Specks found in shallows at Newnan’s Lake
Published: Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 12:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 12:43 p.m.
Area freshwater anglers have long regarded the arrival of a new year as their wake up call.
Fans of bass and speckled perch know that both of the favorites will move shallow to spawn sometime in the weeks following the New Year celebrations. When this happens, they become easier to catch than at any other time. Very cold winters can put off the start of the ‘bedding season’ until as late as March.
But this year, a very early spawn seems much more likely.
On my way to Rodman Reservoir New Year’s Day, I passed Powers Park at the south end of Newnan’s Lake. The parking lot at the boat ramp held a slew of tow vehicles with empty boat trailers. I was pretty sure that the locals had found the specks in the shallows.
Back at work Wednesday, I learned that my deduction had been correct.
Ren Gallon and Andy Hadsock’s vehicle had been one of those in the crowded parking lot. After launching, the Gainesville anglers stayed in Newnans’ south end, pitching chartreuse crappie jigs around stems of dead dog fennel standing in water less than three feet deep. Set 12 to 18 inches above the little jigs were small floats to keep the baits above the abundant snags on the bottom and at eye level with the specks. So close to the boat ramp that they didn’t really need their outboard engine, Gallon and Hadsock bagged a 50-fish double limit of fine specks that included a few slabs topping a pound-and-a-half. Nice way to start the New Year.
At another top area lake, Marty Gray and Jody Bunn found strong evidence that bass, too, are scoping out the spawning shallows. The longtime fishing friends cast Zoom worms and craws along a cypress-lined shore Monday. They enjoyed fast action, catching and releasing nine largemouths up to 4.5-pounds.
At Rodman Tuesday, I worked several deeper areas without luck before trying a hump that rose to within four feet of the surface. On this shallower spot, eight smallish buck bass — probably with nest-making in mind — took my Bass Assassin worms.
Lake Santa Fe bass typically spawn a bit later than do fish in our shallower, dark-water lakes. The fish here still are positioned just outside the shoreline cover. Dewayne Swilley has had a lot of bass-catching success over the past two weeks while slow-trolling shad colored crankbaits about 50 feet outside the maidencane that circles most of the lake. The Melrose angler bagged a 7-pound beauty on New Year’s Day.
Saltwater fishers likewise took advantage of the fine-fishing weather on the last day of 2012 and the first of 2013. Steinhatchee-area catches were particularly impressive.
The Atlanta crew of Jimmy Edge, Mike Laster, Max Leatherwood and Ray Mitchell spent New Year’s Eve on a grass flat just above Dallas Creek. The Georgia anglers cast Redfin lures and soft-bodied Corky Mullets in the clear shallows to fill big limits of speckled trout.
Chase Norwood (12) and Elliott McDavid (14) terrorized speckled trout in the Steinhatchee River for a week. On winter break, the young anglers trolled 52MR series Mirrolures to boat scores of fish including whoppers measuring 26 and 24 inches. Elliott’s dad, Richard chuckled, “The trout will be glad when they have to go back to school”.
Catches out deeper are holding up, too. The Califf family from Valdosta ran 17 miles out of the Steinhatchee River mouth to water 33 feet deep. There, they anchored and dropped frozen squid to the bottom where unusually large black sea bass waited. The visitors returned to the dock with a cooler full of sea bass 14-to-16 inches long.
Sheila Rees, though, created the biggest buzz out of Steinhatchee late last week when she docked with the largest trout of the season. Fishing a white Gulp! shrimp just south of the river with husband Billy the Williston angler hooked the 30-inch beauty that would later weigh 7.49 pounds at the Sea Hag Marina.
The first fishing tournament of the year will let competition-minded anglers get after fast-biting fresh and saltwater favorites while helping out a local high school’s baseball program. To be held Jan. 12 at Suwannee Marina, Santa Fe High School’s 5th Raider Slam Inshore Tournament/Raffle and Fish Fry will offer cash prizes for the heaviest legal trout, redfish, and bass, and for the heaviest five-fish limits of trout and bass. Call 352-514-7159 or 352-284-9243 for more.
Gary Simpson, a veteran tournament angler, operates Gary's Tackle Box at L & S Auto Trim.
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