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Withlacoochee: Episode III

It was still pretty chilly in the AM!

    Up to this point, our weekend in big bass country had been very eventful, but somewhat disappointing fishing-wise. Will, Todd, and I had dealt with record cold temperatures, raging wind, a near-totaling of a parked car, and an owl that really, really wanted a midnight snack. By the morning of day three, we just wanted some comfortable weather and to catch a few fish.

    We decided to float the lower Withlacoochee, the ten or so mile stretch between the lake and the Gulf. Since our float would take us through tidally influenced waters, Will and I decided to fish lures that might tempt redfish or snook as well as bass. I opted for a chatterbait while Will threw a curlytail grub on a jig head. Todd threw a multitude of lures, but ended up fishing a small jig-n-craw most of the day.

    We shoved off around 10 AM and caught the last few hours of the outgoing tide and the first hour or so incoming. The fishing started out rather slow, but this section of the Withlacoochee was interesting in it's own way. There were lots of riverfront homes and docks with some pretty impressive boats moored to them. This section was nowhere near as wild and fishy-looking as the river upstream of the lake. Above the lake, it seemed there might be bass holding just about anywhere.  With the tide down, there were often no really fishy-looking places to cast on this stretch.

    In retrospect, the relative lack of cover made fishing a lot easier. When we did encounter a juicy-looking spot, there was almost always a willing bass nearby. None of us caught anything big, but the weather reached the upper 60's and there was very little wind. Another angler reported similar success, but ruefully explained that the cold snap had sent the snook scurrying out of the river to find warmer water. We never saw any redfish either, but as we got closer to the Gulf, we encountered a few people fishing for them.

The first bass of the day hit a chatterbait in isolated cover

Todd caught this chunky little guy on a jig-n-craw crawled along the bottom. Probably not a bad lure choice as the lower With has lots of little crabs crawling around the bottom

This nice bass came out of those bushes right behind me

    All told, our third day on the Withlacoochee was exactly what the doctor ordered: 25 or so bass, nice weather, and no wind. I would imagine that there are some braggin'-size bass on the lower Withlacoochee, but the lack of cypress trees and weed cover in the lower river undoubtedly puts lower-river bass at a disadvantage in terms of growing really big. The lower river is still worthwhile though, simply because there are plenty of bass plus the added possibility of catching redfish, snook, or even tarpon at certain times of the year.

The obligatory gator shot. About a three-footer