If you thought last weekâ€™s fishing report stunk, youâ€™re really not going to like this weekâ€™s version.
Instead of explaining why Iâ€™m short on intelÂ â€” butÂ have you been outside?Â â€” Iâ€™m just going to tell you what I did hear: The redfish bite has been great in shallow water during afternoon low tides, black drum are biting in deeper holes, and at least one charter captain who braved the cold weather saved the day with some speckled trout.
This weekend would be a great time to catch up onÂ the routineÂ boat maintenanceÂ you were too busy to perform duringÂ the mullet run, deer season and the holidays.Â Add grease to your trailer hubs now so you donâ€™t have to do it the night before your next long haul, or slather up your electrical connections with some dielectric grease and anti-corrosion spray so your components work when you need them to.
I bet your mechanic is only a week out, so it would also be a good time to drop the skiff off for her yearly checkup.
But for the hopeless among the weekend warrior fleet who absolutely must go fishing, the weather should allow for it.
North Florida will begin to thaw on Friday, although rain and northeast winds around 10 knots are on deck for Saturday. The marine forecast is calling for about the same on Sunday, although theÂ 10-day forecast on Wunderground looks a little better.Â
Even if itâ€™s wet and windy, it will be farÂ more enjoyable than watching the Rams lose to the Patriots in the Super Bowl. But probably not as enjoyable as gorging on nachos, chili and wings.
I’m caught up on myÂ boat maintenance for nowÂ â€” but my fishfinder still isn’t workingÂ â€” so I’ll be fishing this weekend as long as the weather and old lady cooperate.
Iâ€™m split between fishing the creeks a little south â€” keep reading to find out whyÂ â€” or hunting for sheepshead in Mayport, as Iâ€™m starting to getÂ nasty looks at home about theÂ smelly bucket full of fiddler crabs that have been living in our garage for three weeks.
Jetties and the Main River
IÂ honestly canâ€™t tell you whatâ€™s going on at the jetties. I havenâ€™t fished in Jacksonville in two weeks, and the contributors to this report didn’t fish the big rocks this week, either.
Capt. Steve Mullen caught some keeper trout in the river on Wednesday. He said the cold north wind made it feel below freezing, but that didnâ€™t bother his clients who were visiting from Michigan.
ICW and the backcountry
This is the time of year where the backcountry really shines. The redfish are schooled up, black drum are laid up in creek bends, and the dink trout are everywhere. Even when the wind is honking, thereâ€™s usually somewhere back in the creeks you can find shelter.
Capt. Leon Dana had to run well south of Palm Valley on Tuesday to escape the nasty water, but when he arrived to his destination, it didnâ€™t take long to find a school of reds.
â€śIt looked like something out of Sea World,â€ť he said.
He and his clients had their fun with the school, throwing root beer plastics with a chartreuse paddle tail. As the tide came in, they started working oyster beds. Every one of them was stacked with fish.
Further north, Capt. Jeff Wansor got on a nice bite of puppy drum on Tuesday fishing live shrimp on jigs in deep creek holes. He said they also caught a bunch of small red fish, some trout and a really nice flounder.
Dead low tide will happen during the afternoon this weekend. Wansor says you ought to get back in the creeks and fish it.
Capt. Chip Wingo also said heâ€™s catching redfish way back in the creeks during afternoon low tides. He said the bite is especially productive when the tide starts coming back in. Heâ€™s having the best luck throwing dark colored plastic baits.
Wingo also said trout have been biting in 6 to 8 feet of water near rocky shore lines and docks, and that the sheepshead have been â€śon and off.â€ť
Capt. Ron Schurr hasnâ€™t fished this week, but he found a nice school of redfish during high tide in Clapboard Creek on Saturday.
Capt. Tony Bozzella was at large in Hannah Mills over the weekend, and he put a pair of clients from Iowa on 24 redfish on shrimp and his signature brand TBS jigheads. They werenâ€™t all dinks either. Nine were slot fish and 1 was too big to keep. They also caught a 19-inch trout.
Down on Lake Woodruff, the speckled perchÂ fishing hasÂ been fair to good this week. Capt. Bryn Adams of Highland Park Fish Camp said anglers are falling just short of limits, but the fish are growing fat with row. She said jigs are the best method, but minnows will work, too.
On the St. Johns RiverÂ south of Jacksonville, the fishing sounds lousy.
Jon Hamilton of Black Creek Marina usually has something to brag about, but he had nothing for me this week. He said the speckled perch have been hard to dial in, and he expects it to stay that way until we get a few days of warmer weather.
Over in Green Cove Springs, Rick Hamilton of R&J Tackle didnâ€™t bother candy coating the news.
â€śI wish I could give you a good report, but I canâ€™t,â€ť he said.