The Madness continues! The Trout bite is steady nuts in the river. It's definitely been a fantastic change of pace from my usual Inlet routine. Recently, Jonathan and I decided to hit some dock lights after a very slow late afternoon Trout bite in an attempt at redemption. The decision paid off in spades. We must have caught 4 limits of Trout in about 45 minutes. Fun stuff! It didn't matter what bait we threw out there, soon as the lure would hit the water, the Trout were on it! Often before the bail arm of the reel was closed. If you've never done this sort of fishing, I would give it a shot. It's literally like fishing in a barrel once you locate a light holding fish. The fish were averaging about 17-18 inches with the occasional 19 or 20. We didn't find any monsters but plenty of good chunky keepers.
We worked dock lights on shallower water, around 4-6 feet on average. The lights closest to the river banks more specifically. Tide is definitely a factor. Many of the lights we worked were only fishable on a higher tide due to being so shallow at low tide. We did well the last half of the Incoming tide. The second night that we went out we hit the first 30 minutes or so of the out going and did pretty well again. 2 limits in no time at all with minimum effort.
Dock light fishing offers a break from the summer heat and boat traffic. It was nice being able to unwind and fish in peace for a change. Just don't forget the bug spray. Those pesky Sand Gnats will quickly destroy all hope of enjoyable fishing if you forget it....
The Black Drum Spawn is in it's early stages in Mayport Inlet. The fishing has been hit or miss with some long, dead periods in between bites. You'll have to put your time in and do a bit of probing to figure out where these fish are staging. They tend to stick to different depths on a daily basis. Often, you can find them in the 80 foot troughs on the inside tips of the jetty rows. But, then there are days where they aren't deep and you have to move higher up on the rock wall and fish around 40-50 foot depths to find them. Other times, we find that they're sitting just outside the North and South tips on the outside drop offs. Don't think you can only find them in close proximity to the rocks either. Once the run turns on, you can find them outside the Inlet Buoys. In fact, a few of my best Drum trips to date were accomplished fishing out there. These fish often wont even come into the river. Some will stay just outside the inlet mouth throughout the spawn.
Ok, here comes the controversial part that some of us can't see eye to eye on. Unlike the Bull Reds that we catch in the river, these big Drum aren't anywhere near as hearty and forgiving when it comes time to releasing them. You really need to be using heavy tackle for these fish to stand a chance after being caught. They will fight to the death and if they are taken to the boat too slowly, for too long, you will definitely kill them. No question about it. I see it every year. Do not run tackle lighter than a 20 size conventional or 6000 series spinning gear and equivalent rods. You should be running at a minimum, 50 pound braid and 7/0 circle hooks. Remember, you're fighting these fish in the hardest current our area has to offer, bar none. At times, you need close to 25 ounces of lead to hold bottom. Lighter gear has no place out there when these fish are coming through.
This is the absolute most important part, vent EVERY Drum you catch out there. Especially in the deeper trough. If you don't, that fish will not survive. These fish are coming up from 2 full atmospheres in the deep pockets. If you don't pop them, they're buoyancy will most definitely kill them. Reviving them next to the boat for an hour will NOT make a difference if the fish is suffering from gas expansion and make no mistake, every fish caught in those deep pockets will have expanded air bladders. As a standard, I wouldn't take any chances at all and vent every fish. You'll need a large venting tool. The smaller ones designed for use on Snappers won't suffice with these 70-100 pound Black Drum. They are simply too thick of a fish once they reach that size. Strike Zone sells a number of suitable venting tools that will work for them. If you have questions about choosing the right one, Ask a staff member and they will point you in the right direction.
If you see someone on the water not doing the right thing, educate them. Don't be ugly about it, simply explain to them why the fish is floating and offer advice on how to prevent it. Most people simply don't understand what's going on. With a bit of sound advice, you'll find others willing to do the right thing. Nobody likes having a complete stranger barking orders and acting a fool towards them. Attitude is everything.
Florida inshore fishing charters. Jacksonville charter fishing. Mayport charter fishing.