Water Temp: 71
Water clarity: Poor on the north end better south of the 30 mile mark to beautiful from the 50 mile mark to Port Mansfield Jetty
Surf: 4 rows to 2 - 3 feet better south of the 30
Driving: Poor. The worst was at high tide and it was brutal. 4x4 only in the afternoon from the 45 mile mark to the 18 mile mark.
Debris: Lots especially on the north end with Water Hyacinth from the recent Midwest flooding comprising most of it along with wood. Some sargassum but not enough to hamper fishing.
Fishing Report: Jack Crevalle, whiting, pompano, spanish mackerel, bonnetnosed and blacktip sharks. Some trout on the rocks at Port Mansfield Jetty.
Birds Observed: Cattle egrets, willets, royal, sandwich and Caspian terns, long billed curlews, sanderlings, laughing gulls, herring gulls, grackles, great blue heron, cormorants, brown pelicans, Cara Cara, and white tailed hawks.
We started the day early to catch low tide as we had reports of a 4hr journey off of the beach late Friday due to high tides and soft sand. We spent half of the time telling Billy Sandifer stories throughout the day not realizing that this day was the actual one year anniversary of his passing.
Here is Sunrise at the 20 mile mark
We observed birds on our way south looking for jack crevalle to be wreaking havoc on the local bait during the start of their big migration only to find a few working bait well offshore. The water clarity improved south of the 30 mile mark and the conditions were beautiful south of the 50 mile mark. We stopped at the jetty and observed the erosion and spoke with fishermen camped down there.
While waiting on our quarry to appear we looked for bait and found a stretch near the 55 mile mark that contained many By-the-wind sailors, a form of small jellyfish harmless to humans.
It was at the 55 mile mark we asked Billy to tell us where the jacks were. We imagined him laughing at us for being skunked on fish with half of the drive completed. Suddenly the word 42 popped into my head so, at least I thought I might be getting some heavenly guidance from our late friend and mentor. Heading back north we still did not observe any frenzied activity near shore that would indicate the presence of jacks however there was some bait and excellent structure south of the 40 mile mark. We did stop at the 42 mile mark when FOP treasurer, Jeff Wolda, said "Here it is". We paused and looked hoping Billy had shown us to the "promised land" only to find more beautiful water but no jacks body surfing the waves into the wade gut. So we ventured on.
Then we stopped at a hole near the 40 mile mark and started blind casting when Jeff Wolda hollered "Jacks" when he saw two coming in from the first gut just into the wade gut and back into the first gut.
We hauled out sans waders into the large wade gut in the 71 degree waters and began casting our large silver spoons into the first gut. It wasn't long before Josh Kea was hooked up.
About 15 minutes had gone by and we were wondering if he was going to land this jack. Then suddenly we caught a glimpse of a five foot shark in the curl from the first gut into the wade gut and our hearts sunk thinking all of this fuss was over a shark and not our targeted jack.
Time wore on and we were wondering if this shark was foul hooked as it was acting like a stingray sort of dead weight-like. Then this happened!
As it turned out this 20lb class jack had been the victim of a bite from the shark we saw in the wave.
Success! Note the shark bite just above and behind the pectoral find and down by the belly.
The tide was rising quickly so we headed back north in the horrible soft driving hoping to avoid those skinny beach areas in the 30's and find more jacks. No more jacks or birds were observed this day and we headed home thankful that Josh had just gotten his personal best fish from the surf. It would only be later that evening when we realized this was in fact the day Billy passed last year. We were actually glad knowing that Billy would have rather seen us having fun fishing and telling "Billy stories" than mourning his passing.
"Life is a hoot! Go and get you some!"