Fishing report: Storm alters Florida coastline

Bernie Schultz with one of his Orange Lake bass from Wednesday. (Courtesy of Bernish Schultz)
Courtesy of Bernish Schultz

Convinced we are hardened to big storms, longtime Floridians are sometimes prone to underestimate them.  Sure, when a Cat 3 or 4 is bearing down, we all get scared — but a Cat 1?  Piece of cake.

As reports from east coast residents came to us along with incredible post-storm footage from drones flown down the beaches, we wondered how Nicole, a storm not classified as extremely intense, could have produced such change. 

She arrived as barely a Category One and yet altered the meeting of land and sea, finishing a one-two punch that Hurricane Ian had started a few weeks earlier. Things will eventually look normal again, but lots of beach and dune restoration will be needed.

It’s a safe bet that the long-held favorite spots of surf fishers are altogether different now.  Old sweet spots are gone and new sweet spots waiting to be discovered.

Everyone should bear in mind that any grade of hurricane is severe. Surviving near-misses should never make us cocky.

We have listened for our fishing customers to relay to us any specifics regarding how the wind and rain from (by then) Tropical Storm Nicole affected the Big Bend coast.

The first post-Nicole anglers in the Cedar Key area reported dirty water —not tannin-stained, but muddy.  This led us to reason that wind and wave action had a bigger effect than the rain in the inshore shallows.  And, by the way, these anglers also reported poor fishing.

Things have improved marginally as the water has cleared.  Still, most say the fishing remains a little ‘off’.  Through this week, reports from inshore Gulf anglers have been only middling during a season that usually sees an uptick in overall action. 

Most anglers that have visited the shallows from Crystal River up to Keaton Beach have passed
along assessments that the fishing for trout and redfish is okay, but maybe a bit short of exciting.  

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Water temps are now dropping in earnest, and so the expected improvement could well develop over the coming days.

Lake levels inched up a bit but, as in saltwater, reports have generally lagged.  A few local anglers, though, have found nice freshwater success.

Elite Pro bass angler Bernie Schultz did some promotional filming this week on Orange Lake.  During the one-day opportunity to record impressive catches, the Gainesville pro and the featured products he represents both produced. 

The shoot was on Wednesday with videographer Tyler Post and the goal was to produce two-minute videos for Shimano and Yamamoto, showing applications for the new Speed Senko worm — and the Fat Baby Craw, an already-established flipping bait. The tackle arsenal included spinning and casting Shimano Expride rods paired with the iconic Stradic and Calais reels.

Bern said, “Fishing started out slow as the cold front blew through with low skies, but things gradually got better through the day. After the sun broke out and it started warming up, the bite turned on”.  The new Speed Senko worked best, fished through scattered, patchy hydrilla in water 3 to 4 feet deep. 

The Fat Baby Craws also produced when Schultz punched them through dense weedy mats floating in 3 feet of water or less.  In all, they boated 25 to 30 bass up to six pounds — plenty to make two good minutes

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Please keep doing the fishing reports!really missed them when Sun stopped on Fridays. THANK YOU
Keep your tip up!