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" Unfortunately, the weather will probably be more predictable than the fishing."
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Fishing Columnist

In terms of the weather and fishing we had a good run while it lasted and judging by the boat trailers parked on both sides of A1A at the Vilano basin, many agree and took advantage of it before it was over. Unfortunately, the weather will probably be more predictable than the fishing.

Things were very good along the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and its feeder creeks for catching just about everything except flounder.

Even with that caveat, Frank Timmons (Sea Love) said that a commercial gigger stopped by his place and observed that despite the glassine water, very few flounder could be found but those that could were doormats.

Glenn Laudenslager (Camachee Island Charters) reported that anglers aboard the Rod Bender and Hot Fun experienced outstanding catches of reds, trout, flounder, pompey drum, and bluefish.

Timmons said that many of the blues caught near or at the Vilano Pier were in the 4-5 pound range which is somewhat unusual for January. He even caught some while cast netting for roe mullet. Timmons added that although the roe mullet have definitely dropped out, there were still multitudes of fingerlings hugging the bottom and barely moving.

Karen Miles (Devil's Elbow) said that prior to the latest cold front most species were also biting in the Crescent Beach area.

As far as heat goes, most of it is directed at the State in response to the fence they erected along the southeast section of the Matanzas Bridge.

Fearing that someone would be injured crossing the rocks to get to the ostensibly public beach, and they would be sued, they put up the fence. For many it is/was the access to the beach and the fence in effect creates another private beach for homeowners.

It was my second favorite place to fish after the south jetties. I hope that the state and/or county will reconsider building a walkway access to that beach.

Ron Joiner (County Pier) said that small whiting were still numerous along most of the pier throughout the day but bigger fish could only be found in the slough that runs parallel to the beach. That the whiting currently prefer deeper was evident in Laudenslager's report that said Captain Steve Johnson drifted the surf just beyond the breakers where he and his fares were "overrun with whiting and yellow mouth trout."

Offshore waters continued to yield a bounty of redeyes, triggers, red snapper, pink snapper, cobia, king mackerel, and occasional grouper. Timmons noted that the Sea Love boats went out Saturday, Sunday and Monday to find a surprising number of big triggerfish.

They averaged four pounds and came home with limits of redeyes and a few cobia. The heaviest cob weighed 72 pounds.

Laudenslager wrote that the Pirate King trolled up a sailfish at the Ledge and put some lead on the bottom in 21 - 23 Fathoms where they limited on red and pink snapper.

The Double Trouble had a pair of swordfish as did the Wolf's Den.

Timmons said that he also heard of some swordfish but didn't have any particulars. They might have been the same fish.

Joe Julavits (Times-Union) wrote in his column about several great white shark sightings off Jacksonville.

That would be consistent with this time of year and the birth of Right Whale calves.

Ken Morse said whales were sighted off North Beach over the weekend and the Sea Love saw two at the approach to St. Augustine Inlet. I didn't see any whales but the bird activity in the marshes and ocean has been fascinating this year. I'll probably have plenty of room to write about it as the cold fronts roll through.

Activity had been on the increase at the St. Johns River with the warming trend but it may be a while before I say that again.

Vicki Thoms (Pacetti's) reported that there was a spike in small bass catches. Okie Worzell had 7 in two days of fishing, George Olson caught two at the fish camp dock, and several anglers noted catches.

The heaviest went to Joe Pacetti who released a 5.5 pound fish.

Ben Williams wrote that some bass were starting to bed in Lake George, which is very early in the year.

This cold will discourage that, but they may still jump at the opportunity should the temperature reverse itself in the short future, he added.

Among the other catches were 25 warmouth and 15 specks to Herb Lewis, Scotty Bell, and David Gill. It was 13 specks and 6 warmouth for George Hansen and George Olson.
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