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Days of transition are unpredictable

As summer progresses and nights get longer by a minute each day, water temperatures soon will begin to fall and fish will start their seasonal feeding patterns. Watch for the subtle signs of change. Strong new moon tides will end Sunday.

INSHORE: Fishing has been good through the moon phase. Snook, redfish and trout are hitting. Bait, on the other hand, has been difficult to predict. One day you find plenty, the next there's barely enough.

Guide Bruce Burdick has been able to locate some, mostly large whitebait. With it he has found snook in the Anclote area and surrounding backwater bays. A few trout also have been tempted along with some fair-sized jacks. Redfish, on the other hand, are scarce and take kindlier to smaller baits. That's not to say they won't hit a large one, but here smaller can be better.

It's a good time to evaluate your lure selections. Snook also will hit plugs, twitch baits and jigs. Don't limit yourself to live bait. For example, Mike Teegargen of Reef Chief Charters found willing linesiders using a mullet-like plug. Work mangrove shorelines and deep cuts.

Redfish action is improving, but you still have to cover much ground to make a day of it. Gold spoons and jigs allow moving often. Try working live baits like your lures. Hits may be more subtle until the water cools down a bit.

At Homosassa, Bonnie Van Allen aboard the Big Shrimp Boat reports decent cobia action. Fish the flats surrounding the river channel out to Marker 4. Live pinfish or cut bait will do well. Early mornings, toss topwater baits that resemble eels or injured baitfish. Trout are in close, but the larger fish are still beyond Marker 4.

With pinfish hard to find, a few whitebait have shown up, but not in large numbers. Following the sardines are a few Spanish mackerel, some to 30 inches. Fish the grass flats in 3 to 5 feet of water. At times you'll see the macs slashing the baitfish.

Newell Collins at Twin Rivers Marina in Crystal River reports good redfish action. Both the spoil banks and the mouth of the river are producing decent fish. Work the last two hours of the outgoing tide, the turn, and the first hour of incoming water for the best results. Free-line live pinfish, or rig a live shrimp under a popping cork.

Trout action has been a bit slower this past week. Could be the high water temperatures. There have been sporadic reports of Spanish mackerel in the Crystal River area, but nothing to write home about _ yet. "We're looking forward to the cooler times," Collins said. "September should be a very active month."

OFFSHORE: During the summer doldrums, grouper are not as active in hot water throughout the median depths. If your typical rocks and ledges aren't producing good action, work the grunts and triggerfish. They can be good fun, and they are terriffic fish fry material. Triggerfish can be a bear to fillet, so keep your cutting utensils very sharp by honing them on a wet stone every few fish.

According to Homosassa grouper guide Steve Burton, "If you're going to pursue grouper, be patient at your spots, it may take awhile to turn the fish on, if they bite at all." Fish the most opportune tides. Grouper fishing this time of year is unpredictable at best.

FRESHWATER: Anglers are getting back out on the water so fishing has improved. "We've been seeing a good bite lately," said Paula Rebarchik at Angler's Resort in Dunnellon.

Bass and bluegill action is good. Both the Rainbow and Withlacoochee rivers are producing fish. Stick to the main rivers. Side trips to the phosphate pits and canals along the Withlacoochee won't be very productive right now, the water is too hot. When the water finally cools down the pits will really turn on.

With the recent rains, water clarity has been up and down along with water levels. Choose lure colors accordingly.

Bass anglers are finding some good fish with live shiners. Gary Stutzman caught and released two, with the largest weighing 8 pounds. Resort owner Dick Williams and Ben Holthusen found great action, catching nine fish to 8{ pounds. They were fishing the backwaters downriver toward Lake Rousseau.

Jim and Carol Young found two fish. Carol caught the larger of the two at 5} pounds. Mike Tyler went to the Rainbow River and caught three fish, the largest 8 pounds. All were released.

_ If you have a question or comment, call Mike Scarantino at (352) 683-4868.

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