Tough night sleeping had me rolling out of the bed earlier than usual. Perhaps is was the thoughts of no wind and low tides with some decent moving water that had me tossing about. Loaded up I looked at the clock and saw that I was actually running late - one of those what the heck did I do for an hour at 5:15am moments.
Regardless I found myself on the water around 7:00am and with plenty of sunlight I pushed off - this time I was headed out solo and left the daughter in slumbering.
Winds were just as the weatherman had said they would be and the temps were brisk, but not too cold. Rain/fog - not on the radar - but such was the case a couple weeks before when I found myself in 15 knot winds in shorts and a wind breaker. That made for a cold 2-3 hours. Once the core started getting wet I knew it was game over and head in; regardless this week's trip had sunshine written all over it.
Looking over the horizon I saw fish jumping and a stationary boat - two fellow anglers were wading about.
Hmmm...those ducks look awfully close to them, but at this distance who knows. Couple loud shots later it was confirmed that the odd looking rods were shotguns. I debated which way to go...pushing way out was a headache for me - winds were blowing more towards the bay; pushing in the water looked really skinny. I chose to go skinny and tried to keep my legal distance of 150 yards, but I may have been within the legal bounds. I figured if I was them I would want me hugging the trees versus being seen by ducks in open water. That said I pushed in 4-6" of water until I was about 200 yards away - probably far enough not to be concerned about being hit, but being peppered was possible. I kept going another 100 yards and at this point settled in on some dirty water fishing. I took this shot a bit later in the day, but the trinity of lures was set - one lure for each column (top, bottom,mid)..
With some mullet mulling around I quickly found myself on a decent sized Snook - mid January and this 20ish inch snook was on the flats. With little water in the groves he had no choice but to push out, but I figured there had been just cold weather to get him in the rivers or closer to them by now. Regardless I thought I would get a pic of the Snook and managed a sportsman release a bit too early. So much for that...I fished the area a bit more but it was short of my preferred location. So I pushed on. With water still kicking out over I saw a big school of moving fish - I cast way to early and too far ahead of the school; rather than recasting I opted to just sit still until the fish got closer. Sure enough with the school closer I twitched it a couple times and was on a solid fish. It took a it, but this guy "cooperated" for his Polaroid moment. At 25" or so he put up a fight better suited for an upper slot red. On the view finder on the camera the shot looked in focus, but at home it didn't quite come out right. Regardless with one extra piercing he was released to grow up some or become some one else's dinner.
Fish release I was already pretty content for the day. About 1.5 hours worth of fishing, seeing some ducks, Osprey, and the sun was shining. Ahhh yes...things were going pretty good. There should be some more fish around here. Well there were - until about 6 mature dolphins and about 3 juvey's showed up. They were in full hunt mode and spread out over the flat - seems they knew the skinny water had the fish on outside the second bar. It was fun to watch, but bit killed the bite down the entire flat for at least one half to three quarters a mile. This fellow got a bit to shallow and bid a hasty retreat when he saw me. Interestingly the mood of the weather changed as well.
With the bite securely dead I figured a good morning brunch of venision sticks and some new fangled breakfast bar my wife had bought would hit the spot. Yes the brunch of champions - deer, nuts, cranberry, and water. Actually that breakfast bar was the best one I've ever had. Chowing down I noticed that the weather decided to turn - and not for the better. This front rolled in...it suddenly was quite dark. Really again? So much for the blue bird of sunshine on my shoulder.
I decided to stick it out some more and saw just a touch of odd movement. Throwing in that direction I was rewarded with what I was sure was a good size Jack. Drag was peeling and the kayak was moving out at a good clip. What felt like several minute later I finally saw the tail of a big red. No above water antics on this fellow - just long runs with hard head shakes. I was convinced he would go over thirty but boat side he went 28-29". Still it was a good red, but man did he fight like a bigger fish. Trying to get a different shot I figured I would lay him across the lap - hmmmm...now I remember why I never do that - fish slime. Regardless picture secure he was released to get bigger as well.
Two more fronts rolled through and going from sunshine to clouds seemed the norm for the day. With the day being a bit odd I just settled into a relax mode; still looking for fish, but just blind casting hoping for another bite. Over the horizon I saw a fellow angler working the skinny stuff and was wading - interestingly he was playing some pretty loud music. Earlier I had been sharing the water with some other anglers who were all quite respectful of each other's distance and so was this guy, but the music seemed a bit of a buzz kill. I considered going over and asking why he wasn't wearing head phones, but saw he was plodding along and after 20-30 minutes of some decent country tunes he was far enough that the music was hardly heard. I must confess that had he opted to stay in the location I probably would have paddled up and requested he turn it down, but seeing him move along I figured he'll take the tunes with him. I'm sure the bass was traveling down the kayak and into the water; so whatever stealth was to be had by wading/kayaking was lost in the knee deep water with the vibrations. First time I've seen that...
Regardless the bite slowed down and I pretty much settled in to enjoy the sun and weather. I tried to get on some Gator Trout pitching a top water in the areas where I thought they would be, but failed miserably. I ran across a fellow SSA member and we discussed tactics, bites, and lures...and concluded that we were seeing fish, just not catching. We split up after about 20 min and I decided to try some deeper water that held some grass. I also switched to a 4" chartreuse mid water Bomber something or other that I bought at Walmart for $2 and figured I couldn't do much worse.
Sure enough on the second cast in 4-5' of water I landed a nice lower 20's trout. I tried some underwater shots, but frankly they looked a bit weak.
This one looks more like a bass...although I do kinda like the focus on the bubbles.
While this one has to much flash from the sunlight.
Leaving it in the water he was released. I cast again and had a second follow up on what appeared to be another nice trout. Perhaps this will be a new go to lure for myself.
Regardless I wrapped up the day with a winter 67-69" in shore slam (non flounder at that) so it was a good day.
I called the spouse and we met for some cold adult beverages at a local watering hole. The conversation went something like this. "So you caught 2 nice reds, one decent trout, and a snook...so err....why am I eating chicken wings now?"
"Well there's this thing called an upper slot, and a season, and a snook stamp, and...well, how about another beer?"
For someone who wasn't a fish fan at all, she sure is now.
Sunday I met up with a church member's spouse and son. The husband is overseas doing what I call "taking care of business." I took the 5 year old fishing for some bass and bream, but with the crazy front coming through bites were limited. Closing out the day he said,"Seems I can cast better than you. Let me show you." And you know what - he did - he had the classic Zebco 303 Star Wars rod and he out cast me. [sigh]
Well...at least I know how Mark Richt feels; you go 10-3 for the season an it's still not quite good enough.