Mayport Report December 2018
This time of the year marks a fairly big change in water temperature for us and brings about some really awesome fishing opportunities. Reds in great numbers will migrate into the local creeks and tributaries to feed on crabs, minnows, and shrimp. The ICW both north and south of the St. John’s River are great spots to fish. Most of these will be 15-17 inches but larger reds will be in the mix. A small jig cast to oyster bars, grass lines, and shell bars will usually garner numerous “rat reds” and are a blast to catch. Pin a shrimp, fiddler crab, or mud minnow on the hook and fish the last 4 hours of the falling tide to low tide. You will also see an increase in trout, sheepshead, and black drum move into the same spots. On high clear tides work the bars and grass edges for trout, reds, and bluefish with a 1/4oz jig tipped with a Gulp Shrimp in the new penny color. White with a chartreuse tail, purple with a chartreuse tail and plain white work well. If the jerk baits don’t work try a Thill Balsa Wood float with a few feet of Berkley Fluorocarbon leader and a small # 2 kahle hook with a live shrimp cast against the grass edges. This is a very effective method on high clear tides.
Look for the big rocks to really get active this month with reds, trout (both yellow mouth and speckled), black drum, and sheepshead. Shrimp and fiddlers are typically the better baits though you can bag them on cut blue crab. A Carolina rig works well or a 1/4oz to 3/8oz jig tipped with any of the aforementioned baits. High clear tides are great as well as the bottom of the low outgoing tides. Chumming with oysters is a great method to deploy to really get the sheepshead to fire up! Crush them in a pickle bucket with a hammer and flip handfuls of them behind and next to the boat as you fish. The chum will draw the fish into the boat. Work the slower tides in the river or move to the outside edges if the current runs too hard. Small shrimp and fiddlers really seem to be the most effective baits for sheepshead. My go to rod is a 7ft Ugly Stix Medium weight with a 350 Penn Spinfisher reel and 20lb Berkley Pro Braid. It’s just right for muscling those big fish out of the rocks.
The bull reds are still gonna be around though not in the large numbers like we saw at the beginning of last month. Fish the deep channels in the river on the bottom of the low tides with a whole blue crab or a piece of fresh cut mullet.Another effective method is to ease off the beach on flat calm days. Drift for whiting in fairly deep water from 36-42ft. Find the whiting and you will find bull reds.
The offshore scene will slow somewhat but the red snapper and sea bass will move into the close in party grounds in big numbers this month. Cut bait like mullet, cigars, or boston mackeral work well as squid and even large live shrimp are great ways to bag some of these. Remember to check the regs for what you can keep. Remember you can’t catch them from the couch! Capt. Kirk Waltz can be reached at 904.241.7560 or 904.626.1128 for info on charters for 4 or 40ppl. Listen to him every Saturday with Capt. Kevin Faver and Jeff Lageman giving out weather, tides, and fishing forecasts for the coming week. Go to www.Enterprisefishingcharters.com for more info.