The emerald green waters of the St. Augustine Inlet had almost slowed to slack tide. Captain Tom Winrow was sure that this magic point in time would bring battalions of game fish to feast on our pogy platter. These unfolding moments were downright easy for any inshore angler to get excited about. Here we were in the nation’s oldest city not far from some of the finest hotels, restaurants and bed & breakfasts in the world. And further, we were poised for red-hot action with bull redfish, powerful jack crevalle and mighty tarpon on Captain Tom’s tricked-out Maverick, which sported a huge livewell full of frisky pogies.
I was a newcomer to the wonders of fishing pogy schools, but was well aware that the gamesters that fed on this oily baitfish had to be big and bad. When the time came for Captain Tom to unleash his arsenal of heavy spinners loaded with 30lb. braid, I was not the least bit surprised.
That precise moment shattered all my previous parameters about trophy-size redfish.
As Tom prepped our offerings, I glanced towards the bow of the boat for a peek at the rest of our party. Photographer Art Blank was scanning the waters with one hand clutching his trusty digital camera and the other gripping his beefy spinner. Further up on the bow was my old friend and marine artist extraordinaire, Vaughn Cochran. I was grateful to Vaughn whose Black Fly Outfitters put this trip together so efficiently in the midst of such an amazing city.
When I looked back at Captain Tom, he was slicing off the tails of the live baits at a 45-degree angle. This created an enhanced scent that would aid in our quest for success. Our terminal tackle consisted of 5/0 circle-hooks tied to 40lb. fluorocarbon leader topped with ample egg sinkers rigged in the traditional knocker style. Captain Tom lip-hooked our baits and instructed us to allow the offerings to drop directly to the bottom right alongside the inlet’s jetty rocks. After they hit bottom in what seemed mere seconds, he recommended we slowly lift our offerings slightly off the bottom to attract any gamesters that may be lurking in the vicinity.
Black Fly Outfitters
Captain Tom Winrow
Barrier Island Inn and Restaurant