For the second straight week, good current fishing stories were so scarce I didn’t know how I would fill this space. So, scrambling for interesting content, I used part of my day off Wednesday to try and scrape up a fishing tale on my own. After running errands all morning, I launched my Ranger onto Newnan’s Lake at Power’s Park.
I checked my favorite bassing spots, working areas that have produced through the years. But after two hours, I had zero bites and was telling myself “maybe this is why I’m not hearing any stories”. My shirt was soaked with sweat. But I pressed on in the heat and finally, running in open water, came across an area with shad schools pushing dimples in the water. I sat the old Ranger down and put down the trolling motor. The shad seemed to be widespread, and in a few minutes I saw the thing I was hoping to see…a couple of fish busting panicked minnows at the surface. But the bass wouldn’t take just anything. A bunch of casts with several different lures had produced just one ‘follow’—when the day finally took a turn for the better.
Jeff Septer of Twin Lakes Fish Camp called with the first really good panfish report of the week. One of his customers, Kelvin Toombs of Gainesville had just docked at his Cross Creek camp with a fine cooler-full limit of big bluegills and shellcrackers. The Gainesville angler had found his fish cane-poling with grass shrimp in the Lochloosa Lily pads. I told Jeff where I was and he asked how many I’d caught…had to reply, “none, but I’ll figure ‘em out”. And just a minute after hanging up, a Bill Lewis Tiny Trap finally produced the first bass of the day. Yearling largemouths kept rounding up the shad, and I kept casting the little lure with success. For quite a while, almost every cast yielded either a ‘swipe’ or a catch. The little bass ran between one and three pounds. Only one other boat was in the area, and the two fishermen in it looked to be pulling in panfish of some kind at a nice pace. Except for the swelter, it was sure fun…until a thunderstorm ran me back to the boat ramp.
My bassing trip was pretty good, but it didn’t hold a candle to the day some of the Gainesville Bassmasters enjoyed Saturday during their monthly tournament. This one was out of Palatka on The St. John’s River.
Casting Texas-rigged Zoom worms around boat docks, Wally Grant and Gary Lough employed a classic shrimp-run bassing pattern. Although they saw no jumping shrimp—or anyone cast-netting for shrimp—the pattern worked well as the men combined to boat a good many fish. Their six best (the club limit is three each) weighed in at just a tad under 20-pounds. Grant’s 6.8-pound beauty easily ranked as the heaviest single bass of the day. Atop the club standings, Keith Chapman made the run upriver to Little Lake George to finish the day in second place individually and easily hold his overall lead.
In July, we usually receive more good reports from salt waters than from freshwater. This wet summer has altered that a bit. Even so, some salty anglers are faring well. Out of Cedar Key on Monday, Sean Campbell, Joey Gonzalez, and Rick Pena went after trout and redfish. Fishing near Seahorse Key, the Gainesville trio boated five reds that all took topwater lures and seven nice-sized trout that went for hard-bodied twitch baits.
Mackerel reports have varied wildly out of Cedar Key—ranging from dozens of fish to two. Farther offshore, weekend red snapper action remains excellent, but grouper are much tougher to locate.
The ICAST show rolls around each July to showcase every tackle manufacturer’s offerings for the coming tackle year. For a few years now, the “International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades” has been held in Orlando, giving Florida dealers a quick trip to the biggest tackle show of the year.
It has long been said that there are no truly new ideas in fishing—only refinements. And that might be true…but some of this year’s refinements are mighty cool. Tackle dealers will be receiving their orders of the newest innovations in fishing gear through the coming days and weeks.