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Tuesday - August 30, 2011 - Live Weather Conditions from the Amelia Island Online Weather Station

About The Web Designer at Amelia Island Fishing

I've lived on Amelia Island since 2001, but I've been fishing here since 1982. My favorite flavor of fishing is surf fishing. As a kid and a young adult, I did a lot of freshwater fishing, but it's been a lot of years since I've tossed a rubber worm around a stump in a fresh water lake or sculled a jon boat around a stump. Like any other fisherman, I like to catch fish, but just being around the water even if the fish aren't biting is medicine for my soul.

Occasionally I invite an unlucky fish that I catch to come home with me for dinner, but most of the fish I catch go back into the water. I'm really not happy with the progression of the recreational fishery that I've watched in the last fifty years. I've seen stocks dwindle because of pollution and over fishing, and I've seen fishing spots disappear because of commercial development and legislative stupidity. I often wonder if kids fifty years from now will have places to fish or fish to catch. It bothers me to see someone kill a skate or a toad fish because they're ugly or stick an undersized fish in the cooler when they know full well it's illegal to keep.

I got interested in fishing long before I figured out what I wanted to be if I ever grew up. As a kid I fished in fresh water ponds and lakes in Maryland, and when I got older and more mobile with my first car, my fishing grounds expanded to include the Chesapeake Bay, Patuxent River, the ocean beaches in Ocean City, Maryland and in Delaware, and a lot of ponds and lakes that were out of bicycle range. In the 70's I discovered the Outer Banks of North Carolina and spent a lot of weekends fishing from the Nags Head Pier and in the surf of North Carolina.

My "first fish", according to my sister who dug up an old black and white photo from God knows where, appears to be a large mouth bass from back in 1959. I can't remember most of the fish I caught last week, more less one from 1959, so I have to take her word for it that this is really my very first fish. I do remember it was followed by a lot of bass, bluegill, and catfish from the local ponds and lakes. And I remember back then that my favorite type of fishing was fly casting for big bluegill in a small farm pond near my house.

Since we didn't have the luxury of cheap hires digital cameras, CD burners, or web sites in the 60's and 70's, most of my early fishing days will remain forever undocumented. I'll never forget the blue fish blitz's on the beaches of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the coolers full of trout we hauled away from the Oregon Inlet bridge after a night of trout fishing, and the many times we set the smoke detector off with a real hot cast iron skillet and some blackened fish seasoning, but the pictures in my memory don't work well on a web site and words don't justify the fish and the fun. So we'll have to skip those years.

In the early 80's, a good friend moved to Florida, and after several visits I was hooked on Florida and decided that one day I wanted to live there near the ocean. My move to Florida was interrupted by a sixteen year visit to Guam where offshore fishing was great, but my favorite place to drop a line never was from a boat that was bobbing up and down on 20 foot swells. There was no surf fishing in Guam because there was no surf - the island is surrounded by a coral reef. So most of the rods I shipped to Guam got shipped back to the states again without ever getting wet.


My Guam years included a good 35mm camera, and then a not so good digital one, so there are a few visual remnants of time spent in, on, and around the water from 1985 to 2001, both in Guam and in Florida. My yearly vacation from Guam consisted of a thirty four hour airplane trip from Guam to Washington, D.C., a fourteen hour drive from Maryland to Amelia Island, and a month of daily fishing from the pier at Amelia By The Sea, interrupted only by a few surf or bridge fishing trips in the local area. And then the drive back to Maryland and the flight back to Guam.

My best fishing buddy, my Dad, didn't like to fly, and fishing without him wouldn't have been the same, so I had to haul him to Florida in the truck. I'm not really sure why he didn't like to fly, since he'd never been on an airplane, but somewhere along the line he decided that he really didn't like to fly.

That's a small tuna and a mahi caught offshore trolling in Guam, probably circa 1986 or so. One of the neat things about offshore fishing in Guam is that you don't really have to go very far offshore to catch fish. That's the north end of Guam in the background. But bobbing around in a boat just never really got me excited for some reason. A Vietnamese lady in Guam told me one time that there was a big hole out in the ocean, and that's where missing fishermen and boats went; down into the hole. Maybe that's why I never liked offshore fishing, I'm not really sure.


The late 80's and the 90's were some really good years for Florida fishing. And we optimized all the time we spent in Florida every October doing just that - fishing. One of the neat things about Amelia By The Sea (a condo here in Amelia Island) is that you can walk out the back door onto the pier and started fishing every morning. Some days we could convince my Dad to come in for lunch, and most days we could convince him to stop fishing after dark and come in for diner.

Our days consisted of fishing, and our evenings consisted of setting off the smoke detector and eating some fish, capped off by a couple hours of tackle repair and rig making on the living room floor. We never took the girls fishing with us, so things like fishing rods and tackle all over the condo, fish scales all over the kitchen floor, live bait in the bath tub, and wearing the same fishy smelling t-shirt for a week never were a problem. We never came to Florida to play house; we came to fish.

That's my Dad with a red drum that he caught off the Amelia By The Sea pier. Red drum, or simply "reds" were our target fish back then, and still are today.

We packed up the stuff in Guam and moved to Florida in 2001. When I told my Dad we were here and I was ready to go fishing, it didn't take him long to start looking for a volunteer who was willing to pack him up in the car and drive him down from Maryland. In the fall of 2002, my sister fell victim to becoming the first designated fishing driver; she made the ugly fourteen hour road trip down and delivered my best fishing buddy in one piece.


I don't remember how long my Dad stayed the first year he came to live with us in Florida; probably six or eight months. When you fish all day every day, time becomes a blur. We hit all the beaches and fished the surf, we wandered around all the creeks and the boat ramps, and we fished into the next year, in January and February when it was way too cold for fishing (60 is cold for me after sixteen years in Guam).

We had to rough it because we couldn't scatter fishing junk all over the house or keep live bait in the bathtub, like we did back in the good old days, but somehow we made it through five or six months of continuous non-stop fishing.

That's my Dad with a trout he caught at a local boat ramp. We finally found another designated driver to haul him back up north, and I got a rest from fishing and a chance to catch up on other things.


In 2003, we had run completely out of designated fishing drivers (both had quit after one trip) and we hit my Dad with an ultimatum - no airplane, no fishing. So at the ripe old age of 87, he packed up his carry on bag and headed to the airport for the first time in his life. Even though he really didn't like to fly, he really did like to fish....

At this point, he had slowed down just a tiny bit, and we decided to make the pier at Fort Clinch our official fishing hole for the year; easier fishing than dragging things around in the sand. We were regulars at the pier - all day every day, and we caught our share of trout, blues, flounder, and big reds. We had fun, even though we didn't have live bait in the bathtub.

Summers are too hot in Florida for my Dad, so we always ship him back up north for the hot months. 2004 was a bad year for hurricanes in Florida, and Dad had made his reservations to come down on what turned out to be a very wet weekend at Amelia Island. His return got postponed, and then some health issues eventually got it canceled. So in 2004, my rods stayed in the garage; I didn't do any fall fishing at all that year.


2005 started out with plans for another airplane trip to Amelia Island for my Dad. Things got fuzzy, dates never got set, and it started to look like he wasn't going to make it down again this year. I like to fish, just about anywhere and just about any kind of fishing, but I've always had a soft spot for the surf. With it looking more and more like my best fishing buddy wouldn't be around for this fall season, I decided I needed to force myself into thinking about ways to get my rods out of the garage.

One of my friends here on the island told me that the beach on the south end had been opened up for more beach driving, and he also had purchased a four wheel drive truck and was intending to do some surf fishing at the south end himself. I'd always wanted to put together a dedicated surf fishing vehicle, so I started looking around and next thing you know - beep beep, I got a Jeep.


A week in the garage eliminated a few minor mechanical problems and provided time for construction of the rod holders and bait/net bucket rack on the front bumper. Around the beach in North Carolina, trucks with rod holders are a pretty common sight, but I don't think I've seen many here on the island. I have to admit I get some pretty weird looks since the PVC became a permanent Jeep attachment.

We got in a smoke test trip to the south end, no reds that day but we didn't get stuck in the sand, which is a good thing, and then I got something I wasn't expecting - a phone call from my Dad telling me he'd bought another one of those dreaded airplane tickets.

The surf fishing is on hold for the time being, we're back in the Fort Clinch pier mode now that the airplane has arrived, and at this writing we're still waiting for a north easter to go away so we can get down to some serious business of catching mullet and chasing some big reds.


After a week of north east winds, rough dirty water, and finger mullet that were extremely hard to find, we finally got the first big red of our fall fishing season into the camera. About 40 inches long, maybe 35 pounds. We caught the fish from the Fort Clinch pier using cut fresh mullet on October 14th about a hour after low tide. A really fat red, hopefully a female who's going to start a really big family.

We lost one about the same size two days earlier while trying to teach him to surf into a pier net. It's hard to haul a thirty pounder around in a three foot chop. The sun is finally back out, the wind is trying to take a break, and hopefully the mullet will be in cast net range soon.

I've been designing web sites for about ten years, and I figured it was time to do one about something I've loved all my life; fishing. I hope you find this web useful, and I hope you enjoy your fishing time at Amelia Island. If you see me on the beach or at the pier, please stop by and say hello.


A bad day of fishing is much better than a good day of cutting the grass.

Tuesday - August 30, 2011 - Live Weather Conditions from the Amelia Island Online Weather Station
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