St Johns River
Upper St Johns River Marsh WMA consists of more than 119,000 acres in Brevard and Indian River counties. Currently, the Water Management District is restoring 150,000 acres of marshlands, re-creating fish and wildlife habitat, and
improving water quality. Sixty-two miles of levees offer a wide range of recreational opportunities, including fishing, wildlife viewing, hiking, bicycling, and paddling. Hunting on the areas is good to fair for migratory bird, fair for deer and hog hunting, and poor for small game, turkey, and squirrel hunting. Birds are abundant on the area and include snowy egrets, great blue herons, white ibis, glossy ibis, great egrets, limpkins, night herons, osprey, and bald eagles. The endangered snail kite is often observed in the Blue Cypress and the Fort Drum Marsh conservation areas. During hunting seasons tent camping is permitted at designated campsites. During periods closed to hunting camping is regulated by the St. Johns River Water Management District.
Lower St. Johns River and Lakes: Until summer rains bring water levels up, anglers should be careful as low water conditions in the river may present obstacles to navigation and launching. Largemouth bass should continue to be caught following the schools of bait fish present in the river. Anglers should plan on being out early as recreational boating reaches its peak during this time of year making many areas of the river difficult to fish even in the late evening. The redear sunfish (shellcracker) and bluegill spawn comes to an end but fishing should remain good early this period. Lake Jesup (currently extremely shallow) and Lake George are among the most popular bream fisheries on the river. Striped bass seek cool water in the summer and should be congregating near the mouth of Blue Springs, the Wekiva River, the Croaker Hole in Little Lake George, and at other thermal refuges in the river. Grass shrimp, small shad and eels (when available) are the preferred baits for these fish.
Upper St. Johns River and Lakes: Water levels in the upper St. Johns River were lower than normal throughout Spring due to low rainfall but should rise during this quarter as the summer rainy season begins. The river sections between lakes Winder and Poinsett and from SR 520 to SR 46 have been restricted to smaller, shallow-draft boats and air-boats but should become accessible to all types of fishing boats if seasonal weather conditions prevail.
As long as the river remains inside its banks, fish will be concentrated in the deeper holes and sandbar drop-offs where clean water can be found. As water levels begin to rise, anglers should find bass and panfish catches improving without having to motor great distances. Moving water resulting from seasonal rainfall usually stimulates feeding activity in the river and in the entrances and exits of lakes. Anglers should target the edges of submerged vegetation along banks, sharp bends, and drop-offs near shallow bars. Traditional methods for taking all species will work. Swimming plastic worms/jerkbaits and twitching shallow-running minnow imitations are preferred tactics among many bass anglers here. Fly-fishing with a surface popper is also a very popular and productive way to catch both bass and panfish in these sections of the river. Lake Washington will be the best choice for those anglers with larger boats because the lake has a dam at its outlet and is typically deeper. The south entrance to the lake and its northern exit above the dam are two top spots to try for all species. Bass and panfish fishing should be good among the mixed bulrush, bonnets, emergent grass, and hydrilla located along the deeper eastern shoreline. Crappie anglers should take fair numbers of fish by slow-trolling artificial or by drifting with live minnows in the deeper, open water areas of Lake Washington and in Lake Poinsett, too, if adequate rainfall raises that lake.
St Johns River Fishing
Located in the Northeastern part of Florida and stretching nearly one half its length, the St. Johns River fishing is one of Florida’s greatest location for bass fishermen. The fact that, year after year, it continuously produces such excellent anglers and trophy bass results. It has help led Florida to be deemed the “Bass Fishing Capital of the World” and the name fits this river system! It is one of those rare bodies of water that produces both quantity and quality, along with a never-ending breath of beauty. The 300+ miles of the St. Johns River system is a study in diversity and unlimited fishing options. Whatever type of fishing water the angler desires can readily be found along its river system. This famous river has a character and series of different traits compared to most Florida bass fishing lakes or rivers.
The St Johns river always flows from South to North, a bit of an weirdness in itself. The first quarter of the St. Johns, up to Lake Harney, is dependent upon rainfall for its flow, with a small bit of assistance from a few springs and some natural water table. . In times of drought or reduced periods of rainfall, this part of the river often goes nearly dry, usually between May and July. This upper portion of the river is a series deferment banks, thick aquatic growth and endless marshland. The main trace of the St. Johns is nearly indistinguishable and forms a maze of drainage arms and sloughs. While the fishing is excellent here, it presents the readily apparent danger of getting lost, so GPS is highly recommended for new anglers.
This headwaters portion of the St Johns offers excellent angling experiences, especially when its waters are low, but still navigable. Low water levels bring the bass out of the endless miles of vegetation and to the edges of the main channel and the deeper holes. Although very few real trophy bass over ten pound come from this section, the numbers of one to five pounders are often staggering. Lake Harney on North to Lake Monroe, the river starts a major transition. The banks are well-defined and high, while at the same time the vegetation starts to thin dramatically.
Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission biologists said, that the fresh water fish, particularly the usually well-traveled largemouth bass, will not migrate from the Northern portions of the river into the Southern sections. The salt content seems to form a natural barrier. Consequently, the headwaters are entirely dependent upon the success of the spawn to sustain populations. However, the salinity does have its positive influences. The stretch of river between Lakes Harney and Monroe is a principal spawning ground for the tremendous numbers of big American Shad, which annually make the long journey from the Atlantic. The months of December through March find hundreds of anglers casting small jigs and spoons to partake of the harvest.
Lake George is noted for its excellent largemouth bass fishing lake. Bass seem to congregate in this lake. The reason, mouths of the many small feeder streams, and the points and deep holes in the bends of the river, are great places to work a plastic worm and a crank bait. Areas of lily pads are excellent in the spring and early summer months, especially if grass is also present. Largemouths readily spawn and feed in the beds of eelgrass, which predominate the flats. Look for that grass and you are almost certain to find the fish. Lake George is the widest and largest lake on the river and probably the best St. Johns River fishing lake. Approximately 12 miles long and 6 miles wide, it has a very remarkable, averaging about ten feet deep. Lake George also has a significant salt content, primarily from the large Salt, Silver Glen and Juniper springs which discharge through massive saline marine deposits. Additionally, if there are strong, sustained Northerly winds, the incoming tidal flow from the North can reach the lake.
Lake George provides excellent largemouth bass, along with great brim fishing, particularly along the vegetation areas. Other good places are the mouths of the spring runs. Crappie fishing is very good and can be exceptional when drifting the
open water areas in mid-Summer. Striped bass, both stocked hybrids called Sunshine bass by many and a few ocean veterans, provide spectacular angling experiences when they start their surface feeding in huge schools. Look for the Stripers in the area of the old military practice bombing range, just to the East of the main channel markers. It is a time you won’t forget anytime soon!.
Just North of Little George, another major change occurs. The 125 mile long Ocklawaha River, the largest tributary along the St. Johns, empties a vast amount of pure, fresh water into the system, significantly diluting the salt content. Flowing out of man-made Rodman Reservoir, the Oklawaha river is a fishing paradise in itself. The river channel is a beautiful stretch of water that often pleases as much with scenery as with its fine fishery. City of Palatka, the river is narrow again. The banks are high and well-defined, with a number of mid-channel islands. The depth has a major change in this area, with portions of the main St. Johns channel reaching 35 feet. Some of the creeks, such as Cross and Dunn’s, have holes reaching 45 and 50.
Crescent Lake has long been a great bassin’ location. Its eelgrass beds beckon to the spawn-ready, lunker females. Dead Lake, at the lower end of Crescent is also an excellent bass spot, especially when you can locate running water.
The beautiful St. Johns River continues to earn its reputation as the bass fishing paradise of the World. Let us hope that the progress of Man never changes it.
St Johns Fishing Reports
If you want to catch big fish and fish where big fish are! St Johns River fishing is prime waters for the trophy largemouth bass. Many catches in the 10-pound range are taken each year. Come join us for the trip of a lifetime. You have earned it!
Our fishing guides are hand-picked from the best in the area, so you don’t have to. They have fished these Central Florida waters for no less than 20 years. During this time our team have developed their skills and experience necessary to provide you with that fishing trip of a lifetime. In order to insure your trip will be a safe and memorable trip, all of our guides are insured and US Coast Guard licensed captains.
Not only will you fish with a professional guide, all of our trips include: Fully equipped Bass boats, fuel and tackle. Everything you need for that trip you’ve been waiting for. The only thing you will need to have is a Florida fishing license.
Corporate trips are welcome and very common for us on the St Johns River, because of our size. We can accommodate your fishing needs from one to hundred. We also can provide everything from breakfast and box lunches to a southern BBQ to end the day.
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