Lake Monroe & St. Johns River Fishing Forecast – December 2022

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The spawn is on! Ramps re-opening make anglers happy – don’t forget to register for the Shad and Crappie Derby. Rains have slowed and the fast river current will slow down as water levels return to normal after suffering TWO big storms, Hurricane Ian and Tropical Storm Nicole. Depths are plenty for navigating the mouths of the lakes, especially the south end of Harney.

With the cooler water temperatures, the larger female bass will begin moving out of the main river into their shallow spawning areas. Target lily pad fields and backwater areas off of the main river and fish large wild shiners under a cork or a Texas rigged large plastic worm very slowly to entice one of these trophies. Also remember handle and release these large females with care.

As temperatures cool, crappie females will begin staging along the deeper edges adjacent to shallow spawning grounds while the males prep the beds. When the moon is full and the temperatures are right, 55- 65 degrees, the specks will move up into the creeks and shallows and spawn. Try slow trolling small jigs tipped with a live minnow or drift fishing with minnows under a cork for best results. Longline trolling and spider-rig fishing will catch the most fish. Lastly, look for the American shad to begin showing up around Christmas, with their spawning run lasting through February into March. Shad can be caught on the same tackle as crappie, and vice versa. Small spoons as a trailer behind a shad dart are most effective for shad. Fly anglers and paddle anglers are sure to have a blast in ‘Shad Alley’ on the St. Johns River between Mullet Lake Park and Lemon Bluff.

Be sure to sign up for the 14th Annual Central Florida Shad and Crappie Derby. The four month derby is a FREE online catch-photo-release fishing tournament. To register, visit one of the derby sign-up locations listed in this edition.

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