Mama said there'd be days like this. There'd be days like this. My mama said. Mama said, mama said."
Just as I got into the steady winds again I stayed standing - I would estimate the winds at 10 so it was doable - until I hit the fist sand bar. There I sat - the waves built up a bit to much for my taste. Just as I sat down I managed to spook out a decent sized red. Beautiful - the one fish I see I spook him out.
I let the winds take me into 2-3" of water and after seeing some Sheepshead I figured this was a decent spot to anchor up. I really didn't want to deal with a long paddle again into winds. For reference I looked back at my fellow kayakers and saw that I was pretty much ended up where I had previously paddled in from . [sigh]
Regardless I was now at least seeing fish. Thinking I would swap out to another lure I saw the Wonderboy special in the tackle box and figured, "WTH, the white Aquadream ain't cutting it. Let's try another color."
First cast and I was on...good bit of drag peeling, but not a huge fish. Call it lower 20's. I had him close enough to the boat when I saw some fellow reds running with him. Full of greed I grabbed my Aquadream and hoped for a double. In the process I managed to foul that up with my top water plug so I reverted back to the solo red. Behind me I heard some noises, but I ignored it.
About 5' from the boat I was prepping to land the fish when the lure came back flying at me. "Son of a b****." I looked at my line and this is what I saw.
Guess that lure had been on one to many reds without replacing the hook. Regardless I was feeling somewhat confident in the spot and lures, but I didn't want to cast that same spoon again. I untangled the mess of the other rods and for grins I looked over my shoulder to see what that noise was. Turns out it was breakers crashing over the first sand bar. Hmmm...seems the winds were now around the 15-20 knot range. The below gives a pretty good feel for the pitch - you can see the pitch of the boat as the top water plug was swaying pretty good. White caps were off the bow, stern, port and stern. Woohoo...lovely day.
Well if I flip my fellow kayakers will come help me. I looked to see where they were and they had all abandon the fishing to the elements.
I thought to myself, "Well, at least I have the place to myself, and it's not that deep, and I have my PFD on, and I have a boat plan, and the water is not that cold...."
Using the wind as an assistant I heaved my white Aquadream practically straight up and let the wind do the rest. I looked down and saw some silver of the spool. Nice long cast...I started to collect line when a solid thump hit the line. I set the hook and quickly realized this was not a 21" red. Drag was reeling peeling out. I thought of pulling anchor, but drag was going out too fast. It wasn't very comforting seeing the knot and about 7 more wraps of line. Nothing to do but grab the spool and get down and dirty. Managing to turn him I got about 6 yards of line in when he made another strong run. I was feathering the drag pretty aggressively now and manged to have more blue than silver on the spool - but not by much. This went on for a couple few minutes and at one point the fish started to pull the kayak beam to the waves - which for the nonsailors out there is imminent danger. Fortunately I turned the fish again and landed him. I was sure that this was a 30" fish.The measuring stick shows 30-ish, but this guy went about 26-27".
I threw out a couple more times, but didn't get any schooling partners. I swapped out to a 4" Riptide Minnow that we had received. I'm not sure what possessed me to put it on, but I liked the color at the time and I was looking at a red 5 yards of the bow that was ignoring the spoon. I took off the Bass Assassin and put on the paddle tail and sure enough right at boat side the fish hammered it. It was a pretty good fight, but not quite as strong as his big brother. Call it 21-22". He made for a nice pic and was released...
I stayed with the paddle tail and heaved one way out there, but I was a bit more cognizant of how much line I had left on the reel. Another long cast and another solid thump. The fight was pretty much the same as the 26-27 incher, but I was hoping for a +30". Boated I took a quick shot and released him. Another 26-27" - maybe a bit more with a tail pinch.
With the tide still going out and more breakers forming, I picked up anchor and drifted out a bit more. Hoping to find a couple trout in 4-5". With enough wind I opted for the brown jig.
Seeing what I thought were gator trout I pitched a couple times and came up with a very respectable 16" flounder.
Not a bad day...and I even figured out how to do a "selfie" on my camera by accident. Smart or not I did expose my phone/camera to the elements for all the pics.
My wife would not be to pleased with the red visor and aqua buff.
Hmmm...I was thinking I had a couple decent sized slams here, but I needed a couple trout - my nemesis.
In deeper water the frequency of the waves seemed to be a bit more spread out, but they were still pretty big. With no one to help me out if I flipped I figured it was time to head in and find some trout in some holes.
As I paddled in I got a major soaking - I don't recall being wet from head to toe before, but I was going at the waves at 45 degrees and the wind was pushing the water all over me. Regardless, about 30 minutes of paddling had me in calm waters and practically a negative tide.
I thought the day was pretty epic. The only thing that would make this more epic would be a) catch some trout, and b) to see a B-17 Flying Fortress flying over head.
Almost on queue I saw this guy flying overhead. Now that was epic - yes I did take a picture of a B17 with a camera phone. Just had to crop it a bunch.
I fished my hot trout spot where I don't know how many trout I have pulled out before, but the fishing gods slammed the door shut.
As I pushed farther towards the launch site I got into some dirty water and was seeing a bunch of water commotion. I've no idea what it was, but I figured I might catch a trout here. I stuck with the jig and with the mangroves protecting me my cast were shorter. However, I felt a subtle thwack and then a bunch of head shakes. Seeing a flurry of activity on the surface I was sure I was finally on my gator trout. Drag was pulled and some more headshakes. To my chagrin this guy came in.
A lower 20's snook. Not what I was expecting, but I'll certainly take it.
To ensure that I paid my toll to the fishing gods, I was rewarded with a 75-100 yard haulout.
After another couple close calls on haulouts I managed to get to the truck. About 45-50 min into the ride I called the wife up and asked if she wanted to watch the FL game at Fishhawk Pizza. "Sure."
I walked in the door and they asked if I wanted the usual.
"Yup - you have the FL game on?"
"Not yet but where you gonna sit - we'll get you set up. Usual spot?"
"Yup - how about a good non SEC game on another channel. The rest of SEC games stink right now."
I conversed with some locals and then the wife showed up to help polish off the last 4 wings and beer. Being able to walk into a local eatery/bar and they know you by name and order - that rounded out the day as "officially epic".
Watching FL lose to the new SEC powerhouse Vandy was epic - but in a bad way.