Fishing report: Cool snap produces little change

Bill McDavid with 36 inch gag grouper.
Bill McDavid with 36 inch gag grouper. (Photo by William McDavid)
Photo by William McDavid

At the season’s first really cool snap, anglers usually expect their favorite fish to become more active. 

Strangely, last week’s chilly spell didn’t really bring a significant uptick in fresh or saltwater
catches.  In fact, some fishers felt that the bite got tougher, and that poor feeding attitude lasted through the weekend.

Still, as always, good anglers caught fish.

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On Saturday, acclaimed young inshore fishermen —Trey Mikell and Hunter Brasington — won the TH Marine Redfish Open presented by the Florida Redfish Series. The pair cast Slayer Inc. swimbaits in the clear Steinhatchee shallows to catch two reds that totaled 12.35 pounds. And that was enough to top the other 37 competing teams on a day that saw top-slot reds hard to find and reluctant to bite.

After hearing of a friend’s impressive grouper success in relatively shallow water, Bill McDavid and his grandson, William, decided to give some of their near-shore grouper numbers a try. 

They went to their favorite rocky-bottomed spot in water 25 feet deep south of Steinhatchee.  It was choppy when they arrived, and there was more pesky floating grass than they would have preferred. 

Despite these inconveniences, they put out diving lures to troll over the target area just 12 miles offshore.  After noon, when the tide started out, they missed a couple of strikes and caught a couple of gags —both shy of the 24-inch minimum length. 

But then, as the tide started moving out, a heavy fish grabbed Bill’s lure.  Once he had it to the
boat, William gaffed and hauled aboard a gag grouper of unusual proportions for a near-shore fish.  The chunky 36-inch specimen likely weighed more than 20-pounds.

Speckled trout are one of the favorites that most expect to ‘fire up’ as soon as the water cools. There have been a handful of good trout tales since the first cool nights, but more reports have not been so inspiring.

One story from the weekend could be deemed as exciting — or disappointing — depending on your point of view.  The customer came in to buy more Sea Shads and as we chatted, he said that he and a friend had caught “about 150 trout…” in a tidal creek near Suwannee.

My eyes must have widened as he chuckled and added, “….and not one of ‘em was big enough to keep”. 

On one hand, pulling in that many fish only to head home empty handed does seem disappointing.  On the other, catching that many little trout still sounds pretty fun.

Crappie lovers definitely expect the season’s first really cool nights to bring a clear uptick in speck fishing.  Nothing much has changed, though, in the fair-to-good reports from Orange, Lochloosa, and Newnans Lakes. 

By now, competition-minded speck fishers are making pre-fishing trips to Orange and Lochloosa Lakes in preparation for the Nov. 5th Speck Headz Fall Tournament out of Marjorie Rawlings boat ramp on Orange. 

This crappie contest will feature a 7-speck limit. High-tech Live Scope/Active Target forward sonar units will not be allowed.  Contact Justin Hardy 352-559-9257 for more.

The Gainesville Bassmasters fished their October tournament about 65 miles south of home base.  They launched on Saturday, Oct. 22, at Tracy’s Point on Lake Panasoffkee. The day would be memorable for its good fishing — but even more for the amazingly close finish between
the top three teams. 

In a tie for first place, Tim and Andrew Moore weighed 15.52-pounds of bass.  Dan Friedman and Barry Brunges likewise carried to the weigh scales a tournament limit totaling 15.52.

Now, that’s notably unusual on its own, but the third-place team, Cory and Chip Veley, were right there, too, with a catch totaling 15.49.  Darn near a three-way tie, even weighing to the hundredths.

Cory’s 7.46 pounder was the single-heaviest bass of the day.

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