It’s prime time for South Florida sailfish, and with the strong cold fronts in recent weeks, odds are good there’ll be flurries of action as far down as the Upper and Middle Keys. Live ballyhoo are the key bait along the Keys island chain, and are sometimes available further up the peninsula. Veteran FS reporter Brett Fitzgerald spends a day with two expert Keys captains to see some novel rigging and fishing tricks to put ballyhoo in front of winter sails. For all kinds of fishing, FS Editor Jeff Weakley puts words to a long-time concern of his, helping anglers understand how important rodtip position is for a variety for techniques. Most of the time, keeping the tip down results in better luck.
Redfish remain at the top of the inshore popularity list, and as waters cool around the state, sight-fishing becomes more feasible than ever. Check out Capt. Chris Holleman’s report on pitching for reds in the marsh grass. He joins a tournament-winner from Northeast Florida to explore methods for penetrating the thickest cover to spot and present baits to slot-size redfish. If wade-fishing is your game, you’ll want to see the Inshore Seminar on new waders, footwear and gear management. More tricks and product news are woven throughout our December edition, celebrating the end of a great year in fishing.
You’ve never seen sailfish like this. Actually you have, you’ve just never stopped to really look at them. South Florida photographer David Cartee offers a visual treat in the form of a sailfish photo essay. Wonder where and how to catch these great fish? Read up in the Action Spotter, as our team of Field Editors offer expert advice for sailfish and many other ocean species, including those last-minute groupers (Atlantic season closes Jan. 1).
Big events occur during small game season—such as a new hunter bagging her first game with a Christmas-gift shotgun. If you’ve been thinking of bringing a friend or family member into the woods this year, don’t miss Southwest Field Editor Ralph Allen’s special tribute to Florida squirrel hunting, “Elissa’s Day.” And don’t miss our regional roundup of hunting opportunities, in the Action Spotter department.
Freshwater and Fly
Contributing Editor Bernie Schultz is also a multi-year veteran on the professional bass circuit. This month, in the Fresh Water Seminar, he offers inside details on rigging and fishing small soft plastics. These are the key baits the pros use to punch through surface cover to reach hidden largemouth bass. In the Fly Fishing Seminar, our web 4Cast reporter Capt. Ron Kowalyk brings some interesting tricks for use in all waters—using small sinkers, crimps or short pieces of lead-core line to quickly convert a floating fly setup to a deep-water dredger.
The Apalachicola River in Northwest Florida is a remarkable waterway, productive for striped bass, largemouth bass, catfish and, in the lower reaches, red drum, seatrout and shellfish. However, the river has suffered in recent decades as a result of upstream water-withdrawals, mainly to supply municipal needs to Atlanta and other Georgia towns. Ed Mashburn has been fishing on the river quite a bit this year, putting together how-to fishing articles for FS Magazine. This month, he takes some time to explain the complicated background behind the Apalachicola water wars. There’s good news on the horizon, too, as a new cooperative group begins to study ways to optimize flows while satisfying many users—Nature included.