NE Florida inshore/nearshore saltwater fishing report
Florida Fishing Report for:
Intracoastal Waterway, St Johns River and Nearshore Waters from Fernandina to Saint Augustine
Despite winter conditions, there are still good fish to be caught if you were willing to brave the elements. An ideal situation for the creeks is a low incoming tide in the early afternoon which will create relatively warm water over the dark mud flats. The reds will often cruise these flats seeking comfort as well as food. Due to the algae kill-off, the water is clear and often the reds and sheephead can be sight fished.
The sheepshead bite has been steadily improving at the jetties and in the rivers. Many anglers are targeting these hard fighting, good eating fish. Fiddlers or live shrimp are the bait of choice, fished either on a jighead or with a fishfinder rig. I like the lower halves of the tide. Another fish that isn't affected by the cold is the bluefish, which is available in the surf, around the jetties, and in area inlets. Most of these fish are small, but the occasional 4 to 5lb fish is caught. They will hit most any lure, live baitfish, or cut bait. Don't forget thier teeth when rigging your terminal tackle or extracting your hooks. Some legal size sea bass are being caught at the big and little jetties, as well as black drum and ringtail porgies.
Speckled trout and yellowmouth trout are being caught in the rivers, ICW and feeder creeks, as well as area jetties and inlets. A lot of the specs are undersize, so release them carefully. The tried and true sliding float rigs are very effective, as well as the DOA "deadly combo", the Gulp baits, bucktail jigs, jig and shrimp, plastic grubs, and even shrimp imitating flies. You'll also catch a sheepshead or a red every now and then.
Rat reds and slot size fish are in the creeks and ICW. This time of year they congregate in larger schools. They bite best in the afternoons after the water has warmed up a little. Remember to slow your bait presentations down and downsize your lures and flies due to the slower metabolisms of the fish.. There are still some oversize reds with a few slots mixed in around area jetties.
The surf and piers are giving up whiting, bluefish, and the occasional black drum. Fresh dead shrimp is the best bait for the whiting and drum. Try cut or finger mullet or any cut bait for the blues.