We're officially moving into the second half of Spring. April is going to be a hot month!
The Black Drum spawn has concluded and the big breaders have pushed out of Mayport Inlet for the continuation of their journey towards Deleware Bay.
The Triple Tail are here albeit spread out. With a lack of crab traps on the beach it's been another tough year locating these prehistoric looking fish. They typically begin showing up when sea temps reach 65 degrees. You can often find them free swimming the rip lines coming out of Mayport Inlet. Just look for floating grass or debris along the rips and you'll often come across a fish or two. They also free swim on the beach, however, spotting them can be a challenge without the assistance of a Cobia Tower.
The annual Cobia beach migration is nearly in our backyards. Fish are being caught in the Vilano Beach area and are expected to reach Jax, Neptune and Atlantic beach this week. Some are believed to already be here. The signs are all there with the appearance of Leather Back Turtles, Devil Rays and Manta Rays as far north as Mayport. Once this fron't wears off, we should start seeing them.
The Bait is already making itself noticed on the beach and around Mayport Inlet. The Pogey pods are here but the schools are still very spread out. Thread Fin Herring have started congregating around the Chum Hole side of the north jetty tips. Just look for the bird activity and you'll see them flipping on the surface. Cast nets won't work on these guys as they are agile and fast swimmers. Instead, tie on the smallest Sabiki Rig you can find and fan cast the area. You should have little trouble loading up the livewell with a bit of effort and patience. The Mullet are also thick in the Inlet right now. The best concentrations are around the jetty tips. You'll also find plenty in the river and estuaries. Especially at the mouths of West Chicopit, East Chicopit and at the West Chicopit entrance that connects to the St. Johns River.
The Sheepshead bite is firing up with plenty of larger fish being caught in the Inlet and surrounding Mayport areas. Carolina Rigs baited with Fiddler Crab are the local staple when targeting the Convicts. Another less utilized method that also works well, sometimes better even, is a Sheepshead jig tipped with a live Shrimp. Most don't think of live Shrimp as Sheepshead bait around here but make no mistake, Shrimp are prime time Sheepshead bait. The beuatiful thing about this system is the variety that you can catch pitching a shrimp on a jig. Slot Reds, Black Drum, Trout, Porgies and of course, Sheepshead, will all jump on a live Shrimp. The side benefit of using a live Shrimp on a jig is it's ability to be rigged weedless. Simply run the point of the hook down through the top of the tail, and bury it back up into the belly of the shrimp. Don't poke the hook all the way back through. Leave it buried in the belly so that the point of the hook is left unexposed. This will make a world of difference when pitching the jig in and around rock piles at the jetties. This is definitely something to consider during the colder months when Fiddler Crabs often become unavailable. We've all been through this at least a couple of times each Winter. Live Shrimp can be a day saver.
The jigs we use for this can be purchased from a number of different places locally. Strike Zone sells Sheepshead Jigs in a number of hook sizes ranging from 1/0 to 2/0 in either a long or short shank. The prefered weight is 1/4oz, however, lighter or heavier options are available. The boxes come around 15 to a package and retail in the neighborhood of 8 dollars. B&M also carries Sheepshead jigs. The box count is a little less at around the same price point.
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