Gathering fishing reports during the Dog Days of summer sometimes requires a wider range of search… and that search can produce some of the most varied and off-center tales of the year.
While traditional fishing can be a bit sub-par, two shot-in-the-arm bonuses take up the hook-and line slack. This has been a very good year for scalloping, and a promising new St. John’s River shrimp run is just starting to fire up. There’s even a third alternative now for on-the-water adventure—but it’s not for everyone. For savvy and fit fans of extreme outdoor sports, alligator season opened this week.
Bobby Gaff and Carl Barnes stopped by the store Wednesday at noon. They carried with them a couple of reels, a broken rod, and the demeanor of men who had just done battle. The rod had broken, it turns out, when a hooked and harpooned gator rolled at their boat, reached up, and bit the tip off. The High Springs gator hunters showed us pics of their hefty Lochloosa reptile that measured just over 9-feet in length.
The stellar gulf scallop harvesting hit its first minor snag of this season when water in some zones darkened a bit following days and days of recent heavy rainfall along the Big Bend Coast. The scalloping shallows should clear up, though, after a few cycles of tide flushes.
Over an unusually dry summer, the levels of our area fresh waters fell. We were happy when a lot of rain was forecast through the last week, and some places to our north and west did see the torrents….more than they wanted. If Newnans, Orange, and Lochloosa Lakes could have seen that kind of rainfall, they would be full again. But our lakes remain low as the bulk of the beneficial precipitation managed to miss this area…at least, through mid-week.
A quick trip to Newnans Lake after work Monday gave me quite a shock when, driving on Lakeshore Drive toward the boat ramp, I glanced over at the long-empty McGilvray’s Fish Camp. It was gone. My dad took me there to meet Johnny McGilvray when I was four or five. Through the years I would visit the iconic camp, and the Wigglesworths who ran it, many times. Doubtless, scores of longtime Gainesville fishers will remember the camp fondly. All things must pass.
Gainesville Area Rowing (GAR) recently purchased the property and will build in the run-down old fish camp’s place a new rowing center. The groundbreaking ceremony, in fact, was held yesterday, August 11, on the site. Gainesville Area Rowing is a non-profit corporation that has been our center of youth and adult rowing since 1998. Soon, phase one in construction of the new rowing facility to accommodate middle school and high school students, and adult rowing enthusiasts in the Gainesville and Alachua County area, will begin. Planned with the facility are dedicated changing areas, weight machines for strength training, a viewing area for spectators, an expanded floating dock, and 30 rowing machines (ergometers). GAR expects the new facility to be completed by January of 2017.
In some ways, fish-catching these days is easier than ever with information as close as a click and the top equipment so much better than in years past. But still, the fish often manage to surprise and frustrate anglers with their shifting hideouts.
One thing about running a tackle shop never changes—you’re asked almost daily where the best spots are. But even the best answer is seldom an absolute lock. Great spots can fail and the most unlikely places can give up a ton. It’s the nature of the sport.
In fishing productivity, every water goes through ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ spells as a long list of variables shifts. The list of top fishing spots changes frequently over the months and years.
Inviting but dangerous.
This describes a few fishing experiences in Florida, but a long stretch of the Suwannee River in mid-summer might present the clearest example.
During the hottest months, local freshwater fishers have long shifted their angling attentions from lakes and ponds to the cool, shady flow. “A river of green is sliding unseen beneath the trees, laughing as it passes through the endless summer, making for the sea”. I always have admired how the old Pink Floyd lyrics could so perfectly describe the allure of the river.