Fishing Report: Whale shark creates a memory for anglers on charter

Contributed Chris Turner of Allentown, Pennsylvania caught this 26-inch speckled sea trout, fishing with Captain Rob Bennett. The fish ate a live mud minnow.

St. Johns River and area lakes: Tom the Bait Man says “it’s raining specks and catfish” still at Newnan’s Lake. He added that the fish are “jet black” and up to 2 pounds. They’re being caught in the pads and out in open water. He also says the boat ramp on the lake is covered in water. You have to wade to it.


The roadways (26 and 20) going into Gainesville are so nearly covered in water that anglers with worms and crickets are catching bluegills, stumpknockers and redbellies off the shoulders of those highways.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said — more than once.

The bream bite is on in Lake George. Probably the two best places to connect with the hybrid stripers is there around Salt Springs and just outside the lake in the Croaker Hole.

The croaker bite is on, but nowhere near the Croaker Hole. Most of the fish are being caught in the channels adjacent to the Shands Bridge. The mullet bite is still going strong for the cane-polers working the bridge abutments.

It’s a fine time to head over to Rodman. We haven’t talked much about it lately because I have no more contacts who fish it regularly. But the high water has the fish moving around. The bite on the Ocklawaha side of the dam in the spillway is supposed to be worth the drive as well.

There is a top secret bite of mangrove snapper and stripers under the Bridge at Palatka. Well … not anymore.

The Intracoastal Waterway: Not that any of them would have a problem with this, but the FWC is actively doing random drug testing of holders of captain’s licenses. I heard from two who were called in this week. Just sayin’.

The bite in the ICW has been off all week, due mainly to the roiled-up water by these northeast winds. The best bite of all is on the rat reds — which are everywhere you want slot reds to be.

The best legitimate bite remains the flounder. They’re available in good numbers but remain on the pitifully small side.

There are reports of good numbers of tarpon rolling in the river down around Devil’s Elbow.

Finally, the shrimp numbers are getting better, but the size remains small. The best reports have come from up around Pine Island. Again, they’re probably not worth going after if you’re hungry, but if you need some cheap bait, it may be worth the trip north. In fact, if you do catch bait, you can stop all those tiny redfish from having to chase down their meals.

The Atlantic: Best story of the year came from Captain Chuck Stearns who gave his charters something to remember when he came upon a 35-foot whale shark six miles off the beach earlier in the week. They are beautiful animals. I got to swim around a few at Isla Holbox, off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula a few years back.

But this fish was even better because it had 20 cobia in tow. Stearns iced down a 25- and 35-pounder before the fish scattered.

These are the largest known extant fish species. The biggest confirmed size is 41.5 feet in length and 47,000 pounds.

It’s a good thing we have that story because there’s not much else to talk about. The pogy pods are scattered off the beaches and there seems to be no tarpon or kingfish in close. The numbers of small kings, bonito and cudas slowed as well on the local reefs and wrecks. About the only bite we heard of were some good reports on the local head boats of vermillion snapper.

The weather: After this little blow (didn’t it almost feel like fall?) it’s back to the same old grind with southeast winds at 10-15, and seas at 2 to 3 feet Saturday and Sunday.

Calendar: The Flagler Sportfishing Club will host a new members clinic Aug. 13 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Hammock Community Center in Palm Coast (the road is opposite Captain’s BBQ at Bing’s Landing). There will be coffee, donuts, a cast netting demonstration and several other clinics and demonstrations throughout the morning. Raffles include a Manley fishing rod, a cast net and fillet knife. The club is also hosting its club kayak tournament Aug. 19. For more info, log on to

“Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing” will host the Northeast Florida Fishing University Sept. 8-10 at the Northeast Florida Marlin Association, Camachee Cove. In it, women learn, and then practice several hands-on fishing skills at different stations. There’s a reception Saturday night. Optional charter fishing goes on Sunday. Ladies may register male family members as well. Log on to for more information.

Jim Sutton writes a weekly fishing report. To contact him with reports or photos email or call 904-819-3487.