Attack of the midget mangroves
JIM SUTTON fIShING REpORT
THE ST. JOHNS RIVER AND AREA LAKES: The peculiar bite of spawning speckled perch continues on Newnans Lake Ã¢â‚¬â€? and nowhere else.
Had a report of one pair of anglers who caught 97 specks but culled down to 50 in the ice chest. Its nuts over there.
But its not bad closer to home.
The bream bite is better than it should be this time of year. Generally the fish get skinnier during the hotter months, but they seem to be holding their own this summer. Thats probably because of the higher water in the river and the lakes. This allows them to feed in areas previously dry, on all the wiggly things and other little critters that make the swamps and shorelines home. Its like a whole new backyard for them to play in.
The catfish bite is often overlooked, and I dont understand exactly why. These things are seriously good eating. And theyre fired up for kind of the same reason as the panfish. They like deeper water and dont make the forays into the flooded woods like the bluegills do. They set up, instead, in the deeper cuts near the shorelines waiting for the high water to bring them food as it floods into the lakes and river.
Bluegills go after the bounty. Catfish wait for it to come to them.
Bass fishing is summertime slow. Rodman Reservoir is real high right now, but the bass are beginning to school up. Keep a Texas-rigged worm tied on one rod for working the bottom and at Rat-L-Trap for when the bass come to the top.
The shrimp are getting thicker from Palatka down to Welaka, which is kinda backward. They should be showing up to the north and moving south as they grow. But, apparently nobody told them this year. Theyre still both deep and small. But for bait, theyre fine.
THE INTRACOASTAL WATER-WAY: This, Im certain, is the first time in over 20 years of writing fishing that Ive penned this, but the juvenile mangrove snapper are so thick, theyre becoming pests. Theyre all over the ICW now. I neglected to mention in the freshwater report, but the same thing is happening up around Doctors Lake and Inlet.
To combat them, stay away from shrimp for bait, especially live ones. You can generally catch the legal mangroves (10 inches and above) using bigger baits. Still, the little guys will probably maul it, too.
But, really, thats about as good a kind of problem as fishermen get.
The flounder bite seems to be tapering off. Were hearing almost nothing about speckled trout. Certainly some folks are hitting them on the lighted docks at night. But I havent heard a report.
The nighttime docks are deadly this time of year for trout.
Otherwise its few black drum and ladyfish.
THE ATLANTIC: Nothings going on with trolling deep water. It looked last week like we might have a flurry of sailfish, but that doesnt seem to be the case. They were reported off Fernandina and now off Daytona, so they got by us.
The bottom fishing out there is good. Limits of triggerfish, porgies and beeliners are the norm. Cobia, African pompano and mutton and mangrove snapper are bonuses. A few scamp grouper are coming into the docks on ice as well.
The local reefs and wrecks shut down midweek for kingfish. Captain Guy Spear said that Wednesday he covered 60 miles trolling and had two barracuda hit his pogies all day Ã¢â‚¬â€? and zero bonito.
Four-year-old Ben Skillman with his first flounder caught on a cane pole baited with a shrimp head. He took it just south of the State Road 206 bridge. Bens the son of Aubrey and Vicki Skillman. Aubrey helps out at Genungs Fish Camp.*
Surf fishing has been pretty miserable. I called one of the better surf fishermen who was down from Jacksonville, fishing Crescent Beach early Thursday. Hed caught sharks, ladyfish and stingrays.
But the county pier reports some nice catches of black drum.
There have been a few reports of one or two small pompano and another report of a guy coming in with four nice ones.
THE WEATHER: No change at all. Southerly winds blow both Saturday and Sunday at 10 to 15 knots with seas at 2 to 3 feet.
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