Fishing report: Gulf catches make great memories

Cleaning fish after a trip to Cedar Key with UF professor John Maze.
Cleaning fish after a trip to Cedar Key with UF professor John Maze.
Courtesy of John Maze

University of Florida Professor John Maze enjoyed a special trip to Cedar Key on Monday. 

Along with him were five former students who had just graduated. This would likely be their last outing together. Ben Spears, Boris Stoyanov, Cole Wyatt, Jeremy Anker and Kyle Koehne, friends since their first year studying architecture. 

Maze said, “By some miracle, they all wound up in our top 10 graduates…it’s rare when our best students all happen to be best friends in life.”

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He went on, “They asked to be taken out fishing if they worked hard — and they did — but then at the end of the semester the weather didn’t cooperate and then everyone dispersed for the summer.” 

They stayed around ‘til commencement time, though, when better weather was finally forecast.

Maze and his ex-students launched Monday a couple hours before low tide and headed out to Seahorse Reef, where they floated shrimp set under Cajun Thunder floats.  As the instructor/guide had hoped, the mackerel were abundant. 

“We could have filled the boat with fish. The smallest was 16-inches but most were over 24-inches,” he said.  

Fishing 40-pound test monofilament leaders worked well in getting bites, but the big macks were occasionally able to cut through them.  A change to wire leaders took care of this. They found no kingfish, but did hook one large cobia that, unfortunately, broke 30-pound braid instantly.

Boys fishing trip.
Courtesy of John Maze Boys fishing trip.

For a change of pace, Maze took his students to a “usually-productive” spot in water 25-feet deep to bottom fish for a while. Black sea bass and grunts kept them busy, but larger fish were able to break the young men off in the rocks.

After another stop on the trout flats, they headed in to clean the catch.  And, “Being good lads, they cleaned the boat for me – taught them well.” 

Afterwards, the young gators dispersed across the country from Boston to New York and Texas. But the second annual boys fishing trip is already scheduled for the same time next year.

On Saturday, the Builders Association of North Central Florida held its 59th Annual Family Fun Fishing Tournament out of Crystal River. Among fishing tournaments, this might be the longest-running annual event of all. 

As the name would suggest, the Builders’ Tournament places an emphasis on the participation of young fishers. This year’s winners in the Junior Angler division all won trophies and prizes for their fish, and all of them happened to enter good-sized redfish. 

Conner Cross entered a nice one at 3.90 pounds, and Austin Roscow’s red weighed 5.34.  Young Jacob Bounds was the top Junior winner with an impressive 6.60-pound redfish.

Most winners in the adult categories said they found the Crystal River bite to be on the slow side. The Comprehensive Energy Services boat had the biggest trout (2.70) and the HUB International boat had the heaviest aggregate trout catch at 7.64. The Gulfeagle Supply boat took second place in both the Big Trout and the Heavy Trout Stringer

The biggest Spanish mackerel was bagged by the HUB International boat (3.24), and the Comprehensive Energy Services team took second place.

In the hotly-contested Redfish division, Bounds Heating and Air had the biggest fish, a perfect 7.38-pounder, while the HUB International boat had a 6.48-pound second-place fish.  The HUB International team added to their pile of winner’s prizes with a 12.46-pound two-red stringer, while the Santa Fe College boat took second with a 9.10-pound redfish pair.

The Newsome Well & Septic team took the day’s biggest red grouper with a fine 13.48 pounder and they also claimed the prize for the heaviest 4-grouper aggregate weight (22.66) and the Saltwater “Open” Species (3.24 Hogfish). The second-place grouper prize went to the 441 Self Storage team.

And the winners of the Inshore Slam competition for the best redfish, trout, and Spanish mackerel trio went to the day’s big winners – the HUB International team with a combined weight of 11.42-pounds. 

As always, a good time was had by all.

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