Trout surprise Horseshoe, Steinhatchee anglers

Published: Friday, January 23, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 22, 2004 at 10:43 p.m.
Lots of anglers know winter is a good time of year to catch big Gulf Coast speckled trout. In cold weather, most of us envision big trout piled up in deep cuts and holes in creeks and rivers, moving slowly to take lures dragged along the bottom.
With only a week or so left before the February trout closure in North Florida, these supposedly sluggish trout are surprising Horseshoe Beach and Steinhatchee area anglers by aggressively smacking lures usually utilized in spring, summer and fall.
Last weekend, several Steinhatchee fishers found floating Top Dog and 5M series Mirrolures to be the trout-catching trick in shallower bays above and below the river.
Fishing alone, A.B. Johnson of Perry, Ga., cast floating Mirrolures just south of the Steinhatchee's mouth to take super limits of maximum-size legal trout Sunday and Monday. Capt. David Jenkins' grandson, Austin, boated the largest single trout reported last weekend.
Included in their trout limit Sunday was a mammoth 27-inch, 6-pound fish that the 13-year-old enticed with a hot pink colored Top Dog.
Capt. Danny Allen had a special request from a customer last weekend. Ed Johns wanted to catch a redfish with his fly rod. Although this is a bit more difficult in winter, Allen accepted the challenge. In a creek just north of Cedar Key, Allen and Johns found lots of reds in only 18 inches of clear water.
After spooking several fish, a good red did finally take Johns' chartreuse and white Clouser Minnow. Following a sporty battle, the Archer angler had his first red on a fly - a nice 24-incher.
With the primary goal met, Allen and Johns ran to another nearby hot spot. Casting Saltwater Assassin grubs in the Electric Chicken color, they released dozens of small trout, and added another legal red and a half-dozen keeper trout to the day's take.
Down in the Crystal River and Homosassa areas, many anglers have sheepshead in mind. The banded brawlers have become the most dependable targets for fishers in Crystal River, taking shrimp and fiddlers in deeper, rocky holes in the river. Homosassa sheepshead fans are traveling out of the river to rock piles in water 6- to 8-feet deep. Here, the sheepshead numbers have increased with each cold snap.
Opportunities to run offshore for grouper have been scarce lately, but Charlie Bartley and Mike Fink caught a good day Saturday and headed out of Cedar Keys. They ran all the way to water 70 feet deep and fished spots that had been productive in the past.
After hours of hard fishing with no luck, the discouraged pair gave up on grouper and decided to try to salvage the day with pinkmouth grunts back in water a bit shallower.
Bartley shut down in water 60 feet deep to troll up to the 'grunt spot' with Stretch 30 lures. Right away, good grouper hammered the red and white Stretches. In just 30 minutes, a beautiful 10-fish limit of gags to 16 pounds filled the Gainesville anglers' ice chest.
Freshwater fishers say they have noticed an overall slowdown in speckled perch activity. While Orange, Lochloosa, Santa Fe and Alto have all yielded fair speck catches, nothing very outstanding in size or number has been reported.
Don't let the lull fool you - specks are due to start poking around in shallow, weedy cover in all of these lakes, looking for potential spawning areas. When the big males and roe-laden females hit the shallows, the best crappie-catching time of year will be at hand.
The year's prime bass fishing season is also beginning. Last Friday afternoon, Scott Kerslake ramped his bass boat out at Kenwood Landing on Rodman Reservoir and headed directly to the Tackle Box. The Gainesville native, home on military leave from North Carolina, had just caught the bass of a lifetime while flipping a Gambler Crawdaddy.
On the store's state-certified scales, the big-bellied bass weighed 11 pounds, 1 ounce. After weighing the lunker and posing for a few quick photos, Kerslake hurried back to release the fish back into Rodman.
The second of the Tackle Box's free instructional classes will feature Dick Hale covering the timely subject, 'Catching, Rigging and Fishing Live Bait,' starting at 10 a.m. Saturday.
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 2:01 a.m. 3:46 p.m. 9:15 a.m. 9:06 p.m.
Sat. 2:49 a.m. 4:13 p.m. 9:50 a.m. 9:50 p.m.
Sun. 3:35 a.m. 4:39 p.m. 10:22 a.m. 10:34 p.m.
Mon. 4:22 a.m. 5:05 p.m. 10:52 a.m. 11:19 p.m.
Tues. 5:12 a.m. 5:34 p.m. 11:21 a.m. -
Weds. 6:09 a.m. 6:06 p.m. 12:09 a.m. 11:51 a.m.
Thurs. 7:20 a.m. 6:46 p.m. 1:07 a.m. 12:27 p.m.

St. Augustine

Day 1st high 2nd high 1st low 2nd low
Today 9:42 a.m. 9:57 p.m. 3:18 a.m. 3:58 p.m.
Sat. 10:29 a.m. 10:45 p.m. 4:07 a.m. 4:44 p.m.
Sun. 11:13 a.m. 11:32 p.m. 4:56 a.m. 5:29 p.m.
Mon. 11:57 a.m. - 5:47 a.m. 6:15 p.m.
Tues. 12:18 a.m. 12:39 p.m. 6:41 a.m. 7:02 p.m.
Weds. 1:05 a.m. 1:24 p.m. 7:38 a.m. 7:51 p.m.
Thurs. 1:54 a.m. 2:12 p.m. 8:35 a.m. 8:41 p.m.


Day Minor Major Minor Major
Today 6:45 12:30 7:10 12:55
Sat. 7:35 1:25 8:05 1:50
Sun. 8:30 2:20 8:55 2:40
Mon. 9:15 3:05 9:45 3:30
Tues. 10:05 3:55 10:30 4:15
Weds. 10:50 4:40 11:15 5:00
Thurs. 11:35 5:25 0 5:45

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