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Jim HammondJim is a native of Florida. He has been fishing with his father since he was five years old. He has since become a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain and a dedicated fisherman in the waters of northeast Florida.  Jim Hammond's full bio and more articles

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It's Time to get ready for Virginia Croakers

Current Rating: 3.30 / 1,647 rates      

It's Time to get ready for Virginia Croakers It's Time to get ready for Virginia Croakers
By Jim Hammond

It's Time to get ready for Virginia Croakers

The nice croakers are just now showing up and will get bigger and thicker as this month ends.

Here are a few tips and techniques on when, where and how to fill the cooler and have great fun with some hard pulling on 3/4 to 2 1/2 pound croakers.

We will start with the bait:
I like to use three types of bait, shrimp, cut bait (croaker, mullet or squid) and Fish Bites. When I use shrimp, I like to remove the shell and cut a medium size shrimp into four or five pieces that are about 1/2 inch in length. Adjust the number of pieces that you get depending on the size of the shrimp.

When I use cut croaker, mullet or squid I like the size of the bait to be a little larger, maybe, about 1 inch in length.

And with Fish Bites, I like the size to be about 1/2 inch square. To make the Fish Bites this size you will need a pair of scissors to cut this as it is very tough. It is similar to cutting a thick piece of rubber. Fish Bites comes in several sizes and since I have used it the last time it now comes in several colors. I do not have any of the colored Fish Bites, so my experience is only with the white color. This bait is a bait that can be kept in your tackle box and needs no refrigeration, so it is always ready when you are. This is an artificial bait that is designed to produce a smell that is a fish attractant and feeding stimulant. You can purchase Fish Bites at two places in Jacksonville. For those of you that fish out toward the beaches you can get it at Rick's Bait and Tackle 992-4646 and for those that fish near Heckscher Drive, Clapboard Creek Fish Camp also carries it and their number is 757-1423.

The rod and reel:
I like to use a Shakespeare 7 foot long Ugly Stik Lite bait cast rod with Shakespeare SKP 4000A bait cast reel or a Shakespeare Intrepid SS 3835 or 3840 spinning reel on an Ugly Stik 6 1/2 foot long medium or medium heavy action rod. Fill the spool with 20 or 30 pound test Power Pro in their new high vis yellow line.

The terminal tackle:
You will need lead sinkers that range in size from one ounce to what ever it takes to hold bottom. These are bottom feeding fish and if your bait is even up a few feet from the bottom you are wasting your efforts. The without a doubt, the best hook for this type of fishing is the Daichii Circle Wide in 1/0 size. When the fish bites the bait that is on this hook, he is on the hook and can't get off.

Tie on a small barrel swivel to the Power Pro, using a Palomar knot. From the barrel swivel tie on a 3 foot long piece of 20 pound monofilament leader. From the bottom of the leader tie a loop knot. This knot you will use to slip through the eye of the bank sinker. Come up about six inches and tie another loop knot, that has a loop that sticks out about four to six inches from the rest of the leader. Do the same about six to eight inches up the leader. You should now have a loop knot at the bottom of the leader and two more loop knots six to eight inches apart and six inches up from the sinker. The loop knots should be tied with the tag end of the line passing twice through the loop and pulled tight. Slip on the lead sinker and a Daichii hook through each loop, put on your bait and your are ready or are you. I forgot to tell you where to catch these fish, silly me.

Where to catch these fish:
These fish will be attracted to rocky bottom in fairly swift moving current. Alright, rocky bottom, my favorite. I always enjoy fishing around rocky bottom because I am always able to go to the tackle store after a days fishing and replace all of the sinkers and hooks that I gave up to the rocks that day. Yes, you are going to go through some tackle. Any time that you drop a sinker and hook in the pile of rocks, you give up some of your tackle that you have worked all week to purchase. You shouldn't feel bad about losing these hooks and sinkers because you are far from being alone when it comes to giving up tackle to the bottom.

In the Jacksonville area these fish can be found around most of the jetty rocks in the river, under the Dames Point Bridge and around Blount Island.

When to catch them:
They are starting to show up now and will be here through October or November. I prefer the outgoing tide but they will bite pretty good on the incoming.

Precautions:
These fish have VERY SHARP gill plates and if you are not careful, your hands will be all cut up by the end of a days fishing for croakers. I like to take one of my wife's nice towels to place in my hand so when I grab the fish I am safe from the gill plates. Just don't let your wife know what happened to he towel or both you and I will be in trouble.

How to have the best fun with these croakers: Take your kids. This is by far one of the best times of the year to take your kids fishing. The action is fast and furious, these fish eat good and your kids will not be bored.

Things on the check list:
Take plenty of hooks and sinkers as you will go through plenty of them. Take a lot of bait as you will go through more of this than most other types of fishing. Take a towel. Don't tell your wife that I said to take one of her nice ones. Don't keep more than you are going to eat. When the action is fast and furious, you will lose track of how many fish go in the box. When you get home and see a cooler full of fish, you might have wished that you threw some back.

For information on booking a charter with me, you can call me at (904) 757-7550 in Jacksonville or email me at funfish@mediaone.net. Check out my website, www.hammondfishing.com, for links to some of the tackle that I have written about or to find out when and where my fishing show plays in your area.

Good Fishing
Capt. Jim Hammond

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Current Article Rating: 3.30 with 1,647 rates
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csharpe@aol.com | Posted: June 22, 2009

great reading

joesmoke74 | Posted: February 25, 2009

a very good well written article, still 20 to 30 pound test for croaker is more than over kill. (10 to 12 pound pier)and (15 pound deep water)!! at least for me

LCBANKS | Posted: April 15, 2007

I found this very interesting and so very true. I have found myself with a cooler full of croakers and neighbors waiting at my doorstep. As for the towel... I am a wife and I better not catch any of my "good" towels out fishing.... Thanks for the info on the Daichii Circle hooks I will try those next time out. Happy Fishing to you all!!! LCBANKS in Maryland


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