Cold Water and Tough Fishing

fishing reportYou won’t see many reports as thin on content as this one.  Winter sometimes brings reports like this when air and water temps go low.  As touring bass anglers know, Florida strain largemouth bass seem much more bothered by sudden temperature dips than do their northern cousins. The same, I think, can be said about Florida anglers, more accustomed to heat than cold.  

While most probably haven’t been on the water a lot so far this year, the dedicated anglers that have tried area lakes recently have generally struggled to catch both speckled perch and bass.

It seems that the coldest Januarys are often followed by above-average fishing in the spring.  That’s what I keep telling myself as I, too, struggle to find bites.

Tuesday, I hooked up the Ranger at noon to check out Newnan’s Lake.  I trailered it first to the south end access point, and was disappointed to find Power’s Park still fenced off from Hurricane Irma damage.  So I drove around to the east side of the lake and the Owens Illinois Park boat ramp there. 

At that time, I had received zero fishing reports to use in this space, and figured I’d take matters into my own hands.  The fishing, though, didn’t go the way I’d envisioned it.  On the beautiful day I picked apart woody cover along a mile of east shore that caught the most direct rays of the sun’s afternoon exposure.  But just one bite came…and I missed it. 

The water was mighty chilly, and since that afternoon the coldest nights of the year have come and gone.

Recent tales from the gulf have been a little better.  Few fishers were on the water over the cold, breezy weekend, and the handful of reports we did hear made us wonder whether the inshore casters that stayed home might have missed a bite better than they imagined it would be.

Randy Herring and Eric Rain arrived at a deserted Horseshoe Beach boat ramp Saturday morning.  The tide was very low and all indications pointed to poor fishing.  “We didn’t feel too good about our chances”, Herring said, “but we went out anyway”.  This turned out to be a good call.  As the tide started in, the Hawthorne men found hungry redfish.  Even in the chilly wind and in the cold water, the reds were willing to feed on the surface, crushing dog-walking-style topwater lures.  Rain and Herring boated 14 nice, slot-length reds through the incoming tide and missed several more blowups.  They kept the two largest fish, each just under 27-inches.

The 10th Annual Santa Fe Raider Slam went out of Suwannee Marina the same day.  Catches weren’t great, but considering the weather, they weren’t bad, either.  Brad English put together the top 5-trout limit at 9.80-pounds, while Greg Hause weighed the heaviest single trout at 2.64.  Joey Conn bagged the heaviest redfish, a 5.59 pounder.  Joey Conn took his second paycheck with the top freshwater bass, a 2.22 pound specimen, while Brennan Haire caught a bass limit weighing 6.05 to take that prize on the bone chilling day. 

While the Santa Fe High Baseball Boosters event was being fished at the river mouth, thirteen teams took part the Bassmasters of Gator Country bass tourney upriver out of Fanning Springs.  The inaugural new-format BMGC event was a tightly-contested struggle.  Gary Ward and Matt Cummings managed a 5-bass limit totaling 10.10-pounds to win, and the Cummings/Ward team also had the biggest single fish at 3.32.  Right behind the winners were Chris Lee and Robin Shiver with 10 pounds, even, and Bob and Chris Heron with 9.90.

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