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Report on St John's river area Florida bassin'

Discussion in 'Fishing Reports - Out of State' started by AndroDoug, Jan 17, 2005.

  1. AndroDoug

    AndroDoug Duke of Bucketmouth

    Well I am back from my long awaited trip to Deland Florida. We fished the St John's river and surrounding areas near and in the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife refuge. I have never seen such beautiful looking cover for bass EVER! All the inter-connecting rivers, channels, creeks, and lakes that make up this inland delta, are just one massive bass habitat!

    Only one problem, the bass were few and far between. The 3 hurricanes that criss-crossed the st John's basin (30 miles due west of Daytona) really, really decimated the bass pops. This whole area was supposed to offer some of the best bass fishing in the world, we only boated 5 the whole 8 days. We used shiners, and everything we had and knew. Nothing worked. The guide captains (at the camp we stayed at and who have been guiding for 42 years) were even getting shut out on paid trips too. Captain Ron said he was honestly "afraid for the months of May and June". He went back into log books on guided trips throughout the years and they routinely would get 10-40 bass in mid January on trips. Not this year.

    I had a WONDERFUL time though! The 2 weeks we picked to go were the best 10 day string of weather central Florida has had in decades. The temps ranged from HIs of 75-83, with the majority being 80 ish. Sunny everyday too! The scenery was beautiful and the wildlife was awesome! Never seen gators in the wild before. I now have seen a thousand. Water moccassins, manatees, a wild monkey, birds, deer, otters (i think) you name it!

    I did add to my life list though, I caught a 26 inch 5 pound bowfin. We actaully boated almost as many bowfin as bass (4)! The crappie were on fire every where, they were not affected by the storms.

    In summation, if anyone is thinking about going to central Florida for bassing, give it a few years if you can. It will take at least that long to rebound to what it was. I have heard the same things about Stick Marsh 13 too. It is an hour or 2 south. I would assume most lakes and creeks in the whole general area were affected. I had a heads up on this possibility from people on a Florida fishing forum, it is unfortunately true! :(
  2. looks like i posted 1 minute before yours. sorry to hear about the poor fishing. get your butt kicked in fantasy football earlier, and now this... tough luck man.

  3. johnboy111711

    johnboy111711 SOLID MEAT

    did you do any crappie fishing
  4. That would really stink to put that much work into only 5 bass. And since you did not mention anything about their size I would suspect they were not hawgs.

    I am curious as to why the hurricanes could do such damage to the bass? Especially considering that the crappie and other fish seem fine.
  5. ncraft150

    ncraft150 Buckeye-Basser

    Isn't that in the Jacksonville area? I am heading down there next month to pick up my new boat. I was thinking about taking my tackle and rods and fishing a day while I was there, but maybe it wouldn't be worth the cost of a hotel for the night and a fishing license.
  6. crappielooker

    crappielooker The Corn Chucker least you didn't have to deal with the cold we have... even for couple of'm ready for those temps anyday now..
    ncraft... you are getting a new boat?? what kind of boat?? i hope it won't get you stuck in the mud like last year.. :D :p
  7. ncraft150

    ncraft150 Buckeye-Basser

    Its a 18' Hydra-Sports bass boat with a 150hp Suzuki. It was 45 today in Jacksonville. I hope it warms back up by Februrary when I am heading down. Next time I'll leave the boat in the lot at the campgrounds. There wasn't enough room at the campsite anyway. I can always get Rick to pull me out again.
  8. AndroDoug

    AndroDoug Duke of Bucketmouth

    I am no expert in why the bass were not biting.

    I am assuming (with other's assumptions added) that the pops were hurt by the storms. There was a ring of mud 4-5 feet above water level on all trees in the area, marking the high water level. This heighth would have made this area one vast inland sea. The St John's has a slow flow and very little gradient. The surrounding lands are flat as well.

    I had confirmed reports from Florida forum members that there was an enormous bass die-off in stick marsh 13 and certain canals where people liked to fish. They had said the bass were floating in large mats. This was from eyewitness accounts. I knew this 2-3 months before the trip. I had no idea this was to be such far reaching and finite.

    I don't know the biology of what has happened, nor do the captains and management of Highland Park fish camp (great place I may add). But something HAS happened, and the fish are not there in any numbers close to what once was. As far as the crappie (specks down there), they seem to be fine. Dozens of boats were on Woodruff and Dexter. People can fish with 14 poles from their boats and troll. I don't fish for crappie up here, but we caught a few to suppliment our desires. People with many poles would limit out by noon (25 apeice). These specks were much bigger than what I have seen up here.

    And no, the bass we caught were of no size, maybe 2 1/2 lbs for the biggest and the rest half that. We were selective on our shots the first couple of days, not knowing they would be practically the only bass we caught all trip. It was a fun time though, disappointing on the fishing end, but satisfying on the getting-away-from-it-all end! :)
  9. AndroDoug

    AndroDoug Duke of Bucketmouth

    Oh, NCraft... Jacksonville is at the mouth of the St John's. The river is very wide there. Jax is about an hour and a half north of where we were. We were WSW of Daytona. Maybe all the bass were washed down to Jax! It might be great fishing there! And what a beautiful city Jax is. What a gorgeous skyline!
  10. I think a lot of the fish die off was due to ocean salt water invading the inland waters. Happens pretty often in Louisiana. Maybe crappie are a bit more tolerant to changes in salinity? Bowfin can live in a mud puddle so I doubt they are effected by much.

  11. I suspected that salinity would be a factor. The only thing that I was confused on was that the crappie and bowfin semm much less impacted. But as Alter mentioned they must be much more tolerant to salinity changes.
  12. sorry to hear those numbers. I've gone down bass fishing with a group of friends to the top of Fla 8 winters in a row. We've literally been pummeled by bad weather a few febuaries. One time it was 20degrees there, and 60 at the alum creek camprground(bitter?). Needless to say, I've had similar results in years past. At least it was warm for you. I'll be keeping a close eye on stixmarsh, my group heads down march7...we camp in Orlando.
  13. AndroDoug

    AndroDoug Duke of Bucketmouth

    Now that I think I haved figured out how to post pics, here is that Bowfin I caught. I always thought I'd catch my first out at Mogadore.

    Attached Files:

  14. Lake Woodruff is a beautiful place. Went there 6-7 years ago with my son and friend. Gators, Bald eagles....As I recall not the greatest fishing when I was there either, but great experience. Here are a few pics from my trip.

  15. catking

    catking Banned

    I've had bad trips on quite a few occasions. But like AndroDoug stated, he still had a good time.... Good for you ;) ........ Alter is correct about the saline in the waters. Hurricanes spill millions of gallons of ocean waters inland. It flushes out quickly from the rivers, but is devastating to the fish . Not only that, they also turn over the waters in lakes and rivers. Millions of fish die from this. That's to bad about Stick Marsh 13.......... CATKING
  16. Hey guys. Hope you don't mind a former Ohioan joining in the discussion. Left up there in 88. Just couldn't stand fishing through a hole in the ice.
    As for the hurricanes effect on the bass fishing down here it wasn't really salt intrusion. Although it may have played a small part in it. The biggest culprit was all the green vegatation that was blown in the river systems. As the vegatation started to decay it used up alot of the oxygen. It also gives off a terrible sewer gas smell. One hurricane by itself wasn't too bad but 3 storms inside of 2 months was just too much for the bass to take. As for the crappie surviving I guess they are more tolernant of oxygen deprived water.
    The fishing is still good down here but the river systems and the lakes that connect to them are what got hurt the most.
    The Stick Marsh is still doing good. There wasn't much of a fish kill at all. The problem is that being that its only about 5ft deep the hurricane force winds produced huge waves which swelled to the bottem of the lake which in turn ripped out all the grass. So now there is no place for the bait fish to hide and finding the bass is the problem. Before you could key on the grass beds and usually locate a school or two. Now you just have to be lucky. I would imagine by the year end the grass will start taking root again and next year old patterns should work again. That is if we don't get hit from another storm. The following link is from a guide who fishes the Stick Marsh regularly.
    If anyone is planning a trip down here I would be glad to point you in the right direction. The fish are active but you just have to know where.
  17. welcome to OGF, Ocala. I believe your report is exactly right. I'll be heading down to camp in SE Orlando early March. At a campground inbetween Lakes Heart & MaryJane(MossPark). My group and I will also target the SickMarsh at least a couple days. I've been reading reports like crazy, and they all agree with what you've stated.
  18. AndroDoug

    AndroDoug Duke of Bucketmouth

    Thank you Ocala for clearing that up. It makes perfect sense. I wasn't sold on salt intrusion at all since the areas in question are 30 miles inland. Oxygen deprivation by vegetation decay...don't know why that didn't cross my mind!

    Welcome to OGF Ocala! Keep the reports up! Many guys on here could use them as that area is popular among many Ohio anglers.