Cooler Water = Consistent Activity
28 November 2016 Northeast Florida Fishing Report – Capt Kris Kell, Fish Whisperer Charters
Water temperatures are now hovering around 64 - 66 and the fishing has been great inshore from the Mayport Jetties to the Blount Island area. The opportunity to catch a variety of fish is there and we have been netting plenty of seatrout, weakfish, redfish, mangrove snapper, sheepshead, black drum, and the occasional flounder. I keep a log of every single trip including water temps, tide, clarity, time of day, etc., and the trend is that the trout are hitting better in low light conditions, first and last of outgoing until the current is too fast (almost 2 knots). Basically, if the current is causing a wake against your boat and you can hear it, it’s probably too fast for most species unless your casting towards a break in the current. This is when it’s imperative that you search for slower currents around docks, points, and eddies from creek mouths.
The bait we’ve been using lately is shrimp, fiddler crabs, and the nice-sized mud minnows from B&M® Bait and Tackle shop on A1A. We’ve caught just as many sheepshead on shrimp than fiddlers but the fiddler crabs have yielded bull/slot reds and plenty of black drum along the North Mayport Jetties. As usual, the trash fish will drive you crazy until the water temps drop a bit more but stick with it and you’ll typically be rewarded. I’ll usually fish the North Jetties when weather allows but hop over to the South tip when the tide is outgoing.
For trout, the docks have produced better than anything else using the mud minnows & shrimp with smaller flounder. To my dismay, the flounder migration was not as hot as a few years ago and I suppose we’ll have to appreciate what we get. If you’re fishing the creeks, you’ll likely find that there are smaller trout in the 12-14” range and redfish 15-16” schooled up. Although fun to catch, the likelihood that you’ll find a keeper in that same area is small. Move around and when you score the target size, fish that area until the bite stops.
(TTPs - Tactics, Techniques, & Procedures)
The TTPs for trout are probably well known, but I like to try a variety of baits/rigs on each spot and see what produces. Check for water clarity first (high to low tide shift is good and if it’s clean, the last of the low tide is awesome!) and currents to determine the weight/jig color you’ll need to use. I’ll put someone on a popping cork and shrimp, a carolina rig, and a jig. The cork and Carolina rig have been the best lately but could change. If the water is dirty, I’ll hook up some spinners on the jigs to help with vibration/sight detection.
A popping cork is rigged with about 3’ of fluorocarbon leader and a 1 or 1/0 kahle or circle hook with a splitshot sinker 6” above the hook. After it’s casted, pop it with a sharp twitch every 8-10 secs or so to imitate the sound of baitfish and draw attention. Something to consider here is a fast twitch rod because trying to work this rig with a very soft tip causes a delayed reaction for popping and hookset. If you’re using the circle hooks, remember that it is NOT required that you jump back 3ft to set the hook. Simply raise the rod quickly and start retrieving and the hook will do the job for you.
For the carolina rig and jig, work it back by raising the rodtip to vertical if you’re around structure and lower it while reeling in the slack. This needs to be done slowly because that is the natural pace of a shrimp/minnow moving through the water. A moderate hookset with this rig is okay which simply translates into a faster raising of the rod and not a full body movement. This is the number one reason I see clients miss the trout. The mouth of a trout is soft and the hook tears clean from the tissue. Also, keep the drag on your reels set a little lower because if you hook into a larger trout, the fight against the drag alone can cause the hook to tear loose.
(What to Expect)
Water temps will continue to decrease which will increase the fish activity and clarity is still improving. A steady bite can be expected for at least another 3 weeks. The best days to fish, in my opinion, are going to be November 29th – 30th, December 1st, 11th – 16th, & 26th – 31st.
Until next time!
Fair Winds & Following Seas, Capt Kris Kell
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