Big winds in store for the weekend
**THE ST. JOHNS RIVER**
**AND AREA LAKES**
True story. I was talking to a local charter captain early Wednesday morning. He was opining about a pretty tough red-fish bite in the ICW. He managed one fish above the slot the day prior. I’d talked with a St. Johns River guide about 15 minutes earlier, and he was complaining because he fished a sandbar drop-off just south of Palatka and had to pull up and move fishing because he and his buddy caught seven reds in just over an hour and all were above the slot. They left and targeted catfish instead.
It’s crazy out there. So don’t let folks tell you that a big rain messes up the redfish bite in the ICW because of freshwater runoff. If they’re schooling in Palatka, fresh water isn’t a problem for them.
Otherwise, the heat has kept a lot of anglers off the water. But Lake George continues to be giving up limits of bluegill and shellcracker.
The catfish are spawning and seem to be just about everywhere. Bass fishing is better than it ought to be. Most of the action is early in the morning for those tossing weedless plastics up into the bonnets and pads.
The panfish seem to have about spawned out. But the tilapia are fanning beds like crazy. Rick at R&J tackle said a customer brought him one for the table this week that eclipsed 6 pounds.
The flounder fishing reports are terrible or great, and not much in between. Captain Robert Johnson iced down 14 flatties Tuesday and 12 on Monday.
And, while I don’t usually report on giggers, one told me he stuck two 48-quart coolers full Tuesday night, including a 13 pound, 10 ounce fish that I have a picture of — and it’s every bit of that. I’ll try to run it next week for you.
So if the giggers are sweeping the ICW edge clean of fish, that may be a reason they’re tough to find. In fact, the good reports are all from areas where structure or depth would prevent giggers from scoring.
Redfish have been slow all week. Trout are even slower. Ladyfish, sail-cats and jacks are much less so. We heard of no drum catches this week, but they’re sure to be on deeper bridge pilings and averaging up to 5 pounds.
If you’re willing to do some culling, the small mangrove snapper are hanging on seawalls, riprap and other structure. The minimum length is 10 inches and limit is five fish per angler.
Most of the charter guys caught at least one sailfish around the Nine-Mile bottom over the past week. Captain Rob Bennett seems to be leading the spindlebeak sweepstakes with five sails release over the past couple of weeks.
The kingfish bite is steady, but the vast majority of the fish are 10 pounds or less. A couple in the mid-20s were caught this week.
Scads of jacks, sharks and bonito accompany them. The occasional cobia was caught on the troll this week, too.
The shrimp boats are pulling off our beaches now. Captain Dennis Goldstein worked the chum line of a shrimper who’d just shoveled over bycatch. He hooked and released a tarpon estimated at 145 pounds. He said the blacktip sharks were stacked up behind the trawler.
Deep water trolling was non-existent out by the Gulf Stream. Those making the 50-mile trip out are bottom fishing and finding a good number of mangrove snapper, triggerfish, vermillion snapper and the occasional gag and scamp grouper.
The reefs and wrecks inside 100 feet are generally loaded with sabikicaught baitfish, and the beach this week was dimpled with schools of pogies. Bait is plentiful.
Surf fishing picked up early in the week. The county pier had a good day — really a good night — Tuesday. This brings up a good point. It is awfully hot during the day. The pier is open 24 hours and the whiting, trout, sheepshead and pompano being caught don’t wear watches. The nighttime may be your right time to cool off and catch a few fish.
Wildwood Fishing tourney Saturday: First place redfish, Betty Briggs, 7.18 pounds. First place speckled seatrout, 4.89 pounds, Nedra Parry. First place flounder, Leroy Kinlaw, 6.07 pounds. Junior angler results were not available.
Who’d figure a June Northeaster? But that’s what’s in store for the weekend. Northerly winds will blow Saturday at 15-20 knots with seas at 4 to 6 feet and a 90 percent chance of rain. It will remain mostly cloudy Sunday, with seas building to 5-7 feet.
**Jim Sutton** provides a weekly fishing report for The Record
Contact him at [email protected]
**CONTRIBUTED PHOtO** :Matt Norman with a Nine-Mile sailfish caught with Captain Rob Bennett of Coastal Charters this week.