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.
Striped bass will move to thermal refuges (springs, spring runs, deep holes) in late April/early May. Grass shrimp, shad and menhaden are good baits this time of year. The pads along the edges of the river from Lake George south are coming back and should be productive. Best bets for fishing this stretch of river would be to fish the drop-offs along the channel. For the river north of Lake George, the pads should be good for spawning shellcracker and bluegill. Catfish and bluegill will be around channel markers, dead heads, etc. when not spawning. Largemouth bass will group up around submerged structure. Live bait will be best. The Croaker Hole in Little Lake George becomes very productive for striped bass this time of year and they should be in relatively decent condition. Grass shrimp, dead shrimp and large jigs may work well.
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): 419
Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 76