Fishing in the lower St. Johns has been great during the last week. And then the strong winds spoiled the fun.

The Mayport charter captain fleet stayed busy over the weekend catching big bull reds, which are stacked up thick in the river, as well as the tarpon and big jacks that are chasing schools of mullet around the jetties and Nassau Sound.

Flounder are continuing to be caught near docks in the Mayport area and Intracoastal Waterway. Mullet are everywhere in the creeks, and inshore specialists are reporting a solid redfish bite, mixed in with some trout and keeper black drum.

All of that was put on hold as strong winds moved in Sunday, dirtying the water and hindering fishing and boating.

As late as 4 p.m. Wednesday, Northeast Florida was under a tropical storm warning and small craft advisory. Luckily, most of us are working, and the weather should improve by Friday.

Hurricane Michael will pass north of Jacksonville, and the forecast doesn't call for heavy rains. So the fishing should pick back up again when the wind settles down.

“There’s nothing you can do. Just let things pass and regroup,” said Capt. Leon Dana, who was dialed into a hot bull red bite in the St. Johns River before it shut down on Monday.

Jetties

Tarpon, jacks and redfish are the name of the game at the jetties right now.

Capt. Jeremy Alvarez said he caught all three species over the weekend, as did Capt. Chip Wingo, who jumped plenty of tarpon at the jetties and Nassau Sound.

“It’s been on fire,” Wingo said. “Look for spraying mullet.”

Now’s the time to match the hatch and fish live mullet, either free-lined or under a float.

While the big predators have been stealing the show, there’s been a few reports of sheepshead showing up. Capt. Jeff Wansor said he’s planning to target them at the jetties this weekend, and expects that fishery to heat up as waters cool down.

Main River

Bull red fishing has been great in the main river in 30 to 45 feet of water. Blue crabs, live mullet, cut mullet and ladyfish are catching fish. These are the breeding stock of the species, so handle them with care. Don't keep them out of the water long, and using a venting tool.

The little jetties area looked like a parking lot on Sunday, so I imagine that would be a good place to start fishing.

In addition to catching bull reds, Capt. Kirk Waltz said he's catching trout, flounder and some bruiser jacks.

Capt. Steve Mullen also put some flounder in the boat and hammered the bull reds outside of Sister’s Creek.

B & M Bait and Tackle is hearing reports of reds, flounder and trout being caught in the river.

Robin Emmett of the Trout Creek Fish Co. said anglers are catching yellowmouth trout and red fish. Flounder fishing has been "hit or miss" near Mayport. The croaker bite is slow, he said, but he expects that to change any day. 

Dana was averaging around 10 bull reds a trip in the river and expects that to pick right back up this weekend. Waltz concurred, saying he believes the fishing will improve as soon as the weather settles.

If you live near downtown, now might be a good time to fish there. I saw masses of mullet everywhere south of the Acosta Bridge on Tuesday, as well as dolphin pods and a mullet boat in pursuit. Bull reds can be caught in the deep channels this time of year. While he didn’t fish the area, Wingo said he saw tarpon near the Main Street bridge.

ICW and the backcountry

There’s a little bit of everything to be caught inshore right now, according to reports from the weekend.

Capt. David Borries, who fished in St. Augustine on Saturday and Sunday, said he caught some nice trout during high tide throwing topwater plugs against the grass — and missed a few gator trout. He also caught a few nice flounder.

Wansor said he caught a few decent flounder and trout on finger mullet while fishing for reds in the ditch.

Wingo caught slot reds in the creeks, as well as slot black drum in the deeper holes. He’s catching flounder working spinnerbaits on grass lines. He said the trout bite has been “sketchy.”

Offshore

The Mayport party boats made it offshore over the weekend, said Capt. Bo Hall. Fishing in 85 to 100 feet, anglers caught a mixed bag: a lot of almaco jacks, bee liners, a few mangrove snapper and some trigger fish. They also caught a nice grouper each day as well as a few short cobia.

When the ocean opens back up for business, Hall said to expect more consistent bottom fishing — and more cobia and grouper to show up if the water gets cooler.

Surf

The strong onshore winds that arrived Sunday have made the seas angry and delivered thick mats of sargassum weeds.

Before the wind picked up, I saw plenty of mullet in the surf. I was hoping to surf fish on Saturday, but an untimely surfing accident and trip to the emergency room prevented me from doing so.

Noel Kuhn, a surf fishing specialist and guide, had no such problems. He said oversized redfish are running the inlets, and big whiting and bluefish are in the surf from Fernandina Beach to Flagler Beach. He said a few pompano have also shown up.

After the weather passes and seas flatten, he said water clarity will be the key in whether fishing picks back up again.

Freshwater and the southern St. Johns

Crappie fishing is heating up in Black Creek, said John Hamilton of Black Creek Marina. He said the fish are in 8 to 12 feet of water near bridge and dock pilings and drop offs. They’re hitting minnows — or small live shrimp, if you can find them — fished between 5 to 10 feet.

Hamilton said big croaker and keeper yellowmouth trout are showing up in the deeper holes in the main river. Roe mullet are everywhere, he said.

Shrimping remains slow, and Hamilton said the best numbers are being found in Doctor’s Lake.

Hamilton said he expects shrimping to improve over the next week. And if shrimping improves, the fishing should be hot.

"Everything eats shrimp," he said.