Fishing: Slow week plagues the ICW

Contributed Mike Aylea with a pretty gag grouper pushing 30 pounds. It was caught this week aboard the Sea Love charter boat. Mike was fishing for amberjack when the grouper hit a live bait. Grouper is out of season, so Mike was out of luck — from a supper standpoint. But it’s a real nice fish and I’m sure a great memory.

The speckled perch bite is on at Lake Lochloosa, but that seems to be about the only place it’s happening. Strangely, they’re saying the fish are being caught up in the lily pads, but are showing little or no roe. They should be full if they’re spawning in the pads.


It was slower elsewhere. There were a few reports of jigging the sticks in the Rodman Reservoir for a few fish. And the bridges on Six-Mile and Trout Creek were supposed to be holding a few specks. Didn’t have any reports from Dead Lake or Haw Creek, but odds are that’s about the best fishing around.

The bream bite remains good, though we couldn’t find them on a trip Monday. We did find plenty of catfish and a lone striper of around 3 pounds. But we were fishing a pontoon boat and had to fish the sandbars in the creeks rather than the vegetation.

The bass fishing has been very good – post-spawn down south of Palatka and pre-spawn from Green Cove Springs north.

The Intracoastal Waterway: This is where fishing sucked most of the week. Some good guides were happy to have a couple of keepers, at least through Wednesday. The fish just weren’t cooperating. The biggest catches were when float fishermen using live shrimp got into a nice school of speckled trout. But one reported having five keepers out of 30 fish.

There weren’t a lot of sheepshead reports either, mainly because the fiddler crabs are buried up over on the left coast, and none of the commercial folks are bringing them over.

The Atlantic: The Atlantic was pretty much blown out, at least since the weekend.

The Conch House Marina held its Wahoo Challenge Friday and Saturday, which was just prior to the blow. A reported 70 boats put up some good numbers. We were only able to get the top two spots from the marina crew.

First place went to Fratt House who put an 84.3-pounder and a 68.6-pounder on ice for a winning total of 152.9 pounds. The Jodie Lynn took second with a 72.9- and a 48.6-pound fish for a total weight of 121.5.

There’s no reason the fish aren’t still out there, but it’s going to be awfully tough to find out because of the big weather that should mess things up at least through the weekend.

The inside reefs and wrecks have been tough to get to with the smaller boats. We did hear of some bonito and amberjack – and a few cobia still hanging on the reefs out past 80 feet.

Surf fishing has been pretty good. There seems to be two ways to get at them. Some anglers are finding sloughs between the beach and the first bar out. If these hold four or five feet of water at high tide, whiting, pompano and scads of undersized black drum are holding there until the receding tide forces them out.

Conversely, the anglers with the 13-foot rods are hitting them hard at low tide, when they can get out past the last big bar and catch them there.

If you can rustle up some fresh clams, that’s what the bull whiting and the pompano definitely prefer.

There are also some concentrations of yellowmouth trout out in deeper water, but none of the guys slaughtering them were dumb enough to tell me where they were concentrating.

The calendar: This is the weekend for the Ancient City Game Fish Association’s Free Kids Fishing Tournament at the Vilano Pier. First 150 kids get a free fishing goodie bag. Half will fish while the other half gets a free fishing clinic, then they’ll switch. Registration is at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and fishing begins at 8:30. There will be an award lunch around noon, with free grub provided by | McDonald’s. There is no cost.

The weather: It’s going to blow hard all weekend. Stay inside or clean your reels.