Weather conditions will again affect area haul

Published: Friday, January 28, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 11:10 p.m.
Local freshwater anglers had long pointed to last weekend, anticipating that the roe-heavy speckled perch of Orange and Lochloosa Lakes would pick the late-January full moon for a major spawn. Any longtime angler could have predicted what happened.
Another windy cold front blew through just as the crappie would have headed shallow, pushing back the primary speck spawn. Nine years out of 10, the season's biggest shallow crappie gathering occurs around the new or full moon in February, and it looks like this year will be no different.
The specks that fishers did manage to locate in the bluster were just off the grass and lily pads, posed to make the move into shoreline over. Twenty-five fish limits were scarce, but fish camps did see respectable catches from 8- to 15-inch slabs.
During the warm up this week, action has slowly improved, and it just might be worthwhile for weekend speckers to dip a minnow into shallow grass, pads and brush now and then - just to check.
Late last week before the arctic blast, Lochloosa speck catches were coming in to Lochloosa Harbor regularly. Friday, Charlie Baggett of Georgia docked with 10 slabs in the pound-and-a-half range. He found the big specks drifting minnows off Allen's Point. Stacy Carter also scored well Friday, hauling in a limit of nice-sized specks.
Venus and William Epps of Gainesville fished lily pads in Little Lochloosa with minnows. Even though an airboat spraying herbicide drenched the pads they were fishing, Venus caught her first 'keeper' fish ever - nice specks weighing 1 pound, 3 ounces and 1 pound, 10 ounces.
Dozens of Lochloosa anglers were bothered by the incessant spraying last week. Many questioned why plant-killing chemicals were deemed necessary in mid-winter - particularly in areas where no non-native weeds like hydrilla or hyacinth could be seen.
Area bass anglers are thinking they might see some of the first signs of spawning activity by largemouths this weekend. Some bedding has already occurred in area spring runs such as Rainbow and Salt - and water temps in lakes and rivers have risen ... perhaps sufficiently to lure some bigmouths into the shallows. A list of good bassing possibilities should include Lochloosa, Little Orange, George and Rodman lakes, and the Suwannee and Crystal rivers.
Capt. Steve McGovern and Brian Mather had fun fishing the Crystal River Power Plant's warm water discharge canal last Thursday. When the tide began running out, redfish in the popular cold-weather spot went on a feed. The men cast rootbeer-colored Berkley tube lures and Saltwater Assassin jigs to boat around 75 redfish. Just four of the reds were of legal size, but the anglers had no complaints.
McGovern fished again Friday, this time out of Shired Island with Capt. Scott Crown.
Again casting tubes and grubs just ahead of the cold snap, the new captains found fast action in creek mouths. Their trout limits included fish that measured 23 and 21 inches.
For the second day running, the best feed occurred during the early part of the outgoing tide.
Weekend Gulf Coast reports were again scarce - although Saturday did see a few very nice catches on the Steinhatchee flats. Five guides split up a large party from Putnam County and worked water 4- to 5-feet deep, south of the river, with Mirrolures and pink and white grubs. Back at Ideal Marina that evening, the group kept the fish-cleaning lady busy with a total of 106 pounds of speckled trout.
John Palmer and Jason Reeves also eased out of the Steinhatchee River in Saturday morning's fog. They headed south in the gray mist and shut down all near the mouth of Sink Creek, where they intended to cast for redfish.
Easing across the clear shallows near its mouth, Palmer spotted lots of fish spooking ahead of the boat, so they killed the engine and quietly stalked along, casting surface lures. The fish they had spotted were trout - and even in the chilly shallows, willing to smack the topwater plugs.
The bite only lasted 30 minutes or so, but in that time the Interlachen fisherman released eight trout that averaged about 20 inches. They also missed several more strikes.
Sounds like Steinhatchee might be the top bet for trout fans on the final weekend before the February speckled trout closure in North Florida.
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 2:54 a.m. 3:57 p.m. 9:40 a.m. 9:50 p.m.
Sat. 3:33 a.m. 4:20 p.m. 10:08 a.m. 10:29 p.m.
Sun. 4:16 a.m. 4:46 p.m. 10:38 a.m. 11:12 p.m.
Mon. 5:06 a.m. 5:17 p.m. 11:10 p.m. -
Tues. 6:10 a.m. 5:54 p.m. 12:03 a.m. 11:47 p.m.
Weds. 7:38 a.m. 6:42 p.m. 1:06 a.m. 12:34 p.m.
Thurs. 9:34 a.m. 7:46 p.m. 2:27 a.m. 1:44 p.m.

St. Augustine

Day 1st high 2nd high 1st low 2nd low
Today 10:16 a.m. 10:35 p.m. 4:05 a.m. 4:31 p.m.
Sat. 10:51 a.m. 11:12 p.m. 4:43 a.m. 5:06 p.m.
Sun. 11:29 a.m. 11:53 p.m. 5:26 a.m. 5:44 p.m.
Mon. 12:10 a.m. - 6:15 a.m. 6:29 p.m.
Tues. 12:39 a.m. 12:57 p.m. 7:13 a.m. 7:21 p.m.
Weds. 1:32 a.m. 1:51 p.m. 8:17 a.m. 8:21 p.m.
Thurs. 2:36 a.m. 2:55 p.m. 9:23 a.m. 9:24 p.m.

Solunar tables

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

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