Happy Monday SpaceFish Family,
I hope everyone had a great weekend! At the end of every class period on Friday I talk to my students about the upcoming weekend, I tell them fun thing my family and I plan on doing, I hear from them etc. My 7th period U.S. History class has a few young men that like to talk fishing, and they know I love Snook and Tarpon, and Largemouth Bass. One of my students requested I go fish the St. John’s River/Lake Poinsett (that’s on the docket) but I was challenged by another to catch a Snook, Tarpon and Bass on the same trip. I didn’t make any promises but I told them I’d make it my mission this weekend. So here it goes…
St. Sebastian River: I chose this place because I know the river has a south and north fork. I knew there was a canoe launch on the south fork where the river is pretty freshwater at that point, I knew if all else failed I could go to the channelized north fork and put in at the small boat ramp that is on the Fellsmere Grade Road and get my bass that way. One of the big perks of fishing from a kayak like mine is it weighs 40 pounds. I can get loaded or unloaded in under 5 minutes if I need to. I also knew that the mouth of the river holds monster tarpon, and that the whole areas is a great place to catch Snook year round. I think a grand slam or inshore slam at the mouth of the river is certainly do-able in most parts of the year. I knew that juvenile Tarpon would push pretty far down the river, and I felt that my best chance to get a few, or at least one was to work the middle part of the river first, and start trekking north to get my Snook and then figure out where to launch to go after a Bass.
St. Sebastian Launch Spots: Upper River/River Mouth – Roseland Community Park (Shoreline Access).
Middle Section: Dale Wimbrow Park (full boat ramp). Lower South Fork – Sebastian Canoe Launch (incredibly scenic place to paddle). Channelized North Fork Freshwater: Indian River Rowing Club on Google Maps, boat ramp and small parking lot right there beside it.
I’m not going to give a full breakdown of the river today, I really haven’t fished it enough and I feel like that it has so much to offer, I would be doing the river a disservice if I tried, so I’ll cover it in more detail later on, after I have fished it a few more times. So I’ll give a recap and report on my trip. I launched out of Dale Wimbrow and worked my way north, I got my Snook first, I was able to catch 6 total before I landed my first Tarpon. My most effective presentation was a Gambler TZ in White Lightning on a 1/16 oz Red DOA Jig Head, I also caught one on a Tsunami Swim Bait and a DOA CAL Shad in Figi Chix on a Twistlock hook. I didn’t cover a ton of ground on this trip, I paddled along, I worked some of the points in the mangrove shoreline, I skipped back in some shaded pockets. If you work your way up the river along the SE bank of the south fork there are a couple of cuts that go back into the shoreline (look at google maps you will see what I mean) – I explored these and saw Tarpon rolling but didn’t catch any here.
My first Tarpon landed was caught blind casting around the residential docks about a mile or so north of Dale Wimbrow, he was my biggest landed that day, he was silver with a black back and had black spots on him, I am not sure why, but certainly interesting looking. My other one came on the north point of the elongated mangrove island in the middle of the river, I saw it rolling, casted my 2 inch swimbait in front of his path and BOOM he was on, he was a little smaller than my first, but I was able to get a great pic of him in the water before I released him when the sun showed off his beautiful colors silver, black with some purple metallic shine in the sunlight. Man, they are such gorgeous fish! I really love catching juveniles on lite tackle, they don’t batter and bruise like the bigger ones, they are feisty and will show off with their acrobatic displays of aerodynamics. On my way back to the launch spot, I casted to another rolling Tarpon, one that I guesstimate to be somewhere between 30-40 pounds, I was able to get a good hook set, he took to the air, I bowed to the Silver King (or is it Silver Prince when they’re still juvenile?) and he took off on a blistering run….under my kayak. I was pretty much done for at this point with my rod bent down into the water held against the side of my kayak, when he went to the skies again I could not properly pay my respects with the bow of my rod tip and he spit the hook. Sorry about the Tarpon tangent, back to Snook, I caught 6 total. The biggest was around 25 inches, the smallest around 15 inches, and the other 4 somewhere in between. Classic Creek Snook size. I pretty much used the same tackle and baits I’d been using the last few weeks on the Eau Gallie River and Sykes Creek and it worked well on the St. Sebastian.
So now, about that Bass. I packed up and drove down to the Canoe Launch. But nothing materialized there (one tiny Mayan Cichlid on a Johnson Beetle Spin). It’s gorgeous back there but the water is low, it is very clear and is a great place to paddle and enjoy some peaceful, quiet serenity, but maybe not a sure fire bet to scoop up a Bass on a deadline. So I packed up again and went to the launch spot on the north fork (I stopped to replenish ice, gatorade and water for my cooler – in case anyone forgot it still feels like its 10,000 degrees outside). I had fished up there once before and had a good day catching bass, but it was late spring, it was early in the morning. Now I was back on a sweltering August day, bright blue skies and my weather app said that with the current temperature and humidity levels it felt like it was 104 and the UV index was at an 11 on a 1-10 scale. Let’s Go!
So I brought along a ziploc bag with a variety of soft plastics to exchange for my inshore baits, and I keep my bass terminal tackle with me at all time (you just never know) I left two of my light tackle spinning rods in the truck and replaced them with my two favorite baitcaster setups and kept one spinning rod outfit in case I needed to throw a weightless senko or a trick/finesse worm. I did struggle to get that bass. Nothing for 2 hours. I fished a silver Rat-L-Trap and burned the banks with it, I yo-yo’d it out in the deeper water in the canal. I fished a speed worm along the reeds and didn’t get a bite on that. I re-rigged to a Texas Rig where I threw a Googan Baits Bandito Bug, which is probably my favorite creature bait, nothing there. So I switched to my tried and true favorite on hot muggy days. The ribbontail. I had a 7 inch presentation, Culprit worm in Watermelon Candy and a 10 inch Googan Baits Mondo Worm in Green Pumpkin. I caught 3 dinks on the 7 inch worm, and decided to go big or go home and threw the big worm using a ⅜ oz tungsten weight. I hooked up with a nice bass around the Babcock Road bridge and just past that close to the St. Sebastian Preserve State Park I threw one into the reeds, and slowly drug it back along the bottom I hooked up with a nice one that thumped it hard and took off for the reeds, but there was no cover close enough for him to get to, I got him in took a picture and released him. I didn’t weigh him but he was probably between 3-4 pounds. By no means a lunker but I was sure glad to catch him. I decided that was enough for one day, so I turned back and headed in. I texted my wife that I was paddling in, and after making roughly 100 more “last casts” on the way back, I got back to the launch with no more bites.
So I have to put an asterisk beside the word BackCountry Slam* because I did end up driving to a few different spots, but it was cool to catch all 3 species on the same river, even if I did have to go behind the spillway. There are times when being in a kayak is tough because you don’t have the luxury of an outboard motor to gun to the next spot, but it is nice to be able to pack up and go and drive to multiple spots without having to load a boat on a trailer. So if you’re reading this and considering getting into kayak fishing, go for it! There’s no shortage of adventure, it’s great exercise, it allows you to access remote waters, and can be launched from anywhere with a shoreline.
I hope everyone has a great week, get out there and catch some fish. Until next time, peace!