By Captain David Lifka
Usually the month of July is when shrimp will begin to show in the St. Johns, with their numbers and sizes growing as summer continues to advance. Weather, as always, will play a role that often determines the quality and length of our shrimping season. Too much rain is often the culprit that puts a premature slow down or end to the season.
As the shrimp make their way southward down the St. Johns River, fishing will steadily improve from good, to better, to great. With shrimp in the river we can expect many species of saltwater fish to invade our area waters to feed on these tasty crustaceans. Reds, trout, flounder, croaker, weakfish and more should all be biting. Even late season tarpon will not be out of the question.
Every summer many folks from around the state look forward to a weekend or even a vacation to the Gulf Coast of Florida to take part in Bay Scallop season. This year’s season opened for parts of Taylor County (Steinhatchee) and all of Dixie County (Horseshoe Beach) on June 16 and runs through Sept. 10. Other Gulf counties in the Big Bend area of the state will open later in July and August for their scallop season.
Snorkeling in waist deep water, to depths of no more than 10 feet, scallops can be found and gathered in seagrass beds. With a two gallon per person limit or 10-gallon limit per vessel, a fun day on the water can be continued with an evening of some pretty good dining. Other than the risk of a sunburn, scalloping makes for a wonderful outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by everyone in the family.
The traditional Florida Lobster two-day mini season will happen July 25 and 26, with an eight-month long regular season beginning Aug. 6. Lobstering requires greater swimming and snorkeling skills than scalloping, but is still a great opportunity to get out and enjoy the water with family and friends, and may just happen to pay delicious dividends at the end of day. Florida lobsters can be caught most anywhere in the state’s ocean waters, but usually the farther south you travel the easier they are to catch.
Fishing Report: Freshwater catfish should be easy to find at creek mouths. Croaker getting bigger and more plentiful.
Whether you catch one, some, or none, the family time spent fishing will last a lifetime.
We now include a Catch of the Month photo with Capt. David’s Fishing Report each month. Please email a photo of yourself or your child with the fish caught to email@example.com. 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.
This month’s Catch of the Month photo is of three-year-old Ezra Carter, who caught his first fish, a bream, at his neighborhood pond in Yulee. According to his father, Nicholas Carter, Ezra hooked and reeled in the fish, caught on Wonder bread, all by himself.
Photo courtesy Nicholas Carter