Trout, trout, and more trout! This is a great month to bag a big one. Months past, April has produced some of the biggest trout to include fish as big as 11lbs!! Whether your a float fisherman, plug, topwater or jig, big trout will be on the prowl looking for a meal. They can be caught with any of these methods. Fish get very active with the warming, but, comfortable water temps. Bait will be reentering North Florida, and as it does it will keep the fish active!! Fishing places that have current, shallow next to deeper, structure and bait will be an ideal place to start your search? But, places like these hold fish. There will a nice mix of blues in the area. Very fun, and lots of action. however, I take advantage of what mother nature has to offer? Years past, I had a day with blues to 10 lbs on inshore waters!! What a fight on light tackle!! Any angler would of loved it!! There will be other fish joining the party. Redfish, Jack Crevalles, Spanish mackerel, Ladyfish, will be in the mix, especially if the water temps stay up. Plugs and lures that have been productive include, Rapalas, x raps, twichin raps, and skitterwalks. In the Miro-lures line, mirro dynes and top dogs, and also the BiteABait line, fighters and top walkers. Colors are simple, if the water is clean and clear, I like to use natural colors. If the water is dirty or stained, use a white or chartreuse. Keep it simple. The same go's for jigs. Just use enough weight to get down and stay in tune with the bait.These are all fine baits in the hands of an angler that has mastered how to work them? If the backcountry is your style, there will be some redfish prowling around. Schools will be smaller and start breaking up with the warmer water. This will be the very last of the clear water and sight fishing this month. As the bait returns to the backcountry, the water will get cloudy and muddy as all the mullet and micro-organism start to replenish. Flounder will start showing up more as time go's on. Any structure with bait and moving water can be a hot spot. I like the incoming tide. Fish a TBS jig in a bright color combined with a finger mullet or mud minnow. Fish slow and be in tune with your bait When you get a bite, reel the slack out and set the hook.
March is a transitional month, and water temperatures start rising and many species start to return to our waters.Trout bite starts to heat up and species like bluefish, Jack Crevalle, and Spanish Mackerel will show up if the cold dissipates as normal years past. Bait , like mullet and pogies, start to return as well. Baitfish imitations such as Rapalas, BiteABaits, Mirro lures and High roller rippers all work well. Lures will start to take there fair share in the creek mouths and river. Top waters will produce well. "Walk the dog method" are best. Pay attention to the weather temps and bait. But, it is the start! Redfish will continue to be caught in the backcountry creeks and shallow mud flats as fish are still enjoying the mid - day warmth of the flats. Mud minnow, crabs and shrimp are still top choice's on a TBS black nickel jig. Use as little terminal tackle as possible and a 30 inch piece of Fluorocarbon (15 - 20lb) with as light of a jig as you can effectively get away with. There will still be plenty of shallow water Redfish and the water is genrally still clear. Spoons, spinners, topwaters and shallow running plugs along the grass lines at high tides will also do well. If the water is still cool make sure to retrieve the lure slowly. Black drum will still be taken on bait in the backcountry as well. Jig & shrimp combos will be the most effective. some of the big Black drum will be moving into the jetties for there spawn and a crab or clam on a fish finder rig and heavier tackle will be the best bet for a trophy. Please catch and release them. Don't forget spring Turkey season!!!
Although we are limited what we can fish for, February can be great for shallow water red fishing. Backcountry waters of North Fl. can be at its clearest point of the year. Mid afternoons on the mud flats when the wind and sun cooperate, can be very productive. Mud minnows & shrimp paired with the lightest TBS Jig fishing around mid to the last of the outgoing tide around the rips coming off the oyster bars can be outstanding. Through up current and stay in tune with your bait as it may roll with the tidal movement. Polling at this time can also be very productive. Slipping up on a backing or tailing redfish, again, mid day when suns overhead and wind minimal, can be a great experience. Fly anglers can take advantage of this time of year as well. Many times you may have a shot at a tasty Sheephead or Black Drum. Shrimp is a good choice and they will be in these areas. Anglers wanting trout should start out soaking shrimp/ Muds in some of the deeper holes and bends of creeks with moving water for best results. Many trout will be below the 15 inch minimum. If the standard float rigs is not your style, through a bright colored soft plastic and slow roll, keeping in contact, on the bottom. Reds Blues and flounder can be in the mix. Dress warm and fish!!
July is a very hot month and fishing should be done very early or late into the evening for the best catches. Fish are more active at these times. Although there are exceptions, like Mary Beth Williams catching a trophy 8lb gator trout with me in the hot mid day sun on a BiteABait Fighter!! " Congrats Mary Beth." Not common, however, we do get them occasionally. I like to fish the clean cooler incoming water for trout. Best if the tide falls in the early hours. All traditional methods will work. However, lure fishing will be best early, as the sun gets up go deeper. If the tide is low or close to low, usually the wind is calm and I like to look for tailing or backing red fish. Once mid morning comes it brings the afternoon sea breeze and conditions diminish. When fishing this style, the lightest TBS Jig, usually an 1/8 or 1/4 oz, will do the job. Quiet & patience is a must. If you see a backer, lead the fish and cast just beyond, as the fish gets closer, make sure the presentation crosses the fishes path. Subtle movement on the lure. Less is generally better. If you dead stick baits, mullet, crab, shrimp, do the job, just remember, there are a lot of pin fish and they are hard on the shrimp and can be frustrating. Also the bull reds will be cruising the channel edges of the river. A fish finder rig with a crab or cut bait on 20/30lb tackle will be a ticket. Please take the time to return them in good shape, they are our future fish. Other good bets are fishing the beach in the pogie pods. A TBS Jig and a pogie rigged through the lips and cast to the edges of the bait pods could results in a bull red, tarpon, shark or a big Jack crevalle. No table fare, but, a lot of fun. As we all know North Fl. Is seasonal and I try to do what is happening best at that time of year. Until next report, get out and experience north Fla. Fishing!!
Much like July, August is one if the hottest months, and anglers should fish very early or the evenings for success. Last August I found good success in the early hours fishing for redfish. It's generally very calm and still this month and it makes locating a backer much easier. Low tides early work best. Trout fishing has been slower than years past and I see that fishery staying consistent throughout Aug. Bull Redfish will be scattered along the shipping channel. Heavy tackle with enough lead to hold bottom where you are fishing, with a piece of crab, mullet or ladyfish will get some attention. There will still be some ladyfish, jacks and mangrove snappers around. They can always be fun and mangroves are good table fare. Flounders will be coming on stronger. A TBS Jig and a finger mullet, mud minnow or shrimp slowly working areas with structure can be a ticket. Docks and areas around the St. Johns ferry in the mayport area can be a great area to pick up a big flattie. Fishing the beach can be productive. A free lined pogie tossed around the bait pods could get a tarpon, bull redfish, sharks, or a big Jack Creavale. Don't let the summer heat scare you off the water!!!Tight lines,
July is fish early or fish late typical summertime fishing when it's very hot. There will be some trout in the dock lights, a live shrimp with a fluorocarbon leader and hook, or a DOA shrimp can both be very productive. There are still afew decent trout being caught throughout the ICW and river in the early mourning. As the daylight gets stronger the bite slows. Float rigs, jig and bait, and standard lures will all produce. Again, last of the incoming in the early mourning can be a good time when water is cool with low light conditions. There will be afew redfish caught as well. However, if reds are the targeted species, an early low tide with no wind in the mourning looking for backing fish in the shallows would be a good choice. The sides of the river channel will be holding plenty of bull reds. A chuck of mullet, lady fish or crab on a fish finder rig will be a ticket. Remember to respect these big redfish, take the time to rehabilitate them after a strenuous fight. The beach fishing we be the best bet, fishing the bait pods. A TBS jig on a spinning rod, with a 30 or 40 lb bite tippet of fluorocarbon will get the job done. Pogies will be a great choice for bait, try to match whatever bait pod you are fishing. Sharks, jack Crevalle, tarpon, bull reds, and lady fish, are some of the fish you can expect to fish. Remember to get out and fish what Mother Nature is giving us!!!
June is hot weather fishing, I prefer to get out very early and if I can't I will fish the evening around sunset. Evening fishing you will have to have your guard up due to thundershowers & wind, so early is best. If you do fish the afternoons most of the time It can be productive fishing bait in the deeper areas and edges of channels for the bull Reds. A simple fish finder rig with an 8/0 J hook or a 12/0 circle (preferred) and a wreck anchor, you are ready. Large chucks of mullet or ladyfish will be a ticket for a hook up. you will have to move around on different tides to locate your fish. Also baiting sharks in the local sounds can be productive. Basically the same thing, however, a piece of wire is used to attack the hook to prevent cutoffs. If that doesn't interest you, I would get out early and throw top water plugs and divers for Reds, trout and other fun species such as Jack's ladyfish etc. I work areas such as ledges, structure, grass lines, and points. Certain bulkheads holding bait can be productive As well. If you find any of these areas holding good concentration of finger mullet or pogies this can be a potential hotspot , throw your lures up current and bring your lures back with the current naturally. If you know fish are there, be patient and throw long shots to keep the fish unaware of your presence, which is another key to success!! Most common lures are a bet, there are NO secret lures.... work the ones you have had success with and know how to work very well. " Walk the dog" method of retrieve for top waters. Sweep and pump pause for lipped divers and crank baits. Continue to look forareas of concentrated bait.Flounder will be in the mix and like most of the same areas, however structure such as rocks and dock pilings are a good choice. A TBS jig paired with a finger mullet, mud minnow, or shrimp can be successful. If you like lure fishing flounder, fish the jig with a gulp bait working it across the bottom until you feel the thump. Also a bucktail jig tipped with a bait can be deadly. One day fishing a ledge slowly hopping my bucktail across the bottom I was rewarded with 22 flounder!!! What a great day. Until next month, tight lines.
Well we are back in the transitional month of March. Where the water starts to heat up rather than cool. Many of the migratory and pelagic fish will be heading this way up the coast to spend their summer in the Northeast Florida region or just passing through. In the past, I have seen Spanish mackerel, Jack Crevalles, and Bluefish show this month, however it will be temperature dependent. The Blues will be dependable. These hard fighters will take anything you through. Great for our fly and young anglers to get some rod bending action!! Use a heavier than normal fluorocarbon leader or a small piece of wire, however, you will get less hook ups with wire. In the heat of things a # 00 or 1 Clark spoon trolled around the mouth of the river and deeper cuts with bait and current will get some takers on Spanish Macs. In the past, I have had anglers catch them to 27 inches although not common. Smaller fish are In large schools and you can have big number catches which it happens often. Trout will start making a stronger presence. Years before we have had them to 9 lbs. Again water temps this month can have the most influence. Mullet imatations catch there fair share. Standard float rigs and jigs prove successful.Bait, moving water, and some sort of structure, you have a potential hot spot. Bring your lures with the current for best success. There are still some redfish in the backcountry shallows, however as the water dirties with the return of bait and more rain, redfish schools will start to diminish however Standard jig and bait combos will still produce. Edges of the intercoastal where bait pods are cruising might be your best bet for a good refish.
January is one of the top months for backcountry redfish. With the water gin clear and active fish in the afternoons of sun filled days, fish will be prowling the mud flats,edges of sand bars, oyster bars, glass lines, and other Structures. This is a great time to pole your boat if you are in shallow water. Fisherman can actually see tailing and backing fish. Most fish will be schooled up and in competition with one another eating various crustations such as blue and fiddler crabs and any other tasty flats treat that presents itself. If you can get a low tide from noon to 3 o'clock, the mud will capture the heat from the sun and makes situation ideal. It often heats the water just enough to make the fish a little more active and if you can fish flats with the sun at you're back and in the lee, you have now put yourself in the best position for success. Dead sticking baits like mud minnows and shrimp on a TBS jig in pinch points and rips around oyster bars on falling tide can be very productive. Often anglers using shrimp will catch drum and sheepshead as an added bonus. Trout will also be holding in deep bends of creeks and holes. Jigs and bait, sliding float rigs, and soft plastics work well. The key is to work the lures slow and deep. If working baits, again, dead sticking could be your best bet. Fish are Lethargic with water temps as low as mid 40's. Many trout are small, however, the numbers can be high. I have had clients catch as many as 100 in afew hours. Of course there will be some keepers..... 15-20 inches with 1 over. Ok anglers, each season has something to offer, don't let the cool weather change your mind about fishing. Winter fishing in Northeast Florida is fantastic!!
Capt. Tony's expert insight on what you should look for on the water and how to get the most out of the current fishing season.