There have been reports that most of the gulf coast shallows have darkened with the fresh, tannin-stained water from a very rainy late winter and early spring. Doug Stringfellow and I had to see for ourselves. Tuesday morning we headed over to the coast to check out Waccasassa Bay. Out on the rows of bars known as the Waccasassa Reefs, water was, indeedindeed, darker than usual. We agreed, though, that it was not as bad as we had feared. While the bottom wasn’t quite visible, we could see our jigs ...more and jerkbaits down to about two feet. And the trout didn’t seem to have much trouble locating them. We boated a couple dozen trout, including eight of nice size.
But the biggest trout are coming from gulf shallows to the north, mostly between Horseshoe Beach and Keaton Beach. Poor weather kept the weekend fishing down, but good catches resumed by Monday. Fishing that day out of Steinhatchee with husband, Jeff, Debbie Evans caught one of the biggest trout seen over recent days at Sea Hag Marina. The big ‘speck’ weighed just over 6-pounds.
The big sheepshead that are spawning a little way offshore, though, are still the biggest deal here for anglers. Wednesday, Richard McDavid of Sea Hag and Randall Dasher, John Pfanzelt, and Clyde Sperring of McAlpin, Fl anchored on a spot with live, natural bottom in water 25-feet deep. For the next hour, the fish-catching was nonstop. They used live fiddler crabs for bait, and, Richard said, “No bait that made it to the bottom lasted for long”. The four men filled a combined 60-fish sheepshead limit in that one hour. With plenty of fishing time left, they decided to try their luck in the shallows; and there, their great luck continued with trout up to 23.5-inches and a 22-inch redfish.
Gary Simpson, a veteran tournament angler, operates Gary’s Tackle Box at L & S Auto Trim