All-around fishing this August has outshined the fish-catching we’ve come to expect during most dog days periods.
Still, it would be unreasonable to expect no dropoff at all in catches during this notoriously tough fishing spell.
And that’s why nobody was really surprised when the months-long string of jaw-dropping tournament results on Orange Lake did finally look more “normal” in Saturday’s Xtreme Bass Series qualifier.
Mike and Tony Davis picked up the win with a perfectly solid 22.18-pound limit that included the day’s heaviest bass at 8.75. While still an impressive late-August total, this was the lightest winning weight of the eight qualifiers held this year in the Xtreme Bass Trails Orange Lake Division.
Joe Yarborough and Dewayne Moore had a near-miss 5-bass limit totaling 21.89.
The season-ending Classic Championship of the Wednesday Night Bass Tournament series on Lake Santa Fe also saw a rather run-of-the-mill winning catch. Fifteen teams showed up to try for the sizable paycheck that had been accumulating through the weekly spring and summer events.
Jason McClelland and Clint Sheppard won with a 13.24-pound limit. Again, finishing in second place, Joe Yarborough and Dewayne Moore were close behind with 12.54.
Perhaps even more than in fresh waters, inshore action along the Big Bend coast has held up exceptionally well. Capt. Hunter Brasington fished with his buddy and freshwater bass specialist, Carson Kamien on Monday.
The young Gainesville anglers came into Gary’s late in the day detailing aspects of their fishing trip far faster than I could write. They had launched at daybreak at Cedar Key. The first target was tarpon, but in the spot where the pair expected to find silver kings, they found instead a nice consolation prize in snook.
Casting “The Slick” soft lures, they hooked several linesiders — plus a surprising bonnethead shark. The next strike The Slick produced was again unexpected — a fine flounder measuring better than 20-inches.
Then, bouncing a Slick on a jighead across the bottom, Hunter hooked a heavyweight that turned out to be a powerful, 35-pound black drum.
Later, they set hooks simultaneously on trout that would measure 19- and 20-inches. After the trout double came a 26-inch redfish.
Another tarpon attempt produced no takers, and a storm forced them back to the boat ramp where they waited out the wind and rain, but when able to return to the fishing spot, the next strike came from a 26.5-inch red. Then more trout and snook.
Hunter said, “We hooked a lot of good fish today.”
Trip highlights were reds of 26 and 26.5 inches, seven snook over 33-inches long, eight trout, the flounder, and the big drum.
Another Cedar Key-area bite that often kicks up a notch around the time football season cranks up is Spanish mackerel. And over recent days, anglers have indeed reported good mack catches from deeper grass flats and from Seahorse Reef, a few miles farther offshore.
The North Florida fishing scene is looking mighty good here at the end of summer.