The St. Johns River and area lakes: It seems to be feast or famine in freshwater, but what’s a little strange is the St. Johns River is slow and the lakes are on fire.
What’s equally odd is the normal catch of bluegills and catfish you’d expect stinks, and the unusual catches of speckled perch are off the charts.
It’s still early for the fish to be so fired up, but Newnans Lake is a speck haven right now — but only the Windsor ramp is open. Lochloosa is giving up big stringers too. But that’s been happening most of the year. I honestly can’t believe a lake can continue to give up literally hundreds of fish a day and the bite is not slowing down.
Reports on Orange Lake are quieter, but the word is the really big specks are biting there. Guides warn it’s easy to get trapped by huge masses of floating weeds blown by winds, that can literally block your path out to the lake. But all three are giving up limits of specks and that’s 50 fish per angler.
Rodman Reservoir is a hot spot as well. Reports are anglers fishing both sides of the dam are catching lots of specks. It’s the same in Kenwood, with anglers following the old barge canal on their bottom machines and wearing the specks out.
I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of this before — specks being so widespread so early. The water’s still hot.
The bluegill bite is way off right now, but getting better as water levels fall in the river — same for the catfish. Bass are beginning to school up. We mentioned a couple weeks ago seawalls were a good bet, especially for some early morning topwater fishing, and that’s still true.
The Intracoastal Waterway: Every guide on the river is reporting scads of undersized redfish and speckled seatrout. They are, as we say, ubiquitous. That’s not all bad. You can make lemonade out of lemons by breaking out, or springing for, an ultralight spinning outfit. Six pounds is tops and forget about braid — monofilament is the way to go. You can have a blast with the light rigs. Just pinch down the barbs for a quick and easy release.
What is legal are great bites of sheepshead and black drum up to 6 pounds. I heard of several undersized snook caught in the canals between Bing’s Landing and Palm Valley. A lookdown was caught in North River, along with some bull whiting in the deeper holes.
The water is still murky, but you can at least see a foot down. Water temperature in the inlet Thursday was 76.1 degrees.
I didn’t get a single report of a flounder being caught, though a few smaller ones certainly were.
But nobody was bragging this week.
The Atlantic: The good news is, it’s looking like a perfect weekend to head out the inlet for some red snapper fishing — if you own an aircraft carrier.
And you can bet the feds kinda planned it that way, opening the two mini-seasons in November, which is primetime for howling Northeasters.
Not that it matters, but the one report from the ledge this week was a full day of trolling and a catch of three 3-foot sharks. At least you know you won’t be missing much.
Captain Guy Spear fished the local reefs and wrecks Thursday, and reports an honest 100 red snapper catches, trying to target black sea bass and beeliners. Woe is their biomass.
Your best bet may be to go sit in a treestand. But, with the weather report Saturday and Sunday, you might want to strap yourself on.
As odd as it may sound, if you can keep a sputnik sinker down, it may be a good bet to catch some pompano and bull whiting off the beaches — especially North Beach. These winds will pile up big surf, but can also clean up the water. But, again, you might have to jam a sand spike down your britches to hold yourself steady on the beach.
The weather: It’ll be so windy this weekend that there’d be whitecaps in your commode before you got out the inlet. Saturday, winds will ease in from the east-northeast at 20 to 25 knots, with intermittent gale force gusts. Seas will be 8 to 11 feet, building to 14 outside 20 miles. Sunday it calms down considerably to only 15 to 20 knots with seas at 6 to 10 feet.