Activated by big rains and new water, the summertime speckled perch bite remains unseasonably good on Newnan’s Lake. Saturday, Brian Roe launched at daylight and headed to one of his favorite offshore areas where he put out crappie jigs in various colors, set at various depths. The accomplished crappie specialist quickly narrowed down the most productive combinations while pulling in 45 specks before 9:30. Of these, ten were big ones of around a pound and a half. The Gainesville angler said that the fish went for pink, green, and blue jigs best.
Newnan’s panfishers in smaller vessels are also picking up limits of fat bluegill as far back into the lake’s flooded cypress as they can get. Those willing to be a little more specific say they’re scoring best around the trees on the lake’s east side with worms, grass shrimp, and crickets. They also recommend watching closely for wasp nests and snakes.
While bass have generally been tougher for anglers to locate in our now-larger and deeper lakes, some bassers are finding fine fish. Sam Drake and Zack Weimar were picking up occasional bass while casting soft plastics Saturday morning on Little Orange Lake when Zack hooked and landed a much bigger fish. On digital scales, the hefty bigmouth would weigh 8.37-pounds. Weimar submitted the photo to FWC’s TrophyCatch angler recognition program.
Water is still slowly rising on Orange and Lochloosa Lakes, where bream remain the fastest-biting fish. Although the water is plenty-high to traverse Cross Creek between the lakes, locals say large floating tussocks presently block the way into Orange at the mouths of ‘the creek’ and Marjorie K. Rawlings Park.
The 2017 Lake Santa Fe Opens, a series of Wednesday night tournaments held through the summer on Lake Santa Fe, came to a climax this week with its season-ending classic championship. Seventeen qualifying teams started out in the rain, casting on an evening that offered few bites. In the end, Derrick Manning and Andrew Higginbotham weighed in the top catch—three bass totaling 12.20 pounds. The winning catch was greatly bolstered by the heaviest single fish of the night, a fine 6.24-pounder that added a couple hundred more bucks to their impressive winners’ paycheck. Randal Alvarez finished in second place with three fish totaling 10.70. And, though Dwayne Moore and Devin Marinello returned to weigh in with the only five-bass limit of the night, they settled for third place with 10.02 pounds.
In our Big Bend shallows the redfish is one of the top prizes for sport fishers. For us, a nice, heavy-bodied, top-of-the-slot 27 incher will almost always weigh between 7 and 8 pounds. A legal fish topping the 8-pound mark is a rare specimen.
The handful of local anglers that regularly compete in the IFA Redfish Tour have always returned from tournament sites near the mouth of the Mississippi River with tales of reds heavy enough to boggle the collective mind of the Big Bend redfisher. The latest of these tales came this week from one of this area’s best redfish anglers, Danny Sheldon, who had just returned from a hundred-team IFA event held Saturday out of Houma, La. Along with partner, Justin Collison of Slidell, La., the Newberry angler won with a two-red tourney limit weighed in at 18.23. Their single-biggest fish (also the heaviest of the event) went 9.72. Good Grief. The anglers were well-compensated for their epic catch, winning a Ranger boat/Mercury engine rig—part of a thirty grand prize package.
Sunday, Elliott McDavid, Kyle McGriff, and Kyle Cronin fished out of Cedar Key. Casting soft swimbaits and spoons around sand and shell bars, the three young Gainesville anglers caught and released six good reds, topped by McDavid’s 33-inch whopper. They also bagged four good flounder. All of their fish-catching was done by noon.
Scallop season is still going strong in the salty Steinhatchee and Crystal River shallows. The would-be scallopers of Gulf County are not so fortunate. The Gulf County season was set to open on July 25, but was postponed just ahead of opening day due to a naturally-occurring algae bloom in St. Joseph Bay. This week, FWC announced the closure would continue, as the Pseudo-nitzschia organism persists in the bay. The postponement, of course, will continue until the scallop samples there test safe for human consumption