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Saturday Fishing Report with Mr Murphy- Hatbill Park

panorama of channel split at first junction downstream of Hatbill Road on the St. Johns River

I had been wanting to do some shad fishing in the Hatbill Park area for several weeks. With the rain this week, I saw an uptick in current and depth on the SR 50 gauge and decided that today was the day. My plan was to head to the first junction and fish that thoroughly, then maybe make my way to the turn just downstream, and if neither held shad, to head up to Orange Mound to fish that pool for shad and tilapia. However, it seemed that Mr. Murphy, you know… of Murphy’s Law fame was riding tandem with me today.

Broken Trolling Motor in canoe

A turn or two downstream of the launch, right where the river narrows and there are high reeds that might block an airboat from seeing a lowly canoe, I ran aground and cracked my hand-me-down trolling motor’s case. Luckily there were no airboats coming or going and the circus that ensued by me trying to turn said broken trolling motor off, failing at that, getting out of the canoe to reach the battery in the bow to disconnect everything while trying not to lose the canoe, while cursing (but also laughing at myself,) went completely unnoticed by anyone other than a few white pelicans that must have thought I was nuts! Or at least a total NOOB. By the way, I was not too broken hearted at the damage to the trolling motor, as this had obviously happened before, as the copious amounts of epoxy filling the cracked case would testify.

Luckily I had not forgotten my paddle, as I did on a trip with Todd this year, and I made my way the short 3/4 mile trip to the first junction quickly. Of course when I did arrive, I realized I left my cooler in the car, water and all. SMH. Anyway, I found great current at the first junction and just upstream of it. There was also decent depth in the main channel, maybe waist high. Since I was now motor-less, I decided I would fish the crap out of this junction, and skip the rest of the scheduled trip. I hooked up with two nice bass at the head of the first junction on an orange over white size #4 Kip Tail Clouser Minnow, and got a couple of pics (see below.) I worked the first junction, 5 steps at a time, from had to tail, and picked up two more dinky bass.

At about noon the wind kicked up to 15-20mph, and everything seemed to turn off. I worked the first junction thoroughly for about 3.5 hours and decided I had enough of the wind. I made my way back to the ramp slowly and I fished each interesting turn with current or depth, and did not find shad. I did see one spent shad in it’s dying throws drifting in the current. Some days are better than others, and I am just thankful for the two respectable bass on the five weight today, in lieu of Mr. Murphy!

a nice bass caught with a fly rod
Bass on the fly on the St Johns River


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