Trout becoming more active as temperatures decrease

Published: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 11:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 11:50 p.m.

I’ve heard lots of folks say they find it hard to get into the Christmas spirit unless the weather is cold. Holiday season anglers often find that speckled trout apparently feel the same ... only a very chilly spell works to put the inshore favorites in an active, feeding mood.

It was cold early Monday morning when Charles and Dale Langford of High Springs and Trenton respectively, launched in Suwannee Town and took a short, brisk boat ride to a nearby tidal creek. The Rapala X Rap 10 lures they cast in the rising mist were nailed right away by speckled trout — and big trout, at that. Two of their first three fish were very large. After that, it was harder to catch keeper trout.

“It took a while to fill our limits,” Charles said, “but that’s because we couldn’t keep any more big ones.” Each anglers’ legal daily bag limit for spotted seatrout here is five fish at least 15-inches long with only one of the five exceeding 20-inches. With fish of 23 and 27-inches quickly on ice, the men had to release 5 more of similar size while harvesting the rest of a double limit of trout just under 20-inches. They also released eight small redfish that couldn’t resist their silver and gold X Raps, and were back at the boat ramp well before noon.

It was chillier yet Tuesday morning when Guy Pascale and Larry Meredith arrived at the Cedar Key Pier. And, although nobody else ventured out onto the pier for hours, action was best in the coldest early morning. The Gainesville men pulled in ten trout up to 18-inches that went for shrimp set nine-to-12 feet under floats.

James Lovvorn of Archer and Rick Pena of Gainesville likewise had trout in mind Tuesday morning. The air temperature was 34-degrees when they launched at Steinhatchee, and their long run south to Pepperfish Keys was an uncomfortable one. But when they arrived, the fish were biting. Lovvorn and Pena were surprised, though, that trout weren’t the only fish feeding in the deep cut running alongside the islands. Several bluefish and dozens of ladyfish went after the Rapala and Paul Brown Original lures they cast. The stout, razor-toothed blues caused the men some problems, cutting off a couple of plugs and shredding a soft-bodied Paul Brown. But the fishermen did prevail, filling a double limit of speckled trout 18-to-19 inches long.

Wednesday, Andy Huston fished alone at Shired Island, between Suwannee and Horseshoe Beach. On this day, his canoe was the perfect vessel. The tide was unusually low, and the Gainesville angler had to drag it over a few nearly dry bars in order to reach a deeper hole he had fished in prior weeks. When the tide did begin to rise, good action followed. Huston cast DOA Airhead lures to catch a dozen redfish — eight too small to keep, three of legal length between 18 and 27-inches, and one barely oversize.

For better than a week, much of the best Steinhatchee trout fishing has been done in the river, or in the channel just outside its mouth. The river, proper, is only dependably good for trout fishing during the cold months. Productive spots have included a deeper area near The Estuary and a stretch on the north side of the river channel between Markers 28 and 18. In these areas, a number of fishers casting jigs and suspending twitch baits have reported the trout bite best within an hour of, and on each side of, high tide. In the rain Saturday, Dr. Richard Blake and Elliott McDavid pulled a good catch of sand and speckled trout from the river. They started fishing at 10:00 … and had their 10-fish speckled trout limit by 11:00.

That day Eddie Bell and Mark Stubbs fished a Steinhatchee creek, casting shrimp on jigheads. They released around twenty small redfish before finding a couple of nice keepers.

Strangely, good freshwater reports were suddenly scarce this week.

Only tales of single-digit speckled perch catches came in, the best of these from Orange and Lochloosa Lakes and from Rodman Dam. Perhaps the best freshwater news from last weekend is that the substantial rainfall brought the level of Orange and Lochloosa up noticeably.

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

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