Rodman Reservoir has been getting a lot of attention from anglers lately, due largely to low-water launching difficulties at some of the other top area lakes.
Considering the pressure, catches on the pool have held up well, particularly for bass anglers. Last Saturday’s bass tournament on Rodman, presented by the Military Support Group of Alachua County, saw the Lake Butler team of David Thomas and Chris Stalnaker prevail with a five-bass limit that weighed 18.51-pounds. Brandon Hipp and Corvy Mutt of Jacksonville finished second with 15.22 (and they had to be the team with the best names.)
To boot, Hipp caught the biggest single bass of the day, a 7.45-pound beauty. Finishing in third place with 14.46 was the Eric Hartman/Rick Herman team, also from Jacksonville. The fourth-place team overall, Tracy Eby and Mack McHehrin of Palatka, also won the Small Boat Division prize with 14.29.
The parties of Rodman guide, Sean Rush enjoyed fine weather and great success last week. Fishing live shiners Tuesday, John “Hawk” and Mary Davis Dickens of Lexington, Ky., hauled in 17 bigmouths. Mary had taken the two best fish at 7.75 and 8.5-pounds when Hawk came through with a 10-pound giant at the end of the day. The next day, Capt. Sean took out two fishing parties. Fred and Calli Keller, also of Lexington, boated 15 fish up to seven pounds. Then during the evening trip, Bob Hill of Jacksonville whipped a nine-pounder with spin tackle spooled with 12-pound test line. Thursday, the Revel family from Raleigh, N.C. tallied 21 bass, highlighted by a nine-pound whopper battled skillfully through stumpy obstructions by 13-year-old Lily.
Inshore anglers working the Steinhatchee shallows continue to hook good-sized speckled trout. Sunday, Hardy Wood took a five-pound fish to Sea Hag Marina for a photo, and Judd Evatt of Sumter County topped that a few minutes later with a seven-pounder.
While practicing for the Fishing for Kids Saltwater Trout Tournament coming up Saturday, Robbie Emmons and Nathan Lee have fared very well. Casting five-inch Gulp! Jerk Shads in the New Penny color, the Gainesville anglers released “somewhere between 30 and 40” trout Saturday that averaged 17-to-18-inches in length. They targeted the grass flats just south of the Steinhatchee River mouth. Contestants in the 7th annual event that benefits Shands Children’s Hospital will depart from Sea Hag Marina in the morning at safe light and weigh in at 3 p.m. Call 800-284-6472 for more information. Sounds like it will be a good one.
Fishers venturing a bit farther offshore have encountered plenty of mackerel — both Spanish and kings. It’s not always necessary to run to deep water for the Spanish, though. Chase and Chaeli Norwood proved that a few days ago. The youngsters hooked and boated a couple of nice macks while casting well up the Steinhatchee River.
Capt. Jon Farmer can testify that roving Spanish are searching the shallows near Suwannee, too. Fishing for trout on a near-shore grass flat one day last week, Capt. Jon caught no fewer that 15 of the sharp-toothed rockets.
“The funny thing is,” Farmer said, “I haven’t found that many mackerel out on Spotty Bottom, where they should be.”
As the tide neared its peak last Thursday afternoon, Ray Barber and Joe Kestner noticed a clear upswing in the redfish action. The Gainesville men were casting minnow-imitating artificial lures and live shrimp just north of the Suwannee River when the reds turned on. In a short time, they pulled in several nice fish topped by a pair of 25-inchers, plus a large flounder and a couple of three-pound black drum.
Out of Homosassa, trout action remains excellent and redfish have finally started to show more interest in anglers’ offerings. Good catches of grouper are being pulled almost daily from rocky near-shore structure. This is about the only site on the Big Bend coast where anglers can reasonably hope to catch legal gags in state waters. That is, inside an imaginary boundary nine nautical miles off the shoreline.
The spring season is eagerly anticipated by cobia anglers along Florida’s northern Atlantic coast.
The ling catching picked up dramatically this week, as numerous big fish were spotted traveling with the huge manta rays migrating up the coast. Other anglers have located and hooked good cobia while casting to pods of baitfish just off the beaches.
Gary Simpson, a veteran tournament angler, operates Gary’s Tackle Box at L & S Auto Trim.