Posts made in March 2022

APRIL, 2022

The fishing should be better this month than last with warmer water temperatures and lighter winds. The water now is ranging between about 64-66 degrees. Some of our transitory fish such as spanish mackerel, jacks, ladyfish, tripletail, and possibly cobia should make an appearance. The spanish are fun to catch with light tackle. They are a target of opportunity as migrating schools move down the coast. Small shiny plugs, 00-clark spoons, and glass minnow imitating flies are all effective for the spanish. You can usually see them jumping and flipping out of the water when they are around.

Huge black drum should move into area inlets this month. Most fishermen release these drum over about 10 lbs. to continue the breeding cycle.  Heavy tackle is in order to get the fish in relatively quickly for a healthy release after a quick photo.  Crab, clam, and shrimp baits fished deeply are effective baits.

Jacks and ladyfish will move into the St. Johns River and its tributaries similarly to the bluefish. They aren’t good to eat but are fun to catch. Usually diving birds will broadcast the location of feeding schools. Tripletail should show themselves along tide lines, around crab trap floats and buoys, and free swimming. The first of the cobia will most likely be free swimmers or escorting rays as they move north along the coast.

I expect both the speckled trout and redfish bite to improve. Floating and diving plugs will take the larger speckled trout fished early and late in low light conditions. Redfish should bite better at the jetties, and in the creeks and ICW. Bluefish, yellowmouth trout and sheepshead should still be available until the water warms considerably.

Capt. Bob

MARCH, 2022

March marks the end of winter here in Northeast Florida and the beginning of transitioning to a summer pattern. We will still have cold fronts, northeasters, and windy days, but fewer and less severe than in February. We can look forward to early arriving spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jacks, and other migratory fish as the water temperatures rise. These fish will hit trolled spoons, cast artificials, and flies as well as live baits.

The giant breeder black drum will trickle into the inlets and rivers of NE Florida this month. They like crab, clam, and fresh dead shrimp fished on the bottom in deep water. While fun to catch these huge fish, I recommend a patient revival period boat side, followed by a careful and watchful release. Their value as breeding stock far exceeds their value as table fare.  Smaller drum in the 3-5 lb. class are excellent eating, and can be caught in the same waters.

Fishing for redfish should improve at the jetties and in the creeks as the water warms some. Sheepshead will continue to bite around pilings, rocks, and other structure. Fiddlers or crab work well for them. Yellow mouth and silver trout should be biting throughout the river and at the inlet. Speckled trout will be hitting live shrimp fished on sliding cork rigs and artificial subsurface and surface lures. Bluefish will be everywhere throughout the river and inlet. Croaker fishing will improve in both size and numbers. Croakers are easy to catch and provide lots of fun for the kids as well as adults.

Whiting, blues, drum, yellow mouth trout, and possibly even pompano are potential catches in the surf this month. Surf fishing is a simple and satisfying way to fish.  All you need is a rod, some fresh shrimp, and a bucket!  You still have to watch the weather closely, and pick your days, but March can offer some banner days fishing on the First Coast!

Capt. Bob

FEBRUARY, 2022

I, and all the other local captains, have seen enough of the cold and windy conditions endured in January!  Hopefully, February will not be quite so challenging. The water temperatures are in the mid 50’s in the river, and colder in shallower water until midday warming.  Some of the better saltwater fishing has been in creeks off the ICW after they warm in the sun. Redfish and black drum have been the primary quarry in these creeks.  The dark bottoms act as solar collectors pushing temps into the high 50’s, which is all the redfish and drum need to start feeding.

Other fish that we target in cold water include sheepshead, black drum, ring tail porgies, bluefish, black sea bass, and yellowmouth and speckled trout. The sheepshead feed on crustaceans such as fiddler crabs living on rocks, pilings, and other structure.  They are excellent eating, put up a good fight, and are challenging to hook. Their bite is very subtle – almost like a slight tug on your line. The best sheepshead baits are fiddler crabs, pieces of blue crab, clams, or live shrimp. For best results, fish near rocks, pilings, or shell bars.

Large drum frequent the deep tips of the jetties and the roll down inside the jetties. Smaller drum show up in holes in ICW creeks. Porgies like the shallow tips of the jetties on clear incoming tides. They can be caught on small pieces of fresh shrimp.  Bluefish can appear anytime, anywhere, though usually in clear water. Yellowmouth trout will be in 10-20 ft. depths with speckled trout above them in the water column.

The best fishing for black sea bass is on the party grounds and natural bottom offshore on calm days. On warmer, calmer days whiting, bluefish, and the occasional pompano should bite in the surf.  Watch the weather and enjoy our NE Florida winter saltwater fishing!

Capt. Bob Cosby