Holiday season offers welcome gifts to anglers

Published: Friday, January 2, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 1, 2004 at 10:53 p.m.

Area anglers are making the most of nice weather and great fishing. In the space between Christmas and New Year's, folks able to make it to the water reported excellent catches from fresh and salt waters all around.

We think of them as most active in cold weather, but speckled perch have really perked up during the recent warmer days. Successful crappie catchers have mentioned Rodman, Santa Fe, Lochloosa, Orange, Little Orange, Crosby and Crescent Lakes.

Moses and Joanne Reese stopped by The Tackle Box for minnows Wednesday morning. Moses was confident he and his wife would have a good day since, he said, they had boated 32 true 'slab' specks Tuesday. Sure enough, late that afternoon they swung back by the store with 25 very nice crappie to 2 pounds. The Reeses were kind enough to reveal their productive area as the north end of Orange, in water only 4 feet deep.

The best bass fishing stories continue to come from Rodman Reservoir, where live shiners and artificial lures are both fooling sizable largemouths daily. Anchored on his hot shiner fishing spot on Rodman Sunday, Tuffy Wheeler released seven more largemouths. The number of bites is not so striking as the size of the fish he is hooking. For the third trip in a row, none of the bass Wheeler caught weighed less than 4 pounds on his digital hand scale.

Speckled trout fishing is outstanding, particularly in the Suwannee to Steinhatchee stretch of coast. Tidal creeks are giving up the biggest numbers of fish, but several eye-opening catches have come from sand and shell bars and flats a short distance from shore.

Results from Steinhatchee illustrate the variety of venues in which anglers might find good trout action. David Jenkins and Ricky Philman of Steinhatchee cast hot pink Mirrolure Top Dog Juniors in Bull Cove Saturday to boat a fine two-man trout limit.

Bobby, Eddie Mac and Mandy Dix also docked with nice trout limits they took on the flats just a little way south of the Steinhatchee. The Dixes used Mirrolure Catch 2000 lures to score their box full of fish. Roy Burton added a deep water zone to the pot of trout-producing spots. Sunday, he worked slow-sinking Mirrolures between markers 24 and 26 in the Steinhatchee River. Burton's five-trout limit was just as sizable as the limits taken outside the river.

The story is the same at Suwannee. While the trout have spread out a bit, their improved appetite led to a lot of very impressive catches in a lot of different spots. Grubtail jigs, Yo-Zuri Minnows and sinking Mirrolures were consistent producers of nice, year-end trout.

Good-sized redfish are being seen again at Suwannee, Cedar Key and Waccasassa. Capt. Danny Allen of No Mission Impossible Guide Service showed customers and family great Cedar Key action over several days running. Saturday, Capt. Allen guided a North Carolina couple to a number of legal redfish and a half dozen trout during a half-day trip.

On Sunday, a father-and-daughter from Washington, D.C., boated their first ever reds in Allen's boat, and then added a few more, plus five trout. Then Monday, Allen fished deeper spots in the Cedar Key backwaters with his brother, Nick. They fished Saltwater Assassin grubs on 1/8-ounce jigheads to release dozens of legal reds and trout.

The red tide outbreak reported last weekend has shut down clamming and oystering off Cedar Key and Suwannee, but nobody we know has seen any effect of the unusual cold-water algae bloom on fin fish. Locals believe the garfish kill at the Suwannee's East Pass a couple of weeks ago was due to cold water, and the kill a few days back in the Crystal River Power Plant's hot water discharge canal was confined to the canal, and most likely due to a chemical release from the plant.

Grouper action remains very fast - and in the balmy weather since Christmas, offshore anglers have had field days in water ranging from 35 to 60 feet deep. Limit catches of big gags have been seen at Homosassa, Crystal River, Cedar Key, Suwannee and Steinhatchee. Former President Jimmy Carter and family, vacationing in Steinhatchee, fished offshore with Capt. Jim Zerbeck on Sunday to take 23 nice grouper.

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 10:56 a.m. 9:42 p.m. 4:23 a.m. 4:23 a.m.
Sat. 12:00 p.m. 10:29 p.m. 5:18 a.m. 5:18 a.m.
Sun. 12:50 p.m. 11:14 p.m. 6:06 a.m. 6:06 a.m.
Mon. 1:32 p.m. 11:56 p.m. 6:48 a.m. 6:48 a.m.
Tues. 2:10 p.m. - 7:27 a.m. 7:27 a.m.
Weds. 12:37 a.m. 2:44 p.m. 8:03 a.m. 8:03 a.m.
Thurs. 1:16 a.m. 3:15 p.m. 8:37 a.m. 8:37 a.m

St. Augustine

Day 1st high 2nd high 1st low 2nd low
Today 4:31 a.m. 4:47 p.m. 11:05 a.m. 11:05 a.m.
Sat. 5:21 a.m. 5:37 p.m. 11:55 a.m. 11:55 a.m.
Sun. 6:07 a.m. 6:23 p.m. 12:41 p.m. 12:41 p.m.
Mon. 6:51 a.m. 7:06 p.m. 12:35 a.m. 12:35 a.m.
Tues. 7:33 a.m. 7:49 p.m. 1:18 a.m. 1:18 a.m.
Weds. 8:14 a.m. 8:30 p.m. 1:59 a.m. 1:59 a.m.
Thurs. 8:54 a.m. 9:09 p.m. 2:38 a.m. 2:38 a.m.

Day Minor Major Minor Major
Today 1:15 7:20 1:30 7:40
Sat. 1:55 8:00 2:10 8:20
Sun. 2:35 8:40 2:50 9:05
Mon. 3:20 9:25 3:35 9:50
Tues. 4:05 10:15 4:25 10:40
Weds. 4:55 11:00 5:10 11:30
Thurs. 5:45 11:55 6:05 0

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