Gulf red tide outbreak taking turn for the better

waccasassariverThese are strange days, indeed, along our nearest and dearest portion of the gulf coast. Reports of fish kills persist, although now the scope of such sightings is apparently diminishing.

Even though they’re aware of the troubling patches of floaters, anglers continue to fish. What’s more, they continue to pull a lot of impressive inshore catches from the stretch of coast that is — or was recently — affected by the red tide outbreak.

Rick Pena and Mark Mckinney fished last Friday out of Waccasassa. Well south of the river mouth, the Gainesville anglers found speckled trout right away that were willing to blow up on topwater lures worked alongside shell bars. “There were tons of baitfish and mullet”, Rick related, “porpoises, manatees … the area was alive”. In short order, the anglers bagged nine nice trout and two slot redfish.

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Red Tide beginning to show signs around Big Bend coast


Red Tide Current Status
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

After long, hot summers, October typically brings certain pleasant thoughts to anglers.

In the minds of many freshwater fishers, these thoughts center around the speckled perch (aka crappie). Redfish rise high in the consciousness of inshore salty anglers when the days shorten and the nights cool noticeably.

As the month begins, however, an even longer list than usual of competing activities and negative factors is succeeding in keeping anglers off the water. Last weekend a breezy rain joined football and archery seasons in decreasing boat ramp traffic.

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Good weekend on the Gulf despite dire early predictions

Bass-Assassin-Sea-Shad-chicken-on-a-chainI had a chance to go to the Gulf last weekend and decided against it due to numerous reports of red tide and fish kills. Naturally (and thankfully), back at work Monday the weekend fishing reports started coming in and they were all good. Hands down, in fact, the Gulf Coast produced the best fishing stories.

Saturday, three young men from Gainesville launched at Shell Mound at daylight. Cameron Phillips and Scotty Sorgi had a Mad River canoe, while Austin McDavid slid in his new Eagle Talon 12 kayak. They paddled out toward the Derrick Key channel while casting various artificial baits in water they found to be surprisingly clear — and they finally found the one that worked. Elliott insists the fish would only bite Bass Assassin Sea Shads in the Chicken on a Chain color; and once they figured that out they caught and released several trout — plus 15 redfish from 16-to-22 inches long — before paddling back to the launch site shortly after noon.

Ren Gallon and Andy Hadsock gave a remarkably similar story. After launching at Cedar Key’s Number Four Bridge, the Gainesville anglers spent a while casting the bridge pilings, but interested only Gafftopsail catfish. A backwater cove was full of activity including tailing drum; but the spinnerbaits, gold spoons, and Baby One Minus lures they cast produced no strikes. The men finally tied on a Bass Assassin Die Dapper in the Chartreuse Dog color. Right away, a redfish grabbed it. After bagging a limit of keeper-size fish, they re-tried other bait styles…again with no luck. Back to the Die Dapper, back to almost-every-cast fish-catching. Along with the Chartreuse Dog, the Black Shad, Hot Chicken, and Chicken on a Chain colors all produced reds. Most were on the low end of the legal slot, with only one over 27-inches.

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Public meeting set up to help manage Orange Lake

orange-lake-tussocksWe’re often asked about the condition of Orange Lake. No matter how good fishing is in other local waters, folks all over the country seem to have Orange on their minds.

And it’s no wonder.

When the sinkhole on the south side opened up in 2011 to slowly drain the legendary lake, a good case could be made that Orange was the top bass fishery in the country.

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