Seasonal transition means limited options for anglers


Published: Friday, September 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.

Summer is about to slip into fall, and as usual, this seasonal transition offers a mixed and limited bag of opportunities to the North Florida angler.

Bass are generally tough to locate. Bream numbers are thinning in the bedding areas that had been dependable around 'new' and 'full' moons since April, and the speckled perch that will soon take over as the number one panfishing target have not yet gathered in sizable mid-lake packs.

The best news for area freshwater fishers might be that too-low lake levels are presently inching upwards following months of gradual movement in the other direction. Hopefully, a wet September will keep them on the rise.

Orange Lake is still producing some large bream (including the ridiculous 2-pound bluegill taken by Kenny Gaskins a few days back), but Lochloosa seems to be giving up the better overall late-season panfish tallies.

Several weekend cane-polers dipping grass shrimp and crickets pulled nice catches from the maidencane edge that surrounds much of the lake.

Bobby Sharpe returned to A Family Tradition Fish Camp last Friday with a 50-fish limit. Larry Clurky managed 33 bluegill before a thunderstorm ran him off the water last Friday afternoon, and Art Smith of Sparr iced 40 good Lochloosa bream Saturday.

A handful of anglers have tried drifting Lochloosa's deeper water for specks, with almost all reporting similar 6-to-12-fish catches of crappie big enough to keep. Some of those numbers might have been better if not for the afternoon storms that prematurely ended the speck seekers' fun.

Gulf anglers are finding fewer trout, but Spanish mackerel action is holding up well. And redfish seem more numerous and willing than they have been all summer. For the first time this year, guides and marinas at every gulf port offered positive red reports.

Fishing Sunday with Richard Nalli Jr. out of Cedar Key, Jackie Baker R.N. of Gainesville captured her first over-slot red. The big fish measured 29-inches, two inches longer than legal.

After photographing and releasing the oversized fish, the two continued tight-lining cut mullet near Seahorse Key in the failing evening light. Persistence paid off, as they boated two more reds (both legal,) plus an 18-inch trout.

Joella Markham and Jackie Hayward fished out of Waccasassa Sunday. The accomplished anglers located lots of good reds - enough to release smaller fish until they had a pair of maximum-size 27-inchers. They fished shrimp and cut bait in Waccasassa Bay creeks.

The widespread appearance of tarpon along East Coast beaches a couple of weeks back coincided with the arrival of big finger mullet and pogy (menhaden) schools.

Those wads of baitfish are still present above and below Matanzas Inlet, and fat tarpon and smallish bluefish are escorting them along the beaches.

Fred Miles and John Herring fished live mullet just outside the inlet on August 20th, as the initial wave of silver kings arrived. The men jumped an amazing 24 tarpon of varying sizes. Now, that's an exciting fishing day.

Waters inside the inlet also are producing well for local anglers. The nighttime trout action around lighted boat docks remains especially strong.

Monday evening, Billy Permenter and Martha Groves of Palatka eased out into Matanzas River and headed for a favorite set of docks.

"The tide was coming in at the edge of dark…" recounted Permenter, "just my favorite situation."

Casting Saltwater Assassin grubs with and without jigheads, the couple pulled 7 good trout from one dock - the largest, a 7-pound whopper.

The annual migration of St. John's River shrimp is gaining steam, as a very sub-par gulf scallop season winds down.

It's a rare and happy year when both of these 'special seasons' are outstanding at once. One out of two isn't bad. Savvy shrimpers say that this season's run is looking more and more promising.

Following his nighttime trout-fishing success, Billy Permenter took a short shrimp-scouting trip Wednesday morning near his home on the St. John's.

Close to Brown's Landing, a short boat ride upriver from Memorial Bridge, he located plenty of the coveted crustaceans in water 25-feet deep.

He slung his cast net just three times, pulling in 50 shrimp…"but," he added, "I only kept eight big ones."

Folks netting during the bright daylight hours find shrimp best in the deep river channel. Nocturnal netters in the Palatka area, though, are claiming better results in shallower water with the help of shrimp-attracting artificial lights and chum.

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 7:04 a.m. 10:36 p.m. 1:00 a.m. 3:05 p.m.

Sat. 8:23 a.m. - 2:24 a.m. 4:41 p.m.

Sun. 12:10 a.m. 9:57 a.m. 4:11 a.m. 5:56 p.m.

Mon. 1:00 a.m. 11:16 a.m. 5:34 p.m. 6:51 p.m.

Tues. 1:35 a.m. 12:21 p.m. 6:35 a.m. 7:37 p.m.

Thurs. 2:32 a.m. 2:10 p.m. 8:12 a.m. 8:55 p.m.

St. Augustine

Day 1st high 2nd high 1st low 2nd low

Today 2:35 a.m. 3:19 p.m. 8:56 a.m. 10:05 p.m.

Sat. 3:32 a.m. 4:24 p.m. 9:58 a.m. 11:04 p.m.

Sun. 4:36 a.m. 5:30 p.m. 11:00 a.m. -

Mon. 12:01 a.m. 12:02 p.m. 5:41 a.m. 6:31 p.m.

Tues. 6:43 a.m. 7:26 p.m. 12:57 a.m. 1:02 p.m.

Weds. 7:40 a.m. 8:18 p.m. 1:50 a.m. 2:00 p.m.

Thurs. 8:35 a.m. 9:09 p.m. 2:40 a.m. 2:56 p.m.

Day Minor Major Minor Major

Today 12:15 6:15 12:25 6:55

Sat. 1:10 7:15 1:25 7:45

Sun. 2:00 8:10 2:20 8:40

Mon. 2:55 9:10 3:20 9:40

Tues. 3:55 10:05 4:15 10:30

Weds. 4:45 10:55 5:05 11:20

Thurs. 5:35 11:45 5:55 -

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