Big black drum are being caught in most of their standard spring-time haunts, and area anglers are regularly catching 30- to 60-pounders.
The tips of the north and south jetties at the mouth of the St. Marys River have been red hot, with plenty of fish in the 40- to 50-pound class, according to Sally Johnson of Amelia Island Bait & Tackle.
The lower Nassau River and Nassau Sound also have been excellent for drum. The deep sloughs in the Sound near the breakers have been giving up big drum to anglers using shrimp, clams and cut crab baits on the bottom. Several drum weighing over 40 pounds have been caught from the George Crady fishing pier over the Nassau River.
Drum guides like veteran angler Vic Tyson are hammering big drum for clients. Tyson reportedly had a day last week where his anglers collectively caught over 600 pounds of drum.
The Pine Island area off the Intracoastal Waterway north of St. Augustine also is a good bet now for heavy drum.
And a 50-pounder was reported caught and released in Guana Lake, north of the Guana Dam off A1A north of St. Augustine.
Wind and cool temperatures have again interfered with consistent spring fishing. But anglers who time their trips with warm, overcast and calm conditions are enjoying excellent largemouth bass action in the lower St. Johns River — from about Welaka north to the Julington Creek and Doctors Lake areas.
St. Johns bass are in shallows spawning, with canals, creeks and sheltered coves all holding fish. Bass beds are near cover with hard bottom, but are difficult to see these days because the river is high and highly tannin-stained from abundant rain. For this reason, “searching” type lures are productive, with spinner-baits, spoons, and paddle-tail plastic worms producing good numbers of bass from shallow bedding locations.
Bream and warmouth fishing have been good for anglers working the larger creeks feeding the St. Johns River south of the Buckman Bridge, according to Rick Hamilton of R&J Tackle Shop in Green Cove Springs.
Sheltered coves off the river also are offering good panfishing, including Florence, Little Florence, Tocoi and Colee coves. The Williams Park area on the west shore of the St. Johns north of the Florida 16 bridge also has decent bream fishing now.
Grant Rawlins of Highland Park Fish Camp reports largemouth bass fishing continues to be excellent in the Lake Dexter and Lake Woodruff areas of the St. Johns River south of Astor.
Main parts of the high and flowing St. Johns also are productive now, especially south of Lake George. Some anglers are catching 20 to 30 bass per day, with most large fish (6 to 10 pounds) hitting live wild shiners. Floating-diving plugs such as Cordell Redfins, Bomber Long-As, spinner-baits and spoons are catching bass in the 2- to 6-pound range. The west side of Lake Woodruff is holding bait and bass.
In the main St. Johns River, some of the best bassing has been near points of land where baitfish are sweeping along, especially between marker 15 and “White Hair Bridge.”
Crappie anglers continue to have good success on Lake Woodruff, off the St. Johns River.
Trollers in open water and shoreline-cover anglers using jigs are doing well, with some catches of 30 fish per day, and crappies up to 2 pounds.
Wind and low temperatures have kept many anglers on shore, but crappies have moved into shallow water on Lake Santa Fe, near Melrose, and anglers are catching them jigging.
Tough weather patterns have made fishing difficult in the Intracoastal Waterway near Palm Valley. But bait shop manager Randy Green says surprisingly good fishing has been available. Palm Valley guide Larry Miniard has been leading clients to regular good catches of sea trout, redfish and flounder. He’s finding plenty of fish in the Intracoastal Waterway and creeks feeding it all the way to St. Augustine.
Black drum and redfish action have been excellent in Guana Lake, off Florida A1A north of St. Augustine. Palm Valley angler Joe Bishop caught a 50-pound drum from the lake, plus many smaller good-eating drum, in addition to slot redfish. Fresh shrimp have been best baits.
Jacksonville Beach guide John Eggers of Rock-n-Reel Charters reports leading clients to 8 to 12 slot-size redfish per trip. He’s fishing the Intracoastal Waterway during falling tides using cracked crab baits between the St. Johns River and the Butler Boulevard bridge. Redfish are in extremely shallow water, and the best action has been during bright, sunny weather.
Eggers says creeks off the Intracoastal have been fair to good for redfish, but some creeks have fish, others do not. Anglers are advised to keep moving until red, drum and trout are located.
Excellent fishing for good-eating “puppy” black drum is reported throughout much of the area, from Matanzas Inlet to Fernandina Beach. Dead shrimp, crabs and clams are good for bait when soaked near creek mouths, in deep holes of creeks, around jetties, oyster shell bars, docks and bridge abutments.
Sheepshead fishing has been excellent off Cumberland Island, particularly at the KYP reef, where heavyweights in the 8- to 10-pound range are being caught. Recently a 13.25-pound sheepshead was caught there, weighed by Sally Johnson of Amelia Island Bait & Tackle.
Johnson also reports good trout action is available in the Fernandina Beach area, especially around docks, creek mouths and in Tiger Basin.
Most trout are under legal limit size, but anglers who stick with it using plugs and jigs are taking limits of fish over 15 inches. Slot redfish are in good supply during low tides around docks and other structures.
Capt. Tim Cutting on St. Simons Island, Ga., says plenty of bull redfish and black sea bass are available on near-shore wrecks and reefs. Inshore, black drum, redfish and sheepshead are available in good numbers. Float rigs and live shrimp are the ticket for reds in 6 to 14 feet of water.
A good opening weekend for Georgia spring turkey hunting was reported in many areas of the state. Some local hunters collected birds, including well-known angler Mike Hayes of Fruit Cove who downed a heavy tom in south-central Georgia. Palm Valley guide Miniard and his son each scored a tom hunting near Atlanta.
Nevertheless, unstable weather has diminished gobbling birds in many areas. Abundant rainfall also has impacted hunting, changing the depth and locations of wetlands and sloughs, which can alter big bird feeding, roosting and spring mating patterns.
Much the same is true in Florida, yet some gunners continue to do well, mostly on private land. Jacksonville’s Buzz Tyre collected a huge 20-pound gobbler with an 11-inch beard while hunting with turkey outfitter Charles Alverez near Starke.
Florida’s Zone C general turkey gobbler season runs through April 20.
Georgia’s turkey hunting season continues through May 15.