This week at Gary’s Tackle Box was marked by tales of big bass.
Saturday’s Xtreme Bass Series tournament proved that, late into the spring season, Orange Lake remains among the hottest public lakes in Florida. When the 32 competing teams came in to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park to weigh their catches, several had heavy bags of fish.
A few weeks ago in the last Xtreme qualifier, Tommy Studstill and Bryan Lewis weighed in a massive 33 pounds that included one double-digit giant. Such a catch would win about 99 tournaments out of 100.
But on that day, Orange Lake was productive enough that they had to settle for third.
Last Saturday, Lewis and Studstill bagged another exceptional five-bass limit—and this time, it was heavy enough to win. Barely. Their 26.08 total bested the second-place catch made by Joe Yarborough and Dewayne Moore (26.06) by the narrowest of margins.
Studstill and Lewis also had the heaviest bass of the day at 12.31, but that was also barely a win. The seventh-place team, Scott and Steven Adams, brought in a 12.27-pound fish that anchored their 21.56 limit.
Right behind the first- and second-place teams were Deryl Williams and Tyler Griffis with an impressive 25.89-pound catch. Dennis Hart and Don Bunting grabbed fourth with 24.43.
Tony and Mike Davis’ 24.39 fifth place catch was anchored by a whopping 10.97-pounder. When you have two fish weighing over 12 pounds in a 32-boat tourney at the end of April—and nearly a third of the field sporting catches heavier than 20 pounds—you have a bona fide hot bassing lake.
Young Clay Johnson was casting from his boat dock on Bream Lake Wednesday when the “long brown plastic worm” he was using was grabbed by a heavy fish. When the 11-year-old finally wrestled the bass to shore, he had a 27-inch long giant weighing 11.5 pounds.
After a few photos, Clay released the whopper back into the Hawthorne Lake.
Along with Newnans, both Orange and Lochloosa lakes continue to produce big catches of unusually large bream. Scott and Laura Creamer fished crickets and grass shrimp in the Lochloosa lily pads using 12-foot telescoping fiberglass poles.
The 52 bluegills, four speckled perch, and three catfish they took home weighed nearly a hundred pounds in total.
“Those bream were all our 12-foot Bream Busters wanted,” Scott said.
Thomas Gogherty was surprised during two recent trips to Rodman Dam to see anglers casting from the shore to catch a very unusual variety of fish. Along with the expected speckled perch and various bream, he watched several nice bass (both the largemouth and striped variety) pulled in.
But what puzzled the Gainesville angler was the persistent catches of large gizzard shad and occasional tilapia. Especially considering the algae-eaters were biting minnow-imitating white Zoom Flukes.
Offshore gulf anglers were happy with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recent announcement giving recreational anglers a nice, long 2022 gulf red snapper season.
The summer season will run from June 17 through July 31. Then the fall season will open again over five weekends in October and November.