The spawn is on! Water levels are high; depths are plenty for navigating the mouths of the lakes, especially the south end of Harney. When we have high water, the fish have lots of places to hide. With the cooler water temperatures, the larger female bass will begin moving out of the main river into their shallow spawning areas, especially a few days before and during full and new moon phases. Target lily pad fields and backwater areas off the main river and fish large wild shiners under a cork or a Texas rigged large plastic worm worked slowly to entice one of these trophies. Also remember to handle and release these large females with care.
As the water temperatures cool, crappie females will begin staging along the deeper edges adjacent
to shallow spawning areas while the males prep the beds. When the moon is full and the water 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. 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 15th 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, or visit www. facebook.com/cfshadderby for more information.