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Fishing Lines: Report cards -- Good marks overall; Kings held back

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By Capt. Dennis Voyles

Since it is the middle of the year it is time for mid-term progress reports.

Trout: The trout bite experienced a slow start but then really got going good. Limits of slot trout (15-20 inches) have been common. April was the best month as usual and gave anglers an abundance of oversized over-the-slot fish. Excellent trout action continued right through June. July and august will be much tougher to find keeper fish as water temperatures soar. The trout get an A this semester in spite of a slow beginning.

Mackerel: The Spanish mackerel bite has been moderate to good this year and spotty as usual. Mackerel seem to do their best school work during the spring tides and pretty much are slackers the rest of the time. The Macs made up for their numbers though with size, as a lot of Macs are close to the 30 inch mark. Since they have dropped in numbers this year I give them a C. Their close cousin King Mackerel have had a very poor year. Attendance has been almost nonexistant. I don't know where they have gone but they missed our area this year. King Mackerel get an F.

Cobia: I participate in a voluntary tagging program for a research group from LSU. So far I have tagged only 11 cobia, which is only half as many as this time last year. Keeper cobia seem to be down even more. My guess is that fishing pressure has finally reduced their numbers since their behavior is so predictable. For low attendance I give the cobia a D. I will grant that cobia behave very well during lunch hour.

Redfish: It has been an interesting year for reds so far. It seems as though most of the reds are pre-school age. The abundance of undersized fish may indicate a very good hatch in the recent past, so the future looks good when they grow up. As usual they excel at lunch hour and PE but lack good judgement eating just about anything that moves. For good behavior and participation our area reds get a B.

Sharks: Our school mascot has been very active lately. Both numbers and size have been impressive this past month, my clients have caught three Bull sharks over eight feet and a hammerhead last week over nine feet long. They seem to be just about everywhere, some even chasing hooked trout and "shortening" them (had two trout bit in half last Tuesday). Blacktips and Atlantic Sharpnose seem to be our most abundant species at this time but July usually brings more Hammerheads to the area. For good participation and excellent behavior our school mascot gets an A+.

Tarpon: The brightest students by far, as well as most acrobatic, Tarpon remain at the top of the class. They excel in both academics (very hard to fool) and sports (strongest, highest jumpers, longest battles). Their numbers have been good this year compared to last year, but still down compared to just a few years ago. Their ability to absolutely "smoke" a fishing reel impresses even veteran anglers; then, combine their track skills such as long jump, high jump and 100-yard dash and it is easy to see why they are the favorite among sport fishermen. No points are deducted for being pelagic, tarpon get an A.

Grouper: Without a doubt grouper get an A+ this year. Their math scores (numbers) are excellent this year which adds up to lots of happy anglers. Though thought to be in short supply by the MFC, they are having a banner year...surprise! They earned their A for excellent behavior during lunch and being very cooperative and social. They do well also in tug-O-war events.

The mid-term report looks good for area so far unless you are a King Mackerel specialist. We have a beautiful and precious resource here at our fingertips, with our help hopefully we can preserve this for future generations to enjoy. Treat every fish with respect, handle them with care and take only what you need.

Last but not least...HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA...we love you!