After spending a month in Nova Scotia, Canada, I’m back and fishing our First Coast waters. The major bull red spawning run in the rivers and inlets is winding down. The big reds will roam the beaches eating and replenishing themselves following the spawn until the water cools and northeasters start, sending them offshore to their wintering grounds. Slot reds should be available at jetty rocks, at the edges of the ICW, and in its feeder creeks all winter. Live mullet, shrimp, cut bait and crab are all effective, as well as artificials and flies.
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.
Sheepshead fishing should improve this month. Fiddler crabs are the bait of choice. These striped fish are challenging to hook, put up a spirited fight, and are delicious table fare. I also enjoy fishing for flounder in the fall. The most effective baits include finger mullet, mud minnows, and spinner baits. They are fat and tasty after gorging all summer.
Speckled trout fishing is also improving. Fish early with top water lures, and use subsurface baits when the sun is bright. It’s hard to beat live shrimp on a sliding or popping cork rig for trout. Some weakfish, which are locally called yellow mouth trout, are also in the mix. 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 salt water fishing on the First Coast!
CAPT Bob Cosby