It’s hard to find a “bad” place to fish the briny water in north Florida this month. But, as is always the case, there are some areas that can be more productive than others. Here are four spots that can produce some very memorable days on the water this June.
ST. JOHNS RIVER
This area doesn’t get as much publicity as it deserves, but this month it may be one of — if not the — best places in the state to catch a five-pound plus gator trout. And, anglers don’t have to search a large area for them. The vast majority of the big trout are caught within five miles of the Mayport Inlet.
Capt. Tony Bozzella has a simple pattern to score.
“I want to stay in the main river itself,” Bozzella said. “Big water, and not the back creeks, is where the gator trout are this month. I like to target areas where a narrow shoreline shelf in the 2- to 4-foot depth range drops off quickly to the 7- to 10-foot range. That could be a Spartina grass line, or an area of docks. But, that abrupt depth change is important. I also want relatively clear water. Trout don’t like stained or dirty water, and they’ll move a long way to find clearer water. If I can combine all that with visible baitfish and moving water, I’ve got a good shot at a big trout.”
Bozzella, whose logbooks show that his customers have landed 96 trout between 5 and 11 pounds within the last 48 months, prefers to find those conditions near the top of the tide. The last portion of the incoming or the first portion of the outgoing tide, if that coincides with early morning or late afternoon, is so much the better. But, success doesn’t always depend on dim light.
“I’ve caught a number of trout over 9 pounds during the middle of a bright, calm day, “ Bozzella states. “Finding the right terrain and tide, with baitfish, is more important than time of day.”
There are a number of areas within the Jacksonville city limits that can be productive. Some of Bozzella’s favorites are the drops around Blount Island, the downtown Arlington section around the industrial parks, and the sharply sloping, dock-rich section of shoreline at Fort Caroline.
When it comes to lures, Bozzella follows the three-rig philosophy of most big trout experts and wants a topwater, a jerkbait, and a lead head plastic trailed jig on hand.
“The Rapala Skitterwalk and the MirrOlure Top Dog Jr are two of my favorite topwater baits, “ Bozzella says. “I like natural baitfish colors under bright light, but might shift to a Clown, chartreuse, or white/red head in dimmer light, or if the water is slightly stained. The Bite-A-Bit Fighter and the Rapala X-Rap are deadly jerk baits when worked right over a drop, and on sharper drops it’s hard to beat a 1/4-ounce lead head with a four or five inch plastic tail in color combinations of green and red, pearl white and pink, or smoke. Having those three different lure types on hand, and rigged, allows an angler thoroughly cover those sharp drops that hold the big trout.
To contact Capt. Tony Bozzella about a day of guided fishing in the Jacksonville areas call him at (904) 651-0182, or check out his TBS Charters Web site at http://tonybozzella.com/.
Like Jacksonville, the St. Augustine area boasts a lot of gator trout, and the same main water approach, combined with short flats and sharp drops, can produce them. A Topwater plug fished along Spartina-edged drops on a high tide during the early morning is a traditionally productive tactic.
However, often prefers to chase redfish, and this is a top month to do it.
“The redfish have come out of their winter patterns and are now keying on the finger mullet that are plentiful this month,” Miniard stated. “They follow those mullet through the main creeks, into the smaller intersecting creeks, and right up onto the flats, on a rising tide. When the tide falls they have to come off of those flats, and the intersecting creeks mouths are the best place to find them.”