A Productive Summer for Anglers

redfishTook a trip to Orlando last week to see and order the latest in fishing tackle at the annual ICAST show.  It’s always interesting to see what the tackle manufacturers come up with, and this year’s offerings were, as usual, pretty impressive.  The 2017 tackle is being shipped out now.   In every category, tackle and is so good these days I can’t help feeling sorry for the fish…

The depths of summer find gulf waters hot but still productive for fans of outdoor sports.  Whether casting or scalloping, this is a better-than-average July, for sure.

Trout fishers are still bagging limits on the grass flats from Crystal River to Horseshoe Beach, mackerel are occasionally abundant on Seahorse Reef, and everyone’s new favorite, the tripletail, is still around in unprecedented numbers.

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New Bass Law Makes Good Sense

bassAt the start of this month, a new bass law went into effect in Florida.

In coming up with bag limits for black bass through the years, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has tried a lot of things in an effort to protect the species while accommodating anglers seeking fish for the table.

Things have gotten more than a little complicated from time to time. There were different bass limits for different management zones within the state. And on top of that, a number of water bodies carried unique ‘special’ bag and length regulations. Maybe that’s why the just-implemented statewide law seems like a nice change to many of us. It is undeniably simple. And (to me, at least) it makes good sense.

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Gulf scallop season opens with a bang

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The opening week of gulf scallop season drew rave reviews out of Steinhatchee and Crystal River. There’s no doubt that this year features an outstanding crop of scallops, and opening weekend couldn’t have gone much better. The weather was hot, but that was predictable. One shouldn’t have hoped for more abundant scallops, as that might have removed the challenge from the task of filling 2 gallons per person up to a 10-gallon maximum boat limits of whole scallops.

Monday, Tanner Meadows took four friends, fellow UF students, to Steinhatchee. For three of them, it was their first scalloping trip. They swung south out of the river mouth and ran down to a clear grass flat off Tater Island. Peering into the water while standing and idling along, Meadows soon saw several shellfish. They anchored, jumped in and saw that they had found a great spot right away. In fact, the first-timer scallopers might have been succeeding with too much ease.

Meadows was concerned that his friends would fill the boat’s 10-gallon limit too quickly… and that the rookie shellfishers would get the impression that this sport posed no challenge at all. And so he moved to another area less populated with the blue-eyed prizes. Even with this sneaky postponement, the group filled its limit just before noon.

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Tuna to Scallops!

yellowfn tuna
Photo: Capt Rickie McDuffie

Two weeks ago, Jim Fleming took his annual tuna fishing trip to Orange Beach, Al.  The Cedar Key angler enjoys deep offshore trips into the Gulf from this port, and this year he decided to go on the “Iron Man”—a 36-hour trip—aboard the Sea Hunter.

First, Capt. Ricky McDuffie took his anglers about thirty miles offshore to a snapper spot.  There, they filled limits of red snapper averaging 25 pounds….a pretty fine start.  From the snapper spot, Capt. McDuffie continued another 70 miles to the West Neptune oil rig.  Floating over 5600 feet of water, the West Neptune is one of several oil rigs in that part of the gulf that hold tuna.  And, there, Fleming made the catch of a lifetime.

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