By Capt. David Lifka
Wow, shrimp in the river already. Mostly small to medium sized, and still widely scattered, but they are here. This means that not only has the shrimp run begun, but all the great fishing that occurs with the shrimp run is very soon to follow.
As the season progresses, numbers should increase. At the peak of the shrimp run your shrimp count per net throw could be from three or four dozen, up to over a hundred. During the down time, when the counts are low, catching enough for bait instead of a meal is a great way to do some live shrimp fishing.
Having live shrimp for bait greatly increases your fishing possibilities on any fishing trip. Live shrimp is probably the best bait for all areas of the St. Johns. It can be bottom fished, float rigged, or cast on a jig head. Live shrimp will even work back in the creeks for largemouth bass. Redfish, trout, flounder, weakfish, and croaker are all fans of the shrimp, especially fresh live shrimp from the same waters they are currently inhabiting.
Mandarin Point, Doctor’s Lake, and Shands Bridge are all good areas to start looking for shrimp when heading out. As the summer and shrimping season progress, you should be able to fill in the gaps of these locations.
When hunting shrimp try different depths and tides at the same location. Quite often the shrimp will be in shallow waters early in the day and work their way deeper as the day progresses. Same goes for the tides as the shrimp will often bunch up when the water is moving and spread out when the water slows. What’s really nice is when they are all so thick and heavy they all just show on your bottom finder.
Fishing Report: The St. Johns River is coming alive with the presence of shrimp. Decent sized croakers are beginning to show with reds and a few flounder around docks and pilings. Bass fishing continues to be good in area creeks and tributaries. Summertime surf fishing is still offering some good whiting catches, although a little smaller.
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.