Weather shifts bring out resourceful anglers


Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 11:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 11:31 p.m.

A rough, chilly stretch of days around last weekend produced few good fishing reports. But, two of the fish caught in the tough conditions were absolute jaw droppers.

It seems that fish of rare size — or taken in unheard-of places — are seen more frequently these days. I’m rarely shocked any more when it comes to wild, almost unbelievable catches.

The following catch, however, is pretty darn shocking.

It seems that on Friday, Bobby Taylor was fishing in the Steinhatchee River when he hooked a sizable and hard-fighting fish. The Hickory, N.C. man had been in Steinhatchee for the Fiddler Crab Festival. As an avid fisherman, he was drawn to the water. Taylor picked up a few live pinfish from the Sea Hag Marina and found a place to cast them … a dock near the Steinhatchee bridge. At first, a few of the live baits became hung in rocks on the bottom. The resourceful angler found a stick just large enough to hold the pinfish above the snags, and tied it to his line. The stick did the trick. The strong and fast combatant took the pinfish and the battle was on.

The Carolina angler probably was surprised to catch an 11 1/2-pound striped bass. Maybe not as surprised, though, as some of us who have watched area catches for decades and never heard of a true striper coming from any Big Bend river.

And another exceptional bass catch made in freezing conditions Monday morning will set the legion of Florida bass fans on fire. Bob Williams of Alloway, N.J. was fishing on Rodman Reservoir with well-known guide, Sean Rush when a huge largemouth took his large shiner.

Once the monster bass was in the boat, Rush phoned the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to have it certified in the new TrophyCatch program. FWC personnel met Rush and Williams at the Rodman boat ramp to verify, certify, and document the capture of a 13.88-pound fish — the first to qualify in the TrophyCatch “Hall of Fame” class (13 pounds and over). Since October, 24 bass qualifying for “Trophy Club” status (between 10 and 12.99-pounds) have been verified and released, but the cold morning giant brought in by Williams and Rush is the first fish to garner Hall of Fame status.

As a Hall of Fame angler, Williams will receive a free fiberglass replica of his fish, plus a number of other nice prizes and gift cards. If the huge bass turns out to be the heaviest TrophyCatch bass of the year, much bigger prizes are in line.

After being checked out fully, the 27-inch long beauty was released in excellent shape near the spot where she was caught.

The bass that Jolie Ference caught last Monday might not make headlines like the previous two will, but it’s certainly a fish she will always remember. Last Wednesday, Jolie was in the mood to catch a fish. The Melrose eleven year old had a nice head start, living on a Lake Santa Fe canal.

In her back yard, she had pulled in lots of bream … but never a bass. And on this day, Jolie was after the bigger game. She caught a little bream, put it on her hook and cast into the canal. Before long, she was fast to a fine six-pound bigmouth. Once she landed the feisty whopper, her dad, Joey photographed her with it. Then Jolie slipped her first-ever bass back into the canal.

Someone driving by the Newnans Lake boat ramps that had in recent weeks been crowded would assume that the annual speck spawn is finished. Following a few breezy and chilly days, the parking lots were largely deserted much of this week. Wednesday, Capt. Joe Richard set out to see if the specks had, indeed, vacated the spawning shallows.

Scouting for an upcoming guide trip, the Gainesville angler slid his canoe in on the west side a bit after 2:00 p.m. On a nice afternoon with only a couple of other boats on the lake, Capt. Joe cast little crappie jigs with white curly tails. It wasn’t long before he had his answer.

The specks are still shallow. In brush standing in water 3-to-4 feet deep, he pulled in 17 nice fish before 5:00. Most appeared to be darkly-colored male fish. With the full moon arriving Monday, the crappie spawn might be winding down — but it’s not finished.

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

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top