I worried a bit that we would not be able find a baitfish pod. I purposely avoided buying bait because my son had been out the day before and reported baitfish everywhere. These seas would make catching bait a chore.
We finally reached my first way point - the Desco Boat wreck about twelve miles off of Saint Augustine Inlet. There were three boats already catching bait as we approached. The wind and current made it hard to make more than one drift and drop with our Sabiki bait rigs before running back up wind and drifting through the bait again. It was tedious and frustrating, but we finally managed to catch enough cigar minnows, Spanish sardines and pinfish to last us for a good while.
Before leaving that wreck, I decided to try one slow drift through the area. I put a live bait on a bottom rig for Charles and as he kept it close to the bottom, I kept the boat headed into the wind to slow the drift. It only took about two minutes until Charles had his hands full. I was sure it was a big grouper, and it was all Charles could do to stay balanced in the rolling sea and try to keep the fish off the wreck. He did pretty well for a minute or two, but the fish made one more power run to the wreck and managed to break off in the structure. We made one more unsuccessful drift and I decided to head out to another set of numbers. My son had hit this wreck hard the day before, and I figured there had not been enough time for fish to repopulate in any numbers.
We ran another seven miles to a large area of live bottom that had been good to me in the past. All alone on the water, we easily anchored in what was now becoming a lesser sea.
The first drop in ninety feet of water brought a slam on my rod and a missed fish. Another live bait brought a good bite, and a big lane snapper came aboard. Charles lost a couple of baits before hooking up with a nice grouper. Unfortunately he was an inch shy of the twenty-four inch minimum limit. It was my turn next, and I boated a nice legal red snapper. In the Atlantic, legal is twenty inches and a fish that size weighs about five pounds. Dinner had just gone into the ice chest!
At that point, the junk fish found our baits, and we could not get a live bait to the bottom without it being torn to shreds. Ordinarily I would have moved at that point, but I found the beeliners (vermillion snapper) up in the water column. I put a jig head on my light spinning tackle and proceeded to catch the good eating fish. They aren't large as offshore fish go, but they do just fine in Lake Crisco! They tend to suspend in a school as high as twenty or thirty feet off the bottom and will attack a slow descending bait. Most anglers let their bait zing to the bottom right past the beeliners.