Monday, April 4, 2011

Gator Trout

Captain Tony Bozzella presented me with this 21 inch trout so a Gyotaku could be made for the 2011 Old St Augustine Redbone Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Redbone Tournament.  Reprints were awarded to the Captain and participating fisherman with the largest tournament trout, and as luck (or should I say skill) would have it, the 2011 Captain's award went to Capt Bozzella. This 21 inch, three pound Gyotaku original is still available for anyone interested in always remembering the heart stopping strikes of this voracious surface feeder, prized throughout the eastern seaboard and Southeastern United States. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Black Seabass on Batik

This Gyotaku was made of a two pound Black Seabass which was caught eighteen miles offshore from Mayport.  When first brought to the surface the skin of the Black Seabass is almost a turquoise green in color, thus the common name "Greenhead."   The background for this rubbing is a mottled green and yellow hue batik.  What is especially unique about a Black Seabass is its dorsal and tailfins which oftentimes extend out as pendants or tendrils.  Sometimes you will find the bottom literally carpeted with these miniature versions of Jack Russel Terriers, which are all mouth and will take on everything you put down.  The flesh of the Greenhead is all white which makes it an excellent eating fish.  I love setting up on a long drift and wait for the hit. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


In the Fall my goal is to find and catch doormat flounder, thus the name of this Gyotaku "Doormat."  Having lived and fished in New England for thirty-five years my passion was fluke.  I would spend endless hours during the winter months tying fluke rigs with all their shiny spinners and attractors, only to find when I moved to Jacksonville that such techniques are totally alien to their souther cousins.  It took me several years to re-calibrate myself to realize that the more simple the rig setup the better.  I still remember dropping down my finger mullet, feeling like I was caught on the bottom, only to feel the bottom start to move.  If you look closely at this Gyotaku you'll see each individual scale and its characteristic color pattern is remembered.  In addition, this is the exact imprint of the fish so one can remember the thrill of catching this doormat again and again. 

Finger Mullet

Similar to the pinfish the mullet is a primary forage species for most predatory fish species found throughout the southeastern portion of the United States.   I call this Gyotaku "Disorientation" which depicts three individual mullet passing over a rocky outcropping surrounded by the turbulence of counter currents coming from different directions.  Each of the three mullet were rubbed individually thus giving each their own unique identity and their place in the universe.  There's nothing like feeling the "thumb" of a big doormat flounder as it starts to draw in a mullet only to feel the dead weight as you strike back hard.


Of all the inshore species one of my favorite fish to target is the sheepshead.  It was only after learning from the Master, Captain Vic of Jacksonville, Fl that I was able to understand the subtleties required to consistently connect with and catch these most elusive fish competitors.  I always remember when I first met Captain Vic, I knew he was a dedicated fisherman when I saw the sheepshead tattoo on his forearm.

What I like about this form of fishing is that it almost takes on a Zen quality, requiring a focus and concentration like no other form of fishing.  There's something that comes from the adrenaline rush resulting from the vector of forces between the jetty rocks, the ever changing current, wind direction, and surfable waves created by cargo ships and Navy tugs that are always seeking to draw your boat into the rocks like a siren's song.  Needless to say, I'm exhausted both mentally and physically after a day of sheepshead fishing.

Being true to the species I have made every attempt with this Gyotaku to include the subtle pink and yellow iridescence of the sheepshead when they first come out of the water, especially around the head and gill plate.   Both the dorsal and ventral fins are rather robust since they use these fins to hold position amounst the rocks as as the water surges in and out with the wave action.  In addition the pectoral fin is pronounced since the sheepshead uses these fins to move about the rocks in search of one its favorite target, the fiddler crab.  The sheepshead uses its characteristic teeth and molars to crush the crab.

Monday, March 28, 2011


As soon as I saw a hogfish I knew I had to do a Gyotaku of this magnificent fish.  What stands out are its unique and defining fin structure, coloration and associate color patterns, and overall appearance.  Hogfish appear off the Jacksonville, Fl offshore waters during the summer months, after which they migrate to more southerly waters the remaining balance of the year.   The color patterns varies from pink to a dark maroon, accentuated by a yellow pectoral fin, along with four dorsal fin tendrils which give it a flowing feathery appearance while swimming.. 

This robust fish stands at 24 X 37 inches and weighted in at nine pounds.   

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Red Snapper "Mule"

I am a bottom fisherman first and formost and I love targeting reefish in the blue waters off of Jacksonville, Fl.  Unfortunately, the red snapper fishery has now been closed down indefinitely due to lregulatory mandate; but if for no other reason this Gyotaku allows one to remember the good times of fishing the reefs, and what a hard fighting and good eating fish this is.  The Chinese symbol at the bottom of rubbing represents the weight of the fish, or in this case nine pounds.  I named this Gyotaku "Mule" because these fish get up to 20 to 30 lbs and are indeed a "Mule" in terms of their spirited fight.      


The genesis for this seven inch pinfish was its coloration and how it contributes to the foodchain for almost all top predators.  The original was given to my granddaughter when she was several months old so she could grow up appreciating all fish both large and small.  Every effort is made with this Gyotaku to put as much attention to detail as I would with a larger more widely known species of gamefish.  In each of my Gyotaku's the importance of a Zen presence is a part of fun and passion for what I do.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


The title of this original Gyotaku is "Sting."  As a skin diver in San Diego I was always intrigued by the fact that stingrays were all around us in the beach sands of Pacific Beach.  As I would swim out through the surfline I would always seem to come up upon one buried and stealthfully hiding out in the sand.  Once discovered it would appear to burst from its sanding bed and gracefully fly away on undulating wings.  "Sting" has the scars of some unknown encounter with a predator or propellor.  Rather than have scales a stingray has smooth skin, in addition its torso rises up to give it a three dimentional appearance.

"The Operator"

Hi everyone, this is my first posting so I thought I would introduce you to my 22 foot Panga which I call "The Operator."  I selected a Panga design due to its versatililty which allows me to fish both inshore in "skinny water" and thirty miles offshore in blue water.  I've had a number of boats but deep down I always wanted a Panga.  Due to the high upswept bow it can take on heavy seas and waves, but at the same time its flat keel allows the boat to go in a foot of water.

I fish extensively in the Jacksonville, Fl and St. Augustine, Fl waters fishing the rocks of Mayport or the reefs or structure offshore.  A number of the Gyotaku fish rubbings resulted from the fish taken from the Operator.

When you go to Japan,  Mexico, or any third world country you will see the Panga design everywhere since it was designed by the World Bank for fishermen to make a living both nearshore and offshore. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011


What's wonderful about Gyotaku is I can always remember and reflect back on the experience of catching  this upper slot redfish while fishing the muddy backwater of the Jacksonville, marsh tidal flats.  The fish print brings back the metallic bronze and copper sheen of the scales as they reflect in the sun, along with the light blue margin of the tail fin which is so characteristic of this species.  I also let the cloth medium bring back the unique essence of the fish which gives it a mottled appearance with all its imperfections.   The title of this Gyotaku is "Shoulders" since, as any fisherman will tell you, when you hook up with a redfish they give you a fight you will always remember due to their determination and strengh.