Even though it’s not even officially here yet, summer has firmly taken hold and the finny hot-weather favorites have returned to their traditional haunts in gulf waters.
Sunday, Kirk, Lance, and Lachlan Smith checked out Seahorse Reef along with Herb Anding. When they arrived on the famous reef several miles off Cedar Key, the Gainesville group saw promising indications as frantic baitfish huddled at the surface, panicked by predators below.
Sure enough, they started catching mackerel like crazy right away.
After a while, Kirk tied a triple three-skirt Spanish rig onto his grandson’s outfit and they flipped it out behind the slow-trolling boat. In no time, young Lachlan was doubled over, apparently with a heavy fish. Before long, though, they saw that he actually had multiple fish hooked at once. A minute later, the 7-year-old had three Spanish mackerel in the boat—a fish on each skirt.
Capt. Sean Campbell took a break from charters two Saturdays ago to fish with his wife, Emily.
The weather was nice and it was a good day for fishing, as it seemed that all of the Cedar Key favorites were on a major feed. Casting various artificial lures, they caught and released several sizable snook, topped by the 38-inch beauty that Emily wrestled in. Along with the linesides, the Campbells boated redfish, drum, flounder, trout, and tripletail.
Reports from farther offshore have also been good this week. Gag grouper season is set to reopen in federal Gulf waters on June 1st and the offshore fans that have taken scouting trips to their best deep rockpiles say the grouper numbers seem good.
Once gag season starts, each angler will be able to harvest two red grouper at least 20 inches long and two gags of at least 24 inches per day.
Now, with fuel prices as they are, some deep-water anglers will probably wait a couple of weeks longer yet for red snapper season to commence on June 17. At that time, fishers will each be able to add two of these beauties over 16 inches long to the ice chest. And then, a legal daily harvest will look closer to reasonable when stacked up against the trip’s expense.
Last weekend, the biggest and best-attended of the annual bass tournaments went out of Palatka’s City Dock. The 33rd Annual Wolfson Children’s Hospital Bass Tournament drew fewer competing teams than usual this yea, but still far more than any other fishing event.
The Wolfson features a VIP and Friends contest a day in advance on Friday. The 83 teams competing in the VIP this year were topped by Robin “Logger” Shiver and Syler Prince. They took their 19.15-pound limit casting Tap Out worms in black/blue.
The next morning, 321 teams took off for the main event from the City Dock, scattering north and south throughout the St. John’s River system. When they returned several hours later to weigh their catches, a young pair of local river specialists had the biggest bag of fish.
Young Wyatt Kinney and Austin Black put together a very fine five-bass catch totaling 29.89 pounds. The hefty winning limit was anchored by an 8.36 pounder that fell for the crankbait. Black was casting just after noon.
Black and Kinney’s win was by an unusually large margin, considering the scope of competition.
The second-place team—Brett Bolinger and Justin Atkinson—amassed a 24.57-pound catch.
Michael Hall and Tracey Duckett claimed third place with 23.62.
The biggest bass of the day, an 8.82-pound beauty, was weighed in by Jeremy Galloway and Jay Flositz.
The long-running bass tournament is a successful fundraiser for the Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville.