Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Morning With Capt Dave

I arrived in Jacksonville on Tuesday evening ready to meet Capt Dave at 7:00 Wednesday morning. Last Sepember my good friend Glen Collins from the Chicago area stopped by my office and we discuss our meetings here in Jacksonville. I asked him if he wanted to golf on Wednesday morning before our meeting and he stated that he would rather do something like fishing. Well that was music to my ears! I got on the Internet and found Capt Dave's charter. He sounded like a great guy so I booked a 5 hour trip with him. Joining Glen and I was Gary Hicks from Michigan. We got up early and headed for the landing where Capt Dave was ready for us at the docks at 7:00. I had called him earlier on Tuesday and her told me that it would be cold on Wednesday morning and to dress warm. When asked how cold he said in the 40's to which I responded "So are you saying we should wear shorts?". I reminded him that it was 10 degrees on Tuesday morning in Minneapolis and his perception of cold was quite different than mine.

Arriving at the dock it took about a minute to realize we where going to have a great time. There is a long jetty that extends about a mile out into the ocean at the mouth of the St. Johns River. The jetty is made of large blocks of granite stacked in a pyramid formation and provide great habitat for a number of fish including Speckled Sea Trout, Redfish, Sheepshead, Pinfish, and Flounder. Current is the key to catching fish here and we were just at the beginning of slack tide, meaning no current. We finally found a little current along one point and anchored about 50 feet from the edge of the rocks. Our fishing rods were rigged very similar to how we fish for walleyes on Mille Lacs, slip bobber style. Setting the floats at 8 feet we hooked a live shrimp through the head and and lobbed it towards shore. The float would drift along until a fish grabbed it and within 10 minutes I had my first Speckled trout(top picture). They are a beautiful fish and are excellent table fare. Here's another one real nice fish we caught, making a total of 5 specks we caught on this spot.

Sensing that the tide was about to change we headed for the outside edge of the jetty. The tide had reversed and was now coming in causing the current to wrap around and flow in the opposite direction. It was interesting as the current on the top kept our boat in one direction while the current underneath was flowing in the opposite direction. Once the tide got going that situation fixed itself. Again we anchored about 50 feet from the exposed rocks, in 10 feet of water, and drifted our float rigs. The fish immediately hit our baits and we ended up with a number of nice speckled trout, a number of sheepshead like the one Glenn is holding. In Minnesota a sheepshead is another name for a freshwater drum, which is related to the saltwater drum family. Although the two are not related in this case, this jetty sheepshead is similar as it feeds on mollusks and other hard shelled prey. I had failed to set the hook on a bite I had and upon bringing the rig in to rebait I noticed the hook was completely bend into itself as if someone took a pliers and crushed it. Capt Dave took one look and said "Yep, classic sheepshead damage!". These fish have front teeth that look like ours as well the back is full of traditional looking molars that can crush almost anything. It was pretty amazing so I took a picture from a dentist's vantage point. My uncle Jerry should will appreciate this one! The fish can literally grab a clam an crush it's shell to get at the meat inside. If you look at it long enough it sort of reminds me of my friend Mark Taylor's smile.

The jetty is the main port entry for ships docking their cargo as Jacksonville has a huge car offload terminal. At the end of the river is a large naval base where a number of ships are stationed. It was interesting to watch these large battleships head to sea passing by our fishing spots. It was a great time and I have fish in the resorts freezer to bring back to Minnesota. Capt Dave was a fantastic guide to fish with and I would recommend him to anyone wanting to try a little fishing while in Jacksonville. You can book a trip with Capt Dave by going to his website: and you can read his version of our day with him at his fishing report page on his site: . We had a fabulous time and it completes another fishing experience that I had on that proverbial Bucket List we all have. Well, back to my meetings and other less important things in my life!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dave...I just found your blog!!
GREAT REPORT from Dec. 4th.

I have your report on my reports now, too. What fun, huh?

Capt Dave Sipler
Jacksonville, Florida