The inshore and backwater fishing here in Northeast Florida is experiencing some of the finest action all year. With the passing of the first few cold fronts, the water has cooled down putting the flounder, redfish, black drum and speckled trout on the move and on the feed. The flounder run is one the best in several years, with some calling it the “greatest ever”. Thousands of fatties are migrating towards the inlets and off shore waters, making them easy to target along the edges of the St Johns River. Finger mullet fished on light jig heads and fish finder rigs from Mayport westward to Blount Island have been producing most catches. Bagging a 10 fish limit of these excellent tasting fish is not too difficult right now.
My favorite species, redfish, have moved into the backwater creeks in very big numbers. The cooler water combined with higher than normal tides have pushed the bigger upper slot redfish further in the marsh feeding on crabs and mullet. As the water temps continues to drop, I expect catches of 20 or more fish per trip, with December, January and February being some of the peak times for schooling reds. I prefer fishing light jigs tipped with shrimp or a small mud minnow along oyster beds. Lure fishing in the creeks systems is equally effective in the cold months. Small 3 and 4 inch soft plastics such as tube lures, Gulp shrimp and DOA shad tail lures, in darker colors are my choice.
Speckled trout are thick along the Intracoastal Waterway and the miles of creeks closer towards the inlets and ocean. I have been actually moving to get away from the trout lately, there have been that many. Most of these aggressive feeders have been in the 1 to 4 lb range, and usually will hit soft plastic mullet lures or deep running crank baits almost every cast.
Many people assume the fishing to be slower in the colder months, which is not the case.
The next 4 months are my favorites!
Capt. Ron Schurr