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Capt. Dave Sipler's Sport Fishing - Jacksonville, St. Johns River/Inlet & near-coastal waters. Updated: 10/27/05


Why Jacksonville Florida? "Excuse my bias."

I'll start this November's fishing report with a story that started many, many years ago.

I love the Miami International boat show. I've been to it so many times I've started to loose count.

The reason's I love going to it is because, it's huge, I love boats, it's in February, when it's the worst weather of the entire calendar year here in N. E. Florida. The show is always held in and around Valentines day, my birthday. My dad and I (Team Tourist) have a great game plan, and the weather in February in Miami makes Jacksonville's weather look like North Dakota. (been there done that too, C/O the U.S.A.F.)

It's a different culture, in Miami. The people are different (I've never seen a woman at the boat show in a flannel shirt and holey jeans), the attitudes, and of course, the boats. The reason I'm there in the first place.......sort of.

I'll never forget many years ago I was talking to someone there at the show about fishing , of course and they asked where I fished/lived. I answered, "Jacksonville", with pride in my voice. And they replied, "Oh....I'm sorry. I thought you were a fishing guide here" . I could tell this person meant "here" by, South Florida! The conversation then led to "isn't it cold up there....can you fish all year?" , and more. Damn, we're talking 6 hours north in the same state. And this person treats Jacksonville as if it was, NY city!! (WHICH PROBABLY WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE ACCEPTABLE SINCE I THINK 1/2 OF MIAMI RESIDENTS ARE FROM NY CITY, ANYHOW!!)

Either way, I was left with an impression which is plainly obvious, after all these years. Yes, they have great weather in the middle of February, blue, green, purple water outside the surf, great fishing for all that swims, lovely bikini-wearing boat show goers, lots of boats with racing stripes and chrome? A highly diverse culture, unique to the city. And a lot of bulkheads, high rises, and concrete.

But, one thing they do have is, Hurricane's.

I'm writing this report, 2-days after Hurricane "Wilma". And as a Floridian, be it you're from the North, South, East or West part of the state. No one wants a Hurricane, especially multiple Hurricanes in a season. Which we've had our fair share of this year, as the Sunshine State.

When a Hurricane does come such as Wilma, N.E. Florida does get rain and some wind. But, I think it's a pretty good place to be a fishing guide, Right Now!

I want you to know, if you're planning a vacation, a business trip, or any other reason to visit Florida between June thru November, THINK JACKSONVILLE! Especially if going fishing is part of your itinerary. I rarely have to cancel a trip because of Hurricanes, reschedule maybe.

Sticking with the 'day after Wilma topic', it brought us a blast of wintry weather. Which some residents might find to be a problem. "Ya' know I had to hunt up where I put my lucky fishing jacket, and a pair of shoes". Rather than heading out with just flip-flops, Aftco shorts and a t-shirt....which is my standard work uniform 6-8 months a year.

But the chill in the air meant one thing to me, "it's time to chase some inlet Trout." And the day after Wilma went just as I had planned.

It was breezy as the fast moving Hurricane moved north through the Atlantic, and drove Nordic air upon Jacksonville, Florida. But that didn't stop Ken Hubbard and myself. We went out to the St. Johns River inlet at 8:30am and stayed on a Speckled Trout bite that rivaled any fishing trip we'd had all year. Boxing our limit of fatties, quick. Then we caught a few small but keeper sized Redfish, and a Flounder, before we moved off to find another challenge.

I wanted to try and catch more Redfish on this west wind, and incoming tide we had by afternoon. ( I commonly state a challenge species, while fishing with Ken. Then go and try to accomplish it with the conditions we have. It's sort of like a self-imposed twist, within a game, to make us think.) So we went looking for a prime location to do that. Up in a shallow cove along a bank littered with large oyster beds, was our choice locale. The gusty 20kt. west breeze was blowing toward the bank which seemed to be just perfect. But, No Reds.....just more Speckled Trout! One after another, till we ran out of bait. When it comes to Trout, I can almost never say, "that's enough". It's an addiction. So we didn't catch anymore Redfish, but our tally for the day was well over 30 beautiful Trout. In the cold, windy conditions. Which had 'Trout weather' written all over it. I would have liked to have won the game, but our time was winding up.

This is just an example of what the "day after a hurricane" can be like here in N.E. Florida. Granted we are very lucky. The First Coast of Florida, (Fernandina Beach to St. Augustine) hasn't had a hit in 40 something years(?). And isn't normally part of Hurricane Ally. Which is a good thing!

So when someone feels sorry for me, that living and being a fishing guide in Jacksonville isn't as glamorous as it is in Miami, I'll just think about all the times I was out "waxing them", the day after the big Hurricane. There's many reasons to fish Jacksonville. This story is just one.

JACKSONVILLE, WHERE FLORIDA BEGINS.

*Watch my "daily" reports pages, and "recent catch" photos for action like this. *

Till next tide,

Capt. Dave Sipler's Sport Fishing
www.captdaves.com

904-642-9546- (8am-8pm EST)

St. Johns River & Inlet; Mayport / Jacksonville, Florida
 
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