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Consider Renting Fishing Equipment When on Vacation

Consider Renting Fishing Equipment When on VacationIf you are a fisherman and have planned a trip to a watery destination you may do well to consider renting your fishing equipment when you are on vacation.

Tackle to fit your fishing needs might be more than you want to deal with. If you need to carry coolers, fishing rods, tackle boxes and more, on an airplane it can be impossible, or even in a car it can be a challenge. Purchasing all those necessary items upon arrival at an unfamiliar place may prove expensive and time consuming.

Google has proven to be a useful tool to locate shops or individuals who provide outfitting services or more commonly called ”rod and reel rentals”.

If you lack internet when you are on your next vacation, check with the concierge service provided by resorts and hotels; ask the front desk of your motel, or a property manager, rental agent or simply call a local tackle shop.

Once you have located a rental business, price should be discussed as well as the type of tackle recommended for local fishing, bait availability, where to fish, deposits required, how damage to equipment or injury is handled, pick up and return policies and local fishing license requirements.

If you and your vacation partners are inexperienced anglers, ask if the rental person be willing to share local knowledge and possibly provide a brief tutorial on the care and use of the rental tackle.

Amelia Island is fast becoming a premier fishing destination and whether you bring your own tackle or rent – when you arrive I’ll be happy to help you find and catch fish.

Capt. Jim, Cleansweep Fishing Charters and Beach Fishing Rentals. For more information call (904) 753-0882 or visit www.ameliacharterfishing.com.

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Cobia Come Early to Amelia Island

Cobia Come Early to Amelia IslandOur fishing party cleared the jetties off Amelia Island, Florida, around 11:00 am. Celebrating Luke’s birhtday, we were greeted by calm seas, sunny skies and high hopes of catching some really big fish! Fishing reports from the previous day included news of a 62 pound cobia that was caught at the South St. Marys jetties and it prompted us to carefully inspect each bouy marker all the way to the STM sea bouy. No cobia were found and a short ride later we were soaking squid and cut mullet at FB reef.

Immediately upon hitting the bottom of the sea floor, our baits were inhaled by hungry black sea bass. We were reeling them in two at a time! Every drop produced large seabass. Luke’s father alone caught at least 40! I had some live mullet in the baitwell and I pinned one to one of Luke’s hooks in hopes of digging a grouper from the natural structure 65 feet below. As I was unhooking a seabass from another anglers rig Luke shouted that he had a big fish and was struggling mightily to bring it up. When the fish finally made it to the boat I scooped it up with the dipnet and admired Lukes 18 lb. gag grouper. With sore arms he and his fellow anglers continued to catch seabass for several hours.

Another highlight was a pair of giant sunfish cruising past the Cleansweep boat.

On our return to Amelia we inspected the first set of bouys and discovered a cobia lazing next to a barracuda in the shadow of bouy #2. I tossed a live mullet in his general direction and he gulped it down in seconds, setting the hook. He ran around the bow of the boat and swam on the surface unphased then bolted toward the bottom in the direction of the bouy anchor chain. I applied a little too much pressure in order to avoid the chain, and with my jigging rod bent double and the drag singing, the knot between the flourocarbon leader and the braided line failed under the strain. We all gasped as the rod straightened and our estimated 60 lb. cobia disappeared into the murky depths.

The day was not lost as we caught fish all day and spent another great day fishing the waters off Amelia Island!

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Lofton Creek Striper Boats Happy Fisherman

Lofton Creek Striper Boats Happy FishermanA fishing holiday was in order for my old buddy, Jody Moyer. He was visiting from his home in Indiana and we hadn’t fished the waters of Lofton creek together in many years.

We had filled the bait well with large wild shiners from my lake the previous night and they were frisky and ready to fish. As we launched the Cleansweep boat at the A1A ramp the last third of the outgoing tide greeted us along with a log jam which we wiggled over and around. We motored down the winding creek past mossy trees and a scattering of houses and docks to a creek mouth aptly dubbed the “Hog Hole”.

After anchoring we flipped our live shiners, pinned to a 1/0 wide gap hook with a cigar shaped foam float, up to the muddy bank’s edge. Just as one shiner began patrolling the bank, a huge splash indicated a sizeble bass had struck, but the hook missed its mark and the fish devoured a free meal. Another shiner was pitched in the same vicinity and quickly inhaled. Jody set the hook and worked a four pound bass to the boat for a picture. My turn was next and my live bait was quickly smashed up against the muddy bank. As the fish headed for deeper water I set the hook causing an eruption on the surface and as I battled the largemouth to the boat it appeared to be sizable. When finally netted, it weighed six pounds.

Next, Jody set the hook on another hard fighting fish which when brought to the net surprised us with the lateral lines of a striper. Stripers can be caught in our Nassau County brackish tributaries in the winter and spring months. As the tide slowed, we prepared to move back upstream where the tidal flow would still be going out. Jody’s float disappeared! After a solid hook set and a deeply bent spinning rod, a blue catfish surfaced weighing in at six pounds.

We pulled anchor and headed upstream toward the boat ramp and caught two more nice largemouth bass before calling it a day. All fish were released into my lake unharmed to suppliment a fish population decimated by a fish kill last October… with the exception of the striper whose filets wound up being baked under a layer of mayo, cracker crumbs and spices.

Bass are active during all tidal phases in Lofton creek, moving water being the key. Check out Lofton. It is not crowded and loaded with natural beauty.

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Amelia Island Redfish, Shallow Water Brawlers

Amelia Island Redfish, Shallow Water BrawlersOur party of three anglers patiently waited for me to castnet a baitwell of live pogys which are schooling up in the backwater creeks; due to the lack of rain, I presume. One cast produced enough small pogys, just right for large seatrout, flounder, sharks and big reds.

We tried several usually productive spots with no luck. The tide was dead low and no tidal movement usually means slow fishing. Moving to another sandbar, an oyster bed area, the tide eased in bringing with it clear water. We could see bonnethead and sandsharks as they cruised over the sandy bottom. Live pogys were pitched to them and they obliged, providing some rod bending action on our 12 lb. spinning tackle. As the tide rose, I suggested another oyster strewn area with a deep drop off adjacent to it.

image – amelia-island-redfish

We drifted our live pogys along the oyster covered banks without success. Then just as we were ready to call it a day, Tyler, one of our shark catching experts aboard the CleanSweep boat had been soaking a bait on the bottom, in a little deeper water; he indicated that he was hooked up. Another Shark? Not this time! Although this fish produced some blazing runs, it surfaced in a shallow area and waved its large tail indicating that it was a sizeable redfish. Tyler deftly worked the red around sharp oysters which usually part light fishing line upon contact. Applying just the right amount of pressure and drag to wear the fish down, the big red surfaced boatside and I scooped it up in the landing net. It measured 36 inches, and was probably 15 to 18 pounds. This is a trophy catch on 12 lb. spinning tackle. We revived this beauty and she swam off to fight again another day.

Congrats to Tyler and crew for a memorable catch!

Now is the time to book a summer fishing trip as the action is red hot!

Call me at (904) 753-0882
Capt. Jim Wormhoudt
Cleansweep Charters

Offshore Amelia Island Offers Fishing Variety

Offshore Amelia Island Offers Fishing VarietyAmelia Island offers a variety of offshore fishing! Light and variable are two of my favorite weather terms in relation to wind conditions. As we rounded the South Jetty Can a small groundswell combined with east winds of the light and variable kind greeted us. We motored east toward the FC area to ply some of that area’s small ledges, live bottom and man made structures in hopes of catching newly legal gag grouper. In hindsight, I should have taken the time to catch live bait inshore as large pogy schools have been hanging near the Saint Mary’s inlet though they weren’t showing themselves early as the sun was not up high enough yet to make them easily visible. My idea that scaled sardines and cigar minnows would be plentiful as earlier in the week offshore didn’t pan out, so we utilized frozen pogies and fresh local squid. Always carry good fresh and or frozen bait offshore in case livies aren’t cooperative.

Amelia Island FishingOn our first drop over some submerged culvert pipes large triggerfish and numerous seabass of various sizes were the first to line the fishbox followed by a 15 pound snapper that tested the anglers mettle and was heartbreaking to release. Later, as we drifted over a small ledge, an 8 pound Grouper finally came over the gunnel followed by more seabass and a flounder. Another deeply bent rod and intense struggle produced another snapper of similar size and another one, slightly smaller. Will they ever open snapper season again? I’m convinced that had I taken the time to procure live bait that we would have attracted the attention of more grouper as the dead baits seem to become quickly devoured by the smaller seabass, sand perch, lizzardfish and the like while occasionally reaching a sizeable snapper or gag grouper. However, a tantalizing, swimming livebait will entice the larger and more aggressive fish like snapper and grouper, off the bottom quickly and also evade the smaller fish until larger ones can get to them.

Charter Fishing Amelia IslandAs we neared the south jetty entrance after an enjoyable ride home and enough fish for a good fish fry we noted acres of pogy pods just to the south of the channel with several slow trolling kingfish boats working the area. Kings should be showing up in the slough at the south end of Amelia Island, near pogy pods just off the beach and near the St. Mary’s shipping channel as water temperatures approach the low 80s. Spanish mackerel have been slow in showing up this year in their customary numbers; let’s hope their larger cousins the king mackerel will not follow suit.

Continued east winds should blow bait and striking fish closer to shore, so lets go fishing and take advantage of Amelia island’s greatest natural resource.

Call me at (904) 753-0882 for a charter booking or for the latest fishing information.

Capt. Jim Wormhoudt
Clean Sweep Fishing Charters

Fishing Closures Now Include Sea Bass

Sea Bass FishingIf you enjoy tasty sea bass as I do you’d better get out there and stock up, which is almost never a problem unless NOAA and the PEW people step in and declare that we no longer have the right to catch and eat them.

As of February 12, 2011, sea bass will join grouper, snapper and – for the month of February – speckled sea trout, in a closure that takes away the opportunity for many charter captains to earn a living and our right as recreational fishermen to harvest what is normally a wintertime staple for those who prefer to catch and eat fresh fish.

Amelia Island Fishing Charter

If you happen to be a sheephead, drum or redfish lookout, because the fishing pressure will certainly increase for such species!

Why aren’t the bag limits reduced instead of completely shutting down a fishery and putting more people out of work and forcing us to buy imported and farm raised fish?

Sounds “fishy” to me!

We have no idea under what conditions these imported products are raised, packed or shipped, but we do know that we are being steered away from harvesting and enjoying our own local seafood in favor of an inferior product. Most people don’t realize that we have some of the tastiest oysters and clams right here in our local waters, but for years they have been off limits for commercial and recreational harvest.

Sea Bass FishingEnough of my tirade against Big Brother, hopefully the weather will warm up soon and we can pursue whatever species are still available. Sunday looks like the best day to go offshore with two feet or less seas predicted. Sea bass and triggerfish are good bets at nearshore reefs. A downsized hook will work well, especially for the triggers as they have small mouths. The smaller hook is also likely to reduce your chances of bringing a restricted snapper or grouper to the boat. Sheephead will also be biting on these same reefs and wrecks on live fiddler crabs. Offshore flounder will also be showing up usually on a flat, sandy side of bottom structure and they will follow your bait almost to the boat. Sometimes they will rise up and hit a descending bait as you lower it to the bottom. They will eat cut bait, squid and jigs bounced up and down near the bottom. These flounder are usually in the 3 to 7 lb. range and travel in schools offshore before migrating inshore.

I hope that these closures will eventually be lifted and the fishing action will be even better than ever.

Bass fishing in Lofton Creek is heating up and will be great over the next few months as the bass are bedding this time of year and are hungry.

Call me or email for the latest fishing info or to book a fishing adventure aboard the CleanSweep charter boat.

Captain Jim Wormhoudt
CleanSweep Fishing Charters

Call me at (904) 753-0882 or drop me a line at: j_wormhoudt@yahoo.com

Amelia Island Sports Amazing Fishing

Amelia Island Fishing

Amelia Island Fishing

The wind is whipping and the thermometer barely registers 50 degrees. Outside of bagging a few Bass working a plastic worm at a snails pace off the dock in my backyard, only the crabbers and shrimpers are bold enough to be on the water today. With colder weather on the way it may be awhile before water temps and wind conditions allow me to get out.

Last week provided some exceptional offshore fishing for those lucky enough to be able to reach the Elton bottom and the gulfstream waters some 70 miles offshore of Amelia Island. Local seasoned veterans know that winter and springtime provide some of the best Wahoo, Dolphin, Tuna and even Sailfish action to be found anywhere. Due to the distance and weather conditions this time of year there is little pressure on this vast and truly world class fishery.

Speaking of Sailfish and warm weather, I recall a fishing trip several summers ago late in July involving myself and Lawrence Mackie plying the waters only some seven miles off Cumberland Island. We were slow trolling live Menhaden (pogies) in search of King Mackeral. This area known as “KBY” has manmade structure consisting of concrete rubble dumped there during the construction of the Kings Bay Naval Base as well as a sunken barge and tugboat spread out over a large area. We secured a live-well full of Menhaden along the Cumberland Island shore and shortly thereafter we were trolling live baits and chumming following a pattern that went from one pile of rubble to another as indicated on our fishfinder. Almost like clockwork as we passed over an area of stucture one of the trollong rods would go off ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ, screaming reels and bent rods provided solid action from Jack Crevalle, Barracuda, Sharks, Bonito and even our targeted species King Mackeral. We had two “smoker” size Kingfish gaffed and resting quietly in the fishbox. We were pulling in lines to try fishing another nearby rubble pile when we got lazy and decided to leave two lines out for our short run, allowing the baits to skip along on the surface. As the boat was just shy of coming up on plane one of the rods left trolling doubled over and I asked Lawrence if we were snagged on something when a sailfish began cartwheeling in our boat wake.

Sailfish

Sailfish

We yelled, “Sailfish!” at the same time and Lawrence grabbed the rod while I slowed the boat just slightly to keep pressure on the leaping fish. I reached for a camara and as I began snapping off pictures the film emerged from the camara and fell to the boat floor. Only one frame had advanced far enough to be salvaged showing the sailfish bill poking up out of the water.

We boated the Sail and released her unharmed high five-ing and celebrating our eventful day. As we trolled over the same area another larger Sailfish took our bait and performed spectacularly. To our amazement we had two Sails in one day.

Fortunately we had been corresponding with another fishing boat via the VHF radio regarding our sailfish encounter and being in the area they motored over and took some pictures of the second Sail after it had been boated. It too was revived and released unharmed. What a day!

Sailfish Caught off Amelia Island

Sailfish Caught off Amelia Island

Notably we had spotted numerous Flying fish in the area and they may have been the key to catching Sailfish so close to shore. Similarly I once caught Dolphin (Mahi Mahi, not Flipper) at the Nassau Live Bottom only four miles off the south end of the island and Flying fish were present that day as well.

We have an amazing fishery here in the waters of Northeast Florida. Lets enjoy it and be conservative with its bounty but also keep abreast of the many government regulations and restrictions aimed at severely restricting our right to catch and keep fish. Take the Kids fishing and they will encounter and embrace nature up close creating memories for a lifetime. Memories not formed by a cell phone or computer, but by being there and learning first hand about our natural world.

Call me for a truly memorable day on the water surrounding Amelia Island!

Captain Jim Wormhoudt
CleanSweep Charters
(904) 753-0882

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Cold Weather Trout Fishing on Amelia Island

Seatrout

Outstanding Catch of Trout

As the temperature dips into the 20s on land and into the 50s in the briney deep, many local fishermen stay home hoping for a Jaguar victory in the comfort of their living rooms. I’m here to assure you though, that TV football and Wii fishing can’t hold a candle to catching 5 pound plus Speckled Seatrout.

This old picture, from the 1980s, is of an outstanding Trout excursion to the South end of Amelia Island. We kept 35 Trout over four pounds and fed everybody at the car dealership where I was then employed a fried fish dinner!

Wintertime Trout action takes place in the deeper portions of the water column in deep holes, rocky dropoffs and around deeply submerged pilings. One prime example of a cold weather spot that can be reached on foot with a warm car nearby to duck into is the former Down Under Restaurant parking lot located under the TJ Shave bridge on the mainland side. This area features rocky banks, deep pilings that form a fender system for maritime passage under the high bridge, and the most narrow and deep section of the intercoastal waterway in this area. This section of the channel is also unique because a little south of it is where the water begins to flow in the opposite direction during the high and low tidal changes. The tide flows out and in toward the Nassau sound south of this point, and toward the St. Mary’s inlet north of it. Trout hold near the bottom of the channel around the natural and manmade structure feeding on shrimp and mullet that flow past in the swiftly moving current. This area is best fished during the high and low tide phases as the current slows enough for your bait to reach the deep strike zone.

Trout Rig

Trout Rig

Using fresh local shrimp, this bait is deadly when hooked in the top of the head, in front of a dark spot visible through their shell. This allows for a natural presentation by not impeding the natural flipping action of the shrimp. I like a #1 or #2 “Kahle” hook, a little larger than my usual Trout hook, but a better choice I believe as these Trout can be in the 5 to 10 lb. range and a larger hook is a must. Tie the hook to a 10 to 14 lb. leader about 15 inches long, then a small swivel with a bead above on the 20 lb. mainline, then add a barrel sinker of appropriate weight for the length of your balsa float.

Trout Rig

Trout Rig 2

A bead and small knot which can be slid up and down on the mainline determines how deep your sinker carries your bait. The deeper you fish, sometimes up to 20 ft., the more weight you will need and thus a longer float to carry the bait just off the bottom. I like the leader to be of lighter pound test so if you get hung up on something, and you will get hung up, only the leader should break and all you will need to replace is the hook instead of your entire rig. The beads I mentioned are to protect the balsa float from the sinker hitting it during hooksets, they also emit a clicking sound that is attractive to Seatrout. Be ready for action when your float disappears by keeping your line in order and your rod tip near the water for the quick hookset needed to catch bait stealing Trout.

Trout Rig

Trout Rig 3


Count on the most bites to occur when you are opening a cold beverage or making a sammich. An 8 ft. rod works well especially during windy weather because you can take up line quicker during a hookset. A large landing net is also important to keep your catch from escaping during the landing process. Many sad fishing stories are attributed to the one that got away at the last moment. Keep your live bait cool and airated in a livewell or in a floating bait bucket for best results and replace dead baits regularly with frisky ones.

If this rigging process sounds complicated I’ll happily show you during your winter fishing excursion aboard the CleanSweep charter boat. I’ll even bait your hook, remove the catch from your hook, as well as clean and pack fish for you. Call me for details about your trip and remember that fishing charters make the best Christmas and birthday presents.

Captain Jim Wormhoudt
CleanSweep Charters
(904) 753-0882

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Amelia Fall Trout Fishing is Smoking

How to Smoke Trout

How to Smoke Trout

Last weekend it wasn’t hard to tell that the usual autumn fishing fare of seatrout, flounder, redfish and drum were all in serious biting mode as boats were lined up around the mouth of Egan’s creek. Occasional shouts of joy rang out as keeper size fish were swung over the rail and either released or iced down.

Our crew fished early as the low tide crept in around dock pilings in the Little Piney Island area and we boated and released some thirty, 17 inch, Redfish using local live shrimp pinned to a 1/4 ounce jighead fished right on the bottom. The bite slowed as the 68 degree water rose above the earlier visible oyster beds so we pulled anchor and headed for Egan’s Creek where the seatrout and flounder were biting in great numbers as we floated live shrimp just over the bottom with eight inch balsa floats, and one ounce egg sinkers to take the bait into the strike zone.

Smoked Trout

Smoked Trout

We kept only five of the largest Trout as I wanted to smoke them for the holiday crowd at my house to snack on. The Trout were iced down in a slurry of salt water and ice which causes the blood in the fishes tissue to soak back up into the organs. This removes it from the edible portions thus enhancing the flavor of the meat by eliminating any fishy taste.

At the cleaning table the fish were sliced from the dorsal fin, down the spine to the belly but not all the way through and laid open flat. The entrails were then scraped away and the head removed then thoroughly rinsed.

Preparing the Fish

Preparing the Fish

I chose to spice them up with liberal amounts of garlic powder, pepper, Old Bay and hot sauce. Next I laid them in the smoker brushing melted butter across them to prevent drying. I smoked them for approximately two hours at roughly 225 degrees. When the meat turns opaque it can be eaten and different people like different degrees of smoke and doneness.

Many combinations of rub and marinade or sauce can be applied, I like to brush a little A-1 on for about a half hour of smoking to introduce a sweet flavor. True smoking takes much longer and produces a chewier, saltier and well preserved result. During the smoking process of utmost importance is a cold beverage and a fork to be wielded only by the chef to ensure quality control.
SpicesWhen the fish are judged done the meat can be scraped or picked from the skin and bones and eaten or smashed up in sour cream, cream cheese and minced onions for a marvelous fish dip.

Now is the time to go fishing for various inshore species and offshore we are at the peak of the grouper season. The action can be non-stop and good times are guaranteed. Call me for rigging tips, cooking tips, and most important for the fishing trip of a lifetime for you or and or a loved one for the Christmas season.

Captain Jim Wormhoudt
CleanSweep Charters
Over 30 years local experience
(904) 753-0882 or j_wormhoudt@yahoo.com

Fall Fishing Action Aplenty

Everglades Fishing Boat

Everglades Fishing Boat

Wednesday dawned with the first rain we have experienced in at least 30 days. Not comfortable fishing conditions as a rule, but the rain moved away and gave way to blustery Northeast winds and overcast conditions, a classic autumn Amelia Island fishing scenario.

A change in the weather often will create a feeding frenzy for fish and lots of action for anglers. Wednesday’s crew of four seafood restaurant owners arrived late, but the tide had been extremely high due to strong northeast winds pushing it in, so outgoing water was delayed several hours.

Targeting speckled seatrout, red bass and puppy drum we soaked live shrimp suspended beneath a popping cork and as the tide began to move out a submerged oyster bar adjacent to a grassy point produced several small Trout. As the tide approached the half way point in its outward flow we moved to a grassy shoreline with submerged oyster beds along it and a deteriorating dock with lots of old pilings. I hoped to catch redfish prowling the grassline for crustaceans, mullet etc… as they washed out of the grass with the outgoing tide. My crew was delighted as a steady barrage of strikes erupted from around the pilings and hidden oyster beds. Many redfish between 2 and 6 pounds were released as well as a five pound puppy drum. The light spinning gear spooled with 10 lb. test proved a challenge in negotiating fish from around the dock pilings. A 20 lb flourocarbon leader helped to keep the line from parting as fish run over sharp oysters and crusty dock pilings. We blazed through 100 local live shrimp in less than 3 hours and re-baited in a small creek by castnetting finger mullet and small live shrimp, both staples for a variety of fall inshore species.

Keep an eye on approaching autumn weather changes as cold and warm fronts approach our area as they can boost fishing prospects especially this time of year when inshore and backwater fishing is at its peak.

To get in on the action call me at 904-753-0882 and remember that fishing charters make for unforgettable holiday and birthday presents!

Captain Jim Wormhoudt
CleanSweep Charters
30 years local experience

Redfish, Seatrout and Flounder, Oh My

Granddads Lures

Granddad's Lures

Redfish, seatrout and flounder headline the action now and in the coming weeks as the mullet run continues and the water temperatures cool a little each day. Flyfisherman and lure fisherman moving stealthily through the marshes will catch many fish with topwater action providing spectacular strikes, but for the meat and potatoes, blue collar, put filets in the fryer types, live bait fished while anchored up at your favorite fishing hole is a fall tradition that is hard to beat. You can kick back with a cold beverage and even listen to the football game if you are fortunate to have a radio on your boat.

Flounder action is great right now during the lower tide phases around creek mouths and rocky shorelines with light tackle and a short leader, 6 to 10 inches tops, with a 1/8 to 1/4 ounce jig head or a 1/2 ounce barrel sinker above a small swivel, between leader and line. Leader material of 12 to 20 lb flourocarbon line remains invisible and helps avoid cutoffs on sharp oyster shells. Kahle hooks work well in the #1/0 to #2 size stuck through the lips of a mud minnow or small finger mullet, as well as live shrimp barbed through the tail. Work these baits slowly across the bottom like a bass fisherman works a plastic worm and wait for a slight jolt and watch as your line slowly peels off the reel, then set the hook. Many flounder are also caught with live shrimp and float rigs while trout fishing. Doormat flounder 5 to 10 lbs. are out there waiting for you to drift a bait over their strike zone. They are one of my favorite fish for catching and for tablefare and as an added incentive the state record summer flounder of 21 lbs. was caught right here in 1983 off the bridge at the south end of Amelia Island. More on fall Redfishing and Speckled Seatrout next week.

Go ahead and call me for tips on rigging and fishing techniques or learn firsthand on a fishing charter with me aboard the CleanSweep boat.

Captain Jim Wormhoudt
CleanSweep Charters
(904) 753-0882

Hot Shark Fishing Action near Amelia Island

Hot Shark Fishing Action near Amelia Island

Hot Shark Fishing Action near Amelia Island

Hot is the word! Hot water, hot air and some hot shark fishing is everywhere. Inshore, offshore and at the jetties, too, they may even be at the Atlantic Avenue Recreation Center’s pool.

The VHF radio was alive with enthusiastic captains bragging about their shark fishing success. Sharks were even eating my blue Crabs fished on the bottom for Redfish at the end of the south jetty rocks, as well as large mullet floated on the surface for Tarpon. Tarpon were rolling in my chum-slick, but unable to get to the Mullet ahead of the sharks! I say we have a shark tournament with the prizes being awarded for the most sharks brought in.

Last week we did eventually manage to find some small ledges offshore that produced no sharks and limited out on Seabass and Grouper. The Grouper were eating large Mullet pinned to a five ounce chartreuse Grouper Jig stuck in a rod holder so it would bounce up and down just over the bottom. We also had lots of fun on a stiff spinning outfit.

Things will probably stay about the same unless we start getting seabreezes again in the afternoon. Sometimes a small change in the weather or wind can shake things up. Redfish have been showing up in fair numbers at the jetties during the low incoming tide phase. Live finger mullet or live Pogies fished on the bottom are providing good action between shark bites.

Call me for a charter booking if your arms are strong enough to battle lots of sharks and some tasty local Grouper.

Captain Jim Wormhoudt
CleanSweep Charters
(904) 753-0882

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Catching a Trophy of a Grey Grouper

Catching a Trophy of a Grey Grouper

Catching a Trophy of a Grey Grouper

Slick ocean waters and a rising sun resembling a red rubber ball greeted our fishing party as we rounded the corner of the St. Marys channel near Fort Clinch State Park. The water around us fortunately was teeming with hungry Bluefish gorging themselves with glass minnows and two throws of the cast net yielded enough small blues for a day of trolling offshore of Amelia Island.

We headed east to the FA barge area and trolled only two flat lines because the previous day I could barely keep a line in the water as Kingfish and Baracudas were competing for our trolled baits and there was little time to put out more lines. After several hours we had two King Mackerel and one small cuda in the box.

My charter guest being a Musky and Northern pike fisherman from Minnesota wanted to grill some Barracuda which I told him was as good as any fish in the sea. I don`t recommend that you eat Barracuda because there is a remote chance of catching “Ciguatara” disease but he said he would chance that. Islanders say that if you throw a piece of a Barracuda on an ant bed and the ants will eat it it is safe. Where is a good ant bed when you need one? Anyway the striking fish feeding frenzy ended in the FB area with a double header of large Bonito, one of which ended with a Cuda slashing a Bonito in half before our eyes boatside. All the strikes we had whether Kings or Cudas began with the fish rocketing skyward sometimes multiple times putting on quite a show for my guests.

Grey Grouper

Grey Grouper

Lastly I pinned a ten inch Bluefish to a chartreuse four ounce Grouper Jig on a light, but stiff spinning outfit and let it down over a small ledge we had trolled over several times. Bounce, bounce and wham! The rod doubled over as I passed it to one of my guests, the stiff jigging rod and braided line did its job and what seemed like eternity passed as he hoisted the heavy fish up through a pack of hungry Cudas who were apparently intimidated by our catch which finally floated on the surface unharmed. A 32 inch, 18 pound Grey Grouper! A trophy when caught within 12 miles of shore.

My new best friends were planning a fish fry and taking pictures of their catch at the dock as we parted ways with plans to fish again in the late fall when the Grouper action is at its peak in our Northeast Florida waters.

Captain jim Wormhoudt
CleanSweep Fishing Charters
(904) 753-0882

Snapper Seabass Shark Shark Shark

Red Snapper

Red Snapper

Snapper, Seabass, Shark, Shark, Shark; Snapper, Grouper, Shark, Shark, Shark; etc…, etc…, etc… Last week there were a lot of bent rods aboard the Cleansweep charter boat, but we lost a bunch of tackle and time dispatching Sharks which abounded over the nearshore reefs we were working.

Seabass, Grouper and Snapper were boated but moving further offshore and trying different baits failed to abate the Sharks. The tide changing inshore may have helped us as the day progressed because the Sharks eventually moved on and we were able to catch more of the species we were targeting.

Although critical to inshore fishing, tide changes also effect fishing offshore. I’m going to start keeping log of tide changes related to fishing bluewater. Similarly, yesterday we fished Lofton Creek with live shiners targeting Largemouth Bass. We struggled early, losing what likely were Bass although we never caught a glimpse of them before parted line around an anchor rope and a poorly set hook allowed them to escape.

Catching Bass near Amelia Island

Catching Bass near Amelia Island

Alligator gars then became a problem, stealing our bait and tackle while the seven year old fishing with us delighted in these ferocious looking fish. They were stealing the show from the Bass we were targeting! After moving to several different spots the Gar persisted until we moved way up the creek where we finally lost the gar and boated two nice Bass, one of which attacked a large Shiner on the surface spectacularly, missing it several times before gulping it down in typical exciting Largemouth fashion.

I think that moving farther up the creek where the water salinity was different and some tidal change may have allowed us to catch Bass without the presence of Gar. Patience again paid off.

Father’s day is coming, so forget the tie or socks and give Dad what he really wants… a Cleansweep fishing charter.

Call me, Captain Jim Wormhoudt at (904) 753-0882 with your local fishing questions.

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Cobia Fishing Time

Cobia Fishing Time

Cobia Fishing Time

It is time for some cobia fishing around Amelia Island. Cobia show up annually in large numbers each spring heading north along our beaches and over reefs and structure offshore as well. On 20lb tackle they provide a strenuous workout and require some angler finesse to boat one, and if not deposited directly into a cooler or fishbox they can seriously disassemble numerous items aboard your boat.

Look for schools of Rays as Cobia like to swim in their midst, also check around channel markers and near bait schools. Our offshore reefs will hold good numbers of Cobia for all but the coldest months of the year.

Live or dead baitfish, live eels, squid and large Shrimp are enticing to these fish, but they will certainly chase trolled plugs, spoons or jigs when aggressively feeding. Be prepared to throw them a bait as they show up sometimes in small schools when you least expect them.

Fishing for Cobia

Fishing for Cobia

Last week we headed north aboard the CleanSweep boat to some numbers 14 miles off the Georgia coast and were in the process of boating Seabass, Flounder, Weakfish, and one sizeable Snapper which was released when a trio of Cobia attacked our bottom fishing baits. One was lost boatside, but the other which I estimated to be around 60 lbs. kept pulling out the locked down drag of one of our party members 4/0 reel. After a 15 minute struggle I gaffed the big fish and tried to stuff him into the fishbox. He went fairly quietly after his battle with our heavy boat rod and weighed in at 53 lbs on the Atlantic Seafood scales. By far the largest fish ever landed by our guests that day.

If you wish to tangle with bruisers like this call me!

Captain Jim Wormhoudt
(904) 753-0882
CleanSweep Charters

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