|Captain Ron's Fishing Reports (February)|
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Banana River February 2005 February has been a real up and down fishing month. Just when the water warms up, another cold front comes to cool things down. With water temperatures in the high 50's to low 60's the fish are pretty lethargic and you really have to slow down your presentation. On warm days reds have been active on flats that hold baitfish. They have been pretty spooky and difficult to get close to. The trout have been more willing participants in the catchin' game and have been willing to eat a DOA shrimp when worked super slow. My favorite remains the glow shrimp, with rootbeer coming in second. There have been no real braggin' size fish in the first couple of weeks in February. A warmer forecast promises better fishing ahead. That's what its all about.
Banana River February 2005 I have a different but good report for you today to finish off the month of February. Its different because I have not been fishing. However, if you remember a couple of reports back (you can scroll down to see it below) I talked about a trip I made with a good friend's son. Christian Williams. Christian, the son of Destination Bound owner and operator Tom Williams, was showing me his stuff. I mentioned in that report that he came by it honestly, because his dad is a great fisherman. Well, Tom decided to prove it. He went out on the Banana River with a friend, Mike, and they proceeded to catch numerous gator trout and a couple of redfish too. From what I understand they caught so many, that I am not even gonna' tell you because you might not believe it. Knowing Tom however, I do! It was one of those days we all keep going back for because it does not happen every time.
In the process of catching all the trout and reds Tom even hooked up with the biggest sheepshead he has every tangled with. After fighting this fish for 20 minutes or so, it managed to break off at the boat. Keep in mind, that all this "catchin" was accomplished using a small spinning combo spooled with 8 pound test mono, fishing from a canoe.. Tom had to yell at Mike when the big red was on. "He's going to spool me!", Tom said. Mike quickly took up the paddle and they chased the big boy until they were able to boat it. Sounds like a team effort to me. This was one of those days that we all dream about, so get out there and go fishing. Isn't this really what its all about. Good fishin'.
Banana River February 2005 Another day on the water, this time by myself. I was prospecting for upcoming trips and decided to fish a little further south. Leaving out of Kelly Park I motored about 20 minutes south and checked the flats on the west side of the river. The water is extremely clear, a situation that normally makes for good sight fishing. The only problem was lots of cloud cover and a building wind. each contributing to decreased visibility. I spotted a couple reds fairly early on during a period of partial sunshine. When the sun went behind the clouds the reds disappeared too. The sun came out and I spotted them again. I offered them a couple of artificials, one a shrimp and another a jerk bait but they would not eat. The clouds worsened and I decided to go on further south and work some more of the west shore where schools of reds often show themselves. I spent a couple of hours on the flats and only saw two sheepshead and few mullet among the many sting rays. The winds continued to build along with the clouds and it was not helping the fishing.
I decided to head back north toward the ramp with the thought in mind of stopping where I saw the reds earlier in the day and offer them some cut bait since they were not interested in the artificials. I made a deal with myself to spend only 1/2 hour in the new pursuit because I had other things I needed to do today. I headed the boat toward the stretch of bank where I had spotted the reds before, and turned off the motor so I could drift in quietly. I dropped anchor and rigged a mullet head on a circle hook with a small split shot for weight. I threw out most of the rest of my cut mullet for chum and set back to wait. Usually when fishing this way I like to give at least a half hour to see if the cut mullet will attract some reds. If nothing shows after the half hour I usually move. Well it did not take long today. Soon a scrappy 22 inch red had fell for the mullet head. I reeled him in and engaged in CPR (Catch, Photo, Release). Now I could go to the dock happy. That's what its all about. Good Fishin'.
Banana River February 2005 A short 2 hour trip on the river today produced 4 reds and a nice trout. I took Christian Williams, the eleven year old son of a good friend Tom Williams. Tom is the owner operator of Destination Bound Marine Transport. He hauls all the Pathfinders, Hewes, and Maverick boats from the factory to the various dealers. He is a great fisherman himself. Christian and I were in search of the reds that I talked about in my last report. We new we would not have much time, but the urge was to great after thinking about what a great day we had last Saturday. The story was almost the same, except the bigger fish never showed in the short hour and a half we had to fish. Once again they would not hit artificials at all, but were willing to eat some live shrimp. When the short trip was over we had boated 4 reds and one nice 17 inch trout. I caught the trout and one red. The reds were only running 16 and 17 inches but still they are fun to catch. Christian caught 3 of the reds and beat me for the day. (Note, I would have tied him in number, but for some reason he didn't think I should count the catfish I caught.) It ain't no wonder he is a good fisherman, I think he takes after his dad. Hey Christian, it was a short but fun trip. You have to give me another chance someday to see if I can't beat you. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.
Banana River February 2005 February continues to be up and down fishing, or should I say catching. Warm and calm weather early in the week produced some beautiful days on the water with the flats that had baitfish, once again holding some reds and trout. The best day came when Eric and Gary came down to the Daytona 500 from Ohio. They took Saturday off from the races to try their luck at some fishing. It promised to be a lousy weather day. Another cold front move in on Friday and wind picked up enough to put white caps on the river. We decided to make a later than normal start, with the predicted temperature of 46 for Saturday morning. After their hour and a half drive from Daytona we launched at Kelly Park about 8:30. The wind had not picked up that much and we stopped by one of the flats that had held reds earlier in the week. With the water temp at about 60 degrees, there was no bait and no fish visible on the flat. So, we headed for some residential canals and deeper water in search for trout and redfish. Gary hooked a really nice trout early on only to have him pull off at the boat. He would have gone 19 to 20 inches. We had given up on artificials by now and the trout had ate a large shrimp. After a couple of hours and a few pin fish (and one blue crab if you want to count it, and we were ready to count anything about then) we pulled out of the canal and headed for a sunken island area. My hope was that the water temp had improved and some hungry reds would show themselves. A check of the temp show 64.8, a nice improvement from earlier.
My hunch paid off and it wasn't long until a 17 inch red came to the boat on cut mullet. We were rigged with circle hooks and only a small split shot for weight. A few minutes later another small red came to the boat. Then a bigger one, and then another. The bite was on. The next hour and one-half produced about 12 to 15 redfish on cut mullet and live shrimp. Gary caught the biggest red of the day at about 25 1/2 inches. Eric's biggest red was just over 22 inches. The first two rat reds were the only short reds of the day, all the rest of the fish were in the slot. Gary picked up another nice trout, about 22 inches, and hooked either a sheepshead or a black drum that cut off as it neared the boat. I didn't see the fish because we were working a double with Eric and Gary both hooked up and I was on Eric's side of the boat getting ready to land his red. They had both seen the fish as it approached the boat and described it as black and white stripes. I'm guessing a sheepshead since the leader appeared to be cut clean.
This was one of those days that proves the old adage that the best time to go fishing is when you can. Both Eric and Gary had come close to freezing at the races on the night before, and as I said earlier the forecast was for a 46 degree morning. Add to that winds expected to be 10 to 15 and even I was having second thoughts about the possibilities for the day. We did not let it bother us, we charged on and was greeted with a pretty decent day as far as the weather went and a great day as far as the catchin' went. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.
Indian River: February 22, 2004 Had a disappointing day on the river. Weather turned decent but the fish did not cooperate. Had great hard fishing anglers on board in Wade and his dad. They were in Orlando for a concrete show and also in Florida for some inshore and later in the week, some bass fishing. We just as well have been throwing concrete to the fish. It was horrible! Ran into Blair Wiggins, of the Addictive Fishing TV Show on his day off. What was he doing? Fishing. I like your attitude Blair. Unfortunately he wasn't having any luck either. It was a day of lock-jaw as far as the fish were concerned.
Indian River: February 20, 2004 The weather is still cool in the mornings and a light jacket feels good. Wayne and Carol came down from West Virginia to enjoy some Florida sunshine and try their luck at fishing. The cool water temperatures continue to make the bite a late one. Started off at 9:00 in the morning and did not catch a fish until 11:00. We got into a pack of rat reds and caught a half a dozen or so before the bite just stopped. The day warmed up and made for a great day on the water if you could find someplace to hide from the winds. All the fish came from the same sunken island we had fished the day before, but when it was over, it was over. Good fishin'. That's what its all about.
Banana River: February 19, 2004 The cold weather promises to give us a break today. We planned on leaving the dock at 9:00 since the overnight temps were in the 40's. It was still cool for the first hour or two, but once we found some shelter from the wind is was a really great morning. I was fishing with Donna and Lorn from Illinois. Compared to Illinois, they said the weather was warm. The water temperature was only 52 degrees as we left the dock and it never rose above 56 for the rest of our half-day trip. The first decent fish came about 11:00 am. By this time the water had warmed up some and we found some redfish moving up on a sunken island. Before the bite was over, Donna and Lorn had each caught 3 redfish each and Donna added a nice black drum. The reds were only running about 15 and 16 inches, just under the slot. All the fish came today on live shrimp free-lined over the sunken island. By the time we headed for the dock the wind had nearly stopped the temperature was approaching 65 and it was a beautiful day on the water. That's what its all about. Good fishin'.
Indian River: February 16, 2004 Wow, the north wind was cold this morning. I headed over to the Indian River, ramping at Port St. John. Two fishin' buddies, Gary and Martin were along for the cold day of fishing. The wind was blowing hard out of the North and Northwest most of the day and finding refuge in a couple of canals on the east side of the river looked like a good idea. The water is super clear in the river until you get closer to the East side where it begins to cloud up. After getting back into some of the canals the water clears up a little but still a little dingy. Water temp was 56 degrees when we started, over the day it rose to as high as 58 in some spots, still far cooler than I would like. We were mostly throwin' DOA shrimp and Terroreyz. The first decent trout came on a natural colored DOA shrimp. Gary hooked up with this one, about 18 inches, just after we entered a narrow canal. As you can see in the picture above, there are lots of docks along the canal but the fish were not necessarily around the docks. They were roaming the deeper water of the canal. Its hard to see, but that's a DOA shrimp hanging out of the trout's mouth. Don't forget, when fishing these shrimp, to fish them slow-slow-slow. Especially this time of year with the water temp as cool as it is. One canal in particular had a lot of finger mullet in it. By the end of the day, that canal with all the mullet also proved to be the most productive. Martin even hooked up a snook that got off right at the boat. After moving to another canal I caught a trout on the same color DOA shrimp and Martin caught the biggest trout of the day (by 1 inch) on a white jerk bait. That's it in the lower picture. No, its not a rainbow trout, something happened to the exposure! Well, for a cold cold day on the water it didn't turn out too bad. That's what its all about. Good fishin'
Banana River: February 13, 2004 Finally, some warmer water temperatures. The last few weeks I have been encountering water temperatures at or below 60 degrees. These cooler temperatures have kept the fish in a lethargic mood. When the temperatures are this low you just as well sleep in and plan some afternoon fishing. It will probably improve your success. But enough of the cool water, because today I found water temps over 68 degrees in some dredge hole areas. The temperature was running around 66 in the main river but these deep holes near the east side were a couple of degrees warmer and were holding some trout and redfish. Quite a few casts with artificial lures of various types and colors proved unsuccessful so a switch over to shrimp and cut mullet was tried. We caught several spotted sea trout and three nice redfish. Bob, an angler from New Jersey caught and released his first redfish, and anytime you get a first, it has to be called a success. Sorry, no pictures today but the good news is that the water is warming up and better fishing won't be far behind. That's what its all about. Good fishin".
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