The St. Johns River and area lakes
The algal bloom so prominent three weeks ago continues to fade. Itâ€™s still there, but nothing like before. Those on the river call this a â€śnormalâ€ť summer bloom â€” and expect it to worsen the deeper we creep into summer.
The panfish bite is great all over. Thatâ€™s bluegill, shellcracker, redbellies and warmouth. Most are heading into, or coming out of, a spawn. It happens at different times in different places. But nowâ€™s a good time to catch them eating hard in anticipation of bedding, or eating hard following the procreative process.
Maybe the hottest spot in the area this week is the Rodman Dam. Itâ€™s concentrating striper-hybrids, bluegill, warmouth, bass, and stink shad. The problem is most locals know it, and it can be tough to fish with the crowds.
Some have figured the nighttime can be a right time there â€” less competition and a lot cooler.
Thereâ€™s a pretty good black mullet run in the river. The Shands Bridge is where most anglers gather to catch them.
Thereâ€™s a decent bite of hybrid stripers at the Croaker Hole. Itâ€™s a saltwater spring located off Norwalk Point in Welaka. It is not marked, and I have never fished it. But the bottom drops from around 6 to 49 feet. Divers have recently reported that itâ€™s actually a cave but did not have the equipment to breach it at the time. I guess itâ€™s fairer to say thereâ€™s a cave mouth.
A 10-pound, 10-ounce largemouth bass was caught on Lake Lochloosa this week. It ate a weedless plastic frog lure on the south end of the lake up in the hyacinths.
Most every report this week included an upturn in the flounder bite â€” with reports of between seven and 17 flounder being caught. Several of those were undersized fish, and released. And, as flounder are so good at doing, several self-released boat-side.
Most are being targeted on docks, seawalls and in creek mouths on falling tides.
Thereâ€™s a decent drum bite, but many are small. Itâ€™s tougher to get slot reds right now, with undersized and oversized fish in the mix. Sheepshead fishing is slowing down. And I havenâ€™t heard of any of the big, Atlantic-run drum still being caught.
The trout bite is decent. A few limits were caught, but no real big fish were reported. There are reports of schools of Spanish mackerel pushing up the ICW as far north as the Guana River.
Captain Robert Johnson reported catching his first guitarfish in the ICW this week. Iâ€™ve never seen one. But the photos are worth Googling up. They look like a mix between a ray and a shark, with a winged head and lateral and tailfins like a shark.
Tarpon have moved in through the inlet here and are rolling in Salt Run and a little ways up North River.
Surf fishing has been pretty tough. The majority of pompano have followed cooler water temperatures north, and the whiting are on the small side. The surf is full of baby bonnethead sharks and big, ugly ladyfish. Itâ€™s surprising there arenâ€™t more bluefish there.
Itâ€™s been real blowy outside the inlet the past several days, so few of the smaller boats got out. The pogies on the beach disappeared a couple days ago, but theyâ€™re just as likely to be there today. A few kingfish were caught off the beach. And a few tarpon were jumped up by the Captainâ€™s House on North Beach. Two kingfish of 35 and 30 pounds were caught up there last week as well.
The local reefs and wrecks havenâ€™t been fished much because of the wind, but itâ€™s a good bet theyâ€™re covered up with small kingfish and, hopefully, a few cobia.
Farther out near the ledge, I only heard of one bottom fishing trip. But they whacked the mutton and mangrove snapper, along with a few grouper and a kinda rare catch of six queen triggerfish. They are beauties.
Out around 400 feet, there was a good bite of dolphin. A 52- and a 40-pounder were caught. Another boat released three sailfish. Fishing has been tough out there because of tons of scattered grass and bumpy seas. So on a really nice day, it could get explosive out there.
Saturday itâ€™s southerly winds at 10 to 15 knots and seas of 2 to 4 feet. South winds Sunday, too, with sea at 2 to 3 feet.
Jim Sutton writes the Fishing Report. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org