Just in time, royal tide is slowing Florida fishing, but better days are ahead

How high is the water, mom?

Five feet high and rising

—Johnny Cash

You can’t say we weren’t warned. “Royal Tides” don’t sneak up on anyone, or at least they shouldn’t. This week’s high waters were long predicted and will likely repeat early next month.

They arrive later in the year, the scientists say, “when the Earth, Moon, and Sun are aligned at perigee and perihelion, giving the greatest tidal range observed in a year.”

Perigee and perihelion? Let’s move on…

The flooding, combined with buckets of rain over the past weekend, has cooled the water in the river and nearly sidelined productive fishing activity. Almost, but not completely.

“With cooling water temperatures, sheep will congregate around piers, docks and bridge pilings,” says Craig Patterson, who often casts lines before heading to Port Orange to run his tackle shop. , Donald’s Bait and Tackle, on the causeway.

“Fiddler crab, sand flea and small pieces of shrimp are favorite baits.”

Craig Patterson shows off a sheep's head he caught last week in the Indian River.

A few more details about the delicious table meal: Sheepshead must be at least 12 inches tall, with a daily limit of eight bags. Small hooks and bait are best for the sheep’s head’s small mouth, but that mouth is full of sheep-like teeth that also look like human molars – great for crushing shell bait, but watch your fingers.

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In addition, they are very similar to the black drum, and if they are confused, the sheep’s head teeth will give it away. The teeth of the black drum are smaller and further back in the throat.

In case you were wondering how it got its name, here are the sheep-shaped teeth of a sheep's head.

Trout, bluefish, mackerel “invading” the intracoastal

Moving on, Patterson offers a promising near future.

“Shoals of trout, redfish, bluefish and Spanish mackerel are beginning to invade the intra-coastal waterways. The recent rising tide and rainfall has caused some species to feed on the grasses that have been inundated, including redfish As water recedes and salinity levels rise, the feeding will intensify.

Patterson also supplies sand fleas to customers who prefer to fish the Atlantic coast for a November staple.

“The fall pompano race is upon us,” he said.

Snook, reds and drum around the Halifax River

Captain Jeff Patterson (no relation) had a pretty rough week aboard his Pole Dancer charter (SmallBoatBigFish.com).

“Conditions last week were literally about as bad as it gets,” he said. “Extremely windy and the water level has risen creating very difficult conditions and making it very difficult to catch bait in most areas.”

There was snook, reds and black drum mixed in, Patterson said before adding some hopeful news.

Captain Jeff Patterson put Matt Theis on this well-decorated rockfish.

“We have better conditions over the next few days and the fish should be hungry.”

Captain Fred Robert (fishing-guy.com) avoided the entry area for the calmer backwaters, where he collected some snook, blues, sport jacks and small reds.

Specks, bar around the Saint-Jean river

On the west side of the St. Johns, Capt. Bryn Adams (Highland Park Fish Camp) still sees plenty of spots thrown into the cooler, “despite the bad weather,” she said.

“The most popular method is open water trolling, but you can also get a few by fishing against the shore right now. Artificial jigs are best, but minnows can also work.

Capt. David Williamson, a St. Johns River guide, caught a bunch of spots last week, according to Bryn Adams at Highland Park Fish Camp.

“The cold front has slowed bass fishing a bit, but the water is high and the cooler weather should make them more aggressive.”

Remember, the bag limit for black bass is five, and only one can be longer than 16 inches. No size limit for specks (aka speckled perch, crappie) but a bag limit of 25.

Volusia-Flagler fish pictures

We want to see your most recent take. Email your fish photos to [email protected] Be sure to include the type of fish, the size of the fish (weight and/or length), where the fish was caught, the first and last name and hometown of the angler who caught the fish, as well as the first and last name of the person who took the photo. If a child is in the photo, please state their age. The News-Journal will use one or two printed photos each week and the other submitted photos will go to the online gallery called “Volusia-Flagler Catch of the Week”.

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