Tom Abdelnour Speaks at September 11 Meeting

Tom Abdelnour provided a rundown of his fishing experience on Ocala National Forest lakes and springs.  Tom discussed access to these remote bodies of water and his techniques for fishing them.  Tom fishes vegetation where available from his 12-foot jon boat including lily pads, eel grass, Hydrilla.  When fishing pads, he stressed casting deep into the pads.



There are approximately 600 natural lakes in the Ocala National Forest with lakes Bryant, Mill Dam, Kerr, Crooked, Wildcat, Lou Echo, Grasshopper, Eaton and Quarry Fish Pond being the most popular. A booklet titled “Fishing Opportunities in the Ocala National Forest” by the Ocala National Forest Interpretive Association is available at the Visitors Welcome Center at the intersection of S.R. 40 and C.R. 315. This booklet describes sport fishing locations, with recommendations for fishing methods and accessibility, as well as a topographic map.IMG_0766cropped Tom also fishes several of the Forest springs with Alexander being his favorite.

The club paid for four seats to fish the Lake Sumter charter on September 22 and then provided them to four lucky raffle winners.  The club provided the raffle entirely free.  Lucky winners are pictured below.


L:R Wayne Sheperd, Rob Husson, Richard Anderson, Ray Ison

Jim Jones was elected Club Secretary.

IMG_0767 (Large)

L:R Jim Jones, Secretary elect, and Randy Disanto, Club President. (Jim is holding the raffle jar for the 50/50 raffle.)

Jerry Lester

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O.T.B. The Harris Chain Plus

(Click on any pics to enlarge) O.T.B. = Outside The Bubble

Three years ago FLW pro angler Tim Frederick, who won the 2018 opener at the Big “O” and who’s also sponsored by Lake County Tourism, handed me a fistful of stickers. If you’ve not visited the web site, may I suggest you do so. There’s an abundance of information. Did you know the state record for largemouth was 17.27 lbs? How about a black crappie that weighed 3.83 lbs that was 14″ in length. Restaurants & ramp locations are listed along with some Trophy Catch recipients.

(L) Here’s Rick Cope, from Umatilla, with a hollowbody toad bass that he caught. Cope said that the 7.4 lb bass was the largest of his 5 that gave him a win during a Greybeards Tournament on Aug 30th while fishing Lake Griffin.

Nick Cope, Rick Copes son, out did dad when he caught a 2.4 lb peacock bass. No this wasn’t caught locally…but came from canals near Del Ray Beach some 3 1/2 hrs south of here.  I sure wish they’d survive farther north but these fish have to have WARM water year round. I’ve never caught any but if you’ve ever seen them on tv they annihilate a topwater lure. Gorgeous is an understatement. Dad said it was very slow the day they were there and used shiners to catch their fish. WTG Nick.

Wayne Barksdale hoists a nice 6.3 lb fish that he’d caught on stickbaits while at Griffin on Aug 14. Fortunately for the fish, Barksdale is on the mend for a tune-up on his knee….but beware….Barksdale will be on the water seeking vengeance before the end of September. Also FFC member Stan Lippian contacted me saying that he’d caught an 8.73 lb bass while dragging creature baits in 8′ of water. The fish have positioned themselves deep to escape the heat. On one of my recent outings the surface temp was 91.3 deg. The swimming pools in The Villages are set to be 81-83. Water temps in the 90’s feels like bath water.

Above I’m holding a 4.14 & 4.5 that I’d caught at Griffin on Aug 26 while dragging a speedcraw thru eel grass & hydrilla. And yes these were caught during the heat of the day. Normally…. you find the cover….you’ll find the fish. Look above at the baits pictured. And yes that is/was a crappie. Little guy was floating. I’d seen a cormorant cruising around and the crappie/speck may have met him by mistake. That top bait, a squarebill, has really shown itself in deeper water ripping it off of vegetation. While most throw lipless rattle type baits, try a squarebill instead. Don’t be surprised if you snag a couple. The only thing I dislike about crankbaits is that if the fish jumps, many times the bait goes one way & the fish the other.

Here’s some scores from some recent outings I’ve participated in. Don’t laugh…it could have been you. This was on Aug 21 while I was visiting a friend in KY, we fished a tournament along the Ohio River. The massacre was like this: 22 anglers, 14 fish caught, 1st place 3.36  lbs….and that was 1 fish….Big Bass was 3.36 lbs….Nobody caught a 5 fish limit….actually nobody else brought in any more than 2 fish at a time. I blanked. Imagine that. Got to see many of old friends….it was worth it.

Don Millich caught this 4.9 lbr while the bass were schooling. I wasn’t even getting bit and had thrown multiple baits that I’d had out on the deck. Millich caught his on a trickworm – I believe. As fast as they showed themselves – they disappeared. Fish was extremely skinny too.

Back in the 80’s & 90’s I fished with a great angler & friend by the name of Wayne Hutson of Dayton, OH. Wayne and I fished a hundred tournaments or more over the years throughout OH, KY, & IN losing most but winning a few. I think our most memorable event was on July 4, 1997 while fishing the Ohio River out of Tanners Creek downstream from Cincinnati. Dog days of summer were in full bloom. It was FL weather all the way, river barges, huge yachts, jet skies, etc….We ran 60 miles to the Markland Dam and decided to fish our way back. Some 9 hours later we get back to the starting point with a limit of fish. I can’t remember the weight but we had Big Bass & came in 2nd. The grand prize was a fully rigged Ranger Boat….and you didn’t even have to catch a fish to win it. Florida professional angler Jim Bitter, of Bitters Baits,  pulled the ticket out of a bag and called out my name – Steve Henderson. I won’t write on here what I said but you get the idea. I was shocked. Wayne was shocked. In the months to follow, because it was a buddy tournament and we both had bass boats, we sold the boat and split the money. Wayne blew his on toys, tackle, whatever….I invested mine in tech stocks & lost my BEEhind. Such is life. Anyway while visiting family in Dayton, OH in August, I made it a point to swing by the old tackle store I used to patronize in Dayton called Fishermans HQ and wouldn’t you know it my old friend Wayne Hutson was there. We spent several hours catching up on the past and laughed amongst all who’d listen. Sadly Wayne told me that he hasn’t fished in 2 years. He’s dealing with family illnesses. Been there done that….it’s a caregivers worst dream seeing your love ones helpless. I pray that none of you have to go through the heartbreaking agony….and I know some of you already have. There’s a special place in heaven for you.

I was supposed to fish a tournament on Sep 11 at Panasoffkee. The tournament director moved the location to Lake Rousseau due to high water at Lake Pan. The ramp area at Tracy’s Point is always a hassle but….is what it is. The lake allegedly is up 3′ or more than it was this time last year. And we haven’t had a hurricane….yet!

There’s several areas on the Harris Chain that will be sprayed to reduce the spread of hydrilla. I’ve said before on here that Little Lake Harris is the worst I’d ever seen it. It is on the list. Go to the FWC web site to stay informed on when & where the spraying will occur.

Remember the 2996 souls who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

God Bless America

Steve Henderson

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Fish Of The Month / August 2018

When it was announced that all species of freshwater fish caught in Florida will be considered for “Fish Of The Month”, FFC member Bill Shelton took that as a challenge.
Last November Bill recorded a 7lb. 11oz. Largemouth Bass. In December it was a 10lb. 6oz. Catfish, and in March it was a 11lb. 1oz. Gar. Do we see a pattern here? On August 20th Bill added one more to the list with this 7lb. 10oz. Lake Eustis Bowfin. What’s next? Tilapia, Crappie? Time will tell. Great catch Bill.

Bill Shelton 7lb. 10oz. Bowfin Lake Eustis

Bill Shelton 7lb. 10oz. Bowfin Lake Eustis

Thanks to all who have sent in pics. Keep them coming.

Rob Husson                                             FOTM

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O.T.B – Wait/Weight Gain?

O.T.B. – Outside The Bubble (Click on any pics to enlarge)

Lots of happenings in the past few weeks…my microwave quit…I broke a guide off one of my favorite rods…gas has increased a quarter a gallon…but what the heck…the kids are back in school. Having been the only man in the house out of 4 occupants led me to fish FISH A LOT to find my sanity…Although my girls have been out of the house for 20 years, some say I still haven’t found my sanity. BUT I’M STILL FISHING!

Well here’s a start. Wayne Barksdale is off to catch whatever wants to eat on a beautiful morning on Lake Griffin. And recently these sunrises produce majestic mornings with horrendous downpours in the PM with everybody’s favorite lightning show. But as usual Barksdale continues to score and embarrass this writer wondering how he catches when many don’t…especially me.

Wayne Barksdale – Long Skinny Griffin Bass wt 5.2 worm

For one Barksdale is very patient & throws/drags many pastics across/through eel grass & hydrilla. A phone call last week from a potential FL newbie said he’s a bank beater from MN. I told him that whatever he learned in MN you can pretty much forget here in FL. Myself being forgetful comes natural…okay easy now…However not all of this holds true. Lets just say whatever you’re comfortable & have confidence in try it. You can always learn from your results, or the lack of there of…even find a tip occasionally on here.

On July 10th, nineteen anglers, me included, fished a small club tournament on Griffin. First place was 5 that weighed 16.45 lbs. Big Bass weighed 7.81 lbs. There were 54 fish caught weighing 96.34 lbs and all released alive. Better hurry…they’re all swimming around the lagoon at

Sharon Reed Big & Small Bass Winner Griffin 7/10/18

Herlong Park 🙂 Big Bass was caught by none other than the new tournament director, Sharon Reed, that weighed 7.81…here’s the kicker…Since Sharon took over, she thought it’d be fun to also have a dollar side pot for the smallest bass. Not only did Sharon win Big Bass but she also won small bass by weighing in a giant at a whopping 0.25 ounces. WTG Sharon!! These weights are a far cry from another tournament Sharon hosted at Rousseau on July 24th. I don’t know how many anglers participated but total weight for 5 anglers that had limits (25 fish) was only 24.14 pounds. Yes folks…you read it right. Hurricanes have taken toll on the Tsala Apopka Chain…Lake Rousseau especially. Time heals all. Hopefully in this decade. These weights show a troubled fishery for sure.

A publication from Southwest Florida Water Management District said that Lake Panasoffkee’s water level compared to this time last year, is nearly up 3 ft. I’m sure that makes the hydrilla gnats happy…hate those things. All water levels are up considerably with Ma Natures help. The St Johns River has been either in or close to minor flood stage for several months.

Steve Henderson 6.26 & 3.07 Griffin 7/10/18

Here’s 2 of 5 that I caught on Griffin throwing a white chatterbait. The best thing about a chatterbait is when you do catch a fish, normally they’re hooked in the top of the mouth & rarely die. FLW Professional Tim Frederick told me that if you have a fish that bleeds, pour Mountain Dew down its throat. Yeah I said the same thing. Ask him the next time he’s at the FFC monthly club meeting.

Hearing reports from various outlets & individuals leaves one skeptical many times. I always think “Show me the scales”… But from a reputable source such as Bill Brooker from Brooker Bait & Tackle in Leesburg I’ll buy what he’s sellin. Brooker said a few weeks ago during a 3 bass limit tournament held on Harris – you’re only allowed to weigh in 3 fish – that 1st place was 22 pounds plus. 2nd place was 21 plus. Now gang I’m here to tell ya that’s one helluva sack of fish.

Emerald Marsh

Next question is from where? If you decide to search for what’s rumored to be the address of these lunkers, you may need an airboat, push pole, or something that’ll fit this criteria. At the entrance that opened into a vast area, it was topped out with plenty of hydrilla. The fish might be in there and for me to gain access I’ll have to downsize or wait until the first frost to knock back the hydrilla…you see where I’m going with this. It’s understandable that there would be giants back there…Send me pictures 😦

Recently FFC President Randy DiSanto sent out a picture of pan fish he was catching (40) one right after another and the only reason he quit was because they’d ran out of bait. His first words were they weren’t bass. A fish is a fish and fun regardless but when found dead floating in the livewell during a bass tournament can render a person somewhat unnerved. This little guy was about 4 inches in length. And no you can’t stuff him down the fishes throat. Can you imagine losing by 1 ounce? Our own hometown Leesburg grown FLW Professional Angler Tim Frederick failed to qualify for the FLW Cup. Payment for 55 anglers ranged from 1st place of $300,200 to 55th place of $10,000 and you didn’t even have to catch a fish. Congratulations to Clent Davis from Montevallo, AL who after 3 days of competition on Lake Ouachita at Hot Springs, AR weighed in 36.13 lbs to collect a check for $300,000. His next closest competitor 2nd place angler James Niggemeyer’s weight was 29.9. John Cox from Debary, FL came in 8th with 13 fish that weighed 24.7 lbs to win $22,000.

Forrest Wood Cup Winner Clent Davis













Steve Henderson

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Fish (Fishes) Of The Month / July, 2018

While most of us were throwing crankbaits, topwater baits, jigs, spinners, and whatever else we could find in the box, two FFC members took a different approach by using soft plastic. The results speak for themselves. July 4th is going to be a date that FFC member Jim Jones will never forget. Fishing a Senko with light tackle and 6lb. mono Jim reeled in the fish of a lifetime. This beast weighed a staggering 11 lbs. 14 oz. and possibly the biggest Bass ever caught in a Villages pond. Could there be bigger?

Jim Jones 11bs. 14 oz. Villages Pond

Jim Jones 11lbs. 14oz. Villages pond

Anyone who is superstitious would probably say that going fishing on Friday the 13th might be a bad idea. Not the case for FFC member Wayne Barksdale. He and FFC member Trevor Bailey took advantage of the great weather and headed out on Lake Griffin. Once again a soft plastic speedworm got the job done when Wayne reeled in this 7lb. 4oz. giant. Another dozen or so two and three pounders made for a great outing.

Wayne Barksdale 7lbs. 4oz Lake Griffin

Wayne Barksdale 7lbs. 4oz. Lake Griffin

Thanks to all who have sent in pics. Keep them coming

Rob Husson                                                 FOTM

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O.T.B. Monsters Do Exist

Miserably hot, dripping wet with sweat, no wind, blah, blah, blah….come on….it’s summer time in central Florida. Would you rather be in the Midwest where temps are a cool mid to upper 90’s with feel like temps in the 100’s??? At least it’s short lived & not months of the same ol same ol…

So with all the discomfort, we still go out & fish. Let’s face it, time you spend fishing is not billed against your longevity of time spent on earth. I read that in a magazine while going through a grocery check-out line…it had to be true.?.? Well this is true! Wayne Barksdale sent me a picture of a giant, aka MOBY in Barksdale’s terms, hanging from the scales. There’s no doubt about this one….how about 11 lb 9 oz bass from Lake Griffin. Sure there’s been bigger caught from the ponds inside the bubble BUT, we’re reporting from outside the bubble & caught from the Harris Chain. Barksdale said he caught his fish on a speedworm over eel grass. Fishing with Barksdale was Villager Trevor Bailey. Bailey commented he’d never seen a bass that large. Barksdale & Bailey often fish together. Nice fish even if it was 1/3 that size.

Wayne Barksdale 6/29/18 wt 11 lbs 9 oz caught on speedworm




















Tim Frederick 33rd  on FLW Tour at St. Clair winning $10,000

Local FLW Pro Tim Frederick placed 33rd out of 180 other Pro’s in a recent tournament held June 25-28 on Lake St. Clair near Detroit. To say it was a smallmouth slugfest would be an understatement. Chad Grigsby weighed in 97.8 lbs for 4 days. Do the math….how about a 4.89 lb average per fish. How many of you have ever caught a 4 lb plus smally??? or a smallmouth period??? That would have been a blast for sure. Frederick didn’t get to fish days 3 & 4 but did weigh in 10 for 2 days that totaled 38 lb 13 oz to collect a check for $10,000. Nice job Tim. 2018 treated Frederick pretty good even though he missed the Forrest Wood Cup qualification. He still banked 110K not counting endorsements.



Floral City, part of the Tsala Apopka Chain, was the site of a local club tournament held on June 26th with 18 anglers. Total bass caught 49….total weight was 63.64 lbs….1st place was Mike Tacak 5/9.20 lbs….Big Bass Foy Underwood 4.35 lbs. I guess you need a top secret clearance to find out what they caught their fish on….

On June 28th a Umatilla angler was killed by lightning while at a dock in his boat on a small lake just east of Lake Yale. We’ve had stories on here in the past about the dangers of fishing during inclement weather. “Beware” of what’s coming. Don’t be a statistic. The angler was 44 years old and was the 5th Floridian to die of lightning this year. A recent story on the Weather Channel featured “Blue Sky Lightning”. Radar showed a strong storm in Arkansas with “crazy” lightning bolts everywhere being emitted. 46 miles east of the storm was blue sky….and ONE single lightning strike. The energy from the storm was so intense that it was blown almost 50 miles east and sent out a single lightning bolt. It can happen.

On June 26th, Robert Wood caught a 10 lb 10 oz bass from Lake Weir….Yes there’s Moby’s in Lake Weir too….there’s probably Moby’s in all Florida waters. Here’s some more close by….Ben Fitzgerald caught an 8.15 lb bass from Lake Eustis on June 26th. Fitzgerald also caught another bass on June 15th that weighed 8 lb 8 oz from Lake Dora on the Harris chain. Dan Rogers caught an 8 lb 6 oz from Griffin on June 22nd. On June 18th Rauol Turgeon caught a bass that weighed 8 lb 2 oz from Lake Beauclair on the Harris Chain. Pat Gerberich caught a bass weighing 8 lb 11 oz at Lake Louisa from the Clermont Chain…..the aforementioned catches were all documented as Trophy Catch qualifiers and can be viewed from the Trophy Catch web site. Imagine all the other Trophy Catch qualifiers that have been caught and not documented. That’s ok too – but if you’re an angler & would like a token of appreciation from the Trophy Catch program….sign up….it’s free.

Steve Henderson

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F.O.T.M. (Fish Of The Month) June, 2018

Most any angler will tell you “If what you are fishing for isn’t biting, something else will” Thats exactly what happened when FFC member and Fishing Trip Chairman, Steve Felix went Bass fisSteve Felix 11lb.3oz. Garhing on Lake Harris back on June 11th. This 11lb. 3oz. Longnose Gar just couldn’t resist Steve’s offering. Definitely not the targeted species but these toothy critters can be a blast to reel in. A quick pic and it was back into the lake for this beast.

Thanks to all who have reported and sent pics. Keep them coming.

Rob Husson



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