Mixed Bag Following Hermine
13 September 2016
Welcome to Fish Whisperer Charters in Jacksonville, FL!
After vacation and Hurricane Hermine, I was able to get a full week of fishing in and although it started out slow, it became hot very quickly around the Mayport jetties as enormous schools of mullet exploded in waves while being crushed by predators. My charters this week have started out at sunrise on the outgoing tide mostly on the North jetties as the primary fishing ground due to better water clarity, slightly cooler water temperature (83° on the surface), and a great chokepoint for the mullet run that many are already aware of. Once I took position along the rocks, the tide would push bait past us and the action was non-stop until the tide slacked up. Plenty of redfish, both slots and oversized, were taken and the occasional shark would quickly reduce the size of the reds. Tarpon are still rolling in the midst of all the bait and trout, pompano, and jacks were all biting alongside the redfish.
Following some inshore action, I went offshore three out of the last five days and figured out a few things. The first one being that the kingfish bite has been iced and the only species we took on the troll were barracudas. Doesn’t mean they won’t fire up as there were a few catches this past week from other boats but it’s certainly not what it was prior to Hermine. The second thing is that there is a lot of debris (stumps, trash, etc.) that poses a hazard to navigation but also holds plenty of bait, undersized tripletail, and pompano. So if you spot some, take a moment to investigate. Finally, the bottom bite has improved immensely with the disappearance of the thermocline in the area. We caught seabass, red snapper, vermillion (beeliners), porgy, and cobia on reefs and ledges within 15-20 miles using pogies and mullet.
(TTPs - Tactics, Techniques, & Procedures)
For jetty fishing, we have used 1/8 – 1/4oz jigs with finger mullet with 3500-4500 series reels and 20-30lbs braid, at least 3ft of 30-40lbs fluorocarbon leader attached with a small swivel, and chartreuse or pearl jig colors. I like the lighter weight jigs because it reduces the amount of snags and allows the clients to feel more of what is happening below the surface. I teach them to toss the bait towards the rocks, hold the rod tip up initially then lower it once the bait begins to sink. Once the first bump is felt on a piece of structure, I’ll have them raise the tip again to stay in touch with the bottom to prevent a snag. We’ll repeat this process until a strike or the bait is settled under the boat.
For the bull reds, I’ll use a 5500 series or more to minimize the toll it takes on the fish and I’ll tie a dropper rig for quick weight change-out and prevention of being hung on the rocks. Sometimes, if the rig does become hung, we can pull it out much easier than a hook on the bottom or we just lose the weight, which is easily replaced and sent back down instead of re-tying the entire rig. You will most likely get wrapped on the rocks at some point when the strong redfish takes you to school; however, be patient and don’t break the line. Just give it slack or strum the line and wait a moment and you may save the fish. We’ve done it a few times this week!
(What to Expect)
The bait run will continue to improve the fishing in the area and following the winds and rain expected this week, it should be on fire. Water temps will cool and migratory species will be active with most anything on the list of possibilities, including my favorite…flounder. The best days to fish, in my opinion, are going to be 15th–18th & 29th-30th.
If there are ever any questions, just post them up on my Facebook Page and I’ll do my best to get back with you.
Catch em’ up and stay safe!
Until next time…
Fair Winds & Following Seas,
Capt Kris Kell
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