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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

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

Clean Sweep Fishing Charters

Clean Sweep Fishing Charters

For the Best North Florida Freshwater and Offshore Fishing!
Contact Captain Jim Wormhoudt at 904-753-0882 or J_Wormhoudt@Yahoo.com

Now offering professional rod and reel repair!

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xavu9iTvryo

Meet Jim Wormhoudt
Captain Jim Wormhoudt has been fishing the waters of Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach, Florida for over 30 years. His experience catching local Kingfish, Cobia, Grouper, Snapper, Shark, Drum and more makes him a legendary fishing authority in Northeast Florida.
Meet Captain Jim Wormhoudt
Grouper Big Kingfish

The Boat

Jim will take you fishing on his 24 foot Everglades. He is USCG Licensed and Insured. Visa and Mastercard are accepted and fishing charters make memorable gifts! Judie Mackie fishing

Freshwater Tidal Creek Fishing

Largemouth Bass – Trout – Redfish – Flouder – Tarpon

Girl with Bass Jetties, Backwater, Offshore – let Captain Jim Wormhoudt suggest the best options to go fishing in and around Amelia Island, anytime of the year!
Justin fishing in NE Florida Bill fishing with Jim Wormhoudt
Debbie goes fishing Brandon fishing aboard the Clean Sweep
Lawrence catching fish Jim catches the Daily Double

Stren-ad
Fishing is easy when chartering with Captain Jim and he knows all the best fishing holes in the Amelia Island area. Northeast Florida provides a variety of fishing that lets you keep your line wet all year long.

All bait, tackle, ice and licenses are provided as well as fish cleaning services at the end of your day.

If you are looking for a fishing charter near Amelia Island, give Captain Jim Wormhoudt a call… he’ll “hook” you up aboard the Clean Sweep!

Captain Jim Wormhoudt
(904) 753-0882
J_Wormhoudt@yahoo.com

Read Captain Jim’s Latest Fishing Tales

Cold Weather Trout Fishing on Amelia Island

Amelia Fall Trout Fishing is Smoking

Fall Fishing Action Aplenty

Redfish, Seatrout and Flounder, Oh My

Hot Shark Fishing Action near Amelia Island

Catching a Trophy of a Grey Grouper

Snapper Seabass Shark Shark Shark

Cobia Fishing Time

Great Grouper

Spanish Mackerel and Bluefish Arrive

How to Fish for Whiting

Bass Fishing on Lofton Creek

Black Drum Fishing

Back Yard Bass Fishing

We Did Not Go Fishing off Amelia Island

Sharks off Amelia Island

Fishing Rod Basics

Going Solo and Fishing Alone

Easily Overlooked Lofton Creek

Bottom Fishing the Deep Blue Sea

We DID NOT Go Fishing off Amelia Island

No Fishing

No Fishing

We decided not to go offshore bottom fishing last weekend and what a great time we didn’t have! We didn’t purchase cigar minnows and squid to be deployed on the bottom for Grouper and Snapper, nor did we buy 8 to 12 ounce bank sinkers or 6/0 to 8/0 circle hooks, swivels, 80 pound florocarbon leader or various other tackle items not needed when you don’t go fishing.

We also didn’t buy ice, drinks, sandwiches or chips for our trip that didn’t take place. No gasoline or oil was purchased locally. When we didn’t return from the trip we didn’t take we didn’t need batter, flour, oil, coleslaw, hushpuppy mix or the propane needed to fry the fish we didn’t go catch. Maybe next time we shouldn’t go out on one of the local charter boats to accomplish the same thing. They and many like them won’t be going fishing either.

Another option for this coming weekend could be to not go to the Greater Jacksonville Boat Show to not purchase the boat you won’t need to not go fishing.

No, I’m not writing this after an extended happy hour, I’m simply hoping to point out the economic impact of unnecessary fishing closures forced upon us all by misinformed officials who may have someone else’s special interests in mind.

Farm raised and imported fish fill our grocery stores and their seafood display cases with what to me seem to be high prices. Most local restaurants serve Whitefish or Tilapia. Although tasty, versatile and affordable, it is still hardly a local catch and doesn’t rival fresh Grouper, Snapper, Seabass or Flounder – taste wise. Not to mention local shrimp, but that is a whole different article.

We live on an island in one of the best fisheries anywhere; there must be a way to better manage our fisheries for the common good of both commercial and recreational fisherman, without wreaking economic hardships upon so many. You would be startled to know some of the proposed upcoming fish closures. Yes, even the lowly whiting, beloved by all, and an easy to catch table-fare could be a target of future restrictions.

By the way, we won’t be going Trout fishing this week for the Trout we won`t catch. The month of February is closed for trout fishing, but Stripers should be biting in the St. Mary’s River and Lofton creek on deep diving plugs trolled slowly or by deploying live shrimp under a float rig. More details on Stripers to come.

If you want to talk fishing, give me a call! Captain Jim Wormhoudt (904) 277-2998. For more info regarding fishing and closures in our area go to http://safmc.deep-blue-sea.org

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Sharks off Amelia Island

Photo by:  Captain Jim Wormhoudt

Photo by: Captain Jim Wormhoudt

Sharks are not in short supply in the waters off Amelia Island. In a recent outing we traveled 30 miles out in an effort to avoid the Atlantic Sharp Nose shark which inhabited every reef and structure we visited. We battled three at a time in some instances, causing mayhem and lots of tangled lines and lost tackle. A six foot 200 lb nurse shark was also released after a brief, and surprisingly easy fight. This toothless fish was very docile and un-aggressive compared to its toothy cousins.

We hauled in only one legal snapper, a nice cobia, and a lone triggerfish went into the ice. Several hungry barracuda were also released after an attempt at trolling live baits. Although barracuda are not generally recommended as table fare, I must say that the smaller ones are as tasty as anything else when grilled to perfection.

Releasing smaller sharks unharmed without being bitten in the process is easy with the use of an ARC de-hooker. This is a device promoted by the famed artist Guy Harvey. They come in various lengths depending on the size fish you wish to de-hook. Essentially it is heavy wire with a handle on one end and a curly-Q on the business end. It slips over your fishing line and slides down to the hook. When the line is pulled tight the de-hooker engages the hook and the fish can be flipped off with relative ease. You don’t even need to touch the fish. This is a win-win for both the angler and the fish. Fishing gloves constructed of new Kevlar materials are great protection during any fish or bait handling chore and can even reduce the chances of knife cuts and fishhook mishaps.

If you must hold a shark to remove tackle, hooks, or lures, hold it securely behind the head and use long pliers. There’s really no need to gaff a shark, beat it or stab it to death to remove hooks. If you feel the shark is too large to safely handle, leave it in the water and simply cut your line or leader and the creature will likely survive even with a little extra hardware in its mouth. Make no mistake about it though; you cannot be too careful when handling sharks. They can twist around with lightening speed and strength and cause serious damage to whatever or whomever they latch on to. The best way to catch sharks this time of year is to fish as you normally would for almost any saltwater species and you will likely hook into a shark. Catch and release is recommended as they are becoming as scarce as red snapper.

Call me if you wish to catch any of the above mentioned species of fish.
Captain Jim Wormhoudt
Cleansweep Charters
(904) 753-0882

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Fishing Rod Basics

Trophy Redfish

Trophy Redfish

Captain Jim Wormhoudt
Cleansweep Charters
(904) 753-0882

If you have ever been fishing with me before you know that referring to a fishing rod as a ”POLE” draws a swift rebuke and a lesson on how poles are for flags or NASCAR starting positions. Same goes for when I ask you who Roland Martin is. The answer better not be a FOX news contributor.

Fishing rods also do not have eyes for the line to travel through, they are known as ”guides.” The end guide is called a ”tip top.” Where the reel attaches is the ”reel seat”, and the part that bruises your belly after battle with a Jack Crevalle is the ”butt”. All rods have a spine or backbone which makes the rod bend the same way every time it is bent and determines how the guides should be placed on the rod.

Spinning guides are on the bottom and casting guides are on the top. An improperly constructed rod will bend so that the guides veer off center when fighting a fish. Rod ”taper”, as in fast or slow, refers to whether the rod bends closer to the tip-fast taper or more towards the middle of the rod-slow taper. For example, king fishing rods have a fast taper designed to give you additional give if a fish makes a powerful run with your drag a little too tight when fishing with light tackle. If there is no give the tiny kingfish hooks can easily pull out resulting in a lost fish. A slow taper application might be for a heavy bottom fishing rod where a lot of leverage is needed to pull a heavy fish from the bottom. Taper also affects a rods casting ability.

Speaking of bent rods, the jetty rocks in the St. Mary’s channel are producing some of the best redfish action of the year. Live mullet, pogies, dead shrimp, cut ladyfish or shrimp mammies fished right on the bottom, especially during the incoming tide, should yield an outsized redfish.

Call me if you would like to catch a trophy redfish!
Captain Jim Wormhoudt
Cleansweep Charters (904) 753-0882

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