Much fog, a strange absence of drama, and the unsettling sounds of peacocks and alligators greeted us at the Lake Cypress boat ramp on February 23rd. The start of the tournament was more of a crawl than a blast off due to the fog which must have made the run to Kissimmee interesting for the several boats that opted to take their chances there.
This month's small creel prize went to the father and son team of Mike and Justin Neal who brought 1 fish for 2.50 pounds to the scales. They won a fillet knife generously donated by Paul and Kevin Parker who own the Palm Bay, Palm Bay West, and West Melbourne Ace Hardware stores. Drop by any of those Ace locations to supply your next project. Thanks Paul and Kevin!
Mr Hubbard and I started off in Cypress fishing a few spots near the boat ramp that didn't pan out and then promptly headed to the eel grass flat between the canals to Lake Hatchineha and Lake Toho. The fish were biting my Skinny Dipper knockoff swimbaits over there until the fog disintegrated and the sun started shining. With only 3 fish including a 4.73, we headed through the lock to the south end of Lake Toho for the same kissimmee grass and reed line we fished last month with hopes of filling out our limit. As luck would have it, the two pounders of last month seemed to have grown up to three pounders and Mr Hubbard promptly loaded the boat with them gleefully tossing my two smaller Cypress fish overboard. At the end of the day, we had more than I thought, tipping the scales at 16.19 pounds to win the tournament.
Mark Burt and his son Sean Burt made the trek to Kissimmee to fish lily pads with 11" worms, a pattern that yielded 20+ pound best 5 more than once in practice for them. They brought 5 fish for 16.02 pounds to the scales to finish a really close 2nd. Sean caught a stout 6.42 pounder that was the tournament's biggest fish.
Dwayne Haga and Bob Barnette opted to lock to Lake Toho where they tossed senkos to catch a five fish limit of nearly the same sized fish for a total of 15.05 to earn 3rd place.
Your club president, Mr Mike Hampton, decided to skip work last Friday, February 7, 2014, and head over to his favorite place on earth, the aquarium known as Garcia. Ditching work for fishing is worth it if you don't get a bite, but he somehow managed to catch the pictured lovely lady around 1:30pm near some healthy looking hyacinths. He claims the fish weighed in at 7 pounds and 10 ounces. Rumor has it that your club Vice President, Mr Alan Elder caught a 6-4 on Sunday also at Garcia. The fishing is good at the aquarium right now.
We'll be going back there in May when the lake is sure to have terrible navigation issues and the fish have all gone under the thickest cover in the middle of the place where you can only fish with a 5 ounce weight from a helicopter.
The day after a 200 boats fishing the Bassmaster Southern Open assaulted Lake Toho, a midst a week of below average air temperatures, and amongst the final throngs of duck hunters looking to capitalize on the last day of duck season, the Space Coast Bass Finatics blasted off from Whaley's Landing in search of fame, fortune, and giant 5 fish limits of bass. Fame and fortune may be a slight exaggeration, but we were definitely looking for big limits of bass!
Blame the lower 50s water temperatures, blame the duck hunters, blame the Bassmaster Southern Open anglers, blame the cormorants, blame the FWC for turning all the beautiful hydrilla into insidious muck, blame the moon for not being full, blame your lucky hat for failing you, blame Canada for not keeping their cold air north of the border, blame that damn Palomar knot for not holding up when you were counting on it most, blame whatever you must, but the truth is that the conditions on the Kissimmee Chain for this event were tough. Everyone knew that before we launched, but we all showed up anyway and gave it our best, even one of us who knew that his big boat motor was out of commission. We got up at 3am on one of our precious days off work, hauled our equipment down to the lake in the dark, fished hard, and had fun anyway because that's what we do. He who does not have a special place in his heart for these magnificent ornery green fish is not living a full life.
What? Oh right, the tournament. After winning the last event, Mike Hampton of Malabar and Tim Kopf of Melbourne sacked 1 fish for 1.88 pounds to win the small creel award for this tournament. It was a really nice LED trailer light kit generously donated by Ferguson's Auto and Marine Supply on 192 in Melbourne. If you need a new trailer, need to have your trailer fixed or refurbished, need new bearings, need something electrical, they can fix it or supply you with the parts you need. There's a reason they've been around since 1954. Consider taking your business there next time you need something they offer!
Larry Cruce of Titusville and Tim Iler of Port St. John sacked the biggest 5 fish limit of the tournament at 11.55 pounds to win the event. Their bag was anchored by a 4.44 pound kicker by Cruce that was the tournament's biggest fish. Tony Ciavarella of Melbourne and Mike Hubbard of Merritt Island took second with 5 fish for 9.47 pounds. Mike Calloway of Titusville and Cliff Semonski of Oak Hill earned 3rd place without the use of their big motor which broke prior to the event and couldn't be fixed in time. They were not deterred by this misfortune, they arrived with enthusiasm and determination in spite of it and sacked 4 fish for 9.31 pounds anyway.
All fish were returned to the lake alive and well to grow up to be the 10 pounders we all want to catch.
The last SCBF tournament of 2013 started with more whining and complaining at the boat ramp than usual. "There's no fish in this lake!", "The weather is going to be terrible!", "If we were smart, we would have stayed in bed!" were common pejoratives. We were at East Lake Toho and there was a cold front descending across the northern part of the lake when we blasted off. However, as usual, little green fish and weather rarely seem to do what fishermen expect.
Mike Hampton of Malabar and Tim Kopf of Melbourne caught an estimated 20 keepers to cull up to a 5 fish limit weighing 12.99 pounds to win the tournament. Their bag was anchored by a 3.38 pounder by Hampton which was the tournament's biggest fish. They caught them using skinny dippers and super flukes in the pepper grass. Jackie Barber of Cocoa and BJ Biles of Palm Bay earned a second place finish with 5 fish for 10.36 pounds. Tim Iler of Port St. John and Larry Cruce of Titusville took 3rd with 5 fish for 10.12 pounds.
A small creel award generously donated by Strike Zone was given away at this tournament. Congratulations to Mr Neal and Mr Firkel for earning a pair of floating XTools pliers and a crankbait. Speaking of Strike Zone, you can pick up Mike Calloway's Last Cast products when you are there too!
The Space Coast Bass Finatics took their monthly tournament series to the Miami-Garcia Impoundment on November 17. Tim Iler of Port St. John and Larry Cruce of Titusville weighed 5 fish for 18.72 pounds to win the tournament. The father and son team of Clyde and Raymond Taylor of Palm Bay caught 5 fish weighing 16.87 pounds to earn a second place finish. Third place went to Mike Calloway of Titusville and Cliff Semonski of Oak Hill with 5 fish for 16.70 pounds. Their catch included an 8.67 pound giant by Calloway that was the tournament's biggest fish.
I sucked bad enough to earn a bonus prize at this tournament! Mr Calloway graciously donated one of his Last Cast Products rod sleeves to the person that sucked the most at this tournament and that happened to be me. You can get rod sleeves, spinnerbait/jig/flipping skirts with or without rattles, and some other things from Mike at one of our tournaments where he offers a discount to club members or you can pick up some of his products at Strike Zone.
This time, Garcia only damaged two boats. My boat has an extra notch in the skeg which amounts to superficial damage, but the Taylor's ended the day with a buckled prop. I don't know what happened to the Taylor's prop, but I know there's something else in the south running channel to/from the boat ramp near the part where you have to veer to the north to avoid the tree stump that is visible. Somewhere in the middle of that channel near the stump there is something else that you can't see. Mr Elder tells me it's a fence post.
The Space Coast Bass Finatics took their monthly bass tournament trail to Blue Cypress Lake on October 27th. The weather was beautiful, the fish were biting, and now many of the spiders that call this lake home find themselves rebuilding after our lines wrecked their food catchers. Mike Calloway of Titusville and Cliff Semonski of Oak Hill sacked a 5 fish limit for 18.97 pounds to win the tournament. The father and son team of Jack and Mark Burt of Cocoa were a close second with their own 5 fish limit that totaled 18.67 pounds. Their catch included a 6.51 pound lunker by Mark that was the tournament's biggest
fish. Larry Cruce of Titusville and Tim Iler of Port St. John rounded out the top 3 with 5 fish for 15.93 pounds. Two thirds of the tournament field weighed 5 fish limits for over 14 pounds. At least 7 fish over 4 pounds were weighed.
Why does something strange happen at the boat ramp every time we go to Lake Cypress? No, I'm not talking about being eyeballed lovingly by peacocks. Last time someone from another club got their boat trailer stuck in a ditch and someone else from that other club forgot their boat keys and used that to their advantage to win the other tournament. This time Mr Calloway made a new friend. He exchanged pleasantries with a random older gentlemen after said gentlemen launched his boat directly into Mr Haga's boat which was beached off to the side completely out of the way and then proceeded to go into a tirade about us blocking the ramp even though the ramp was wide open as everyone from our club beached their boats on the edges of the canal completely out of the way.
Oh right, we held a fishing tournament... Our 25th season kicked off at Lake Cypress on September 29th! Bluebird skies and little wind made for tough fishing conditions for most of the competitors. The team of Jackie Barber of Cocoa and BJ Biles of Palm Bay bested the field with 5 fish for 12.24 pounds. Jimmy Blount and Jack Berry, both of Rockledge, earned 2nd place with 5 fish totaling 11.63 pounds. Fishing their first tournament with the club, Mark Burt and Jack Burt, both of Cocoa, took 3rd with 4 fish for 10.61 pounds. Dwayne Haga of Sanford caught the tournament's biggest bass at 5.41 pounds.
I recently received an e-mail from Marty Mann of the FWC:
It is the desire of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to work closely with bass anglers, clubs, and tournaments to ensure all users enjoy safe and quality fishing and boating while protecting the environment. Recently, FWC has been receiving many reports that anglers are installing fish attractors in lakes and we are trying to get the word out that this activity requires a permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Without a permit, it is considered littering and is illegal. The FWC is concerned that anglers are participating in an illegal activity and may not even be aware of it. We are also concerned that anglers are putting environmentally unfriendly materials in the lake to serve as attractors as well as placing attractors in water depths that may become navigational hazards.
Managing aquatic plants in the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes is the topic of a Sept. 26 public meeting hosted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The meeting is in Kissimmee from 6-8 p.m. in the fourth-floor County Commission Chambers, Osceola County Administration Building, 1 Courthouse Square.
“We want to know what business owners, property owners, anglers, hunters, bird watchers, airboaters and others who have a vested interest in the chain of lakes think,” said Ed Harris, FWC invasive plant management biologist. “Now is the time to get and stay involved.”
The Space Coast Bass Finatics held their annual invitation only Classic tournament August 24th launching out of the north ramp at Lake Poinsett. Afternoon thunderstorms may have dampened the competitors and their equipment, but they didn't dampen the spirits of the anglers or the fish. Mike Calloway of Titusville and Cliff Semonski of Oak Hill weighed 5 fish for 16.96 pounds to be crowned SCBF Classic Champions. Their catch included a 4.88 pounder by Calloway that was the tournament's biggest fish. Second place was earned by Bob Barnette of Port St. John and Dwayne Haga of Titusville who brought 5 fish for 16.06 pounds to the scales. Jimmy Blount and Jack Berry, both of Rockledge, took third with 5 fish for 15.82 pounds. All fish were released alive and well back into the St. Johns River.