The speckled perch bite is eclipsing everything else right now, and that’s not what we’ve grown to expect. The Ocklawaha River, Newans Lake, Orange Lake and Lake Lochloosa are the hot spots. But some specks are being caught in most of the smaller lakes and ponds as well.
I don’t recall any time that the speck populations have been so robust… and so hungry, considering the time of year.
Minnows slow-trolled or drifted are doing the damage. Don’t look for the specks to be concentrated. The ones we cleaned last week showed no roe. The ticket is to cover a lot of bottom. Specks look up, not down, so keep your baits up off the bottom. A 16th-ounce jig or smaller should do. Clip the minnow under the jaw but keeping the hook point away from his head. Captain Mike says keep your speed under 1 knot. Some anglers are doing pretty well without the live bait, trolling paddle-tail or ripple-tail jigs. You can up you chance by running two jigs on a dropper loop.
Otherwise, it’s been eerily slow. The bluegill bite is OK, but many of the fish are small. That will change in late December when some of the biggest of the year will be caught. Catfish are on the sandbars.
Bass fishing has been very good in most of the lakes, with good numbers of fish, but not great size.
The Intracoastal Waterway
If ever there were a time to pull those ultra-light spinning outfits out of the closet, this would be it. The ICW is full of undersized redfish and trout. One captain said he caught 50 to keep five.
Another went through 20 dozen live shrimp on a 4-hour trip.
There’s no real reason to buy bait. Any of the small plastic tails clipped to an eighth-ounce jig should do the trick for either. Pinch down the barbs and have some fun with the little guys.
I did not hear a single report of a flounder being caught this week, though certainly some were taken — just not by any of the guides.
The sheepshead bite is improving. The warmer weather should mean plenty of fiddler crabs will be available.
The weather has been rotten most all week. The only reports outside the inlets are there are some cobia being caught on the Party Grounds east of Mayport, so they should be around here in that 100-foot area as well. One of the Jodi-Lynn boats caught eight grouper on a trip out to the ledge, but that was last week. One of the Endless Summer fleet trolled out there one day this week and iced down eight blackfin tuna, seven dolphin and pulled the hooks on a wahoo.
There were no reports from the local reefs and wrecks. And surf fishing has been pretty poor.
The weekend forecast looks pretty bad for getting out the inlet. Friday northwest winds will blow at 15 to 20 knots with seas 4 to 6 feet. Saturday look for the winds to drop to 10 to 15 knots with seas at 3 to 5 knots. Sunday, Northeast winds return at 10 to 15 knots with 4-foot seas.
This Saturday, Nov. 25, will be one of Florida’s announced license-free saltwater fishing days — for what it’s worth.
Jim Sutton writes the fishing report. Contact him at email@example.com.