The first freeze of the season always has a big effect on fish. Some species react more positively than others — but for many anglers, the initial cold snap ushers in the best fish-catching season of the year.
Improved reports this week suggest the cool weather speckled perch bite is finally cranking up. Considerably better speck catches are coming in from area lakes — especially, Santa Fe, Lochloosa, and Rodman.
Joel and Jess Shireman and Greg Wood are among the speck fishers who have succeeded impressively on Lake Santa Fe. Sunday, the Gainesville trio hauled 72 specks from the lake’s depths. And that ‘deep’ part, they say, was the key. “The fish”, Joel said, “were right on the bottom out in water 26 feet deep.”
Just a few weeks ago, some wondered how badly the recent bout of red tide might residually affect the cold weather fishing in gulf creeks and rivers.
After last weekend, they might be wondering just how in heck it could have helped.
Redfish and trout arrived abundant and hungry during Sunday’s nice weather, producing impressive fishing tales from the entire stretch of gulf coast we cover. At present, the fish-catching epicenter seems to be Suwannee. One goal of inshore fishing friends is the uncommon ‘double’—two fish hooked at once. Last weekend saw bunches of ‘triples’ and even ‘quadruples’. Had there been five-fisher parties in some of these hotspots, we would doubtless have heard about ‘quintuple’ catches.
The nasty spell of red tide that plagued our nearest gulf waters through late summer has apparently cleared up. In some places like Waccasassa Bay, the water clarity is coming around more slowly.
Fortunately, this is not a problem along the long stretch from Horseshoe Beach to Keaton Beach.
Cole Childers and Bruce Jones launched two Tuesdays ago at Horseshoe Beach with trout and redfish in mind.
Cedar Key and Waccasassa waters are presently a peculiar, splotchy mix of clear and turbid. Predictably, fish-catching is likewise spotty. Some gulf anglers struggled to find fish last weekend, while others enjoyed both perfect weather and great success.
Saturday morning, Gainesville’s Sam Drake and David Johnson of Melrose ran off Cedar Key to a productive spot in water around 20-feet deep. There, they found a wad of small, late-season cobia — but each of the five they boated was too small to keep. Casting large Bass Assassin Sea Shads, the anglers also hauled in a gag grouper and a very stout snook they estimated at over 15 pounds.
At day’s end, the men had enjoyed plenty of rod-bending action, but the good day failed to yield a single fish legal to harvest.