18 NOV 2022
Welcome to Fish Whisperer Charters in Jacksonville, FL!
Water surface temperatures at the inlet and Mayport area have dropped to 69° - 67° depending on the tide. Clarity of the water has been significantly impacted though, with a café con leche color on high tide and medium roast plain on low tide; however, not as bad as I thought it would be post-hurricane. Scent and patience are going to be everything taking into consideration the rate of water temperature change. Practice patience and remember bait must be moved slowly, allowing the fish to pick up the scent and vector into the area.
Redfish, some mangroves, and black drum continue to chew but sheepshead have been the ticket lately with some trout to add to the box. We’ve been catching them from Blount Island/Dames Point area to the jetties. Shrimp has been the primary bait for trout and occasional redfish but fiddler crabs have been the choice for sheepshead and with redfish, as well.
We have not fished offshore since mid-October but when the weather window opens for us, we fully expect bottom-fishing to be very productive due to lack of pressure and much cooler water. Water clarity is going to be the wild card with storm remnants and persistent nor’easters blowing. We will certainly post that report when the time comes.
TTPs (Tactics, Techniques, Procedures)
Sheepshead! Sheepshead are a peculiar fish to catch and the majority of clients I take out either hate them and express such feelings with various curses, rants, mandatory “time-outs”, OR are absolutely addicted to the things. They will chew on pretty much where there is moving water but I like a tide shift when I fish for them and look for clarity and current that forces fish to a certain area. Side scan is a great tool if the time is put into it because it allows me to pick up where not only fish school up the most but to detect “blow-throughs”, as I call it. This is where this is a noticeable outpour of bait, different water temperature, clarity, or salinity coming through the rocks from the opposite side and appears as turbulence clouds on the screen. However, even if fish are huddled together, it still does not mean they are ready to feed on what we offer them!
So far, most of the fish this time of year have been in the rocks fairly tight, and we have reached them using regular sheepshead jigs with the flexible bronze hooks. If you are not getting a consistent bite in one area, try different techniques and rigs, then just move to another spot. I like to vary my rigs for sheepshead and have found that they will hit one better than the other on different occasions. My favorite is the splitshot rig. I will use mosquito hooks or Owner 1/O with splitshot sinkers (weight based on current velocity) and be sure to check your hook after each fish because their hard mouths and teeth can bend or destroy it easily.
The technique I use is to pitch around the rocks and give it a few seconds to sink. Then, while slowly raising it up and allowing it to walk off of the jetty wall, feel for some pressure. If it is felt, continue raising it and don’t jerk it like you’ve been shocked by a dog collar! The steady pressure will allow the hook to slide over the teeth with tension and slip into flesh behind them, somewhere in between them, or catch mouth tissue as it eases out. The hardest thing to teach my customers is to not set the hook like a Bassmaster every time something is felt. I teach a slow and graceful style of hooking these guys and not a full body lift! I’ll cover carolina rigs next week.
Have an great Thanksgiving!
Hope that helps!
If there are ever any questions, just post them up on my Facebook Page and I'll get back with you.
Catch em' up and stay safe!
Until next time...
Fair Winds & Following Seas,
Capt Kris Kell