All eyes are on a speck spawn

The St. Johns River and area lakes: What folks have been catching isn’t as good a story as the anticipation today and through the weekend. Here’s why.

 

We should have had a big spawn of speckled perch already. It’s late. The scattered fish that have been caught on deeper structure are pretty well full of roe.

Now, we have cold water temperatures, warming back up, combined with a full moon tonight. That’s a one-two punch to send specks into the lily pads to do their procreative boogie.

So we should see a lot of speck aficionados working the shorelines looking for bedding fish.

Otherwise, the river and creeks have been giving up a mess of hybrid stripers this week, most in the 2-pound range. One 6-pounder was caught on a cane pole yesterday in Dunn’s Creek. The trick is to fish on top of the sandbars in the creeks. In the river itself, look for diving birds. The stripers will hit dead shrimp, but tossing lures is a lot more fun. A Rat-L-Trap is always a good bet. A holographic silver jerkbait is a go-to lure as well.

The bluegill bite remains good. The biggest fish of the year are normally caught in December. But, with the warm weather we’ve had, things are a month behind. So this is the time.

The creeks are full of channel catfish as well. If you want the best bet to catch catfish, bluegill, redbellies and stripers, fish shrimp on the bottom on the sandbars. All of them are there and all of them eat shrimp.

Bass fishing seems to be heating up. If you can get wild shiners, a couple dozen fish a day isn’t rare now for the guides. The bass are also bedding a little early and staging up around the mouths of the three spring runs on Lake George.

The Intracoastal Waterway: As a rule, fishing the front side of a Northeaster is good and fishing the back side ain’t. And that seems to be true this week. Most of the guides are having a tough time finding a lot of fish. But now that things are stabilized a bit, look for reds to be schooling up tighter on the oyster edges of the ICW. The water temperatures are in the mid- to high-50s, which is just what speckled seatrout like.

Most all the action has been with live shrimp on float rigs. Remember that fish slow down when water temperatures plunge, so you should too.

Expect the vast majority of the trout and reds you find to be undersized.

This is perhaps THE time of the year to target big trout, but not with shrimp. Fish the sunrise or sunset with a topwater plug to target big trout. Salt Run is a good bet. So are the spartina edges from the Vilano ramp up to Robinson Creek.

There is also a ton of undersized bluefish in the river now.

Captain Guy Spear shared one of his favorite tricks this week. He cuts the bluefish sides into strips and uses them on both float rigs and on jig heads deep. I asked him how it worked. He just smiled, if you can do that over the phone.

Sheepshead must be on fire because of all the fiddler crabs the bait stores are going through.

The Atlantic: It’s just been too rough for anyone to get out. But most of the charter guys believe that the tuna bite out at the edge of the Gulf Stream will be hot. Prior to the big weekend blow, they were being caught in double-digit numbers, along with a few wahoo, small dolphin and a surprising number of sailfish.

The big cobia bite on the local reefs and wrecks is probably over. Most of the guides expect that they’ve moved to deeper water: 100 feet or more. The colder weather might well have pushed the south as well.

Surf fishing has about shut down with the rough, dirty water. But it doesn’t take long to change all that, and this weekend should be a nice time to spend some quality time on the beach. A few pompano are still biting and, generally, the whiting have been big.

The weather: Saturday looks sloppy with northeast winds again and seas to 6 feet. But the weatherman is swearing that Sunday will be east winds with seas subsiding to 2-4 feet. But it should be fine in the ICW or the river, with highs in the low 70s.

Calendar: The Ancient City Game Fish Association meets Tuesday at the St. Augustine Shrine clubhouse, 250 Brainard St. The social begins at 6, food’s at 6:30 and the meeting starts at 7. It’s the club’s annual chili competition, so members are reminded to whip up their best batch of “red” and bring it on. The club will furnish the crackers, cheese, onions and other goodies with which to top a bowl off. Prizes will be awarded, including Pepto-Bismol.

Jim Sutton provides a weekly fishing report for The Record. Reach him at

jim.sutton@staugustine.com.

 

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