• Captain John Tarr

Fishing Report and More


Florida has been facing some unstable weather, with each passing cold front. In fact, it has been down right nasty at times with cold temperatures, rain for days, and lots of wind. Still, if you can manage the weather, or wait for good days, the fishing has been really good. I will start with the salty side of life.

The cold weather and fronts passing through have accomplished a couple of things. First, the water levels have dropped significantly. Since Hurricane Irma, the water levels had been some of the highest I had ever seen. This led to a couple of problems. First, the fish were able to get into areas that you had no chance of finding them. Second, the higher water levels kept the water dirty, by constantly allowing sediment to be disturbed and clouding the water. Since the water levels have dropped, fish are back to their normal areas and the sediment has been caught in the mangrove roots and shoreline grasses, where it normally stays. The colder temperatures have also cleared the water up by removing much of the micro-organisms associated with summer water temperatures. In fact, the water is gin clear in many areas. This makes it prime conditions for sight fishing. You can see fish from several hundred feet away and watch them as they hunt and eat. Of course, this can also make fishing a little tougher. The fish are a bit spookier, requiring stealth and longer casts. Approaching a flat from a distance and poling in is a must; so is having a boat that draws little water and doesn't create a big disturbance when moving. Having the right tackle is also a must. Lures and flies have to be able to enter the water without spooking the fish. Luckily, I have all of this and trips have been successful. Redfish, Seatrout and Black Drum are all available this time of year and it is a great time to spend an entire day on the water hunting them all. For new fly fishers, this is also a great time. Schools of trout and small redfish are abundant and readily take flies.

This time of the year is also one of my favorite to spend on the St John's River. This area is truly magnificent and one of the last places to enjoy Natural Florida. Wildlife is abundant, the scenery is gorgeous and the fishing is spectacular. For those looking for some table fare, the crappie fishing has been good. It's not too hard to get enough for a good fish fry and they are as tasty as anything you can find. Add in a few catfish and bream, and the cooler can get filled quickly. The shad run is also in full swing. American and Hickory Shad are making their annual trek for spawning. These fish are basically like a small tarpon when it comes to fighting. They jump, run fast, and hit hard. All of these fish, matched on ultralight spinning gear, or light fly rods, are a blast to catch. We fished for about two hours this past Sunday and we boated more than a dozen shad; we lost count on the number of hits we had and missed.

If you cannot make it out for a trip right now, the next few months will offer terrific fishing too. The saltwater side will continue with redfish, seatrout and black drum for another few months (after that, we just add to the targets). The weather should stabilize and will make the fishing even better. On the freshwater side, shad will be replaced with spawning bass and tilapia. The bass in Florida can be huge and catching them during spawning season is always a blast. Tilapia can be targeted with ultralight and fly gear. However, my favorite way to target them is bowfishing. We will begin stalking these fish in March and peak season is usually April and May. There is nothing better than wading flats in the St John's and hunting these fish. At the end of the day, you can enjoy a cold beverage, watch a gorgeous sunset, and fry up dinner. Not a bad way to live life.

On a final note, the hosted trip to Abaco Lodge still has some openings available. Check out the last blog for details. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me. I know this; you will not be disappointed if you go! This is one of the finest lodges in the world, with great guides, awesome fishing, and top notch service. If you have ever wanted to give yourself a treat, for all of the hard work you do all year, this is your chance. All inclusive means you only have to get on a plane and off the plane; everything else is handled for you!

No matter what trip you want, I am here. Book your trip now, so you don't miss out on some great fishing opportunities!

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