2018 was Great; 2019 Will be Better!
2018 was a great year for me, finally getting back into the business I love; guiding full time. I will not lie, it has been a challenge rebuilding my client base again and getting the word back out that I was fully retired from police work and back to full time guide status. Many of my long time clients returned and I was able to pick up some new "regulars" and met some wonderful people who I hope to see again! The best part for me is I am back to my passion and having a lot of fun. No, the work isn't always easy, but I am a firm believer that chasing your passion leads to a better life and makes the hard days better than they would be.
As far as fishing, 2018 has some great highs and some unfortunate lows. Most people around the country heard that Florida was facing some water quality issues; especially the south end of Florida and portions of the West Coast. We were fortunate in my area. While we had some cloudy water, we never faced red tide or the massive blue-green algae blooms that others had issues with. We were faced with some high water levels and sediment issues related to that. Still, fishing was better than average on most days. The biggest standout of the year for me was the snook fishing! With a few mild winters and some heavy protection on the snook fishery, the snook fishing was phenomenal in my area. We had days of catching 15-20 snook in a morning, before heading back to chase something else. Our average snook was in the 20"-24" range, but we had several in 30" and over range. We landed a few in the 15 pound area and some bigger ones that completely demolished us and left us crying. The redfish were also happy throughout the year. Early on, clear water make sight fishing spectacular. As the months warmed up, the water got a little cloudy, but we found some beautiful grassy areas where the water remained clear and the fish stayed happy. There was plenty of tailing action and when the water levels were right, there was a lot of backing fish along shorelines and oyster bars. This was also the first year our redfish finally decided to start paying attention to tides. With the marsh restoration, which I don't fully agree with the way it was conducted, came a more dramatic tidal influence on the area. It has taken several year, but our fish finally started responding to this. It also meant we had to pay attention to it, or there was a risk of being stranded until the next tide. The warm water also brought an increase in the tarpon to my area this year; never a bad thing! We landed over 100 tarpon this year. Most were in the 5-20 pound range and were a ton of fun on fly and light tackle. The best highlights were when everything came together and we jumped fish in the 70-90 pound range. No one was successful in landing a big one, but the mere challenge of getting them to eat and the pure adrenaline rush of their initial strike, run and jumps, was enough for most. Sea trout fishing was a little less than what I had hoped for this year. 2017 had been a tremendous year, with double digit landings of fish over 30". I was hoping 2018 would be a repeat. We did land fish over 30", with the biggest measuring just below 35". It wasn't for a lack of fish, it was merely their lack of cooperation. I had one area in particular that I had four clients observe sea trout over 40"; each and every time they would sense us and start easing off, making sure we got a full view of their size. Added in to the mix, in saltwater this year, were black drum, sharks, flounder, and mangrove snappers. It was a great time and each day provided us with a mixed bag of opportunity. The St. John's River did not let us down on action either. Bow fishing season was short, due to fluctuating water levels, but it was still a great time. Each trip provided a cooler full of tasty tilapia (again, these are wild fish, not the farm-raised garbage from over seas!) and plenty of action. Shad season and crappie season were also in full swing; which is starting right now for the 2019 season! To me, there are not many fish better than crappie for a family fish fry and they are a ton of fun on ultralight gear! So, with all of that said, check out the 2018 highlight film! It doesn't include everything mentioned above, as some days were just too hectic for video gear. Still, I hope you enjoy it!
2019 will be another great year, as I look for ways to expand the business and provide even more opportunities for customers to enjoy. One new highlight will be the offering of shoreline lunch and dinner opportunities. A new Solo Bonfire has been added to my arsenal of tools, providing the chance to enjoy a shoreline bonfire and cooking area; or just a bonfire while enjoying a sandwich or sunset. I will also be offering some trips to some newly scouted regions, expanding the chances to find various types of fish or just some different sights while chasing or normal resident fish. It's all about providing you with the best day on the water I can provide! Wait, what else is there? New gear for 2019, including Z-Man Fishing products, some new custom rods from Captain Kent Gibbens (for better chances at the large snook and tarpon), new flies for my customers who like to use the fly rod, custom fly boxes for those who want to take some flies home, and a re-designed water bottle for the #kickplastic campaign!
For those who have blessed me with their presence before, I look forward to seeing you again this year! Each of you gave me great memories and I hope I did the same for you! For those who have not visited yet, what are you waiting for? You owe it to yourself to come see what our area has to offer and enjoy a day with someone who has a passion and desire to offer you the best day on the water possible!
Give me a call (386) 314-5998 or click here to book your trip now!