Speckled trout abundant at Steinhatchee

From The Gainesville Sun:

By Gary Simpson

Fishing columnist

Last week's report featured fast gulf redfish action, prompting a good many anglers to plan trips to the coast. By the time they could get there, a several-day spell of unseasonably warm temperatures had apparently repositioned lots of the fish.

Gainesville's Don House spent all of last week hunting for Suwannee reds. When he arrived the last two days of November, he called the fishing “phenomenal.” As the week went on, though, water temperatures rose several degrees and action slowed each day.

The just-passed week has been much chillier, and it seems reasonable to think that this will send the fish back to deeper creeks and troughs.

And, curiously, while redfish catches were off for a few days, some of the best speckled trout catches of the season were coming in.

The season's best run of speckled trout into a gulf river apparently arrived last week and weekend at the Steinhatchee's mouth. Richard Blake, his 5-year-old son Richard Jr., and Elliott McDavid made it onto the water around noon Saturday from Sea Hag Marina.

By 1:30, they had a 15-fish, three-person limit of trout. The three cast various lures and almost every one worked, but Mirrodines accounted for the lion's share.

They released lots more fish, and the day's highlight occurred when young Richard Jr. hauled in three trout on one cast. Seems like a pretty amazing feat to me. Some other Steinhatchee trout fishers reported catching and releasing as many as a hundred river trout.

Remember, though, as temperatures fluctuate, the trout might slip back and forth from the river to the deeper waters near its mouth.

On the heels of the warm week, Mason and Sarah Galloway fished out of Cedar Key on Saturday. They boated a short distance from the launch basin toward Seahorse Key and began casting Gulp! baits on jigheads in water 3- to 5-feet deep.

Bouncing the shrimp-imitating lures over the bottom, the Gainesville couple soon drew fishy response, hooking trout on almost every cast.

“The trout were fighting over the baits,” Mason said. “If you missed one, another would nail the bait right away.” They released 30-to-40 fish and kept seven larger fish up to 18 inches.

The redfish that have been the stars of the gulf show for weeks, too, remain plentiful for some. The productive spots apparently shifted, though, toward the end of the unseasonably warm spell.

Johnny and Clay Sanders fished backwater holes Saturday, soaking shrimp near Shell Mound. The day's harvested tally were two black drum, a nice trout, and a four-redfish limit. But a much bigger number of fish was caught and released.

The father-and-son fish-catching contest for the day ended up at 33 reds apiece.

Mark Stubbs was in Wednesday morning. As he looked over the Mirrolures, he also kept checking his phone and grinning. Finally, he showed us the pictures that were coming in — images of big redfish held by well-bundled young men.

It seems that Stubbs' sons, Darby and Dallas, and their UF roommates Jimmy Emery and Brandon Harrold had a break from exams for a few days, so they had gone to Suwannee early that morning. And now, in the words of the elder Stubbs, they were “blistering the reds.” Casting live shrimp on jigheads, the four had filled limits in thirty minutes. By the time I saw the pics, they were enjoying catch-and-release action.

The strangely sparse local freshwater reports did increase at least a little this week.

In a stiff bluster Sunday, Robert and Cody Black launched at Rodman Reservoir's Kenwood Landing. They fished Ron's Zip Jigs on telescoping fiberglass poles in the deep Barge Canal cut.

Moving along as slowly as possible with the crappie jigs down low in the water column, the Blacks drifted over a large group of large speckled perch. They caught 13 slabs, some over two pounds, and said they lost that many again, even breaking off a few. Eleven of the 13 fish were females full of roe.

Jeff Septer of Twin Lakes Fish Camp on Cross Creek says the speck fishing on Lochloosa continues to slowly improve. A few 25-fish limits have been pulled from deeper water off the north and east sides. And rumblings from Lake Santa Fe suggest that the deep crappie bite there is still on. Eddie Parrish of Chiappini's in Melrose says that folks aren't telling many stories, but they're buying a lot of minnows.

Gary Simpson, a veteran tournament angler, operates Gary's Tackle Box at L & S Auto Trim.