Fishing the Lower Suwannee Estuary

Springtime Fishing the Lower Suwannee River Estuary

Well anglers it’s mid February and the weather remains mild in comparison to historical conditions! Historical for me means readings from at least 40-50 years ago and I prefer to use at least 75 years when it’s possible.

If recent history holds true (5-10yrs) we can expect an early spring, with water temps approach 65 degrees by the end of February. But, then we may experience cool fronts till the first of May that can keep the average water temps down. These conditions tend to keep the fish confused! The water will begin to warm up but then a cool front pushes through and the water temp will cool off again. This results in the fish moving around more and not getting in a consistent early season pattern. 

What water temperature is best? Here around the Lower Suwannee River Estuary I have found that around that 60 – 65 degree mark that the fish become more active, with 70 being a great temp! It’s true that fish activity increases with temp but, I have found fish prefer a consistent change of temperature and not a fluctuating one.

Okay so how do we fish in these conditions? First you have to be flexible, you have to roll with the weather! I use several weather sources for my area and if you send me a message or email I will be glad to share them.

The days after a front comes through can be very productive, if you follow the warmer water! The first day after a front comes through the weather can be bright and sunny but windy and cold. On this kind of day think of places out of the wind and with a dark bottom in water from 1 to 3 feet of water (the clearer the water the deeper it can be). The dark bottom can be rocks, mud or grass. The important things are direct sunlight and not too much wind! 

You will find that in these areas the water warms faster, especially in a creek or in the back of a bay! But, this is also true on the grass flats,just the wind becomes more of an issue out there!

Let’s touch on baits for a minute. The water is cool to cold so, slow your presentation down! How slow? Let the fish tell you that! Also downsizing your bait can help, especially in early spring. Use a search bait like a Z-man DieZel or Eye Strike ChatterBait that can be fished at different depths and speeds. 

Look for more info and tips as we go along!

This year…

This year we have had a very unusual spring season. With cool fronts still pushing into the area late into the month of May the water temps have been well below average! But, finally in the last few days of the month the temps have warmed up and the fish are biting! #fishbites #fightclublures

Donny and Brett with one of Donnie’s over slot sized reds, a beautiful 37″ fish!
Brett with a beautiful redfish that ate a Fishbites Fight Club Fight n shrimp in the Haymaker color.
Donny with another over slot sized redfish 32 inches!

Fishing March 29,30 n 31

I had a great group of men from North and South Carolina fishing with me this week, Richard, Rick, Tony and Alex aka Eric.

Day 1, the week started of cool and windy with a brisk NE wind. With extra low tides in the morning, we started the day in a deep channel that runs between Cat Island and the bay laying to the South and West. No bites! We then moved to some outside bars as the tide began flooding in. We picked up a couple short trout but with the wind and tide opposing one another getting a good drift was difficult. We spent the rest of the day working our way North to the Shired Basin and then back to Suwannee, fishing from spot to spot with only an occasional fish. All in all it was a rough n windy day with the fish not cooperating. We did manage a couple of keeper speckled trout for the box and Rick hooked up on a large catch n release black drum.

Day 2, we headed out to catch some sheepshead on the offshore rock piles. Once again, the weather forecast was way off in their prediction on wind speed and wave height! We started hitting spots as we worked our way offshore, we did not find any sheepshead, mostly just small black seabass. The wind did not die down and the waves increased. After one of the guys got seasick we headed in to calmer waters. We did manage to salvage the day inshore, catching a few speckled trout, along with a bunch sand trout and whiting at the ranch bar gap. Also, there were a lot of Spanish mackerel working the area, some of them close to 24 inches long.

Day 3, we headed South to the creeks looking for redfish. We found some redfish, but we only caught one keeper, Tony caught a very nice redfish, 26 ¾ inches long. We also caught some nice blackdrum and speckled trout while fishing in the creeks. Once the tide turned in we headed out towards the south end of the Suwannee Reef, as we made the run out to the Reef we looked for tripletails but, we did not spot any. The waters on the south end of the Reef were muddied up so we started hitting spots going North looking for cleaner waters. Tony was hot that day when he caught about a 20lb catch n release blackdrum before we headed North. There was not much activity on the Reef that day. About a mile up the reef the water was not as muddy but, was stained with river water. We went by the ranch bar gap and caught some more big sand trout and whiting on the incoming tide. Then we finished the day around the Pelican Bank and in towards Axe Island, we managed to pick up a couple nice trout and another big Spanish mackerel before the end of the day.

A big thank you to Richard, Rick, Tony and Eric for coming to Suwannee and fishing with me for those three days! I look forward to fishing with all you again!

Tightlines n Catchemup!

Captain Tony Johns