The coming of “Dog Days” never seems to be a dependable friend of anglers. We’re hearing some very good tales of fish catching, but there are at least as many stories from the other end of the success scale.
A sport that can always be ‘hit or miss’ seems that way more than ever in the August heat.
The Jacksonville Senior Bass Club held its bimonthly tournament two Thursdays ago on Rodman Reservoir. The Buckman Lock, allowing boat traffic between the impoundment and the St. John’s River, has been out of service for a few weeks and so the competing club fishers had no option other than Rodman and the Ocklawaha River.
The 52 competing members struggled mightily to find willing largemouths, and a relatively meager 13.06-pound limit was enough to earn the win for Danny Taylor and his partner, Barry Holloway.
Undeterred by the tough tournament day, Taylor returned to Rodman just three days later along with his son, Daniel. The Jacksonville pair launched Sunday just before daylight at Kenwood Landing and made their way out to the Barge Canal cut that bisects the pool.
There, they worked the same spots the elder Taylor had fished during the tournament — the same spots he has favored for decades. One of the first places they tried was active and the father/son team had a limit of solid bass up to 4 pounds in 30 minutes.
They moved on when things slowed. As they eased down the deep cut, they saw that, unlike three days earlier, lots of baitfish were huddled at the surface. The surface activity continued, and the anglers chased bait pods for two hours, catching the bass below them.
They caught and released around 20 bass with the best five weighing an estimated 27 to 29 pounds. Their largest fish was a lunker better than 10 pounds. Quite a radical shift in three days.
Fortunately, the extra on-the-water opportunities that August brings keep the eighth month on the North Florida sportsman’s radar.
In the Fenholloway-to-Suwannee River zone that stretches far above and below Steinhatchee, scallop season will last until Labor Day, Sept. 5. Most shellfish-collecting enthusiasts have rated this a better-than-average year in this zone — and there’s something to be said for waiting to hit the snorkeling shallows here at the tail end of the season.
Capt. Nita Chester of Fin Action Charters has been on a good scalloping roll, collecting limits daily with her parties on the clear grass flats just south of Steinhatchee.
“By now”, Nita said, “they’re bigger on average. And if you wait ‘til around 10 a.m. when visibility is good, they pop up on top of the grass.”
More seasonal seafood gathering is happening over on the St. John’s River, where the annual run of saltwater shrimp is in full swing.
This is a much anticipated happening celebrated by many St. John’s locals. Most years they’re able to fill their freezers with delicious crustaceans.
Typically by late August, the shrimp are large enough to harvest for food and that timing has held true this year. The best reports are still coming from north of Palatka’s Memorial Bridge and, as usual, veteran cast-netters are making their throws along the deep river channels with webbed cast nets.