Day to remember at Horseshoe Beach

Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 11:52 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 11:52 a.m.

Some days are better fish-catching days than others, and Sunday might have been the best of 2013.

Scott Blackwell and Andy Hadsock found action to be outstanding in the Horseshoe Beach shallows. They first boated a half dozen nice trout that busted surface lures on the clear flats. Then when the tide rose, they pitched Redfish Magic spinnerbaits near shore to fool four good reds — three legal fish and one whopper that measured 34 inches before its release. Yet another, even larger red that Scott couldn’t stop made off with one of the spinners.

Meanwhile, a few miles to the northwest, deeper-water favorites were also biting. John Cummings of Gainesville and Charlie Zorby of Newberry trolled gold Mann’s Stretch 30+ lures in water 27 feet deep off Steinhatchee. They were trolling close enough to artificial reefs that they could watch folks pulling in sheepshead when Charlie hooked something that definitely fought differently than the occasional grouper they were picking up. A few minutes later, the men had an 18-pound kingfish on board, the first reported here this season.

As usual, the arrival of kings comes a few weeks after that of their smaller cousins. Since March, scattered Spanish mackerel catches have been common on reefs and deep flats from Crystal River to Steinhatchee. Now, the razor-toothed speedsters are present in much better numbers. Tim Seese ran out from Steinhatchee on Sunday to a natural reef called “Little Bank.” The Gainesville angler trolled Spro and Floreo Jigs along the edge of the reef and enjoyed steady action through much of the day. He put 10 nice macks on ice and released more than that.

Charlie and Courtney McCallister spent Sunday on the Steinhatchee grass flats. The Williston couple launched at low tide at Rocky Creek and idled out to grass flats 3-to-4 feet deep. Casting jigs with grub tails in various colors, they caught several good speckled trout. Seven measured at least 17 inches. Three legal flounder up to 18-inches long also found the grubs attractive. Strangely, no species other than trout or flounder took a swipe at the jigs.

Monday, David Teiss and Doug McDilda fished between Cedar Key and the Waccasassa River. Working tight to the shoreline just ahead of high tide, the Gainesville fishermen cast gold spoons to grassy points and creek mouths near midday. The water was 73-degrees and clear and the redfish were present. They boxed four nice fish, two 26-inchers, a 23 and a 19.

Gainesville angler, Kirk Swanson, craved a fight with a heavyweight. He found his battle without a boat on the Cedar Key Public Fishing Pier. Along with friends, Vince Miller and Brad Holman, Swanson arrived at midnight Sunday and drifted out a mackerel head on the tide behind a wire leader. After a short wait, a large fish took the fish head. With relatively light spinning tackle, Swanson tussled with the fish for nearly two hours. Finally, after working it to an inner part of the pier where the distance from water to walkway was shorter, the three managed to tail-rope and haul the fish onto the pier, a sizable sandbar shark they estimated at 180 pounds.

Even though coastal reports flooded in faster this week, there were plenty of success stories in nearby lakes and rivers.

Up until now they were not allowed in the legendary bass-producing waters of the Bienville Plantation, but a recent change will be good news to seekers of giant bigmouths in the manmade pits near White Springs. Native golden shiners are now available at the Plantation, and the change is certain to ramp up the already amazing bass catching. Last week on Lake 14 (the most frequently fished of the Bienville lakes), five boats participated in a shiner-fishing experiment. The results, while predictable, were pretty impressive. They combined to take 32 bass more than five pounds. The largest fish weighed in at 9.5 pounds before its release. The new shiner-allowed rule will surely increase the bragging here, but all of the bass still must be released.

The Bassmasters of Gator Country fished their monthly tilt Sunday, this one on Lake Santa Fe. Chris Heron won with a fine limit catch that weighed 19.24 pounds. The largest of Heron’s five fish weighed in at just over 6 pounds. Darrell Pons Sr. made it home from his good finish in the B.A.S.S. Southern Open on Tennessee’s Lake Douglas in time to bag a 14.94-pound limit and second place.

Competitive area bassers are buzzing about the Open Bass Tournament to be held Saturday on the Suwannee River out of Clay Landing. Benefiting the Suwannee River Breast Cancer Awareness Association and featuring a large, guaranteed purse, this promises to be the biggest bass contest on the river in many years. Recently high and dark, the river has been receding and clearing, and action has apparently improved through this week. For more on the tournament, call Donnie Feagle at 386-365-1191.

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

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