Fishing report: Interlopers invade for panfish spawn

The St. Johns River and area lakes: The bass spawn has just about ended, but from most reports it was a very good year. That, of course, bodes well for the years to come, as this group of fingerling bass spread out and grow up.


The speckled perch bite simply isn’t. We never had the big spawn that so many look forward to. Biologists say that those females that do not drop eggs, for whatever blend of cosmic reasons it occurs, simply feed internally off the eggs and grow bigger.

What is happening, and in a big way, is the bluegill and shellcracker spawn — with a less noticeable spawn of redbellies and warmouth. Let’s just say panfish in general are on fire.

The biggest spawn of panfish each year occurs on the May full moon, which is the 10th this month.

There is one sign that those dialed into to the cosmic firmament employ with great accuracy when it comes timing the panfish spawn. That is the plethora of Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama license plates parked in area fish camps. It’s an annual deluge of redneck bobber-poppers heading south for this rite of angling passage.

Please understand, I say that as a redneck myself. We just imagine ourselves as more botanically “pure” strain of a special subset of overall redneckedness, known hereabouts as “Crackers” by our extended families — and “white trash” by most of our neighbors. Then there are Minorcans, another subset high in the chromosomal pecking order of “those people.”

At any rate, this is a banner year for big bluegills, known as copperheads (Please see the accompanying photo. About half that number is called “a mess” of fish. That many is generally referred to as a “church social.” )

The catfish bite is equally excellent. A 30-pound channel cat was weighed near Palatka this week. But there are scads of “fingerling” cats as well.


The Intracoastal Waterway: It has generally been tough fishing because of the high southeast winds that won’t seem to die out. If the wind did abate, like Wednesday, the water was so dirty from the previous days, the fish were tough to find and catch.

So there’s really not much to point you in the right direction.

Flounder fishing picked up a little. Reds were scattered. It seems there were as many over-slot fish as there were under-slot.

There were a couple of 5-plus pound speckled trout caught, but only in those rare windows of clean, high water.

Otherwise, it’s been ladyfish and jacks. And that’s not likely to change much over the next few days.


The Atlantic: The winds have killed the fishing most all week with, again, the exception on Wednesday. It was, says everyone we talked to who went out the inlet, a beauty of a day.

This time of year, we’ll generally see an odd migration of deepwater fish into the relatively shallow water. It occurs when the clean, blue water gets pushed west and the fish follow it in, finding the bait schools on top of the local reefs and wrecks tantalizing, and the humungous pogy pods all over the beach a thing of outright slaughter.

Big reds, Spanish mackerel, kingfish, sailfish, jumbo amberjack and even blackfin tuna came in to water as shallow as 50 this week.

We can only hope they stay a little while, because the weekend looks pretty dismal.

The dolphin bite out on the ledge was hit-or-miss, with double digits one day and five or six another. The tuna were out there too, but wahoo were scarce.

The bottom fishing was good for the normal, illegal grouper, illegal red snapper and the beeliners, triggerfish and black sea bass.


The weather: West winds will blow at 15-20 knots Saturday with seas forecast as 2-3 feet. It’ll be about the same Sunday.