Hard-to-figure prices, empty fuel docks. How do we cut fuel costs?
With marina gas prices topping $4 a gallon in some parts of the state you can save serious bucks by getting top performance from your boat. Here are five tips to help you eke out every last mile from each drop of gas in your boat’s fuel tank.
1. Prop your boat right. You should have a propeller that gives optimum overall performance, not simply the best top speed. Make sure your engine revs toward the high end of its maximum rpm range at full throttle, especially if you’re doing test runs with a light load. Pick a prop that provides your boat with a good hole shot and gets it on plane quickly. Lugging along with the bow pointing toward the heavens struggling to get on plane is not only unsafe, it burns lots of gas. Finally, don’t worry if you aren’t getting the absolute maximum speed claimed by the boat maker. They strive for big numbers because it sells boats. You should strive for maximum efficiency because it saves you dollars at the pump.
2. Don’t carry extra weight aboard. That means you shouldn’t carry 200 gallons of fuel when you know you’re only going a few miles to anchor down and fish the bottom. But do carry sufficient fuel for your planned trip plus an extra 20 percent in reserve. Don’t carry hundreds of pounds of ice if you are only planning to keep a few fillets for dinner. Only fill your water tank with enough water for the planned trip. A 5-gallon bucket dunked from over the side gets blood and chum off just as well as a freshwater hose. Livewell water should be considered here too—if you are going to use it, fill it; if not, don’t.
On occasion you should go through all the gear you have stored aboard and decide if you really need it. Extra stuff has a way of finding a home in the bottom of boat storage compartments and slowly but surely adding pounds to your craft.
3. Load your boat properly. That means distribute whatever movable weight—including people, fish, ice, food and drinks—you are going to carry evenly around the boat. Make sure to load up so your vessel is not heavy in the stern, bow or on one side. Extra stern weight will affect the minimum planing speed of your boat. Too much weight in the rear will make it hard to stay on plane at low speeds. This can be a huge issue in rough seas where a slow speed is needed for safe and comfortable passage. If you’re able to stay on plane you’ll save a ton of gas compared to plowing along bow-high off plane. Too much weight in the bow can cause it to dig into the sea creating unnecessary drag. Uneven side-to-side weight will require you to use trim tabs (if you’ve got ’em) to center the load. This adds to water drag and causes extra fuel to be burned.
4. Keep your hull clean. A smooth boat bottom is about the most drag-free configuration you’re going to get. So make sure you keep it that way by washing it after use and making sure it is grass- and slime-free after any extended time in the water. If your boat has bottom paint and stays in the water continuously you should have a diver go down at least every three months and brush off any areas of soft growth from the bottom and running gear. In addition, every two years or so you should have the bottom pressure-washed, prepped, and repainted as needed. Most modern-day bottom paints can easily keep hard growth at bay for a couple of years without repainting. On older boats it is wise to check that everything hanging off the bottom of your boat has a use. Old inoperative thru-hull transducers and the like can add significant water drag, decrease speed, and increase fuel consumption.
5. Operate your boat in an efficient manner. Don’t be a throttle-jockey. These guys slam the throttle wide open every time they take off and keep it on the pin while they dance across the waves. This may sound fun but it surely is an expensive way to travel. More appropriate throttle usage would be to get the boat moving at a fast idle speed, then push the throttle to about three-quarter position to get on plane. Once you’re on the step and accelerating start bringing the throttle back immediately. Pick a cruising speed that is suitable for the conditions and stay at it by leaving the throttle set in that position. If the sea conditions are not a factor in your speed selection, use your boat’s most efficient planing speed. This is frequently around 75 percent of your top rpm.
Follow these simple tips and you’ll see a lot more fuel left in your tanks at the end of the day. That either means more money in your wallet, or an extra trip without visiting the pumps; both are good things.
We couldn’t soak baits long enough for grouper due to snapper. After boxing about 20 beeliners, we moved offshore another mile. Given the time constraint and no other spots close, I made the decision to anchor on it right off the bat. Logic being, it’ll either produce or it won’t, but with only about 40 minutes to fish, we might as well make the most of it seeing as there were no other options within range.
The larger of the two fish hit first (crashed a slow trolled live bait) and then a second rod went off fishing the same thing. I hopped on the smaller fish and boated it fairly quickly. We were then sitting on 6 fish. After a good fight (and a little bit of embarrassing rod-passing) we boated another real nice fish. This made 7 nice tunas and bonus fish number 2. We messed around for another 35 minutes or so and headed home.
Fish just eased counter clockwise and the big one stayed with him. I hollered to buddy 2 to come ahead and to starboard. He did, and the before you knew it within casting distance was my lazy fish with hook in mouth and the big one. Buddy on bow flipped his eel out, and the big one dove on it. Bam! We’re both hooked up. Somehow, lines got crossed a couple times but I was able to get them unwrapped once we both got down on deck. Finally! Two fish on.
Could’ve moved around to a few more spots to try and catch the rest of our Aj limit but out backs were already hurting and the big one was more than enough so decided to call it a early day. Only picture worth taking the camera out for was the Amberjack so that was the only picture taken all day.
Checked a spot about a mile off the beach and Megan managed to box her first fish on the new boat. She landed a few small fish that we tossed back and a couple of 28 inch amberjack that she swore must have weighed 100 pounds before she got them to the boat. The wind layed down beautifully around 10:30 and the gulf went slick. We moved further east and set up on a good sized wreck that had VERY cooperative snapper on it.
Once on the spot, it was on fire. Fish were big and biting well. As we had seven guys on the boat we had a fourteen boat limit. Got those with no problem. Also picked up two gags. One was the longest skinny guy your ever saw. After getting to the grounds, the ride was fine from there and it even laid down during the day for a very pleasant ride home.
We got a late start this morning didn’t leave til about 9. Found some cigars and pilchards then we were on our way, we headed 20 miles south east. Got to the spot and the bottom was lit up. Started catching small snappers on bottom and all of a sudden big snappers started coming over from our flat line rods. So I take my weight off and started pulling 10-15 pound snappers from 50 to 70 feet down. Left that spot with fish still biting. Second spot and we pulled up a few fish and decided to move to a third spot to try for some red grouper and finish our limit off. Got there and the fish finder screen lit up. No red grouper there, but there sure was some nice snappers. Even had two snapper follow my snapper up and the other guys started catching them on buck tails.
Total for the day: 22 snappers,3 or 4 kings, and had to watch 4 or 5 gags swim back to the bottom…
We were blessed Sat morning by great friends and a fun trip delivered by Seminole Wind Billy Archer. Dave was the guest of honor as we celebrated his 60th birthday. Dave you a one lucky man is all I have to say! Conditions were a bit tough with the winds and currents but we managed just fine even if we didn’t catch a fish it was a time etched into memories!
Got to fish Sunday Morning. Still a little windy and choppy right off the bat. Wife hooked this one within fifteen minutes of fishing and I had 3 of the same caliber follow mine right to the boat. I just could not get the transaction completed. So I got skunked by the wife again. Wind laid down some then the wife got cold, so back to the landing. Kind of glad to because once I got everything cleaned up the bottom dropped out. This one was 29 inches and around 9 pounds.
Dunked the boat around 7:30, light WNW wind and still cold. About an hour and a half, 6 rounds of heave-ho and 4 numb feet later we got our lines wet. Low water would be an understatement. The area we were headed to had No-water, I mean birds feet were dry. We had no choice but to fish short of our destination. To our great pleasure we started to spot some reds. Some singles, some groups, some tails and some schools. The fish were skiddish and seemed to have lock jaw. We changed tactics a few times and finally got em hooked up. We boated 2 bottom of the slot fish and broke off 2 nicer ones. All in all we saw somewhere between 50-60 fish by noon. We were pleased.
Pensacola bay has been on fire. I love this time of year. Big schools of monster red fish, fun and gun fishing. Fun times with over 30 fish to the boat on this trip. Flat worn out after a day of some serious battles[...]
I got bored so I decided to go fish the pass. I was planning on going out there to just mess with the blue fish, so all I had was two live baits and a bag full of artificials. As soon as I got out there I went towards the channel to see what I could pick up on those two live baits drifting and instantly hooked up to two reds [...]
As the sun rose, we began to load the bait well, but we lost two comrades. High expectations, but they found the beanbags more favorable than an awesome bite! After finishing up with about 100 baits, we headed offshore for some deep water fishing. We left them there a few weeks ago penned up and wanted to make sure there were no holes in the fencing! As we rolled up on the first stop, nothing but a smile rolled over my face [...]
Planned a trip down to PCB for this past weekend. The trip was planned over a month ago to take my new boss. He has fished backwater but has never been deep sea fishing. Day one we started out trolling but we were only able to troll up one small king. Decided to head west and fish some numbers that did very well last month. We managed lots of small red snapper, but managed to come home with a nice triggerfish, a porgy, and the one king. The next day I wanted to prospect some new hard bottom [...]
Well, the plan was to leave the dock around 1:00 p.m. so that we’d have enough daylight to hit a couple spots before anchoring up on a big area where I like to spend the night and catch black snapper, kings, tuna, wahoo and who knows, maybe even a billfish. On our last trip we left around 1:00 and stopped at one spot about 49nm from the pass as the sun set. In a matter of about 90 minutes we had 12 very nice gags and three or four red grouper in the boat [...]
Went out with some buddies, my son and one newbie to offshore fishing on Friday. Left the dock at 6:00 a.m. with one baitwell full of chofers and stopped by the bait barge and filled the other with cigar minnows. Headed on out the pass and it was smooth as glass, ran 40 m.p.h. the entire 52 miles [...]
My girlfriend caught this fish yesterday out of Panama City in about 110 feet of water. She baited her hook, cast the line and reeled the fish in all on her own, so she was pretty proud (as was I). The fish hit a live sardine flat lined about 50 feet behind the boat. Got kind of lucky because when I first saw color, about 50 feet down, I said “aw darn, it’s a jack” and put the gaff away [...]
It started with a clear radar for a change, and a crew that was pumped to go. First order of buisness – bait, and lots of it. Spent about hour catching it, great mix of rubies and some deep water choffers, then headed off to bounce around and see if we couldn’t get a repeat of last weekend. What a better way then to start then to try one on the way [...]
Although I’ve been following the forum and reading the posts for a few months now, I just registered and got a username a few days ago. So, this is my first post. Living in Tennessee, I only get to come down to fish 6 or 7 times a year. I fish with my buddy who lives in Opelika, AL. We go out of PC. We’ve been saltwater fishing for several years now and just get more and more into it every year. It’s really addictive. Until this year we’ve only fished public numbers of popular wrecks and reefs [...]
My 12 year old son, CJ, caught a 7-8 foot long sailfish this week during a family vacation to Seagrove Beach. The attached pic shows the fish. He and I were pulling a needlefish om 80# fluoro leader behind our kayaks about 3/4 mile offshore of Seagrove beach when the fish hit. After fighting it for about 20 minutes out of the kayak, we paddled back to the beach to land it [...]
Kind of a late report, but it’s darn sure a good one. I know the folks that bailed (including my dad) last minute wish they’d kept their spots on the boat. No big deal, though. We had a very competent crew and everybody fished hard, which I love to see! [...]
This is our annual trip with Capt. Leveral on the the Best Bet. It was an awesome day, we limited out in about two hours stopping at about four spots. Also a nice dual cobia hookup at one spot (my 14 year old son and 16 year old daughter had them hooked up at the same time on light spiining gear – a sight to see!). We also got a nice Wahoo on the way out [...]
After Tropical Storm Debbie was looking forward to getting back on the water. Had a group that wanted to go and do a little fishing. Seas were good and ran off the hill for a day of fishing. Everybody was looking forward to catching a few red snapper.Went to one area and spent the day and then finished off the trip and ran back to the hill in time to have dinner with my mom and dad [...]
So waited for the best opportunity to carry them out. Forecast for the day was 2 to 4 foot seas with 10 to 15 mph SE winds. Met up with everybody at the dock around 6:30 and headed out. Seas were a little better than anticipated but still a little bumpy. Got to the first spot made a few drops and picked up some fish. At that point seas began to build so decided to run back to the 25 mile mark and finished off the day. The young crew hung in tight with the bumpy seas and managed to have a good time.
Took a day off from work hoping the Gulf would cooperate. We fought solid 3-4′ seas all day. Couldn’t get out to the better spots until later in the day. Once were able to get to a good spot, the dolphins ran us off. We threw back several legal snapper hoping we could find bigger fish. We ended up with 5 snapper, 1 shy of our limit. Could have been much worse given the sea conditions.
Hit the water early and the boys were itching to catch a fish. Seas were tollerable but knew we would be sore buy the end of the day. Went out to an area that produced good numbers of fish last year but the fish didn’t want to cooperate. Fish marked well but just didn’t seem to be interested. Still caught a mess but had to work to get em’ [...]
Well, we did pretty good. The grouper gods were not as kind to us this past Saturday as they were a week ago. We fished the same area where we boated our 20 grouper in less than an hour, but we did not have as much luck. The bottom marked well, but the fish did not want chew…like at all. Full moon maybe? I don’t know [...]
Went ahead and made a sizable move offshore to the area that I thought would be holding red grouper. We didn’t mark a whole lot, but the trigger rigs produced quickly, and the machine came to life so we decided to get situated on that spot and soak some baits. Probably 45 minutes later we’d boated 14 addtional red gropuper, a pair of kings, probably ten schoolie+ sized dolphin (for in close of NW Florida), 4 or 5 more triggers and a beeliner or two.
Took a crew out from the hometown and boy did they have a good day. Made short work of 25 hardtails and 50 cigar minnows and headed out a midst the chop. Got to the first spot, 2 rods down, 2 jacks on this went on for about 30 minutes and we had a decent limit of jacks from 21 to 26 lbs. Headed over and beat up some hard bottom areas I haven’t fished in a while. Lots of short gags, reds and triggers [...]
About that time, a nice sized cow fin swims up to the boat by herself. She was smelling the chum but not eating it. I tossed her a chunck of fresh threadfin and she turned her nose. (probably the 60 lb leader) Then take out the light spinner with 17 flouro and a yellow bucktail. After several casts to get pissed she ate the jig and was on. Took a little doing to get her boatside with the light tackle, but was a very fun fight. She was about a 12 lb-er, very large for this area in close (90 feet) [...]
Came down for spring break with the wife and kids and was able to take the new rig out a few of they days we were there. Doubling my horsepower also doubled the fuel consumption. Ouchh, but thats not going to slow me down, yet!! We found Beeliners less than 8 miles from the beach the first day but they dissapeared that close in all the other days [...]
The turkeys have kicked my butt this year. Between the birds and trespassing 4 wheel riders on my lease, my post-deer season success has been null. Decided to forgo the last day of my quota hunt and try hunting for a Cobia along the beach. It was forecast to be flat calm, so I figured I might be able to rig something for height and not have to worry about the waves knocking me off. Saturday was spent building our ‘tower;’ A 6 foot fiberglass ladder zip tied to the deck of the boat. Deck space is very limited on our small 19 footer, but we made do.
Headed west out of PC with a crew. Made it a little past Grayton Beach with no fish insight. Turned around and made it just shy of Pier Parks Pier and spotted one right on the color change. Got turned on him and pitched an eel and he slammed it. Went 1-1 with a 45 pounder.
Yesterday morning – we get somewhat of a late start yesterday. At around 9:30 we pull away form the dock and we were headed to the marina for some live shrimp. Our plan was to sheepshead fish for a little while for some guaranteed dinner, and then go look for a cobia while casting to spanish and tossing them in a brine. Well, we get our shrimp and head to a spot on the rocks for some sheepies. As we’re trying to find a spot to anchor we watch a couple come over the rail and I figure that this won’t take long [...]
You can do a lot more with this lure than just cast and reel it.
Author Chris Christian holds up a bass caught on the Sebile Pro-Shad Finesse spinnerbait, with fish-shaped blades.
The plastic worm is the most versatile bass lure made. Right behind it is the safety-pin spinnerbait. But, many anglers don’t realize the spinnerbait’s versatility. They just tie it on, cast it out and reel it in.
There are a lot of ways to use spinnerbaits for bass, and a number of different retrieves that can make these lures more effective. Here are three retrieve methods that can increase your catch.
1 – Buzz & Drop: A simple retrieve for shallow water. Look for bass-holding targets along the retrieve line, such as pockets in vegetation (eelgrass, hydrilla, coontail, bonnets) or the outer edge of a grass line, or even stumps, lay down logs or dock posts.
Line up as many targets as you can, and retrieve the spinnerbait quickly and near the surface. That creates vibration, and sound waves travel faster in water than they do in the air. If a bass is holding on a target spot, it will know something is coming. When the lure reaches the target, stop the retrieve and let it flutter down on a slack line, before resuming the retrieve.
The bass knows something noisy is heading its way. It’s alert. When that flashing spinnerbait drops in front of its face, it reacts and a strike occurs. This will work with any spinnerbait.
2 – Skipping: Deadly when schools of young shad move into vegetation. Bass follow those little baits, but in heavy vegetation they have trouble zeroing in on an individual target. They are primed to strike quickly, and a key strike trigger is a shad skipping on the surface to avoid a bass that just attacked it.
This “shad in grass” situation is common during the April through June period on many Florida lakes. It most often occurs on vegetation points (eelgrass, hydrilla just below the surface, sometimes bulrush or scattered maidencane). It can occur on any lake that has shad.
The bass are geared to strike any shad “flipping” on the surface. A spinnerbait can mimic that well with the skipping technique.
Choose a ¼- or 3⁄8-ounce model with twin willow leaf blades (silver blades) and a white skirt. If your bait has a Colorado front/willow leaf rear, it’ll work as well. Single-spin lures are not a good choice. Add a white plastic trailer on the hook under the skirt. This provides a bit of buoyant lift to the bait and adds more of a shad profile.
Colorado blades paired with willow leaf combo.
Cast the bait and crank it near the surface to make a wake. Retrieve it quickly, and every couple of feet, twitch the rod upward to make the blades break the surface. That’s a perfect mimic of a shad skipping on the surface and when bass and shad meet in heavy cover, the bass love it.
3 – Slow Rolling: This retrieve is nothing more than putting an obnoxious lure in front of the fish, and at their level, by simply allowing the bait to sink to the bottom and then slowly retrieving it while maintaining contact with the bottom, or cover object.
It can be deadly when bass are holding tight to hard cover (logs, manmade structure) or on channel drops, ledges or on the bottom in short grass.
The ideal spinnerbait is a ½-ounce with No. 4 or 5 Colorado blades. They create a lot of “thump,” even at low retrieve speeds, and the bass know it’s there. There is no real need for a trailer on the bait. Dark skirts (black/brown) are good, although an orange/chartreuse skirt works well.
The key is to get the bait in contact with the cover, retrieve it slowly, and let the big blades attract bass with the lure right in their face. FS
First Published Florida Sportsman March 2012
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Seeing some mullet getting spooked near a sand patch, I made a cast, twitched it twice and I was on, but it wasn’t a little trout. The drag starts singing and I’m thinking red, but then the fish breaks the surface with those big unmistakable headshakes I’m so accustomed to seeing over in my hometown of Stuart, huge snook!
Only got one bite but only fished for about 30 minutes. But, it was a nice 24 inch gag. Caught on a magnum bomber gold and black trolled on a number 3 planer at about 3.1 mph going against the incoming tide.
Tarpon fishing has been excellent in the bay. But, they are not showing themselves very well. On the 4th we went 3 for 4 before noon. The only fish we saw were the ones we jumped, not a single fish rolled.
Our first thought was that it was a shark but as the fight began we quickly realized that it was a rather large cobia. My dad quickly manned the trolling motor and the chase was on. My friend scrambled to get our gaff and readied himself incase we were able to get the fish close enough to the boat. We chased the fish for 15 minutes, and after a failed first attempt to gaff the fish, we managed to get it boat side, gaffed and in the boat.
Targeted linesiders around Three-Rooker and Anclote last Wednesday evening. Caught and released four snook to 35 inches, plus a bonus 23 inch trout. All fish were caught during the first part of the outgoing tide on palm sized pinfish and grunts.
I suddenly hooked up with a 25 and a 1/2 inch red. After we released it my fried hooks up with another monster snook we got it within 10 yards of the boat and it came off. Suddenly I hook up with a huge snook It jumped a few and was gone, finally I ended up getting a 39 inch snook.
First run was a 3 foot blacktip. 5 or 6 missed fish later , we had a big one, but turned out to be a 6 foot nurse. More missets and hook pulls, then boom the 12/0 gets nailed, hook set good! About a half hour into the hour long battle, we assume we have either a jewfish or small shark wrapped in a crab trap. Wrong , big bull, 105 inch fat boy.
We showed up at our spot, water was high and getting ready to drop. The wind and rain started to pick up but we decided to fish through the weather. First cast through out a live bait not 2 minutes later I got smashed and my Friend hooked up with a 30 inch redfish. After a photo release we kept fishing, we caught multiple large jacks and lady fish.
Reeling along slowly and as soon as the lure cleared the dock, it got blasted. Set the hook and my drag begins screaming. Rather than take me right back under the dock and break me off, the fish heads for deeper water at high speed. Rookie mistake by a big fish. The fish comes up tail-walking away from me. It is a beast!
Red fishing has been excellent over the past few weeks and should remain steady for the next few months. Most of the fish we have been catching have been top slot fish, with many fish over slot. Double and triple hook ups have been pretty common on most trips and we have been averaging 12 to 20 fish on a four hour trip with many in the 28-34 inch range.
This is just a quick synopsis with the highlights. We fished from around 1pm to dark. First we caught a couple of keeper trout. Around 1:30pm, my lure got crushed on a wind blown bank. Up comes a very nice snook. After a great fight with another jump or two, we got her in the boat. She measured 33 inches.
The redfish bite has been extremely good especially fishing the high water around the new and full moon. Look for the fish to be schooled up on the flats on the higher part of the tides. Live bait has been productive, but fresh dead bait never fails, cut ladyfish, pinfish, threadfin and just about any fresh dead bait will do the trick.
I saw something that looked like a massive sheepie sitting under a mangrove, so I landed my fly on its head and it ended up being about 5 medium to nice sized ones. They all swarmed my fly and I hooked up after one strip. We had to head out shortly after, but I am very curious if my method would have tricked one of those permit. I did see one school of three permit cruising along the mangroves averaging about 10 pounds, but I was being a fool and didn’t get a chance to throw to them.
As the day moves on, I receive another hard hit and suspect a good mid-size red fish. It pulls drag and avoids my yak like the plague. I finally wear her out and see another gator trout, this time I do not miss with the net and capture this happy moment on my GoPro.
We got into some ladyfish and jacks on the outer sandbar, then we made our way in and started getting trout on the flats. After putting a few nice trout in the box for dinner, we made our way back inside and managed one 25 inch redfish along the mangroves, he ate a penny gulp shrimp.
Bowfishing is not something you hear about often around here, but is a ton of fun. It’s like hunting, but you get a lot of shots. At the same time, it’s like spearfishing but you don’t have to get wet. I would like to get more people interested in it around these parts. Legally, anything you can spearfish you can bowfish.
sheepshead-docks, rock piles and bridges, also on the flats in deeper holes-use barnacles, shrimp, fiddlers or tube worms
black drum-same as above but add in cut blue crab to the bait list. the big ones are still a month or so away.
trout , reds, flounder- shrimp or cut baits will work but I prefer a super slow fished soft plastic jig or plug- Logic Lures are working well as are the Unfair Lures rip n slash. Hit the same areas for all three, deeper flats, potholes, channels, docks , and seawalls.
Fished a water depth under 30 inches all day. The majority of my fish were caught on a Sebile Innovative Fishing Stick Shad using FINS fishing Windtamer 10 pound braid, Seaguar Fluorocarbon 20 pound leader and a Shimano Stratic 3000FJ. Total fish count included Redfish up to 29 inches and Trout to 25 inches.
This fish was pretty strong and ran towards the mangroves first, but inexplicably back out into open water. She had me if she got in the roots. Came up thrashing and it was a pretty good red. Came back to and dove under the boat. Got momentarily wrapped around the motor, a couple of more runs and slipped her into the net at 3:50pm. She had absolutely choked the lure and I had to use pliers it was so deep in her mouth. She measured 25 and a half inches.
This fish was pretty strong and ran towards the mangroves first, but inexplicably back out into open water. She had me if she got in the roots. Came up thrashing and it was a pretty good red. Came back to and dove under the boat. Got momentarily wrapped around the motor, a couple of more runs and slipped her into the net at 3:50pm. She had absolutely choked the lure and I had to use pliers it was so deep in her mouth. She measured 25 and a half inches.
Then Ron hooked into something that pulled quite a bit of drag. We had seen a few rays swimming around the boat and I figured he had hooked into one of them. Turned out to be a permit! That was pretty cool to see, and I thought we were kind of lucky to land it with 10 pound mono & no leader. A couple minutes later his line goes off again, and it’s another permit! After that everyone started to copy what he was doing and we ended up catching a total of 5 permit over the span of 45 minutes.
I fished my usual spots and began catching a lot of small trout and jacks but no slot fish. I moved on and followed my usual recipe for success, hit the ladyfish waypoint for cut bait and yak on over to the redfish honey hole. Not long after tossing out the cut ladyfish I hookup with a nice red.
I fished my usual spots and began catching a lot of small trout and jacks but no slot fish. I moved on and followed my usual recipe for success, hit the ladyfish waypoint for cut bait and yak on over to the redfish honey hole. Not long after tossing out the cut ladyfish I hookup with a nice red.
Cast out into about a foot of water with the electric chicken. Reeling in pretty quickly and my lure got destroyed. Set the hook and the fish came up and tried to shake it. Thought for sure it was a trout, but then I felt the power. It was a nice red that put up a great fight. Finally got her in the boat and she measured 25 1/2 inches.
These fish were pretty fired up, but you had to be super stealthy in order to get close enough for a cast.
With any clink, clunk, step up or down on the boat and they would push away outside of casting range.
If you could get a cast far enough outside of them they would eat, but if you threw into the middle they were off to the races. Lots of patients was the key and we were rewarded with several fish.
We worked it a bit longer, but had no more luck there. We decided to run up to Miguel Bay. Lots of bird activity and baitfish near the mouth. Still working topwater and I hooked a 15 inch trout on the spook at 8:45am. We went inside, but tide was very low and had no luck. Back out to the mouth and we began to drift south along the shoreline. A small 12 1/2 inch trout for me at 9:45am. Pretty good sand and grass mix out there and the water was 2-3 feet deep. About this time Phi hooked into what appeared to be a good red on a topwater lure, but she got off. Another trout just over 15 inches for me at 9:53am. Five minutes later a trout just over 13 inch for me. Caught a trout just over 13 inch on the 3 inch shadflash at 10:25am
Launched out of CRB today at 7:45am. The wind was blowing at least 15mph out of the west. Plans were to go south towards Port Manatee and try my luck. Got down near Piney Point. The wind and floating grass were brutal. Went inside for a bit and picked up at snook just shy of 17 inches on the spook jr in bone at 8:37am. Came back out and went south.
Was struggling with the grass almost every cast. Was just about to go and managed to catch a 20 3/4-inch red on the 3-inch mullet in rootbeer at 9:34am. Worked south a bit longer, but no more strikes. It was so bad I contemplated going across the road and putting in the river to get a break from the wind and grass. Decided to keep trying. Went up in Big Pass. Water was really low now. Picked up a 14-inch trout on the spook at 11:49pm. Clouds rolled in and it began to rain. Picked up an 18-inch snook on the spook on a point inside Big Pass at 12:42pm.
Launched with Phil in UTB at 6:45am today. We headed over to a nearby oyster bar and Phil immediately hooked and landed an 18-inch red on the Spook Jr. in bone. No more strikes in this area so we went down to a nearby point. Phil’s spook got destroyed at 8am. After a tremendous fight I slipped an over slot red of 27 3/4 inches into the net.
We moved around the point into this shallow bay. It was alive with activity. Mullet were jumping everywhere and lots of bait fish were moving. Six minutes later Phil caught a small jack on the spook. I finally got on the board at 8:20am with a 20 1/2″ red on a skitterwalk that I sanded and re-painted gold. Phil got a 20 1/2-inch red on the spook just 3 minutes later. I picked up a 19-inch red at 9:05 am on the gold sw. At 9:26am I caught a 19 1/2-inch red on the sw.
Met up with a couple of buddies I hadn’t fished with in a while and decided to pick on some different fish. My buddy hooked a big trout on his first cast, went around 25 inches, then we worked our way around some flats. After getting some short trout and some 20-21 inch reds, we eased into an area I normally hit the big reds. They were home…but being picky! There was a decent size school, probably over 40-50 overslot or very upper slot, but just wouldn’t eat top water or jigs. I told my buddy if we switched it up to some bait we would get them.
Fished off the beach in my kayak today. The day started off pretty bad with really high seas, wind, and catfish on every drop with my sabiki. I managed to get a few greenbacks but I wasn’t getting anything on them and I went through like 4 sabikis because the catfish would get all tangled in them. Finally I got a good sized grunt and put it under a cork. A few minutes later, I see a tarpon airborne with my bait. Took me about 40 min to pull the fish in and it was a relatively small one – probably around 80 to 100 pounds? I’m not too sure about the weight but it was between 5 and 6 feet long. It went around my anchor line and my sabiki during the fight, I have no idea how I got untangled and landed it. Awesome fight and released safely.The best part was I got the whole thing on video…
We hit the south side of the 75 bridge first. I lost a small snook on 4 inch shadflash. There were tarpon rolling under the bridge, but couldn’t connect. Jeff hooked and landed a small snook. We went further up river and found a shade line in a little bay on the north side of the river. Jeff had a couple of good pops on the big spook in bone, but didn’t hook up. I lost a small snook on the spook jr.
We worked a long mangrove line near Redfish Point but had no luck
Went to my north side docks that have produced in the past. First cast under the last dock and I caught a small snook on the 4″ sf. We kept working docks and Jeff landed a small snook also on a paddle tail. Proceeded on down and we were probing under a dock thoroughly. Nothing. Made one more cast to the T of the dock and it got crushed. Set the hook on a good fish that went ballistic. She went out and then back for the dock. Kept her away and she made a great jump. Circled the boat and Jeff got her in the net. She measured 28.5 inches.
Pretty good day on the water fishing the hill tide at Anclote. We caught two redfish, 23.5 inches and 32 inches. My buddy Mike caught the bigger fish on cut ladyfish and I caught the slot fish on a live pilchard. FYI, the small black tips are thick, so you have to sift through them to get the reds and snook.
Launched out of Domino on the LMR today around 11:15am. Headed to the flat off LCRB. Still nothing happening there so I went back into LCRB. Fished back in there for the next 5+ hours. Worked mangrove islands, potholes and oyster bars. I did pretty well. All fish were caught on the 3 inch mullet in shadflash or the spook jr. in bone[...]
Finally got out of LCRB and went to the “guide” bank for some snook. Too windy and water was low. Went around the corner towards the back entrance to LCRB. Paralleling the mangroves with the spook in maybe 2-3′ of water. Getting near the entrance and my spook got crushed. The fish took off towards the mangroves and then came right back out. This fish had some power and was really putting me to the test. It was a good snook. She went under the boat and back out deep. After a great fight, I finally slipped her in the net at 6:50pm. She measured 30 1/4 inches and was extremely fat and healthy.
Yesterday, I went out to one of my trout/redfish spots and started throwing a spook jr since it was so cloudy. I caught several lower slot reds and some trout between 18 – 22 inches. It was low tide and when it started coming in, I was getting huge blow ups on topwater, seeing redfish starting to tail, and then some idiot in a inflatable boat ran his outboard right through the shallow flat I was fishing. I was pissed but I sucked it up and went to a steep drop off and started throwing 1/16th ounce jighead with a zman 5 inch shad tail. I twitched once and got slammed by something big. I was using a med/light rod and 3000 reel with 10 pound braid and 20 pound leader and almost went to the backing. After a nice fight, I pulled in this 36″ snook.
Todays charter landed two 39 inch snook and one 37 inch snook and lost another along the side of the boat. We have been catching them on the incoming tide along deep depressions and on points with rocks using white bait 4-6 inches in size. They have been feeding about an hour after the tide gets moving up to about 2 hours before high tide then they are cruising the mangroves and seem to settle in to looking at the baits. The trout have been around as well but they are in the lower limit of the slot with an occassional upper slot one thrown in. Get out and bend a rod as the cobia, mackerel are around to give you a great day on the water.
Planned on taking the kayaks out to a protected flat in St.Pete to hide from the wind. The overcast made it a perfect opportunity for a top-water day. RawDaws (Brian) and myself both started off with skitterwalks. We started out hitting some average/smaller trout and then I finally got a big blow up. After a nice fight landed my personal best top-water trout that measured right at 27″.
Went on to work around the mangroves – had a couple followers that pushed some very large wakes but all hit and misses…I believe they were reds but for some reason, they were having trouble connecting with the top-water…tried slowing it down, stopping , changing retrieve but no luck w red on top-water.
Got back to a nice cove and switched to a 1/16thoz jighead w/ a white zmann jerk shad. Second cast and I connected with a pretty overslot red. It put up a great fight with a couple impressive runs. Ended up right around 31″
Inspired by Cody’s recent beatdown that he put on the redfish over at Desoto, I decided to see if I could catch a few reds too. Fifty-three miles, $4.50 in tolls, $6 for ramp fee and an 1/8 of a tank of gas later, I made it to the launch. I put in at 12:30pm and headed over to Sawyer Key. I trolled over a pothole and at least 20 trout scattered. What I ended up doing during the day was circling Sawyer Key twice with a trek just north of there also. I mostly fished 1-5 feet in depth and focused on sandy areas with a decent grass mix whenever possible. I did work docks close by but had no luck on them. Water temp was 69-74 degrees. The weather was great and mullet were everywhere. This place was alive with activity[...]
Launched out of Wildcat Park today around 12:30pm. Water temp was 67-69 degrees and the wind was howling. Headed down to the big dock on the southside. Skipped under it with the 4 inch RT Mullet in smoke/gold halo. Got a strike on the first cast. It was a 14 1/4 inch rat red caught at 12:38pm. Went to the next dock but no strikes.
Down to the 75 bridge. Worked the pilings on the north side but no luck. Over to the south side. Worked one side and no strikes. Over to the other and threw out the same lure to parallel the pilings. Near the end of the cast and got a nice strike. Set the hook and a good snook broke the surface. Got her away from the pilings and she put up a great fight. Got her in the boat at 1:15pm. She measured 25 1/4 inches. Thought about taking a pic but too much of a hassle with the wind. It was brutal.
We drowned a handfull of already dead cut pins for about 10 minutess before the first rod went down. I was suprised to see 20 inch class Trout on the end instead of a Red. I’ve caught em on cut bait before I just wasn’t expecting it today. Suddenly it became a day of Trout fishing. Every few minutes a bait would get picked up and trout after trout came aboard. Decided it was time to get the girlfriend involved and had her grab the next rod to go down. It did and she did. A couple minutes later she had her first fish. It was a rather healthy 23″ Momma Gator; not a bad way to get into fishing I’d say[...]
Despite a little wind we had to get out and fish and break in the new boat. We loaded up on some shrimp and hit some spots for sheepshead. This time of year I love to target sheepshead and what a great battle they are on light tackle. Make sure you get plenty of shrimp, today two of us went through 15 dozen shrimp and ran out with fish eating. We started out on the incoming tide and work a line of docks. I like to get in the tower and just crews the docks spotting the fish and then just head back at the beging and target the docks with fish. We had pretty good luck and had a dozen nice fish in about a hour.
Jeremy came down for a day of fishing for some gators and maybe reds. After a very late start, we arrive to have the area all to ourselves- a rarity. I hook up with something that was fighting unlike anything I’ve ever hooked before. I then see why. It’s no fish but a little sea turtle. A few quick pics and a unhook and back he goes. We proceeded to tear into trout between 21-25 inches for about 2 hours. I lost a fish that might have been the biggest trout I’ve ever had. It was a monster.
With the warm weather we might have been able to get bait somewhere closer but I would rather head to the Skyway where I know I can get it 100%. After anchoring and getting set up just a couple tosses of the net and my 30 Gal well was full. We decided to hit Piney Point on the way back up to Cockroach. We fished there for about 30 minutes but there was no signs of bait, fish, mullet, or any life at all so we decided to head more North and hit the Cockroach flats. The tide was – 0.6 so there was hardly any water on the flats. Josh didn’t want to push his boat so he waded the outside bar while I pushed my boat through the real skinny parts and over the bar. I was looking for potholes and wakes. I saw some movement about 100 yards away and quietly headed that way. When I got within casting distance I anchored and threw out 2 bats of chummers. The were getting chased and I knew it was game on. I had a bait out for about 30 seconds and my drag starts to scream[...]”
First stop was a small cut near the mouth I did pretty well on last week and got set up. Cranked a couple baits of chummers and they were getting popped. First bait in the water gets hit within 15 seconds, a snook around the 18 inch range. As I release him Dave hooks up on an 18 inch red. Within 2 minutes of fishing we are 2/3 the way of a boat slam. All the fish caught today were in the 16-24 inch range. I think we need some cold weather to push more of the bigger ones back in the river. We caught 6 or so fish (reds and snook) at the first spot and decided to push up river. We anchored up on the second spot and started chumming. I get a snook on the first bait[...]”
“Got on the water around 7 launching out of Gandy with a buddy. Loaded up pretty good on bait- some fat snook size whitebait, tons of little threads, and a couple dozen pins. Made a stop just north of the Howard Frankland and got a 23″ snook, a couple keeper size trout, and a rat red.
Looking for some more consistent action we moved to UTB, weaved our way through a maze of boats fishing the same area as we scouted for fish. Throwing some chummers as we went, we pulled on to an area where I started to see some fish. Next 2 hours were pretty steady- with the first 30-45 mins being non stop. Between the two of us we got 4 snook 30″ or better, a bunch in the low 20′s, and 10 or so rat reds. [...]”
“Mike busted up like 4 fat fish all within 20 mins or so. I caught a few myself with one being a real stud that came home for some blackened redfish. All fish were beautiful slot fish 24-26 except Mike getting one at 27 1/2. With a few 24′s in the mix as well. Only caught 1 rat which was nice! Plus all fish are fighting at least twice as hard now that the water temp has dropped. I love cold weather redfish! [...]”
Took Mike out on the skiff today hoping to get on some afternoon reds during the low tide. Well the sun wasn’t cooperating so no sight fishing. We picked up a few reds right off the bat, then we made a big move. At the next spot it was kinda slow, spotted a huge black drum just roaming around the flats but he wasn’t eating. Caught a few trout and snook along with a little red and made another move across the bay [...]
Being that I am known as a gator trout specialist, I’d like to throw some reds up for your viewing pleasure. Two came on the spook Jr. Clown, pinfish color, and one on the DOA paddle tail, bream color. Leader was 20 pound flour with 10 pound braid main line. It was Capt. Chris Hanna, his girlfriend Christina, and myself [...]
The weather looked ok for Thursday so I planned on throwing some artificials under the John’s Pass bridge and then hit a near shore reef to look for some snaps. The water was really dirty so the bridge didnt look so promising but I tried anyhow.Second cast using a 5-inch swimbait a tarpon eats it and makes some decent runs then a couple jumps and then he throws the hook next to the boat [...]
From the end of July up until last week I had good action (didn’t get skunked) each time I waded out from the beach at Pass-A-Grille. Go early, first light til about 10:30 a.m., or in the evening 7:30 p.m through sunset. Netted some greenies then chummed the outer sandbar in about waist deep water and hold on tight; trout, reds, snook, mackerel, blacktips, and of course the ladyfish [...]
We left out of Simmons Park looking to fish some reefs for grouper and snapper. We loaded up on threadfins that we used for cut bait and found a few mangos and macks, and a LOT of sharks. The gags did not want to play. We tried moving to some nearby wrecks but there were already boats anchored on them [...]
Got a call from a friend that wanted to give inshore fishing a shot. I told him I had a full boat but if he wanted to bring his we could hit the flats together. We loaded up with shrimp at Southshore Bait and Tackle. The shrimp were pitifully small ( 2″ was a big one ). We launched at CRB at 5:15 A.M. [...]
Launched out of CRB at 6:15 a.m. yesterday with Dave (stormy). I had not done much fishing south of CRB so that was the plan. The noseeums are vicious at the ramp in the AM and then the mosquitos joined in at dark so have your repellent handy. We went out to the farthest mangrove point on the left and headed south along the shoreline. I started with the Spook Jr. in bone of course and Dave with the DOA chugger. It was overcast/cloudy and the sun only came out for a bit during the entire day. Conditions were ideal for a topwater bite [...]
Decided to head back down to the Peace River yesterday with Dave (stormy). Launched out of Harbour Heights ramp at 6:20 a.m. I started off with the Spook Jr. in bone and Dave was throwing a DOA with a chugger head attached. We proceed over to the grassy points near the ramp, but no luck. Down to the little mangrove island at the mouth of Whidden Bay. Gave Dave first shot at the point of this island and he put it right on the money [...]
The redfish action continues to be strong with slot to oversized fish being caught around the Tampa Bay area. They are being caught on everything from top water lures, jigs, spoons, live bait and cut bait. If you can get upwind from them and drift in and set up this will leave them comfortable and willing to feed. With the wind at your back you will be able to make longer casts so that you can stay further away from the fish and catch more of them [...]
Launched out of Bishop’s Harbor with Dave (stormy) at 6:45am on Saturday. I had been there before with Hondo and Secret Spot and thought I would give it a try with Dave. The water temp was right at 80 degrees. The tide was incoming for a few hours, then kind of flat with a strong outgoing later. We eased out towards the mouth and the mullet were everywhere. We came up on a point with mullet jumping all around it. On my second cast with the Spook Jr in bone, my lure got crushed [...]
My buddy josh and I launched at Cockroach Bay at 5:15 A.M. We didn’t want to mess around looking for bait and it was still dark so we decided to run to the Skyway. We loaded both wells with whitebait and took off. We eased off the throttle as we hit the no wake zone as the sun was coming up. We anchor up along the mangroves and sling out some chummers [...]
Launched at Harbour Heights boat ramp at 6:30am yesterday with Dave (stormy). We were going to target boat docks again to see if we could duplicate our efforts from our last trip there. The fog was as thick as pea soup on the river. We went over to work the grassy area and island adjacent to the ramp. The water temp was 80 degrees and the tide was outgoing.
Few pics from the other night. Basically how the last month has been. Snook bite has been solid day or night, and talk about quality fish this year. Bull reds hit or miss, tide and moon dependant. Few studs the other night but wasnt an all out blitz. As far as snook we still have a few good groups inside, but most have made their way out to the beaches and are chewing rather well on the right tides. Grunts, pins, cut lady, greenies and a few select other baits have been hard to beat. Should only get better over the next month.
Dave (Stormy) was going through snook withdrawal so I thought I might be able to put him on some snook if we took a bit of a drive. We headed down to the Peace River to work some docks. We launched at Harbour Heights boat ramp around 7am. The water temp was about 80 degrees with a high of 85 in areas. It was to be a slow incoming tide all day. We worked the mouth of Whidden Bay and the nearby island with no luck. We headed down river to a cut into the Shell Creek area [...]
Spent a week down near IRB for my daughters wedding and a little RR with some beach fishing to boot. Kinda’ slow on the beach, only saw a handful of snook and a little bait was cruising around. We ended up fishing some causeways, inlets and beaches. Caught sharks, ladyfish, trout, snook and jacks as well as the usual beach-time residents. Thanks to the guys at DogFish for telling me where the trout and snook were hiding.
After a long week of testing at school all I wanted to do was get outside and on the water. Came home around 2:30pm, called up a fishing buddy, and were off. It was the end of the outgoing tide and middle of the afternoon…. not too great for fishing but we have a spot for that type of situation. Nearly dry flat with a sandbar and drop-off near a main channel [...]
Yesterday me and my dad hit the bay early, and the wind was blowing hard out of the North. Water temp around Gandy was a little above 74, and we had the 2 tide day with a tide slowly coming in all day. I had 4 blue crabs so we hit the Gandy Bridge first thing. It was pretty dang rough under that bridge with the wind and the smoke coming from up North made it more of a crazy morning. My dad made the first cast and was hooked up within seconds and the fight was on. After a a nice fight the big Black Drum was in the boat [...]
Hit the kings about 5 to 7 miles off, early in the morning got hits on blue runners and greenies. A lot of Spanish Mackerel floated one out for bait on a balloon but no takers. Wind picked up and then headed in back to the flats to hook into some reds. Caught some great size reds. Overall great day.
Hit the bay early today around 6:30 a.m. and I was on my way to my first spot. Paddled out to a mudflat near some spoil islands and started throwing a topwater, first cast I get a huge blowup but whatever it was missed. After that all I was doing was atrracting a bunch of pesky ladyfish…those things seem to be everywhere. I moved out more to a grass bed in some deep water and started to drift, again the ladyfish are bashing my lure every cast but when it did make it to the bottom I hooked up with a nice trout, nothing big just 15-16 inch fish [...]
My buddy and I hit the skyway early to load up on bait this am. Bait was everywhere, and there were tarpon under just about every light lurking around. First we waded docks in the river and scored a few trout 18-24 and I got a flounder around 15 ish. We picked a few snooklets up then we relocated to Palma Sola where we each scored a decent redfish. I also picked up my personal best trout that went 29 inches [...]
Today was another amazing day on Tampa Bay. Bait is really thick now, just about all the flats I checked today are loaded. After loading up on White Bait my son and I hit a couple spots just south of Gandy and we had a awesome bite. The Trout bite was sick, all fish were were just fat pigs in the 18″ to a nice 23″ Gator that my son “HRM” caught. We both hit a couple nice reds and we just need a couple snook for the slam [...]
Got up early Friday morning to drive to the Peace River. Got to the Harbour Heights Boat Ramp around 7am, which was just over 90 miles from the house. This ramp was very easy to find and within a couple of miles of I-75. Great ramp for small to mid-size boats. Normally you pay per hour for parking there at $.75 per hour. The machine wasn’t working and had a plastic bag around it so didn’t have to pay. Sweet! [...]
Today we went out for a few hours. Bait is so thick and easy right now, I love White Bait! We nailed some nice over slot Reds pushing the 29″ mark, and a couple Snook ate. Not bad for a afternoon trip [...]
Now that bait is showing up we hit a couple spots for snook and nailed a couple nice fish on Tampa Bay. Thats my grandad , my dad, and my son. I nailed a nice fat pig and she put up a great fight. It was great having 4 generations on the boat. I love white bait!
I went out and found the oldest sailboat I could find this morning covered in barnacles, tossed some crabs at em and they were hungry. Didnt get weights on em but yeilded some nice fillets. Once again free lined oyster crabs did the trick.[...]
Somebody pinch me! My calendar says its mid winter but it feels more like spring! Temperatures in the low 80’s with barely any wind is making for true Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce weather. With afternoon water temperatures at 67 degrees on lower Tampa Bay the flats continue alive with action. My clients today Garry aka Larry and his wife Rosalyn from Alabama were treated to some amazing sights [...]
>Recent fishing reports from “No Motor Zone” anglers from all regions around the state.
Big King off Boynton
Florida Sportsman member: 1OzLead
Early on we trolled to 180 feet and found some scattered weeds and stuff was going on here and there. After some drops we decided to move to 220 feet and Gio calls out fish on! Some time later Gio calls a king and we get together to gaff it and bring the catch in my bag.
My top water plug was getting crushed just about every throw. Best fish of the day was a 39 inch snook. Caught lots of snook and trout and one redfish to complete the inshore slam. The biggest trout was 25 inches. Released everything except the big trout.
So I send the bait out while thinking how pissed I’m going to be when I lose another fish, I was in that mood. Well before I know it, a sail is cat walking right at me and I see my line slack, Fish on!
Anyways, found a nice north stream between 250 to 300 feet, and began jigging between those depths only. I couldn’t capture on film the first couple minutes of the long run. I was busy just trying to keep my focus on having a good hookset. I thought I lost the fish, as he began to swim toward me. That’s where the short video clip begins
I decided to start taking length and girth measurements of my tarpon so I could better calibrate my eye when judging weights of fish. I haven’t measured a fish in so long, I wasn’t sure if I was accurately judging weights.
My lure gets inhaled, I set the hook, and a 50 pound tarpon erupts. It’s not even light out yet, welcome to Flamingo! After the initial jump it stays in the water and ends up just dragging me along the shoreline towing me like I’m not even there. After getting drug back a half mile the way I came I put too much pressure on my 20 pound braid and broke him off.
Next it was my turn. As I sat and watched I noticed a small pod of tarpon feeding on some bait up against the mangrove shoreline. I through my Riptide Flats Chub past the pod and started to quickly retrieve it. I was immediately rewarded with an aerial display of another juvenile tarpon.
I quickly threw the goggle eye back in the bucket and began fighting. After about 10 minutes with several gaff misses, I quickly realized that it’s time for a longer gaff. I finally got it which ended up being a nice 42 inch king, my personal best.
We head to deeper water and continue jigging and drifting. I hook up to something big until it breaks my 30 pound test line. Seconds later my gog gets smoked in 180 feet. Nice blackfin in the boat after a short fight.
I casted my line out and let it sit for a second while I took a sip of my beverage and BOOM not even 5 minutes I was hooked up to the biggest fish I’ve caught to date unknowingly. The drag was screaming like no other. I set it as tight and possible without there being too much tension for my line to break.
A large shark (likely) did wind up eating a ladyfish half Drew was drifting, he started getting towed but as he added some pressure it broke off. At around 10:30 we decided to head over to the bridge. I caught a nice 6 pound flounder (my biggest) right away but then besides ladyfish and jacks that was really it for a long while.
Finally got my new Predator wet off the beach for a little tarpon fishing. I’ve been watching guys get dragged around for years and finally got my chance. I had a bunch of shots throughout the morning and finally got one to eat a whitebait around 9:30. It was quite a ride.
then got into a few schools that were interested, caught 6 reds up to 32 inches on Gulp!, jerk baits, and live mullet. Also saw several tarpon and hooked up to at least 8 or 9 times with no success but then i finally landed one! Also caught a few trout to complete a not so common slam for me.
We head out straight east and deploy our gogs at 80 feet. We make it to 250-ish and I hear my drag pull a little. I look at it again and it pulls a little more. Just as I’m about to pick it up I see a monster sailfish leap 30 yards away and my drag goes off. 30 to40 minutes later I have a huge sail in my lap.
Had a great time with a getaway to the Emerald Coast for opening of Snapper Season. First day went 4 for 4 on snapper (kept 2) and 1 for 1 on kings. Really surprised we didn’t get into more kings that day. Second day caught a short gag, 2 short red snapper, 1 vermilion snapper, and a king.
I spent the night at my buddy Stan’s place Sunday night. Woke up early to fish the Indian River at Hutchinson Island with Stan and his girlfriend Tammy. Conditions were good with winds out of the East from 5 to 15 knots and a wind ripple in the water. Caught my biggest trout to date-27 3/4 inches long and a fat 6 pounds.
I pull up my park n pole and prepare for the sleigh ride! 5 minutes go by with this fish tearing off 20 pound braid and dragging my loaded down pro angler no problem, I gain a little bit of line and finally get a glimpse of the fish as it breaks the surface in the distance. Those red scales shimmering in the sun gave it away and I immediately knew this was a solid bull red! Needless to say at this point I am grinning ear to ear as this is why we came here.
Managed to land a small snook and a 24 inch keeper red before having to take cover from the lightning for a couple of hours. After the storms faded, high tide approached and I began working the mangroves with the live target scaled sardine.
Trolled for a little over an hour and had the pleasant surprise of having a 10 foot hammerhead circle my kayak a couple times before he decided to destroy my flat line and take me for a sleigh ride for a few minutes. Thankfully the line snapped before he spooled me. Peddled out to 150 feet where I saw some weeds, was there no longer than 2 minutes and my last blue runner gets inhaled by a big dolly.
Forum member and contributing writer palmbeachpete shared his recent trip to the Bahamas while fishing in the extreme kayak and paddle board tournament. A lot of nice fish caught and looked to be a great time had by all!
As soon as we reached our first spot, we both hooked up to bonitos right away. Not what we wanted, but still an ice breaker on the jigs. After getting in our workout on those bonitos, Jason landed a small AJ for the smoker and an African Pompano. No BFT’s in these shallower waters. We averaged 225 feet or less depth throughout the day.
Headed north for the first time ever in the yak. Did a Boynton to WPB drift with Eric and the bite was good all day. I got 3 dolphin, he got 2 and they were decent size! Eric also snagged an AJ and jumped a sail a few times. Awesome day on the water and glad to get back out on the yak and get some fish.
Got another runner, then a few drops later I felt something a little larger. Got it about 60 feet off the bottom and it suddenly realized it was hooked, and drag started peeling out straight down. Finally pulled up a 28 pound amberjack after about 15 minutes. I went back to the rest of the group and took them back to the Tenneco, and I got a 22 inch mutton and what looks like a charcoal variant of a blue runner.
While Rob spent most of the day trying to effectively deploy a fly for a Snakehead to eat, I had many opportunities to seal the deal and uncharacteristically missed more hook sets than I’m proud to admit, not sure what it was today. All in all, managed to land a solid 28 inch 5 to 6 pound Snake, another medium one around 2.5 pound and a baby which was released.
Assumed that this was my tournament hopes down the drain, and made my way back to the truck, but after a 17 mile round trip and 6 hours of fishing time, my little dink trout proved enough to secure the victory! Brought it home despite the stiff competition of 175 other competitors, with a good number of them in skiffs. Proof positive you can go out and be successful with just the bare minimum!
After getting beat up on the wreck I headed out to see if the tuna bite would be on as it got later in the day and as soon as I got to 240 feet they were jumping everywhere. landed 5 out of 6 in 20 minutes CASTING the same 60 glow jig and ripping it on the surface. The last tuna I jigged up in 300 feet. A fun and action filled afternoon!
High tide peaked at 6:00PM so I placed my yak into one of the passes and waited for the big drain to start. At 6:01PM one of my trolling rods with a clear gold speckled DOA shrimp gets hit hard and after a decent fight I pull in a 24 inch gator trout.
There were no tails to be seen anywhere but we pushed through and eventually found the Reds munching but fully submerged. I was able to hook up to this beautiful spotless Red that finally allowed me to try my Abu Garcia Revo Inshore bait caster. What a fight it gave me. We each hooked Sharks and lost them. Oh well.
As fortune would have it, there was a small school pushing right towards me that I would’ve never seen except that the sun was at just the right angle, and though they weren’t making a wake, there was just enough of a disturbance to “bend” the reflection on the water a slight bit. At first I thought it was a slight breeze kicking up, but it soon became apparent what it was.
Our plan was to go to Googe Island and work all the back mangrove Islands on the way. We watched bait being attacked by pelicans and a lot of mullet action in deeper holes. We set up on the outside of the holes and would cast in Jig heads with live shrimp and bump the bottom. It didn’t take long to hook up on the Reds. Great day out with the family.
Inshore the trout bite has been picking up along with a few decent snook recently, haven’t been able to get into any reds except for a couple rats though. Last offshore trip I hooked into my first sailfish, went for a sleigh ride for 5 minutes but unfortunately the Sail wore through my line after a couple water walking jumps.
We started our final run back to the creek mouth and continued to work the grass edges, sand holes and oyster bars which resulted in a lot of small reds and trout. As we made it back to the channel I cast into a deep cut and thought I had snagged a rock with my LT greenie. The rock started moving and I knew it would be the biggest fish of the day. After a nice fight, this beauty made my day at 26 inches and 7 pounds.
Total tally was 6 Largemouths, one was 19 inches, two others were 17 inches, I estimate the 19 incher to be around 4-5 pounds. All caught on 6/0 Gamakatsu worm hooks and a variation of Gambler Cane and Zoom toads. Nothing better than topwater action.
Another beautiful day on the water, lost my gaff in the morning to two big waves that hit me bad and after that it wasn’t there any more. Did end up catching a nice spanish mackerel and a nice dolphin though.
Was about to call it and then a big beast latched on to my lure in around 25 feet. This is one of the two biggest fish I have ever caught from my kayak. I tail grabbed it into the yak and then had to paddle (couldn’t peddle with the tail up around my neck and the head blocking the peddles) over to shore to measure and photograph. I measured as best I could with it in the Hobie and wound up with somewhere around 43 inches.
We went 2 for 7 on tarpon from 80 pounds to the one pictured. It ate a Hogy 10 inch Original Series fished on a 6/0 Soft Circle Hook. 50 pound Power Pro Slick, 80 pound Mono leader, Sustain FG 10,000 on a Sewell Custom 8 foot Tarpon Rod. The fight lasted about 35 minutes and spanned close to a mile from start to finish.
After not getting any more bites and the wind starting to pick up and make it hard to jig in place, I switched back to trolling a live gog. About 10 minutes into paddling the rip, way out I saw my first sail come leaping out the water. Rob made it there in time to snap a photo of the landing which went off pretty well for my first time.
About 6 minutes into the hunt I spot a big fish gingerly patrolling the outer edges of shallow mud bank and I fire off a cast about ten feet in front of her. She’s slowly moving right towards my DOA shrimp and I leave it lie motionless on the bottom until she’s about 2 feet away and then I just slowly raise the rod tip causing the shrimp to “pop” off the bottom and she bulldogs it, fish on!
Before the sun was up high enough to sight fish, I was firing topwater and had a fish clobber a skitterwalk up shallow. he choked it and pulled some drag for me, came out to 27 inches. Once the sun came up it was game on, ended up picking one fish off on fly that was laid up on a mangrove shoreline and one on spin off of a flat. both fish being sub slot but were fun watching the eat and the fight when they’re shallow.
First Dolphin of the day was around 8:15am on a live runner in 225 feet on a weed line using my Avet LX and 20 pound mono. Notice the scars all over its tail. The tax collector tried to swoop in and steal my catch, however it was not your usual man in the grey suit but a monster barracuda.
Needless to say their was a good bite out there today before the front moved in. Bait was thick in 190 to 220 feet. Weedline running NNE in the same depth. Salvaged the day with this king that skied on a dead tunny with the tail cut off on a stinger rig trolling it in, 39 inches to the fork.
The seas were building and I made the decision to set my lines in a trolling spread and set an east course to do a large loop back to shore under sail. After my course changed back to west, I got a knock down on my starboard plug. It made a few good runs on my Penn 5500 and then in the kayak came my first blackfin tuna ever!
Boom! Again, but this time it felt deferent, it felt like a big fish! There it goes! My first Wahoo. I was impressed how fast this fish runs! I’ve never seen my drag going so fast. Definitely a unforgettable adventure!
Between Dave and I we spotted over 15 Reds, some we casted with both soft baits and topwater plugs and had no luck, we were able to land 2 solid slot Reds, and a couple missed my topwater plug. We safely released all, I didn’t feel like cleaning fish today.
Fun time out with my girlfriend on a windy day. Caught a nice trout on my D.O.A. shrimp within 10 minutes of throwing the anchor, this guy made for some amazing trout tacos! Caught another 4 trout that day with 3 out of 5 being over 18 inches.
Began the day throwing DOA CALs in the copper crush color and ended up changing to the dark green Bream color after blowing out a few cruising fish and that did the trick! First fish of the day ended up being a bit over 27 inches.
Started the day poling and sight casting in the lee of spoil islands only finding 1 slot red, casting to him with the fly rod, and have him follow it right to the yak before deciding not to eat it! Moved on and threw DOA jigs around some culverts and pulled what I thought was a decent snook, ended up being a solid trout!
Hit up Dania a little late this morning, no bait and peddled out into some face slapping slop. After a few drops landed a decent sized almaco then the biggest blue runner I ever caught. Moved out a little deeper, dropped the jig and fish on! After my sleigh ride up comes some stripes, wahoo baby!
I haven’t posted on here in awhile so thought I’d contribute. The past 2 days, I’ve hit up barrier islands in the Intracoastal Water Way in my kayak looking for reds and gator trout. Didn’t catch any real gators but got lots and lots of redfish all on topwater, z man paddlerz, and manic shrimp.
Lost a couple big ones due to leader fray. 80 pound was always plenty on a rod and reel but for some reason it’s not enough with the hand line. Anyways, live mullet were the ticket, trolled and free lined pretty much anywhere near the beach.
Click link to watch the video of this mayhem unfold
Aside from getting out and surprisingly sinking into muck above my knees my morning was rather uneventful. As we finished our trek from the no motor zone to open water I casted my DOA CAL, red and gold jerk bait into a deep channel. After a few twitches I got trucked. it didn’t feel like any inshore species I’ve fought before. When it broke the surface I was surprised to see the crusty camo of my first inshore Goliath.
I was throwing a topwater and when it came up next to my Pro Angler a big trout came out of the water on it, but threw it. I dropped it right back and he nailed it again. I had him this time! After a nice little fight I brought it up and lipped him. It measured out at 25 inches which is definitely me biggest trout in Matlacha to date.
I was working a lure in about 4 feet of water when it gets crushed and line starts screaming toward the mangroves. Managed to keep her out of the roots and forced her back to deep water. Maybe it was karma for letting the other one go but this one was 34 inches and a fatty!
He heads away from the docks and is all tuckered out. I feel him give up and now it’s just a matter of hauling him in. As he nears the yak, he heads underneath it and somehow I managed to pull a ninja spin around the stern of the kayak and get him to the other side. That’s no tarpon, it’s a monster snook!
We ended up hitting the water at 6:45 and paddled out to 280 feet initially. My plan was to learn how to vertical jig since I never had tried it before but I also rigged up a goggle eye and threw it overboard. Started jigging in 280 feet and my buddy immediately hooks up with a decent Bonita. We decided to go into 260ft and I finally had my first hook up, after a couple minute fight on my 5000 series reel I’m surprised to see a nice 24 inch snapper.
Me and my friend Conrad Fiocca fished the IFA Kayak Tour event in Ruskin this past weekend. Prior to the captains meeting we had very poor prefishing results and on tournament day I decided to fish close to the hotel area. On tournament day we launched by the hotel and paddled out to immediately get into redfish and trout. We caught quite a few trout with the biggest being 18 inches. We paddled over to the redfish spot and we both caught a red within 10 minutes of getting there. We decided to continue to try and upgrade our reds. We both caught 4 or 5 more reds until we each had a 24-25 inch red. We looked around but then came back to our original spot, and Conrad decided to throw a rattle trap and ended up catching a 27-inch red!
Loaded the slayer up yesterday and took it on its first trip to the NMZ. Lunched at sunrise and the trout bite was good on top waters. Switched up to Z Mann swimmers and ended up landing two slot reds. Poled the while day standing on the seat in the high position with no problems. This yak in by far the best yak if been in for fishing the flats.
Fishing was good once again. Started the day with a nice trout. Later in the morning found some Reds in very shallow water and they were tailing. I managed to sneak up on a school and luckily the camera was on when one of them attacked. Had the wind pushing from behind with a small island of dead grass in front of me. One of the fish was facing the opposite way and allowed me to get real close without spooking him…. The other Redfish hit a Topwater lure. I ended the day with two Reds, a beefy Trout and a psycho Ladyfish
Port everglades wanted to show a little love to skunk and a boat almost ran his *** over . Bonita city out there, I managed a med almaco and a sail, I lost another sail about 30 min later hooked up on a jig that sail went crazy popped my leader then Threw the jig. Slow day but at least the bonita kept us busy.
Had a late start guys getting bait at 15th st. We didn’t make it offshore until about 8am, where I followed andy to about 250 feet. We scored a little pre-work out on some bonita and a small amberjack that Andy got. Being in the middle of the group, Andy wanted to go to 340 feet to look for any bit of current so I followed. We almost left but then I finally got a small football in. First Tuna Since November! Andy gets one a little bigger. A few minutes later I got slammed and went on a speedy sleigh ride. After a couple minutes, I’m thrilled to see black and gold rising from the deep and it wasn’t small either.
I have a nemesis living in bear cut that has made a fool of me quite a few times now. It’s a giant barracuda whose size I didn’t fully know until today. Over the past 7 months he has cut me off and wrapped me on pilings about 6 times. It’s always in the EXACT SAME spot, making me think it’s the same fish. Last time by the bridge I put 18″ of #5 wire on to avoid getting cut off. That wasn’t enough and he PWND me again!!! Today I was using a float with a good 3′ of wire and a live 12″ blue runner. I put the bait in the water momentarily to spin the yak around (25′ up current of his home) and immediately the beast swirled at the bait, missing on the first pass but bit my line above the cork and wire. He spun around, grabbed the bait and took off.
Being over in Europe, cruising the Med and crossing the Atlantic was cool and all but the whole time my mind was on the Indian River! Loaded the Slayer and hit the river to check continue where i left off before my departure. Hit up my Vero Beach backcountry spot twice last week with nuthing to show but a few small snook and one baby tarpon…
Decided to hit Round Island this afternoon and see if she would produce for me. Couldn’t find a trout anywhere, first fish was a mangrove on a topwater. Checked some spots in the mangroves for some baby tarpon and snook, but there were none to be found. Ended up getting on a good lane snapper bite out off some of the spoil islands by the ICW. Not the bite I was hoping for, but when everything else is slow you just roll with it.
Yesterday Marty Mood ( PA hillbilly) and I decided to get a quick last minute trip in. We ran into some big bulls in the shallows and they were hungry for some top waters! There is nothing like catching big reds in 2 feet of water. When they exploded on the topwaters it sounded like a whale breaching. The biggest red was my 41 incher that ate a one knocker spook.
Been trying to get an upgrade on my weehoo from early this summer and finally did. Had to weed though the sailfish and kings to get one. I lost a few fish over the last few weeks and went through changing different bait presentations and hook set-ups. The fish weighed 25 pounds, caught in 200 feet on a live gog off Boynton Beach.
We paddled towards the area where we saw the tarpon roll and my depth sounder screen lit up with large objects. A look over the side of the kayak revealed a couple dozen tarpon in the 70 pound to120 pound class lazily swimming 15 feet directly below me. I opted to bait my light 20 pound class kingfish rod knowing full well I would never land a fish; I just wanted to fight one on the light rod for a while. Suede was using an 8000 Battle spooled with 80 pound Power-Pro and an 80 pound fluorocarbon leader, fully intent on landing a tarpon.
I took my croaker out of the live-well and dropped it straight down over the pod of tarpon. The croaker made a futile attempt to swim away from the pod but a large tarpon rose from the school and inhaled the bite size fish. I set the hook and line started coming off of my reel. The fish didn’t make the usual instant jump; it just took off straight east. Within a few seconds I hear Suede’s drag screaming and one of the giants energetically leaped from the water just feet from my kayak. We had just doubled up on tarpon and complete chaos was enveloping the scene.
We made our way to one of drichards secret grouper spots(which I of course marked on my FF) and started dropping the jigs. after a couple drops I pull up an decent 10-pound gag. Shortly after, drichard hooks a small almaco that gets engulfed and then let go by a large grouper that rips all the scales off the little almaco. Later the same thing happens to me but this time the larger fish was hooked good. I tried my hardest to stop this thing from running down into the rocks but it was impossible, I almost got pulled over board. Doug was screaming that I had a monster grouper on and I was praying that my line didn’t snap.
Launched at 7am off of Ft. Lauderdale beach. The ocean looked like a sheet of ice. I tried multiple depths not getting anything on my go-to jigs. I also tried multiple depths trolling a few different lures. Turned out to be productive. Got a bonito, trigger, squirrel fish, remora… All trash. Decided to call it a day. Trolled an x-rap on the way in when I hooked up on this king around 130 feet.
Keeping an eye peeled out for storms, Damon, John, Sebastian, and I headed out of Delray to calm seas and clear skies. The current was low, somewhere between 1.5-2 knots so we started jigging on 180 feet. Everyone was getting on fish today and the AJ bite was intense. Later we hit 300 feet and then we got into the Tunas across from the Martini glass. We approached Boynton inlet as soon as a small twister touched down.
I Hit up Dania Beach and it was beautiful out. Flat sea’s, light wind & current, and tons of people going on the hunt for bugs. It was pretty fishy out, so I tossed the cast net from the Pa and loaded up on chum(small pilchards). On the way out I got slammed by a nice king, once we made our way to the desired depth I tossed out my gog and it got slammed, so of course I thought it was another king just bigger. Nope once I saw stripes I knew it was Mr hoo and he was coming to dinner.
Blazing Reels and I hit the sands of Delray Beach this morning before the crack of dawn. We were welcomed with the sight of calm winds and sea. We rush to get out on the water to enjoy the morning bite, so we headed south towards Boca to provide us a little drifting distance. We heard reports of the current picking up strong, but we found out there was none at all. We picked up some good sized Bonitas on the way out which helped us with a good warm up. Our first stop was in about 200 feet of water, we both dropped our jigs a few times and kept an eye on which way the current was flowing. I guess the fish were pretty hungry this morning because on one of my drops I got a double header. I first felt one big slam on my jig and then a few seconds later another big slam, but it was weird because it was going the opposite way.
I decided to try my luck on the grass flats just south of 195 this morning. Got on the water just as the sun was coming up with 3 dozen shrimp. I tried some topwater baits to start things off but only one small trout wanted to play. After 15 minutes, I switched to the go-to popping cork and it was non stop action from then on. I literally blew through all 3 dozen shrimp in about an hour. The majority of the trout were 16-18 inches, only had two little runt trout all day. Didn’t get any needlefish or cuda’s all day, and I was really surprised by that! The grovers were in full force too, caught 8 or 9 in the 6-10″ range. After I used all the shrimp and only got 2 that were just about 20″, I sabiki’d up some pinfish.
What a beautiful morning…. With a picture perfect sunrise, went out and found that I was the only kayak out there all morning. I just can’t get over how perfect the conditions were and yet there was nobody around. Fish were very active and the opportunities were numerous. Was somewhat disappointed that I ended up losing what would have been the biggest fish of the day. A beefy Red comes to the surface and aggressively snags the lure. Had the fish on for a good run and yet a minute later I am standing there wondering in complete disbelieve.
This past Wednesday, July 10th six of us chartered the “Fish Taxi” captained by Ryan Wagner out of the Salt Rock Grill for some off shore action. The targets would be grouper, AJ’s, snapper or just whatever was biting. Joining me would be my good friend Mark Watanabe, Rusty Driver, Rob Devore, Edward Ratanun and Tyler Peterson. Arriving before our schedule launch time of 7am, we quickly loaded the 32 foot Sabalos and made a short trip down the ICW, stopping just short of Johns Pass for fuel. Once done with that we headed out the pass for our 20 mile trip out into the Gulf.
So once in position we dropped our baits, which consisted of either cut or whole sardines and live pinfish and the fight, was on. One Red Grouper after another. You had to go through 20 or 30 short ones to get one that was legal to keep, that being larger than 20 inches.
We headed to A1A and began checking beach launches for acceptable surf, bait, and fish activity. We only had to hit a couple of cross-overs before we found an acceptable launch area. We launched to find widely scattered pogies and a few rolling tarpon ranging from just outside the surf to a quarter mile from shore. The water close to the surf was really muddy so we paddled until we found some clearer water and began drifting our baits. Almost immediately we began hooking up. I jumped a couple tarpon and caught some sharks on pigfish and mullet. Suede put out a jumbo mullet and had a tarpon chase it to the surface and leap completely out of the water trying to eat it, all this just feet from his kayak. Neither of us landed a tarpon first thing in the morning, but we had fun trying. Once the morning bite slowed we tried trolling some stingers and diving plugs out farther offshore. The only fish yielded was a huge bonito and a tiny barracuda.
Over the 4th of July holiday 3 friends got together to enjoy a day of fishing. Almost everyday has been a down pour but the early part of thursday was blue skies.
We headed out from one of our favorite spots. The over abundance of rain run off has turned much of our saltwater spot into fresh water so we needed to head further out to find fish. All 3 of us found snook as well as double digits of trout (not pictured). The snook were hungry all day feasting on DOA Shrimp, zara spook jrs, and skitter walk’s. The rain was held back for most of the day but we did finally get hammered by multiple storms. Though the storms did not break our spirit to continue to fish. We found a few snook on our way back. It was an amazing day in our back country
First time getting out since the big wahoo and fishing has slowed way down in the last few weeks. Went out after work Friday for an hour or so and managed a nice king and lost a big mutton right under the yak Saturday did a drift from port Everglades inlet to Pompano with a couple other guys Doug P, Rob and Andy. First time out of the inlet and it was fun to say the least. With the outgoing tide there was 4-6 foot rollers all the way out to 100 feet of water. Awesome scenery to start the morning though. Fishing was slow with a bunch of huge bonita caught as well as a handful of football bfts. I managed to pull up a small snowy grouper deep droppin in the 300 foot range which was a first for me. Also hooked up to a nice mahi maybe 15 pounds that shook the hook first jump. Also had a fun visit and a couple circles from mr hammerhead. Slow day but nice to get out on the water again
After monitoring extraordinary fluctuations in the evening’s weather forecast for St. Augustine, myself and Josh/WDE414 decided to load the Hobie’s and just go. We arrived at the Vilano ramp at around 17:30 and the conditions were excellent. Winds were light from the west and the current was slow and steady outgoing. The plan was to fish the Usina until at least nightfall and mainly drop Got-Cha’s and other heavier lead-heads around the deep spots. When we got to the bridge we quickly racked up multiple trashcan slams but both of us still had high hopes. When the tide was just about bottoming out I hooked-up and boated a 31.5 inch redfish. Shortly after that I was hooked up again to another redfish right around 31 inches. Josh caught some bluefish at around that time and kept one for the grill. I managed a keeper trout somewhere in there too that I threw on the ice. Right after dark fell and the tide switched, I managed a perfect 27 inch redfish that joined the trout on the menu tonight.
Joe Hector landed this fish, off Pompano on June 27. This bull dolphin was caught on a dead sardine, in 180 feet. Having no gaff did not cause to much of a problem until the fish got wrapped around the mirage drive. The angler Joe was with, Fred York, had to jump in and untangle the line. Joe then reached down, grabbed the fish and bear hugged it into the kayak. The fish weighed an estimated 30 plus pounds
Florida Sportsman member:Chuck D
Fished the Indian River today, and the water is DARK. Super brown, but the fish are there, and they still have to eat. Launched the kayaks at 5:30 to an overcast sunrise. Decided to give my ultralight a workout today, 4 to 10 pound Seagis with a 1000 Saros, 8 pound braid. We started throwing topwater plugs, and they started getting hit. Caught a lot of trout early, and hooked up with a nice red that came unglued on the zara spook jr. Looked for tails, saw none. Kept plugging away with topwater until it stopped working around 10 or 11 am. Started throwing a DOA CAL shad tail and caught a few more nice trout, and hooked up with the first red of the day trolling it behind me (and working it a little) while moving across the flat.The artificial bite slowed a bit after that, so we decided to deploy a few fresh mullet chunks out. Was throwing two lines out on the deeper section of the flat and the action started to heat up. First I nailed a 30 incher as a storm was passing and then we had a double hook up of slightly over 30 inch reds. I had to play these fish and chase them down to not get spooled on the light tackle, they all seemed to hit the bait on the light rod. Maybe because of the lighter leader I was using on it (20 pound floro). I finally get a screaming hit quickly after re-deploying baits, and the line is dumping off the little Saros 1000. In about 4 seconds I was starting to see the spool through the braid, as I was unhooking from my makeshift anchor (my paddle). I got free just in time and started to chase down this fish. I was trying to play it as best I could, and it was dragging me all over the place. My rod was doubled over, my drag was locked but still screaming, and I was very afraid something in the setup would break, possibly the rod. I see the huge tail, and know I’m in for a long fight.Finally the beast rolls over, and gives up. I applied boga grips and it was a caught fish.Revived very quickly, and off to spawn or whatever those big fish do.Thanks to user EasternGlow for help taking the pics! I’d post yours but I know some people may be wary of posting their photos online for the masses…
The Boynton Boys are definitely feeling the summer time, its when you have to catch 20 bonita’s before you catch anything worth wild. We had more pics for you all but one of are camera’s fell of the kayak while in transit probably due to us rushing to get into the cold a/c of vehicle and not checking the traps on the gear. Last Saturday Oarknot and I launched out of Delray Beach and drifted to Boynton and ended catching this little guy in about 300 feet deep with a Tormenter Jig. We have also been having some success with mutton snapper and some nice size reef donkeys. Since they dredged Delray Beach we haven’t seen any nice grouper…
Finally got a chance to head offshore again. The surf was a little sporty in the morning. A newbie in the parking lot asked if it was a good day to try his new kayak off the beach. It didn’t sound like he had much experience and just a 12 foot kayak, but I figured with an experienced hand like myself I could get him past the waves. I was wrong, he flipped twice in little waves that weren’t even breaking, so I advised him to practice in Whiskey Creek and launched myself out. Once the clouds moved on the seas died down to summer normal. Got a small bonito trolling around 110 feet, lost something on the jig at 120 and got a 2nd bigger bonito jigging. I then foul-hooked a juvenile african pompano and a tiny blowfish. Met forum member jcan and family on the paddle back, they at least got a couple of black-fin tunas for dinner. It’s still nice to get a bend in the rod, especially when you set the drag light so they pull some line.
Ft. Lauderdale Blackfin Tuna
Florida Sportsman Member: Captain Yak
Peddled out with no live bait. Just trolled a plug out to the deep waters and almost snagged a huge sea turtle. Was able to luckily get my line off the turtle without hooking him or putting him under any pressure. Got out to 140 feet and hooked up on a decent bonnie. Threw him back and went to 160 feet.
Immediately hooked up and this fish was a monster. Checking the time on my video, it took my drag for over a minute straight. As it got closer, I realized that I had a monster bonnie. Got him in, but he was so worn he didn’t make it back in the drink.
Switched up Jigs to get away from the bonito. On my second drop and I feel a light hit. I Set the hook and the fish is not really fighting. I get him to the surface and realize I have a jumbo blackfin tuna. I worked him real slow just before bringing him on the yak. He saved his fight for when I had him on board.
Launched at sunrise and headed out solo with some gogs swimmin happy in the livewell. Got out to 185 feet, not much current. I caught a few almacos on the jig and then my gog gets whacked. A few good runs and i land a nice 25 pound smoker king. Went out deeper in search of some dolphin and tuna where i found some nice weeds in 380 feet or so. Pulling up to the weeds a school of small dolphin start going crazy and at the same time my gog goes off. At first I though i had a schoolie but after it ran 400 yds off my reel i knew it was something serious! About an hour battle of tug-a-war I get a glimpse of the stripes! A few minutes later I sink the gaff in its head and struggle to pull her in the yak! weighed in at a little over 61 pounds
Loaded the Slayer 14.5 up around 11:30 and decided the day wasnt over just yet and that I would go check out a new backcountry spot up in north Ft Pierce. Got some lunch and killed some time while the hottest part of the day passed. Got to the launch spot and set off towards the spot. Got there and started exploring every inch of it with the super spook jr. Landed a baracuda and then my lure gets hit by something that instantly breaks the line, bummer my favorate lure is gone only 5 min in! I tie on a mirroLure topwater prop bait and continue on. I hook into what I thought was a snook, but turned out to be a nice Redfish! Gave a hell of a fight in a foot of water, trying to catch me in the mangroves the entire time.
Throw off a mangrove point and something big hits the lure but dosnt stick which sends the lure flying back at me and tangling my line on itself forcing me to retie. Retie the lure with 25 pound florocarbon this time instead of 20 and cast back to the same spot and it gets inhaled! I set the hook good, anticipating a big jump, but it doesnt jump. It heads straight for the Mangroves so i pull harder and then it jumps… a giant snook again!
Went out Saturday with friends Austin (fish4reds) and Tammy for a little recon during this “Brown Tide” craze everyone is talking about. Indeed, the water clarity is poor, and the water quality is suffering as well. But Mother Nature will always find a way to adapt.
The wind kept switching directions: South to South East to South West. Then all of a sudden, the wind stopped. Tons of mullet appeared, and more tails started popping up. Then I noticed these tails had spots all over them. These aren’t Reds, they are giant Trout! With slick glass calm conditions and within 40 feet from these tails, I grabbed my Slayer Lure SSB with a little Pro Cure Ladyfish Scent and pitched it past a few tails. Of course, the minute I stop paying attention I get thumped. Set the hook into what felt like a solid brick wall.
Switched it up a little bit today and launched further north than usual. Making our way out to blackfin country, I picked up a small one on my deep plug. Put him on ice and continued out. Two minutes later my shallow plug gets hit, I look back and see a cow in the air. My first thought is “cool, but she’s gonna pop off the trebles.” To my surprise she held on and I got her into the Hobie. I ended up with 5 blacks, mahi and few bonita.
I rolled out this morning to get a little time on the water, since I have to work an evening shift today. I had visions of landing another Cobia after seeing my boy’s slob from yesterday. Well, it didn’t take long. I had a 25 pound Cobia decide to hit my Yozuri deep diver after I got out past the second bar. Fought a short fight and had him yak side. Hit him with the gaff and he flips out doing the gator roll. In the process he slips off the gaff and bent out the treble on the lure and off he swam. I was livid. Cussing at no one for hours. Pulled up one trophy snapper on a spot, then moved to another pulling the only live bait I had, a big hardtail. Well somehow he wiggles off, so now I am stuck pulling nasty cigsicles I had. On the way to our famed Trigger hole I see some birds working the water pretty hard. I start heading that way when I notice an odd thump on the King rig
Met up today with Nick (ShallowWaterAssassin on the FS forum), launched and headed towards one of my favorite flats that has been producing lately. Found the mullet and we began working the schools with topwaters. No more than five minutes in, Nick gets a huge explosion on his topwater but it didn’t stick unfortunately. I finally get a nice hit but it didn’t stick, so I slowed the bait down and sure enough here comes a huge wake behind the bait. The bait gets nailed, fish on! The fish takes me on a nice little ride before I landed a slob redfish, measuring right at 29 inches. It probably would have measured at 30 inches if its tail wasn’t so chewed up.
I came up empty for the day but the wife got a few nice sized trout. Probably because I was paddling while she fished and napped. My buddy had no problem killing it with a few large reds(26″,28″), one 21 inch snook and a hand full of trout. Most of the fish were picked up along a newly explored path. Can’t wait to get out and explore more spots.
I located and purchased a Slayer 14.5. Picked the boat up yesterday and took it out this morning to hit up some of my favorite flats in Fort Fierce. Got on the water around 6:30 and paddled out to some mullet schools that were getting busted on by snook. Hooked and lost a fish on a super spook jr. but then I got one to stick. Landed the barely slot snook got some quick picture with it and the new yak. I was super pumped. Good way to break the Slayer in!
Another great morning. Sunny, wind was down, no Surf…Perfect! As soon as I got to 150 feet my gog gets slammed! I knew it was a “smoker” by the run it took. 20 minutes later when I got him to the yak I was in 300 feet! Heck of a fight. Decided to release him (hopefully someone catches him this weekend!) I estimated him to be about 30 to 35 pounds. Around 10:30 decided to call it a day ( never caught anything after 10:30 anyways ) When I got to 85 feet and my rod goes off again. This time I hear a big splash, so I’m thinking Sail…but knew quickly it was another “Smoker” when it ripped off 200 yards in a matter of a few seconds.
Hit up Pompano scouting for the tourney, meet up with Bobby and his old man and decided to head out together, it was a nice launch but I knew it was gonna get ugly fast. Meet up with Larrythelobsterman ( I think JetskiLarry is a better name) out in deeper water. As we made our way to my fav wreck, I noted a nice little rock pile and marked it. We made it to the wreck and first drop fish on Bobby hooks up as well. It was good fight and then my leader popped right at the knot . I switched rods and by the second drop I had fish on, tearing line off my reel had to palm it a few times[...]
Took the yak off Pompano since I’ve had good luck up there. Seas were less than 2 feet with a north breeze. Just past the third reef there was nice rip and I put a gog out. Saw a couple kings launch out of the water probably 5-10 feet in the air. Pretty awesome to see. I paddled that way and got bit. There was a sharp tug and then nothing… I opened the bail thinking it was a short strike and the fish would come back for the rest. After 10-15 seconds of nothing I reeled up the slack to find dead weight on the other end. There was no tug, no run, just dead weight. I didn’t even think it was a fish until I dragged it in 50 yards to the yak. Then the king took off and decided to fight.
Launched out of Pineland marina this morning and was in the rain right away. We started to get into trout just out of the marina using topwaters. The fish were nailing the unfair lures dawgwalker 110 in the pearl olive w/red head. Those bites were some of the most violent trout bites I have ever seen. I caught quite a few trout, and I even caught a 20 inch and a 22 inch trout right after each other. We moved towards the trees and started getting hits right away. We had a few nice reds explode on topwaters but couldn’t connect with any. Finally I had one boil on it right in front of my kayak and then it boiled again and inhaled the bait three feet in front of my kayak.
Launched in Boynton this morning anticipating to dodge storms throughout the day. To my surprise, I didn’t get a rain drop on me. I Worked a jig from 200-240 feet targeting areas that hold tuna this time of year. By the time I hit skycliff, I had 4 blackfins on ice and lost one sail to a break off. Soon after, forum member Blazing Reels comes out of the blue and decides to tag along for the rest of the day. We continued to work our jigs with good success. Blazing got on some mahi and lost a sail that hit his jig . By the end of the day I ended up with 14 blackfins…one at 18 pounds.
The plan was to head out to the 2nd color change and look for ling as we headed east. We dragged cigs hoping to pick up a smoker but no dice.
I decided to head out a little deeper and see if we could find any bottom to drop on. I drifted over some hard bottom and flipped my flounder jig and immidiately slammed. I was worried I had a jack cause it was kicking my tail. After about 7-8 minutes, I pulled a nice red up. I looked beneath him and there was the first ling of the day mixed in with this massive school of reds. I moved on trying to get back with the school when my other rod with the cig on started screaming. I first thought king but then realized it was probably another red. But with no head shakes my hopes were high it was a ling. After about 30 minutes I gaffed this guy. He weighed 27 pounds.
There was an all day feeding frenzy over the third reef stretching as far as the eye could see. Mostly bonito or little tunnys with some blue runners and mackerel mixed in. I had a goggle eye down deep that got crushed and cut off after a screaming run. The fish were keyed in on these little 1 inch baits (not sure what kind exactly) and paid no attention to my pilchards. Tried a couple top water baits with no bites til I tied on a Shimano Waxwing. I was hooking up every other cast with the waxwing. I kept looking for a blackfin tuna mixed in there somewhere but no takers. Still, it was fun to keep a tight line. Ended up with a small spanish mackerel and around a dozen of these guys.
I decided to try my luck on the grass flats just south of 195 this morning. Got on the water just as the sun was coming up with 3 dozen shrimp. Tried some topwater baits to start things off but only one small trout wanted to play. After 15 minutes I switched to the go-to popping cork and it was non stop action from then on. I literally blew through all 3 dozen shrimp in about an hour. The majority of the trout were 16-18 inches, only had two little runt trout all day. Didn’t get any needlefish or cuda’s all day, and I was really surprised by that! The grovers were in full force too, caught 8 or 9 in the 6-10 inch range. After I used all the shrimp and only got 2 that were just about 20 inches, I sabiki’d up some pinfish. Even caught a couple trout on the sabiki too. Using the palm size pinfish I caught with the sabiki I managed to get 3 trout over 20 inches, and lost one that was over 25 inches.
We met up when I got off work Sunday morning at a launch in the Placida/Gasparilla sound area. I had success here early in the week so we figured it would be worth a shot. I tried to offer as much input and knowledge as possible… stuff like “I’ve caught a redfish on this dock using this bait…” “Snook like to hang out there…” “a faster retrieve here gets more trout but if you slow it down…” It wound up paying off because within about an hour he had a decent slam including his biggest trout ever at 18 inches. My luck was almost non existent for most of the morning, as I caught a handful of trout with only one even being slot sized.
[...] I knew it was a snook right off the bat. It gave a nice headshake above the water and I realized it was a bit bigger fish. It was a perfect scenario, the fight started about 50 yards from the closest dock and about 25 yards from the closest submerged mangrove roots, so there wasn’t much chance of the fish getting in to anything and breaking me off. After a lot of drag screaming I got the fish to the side of the boat and asked my brother to come over and get a picture as I knew it would at least be competing for my biggest snook ever.
The meet-up turned out well, a lot of kayakers showed up. The weather was nasty! Wind was non-stop blowing from the SSE, and every bit of 3 to 5 feet. Hats off to everyone that stuck it out and continued to fish throughout the day. Those conditions do not make it easy to fish but some fish were caught. Congrats to kayakangler AKA Joe Kraatz with the biggest combo of the day (nice king and 31 pound AJ). We started fishing in 250 feet where the AJ was landed [...]
Got to the beach at sunrise and saw Rob there so we headed out together. He had his sail on the ocean kayak and damn does that thing haul. I dropped a gog out at 100 feet on the way out and 2 minutes later the drag starts to scream… After a 20 minute fight of drag screaming, I pull up a fat king. Rob headed out deep and landed a few small dolphin and a king. I stayed in, bouncing on the shallow wrecks in search of a cobia but just got a few almacos. Overall it was a slow day but it was nice to get out.
Beautiful flat goodness greeted me at the launch. Trolled a cig duster and a deep diver. No taps. Moved on to another spot and decided to drop down the tried and true flounder setup. Thumped the bottom once, and bam! It was on like donkey kong. Fish was running hard, so I cupped the spool to try and slow him down. I Couldn’t put too much pressure on him cause I was rocking my Stradic 5k with 30lb braid. My initial thought was shark, and as I got him within sight, it was none other than the brown bomber.
Winds and outgoing tide made it look “sporty” like my buddy and mentor Android likes To say. Close to limit of macs using all artificials.They hit everything! Biggest fish trolling 1 1/4 oz spoon. Jack hit ballyhoo on kingfish rig with sinker removed trolling east from towers. The kids said mac bite was over till I used a different jig and got four more in the boat. Did not head out as big waves came in. Knew we were done when surfers showed up.
The fishing was a bit slow this morning. We saw few reds really pushing any wakes. After about 20 minutes or so we managed to pick up a red around 17 inches. A few trout here and there climbed on in the kayak. It was around 7:45 and I hung into a 30 inch monster red. He slammed the top water and took off the opposite direction I was facing. He snapped the kayak around the started stripping drag. This fish meant business. After he pulled me at least 50 yards down the creek I was able to get him at least turned around. After getting pulled like a dog sled down the creek I managed to land this monster.
We’ve really been catching the reds up here well. They’ve been hanging out in around 3 feet of water early in the morning and later afternoon. I caught a monster 27 inch red and another 29 inch red on top water earlier in the week. I’m heading out to a new spot in the trusty yak to catch some more monsters tomorrow.
Weather was calling for 14 foot seas so me and flats broke decided what the hell lets give it a shot lol. Got a late start but weather started beautiful, 2-3 foot seas with weedlines and blue water. Flats hooked a mahi right away on jig but shook the hook. Few minutes later my live bait gets hit n I land a decent phin… Few more drifts with no luck and the wind kept increasing with seas 4-6 feet we decide to call it a day[...]
Started out on a solo Dolphin trip today, but met Paul in the surf and he asked to tag along. Being the nice guy I am, I said sure. I Hope my kind deed pays off later because Paul hooked this stud not 15 feet from me. First ever in the yak! Congrats!
Headed down to Everglades City today with the one and only Bonitabob himself. We met up with Woody Callaway of Native Watercraft and Rich Jones (RJVermont) and hit the water a little later than usual. I did a little bit of fishing but was more interested in playing with my new camera than anything else.
Drove down to Collier County today to do a little bass fishing. Day started off with a ton of small ones and then just as I was starting to discount this lakes productivity the big girls started to show up.
We left Kars park headed almost straight out for deeper water. We fished for a while, after only two 10-inch-plus trout, the frustrating puffer fish destroying my gulp, and the wind picking up, we decided to head for cover. My friend said that 1,000 Island Park in Cocoa Beach has miles of mangrove canals to fish. It was a great place. Lots of canals that protected us from the wind. We saw a few small schools of reds that had lock jaw and tons of finger mullet [...]
Headed out today despite the forecast calling for wind and rain. Hit up Pine Island with redfish on the mind. Very quickly that was satisfied and we continued to explore some back creeks out in Pine Island. We all managed quite a few fish, reds, trout, and snook. The best part of my day however was getting good fishing buddy Ken hooked up and watching him land his first ever tarpon.
Paddled out from Pompano beach on Sunday at sunrise. Beach was flat. Offshore was nasty. The wind was relentless. First 2 fish that were caught were Black fin tuna by Drichard1986 & Jvanpelt. Both fish were caught on live flat lined Pilchards. I stayed in a little shallower and was able to land a nice size King on a flat lined Goggle Eye in 135 feet. Soon after that I peddled over to KayakAngler to see he landed his first ever grouper and a nice one at that! The grouper was caught on a vertical jig in 250 feet.
So we made it to the Kismet launch (north cape coral) yesterday. It was an awesome trip. I had heard some great stories about the area and the real thing didn’t disappoint. We saw so many fish, some monster reds and snook out there. We made it all the way out to Charlotte Harbor but the wind kept us off the grass flats so we headed back into the mangrove lakes. I was able to pick up one snook and my friend caught one red and one snook. Also there was so much drift wood..I need a bigger yard for all that. I can’t wait to get back out there.
Next I decided to do some Fly Fishing in the Everglades Backcountry by myself.Total count for the day. 11 Snook and 6 Tarpon all on flies. Saw some huge Black Drums tailing but they refused my fly.
So after I told my buddy how I did he decided to come along. So we went in my yak towards the backcountry and I showed him what the Everglades backcountry was all about. Of course the backcountry delivered. As we were almost leaving I tossed my paddle tail to some bait jumping in 8 inches of water and my biggest Snook to date was hooked to the end of my line.
Launched off morningside after waiting for the gurds to open the gate 30 minutes late. When I finally get on the water, I see pods of mullet getting hammered by something big. I cast a sub-surface lure to see if I get hit but nothing, so after the third cast I switch to a zara spook. By this time whatever was chasing the bait splits into 3-4 groups and hit the bait hard, by this time I worry these may be dolphins. Next thing I know a wake comes towards me so I cast and walk my dog in front of it and bam! I get hit hard.
It’s that time of the year. Our “annual” weekend trip to Chokoloskee. We rented a lodge at the Chokoloskee Island Park Marina and fished all day Saturday and Sunday morning. The weather was a bit spotty with storms pushing through the area. We had our moments of flat calm throughout the day though. The local residents had a fish fry when we got back from the first day and invited us to some free chow. Can’t find a nicer bunch of folks.
Went out today with bonitabob and his brother in law for the first time in a long time and slaughtered the fish. Here’s a few pics and I’m sure he’ll be adding his as well. Another great Southwest Florida winter day.
Well it was a slow weekend for me as I only managed to land one alamaco and a couple Bonita but Mr Joe Hector, tournament director for Extreme had a great weekend and day today. He landed one nice Black fin tuna on 1/5/13, Joe Kraatz (Kayakangler) landed a small mahi (no pic) and this stud of a wahoo the morning of 1/8/13. Both fish were caught on live Pilchards in 180-200 feet of water.
Got out deep n got 4 or 5 almacos and lost a sail. Then I found a pod of toothy critters that cut off 4 of my jigs back to back. My luck they were all wahoo. Went in to a shallow wreck in 115′ n as soon as I got there my goggle eye gets eaten. It screams out 300 yards of line on first run. After about 15 minutes, I get him in. It’s a jumbo king. I Decide to call it a day and head in.
Clear water, light current, and low winds, beautiful two days on the water. Dolphin “flipper” all over the place, two big turtles, a huge manta ray, and a hammerhead all came by to say “hi.”
Florida Sportsman member: Art Vandelay
I was able to get out and do a little kayak fishing yesterday. It was pretty chilly in the morning but it was forecasted to be the calm and warm up in the afternoon. We launched into some super clear shallow water and almost immediately started spotting some slot sized reds. They were really spooky with the clear water and it made it hard to get within casting distance. The water warmed up during the day and we ended up catching most of our fish [...]
It has been quite a while since I’ve posted here, I know this report ins’t strictly kayak fishing but most of the fishing was done on the kayak. I figured I post up some of the trips of this Fall. I have been going out on the kayak, Gheenoe, and a friends boat. It has been tough some days to fish with this winter pattern as we are getting days where the wind is blowing all day but if you get those two or three days of nice weather, make them count. Some of my friends are recently getting into the fly fishing scene and I have been taking them on the Gheenoe to catch their first reds, snook, and tarpon on fly [...]
Woke up and made the long drive down to the Everglades this morning, still a little buzzed from last nights festivities. The wind forecast was calling for 2 to 3 mph winds all morning, and the tide seemed just right-making my two hours of sleep easily forgotten.
The drive down was foggy, and by the time I made it to the ramp the sun had just risen, revealing a beautiful skyline. After having my only two one knockers cracked by redfish on Tuesday, the Skitterwalk was tied on by default. Threw the pink skitter into the mangroves and picked up a nice snook to start the morning. He hit it four times before the rusty trebles stuck [...]
Headed out of Dania on the 8th. The conditions weren’t the best, with a straight east wind that made paddling out take forever. Decided I was only going to jig that day I didn’t bring any live bait. Fishing was real slow for me. Ended up catching a perfect size blue runner for live bait in 180 feet of water, tied up a stinger rig real quick and tossed him out. Not even 10 minutes later I get a hit and see it jump.
Headed out today with my Ryan Warden. Bite was a little slower than I expected it to be today but there were a few nice fish caught, we managed a few decent reds, and some trout including the smallest trout I’ve ever seen that popped a trout pattern topwater bigger than him, and I managed to find a nice hole loaded with keeper mangrove snapper [...]
Been doing quite a bit of exploring fishing with some of my good fishing buddies deep in the Everglades in no man’s land. The paddles are long full of creatures that would not mind having you for dinner or biting you to fill there stomachs but the fishing has been outstanding. Fly-fishing exclusively for these fish has been a challenge but the rewards have been much sweeter! [...]
Had a chance to get my wife Stephanie out on the water this morning in “Her Native Mariner”. So after a quick stop at BCFC for some of their ninja mudminnows we were on the water about 8:15 am. We come up on Dreads, spoke with him a minute then we set up to locate the trout. Stef does not get out to fish much so I wanted her to catch plenty of fish. Which she did, we must of caught 40 plus trout in the range of 13 inches to 17 inches. Did not get on any big fish but did manage a few rat reds mixed in. She had a great time and that’s all I was after [...]
Hit North Biscayne Bay about 0800 looking for whatever. Tried the trout flats for an hour and a half with nothing to show for it but some pinfish-chewed up soft baits. Since bluefish and mackerel had been showing up lately, I headed to the deep channel and tossed on a refurbished crystal minnow. Quickly hook up with a nice Spanish mack, followed a few minutes later by a nice bluefish. The bite died again, so I paddled south of the causeway and got a just keeper size trout and another bluefish [...]
Decided to do a little fishing this afternoon with the flood tide. I have not tried flood tide fishing in the middle of the day yet and figured I would give it a try. Was joined by a buddy of mine and we were off by about 1. Pulled up to my first flood flat and saw 1 tail. He then disappeared so we moved to the next flat. Pulled up to the second flat and saw nothing, looked a little more before we decided to just start working the creeks and islands. Then it was on. My buddy was throwing a rootbeer DOA shrimp and flipped up along the grass and I heard his drag start screaming and the yak took off.
After a good little fight we had our first red of the day.[...]
Launched at Pine Island this morning with a very strong breeze and some dark clouds. As we launched the kayaks I was wondering if it was going to be worth it, and it was! One my first cast i Had a nice red blow up on the topwater, which was right at the launch! Of course he missed it and we pressed on. We came out on the flats and I hook a really nice fish on the topwater, and pull in a 25-inch trout! That was definitely my personal best in Pine Island [...]
Dad and I dropped the kayaks in this evening just before 8:00pm. We Paddled over to our first dock light and before I could even get my rod out, dad was already hooked up on a small fat snook! So I skip in and get another fat snook to start things off. Next light there are some larger fish popping in and a few casts later, I’m locked into a better fish. Turns out to be my personal best fat snook. Dad then gets another fat snook that was only slightly smaller than the one I had just got! That’s four fat snook in a row. Then dad breaks the streak with a small common. We Head around to one of our last lights and we quickly pick off two nice snook. Both about 25 inches [...]
OK folks, here is a compilation of trips in the recent mouth. I will start with the best. As all epic trips start off, I get a phone call from Chris “Tex” Lewis telling me about an idea of a trip from Flamingo to Islamorada on kayaks as I was driving to work one afternoon. With out hesitation, I say I am in. Minutes later, I get a call from Dj DanDecibel all pumped up about the trip. So for the next 6 days we planned everything out and got all the gear ready. After days of gearing up tying flies and looking at the weather the day of reckoning [...]
My buddy Justin and I had the day off of work so we decided to head out on the Yaks. After finding some bait we had the yaks in the water around 10:30. Lines in the water about 105 feet and within seconds my buddy Justin spots a 6 foot Hammerhead on one of his baits…
…Total for the day One Hammerhead, 2 Big Dolphin, and Our First Yak Sailfish! Awesome day and so worth the crazy paddle back. Got an awesome gopro video that I edited and put up[...]
After talking with Alan Ryland about the day he and Steve Brand spent on the “NMZ”; the location of our next Boondoggle, I knew I needed to get out there and put hooks in fishes faces! So I met up with Alan around 7:15 a.m. or so, got all unloaded and off we went in search of reds and trout. The wind was light out of the west and the water was very cool already so we knew it would be a bit of a waiting game until the flat warmed up a bit [...]
After a little while my friend hooks up into a 25 inch snook that gets off next to the yak, so I start to work an area near him and I hook into something big! It starts screaming out drag and honestly I thought it was a big jack crevalle at first. But once it started going into the trees and thrashing on the surface I knew it had to be better. I finally get it up next to the kayak and it is a nice snook!
Had plans to head into Snake Bight this morning, but never made it that far. The bite was on at the ranger dock during a strong sweeping tide letting out of the flats into the little channel there. I anchored up in a sweet spot and started off with a decent shallow water jack on a top water, but a DOA Shrimp was the champion of the day. A slow retrieve with a light lift/drop of the rod tip landed everything for the remainder of the day.
Last weekend, I had the chance to try my hand at something I’ve always wanted to do: hit the beach out of my kayak. My good buds Nick and Jon helped show me the ropes, since they had already fished the beaches before. We launched around 7 a.m., heading straight offshore and growing hairs on our chest as we pummeled through 2 foot swells. They had been telling me all week “Dude, we will just sabiki up a ton of croakers when we get out there to use for bait.” I’m thinking “Hey, croakers are awesome bait; until I see that what they thought were “croakers” were actually horn-bellies, which I thought was trash, but hey, we made lemonade [...]
Myself and AJ a.k.a EastCoastAngler decided to save a little gas money and take out the yaks. We headed out of Stuart and started catching some jacks that were feeding on the big schools of glass minnows. We moved on to some submerged trees and caught a snook that was about 20-inches. We got to our mangrove destination were we had some good bites on topwater, so we decided to net some fingers. Tried for a while before I finally hooked a 35-inch snook that nearly got me into the mangroves [...]
It looks like my love for kayak fishing has finally become an addiction. After becoming the proud new owner of a Wilderness Systems 14 Commander a few weeks back, I have been trying and trying to get on the water. Busy schedule it seems. Finally, about a week ago, I was able to put her on top of the Jeep and head out in search of some reds that had been (and still are) my mind for quite some time [...]
Went out today with my buddy Josh Harvel (YakNitUp Charters) to Matlacha around 9:30 to catch the 11 a.m. low tide. We immediately were concerned with the wind and with the approaching storm clouds, BUT, we launched anyways. We headed out and were immediately greeted with a very welcome site, TARPON, and man they were everywhere!!! We played around in the canal systems for a little while having a blast watching the tarpon bust our topwaters [...]
Kellan and I got a late start yesterday, we launched off pompano around 9:30 a.m. The waves were crashing pretty hard on the beach but we managed to get out after a good soaking. We headed out to the first wreck and on my first drop with a jig, my line started screaming. I get the fish up to the yak and realize it is a very nice mutton. This is my first mutton on a jig. I must say this was a very nice start to the day [...]
Some of the folks from the SWFKAA got together for a little fishing in Estero Bay. We arrived at 6:30am and spent the next 30 minutes waiting for the rain that would evenyually cancel the trip. At around 7am, we ran out of excuses and decided to launch. We had Troy (Yaknew), Esteban (CaptBlackbeard), Joe (jcorrigan), Josh (Jfish), Eric (my boy) and me. We launched into surprisingly calm conditions and were instantly on the fish. First up was the trout and they did not disappoint on topwater.
Finally had a day to fish inshore with no clients or tournaments to worry about. Launch with a 5 to 10 knot wind from the south which became 15 mph by 10 a.m. The south wind and a strong current incoming tide from the north made it difficult to fish. Jacks, blues and a few small trout was about it until 11 a.m. First fish was FAT! 26 inches. Someone has been enjoying all the mullet! Probably one of the largest girths I have seen on a trout that size.
With my available fishing weekends quickly narrowing down, decided to head out to Bayport today to see if we could improve upon last weeks trip. Put in around 7:30 to a low tide and steady breeze. Tide wasn’t supposed to be in until 2 p.m. so we had a few hours to kill until the water started moving again [...]
After reading the article on seawall snook, saltwater assasin and I decided to try our luck and work some seawalls in Stuart. We started the day with the last drizzle of the outgoing tide. This morning I decided that I would throw a black and gold Top Dog. While still trying to perfect my walk the dog I was able to hook up with one snook before the tide went slack. As the article stated when the water isn’t moving the fish are not biting. The big gal inhaled my lure about 10 feet in front of my kayak and then lazily let herself get dragged to the yak [...]
After years of talking about going “lobstering” by kayak, weeks of practicing and the 3rd day trying to catch one. I finally caught my first lobster.
Kellan, Chris and I went to Dania Beach today with our Hookah setups to go lobstering. The storm must have pushed them shallow since we were getting them in ~15 feet. The visibility was pretty poor and I had to surface several times when I lost the reef [...]
We fished the IFA kayak tour regional event which was held in Titusville on August 26. We arrived Friday afternoon and fished on the south end of the Banana River with some great results. It was our first time fishing anywhere in this area and I caught my first red there within 20 minutes of hitting the water, I was able to easily see him along the mangroves when I was standing on my Hobie pro angler 12 [...]
With the last few months of summer looming upon us, Mother Nature has not given up her relentless grasp just yet. With mornings feeling more like an ascent at the summit of Mt. Everest leaving one gasping for air, mid day has brought punishing temperatures that could only be compared to the most hostile places in our solar system. Combined the weather with grueling paddles, endless miles of poling and lighting storms that could only be compared to science fiction movie “War of the worlds” and you begin to wonder what draws fisherman to this inhospitable world [...]
Hit the water with my good friend Chris in search of some ML Redfish. At the launch I noticed the water looked alot like coffee with a lot of creamer, well it is that time of the year so off we go. Once we got to the flat we saw pushes near the bank and tails in the thick grass, so we fan out to cover more water.
Met up with Andriod this morning for first trip off Dania Pier. He was kind enough to lend me a jigging rod, jig and point me in the right direction. After sunrise broke the ice with small bonito. Followed his lead and kept drifting and jigging. Lost a trigger fish but was good sign. Lost a jig to a mystery break off [..]
I recently purchased a new Hobie AI. Wow, what a blast. I’ve been fishing offshore three times now and I guess the third times a charm. A little background, I grew up fishing in the Keys and other South Florida spots and have come to love offshore fishing. I recently came across the sport of kayak fishing and dove in head first. What a difference [...]
I ate a banana today which everyone was saying was bad luck for fishing. Even though my luck was doomed, I still decided to go out this morning out of Dania with Redneck Rocket and NewYorker. A couple of new guys also tagged along for their first offshore trip. Grabbed some bait from the beach and headed out [...]
THE WEATHER HAS BEEN HOT WITH COUPLE OF STORMS AROUND BUT DEFINITELY WORTH IT SOMETIMES GOING WITH THE BAD WEATHER I HAVENT BEEN TAKING MANY PICTURES BUT I HAVE BEEN DOING TONS OF RECORDING. I WILL PUT THE LINK WHERE YOU CAN WATCH A VIDEO I PUT TOGETHER OF SOME OF THE FLY FISHING IVE BEEN DOING. ENJOY THE REPORT!
Let’s start with the fact that the water temperature was spring cold, 72 degrees at 11am. Caught lots of big Bluefish and plenty of Trout as well. While paddling around I passed over some deep water and a freaking Sailfish (approx. 4ft?) passed under my kayak!!! I just started laughing, that’s a new one for me! Then I caught these two Grouper on the same DOA Shrimp. What a day!
Got out early and started catching slot reds and small snook and then in caught 2 big snook and 2 bull reds in the afternoon. Caught bulls on cut bait under a cork and big snook on 1/8 oz jighead with z man scented paddlerz. The biggest of the snook is the biggest fish I’ve ever caught on artificials. Caught flounder, snook, redfish, blk drum, and trout. One of the best days I’ve ever had fishing!
Summertime fishing can be the most rewarding and most frustrating time to fish south Florida waters. With temperatures soaring well over the hundreds and afternoon thunderstorms just about every day it has been a challenge. Being able to predict the weather and fighting the heat has paid off in my quest for the next thrill seeking adventure [...]
Just got in from a great day on the lake and figured I would give a report. Got on the water at 6 a.m. and first cast, boom, 2 pound bass on a Big Easy topwater. Got a few more on topwater then swiched to fliping docks with a trick worm as I was zoned out with that my Buddy Ryan gets a 6 pounder on a KVD frog 15 feet away from me.
Went out this morning with livingthedream and Larry the lobsterman. Hit some nice weeds, couldn’t tell you how deep (no fishfinder) and no lives today so everything was caught on jigs and plugs. Picked up 3 blackfin tuna, caught 3 throw back mahi-mahi, 4 almaco’s, and a bunch of BIG bonito, and called it after landing a 5 foot wahoo [...]
Went out of pompano today with a floatilla of other yakers. From what I’ve heard so far it was pretty much a bonita bonanza for most of the people that went. Flats Broke got a blackfin tuna, I ended up dropping a chicken rig down on one of the deep wrecks and hit the vermillion snappers pretty good. Past them around to a few yaks so nobody was over the limit [...]
I got in between my friend Dale’s little kayak and big tarpon with my video camera yesterday just off the Port Charlotte Beach Complex. We were fishing for snook with 12 pound test and a chrome spook jr. I posted a short under 5 minute video on youtube of some of the highlights called “Dale’s Big Tarpon, Little Kayak”. Dale guessed 80 pounds.
The one day I forget my Gopro Camera pole I catch this sail that had to jump 20 times with her whole body coming out of the water each time. Thanks to the Spanish speaking Americans for the pic that thought I wanted thier gaff when I was asking for a picture. After 10 minutes revival she swam off strong.
Started the morning early and launched with Chris (frankthetank) around 6 a.m. from Pompano Beach. We were greeted by decent size waves breaking right on the beach. So we timed our launch and got a little wet as we passed through them, luckily without rolling.
We got in last Saturday to breezy, rainy conditions that didn’t seem to let up the whole week. Crazy things happened on Saturday and Sunday, so let’s fast-forward to Monday, and our first fishing day. I guess you could say that it was a learning day, as all I could find was mud bottom and no current…sweet . I did end up accidentally catching a short sheepshead in the cast net, so I won’t count it as a skunk. Anyway, on to Tuesday, and where the fun begins. My uncle Roger and his family were in town, so I was determined to put him on some nice fish, so after an hour or so we moved in search of oysters, current, clean water, and grass…we found it! [...]
Well the beach fishing is phenomenal right now. Decided not to take the kayaks out because of the strong NE wind and current. Tarpon and snook are everywhere on the beaches right now. No matter where you go. We jumped off several tarpon before we landed this nice snook. Using live pilchard with a 3oz pyramid weight to hold the bait in place. After a few pics the snook was released unharmed.
Has been a fun spring. My clients have been doing great getting back to the fish and able to close the deal on some really nice redfish, flounder and trout. Even some dirty ginclear water days for some close up sight fishing. The weather has been awesome for kayaking with the exception of the occasional south 20 mph afternoon winds [...]
Paddled out with Capt.Yak. Headed straight to the wrecks in 250 feet to try and jig up an AJ but not much action going on. Reeled the jigs up and tossed out some live bait on the down rigger set at 60 feet. As I start to head shallow in about 215 feet I get my first hit, 41 inch King. Skinny guy but had the length. As I get into 115 feet my down rigger pops and my reel starts screaming, up comes the sail. 5 minutes later I land this beautiful sailfish.
After work yesterday fellow forum member Nolez12 and I headed out to get some fishing time in. Both of us were forum members before all the changes and recently decided to get back on the forum. Anyways, we launched around 6 p.m with a nice incoming tide. I had a nice snook that didnt completely commit along the first wall we fished.
Fishing has been pretty good. I have broken a couple of my personal records. Recently I caught my biggest snook at 35 inches, my biggest redfish on fly, and also caught a big black drum. I never got to measure the black drum because he did not fit inside my kayak [...]
It’s been a while since I have been able to spend some time on the water, but this past weekend I took advantage of the good weather and set out on a solo trip looking for Redfish and Trout. I hit the launch at day break and worked my way south along the west side of the river [...]
Me and my bro headed to Biscayne to meet Dave, who was kind enough to show us a hot trout spot. As we paddled out through snapper creek, I trolled a soft plastic and got slammed by a monster snook, which broke off immediately. We kept going and as we rounded the corner Dave spots tailing bones. My bro makes a cast and hooks up [...]
I asked noted Photographer Doug Stamm to join me on a day trip over to Miami for some Peacock Bass fishing. We left the West coast at 0600 and began the drive. It was tempting to stop at all the canals along the way, but we were on a mission. We arrived after a few short stops at around 0830 and met up with Mike Teixidor. Mike is a good friend and fellow Blue Line Fishing Team member, and he knows Miami Peacock bass.
Woke up early to haul but to Lake Worth. We launched at the snook Island Kayak launch me and my older brother and began our journey. We fished in an out of every nook and cranny of the snook island area nothing but a stingray and bait everywhere. Paddled north seen some sheepies but no connections, we found this nice little sandbar exposed with rock piles next to it so we worked the only lure I ever caught snook on, a Bass Assassin silver chartreuse, hooked up [...]
Better weather is finally approaching, and the fishing is hot hot hot offshore. Saturday winds and surf were a little choppier than predicted but we got into some nice fish. Winds were great for the kayak and currents did not start ripping until after 1pm. On saturday, hooked, oarknot, and myself ventured out. caught alot of bonita, nice kings, runners, jacks of all sorts and sizes and one tuna. Water was murkier than normal which is not a bad thing, plankton and silt brings bait and bait brings predators. I will also make note that, absolutely zero bait, live or dead, are used on any of our trips, so whatever we catch is on artificials.
Everyone I spoke to slayed fished yesterday. Here are a couple of the bigs boys Joe & I brought in. I was happy about my 35″ BFT until I spoke to Rob(PottyMouth) and he told me he landed a 40″! What a beast!
We decided to hit some bottom spots off destin on this super full moon. well we didnt launch till about 3 a.m. or so and it was calm and the sky was lit up! got to the first spot and josh pulls up this beast red snapper. not much going on after that till’ the sun started to rise. We heard a loud splash and everyone looked over there then we saw a sailfish jump and we all freak out and started going over towards it [...]
I was free lining a whole squid on the Penn Torque and had not checked the bait in quite a bit. I had let out quite a bit of line and was trying to speed reel the line in. As the line got close I slowed down to a stop to see if anything might of been following it. Sure enough I see a rather large shadow behind the squid. I let it sit but the lack of action made him lose interest. I pulled it in a threw it out in front of my yak, sure enough I saw him dart right for it.
Took the wife down to Conch Key Cottages, MM 61, for a few days of paddling and exploring. She let me fish a little. The hotel is right on the water adjacent to what should have been good bonefish flats, but I did not see one the whole trip. There were some respectable barracudas to be had. It’s nice to be able to roll out of bed and be fishing within 5 minutes.
Planned on a Delray to Boynton inlet drift, even staged a car at Boynton inlet. We put in at the beach in Delray water was perfect, flat and a light wind. We never got that far off only about 80ft we let the wind take us. It ended up taking us south east not the way we planned on going. The ocean had a good April fools joke by taking us the wrong way. But it ended up working out. Birds were diving all around us and bait was getting slammed on the top of the water. My bro-in law ended up with 2 AJ’s and I was skunked. Still a great day on the water.
I haven’t posted anything in about two months or so, I just got back from Djing out of the country in late February. I’ve been doing some fishing here and there but this month has been really windy and it seems like the only time to have some fishing opportunity has been in the mornings when the winds are kind of calm. Even though the high winds we have, I have had some luck here and there [...]
Well the plan was to get on the Cobia bite today as I have been hearing scattered reports. We hit the beach at Phipps Park in Lake Worth and are greated by 2-4′ seas and a erroded beach. We disscussed for awhile and decided to charge the surf at 7am. We hit 100′ and throw out flat lines and start jigging with DOA swimming mullets. Hour into the trip..nada..so we decide to paddle back out and north as the east wind has blown us in. My buddy Hoke trolls a DOA Terror Eyz in golden bream and is slammed by this gal in 65′ [...]
The plan was to launch from the North end of Lover’s Key and visit the islands in the middle of the bay and look for reds and snook. When I arrived at the launch, I found my plans thwarted as one million mph winds were coming across the bay. Not to be outdone by weather, I opted to launch at Hickory Pass and maybe find some shelter from the wind. I met up with my buddy Mike, and we took off at sunrise [...]
Decided to try somewhere brackish I haven’t spent much time, just to try something new this afternoon. Fished a few hours of daylight plus about 30min after dark with the moon so bright.
Was push-poling around in a foot of water when I came across a big, dark, gnarly tail sticking out of the water. Thought it was a big black drum and threw on him. After a 20minute sleigh ride I found out I was mistaken [...]
I wanted to get over my dismal 12th place finish in the IFA tournament so I called Allen Reddick for some Estero Bay fishing. We launched at Week’s into a little wind, but not as bad as it was yesterday. Week’s is such a great place to lauch as it’s never too busy! We started fishing the flats right outside of the channel on the falling tide. I was using my usual, Gulp shrimp on a DOA cal jighead and it didn’t take long to snatch up a slot redfish [...]
Downrigger Plus Gog Equals Smoker Kayak King
Florida Sportsman member: FLATS BROKE
Went out yesterday with a half dozen gogs paddled out to 90ft and put my baits out, 1 flat line 1 on the downrigger. Slow troll out to 165ft and drop my jig and pull up a small king 28 inch. Headed in to 140ft where there was a nice color change and my rigger goes off zzzz’. 15 mins later I land this nice king. The downrigger was set at 50 feet.
Fishing was slow for us this weekend, Current was ripping North 3+mph. Managed to catch this kingfish (70ft) on the way out on a deep diving Yozuri plug. We did a lot more kayaking than fishing. I sold the fish on the beach for a whopping $13.00 to a Canadian couple that really wanted it. They offerd to buy it so I said “$20 its great deal”, Then he said he had no cash .I loaded up my kayak and was ready to leave when I noticed the guy running down the street towards me with cash in his hand. He told me he managed to borrow $13 and thats all he had. So I gave in and took the $13.00 and used it for bait the next day [...]
by Florida Sportsman Newswire•
July 28, 2014
FWC Press Release
Florida is known as a tourist-friendly state, but starting Aug. 1, one visitor will no longer be welcome: the invasive lionfish.
Introduced into Florida waters in the late 1980s, lionfish populations have boomed in recent years, negatively impacting native wildlife and habitat.
Several management changes go into effect Aug. 1 that will help the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) combat the growing problem by making it easier for lionfish hunters to remove the spiny predators and limiting further introduction of the species into the waters.
Prohibiting the importation of live lionfish;
Allowing lionfish to be removed via spearfishing when diving with a rebreather, a device that recycles air and allows divers to remain in the water for longer periods of time (currently, you cannot spear any fish when using a rebreather); and
Allowing participants of approved tournaments and other organized events to spear lionfish or other invasive species in areas where spearfishing is not currently allowed (such as certain state parks or refuges). This will be done through a permitting system.
See or catch a lionfish? Report a sighting by downloading the new Report Florida Lionfish app on a smart device or by visiting MyFWC.com/Fishing and clicking on “Recreational Regulations” (under “Saltwater”) and then “Lionfish.”
To learn more about lionfish, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Lionfish.”
by Florida Sportsman Newswire•
July 28, 2014
Brevard Zoo, in partnership with the Brevard County Natural Resources Department, will double the size of its Oyster Gardening volunteer program by the end of the year. The Oyster Gardening program, funded by the Brevard County Commissioners, is part of the larger Brevard Oyster Restoration project, available for residents with direct waterfront on the Indian River Lagoon. The program teaches participants to use the filter-feeding power of native oysters as a means of cleaning up local waterways. Volunteer oyster gardeners use special habitats suspended from their docks to grow oysters that will be used in future oyster reef restoration projects in Brevard County.
There are currently about 500 active Oyster Gardening volunteers, but the program is preparing to expand into a second phase that will train an additional 500 waterfront residents over the coming months. To get involved, qualified individuals must attend an educational workshop, where supplies and training will be provided. Reservations are required and can be made at www.BrevardOysterRestoration.org.
Oyster gardeners will not only grow oysters but also act as citizen scientists, monitoring their habitats to collect important data on growth, survivability and recruitment of oysters that will help determine the locations of future reef restoration sites.
by Florida Sportsman Newswire•
July 28, 2014
Photo credit: Christopher Collins
FWC researchers have begun using new approaches to more quickly detect and track harmful algal blooms in the Indian River Lagoon, which spans 156 miles and makes up 40 percent of Florida’s east coast, supporting commercial and recreational clam and oyster farming.
To provide spatial snapshots of blooms (the big picture of where blooms may be occurring in the lagoon) the FWC established a flow-through monitoring program this year. The flow-through monitoring system analyzes water quality while the research vessel is in motion, traveling throughout the lagoon, as opposed to traditional methods of tracking blooms that require scientists to collect water and examine it back in the lab. The flow-through system pumps water from the surface through instruments that measure salinity, temperature and chlorophyll fluorescence, an indicator of algae. This information is then integrated with GPS coordinates to create maps of surface waters that can show “hot spots” of blooms.
Monthly, between June and August (typical bloom season) the FWC maps surface waters in the Indian River Lagoon system, which includes Mosquito Lagoon and Banana River, to detect blooms and to put routine monitoring data into a spatial context. The equipment produces real-time data, which allow researchers to adaptively sample bloom patches as they are noticed in the field. At select stations, researchers also collect samples to be analyzed for the amount and diversity of algae; this is done in partnership with the St. Johns River Water Management District and the University of Florida.
The information will help in the short term to detect blooms and in the longer term to identify the causes of blooms, ultimately leading to better management strategies.
To learn more about the FWC’s harmful algal bloom program, including monitoring in the Indian River Lagoon, visit MyFWC.com/RedTide.
Florida Sportsman’s Rick Ryals gives advice on how-to most effectively slow troll live baits while offshore fishing.
It’s important to note that trolling live bait is not the same as trolling dead baits and lures. Live baits would quickly die if pulled at similar speeds. Not to mention, look very unnatural. The trick to pulling live baits is only going as fast as the baits can keep up to the boat. This may require “bumping” the throttle in and out of gear. As Ryals explains, there should be enough in your lines to where the baits can take evasive action from predator fish, as they would in a natural environment.
Classic summer Okeechobee bass-bugging at its best.
A perfect, windles day for fly fishing with 6-weights and small poppers. Bert Gibson throws a tight loop.
By early June last year, Lake Okeechobee was low, 11 feet, three inches, so low bass and panfish were jammed into natural depressions and manmade canals around Belle Glade.
“The schoolies are thick,” said Capt. Pete Moore, “and you’re guaranteed to take home a mess of big, copper-nosed bluegills.”
Pete, one of the few Lake O guides who primarily fly fishes, has been on the lake since the late ’60s, and has devoted decades’ worth of springs to bass bugging. Before rising water temps become suffocating, a bass bugger, if he finds the right ditch, can outfish his hardware-chunking brethren a dozen fish to one. Plus, bring home a mess of panfish fillets.
Throughout summer, the Everglades teems with insect hatches, and the hungry, competitive fish keep one eye on the surface, at least during the cooler hours of the day. So, early in June, Pete carried us out to the old irrigation ditches that snake through Kramer Island and Ritta Island, the very canals where my dad learned to fly fish as a kid, and where he taught me when I was a young boy. Pete has worked hard to prevent a dubious sheet-flow restoration project from backfilling most of these canals (see sidebar), and wanting my first visit to the place in many years to be memorable, he reserved a day for us right before the full moon.
The water at Pelican Bay was so low Pete had to make the tight turns into the canals without coming off of plane. He didn’t mind—low water keeps all but the most determined anglers out, it helps encourage important aquatic and subaquatic grasses, and it concentrates fish in the canals. Plus, a wild streak runs through old Pete; when he gets behind the wheel of his bass boat, he grins as gleefully as a kid revving his hotrod. But, as the bass boat settled into the tepid water, smoky wisps of fog glowed red around the running lights, and the glittery vessel—all gadgets and sharp lines—seemed a time machine touching down on “big waters.”
That’s the effect, anyway, that fishing and hunting on Lake Okeechobee often has on me, especially when fishing or hunting with folks who’ve long known the lake. On that foggy morning, the long, gnarled fingers of history tapped me firmly on the shoulder.
As Dad and Pete reached for 6-weight rods they were as anxious and enthusiastic as boys. The verdant marsh and soft morning light made them look much younger, and I could easily picture my father as a teenager fly fishing from the pram he rowed out from Torry Island, as well as Pete making his first tentative explorations of the lake in an old johnboat. I could also picture the Stein boys rebuilding the levees after the ’47 hurricane, then again after the storm in ’49, when the family farmed Kramer Island.
June is a prime month for big bluegills.
“The storms washed the levees into the canals,” Fritz Stein Jr. told me, “so Dad sent me on dynamite runs to Miami. They also washed out the twin bridges, so we ferried work crews out in a barge. We bought an Army surplus crane, and used a dragline to move the barge one toss of the bucket at a time. The bucket left ‘dinosaur tracks’ in the lake bottom—shellcrackers still love to bed in them.”
When he got a break from farming, Stein also loved to ply the banks with poppers. He’ll tell you that those canals, which ran with the blood, sweat and pathos of Glades’ pioneers, have always attracted birds, bass and panfish. Now, the marsh has reclaimed fields, and the area is a natural historical irony. The old fields became prime habitat for dabbling ducks, wading birds and forage fish, and when lake levels are falling, little rivulets drain them into the canals. Then, the entire food chain lines up at the mouths of those drainages in ascending order.
A gator lurked at the mouth of one of those rivulets.
“When the gators are up like that,” Pete said, “they’re feeding on bass.”
Capt. Pete Moore holds a larger schoolie bass. The fish struck after a downward rod stroke.
Webbed feet under its shoulders and haunches, and tail angled low in the water like an idling outboard, the 6-footer lay poised at the mouth of the run. Sure enough, a fish swirled in the hole, and with a tail flick the reptile sprang across the hydrilla like an overgrown Jesus lizard, then plunged its jaws into the black water. The snout raised triumphantly, the jaws crunched, the white throat opened, and the little bass became natural history.
“He needs to chew his food more,” Pete quipped, “or he’ll give himself gas.”
We took the cue and cast our No. 4 chartreuse poppers into those spots. But up and down the canal, the staccato explosions of schoolie bass made it difficult to ward off the temptation to make constant, reactionary presentations. Evidently, the fish were keyed in on a hatch of invisible insects, chisiwinks perhaps, so I eyed the popper skeptically before casting it.
“Twitch it into the hole,” Pete counseled, “let it sit a while, and pop it with a hard downward stroke of the rod.” I popped the bug, and the echoing rings hadn’t radiated out to the edge of the hole before a 2-pound bass exploded on my bug.
During these months, Pete almost exclusively targets bass with the cork poppers he buys from the folks who made Uncle Bob’s poppers. These fish take big deerhair bugs, as well, and yes, bigger flies catch bigger fish. But, most summertime bass run one to four pounds; further, the big bluegills can’t wrap their mouths around a big wad of deerhair.
Pete has also experimented with closed-cell foam poppers, but even the smaller foam bugs land with the grace of a drowned muskrat. And although they make great big poppers, small foam bugs often ride too low in the water, and hence fail to make that satisfying, confidence-inspiring bullfroggish gurgle that cork makes.
“The whole idea behind a popper is to make a fly small enough to cast but that lo
oks like a mouthful to a bass,” Pete said. “The high-floating cork bugs with cupped faces also make the popper sound like more of a mouthful. You can tempt a big fish with a smaller cork popper. I like sizes 4 through 8, which will also spare you ‘9-weight elbow.’ Just don’t go so small that the tiny panfish suck them down first.”
Pete paints his poppers with yellow, red-rimmed faces and chartreuse bodies. He also favors a chartreuse bug with green scales painted all around it. He wraps white rubber legs along the hook shank, so they splay out to the side. Then he attaches a short marabou tail. If you wrap under the back of the marabou, lifting it slightly, you reduce the frequency with which the tail fouls around the hook bend.
A bass blitz on tiny insects. They would not take a wet fly.
Pete’s popper philosophy departs from my own when it comes to weedguards.
“I only use weedguards around lily pads, they cost you too many fish,” Pete says, insistently. He has a point. Every few trips, a slob sucks down one of his creations, and he’d rather not risk any chance at missing a big fish. But, I’m willing to assume the risk, especially around hydrilla. Cork is soft enough you can easily bore a hole with a big needle in the cork. Glue a single strand of 20-pound Mason hard mono, or 15-pound on smaller bugs, that extends slightly past the hook point. The mono works like a vaulting pole to make the bug leap off the matted vegetation; it keeps the bug clean and in the water, which leads to more strikes.
Bass either strike poppers viciously, or they suck them down almost imperceptibly. If you want to learn how to set the hook while fly fishing for bass with popping bugs, pay a visit to the aquarium at Slim’s Fish Camp on Torry Island around feeding time. They don’t chase a shiner down, they breathe it in. You can see the scales squirt out of the gills. So, lifting the rodtip is the absolute worst response to either strike; usually the bug just flies back out the wide opening on a dangerous trajectory. Strip strike, and wait until you feel tension in your line hand before lifting the rod.
Bass bugs give a little, especially cork bugs; they have a texture similar to an insect’s exoskeleton or the skull of a small frog, so there’s no hurry. The fish will usually hang onto the bug for a couple of seconds—more than enough time to feel the fish and set the hook. And once you’re on, keep the rodtip low, and bent 180 degrees away from the direction in which the fish lunges. If you’re fishing with at least 12-pound tippet, and you keep the rod angled properly, you can turn a big bass away from cover with a 6-weight rod.
We got plenty of practice that morning. We even found a school of bass blitzing like a horde of stripers. Despite the frenetic bite, the fish wouldn’t take a swift-moving bug—we fished them dead still. I even tried a couple of small baitfish and Woolly Bugger patterns, and caught but one fish to every five bucketmouths that Dad and Pete each landed, which proved again that there’s no more classic, entertaining, or productive dry-season, early morning, warm-weather bass fishing technique than plying the ditches with a chartreuse cork popper.