10 February 2024
Welcome to Fish Whisperer Charters in Jacksonville, FL!
Water surface temperatures in the river have ranged from 56° - 58° around the Mayport area depending on the tide. My underwater probe has had bottom temps 56° in the deeper channels around Mayport, Little Jetties, and the inlet. Water clarity has been ‘meh’ with the previous days of high wind. I did manage to find some cleaner water at the jetties yesterday though. Everything else between Dames Point and Mayport has a ‘café con leche’ appearance to it.
I’ve not had huge numbers of sheepshead recently, but the quality has improved. The sheepshead, redfish, black drum, and speckled seatrout have all been either hot or cold, harvesting a fish or two at one spot, and then having to move to the next before another fish is taken. Weakfish are fairly abundant more towards the Blount Island/Dames Point region for me and I noticed water temps were 60° there yesterday.
Baits have been slowly progressing from fiddler crabs to more of an appetite for shrimp; however, I’ve been substituting clams and mussels for everything but the trout with success. I haven’t made any offshore trips yet this winter but plan on it first chance I get a weather window and will report.
TTPs (Tactics, Techniques, Procedures)
With water temps being in the NE Florida winter range, fishing very close to structure is necessary and if I’m not using a Carolina rig, I’ll have a split-shot rig in hand. This is simply a hook with an appropriate-sized split-shot sinker about 6-8” above the hook. I use about 5ft of 20lbs flouro tied to braid using an FG knot. This much line is useful when someone breaks off because there is plenty of leader to quickly rig another hook/sinker. The size of the split-shot depends on the current velocity and depth I am targeting and the hook is normally an Owner Mosquito #1. Current, wind, waves, and other conditions will determine how I fish this but it’s perfect for getting right next to rocks or anything else that acts as a solar heater.
To fish this, I teach clients to cast right up against the rocks and let the bait naturally fall down around the structure with a slight jig every few seconds to ensure the rig doesn’t settle into an obstruction. Continue to do this while introducing slack in the line to allow the bait to settle on the bottom. Typically, the fish will commit to it while in the rocks but will follow it to the bottom sometimes before inhaling it. SLOWLY is the key with this. If you raise the rod and it bends over and stays over…that’s a snag; if not, and it gives a little and moves subtly, that’s your fish! Keep raising the rod with intent so the small hook slides into place and enjoy the fight!
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