'Dog Nights' might be summertime cure

Published: Friday, August 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 31, 2003 at 10:54 p.m.
If we could somehow see a graph of speckled trout catches by-the-month in our most nearby gulf waters, August would not rank highly. There would likely be a spike in November and December reflecting the annual move into creeks and rivers, then a plummeting dip in February (closed season,) followed by sharp improvement through the spring. With each hot month, we would probably see a decline in catches.
Every year much is made of a perceived fishing slowdown that seems to arrive in late summer. I have seen old timers, upon hearing of a not-too-successful August fishing excursion, simply nod knowingly and say something like "yep, it's Dog Days."
While species such as redfish and mackerel usually remain reasonably dependable targets, even veteran Gulf anglers do generally have a tougher time finding speckled trout in the August swelter. The standard advice is to fish deeper, on flats at least 10 feet deep. Out this deep, though, fish seem more scattered, reminding at least one angler of "looking for a few needles in a great big haystack."
I had long wondered whether tossing surface baits at night would produce good trout on my favorite grass flats. Joey Yarborough had also thought about these possibilities - particularly since he is a lifelong fan of fishing at night.
When we had the perfect opportunity to try night fishing for trout late last week, we jumped on it.
We were at Steinhatchee, enjoying a couple of days scalloping with our families. Joey had thought out the night trip, preparing his Cape Horn with lights of varying candlepower. We finished a fine scallop and fish dinner, told our wives not to expect us back any time soon, and headed out the channel. It was still light, and a little windy when we arrived on the grass flat south of the river. As night fell we cast surface baits in the chop for about an hour without a strike.
When darkness came the wind laid down, offering just a gentle ripple.
We soon began hearing fish strike in the distance, all around the boat.
I pulled in a clump of seaweed, and when I reached to pull it off my lure, it sparkled as if filled with tiny fireflies. We knew of the phosphorescence in South Florida waters, but neither of us had known it existed in our 'home water.'
Our first strike was a thrashing explosion in the darkness that engulfed my Bomber Long A lure. The fish was clearly a sizable trout. It shook and thrashed at the surface for much of the fight, finally finding its way to the waiting landing net. Now, netting a lively trout in the dark is a bit of a trick, but Joey scooped the 23-inch fish nicely, aided by phosphorescent illumination in the churning water.
The next strike was on Joey's Zara Spook-type lure, and this one was quite an attention-getter. Its volume would have done any largemouth bass proud.
This was a monster fish, but the hooks pulled free out in the darkness.
Over the next couple of hours we had several strikes, but the fish missed the lures or we missed the fish. Joey did hook and boat one more trout - another nice fish well over 20 inches. We headed back to the river convinced that we had spent too many years missing some very exciting summer trout fishing. And we resolved to make up for that lost time. 'Dog Nights' might just be the best anglers' remedy for the age-old 'Dog Days' blues.
Dalton Cannon, 10, needed no 'Dog Days' excuse last Saturday fishing out of St. Augustine with Grandpa, Fred Hartley, and cousin, Brad Hartley.
Drifting a live baitfish on the Nine Mile Reef, Dalton hooked a big cobia.
Incredibly, the 60-pound angler whipped the 40-pound fish in just 15 minutes. "My arm was sore," grinned Dalton.
Don't miss the big Sportsman's Hunting and Fishing Expo on Saturday, Aug. 16 from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Aug. 17 from 10 am until 5 p.m.
Vendors and exhibitors from all over will cover various aspects of hunting and fishing. Enjoy large displays of boats, ATV's, amphibious vehicles, and fishing tackle and hunting equipment. Meet fishing outfitters and guides, taxidermists, and pro anglers. Attend free seminars by top hunters and fishermen including Bernie Schultz, Mike Gough, Dick Hale and Ronnie Everett. A no-entry-fee Bassmaster Casting Kids competition, sponsored by Kraft Motorcar Co. and coordinated by the Bass Masters of Gator Country and the Florida B.A.S.S. Federation will be open to kids ages 7-10 and 11-14.
Cast, pitch, and flip for cash, scholarships and prizes!
Sportsman's Hunting and Fishing Expo
  • This event will be held at the Best Western Gateway Grand located in Gainesville at I-75 and 39th Avenue. For more, call 352-336-1003.
    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 4:49 a.m. 4:18 p.m. 10:23 a.m. 10:55 p.m. Sat. 5:17 a.m. 5:08 p.m. 11:10 a.m. 11:28 p.m. Sun. 5:47 a.m. 6:06 p.m. 12:04 p.m. Mon. 6:20 a.m. 7:17 p.m. 12:04 a.m. 1:07 p.m. Tues. 7:00 a.m. 8:50 p.m. 12:46 a.m. 2:24 p.m. Weds. 7:53 a.m. 10:36 p.m. 1:37 a.m. 3:50 p.m. Thurs. 9:05 a.m. 2:45 a.m. 5:11 p.m.

    St. Augustine

    Day 1st high 2nd high 1st low 2nd low Today 11:43 a.m. 11:58 p.m. 5:33 a.m. 5:48 p.m. Sat. 12:30 p.m. 6:16 a.m. 6:40 p.m. Sun. 12:43 a.m. 1:19 p.m. 7:03 a.m. 7:37 p.m. Mon. 1:31 a.m. 2:12 p.m. 7:54 a.m. 8:40 p.m. Tues. 2:23 a.m. 3:10 p.m. 8:51 a.m. 9:45 p.m. Weds. 3:21 a.m. 4:15 p.m. 9:50 a.m. 10:49 p.m. Thurs. 4:26 a.m. 5:23 p.m. 10:50 a.m. 11:51 p.m.
    Day Minor Major Minor Major Today 8:55 2:45 8:20 3:05 Sat. 8:50 3:35 10:15 4:00 Sun. 10:35 4:25 11:05 4:50 Mon. 11:30 5:20 0 5:45 Tues. 12:00 5:15 12:25 8:40 Weds. 12:55 7:05 1:15 7:30 Thurs. 1:45 7:55 2:05 8:25
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