My buddy Joel comes down to Stuart, Florida every year around April timeframe to spend a week fishing. I try to take a day off from work to take him out on the boat whenever he comes down. This year the weather was not cooperating and we were unable to get offshore. The forecast was calling for 10-15kt NE winds with 3-4ft seas at 4 seconds.
On Wednesday I showed up to the dock at 6:30am and loaded the boat. I had told Joel and Don to be there by 7:00am. I had the boat loaded and ready to go when they boat arrived. My plan was a simple one today. We were to run down to Nettles Island and target crockers and whatever else would bite. The east wind and current gave us the perfect drift.
Our first drift, I positioned us to the south side of the channel. We drifted the entire length of the south side of the island with little luck. Both Don and Joel caught catfish and that was it. Joel was fishing with a pompano jig tipped with shrimp and to be honest I am not sure what Don was using but it was an artificial shrimp, while I was using a 1/3oz Savage Gear long cast minnow.
Our next drift I positioned us closer to the island so we could work the seawall and docks. I switched over to the Moonwalker topwater bait and Don switched to a suspending twitch bait. About halfway through the drift I lost my Moonwalker underneath the dock. I got wrapped around one of the pilings about 5 feet under the dock. At this point I switched to a 1/4oz football jig and just put shrimp on.
The 1/4oz jig head with shrimp seemed to be the ticket as shortly after I caught two decent size weak fish. I also caught one of the smallest jack crevalle I have ever seen. The little thing fit in the palm of my hand. I believe Joel and Don also caught a few jacks before we moved to another spot.
I was thinking of hitting the power plant before heading further north. I was debating fishing the power lines, but with the current conditions and not having a trolling motor I decided it would be best to take the channel back to the power plant and try drifting the channel from the buoys west. As we left the main channel, I had Joel and Don toss out the jigs to troll as we made our way to the power plant.
It didn’t take long for Don to yell “fish on”. Joel brought in his jig and I took the boat out of gear. Don had a decent fight on his hands with the light weight tackle we were using. I was pretty sure he had a decent jack with the way it was fighting. You could see the head shakes. When we got it to the boat, we were all stunned at what it was. It was a fish I did not recognize. It was definitely in the jack family but I had never seen a fish this dark in color. I took a picture and released it and then proceeded to send the picture to several friends to see if I could get an ID and then went back to trolling to the power plant.
Once at the power plant we started jigging again as we drifted west. It didn’t take long for all of us to get bites. On the first drift I caught a short pompano and I believe Joel and Don both caught jack crevalle. The bite seemed to die off pretty quickly on the drift so we only drifted a short while before we moved back to the buoys.
The bite seemed consistent close to the buoys; however, on the third drift I decided to anchor in the area we were getting bites and we didn’t catch anything so we went back to drifting. We ended up doing five drifts before we moved north again. In that time, we caught four pompanos, with only one being legal, several jack crevalle, and a few catfish.
On the way out we tossed out a rod on each side to troll to the main channel. About halfway to the channel Don yells “fish on” and grabs the rod. We handed the rod to Joel to let him bring in the fish as Don brought in the last one. Unfortunately, the fish came off before we could get it to the boat or see it. I am sure it was a decent sized jack but we will never know.
I had one last spot I wanted to try before we headed home. On the ride north the wind seemed to increase. I am confident it was blowing over 15kts. With an outgoing tide and the east wind, I took us to the Smithsonian dock. We anchored up and started fishing. It didn’t take long for us to start getting bites. The bite was slow by steady, and we fished here until we ran out of bait. At this spot we caught several short mutton snappers and one decent mangrove snapper, which I put into protective custody so he could come home for supper.
We made it back to the dock about 12:30pm. It was rough conditions for being out on the boat but we all worked hard and we came home with four fish. I filleted up the fish and said goodbye to Don and Joel and headed home. Since Joel is traveling, he didn’t want to keep any of the fish and Don told me he wasn’t in the mood for fish so I was able to bring what we got home.
Later in the evening my buddy Steve Smith sent me a message stating the fish we had caught was a melanistic (dark colored) blue runner. He got the answer from Dr. Albrey Arrington from Fishbrain Fishing App!
Tania and I pray all who made it out this week had safe and blessed trips. We pray all going out this weekend have safe trips with tight lines and good times.
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