Indian River County
The St. Johns Water Management Area (SJWMA), known to most anglers as the Farm 13/Stick Marsh, is a 6,500-acre impoundment located along the east coast of central Florida in northwest Indian River County. Water depths range from 4 to 8 feet. Boaters unfamiliar with the SJWMA are advised to navigate to fishing locations with extreme caution due to the number of man-made and natural hazards present. Facilities include a double lane concrete boat ramp, air boat launch site, restroom and paved parking lot. Closest towns/cities are Melbourne, Palm Bay, Vero Beach, Sebastian and Fellsmere. No gas, food or bait available on site. Popular sportfish include largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, black crappie and several catfish species. This water body is noted for its excellent bass fishing due to the special no harvest regulation on largemouth bass. The SJWMA is one of the top 10 trophy bass spots in the state.
Anglers are reminded to exercise caution when boating due to submerged and floating timber in the Stick Marsh/Farm13 impoundment and that they are legally obligated to adhere to catch-and-release regulations for largemouth bass.
For more information on daily fishing forecasts and lake conditions for Stick Marsh/Farm 13, call Stick Marsh Bait & Tackle Shop at 772-571-9855 and Palm Bay Fishing Outfitters at 321-952-4435.
Fishhound also offers a fishing forecast for Farm 13 / Stick Marsh .
Even though largemouth bass will be on a hot weather pattern this quarter, good catches are still possible for those who can adapt to the changing conditions associated with the onsite of the rainy season. Those on the lake at first light will likely have the most success before the morning sun intensifies, while others prefer fishing the late afternoon-evening period, especially after the thunderstorms have dissipated. Look for bass to be distributed more widely throughout the reservoir, oriented along the shallow tops of underwater berms and around woody structure in close proximity to deeper water. Submerged drainage canals/ditches, including Ditch 13, Ditch 7 and the numerous north-south drainage canals should be holding good numbers of bass. When the rainy season kicks in anglers should try the water control structure outflows (S-96D and S-259) and narrow cuts which generate current causing bass to school up in these areas to feed on bait fish, often generating a strong bite. Water conditions will dictate lure selection. This time of year, the diet of largemouth bass typically consists of threadfin and gizzard shad. Artificial lures that imitate shad, including top-water, shallow-running, and deep-diving crankbaits should be anglers’ best bets followed by plastic worms and swimbaits.
Computer generated summary results from this years angler survey conducted between January and April 2014 was recently completed. Bass anglers caught and released an estimated 32,907 fish of which 403 were trophy-size. Overall, the bass fishery in the Stick Marsh/Farm13 continues to score high marks among the various metrics which define the quality of the fishery. From a habitat standpoint – coontail, hydrilla and eelgrass coverage continued to show signs of spreading this spring, but remained mostly in the shallower southern most region of the Farm13 pool. Anglers will more often need to depend upon onboard electronics to locate dropoffs near deeper water where fish tend to hold this time of the year.
Black crappie (speckled perch) fishing can be rewarding this time of the year for those anglers willing to seek them out. This year’s creel survey results, like last year, showed relatively low overall effort for crappie (5,426 angler-hrs) with only 3,377 fish harvested during the period. During this quarter angler should look for them in and around deep-water structure, such as in Ditch 7, Ditch 13, along the drop-offs of numerous secondary submerge drainage ditches. Small jigs (1/32 and 1/8 ounce) with twister-tail or tube style tails and minnows should be effective. Bluegill and redear sunfish (shellcracker) will be found feeding and spawning along the perimeter levees throughout the reservoir and along the open-water drainage ditches in Farm13. Live crickets, worms, and grass shrimp will be the baits of choice, followed by beetle spins, and small jigs. Catfishing on this reservoir should be quite good, with traditional baits and methods all being productive.