Fishing Report: Best bass fishing of the year right now

Bill Voerding traveled from Cody, Wyoming, to catch this snook on the south jetties of the St. Augustine Inlet. Snook are an uncommon catch this far north.

Before we begin, and if you have young anglers or wannabe anglers, see the calendar entry below…


The St. Johns River and area lakes

If you ever wanted the best chance to catch (and release) lots of stout largemouth bass — and wanted the best shot of the year to catch a trophy, this weekend will be the best bet of the year.

The bass are spawning all over the river. Lake George is ground zero for the activity, but the fish are bedding clear up to Green Cove Springs.

If the bass aren’t spawning yet, they’re feeding in anticipation of the spawn. Add to this biological stew a big full moon Sunday night … this will be the best of the best until next spring.

The bass will be like teenagers at a Toga Party who haven’t eaten since the day before yesterday.

Otherwise, the news is that the yellowmouth trout bite has begun, and it’s early. Mile Markers 18 and 19 in Green Cove Springs is where they were all week. And they’re stupid. A pound of fresh-as-you-can-get shrimp, a half-ounce slider weight and a No. 2 hook is about all you need. Eat these fish fresh and they’re tasty. Freeze them and, not so much. So if you get a stringer full, think of the neighbors.

The bluegill bite remains excellent. Some river rats are expecting a shellcracker spawn on this upcoming moon. Catfish are biting strong. Speckled perch are both deep and in the pads, and most reports are that they’re carrying roe.

This full moon could push this spawn over the edge as well, but we’ve been disappointed so often this year … let’s just see.

The Intracoastal Waterway

It’s been a good week in general with a lot of different types of fish biting. Guides offering shrimp, generally on jig heads, are reporting catches of reds, trout and black drum, and the pompano have shown back up, especially around the inlet,

Captain Rob Bennett took a just-under slot surprise snook on the south jetties this week too.

Also, the big drum have hit their migration pattern dead on, and are coming into the St. Augustine Inlet. These fish average 30-60 pounds. They’ll move up the ICW and generally “graze” for several weeks in the deeper channels and holes up around Pine Island. That area is also holding the most slot reds right now, as opposed to the undersized “rats” schooling up farther south.

A few flounder were caught this week, but between the effects of the giggers, divers and anglers I’m not sure we’ll see flounder fishing like it should be ever again.

I know this is blasphemy for a fisherman to utter, but it is past time the FWC reduces the 10-fish bag limit on flounder. Five fish apiece is more than enough for any angler who cares anything about the future of the fishery.

The Atlantic

There are precious few reports over the past week because of the several days of wicked wind. None of the mid-sized boats have made it out of the inlet. A couple of the larger charter boats got out just ahead of the blow and report that the dolphin bite was picking up, and the wahoo and tuna bite was slowing down. The Jodie Lynn’s last trip out netted nine dolphin, three wahoo and a blackfin.

Several of the big boats were out today Thursday but we won’t get those reports until after deadline.

Surf fishing has been picking up. There were some good reports from the county pier. The big news is that pompano have shown up again. A week ago, Captain Guy Spear got off the boat and onto the beach between Marineland and Flagler and iced down only one whiting, but there were five pompano next to it. Not bad.

The weather

Looks like a washout for offshore again this weekend. Northeast winds will blow today and Saturday with seas forecast at 3-5 feet. Sunday they’ll swing in from the west with seas 4-6 feet.


I messed this thing up a couple weeks ago, and sent some disappointed kids to the pier on the wrong day: so apologies first.

The Ancient City Game Fish Association hosts its seventh annual Free Kids Fishing Clinic at St. Augustine Marina on Vilano Beach. It takes place MARCH 25. The event is for young anglers age 12 and under. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. sharp, with a fishing and safety clinic at 8 a.m. The first 150 kids receive a free fishing goodie bag. Awards and a raffle are at 11:30 a.m. Things wind down with a free lunch provided by McDonalds. Ya’ll come.



Contact Jim Sutton at