August 21-27 Report
Welcome to North Florida Inshore reports! These are my observations and suggestions following the week on the water. Feel free to contact me with any questions!
With storms surrounding the state on both sides, we were fortunate to have a few days of good fishing with next to no rain or storms. The clouds and breeze kept the temperature at comfortable levels in comparison to recent weeks. It was a different flat compared to Wed the 23rd when there was no breeze and not a cloud in the sky! By 10am you were dripping sweat just from standing on the bow. The fishing was still great but you had to be smart and stay plenty hydrated. No Bud Light does not count as hydration. The wind was steady this weekend which made sight casting challenging but we were still able to target cruising reds by looking for wakes and had a few “tailing” which is a sure fire target indicator.
Saturday morning started by picking up my clients from Shell Point followed by a short run to St Marks National refuge where we began fishing on the west flats. I really like the new ramp at Shell Point, very nice lay out. The only issue is parking is limited so if you’re not the angler that wants to be there before daylight you might be better to head to another ramp. The water on the west flats is still stained, cloudy and in the lower too mid 80’s temp wise. The bait could be seen all over the flat, but after around 15 minutes of fishing with little action I decided to make a run to the west and try some of the oyster bars around Oyster Bay area. The water was slightly cooler and while still stained, it wasn’t as cloudy. We made our way to one of my favorite spots to fish on an outgoing tide. GPS coordinates are…. no just kidding! Have to keep some details for my clients.
The trout bite was on fire! Two of my clients, Jeff and Brittney Bliss, I had throwing Sebile Stick Shad in the chrome & chartreuse. These suspending twitch baits seem to do extremely well when fished slow, allowing them to sink a few inches down the water column. And today, they were wearing out some fish, catching one almost every other cast! There were lots of shorter (14-16″) fish, but landed a good number of upper slots through out the morning. The other client, Gary Bliss, I had throwing live finger mullet and then Gulp jerk baits on the edge of the hole where the grass drops off into the sand. On the first cast with a lively little mullet, the fish wasn’t in the water for 30 seconds before becoming lunch to a 22″ gator trout. Of course being Jeff’s dad and catching the biggest trout of the morning, a little trash talking was almost guaranteed.
As the trout bite started slowing down with the tide began to slow its decent, Brittney decided to take a quick break, rest her back and get a drink. I try not to do much casting when I have clients on the boat, but she handed me her rod with her blessings. **Rewind to about 5 minutes prior to this event. I was just explaining my logic to the crew, saying as the tide gets lower the schools of redfish have been known to push their way into these drop offs and feed in them before pushing back out onto the flat. ** Okay, back to the present time!
Standing on the bow with Jeff, he makes a cast and I follow behind him casting about 5 yards to his left. Honestly I do not thing Brittney had even shut the cooler from grabbing that water, and we were doubled up on two fine redfish! The look she shot me was had me concerned about being pushed overboard, but was a good sport and after a short break she was ready to get hers! Jeff and myself landed two picture perfect North Florida redfish measuring in at 25 inches and healthy.
We made a move to a grass flat that has a nice gradual shelf that drops off over about 50 yards. I’ve been fairly successful at find reds cruising the edge waiting on the tide to start coming back in so we started on the upwind edge and push poled our way looking for fish. We saw several “pushes” and even saw a tail or two tip out of the water, but didn’t have any takers. Brittney and Jeff are avid anglers who live in St Augustine and have caught lots of fish in their life, but this was their first time sight fishing for their targets. Brittney had pretty much come to conclusion that I was crazy and kept pointing out where I saw fish just to keep them excited. Seems to be a common theme when people are not sure what they are looking for or who are new to sight fishing. Few moments later, I spotted a nice wake pushing about 50 feet off our bow, and could see the golden sides of several reds. Brittney saw the wake this time and delivered a perfect shot that would make the most seasoned angler proud. She had a Slayer Inc Lures Sinister Swim Tail XL (S.S.T. XL) in the “Chicken off the chain” color combo rigged on a weedless worm hook. She started to move the bait and almost as soon as the big chartreuse tail started to kick she got drilled! Hooked up on her first sight fished red! After a nice fight and several fierce runs the fish was boat side and in hand.
And with that we were done for the day, another amazing day here in North Florida fishing the beautiful St Marks area!
- Look for deeper areas adjacent to the grass flats to hold trout. Sand holes tend to be slightly deeper than the surrounding grass, so they are always a great target! Also try finding deeper cuts running through or around oyster bars. The current disorients bait making them easy picking for hungry fish
- Top water is still my go to for early mornings and cloudy days. Floating grass has been an issue, but you can still mimic your favorite hard bait by using a weightless worm hook and your favorite soft plastic bait. Big paddle tails like the Sinister Swim Tail XL from Slayer Inc are great when worked at a steady rate with rod tip held high. This keeps bait near surface, allowing the tail to cause a disturbance on the surface attracting a strike.
- Start early or finish late. With high tempts during the mid day, the most comfortable time to be on the water is early in the morning or late in the evening. I offer 4 hour and 6 hour trips, either in the morning or evening. These are great trips to get out with out having to battle the mid day temps! Check out available dates and book your trip Reserve Your Adventure Here