Surprising catches fill area anglers' wish list

Published: Friday, January 13, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 13, 2006 at 12:06 a.m.
One January morning about 40 years ago, my dad had me out on the Waccasassa River. It was an exceptionally cold morning - in the low to mid 20s. As we idled along a creek bank, we could clearly see large, dead fish lying on the dark bottom - trout, he said, that didn't survive the sudden temperature plunge.
Since then, I have thought of speckled trout as a wimpy kind of fish - one unable to stand very cold water. That's why it has been surprising to me that so many anglers have recently come across exceptional trout fishing on frigid flats near Steinhatchee.
Mike, Britton, and Shelly Dumas and Amanda Worster worked the flats south of the river Sunday, finally locating a great bunch of hungry fish in water 5-feet deep. Here, the Gainesville group boated dozens of fish while casting live shrimp and Saltwater Assassin grubs on jigheads. They finished the day with 20 nice keepers.
Gainesville's Capt. Tommy Thompson and his dad decided Tuesday, on the spur-of-the-moment, to head for Steinhatchee. Although Capt. Tommy had been having much better luck with trout, the elder Thompson stated a desire for a nice redfish for dinner. With that, a nice red became the pair's primary goal. Fishing suspending lures on the clear flats south of the river mouth, the Thompsons enjoyed terrific action - trout action, that is.
Of the 57 they caught, 33 were more than 20-inches long. Finally, preparing to call it a day, they succeeded in catching a 19-inch red. Capt. Tommy said, "It took us 57 trout to finally get the one red."
Sheepshead appear to be gathering to spawn pretty much on schedule. Along with a handful of reports from the far end of Seahorse Reef (off Cedar Keys,) some congregations of heavy fish have been located off Homosassa.
Matt and Annette Styles of Leesburg pulled 7 from a rocky spot in 14 feet of water Saturday - then returned Sunday to haul in 10 more. A few nice January days have convinced anglers to head out to grouper territory. And every one has returned with glowing reports. Presently, grouper are in a feeding mood, and the farther offshore you can go, the better the action.
Flounder experts, Stephen Scott and Dave Hock have been wreaking their usual cold-weather havoc on East Coast flatfish. Just before New Year's, the Gainesville anglers enjoyed a 26-flounder day in a creek just south of Crescent Beach. Sunday, they returned to St. Augustine in search of their usual quarry. Slowly trolling Scott's trademark-but-curious finger mullet/plastic worm combination as the tide rose, the men again located hungry fish in another creek. In a stretch just over a hundred feet long, they took 16 flounder, 2 trout, and a redfish.
Speckled perch continue to dominate freshwater reports - with the best results still coming from Orange and Lochloosa Lakes. Fishing minnows in open water near the north-end trees last Friday, James Perry of Jasper, Ga., took a limit of Lochloosa specks up to a pound-and-a-quarter. While Perry was pulling in near-shore fish his buddy, Steve Tuyre, was also busy filling a nice crappie limit - while drifting minnows out in the middle of the lake.
Saturday, Herbert West docked at Lochloosa Harbor with 15 nice specks topped by a pair of slabs weighing 2-pounds, 4-ounces and 2-pounds, even.
Then Tuesday morning, Andrew Seickel, 6, drifted minnows and green Hal Fly jigs out in Lochloosa's depths. His dad was proud when Andrew hauled in nice specks weighing 1-14 and 1-12. The same morning, Mr. Turt showed off eight big specks to 2-pounds at the Lochloosa camp.
Yet another Orange Lake angler boated a speck that hit the magical three-pound mark last week. Jim Glancy's three-pound slab joins at least four others this season. Glancy returned last Friday with Larry
Clurkey to the spot that had produced the whopper. The Cross Creek friends limited out, but this time had no outsize examples.
Tuesday, Joe Stone and Bob Davis of The Villages took 13 big specks to A Family Tradition Fish Camp, where Gene Posey weighed the largest at 2-04.
John Courtney, captor of the now-famous 3-05 giant a few weeks back, also fished Orange on Tuesday. Courtney filled a 25-fish limit and resumed his big-fish-catching ways with slabs weighing 2-04 and 2-03.
Last week, while talking to Mike Baker about his latest three-pound speck; I asked him if he truly believed that a state record crappie was presently swimming around in Orange Lake. The Silver Springs crappie expert's answer came with no hesitation: "Without a doubt."
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 /12:03 a.m. /2:21 p.m. /7:38 a.m. /7:11 p.m. Sat. / 12:48 a.m. / 2:49 p.m. / 8:14 a.m. / 7:51 p.m. Sun. / 1:29 a.m. / 3:15 p.m. / 8:45 a.m. / 8:29 p.m. Mon. / 2:08 a.m. / 3:39 p.m. / 9:14 p.m. / 9:06 p.m. Tues. / 2:46 a.m. / 4:02 p.m. / 9:41 a.m. / 9:43 p.m. Weds. /3:25 a.m. /4:36 p.m. /10:08 a.m. /10:21 p.m. Thurs. / 4:06 a.m. / 4:51 p.m. / 10:36 a.m. /11:03 p.m.
St. Augustine
Day /1st high /2nd high / 1st low / 2nd low Today / 7:44 a.m. / 7:58 p.m. / 1:24 a.m. / 2:11 p.m. Sat. / 8:25 a.m. /8:39 p.m. / 2:09 a.m. / 2:51 p.m. Sun. /9:04 a.m. / 9:19 p.m. / 2:50 a.m. / 3:28 p.m. Mon. / 9:41 a.m. / 9:58 p.m. / 3:28 a.m. / 4:02 p.m. Tues. /10:16 a.m. /10:36 p.m. / 4:06 a.m./ 4:36 p.m. Weds. /10:52 a.m. /11:14 p.m. /4:44 a.m. /5:10 p.m. Thurs. 11:28 a.m. 11:33 p.m. 5:24 a.m. 5:45 p.m.

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