Arey’s rollin with tides and lunker sticks

Team Toyota’s Matt Arey says he won’t allow the challenging tide-driven water level changes of the St. Johns River to dictate his day, but he did take time to look at tidal charts briefly on his Lowrance unit prior to Day 1 blast-off in Palatka. 

“I’m not a guy who gets caught up in chasing the ‘perfect tide’ up and down the river. First off, there’s never any certainty as to which tidal conditions are truly best, and secondly, it’s different every few miles,” says Arey.

For example, low tide here in Palatka was at 7:37 a.m. Thursday, but that didn’t have a ton to do with water levels where Arey made his first cast a few miles downriver. So, he likes to have a general knowledge of the tides, without letting them run him ragged mentally.

The North Carolina State grad has a very impressive tournament performance history on the St. Johns. He finished 15th at the Bassmaster Elite here in 2019 and followed that up with an even stronger 7th place finish in 2020, and simplicity is a huge part of his success.

“I’m not going to run around looking for the shad spawn like a lot of guys will this morning. I’m going to Texas rig a black and blue Lunkerhunt Trick Stick and hope to get 8 to 10 bites pitchin’ by about 10:00 a.m., then I’ll go looking for a big one on a spawning bed,” he says.

Arey describes the St. Johns as a “soft plastic pitcher’s paradise” and says he’s made a ton of money in Florida with the 5” Lunker Stick throughout his career. In fact, he says if you come bass fishing in Florida and you want to get a bite, you’d be wise to make sure you rig one up. 

“If I can weigh-in 14-pounds today, I’ll be ecstatic!” exclaims Arey. “I’ll tell you this … fans can expect to see a lot of healthy bass here on the St. Johns compared to what we brought to the scales at the Harris Chain of Lakes last week. This should be a fun one,” says Arey.

With two Top 15 finishes to his credit, it’s certainly been a fun one in recent years for him, based largely on a strong mental focus that keeps tidal charts in proper perspective, and a simple ink-pen-shaped piece of soft plastic tied to the end of his line.