By Captain David Lifka
In recent years, over the summer months and into early fall, we have been fortunate enough to experience some of the best fishing and shrimping anyone could remember. Shrimp were filling cast nets with counts of more than 100 per throw. Limits of slot sized reds were being caught just about anywhere in the river where you decided to soak a live shrimp. Flounder, black drum, and yellowmouth trout were right there at your favorite croaker hole with tarpon and dolphin rolling as far south as Green Cove Springs. Yes, fishing was good.
Now we come to the summer and fall of 2018. What a difference this year has been to recent years and actually recent decades. In the past, we have always had to deal with some type of weather related interruption to our summer and fall fishing season. This would usually be the result of rainy spell of a couple of weeks or so, or possibly the passing of some kind of tropical disturbance. Usually a week or two following the weather inconvenience, fishing would come back with a vengeance, and everyone would be happy — but not this year.
Because of the exceptional amounts of above average rainfall throughout much of the entire St. Johns River, for the first time that many can remember, fishing has only gotten worse instead of better as the summer and fall progressed. This does not exclude all fishing on the river, as freshwater fishing has remained somewhat decent. But what it does include is any type of annual shrimp run, and the showing of the variety of saltwater species that invade our normally brackish waters.
On the bright side, the freshwater catfish bite has been strong. Dead shrimp, bottom fished anywhere from Green Cove Springs to San Marco should result in some pretty good results. The bream bite should be strong and abundant all the way out of the creeks and into the river, especially on the end of docks. Even largemouths are making their presence known in these same areas. Don’t be afraid to work the docks.
Areas closer to the ocean should be affected less and should produce some good fall fishing. St. Augustine, Palm Valley, Beach Boulevard, Ft. Caroline, and Mayport areas of the St. Johns and Intracoastal Waterway should all be hot spots right up to late November. The annual migration of bait fish traveling south should also produce some very good surf fishing for the rest of the fall months.
Fishing Report: Freshwater fishing should be at a premium. Fall bass, bream, and catfish should be readily available in just about any freshwater location. Migrating bluefish should be in good numbers in the surf. Cut fish or finger mullet with a short wire leader should help you land limit catches.
Whether you catch one, some, or none, the family time spent fishing will last a lifetime.
Email your Catch of the Month photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include the name of the person(s) in the photo, the name of the person who took the photo, the type of fish and date and location of the catch. We will select a photo each month for publication.
Photo courtesy Chris Joyner
This month’s Catch of the Month photo is of Chris Joyner of Fruit Cove, who caught black drum in early August on the Intracoastal Waterway using dead shrimp and fiddler crabs as bait.
, who caught this shellcracker on a warm July afternoon in Julington Creek Plantation near the golf course.