Jacksonville Florida Redfish Fishing St. Johns River
Had Don McCleary, his sister Lindsey, and buddy Eric out as the crew today. I told Don I wasn't all that thrilled with the forecast and tides, so we had a few options to try and make it better.
We could go early at sun-up, and fish all high water (bad), or leave at noon'ish and catch the falling tide seeing as the high tide was around noon (better). He opted to go with my recommendation so we departed at 11:30am. I also had a plan to go north for some Whiting, Pompano, and maybe some shark and Redbass action. But as I hear the reports from the offshore guys that the seas were pushing 4-6 feet and the wind was 15-20 knots. I quickly decided to stay put, rather than running off to some greener pastures that may not pan out, because of the conditions.
I arrived at the boat ramp at 11:00 am and HOLY, MOTHER OF WEEKENDS!!!!! THE PLACE WAS A ZOO. The river looked like I-95, with all the boat traffic. And of course the law enforcement was out doing what they do best, "picking the lowest fruit on the tree". I tied off the boat to the dock and parked the truck where ever I could find a spot. The wakes slammed my boat against the dock time after time so I just untied and went and waited for Don and Crew out in the river. I saw them, and I went over and picked them up a few minutes later and we headed up river.
I chanced the tide and ran to a great lil' spot where I've been catching some pup Black Drum. We were way too early, the tide was slack and the wind had the boat just flopping around in the wind. Not to forget the incessant boat wakes from the hundreds of cruiser boats out joy riding, and the boats from multiple tournaments going on. It was really frustrating. I have to admit, I'm not the most patient fisherman when all this busy'ness is going on all around me.
But we messed around and caught a few small bait stealers, and one massive Croaker before I couldn't take it anymore. As the tide started to fall and I repositioned myself on the patch of hard bottom all ready to get serious, the boat wakes were too much for me to handle so we bugged out of this spot and headed for a calmer place to actually have a chance at catching.
Ahhh.....I pulled up on a spot that's been very good to me. Back on September 10th we caught some really nice Reds on this spot. So I anchored up and we waited for the tide to get just right. While "NOT" getting waked. I could actually concentrate on what I was doing. First fish was a big long Eel, pulled from out of a deep under water rock pile. The same one that should have cruising Redbass as soon as the tide slows a bit. Then, I could feel and even hear it....the current slowed down on this spot, and not long after we had a double hook up on Reds.
Perfect sized "Keepers", just under the max slot size of 27", both were between 25-26 inch fish.
We stayed on the spot waiting for a few more, but only caught a jumbo Whiting and had a barrage of bait stealer bites as the current speed slowed on this particular area of the river........Time to move on.
So we headed east. With dinner in the fish box, it was time to get my crews arms stretched a little.
We hit the south jetty tip area. The seas were big, just a long deep ground swell. But it didn't seem to bother my crew so I was gonna fish it.
And it was really tough conditions. Anchoring one direction with the wind taking total control of the boat's lay, and the current going the complete opposite. Also know as; "fishing over the bow", not even close to what I was wanting. And at the same time my anchor kept dragging. I didn't have my heavy plow type with me, that's needed for these conditions out in the hard sand bottom. My Jetty Wolf anchor really didn't want to grab, seeing how it's made for rocks, not hard sand. But we made due, somehow.
I had to move around a few times to try and find the big Reds. But more like find some kind of rip line (where two waters converge) this is where they seems to really stack up on that last of the falling tide. Remember, these fish are in heavy duty spawning mode. They are also out where they feel it's best to be, to get their business done.
But in the mean time before finding the Reds we had on 3 sharks...got two to the boat. No jumbo's but 3-4 foot Blacktips. Good training for when the Reds bite our mullet chunks.
Then with one simple move it was I.G. (instantaneous gratification) and we immediately were hooked up with three 20-25 pound class Redbass within minutes of each other. Everyone got their turn battling one and holding up the "milting males" for a photo, then afterwards a speedy
release. So they could go back to making lil' Reds for the future. That's one nasty fishery...those spawning male Reds sure do make a mess. Thank goodness for a heavy duty stream of raw water from my on-board wash down pump, to keep the boat floor clean.
That's all I wanted, because I still had fish to clean back at the dock before it got dark. Everyone got to reel on sharks and Reds. So we headed back to the boat ramp. Which was now damn near vacant. All the weekenders, had headed home. And not many were out rolling in the swell out where we were, there was just a handful of us out there in the Atlantic.
I was glad we left when we did. because there was some huge dark clouds rolling in, as the sun went down the sky looked kinda spooky.
HERE'S A LINK TO MY RECENT CATCH PAGE NUMBER 4 . AND THE REST OF TODAY'S FISH PHOTOS:
1 of 3, 20+ pounders
About The Author: Captain Dave Sipler
Company: Florida\'s Best Fishing
Area Reporting: Jacksonville Florida - St. John\'s River
Bio: Capt. Dave Sipler\'s Sport Fishing - Jacksonville, St. Johns River/Inlet & near-coastal waters to Amelia Island Florida