Speckled perch, trout enjoy cold weather conditions

Published: Friday, January 20, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 20, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
When the January cold fronts begin to roar down the length of Florida, lots of folks forget about fishing. Others, however, have waited anxiously for the unique angling opportunities afforded by the cold. Most especially, savvy North Florida fishers look to load up on 'specks.' That's speckled perch (crappie) in fresh waters and speckled trout on the coasts.
The freshwater variety is preparing to spawn, and predictably positioned in deeper water outside the shallows where they annually make more little crappie. The roe-laden females taken during this spell are the largest and heaviest that will likely be seen all year. Saltwater speckled trout are congregated in any spot along the Gulf Coast that affords them a degree or two of additional water warmth. Often, this makes them very easy for good winter anglers to locate and catch.
The only thing keeping cold-weather fishers from totally having their way with these tasty and sporty favorites is nasty weather. Of course, serious winter anglers try to make the most of the brief periods of nice
fishing weather that do come around. Sunday was one of those nice days, and about 20 boats drifted the grass flats just south of the Steinhatchee River. If not for the long-sleeved shirts and jackets worn by the fishers, someone watching a video of the scene might have thought is was a May morning. The trout were there, but bites were a bit scarce in the 50-degree water. Doug and Andrew Stringfellow and I watched several anglers pull in fish, and we boated a half dozen good-sized trout ourselves. It seems strange that trout should be active in such chilly shallows; but it does make sense that they only seem to be on the flats near the river, or just outside some of the larger Gulf creeks. Our bites came with suspending Yo-Zuri lures.
Although most of the top speckled perch catches are still coming from deep water, a few anglers have noticed increased activity in the shallows during the warmer evening hours. That's a good indication that the crappie spawn is near.
Thursday, Gainesville angler, J. D. Padgett weighed a set of 2-pound, 6-ounce twins at Lochloosa Harbor. He had just pulled the big specks, along with 16 other keepers, from water 10-feet deep while trolling a jig/minnow combination.
Ralph Porter of Gainesville stopped by The Tackle Box last Friday with a great bunch of fish he had just taken from Orange Lake. His four best specks weighed a combined 7-pounds, 13-ounces. The biggest one
took the needle of the store's tested Detecto scales all the way to 2-06.
In Porter's ice chest was also a dinner plate-size bluegill that weighed 1-pound, 1-ounce. Porter gave the Orange Lake fish a fine menu from which to choose; fishing jigs, grass shrimp and minnows in lily pads near
Cross Creek. Fishing Orange Lake with husband, Jim, Sharon Glancy had the hot fishing hand last Thursday. She pulled in her 25-speck limit, and then helped Jim fill his. Unfortunately, she did not weigh her best fish of the day, a whopping 16-incher.
There was nothing unlucky about Friday the 13th for Larry Clukey, who added one more to this season's growing list of impossibly-large Orange Lake crappie. The heftiest of the 25-speck limit the Cross Creek angler pulled in on that breezy day weighed 3-pounds, even. Clukey and the Glancys both fished crappie jig/minnow combinations to make their outstanding catches.
Jessie Robinson showed off 16 nice specks up to a pound and a half Monday at A Family Tradition Fish Camp. Katie Stanley, 12, of Williston came in with a nice 1-08-pound speck Monday to take the lead in kid's division of the camp's "big speck" contest.
Padgett Powell showed that Orange and Lochloosa hold no exclusive on big crappie Tuesday morning when he docked at Newnan's Lake Park with a 1-09-pound male fish.
Most bass anglers agree that their favorites have been difficult to locate over recent weeks - but they're excited about the big-fish prospects in the coming spring season. Fishing a plastic worm in a lily pad bed on New Year's Day, Roy Brown caught, weighed and released the largest Lochloosa bass we have heard about this century. The brute that Brown hooked on the day's last cast weighed 12-pounds, 2-ounces on his hand-held digital scale.
Now, that's the way to start the year. 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 / 4:51 a.m. / 5:18 p.m. / 11:05 a.m. / 11:49 p.m. Sat. / 5:46 a.m. / 5:51 p.m. / 11:36 a.m. Sun. / 6:58 a.m. / 6:30 p.m. / 12:44 a.m. / 12:18 p.m. Mon. / 8:34 a.m. / 7:22 p.m. / 1:52 p.m. / 1:11 p.m. Tues. / 10:24 a.m. / 8:26 p.m. / 3:13 a.m. / 2:29 p.m. Weds. / 11:56 a.m. / 9:37 p.m. / 4:32 a.m. / 3:59 p.m. Thurs. / 12:55 a.m. / 10:45 p.m. / 5:39 a.m. / 5:15 p.m.

St. Augustine

Day / 1st high / 2nd high / 1st low / 2nd low Today / 12:06 a.m. / - / 6:09 a.m. / 6:24 p.m. Sat. / 12:35 a.m. / 12:48 p.m. / 7:01 a.m. / 7:09 p.m. Sun. / 1:21 a.m. / 1:36 p.m. / 7:59 a.m. / 8:01 p.m. Mon. / 2:15 a.m. / 2:31 p.m. / 9:00 a.m. / 8:57 p.m. Tues. / 3:18 a.m. / 3:31 p.m. / 10:01 a.m. / 9:56 p.m. Weds. / 4:25 a.m. / 4:38 p.m. / 11:00 a.m. / 10:56 p.m. Thurs. / 5:28 a.m. / 5:39 p.m. / 11:58 a.m. / 11:55 p.m.

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