Fishing Report: Winds will howl all weekend

Contributed Ben Williams, pictured, and Mike Cenci turned a bust alligator hunt into a shrimp fry earlier in the week, cast-netting about five gallons in the St. Johns River down by Welaka. Cenci went back the next day too and caught another bucket by himself.

The St. Johns River and area lakes


The news this week is that the massive amounts of water left behind by Irma apparently didn’t run the shrimp out of the river.

It’s spotty, but Ben Williams and Mike Cenci caught a bucket from the river down by Welaka on Wednesday. The shrimp were caught in less than 15 feet and were not baited up.

Otherwise, the work up and down the river this week has been excellent. Something’s happening. You can walk across the mullet in Lake George. That’s usually the tipoff that they’re staging up for a run down river and out to the Atlantic at Mayport.

This usually coincides with a similar run of late-season shrimp down and out as well. They’re called “red legs” because that’s the color their appendages turn just prior to the exodus. Ben said the shrimp were about 30 percent red.

Just about everything is biting now. Everybody’s catching fish. A bass guide in Welaka caught 30 Wednesday on live shrimp. The striper hybrids are busting up bait schools all over the river. Watch for birds circling or little “flips” dimpling the water. That’s usually stripers pushing bait schools to the surface. Any kind of lipless, rattling plug will catch them. Catfish are thick. Big bluegills are biting and the shellcracker just turned on as well.

Reds and flounder are on the shrimp as well, and are being caught, especially from Green Cove Springs to Palatka.

Lake Santa Fe and Newnans remain closed due to high water.

Lake Lochloosa just experienced a flood of speckled perch. The word is most everyone out there is catching limits — and that’s 50 per person.

The Intracoastal Waterway

There wasn’t a guide I spoke to Thursday morning that wasn’t bragging on the fishing this week. Most of the action is still between the Vilano Bridge and Bridge of Lions, where the inlet is washing in some cleaner, saltier water on incoming tides.

The tarpon are feeding all over that area.

Two guides mentioned that they’d been hitting inshore slams daily — that’s trout, flounder and reds.

There’s still plenty of finger mullet in the ICW. A legal snook was caught in the inlet on a live mullet. I’ll have the photo for you next week. The shrimp shot was just too mouthwatering to pass up this week.

The jacks and ladyfish are still around to keep you busy between supper fish.

The Atlantic

I was able to get only one report from outside the inlet, other than some so-so bottom stories from 21 fathoms and the local reefs and wrecks.

But Rick Royals told me Thursday morning that dolphin showed up off Mayport out on the ledge — and you can walk across them. One of his buddies put 59 on ice earlier in the week — predominately gaffers.

That’s a great story but a great shame because …

The weather

A whopper Northeaster is blowing through on schedule — right before the weekend.

This one’s going to be ugly, if you believe the weathermen. And, with this one, it might be best to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Saturday look for seas to build from 5- to 7-feet pushed by northeast winds at 20 knots. It’ll build to 30 knots with 12-foot seas by afternoon.

Sunday its 25- to 30-knot winds with 9- to 12-foot seas. Maybe 16 feet out 20 miles, but who’d know?

Monday is just about as bad.