The next few posts will be my most recent trip to Port St. Joe and will be broken up into a few parts.
Woke up at some ungodly hour of the morning last Wednesday and made the 3.5 hour drive down to Port St. Joe with my dad. Despite being zombie-like from the lack of sleep the night before, I was really excited about making this trip. Prior to this, I hadn’t been to St. Joe in over six years.
We arrived sometime around 8 am and decided that our first stop would be the St. Joseph’s State Park. Even though it had been six years since the last time I had visited, few things had changed throughout the small town. A few new houses, new stores had opened, old stores had closed, and that was about it. The state park was just how I remembered it. We soon launched the kayaks and paddled out over the grass flats and fished the incoming tide.
It was a beautiful morning. The wind was up just a little bit, but it was manageable in the yaks. The best part was that the fish were biting. After just a few casts, I landed a nice fat Speckled Trout on topwater.
I hooked and missed a few more trout after this and then proceeded to catch this little guy.
I never knew they made Bluefish that small. Over the course of the trip, I only landed the one trout and little Bluefish. I missed a good ten strikes and lost a couple of fish that I had hooked. What I’m pretty sure was a Redfish came up and annihilated my topwater lure, but because of their downward facing mouth, he managed to -not- hook himself. Apparently I should have switched to subsurface because my dad landed about six trout and lost a few bluefish on soft plastics.
One thing I love about St. Joe is how much area there is to fish. The grass flats extend for at least a half mile off shore and continue down the seven miles of peninsula.
This is why I was
livid slightly perturbed when I saw these people run their boat up in the shallows, chop the grass, make a ton of noise, and chunk and anchor our RIGHT next to me. And no, the picture doesn’t quite do their “closeness” justice.
It was at least a small victory to see them get excited and yell “Fish on!!”, only to pull back a pinfish with their live bait.
By this point, my dad and I were both really tired from the drive and all the paddling. The wind had come up quite a bit more so we decided to call it quits and head back to the truck. The next morning we decided to launch the kayaks at a cove in the southwest corner of the bay. We got there right at dawn and got to see a beautiful sunrise.
The water was quite a bit more shallow than over at the state park. It took close to 10 minutes of solid paddling before I reached 2 feet of water. To my surprise, nothing was biting. I had taken the fly rod with me so it only made sense that after a few casts, the wind picked up to a near-gale. I did, however, notice that there were mullet -everywhere- and I remembered that I brought one snatch hook with me. I paddled back to the truck, switched my gear up a bit, and paddled back to where I’d seen so many schools. The mullet were VERY thick first thing in the morning, but they had begun to spread out by the time I began snatching. I still, however, managed to land one big fat mullet that I failed to take a picture of. I hit another 15 with the snatch hook and hooked and lost 7 of those. If only mullet would take a lure/fly in saltwater. Believe it or not, they fight very hard. The mullet that I landed took out a bunch of line and even dragged me and my kayak a good 50 yards into the wind.
I gave up after a while since the wind was getting stronger and it was exhausting trying to hook a mullet from the kayak. It’s quite a bit harder to hook one from the kayak because one can’t get the same leverage as they can while wading.
We didn’t really know what to do in the afternoon because of the wind. The Gulf was too rough to launch, and if we launched at the state park, we’d never make it back up the beach to the launch because of the wind. We finally decided to just fish the same area as we did earlier in the morning. It was different this time because the tide had now run out. What was once a long stretch of water 2 feet deep, was now nearly a half mile of six-inch deep grassy water. It took forever to paddle across it thanks to dragging the bottom and fighting the wind. The mullet were still thick, but were now in only a few inches of water and every time I cast the treble hook at them, it just stuck in the grass. I managed to find a hole that was a few feet deep and began casting some soft plastics into it. I caught fish, but unfortunately it was just one croaker after another. But hey, it gave me a chance to use those hook outs that I need to write a review on.
I gave up after a few hours and paddled/push-poled myself back to the launch. Upon arriving, I noticed something I’d nearly forgotten about Port St. Joe. Fiddler crabs!
One can’t really be careful when walking around them. Whether you run through the group, or step gingerly near them, you’ll still hear an unpleasant crunch as one finds the bottom of your shoe. It’s a shame I never make it down to Port St. Joe when the sheepshead are really biting.