The St. Johns River and area lakes
The bream bite is happening. And it should get better, unless the reports of up to five inches of rain come true before it peters out Saturday. That much runoff could be bad, but it’s likely to be better for the panfish species. The runoff washes all manner of crawly things out of the adjoining real estate and into the water, where the fish will figure it out and be waiting. The downside, especially in low, swampy areas such as Haw or Dunn’s Creeks, is that the fish can forage far into the trees where you can’t get at them.
But in general, the full moon of May is the best time of the year to catch bedding panfish, bar none.
Bass fishing is slowing down. Catfish are plentiful, both big and small. A pair of channel cats were weighed near Palatka this week, totaling just under 20 pounds. Mullet are running and the croaker bite around Green Cove Springs is fair.
The Intracoastal Waterway
The number of flounder showing up in the ICW picked up considerably this week, though they remain real small — 14 inches is about average. You’ll catch plenty smaller, and the limit is 12 inches. While they’re legal, they’re not worth killing and I encourage you to release these fish which Captain Robert Johnson described this week as “thin enough to read through.”
The redfish bite is the best thing going, mainly on the last of the falling tide.
If you want to catch a 5-pound trout or better, right now is the time to do it. Several above that mark were weighed this week.
Drum are being caught under bridges and docks. No one seems to be messing with sheepshead this week. The bluefish and jacks are giving anglers a break.
Mangrove snapper are showing up a little early this year, though they’re still small.
I wasn’t able to rustle up any surf fishing reports this week locally, but the pompano were biting well up around Jacksonville, along with medium-sized whiting.
Just off the beach, the pogie pods are there, but nothing seems to be harassing them.
The real action this week came from the Nine-Mile bottom, where baitfish are stacked up and the kingfish bite is red-hot. These are generally less than 10 pounds, but they are there — along with tons of tiny bonito (which I was reminded of this week by a local charter captain are not really bonito, but false albacore). Several cobia were caught in the same area. A few dolphin moved in that shallow. A few blackfin tuna were actually caught there, and a sailfish was released there this week as well.
Flying fish were reported skipping four miles off the beach,
In deep water, the dolphin bite is fizzling, along with the tuna bite. But bottom fishing was good all week, with some decent numbers of both mutton and mangrove snapper. The normal bite of sea bass, porgies, triggerfish and vermillion snapper was on as well.
Southerly winds are forecast Saturday at 10-15 knots, with seas at 2-3 feet. Sunday, the weatherman says we’ll have northerly winds with seas building to 2-4 feet. Saturday should be cloudy; Sunday’s pretty.