Some of the best times my wife and I get to spend with our grandson, Max, are during the summer when our idea of relief from the muggy summertime heat is a cool day out on the water. Our most recent outing included fishing, shelling, exploring and swimming the keys and islands around John’s Pass.
I always start early in the morning, cast netting around the John’s Pass Bridge for pilchards to use as bait for the trout, redfish, flounder and mackerel regularly caught during this time of year. Minutes after picking up Max and my wife, Wilma, from the boat ramp, we were casting our baits into the trout-laden waters just off the channel. Six-year-old Max was the first to get a hit as BAM! a big trout crashed his bait right out of the water. It’s a real hoot how excited he gets! He reeled and reeled and landed a nice 20-inch trout, not bad for the first fish of the day. We fished that spot for about an hour and caught more than two dozen nice-sized trout, as well as several mackerel, ladyfish and a couple of flounder. Ladyfish are not recommended for eating, but they give some real sporting action when caught, which is very exciting for kids and grown-ups alike.
When the trout action died down, we motored just a few minutes northeast to Ernie’s Island. The three of us walked the entire perimeter of this small mangrove island, sometimes on the beach, and where the mangroves have overgrown the beach, sometimes in the knee-high water that surrounds it. Max found a perfect pen shell almost 8 inches long and immediately declared it “valuable treasure.” While exploring the interior of this small speck of real estate, we came upon what appeared to be a memorial marker made of a cross in concrete surrounded by shells. We took turns making up stories of why it was there and what it meant. After a quick swim, we were off to a favorite spot to catch some redfish.
Using cut pinfish on the high tide, we tossed our baits near the oyster beds surrounding the island and waited patiently for the fish to bite. It took about 20 minutes but, with a little help from his Pappa, once again Max was the first to hook up and land a nice 29-inch redfish. He was so thrilled to have his picture taken with a fish more than half his size. Between the three of us, we caught four more good-sized redfish in that spot. Then the dolphins came through and gave us a heck of show, but that was the end of the fishing.
We anchored up on the sandbar just east of the John’s Pass Bridge, a popular spot for weekend boaters. Max likes to jump off the side of the boat and let the outgoing current carry him as far as he dares. After collecting some shells and sand dollars, we called it a day and headed back to the boat ramp.
I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer day.
For more information inshore fishing you can contact Captain Ted Nesti at 727-393-6129 or online at Floridanativefishingcharters.com