A fishing holiday was in order for my old buddy, Jody Moyer. He was visiting from his home in Indiana and we hadn’t fished the waters of Lofton creek together in many years.
We had filled the bait well with large wild shiners from my lake the previous night and they were frisky and ready to fish. As we launched the Cleansweep boat at the A1A ramp the last third of the outgoing tide greeted us along with a log jam which we wiggled over and around. We motored down the winding creek past mossy trees and a scattering of houses and docks to a creek mouth aptly dubbed the “Hog Hole”.
After anchoring we flipped our live shiners, pinned to a 1/0 wide gap hook with a cigar shaped foam float, up to the muddy bank’s edge. Just as one shiner began patrolling the bank, a huge splash indicated a sizeble bass had struck, but the hook missed its mark and the fish devoured a free meal. Another shiner was pitched in the same vicinity and quickly inhaled. Jody set the hook and worked a four pound bass to the boat for a picture. My turn was next and my live bait was quickly smashed up against the muddy bank. As the fish headed for deeper water I set the hook causing an eruption on the surface and as I battled the largemouth to the boat it appeared to be sizable. When finally netted, it weighed six pounds.
Next, Jody set the hook on another hard fighting fish which when brought to the net surprised us with the lateral lines of a striper. Stripers can be caught in our Nassau County brackish tributaries in the winter and spring months. As the tide slowed, we prepared to move back upstream where the tidal flow would still be going out. Jody’s float disappeared! After a solid hook set and a deeply bent spinning rod, a blue catfish surfaced weighing in at six pounds.
We pulled anchor and headed upstream toward the boat ramp and caught two more nice largemouth bass before calling it a day. All fish were released into my lake unharmed to suppliment a fish population decimated by a fish kill last October… with the exception of the striper whose filets wound up being baked under a layer of mayo, cracker crumbs and spices.
Bass are active during all tidal phases in Lofton creek, moving water being the key. Check out Lofton. It is not crowded and loaded with natural beauty.
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By: Capt . Jim Wormhoudt
My first trip to Lofton Creek, which is the best boat ramp located between Amelia Island and Yulee, was one of sheer amazement. It didn’t exactly represent what I pictured as typical Florida Bass fishing. Cypress trees lined the banks and the tanic stained water flowed at a leisurely pace in and out with the tide on a schedule almost opposite of what the tide was at the beach. Spanish moss and October foliage adorned the overhanging branches, a scene out of a Jim Stafford song about a mythical swamp filled with scary things.
My fishing partner chuckled at my assortment of lures and plugs neatly assembled in my Plano tackle box. The wild shiners we had labored to catch in the predawn hours were all we needed on the end of our fishing line. Fished below a 4 inch cigar shaped foam float about 3 feet above a #1 or #1/0 Kahle hook , the shiner probed its fateful path around the tree roots which lined the muddy bank while the float bobbed around on the surface in a mesmerizing dance. It is common knowledge among live bait fisherman that in order to entice a strike one needs only to open a can of tasty and nutritious Vienna sausages or answer the call of nature. Not the case that day, our first bass knocked the wild shiner clean out of the creek onto the bank and inhaled it when it tumbled back into the water. After a five second wait for Mr. Bass to swallow the shiner my partner set the hook, in the opposite direction of the path the fish was traveling prompting an acrobatic jump of an aggravated 7 lb. largemouth. After a picture and a gentle release we discussed the event with great enthusiasm.
We boated several more bass that morning and from then on I have been a big fan of Lofton creek. Being a tidal creek, largemouth bass, Flounder, Redfish, Stripers and Speckled sea trout can all be caught in the same vicinity feeding on shrimp, shiners, and mullet, which inhabit different stretches of the creek. Depending on the tide and salinity of the water, bream, black crappie, and a variety of catfish also inhabit the stained water of Lofton Creek.
Do not let this jewel of NE Florida pass you by. If you don’t have a canoe, kayak or small boat, call me, I’ll show one of Nassau County’s easily overlooked wild attractions.
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