Camp Villages – 2017

This is an annual event that strives to entertain grandchildren with fishing-related Activities.  It is sponsored by the VCDD Recreation Department and supported by volunteers from The Villages Freshwater Fishing Club.

The La Hacienda Regional Recreation Center was the venue again this year.  The patio made an excellent place for serving hot dogs after the program events, which included, 1) Knot tying; 2) Practice Casting; 3) A real tournament Bass fishing boat presentation, 4) Fishing from the bank of Lake Mira Mar.  The Villages Clowns were on site to perform their exciting face painting.

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Brownie & FOTM

No, Brownie isn’t referring to what our daughters belonged to nor does it mean that the dish on top of the stove, that’s too hot for human consumption, but not for the #@&%* dog….at least he saved me half….hell yes I ate them.

Ken Fox 4.0 lb 5/24/17
Alpena, Mi

Ken Fox 4.8 lb 5/23/17
Alpena, Mi


Brownie refers to what Ken Fox caught at Long Lake near Alpena, Mi. If you saw the action the anglers had on Major League Fishing, you know this area is loaded. Fox said he had 35 fish days throwing spinnerbaits, worms, & spooks catching fish up to 4.8 lbs. Fox did tell me that it was 25 mph windy days with rain & balmy temps to 58 degrees. BTW the brownie is AKA smallmouth bass. If you’ve never had the opportunity to catch these guys, you don’t know what you’re missing.

  • FOTM

FFC VP Rob Husson 7.1 lb
5/29/17 Village Pond

It’s May 29, Memorial Day, and FFCVP Rob Husson decided to do what he loves, fish the ponds in The Villages. Husson knows most or all the ponds accessible in the community. He’s provided us pictures before of bass exceeding 6 pounds but I believe this may be his largest that I’ve ever reported. Check out this 7 pound 1 ounce beauty. Husson said he caught this bass on a swimjig with a Houdini trailer. Also the pond that Husson caught his bass from had a major fish kill 3-4 years ago. This pond was featured in R&R mentoring session recently using the same lure. Here’s proof that the strong will survive. Husson’s fish can easily qualify for a fish of a lifetime for most of us. Congratulations VP Rob Husson on your 7 pound 1 ounce bass qualifying for the Fish Of The Month FOTM.

FFCVP Rob Husson 7.1 lb
Swim Jig Houdini Trailer
Village Pond




















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Veterans thank you for your service and God Bless America.

Steve Henderson

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The Birds Have Flew Da Coop

That whooshing sound is the egress of the “snowbirds” heading to wherever….and with that the restaurants are accessible, Sunday church services aren’t nearly as crowded, and the happy hour lines at all the squares don’t stretch out to the street….at least by the third time in line you don’t mind as much & by the 4th…. who shives a git 🙂 >

5/9/17 Winner Mike Murphy
Lake Hernando Big Bass
wt 6..83


But hey….look at Mike Murphy with his 6.83 lb big bass he caught while fishing a local club tournament held at Lake Hernando on May 9th. Murphy said this is the only lake he can ca$h on….Murphy had 10.45 lbs to win the tournament.  I’m not even sure if he had 5 fish. If he did, this’ll give you an idea on what the others weighed. I had 5 that weighed 5.35 lbs. I called them Ohio River fish….that reminded me of catching nothing but small fish….12″ squeakers.

Phil McNeal 5/11/17
wt 4.15 Spro Aruko Shad
Lipless Crankbait



I took Phil McNeal to Griffin recently and told him to throw a lipless crankbait, Spro Aruko Shad, as far as he could sling it and crank it in with an erratic retrieve. And with that you see the results. McNeal’s bass weighed 4.15 and was the largest fish of the day.




Pres Randy Disanto
Tilapia wt 2.4

Pres Randy Disanto 5.0 lbs
Village Pond








Back inside the bubble, here’s FFC President Randy Disanto holding a tilapia he snagged while bass fishing in one of the retention ponds in The Villages. Randy did say he snagged this fish….snagged it like Bill Dance does in the mouth or snag it like Randy says which is “I dunno”. He also targets them purposely on a fly rod & these critters are like catching bluegils on steroids. Not sure if his bass came from the same pond but it did come from a Village retention pond….weight was 5 lbs even. Nice bass regardless where it’s caught. Notice there’s not a blemish on it. Make sure you’re registered for Trophy Catch while fishing in Florida. 8 pound plus bass qualify. Click on the link provided at the top of the page under menu that says TrophyCatch.

Below you’ll notice Wayne & son Jeff Barksdale with a pair of nice bass and then there’s Wayne holding a tilapia that actually ate his bass bait (shakey head). I’d say by the looks of that tilapia, it’s much larger than the one Randy Disanto is holding on scales that reads 2.4….I’m guessing Wayne’s is over 4.

Jeff Barksdale 5/21/17
Caught on DD22 Crankbait Winter Haven Chain

Wayne Barksdale Tilapia
Caught on shaky head 

Wayne Barksdale 5/21/17
wt 7.11 Caught on shakey head










Don Millich 5/18/17
Lake Griffin wt 4.4
Black Toad

Don Millich 5/18/17 Caught on a Toad
Lake Griffin

Don Millich caught a pair of top water toad eaters. There’s nothing that’ll get the heart pumping quicker than an explosive strike from a STUPID fish….and I love catching the really DUMB ones….the ones that miss it the first time….you make another cast & they swipe at it again & miss….can you say 3rd time’s a charm?!?!? It’s highly recommended that 50 lb min braid be used on no less than a MH rod. My choice is 65 lb braid with 7′ MH rod.


Lake Griffin 5/22/17 wt 4.11
Black Zoom Horny Toad

This bass inhaled a Zoom Horny Toad black with blue legs. The amount of toads consumed during todays outing was 12. Total fish caught were 4 and the largest is pictured. The aggravation comes when you have one on & it jumps then dives around the pads wrapping you up & comes off. I didn’t mention the gar that like to eat the legs off especially from the toads that have blue legs.

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Now’s the time to get your FFC shirts and hats monogrammed. Pur-chase  from Custom Apparel or provide your own.


Just because the summer is here, don’t think for a minute that the fish won’t bite. Water temperature May 22 at Griffin was 86. These Florida fish still eat. Bass are in shaded areas. Panfish are near cover also. Usually you find one you’ll find the other. Cormorants in the water may be a good sign that there’s baitfish available. Watch them diving for food and you may catch your targeted specie there too.

Don’t forget about Camp Villages on June 13 that’s held at Hacienda Recreation Center.


Steve Henderson

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Shoulda Been Here Yesterday

We’ve all heard it before….Shoulda been here yesterday….last week they were hitting like crazy….back home I’d catch them on….Yeah, well the first 2 I can handle but when the “Back Home” comes out I’m thinking Dude, I really don’t care what you caught them on “Back Home”….we’re fishing where people don’t carry a spatula (Ice Scraper) in their cars. At least most of us.

Danny Barksdale 5th place KY Lake with 2 day total 41.7 lbs & $1300 4/29/17

Here’s Danny Barksdale, from the infamous Barksdale clan. He proudly shows off 4 bass of his day 2 catch from Ky Lake that put him in 5th spot in USA Bassin & collect $1300 for bringing in a 2 day total of 41.7 lbs. This was a team event and Danny fished alone. His unable to attend partner was his brother.

Jeff Barksdale at the Winter Haven Chain
Caught on jig

Here’s Jeff Barksdale with a nice 7.11 jig fish he caught with dad Wayne while fishing near Lakeland, Fl on 5/7/17. You may ask yourself how do these guys do this? Maybe dads teachings had something to do with it. Maybe!?!?






You’ve seen posts in the past about the Barksdale Clan….or have you? If not look below as Wayne Barksdale shows off another one of his Trophy Catch qualifiers. Wayne said this bass ate a 10.5″ worm. Hmmm….it seems FFC member Bill Gorman was also catching big bass on 10.5″ worms.

Barksdale shows off a Trophy Catch qualifier wt 8.10
























Swallowed Hook & Survived

Although I’ve caught fish before that showed signs of previously being caught, there’s no doubt about this bass. It weighed 2.4 & ate a Lipless Crankbait – 1 Knocker. Look down its throat. Click on any picture to enlarge.

Closer to home are some recent catches caught on lipless baits while fishing Lake Griffin. Below is a 2.6 & 6.1 caught May 1st & the hatless pic fish weighed 5.5 caught on May 6. Earlier this year the pro’s mentioned that Griffin has really come alive & in years to come will be excellent.

Wt 5.5 caught on lipless






And what about FFC member Rick Clark holding not 1 but 2 Trophy Catch qualifiers. Although  these were caught a few months ago, they’re still worth showing. I have no idea what Clark caught them on. Maybe he’ll provide some insight at the meeting. Nice fish Rick.

Rick Clark wt 8.14 St John’s

Rick Clark wt 8.8 St John’s






Dennis Renfro, Fisheries Mgr for FWC, will be at the next FFC meeting to discuss the progress made on the Emeralda Marsh. Lets hope when it opens we’ll be able to access the area. Lake Griffin was lowered to make repairs at the lock. So throw the drought into the equation. Although catching has been good recently, it’s no good if we can’t launch a boat. Hello Lake Yale. I’ve received numerous complaints about the area. Anyone have pictures?
1400 plus Lakes in
Lake County, FL

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Not valid with any other discount – Applies only to FFC members in good standing







Steve Henderson

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FOTM = Fish Of The Month

Scriptures said that Jesus fed the multitude with a few loaves of bread and fish….I’m not sure if there were teenage boys included in the multitude….have you seen these guys eat? Anyway that’s what was reported and who am I to question the writings….but I am curious if braid or mono was used on a spinning or casting reel??

So what is the plural of fish – FISH? FISHES? PHISH – Fish can be used referring to plural….fishes may also be used….and I’ve seen Phish in concert back in the 90’s….who you ask? Look em up….But this picture will show the definition of fish & FOTM.

  • FOTM

Former FFC Pres Jerry Echols with “Multitude”

Look at Jerry Echols standing over his multitude of specks that he & Trevor Bailey caught while down near Kissimmee on 4/27/17. Trevor said it was his best day ever catching “specks”. As for Echols, an open water specialist,  not every time he goes out is this successful but it isn’t out of the ordinary either especially catching 1.8 to 2 pounders. Heck of a catch Jerry.




Bill Gorman Caught 4/11/17 Wt 7.8
Bait used Zoom Fluke Red Fleck

Continuing on with FOTM is FFC member Bill Gorman with his 7.8 lbr that he caught in Griffin on 4/11/17. Bill said he’s not only using flukes but 10″ worms dragging them slowly over pads. Dandy fish Bill.

Jerry Lester FFC Treasurer/Web Master Griffin Wt 3.6


Here’s FFC web master treasurer Jerry Lester in his  Gheenoo with a nice 3.6 lb bass caught on Aruka Shad.


Then there’s some shots taken during a tournament weigh-in at Venetian Gardens at Lake Harris. Although yours truly may have been better off  ordering fish from Beef O Brady’s….all my fish had the tails too close to the heads….there’s someone that always catches them. Check these anglers out displaying some of their fish.

John Hendry Lake Harris
Wt 4.8

Lake Harris 4/11/17

Caught 4/11/17 Lake Harris









Below is Chip Austin showing off his trophy catch bass for sure. Chip is a new FFC member and signed up for the monthly fishing trip that Steve Felix sets up for members. WTG Chip & thank you Steve Felix for providing this service to our members. It’s a thankless job but at times like this….hey what can ya say other than nice job Chip.

New FFC Member Chip Austin shows off HIS trophy bass caught 4/20/17 on Withlacoochee Trip




















In closing here’s Don Millich holding a 3 lbr he caught at John’s Lake on 4/27/17 on a watermelon red fluke. In the past 10 days I’ve made 4 trips to John’s Lake….my first 2 trips alone & the other 2 with guests. Here’s the numbers caught per trip: 12, 20, 22, & 19. If my math is correct, of the 73 fish caught, the largest was what Ken Fox caught that weighed 3.7 lbs. Were there larger fish on & lost? Nope! 5 years ago FWC was saying if you want trophies go to John’s. I’m not saying that they don’t exist, but I was surprised that larger fish weren’t caught. I’m sure they’re there. But we had a blast catching them on flukes, Senko’s, hollowbody toads, & even the old trusty Pop R….and there’s plenty left. No I/we never bed fished.

Don Millich Caught 4/27/17
Wt 3.0 Johns Lake

Ken Fox caught 4/25/17 Wt 3.7 John’s Lake










Don’t forget that the next FFC meeting is May 9. Our speaker will be Dennis Renfro from FWC. If you’ve fished Haines Creek Marsh or the Stick Marsh, be sure to attend. Great things are happening at Griffin. Also we have election of officers. If you want to get involved, now’s your chance. Plus President Randy DiSanto will have a suggestion box at the meeting. If you want things changed, added, deleted, drop it in the box – make sure it’s legible – you don’t have to sign it.

Not valid with any other discount – Applies only to FFC members in good standing

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Remember to sign up for the next fishing trip with Steve Felix….ask Chip Austin about what he thought of his trip. Also a reminder about the Rob & Randy mentoring group for you new to Florida anglers. Fishin aint the same down here!!

Steve Henderson

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Panfishing Clinic

Robert Edmundson, Joe Stone, and Jerry Echols provided a clinic on panfishing as the featured speakers at The Villages Freshwater Fishing Club meeting on April 11, 2017.   Joe Stone, panfishing advocate, introduced Edmundson as the best Crappie fisherman in Central Florida.


Robert Edmundson with Joe Stone looking on

Joe Stone, past president, and proponent of “Little fish” fishing shared his experience from years of panfishing.


Joe Stone

Jerry Echols, also past president, added his special insights from  years of Crappie fishing.


Jerry Echols

Jerry Lester


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The Fish Hit The Pan – Election Nominations – June 13 Camp Villages

Black Crappie

Remember when you caught your first crappie or bluegil? Are you kidding….I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast this morning….But I do remember catching bluegils by the bucket full and then having to take them home and watch dad scale & clean these tasty morsels. Mom would fry them and we’d eat the tails like they were potato chips. What about fish eggs? Ate those too….not recommended today but there’s a lot of things that aren’t recommended doing today….riding bikes without helmets, outside without sunscreen, driving in The Villages…..You tell me of the 3 which is the most dangerous. Glad we’re on the same wave length here. Moving right along….did you know that the crappie, known as specks also, FL state record is 3.83 lbs? Keep in mind these are black crappies down here & don’t get as large as their northern cousins. Bluegill

Then there’s the bluegil. These little guys have more punch per pound than most freshwater fish. You get 1 of these sideways pulling critters on light line – a cane pole or fly rod & you have a battle that lasts about as long as eating an ice cream cone in a golf cart running 20 mph in 90 deg heat. And you thought I was gonna say something else 🙂  The FL state record is 2.95 lbs. Right now you’ll see boats gathered in groups & chances are they’re probably catching these guys.

Redear Sunfish

I think the preferred specie is the Redear Sunfish, aka Shellcracker, because they get much larger than their look alike cousins. They’re lean & mean also & can provide instant action especially if you’re in a herd of them. The FL state record is 4.86 lbs. You’ll hear anglers mention catching 3 pounders often and if you’ve never seen one this size picture a cutoff lower section of a canoe paddle with lips.

There’s several ways to find out more about catching panfish….grab your rod & bait & head to the local water hole, click on —> Trophy Catch Web Site, where the information you just read was derived, or come to our next meeting and listen to 3 experts that have been fishing for them with a combined time of over 100 years. And yes it’s different down here on the way they’re caught….but not much.

Weighed 4.7 Black Hollowbody Toad

Here’s a few pics from Lakes Harris & Griffin taken in the past since April 1st. I caught this 4.7 casting a black hollowbody toad under a dock. Good old 50 lb braid when you need it because he wrapped me around a couple posts.

Wayne Barksdale with a chunky 6 lb + Swimbait Bass



Then there was Wayne Barksdale who always out does me and shows off a nice 6 lbr that he caught on a swimbait at Griffin.





But wait….just because you’re in the back of the boat, don’t kid yourself. There’s still “dumb” fish to be caught. Barksdale slipped up & let 1 slide by so FFC Board Member Trevor Bailey catches this dandy that weighed 7 lb 8 oz. Just shy of a Trophy Catch qualifier. That’s STILL a fish of a lifetime . WTG Trevor….too bad Wayne heh heh.

Trevor Bailey – Swimbait – Lake Griffin Wt 7-8 lbs
























Just a reminder that Nominations For Election Of Officers & Board Members will take place at our FFC April 11th meeting. 

  • Note from FFC President Randy DiSanto
Camp Villages is a 9 week program that offers a variety of activities for residents of The Villages and their grandchildren to enjoy together.
The Clubs’ participation in this program will be on Tuesday, June 13th, 9:00am to 11:00 am, at La Hacienda Rec Center.
We will be looking for volunteers to  help with the activities, Fishing, Casting, Knot tying, etc.  We will also have a bass boat on sight. Can you please help us with this event. It’s only 2 hours.
Randy DiSanto
President FFC
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