*Whiting mangroves plentiful*
**THE ST. JOHNS RIVER AND AREA LAKES:** Seems like panfish responded to the new moon Saturday. There were reports of bedding shellcracker and bluegill scattered over the area. Thats par for the course. Its getting late in the season for that kind of activity. What youll probably see from here on out is whats called Ã¢â‚¬Å“summer panfish, which roughly translates into skinny pan-fish and juvenile panfish. It is not the time to load up on big, fat bluegills.
There is a special pattern to follow during these hot summer months. Generally youll see the more consistent anglers anchored up on the shady side of the creeks, not because of more fish, just cooler fishing weather. If youre in a creek that winds around a lot, youll also want to be in line with the prevailing winds, again because its a lot more comfortable. And thats the trick of the day.
The best bass fishing is either early, late or deep. And that all has to do with cooler water too. There is a theme here somewhere. Generally speaking, freshwater fish dislike real hot weather just about as much as anglers.
Catfish will continue to be a good summer bet. And theyll be hanging just off the deeper sandbars.
**THE INTRACOASTAL WA-TERWAY:** The river fishing from Pine Island north to Palm Valley is terrible. The rains have sweetened the water sufficiently to run the bait south, and the fish are following them.
The fishing around our inlet has been very good for the opposite reason. Lots of flounder are being caught, but the big ones are few and far between. There was one weighed at the Vilano Bait Shack that pushed 6 pounds this week.
There are lots of small reds and trout as well. Maybe the best bet for some fun fishing and good eating is the mangrove snapper bite. Theyre growing all the time and are getting to the point where you can expect to catch enough 10 inches or above for a fish fry. Youll find them around most of the docks in the ICW now. Seawalls are a good bet, too. Bigger baits will help cut down on undersized fish, but will also cut down on the bites. Mud minnows are the preferred bait, but live shrimp are doing the job on float rigs.
**THE ATLANTIC:** Surf fishing might be a good bet. If theyre catching fish at the county pier, you can bet theyre concentrating in the run-outs along the beaches. And there was a great whiting bite Wednesday evening at the pier. The water has finally cleared up, and the whiting and Spanish mackerel were biting hard. The pier is also covered up with ribbon fish as well, so it may just be a good place to jig up some kingfish baits. The only problem may be that the ribbonfish are the same size as most of the kings being caught.
There are scads of small kings out on the Nine-Mile bottom and the cobia are showing up there as well.
I was on the phone with Captain Scott Shank early Thursday morning. He was trolling that area, when he started screaming about something dumping a reel and hung up. He called back about 20 minutes later and said he had a double-header of cobia pushing 30 pounds. Just about that time, he started screaming again and hung up again.
I may start charging for these phone calls.
I had Captain Guy Spear on the phone that morning, too. Hes been chasing a fish for 45 minutes and had traveled a half mile doing it. Turned out to be a 35-pound jack.
Out in deeper water, the cool thing this week has been a crazy bite of big African pompano. These are pushing 30 pounds. The mangrove bite continues to be good, too Ã¢â‚¬â€ along with the regular triggerfish, porgies and tons of big amberjack.
If you can find a shrimp boat pulling the beach, there are lots of bonito and lemon sharks following the boats.
I called a buddy from Jacksonville to see how the bite is up there. He didnt know because he was down around Stuart. But he said that the cobia bite is insane down there. Problem is, the sharks are horrendous. One boat had eight cobia on in a morning and lost seven to bull sharks.
Lets hope the cobia are heading north and the bull sharks are heading south.
THE WEATHER: Winds will come out of the south Saturday at 10-15 knots, with seas at 2-3 feet. It will calm down a little Sunday with 5-10 knot seas.
*If you want to know how plentiful and hungry our red snapper stock is, Caleb Moore (with fish) and Riley Connor took this snapper trolling Nine-Mile with Captain C.J. Swindull last week.*
**CALENDAR:** The Ancient City Gamefish Challenge will be fished July 7-9 out of Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor. You can register from 4-7 p.m. Friday, July
7. Entry for the Kingfish Challenge is $320. Its $55 for the Redfish Challenge. Entry for junior anglers is $25. There is a mandatory captains meeting July 7 at 7:30 p.m. For spectators, the weigh-ins are from 3-5 p.m. on July 8 and 2-4 p.m. on July 9. This is an aggregate weight of two fish tournament.
JIM SUTTONS LOCAL FISHING COLUMN
APPEARS EACH FRIDAY. YOU CAN REACH
HIM AT [email protected]
OR CALL 819-3487.
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