On Sunday morning, lifelong local bass angler Joe Yarborough made an amazing catch in an Alachua County lake. The capture of a post-spawn bass of this size quickly grabbed the attention of bassers everywhere.
Yarborough was casting a dark-colored soft plastic lure around submerged grass in relatively shallow water when he hooked a heavy, hard-fighting fish. He estimated the bass at 10 pounds, but that fish would end up getting off near the boat.
A few minutes later, Yarborough hooked another heavyweight—this one less energetic but certainly no less powerful. When the bass thrashed at the surface, the fisherman saw that it was of behemoth proportions. He played the fish carefully with his Lew’s reel/Rick’s Rod combination and finally was able to grab the thick lower lip and hoist the beast aboard.
Even though the livewell in his Bullet bass boat is unusually large, it was barely able to contain this fish. When the angler got out his Rapala digital high contrast scale he saw that he had indeed boated his personal best bass at 14.48 pounds.
Later, after photos, Yarborough released the rare specimen in good condition. Naturally happy with the rare accomplishment, he said, “If I never top that one, I’ll be fine with it.”
John Stork and Jerry Donaldson headed out of Suwannee last Thursday for the large area known as Spotty Bottom. The day was a nice and calm one for a change and when the men arrived, several boats were already there. The water clarity, however, was surprisingly poor.
Expecting Spanish mackerel, they put out trolling lures, and before long Donaldson’s Clarkspoon was slammed by something too large to be a Spanish. Once that kingfish was in the boat, the anglers kept trolling spoons, dusters, and Sea Witches and kept hooking kings.
Following a long, drag-screaming run, the hook pulled on the largest, and a few more fish managed to break or cut their lines. When they had no more kingfish lures to troll, they headed back to Suwannee with three kings up to 19 pounds.
Also on Thursday, J.P. Hood, Matt Shine, and Danny Crews fished on Seahorse Reef —only a few miles from Spotty Bottom. The Gainesville fishermen were greeted by a lovely combination of calm weather and clear water. The tide was rising and baitfish and birds were everywhere.
The three trolled spoons and cast Yozuri lures and Rat L Traps to hook loads of Spanish mackerel—mostly good-sized fish between 20 and 26 inches long. They had a couple of kings on as well but didn’t get one in the boat.
On the way back to Cedar Key, the anglers drifted for a while on a grass flat, noting that the water was far dirtier than it had been out on the reef. Even so, they bagged eight keeper speckled trout to go with the 20 macks they had kept “for the smoker.”
Very few fishing events have been around for so long. The Builders Association of North Central Florida (BANCF) held its 2022 Family Fun Fishing Tournament on Saturday in Crystal River. This was the group’s 58th annual fishing tournament.
As it has frequently this season, the wind made things tough on the fishers. Junior anglers Ridge Robinson (ladyfish), Lyla Mughabghab (trout), Colt Gainey (trout), and Austin Roscow (trout) all won trophies and prizes for their catches. But young Walker Robinson put every contestant, junior or senior, in the shade with his catch—a whopping 45.66-pound cobia.
No winners in the adult categories had a catch so impressive.
For largemouth bass (freshwater), Big fish caught by Keith Thompson and Heaviest Stringer by the Ace Contracting Team.
In the Speckled Sea Trout category, Thomas McLennon won with a good 3.38-pound fish while Phil Wagner’s 2.02-pounder was good for second place.
Teams competing for Spanish mackerel fought through rough seas to pick up just a few fish. The Gator Solutions team had the largest Spanish at just 1.26 pounds. They added one more mack to also win the Heaviest Mackerel Stringer prize.
John Michael weighed in the winning snook, a 7.52-pound specimen.
The cobia fishers produced the most impressive catches of the day. In addition to young Walker Robinson’s Junior Angler entry, the Robinson Renovations team also had the Adult winner—a 22.48-pounder. The second-place cobia, taken by the MAVEN Construction team, weighed in at 15.52.
The Redfish section saw several nice-sized fish. The Shore Builders boat won both first place prizes. Big Fish by Sean Campbell at 6.44 and Heaviest Two-Fish Stringer at 12.56. The second heaviest redfish was caught by Jesse Crehore (5.86) and the Wolf Pack boat took home the second place two-red stringer (6.64).
The coveted Inshore Slam prize awarded to the team with the heaviest Redfish/Snook/Trout trifecta was claimed by the Roscow/Crehore boat. Their three-fish combined weight was 14.64-pounds.