The day had originally been planned to be a solo trolling for grouper day, but with one vehicle visiting the University of Florida, the truck had been relegated to violin duty in the afternoon. That left just enough time to get in a early morning of fishing, the daughter's violin downtown at 3:00, the Dawg's game at 7:15. A full day of being outdoors, sophistication, and football all in one day.
The one wild card in the mix was mother nature - and she provided one of the colder days (the truck registered 46), some winds, and not so lucrative tides. Regardless the 5am wake up, check work (being oncall can be a drudgery, but it beats the alternative of unemployment), and out the door at 6:05 was a good start.
Unfortunately half way down the road to said launch site I realized that I left my waders at home. It was scheduled to warm up, but I wasn't looking forward to upper 40's, breezy and wet. Regardless I was committed and figured I would grin and bear it. I had a good wind breaker and a couple shirts on.
Pushing out this fellow greeted me at just past dark thirty. The warm of the light was deceiving - it was still pretty brisk and cold.
I wasn't optimistic about the the first light bite and so I decided to stay in the mangroves for a bit. At least until the sun came up some more. After a whole lotta nothing I decided it was time to move and and paddle out in the more open water to the usual areas. The winds didn't cooperate much more and really gave me a good soaking. Paddling and the windbreaker kept the body core warm, but the legs certainly were cold.
I figured with the cold temperatures the fish would be in "deeper" water and managed to pull out two tourist trout, but was convinced there were some flounder in the mix. There were several pulls up to the boat and then nothing.
Regardless the skunk was off the boat - trying to upgrade to gator trout was a no go and after the tide switched I managed to get up a small [non-photo-worthy] red. I continued to stand up in the kayak and found myself staring down at some upper 20's reds - there was only one problem. With all the wind they had snuck up n me and were about 3' from the kayak. I crouched over and managed to get off a 2' cast and hoped for the best; one quick look at the boat the water exploded with fish running in all directions. Beautiful...the only fish of the day had snuck up on me and were gone.
By now it was mid morning and oddly I found myself to be the only person for miles. I guess people had seen the tides and weather and said, "The heck with that." Perhaps I should have as well, but with a higher sun the water would warming and the water should be moving a bit quicker soon enough. At least that was my story...
Seeing a bunch of small white bait earlier I switched from a rootbeer 3" paddletail to a pepper/white one. Giving the Dawgs the nod, I tipped it with a red jig head. It had the look of the Dawgs away colors with silver britches.
Here's a sample shot - not the best, but you get the idea.
I drifted back and forth over water in the 12"-36" range. I was confident that the water was warming and was looking for those reds again. I started seeing mullet, birds, rays...previously the water looked like a desert with little or no commotion. I figured I would fish where the bait was an hoped for a trout - and as luck would have it I saw a big one. Of course I managed to spook it too.
I pushed back out to the 4' range casting to the 12" to 36" range; I fished it slow and soon enough there was a sharp pull on the line. The Sabalo 2500 had no issues with this fish - call it a upper teens snook. He was sent back to grow up some more.
I checked my line for nicks and rearranged the paddletail, and proceeded to toss again. Call it 5 yards farther down. With a solid thwack it was game one, but this fish was not a teens fish. I was convinced I was on a fat boy red until I saw my line rushing across the 18" water so fast that it was leaving a small wake. There wasn't much controlling this fish and I dropped anchor and just watched line go out; the flat lit up like a lightning bolt. Fish were scrambling everywhere. Most looked like snook. So much for fishing this area - fish were spooked but good...still on line the fish started pulling my kayak into the winds; water was coming over the beams from the breeze, but it wasn't much to worry about. Push come to shove I just get out and stand up.
Eventually the fish was closer and I saw it was a another but much bigger snook. I was hoping that the 20# leader would hold up, so I backed off the drag a touch and let her wear herself down. Boatside I lipped her and took a couple photos. Call it mid to upper 20's.
She liked to do the thumb sucking routine, but honestly she clamped down more than once hard enough for me to wince.
Released she looked at me and just kinda did that silly thing that snook do - sit there and look at you for a bit. One day I swear a shark or dolphin is going to thwack one boat side.
Clued in on where the snook were and what they were biting I moved down about 50 yards and repeated the routine. Sure enough a lower 20's snook cooperated. This fellow jumped, and made some strong runs, so I knew immediately what was on the line. This guy didn't like his photo taken, but left me with a shot I liked. Lots of color and motion in there.
I was tallying up the day and realized that I was one red short of a double slam. Opting to close it out I switched retrieves and lures, but with time running out it wasn't meant to be. I had a long paddle in and made it home just in time to rinse the reels, shower up, slam own some chow and head to downtown Tampa for the daughter's recital.
On the way we listened to the Gators choke - I could only imagine what Wonderboy up at row 77 was thinking. He's officially drinking the Gator Cool-aid. About 20 minutes later I got a text, "No doubt that some money changed hands for the refs today. That pass was totally not catchable." Awesome. Let that hate fester and remember it for next year...or two or three. No matter what it'll be [yet] another rebuilding year at FL.
Interestingly now at the recital I crossed paths with my neighbor who had his Florida Sportman and two other fishing magazines to read. Since neither of us we weren't privy to hear the recital we recapped the day's fishing.
Wrapping up the recital we opted to hit Square One Burge
r on the way home - the Elk Burger was awesome, but I think that the pork and hamburger my daughter was the best. I hydrated on a couple cold adult beverage - happy hour was $3 a beer (such a deal).
Managed to get home to watch AU decide not to show up for the game at UGA. GA didn't so much win as AU decided to give us a bunch of extra tries. That said 34-7 is a solid win.
Overall a good day full of good fishing, some minor level of sophistication, good eats, and some good football. And yes FSU should have lost. Can't live on that edge too long - what'll happen is there will be a long line of losses in the last 30 seconds. GA does that with way too much frequency.