Building the next generation of fisher"people"
Pulling up to the boat ramp I was thinking about the fun today might hold. Yes, the winds were a bit higher than I prefer, and the tides were in between the optimum low or high, and we had a low pressure that would make the bite tough to say the least, but today I was blessed to have two young ladies and their parents, and they wanted to go on fishing in my Panther Air Boat.
This is one of the things I enjoy the most, taking young fisher people on an "adventure" they have never experienced.
As I slid the boat off the trailer my guest arrived. When the doors of the pick up truck opened two bouncing balls of energy covered in coveralls and jackets came running straight to me. I had to laugh as I wondered if they would be that excited to get up on a Monday morning for school, of course we all know the answer to that.
After a few minutes of loading drinks, snacks, and a few other miscellaneous items we were on our way. Twenty minutes later we stopped at the edge of a hidden lake and we watched silently for any sign that our quarry may be here. "There they are". I said as I pointed. In the middle of the lake a puff of mud filled the stained water.
Today was not about fooling fish with artificial lures, today was designated to let these young anglers have the best opportunity to catch fish and our bait of choice was fresh cut mullet. As quietly as we could, I baited the hooks and their father cast the offerings in the vicinity of the foraging redfish. Within minutes a rod bowed over and one young lady was grinning from ear to ear as the line leaving the reel in her hand made the drag scream "zzzzzzzz...zzz...zzzzzz". For the next hour we watched the girls take turns fighting these golden colored reds in a foot of water until the fish moved on.
Checking the forecast and radar I noticed a storm fast approaching which presented 35 MPH winds. I gave us comfortably 10 minutes before we would have to leave. Just then a rod out went down. It was the youngest girls turn and there was a was a giant on the other end of the line. Struggling to keep the rod in her hands she let out a squeal, and her big sister told her "don't cry", to which she answered boldly "i'm Not Crying, I Am Fighting A Big Fish!!!" The rest of us nearly fell out of the boat laughing, this is what it's all about, family fun and building memories.
As we made our way back to the dock, I reminisced on a time that my own sons were young, and the memories flooded my heart with happiness. The Oak Ridge Boys said it best in a song, "the nearest thing to heaven is a child".
Fishing the flats will be a little tougher for the next couple of weeks with the colder weather expected in later February, but don't give up. As the sunlight warms the water over the day, the afternoon and evening bite should be the best. Artificial baits in darker colors with chartreuse tails while wading or drifting along Mud island and St. Joe shoreline will produce the best numbers right now. Also the big drum are starting to show up and they are lots of fun to catch and release. Remember if you go on your own in search of them, learn how to deflate their air bladder first. Dead Shrimp on a Carolina rig will generally result in a memory of a lifetime.
Until next time,
Keep what you can eat and release the rest.
May God Bless You All
Capt. Jay Nichols