By Captain David Lifka
When it comes to fishing our area waters, the weather gives, and the weather takes away.
This spring, following a mild winter with little rain, expectations were high that this year was shaping up to be a really good fishing year. Expectations were right on. Spring fishing started off with a bang. Early summer fishing continued with yet an even bigger bang. Fishing was good, really good. If conditions would hold, freezers were going to be stocked with fish and shrimp to last through the winter. The only thing that could possibly mess things up would be drastic changes in the weather.
Sure enough in early summer, the much needed, but very heavy rain became the norm. Above average rainfall became a daily occurrence up and down the river. The once high salinities of the river were slowly being flushed away. Fishing and shrimping began to slow, but catches were still good, and hope for a strong finish still remained.
When September arrives fishing and shrimping are usually beginning to a peak. This September, despite the slowdown from the summer rains, there were still shrimp in the river. With shrimp in the river, fish were going to be there also. There were even reports of tarpon near downtown area bridges. The fishing outlook was good again; it looked like this year’s season could still finish strong. That is, until Hurricane Irma decided to visit the State of Florida. Bringing historical flooding to the St. Johns River and its tributaries, any new hopes of a fishing comeback were put on hold once again.
The ups and downs of fishing our area of the St. Johns is probably influenced more by weather than anywhere else on the entire river. With the right brackish mix, we can experience the best of both saltwater and freshwater fishing. When dry spells occur salinities go up, when wet spells occur, salinities go down. In a typical year, we can expect a weather balance of wet and dry which makes for excellent fishing for most of the season; however, this year was a year of many extremes with a cause and effect that provided both some of the best fishing in years, and also some of the most difficult. This year was a year that confirms, when it comes to fishing our area waters, the weather gives, and the weather takes away.
Fishing Report: Take advantage of cooler days and give area freshwater a try for bream and catfish. Traditionally Seatrout should be off the docks from Goodby’s Creek to San Marco.
Whether you catch one, some, or none, the family time spent fishing will last a lifetime.