Rodman Reservoir ready for an army of anglers

The temporary boat ramp at Orange Springs was finished and usable more than a week ago. Downriver and slightly lower in elevation, the temporary ramp at Kenwood was not ready by early Wednesday, but the parking area had been scraped to offer hard-packed sand, and the launch ramp was expected to be finished “any day.” By the time you read this, the Kenwood launch site is likely in use.

Saturday, Kris Akridge tried out his home lake, Alto. With speckled perch in mind, he drifted Hal Fly jigs out in the midlake depths. But on this day, only yearling bass seemed interested in proven crappie producers. When he called it a day, the Hampton angler had released 25 small largemouths that seemed interested only in orange-colored speck jigs.

Determined to catch speckled perch, Akridge and his friend, Roger Hickson, went Sunday to the place they felt was surest to produce. They tried to launch at Kenwood early that morning, and after finding the access gate still locked, drove the short distance to Orange Springs. There, they launched easily. Although it was still early, the men were surprised that only eight trucks with empty boat trailers sat parked along the river channel. Fishing Beetle Spins and minnows “in open pockets in the hydrilla” in the river Akridge and Hickson took more than 50 specks, releasing all but the largest 33 fish. When they ramped out, at least fifty boat trailers sat parked on the newly exposed river bank at the ramp.

Dennis Hart and his sons, Lee and Lake, started visiting Rodman as soon as they learned the temporary ramp at Orange Springs was finished. Saturday, the Alachua anglers cast soft plastics, crankbaits, and rattling jigs in the river channel to catch and release 30 stout bass up to 5 pounds. That was so much fun they returned Monday to boat 25 more fish. Among these, Lee took a 5-pound beauty and Lake nailed a fine 7-pound specimen. Wednesday, Dennis and Lake launched at Orange Springs again. This day offered the fastest bite — forty bigmouths topped by a 5-pound chunk and four more solid fish about 4 pounds each.

It was once a whispered-about secret of area bass and speck fishers, but Lake Wauburg hasn’t made the fishing report much at all through recent years. In fact, the smallish lake just south of Paynes Prairie on Highway 441 has received little attention from area anglers. Ryan Sullivan and Megan Ouellette think it’s still pretty good. The UF sweeties were casting along a Wauburg shoreline Friday evening when a demanding tussle arrived suddenly. The watermelon-colored Bass Assassin Tapout that Megan cast to a boat dock produced a solid bite, and it wasn’t long before the young couple knew that this was a big fish.

Following a drag-slipping battle complete with gill-rattling leaps and round-and-round the boat bulldogging, Ryan netted Megan’s big bass. After admiring and photographing the beauty, they released the whopper that they estimated at between 7 and 8 pounds.

Just as the dewatered Rodman Reservoir is in the crosshairs of freshwater anglers, Suwannee has to be considered the center of fish-catching along the gulf coast.

Allen Martin and Dan Dorosheff are among the league of anglers that have enjoyed great Suwannee action recently. The Lake City fishermen tight-lined shrimp in creeks near the river’s mouth last Tuesday to take 25 redfish. Fourteen of the reds were “slot fish” from 20- to 25-inches long. The most interesting part of their story, though, was the variety of species drawn by their baits. Using spinning tackle with relatively light line, they caught reds, speckled trout, sheepshead, flounder, black drum, and stumpknockers. Martin figures that had to qualify them for a “Suwannee Slam.”

Suwannee fishers with a bent toward competition should check into fishing Santa Fe High School’s 4th Annual Raider Slam Inshore Tournament coming up Jan. 7 out of Suwannee Marina. Cash prizes will be awarded in Redfish, Trout, and Bass categories. For more, contact Mike Metzler (352) 213-3743 or Dennis Hart (352) 284-9243.

Last weekend in Islamorada, a pair of very young Gainesville anglers scored an impressive victory. T.J. Bowen (8), and Philip Hess (9), third-graders at Gainesville Country Day School, were named Grand Champions of the 47th Annual 2011 Islamorada Junior Sailfish Tournament. Fishing aboard “Contagious” with Capt. Brian Cone and Shannon Attales, the boys released 8 sailfish — including a 70-pounder — during the two days of competition. It was an incredibly successful first sailfishing experience for the boys who responded to their victory by Tebowing. Great job, guys!

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

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