By Capt. Kirk Waltz
Current North Florida weather gives us all that perfect window of opportunity to try out new stuff we received over the holidays. Here are my top five spots that I think of when the weather is nice.
1) The Mayport rocks, at the mouth of the St. Johns River, are my solid go to spot. The rocks hold heat during the day and the fish typically gravitate to that to feed. Redfish, sheepshead, ring-tailed porgies, speckled trout, grey trout and black drum can be caught in good numbers and with some consistency. Try fishing the clean clear high to low falling tides for the best results using live shrimp, blue crabs, fiddler crabs and mullet.
2) Hannah Mills Creek area just north of Sisters Creek has numerous oyster bars, small feeder creeks and flats that can be a haven for fish seeking warmer water and food to eat. Reds, trout and sheepshead are my target species though I have caught many a black drum there. I love fishing this creek system on the mid tide to the dead low tide.
3) The beach access on the south end of Ponte Vedra Beach by the old Gate station is the perfect beach spot. It is adjacent to the Guana River State Park and seems to hold an abundance of fish in the small gullies that line the beach running both north and south. It’s easily accessible by land and requires no boat.
4) The Goodby’s Ramp located at the end of Baymeadows Road and San Jose is a great spot to fish the St. Johns River. It is near the Buckman Bridge, which for many years has been an awesome spot to catch trout, reds, flounder, sheepshead and the ever-elusive striped bass.
5) The Jacksonville Beach Pier is located right in the middle of the beaches. It has a tackle store where bait is readily available as well as staff to help novices. Any fish traversing the ocean migrating north or south has to come through here; you might catch a redfish, shark, tarpon or get lucky and bag a nice cobia.
On the report front, good numbers of reds, trout, sheepshead, ringtails and black drum will be on the big rocks at Mayport. The best action is typically on the high falling tides to low tide. Live shrimp on floats work really well or tip a small ¼ oz. jig with a live shrimp or fiddler. The black drum usually can be found in deeper water using a bottom rig tipped with a quarter piece of blue crab for bait. Reds can also be effectively targeted using any of these three methods. As the water continues to cool, look for larger numbers of sheepshead to move in. These guys are testy fighters on light tackle and even better table fare when caught. Fiddlers, shrimp and cut blue crab are excellent baits to use with any of these methods.
The offshore scene will show big numbers of sea bass moving into shallower waters this month. Look in depths from 55 to 75 feet for the larger schools. A bottom rig tipped with fresh squid is a great start, but catch a few grunts and cut them into strip baits. This method will usually garner the bigger sea bass into biting and weed out the smaller fish. Also beware of the ever-elusive red snapper as they will surely be skulking close by. Remember to check the regulations for what you can and cannot keep for dinner.
Capt. Kirk Waltz can be reached by calling (904) 241-7560 or (904) 626-1128 for information regarding charters. Visit www.Enterprisefishingcharters.com or listen to the Outdoors Show radio broadcast every Saturday morning, 7 a.m. – 10 a.m. on 1010 AM or 92.5 FM for the fishing forecast.
Photo courtesy Capt Kirk Waltz
Offshore fishing with Capt. Kirk Waltz