FISHING FORECAST: Rare catch in Florida waters
Not often do I have the opportunity to hear and report of a rare catch, but one was made this past Sunday Jamie Mobley of Fort Myers, Fla. and who as a teenager lived briefly in the Savannah area.
Mobley was fishing in the Pine Island Sound area off Captiva Island in the Gulf waters off Fort Myers in about five feet of water when he hooked into what he first thought was a shark, fought it for 45 minutes on 30-pound test mono line, then when it finally bringing it to the surface, realized he had hooked a smalltooth sawfish — one estimated to be about nine feet in length.
Not knowing a thing about such species, I immediately Googled for info, finding out from Wikipedia that sawsharks and sawfish are somewhat similar in appearance, but differ in species, families, size and more.
Also learned there are both smalltooth and largetooth sawfish – the size and number of teeth on the snout differentiating them, with the smalltooth the most common to Florida waters. They can grow to over 20 feet in length.
Once common in Florida waters, but now on the endangered species list, some groups claim the smalltooth is critically endangered, their numbers having declined by as much as 95 percent worldwide.
Florida once had many and now extremely few, over fishing and habitat loss said to be the main reason.
Mobley apparently had his hands full when the fish was finally brought along side his Whaler, concerned that when taking photos the sawfish might “freak out” and “start knocking holes in my boat with its jagged snout full of tusks.”
After the photos were taken, the sawfish was cut loose, then almost casually was seen “swimming back toward the bottom and out of sight.”
Mobley then notified the Florida Wildlife Commission of the catch and release as required. He closed in his report by saying “what a great way to end a day on the water. You never know that you are going to catch.”
Now to bring up to date some reports we received last week but were unable to include. I held a couple of fresh water reports for this week, one coming from John Adams who had just returned from Tennessee and some brown trout fly fishing, the other from David Wood, who passed up a weekend on the salt due to weather and headed to the Ogeechee River.
Tiny baits, big fish
Adams made one of his annual treks to Tennessee, fly fishing the Holston River for brown and rainbow trout with long-time friend Bob O’Laughlin and his son Patrick.
According to Adams, both O’Laughlins tie their own flies, including some nymphs, less than the size of a dime, which impressed Adams with how well they attracted big fish.
“All the fish caught were big,” Adams commented in an email, noting that he landed a 22-inch brown and Bob O’Laughlin landing a rainbow measuring 19.5 inches in length. On day one of fishing, the large fish count was 18, while on the day two, shortened by rain, 14 were large. Adams closed by saying “they tie some of the best flies around.”
For David Wood, salt is where his heart is, but it was on the fresh that he got his start, so Memorial Day weekend he headed to the tidal waters of the Ogeechee, catching a mix of pan fish, starting first with artificial and finishing with live crickets. Total catch for the day was 16 crappie, 28 redbreast and bream, two largemouth bass and a couple of blue catfish. Lots more were caught and released, Wood estimated over 100 fish were brought to the boat that day.
The past weekend included a drop by visit this Saturday to the DNR’s Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery where youngsters and adults lined a couple of the ponds for the annual Kids Fishing Derby, sponsored by the Richmond Hill Exchange Club.
It was the 26th annual, and when I arrived around 9 a.m., the two fishing ponds already were lined with excited youngsters fishing and scores of adults watching and helping.
Don’t know the exact number of youths who participated – registration was at 160 when I asked and more were arriving. Lots of catfish were landed – along with a turtle or two caught and released.
On the salt
From the emails — mahi, cobia, sheepshead, sharks, grouper, tripletail and more are being landed.
Raymond Landin forwarded a note about a recent blue water trip he made to the Gulf Stream wih Trey Thompson. In perfect weather, the group caught eleven mahi, his son Cameron, age 13, landing two. Also in the group were Joby Ireland, Benjamin Landin, Andrew Swan and Gil Werntz.
Justin Rahn occasionally sends us reports of his inshore trips, mostly about trout, reds and sheepshead. His latest trip with Marissa Prouse targeted sheepshead. The two caught several — Marissa landing the largest.
We received two cobia reports, one coming from David Wood, the other from Alan Lockett.
Wood, along with cousin Ricky Williams and friend Rand Waite Sr., not only got into some hefty cobia, but also stirred the wrath of a very large hammerhead that went air-borne with a couple of leaps before breaking loose. They also added a big grouper to the count and lost an even larger one that apparently straightened the jig-head hook.
Lockett, along with Walter Ballew and his son Thomas, were fishing with Capt. Brian Woelber (One More Cast Charters, 912-898-1331). Catch count was seven cobia, including the one by Lockett weighing 50 pounds, one king mackerel, several sharks and more.
The tripletail report came from Marvin Metzger and Coffee Bluff Marina — Metzger telling of a Coffee Bluff resident getting into the tripletail, landing two this past Saturday and another on Sunday, all caught in Ossabaw Sound waters.
Spring tides brought some excessive high tides and some low-land flooding over the weekend, and are now are dropping back into the six and seven-foot range for the remainder of June, even through the full moon phase (full moon is Monday, June 20).
Currents should be slowing and coastal waters showing more clarity on all stages of the tides.
Weather allowing, look for a definite increases in both inshore and offshore catch action. The old saying is — the best fishing of the month is the week before a full moon.
In closing, the availability of local live bait shrimp continues to be skimpy in some areas and more plentiful in others. Brown shrimp now are the main source.
We noted last week that Adams Bait Shop, located adjacent to the public boat ramp on the Wilmington River now has reopened for business and as of the last call, had a supply of live brown shrimp. The new phone number is 912-856-0398.