Fishing Report: Strange happenings in western lakes

The St. Johns River and area lakes: I told you last week about the weird speckled perch spawn in Newnans Lake. We’ll, if anything, it’s gotten hotter this week. There are still limits of specks being caught.


And, this shouldn’t be happening now. The spawn is normally a winter event — never summer. But, never say never — I guess.

Newnans is currently at a kind of flood stage from all the runoff from recent rains. In fact that whole area east of Gainesville is so inundated with runoff, it may compromise State Roads 20 and 26 if water keeps rising.

Tom the Bait Man, said that folks are catching five-gallon buckets of catfish and panfish from the sides of the roads where you can see water — especially where tiny creeks are now big ones. Joey Tyson, at Bald Eagle Bait Shop in Keystone Heights, confirmed it, saying the roads into Gainesville are thick with cane pole fishermen, loading up.

For whatever reason — and we’d have to figure the water levels — freshwater fishing is excellent over the whole area.

Speckled perch are being caught in Santa Fe as well. An angler out of Dunn’s Creek has been pitching docks from Dead Lake, through Crescent Lake and into the creek, and limiting out on specks. I understand he’s guiding some too. If you’re interested give me a call and I think I can hook you up.

The shrimp are as far south as Welaka, but still in no concentrations and they remain small, bait shrimp. There has been a pretty good bite of striper hybrids down there as well, on the Croaker Hole.

The best shrimping remains north, though, up around Doctor’s Lake.

The croaker bite kicked off this week around Green Cove Springs. One pair of anglers brought back 67, up to 15 inches. There is no limit on croakers, either for bag or size limits. They said that the fish were biting harder on strips cut from the smaller croakers than dead shrimp. That’s not surprising.

The mullet run is going on, and the Shands Bridge abutments are where most of that action is.


The Intracoastal Waterway: It’s been just OK most of the week. Water temperatures are still below what they might be, because of the rain and runoff. But that’s also keeping the water a little dirty.

Some guides up around Palm Valley and down south around Devil’s Elbow have been catching limits of slot reds, but they’re hitting the same schools, respectively. The bite isn’t as good if you’re looking for scattered fish. A few trout are still being caught, but black drum are a better bet. Flounder, if you can find them, have been the smaller males — certainly not worth killing.

I didn’t hear much about mangrove snapper this week, but it’s a good bet the bite has only gotten better as the water warms up.


The Atlantic: There was no trolling out on the ledge except for a few folks who might have been targeting kingfish – for whatever reason. The bottom fishing out there is marginal. Captain Robert Johnson says the mangrove snapper bite has dropped off after the new moon.

The local reefs and wrecks still have some cobia, small kingfish, amberjack and bonito. According to Captain Chuck Stearns there is also no dearth of big sharks. He said they’re particularly fond of bonito. He had six boneheads taken by big sharks in one half-day trip this week. He says there’s little doubt they’re bull, lemon and tiger sharks.

The kingfish bite off the beaches has been poor, mainly because pogy pods are still hard to come by. Last word Thursday was they were up north of the Serenata Beach club on North Beach.

Surf fishing has been slow, with the dreaded trifecta of puppy sharks, sailcats and stingrays providing most of the action. If you can find clean surf, your chances go way up. Generally if the water’s bad on one side on an inlet, it’ll be better on the other side.

For instance, it might be crap at Anastasia State Park, but OK on Vilano – or vice-versa. But wherever, you’ll likely be better off fishing as close to an inlet as possible.

There have been some good catches of slot redfish around the small jetties on Vilano Beach.


The weather: No surprise, the southwest winds will blow Saturday at 10 to 15 knots with 3- to 4-foot seas. They’ll clock on around from the west Sunday at 10 to 15 knots with seas forecast at 2 to 3 feet.