Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

By Bob McNally

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

By Bob McNally

Article excerpt

Byline: For the Times-Union

Bob McNally's Outdoors Outlook

Best Bet

Bluewater trollers have shown once again that Northeast Florida is one of the premier spots on the planet for giant wahoo.

Anglers fishing Paul Dozier's "Wahoo Shootout'' tournament format have slammed huge wahoos recently. No less than three fish each weighing over 90 pounds were caught last weekend, including a 96.5-pound behemoth collected by Capt. Matt Joseph, who also boated a 77.9-pounder that same day to take the lead in the event.

Big fish of the tournament thus far is a 97.62-pound giant credited to Capt. Jeremy MacDonald, caught the day after Joseph collected his 96.5-pounder.

Many 70 and 80 pounders were caught and weighed in the tournament.

Wahoo of such consistently big size are only caught in a few selected spots, such as the island of San Salvador in the Bahamas and in the upper Gulf of Mexico off Venice, La.

Noted local marine angler Capt. Don Dingman believes hot wahoo fishing will continue off Northeast Florida until the next full moon on Mar. 31, which is the last day of the Wahoo Shootout tournament.

Freshwater

Hot crappie fishing continues at selected North Florida waters as warming water is drawing in "speckled perch'' to spawn in lake and river shallows.

Mandarin's Al Green reports he and a fishing partner caught about 60 crappies last Friday at Dead Lake, located off the south end of Crescent Lake - a wide spot feeder of the St. Johns River near Crescent City. Green was long- line trolling jigs with curly-tail grubs, keeping 20 fish up to 1.75 pounds. He also tried for hybrid striped bass in that region, but only caught three. Green believes the best hybrid fishing is still a few weeks away.

Capt. Bryn Adams of Highland Park Fish Camp on the St. Johns south of Astor, says crappie fishing is very good on Lake Woodruff and nearby backwaters for anglers using jig-and-minnow combinations. Anglers commonly are boating 15 to 20 keeper 'specks'' per day. Bass action in her area is unseasonably poor.

But largemouth bass fishing is reported good throughout the lakes and creeks feeding the St. Johns River south of Jacksonville and north of Astor. Tournament angler Joey Thigpen says bigmouth spawning is in full gear, with large bass hitting soft plastic flukes, worms and stick baits around eel grass beds, which are in short supply. Thigpen says hurricanes, high wind and dark water have greatly diminished river and lake grasses, which are the lifeblood of area waters for baitfish and other important fish forage.

Anglers who locate grass beds at low tide phases can do well during high tides as bass and bait move in. At such times buzz baits and soft plastic floating frog lures are productive for bass, says Thigpen.

Saltwater

Whiting surf fishing from area beaches from St. …

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