Photo: Save Rodman Reservoir Facebook
The annual Save Rodman Reservoir bass tournament went off smoothly and impressively Saturday. The 148 teams entered brought in one of the best all-around results I can recall seeing, as weights stayed strong very far down the leaderboard. Consider these stats: Fifteen bass weighing at least 5-pounds were taken to the weigh scales at Kenwood Landing. And 70 (yes, seventy) teams weighed aggregate catches of at least 10-pounds.
It’s probable that more double-digit catches were caught…but after seeing that the required weight to earn a paycheck would be high, several teams undoubtedly took their day’s tally back out to the lake for a quick release. Sixty eight teams didn’t bother to weigh in their catches…but the 80 teams that did combined to put 377 fish averaging 2.88 pounds on the weigh scales.
The always dangerous and respected team of Lee Stalvey and Jason Caldwell came out on top this year with a 22.57-pound five-bass limit that included the best single fish of the day at 8.87. Right behind was the team of Charles Moody and Trey Jones, whose five Rodman bass totaled 21.97 pounds. Jim Coleman and Greg Lane finished in third place, exactly a pound behind with 20.97.
Dogwoods and redbuds blooming, pelagics arriving in our waters….all of nature agrees that spring has arrived.
Here in Florida, we don’t really have a season with weather nasty enough to prohibit fishing. It’s possible to catch fish here every day of the year. Still, while we might not suffer the same degree of ‘cabin fever’ as do anglers to our distant north, we certainly see a lot more participation in the sport when ideal weather—weather like this—arrives.
One favorite only present when the water warms sufficiently is the mackerel. And good catches of both the ‘Spanish’ and ‘king’ varieties continue to come from multiple gulf ports.
Anglers love to support worthy charities while competing on the water, and the season for these events has arrived.
Locally, the Wolfson Children’s Hospital fundraiser is the daddy of them all. Held on the St. John’s River at Palatka, this one typically attracts around 400 teams and is billed as “The largest bass tournament east of the Mississippi”. This year, the 28th annual “Wolfson” rolls around May 18-20.
The Save Rodman Reservoir Bass Tournament ranks number two in attendance and popularity. The 2017 edition of the long-running battle to preserve the embattled reservoir goes out of Kenwood Landing on Saturday, April 15. Fishing is excellent on Rodman, and nearly 200 boats are expected to compete.
Saturday was an exceptional fishing day on the gulf’s Big Bend waters.
Folks who follow tournament trends have, through the years, come to expect the annual Steinhatchee Community Fishing Tournament to produce some of the largest gulf speckled trout of the year. Held Saturday, this year’s edition of the long-running contest reinforced that notion. Nice-sized redfish were also seen…but again, it was the trout entries presented at weigh-in by the 140 participants that impressed most. The accomplished Gainesville team of Mark McKinney, Greg Hause, and Rick Pena was proud early in the day to land a thick 26-inch trout that would weigh in at 5.32-pounds. But their spotted beauty was not among the paycheck-earning top three. Michael Aman of Perry had a 5.48-pounder, Lake Butler’s Richard Waters bagged a 5.49 for second place, and Georgia angler Brian Perry boated the winner at 5.63. While spotted seatrout over 5 pounds are not so uncommon along the east coast, they’re pretty scarce on the gulf side. It’s quite impressive to see several in one event.
Meanwhile, some miles to the south of Steinhatchee, K.J. and Damon Mascari fished out of Cedar Key. Aware that the tide would be a very low one, the Gainesville father-and-son used their Gheenoe to access their favorite creek in the direction of Waccasassa. Their primary target was redfish—and the cut frozen sardines they cast were doing the job just fine. Fished on the bottom, the sardines had attracted five reds when an unexpected bite came. As soon as the fish displayed its signature blazing, acrobatic initial run, Damon knew what he had—the first snook that he and his dad, once Sanibel Island residents, had encountered in a long time. Finally in the boat, the men measured the beauty at 31-inches.