Friday, January 7, 2011

West Central Florida Fishing Forecast 1/7/11

West Central Florida Fishing Report

Aripeka to Longboat Key
Includes Hudson, New Port Richey, Anclote Key, Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Clearwater, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Anna Maria Island and Bradenton.

January 7-9

A string of good weather days may have come to a brief ending if weather predictions are on target. Days with 70s in the reports were closer to normal for this time of year, but a brief change with some lows in the 40s may be heading our way to start the weekend off.


Gag grouper are closed in federal waters for the next 6 months. Other fish to target may be options if you want to get out and bend a rod farther than 9 miles from shore, but according to Capt. Dave Zalewski, the 60-foot mark has been loaded with fish. Zalewski has been targeting white grunts, and recently has been putting upward of 80 grunts a day in the box. The mild white flaky fillets from these fish are delicious, but not often kept. But the secret of their table appeal may be out of the bag. While hitting the 60-foot mark, Zalewski said he also released a pair of gags measuring 29 and 30 inches respectively. For those looking to score some grouper in state waters, these fish are still a possibility if you’re willing to go through some shorts in the process.

Offshore springs beyond 30 miles are producing some nice amberjack. Chumming these fish to the surface is a possibility, allowing them to be fished on lighter tackle in the 20- to 30-pound class. For deep-jigging near the bottom, 50-to 80-pound grouper rigs may give you more power to muscle some of the bigger brutes up off the bottom.


Trout fishing has been the buzz this week as the season-opener last Saturday had anglers looking for some fish to take home. Reports on the entire Suncoast have been positive. Capt. Rick Grassett, of the Snook Fin-Addict out of CB Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, reported having some excellent action on Sarasota Bay with fly anglers this week. Fishing with Ft. Myers guide, Capt. Rick DePaiva, they caught and released several undersized redfish and 40-or-so trout on fly, a good day in anybody’s book. Capt. William Toney, out of Homosassa, reported limits of trout being caught on D.O.A. Shrimp in the Homosassa River and also in King's Bay in the Crystal River. The hot spot on cold clear days has been the Crystal River power plant. Similar action down in Anclote at the power plant has been taking place, as has the Weedon Island and Apollo Beach power plants. Action is good on cold days, but fish spread out and leave when the weather turns nice.

Trout in the Terra Ceia area have been cooperative as well with good action on D.O.A. shrimp, C.A.L. jigs, TTR18 MirrOlures, and the new 18MR MirrOlure Heavy Dine. Anglers fishing the dropoffs near channel edges are doing well. Water ranging from 5 to 8 feet deep are holding good numbers of trout.

Redfish have been laid up in the shallows over dark muddy bottoms sunning themselves this week. The occasional overcast day, and on Tuesday when fog rolled into the Tampa Bay area, sent fish to deeper water, but on sunny days, the shallows were where reds were found that would eat. Long casts with light jigheads kept most fish from being spooked. Anglers working jerk worms like the CAL, Exude RT Slug, and MirrOlure Lil’ John slowly along the bottom are getting strikes. Stink baits like the Berkly Gulp! have been effective for anglers dead- sticking the lures and fishing them like cut bait.

Assortments of other fish are being caught inshore. Flounder, bluefish, black sea bass, and juvenile gag grouper can still be caught in the shallows. Sheepshead are beginning to fatten up for the upcoming spawning season between February and March. Anglers fishing the pilings around the Gandy Bridge are doing well with sheepies. Silver trout are beginning to show along the beaches in some areas from Blind Pass off St. Petersburg to Clearwater in about 14 feet of water. Inside Tampa Bay, deep holes off Riviera Bay on the St. Petersburg side have been holding fish in 16 to 20 feet of water. Some holes north of there to Weedon Island are also holding some fish. Anglers fishing the Manatee River channel up near the Green Bridge reported catching a few “sugar trout” as some call them there. Loves’ Lures tandem rigged jigs work well on these fish, and tipping them with a bit of fresh shrimp sometimes improves the bite.


Bass may show signs of beginning to hit the beds for some areas, but the real deal is the crappie bite that has been steadily improving. Look for speckled perch to be in some of the deeper areas of Lake Tarpon. Drift several rigs at multiple depths with Missouri minnows to find a school. Drop a marker and return upwind to repeat the drift for best action.

Report courtesy of Capt. Ray Markham

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles, Albert A Rasch

Scott Croner Albert A Rasch Albert “Afghanus” Rasch Albert A Rasch Scott Croner Nebraska Hunting Scott Croner, Merriam's Turkey Hunting Albert A Rasch Scott Croner Albert A Rasch Albert “Afghanus” Rasch Albert A Rasch Scott Croner Nebraska Hunting Scott Croner Merriam's Turkey Hunting Albert A Rasch

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Safeguarding the Future of Hunting and Fishing

© 2011 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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I saw some statistics recently, and hunter participation is at its lowest in thirty years. I became interested in waterfowling through my friend Scott Croner at Nebraska Hunting Company. Doing my research, I came to find out that waterfowlers in particular have lost almost 30% participation. I asked myself what could be the problem? In general, why does it appear that there are less and less hunters? Googleing for answers, I found myself reading the Fishing and Hunting Recruitment  and Retention Addendum over the course of several nights, trying to gain some insight as to why this was happening.

As much as the AR activists would like to take credit for the downturn in numbers, it's not the animal rights people and their misinformation and propaganda, it all boils down to...


And it is time we cut the crap and did something.

Access seems to be the biggest problem facing any sportsman today. Over crowded public hunting areas, and pay to hunt acreage have made hunting either inconvenient, or cost prohibitive. Especially near the metroplolitan areas of the United States, the East and West coasts, getting to good public hunting land can be exasperating if not downright next to impossible.

Remember over 75% of the US population is concentrated in urban areas. And the two areas with the largest populations, the New England area and the Pacific regions, have the lowest number of persons entering the field, at less than 4%. Much of this is due to a low initiation rate. City folk don't hunt that much, therefore their kids, friends, or neighbors don't either. Those that do, tend to be reticent about it due to fears of the neighbors reactions or opinions.

But there are simple positive steps that each and every one of us could take to increase recruitment, and counter negative sterotypes and fears. Here are some examples.

What if each and every one of us recruited a new hunter every season? While  it might not double active participants in the field, it would more than double the number of people that would see through the AR charade, and come to see hunters and outdoorsmen as conservators of the resources.

Take a neighbor shooting. Invite a neighbor to join you at the range. Bring a twenty-two, and start him or her off right. Concentrate on their shooting, and forget about yours. Whet their appetite and see where it leads.

Take up small game hunting.  Small game is more accessible than even deer hunting, and far less expensive. Unless you're all up into that LL Beam look... Squirrel is a perenial favorite, and if you take the time to show them how to prepare a fricasse, you will have made a small game hunting convert.

Make an effort to help someone new get to and pass your state Hunter Safety Course. Sit through the classes with your acolyte, and share your knowledge.

If you have a lease, dedicate a weekend to taking a new or potential hunter with you. Talk to all your fellow lease holders, and organize a hunt, just for a neophyte hunter.  If you are one of the fortunate few to have a good lease, by golly, let folks come in and harvest some does. Take the time to explain to the need for keeping a good balance between bucks and does, and if they are lucky enough to connect, teach them all you know about game meat preparation. Make a big deal out of it because it is a big deal!

Spend a couple of bucks, and put out 20 fliers from a the National Shooting Sports Foundation NSSF, or the National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHFD) (Click for PDF Hunter and Angler Fact Sheet.) Share them with friends, colleagues, and others when you deem it appropriate. Remember, the only way to disarm the animal rights zealots and the anti-gun fanatics, is with good factual information.

I'm sure there are other great ideas that you can come up with so feel free to share them with us!

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Shindand Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Big Cutters, Rank Hogs, and Coffee

© 2009, 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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Hunting Big Hogs in Florida, Chronicles Style!

I had shot that three hundred pounder right through the cheekbone!

We had been hunting hog at a friend's ranch an hour or so from where I lived. We had been carefully stalking this bad boy for the better part of two hours. There were sows and piglets to contend with, mosquitoes, and the occasional pygmy rattle thrown in for fun. Actually, I was pretty sure those damned chiggers were, at that very moment, burrowing into my tender flesh and making themselves at home.

Skirting palmetto clumps, and patches of scrub oak, we finally got into position with out spooking him or the other hogs with him. taking a prone position in an open patch of sandy dirt,  I took off my leather hat, laid it in front of me, and used it as a rest for my light hog hunting rifle, a 30/06 Weatherby Eurosport. I wanted an instant kill; I had had enough of chiggers, ticks and skeeters for the day, so I carefully lined up for a spinal shot. I was certain of my shooting ability, and I have complete confidence in my Weatherby and the Remington Safari Grade ammo I use.

180 grains of copper clad and partitioned lead went right under his left eye, through the hog's sinus cavity, and smashed right into his spinal column where it demolished nine inches of bone and nerves, disrupting much of his motor functions. But it wasn't enough. By the time I had crossed the forty or so yards between us, he had regained some use of his body. His jaws worked to and fro, slashing at the under growth, hooking roots, branches and the occasional shrub. Apparently he could use his back legs, and had some use of his front right one. He stumbled as he tried to charge me.

I had stoked the Weatherby with another Remington Safari Grade Swift A-Frame before I was even up. As I raised the Weatherby for a follow up shot, Matt put his hand on my shoulder. "Wait, don't waste the bullet, let me finish him with my .22." Moments later the big hog was down.

And what a hog! Scarred and cut up from slugging it out with the other males, he was a brute; three inches of whetted tusks stuck out either side. I had him mounted, but unfortunately over the years he has deteriorated to the point that it was, in my mind, disrespectful to his memory to have him displayed in that condition. So he now resides sealed in a large bin with a desiccant package and a pest control devise. Maybe, when times are a little better, I can have him refurbished, and he can take place of pride over my desk again.

I really need to get out hog hunting...

But that's not why I tell the tale. Cooking, that's what I want to talk about.

It all started, innocently enough, when I happened upon Miss Jamie's blog Borderland Adventures: Her Perspective and her post Stinky Little Pigs.

Now I like pigs. I like them as livestock, pets, and wildlife. I like them alive and I like them roasted. Now Miss Jamie is actually writing about the New World equivalent of the pig, that being the peccary also known as the javelina. Miss Jamie does an excellent job of explaining their natural history and taxonomy; and she does it with great humor. In addition you will find great narratives of the border area, posts on cooking both in the home and out in the field, and a product review. Not only that, but she has some great photography too! I heartily recommend visiting her Blog Borderland Adventures: Her Perspective.

Now back to the cooking. As it turns out both peccaries and that big ol' hog I took, have similarities. They both stink real bad. As in rank.

I don't like to waste game. But a rank old hog is unpalatable. Simple as that; just plain inedible. I had Matt carve out the tenderloins, if that's not a misnomer I don't know what is. I also got the two roasts. Matt got the rest to grind up for sausage.

When I got home I threw a box of coarse salt over the meat and ice in the cooler. I figured that would buy me enough time to figure out what I was going to do.

I've got one of those big enameled roasting pan, and I always have a lot of garlic. Work with what you got I always say. As I was trying not to pass out from the testosterone induced odor, I remembered reading somewhere that instant coffee neutralized the odor and helped to tenderize the meat. I couldn't remember how much was recommended, so I dumped a big handful in there. I mean I poured it into my hand and dumped it over the roast. With that done, I took a knife skewered that roast and stuffed garlic into every hole I made. I doused it thoroughly with some white wine, the cheap stuff I keep for those meddlesome neighbors, and put the cover on it.

I set the oven on low (325 F) and came back to it about four hours later.

Holy smokes! It worked! The smell was gone, and in its place a delectable and genuinely delicious aroma of cooked pork with subtle tones of garlic. After due deliberations though it was decided that a couple of more hours wouldn't hurt. I cut up some more garlic, potatoes, carrots, and celery, and poured in some more wine and water.

A couple of hours later we were sitting around the table enjoying a tender and tasty roast.

I've tried it out with other cuts of tough meat both wild and domestic with similar results. Oh and there is no taste of coffee either. What is in the instant coffee that does that is unknown to me. All I know is that it works.

Amazing what you can do with some coffee...

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Shindand Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

While cruising the Blogsphere this morning, I came upon this "The Bacon Weave." For those of you that don't have enough cholesteral in your diet, this is a sure fire way to get it up there! Brought to you by the fellows at BBQ Addicts!


Scott Croner Albert A Rasch Albert “Afghanus” Rasch Albert A Rasch Scott Croner Nebraska Hunting Scott Croner, Merriam's Turkey Hunting Albert A Rasch Scott Croner Albert A Rasch Albert “Afghanus” Rasch Albert A Rasch Scott Croner Nebraska Hunting Scott Croner Merriam's Turkey Hunting Albert A Rasch