By Captain David Lifka
With a brand-new year comes the start of a brand-new fishing season. The first couple of months of the year are probably the “iffiest” months of the entire fishing season. Area fishing can be very good at times, but good days are usually spotty and hard to predict.
However, there’s one type of fishing that comes to its peak during these colder, windier, and not so pretty days. January and February are the months when speckled perch fishing (sometimes known as crappie) is at its finest.
Arguably, speckled perch are one of the best tasting freshwater species of fish found in North Florida’s rivers, creeks, and lakes. Using a live minnow tipped 1/64 oz. jig or a beetle spin lure, slowly troll or drift your bait through the various depths of the water you are fishing. Once locating a bite, continue to drift or troll across that same area of water till the bite stops.
Lightweight speckled perch rods and reels are available just for speckled perch fishing. Often multiple rods are used at once with different color jigs or lures to help find a dominant bite producing color. Averaging a pound to two pounds per fish, it should not take long to have a meal once you have located the fish.
So far, this winter has started off much like last year. Mild temperatures with little rain has helped maintain some decent local fishing. With a few shrimp still hanging around in the river, croaker, yellowmouth, and reds can still be caught from Orange Park and northward. At the beach, there’s still been a whiting bite and prettier and calmer days — all of which is worth a try just to get out of the house and enjoy a day outdoors.
Fishing Report: Speckled perch (crappie) will be at its best right after a full moon: Jan. 10 and Feb. 9. Trout, Julington, Cunningham, and Black creeks are very good local creeks to give a try. Nearby lakes (within a couple hours or less) Crescent, Dead, Woodruff, Monroe, George, and Sante Fe are all well known for quality speckled perch fishing.
Whether you catch one, some, or none, the family time spent fishing will last a lifetime.