Farm 13/Stick Marsh
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 Stick Marsh Bait & Tackle Shop at (772) 571-9855.
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. Water temperatures fluctuate a lot with changes in the weather in this shallow reservoir during the winter/spring period of January through March. Largemouth Bass will have their minds on spawning for the entire quarter except if it gets really cold. 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 recent years are in the north flow-way, Ditch 7, and northwest corner (the palms) of the Stick Marsh. 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. Vegetation in the southern end of Farm 13 was the hot spot last year and this year should be no different. Be careful boating in these areas due to the presence of submerged stumps and logs. The water level this year is one foot below the scheduled winter high to begin the quarter. 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, it offers the opportunity to use top-water plugs and shallow running crank baits. Last year it got quite warm in February and bass went into a post-spawn type feeding pattern for a few weeks before it cooled off again in March. Keep that possibility in mind too when trying to pattern the fish. 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 lake. Best bets for these tasty panfish are minnows and/or small jigs (1/32-1/8 oz.) in twister tail or tube styles. Jigs in green, pink, brown, salt and pepper, or chartreuse seem to be hot colors to try for specks. Bluegill catches typically slow down this time of year but one can expect fair numbers to be caught by crappie anglers.
TrophyCatch is FWC's citizen-science program that rewards anglers for documenting and releasing trophy bass 8 pounds or larger. The following TrophyCatch bass have been submitted from Farm 13/Stick Marsh:
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 103
Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 12