River fishing — It’s a family tradition

Bay City Lodge in Apalachicola is a good place to launch for easy access to the St. Mark’s River.

After watching folks for 31 days straight in October bring in their catches during the Destin Fishing Rodeo, when November rolls around the angler in me is ready to reel in a few of her own.

Earlier this week, my brother Jerry and I headed toward Apalachicola in search of Mr. Trout, just like we have for the past 30 years — give or take a few years. We launched his 17-foot flats boat at Bay City Lodge and headed down the St. Marks River.

It didn’t take long to find Mr. Trout at home. The first trout to answer the door wasn’t quite as big as I had hoped, but the big ones came later.

Using a 6 ½ feet long rod and Shimano spinning reel loaded with 15-pound test Power Pro Braid and a blue and chartreuse Bass Assassin Sea Shad with a ¼ ounce jig head, it didn’t take long to get a hook up.

On the first stop and about the second cast, it was fish on. Jerry was still getting the trolling motor set and I was already in business. It wasn’t quite big enough, but it made for a hopeful day.

It wasn’t long after Jerry had a fish on, but again it was about an inch to short.

The bag limit for speckled trout is five per day and it has to fall in the 15-20 inch slot. Included in that five per day, anglers can take one bigger than 20 inches.

Although the first few fish were not in the slot, there’s nothing like the tug on the line to get the adrenaline pumping.

Bouncing the grub off the bottom, I finally pulled in a keeper that measured 18 inches.

At that point, Jerry and I decided we were in the right spot and we worked it hard. We managed to reel in two or three that weren’t even in question as to whether they fell into the slot limit — if you catch my drift.

Besides just being in one of the most serine areas around, I love all the fishermen you run into on the river — you never meet a stranger.

Conversation often goes like this. “Doin’ any good?” “We’ve caught a few.” “Any size to ‘em?” “We’ve got a few 18-inchers.” “How about ya’ll?” “We’re doin’ OK. We’ve got a few.”

Sure this all sounds good, but you never know with fishermen if they are stretching the truth or holding out on you because they don’t want to give away any secrets — for fear you may get their honey hole. But one thing is for sure they are always friendly.

Even the folks we passed on the back roads driving down to Bay City Lodge were friendly. I don’t think we passed a vehicle where the driver didn’t throw up a hand and wave. You just don’t see that much anymore.

Anyhow, back to fishing.

We did quite well on Monday and went back for more the next day. We tried some different spots on Tuesday. Jerry changed out his color of grub — he went to one called “candy corn.” If you were to see it you would know how it got it’s name — the coloring of the grub looks just like the candy that the kids get on Halloween.

Fishing was good down on the grass flats, if you like catching the small ones. After an hour or so of reeling in those 14-inchers, we headed back to the area we were Monday. I’d tell where that was, but if I did my brother would kill me. I’ve already given up more than he would like.

Jerry was the winner on Tuesday with the biggest trout coming in at 21 inches — I guess kids are not the only ones that like candy corn.