It’s a trash fish slam in the ICW

CONTRIBUTED Sean Gronquist with a 50-plus pound cobia caught in 40 feet of water outside Matanzas Inlet last week. The cobia are probably out there. It’s just that few anglers have been able to get out there to find them because of the winds.

The St. Johns River and area lakes: The full moon early in the week has set the shellcracker to bedding, especially in the creeks. The bluegill did not seem to follow suit, but all the reports are that they are ravenous and are being caught by the bucketful. That can happen just ahead of a spawn as well. The fish seem to know they’re about to have other things on their minds, as it were, and it ain’t food. Call it bulking up for amore. The redbelly bite was equally outstanding.


Catfish are on fire as well, just taking a backseat to the panfish right now.

Bass are still bedding as far south as Lake George, but the bigger females are done. The topwater bite is said to be very good right now. The fish that have been spawning are hungry now, because they’ve been putting off the feed in exchange for love.

There’s still a good yellowmouth trout bite in the deeper channels from Green Cove Springs on up to Jacksonville.

The Intracoastal Waterway: Big tides and brisk winds have kept the fishing much better than the catching this week. That is, if you’re seeking edible targets — reds, trout and flounder.

But if you just want your line stretched, it’s on fire for trash fish, and big ones.

The monster bluefish are still around. Captain Dennis Goldstein caught one on topwater in the back of Salt Run Wednesday that weighed 16 pounds. That’s a load. He said he saw it hit and thought it was a small tarpon.

Ladyfish as long as your arm have moved in as well. They stink for food, too. But a chunk of cut ladyfish on a 4/0 kale hook just kills the redfish.

The jacks are out in abundance. They’re good for nothing.

But the jacks and blues pull real hard and the ladyfish like to jump. A word to the wise here, at least on the ladyfish — unhook them outside the boat. They tend to become excited, digestively speaking and leave a mess behind.

Other than that, it’s been pretty quiet in the ICW.

The Atlantic: When you can get out the inlet it’s been pretty good, but that has not been often.

The big boats are blistering the blackfin tuna out in 150 to 200 feet of water, according to Captain Robert Johnson. A few wahoo were caught as well. The dolphin have yet to show up.

Bottom fishing out there is good, considering both red snapper and grouper are closed down. So it’s vermillion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish and porgies.

Very few boats have been able to fish the local reefs and wrecks because of weather. The cobia ought to be out there. They were also caught on the beach last week, but the water’s been so roiled it’s very tough to spot them.

Surf fishing has been good. The county pier was lit up the past couple of days, with “buckets” of whiting and yellowmouth trout being caught, according to the pier staff.

It’s odd, but we didn’t hear much from North Beach or Matanzas this week.

But there has been a very good pompano bite on Crescent Beach on low water — mainly because that’s when you can get a bait out past the long deeper sandbars.

Calendar: The Ancient City Game Fish Association will meet on Tuesday at the St. Augustine Shrine Club, located at 250 Brainard in St. Augustine south on Moultrie Creek. Social begins at 6 p.m., followed by light food and the general meeting. There’s a rumor going around that one of our famous captains will be presented a “blooper award” for his recent misadventures while fishing. All this followed by a great raffle. The Ancient City Game Fish Association is a non-profit, family-fun fishing club. Guest and visitors are always welcome.

Weather: Looks rotten offshore the rest of the week and Sunday. Saturday east winds will blow at 15 to 20 knots with seas up to 7 feet. Same thing Sunday, with southeast winds.

Contact Jim Sutton at