Learning to Fish - Palatka Bob Style

Trip Start Nov 19, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Sunday, September 13, 2009

I dropped Jodie off in Atlanta for her flight out to San Francisco on 9/13 and headed down to Flagler Beach, FL.  After a couple of days of driving with nights spent at Flying J truck stops, Maudie and I reached Gamble Rogers State Park in Flagler Beach.  

The sea was warm, but the fishing was a drag with all of the seaweed in the surf.  Every cast ended up with 5 or 10 lbs. of weed clinging to the hooks and weight, so I abandoned the fishing and did lots of beach walking and bike riding into town for delicious fish burritos at the Taco Shack.  The plan had been to spend a week to 10 days in Flagler, but I decided to head north and stay at some of the state parks where we hadn't been able to get in during our winter visits.  So I did some visiting and BBQ sampling with our friend Craig and then headed north.

The first stop was Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine, FL.  The park is situated on the ocean, with over a hundred shaded campsites in the woods.  The deep sugar sand beach is a short bike ride from the campsites and almost nobody was there since all of the kids are back in school.  A very friendly, totally tatooed shopkeeper told me that the fishing was pretty unexciting, except for the occasional whiting, so I planned on making this a beach walking visit and bagged the idea of fishing altogether.

About 1 hr. into my walk I spotted a figure out in the water way down the beach.  When I reached him he was landing a fish and kneeling down next to his bike in the sand.  I couldn't belive how many fish he had!  There were 4 big black drum lying in the sand and he was opening a "kayak cooler" to reveal another 6 or 8 stored in there.  Unreal!!   I asked him about his set up and he openly shared his technique and okayed my request to stay and watch him for pointers.  We talked for an hour or more and he showed me how to "read" the beach and interpret the flow of the tide when picking a spot.  This was all new to me and as we spoke, he kept catching fish.  His name is Bob and he drives an hr. each way from Palatka, FL to fish this spot.  That did it for me, this had now become a fishing trip and my bike was going to be carrying the gear 2 or 3 miles down the beach.

The next day I biked down to "the spot" and caught 4 whiting in the surf.  That was one of the best fishing days I had had in Fl.... until the next day.  The following day was incredible!  As soon as I started I caught a 16" black drum, then another, then a redfish.  As I was untangling my line, I looked up and saw a stranger biking towards me.  In the distance I could see he was holding a fishing rod in one hand and biking hard.  To my surprise and delight it was Bob..."hey, are you catching?"  Oh yeah, I said, come on and join me, there's plenty of room.

We fished alongside each other for the next 3 or 4 hours and each caught a few more black drum, whiting, redfish, jacks and pompano (sadly no keepers).  As we fished and the tide changed, Bob showed me more tips. What an amazing day of fishing!!  In total, I got between 9 and 12 fish (lost count) and kept 5 to freeze and eat with Jodie.  As the sun was setting we both put our gear away and biked back to our car and RV.  I will never forget this day of fishing.

Surprisingly, the heat was still intense late in Sept. (the 21st. by now) and I had to run the generator during the day to keep Maudie comfortable.  The electrical system in Anastasia is not very good, so we had no electricity for the AC.  I didn't want to keep everyone up at night, so we slept with the fan on and the windows open, but it was still 85 degrees at night.  The lack of AC in this kind of heat is a drag, but the fishing made it all bearable.  We'll be back in November and I can't wait.

With no more spots available for the weekend, we headed north to Little Talbot Island, FL. where I hope to try Bob's secrets on a new beach.   
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