FARM 13 / STICK MARSH FISHING REPORT
September 24, 2001
Bass are still great, with pretty good surface schoolies in various parts of the farm side. Nice part is they
are not moving far after they go down. If the location has a good bit of
submerged grass, use the 'secret weapon' --- the Johnson Spoon. The drag of the broad face of the lure allows it to be worked very, very slowly and still stay shallow. Most don't realize that, thinking a spoon is heavy and sinks fast. Not so with the Johnson. It has a slow, undulating side-to-side action which is awesome. Add a 4 inch worm or pork strip as a trailer and the action is close to my Swimming Worm. It can be fished through most anything without snagging. The weedguard looks too heavy, but that is deceiving, too. It is a 'bendable' flat strip of metal that deforms easily to allow the fish to be hooked. The strikes are soft 'takes' that resemble a light worm strike. It takes some getting used to. But, once you catch a couple, you will never be without that lure. Remember - slow as you can; keep it in or over the cover; when you feel a strike, do not set the
hook immediately; let him swim the line tight first. The great crappie fishing slowed for us last Friday.
Great guns for a week up until Thursday; gone on Friday. Such is fishing. But, they will show up again somewhere. NOTE: it is renown as a great bass hole; but, the Stick Marsh is the absolute BEST crappie location I have ever seen. It has been so for 11 years now, so I think it has proved it can sustain itself. Seasonal guide bookings ( mid-Oct through April) are filling up fast now that the weather is cooling and fall is coming fast. Be sure to sign up as early as possible to book specific days. Rates have been reduced until Jan 2002 . Also, more detailed fishing reports, with pictures, are posted there. If you see Don (the World's Worst), stop a minute and watch his Swimming Worm
technique. He has done good with it in a short period. Sorta brings a tear to my eye (or, was that a speck of dust?)
The guide bookings are filling fast for the prime Stick Marsh period of mid-Oct through April. I suspect that is the case for most of our local guide services on the place. Mine may be starting early because I reduced the fees a bit. But, this weekend, I had to turn down two bookings for November because the dates were taken. Nov and Dec get tough at times because everyone is trying to work Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year into the schedules. In addition to my services, you have a great core group of Stick Marsh guides that I recommend (nothing against others; I just know these guys are what they claim) - Hugh Crumpler (tel # on his BFHP ad) maybe the best I have seen); George/Scott Welcome (tel # on his BFHP ad) dedicated and tough fishermen); Randy Saunders (321-768-0029)(fairly new, but his results have been very, very impressive). Remember, plan early, even if you do not intend to use a guide. I predict record crowds this year and it might get a bit tough to get shiners. As soon as you know you will be fishing and if you will use shiners, call ahead and get in your order. Jeanne Middleton, from Blue Cypress Fish Camp (800-258-5002/561-778-0150), will deliver them to you at the Farm 13-side levee and the Fla Fishing Outfitters (321-952-4435) on Malabar Rd in Palm Bay is on the way from the Melbourne/Palm Bay area motels.
I had unofficial word that the Fellsmere Bait and tackle had closed. If anyone knows, you might post it, one way or the other.
September 22, 2001
As stated in our last update, the fishing is absolutely fantastic on the Stick Marsh.
Thursday, Sunny Wells and I decided to forego the bass and concentrate on crappie. The result was a 50 fish limit (2 people) in 1.5 hours (we did not keep them all).
Yesterday, we found our crappie hole was slow, or possible dried up. I suspect the fish moved back into the grass beds due to the bright sun and rising heat. We were having 80-84 degree days with clouds and overcast. But, now it is bright and hot again.
However, the bass were readily available on the Carolina Rig worm. As on pervious days this week, the bass would only react to an extremely slow presentation of the C-rig. In fact, ‘stopped and still’ was the best approach. I hate to say this, because I know some will not believe it. But, we could actually lay the C-rig rod down and simply wait for the strike to come. They would pick it up from a perfectly still position as well, or better, than if it was being moved slowly. Strange, but true.
I also introduced Sunny to the little 4-inch finesse Power Worm we use a good bit. After my 5-6 fish in a row and no takers on his 7-inch curly-tail version, I agreed to sell him some of the Power Worms for $1.00 each, plus another dollar for each fish he caught (I’m a heck of a nice guy, aren’t I?). First cast and he had a fish. Unknown to Sunny, I then switched to a Slider worm and kept catching them. Just proves Power Worms are not anything magic.
With the cooler weather, the number of boats coming to the Stick Marsh is picking up. That means the already poor road is going to take more of a beating. It is now very dusty again and pretty rough, especially the first and last sections. The new marl put on the last section is still loose and tends to be slick when wet, so drive carefully.
The water levels are still exceptionally high, but down about 4 inches from last week’s peak high. That means the grass is topping out again and the floaters are hard to see. Watch closely. Some are really big.
An interesting thing that I should have photographed, but didn’t, is that the recent mild hurricane (Gabriella) blew some good 40-50 MPH winds in from the south for a day. That blew a lot of the vegetation mats from the south end of the Farm 13 side to locations out in the northern half of the Farm. All those big reed stands and willow bushes we thought were rooted on the south end were actually just floating islands of vegetation. Now, the usually open water of the Farm 13 area is full of islands. Some are as much as 100 yards across. It is a strange site. You would think you are on a completely different body of water. I will get a picture and post it next time out.
We are starting to fill up on October through February guide trips rapidly now. Be sure to get your reservations made, if you plan to fish with us this winter. Because of the weakening economy, we are cutting our full-day trip prices to $225 for up to two people.
September 20, 2001
The fishing on the Stick Marsh is as good as I have seen it in a long time. We have already had a great year, with many trophy bass and many 50-100 fish days coming during the low water period. But, conditions are totally opposite now. The water is excessively high, to a degree that I can only recall it being higher at one other time. And, the fishing is absolutely spectacular.
Prior to Tropical Storm Gabriella crossing the State last week, the grass had become thickly matted on about 80% of the Stick Marsh and 60% of the Farm 13 side. This grass was so thick, small boats and motors could not cut through it. Fishing areas became somewhat limited, with the SE and SW corners of the Stick Marsh being somewhat accessible, and the old canal traces and south end of the Farm being best. The SE gate in the Farm has continued to run for a couple of months now. But, the fishing in its current flow has been sporadic, with many of the fish very small. A lot of fish were still being caught by those with intimate knowledge of the impoundment and targeting moving water. However, the majority of visiting anglers really had a hard time.
With the present high water, there has been a rejuvenation of fishing. The majority of the grass became submerged and the water movement volumes increased. The bass decided it was a good time to practice their surface feeding skills and have gone completely bonkers chasing baitfish on top. The surface activity is not limited to any particular area, so you have to keep an open eye out for them. With the winds down, you can spot a surface feeding school a long way off. Most of this has been in the Farm side, but I suspect there is some on the Marsh, as well. In the canals and other deep locations, deep crank plugs and Carolina rigs have been excellent. Lots of fine 3-5 pound fish come to the boat. We have caught no giants, though. That is a rare thing when you are catching large quantities of bass. Normally, the odds give you a giant when you catch at least 30-40 small fish.
For you that like crappie, it appears the Stick Marsh is starting up early on them. We have been getting limits for two people in an hour to an hour and a half. The high water, plus water movement, has pulled a lot of them out of the grass and into more open water. We have patterned them near the bottom and outside the grass lines. Small jigs pulled very slowly just off the bottom have been great.
Just to provide an idea of how good the fishing is right now, here are the statistics for the past three days: Monday - 2 hours, 38 bass (did not fish for crappie); Tuesday - 2 hours, 33 bass, 47 crappie; Wednesday - 2 hours, 100+ crappie (did not bass fish).
With the present high water, you can run anywhere in the impoundment, except the west end of the Marsh side and the extreme south end of the Farm. There are floaters out there that came off the banks with the high water, so watch for them.
It's a good time to fish the Stick Marsh. The weather is cool and the fish are doing exceptionally well. Feel free to email us if we can help you with information.
September 15, 2001
Road is back open, as of Friday evening (was closed Thursday to try and fix the holes in it). Still very rough. Drive slow and save your gear. Went to C-54 in the late afternoon Friday to be sure fish could be caught like I said in the last post below. They were not as thick as I would have thought, but there were fish. Two were very nice ones. Instead of out on the silt bars, many were up in the pipe opening area near the grass line. But, the big fish did come off a silt bar. Wind was 30-35, but from the south, so it was easy to fish this east-west canal. Forget that today. Wind is from due west and right down the chute. There will be LOTS of moving water, so fishing is going to be great in the Marsh for a good while. Watch for some really great reports on quantities of bass. May not get giants, but we will have those 100 fish days for awhile. Since the water is also going to be really high from the storm's rain, a lot of floaters are going to come off the banks. Watch for them!!
September 14, 2001
The Marsh access road was blocked off yesterday afternoon at the last section prior to the parking area to try and repair it. It was not announced and there is no warning notice/sign at the highway entrance. In addition, they had the north access road gate locked. Whether it will remain that way long, I can't say. But, with the mini-hurricane Friday and Sat, I do not expect they will work, so it will possibly be blocked until next week. If you drag a boat down the road, it is a real bxxxx to get turn back around. So, a word to the wise. On the good side, C54 will work for you. All the runoff from the surrounding farms has water running like mad through the pipes along the north side of the canal. Each has a silt bar in front, and slightly on the downstream side, of each drainage pipe. The bass will gather like gangbusters at times. Also, watch to se if the C54 gate at the marsh end is opened. If so, there is a big silt bar and rock pile downstream in the middle of the canal about 100 yards from the gate. The fish will get there, too. If you want catfish, you can walk on them right now in front of any of those moving water locations. Had an email last night about my last post below. Seems as though another boat fished all day, even in front of the flowing gates, without even a bite. He wanted to know how Sunny Wells and I caught 30 in a little over and hour in all that rain and wind from the approaching storm. (I had put the quantities caught and a bit more detail on my website report). The answer was that the location was well known as a holding place during moving water (and, NOT a gate nor the tree opening near the ramp). Plus, we saw the fish busting shad on the surface as we came up to it. They just showed us where they were, which is the way stickmarsh bass do about 75% of the time that you get on a big school. If you are skeptical and know Sunny, send him an email and ask him. It's easy to catch the fish. The hard part is FINDING them. They just sent up a signal flare, so we couldn't miss them. We only post real data. No advertising.
September 13, 2001
With the big storm brewing off the west coast of Florida, the rains have been very heavy. Consequently, the water levels in the Stick Marsh are up about 6 inches over normal. This 6-inch addition took place in about 48 hours.
All the gates draining water from the farms and into the Stick Marsh are open and running strong. This is good for fishing, in that it creates a LOT of moving water location for fish to gather. While the gates are usually the better places, most fish in their inflow have been small in the past month.
The better locations have been the submerged canal traces in the Farm 13 side and necks/funnels in the grass and trees of the Marsh side. The water is flowing strong enough at some of the funnel areas that the bass are actually chasing the baitfish on the surface. That indicates that many, many bass are using the locations and the competiveness for the available baitfish is ferocious.
Topwater works well when the fish are on top. Rat-L-Trap type lures are good after they go down. Carolina rig worms are possibly the best lure overall, If the location is reasonable free of grass (see photo). Sunny Wells and I only got in about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes on the bass. But, that was time enough for about 30 fish, with 5 doubles. That says there are a LOT of fish grouped.
The newly overhauled road is atrocious. I hope they did not use too much of our tax money for that project. Hopefully, they got some sort of guarantee on the work. It sure appears to have been a waste to this writer. It is rough as a cob and full of holes, especially in the last section before the parking area. Drive with care and go very slow in that last section.
September 7, 2001
Road is maybe 7 on a scale of ten. A bit rough in spots, but overall it seems to be packing OK. The dust is still down and that is a plus.
Water level is presently at normal pool, with a light flow through the impoundment. The SE gate is open and the NW exit gate is allowing water out at about the same rate. The SE gate is basically a small fish location now. Probably overfished. Who knows.
For the past week, we have tried to locate some good schools of fish, but have not found any of significance. What we have found is that the south end and the SW corner of the farm side have significant numbers in the far back areas. You will see that those areas look very open. But, you will find they have grass just under the surface. The good part is that it is not thick. Mixed with all the wood down there, it is an ideal setting. It is hard to figure, but those fish are very reluctant to hit topwater or buzz baits. There is some reaction to spinnerbaits, if the grass is thin enough to fish them.
The one lure that did well yesterday was a Texas rig 4-5 inch worm. The strikes nearly all came on the drop (which is really minimal in 4-5 feet of water) and they were all pretty good fish. If there was no strike on the drop or the first pull, it appeared you might as well haul it in and try again.
It was logical that the floating worm or jerk bait allowed to sink slowly should work, but I could not do so. We have found a few along the NS canal traces of the Farm on the swimming worm and the Texas rig, but all were singles.
There are a LOT of shellcrackers along the grass line of those canal traces, if you are interested. In fact, there seem to be a lot of shellcrackers everywhere we tossed a jig or Swimming Worm.
By early to mid-October, the Florida weather will start to cool and the crappie will start to pick up some. Habitually, the initial action has been along independent grass lines, such as the edge of a canal or levee. We always start the search with just a 1/16th-oz jig. If we hit them, we can go fairly well. But, until the end of November, minnows will be the best. Find them by covering a lot of water quickly with a jig and then switch to minnows. The crappie spawn starts about the 1st - 2nd week in Feb. But, this early activity at the end of the year produces all we ever need for the freezer.
NOW AVAILABLE: We just finished the first version of the Farm 13/Stick Marsh section which provides history, current conditions, current fishing reports, special information topics, AND an interactive map. The map, a creation of Bryan Hague of Fishing-Hunting.com, allows you to point to a section of the impoundment and have a pop-up window appear with the information about that section.
Today's Weather for
the Stick Marsh Area
Past Fishing Reports
Farm 13/Stick Marsh Information Guide
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Pete and Tina Heinz / 9 South Mulberry St. / Fellsmere, FL 32948 / 772-571-9855
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