In the Northwest region April-November is the prime time for big Flathead and blue catfish. Our fishing is excellent, and one of the many reasons is the exceptionally large number of species which regularly prowl our waters.
The following chart lists the fish species which are regularly caught in Southwest Florida, together with the approximate times that they are most available. Although seasonal and weather variations can occur, this is a real good starting point for planning and scheduling your vacation.
If we’re predicting lakes most likely to yield newsworthy bass, I’d go with Orange, Rodman, Kingsley and a bunch of hard-to-access Alachua and Putnam County ponds only a 100-or-two acres in size. Speckled perch fishing, too, is often best through the first two months of the year, as the specks look to move into the spawning shallows.
Like bass, just ahead of the spawn, the roe-filled females will reach their annual peak in body weight. The highlight of the crappie season comes when the fish make that move in to shallower cover that might be brush or any of several varieties of aquatic vegetation.
Small minnow-imitating artificial baits such as crappie jigs are effective, but lots of old timers stick with the old standby … live minnows. Lake Santa Fe might just produce the largest crappies on average … but it seldom puts out big numbers of them.
Don House took his granddaughter, Cassie Richardson, to Suwanee on Monday morning. Hunter Barrington, his dad, Allen and Chris Salter took a short evening trip Tuesday to Waccasassa.
Chris threw a Skitter Walk surface bait, Allen pitched soft swim baits, and they pulled redfish and trout from grassy points and shell bars at a nice rate. It was choppy enough to allow this technique only in following seas, and they soon saw that trolling wouldn’t be the ticket to catching a bunch of fish.
Fortunately, the anglers had taken bait shrimp along in hopes of finding a spot with early-season spawning sleepyhead. When it did finally catch, the anglers dropped their shrimp to the bottom to find that they had accidentally found a new, hard-bottomed sweet spot.