Saturday, June 16th, my dad Dan and I made the trek from Gainesville to Cedar Key to attempt to slay the redfish. My Uncle Mac had planned to meet us over in Cedar Key, but found out Friday he had prior engagements which prevented him from making the trip. This meant there was room for one more on the ol’ Carolina Skiff.
You would think cats would jump at the chance to hit the Gulf of Mexico for some fishing action, but this isn’t always the case. Especially if you invite people to fish on short notice, when they are belly up to the bar (The Salty Dog in this particular case). For a brief moment in time, I had Randall and Justin fighting over which one of them was gonna make the cut and go fishing with us the next day. Turns out neither of them would make it.
The allure of strange women and familiar whiskies was much stronger than the attraction of the Gulf of Mexico that Friday evening. I waited at my dad’s house for about 20 minutes longer than our supposed meeting time (6:30 am), all the while blowing up both of their cell phones. I made the executive decision to leave both of their asses behind, to do whatever you do in Gainesville on a Saturday when it’s not football season.
We got to Cedar Key, purchased our usual order of 100 live shrimp at Doug’s Bait and Tackle Shop, next to the Chevron gas station and launched the boat down at the main ramp downtown. We headed to familiar territory and began to fish. High tide was at 12:03 pm, so we had a while before we were able to make it inside. We started on an outer bar and immediately caught fish. Our first three casts we caught redfish. Unfortunately they were all around 16” to 17”. We figured this to be a sign of things to come. As the day progressed we moved closer inside to some of our named holes to pursue specific pelagics.
It was regrettable but we didn’t catch another redfish all day long. Luckily the speckled trout decided to save the day for us. My dad started out by catching three keeper trout in a row. I was getting worried that the usual was going to happen. He would catch more fish than me and I would have to hear him run his gator for the next four months. Luckily for me, we moved spots and I found a little honey hole.
I couldn’t cast my bait in the place I wanted to because of the high wind and the position of the boat, so I just kinda tossed it out in the middle of nowhere. I don’t know what held the trout in that particular spot, but I caught four keepers, two of them really nice (over 20″), in the exact same area. I was alternating between keeper trout and hardhead catfish, but I had put myself on top with the four keepers.
After that spot stopped producing, my dad decided he wanted to throw the cast net for some mullet, as they were absolutely everywhere. Five or six cast by Big Dan and we had more mullet than we cared to clean. Many of them being nice eating sized mullet, which are really good for smoking and/or making mullet dip with.
Since we had a good amount of mullet, we decided to use some as cut bait and fish the bottom a little bit. This produced a break off, a pretty good sized shark and a monster sting ray. The sting ray was about as big as the hood of a Chevy Sedan. It took my dad about five minutes to reel it in, while not knowing for the majority of the time what type of fish he had because it refused to surface at the top of the water. Fish not coming to the top of the water is never a good sign if you are targeting reds. It’s still fun to catch anything that test your drag a little, but can ultimately lead to disappointment when you catch a big ray.
After the tide turned, so did the fishing. We stopped catching even catfish and ladyfish and the wind got progressively worse. Around 2:30 pm we decided to call it a day. The fish weren’t biting and we had a concert to attend at The Double Down Live. I want to personally thank Allan “Big Al” Lowe and Mike Chasteen and everyone in the Dixie Desperados for giving The New Angler a shout out during a packed venue. Hell of a show yall put on, gentlemen. I also want to thank myself for catching more fish than my dad and giving him a hard time in front of his out of town buddies and family. Happy Fathers Day, chief.
Overall, I had a hell of a day. Any time you can catch fish and a good show in the same day, you have indeed succeeded. Maybe next time Randall and Justin will have their fill of “strange” tail and try to chase some red tails with me out on the water. But I won’t hold my breath on that.