The St. Johns River and area lakes: The big rains did nothing to slow the panfish bite in the river, creeks and lakes.
More often, it has the opposite effect. The majority of water bodies in our part of the state are, basically, puddles in a big system of swamp. When we get these kinds of big rains, the runoff into the lakes and creeks brings with it all kinds of critters and bugs that the panfish will stack up to feed on. The drainage is slow, so this can occur for several days after a rain.
Suffice to say that catfish, bluegills and shellcracker should be no problem to find and to catch up around the grasses and lily pads.
The bonus will be a full moon today that may put some panfish on beds one more time this year.
This moon always accompanies the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. That will be June 21, with 17 hours of sunlight.
We heard very little about the bass bite, but bedding is all but over, so the TV folks like to refer to this time as “post-spawn.” It naturally follows that you should go post-spawn fishing, but I’ve never been exactly sure what that is, other than “go looking.”
The Intracoastal Waterway: It’s going to be tricky the next few days. Unlike in freshwater, the rain just screws up fishing in brackish water. All that fresh runoff is draining into the ditch, bringing muddy water and low salinity with it.
It’s probably good that the best bite right now is on flounder, because they seem less affected by this than other species.
But if you’re chasing reds or trout, a good bet would be to stay near the inlet where at least some saltwater is flowing in. In addition, some of the guides will tell you that in this situation, fishing the high, incoming water will be your best bet, for the same reason. Usually it’s the other way around.
This will probably become even weirder because of the big full moon tides punching though the inlets.
Pappy might have just concluded it’s going to be more a half-ounce jig weekend than a quarter-ounce one.
The Atlantic: The surf will probably remain muddy because of the heavy rains and runoff, combined with what’s supposed to be east winds all weekend.
The one area in which rains have little effect is the Atlantic, and if you have boat enough to take a pounding, that’s where your best bet will be.
There have been tons of small king mackerel from the Four-Mile Bottom out to Nine-Mile. Charter guys are netting pogies along the beach or sabki-rigging sardines out on the local reefs and wrecks.
Don’t pass up the shallower water. There were several sailfish jumping around Four-Mile earlier in the week.
Captain Guy Spear hooked up what he swears was a 25-pound dolphin on Nine-Mile first of the week. A charter suffering from an apparent listening disorder cut it off on the prop.
The big news is that the cobia were out there pretty thick early in the week. Several were caught, and a lot more were seen. Spear had seven up around his boat.
They managed hooking only the smallest fish, but he estimated that the large one would have gone close to 50 pounds.
He also said he was told of a cobia caught this week that wasn’t weighed but — I swear to God this was the way he said it was described — as 10 inches between the eyes.
Man, I love that kind of prose.
A few of the big charter boats made it out to around 120 to 140 feet where the summer mangrove snapper, up to 10 pounds, were caught, along with some like-sized muttons. The regular suspects — triggerfish, porgies and beeliners were out there, too.
There were no reports of any offshore trolling this week. It’s an effort of diminishing returns this time of year.
Calendar: The Ancient City Game Fish Association’s annual membership party is June 17 at the St. Augustine Shrine Club, 250 Brainard Rd. It’s a fish fry with all the fixings. Members should bring an appetizer or dessert. Social hour begins at 5 p.m. – with dinner at 6. The meeting and awards begin at 7 p.m. A raffle follows. The club will also set signup sheets for its big kingfish/redfish tournament, set July 6-9 out of Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor.
Of course, prospective members are welcome to this meeting. It’s a family-oriented club with a real emphasis on growing junior anglers. Family dues are $50 a year.