Big blow threatens weekend
JIM SUTTON fIShING REpORT
**THE ST. JOHNS RIVER AND AREA LAKES:** If youve been waiting for the right time to rinse off that shrimp net and patch a couple of last years holes, get to it. Were officially calling the beginning of shrimp-worth-working-for season.
For you pilgrims, that means that the magic mix of shrimp numbers and shrimp size have finally intersected for a worthwhile trip on the river.
The bulk of the shrimp are from Palatka down to Welaka. The report from Dunns Creek may sum it up best when Scott at Georgia Boys said he was getting 20 to 30 a throw, and half were keepers.
Of course the term Ã¢â‚¬Å“keeper means different things to different people but, for our purposes, we use the term Ã¢â‚¬Å“perloo shrimp. That means theyre fine for making that tasty dish, but not big enough to boil and certainly not sufficient to fry.
Westside Bait and Tackle sold $3,000 worth of shrimp nets this week alone, and ran out after three days. So you know somethings up.
Other than that, the big story remains the eerie speckled perch bite in Newnans Lake where anglers are still catching limits and the fish are still carrying roe Ã¢â‚¬â€ which is a winter thing, never occurring in mid-summer.
The croaker and yellowmouth trout bite is good around Green Cove Springs. Fish any of the deeper drops. The marker buoys will show you where.
With the better numbers of shrimp, the bass fishing is excellent for those pitching live shrimp on small bobbers under docks or free-lined onto sandbars.
The speck bite on Lake Lochloosa is picking up and a 10-pound largemouth was weighed there this week. It was caught on a white frog imitation, buzzing the weedlines.
Its also gator season on the river. Early indications are not very good. The gators are generally on the small side and very wary, or less stupid, depending upon you point of view.
**THE INTRACOASTAL WATER-WAY:** Maybe the biggest news this week was that some good-sized flounder were being caught, several reported around 5 pounds. There are plenty of finger mullet in the ditch right now, so bait shouldnt be a problem.
The bulk of the redfish being caught are slot-sized, with fewer of the pesky baby reds around a couple weeks ago, but theyre being replaced by pesky ladyfish and bluefish.
I no longer refer to jacks as pests. Now that theyre mostly 5 pounds or more, theyre a sport fish Ã¢â‚¬â€ as hard-fighting as they are lousy-eating. And if you target them with a top-water plug, which is the gentlemanly thing to do, you will ruin some treble hooks trying to separate them from those coquinahard jaws. But they will seriously put a bend in light tackle.
The mangrove snapper continue to be everywhere, but anglers Ã¢â‚¬â€ some targeting them Ã¢â‚¬â€ are reporting catching many more lane snapper than mangroves. Captain Guy Spear commented that hes never seen these numbers in the ICW.
There were a few reports of early morning trout bites on topwater plugs, so thats a good omen.
**THE ATLANTIC:** The bigger boats going out 40-plus miles are doing well on bottom fish. Its the normal suspects; amberjack, bee-liners, triggerfish, porgies and a smattering of cobia, grouper and mutton and mangrove snapper.
Trolling has been nonexistent.
The local reefs and wrecks have dried up. Kingfish are few and far between. Even the bait pods disappear one day and reappear the next. The pogy pods are the same way. Wednesday afternoon one captain told me he tossed the net 20 times and put 24 pogies in the livewell Ã¢â‚¬â€ and that took two hours.
The tarpon are rolling all over the inlet right now, so thats a decent bet for some action.
Surf fishing has been pretty crappy one day, then real crappy the next. But there are some pretty good catches of black drum to at least get you some supper.
*The Ryan clan made its annual pilgrimage to the Keys for lobster season and sent back this photo of a days results. Back row, from left: Kayden, Lucas, Roddy, Jennifer and Ryan. Front row is supper.*
**THE WEATHER:** Do some housework. A Northeaster will be blowing in Saturday. The marine forecast for Saturday through Monday is 5 to 7 feet inside 20 miles, pushed by 20- to 25-knot winds. Its worse out deeper.
J*IM SUTTON WRITES A WEEKLY FISHING REPORT. EMAIL PHOTOS AND REPORTS TO [email protected] OR CALL 819-3487.*
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