Increased number of sharks in the Intracoastal Waterway
Watch: Hammerhead Shark captured and released on Pensacola Beach
Anglers and Navarre Beach Shark Fishing patrons caught a gargantuan 13-foot great hammerhead shark on Saturday night at Pensacola Beach.
Courtesy of Navarre Beach Shark Fishing
The Saint-Jean river and the lakes of the region
If you think it’s hot on the coast here, try a calm morning on the Saint John River. Think of 100 degrees and 100% humidity. Because of this, this week’s reports were pretty slim.
The speckled perch is captured in the deep water around the structure.
Shellcracker is on sandbanks and sunfish hide in the shade under the docks and the water lilies.
The mule race around the Shands Bridge is still off the charts and over the past week tilapia have been caught with them – a nice surprise.
The shimping continues to be pretty good around Green Cove Springs, but these are still more bait shrimp than eating shrimp. And they don’t move south of that area at all, which is a bit strange.
The strippers bench early and late and are captured in the Croaker Hole near Lake George.
A buddy who has an “in” with one of the river crabbers told me that his buddy brought him a dozen blue crabs this week that weighed an incredible 16 pounds. They were all Jimmies – the river name for the big male blue crabs.
He and his wife made three meals out of that dozen – it’s crab cakes tonight.
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The intra-coastal waterway
The mangrove snapper is perhaps the most consistent bite this week, and about half will hit the lower 10-inch size limit.
Guides are racking their brains these days about the number of redfish in schools that remain in the apartments. This time of year they always move to deeper water due to the water temperatures in the shallows – some reports are reaching 94 degrees this week.
The best guess would probably be that the huge increase in shark numbers in the ICW keeps the reds in the water sharks can’t reach. It’s about as good as any guess.
Each year, Matanzas Inlet experiences a huge upwelling of oceanic redfish that crosses the inlet and disperses up and down in the ICW.
Those closest to this event predict that the next northeast will kick off this huge run of reds that can go on for weeks. And they are coming in the hundreds of thousands.
ICW fishing in general is hampered by the lack of live shrimp – or at least quality shrimp. What the bait shops are now selling are river shrimp and cubs.
The good news is that there are now a good number of mules in the ICW, but they are not in the big schools and scattered around, which makes it more difficult to cover them with a net.
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Rim fishing is good, but not for trolling boats looking for striking fish. Bottom fishing remains good.
Local reefs and wrecks contain jacks and skipjack, but sharks still make a real tip for getting a whole fish back to the boat.
And now, the shark hordes have taken up residence in St. Augustine Inlet and terrorize any fish caught in this area.
A captain reported hooking eight rockfish and putting only two in the boat before a shark took them away.
Once all this shark activity was a curious thing, but now it has become a bane of fishing in general. And there’s no reason to believe it won’t just keep getting worse rather than better.
Captain Leon Dana said a shark attacked his trolling motor earlier in the week and caused severe damage to the propeller and fin.
Surf fishing has been tough, but there continue to be a fair number of pompanos appearing in water completely 20 degrees warmer than we should be finding them in.
Maybe what makes fishing so addicting is just when you think you’ve got them figured out, you realize you never will.
Winds are blowing from the southwest on Saturday at 10 to 15 knots with seas of 3 to 4 feet. Sunday winds are mostly southerly at 5 to 10 knots and the sea at 2 to 3 feet.
Jim writes a weekly fishing report for The Record. Contact him with reports, questions, almost believable stories, and photos at [email protected]