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JUNE, 2019 Fishing Report

June marks the true beginning of summer here in NE Florida. Water temperatures are over 80 degrees. The king mackerel, bonita, barracuda, and sharks have arrived. Putting a bait out behind a shrimp boat is always an adventure. Watching the numerous dolphin cavorting behind virtually every shrimp boat is almost as much fun as hooking a fish! The tarpon also are arriving, as they escort the pogey pods moving up the coast.

Spanish mackerel, jacks, and ladyfish present targets of opportunity at any time. These are fun on light tackle, or fly rod. There are bull reds under pogey pods, in the inlet, and along the channel edges of the St Johns River. Smaller reds are in the creeks, and along the edges of the ICW.

Larger flounder are beginning to enter the river systems from offshore where they spend the winter. In my opinion, flounder are our best eating fish. Speckled trout are showing up in larger sizes. Top water and lipped diving plugs fished early and late will catch the larger trout. There are black drum available in all area waters. Whiting, drum, pompano, and reds can be caught in the surf, when conditions are right.

Be cautious of the thunderstorms and enjoy some saltwater fishing along the First Coast! Tight lines!

Capt. Bob

MAY, 2019 Fishing Report

May is one of my favorite months to fish in NE Florida. Many of the migratory fish have arrived, including King and Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, and ladyfish. While not good to eat, jacks and ladyfish are lots of fun to catch. Cobia have already shown up along our coast, and many have already been caught. Every day boats are cruising the beaches looking for manta rays and the flotillas of cobia that often escort them. Schools of menhaden, locally called pogies, are moving up the coast. Tarpon, sharks, bull reds, jacks, and barracuda will be feasting on them as they migrate north.

Blacktip and spinner sharks are behind the shrimp boats. They put up a great fight jumping and spinning, and will test both your tackle and your stamina!

Redfish are still biting at the big and little jetties. Some big black drum are still in the inlets and deep river. Speckled trout are showing up in the creeks, and should be hitting artificials early and late in all area waters. Occasionally heavy weight bluefish over 10 pounds show up at the jetties, and provide lots of fun on top water plugs. Smaller blues are spread throughout area waters.

Dredging in the St. Johns River has adversely affected the fishing and made finding clear water difficult. However, fishermen are learning to deal with this situation.

Go fishing!
CAPT Bob Cosby

APRIL, 2019 Fishing Report

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.

Recently huge black drum have moved into area inlets with fish up to 80 lbs. being caught. 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 similar 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. Redfish should bite better at the jetties, and in the creeks. Bluefish, yellowmouth trout and sheepshead should still be available until the water warms considerably.

Surf fishing could produce whiting, pompano, reds, and drum, as well as a host of other species.

Dredging continues unabated 24 hrs. a day in the St. Johns River. It has negatively impacted the fishing for species that prefer clear water.

Tight lines!

Capt. Bob

MARCH, 2019 Fishing Report

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. Yellowmouth 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, yellowmouth trout, and possibly even pompano are potential catches in the surf this month. 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, 2019 Fishing Report

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.

The best 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. 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 should bite in the surf. Both these fish are excellent eating and aggressive feeders.

Watch the weather and enjoy our NE Florida winter salt water fishing!

Capt. Bob Cosby

JANUARY, 2019 Fishing Report

January can provide some excellent fishing if you pick your days and consider the weather. Water temperatures can plummet when arctic cold fronts arrive. The inland waters are much clearer because the algae and other microorganisms that cloud the water in summer die off. Redfish tend to school up more in larger groups during winter. Because the metabolism of the fish slows down in the cold, it’s necessary to use smaller baits and present them much slower.

Reds, sheepshead, yellowmouth and speckled trout, black drum, porgies, bluefish, and black sea bass are all tolerant of the cold, and are fun to target in winter. Reds and trout will seek warmer water on shallow mud flats warmed by the sun in the back country. Sheepshead, porgies, and drum will be in deeper water along the jetty rocks. Bluefish can show up anywhere and are always hungry. Keeper size black sea bass are more consistently found offshore over live bottom.

Surf and pier fishing on warmer, less windy days should provide catches of whiting, drum, bluefish, and the occasional pompano.

Good fishing!

Capt. Bob Cosby

DECEMBER, 2018 Fishing Report

November fishing was good, and December usually provides more of the same. The water temperatures are in the low 60’s and the fish are chewing. The speckled trout bite has been exceptional on float rigs and live shrimp. Topwater and lipped diving plugs will usually result in larger trout. Yellowmouth trout should fire up this month, and will be caught deeper in the water column than their spotted cousins.

Sheepshead should continue to bite well on fiddler crabs this month. They are challenging to catch due to their subtle bite which is unlike most fish. They fight well and are exceptional table fare. The black drum fishing has picked up along the St Johns River jetties and the ICW creeks. Redfish are in the river, along the jetties, and in the ICW and its tributaries. Smaller rat reds are plentiful in the creeks. Some bull reds are still in the deep river. As the water cools, most of them will move offshore.

Flounder fishing has been poor so far. We can only hope the cooler water will stimulate their run to the ocean. Surf fishing has been very good recently, especially for the good eating pompano and whiting. Bluefish, reds, and drum are also common catches from the sand. Fish on calmer days when the water is clear.

The weather plays a major role in both boat and surf fishing here on the First Coast. If you pick your days between the northeasters and cold fronts, the fishing can often be spectacular in December!

Capt Bob Cosby

NOVEMBER, 2018 Fishing Report

I’m back from a two month Atlantic salmon fishing vacation in Nova Scotia, and am looking forward to November saltwater fishing here in the Jacksonville and Northeast Florida area!

The water has cooled here recently, and the trout fishing has turned on. Live shrimp on a sliding cork rig – or a slowly retrieved jig – are time-tested techniques for trout. Clear water is most productive. Of course, artificial lures will also catch their share of trout, especially when you fish early.

Bull redfish are inshore in the deep river and will be suckers for blue crab and cut bait fished along the channel edges. Slot reds are feeding up and down the big jetties, and are also in the feeder creeks of the ICW.

The flounder bite has been off so far this year. Possible reasons: hurricanes, increases in gigging activity, divers spearing them on the reefs, more people fishing for them, etc. However, this time of year is usually a productive time for flounder fishing, with the most effective baits including finger mullet, mud minnows and spinner baits.

Sheepshead should bite well this month with the cooling water. They are a challenge to catch, but well worth the effort because of their culinary value. Fiddler crabs are the bait of choice.

Black drum have also shown up in the creeks and holes of the river. These are not the giant spawning drum of March and April, but are smaller 2-5 pounders that give you a spirited fight and are good eating. Drum are crustacean feeders and will hit shrimp, crab, and clam baits fished on the bottom.

Croakers, bluefish, ladyfish, and jacks are all possible inshore catches. Blacktip and spinner sharks are still in the area. If you want to try surf fishing, whiting, reds, drum, and the occasional pompano are all possible catches.

Pick your days so as to avoid the strong northeasters, and enjoy some saltwater fishing in the Jacksonville and Northeast Florida area!

CAPT. Bob
Captain Bob’s Fishing Charters, Inc.

AUGUST, 2018

August brings our hottest weather and is prime time to target tarpon, sharks, jacks, and other ocean predators. King mackerel, bonita, cobia, barracuda, and even sailfish are possible catches. Tarpon may be crashing pogey pods or lurking along the jetty rocks. Mullet in the creeks and river system will be getting restless, and will move towards the ocean at the first hint of a northeaster. That movement will stimulate all kinds of predator activity. Thunder storms will be popping up in the afternoons, and should be avoided whenever possible.

King mackerel are still here and can be caught along the beach and offshore near natural ledges and artificial reefs when the water temperature is right. Large jack crevalle are also possible catches.

Flounder fishing should continue to improve with the appearance of more finger mullet. Trout are scarce during daylight hours, but show up in numbers after dark in dock lights along the river and ICW. Jacks and ladyfish could show up as by catch at any time. Bull reds will continue to migrate into the rivers and inlets in preparation for the fall spawning season. They can be taken by fishing the deep river with crab, cut, or live bait. Large sharks lurk in the depths and occasionally feast on the hooked big reds. The creeks and ICW are very warm and not as productive as in the cooler months.

There are bull reds in the deep river, though not as many as will be here in September and October, when the major spawning activity takes place. The slower phases of either the high or low tides are best. Cut or live baits such as croakers, ladyfish, etc., are most effective as opposed to blue crab, which works well in the fall.

Good fishing!

Capt Bob Cosby

JULY, 2018

July brings hot weather and hot fishing!  Right now the king mackerel are biting well on the party grounds, with the occasional cobia, bonito, barracuda, or amberjack making an appearance. Slow trolling pogies or jigged up sardines or cigar minnows will usually draw a strike. Tarpon are in the area and could be crashing the pogie pods or lurking in the depths of the river. Once you hook one, the fun begins with explosive leaps and tail-walking in an effort to free itself.  Blacktip and spinner sharks are behind the shrimp boats and in the inlet, and will test your stamina and tackle.

Large redfish are in the deep river and at the jetty tips. This fishing should be improving until it peaks in Sept. and Oct.  Trout have slowed down due to the heat during the day, but will be feeding around dock lights at night during moving tides. Trout will also hit lures fished early and late.  Flounder should be biting on mud minnows and finger mullet fished near pilings and rip rap out of the main current. Jacks, spanish mackerel, and ladyfish are all fun on light tackle.

Go early, watch the weather and avoid thunder storms, and enjoy some summer fishing!

Tight lines!

Captain Bob