St Johns River – Lower Basin Guide

ST JOHNS RIVER – LOWER BASIN

Ocklawaha River to Jacksonville

WHY:

Considered one the richest ecosystems in the U.S., the Lower Basin of the St. Johns River can be brackish due to the mix of river and tidal ocean water; anglers can have success catching both fresh and saltwater species.

WHERE:

The Lower Basin, the most northern of the three St Johns River basins, begins where the Ocklawaha River, the largest tributary of the St. Johns, joins the main river. Near Black Creek and Doctor’s Lake, it averages 2 miles in width and is characterized by spans of estuaries, heavy industry, strong tides, and a wider and straighter river channel. Once the river meets Jacksonville, it turns east and empties into the Atlantic Ocean.

The nearest airport is Jacksonville International, a 15 minute drive from downtown Jacksonville.

WHAT:

The Lower Basin of the St. Johns River terminates at the Atlantic Ocean. Over 42 million gallons of saltwater are flushed into the St. Johns every day, resulting in a brackish mix of fresh and salt water in this section of the river. Both fresh and saltwater species can be found as a result.

HOW:

Texas- or Carolina-rigged plastic worms targeted on pilings or submerged structure can be effective. The darker colors often work well in the brackish water. Spinnerbaits, worms, and spoons can be used to bring the bass out of the grass.

Striped bass are drawn to the cooler natural springs of the Lower Basin. Striped bass are can be found in Lake George, where the Lower and Middle Basins meet, and in Lake Harney and Lake Monroe.

Live menhaden, golden shiners, croakers or eels are good choices as bait. Lures, like rattletraps, that resemble baitfish also produce impressive strikes, including heavy jigs, as well as sinking and floating lures in white, chrome or chartreuse.

Other saltwater species in this section of the river include Flounder, Redfish, Spanish Mackerel and Spotted Trout, as well as Snook, and Tarpon.

Check out Baitstick Box – St Johns River to get the basics needed for a day on the St Johns River. Experienced anglers and professional guides have weighed in on the gear inside the Baitstick Box specifically assembled for the St Johns River and similar waters of northeastern Florida. Seasoned anglers can resupply with essentials and new anglers can fish regional rivers and lakes right out of the box.

All fishing is local and Baitstick is committed to bringing you products to make your next fishing trip the best trip.

WHEN:

Winter and early spring can be most productive for targeting largemouth bass in upper reaches of the river section.  While striped bass don’t tolerate warm water well, they’re drawn to the cool natural springs of the Lower Basin, especially in the late fall through mid-spring

Note: During winter months, much of the manatee population in Florida retreats to the tributary of Blue Spring for the protected warm waters. Fishing is also not permitted in the area during the spring run.

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LOWER BASIN BOAT RAMPS:

Welaka Boat Ramp

9199 Elm St, Welaka, FL

Palatka City Dock & Boat Ramp

319 River St, Palatka, FL

WHERE TO STAY:

Residence Inn Jacksonville South/Bartrum Park

WHERE TO EAT:

Julington Fish Creek Camp

Taverna

Corky Bell’s Seafood

Woodpecker’s Backyard BBQ