The anticipation had been building for weeks, and as the mullet run finally kicked into high gear, the waters came alive with frenzied activity. This past week has been one of the most exhilarating weeks of angling I’ve ever experienced.
The telltale signs were impossible to ignore – swirls and splashes marking the beginning of the mullet migration. It was a sight to behold as schools of finger mullet darted through the water, pursued by hungry predators. Redfish, Tarpon, and Jacks were all leading the charge, feasting on the abundant mullet buffet alongside flounder, creating a spectacle that would leave an indelible mark on my memory.
In the span of just one week, our efforts resulted in a remarkable tally of over 50 slot-sized redfish coming on board. The arsenal of techniques we employed proved potent, with live finger mullet, cut ladyfish, and the trusty Fishbites paddle tails emerging as the heroes of the day. The bite leading up to the storm and full moon was unparalleled in its intensity, a fervor that seasoned anglers like myself hadn’t witnessed in a while.
The stormy weather couldn’t deter us, and during a tempestuous outing with a buddy, luck was on our side. A 32” snook couldn’t resist the allure of a white bucktail jig, providing an electrifying battle that ended with the prized catch in the net. And then, the following Thursday morning, my son joined me on the water, setting the stage for an unforgettable session. A 27.5” redfish was the highlight, joined by several robust Jacks and an astonishingly massive sail catfish that weighed a hefty 5.6 pounds. My son’s insistence on keeping the sail catfish for a meal had me intrigued, and the promise of its potential flavor lingered as I prepared to turn it into a culinary experiment.
But the pinnacle of the week’s exploits awaited us in a heart-pounding encounter with a formidable adversary. A spontaneous trip with my fishing buddy, Mike Cook (St. Augustine Sandman), yielded a showdown that even seasoned anglers dream about. As I battled a robust redfish, a lurking 8-foot shark emerged from the depths, mistaking my catch for an easy meal. In a daring maneuver, I managed to net the redfish just in time, avoiding the clutches of the determined predator.
However, the drama was far from over. Just minutes later, as I engaged with yet another strong redfish, the shark resurfaced, its insatiable appetite undeterred. With adrenaline coursing through my veins, I fought valiantly to secure my catch, only to watch in awe as the shark swallowed the fish whole. The ensuing battle of strength between man and shark ensued, a spectacle of nature’s raw power that left me breathless.
For those eager to witness the breathtaking encounter, the St. Augustine Sandman YouTube channel promises a front-row seat to the action. Mike Cook and I, having shared countless angling adventures, were thrilled to capture this exhilarating moment and share it with the world.
As I reflect on the past week’s exploits, I can’t help but marvel at the unpredictable beauty of the sea. From the mullet run’s spectacular dance to the heart-stopping encounters with redfish and sharks, each day brought new surprises and lessons. This chapter in my angling journey will remain etched in my memory, a testament to the inexhaustible thrill and wonder that the ocean offers to those who dare to explore its depths.
And Chris from Skinny Water Lures mentioned the fish bite this week has been on fire for them too. He had this to say this week:
Have you ever noticed the increase of fish activity, days before a storm?
The changes in barometric pressure associated with good and bad weather will turn the fish on. Falling barometric pressure after many days of stable barometric pressure will cause most species of fish to feed aggressively. Fish evolved to understand that low pressure means a storm is approaching and they may have to fast for many days. That is why fish bite the best right before a storm.
Once the storm is upon us most fish have swim bladders that expand and contract based on the water pressure and barometric pressure of the atmosphere. Low barometric pressure causes these swim bladders to expand which makes the fish uncomfortable. To decrease the air in their air bladders the fish will use the greater water pressure caused by the deep water to find a comfortable place to wait out the storm. That is why they disappear from the shallows during extreme storms and hurricanes.
Once the storm has passed these fish will return to the shallows and go back to feeding aggressively after a storm passes. The fish may have not eaten for days so they will leave the safety of the deep water where they were waiting out the storm and feed aggressively. If you get a chance to fish several days before and after a storm, your chances of getting bites will increase. We felt that the bite was increased on the flats this week due to hurricane Idalia.
Several days leading up to the storm we noticed the fish were attacking small baitfish and shrimp along the banks. We focused on down sizing and threw the SWL 3 inch paddle tail , which the redfish could not resist. The early morning topwater bite was also on fire as well.
Capt. Adam Morley