Lower St. Johns River and Lakes
Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns & Volusia counties
Lower St. Johns River and Lakes: This one-hundred forty mile stretch of the St. Johns River flows north through, or is connected to, more than a half dozen natural lakes ranging from 380 acres to 40,000 acres in size (Little Lake George, Lake George, Lake Dexter, Stagger Mud Lake, Lake Beresford, Lake Monroe, Lake Jesup, Lake Harney, and Puzzle Lake). Habitats are very varied. The stretch between Puzzle Lake and Lake Harney is shallow with ample sandbars and wide, flat expanses of floodplain. Lake Harney to Monroe is deeper with some small side channels and braiding as the river approaches Lake Monroe. The reach between Lake Monroe and Lake George has been channelized in some areas and lacks the sandbars. It has numerous oxbows branching off the river. The stretch above Lake George is more tidally influenced and has more marine species, with deeper waters and steeper shoreline drop-offs.
Hopefully, water levels will have dropped enough by the start of the year to allow boaters to move about on the river at normal speeds. Be prepared for possible boat ramp closures and other access issues in early January, however. Striped bass and Sunshine Bass should be congregating river wide near bridge pilings, jetties, channel markers, and in sharp bends in the river in the Mullet Lake area when the river is flowing. Grass shrimp, small shad, and rattling crankbaits are popular baits for these fish. Largemouth angling should also be picking up in the Mullet Lake area with live shiners the preferred bait. Cool weather marks the start of the black crappie (speckled perch) season. Lakes Jesup, Beresford and Harney, are popular speck lakes with most anglers drifting minnows or crappie jigs. Lakes Woodruff and Dexter, typically popular largemouth bass and crappie fisheries, should be relatively productive. January will mark the start of the American shad spawning run to their spawning grounds, with the peak of the season around February.
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 the St. Johns River system:
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 425
Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 76