Spoons probably have taken more fish than any other lure.
Legend has it that the first spoon was made by a fisherman who dropped an eating utensil over the side and watched in amazement as a fish came up and gobbled as it wobbled to the bottom. That prompted said angler to cut the handle off¬† an eating spoon, drill some holes, add a hook, and proceed to load his boat.
The trouble came later when his spouse noticed some her grandmother’s sterling was missing. But that’s not exactly true. Archeologists have discovered ancient shells with holes drilled and hooks attached. According to The Antique Angler, the first commercially made spoons were available around 1800ish. Suffice to say spoons have been catching fish for a long, long time.
In this part of the country there are just a few spoons (or their knockoffs) that catch the most fish. Redfish anglers swear by the venerable old Johnson’s spoon. It’s a weedless lure originally developed for largemouth bass, but has caught literally millions of reds, along with many other inshore species. Gold seems to be the most productive color.
Only one problem with the gold Johnson’s Silver Minnow (its official name), right out of the box the hook is dull. No doubt the result of the gold plating process. A few passes with a hook sharpening stone or file solves this problem. But once you sharpen it, you must do that every time you take it out of your tackle box to fish. In sharpening you remove the protective gold plating and the hook rusts. Sometimes before your very eyes.
Another great spoon for redfish is the Captain Mike’s or Aqua Dream Living Spoon. Developed in Florida by Captain Mike Hakala, it’s another redfish killer. Also a weedless lure, it comes in a variety of colors. Gold, pink, and chartreuse are particularly effective.
Both the Johnson and ADL spoons must be fished in a special way for redfish. Captain Pat McGriff spoke recently at a free seminar hosted by Bass Pro Shops in Tallahassee. In his typical animated Socratic teaching style he challenged the audience to tell him how to fish a spoon for redfish. Silence. He waited. Still silence.
Then he asked what redfish ate. One hand went up. “Crabs” was the tentative response. “Correct” he thundered. Then another question: “And how does a crab swim?” Silence again. To save time McGriff answered his own question. “A crab scoots along the bottom in short bursts. It doesn’t swim merrily along in the middle of the water column. Mr. crab doesn’t want to be noticed. So when you retrieve a spoon for redfish you do what?” Silence. Sigh. “You move it slowly along the bottom in shore spurts.” Oh yeah.
Reds aren’t the only species that eats spoons. Pelagics like Spanish mackerel, bluefish, king mackerel and jack crevalle like them too, just a different type spoon. If you had to choose just one type to use, it would be the Luhr Jensen Krocodile silver spoon. For smaller fish like Spanish mackerel and bluefish use a 5/8-ounce silver version. Bigger fish like king mackerel prefer the larger 2 1/2-ounce version. But you must retrieve them properly.
Tallahassee angler Mike Weiseman is an expert at using Krocodile spoons. He literally tears up the Spanish mackerel from Gulf piers and beaches by tossing a 5/8-ounce spoon, but with a twist.
“For these spoons to work you must retrieve them as fast as you can. If you think you’re turning the handle fast enough, turn it faster” said Weiseman. “But first you must let the lure settle all the way to the bottom before you start cranking. Do the same with the bigger spoons for kings.” I’ve watched as Weiseman hooked fish after fish from the county pier in Panama City Beach while anglers all around him caught bupkis. Nothing. Some of the kingfish he’s caught from the pier were over 30 pounds. Impressive.
Another effective spoon is the Barracuda Reflecto Spoon. Small ones can be cast with the aid of a weighted saltwater float for Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Larger ones can be trolled to catch virtually any gamefish that swims in saltwater.
All the spoons mentioned can be bought at local tackle dealers and online. If you’re not sure of what size to use, ask for help when you buy one.¬†¬†¬†¬†
FWC Commission Gulf red snapper fishery update
At its February meeting in Gainesville, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) set the popular and economically important 2019 Gulf red snapper recreational season to open June 11 through July 12, with a possible fall reopening if quota is available.
This season will apply to those fishing from private recreational vessels in state and federal waters and to charter vessels that do not have a federal reef fish permit and are limited to fishing in state waters only.
For¬†more information, view the presentation given at the Commission meeting found at MyFWC.com/Commission by clicking on ‚ÄúCommission Meetings‚ÄĚ and the agenda under ‚ÄúFebruary 20-21.‚ÄĚ
For those interested in participating in this year‚Äôs Gulf red snapper season, don‚Äôt forget that anglers fishing from private vessels must get the¬†Gulf Reef Fish Angler¬†designation on their license. For-hire operations that do not have a federal reef fish permit and are limited to state waters only for red snapper fishing must get the¬†State Gulf Reef Fish Charter¬†designation on their license. Learn¬†more about these programs and how to obtain these designations¬†at MyFWC.com/Marine by clicking on ‚ÄúRecreational Regulations,‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúReef Fish‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúGulf Reef Fish Survey.‚ÄĚ
Share your real-time catch data with us by downloading and using the iAngler Gulf Red Snapper app for private anglers or the iAngler Gulf Red Snapper Charter app if you are a charter operation.
2019 Youth Spring Turkey Hunt
Are you between the ages of 12 and 17 years old and would like to participate in a turkey hunt, but do not have someone who knows how to turkey hunt, or do not have a place to hunt?¬† Then this news is for you!¬† St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in coordination with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Youth Hunting Program of Florida is hosting the annual youth turkey hunt on St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge April 5-7.
If you or someone you know is interested you can go to¬† the following website to register your application¬† https://outreach.myfwc.com/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1135332&group= ¬†¬†
Online registration is available until March 4, 2019.¬† Once registration closes the drawing process begins. Those drawn for the hunt will be notified by phone or email by March 8, 2019. No more than 4 youth hunters will be chosen for this hunt.
To be eligible for this hunt, applicants must be between the ages of 12-17, and have passed a state-certified hunter safety course prior to the hunt. Each permit allows only one youth to hunt. An adult supervisor who is 18 or older must accompany the youth. The accompanying adult cannot hunt. No license or permit is required of the youth (if under 16) or supervising adult, unless the adult plans to help ‚Äúcall-in‚ÄĚ a turkey during the hunt. Refuge staff will provide a guide for each youth chosen for the hunt.
Both the youth and the supervising adult must attend the range qualification prior to the hunt and the orientation on Friday April 5 at 1:00 pm.¬† All participants and their chaperones must be able to arrive by 12:30 pm and stay through noon Sunday. ¬†¬†
For more information, please call 850/925-6121 and ask for Lori Nicholson.
St. George Island
Captain Russ Knapp on St. George Island (firstname.lastname@example.org) said: “The water temperature has gone from 58 to 63 in the last week¬†and looks to go even higher with the warm weather forecast for this weekend. This is great news for the fishing world. With the warmer water look for the fish to become more active and be on the prow for a¬† quick¬† meal. Capt. Jeremy Willoughby (850) 323-0769 suggests¬†bringing live bait or fresh shrimp to the Bob Sykes Cut and drift it for both slot and bull¬†redfish. Head out to the shoals past West Pass for nice whiting, black drum and redfish. Again, use live bait or fresh shrimp. Offshore, Capt. Clint Taylor (850) 370-6631 says the fish are out there, but you just can’t keep them. That said, a quick trip to the close-in reefs should result in a nice fish dinner of black sea bass, misc. non-red snapper and maybe a doormat¬†flounder. Be sure to recheck the weather right before you cast off as Tuesday the wind¬† forecast went from 5- to 10-mph¬† at 8 a.m. to 20+ mph with small craft warning by 4 p.m. Things are changing fast. Don’t get caught in a bad situation.”¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Capt. Dave Lear of Tallahassee said: ‚ÄúIt’s getting very close to busting wide open on the flats. Azaleas are blooming, dogwoods are fixing to pop and live oaks are shedding leaves. Even more indicative is the shallow water temperatures were in the mid-60s last week and should jump dramatically if the 80s return by this weekend as expected. Once it hits the magic 68-degree mark it‚Äôll be game on and the seasonal pelagics like Spanish mackerel, pompano and bluefish won‚Äôt be far behind.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† “The river and creek mouths were major staging areas last weekend, with good reports of trout and sheepshead coming off the maze of oyster bars in the coastal waterways. The fish keep edging closer to the Gulf where they will fan out and start to gorge on returning bait. Dense sea fog posed navigation hazards last weekend. Keep a close eye on your GPS tracks and listen carefully for the sound of approaching craft if you find yourself immersed in future fog banks.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† “Water clarity is improving in beyond the refuge lighthouse. It‚Äôs still not crystal clear like it is over by Lanark and Carrabelle, though. Schools of mullet are a good tip-off of game fish in the area. Redfish have been spotty of late, but big trout are gladly attacking top water plugs like Rapala Skitter Walks, MirrOlure Top Dogs or Heddon Super Spooks that splash and dart like mullet. The redfish that are around won‚Äôt turn down a slowly wobbling Aqua Dream or Capt. Mike‚Äôs spoon. Sheepshead are coming to the net on fiddler crabs and live or fresh-dead shrimp. Flounder and sea bass are bending rods around the many artificial reefs in the near-shore depths.”
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† “Winds are forecast to be on the moderate side or less, clocking from southeast to south to west. Sunday looks like the most likely day for the wet stuff, so don‚Äôt forget the foul weather gear. As this week‚Äôs super-moon continues to fade, tides will be in the low, barely positive range mid-mornings. Incoming water will flood in all afternoon with more than three feet of flood. Expect an average solunar period from 10 a.m. for about an hour as the moon sets. The opportunities increase again before dusk as a high activity period ushers in around 4:30 pm for a couple of hours.”
¬†¬†¬†¬† Otto Hough at Myhometownfishing.com¬†¬†¬†¬† (email@example.com) said: “It’s February, but you sure can’t tell it by looking at a thermometer. With air temps in the upper 70s going in to this three day stretch, skinny water temps have elevated quickly. The trout and reds are getting friskier by the day. Springtime fishing, albeit about three weeks ahead of the norm, is happening in the skinny waters of Apalachee Bay. The only aggravation in the mix is the “March winds” that have been steadily blowing all week making for some challenges at times. Hopefully, as the weekend approaches the winds will diminish somewhat to make already good looking fishing conditions even better.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† “Post full moon tidal flow won’t be as pronounced over the weekend, but there will still be a significant amount of water coming back after the late morning lows into the 4 o’clock hour. The present NWS marine forecast has the breeze from the southeast Friday, swinging more from the south by Saturday midmorning and finishing out of the west be Sunday as another frontal system will be trying to inch towards the Big Bend by Monday evening. All in all, good conditions for chasing on the Big Pond.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† “With the spring-like temps filling the air, it’s time to begin to shift the focus to river and creek mouths from the St. Marks to the Econfina. Start tossing a few of the favorite springtime lures out there for a hungry trout or two or Mr. Red to devour. Water clarity is fine, almost awesome. The brilliant flash of a Redfin or Bite-a-Bait will garner attention. In the real thin water, start working those topwater plugs like the One Knockers, Super Spooks and Skitterwalks during the rising tide, especially as the waters warm throughout the day. Walking the dawg should pay off handsomely with some quality mustard-mouth trout and reds. This time of year with these conditions, chunk a Saltwater Assassin 5-inch jerk shad single hooked on a 4/0 wide gap worm hook in and around rocky structure and the oyster bars. It’s hard for any self respecting trout to resist the temptation when the jerk bait is presented near a rock pile.¬†A goodly number of over-slot reds have been cruising the skinny waters from Black Rock to points eastward beyond Grey Mare Rock. Most of the rocky spots in close are beginning to give up some fine trout later in the day after the midday sun warms it up a tad. Those rock piles warm quickly and are holding trout laying in ambush mode awaiting some unsuspecting victim. A lure tossed inside the rock pile halos can become just that victim with a fun fight to follow.”
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Captain Pat McGriff of One More Cast Guide Service (www.onemorecast.net, firstname.lastname@example.org (850) 584-9145) said: “Trout have recovered nicely over the last week as we had our limits Sunday, Monday and Tuesday with larger fish showing up in the creel once the water temps returned to 66 degrees by late Tuesday afternoon, up from 59 degrees early Sunday. We fished live shrimp under Back Bay Thunders each day, throwing back 50 ‚Äď70 shorts on the way to limits Sunday and Monday, while Tuesday our ratio of shorts to keepers improve to 2 : 1 so we didn‚Äôt have nearly the throw backs. Depths of 3.5 to 4 feet has been the magic for my charters and everything has come in over grass. Can‚Äôt seem to get those rock-eating devils to feed and have caught less than 4 trout while up around the rocks while looking for reds. About 3/4 of our keepers were coming in on the incoming tides, then the balance took the first hour of the fall.¬†Then Tuesday, we had our limit in under four hours all during the incoming; but the extreme low combined with a 15-knot east wind delayed our start ‚Äėtil 10 a.m. We were done by 2 p.m.”
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† “We also caught a few fish on Assassin‚Äôs 5-inch in the Limetreuse and Arkansas patterns earlier in the week,¬†while Tuesday saw a couple of trout taken on plugs. This weekend should be ‘specktacular’ with predictions of 80+ degree highs. Look for plug action to improve and more of the larger trout to warm back up and become active like they were a week ago. Wednesday, we had a limit for Colby English of Athens, Ga. and his pal, Jason Dyal of Tifton, Ga. who was on his first-ever trout trip to the Gulf. Not only did he catch his limit of trout but Jason had a nice 25-inch red on a Copper Intruder HEX spoon. We caught most of our trout on live shrimp under Back Bay Thunders; but we had 19-, 18- and 17-inch trout bouncing an Assassin Glow green tail Sea Shad. We caught our fish after the breeze (southeast 10 ‚Äď 12 mph) came up in the afternoon and most of our trout were in 3.5 ‚Äď 4 feet of water. Oh and we caught a 15-inch flounder on a shrimp under the Back Bay.”
Chaeli Norwood at Sea Hag Marina in Steinhatchee (352-498-3008) sent photos that included limits of trout both large and small. Also in the mix were slot and over-slot redfish along with a few flounder. The flounder were just average size. Also, one angler caught a huge black drum on a soft lure. Very rare.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Captain Cliff ‚ÄúJR‚ÄĚ Mundinger, Jr. of Lake Talquin Trophy Guide Service (email@example.com www.fishtallahassee.com said: “Intermittent sunshine late last week had the male bass flocking to the banks getting ready for the spawn. Right on queue the full moon pushed a few big females up with them. I was fortunate enough to follow this movement and put one of those Lake Jackson trophy largemouth in the boat. Fan casting areas I saw bass moving was the key to my success.¬†Water clarity was like a bottle of Disani making fish very skittish.¬†Color choice was extremely important, with the majority of bites coming in dark colored plastics.¬†Lure choice was swimming worm or Senko. Look for the bite to improve and more fish move shallow as this weeks highs were in the 70s and lows only in the 60s.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Editor’s note: Remember to release the big females to allow them to finish spawning.