The St. Johns River and area lakes: The news this week is that some of the cast netters working the deeper holes around Black Creek and Doctors Lake are catching some eating-sized shrimp, and in decent numbers. A couple of reports were of two- to three-dozen shrimp a cast.
There are some 21-count white shrimp, likely on their way out, mixed with some medium brown shrimp, probably on their way in.
Otherwise it’s been pretty much business as usual in the river and creeks. Some of the fish camp owners are anticipating a panfish spawn on the coming new moon, but that would be pretty late in the year for it to be much of one.
The bass bite, especially in the area lakes as opposed to the river, has been very good. The bass guys believe it’s been the cooling effect of the recent rains that have got the bass frisky and hungry.
There were still scattered reports of speckled perch catches, mainly by those pitching docks or fishing bridge pilings and deeper sea walls. Both jigs and live minnows are doing damage. Why not use a minnow on a jig and cover all the bases?
The Intracoastal Waterway: The guides in Palm Valley say the fishing has been worse than terrible this week, due to the freshwater runoff.
But those working the area from Pine Island down to Flagler County are giddy about the return of the flounder, which is the best-biting fish for the week.
Good reports were common, no matter who we talked to.
Mud minnows and shrimp both seemed to work for bait.If you can catch finger mullet under about 3 inches, that may be your best bet. But I’ll tell you, some of the guys working Fisbites and Gulps in conjunction with spinner blades seem to be doing as good or better.
The ICW is filling up with smallish mangrove snapper, but limits are being filled.The fish must be 10 inches long and the limit is five per angler. There were two reports of catches of pretty lane snapper as well. These can be kept at 8 inches and the limit is 10.
There are a lot of baby redfish out there as well, but slots should not be tough to fill.
Trout are early morning and late evening bites. But it’s getting to be the time when night-fishing them around dock lights is real productive, not to mention comfortable without the hot sun beating down.
There weren’t any complaints about bluefish or jacks this week, so we’ll leave it at that.
A few pompano are still being caught by accident as far north as Pine Island.
The Atlantic: Fish of the year award goes to whoever caught a 71-pound dolphin. I can’t swear to the catch, because Randy at Avid Angler was telling the story and, well, … you know…
But if that’s you, I’d love to have a photo to share. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at 819-3487.
I also hear that Zack Timmons caught a 60-pound sailfish. Most people think they weigh at least that, but the truth is, a 6-foot sail probably averages 45 pounds. So a 60-pounder is a stud.
Several other sails were caught this week, one as close in as four miles. But the bulk are on the Nine-Mile bottom, along with the occasional cobia and tons of small kingfish, cudas and bonito.
A little farther out the cobia are still a good bet, along with what looks to be a nice run of African Pompano. Amberjack are, as a fly fisherman might remark, ubiquitous
The bottom fishing (except for voracious red snapper) has been slow for the regular stringer fish: redeyes, triggerfish, and porgies. One captain said the few fish biting are coming up on the chilly side, so it may be one of those cold-water inversions turning them off.
Offshore trolling is very likely a waste of time and fuel.
Surf fishing has been OK, but there’s some ugly water just off the beach making things tough. That can change nearly overnight, so your best bet is to take a look. And remember if it’s bad on one side of an inlet, it’s often much different on the other side. It has to do with science, or something equally confusing.
If you want to have some fun, and burn nearly no fuel, go out behind the shrimp boats working the beaches inside 3 miles for blacktip and spinner sharks — and tarpon. And you don’t have a bunch of fish to clean when you get back.
But I’ll tell you that Ned, formerly of Gypsy Cab and now of Ned’s Southside Kitchen (try the Palm Valley Shrimp and Grits, with hushpuppies and collard greens), cooked me up some blackened blacktip about 20 years ago, and I’ve been a fan ever since. One you get past that peeing-through-the-skin thing, it’s all good.
The weather: South winds will blow at 15-20 knots Saturday and lay down to 10-15 Sunday. Seas Saturday at 4 feet and 2-3 on Sunday.