Indian River County
The St. Johns Water Management Area (SJWMA), known to most anglers as the Farm 13/Stick Marsh, is a 6,500-acre impoundment located along the east coast of central Florida in northwest Indian River County. Water depths range from 4 to 8 feet. Boaters unfamiliar with the SJWMA are advised to navigate to fishing locations with extreme caution due to the number of man-made and natural hazards present. Facilities include a double lane concrete boat ramp, air boat launch site, restroom and paved parking lot. Closest towns/cities are Melbourne, Palm Bay, Vero Beach, Sebastian and Fellsmere. No gas, food or bait available on site. Popular sportfish include largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, black crappie and several catfish species. This water body is noted for its excellent bass fishing due to the special no harvest regulation on largemouth bass. The SJWMA is one of the top 10 trophy bass spots in the state.
Anglers are reminded to exercise caution when boating due to submerged and floating timber in the Stick Marsh/Farm13 impoundment and that they are legally obligated to adhere to catch-and-release regulations for largemouth bass.
For more information on daily fishing forecasts and lake conditions for Stick Marsh/Farm 13, call Bait Bucket 772-571-5217 and Stick Marsh Bait & Tackle Shop at 772-571-9855.
Fishhound also offers a fishing forecast for Farm 13 / Stick Marsh .
This is the time of year when the majority of trophy bass (8 lbs. or greater) are caught and released by anglers in this well-known water management area. During the winter and early spring period, water temperatures will fluctuate tremendously in east-central Florida which triggers largemouth bass to spawn. Expect traditional patterns associated with spawning as fish begin staging near the canals and submerged drainage ditches which provide some protection from strong wind and wave action; moving into the shallower edges and flats to spawn when water temperatures rise and winds are favorable. Traditional spots to catch staging and spawning bass in the Stick Marsh pool include the north flow-way (Backlot), Ditch 7, and the northwest corner (the palms). Popular spots in the Farm 13 section include the water control structure (S-96D) canal, levees or road-beds along submerged drainage canals/ditches, and the flooded timber in the flats south of Ditch 13. The hydrilla, coontail and eelgrass continues to expand in the submerged stump fields south of Ditch 13. This will more than likely attract fish to this section of the impoundment during the quarter. Last year the fish really bunched up in this region of the reservoir. Extreme caution must be used while boating in these areas because as water levels drop during the dry season, more stumps, logs, and canal berms will be just under the water surface so a slow idle is a good rule to follow when navigating very far south of Ditch 13. Water conditions (temperature, flow, and clarity) will dictate lure selection. Golden shiners are the choice of many anglers when searching for trophy bass this time of year, followed by plastic worms (June-bug, tequila sunrise, and red shad colors), plastic swim baits, light colored spinner baits (willow leaf-style blades), and soft jerk baits. As the water warms in late winter, anglers may want to try top-water plugs and shallow running crank baits. Anglers are reminded that all largemouth bass caught must be released immediately under the special no harvest regulation.
Black crappie should be concentrated during this quarter in Ditch 7, Ditch 13, the north flow-way, and along other submerged secondary canals. In most cases, there will be little to no submerged vegetation to define the underwater features and anglers will need to depend on depth recorders to locate fish attracting structure. If present, floating mats of vegetation should not be overlooked as crappie are known to congregate underneath, especially during cold water temperatures. Otherwise, black crappie anglers may revert to the more traditional techniques where boaters find them by just trolling or drifting the open areas of the Farm13 pool or locate them among the 18 fish attractors located along the east side of the Stick Marsh pool. Best bets for these tasty panfish are live minnows and/or small jigs (1/32-1/8 oz.) in twister tail or tube styles. Bluegill catches typically slow down this time of year but one can expect fair numbers to be caught by crappie anglers. Those targeting Redear sunfish or any of the catfishes should do fairly well using live bait (worms or shrimp) on the bottom.