Fishing Report: Starting the year with big moon, big tide, big winds

The St. Johns River and area lakes: Speckled perch are getting the most attention, but unless you’re set up to spider rig the open water or have a couple of secret underwater trees, it’s still hunt and peck. Very few fish are showing sufficient roe to concentrate them in spawning groups.


The fish were caught this week in decent numbers, and generally in the creeks rather that the river — Trout, Six-Mile, Dunns and Black Creek.

They’re also in the lakes, especially Newnan’s, Crescent, Santa Fe, Lowry, Lochloosa and Orange.

There are some good reports from Rodman from anglers putting in at the Kenwood ramp and fishing the old barge canal back up to the dam. There are still some nice catches coming from the dam, for those who don’t have access to a boat.

The mullet wall on the Shands Bridge is also a good bet right now, though not for mullet. Lots of panfish and channel cats are being caught there by anglers on foot. There are still some folks chumming for mullet, and that’s bringing in the other fish.

Otherwise, the bluegill and hybrid striper bite is good, as well. The bluegills are in their usual spots. The stripers are beginning to hang around the spring runs on Lake George. Stripers rarely hold anywhere for long. The best bet for locating them is always letting the birds do the work for you. Any time stripers push bait to the top, the birds will be there to pick up the pieces — literally.

Bass are beginning to school up. There was one report of a couple of guys catching and releasing 30. They put in at Trout Creek, but it wasn’t clear where they found the fish.

The Intracoastal Waterway: The reports are all pretty much the same. Tons of redfish are in the ICW, but you may have to go through 20 to catch a keeper. And is there anything wrong with that? Catching fish, is catching fish. The trout are generally small as well.

The sheepshead bite is probably the most reliable. Some of the charter guys are taking a cup or two of fiddlers and tossing them around the oyster bars back up in the creeks and catching a few. But drum and redfish also love little crabs, and you’ll catch them as well.

The good story of the week comes from Ben Williams who came down from Julington Creek to target sheepshead. When he got down here he found all the bait shops sold out of fiddlers. He pulled a shovel out of the truck and spent an admittedly cold and dirty hour digging mussels. I don’t know what they are, but apparently they work.

He took them to the south jetties and reported a very fast bite on the mussels that included sheepshead, yellowmouth trout, whiting, drum, redfish and what he said were some of the biggest ringtail porgy he’s ever seen — and he’s seen plenty.

There are still a few small schools of pompano circling the bayfront.

The drum fishing on the Bridge of Lions has been a good bet.

With the moon and tides coming up, the Guana Dam is likely to be on fire. Just be ready for hand-to-hand combat with the crowds.

The Atlantic: If you’re a pier rat, remember it will be closed Dec. 30 and Jan. 1 for the annual New Year’s Eve Beach Blast off. Free shuttles to the event will run from various locations on Anastasia Island. You can get the lowdown on that and the events at

Shutting down the pier won’t make much difference because fishing has sucked there. I did not get a single surf fishing report from this county. And that usually means there’s nothing much to report.

The local reefs and wrecks are still thick with red snapper, so much so it’s tough to get a bait down to anything else. The very big exceptions are the hordes of 35-plus pound reds schooling out there now.

The guys bottom fishing the deeper water in 100 to 120 feet caught some fish, but the cobia that were showing up slowed down.

Out on the ledge, grouper fishing is about as good as it gets this time of year — which is nothing to brag about. A few scamps and gags were caught, along with fat beeliners, triggerfish and porgies.

The wahoo bite, if you want to call it that, is pretty much for the high-speed trollers covering lots of water. And then it’s two or three bites with one or two fish iced down, if you’re lucky. A few sailfish were jumped out there and afew kingfish were caught, along with scattered dolphin.

The blackfin tuna bite remains real strong with most boats taking home a couple dozen.

The weather: A full moon will usher in the new year. This will be a Supermoon, and is often called a Wolf Moon. In January, we’ll have two full moons, with the second arriving Jan. 31. It’s called a Blue Moon because we only see two full moons in the span of a month every 2.7 years, give or take. It’s kind of like a red snapper mini season, if you think about it.

Northwest winds are forecast at 5 to 10 knots Saturday with 2 to 4 foot seas. Sunday, winds pick up to 10 to 15 knots. By Monday, we’ll have 25-knot winds with seas to 7 feet.

Jim Sutton writes a weekly fishing report for The Record. Contact him at