I’ve known Jerry McBride for a number of years now. He has worked at Florida Sportsman Magazine as an editor, and at DOA Lures for a period of time. Jerry now is a freelance writer and does kayak tours in his home area of Jensen Beach. Over the past years, I have to say that I have never seen anyone catch as many large trout as Jerry, and he does pretty well with snook, redfish and pompano as well. He’s a committed conservationist, releasing all the big fish he catches, and does whatever he can to protect the fragile waterways in the Indian River Lagoon. He probably catches 15 or so 30 inch trout a year; in my fifteen years fishing at Steinhatchee the largest trout I’ve ever caught was 28 inches. He makes great pies, too. So I was really pleased to have him come up for a visit to kayak the Steinhatchee area and show us how it’s done. We postponed the trip, waiting for some decent weather, and lucked out, finding several good days.
On day one, we fished the afternoon high tide from my boat, scouting locations for kayaking. We fished a number of locations around rocks and oyster bars; Jerry’s first fish was a 30 inch redfish, followed by a 26 inch trout. He was using a suspending Live Target sardine, and although I caught a few nice fish as well, he caught the largest ones. All the fish we caught (around 10 total) were over 18 inches, with a number over 20 inches.
On day two we were joined by Capt. Tommy Thompson. We used my Young Gulfshore 20 as a mothership for Jerry’s 13 foot Hobie kayak. While I was a little concerned about how it might fit, it actually fit perfectly into the cockpit, and sat firmly in place while I ran on plane.
After unloading Jerry and the kayak, Tommy and I worked our way into an area where we intended to meet Jerry. The fishing on the severe low tide was tough, but as the tide moved in, Jerry found this nice upper-slot redfish.
We moved to the rocky area we had found the large trout the day before, but the big ones were nowhere to be found. We ended up with around ten or twelve fish, and while all were keepers, there was only one over 20 inches. While Jerry fishes from the kayak much of the time, when he sees a promising area he slides out and wade fishes the area, which is a very successful way to find fish.
On day three, with a quick-moving front heading our way, we decided to launch Jerry’s kayak from a shoreline while he explored some of the oyster bars near the river, which had given up some excellent fish recently. After a while I ran out in my boat to keep him company from a distance and to take pictures. It didn’t take him long to catch the big trout of the trip, measuring just under 30 inches.
A few casts later he scored a 24 incher, that looked like a baby after the large one. He worked his way further into the creek, to an area where I couldn’t follow him, and caught a 27 inch redfish and a number of trout, although none were as large as the one pictured. He is an expert at taking selfies and here are two of the fish he caught further up the creek.
The trip turned out very well, and Jerry will be able to get some stories written about winter trout fishing from a kayak in our area. I’ve fished with a lot of people over the years, and I am always amazed at Jerry’s knowledge of fish behavior, which he got in part by growing up and helping in his father’s fishery in Nebraska. He is confident about how fish locate themselves in current and tidal flow, and seems to know exactly where a fish is likely to be. He really is one of the best I have ever seen, and he’s a lot of fun to be around as well. I’m already waiting for a return trip.