|Catch of the Week|
Mike Perez, from Sarasota, Fla., caught and released this big red on a CAL jig with a shad tail while fishing a shallow Sarasota Bay grass flat with Capt. Rick Grassett.
BRADENTON – If you catch a lionfish, send the pic to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and they will send you a free T-shirt! Our contributing captain Rick Grassett is hosting a fly fishing school on April 13; then April 19-20, the Sarasota Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association will host their 18th annual photo all-release challenge. Mariners should anticipate winds becoming locally onshore the next couple of afternoons near the coast with the development of the sea-breeze.
CB’s Saltwater Outfitters Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing School-Apr 13, 2013
18th Annual CCA Sarasota “Photo All‐Release Challenge” April 19-20
Weekly Fishing Report by Capt. Bob Wattendorf
April showers bring May flowers, but in Florida there is already an abundance of blooms and a bonanza of freshwater fishing opportunities that began earlier this spring. All across the state, anglers have reported great catches of a variety of freshwater fishes. Anglers especially target sunfishes moving into the shallows to spawn in spring.
Black crappie (specks), redbreast sunfish and largemouth bass begin spawning when water temperatures get over 62 degrees. Crappie will stop spawning before bass, which continue to work the beds until it warms up to about 75 degrees. They are followed by redear sunfish (70- to 80-degree waters) and bluegill (75-85). Research and angler lore indicate these fish key their peak activity to a few days before and after full and new moons during spring.
April is a favorite time of year for freshwater anglers, not only because fish congregating in the shallows provide great catch rates with lots of quality-size fish, but also because temperatures tend to be comfortable for an outdoor expedition. Another reason is that the first Saturday in April each year (April 6, this year) is a license-free freshwater fishing day across the state. People are exempt from needing a license that day, so it is a great opportunity to reach out to people who don’t have a freshwater fishing license and show them how much fun a day on the water can be. Or, perhaps you have children who have been bugging you to go, and you haven’t wanted to buy a license to accompany them. Now is your chance.
In Florida, nearly everyone is within 45 minutes of a fishing hole. For help finding a location or fishing tips and seasonal fishing forecasts, check out MyFWC.com/Fishing (under “Freshwater Fishing,” choose “Sites & Forecasts”). Quarterly forecasts by biologists are supplemented with links to local bait-and-tackle shops, marinas or guides for even more timely updates.
Florida’s Big Catch Angler Recognition Program provides an opportunity for anglers to commemorate impressive freshwater catches with a certificate and having their photo posted online. Thirty-three different species are included in the program, and all it takes to participate is a photo of a fish that exceeds either a specified length or weight. It’s a great incentive for youth, who can qualify by catching fish that are roughly 25 percent smaller than qualifying measures for adult anglers. Visit MyFWC.com/BigCatch for more details and to enroll.
However, the ultimate challenge is the race for the biggest trophy bass of the year. Florida’s fame as a bass-fishing destination lies in an abundance of lakes and rivers that consistently produce trophy-size bass. To document locations and frequency of bass catches over 8 pounds, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) launched TrophyCatch (TrophyCatchFlorida.com) in October with support from industry partners. The goal is to enhance and sustain trophy bass fisheries and to promote Florida as the Bass Fishing Capital of the World, based on documented catches.
To participate, catches must be verified by the FWC for the angler to earn awards. For Lunker Club (8 to 9.9 pounds) and Trophy Club (10 to 12.9 pounds), verification requires photos of the entire bass showing its length and weight, and then the bass must be released. Photos are submitted via the website. For Hall of Fame bass, which earn for the angler a free replica valued at $500 and an additional $500 in other prizes, the fish must be caught before the end of April and weighed on certified scales by an FWC representative. If you catch one, keep it alive and call 855-FL-TROPHY. From May through September, bass over 13 pounds can still be photo-documented as Trophy Club bass, but they won’t be entered into the Hall of Fame, to prevent undue stress from warmer waters.
The biggest bass of this season (ending Sept. 30) verified by TrophyCatch will earn a $3,000 championship ring provided by the American Outdoor Fund. The biggest bass caught in Osceola County and verified by TrophyCatch will take home $10,000, courtesy of Explore Kissimmee. If a registered guide helped, the guide earns a $2,500 bonus (see website for details). So register now, check out the rules, grab a rod-reel, camera, scale and tape measure, and go catch yourself a lunker, document it and then release it. By the way, just registering gets you into a drawing for a Phoenix bass boat powered by Mercury.
The biggest fish of the year currently is a 13-pound, 14-ounce monster caught by Bob Williams, while fishing wild shiners on Rodman Reservoir, with guide Sean Rush (Trophy Bass Expeditions). Check out YouTube.com/TrophyCatchFlorida to see a video of the current leaderboard, including Williams’ catch.
Now it’s your turn! Enjoy the great freshwater fishing Florida has for you this spring. Make memories and celebrate them through Florida’s angler recognition programs at TrophyCatchFlorida.com, and if you release a lunker bass, you’ll be able to say “My Trophy Swims in Florida!”
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The eastern Gulf of Mexico will remain on the southern side of a ridge axis extending off the GA/SC coast through the next several days. Resulting gradient will provide a general easterly flow to the region...however mariners should anticipate winds becoming locally onshore the next couple of afternoon near the coast with the development of the sea-breeze. The next front will not approach the region until the latter portion of the week with southeast and south winds increasing ahead of this system.
Southeast winds around 10 knots becoming variable 10 knots or less in the afternoon. Bay and inland waters a light chop. Monday night will bring northeast winds 5 to 10 knots then becoming southeast 10 to 15 knots after midnight. Bay and inland waters a light to moderate chop.
Southeast winds around 10 knots. Bay and inland waters a light chop. Tuesday night will bring east winds 10 to 15 knots. Bay and inland waters a light to moderate chop.
Southeast winds around 10 knots. Bay and inland waters a light chop. A slight chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Wednesday night will bring east winds 5 to 10 knots then becoming southeast around 15 knots after midnight. Bay and inland waters a moderate chop.
South winds around 15 knots. Bay and inland waters a moderate chop. A slight chance of thunderstorms. Thursday night will bring south winds around 15 knots. Bay and inland waters a moderate chop. A chance of thunderstorms.
South winds around 20 knots. Bay and inland waters choppy. A chance of thunderstorms.
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