St. Johns River – March 2022

David Stanton with a nice 8 lb. St. Johns River bass.
David Stanton with a nice 8 lb. St. Johns River bass.

March means trophy bass in the St Johns River. For those looking for their personal best largemouth, remember the female fish are the breeders for the future; lift them out of the water supporting their belly and hold them out of the water only as long as you can hold your breath. Today’s digital scales are remarkably accurate. Take measurements of length and girth, weigh them, take pictures to save and share the memory. Practicing catch and release is honorable in today’s day and age!

Look for schools of live bait getting crushed by striped, sunshine and largemouth bass at the mouths of the lakes and the deep river bends at first light or in the late evening. Topwater is the name of the game! Nothing beats that explosive topwater strike. These hungry fish will destroy a Heddon Spook Jr. in bone color, or you can try your favorite saltwater topwater bait if they are small. Second best are rattling crank baits. If the bass are finicky, tie on a white 4-5” jerkbait; first try unweighted and use a walk-the-dog style retrieve just beneath the surface to get you some fish. Carolina rigged lizzards work well if teasing a bass on the bed; lizzards eat eggs and momma bass will not stand for one in her breeding area.

Panfish will readily eat minnows. They love red worms, night crawlers and crickets. Look for bedding areas in shallow waters. Bluegill and shellcrackers will take over beds used earlier by bass and crappie, so look in those same areas and concentrate efforts where there is a shell bottom near drop-offs, and nearby cover (lily pads). Crappie will be found in the pads during full and new moons; at other times try longline trolling or spider rigging the drop-offs along the river.

Coastal Angler Magazine