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January Trout in St. Marks

January Trout in St. Marks

I have been slacking on my reports and posting.  I’d like to blame it on the holidays, family, and all the normal reasons.  Actually, that is what I’m going to go with.  But, I have been fishing a lot last few weeks and here is what I’ve seen plus a few tips you can try on your next trip.  As I’m sure you’re aware we had some cooler weather followed by extreme freezing weather here in North Florida.  We had snow fall for the first time in 30 years just to give you an idea of how unusually cold it was.  Yet, the fishing has been on fire!

On December 27th I took my offspring out for a little post-Christmas relaxing on the skiff.  We started in at the fort in St Marks and worked out way out towards the lighthouse.  The water temp stayed around 64 degrees most of the river. We didn’t leave the boat ramp till almost 11am on this windblown cloudy day, and were back at the shop by 3pm.  Despite the chilly weather, we still managed to land just over 50 trout in those few hours.  So, when I say they are thick, I mean every cast for almost a dozen in a row at times thick.  Here is the mini Captain showing off her new friend.


I’ve fished several trips before and since then in the St Marks area.  The trout bite continues to be great, if you can find them.  I watch people sit within ear shot of my Maverick, not catching a thing while we reel in dozens.  With the cooler water temps, a lot of trout have pushed up into the rivers and creeks near the lighthouse.  When in the river, fish around till you get a few bites, then anchor up OUTSIDE the channel.  Not only is it safer for you, its a Florida law not to “interfere with the navigation of other vessels.”  Once in position, cast soft plastics on jig heads up current and bounce them along the bottom.  My primary baits have been a Slayer Inc Sinister Twitch Bait (S.T.B) in white, a Z-man trout trick in brown and chartreuse.  The bigger trout seem to like the Slayers action and a slightly faster retrieve.  Pair both with a ½ or 3/8-ounce jig head in any color.  With the trout trick, let it get to bottom and bounce it a few times before allowing it to fall back to the bottom.  Working the Slayer is similar except I don’t let it go to the bottom except on the initial fall.  Jig it in a steady cadence till you feel the “thump”, then come tight!  Here is the lovely Amanda with a gator she caught on January 10th using this technique. 

The water temperature is the biggest factor I feel when determining where to look for the trout.  With this upcoming weeks freezing cold nights, I’d be willing to bet they will be pushing up the rivers.  When you find the fish and start getting bites, take a note of the water temperature and tide stage.  It takes some testing to figure out the right temperature they are holding in, but when you find it you’ll be glad you paid attention.  Anything in the mid 60’s seems to be a good place to start looking.

 This is a great time of year to take children and loved ones out for an action-packed day on the water, so if you need a trip contact me!

Captain John Swanson