By Captain David Lifka
So far this summer, fishing on the St. Johns River has gone right according to schedule, and continues to stay on schedule. From winter, to spring, and now to midsummer, the weather has done its part to help the St. Johns maintain some pretty decent fishing waters. Barring any dramatic change in the rest of this summer’s weather, fishing should remain good and only get better.
Right now, the best news is that this year’s shrimp run is right on schedule. Good numbers of bait shrimp are already in the river, with eating-size shrimp catches steadily on the increase. Using live shrimp for bait anywhere in the river is a really big plus. Tail hooking live shrimp and bottom-fishing them in holes or in river channels should greatly increase an already good croaker bite taking place with an additional bite of reds, weakfish, and flounder. Doing the same on a jig head, casting around docks and bridge pilings, is also a great way to find and catch reds, trout, sheepshead, and flounder. As the shrimp run improves, these and other bites are all going to get bigger and better.
When shrimping, many people like to cull their shrimp, keeping just the larger ones for eating, and tossing the smaller ones back; however, with today’s bait shrimp prices often being the same or even exceeding the price of eating shrimp, packaging smaller shrimp in a plastic container and saving them for bait may be worth considering. Freezing them solid in water can easily keep them fresh till the next year’s shrimp run leaving you with free bait for an entire year till the next year’s run.
As the summer season progresses, salinity levels in the river can help determine the best areas to fish and shrimp. Try to stay as up to date as much as possible with current fishing and shrimping reports. Checking online, with friends, or various bait stores to see what particular areas of the river seem to be catching the most fish or shrimp. Above all, be ready to catch anything, as reports of tarpon have been steadily on the increase and should continue to do so as summer progresses.
Fishing Report: St. Johns croakers for quantity and reds for your quality are a good bet. A little bit of everything everywhere up and down the river. Reports of flounder, trout, weakfish, croaker, sheepshead, even mangrove snapper. Try catching your bait from the river (shrimp, finger mullet, juvenile croaker). Using fresh bait from local waters is almost always best.
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 Ty Woodard
Ty Woodard with a largemouth bass he caught on June 22 in Durbin Crossing.