They come too infrequently…usually around this time of year. And, although we try, the arrival of these days cannot be predicted. We can only marvel at them after they have passed.
After Doug Stringfellow and I ended our day of casting at Cedar Key, we knew that it had been a really good fishing day. I expect each one of the 48 teams entered in the Florida Pro Redfish Series event that day would have agreed. But it wasn’t ‘til later in the week, after hearing ton of fishing stories, that it became clear. Saturday had been one of those rare days. From redbelly fishers in jonboats flipping tiny lures to the Suwannee River shoreline to trollers in deep, offshore waters, everyone caught everything.
Every year, just a handful of fishing days prove to be all-around exceptional. Put Saturday, April 22 in that column for 2017.
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.