***A new moon weekend upcoming***
**THE ST. JOHNS RIVER**
**AND AREA LAKES**
The bream bite in most of the freshwater lakes and much of the river has slowed the past couple of weeks, as it should have following the May full moon. The stark exception is Lake George, where they’re still icing down limits of fat bluegill and shell-cracker.
But we’re in for the second-coming, in terms of a spawning push for these and other freshwater fish this weekend.
The new moon is Sunday, so bedding activity will increase for the weekend.
It should be a great weekend because of the spawn and the fact that many of the less serious boaters got it out of their systems over the Memorial Day weekend, and the water may be a little quieter.
Catfish are another good bet. I wish I knew how to target the big ones, if you want the fight, or the little ones if you want a catfish supper. But other than the size of the bait, it puzzles me. Big bait, big fish, generally speaking.
The bass bite in the river has been slow, but many of the local lakes are seeing schooling bass busting bait on the surface. Rat-L-Traps and other shad-type baits are doing the trick on them.
The striper-hybrids are being caught in the Croaker Hole.
The best story of the week came from Green Cove Springs, where according to Rick at R&J Tackle, a lone angler caught and released 14 redfish near the Shands Bridge, and only one was legal. The others were all over 30 inches. They were all caught on dead shrimp.
Something’s making them come into the river and some good fishermen are thinking it’s likely an early run of river shrimp. That would be rare. But the season opened June 1, so a few tosses of the cast net might be worth it.
**THE INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY**
Redfish are probably the best bet right now. They’re being caught up in the creeks and along the oyster bars bordering the ICW. They’re likely riding the tide back up into the creeks as it rises and slipping back out on the fall. So staging up outside creeks and even tiny run-outs is a good strategy at the very bottoms of the tides. Drop a bait, they will come.
Flounder are coming into the inlets now after a spectacular appearance in the surf the past couple of weeks. We had a hot bite on our county pier last week. But the Flagler Beach Pier folks kept track, and anglers there put just over 700 flounder on the planks in a two-week period. And they’re sticking to the story.
Back in the ICW, mangrove snapper are getting thicker and black drum are getting bigger. A couple of charter guys were tossing back oversized fish. The limit is five per angler. Slot is 14 to 24 inches with one fish allowed over the slot.
Trout are scattered and best targeted, as always, early and late.
The Nine-Mile bottom that was so hot last week is a bit cooler but still good. A few smaller dolphin were caught sporadically during the week, but no more wahoo that we’ve heard of. The snake kingfish are getting thicker. There are plenty of amberjack, bonito and jack crevalle. Bottom fishing is tough because of the red snapper eating everything you drop down. A few mangrove snapper were caught, mainly because they’re following baits back up to the transoms of the boats and biting on top. Live bait is about the only way to punch their tickets to the ice chest.
The good news is there’s a ton of it on the Nine-Mile area.
The bottom bite out on the ledge is good with a few grouper being caught. The mangrove snapper is probably best, along with vermillion snapper and triggerfish. We haven’t heard much of anything about black sea bass, but this is the time of year most of them head back to the Carolinas and north for the summer.
The first of the beach kingfish are being caught under huge pods of pogies out in 30-plus feet of water. These (the pogies) are whoppers, too.
They’ve been disappearing and reappearing quickly over the past couple of weeks. One charter captain says they’re not leaving the beaches; they’re just staying down — and out of sight. He says just watch for the bait on your recorder. And that they’re so thick you may not be able to close the cast net.
June 1 was also the opening of shrimping season on the beaches. The boats can now work inside the three-mile limit. That means the tarpon, black tips and spinner sharks are not far behind.
Winds for the weekend will turn southerly at 5-10 knots, pushing seas to 2-3 feet.
Jim Sutton provides a weekly fishing report for The Record
**Contact** him at [email protected]
**CONTRIBUTED PHOTO;** Isla Rowell with a bragging-sized redfish caught recently while fishing with Captain Rob Bennett of Coastal Fish Charters.
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