Good catches in toughest weather conditions

Published: Friday, January 17, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 16, 2003 at 10:56 p.m.
The dead of winter finds fishing activity nearly lifeless as well. Even in the toughest weather conditions, though, there always seems to be at least a few anglers able to make noteworthy catches.
While a piercing cold wind convinced most speckled perch fans to stay home, one family braved the uncomfortable solitude on Lochloosa Monday to make an outstanding haul. Around midday Ann Spencer, along with husband, Roger, and brother-in-law, Dean eased up to the Finway/Yankee Landing boat dock to pick up more minnows. They had already pulled in an eye-popping mess of big crappie, and had run out of bait.
With the new ammunition, the Spencers went back out to their productive spot in the lily pads and finished an ultra impressive cooler-full of specks. Even though the Archer trio released all but the biggest slabs, their icebox was still crammed with 55 fish. The Lochloosa specks have stubbornly remained in the shallow cover they normally visit only at spawning time, though veteran speckers insist that water temps there should be too low for that activity.
Several Gainesville anglers struggled along with most of the field in the first Citgo Bassmasters Tour event of the season last week on the Harris Chain of Lakes, but managed in-the-money finishes. Shaw Grigsby finished in 61st place with 7 pounds, 14 ounces; Bernie Schultz ended up 70th with 7-01; and Mike Gough squeezed out a paycheck at 74th with 6-14. Out of the co-angler end of the boat, Tripp Ward nailed down a nice 43rd place finish.
Finesse-minded bass anglers from the west always seem to fare well when the fishing is tough. That was again the case in this contest, as California's Skeet Reese finished on top, winning $101,000.
Tough fishing over recent days extended to salt waters on both coasts - even to inshore waters that had offered the most reliable action around. One marina owner in Suwannee called last weekend "the worst weekend of the season."
In the fishing portion of the Plantation Oaks Fish N Golf Classic tournament at Suwannee Saturday, only two good speckled trout catches were brought in. The Gainesville team of Mike Jacobs and Larry Bishop took ten trout that weighed nearly 21 pounds. A 3-pound, 14-ounce fish anchored their limit.
The second-place team in the trout category had a 10-fish limit weighing more than 16 pounds that included a 3-pound 7-ouncer. Both teams fished creeks north of the big river, using Mirrolures and jigs with grub tails. Bishop and Jacobs also brought in a good pair of redfish (the only legal reds taken in the tourney) and topped the weekend off with a fine round of golf to easily capture overall bragging rights in the event's first year.
Bob Heron and Chris Couch boated 5 bass to win the freshwater bass category, and the team of Dan O'Connell and Walter Smith used a sparkling golf round to finish second overall. Before I consider entering another contest that involves golf, I hope someone will remind me to learn to hit the ball first.
Even at Crystal River, site of some of the most dependable cold-weather inshore fishing, weekend anglers and inspiring catches were both scarce. The most exciting news from the river is the surprising number of snook that have been recently spotted milling around Pete's Pier Marina. Now, nobody has reported hooking one of the cagey linesides - but they do have to eat sometime.
Who wouldn't enjoy a two-day billfishing trip to Costa Rica, Cancun, Palm Beach, or the Bahamas aboard a 58-foot Merritt Sportfish with top-notch tackle, food, and crew furnished? At the Gainesville Center for Performing Arts' Black and White Ball on Jan. 25, charters at a choice of these destinations will be auctioned to benefit the Center.
Gainesville's Clark Beaty donated the trips aboard his luxury vessel, Sweet Thing, with Captain Dave Fields at the helm. Sweet Thing is variously docked at Palm Beach, Cancun, Los Suenos, Costa Rica, and Boat Harbor, Bahamas. Each of these ports of call sports outstanding resorts, offering an opportunity to combine big game fishing with a memorable family vacation.
Gary Simpson is a veteran tournament angler who works at the Tackle Box.

Cedar Key

Day 1st high 2nd high 1st low 2nd low
Today 1:59 p.m. - 7:20 a.m. 6:59 p.m.
Sat. 12:37 a.m. 2:32 p.m. 7:55 a.m. 7:37 p.m.
Sun. 1:18 a.m. 3:04 p.m. 8:28 a.m. 8:17 p.m.
Mon. 2:01 a.m. 3:35 p.m. 9:02 a.m. 8:59 p.m.
Tues. 2:46 a.m. 4:06 p.m. 9:35 a.m. 9:45 p.m.
Weds. 3:35 a.m. 4:36 p.m. 10:10 a.m. 10:37 p.m.
Thurs. 4:32 a.m. 5:09 p.m. 10:46 a.m. 11:38 p.m.

St. Augustine

Day 1st high 2nd high 1st low 2nd low
Today 7:42 a.m. 7:59 p.m. 1:21 a.m. 2:08 p.m.
Sat. 8:27 a.m. 8:45 p.m. 2:06 a.m. 2:50 p.m.
Sun. 9:11 a.m. 9:31 p.m. 2:51 a.m. 3:31 p.m.
Mon. 9:55 a.m. 10:17 p.m. 3:36 a.m. 4:13 p.m.
Tues. 10:39 a.m. 11:04 p.m. 4:22 a.m. 4:56 p.m.
Weds. 11:24 a.m. 11:53 p.m. 5:12 a.m. 5:43 p.m.
Thurs. 12:12 p.m. - 6:08 a.m. 6:33 p.m.

Solunar table

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