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Fishing Reports

4 April 2024

     Welcome to Fish Whisperer Charters in Jacksonville, FL!

   Water surface temperatures range from 64° - 67° around the Mayport area depending on the tide. Water clarity was a bit “café con leche” this past week mostly due to the elevated winds we had for a few days. Hints of spring are definitely in the air following Easter Sunday and we’ve recently caught nice over-slot and slot redfish, sheepshead, trout, ringtail porgies, and black drum. I am keenly on the lookout for pompano and expect to see a better bite for those fish next week as this transitional period from winter to spring continues. Also, Spanish mackerel are popping up sporadically and can be amazingly fun for anyone.

  Sheepshead are still chewing but I find they are hot and cold with one day being a steady chew and the next leaving us wondering what happened that we have to move to 6 different places to catch some. Most of the sheepshead have been taken on Carolina rigs lately on the high tide; however, fiddlers & shrimp on a jig is still the standard for me. The bottom line is that the fishing is improving nicely with the rising water temps and soon, springtime bait will be arriving such as menhaden and mullet schools.

  We went offshore twice in the last two weeks between 15nm - 21nm and did fairly well with some seabass, vermilion snapper, triggers, and cobia harvested. BTW, remember that cobia are 36” to the fork with 1 per person & 2 total on a vessel so if you’re not sure of the fish’s size as it’s swimming around the boat, just net it! Very little mess on the boat and the risk of killing an undersize fish is eliminated. These are amazing fish to catch for anyone so please look out for them.    

  TTPs (Tactics, Techniques, Procedures)

  As mentioned earlier, the Spanish Mackerel are showing up nicely and a lot of fun to catch. They take just about anything that is moving and I like to throw spoons and sheepshead jigs tipped with shrimp right down the rocks or to the schools and retrieve quickly on light tackle for the best action. These fish can be down-right fun and will readily go after anything that is shiny and moving fast. Young folks love this kind of fishing because they are consistently active. Once they strike, continue to keep steady pressure on them because with any slack, they’ll shake the hook. Also, if you find yourself getting cut-off frequently, up your leader to thin 7 strand wire and you can fish all day.    

  Fiddler crab and split-shot rigs are still my go-to for the sheepshead in the rocks. The last knot and half of current on low or high tide has produced for me at the Mayport Jetties. The rigs I use are split-shots which is simply a hook with an appropriate-sized split-shot sinker about 8” above the hook. I use about 5ft of 20lbs Seaworx™ flouro tied to braid using an FG knot. This much line is useful when someone breaks off because there is plenty of leader to quickly rig another hook/sinker. The size of the split-shot depends on the current velocity and depth I am targeting and the hook is normally an Owner Mosquito #1.

   To fish this, I teach clients to cast right up against the rocks and let the bait naturally fall down around the structure with a slight raise or, dare I say, “jig” every few seconds to ensure the rig doesn’t settle into an obstruction. I do this painfully slow and continue to while introducing slack in the line to allow the bait to settle on the bottom. Typically, the fish will commit to it while in the rocks but will follow it to the bottom sometimes before inhaling it. As I always do not need to posture yourself into "bassmaster pro circuit" stance and set the hook wth all of your being! Just slowly raise the rod and apply steady tension on the fish and the hook will find it's way home.  

Hope that helps!

If there are ever any questions, just post them up on my Facebook Page and I'll get back with you.  

Catch em' up and stay safe! 

Until next time...

Fair Winds & Following Seas,

Capt Kris Kell 

Fish Whisperer Charters

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