Amelia 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.
On 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.
As 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
Strong west winds kept us from heading offshore early last Saturday so we looked for menhaden (pogies) around the pier at the south end of Amelia Island in hopes of castnetting enough live bait to troll the beach or fish for Redfish at the jetties. The bid for pogies failed. They were there as evidenced by an occasional flip on the surface, but not schooled up tight enough to throw my net around them. Since the wind had laid down a bit, we elected to try a run offshore with the frozen squid and mullet we had.
As we got under way I was scanning the area for free swimming cobia as I mentioned in last week’s article when out of the corner of my eye there was a monster cobia swimming right on the surface, but at 40 MPH it was hard to relocate the fish when we doubled back.
My heavy spinning rod had a 4 ounce bucktail jig and a large whole squid on the ready, but no cobia could be found. We then headed to a live bottom area about six miles off the beach.
Click to enlarge
Luckily we ran into a large pod of Greenies (pictured) and used a Sabiki rig to procure a few for the livewell. Our first drop on a small ledge produced a double header for the first mate (my wife, Debbie) of two huge Black Sea Bass and one slightly undersize Grouper. We boated several more large Bass then headed to another nearby area stored in my GPS but on the way I noted a dome shaped area on the bottom recorder which looked fishy and we quickly dropped down with both live Greenies and squid on double bottom rigs. The first mate began groaning and then shrieking as she wrestled both a sizeable Grouper and a huge Seabass over the gunwale. I wasn`t much help as my deeply bent heavy bottom rod lurched about as a double header of large grouper flared their gills in an effort to slow down the inevitable trip into the boat.
Debbie, My First Mate
Chaos broke out as we both tried to unhook fish, measure, throw back and ice down the various Grouper and Bass. Several more drifts over the spot yielded undersize grouper and more large SeaBass. In an hour the fish had lost interest so we headed west with a full cooler and sore arms. Snapper season is still closed but you can now keep one grey grouper per person per day of at least 24 inches. One of these keepers will feed your family and make fish lovers of them all.
Don`t put it off, I have 30 years of local fishing experience, so call me now to get in on this action.
Captain Jim Wormhoudt
Captain Jim Wormhoudt
Fishing with your family or with buddies is a great way to spend the day sharing old fishing stories, enjoying a picnic on the water with your favorite beverage and of course the competition of who catches the first, most and largest fish. That being said, stalking and catching fish alone provides a certain stimulation I liken to finding an arrowhead in the woods or getting an unexpected check in the mail.
Hemmingway’s Santiago didn’t have a boatload of help with him when he battled the massive marlin, just he in a small boat and his prey. There was no cell phone or digital camera to record the action. His trophy of course was only a mangled skeleton upon his return. Fishing from shore, from a kayak or small boat is often done alone and a story about an angler being towed around Nassau sound atop a surfboard by a sizeable tarpon a few years back comes to mind because some of your best and most memorable catches seem to occur when fishing alone.
Offshore angling by yourself brings a whole new set of dangers and excitement because you have no help in case of an emergency. A ”SPOT” locater or an EPIRB, a motor kill-switch lanyard plus all the required safety equipment, including one or two VHF radios and a cell phone are strongly recommended. Give those at home a float plan and a time you should be home so if you are unable to contact them in the event of an emergency, they will know approximately where to send help. Those who are new to fishing and boating, or unfamiliar with the area should not go it alone. Sea Tow is also a good investment.
Managing lines while trolling alone designates that fewer lines be deployed and when that inevitable solo doubleheader happens you’ll need to leave one rod in the rod holder with a loosened drag until you can bring the first fish to gaff, while driving the boat at the same time. Taking pictures with all this going on is a challenge but necessary if you don‚Äôt wish to end up like Santiago, with no proof of your accomplishments. Fishing alone isn’t for everybody, but it is a great way to relieve stress, clear your head and enjoy quiet and solitude at its best.
If fishing solo doesn’t appeal to you; I will happily be your guide.
Captain Jim Wormhoudt
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We caught some really nice fish about 30 miles off of the coast of Amelia Island. Our Fernandina friends and family welcomed us home knowing we were providing some serious dinner!
We snagged reds, grouper, sea bass, blues, flounder, croakers, grunts and all kinds of cool fish.¬† If you want to go fishing this weekend, we saw a lot of boats fishing at the rocks near Fort Clinch looking for Drum.
Something else I learned this weekend was that “two foot or less” seas, really means three to five foot seas ‚Äì at least until noon!
By: Jamie Deonas
Amelia Island has experienced a banner year for fishing both offshore and inshore. Earlier in the season the trout, Continue reading
Federal action on snapper and grouper closures on the South Atlantic coast were postponed in mid-December, but the National Marine Fisheries Council promised a new effort to pass the amendment this year. Continue reading
The fishing here on Amelia Island can be summed up in 3 words; trout, trout and more trout. These fish have shown up in massive Continue reading
The fishing in and around Amelia Island these past few months has to be timed around the wind that just will not stop blowing. Many locals agree this has been one of the windiest falls we‚Äôve experienced in many years. However, Continue reading
The past month has seen some of the biggest changes in fishing all year. The temperatures continue to remind us that fall is just around the corner and with daylight savings time in effect it leaves very little in the way of after work outside activities. The one huge upside to this time Continue reading
The Nassau Sport Fishing Association meets the second Wednesday of each month at 7:30 pm at the Ten Acres Kraft Athletic Club. Membership is open to the public.
Call 261-9481 or visit www.fishnsfa.com for more information.
The past few weeks has seen a drop in nightly temperatures and cooler water temperatures. The winds have been blowing for 2 solid months now with no end in sight causing everyone to focus more on the inshore fishing scene. This year Amelia Island has experienced some of the best Continue reading
This past week here on Amelia Island has seen some much cooler weather and lots of wind. The seas have been in the 4-6‚Äô range for most of the past month and as of right now not much relief is in sight. The inshore report has been constant for the past 45+ days, Red Bass are everywhere. Continue reading
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I got up early, dressed quietly, made my lunch, grabbed the dog, slipped quietly into the garage to hook the boat up to the truck, and proceeded to back out into a torrential downpour. Continue reading