Anglers taking advantage of unseasonable weather


Published: Friday, January 7, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 7, 2005 at 12:08 a.m.
The long spell of unseasonable warmth on each side of New Year's Day has sent amazing numbers of anglers to North Florida waters to take advantage of all-around good fishing.
Although the warm temperatures have halted the fleeting appearances of speckled trout in west coast rivers, it has positioned them nonetheless. Almost all of the best trout tales in 2005 have come from deeper holes near creek mouths and shell bars -- or from troughs and trenches on open flats.
Allan Cochran, Shane Hilton, and John and David Kurtz were chasing tailing redfish last Thursday in the Steinhatchee shallows when the feeding fish disappeared into a deeper hole on the flat.
Naturally, Cochran tossed a jig into the darker water. A heavy fish grabbed it right away. The anglers thought this must be a red - maybe one of the fish they had chased into the depression. Just then, a huge trout came to the surface in a head-shaking spray. Cochran boated the big trout - an amazing 29-inch specimen - and the group knew it had found something special.
The hole, about 200-feet square and 6-feet deep, was completely surrounded by water only a foot or so deep. Casting jigs and Mirrolures in it, the four caught quick limits, and then released in the neighborhood of 100 trout and several reds.
The next day Allan, John and David returned to the sweet spot for a New Year's Eve trip with C.J. and Hagan Masciale. Again, the anglers found a congregation of fish and iced a cumulative 25-trout limit that included a 25-incher and no fish shorter than 18-inches.
Redfish are mentioned often by inshore gulf anglers these days. Most trout fishers have run into lots of incidental reds that are nearly all too small to keep. There's clearly no shortage of spot tails along the coast, but even those targeting redfish have had a tough time locating legal fish from 18-to-27 inches long.
Sheepshead specialists have been checking out known spawning haunts of the banded brawlers - places like Hedemon Reef and the Suwannee Regional Artificial Reefs. The big sheepies aren't there yet. Sheepshead taken recently in creeks are said to hold nearly mature roe, so it shouldn't be long before some fish head for the spawning grounds.
Grouper anglers have enjoyed fine weather to run offshore, and generally good catches have been the rule. Trollers pulling Mann's Stretch 30 lures are faring best in water 30- to 40-feet deep, while the top results among bottom fishers have come from water 50- to 70-feet deep.
Results from inland waters on the east coast are also tempting. Backwater flats and shell bars are swarming with small redfish, and flounder numbers are excellent from St. Augustine to Matanzas Inlet.
It's a rare day when a veteran fisherman makes a catch that ranks as his 'best ever.' Along with fishing buddies, Dave Hock and Sam Drake, flounder expert Stephen Scott accomplished this feat Sunday. The anglers fished a back creek near St. Augustine, employing Scott's unique method of slow-trolling a combination of plastic worm and live mud minnow. This tactic is unconventional, but when executed by Scott, it's undeniably effective.
On this day, the bites came faster than ever. By day's end, the Gainesville fishers had hooked dozens of flatfish, experiencing several double hookups along the way. They boated 27 flounder and kept 19 up to 4.5-pounds. A half-dozen trout also fell for the peculiar worm/minnow combo.
Nice weather has sent hundreds of boats to top area speckled perch lakes, and few anglers trying Orange and Lochloosa have come home disappointed. Most fish remain in the deeper waters off the shore and weed lines.
When Eddie and Rhonda Frey and JoDean Matthews emerged from Cross Creek into Lochloosa last Saturday they were amazed by the number of boats scattered throughout the lake. Frey maneuvered through the drifting vessels up the lake's west side, stopping just off Garrison Hammock. Casting white Rooster Tail spinners, the trio boated 54 specks and one bass in just three hours.
Loads of great weekend catches were seen at Lochloosa Harbor Fish Camp.
Larry Plubey and Donnie Harris fished blue mini jigs with minnows added in water 6 feet deep to take speck limits in short order. William Northsea and friends kept only large crappie - and still nearly filled limits.
Like gulf sheepshead, the female specks are holding near-ready roe, and crappie sages believe that they might make the move into shallow spawning cover as early as the full moon coming up late this month.
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 12:27 a.m. 10:36 p.m. 5:23 a.m. 5:05 p.m.
Sat. 1:26 a.m. 11:32 p.m. 6:22 a.m. 6:05 p.m.
Sun. 2:15 a.m. - 7:15 a.m. 6:58 p.m
Mon. 12:28 a.m. 2:58 p.m. 8:04 p.m. 7:48 p.m.
Tues. 1:22 a.m. 3:35 p.m. 8:51 a.m. 8:37 p.m.
Weds. 2:15 a.m. 4:09 p.m. 9:34 a.m. 9:25 p.m.
Thurs. 3:08 a.m. 4:40 p.m. 10:14 a.m. 10:14 p.m.

St. Augustine

Day 1st high 2nd high 1st low 2nd low
Today 5:20 a.m. 5:35 p.m. 11:53 a.m. 11:52 p.m.
Sat. 6:21 a.m. 6:34 p.m. 12:50 a.m. -
Sun. 7:18 a.m. 7:30 p.m. 12:50 a.m. 1:45 p.m.
Mon. 8:13 a.m. 8:26 p.m. 1:46 a.m. 2:37 p.m.
Tues. 9:06 a.m. 9:20 p.m. 2:40 a.m. 3:27 p.m.
Weds. 9:58 a.m. 10:15 p.m. 3:32 a.m. 4:16 p.m.
Thurs. 10:49 a.m. 11:08 p.m. 4:25 a.m. 5:05 p.m.
Day 1st high 2nd high 1st low 2nd low
Today 5:20 a.m. 5:35 p.m. 11:53 a.m. 11:52 p.m.
Sat. 6:21 a.m. 6:34 p.m. 12:50 a.m. -
Sun. 7:18 a.m. 7:30 p.m. 12:50 a.m. 1:45 p.m.
Mon. 8:13 a.m. 8:26 p.m. 1:46 a.m. 2:37 p.m.
Tues. 9:06 a.m. 9:20 p.m. 2:40 a.m. 3:27 p.m.
Weds. 9:58 a.m. 10:15 p.m. 3:32 a.m. 4:16 p.m.
Thurs. 10:49 a.m. 11:08 p.m. 4:25 a.m. 5:05 p.m.

Solunar tables

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

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