It's been a hot summer and the fishing has been even hotter! I've had to change things up a bit with the arrival of a lower back injury. Lifting heavy fish and tossing the 11 foot Pogey net hasn't been an option. It's not all bad though. There are plenty of lighter fishing options to tackle this time of year. The Flounder, Mangrove Snappers, Trout and Slot Reds are plentiful. This report will focus primarily on the Flounder aspect.
The Flat Fish have been steady moving in from the inlet since early July. Most have been the smaller chips and 13-16 inchers. But we have been getting a number of decent 3-4 pound fish mixed in with the schoolie fish.
You'll have to cover a lot of area if you want to fill the box. We've been working the docks from Mayport, all the way on up towards Ft. Caroline. I work each dock line, fan casting a light Carolina Rig baited with a live Pilchard. You can use Mullet or Mud Minnows and do well also.
I personally prefer Pilchards. Pilchards are a White Bait species that is part of the Herring family. They closely resemble Thread Fin except they're smaller and don't possess the thread-like fin at the base of the dorsal. They average 3 inches in length and school up thick. These show up around docks and pilings around Mayport every summer. Generally around early or mid July depending on how cold of a winter we get. One cast and I have several hundred in the well. You'll need a cast net with a 1/4 inch mesh if you want to catch these fish. Any larger and you'll be gilling them in the mesh. Picking 200 gilled pilchards out of the net is a nightmare. Catching them though is as easy as it gets once you have the right net and more than justifies the investment. One cast and you'll have several hundred. Beats the pants out of chasing Mullet imo.
As far as the rigs I use, I use a Carolina Rig with a very light egg weight, 1/2 - 1oz. I'll attach a 2 foot, 25 pound mono leader and 1/0 Owner, Kahle Hook. Pilchards are tough to keep on any other style of hook and it just so happens that Kahles are the best hook for targeting Flounder anyways.
The Mangrove Snappers are all over the place from the Inlet, all the way towards Trout River. The bigger ones are in saltier water and seem to be thickest around the inlet against the rocks. Pilchards and live Shrimp are the ticket. Bring a lot of bait....
The Tarpon are thick on the beach. Every morning while netting bait, I'm seeing them roll in the pods. They're also thick in the Inlet.
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