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Trout Season Opens Today
By Jonie Maschek
Jan 1, 2009 - 10:42:42 AM

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It is 2009 and what a great place to be -- fishing in sunny warm Florida.
Ciera Hamblin fishing at Orange Lake. Ciera Hamblin fishing at Orange Lake.

The winter trout are swimming by larger than ever. The big news of 2009 is grouper reef fishing cutbacks announced. It is planned to reduce the catch one per person per day by the State and the Federal fishery boards.

I hope that one of your New Year’s resolutions was to always wear your life jacket while in your boat or on the waterways. Only catch what you can eat or what you can give to your friends.

Check all of your gear before sailing into the blue. Has your line been on your reel for months? It could be frayed and break when you have that big one on the line.
Have you been using the same hook forever? Change or sharpen it before your next outing. Check your reel -- is it slipping, needs a little adjusting ?
Granddaughter Julie and great-granddaughter Ciera paddle boat on Orange Lake.

How is your anchor? Is the rope on it ok? If you trailer your boat, check the lights, the tires and hitch. Check your engine -- does it need oil? How does it sound?
Is your pump working? Do you have a first-aid kit up to date? Extra clothes aboard? Sunglasses? Sun lotion? Flares? Radio working? or cell phone?

Is your tackle box cleaned out with only the lures, hooks, and flys that you use? Is your bait well in good shape? Have you checked your battery lately? Check your cast net for holes.

Remember -- 1/3 gas to go out on, 1/3 to come home, and 1/3 left or to use if you get lost.

Boats of all shapes and sizes are now in our water, so drive with caution, and help our visitors who often get lost. Be friendly, tell them where the fish are and the best bait to use. Fishing is best when the water is moving -- on an ingoing or outgoing tide.

Since trout season opens ­today, the water may be extra crowded. Trout limit stays the same with four fish between 15” and 20” with one fish over twenty in. If you fish in Cockroach Bay, you will be sure to boat several, as that is where they took residence this week.

Sheepshead are still a good catch. From your boat, cast live shrimp towards the docks. If fishing from a dock, they are there in schools. Count three after you feel a nudge and set your hook in their bony mouth. Their meat is lean, white and a good tablefare.

Redfish bites have slowed down, but I did see a few caught this week -- several in the canals, and a few in the rivers. Flounder is a good catch. Fish the bottom to make a catch unless they have surfaced to find food. A flat fish with one eye, weird looking, but a great dish on your dinner table.

I have heard from some anglers who had a fish Christmas dinner, instead of turkey or ham. Good for you, I had some State of Washington red salmon myself. This is a fun fish to catch -- a fighter like snook, but big. My first salmon catch was a huge 30-pounder, and my father landed him for me. We would bake them whole, and down here it is expensive to buy one red salmon steak.

When I was out West, I was fortunate enough to join the people who were counting the salmon ­going up the Columbia River Gorge. There was a concern that sea lions were eating them.

Mullet are still playing in the ­canals and I have heard of a few mullet fish frys. This fish is most often caught with a cast net.

Freshwater fishing has been great. Bass fishing in our upper fresh waters of both the Alafia and the Little Manatee have yielded great catches. Some tables have been graced with fresh catfish and hush puppies, and others with baked large­mouth bass.

I spent the holiday week at Orange Lake (near Orlando), where I did some bass fishing. The weather was great and the water beautiful. We went out in the middle of the lake in paddle boats. We used lures and artificial bait.
The parks had many people over the holidays. Many were at Simmons fishing and boating. Williams Park had a lot of parked trailers this week, with many boats out in the bay.

Cockroach Bay Road was full of trailers with anglers anchoring their boats at the end of the road. Bullfrog Creek had a crowd fishing from their pier.

Alafia Bait and Tackle had a ­happy group of anglers. Fisherman’s One Stop was selling gifts and bait. Ruskin Bait and Tackle was dipping shrimp and telling people where to fish.

Since gasoline prices have been lowered, I see many boats out of dry dock and on the water.

This holiday weekend is a ­winner with great weather, morning tides and happy anglers out in their boats catching fish.

-- Aleta Jonie Maschek is a ­member of Florida Outdoor Press­.

© Copyright 2008 by The Observer News Publications and M&M Printing Company, Inc.

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