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Spotted seatrout are already one of the biggest stories of 2012: Closed seasons eliminated, more and more large fish showing up around the state. In this issue Chris Christian reveals insights from four expert captains—from four corners of Florida—who divulge seasons and strategies for 5-pound-plus “gator” trout. Red drum often follow trout into the spartina marsh, where writer David Brown gives a 7-part tutorial on navigating and catching great fish in the maze-like saltmarshes. Plus lots of great offshore, freshwater, boating and some new hunting coverage!
Tides are everything on coastal waters; fishing’s almost always better when the current is moving, and some areas—such as mangrove shorelines—fish best as high water opens up new foraging areas. But what to do when your bay gets “stuck” on low tide? Associate Editor Sam Hudson travels to Estero Bay to see how local anglers catch black drum, reds, trout and more on docks and other structure. One secret bait: Fiddler crabs, explained in greater detail in this month’s Inshore Seminar. And if you’re looking to buy a new baitcasting reel this season, don’t miss Frank Sargeant’s article on new revolving-spool technologies, “Rolling on the River.”
In the first installment of a “Migration Mythbusters” series, our ever-inquisitive Managing Editor David Conway takes readers on a tour of the state’s cobia fisheries. Where do these big brown fish come from? Where are they going? The answers may surprise! Meanwhile, spring is almost here, and the bait is showing up outside many peninsular Florida ports. With the bounty comes the usual fleet of boats slinging sabikis and castnets. But hold on a sec; shouldn’t you be tossing a jig or a hooked bait into the fray? Yes and no, explains Offshore Seminar writer Chris Collins, who gives sage advice for catching cobia, kings and other herring-hounds, without creating havoc on the bait spots.
American shad are an enigmatic, open-ocean species whose southern spawning populations migrate up Florida’s St. Johns River each winter. The lean, silvery fish reach the headwaters in Orange and Brevard counties about mid February, and that’s when longtime FS contributor Larry Kinder rounds up with fly and spin fishermen to capture some stunning action for “Snow-Birding Shad.” In the Freshwater Seminar, Chris Christian reveals how bass pros like Peter Thliveros pattern fish for all-season dependability.
Tommy Thompson, our Big Bend Field Editor and a southern gourmand, takes over for retiring Sportsman’s Kitchen columnist Vic Dunaway. In Tommy’s first Kitchen, it’s spotted seatrout in the fryer, with a tangy sauce and oven-fried potato strips. In On the Conservation Front, find out how you can contribute to stock assessments by recording your fishing trips through the Angler Action Program. And, discover a new fish species named by our Sportsman’s Biologist columnist Grant Gilmore!
We asked, you answered, we listened: Hunting seasons and public lands tips are now included in every one of our 11 regional Action Spotter reports. Find out where to begin your pursuits afield in the Sunshine State, along with all the fishing hotspots and big-catch photos submitted by your friends.