Fishing community says goodbye to dear friend


Published: Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 11:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 11:45 p.m.

She had qualified with the second-highest point total earned by a female angler nationally, and Marty Gray was excited to be fishing in the American Bass Anglers championship.

After dutifully preparing as we all do … studying maps, listening to reports, and picking the perfect tackle, she left with high hopes two Fridays ago after work at Gary's Tackle Box, headed along with friends, Jodie Bunn and Art Pina for Clarks Hill Lake in Georgia.

Then the word came last Thursday that, while fishing on Day Two of the event, she had suffered a massive heart attack and was being rushed to Athens Regional Medical Center.

We struggled through Thursday evening and Friday, waiting and praying for a good outcome as reports came our way from her daughter, Cindy Crawford, and from Jodie and Art.

But it looked bad from the start, and it was bad.

On Sunday, Martha Gray was taken off life support and we lost a uniquely wonderful person.

Marty's angler/partner for the day did everything he could — but in the remote location, medical help came too late.

Just one thing the angler conveyed does give us a bit of comfort when we imagine the scene — he said that she “was catching fish” when it happened.

I suppose many of us diehard fishers say at some point that's how we want to go. Marty pulled it off, and that is fitting. A fisherwoman with an uncanny feel for the sport, she had competed, guided, and operated tackle shops for years.

I have known hundreds of bass anglers — Marty loved the sport as much as anyone. Many of us will miss her mightily.

Marty would want the show to go on, so the rest of this space will hold ordinary fishing reports.

October is a notoriously-good month for redfish action on the gulf. And the red-catching is as good as it should be — with the added bonus of an unusually-large number of very large fish. Capt. Jim Keith and his parties can testify to this, having recently battled sizable spot-tails pretty regularly.

Through last week, fishing cut mullet in his top Cedar Key spots, anglers in Capt.

Jim's boat hauled in and released over-slot reds measuring (in the order they were caught): 27 , 29, 29 , 27 , 36, 39, and 39 inches.

The longtime salty guide added that the speckled trout fishing is very good on the grass flats. His top trout producers are Saltwater Assassin jigs under Cajun Thunder rattling floats.

The Cedar Key mackerel frenzy on Seahorse Reef also remains strong.

Big catches of hefty Spanish are still standard fare on the large offshore hump; and occasional kings — some pushing 40-pounds — also remain a possibility for trollers.

Large schools of baitfish are still in place on the reef; and as long as that is the case, the macks should stay put, as well.

The speckled trout bite is likewise strong a few miles up the Big Bend Coast. Fishing out of Steinhatchee Saturday, Joey Conn, James Lovvorn, and Rick Pena enjoyed a great trout-catching day.

The Gainesville trio drifted the grass flats north of the river, casting Stickminnows by Unfair Lures and Paul Brown Originals to fill a large, fifteen-fish triple limit that included three fish over 20 inches.

Pena said that locals had advised them that the afternoon bite would be better … and, sure enough, the trout started feeding fast at 11:30 a.m.

Newnans Lake has deservedly received most of the attention of local speckled perch fans recently, but another top-notch crappie lake is starting to come on strong.

Cross Creek angler, Ted Elliott took Associate Priest at Gainesville's St. Patrick Church to try for Lochloosa specks last Thursday.

Father Dung Bui fished live minnows while Ted worked a red-and-white fly under a float.

Each man hauled in several fish, and they harvested 20 nice-sized ones.

Another boat nearby, Ted said, bagged 25 fish. Interestingly, three stout bass also pounced on the little baits drifted out in the open water. In the illegal-to-possess slot that is in force on this lake, the bigmouths were promptly unhooked and eased back into the water.

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

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