By David Lifka
Regardless of what the calendar happens to say, fish don’t recognize spring till area waters begin to reach and exceed a certain temperature. Also, many local fishermen don’t recognize spring by what the calendar is indicating, but like fish, are more concerned about where the water temperatures are heading.
Sixty degrees seems to be the magic water temperature that initiates another fishing season for all area waters. At the beaches, surf fishermen and pier fishermen anticipate the annual runs and returns of many species of fish such as blues, whiting and pompano, along with a mixed bag of others. With the water temperatures on the increase you can expect some of the best surf and pier fishing of the season.
Sixty plus degree inland water temperatures are what is needed to spark the return of baitfish to the St. Johns River. With baitfish present, the traditional spring runs and spawns of many of species of fish will begin in the Mayport and Intracoastal areas. Large black drum weighing more than 60 lbs. and oversized reds exceeding 40 lbs. will take center stage with plenty of slot reds, drum, sheepshead, trout and flounder ready for the taking in these waters.
Baitfish will continue to follow the increasingly warming water of the St. Johns River southward as they work their way through Downtown Jacksonville and around San Marco, continuing south through the Buckman Bridge. Following the baitfish will be a variety of saltwater species of fish known to inhabit our local areas of the river for much of the summer and fall — the most prevalent being croaker, reds and yellowmouth trout, along with speckled trout, flounder, sheepshead and whatever else that may decide to swim down the river. Every year is different.
Living in North Florida makes it difficult to determine the arrival of spring by only following a calendar. Living here we have other indicators that we can follow, such as sunny days, blooming azaleas, singing birds, pollen and hay fever letting us know that spring has arrived. For spring time fishing we also have an indicator of spring’s arrival. While the azaleas are blooming, the birds are singing and the hay fever is acting up from the pollen in the air, be looking for 60 degree water temperatures to arrive at the body of water nearest you.
Fishing Report: Best bet is to take the family to the beach and enjoy some of the best whiting fishing of the year. Largemouth bass good in local ponds and creeks.
Whether you catch one, some, or none, the family time spent fishing will last a lifetime.