Inshore Fish!ing Report
Jacks are Better in Palm Beach
Palm Beach, Fl
Dec. , 1998
by: Jim Sawyer
First, the most amazing thing about this trip was that it didn't rain. That might sound odd, but I have had such poor luck with the weather on previous trips with Capt Clyne that he was beginning to think I brought my own rain clouds with me when I went fishing. The day of our trip marked the arrival of the first cold front in South Florida this winter and it started out windy and rainy. However, our trip didn't start until noon and we had clear blue skys and only a light breeze by then. Charlie was amazed!
The cooler weather of Autumn brings migrations of bait and gamefish from the north. Most of this traffic is along the coast, but many schools move in and out of the inlets and along the Intercostal Waterway. Resident populations of gamefish, particularly tarpon and snook, also move inshore to take advantage of this flood of bait. The actual time of these migrations and the size of the schools is strongly affected by weather conditions up north and locally. Unusually warm or cold weather can slow down or speed up the migration. Strong winds and tides can either clump up the bait schools inshore or disperse them out to sea.
One of the most interesting features of these migrations are schools of extremely large jacks that often come into the Intercostal around Palm Beach. This is one of the few times and areas that jacks over 10 pounds are found in inshore waters. These jacks were not the reason for our trip, but their presence adds a new dimension to the fishing this time of year. All of a sudden that "Jack" that would be a nuisance at other times of the year could now turn out to be a trophy.
Our plan for the day was for a couple hours of "plugging the shore" targeting the snook that move inshore from the inlets with the arrival of cooler weather. With the abundance of bait, these snook take up position on ambush points and then snack all day as the opportunity arises.
Under these conditions, Capt. Charlie's favorite lure is the Storm Chug Bug. It's a great search lure. It casts like a bullet, can be worked fast or slow, noisy or quiet and gets bit by almost everything the swims. Charlie has a long list of areas where you can toss one of these "Bugs" under or around shore structure to elicit sudden attacks from these cold weather snook.
Charlie also had a couple "pre-release" versions of the new Penn Prion spinning reels that I had a chance to try. I have always been a fan of Penn reels and I am glad to say they have jumped to the head of the class with these new models. They looked great and fished even better.
We launched at Lake Worth, made a quick run up to about South Bridge and then started working our way back south along Charlie's list. Things started off a little slow but we were getting some hits everywhere we tried. Like most fast moving search baits, the Chug Bug gets more strikes than hookups and since this was just a quick trip we usually didn't throw back in with a follow up bait. Still, all those swirls and splashes added a lot of excitement to go with the fish we did catch. And yes, we did catch fish this time; snook, jacks and even an unexpected cuda.
Now, I owe Charlie an apology here. You may have noticed that my pictures are strictly "snap shot" quality, and frankly I am not much of a photographer. As a result, the only picture I took was of one jack late it the day, and not a very large jack at that. There really were much better "photo opps" during the day. For some reason, it seems that no matter what we do, I always end up with a picture of Charlie with another Jack. ( I just happen to be more interested in fishing than taking pictures, sorry ;-) (Oops! lost picture.)
Along the way we made two interesting stops. The first was during one of our runs south along the intercostal. Capt. Clyne noticed birds working the surface and made a quick detour. As he expected, this was a school of the large jacks I mentioned earlier. In short time Charlie landed two jacks over 5 pounds each and I lost a chug bug to something a little smaller than a Volkswagen. They were right out in the middle of the ICW with no real structure visible. Keep an eye out for the birds, they may be your only indication where the action is.
The second stop was a little more civilized. Charlie regularly captains for Curt Gowdy (The American Sportsman). Curt was scheduled to do a commercial and Charlie was to run his boat. The shoot was canceled due to the weather, but I still had the pleasure of meeting Mr Gowdy. I found out that Curt is still an avid fisherman, and has a special fondness for our Florida crappies (for breakfast).
No trophies were caught, but is was still a great day of fishing, especially since it didn't rain this time. Just as important, I spent another day on the water with a guide with a real talent for making any trip a "good trip". Capt. Clyne not only knows the area and species available, but how to make the time on the water both productive and enjoyable. For more information you can check out his web page or give him a call at 561-588-1766 or 800-226-1766.
Capt. Charlie has just moved up to Jupiter "for the fishing"! You can reach him on his cell phone at 561-762-7146.
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