After two weeks of 100 plus degrees temperature, it was too hot for even Spike the cat to be overly concerned about the mouse population at our house. With record breaking heat this summer, I decided to take a few days off my grinding schedule and head to the beach where summer winds were cooling things off! I know it sounds crazy, but August breezes off the Gulf of Mexico made the mornings and late afternoons quite pleasant. It was actually cooler in Florida than it was at my home in Alabama.
Miraculously, our favorite rental house was vacant on St. George Island, just four miles across the bridge from Apalachicola, Florida. I love fishing in this area because you don't have to have a boat to catch enough fish for dinner. Just buy a few shrimp from the bait shop, stick them in the freezer until you're ready for them and you're in business.
I usually start my day fishing on the Gulf side of St. George Island State Park. The older I get, the more I like to sleep late. Since the park doesn't open until 8:00 am anyway, I wasn't wasting vacation time sleeping. I can't really call this a vacation because I've already had three this year. Four just seems to be a little too much of a good thing.
No matter what season of the year it is, I always catch fish around the island. A bait store owner in Apalachicola told me once that, "If you can't catch fish on St. George Island, you're stupid!"
He was right! This particular morning I was fishing on the Gulf side of the island. Even in the hottest days of summer, surf fishing is still good early in the morning when every thing from pompano to flounder search the shallows for something to eat. This is the time to throw out a bait of shrimp or sand fleas and let nature do the rest.
During my springtime visit to this beautiful area, something grabbed my bait attached to a hook on my 30 pound test line, and headed toward Cancun! I have no doubts that he's there by now, but always the optimist, I have to give it another try at the same place each time I fish these waters.
This time I didn't even get a strike until I dug in the sand and caught a couple of sand fleas. Don't be misled by the name. Florida has its share of real sand fleas that leave a nasty sting when they bite you. They jump like fleas, but don't do any harm for about 6 days. In fact, you may not even know you've been bitten. If you have been attacked by these varmints, you'll know it in about a week! Then watch out! You'll itch like crazy!
The sand fleas I use for bait are actually little crabs, sometimes known as mole crabs. You catch them on the beach at the water line just when the waves are receding. You'll see these small holes at water's edge and then you start scooping sand away from the hole as fast as you can. If you're fast enough, you will have caught yourself a sand flea.
Within a couple of minutes of my bait hitting the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, my rod was almost jerked out of the sand. I jerked back and immediately knew I had a nice fish. After a few minutes of wrestling him to shore I saw that I had caught a speckled trout, which was a little unusual because they don't normally come into the shore before September or October.
After another few minutes without further action, I packed up my gear, walked across the sand to the parking area and my truck. I wanted to fish the bay side of the island before it got hot enough to send the fish back to deeper water. This is my favorite area to fish in the morning and I've never failed to catch a fish on this side of the island.
There are sand bars and oyster beds everywhere in the bay with grass beds up and down the island. All kinds of fish including redfish, speckled trout, whiting and mackerel move around between the grass beds and oyster bars hunting food. I use a silver or a gold spoon and always have good luck.
I'm home now and have a picture of an Apalachicola sunset on my desktop. It's still hot here in Alabama, but I cool down a little each time I turn on the computer.