By Captain David Lifka
It looks like everything has gone well to get this year’s fishing season off to a good start on the Saint John River. The lack of heavy spring rains made the salinity levels almost perfect, inviting many species of saltwater fish to our river area. Decently sized shrimp had also started to run, making the fishing conditions even better; However, recent rains and the passage of tropical weather could have a cause and effect that could hamper fishing and shrimp fishing in our parts of the river which could last for days, a week or two, or even longer.
For most of its 310 miles, the St. Johns River is considered a predominantly freshwater river. Because the St. Johns flows north, we are actually part of its lower basin with about the last 45 miles passing through the counties of St. Johns, Clay and Duval. Thanks to our proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, salinity levels fluctuate with wind and rain throughout the year. North of the Main Street Bridge, downtown Jacksonville is considered the official boundary for the remaining saltwater portion of the river.
Although local rains can be abundant and occur almost every day during the summer, they have the least effect on the salinity levels in our region; However, precipitation that falls south of the remaining 250+ miles of river can have a much larger effect on the salinity or coolness of our region’s waters. With the Upper St. Johns Basin starting just west of Vero Beach in an area known as the St. Johns Marsh, all precipitation between here and there will eventually end up here. So while local precipitation can have an effect on our salinity levels, precipitation in our south can have an even greater effect.
Current salinity levels often help decide how good a fishing season is, but can fluctuate dramatically in days or weeks – not because of the weather we have here, but because of the weather at 100 miles. Watch the weather here and there and remember that the river is still flowing and what is here today will be gone tomorrow.
Despite the recent weather we have got off to a good start with fishing and shrimp fishing this year. Lots of slotted and bigger reds have been caught around Buckman Bridge, weak fish and good sized Croakers have been plentiful from Buckman to Green Cove, and of course the shrimp are here.
Fishing Report: Reds, Mangroves, Weak Fish and Buckman’s Croakers at Green Cove. Shrimp caught at Doctors Lake.
Whether you catch one or none, family time fishing will last a lifetime.
Email your catch of the month photo to [email protected] Be sure to include the name of the person (s) in the photo, the name of the person who took the photo, the type of fish, and the date and location of the photo. We will select one photo each month for publication.
Photo courtesy of Edie Hartley
Marvin Hartley caught this rockfish in May, south of Doctors Inlet, on a golden spoon.