Wind has made fishing a chore

Contributed Maelyn Rinnert, 6, holds her very first redfish, caught in the North River under the watchful eyes of dad, Nathan, and Uncle Bret.

The St. Johns River and area lakes: The windy weather has had an effect on all our waters, inshore, offshore and freshwater. The hottest ticket on the St. Johns this week continues to be the bream bite. But most of the guides say that the bluegill have yet to spawn, and that the shellcracker are on the downside of bedding. But none of that has slowed the pace of the panfish bite.

 

It’s still a mixed bag out there.

I also heard of some stealth catches of speckled perch. And the consensus of those who are dying to find them too, is that they must be concentrating under the docks or the bridges, the deeper the better. None that I talked to solved that puzzle this week. But another “mess” of specks showed up at a fish camp by lock-jawed anglers — 74 to be exact.

The mullet fishermen on the Shands Bridge are doing OK, so the mullet must be pretty thick. The winds we’ve been having wreak havoc on the cane pole folks fishing off that abutment.

The yellowmouth trout and croaker bite is still pretty good in the channels north and south of the Shands Bridge.

Up farther north, there is a confirmed report of a guy who caught and released a 30-plus pound tarpon in Doctor’s Lake.

The big Wolfson Bass Tournament is this weekend. The city docks at Palatka are ground zero for the action. It’s a nice trip over to eat some good food and watch some big bass being weighed in, if you’ve a mind to that kind of thing.

It is also a good time, if you feel like fishing, to go as far away as you can get. Hundreds of boats will be buzzing by, and messing up just about anything you’re attempting to do.

Otherwise, it’s still the time to catch a 20-plus pound catfish. Big, smelly baits fished off the edge of a sandbar or drop-off are still the ticket.

The Intracoastal Waterway: The reports are pretty sketchy because of the winds. The better redfish bites seem to be up around Palm Valley, especially for larger, slot redfish.

But I know of one guy who hooked seven and kept two in an hour in the North River in the area of Aunt Kate’s restaurant.

The good news is that more folks are catching flounder. The bad news is that most weren’t catching any. So the bite is picking up, but it’s doing so from a pretty ugly place.

If you line jacks, ladyfish and support your local live shrimp dealer, now is a good time to fish.

Heard nothing about sheepshead this week. Apparently some smallish black drums are in the ICW, predominately on the sandbars on the outside turns of the creeks.

The trout fishing has been slow because, even the cleanest water at the highest tides has been pretty muddy. They don’t like that.

The Atlantic: The bigger boats did get out this week, despite the wind. The basic report is that the dolphin bite has slowed way down, mainly due to those clear temperature breaks being blurred. You’ve just got a lot of water to cover to find a few scattered fish.

The upside of that is most of the folks gave up trolling and dug out the bottom rods.

There were respectable catches of mutton snapper, triggerfish, progies and the occasional scamp. Did not hear of any black sea bass, but they are catching them north of us on the party grounds off Mayport.

The local reefs and wrecks were OK for those who got out. The good news is that acres of pogies are everywhere — even way up and down the ICW. Heard of one monster school down around Marineland. I have not heard of a lot of fish under any of them, but it’s certainly worth a look when you find them.

Some Spanish mackerel have been caught on the Andy King reef. Mostly small kingfish are out on the Nine-mile bottom, along with bonito, amberjack and some cudas. The Spanish sardine schools are thick out there, too.

The occasional tarpon are rolling in the inlets.

The weekend looks a little iffy, but probably doable if you’ve got 23 or so feet of hull under you.

The weather: It’s southeast winds Saturday and Sunday at 10-25 knots, and seas at 2-4 feet.

 

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Fri, 11/17/2017 - 00:23

Jim Sutton: Gone fishin’