Steinhatchee scallopers filling their limits

florida-scalloping2

Photo: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

They can’t be found on just any grassy gulf coast flat, but lots of opening-weekend scallop seekers out of Crystal River and Steinhatchee enjoyed great shellfishing success. Steinhatchee scallopers who ran a few miles north to the clear, grassy flats near Grassy Island were able to bounce around until they located clusters of the prized bivalves. Folks who opted to try the usually dependable shellfishing waters south of the river generally found fewer.

Bob Sturm and crew ran around five miles north after clearing the Steinhatchee River’s mouth on opening morning. They first stopped in water just two-feet deep with little luck. Moving out to five feet of water produced only a few more shellfish. Then, in the optimum visibility after noon, the Sturm group found the mother lode in water four-feet deep. In just a few minutes, they each filled two-gallon limits. Sturm and his friends were far from alone. “At 2:30,” he said, “I looked around and counted more than 200 boats.”

Another customer said he and his friends found so many shellfish, they could be selective. “We only picked up the larger ones … the most I picked up on one breath was nine.”

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Seemingly strong scallop season starts Saturday

florida-scalloping

Photo: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The much anticipated on-the-water activities of a Florida summer are cranking up, and with beach, gulf, and lake conditions all looking fine, this should be a productive season. Mighty hot, but productive.

Scallop season starts up Saturday. And, while finfish numbers haven’t exactly been stellar this year along the gulf coast, there’s strong indication that the shellfishing will be very good. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission conducts scallop counts within the Big Bend harvest areas ahead of every scallop season. The counts this year suggest a great shellfish comeback, especially around Steinhatchee. Scallop counts off Taylor and Dixie Counties were higher than they have been since 2011.

While the early Steinhatchee scallop counts were a bit better than those off Homosassa and Crystal River, numbers in these southern scalloping grounds are still better than they were last year.

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Reeling for Kids event reeled in big action

reeling-for-kidsDoug Johnson’s 12th annual Reeling for Kids Saltwater Challenge went to Steinhatchee on June 5 and 6, attracting the area’s best salty anglers looking to bag winning fish, all the while keeping in mind the big goal of helping the Boys and Girls Club of Alachua County.

This year, the tournament arrived to perfect weather and saw plenty of fine catches. Of the 85 teams entered, 62 competed in the inshore division, while 23 went for offshore species.

Among the inshore group, redfish, trout and Spanish mackerel are the primary targets. Locating a heavy-bodied red not more than 27 inches long is always a tricky deal. While reds living in other areas such as Louisiana and along the Atlantic coast can come in under 27 inches and still push the nine-pound mark, our slot-size Big Bend reds almost never weigh more than eight pounds.

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Saltwater produces best catches of late

Steven Thames

Steven Thames


The Bassmasters of Gator Country held its monthly club tournament on Rodman Reservoir Sunday. Calm, hot days are normally not the most productive on this lake, but on this day catches were impressive. Club President, Steven Thames finished on top with a five-bass bag weighing 18.52 poinds. The day’s big bass at 9.26 gave Thames exactly half of his winning total. Bob Heron followed with 16.54, and Dennis Hart was third with 15.27. Members hauled in a number of quality Rodman bigmouths. In addition to Thames’ big fish, bass of 6.82, 6.47, and 5.99 came across the weigh scales.

Most of the best fishing stories these days, though, are coming from salty water.

Sunday offered fine conditions for drifting the grass flats out of Horseshoe Beach. And fortunately, the off-and-on trout catching there was ‘on’. Out on the clear flats, Lewis Marchand and Ryan Dollard fished shrimp and Gulp! baits to catch numerous trout, “tons of ladyfish”, and a big bluefish. Out of their thirty-trout total, the men had 12 nice keeper fish topped by a 24-inch beauty.

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