I would like to start this off by saying that this guide trip was one of the best fishing trips that I have had as a guide; both catching fish and spiritually. On this trip I had a granddad, two sons, and one grandson. Wow, what a trip this was, three generations. This is what being out in God’s great outdoors, and being one with nature, is one of the greatest things a family can do.
Granddad, Dewayne Lemler, age 62, and has been married to the same woman, Diane, for 42 years. He has resided in Avon Park, FL since 1957 and retired after 40 years as an educator and high school principal in both Highland and Polk counties. They are members of the First Baptist Church of Avon Park and are active in both local and state Baptist programs. They have 3 sons, Dustin, Darren, and Doug, and have 6 grandchildren, Ian, Morgan, Jillian, Kiersten, Joshua, and Alaina. He enjoys fishing, remodeling and spending time with his grandchildren. Dewayne’s largest fish is a 6 lb freshwater bass.
Dustin Lemler, age 40, grew up in Avon Park and, after graduating from Palm Beach Atlantic College in 1992, he now resides in Franklin, Tennessee. Dustin also has worked in the education system as a band director for 8 years in the Tampa Bay area. He has a strong faith basis, working at The People’s Church as Director of Visual Arts & Production for the past 10 years. He enjoys sports cars, raising tropical fish, and spending time with family. Dustin’s largest fish is a 5 lb freshwater bass and a 26 lb saltwater snook.
Darren Lemler, age 37, also grew up in Avon Park and, after graduating from Clearwater Christian College in 1996, now resides in Largo, FL with his wife, Erin and their 4 children. He owns his own company DRLemler Inc., is a member of the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks, and works as a general building contractor. He enjoys hunting, fishing, and sports. Darren’s largest fish is a 5 foot tarpon in saltwater and an 11 lb 9 oz bass in freshwater.
Ian Lemler is Darren’s his oldest son and shares his father’s passion for fishing, along with other sports, such as little league baseball and soccer. Ian is a huge fan of the Tampa Bay Rays. Ian’s largest fish is a freshwater bass at 7 lb 11 oz.
What bonds this family of men together is their Christian faith and their love of fishing, hunting, and sports in general. We shared all kinds of fish stores and spiritual stories, and boy oh boy did we catch fish, as you can see by these pictures. And this is in the middle of the summer! As the old saying goes - “dog days of summer,” so this is usually the hardest time of the year to catch bass. First of all, the lake has been drawn down low so they can work on all the locks. Secondly, the water temperature is between 85-90 degrees and that makes it tough. Plus, the outside temperature is in the 90’s, making the heat index in the 100’s.
Now, let’s take time to talk about the trip. Daren called me and wanted to do a bass fishing trip on July 13, so we all met at the Hwy 60 bridge on Kissimmee. I had the pontoon boat already in the water before daybreak. We went up the lake about 4 or 5 miles. Now the fun begins. I put down the trolling motor, put Ian and his Uncle Dustin from Tennessee in the two back seats and put two shiners out the back, placing the rods in the rod holders. We began to pull the edge of the Kissimmee grass line. It wasn’t but a few minutes that Ian had a 4 ¾ lb bass and then the fun began to increase. Everybody got into the action: Dewayne got a 5 ½-5 ¾ lb bass; then Dustin caught one around 5 lb; Darren caught the biggest at 7 ¾ lb. All in all, they caught fish all morning. We experienced great fellowship and thanked the Lord up above for giving us a great morning on the lake.
Until next time, God bless, be safe, and good fishing,
These two fish are one of Florida’s most sought after species, and all of this starts around late March/early April and goes through late July. This is when they all gang up to have a “party” of sorts. In other words, this is when they move up in the pads and grass line to spawn.
Man, can you have a good time! This is the time to take a kid fishing if you want to see a pair of little eyes light up and a smile from ear to ear. You sure won’t be disappointed, I promise.
I had a chance to go and watch a master of the sport at work. This gentleman is 74 years young and, take it from me; he is the best at doing this kind of fishing that I have ever had the pleasure of being on the water with.
Charlie Bishop has lived at Grape Hammock Fish Camp on the south end of Lake Kissimmee for around 21 years. Now you won’t find him around the camp in the mornings because he gets out on the lake early so he won’t miss the Lord’s daily present.
He comes in around 10 am, when you will most likely find him and his best friend, his Beagle dog, riding throughout the park.
Now, back to fishing – Contrary to popular belief, Bluegill and Shellcracker are not in the Perch family.
Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), sometimes referred to as bream, brim, sunfish, or copper nose, is a member of the Centrarchidae family or, more commonly known, as the Sunfish family. It is native to a wide area of North America, all the way from Quebec, Canada to northern Mexico. It is even the state fish of Illinois. They are a round shaped fish that is highly variable in color, ranging from dark blue or almost purple to yellow, with six to eight vertical bars on the sides and a red to orange belly. The Bluegill's most notable feature is the broad, round black "ear" which is actually an extension of the gill. Its name, however, comes from the bright blue edging visible on its gill rakers. The colors are very vivid in the males when they are spawning. World record is 4 pounds, 12 ounces and was caught in 1950. Most will run from six to eight inches long as adults and weigh anywhere from 1/4 to 1 pound.
When the water is over 65 degrees on the full moon Bluegill will spawn. They will spawn every full moon from early spring and all the way through summer in most southern states. They are attracted to light and will come to lights on docks at night to feed on insects that are attracted by the light. Some Bluegill will grow to a maximum size of nearly 5 pounds, and a maximum overall length of approximately 16 inches.
They are mean and testy. Bluegill will eat anything they can get in their mouth, including insects, worms, small minnows and crayfish. They can be caught on all kinds of live bait including crickets, earthworms, meal worms, freshwater shrimp and small minnows. Artificial bait that is good for Bluegill includes small spinners and jigs as well as all kinds of dry and wet flies. When Charlie goes looking for these fish, he will ride around and look for the lily pads to be shaking or bumping. But you can also smell them. Once he finds this kind of area, he puts a cricket on and starts fishing.
The kind of equipment to use – Charlie likes to use a 14 foot cane pole with 20 lb Berkley Big Game, a #6 long shank Mustad hook, a slip float, and a #4 pinch-on sinker. Before you put anything on your line, you put a bobber stop, which you can slide up and down the line. So, if you are fishing in let’s say 4 feet of water and you want your bait 1 foot off the bottom, you slide the bobber stop to 3-3 ½ feet. Once you find the right depth, you set the bait in around the pads and you drop the rod tip towards the water. The weight will pull the line through the slip float and this will make the float stand straight up. If the float lays flat then you just pull your bobber stop down the line until the float stands upright. Then you know you are off the bottom, which is the key because the cricket will be able to move around on the hook. When the float moves just a little, set the hook and hold on.
Shellcracker (Lepomis microlophus), are actually redear sunfish, but are also known as Georgia bream, cherry gill, chinquapin, improved bream, stumpknocker, and sun perch. Therefore, they are in the same Sunfish family as the Bluegill. Shellcracker are native to the southeastern United States, but because of its popularity, it has been introduced to waters all over North America.
It generally resembles the Bluegill except for coloration and somewhat larger size. The back of a Shellcracker is light green to brown with scattered darker spots. The light gray to silver sides have 34 to 43 lateral line scales. Lower surfaces of the head and belly are light yellow to white. Sides of the head are mottled with brown to dark orange spots. The dorsal fin is light gray with nine to 11 spines and 10 to 12 rays. The light yellow to white anal fin has three spines and 12 to 14 rays. The pectoral fin has 13 or 14 rays and it is long and pointed, its end reaching past the nostril when bent forward. The world record is 5 pounds, 7 ounces, but most will run from 8 to 11 inches long as adults and weigh from about 3/4 to 2 pounds.
During spawning, males congregate and create nests close together in colonies, and females visit to lay eggs. Each Shellcracker will usually only lay once each spring, although they sometimes socialize with other sunfish species. They may come to lights on docks at night to feed on insects but not as much as their cousins, the Bluegill and Crappie. Shellcracker generally tend to feed best during the day. The favorite food of this species is freshwater mussels, snails, worms, shrimp, insects and grubs. These fish are bottom feeders, meandering along lakebeds seeking and cracking open snails and other shelled creatures, hence the common name of “shellcracker”. Shellcracker are fished differently than Bluegill. Instead of crickets, you use wigglers (worms) and they are fished on the bottom. It is very important that this bait lies on the bottom right in their nest.
Now let’s talk a little about equipment. Charlie likes the cane pole, but there are poles, referred to as “extension poles”, that extend in and out, ranging from an extended length of 8 feet to 20 feet. There are numerous brands, such as Wonderpole, B & M, etc and some even come with guides, for those who prefer to use a small reel. These are available at most local tackle stores and online. These poles are good for a lot of people because they can be carried in the trunk of a car. Everything else is rigged the same as for Bluegill fishing.
Let’s take time out from fishing to give you some tips –
Many spinning/baitcast rods come without a hook holder to put your hook through. You never want to put your hook through one of the guides because you could damage it. So, take a number 47-60 “O” ring and, using a tie wrap, wrap it around the rod a few inches above the handle. That will last for a long time. You can also use an “O” ring on the handle of a cane or extension pole to loop your hook under when stowed away.
This tip is for you guys and gals who don’t have a garage to keep your boat in. Go to one of the hardware stores and buy a piece of round drain pipe, the flexible kind. Cut a slit in the bottom so that your tongue wheel will slide past. This will protect your tongue from the weather.
Take a one gallon baggy and cut out one corner at the bottom. Slide your rod handle through the cut out corner and then, once you pull the handle through, slide it over the reel and zip it up. Then you can hang it up with your other rods in your garage. This will keep your reels clean until you are ready to use them again.
Keep what you can eat and release the rest for the next time. Remember, the daily bag limit is 50 panfish, which includes bluegill, shellcracker, flier, longear sunfish, mud sunfish, shadow bass, spotted sunfish (stumpknockers), warmouth and redbreast sunfish, individually or in total; and the possession limit is two days’ bag limit.
This past season was yet another good one, although not as many people hiring guides to fish. The economy has taken a bite into the luxury of hiring a guide. Although I was able to take several of my yearly repeat customers on good producing trips this year.
As in last year, the swimbaits are still making a big splash: Bitter's Baits' Naked Swimmer, Reaction Innovation's Skinny Dipper, and Gambler's Big Easy. The frogs and toads have been running a close second. The multi-bait rigs have been going big this year, such as the Alabama rig, Mo-Rig and Mo-Bling. The only thing more fun than catching a bass, is catching more than one at a time! In the last month or so the bass have started schooling up, chasing bait fish up out of the cooler water and hitting them on top, making for some great top water action, when you can find them.
Everything I Ever Needed To Know About Life (& Fishing), I Could Have Learned From Noah's Ark...
One: Don't miss the boat. Two: Remember that we are all in the same boat. Three: Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark. Four: Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big. Five: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done. Six: Build your future on high ground. Seven: For safety sake, travel in pairs. Eight: Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs. Nine: When you're stressed, float a while. Ten: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals. Eleven: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting.
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