***Cooler water drawing the redfish north***
**The St. Johns River and area lakes:** You could pretty much bottle up last week freshwater report and pour it on the paper today. Very little has changed. It hot and the fishing is generally slow.
The only big uptick this week was that the St. Johns River crabbers whacked them up and down the river. It has been slow for most of the summer. Either the blue crabs got hungry all of a sudden or started some type of migration (likely based on salinity) up or down the river. Suffice to say the price is down a couple dollars a dozen if youre craving a crab boil.
The croaker and yellowmouth trout bite go hand in hand, and there are still scattered schools of smaller fish in the deeper channels, especially from the Shands Bridge north. The catch of the week goes to an angler on the Green Cove Springs city docks who caught three keeper flounder in what supposed to be fresh water.
Way down south, the hybrid stripers are still biting around the spring runs on Lake George, the Croaker Hole and, this week, the mouth of the Ocklawaha River.
Bluegill and shell-cracker are around the river sandbars and in the creeks, finding shade and forage under the overhanging trees.
Bass fishing is slow, especially for anyone throwing artificial baits. The drill is to net a few dozen live shrimp and toss them up under docks, along canal walls or lay-downs in the creeks. The bass want little else and, unless youre trophy fishing (and who is in the summer) the bass will eat a 10-cent shrimp as well or better than a $2 shiner. The river shrimping is picking up,though the shrimp are still small. But that perfect for either buck bass fishing or shrimp pileau cooking.
The Intracoastal Waterway: It been blowing all week from the south, making the water muddy and the fishing uncomfortable. The bulk of the reports were of rat reds just north and south of the St. Augustine Inlet, mangrove snapper on the rocks, bridge pilings and riprap, and a little bit better bite of flounder than the past few weeks, given the dearth of fishermen chasing them.
The big exception has been the fishing north, up by Palm Valley. Captain Leon Dana has had a banner week on nice red-fish. Tuesday he reported catching 20 slot fish and releasing all but two. He says the reds want live shrimp and that he not finding them back in the creeks. All his fish are being caught on shrimp and float rigs, fished right along the spartina grass banks. He thinks the extra low tides recently have been forcing more fish to exit the creeks. But he also told me that water temperatures have dropped up there from 91 degrees last week to 83 Wednesday. That makes a big difference in how frisky these fish are going to be. So go north.
**The Atlantic:** The winds that made fishing with smaller boats bumpy in the ICW most of the week made it suicide to go out of the inlet. Some of the larger charter boats did run out, and report bottom catches of mango and mutton snapper. But the vermillion snapper disappeared out in deeper water. More correctly they just shut down. Apparently there a thermocline that starting in 80 feet of water and carrying out to the ledge. Theyre biting way outside and close in.
What may be different this week is that some of the big charter boats ran four- and six-hour trolling trips out on the local bottom. Of course, they cant slow-troll live bait, but they report plenty of juvenile kingfish out there, along with tons of bonito and some big jacks on spoons and rigged ballyhoo.
A couple guides tried trolling the beach for kingfish the past few days in the more substantial hulls, and reported nothing at all. Both I spoke with gave up, headed for the shrimp boats and caught sharks in their wakes for their charters, which is becoming an increasingly popular diversion for the captains and sport for their charters. They reported a number of tarpon in the mix as well, but neither hooked up.
Surf fishing sucks unless you like baby bonnethead sharks, sand perch and hardtail catfish.
**Calendar:** The Ancient City Game Fish Association will meet Tuesday at the St. Augustine Shrine Club on Brainard Road. A social hours kicks off at 6 p.m., with snacks at 6:30 p.m. and the general meeting at 7. The junior anglers club will also meet at 7. As usual, cool beverages, a guest speaker and raffles are part of the evening. The [ACGFA] is a family-oriented fishing club. Prospective members are welcome to stop by, call Matt Morse at 904-940-7755 or go to acgfa.com.
**Weather:** The weatherman is calling for southerly winds Saturday at 10 to 15 with seas at 2 to 3 feet. It lays down a little Sunday to 1 to 2 feet.
**CONTRIBUTED PHOTO;** Christine Rodenbaugh with a nice speckled sea trout caught off the community dock in St. Augustine Shores.