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Fishing Lines: Fish need vacation this month

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By Capt. Dennis Voyles

Trout season remains closed until March first. Grouper season is closed until March 15. The pelagics are not here yet and likely will not roll into town until the full moon in March (21, first day of spring). The whiting which ARE in season seem to be in hibernation and are mostly unwilling to take any kind of bait, likely due to very cold water temperature. There is a small school of cow-nosed rays between Cedar Key and Wacasassa but they prefer clams over anything in the water and are totally useless in every way (unless you sell clam seed).

And, let's face it... catch and release of trout is unethical and only harms the fishery. Our trout get pounded hard enough during the 11 months of the open season and should be left alone this month. And, if you think it does no harm just talk to some of the scientists who have hard data that many small trout do not survive even the utmost of care when released. I am totally surprised that our trout fishery is still as good as it is after the tremendous pressure they had the last couple of summers.

So what is there to do? The reds seem to be active down toward Crystal River, and in the creeks around the Suwannee River. They are obviously relating to the warmer water in those areas. From the people that I have talked to lately, expect the bite to be spotty most days.

The proposed grouper regulations that could possibly go into effect later this year are very depressing. A three-month closed season, reducing the gag grouper limit to one per person, one red grouper per person and one "other" grouper will likely put some serious strains on grouper guides and transfer the fishing pressure to the inshore species...which is already feeling the strain of Florida's growing recreational industry. This does not paint a pretty picture. I hope that the people in charge of this fishery know what they are doing.

Anyway, some good news...the work on the boat ramp in the boat basin looks to be moving along very well. And the dock out front is looking good too.

If you plan to come down to Cedar Key in the next few weeks remember that our local merchants need and appreciate your business, so buy as much of your supplies as you can here in our little community. Our prices are very competitive and your support may keep the availability there for the future. We have excellent bait and tackle shops, super restaurants and comfortable rooms. Thanks. See you next week.