Mayport Report February 2019
The dead of winter has surely grabbed the Northern Forty-Eight and I am sure many folks are starting to get a case of cabin fever. North Florida is no exception and has its fair share of cold weather. That being said, it doesn’t mean you have to become a certified coach potato. Good fishing does exist this time of the year and it can be fast –n- furious. Remember cold water and associated weather slows down the metabolism of fish so when you can fish do so slowly. Good numbers of reds, though many will be 14-17 inches, will school up in creeks and shallow areas to absorb heat from the sun. Small jigs tipped with small shrimp, fiddler crabs, and mud minnows work well. Look for shell bars, rock piles, and pot holes in creek bends. The ICW south and north are great areas to hunt. Try Sherman’s Creek, Chicopit Bay, Dutton’s Creek and further south as far as Cabbage and San Pablo Creeks to the JTB Bridge. North try Sisters, Clapboard, Hannah Mills, Garden, and Broward creeks to name a few. Try working these creeks on a mid low falling tide. And remember to fish slowly. Reds, sheepshead, trout, bluefish, and black drum will be the most predominate species you will encounter.
In the big river to the jetties look for the big black drum to slowly begin to show up. Outgoing tides at the bottom of the tide when it slows are great as well as the very top of the flood too! A good fresh piece of cut blue crab is by far the best bait but, a nice jumbo fresh shrimp can be just as productive. Fish on the bottom checking the edges of hard breaks and steep drops in river elevation. The edges of both the north and south jetties are great too and can provide some decent catches. In many instances you can also pick up some very large sheepshead and bull reds in this fashion.
The big stones or jetties at Mayport are one of my favorite go to places this time of year. Good numbers of sheepshead, reds, drum, ringtails, blues, and trout hang around the inlet rocks feeding on small crabs, shrimp, and available bait fish. Jigs, float rigs, and the old sliding egg sinker rig can produce great results. I like a 7’6” Penn Allegiance II rod with 3500 Penn Spinfisher VI spooled with 20lb braid. This rod is perfect for sensitive light bites and allows the angler to feel the slightest nibble. Work the lower tides around clear water conditions and at times check it at the high outgoing too! Good numbers of multiple species can be caught on nice warm weather calm conditions. These high pressure “bubble days” are great days to plan an outing and hop off that big warm couch! This is also prime sheepshead and ringtail fishing during this time of the year. Fiddlers and small shrimp are best and a little chum can go a long way too! For the chum just purchase a small amount of oysters at the bait shop. Take a 5 gallon bucket and dump the oysters into it. Grab a 5 pound hammer or a solid piece of pipe and crush it into real small pieces. The small pieces will contain little chunks of shellfish that when dispersed can really ring the dinner bell for fish feeding close by. It’s a great way to get the fish fired up.
The offshore scene will be red hot on the sea bass front. Look for great numbers of black sea bass to move in closer as the water cools. Try all the local party ground spots for a limit of these great tasting fish. The hard bottom spots are usually the better ones to check first. Try putting down a bottom rig with cut squid, cigars, Boston mackerel, and sardines for fast and furious action. Also be aware that snapper, grunts, ringtails, sheepshead, and the occasional grouper will be waiting so hang onto those rods tightly. Always remember to check the regs for what you can and cannot harvest. Lastly, remember you can’t catch them from the couch!
Visit us on the Outdoors Show radio program every Saturday from 7 am to 10 am on 1010am or 92.5fm for the latest in weather, tides, and fishing forecasts.
For charters and info go to www.Enterprisefishingcharters.com or call 904.214.7560 or 904.626.1128.