Mayport – July Fishing Report
The heat is here and to no surprise. June was a rollercoaster of a month with kings on the beach for the first of the month and then wham we get a Southeast flow that will not stop of all things. The constant strong se flow just made it tough. True to form I believe July is going to be a great month. Look for bait to continue to hold on the area beaches and build on the offshore stuff. The menhaden schools on the beach will hold tarpon, sharks, big jacks, cobia, and kingfish. The early bird in these scenarios will get the first offerings. Grab a few baits on the edges of a big school and work back into the school quietly. I like a medium heavy spinning rod like the Penn Blue Carnage Jigging 7ft rod with a 6500 Spinfisher V and 60lb braid. A 2ft leader of 80lb fluorocarbon and a stout hook completes the rig. I will sometimes pin a small float to this and pitch back into the bait with fresh live bait. Hook the pogies in the nose or dorsal and see which is most effective. If no strikes occur try putting a 2oz egg sinker above the leader to get it to the bottom. If nothing happens right in the school try backing away a few hundred yards and slow troll bait east and west in a zig zag pattern. I remember an instance just last summer when with a charter I ran to Atlantic Beach with Capt Steve Mullen and his wife Cindy following alongside to get bait in their boat. After catching bait and flipping into the pods with no luck I took off to the party grounds and saw a very large king skyrocket right on the beach. Minutes later I flipped the boat back to the beach and was rewarded with countless hookups on 20-30lb kings for a solid hour in 15-26ft of water!
The offshore party grounds should be on fire this month with bait and predators stacking up on the reefs and wrecks. Look for schools of baitfish to mount on these spots. Jig a few up with either a no# 6 or 8 Sabiki rig and slow troll them or drop them down. Kings, cudas, AJ’s, sharks, cobia, sailfish, and Bonita will be on the prowl. Drop them on the bottom and grouper, snapper, triggers, and sea bass will take these offerings quickly.
Look for shrimp boats as you come out of the inlet. The boats are havens for sharks, jacks, and tarpon this time of the year. Scoop a dead croaker off the water or toss a live pogie in and hang on. Big bruisers are typically in the mix and can be real handfuls. I suggest big rods, reels, and line to make it a fair fight. When doing this please be mindful these guys are working and gave them some room.
The big rocks should have a lot of action on the high outgoing clear water tides. Look for reds, trout, tarpon, and sharks to feed on live pogies, greenies, and mullet. Catch a few and pin them to a 3/8oz heavy jig and pitch them around the stones. As the water warms I like the clean water for better results. Shrimp do work this time of year but will catch a lot of small bait stealers too!
Lastly, the month will hold some good action on bull reds. The big bruisers popped in during the cold water flush we had a few weeks ago and continue to be around. Cut blue crab, cut ladyfish steaks, and live pogies are the best bet soaked on the bottom in 32-42 ft of water. Look for them from the Coast Guard Base to Dames point on the edges of the St. John’s River. Big rods and stout tackle should be deployed to reduce stress on these ancient warriors. The last of the falling tides seem to be the best bet.
Get out and fish. Remember you can’t catch them from the couch. Listen to the Outdoors Show each Saturday morning and get the areas fishing reports, tides, and weather on 1010am or 92.5fm from 7am to 10am. For info on fishing trips go to www.Enterprisefishingcharters.comor www.Outdoorsshow.com