AREA FISHING REPORT

Suwannee area in midst of speck hot-streak


Published: Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 8:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 8:00 p.m.

Up ’til now, this has not been a stellar summer for speckled trout and redfish-catching in our nearest gulf waters.

And, until a few weeks ago, the Suwannee area had been the toughest stretch of that coast.

Things can change quickly in the fishing world.

Right now a good case could be made that this has become the top trout and redfish zone from Crystal River to Steinhatchee.

Last Thursday, Gainesville angler Don House launched at Suwannee town and headed out the rivers’ East Pass in his 15 1/2-foot Express.

House continued to Lone Cabbage Reef, where he saw huge baitfish schools packed down the length of the shell bar.

Casting Bomber Long A jerkbaits and Spit’n Image surface lures, he hooked trout after trout as the tide rose. But his lure choices probably had less to do with his success than did the abundance of fish. As House put it, “There were so many fish — it probably didn’t make much difference which lures I threw,”

In two hours of casting, he boated “at least 40” speckled trout ranging in length from 14 to 17 inches.

The trout-catching spell featured three doubles ... two trout on the lure at once. Later, in tidal creeks near the river mouth, House caught and released 20 little redfish.

“There’s a heck of a good crop of little reds this season; next year should be outstanding,” he predicted.

Bob Heisler agreed with Don House concerning the abundance of young Suwannee redfish.

Along with Kim Westmoreland, Heisler cast gold Aqua Dream spoons Sunday near the mouth of the East Pass to catch a slew of reds. Of the 29 fish the Gainesville men boated, only four were legal fish just over 18 inches long.

But not all of the reds in the suddenly hot Suwannee waters are small. Last Thursday morning, Gary Rupp and Alto Straughn of Gainesville and Jerry Vanerwiggen of Homerville, Ga. headed out of the Suwannee’s McGriff Channel.

The Heddon Zara Spooks they worked along shell bars produced reds of 26, 25, 25, and 19 inches ... and another they “couldn’t slow down.” Later in the day, the men fished Gulp! shrimp on shell bars and grass flats to take several jack crevalle and bluefish, two flounder, and 17 speckled trout up to 20 inches.

Suwannee is coming on strong, but the Steinhatchee area won’t easily give up its claim as the top-producing part of the Big Bend coast.

Sunday, Ed Oehmig and Richard Smiley started their day on the clear Steinhatchee flats by gathering a boat limit of scallops in water 3-feet deep.

In the afternoon, they moved out deeper and broke out the fishing gear. In water 7-to-8 feet deep, they were catching a wide variety of fish (including five nice trout) when Richard tied into something much larger.

After a few minutes, they finally worked the big fish near enough to see that it was a cobia, about four feet long.

The battle raged on and on. Having no gaff aboard ultimately cost the Gainesville men their ling but the hour-and-fifteen-minute battle was one to remember.

Several fishers have recently made mention of big numbers of sharks near Cedar Key. This has prompted some locals to celebrate Shark Week in a personal way. One anonymous Gainesville angler caught and released a 9-foot Cedar Key hammerhead Sunday.

Last weekend saw a big late-season bluegill bedding session, with most of the best reports coming from Lochloosa. Bobby Maduro has kept close track of the bluegill bite on this lake through recent weeks.

Saturday, a day ahead of the August full moon, Maduro, Tommy Broestler, and Travis Williams enjoyed their best bream bite yet while fishing crickets on the south end shoreline.

Early that morning, they found the bream in tight, around the cypress trees. As the day heated up, the fish moved out deeper, into the emergent Kissimmee Grass.

The Gainesville trio went through 450 crickets while hauling in 119 fish.

The St. John’s River shrimp run is still looking very promising, with some of the migrating shrimp now grading as mediums.

Local experts say that the shrimp add a segment of exoskeleton twice a month, at the full and new moon phases.

Having then molted last weekend, they’re one notch larger now. Some say the crustaceans are yet too small to merit a cast-netting trip to the river, but nobody’s talking down their abundance. According to Messer’s Westside Bait in Palatka, the river is holding “massive numbers” of shrimp.

Just what we like to hear.

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

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