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New to fishing in NE Florida | Category: Fishing Talk

Mholdenpvb 8 years ago

Hello guys! I recently moved to St. augustine, FL and my complex has a fishing pier that goes into the ICWW. I had never been fishing before, but I wanted to give it a try. I took myself down to the local Angler shop and got a fishing pole and now I check this site everyday to know when to go out there and I've been fortunate to catch some croaker, crabs, eel, small catfish, and a small grouper using dead shrimp as bait. I know I'm a complete novice at this but I'm curious as to why I'm losing so many shrimp. It seems that no matter what I do, something (crabs?) are taking them right off my hook with in minutes. Also, I can only seem to catch when I fish right off the pier. I don't get anything when I cast so I'm assuming I'm doing something wrong. I'd also love any advice you more experienced anglers may have. Thanks!

itsaboat 8 years ago

Welcome to the forum.

There could be a number of reasons why you loose your bait so quick. It could be something you are doing or not doing. Have a talk to your local tackle shop person. Be sure to show them exactly what you are doing. There is more chance thou, that it is simply small fish taking your bait.

No. You are not doing anything wrong !!

About 90% of people will cast straight over the top of the fish they are trying to catch. Only a few types of land based fishing requires long casting. Casting out in to the deeper water simply means that you are casting over the top of the fish.

Think of it like this...The water is a V shape with the top of the V being the shore. At the shore the water is shallow with lots of things for fish to hide in. Shadows from trees, buildings, jetties and boats etc. At the bottom of the V the water is deep and moving faster. At the bottom of the V the fish have to work very hard against the current and it's a deep dark and dangerous place for a fish to be.

Now I am going to contradict myself...Casting out further might be a good thing for you to try Cast out as far as you can, then very slowly wind back in. Slow, about 10 to 15 feet per minute. Think of the V again. There is a line where small fish will not cross. Larger fish are eating the smaller fish. The larger fish also have a line between the small fish and the deep water. What you are doing is slowly bringing your bait to the larger fish and keeping it out of reach of the smaller fish.

itsaboat mate...Life is just a boat and then ya marry one !
booyah 8 years ago

B) Soooo, Welcome to fishing 101. That's what this site is basically. You will learn a lot of fishing stuff here. Please fill in some blanks, about
how deep is the water? are you setting bait on the bottom with a sinker?
How is your rig set up? with a tag hook like a ganion (dropshot)or like a
rig with a rubber core sinker all inline? The reason I ask is because if
a small crustation is stealing your bait, You can avoid that by "floating"
the bait off the bottom where they cant reach cuz they don't swim. Do this with either type of rigging and befor you place your squid or shrimp on
the hook put a garlic flavored marshmallow on first. Maybe two as these
will be the smaller type sold in a jar at the tackle shop. this will "float" the hook and bait off the bottom, so if it gets stolen at least you know it was a fish that got it. Don't be afraid to try different things and techniques You might try a bobber and a bait about 3-6' down if you think the fish may be suspended in the mid or upper water column. That's why I asked about water depth. You could also try some lures or cast and retrieve hard baits, some fish really cant resist those. A lot of your
catch will depend on what equipment you use and where you are fishing
and what the conditions around you are. If you see others fishing in
the same area always ask what they catch, on what and what time of day or
night. don't be afraid to move around....but don't get discouraged if
you don't catch a lot right away. Stay at it and then post pics of all
your catches!! We wanna see em! Good luck! and welcome again!

Mholdenpvb 8 years ago

Well, first of all, I can't tell you how thrilled I am to get such kind and swift responses! Sometimes it is intimidating starting a new hobby. As far as the water depth, it changes of course, but it seems to be between 2-4 feet right at the pier judging by whether or not I see the crab pots below. It's hard to tell when you go further out. I will post some pics. When I went into the Angler shop, they advised against any sinkers. I'm still learning the language, LOL, but I have just a hook (3/8, I believe) and a ten pound line. I hope that makes sense... THe reason I thought it was the crabs stealing my bait is because three times the crabs were greedy and wouldn't let go of the shrimp and I got them up onto the pier. Good eaten, I tell ya! I had no idea about the marshmallows! Too cool! I can just make those on my own? I haven't tried lures, but I have some. I just wasn't sure on the technique needed for those. Aside from the crabs that I caught, the only other thing I've kept to eat were some croakers. Everything else was too small.

Mholdenpvb 8 years ago

Oh! And another question I had. I read that if you have a crab pot you should check it every 20-30 minutes. However, there are three crab pots (that don't belong to me so I don't touch them) tied to the pier. I have a love/hate relationship with them because I love crabs and I'd love to catch some crabs, but I often get my hook caught on them. I assume people are just leaving them there for a day or two and then checking them, but we need another crab pot like another hole in the head. Is there a way to use a crab pot for a couple of hours and then pull it up and take it home? Or is it a waste of time to do it like that?

itsaboat 8 years ago

Interesting...Are those pics of the fish you have caught? Are you putting your shrimp (prawn) on those squiddgy jig heads?

Crabs...First thing to do is check your local rules. Your local tackle shop will have the info.

There are many different types and styles of crab pots and traps. So first check that you are using a type that is allowed in your area. Some areas require that your pot is identified with a tag with your name and contact details on it. For example, in my area here in Australia on the South Coast, we can have (I think) 5 pots per person per boat.

The style of pot or trap will dictate how long you leave it there. A witches hat type should be checked often, say maybe every 20 or 30 minutes. A closed in wire type pot could be left over night or even for a day or two.

The best bait to use in your crab pot is cat food. A small can of the cheapest brand of cat food is good Just make some small holes in the can so the crabs can smell it.

itsaboat mate...Life is just a boat and then ya marry one !
Mholdenpvb 8 years ago

Yes! That is what I am putting my shrimp on.

itsaboat 8 years ago

OK...Never seen that before

Don't worry, there is nothing wrong with using a jig head like that. In fact it is working cos you are catching fish !!

Those jig heads are designed for soft plastic lures. Although I have never thought about it before, I cannot think of any reason why you could not use a fresh bait...I am going to try it !!

Back to what Booyah suggested. The marshmallows he talks about are not the lolly type that you eat. They are small beads made for fishing that look like little marshmallows. They will not float the bait if you use those jig heads. The jig heads are simply a hook with a sinker moulded to it.

I get the feeling that maybe your local tackle shop is not giving you the proper advice. They are right in that you do not need a sinker when using those jig heads. But they should have told you that they are jig heads and not meant for fresh bait.

Stay around here. There are lots of people here that actually know what we are talking about. One step at a time.

itsaboat mate...Life is just a boat and then ya marry one !
booyah 8 years ago

B) B) By the looks of the jigheads you are using its about a number 4 hook size
and that's ok for the size fish you are landing. Be sure to go to the tutorial
section and watch the "fillet video" You will be surprised at the good amount
of meat you can get even from smaller fish. Im a diver so when I feel like crabs for dinner or lobster, I jump into the biggest seafood market on earth
and pick some up......if there are any in the area. Cant help you much on
that topic. The tackle shop probably didn't know you had the jig heads.....
We use that kind of head for panfish like crappie or bluegill. they are to be used with silicone rubber "curly tails" A hard bait or lure you can cast out as far as the other side and reel it back in rather quickly. Or slowly, a lot depends on the fish and the mood they are in. You could use a "bomber Long A" type lure any color that resembles baitfish in the area. Some float and some sink so how fast you reel them back in is affected by that characteristic. Like I mentioned earlier, try everything and anything,lures bait,fast,slow,colors, hell even spit on the bait before you throw it in. Don't give up!! good fishing!

Mholdenpvb 8 years ago

Any idea what fish this is? It's belly was full of air and it took a few seconds for him to "deflate" so he could swim away after I released him.

itsaboat 8 years ago

It is a puffer fish. In some places they are called toad fish. They come in many sizes shapes and colours.

They are poisonous...DO NOT eat them !!

It is the same family as those poisonous fish the Japs eat.

I see you are now using a more "normal" rig. It also looks like your knot skills are improving Well Done!

itsaboat mate...Life is just a boat and then ya marry one !
booyah 8 years ago

Puffer fish......They balloon up as a means of protection against those that would eat them. Are you doing better in the
EDIBLE fish section now? This one is NOT good to eat.... You
get a rather large selection there. Good place to fish I guess. What are you using as bait these days? I believe if I were fishing there I would try frozen anchovies or frozen squid.
Good to see you are still at it. One day you will catch a nice ray or skate or small shark....don't throw them away they are very good table fare. Just be careful of the barbtail on the rays and the teeth on the sharks .If you know youre gonna keep one take a stout knife and cut off the offending part Tail with barb or head with teeth throw fish on ice and use the cutoffs
for bait. cook em as you would any fish. Have fun keep posting!

Mholdenpvb 8 years ago

I'm doing a bit better in the edible fish area. I caught a couple of decent sized catfish but I've kind of hit a lull lately. I am much happier with my rig though. I got it when the wind started blowing so hard I couldn't keep anything down. That's the second puffer fish I've caught, but this one is a lot bigger and I didn't notice the other one puffing The other folks on the pier warned me they were not edible. I'm still using dead shrimp as bait which is what everyone seems to be doing. The puffer and the sting ray (pic attached) I caught off a bigger pier in a larger section of the intracoastal. Thanks again for the advice and noticing my knot skills - I've been using the same rig for a couple of weeks now and haven't lost it so I think I got the uni knot down. I dropped a crab trap today too!

Mholdenpvb 8 years ago

Well I have to say today was a good fishing day! I caught a lot of croaker and a flounder! It's very windy today though and I guess the weight has aged my rod a bit because on one of my casts, I noticed something red in the water and much to my dismay, it was the top half of my rod! I was able to retrieve it, but I'm starting to wonder if my rod and reel are gonna cut it. I didn't spend a lot of money on it because I really didn't know much. I would like to continue to get better. It's become one of my favorite hobbies and def a way to enjoy this beautiful town I live in! So, if I go buy new gear, where do I start? I do mostly pier fishing, but I'd like to learn to surf fish. I don't plan on doing anything offshore at the moment because I don't have the license or a boat for that. I'd go on a charter in a heartbeat but they'll have gear. I also wanted to try the Guana River dam or in the St. John's river. As you've seen from my earlier posts, there are all kinds of different fish around here. We have several shops in town to get stuff. Some people are more helpful than others and if I go in there not knowing anything, I will either end up with too much or not enough. So, any suggestions?

itsaboat 8 years ago

Yes, sounds like you did start with a cheaper set up. That is a good thing because if you had chosen not to continue you would not have lost a lot.

I have no idea what brands you have there but I will assume they are the same as we have in Australia.

For a rod, I would suggest either a Shakespeare Ugly Stik or a Silstar Powertip. Both are very affordable for most people. They are both very good quality for the price. What to look for... Fuji guides. Look for wrapping under the guides. Some rods just use paint. Check each guide and make sure there are no bubbles in the epoxy coating. Check that all the guide bindings are smooth with no gaps. Check the entire length of the rod for chips or scratches.

Rest the butt end of the rod (that is the end the reel goes on) in the V of your hand between your thumb and finger. A few inches above the hand grips. Then with the other hand hold the rod as far up to the tip as you can reach, and twist the rod back and forth. You will feel the rod sort of click in to place. That click is called the spine, it is where the rod naturally bends. You want the spine to be close to, or in a perfect world exactly, in line with the guides.

For size of rod. I would suggest 8 to 10 foot. If later you want to do some beach (surf) fishing, you might look at a 12 foot rod. I would suggest a medium action rod. That should be printed on the rod. It should also state the cast weight. Maybe 4oz should be good.

For a reel. I would suggest a Shimano. They are very good quality and the price is friendly on the pocket I would go for a 4000 size minimum. For a few dollars more you could look at a 6000 size which would also be big enough for beach fishing. I would suggest a graphite reel. They look like plastic but are actually graphite construction. Very strong with less corrosion problems.

itsaboat mate...Life is just a boat and then ya marry one !
booyah 8 years ago

:cheer: Well aren't you awesome.........Great job! Hope you kept that ray
cuz he's good eatin'. He is the one you need to cut off the tail right at the base so when handling you wont get stuck accidently. Itsaboat has the
equipment list pretty darn good, I would check your local Wallyworld for
a package rig. the Shakespeare rod "uglystick" is an awesome rod and even if you get the wrong size they are guaranteed unbreakable with normal use. I believe if you look for a 7 foot rod with a reel on it you would be getting a size 50 reel and I have caught Bluefin and blackfin tuna on one so it'll be fine.
A longer rod would be better for surf casting you need to get your junk out there and that requires a stout rod 7 foot would be a bare minimum. you will be throwing bait and a weight quite some distance and you will want a rod that's built for throwing all that way out there. other than that you may wanna look for a "Academy sports" Dicks sporting goods" "Big 5 sporting goods" "Sports Chalet" or "Bass pro shops" as a source for your new toys.
They may ask you what you are looking for just tell em you would like a
uglystick suitable for surfcasting with a 60 size spinning reel on it as a package. That would be ok for all your fishing areas. If you have to revert to a non package get a 7 to 8 foot uglystick and a 50-60 size reel and you should be spending no more than $50-60 bucks for package and
$65-75 bucks separately. Start at WalMart Great job again and keep posting the results and let us know what ya got for a new rig...........have fun!!

Mholdenpvb 8 years ago

Have I told you how awesome you guys are??? I tell everyone about you!! So tell me, did I do ok? Also, on a side note, when the fishing times are in bold, what does that mean?

markt 8 years ago

I can help you with the bold fishing times

That means the best time (either major or minor) is just after sunrise or just before sunset.
Which will make the bite times even more effective.

If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles.
itsaboat 8 years ago

Thank you

Yes, looks like you did OK.

That Ugly Stik will last you a lifetime. But like anything, don't mistreat it.

Good choice of reel. As booyah suggested a 5000 size would be perfect. But we all agree, any size from 4000 to 6000 is perfect for the fishing you are doing. Treat it with respect and you will get many, many years of use from it.

I just got an email, I see Mark has answered your "bold" question.

Back to the reel. To get the most out of it, look after it. It is not hard. Wipe it over with a damp clean cloth after each time you use it. Because it has an alloy spool, there is one little extra thing you should do. This is only once a year so it's not a big deal..Take the line off and put new line on. With the line off give the spool a wipe over with a tackle safe oil.

Some people say you should change the line each year regardless. I don't think that is right. It depends on how much you use it. Using it often, like every day or two, then sure once a year at least.

What happens is each time you bring your line in, it has salt water on it. That salt slowly builds up and soaks in to the centre. Given time, the salt will corrode the spool. But if you change the line once a year, you wont have any problems. I have more than 50 reels and more than 50 rods and I do all my maintenance only once a year...Sure it takes me 2 days and lots of beer, but that is half the fun

At the same time, once a year, remove the handle and the spool and drop in 2 or 3 drops of reel oil.

Well done !

itsaboat mate...Life is just a boat and then ya marry one !
booyah 8 years ago

B) So Have you caught anything with it yet? huh huh? hurry up!! I have the same rod in a 6' lite 6'medium and 7'heavy model my lite rod has a 40 diawa the med has a 50 shakespeare (package)and the 7' has a 60 shimano. I stole the 60 shimano from big 5 sporting goods on sale for $15.00! It didnt have a manual with it and I believe it was a $95 reel. I have caught fish north of 40 lbs on all of them. You have a great rig there and should be able to catch any fish you run across short of the toothy brand and that is only a matter of a short wire leader not the rig. Congrats on the new toys and make sure to follow the good maintenance advice to keep it working for many years.
One thing I forgot to mention the other day in the post was in the ocean it
is very typical to follow the old fishermans saying "Bigger bait........
Bigger fish" That doesnt always work for freshwater such as line shy trout
or finicky bass......but usually good for salwater species. Just sayin' as
inexpensive as hooks and other terminal tackle is when you are trying for
bigger... size up slightly on hooks and bait......If it doesnt work for you
you can always revert to the size you used before. I can hear you now....
when ever I get a nice fish hooked up I yell BOOYAH!! Now you gotta yell
and send in the pics!! (

This one was caught on the 6' 40 size rig by my son)

booyah 8 years ago

Hey you......I finally got to go out fishin last Saturday and
got a couple o fish. they are in the photo section It was such a nice November day! Have you been doing any good with the new rig? Booyah!

Mholdenpvb 8 years ago

I will go check that out! It's going pretty good, but I haven't caught anything worth writing about. I took it camping on the panhandle with me though so I'm hoping! I tried live shrimp last night, but I didn't catch anything, but in all fairness, I wasn't there long before my boyfriend son caught this and we had to go back, build a fire and cook it!! I'm going back out today

booyah 8 years ago

:cheer: WOW! That's a great catch....and two handsome young men.
I just have one question, Did you guys really cook that fish over
a flame with everything still intact(survival style) or did you
clean it or fillet it first? Nice touch with the bacon....adds a lot
of flavor. Keep up the good work, looks like you have the whole
family fishing.....that's great those boys will appreciate being
shown the finer side of the outdoors and what it can mean for them.

Mholdenpvb 8 years ago

HAHAHAHAHAHA! It's funny you say that! It was sort of survival style I gutted and scaled it. Stuffed cut up lemons in the cavity and wrapped in bacon because well, everything is better with bacon!! Then I put it on the campfire. I normally filet the fish, but it was dark and we were camping in bear country. We peeled the skin back and feasted like I used to do with smoked white fish from Zabars in New York City. Then carefully disposed of the rest so as not to attract unwanted visitors. pretty hard core for a city slicker, huh? LOL!!

booyah 8 years ago

:laugh: Yup that's pretty hardcore for a city slicker. Well done though!
I occasionally watch some of the survival shows on tv and they normally
skewer what ever it is they have to cook, and of course eat eyeballs n all.
The skin can be tasty after scaling and cooked and that kind of food prep
can come in handy....that's what I meant by the boys learning the finer
points of the outdoors. I have a recipe for doves cooked over a fire caked
in mud balls completely sealed up and thrown on the fire...and I tried
it once and it dries up the insides and burns the feathers away when it cooks.
Well gotta go keep up the good fishing and post your pics in the photo section too!

markt 8 years ago

Very interesting that you wrapped the fish with bacon.
I have never tried that - is the bacon not overpowering the fish flavor?

It is quite tempting though - I must give it a go.
Usually I do it with roast chicken.

You have my full respect for doing that in bear country.
That was probably a very exciting meal

If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles.
BlueTip 2 months ago

If you plan to fish St. Johns you can youtube tactical bassing and learn a lot of fresh water info. and they cover some tidal water fishing also.

BlueTip 2 months ago

I like that reel very much, A good medium heavy ugly stick would be a good match for it.