BLACK DRUM MIGRATION - And a bit of what's biting

Finally, the frigid cold has let up a bit and water temperatures in the river and inlet have climbed back up to more hospitable levels. the outgoing river temps were as high as 65 degrees, incoming temps were a bit colder holding between 63 and 61 degrees. Generally once the water temperatures climb past 58 degrees, the fish will start moving out of the creeks and shallow water mud flats.

We're definitely at the start of the Sheepshead spawn right now. It's been slow going but has definitely started. Check the deeper pockets between 8 and 15 feet of water. You can find them in deeper holes as well but I find that the largest concentrations this time of year hold at 8 to 15 feet.

The Spring Trout bite is well underway. The bigger females are on the move towards the Inlet. As we get closer to March, the bite will only get better. so will the quality of the Trout. You'll find them stacked on the rocks from Blount Island all the way to Mayport Inlet. I've been doing well on them with a simple paddle tail soft plastic on a 1/4oz jighead. Ive also done well on the larger females throwing a gold and black Rapala XRap or olive green XRap. I prefer the 4 inch 10 series models. The 3" models work well too however, don't cast as far.

Matching the water color is key, and in the river, the Olive model matches the incoming tide well and the Gold and Black model matches the out going tide well. When the water is clearer with good visibility, ill use the Glass Ghost model or a Bomber Long A due to the translucent body options. The colors match up the same as Rapala XRaps, only the lower half of the lure is translucent, allowing the lure to match the clarity of the water. Remember, fish are counter shaded for a reason, camouflage. Allowing your color options to match the water will get you more strikes. The same goes with clarity.

The real story right now is the Black Drum bite. Now, on through early to mid April, the Black Drum will be moving on out towards Mayport Inlet. They start way up river towards town and migrate east. They will head towards the inlet to gather up in anticipation of the spawn. These fish will meet up with the bigger schools migrating up the Atlantic coast. The larger migration that starts in South Florida will stop by each major river system on the way north and spawn. The river Drum will meet with them every year at virtually the same time. The Mayport Inlet stop is signaled by the first full moon of March. They will linger and gather in numbers while spawning and eventually depart again by the first or second week of April. This process will repeat all the way to Rhoad Island Sound where they will spend whats left of the Summer and eventually head back south during the Fall.

The first waves of schools will nearly always be smaller fish. The keeper sized Drum start showing up in Mayport Inlet around February. They tend to be at the top end of the slot with many being over the slot. You can actually follow the migrations up river and fish for them in a number of hot spots as they move. One of these spots is the Little Jetties Park. Its an excellent spot because it acts as a choke point where both sides of the ICW intersect. They'll stop by the rocks of the Little Jetties to forage(as well as other areas) before continuing on with the migration. You'll be able to target and catch keeper sized Drum in the Inlet up until the first or second week of March. Generally, once the mature adults arrive, the smaller adults become too difficult to target. They'll be around but the larger fish will be more abundant.


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