2024 Florida Bass Fishing – Day 4 – February 24, 2024 – Fishing on Our Own

February 24, 2024. While we hadn’t had much luck fishing the St. John’s River with Captain Jim Pruitt, on our one day off from guided fishing Mark and I rented a boat and, yes, went fishing on the St. John’s River. The boat came with the most quiet of motors ever–a little Honda that purred as we went down the river.

As we headed down the river in our boat, I saw this eagle in a tree over looking the river. We’d been at Hontoon Resort long enough to notice that every time an eagle took to the air, an osprey would follow after the eagle, squawking and escorting the eagle away.

This osprey–which had made a nest on the No Wake Zone sign–was likely one of the ospreys that didn’t appreciate the eagle being around. I loved that the nest was at eye level so I could get a better photo than when we went by two days prior.

We returned to fish near the place Captain Jim had taken us, which is near this World War II tugboat, the Tiger. I’m not sure why someone anchored the tug here, but I was hopeful it provided cover for some big bass.

We threw several different lures and caught nothing.

While fishing in a tiny bay behind the tug boat, we were visited by a manatee and also saw this bird–one of my favorites in Florida–a purple gallinule.

Other birds that graced our little spot on the river was an anhinga, left, and a yellow-rumped warbler.

This blue heron hung out near us most of the morning.

The shallow area behind the tub boat didn’t result in any fish, so we returned to the main river and continued flogging the water.

What Mark and I noticed after sitting on the river in the same area for about six hours was that schools of bait fish would move through the main river. That created a flurry of eating by bigger fish that lasted maybe 60 seconds, then the frenzy stopped. So we waited for feeding frenzies to happen–bigger fish making splashes as they went after bait fish–and threw our lures into the frenzy. If the frenzy didn’t result in a fish, we either threw further out into the river, or we sat and waited for the next frenzy.

We’d witnessed a half dozen frenzies before Mark’s lure finally nabbed one fish. This bass was not big, but we’d put in a lot of time trying to get it.

After fishing on one side of the river for most of the day, we decided to end our day on the other side, fishing deeper water adjacent to a weedbed. As we fished, I saw this bubble pattern, which everyone who takes a boat out in Florida should recognize–it’s a manatee swimming our way. I stopped fishing and took a video as it went by.

As we were ready to head back to the resort, I noticed an 8-man crew team coming our way with green and white paddles and green and white shirts. One woman had an MSU shirt on, and when they’d come astride us, I called out, “Go Green!” There, on the St. John’s River, over a thousand miles from home–9 ladies all yelled “Go white!” at the same time as they rowed by.

We wrapped up our day with an early dinner at Emmy’s Timeout Tavern, a restaurant very close to Hontoon Landing offering excellent German beer and German food. Mark had some kind of schnitzel. I had an amazing pasta primavera. The only dessert offered? Shots made up of a mix of liquors called Thumbsuckers. It was all quite tasty. And best of all, perhaps, was that it was only a couple of miles away from Hontoon Resort.

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