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!!
Fall is finally here and that brings some of the best fishing of the year! Many things to do this month. To start out, this might be the last chance to get a shot at a Tarpon. Often times on an outgoing tide at the jetties pulling bait on the rips, they can stack up and drifting a live mullet can be a ticket. The big Jacks will also be around exploding on bait and, the big bull Redfish will all be there. Cast a big topwater like a Rapala skitterwalk, Mirrolure Top dog, or if it is choppy out, use something that will make a good commotion like a High Roller prop bait ,Johnny Rattler, or just a big chugger. All good choices. Connect that with a adequate piece of 25 - 40lb Hi Seas Fluorocarbon leader. Not more than 30 inches. Also use the same leader to make up your fish finder rigs for the bull reds. Fish from 25 - 40lbs are common. Use enough weight to hold bottom along the channel edges and use a piece of lady fish, mullet or crab on the bottom, this is a good place to catch the bulls. Don't forget to use a jetty anchor, Danforth and other types have a tendency to get hung up. Talking lures, topwaters will also get the attention of the redfish and trout in the intercoastal, river and backcountry. Working points, creek mouths and over structure can be very productive. Diving plugs, swim baits, and topwaters, all mullet imitating baits will be the best bet. surrounding areas that have an outlet to the sea holding bait is going to be a great place to get some action. The backcountry reds, trout and flounder will all be active with the southern migration of the mullet and cooler water. This is a good time to catch a big trout as they will be feeding heavy on the mullet. A diving plug that imitates a mullet is best. Remember to let the gators go after a picture so we can aid in maintaining our trout population. Flounder will also be very active this month, as in the past, anglers have scored on big doormats in the Mayport area structure and adjoining tributaries. A TBS black nickel jig paired with a finger mullet or mud minnow will be the best bet. Fan cast the area working the jig slowly back to the boat. Also, a shrimp tipped bucktail jig, Gulp or standard bottom rig / bait on the bottom will be a great choice. Work the jigs slow and wait to feel that exciting "thump" and give the bait a moment and set the hook! Reds will be around many of the backcountries oysters bars and mud flats. Again work the lightest TBS jig and bait combo you can get away with will be what you want to use. Shrimp, mullet or mud minnows are best. Cast to the rips around the bars or sight fish them when condition allow. This is the last month before the migratory and pelagics head out of our area, so get out and get them, Good Luck
Trout, trout, and more trout! This is a great month to bag a big one. I am at 162 Trout, 5lbs or bigger for my clients over the years and most have come in April. Some of the biggest trout have been 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 waters and comfortable water temps. Bait will be reentering North Florida, and as it does it will keep the fish active!! Fishing places that have current, ledges, structure and bait will be an ideal place to start your search. Places like these hold fish!! There will a nice mix of bluefish in the area. Very fun, and lots of action. Some people frown at blues and consider them "junk fish", however, I take advantage of what mother nature has to offer? Years past, Paul Bent and I had a day with blues to 8 - 10lbs on inshore waters!! What a fight on light tackle!! Any angler would of loved it!! Will Felner had a 30 inch, 9 1/2 lb Specked Sea trout, what a trout, way to go Will, There will be other fish joining the party. Redfish, Jack Crevalles, Spanish mackerel, Ladyfish, and plenty of blues will be in the mix, especially if the water temps stay up. I have seen these fish in years past show up as early as March and as late as May. April is a good time frame. Plugs and lures that have been productive include, Rapalas, x raps, twichin raps, and skitterwalks. In the Miro-lures line, mirro dynes 52M's and top dogs, BiteABait line, fighters and top walkers, as well as High Rollers are all excellent choices for a trophy trout. 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. Fishing towards dusk, use a dark colors so the bait will be silhouetted as the fish look up at it. 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? Learn to be good with the bait you choose to use. Many anglers put hope in a "magic or special lure" It's best to master a couple of good time proven lures and cover water knowing you are fishing it correctly. 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 and bait will get active and "turn up" the water on the mud flats. 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 feel the thump (bite) and reel the slack out and set the hook. Now, don't talk about it, get out and enjoy the waters of North Fl and take advantage of a big trout!!!
March the water starts to heat up on a regular basis. I often refer to March as the "transitional" month. Depending on exact temperatures or a freak cold snap, the water starts to heat and brings the migratory bait back. This is the opposite of Oct. / Nov. mullet run when all the bait migrates south. As the bait returns and enters the St. John's river and tributaries, redfish, trout, and bluefish will be there to get there share. In the past, temperature depended, I have seen Jack Crevalle show up at the end of March. Ladyfish and Spanish Mackerel will be very close behind them as well!! This is a great time to incorporate throughing lures on your trip. Work the tides to your favor. North in the St. Johns river will hold alot of these species around this time. Tide rips around points and structure will be the ticket. Often, as the water hovers the 65 degree mark and above, I have had some nice success on topwater and diving plugs for all the species mentioned. Last March, Paul Bent Took a beautiful 9 1/2 lb trout on topwater, and Jeff Woods with a 5 lb'er along with Will Felner and Steve Croskey having an epic day with many big 26 -34 inch redfish crushing diving plugs!! All great memories and awesome fishing!! As you catch your redfish and trout, don't forget you will have alot of bluefish strikes as well to keep the action going. I have had days where you can catch them on every cast. Great time to break out the fly rod and have some fun. Use a fluorocarbon leader and a gummy minnow and you will catch a blue! It can be a windy month so plan your trips accordingly. Try to put yourself in the lee or use downwind casts. Give yourself the advantage because it is so important to be "in tune" with your bait. Know what that bait is doing at all times. The backcountry waters will still be clear and redfish will be lurking the mud flats. It will most likely be the last month for sight fishing cruising redfish as the water will begin to get muddy and murky, however, blind casting and soaking jig mud minnows / shrimp combo's in the shallow around oyster bars can still pay big dividends!! Good chance at a sheephead, black drum, or flounder as well. Great time to plan a 3/4 or full day fishing with action through out the day. Alot going on this month, get out and enjoy some action on the waters of North Florida!!
I am usually positive about most months fishing, however, February is not one of my favorite months. The best bet will be to fish Redfish on the shallow mud flats in mid day. After the mud warms throughout the day the redfish will get active on the flats. If you can score a falling tide from midmorning through afternoon you are in the best time frame for success. A well placed TBS Jig and mud minnow combo is a sure ticket to a hook up. I like to stake out around pinch points, run outs or falling water and rips around an oyster bar. These are all prime locations for redfish, as well as, black drum, sheephead, trout and flounder. Most trout and flounder will be on the smaller size. Black drum and sheephead need be baited with shrimp, if that is more of the targeted species. For the true flats angler wanting to sight fish, he will need alittle cooperation from mother nature. Low winds and sunshine make for a good day. Poling your skiffs with the sun at your back and on the lee side of the mud flats will be your ticket. Look for heavy pushes and backs and just plain swimming fish. A small black TBS bucktail in 1/8 / 1/4 or a weedless plastic in a dark color are some of my favorites. I prefer the bucktail for the stealthy landing and accurate cast ability, however, if the fish are staging in alot of oysters or very shelly area, the weedless plastic will do. Most time in very shallow areas, steath is the name of the game. The fish canot sense you are there or they become very hard to catch. Trout will be in many of the common areas such as deep bends in creeks and edges of the Intercoastal waterway, and parts of the rivers drop offs. Float rigs, Jig and bait combos and plastic grubs in brighter colors are always a good pick. Use enough weight to effectivivly fish the bottom. If you do not know and are not intune with your bait it can be a tuff bite!! While trout fishing if you run into bluefish, fish the area well, trout will be close by. There should be plenty of bluefish and they are always fun and fairly easy to catch when you find them. If the weather and cold are to much for you.....This is a great time for reel maintenace!!! Get ready, March is coming and things will start to heat up!! Until next report, tight lines!
January, the best month for sight fishing Redfish! With all the flats boats and shallow water crafts, this is the time to get out and really use them. As the water of North Florida gets clean and clear with less boat traffic, precipitation, and all the micro organisms die off, you can truly see fish on the right days. It's best to get a falling mid day tide and fish areas with the sun at your back. If the wind is under 10 knots you can pick flats that have smooth water in the lee. this will allow you to see pushes, wakes, and backing redfish. I like to lead the fish afew feet in his path of travel and when he approaches just very slightly move the bait. Use the lightest TBS Black Nickel jig you can get away with or sometimes no jig, just a hook for total stealth. A length of 15 / 20 lb HI SEAS fluorocarbon to about 30 inches and a loop knot to you presentation is ideal. A rod that is 7ft - 8ft with a fast tip is best. This will also give distance, and staying far from the fish as possible will keep from alarming him. A healthy mud minnow is a great choice as well as shrimp. Also blind fishing around the pinch points and out flows of creeks on a falling tide can produce well. There will be trout in the deeper bends, holes in creeks and the Inter coastal waterway. Bright colored plastics on a jig worked slow across the bottom, float rigs and jig and bait are all top producers. Many will be small under the 15 inch min. Black drum will be in many of the same areas. Again a jig and shrimp will be best, casting and leaving the bait stationary in and around the oyster bars. Sheephead will be in the mix as well, same set up will be a ticket. If stretching a line is all you want to do, then look at points and area inlets throughing jigs and plugs for bluefish. These aggressive and hard fighters will be fun for all and easy to catch. many times fulfilling the day with excitment as the tide gets correct for another species. Until next time, don't let the weather fool you, this is still a great time to get out and experience great fishing!!
Redfish, trout, blackdrum, sheephead, and bluefish is what we have for the remainder of the year. I will start out talking about the redfish since this is a great time of year for them. As the water clears up and cools down the micro organisms will die off, less boat traffic, and less rain will help in keeping the water clear. This makes for better sight fishing. Fish the falling tides and target fishy areas like pinch points in creeks, flats and oyster edges can all be great spots to look. Having ideal weather conditions will help. No wind, sun up higher for visibility and behind you. Move very methodically and quiet, looking, as you see a backing or waking fish, get your presentation out in front in his path. Also you can anchor in these areas and soak bait on a TBS Jig. Mud minnows and shrimp work well, and also cast with ease. Let the bait sit still for a pickup. Lure fisherman can use a dark or natural colored bucktail, (crab or shrimp imitation) or if in areas of heavy oysters a weedless soft plastic. Through out and work the lure back with the current. Same if you spot fish lead him and cross the fishes path of travel and be subtle!! Another reason for the bucktail, less movement with the action of the hair breathing, creating a very alive look, not to mention, they through the most accurate!! In many of the trips I take, most people have trouble in accurate casting, so it helps to have a lure that does not "helicopter" and spin off coarse .Accuracy is everything. The bucktails hold water which is weight and through accurate and land soft with a crustation like appearance. Also a good time to fish deeper bends and holes in creeks, they can load up on specked and yellowmouth trout. Bright colored plastic, bucktails, jig shrimp combos and float rigs all have there place and work well. Many fish will be smaller under the 15 inch minimum however numbers can be good. In these type areas and styles of fishing black drum and sheepheads will be in the mix. Shrimp work outstanding for the drum and fiddlers on the sheepies. Of coarse there will be an occasional flounder caught and a fair share of bluefish. Some of the areas inlets and points in the ICW with bait and current will hold most of the blues. Fun fish with lots of action. Every time of year has something to offer, get out and give it a try!!
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.