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Cold water, sluggish fish, happy anglers

Friday was a dream day for local fishermen as the elements combined to yield great catches.

By TAMARA EL-KHOURY, Times Staff Writer
Published January 5, 2008


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TARPON SPRINGS - Pete Tarajos went to the boat ramp on the Anclote River on Friday and watched a commercial fisherman pull in with about 400 pounds of fish.

As the fisherman left to sell his catch before prices dropped, Tarajos ran to fetch a friend and fellow snowbird, Bob Reimherr, and a boat.

By lunch, the men had filled a cooler with ladyfish, sometimes referred to as "poor man's tarpon."

"I kept telling him, 'I'll get one more in the cooler, one more in the cooler,'" Reimherr said. "Then I couldn't close the cooler."

Friday was a dream day for local fishermen as schools of sluggish fish filled the river near Progress Energy's power plant.

Anthony Cacciurri, a law enforcement officer for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said the fish were lethargic because the water temperature had dipped below 60 degrees. The water temperature Friday was in the 50s, he said.

But it wasn't all good news: Cacciurri said he saw several dead fish and heard reports of dead tarpon in the area. Cherie Jacobs, a Progress Energy spokeswoman, said about 100 dead fish were found near the power plant. She said the company's environmental experts determined that the fish died from the cold weather.

Fishermen were taking advantage of the unusual circumstances by filling their boats with ladyfish, using cast nets or simply scooping them up in pole nets. Ladyfish can fetch about $1 a pound.

Ladyfish are unregulated, Cacciurri said. But those who catch 100 pounds or more need to have a saltwater products license, he said.

"Everybody's having a real good fishing day without a fishing pole," said commercial fisherman Alan Raub, who watched the spectacle from shore. His friends started calling him at 7 a.m., but his boat's engine trouble kept him off the water.

"I'd be out there right now making easy money," he said.

As for Tarajos and Reimherr, they plan to use the ladyfish as bait for a more desirable meal.

"We're going to turn them into grouper," Tarajos said.

Tamara El-Khoury can be reached at (727)445-4181 or tel-khoury@sptimes.com.

By the numbers 

60 Water temperature at which fish get lethargic and easier to catch.

50s Water temperature Friday.

99 Pounds of ladyfish a fisherman can catch without a commercial license.

[Last modified January 4, 2008, 21:23:28]


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