Mayport Report: Oct 2018
Running of the Bulls
This truly is one of my favorite times of the year. The seasons are in full transition and with the first hint of fall and the ever trickle of Northeast breezes the migration of bait is in high gear. This migratory beginning marks the change in feeding habits of many of our local fish and the ones whom only hang around during the warmer months. Look for the bull reds to continue to push into the St. John’s River mouth and up the river to spawn. These huge reds will hang around from now to mid November until our cold fronts chill the water. Look for them in water from 30 to 42 ft on the edges of the channel on the outgoing and incoming tides. A chunk of mullet, ladyfish, or a whole blue crab is very effective for getting these stout fighters to eat a bait. I also like to employ some chumming to draw the fish to the back of the boat. This method only works effectively if the current is moving slowly. Deploying the chum when its screaming will not work well and is a waste as it will scatter to the four winds! These big breeders can scent food from a fairly good distance and has helped me on days when the bite was a little slow. A stout rod like a Penn Regiment medium 7ft with a Spin Fisher V 6500 with 50 lb Ultra- Cast braid has been my preferred weapon. This allows the angler to put good pressure on the fish and get it boat side with some minimal stress on the fish. Too small of a rod and reel only stresses these magnificent fish and can lead to mortality. Be sure to handle them gently and make sure you vent them before releasing them back into the water. This allows the fish to swim back to the bottom.
The ICW will hold good numbers of slot reds, trout, some jacks, ladyfish, flounder, and black drum this month. The last two to three hours of the falling tide are best and light tackle is the better choice for rods and reels. Shrimp, mud minnows, and mullet are the preferred baits. Feeder creeks and the flats will equally be productive during this period. Small jigs thrown with Gulp minnows work great as well as slow sinking Subile lures, Mirror Lures, and Bombers in the early morning.
Look for the big rocks at Mayport to get real active with reds, trout, jacks, sheepshead, and black drum this month. Falling tides from high outgoing to the dead low are great times to fish these big stones. I like to use a 1/4oz Wahoo jig coupled with a live shrimp, mud minnow ,finger mullet, or fiddler crab for best results. Look for clear water and not too much current. Both inside and outside the rocks can be incredibly productive so don’t overlook both rock piles. If you are looking for big black drum this month is the time to sink ¼ chunks of blue crab on the bottom for the best results. The very bottom of the dead low is great as well as the first of the outgoing tides.
The offshore scene will be very active as bait begins to move south. Kings, cudas, and other striking fish can still be caught with some persistence and perseverance. Slow trolling live baits work well…mullet and pogies should still be on the beach if it doesn’t get too cold for a quick bait fix. The bottom fishing should improve with sea bass, grouper, triggerfish, snapper, and beeliners as cooler waters move in. Be sure to check the regulations for details on what you can keep.
Get out and enjoy this time of the year and remember you can’t catch them from the couch. Capt. Kirk Waltz can be reached for charters from 4 to 50ppl by calling 904.626.1128 or 904.241.7560. He can also be heard every Sat. morning from 7am to 10 am on the Outdoors Show with Capt. Kevin Faver and Jeff Lageman giving weather forecast, fishing reports, and tips on 1010am and 92.5fm. Go to www.enterprisefishingcharters.com or www.outdoorsshow.com