Fernandina Fishing Report

Fernandina Fishing Report

Date- January 1, 2019
February Article: Fernandina/Amelia Island
Author: Terry D. Lacoss


Striped bass will be active in the upper reaches of the Nassau and St. Mary’s Rivers during the first of the out-going tide.  Trolling with minnow type plugs close to deep river banks, railroad trestles, the I-95 and highway 17  bridges is a standard winter striper fishing tactic. However, casting led head jigs rigged with a white, or chartreuse plastic curly tail at creek mouths, bridge pilings or deep bends in the river is also a deadly winter striper fishing tactic.

Striped bass will also take weightless, black plastic worms when all else fails. Many fishing seasons ago outdoor writer Bob McNally and myself were casting large plastic worms to the I-95 bridge supports Located on the Nassau River when a 15-pound striped bass ambushed McNally’s weightless worm.

Mutt Daniels enjoys excellent Nassau River striped bass action while fishing dead on the bottom at creek mouths with cut baits.  Some of the Nassau and St. Mary River’s largest striped bass are caught while fishing dead on the bottom with live finger mullet, large shrimp, half a blue crab, or with cut mullet.

Largemouth bass will be spawning in the upper reaches of both the St. Mary’s and Nassau Rivers during the week prior to the full moon and right on the full moon. Some of the best spawning action will take place in Boggy Creek where shallow sloughs and a flooding tide may produce double digit largemouth bass.  Casting a gold floating minnow type plug, weightless dark colored plastic worm, or drifting a wild shiner under a small float works best.  Be sure and take a photo of your trophy largemouth bass, length and girth measurements, then release your catch.  Replica mounts can be purchased which look exactly like your real catch!

Bream will also be bedding in the upper reaches of these seldom fished tidal rivers. Fishing with a small piece of shrimp, or live cricket for river bream.  Catfish will take a cut bait fished dead on the bottom as well.

Be sure and have both a fresh and saltwater fishing license on hand when targeting both saltwater and freshwater game fish.
Wahoo fishing is excellent while high speed trolling at Amelia Island’s “Big Ledge”. Here water depths drop off sharply from 180-1,000 feet of water in less than one mile. Having a speedy boat that can handle winter weather is almost a necessity as this deep-water drop is located some 55-miles east of Amelia Island.

Closer to land, black sea bass, flounder, sheepshead and triggerfish bottom fishing will be excellent at nearshore live bottoms, rock ledges and sunken wrecks. “Kings Bay” artificial reef is located only five miles northeast from the St. Mary’s inlet, offering some of the best winter bottom fishing for sea bass and sheepshead.
Winter sheepshead fishing is also excellent at the St. Mary’s jetty rocks as well.

“I have been doing a lot of experimenting with both braided and monofilament fishing lines,” Kenny Crawford said. “Typically, I will fish one rod and reel with braided fishing line on one side of the boat and one with monofilament fishing line on the other side of the boat.  I have found that monofilament fishing lines attract more bites than braided fishing lines.”

What I personally have found when fishing close to jetty rocks, barnacle clad pilings or any structure where a hooked fish might run my fishing line around structure and break off when using monofilament fishing lines.  However, when using braided fishing line, you can color the last four feet of fishing line with a black magic marker helps promote more strikes.  This sneaky fishing trick works well when using monofilament fishing line too.

Terminal sheepshead fishing tackle fishing reels loaded with twenty-pound monofilament fishing line.  A ¾ to 2-ounce egg sinker is threaded onto the terminal fishing line, followed by a plastic bead and a 50-pound barrel swivel.  An eight-inch section of 17-pound test fluorocarbon fishing line is then employed as a shock leader.  Finally, a #1-#2 live bait hook is attached to the business end of the shock leader using a palmar knot.

Winter fishermen will also find excellent sea trout and red bass fishing in the deep turns of the intra coastal waterway where an afternoon flooding tide provides the best action.

For more fishing and charter information please call Amelia Angler Outfitters (904)261-2870, or visit www.ameliaangler.com.