Monday, May 23, 2016

Florida Mixed Bag-2016

Our family trip to Atlanta provided an opportunity to visit
a new area:
Amelia Island, Florida
St. Augustine, Florida

With help from a buddy in Jacksonville, I contacted long time Jacksonville guide, 
John Bottko.

The weather was unsettled and stormy much of the week, and our fishing was concentrated on the marsh, behind Amelia Island, fishing for redfish.  

I had hoped for nice weather so we could fish the ocean, for cobia, but this was not on the program, this week.
Given that we were fishing specifically on the tide meant we would be fishing 1/2 days.  

John worked hard to find fish, and I did hook several nice reds, during the mid day tide.  We ran a long distance to an area that had produced earlier in the week, but found a pod of dolphins feeding in the area, and this meant "no redfish" for us. 

However, while casting to reds, I hooked into a nice flounder, my first on a fly.  It was a great bonus fish, and totally unexpected.  


As the tide turned and started in, we moved to a huge sand bar that stretched for at least a mile.  It was more like wading the sandy flats in the Bahamas, with clear water and white sand.  Unfortunately, no redfish came our way, but we did see a big nurse shark, and an equally big black tip shark, that cruised by to check us out.  Since they were a bit too close for comfort, we retreated to shallow water.   
My second day I was scheduled to fish with Rich Santos, 
in St. Augustine.

With a stormy forecast, we headed out hoping for a short window, during the tide, to fish the backcountry marsh.  

It didn't take long and I was hooked up to a sea trout, and we were hopeful the tide would bring us more fish.

Speckled Sea Trout

We continued to work the oyster beds (in the background), casting a black/gold Redmeat Neutralizer, for redfish, and I was rewarded with a typical St. Augustine red.


As the weather turned bad, and we were thinking that our day might be over....

 Tarpon in the air!!

....and continuing to cast to the shallow oyster beds, I was surprised to hook a tarpon, totally unexpected.  This 15 lb. tarpon put on a great show for us, and really "made the trip".  This was a first for Captain Rich, in 17 years of guiding the backcountry!

We realized that our 1/2 day session was about to be rained out, but decided to fish one last oyster bed.... 

Toad fish?!!

.......and we were surprised AGAIN!  The line just STOPPED.....and started to move off, resembling nothing else I had caught.  When we got a look at the fish we were puzzled and shocked to find this strange creature with my fly in its mouth.  It was a toad fish. 
 This fish felt just like a toad with slimy, slick skin.  

I am not sure I have ever caught such a variety of species, and in only 2, 4 hour sessions on the water! 

It proves that you just never know what might happen when you are on the water. 

Many thanks to my friend, Aubrey Thompson, for recommending John and Rich.  I had a great time, and look forward to returning to the marsh for more fly fishing adventure! 


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