Steinhatchee, Homosassa flats are loaded with trout
Published: Friday, January 14, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 14, 2005 at 1:19 a.m.
Warm weather continues to send big numbers of opportunistic winter anglers to the water - but it has also created an unusual challenge.
There was a lot more oyster bar-chewing by propellers last weekend thanks to the thick fog that put many Gulf Coast fishers off track. Scores of boaters experienced navigating difficulty, but only one man would admit to spending a night on the water.
Trout and redfish catches were at least fair all along the coast - but best by far at each end of the gulf zone covered in this report. Steinhatchee and Homosassa flats are loaded with trout. The average size, however, is better out of Steinhatchee, where camps and marinas have seen so many 5-pounders they no longer take special note of them. Jigs and Catch 2000 Mirrolures are high on the 'favorite lure' list here.
Top trout fishers, Bill and Nora Danforth had a tough time filling trout limits Saturday. It wasn't that the fish were reluctant or scarce. The problem they experienced was one of legality. Each angler may keep only one trout more than 20 inches per day, and the Georgia couple had trouble finding fish under that 20-inch mark.
Despite an almost-daily sea fog, most experienced offshore fishers have managed fine catches. Lots of grouper seekers are trolling Mann's Stretch 25 and 30 lures in water around 30-feet-deep off Steinhatchee, Suwannee, Cedar Key and Homosassa to take chunky reds and gags.
Wiley Horton took Darren Light, Mitch Wright, and Jim and Matt Thackery of Gainesville off Steinhatchee in his famous boat, 'Tuner' Saturday. Trolling deep-diving lures, the men found plenty of good grouper. The day's best fish, though, came in an unconventional way.
While Darren fought a fish that had taken a Mann's Stretch 30, Jim started cranking in another outfit to get it out of the way. This second rod was rigged with a brand new Mann's grouper lure called the 'Stretch Imitator.' As he wound the big lure in like a bass angler would a crankbait, something hit it hard enough to nearly snatch the rod from his grasp. After a tough battle, the men hauled aboard a huge grouper that would weigh 23-pounds. Thick fog forced Tuner to head home by mid-afternoon, but the trip had been plenty successful.
Monday, Rick and Billy Crim ran 12 miles from Cedar Key to water 30 feet deep. They trolled Stretch 25 lures in the fog for hours with little luck. Then at 2 p.m. the grouper switch went 'on.' From that time until dark, the father/son team pulled in limits of gags from 23 to 29-inches - and released several more legal fish. The darkness restricted visibility little more than the fog had, and the Gainesville anglers successfully navigated back to the boat basin using their GPS.
Sheepshead fans out of Suwannee and Cedar Key have been checking the offshore spawning spots regularly - and finally, some big fish are showing up on one of them. The Steel Tower, at the far end of Seahorse Reef has produced fair numbers of big sheepshead for a few days now. It shouldn't be long at all before fish show on Hedemon Reef and the artificial reefs off Suwannee as well.
Fog has posed the same problems for boaters on area lakes. Most anglers without satellite navigation units have spent a fair amount of time lost - even on waters they are familiar with. The fish seem oblivious to the above-water situation, and folks content to fish in the pea soup have caught speckled perch just fine.
Most specks remain in open water on Orange and Lochloosa Lakes. Fishers there last weekend and early this week reported crowded-but-excellent fishing. Each lake has yielded huge slabs better than 2-pounds daily.
Last Friday, Andy Seickel III and his dad stopped by the store with a 2-pound, 3-ounce crappie. Young Andy had just pulled the beauty from Lochloosa while casting a Beetle Spin/minnow combination with his Zebco 202. The proud 5-year-old drew an admiring crowd with his big speck.
The best time of year for catching big bass is finally at hand, and this figures to be an outstanding year for bigmouths in nearby waters. Tom Worsham put area bass fans on alert Sunday when he wrestled a 9.5-pound bucketmouth from a Lochloosa grass bed. The Tampa angler fooled the big fish with a 6-inch watermelon/red flake plastic worm.
Gary Simpson is a veteran tournament angler who works at the Tackle Box.
|Day||1st high||2nd high||1st low||2nd low|
|Today||4:01 a.m.||5:11 p.m.||10:51 a.m.||11:06 p.m.|
|Sat.||4:56 a.m.||5:42 p.m.||11:26 a.m.||-|
|Sun.||5:57 a.m.||6:16 p.m.||12:01 a.m.||12:01 p.m.|
|Mon.||7:08 a.m.||6:56 p.m.||1:03 p.m.||12:39 p.m.|
|Tues.||8:36 a.m.||7:43 p.m.||2:13 a.m.||1:24 p.m.|
|Weds.||10:18 a.m.||8:40 p.m.||3:31 a.m.||2:27 p.m.|
|Thurs.||11:47 a.m.||9:41 p.m.||4:43 a.m.||3:45 p.m.|
|Day||1st high||2nd high||1st low||2nd low|
|Today||11:38 a.m.||-||5:19 a.m.||5:56 p.m.|
|Sat.||12:01 a.m.||12:27 p.m.||6:17 a.m.||6:48 p.m.|
|Sun.||12:55 a.m.||1:18 p.m.||7:19 a.m.||7:42 p.m.|
|Mon.||1:49 a.m.||2:10 p.m.||8:22 a.m.||8:36 p.m.|
|Tues.||2:47 a.m.||3:06 p.m.||9:23 a.m.||9:29 p.m.|
|Weds.||3:46 a.m.||4:04 p.m.||10:21 a.m.||10:21 p.m.|
|Thurs.||4:43 a.m.||4:59 p.m.||11:16 a.m.||11:13 p.m.|
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