Saltwater favorites remain comfortable as weather stabilizes

Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 10:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 10:15 p.m.

The fishing scene doesn't often shift radically in a short span of time, even at a change of season. Stable weather insured that there would be no big changes again this week, and gulf coast redfish and speckled trout seekers are fine with that.

Before long, the miles-wide strip of gulf shallows we call “the flats” will chill down to the point of evicting nearly all of its finny residents. Some will move into creeks and rivers, and some will move farther offshore. But, to date, many saltwater favorites seem to remain comfortable in all gulf venues.

Greg Ahrens, Bryant Newsome, and Chris Workman fished Sunday off Cedar Key. The Gainesville men went to a favorite spot in water around 50-feet deep, where they anchored and dropped cut and frozen bait to the bottom. Grouper were home and hungry. The stop yielded 10 nice red grouper, plus eight out-of-season gags up to about 15-pounds that they released. At one point, a chunk of cut grunt being cranked to the surface was intercepted in a flash by a 15-pound kingfish that eventually made it into the fish box. Apparently, king mackerel find the 66-degree water temperature still acceptable.

Suwannee was good to Gary's Tackle Box colleagues last week. Wally Grant fished Thursday and Friday with Don House, and then Saturday and Sunday with Keith Chapman and John Koburger. When, upon his return to work, we asked Wally how many trout he had caught during his four fishing days, he replied, “about three short of a million”. Through the four days they found fish near the Suwannee's East and West Passes in creeks, at creek mouths, around islands, and in troughs along sand bars. Saltwater Assassin Sea Shads, Bomber Long A's, and gold spoons produced scores of trout and a few reds. The largest trout they located were in Bumblebee Creek, north of the Suwannee. There, Spittin' Image surface lures drew strikes from several fish well over 20-inches long.

Cole Childers, R.J. Dick, and Ian Taylor launched at the Horseshoe Beach boat ramp Saturday morning, set for a day of great trout fishing. The outboard engine's power trim, though, wasn't working and it seemed the promising day would be wasted. But instead of heading back to Gainesville, the three decided to fish nearby waters using the electric trolling motor. Casting jigs not far from the backyards of Horseshoe residents, the trio boated 7 keeper trout including very respectable fish of 20 and 24 inches.

Brian Fletcher and Mike Flunker fished late last Friday at Steinhatchee. In an impressive two hours of fishing with shrimp and white Gulp! baits on jig heads, the Gainesville anglers caught eight redfish and 15 trout. These were all fish of impressive size, and as many were released as harvested. The next morning at sunrise, Flunker and Fletcher stopped near the Steinhatchee River mouth, where Mike caught another redfish. This one was a beast measuring 37 inches … far too large to keep.

Richard and Elliott McDavid went out Saturday aboard a Sea Hag Marina rental boat. After a couple of stops on the grass flats, the Gainesville father-and-son headed out to a spot near “Short Reef”. Black sea bass were all over the frozen bait they dropped to the bottom 20-feet below, and most were of legal size. They iced a good mess of these, and added a 16-inch flounder. Then, young Elliott got the bite that made the day. With light spinning tackle spooled with 10-pound test braided line, the Gainesville High School 9th grader struggled with the big fish for twenty minutes. Finally, the 37-inch redfish was on board — a whopper that weighed 19 pounds on a Boga grip before its release.

It's been a while since a nearby lake produced a real doozy of a bass story. Tommy Studstill, Vince Edmonds, and Rodman Reservoir have changed that. While competing against eighteen other teams in a Florida Bass Network tournament Saturday, Studstill and Edmonds found an area where they caught stout largemouths at an unheard of rate. Early that morning they filled a five-fish limit while casting Carolina rigged plastic baits. And they continued to catch bass throughout the day, trying a variety of lures along the way. Tommy said, “There were so many fish…everything worked.” After culling through dozens (yes, dozens) of bass in the three-to-four-pound class, the Gainesville men went to weigh-in with a winning 24.49-pound limit. Studstill, a seasoned and accomplished angler, ranked the bass-catching day among his best.

Gary Simpson, a veteran tournament angler, operates Gary's Tackle Box at L & S Auto Trim.

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