Florida Sportsman Blog

Florida’s Sixth Annual Fly Fishing Expo, October 23-24

Florida’s Sixth Annual Fly Fishing Expo will be held October 23rd and 24th in Dania Beach. Some of Florida’s most prominent fly fishing experts will lead fly tying and fly casting clinics at the International Game Fish Association’s Museum and Conference Center.

More than two dozen fly fishing celebrities including Chico Fernandez, Jon Cave, and Andy Mill will present fly tying and fly casting seminars at the 2015 Florida Fly Fishing Expo Oct. 23-24 at the International Game Fish Association’s Museum and Conference Center in Dania Beach, Florida.

They will demonstrate skills and teach hands-on workshops at the annual show which also includes company exhibits showcasing the newest fly rods, reels, lines, clothing, kayaks, boats, and other gear. Other fly fishing specialists who have signed on as instructors include Capt. Rob Fordyce, Capt. Rich Keating, Capt. Joe Gonzalez, Pat Ford, Capt. Honson Lau, Cordell Baum (aka The Bonefish Whisperer), Capt. Bou Bosso, Capt. Pete Greenan, David Lambroughton, Capt. Jamie Allen, and Capt. Mark Benson.

“If you are a fly fisher of any age, or even if you are just a beginner, you will love your time at our Expo, and learn first-hand from some of the most accomplished fishers and fishing guides in the country,” said Tom Gadacz, President of the Florida Council of the International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF)”We have arranged for presentations and workshops for all fly fishers.

This is the sixth annual Florida Fly Fishing Expo but the first in South Florida. “Saltwater fly fishing has its roots here and this event will pay tribute to the men and women who taught us how to catch tarpon, redfish, snook, seatrout and much more with our magic wands,” Gadacz said.

Special Expo programs will include IFFF-certified fly casting instructors and fly tiers teaching their skills. Hands-on clinics, demonstrations and workshops include instruction for beginning through advanced fly casters, outdoor photography, fly fishing techniques, tying effective new fly patterns, fly casting distance and accuracy, and much more

Admission to the family-friendly expo is $25, which includes both days and a reception social on Friday evening. Admission is free for those 16 and younger when accompanied by an adult.

Soft Plastic Topwaters

By Vance McCullough

Frogs and toads are old news to some Florida bass.
Weedless-rigged Nervous Rex, similar in size and profile to a magnum Zara Spook.

When bass are tight to cover or buried beneath it, getting a lure in front of them can be difficult. Plugs with treble hooks are suited for nibbling around edges of cover. If fish are active such an approach may work well. However, when bass hunker in places inaccessible to most lures, as they often do, a weedless offering is a must.

Buzz toads work well when bass are playing fast and loose.

Hollow-bodied frogs can be cast into a rose bush with little concern of getting hung up. They can also be paused in place indefinitely to entice reluctant fish.

A buzzing toad and a hollow frog combine to form a solid game plan.

The problem is that this game plan has proven so effective that there has arisen an army of toad slingers and frog fanatics. These folks have educated the bass in many of Florida’s most popular lakes. Many will learn to avoid artificial prey after they have seen it a time or two. If you want to keep catching the biggest— and therefore wisest—bass, you must outsmart not only the fish but your fellow anglers as well.

Here are a couple of soft plastic topwaters that most bass have not yet seen.

Z-man offers the Pop ShadZ, a 5-inch cupped-face floater made of hyper buoyant and bulletproof ElaZtech material. Jerked aggressively this bait will spray a wall of water as it gurgles and pops. Even when barely twitched it will walk in similar fashion to the most productive hard stickbaits. Its lithe tail is split to further produce a seductive quiver in the lure’s own wake. When the Pop ShadZ is left in place, the undulating tail often seals the deal for indecisive fish.

The Pop ShadZ will work in places where a frog used to. Fish it the same way.

Because ElaZtech is incredibly durable, the Pop ShadZ will outlast a whole pack of regular soft plastics. It can stand up to the abuse dealt by bass, snook, redfish, trout and more. This makes the lure a no-brainer for Florida’s tidal creeks where a variety of gamefish swim.

Another great all-round option for tidewater and sweet water alike is the Owner Nervous Rex. It is similar in size to the Pop ShadZ but produces less sound and splash due to its gently rounded nose.

Owner recommends it be rigged on some type of weighted hook or jighead and used as a swimbait, but if rigged correctly an unweighted Rex will do things no other lure will. There is a flat spot beneath the head of the lure where a chin would be, if fish had chins. This is where the hook should be inserted. The effect is that the lure has an upward slanting nose which propels it up and out of the water when snapped suddenly forward. It acts like a mullet, which is one reason for its crossover appeal to inshore species as well as freshwater fish.

High-floating pop ShadZ gets inhaled by a largemouth.

The Rex has an ultra-realistic baitfish shape right down to the anatomically correct fanned-out tail which is thin so it quivers at the slightest twitch of your rod—hence the name “Nervous” Rex. The “ayu” color is a great match for Florida’s native shiners. A more realistic bait will cost you $15 a dozen and need to be kept in a livewell.

The Rex will cut the surface and then dip below, exposing itself to predation from fish that may only follow a buzz toad without breaching their underwater ceiling to eat it.

Whereas the Pop ShadZ sounds like a feeding bluegill, the Nervous Rex sounds like a fleeing baitfish—be it a mullet or a big gizzard shad.

Both of these meaty baitfish mimics call for a 4/0 or 5/0 hook which adds a touch more weight to these lures that already cast well on baitcasting gear and will find their target even in windy conditions. The increased weight of such a hook will not sink the Pop ShadZ which is designed to float atop the water. The Nervous Rex will slowly descend if left to do so.

Most topwater lures call for monofilament line because it floats and will not dampen the action of the hard plastic or wooden lures. But the Pop ShadZ and Nervous Rex work fine with fluorocarbon line which is more abrasion resistant and nearly invisible. Also, because it lacks the stretch of mono, fluorocarbon helps an angler quickly pull a fighting fish out of dense cover before it can wrap the line around unseen obstacles.

There’s no question these two new topwaters, and others like them, will take tons of big Florida bass, along with snook and reds. The only question is: Will you be the first to show them to the fish on your favorite stretch of water? FS

First published Florida Sportsman August 2015

Steinhatchee Redfish Fly Fishing

Reds are the main players for sight-fishing fly fishers.

By Tommy Thompson

The author depends on Clouser Minnows for both trout and reds.

The first time I fished Steinhatchee, I knew immediately that its shallows stood apart from those I’d sampled elsewhere.

From the mouth of the Steinhatchee River south to the Pepperfish Keys, big, upended rocks litter porous limestone bottom. Oyster and shell bars are not as common as they are to the south, from Horseshoe Beach to the Suwannee River. Continuous grassflats extend for more than a mile offshore.

If you sight fish with a fly rod, you can certainly do it on this unique stretch of Florida’s Gulf coast. The jagged, marshy shoreline is scrubbed clean by good tidal flow and protected by distance from the muddy outflow of the Suwannee.

From the mouth of Steinhatchee River, the shoreline of Deadman Bay begins a westward swing toward Rock Point and Dallus Creek. This is a natural catch basin for baitfish, redfish and surprisingly big seatrout. The town has become an angler-friendly destination within the last few years.

The Steinhatchee River channel is well-marked. To clear the extreme shallows on either side, you’ll have to run out quite a ways to hang a left and head south to the best flats. If you have a shallow-draft skiff, with a moderate tide and calm winds, you can easily run due south from marker No. 9, but on the lowest tides you’ll need to run as far out as No. 5 before you make your turn. And once you do, you find yourself nearly two miles off the coast, but don’t worry—the shallows you’re heading to extend several miles into the Gulf of Mexico in places, so don’t make the big mistake of swinging back to shore at full tilt.

Hard bottom here claims many props, so your approach takes some patience. Once I’m directly offshore of the stretch of flats I want to fish, I come in with my motor trimmed up, come off plane, idle in a ways, and then shut down, perhaps drop the trolling motor to get even shallower, then grab the pushpole and start my hunt.

I like easterly winds here, for the sake of clean water. Strong easterlies are fine for fly fishing close to shore, but make the run south difficult, especially while crossing the deeper sloughs on the way to the fishing grounds. Moderate westerly winds, swinging from south to north, are a good reason to get out the spinning gear and rainsuits. Strong westerlies are reason to stay home, to be frank, if you have your heart set on fly fishing.

If redfish are your goal, understand that on a low tide, you may find shin-deep water a mile offshore in places. At that phase, reds may be tailing or pushing wakes, but also may hold in two to four feet, schooled up where you find good potholes in grassy bottom. That’s another good reason not to roar in under power until the last second. You may have just run over redfish in the process. Once the tide floods, the shallowest water smack against the grassy shorelines, and the creekmouths, are the places to look for fish. And it is those creekmouths that can hold some eye-popping trout that have made a comeback in this region.

Seatrout can be taken blind-casting streamers or poppers, or by sight casting on occasion.

So, where to start? Those who regularly fly fish this area have favorite spots, many smaller than an urban backyard, but there are things to look for to get you off on the right foot.

Fellow fly and light-tackle guide Sam LeNeave, of Gainesville, keeps a house at Steinhatchee and launches at Sea Hag Marina (directly across the river from the public ramp), near the mouth of the river. He is quick to say that sight fishing for reds is a low-tide deal.

“An early morning with light wind and a low incoming tide, preferably a spring tide, is best,” said LeNeave. “The top tide phase for me has been the last two hours of the ebb through the first of the riser. Once the water gets high, I switch gears and pole into the spartina shorelines, particularly at mouths of creeks.” At high tide, blind-casting with fast-sinking flies is the rule.

LeNeave and I agree that a good sight fishing day out of Steinhatchee means around 20 shots with a fly, and three to five hookups. For that reason, I would suggest blind casting to likely cover while waiting for fish to show.

Flood tides allow poling anglers to stalk reds on grassy shorelines and at creekmouths.

“Don’t expect tailers to outnumber cruising fish in this area,” said LeNeave. On soft bottom in water over two feet deep, mudding fish are possible. Sometimes fish will “float,” or mill about at the surface with tail tips exposed. Long casts are needed in this situation, particularly on flat-calm days. A black-and-gold or a burnt orange-and-gold Clouser Minnow are LeNeave’s top redfish flies. Otherwise, a gold DuPree Spoonfly will take fish, and a small gold popper will score on both trout and reds.

There is ideal redfish bottom off of Rocky, Sink, Buck and Cow creeks, all south of Steinhatchee. There, you’ll want to pole over rocky patches surrounded by turtlegrass and the long “rock grass” that reaches the surface on lower tides. Quietly pole around these patches and sloughs and look for solo reds or small schools. Trout are harder to spot, and you’ll surely spook a few in the process. Make a mental note of what baits you see—mullet and pinfish indicate that predators are there, too. Take note, too, of the tidal stage at which you see gamefish or bait. My experience is that the reds move out from the shore with 12 to 18 inches of water on the falling tide. I don’t think they’re very comfortable with less than a foot of water over their backs.

Trout, like the big singles you will find close to shore, seem to prefer the same depths. On flood tides—particularly during the spring and fall—reds and trout get right up to the shoreline and the small rock and oyster bars near the creekmouths. Seasonally, you’ll tangle with tailing reds on the shallow flats on the falling tide on cold winter mornings, while summer high tides provide fly shots at reds pushing bait schools along shore.

Many fly rodders who fish here consider it to be 8-weight territory. Many days start calm and finish with a seabreeze, making moderate-distance casts a chore. I generally shift to a 9-weight outfit when the winds pick up, and when casting the heavier, sinking flies that are called for when fish are a bit deeper. Whatever your rod weight preference, just pick one that allows you to load up well for quick, short casts at reds that pop up close to the boat.

Seatrout are masters of camouflage, and that doesn’t change here. Many times you’ll only see a puff of mud from a spooked trout in clear water, and it’s generally (or always) on the outer edge of your accurate casting range. For this reason, to have a real shot at trout on fly, I recommend that you spend a few minutes where you spook a few, by quietly slipping over a small anchor. It’s sometimes tough to find soft spots in which to stake out. Make a series of long casts to holes and patchy rock and grass where a trout can blend in. Make a stealthy presentation, and you just might take a close look at one of those 6-pound trout that are again making Steinhatchee famous.

I recommend a floating fly line with anything from a 5- to 9-foot leader, depending on fly pattern, depth and wind. I always keep another rig on board with a sinking line or a shooting head setup. The sinking line setup will come in handy when you come across those 4- to 6-foot holes that can house a big trout or redfish.

Boaters should give rocky flats a wide berth while running the coast.

As for flies, I feel that brighter colors work better on this coast. Bright Clouser Minnows, spoonflies, Rattle Rousers, standard Bendbacks and Deceivers are great for reds on the flats and for blind casting to trout. A handful of Redfish Candy flies, including white, yellow and pink (for trout), is a must for these waters, as well. During summer, reds chase baitfish tight along the shorelines, and will take a popper or a deerhair diver, but it can be tough for mere mortals to cast quickly and accurately at moving fish.

No discussion of fly fishing at Steinhatchee would be complete without mentioning the potential of the area between the Steinhatchee mouth and Dallus Creek to the north. While the water is not as clear as that over the flats to the south, as mentioned earlier, sightfishing possibilities exist. The greatest disadvantage to fly fishing Steinhatchee is the inevitable wind combined with the fact that the topography is low, and there is no high shoreline cover, thus few lees in which to hide. The southern creeks are short and shallow and there are only a few islands. The northern end of Deadman Bay is more protected from wind than the straight, low shoreline to the south. Try wading the shell bars near marker 13, and the short creeks behind the spoil banks adjacent to marker 19 if the wind beats you up down south. Dallus Creek, like Rocky Creek south of Steinhatchee, has a primitive boat ramp that’s fine for canoes, kayaks and smaller skiffs. Be prepared to do lots of blind casting at this end of the bay as your sightfishing options are limited.

Except during the most extreme cold snaps, redfish and trout are not the only flyfishing options. As the water approaches 72 degrees in the spring, expect to see schools of small baitfish appear in deeper water, followed by the first Spanish mackerel of the season. As summer starts, the mackerel are joined by ladyfish and jack crevalle—not great tablefare, but some fantastic action on a fly rod. A good place to look for these is near marker 1 and on the deeper flats to the north, near Dallus Creek. Just follow the birds. Also, don’t forget your 12-weight outfit during the summer. I carry one at all times in the event that I find a school of tarpon moving northward in early summer, or even a cobia on the flats or around the river’s channel markers. Big Deceivers in yellow-and-red make good tarpon choices and there’s nothing like a felt-bodied eel imitation for a hungry cobia.

To get to Steinhatchee, take US19, south of Perry; it’s just over 90 minutes from I-75 at Gainesville. Steinhatchee has first-rate facilities for any budget, and warm hospitality is the result of a sleepy commercial fishing village intentionally turning itself into a sportfishing destination over the last few years. FS

First Published in Florida Sportsman Oct. 2005

Grinding it Out

Recent inshore fishing reports from the Big Bend region.


Grinding it Out

Florida Sportsman member: HammerheadTed

Robbie went out with me for some topwater casting practice. Low outgoing to start and the incoming the rest of the morning. Robbie must of practiced ahead, because he hit a nice 36 inch snook at the first stop.

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Cedar Key

Florida Sportsman member: Scott Crown

Well with in three casts with the skitter walk, I get smashed and a school stands the water up. Josh throws in and we are doubled up. Mine came in at 29 inches and his was 26 1/2, that set the tone for the day. We hit five or six spots and every spot had a school on it.

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Snook and Scallops

Florida Sportsman member: HammerheadTed

We went to Sandy Hook yesterday so we decided to go Scalloping again on this beautiful day. After a late start, we motored out to the boat pack and found all the scallops I care to clean in a reasonable time. There are still plenty out there and they were big!

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Crystal River Mixed Bag

Florida Sportsman member: huntentails

We started with an outgoing tide and a slight east wind. First cast was a great snook, but was lost before it was boated for a photo session. We had to make a move a few hundred yards to get away from the bluefish as they were just tearing up anything we threw.

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Cedar Key Reds and Trout

Florida Sportsman member: me3260

Live shrimp and cut ladyfish were the bait of the day. We caught a few on Gold Spoons, but the water is so dark, the only hits we got on spoons were throwing over a white sand bar, and reeling back across.

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Big Bend Snook

Florida Sportsman member: HammerheadTed

By now I am fishing spots where I’ve never fished before. Paid off with this massive 39 inch snook that was the toughest I’ve ever caught. 3 jumps and 3 long runs and somehow she didn’t wrap herself up in the sargasm. Missed another big one a few casts later and left early with the grandkids visiting at home.

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Big Bend Giant

Florida Sportsman member: Biggary16

I called Pete (Snookspanker) to try for some snooks with the morning high tide. He liked the tide today too so we went out for a quick trip. He stuck a giant one within the 1st half hour. The shoulders and the girth of this 40 plus incher was unreal.

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First Snook

Florida Sportsman member: Lake13

We both were looking for our first snook and just pounded till we both got one. 14 hours of fishing for one fish apiece. Couldn’t be happier though. What a beautiful area and we will both be back.

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Jumbo Drum

Florida Sportsman member: Biggary16

We had some gulps so we messed around with some big drum pulling us around for a while. The last one that I caught was a behemoth and that was enough for me. We got out of there before the storm and made it home still dry.

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Crystal River Reds and Scallops

Florida Sportsman member: T-Bonefc

After 15-20 minutes we shot further south and joined a small community between the C.R. crowd and Homosassa . The scallops were much better here in numbers. Still small for the most part but it is what it is in the beginning of the season.

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Poling to the Reds

Florida Sportsman member: Dveres95

We started the day out in Mason Creek and worked south toward Chassahowitzka, with a high morning tide we got deep into the back country to a flat that is very active and holds big redfish.

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Catching in the Creeks

Florida Sportsman member: Billy

We managed a few reds and maybe a half dozen snook that actually made it to the boat. We kept hooking up the snook but a bunch simply either cut us off or came unbuttoned before we could get them to the boat.

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Yankeetown Variety

Florida Sportsman member: Biggary16

My brother was in town so we hit Yankeetown early. Got a nice snook on topwater that started the day out great. Had a couple other snook blow ups. Then went looking for reds.

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Early Morning Snookin’

Florida Sportsman member: HammerheadTed

Robbie had the big fish of the day on first and after a good battle, it gill plated the line, but we saw enough to know it was a big one. Then I got a fat 32 inch fish, which was a welcome relief.

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Low Water, Big Snook

Florida Sportsman member: StandOutI2

I heard drag screaming and saw a wake that looked like a torpedo going through the water. Had to pull the powerpole up and chase it for a little bit then finally it stopped making the long run and came close enough for me to realize it wasn’t the big red I thought it was.

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On the Reds

Florida Sportsman member: bigkahuna

Forum member bigkahuna and wife got into the redfish in the big bend region, as well as a few bonus snook. Nice!

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Yankeetown Redfish Bite

Florida Sportsman member: StandOutI2

My step dad picked up a couple more shorts. Well, the school died down and we started working to another area. My mom was real quiet in the back of the boat and said she sees something. So she throws to it and sure enough, it’s a nice 27″ red! Her biggest to date.

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Calling in “Sick”

Florida Sportsman member: hausw

Not more than 5 minutes later I hooked into a much larger one and battled him for almost an hour. Hoisted him in the boat for a few pics and released him. After that I was exhausted and called it a day.

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Mason Creek Reds

Florida Sportsman member: Dveres95

We caught all our Reds on gold spoons, the fish were concentrated in the deeper mud troughs between the islands, which still held 2 to 3 feet on the dead low. It has been a great past month in the creek and it’s only looking better.

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Yankeetown Redfish

Florida Sportsman member: StandOutI2

Well, got back to our normal spots on the incoming and noticed there wasn’t a whole lot of water moving. Turned around and went back out the way we came still on the incoming and boom, started seeing reds everywhere.

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Big Bend Inshore Bite

Florida Sportsman member: ripnlips

Forum member and the Big Bend’s weekend 4caster ripnlips has been on the fish. Catching snook, trout, redfish and more.

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Windy Day Success

Florida Sportsman member: Billy

It was windy. Even in the creeks it was a chore to have any kind of boat control but we stuck it out for a few hours. Tide was rushing in heavy and flooded a bunch of areas we usually fish. We had to change up a bit but it all worked out.

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Working the Docks

Florida Sportsman member: Bassin Assassin

Switched to the smoke/gold halo color and was slowly swimming my lure near the bottom in the front of a dock, it got blasted. Set the hook on a solid fish. Got it away from the dock. After a nice aerial display and some good runs, Pat got her in the net. She measured 28 inches.

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Crystal River Snook Bite

Florida Sportsman member: Biggary16

Hammerhead Ted and I got out there early to catch the outgoing tide. Ted is the king of topwater snookin and he hooked a giant one on his 3rd or 4th cast. He fought it for a long time but it scraped his 40 pound leader up and broke off.

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Fun with Friends

Florida Sportsman member: Billy

A great day on the water with a couple excellent fisherman and lots of laughs. Almost all fish came on top water and a Redfish Magic type lure. We’ll definitely do this again.

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Big Bend Mixed Bag

Florida Sportsman member: ripnlips

Forum members ripnlips and Swampthing07 got into a nice mixed bag of fish from triple tail to black drum. Swampthing07 wife Kayla got in on the action too.

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Successful Scouting

Florida Sportsman member: CarneLoco

We saw some big tails pop up in about 3 foot of water. Have heard of big black drum in these areas, but had no live crabs. Could have swore a few were reds mixed in. After many very good casts from both of us, Libby had a monster on. 15 minutes and a few laps around the bout she had her first black drum landed.

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Big Bend, Big Reds

Florida Sportsman member: Jim311

I pushed in further into the creek. I spooked one nice red which I didn’t even see until he’d spooked. Then I hooked up again, and again it was another super hard fight. This fish was bigger though, over 32 inches. It had a head on it the size of a football, a real stud fish.

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Crystal River Snookin’

Florida Sportsman member: HammerheadTed

We caught fish everywhere we went including some places that haven’t produced the last couple years. Robbie got 4 lower slot and under slot reds and several jacks. I missed a big snook early, but disappointment didn’t last too long when i got a 31 inch snook at the next place.

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Sheepshead, Snook and Snapper

Florida Sportsman member: ripnlips

Sheepshead Snapper and Snook have been the targeted species lately. Seems like the sheeps are finally spawning out on the rocks reefs and ledges just offshore. They are willing to bite if you get good enough weather to get out there. When the weather gets bad we have been getting snapper and snook in the river. Live shrimp has been the bait of choice.

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Big Bend Bruisers

Florida Sportsman member: Scott Crown

We hit the first spot, the water was clear and they were schooled up. Watched a school of over slots swim down the bank. Then got to watch the whole school fight over my fluke, simply awesome to watch.

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Homosassa Redfish

Florida Sportsman member: floridafan

Pulled in about 60 mostly undersized reds but managed 4 keepers between 20 to 24 inches. We each had a run 10 fish in 10 casts for me and 11 fish in 11 casts for my son, both at the same time! 21 fish in less than 10 minutes!

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Crystal River Inshore

Florida Sportsman member: ripnlips

Sheepshead are starting to show up in their normal wintertime spots. We’re still getting a by-catch of gag grouper too. All on 8 pound braid and live shrimp.

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Afternoon Redfish Bite

Florida Sportsman member: Scott Crown

Once the tide came in enough we headed out front to fish the outer bars. Was slow for an hour or so but the last hour and a half of daylight they turned on. Had a couple of doubles then switched out to topwater and got a few good ones on top.

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Catching the Bulls

Florida Sportsman member: Scott Crown

Well Jacobs first blind cast was inhaled by a 20 pound stud. I was thinking this is a good way to start. Jacob, my youngest son, and I were on one boat and moved out to another cut to the gulf. Took a while for another bite and I finally got on the board with another 25 pounder on topwater.

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December Inshore Fishing

Florida Sportsman member: ripnlips

My son Jeremy came home for Christmas so we went out and fished for a few hours for trout around some creeks. Caught our limit of trout and released about 20 more by 11:30. Also caught these on jig and DOA Cals and some with live shrimp on a jig.

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Nice Weather, Hungry Fish

Florida Sportsman member: Scott Crown

As I get within casting distance I see a pack of about 5 reds milling around so I post up and tell the boys to throw up there. Jacobs cast was right in the middle of them and he hooks up instantly.

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Hiding From the Wind, Catching the Fish

Florida Sportsman member: Billy

Moving to some areas that were sheltered from the wind we caught jacks, more ladyfish than we cared to, mangroves with some keepers in the bunch, a red, and lots of snook. We managed to put twelve snook in the boat losing more than that before touching the leader.

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Catching with the Kids

Florida Sportsman member: Scott Crown

We headed to the first spot and started throwing topwater over some oyster bars. Got one 25 inch red and a stud trout right off the bat. Pulled the hooks on two over slot reds and had several misses before making a move. I then jumped up on the platform and turned the front of the boat over to the boys.

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Birthday Fun

Florida Sportsman member: Bluewaterdrew

We chased huge schools of mullet picking off reds here and there, Jen even hooked a nice flounder. After high tide we went to a bar to try our luck with black drum. Saw a few huge ones that didn’t seem to mind us being right on top of them, but the jacks were so thick it was hard to keep a lure in the water.

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Catching in the Transition

Florida Sportsman member: ripnlips

For the past few weeks we have been seeing fish transition from Summer patterns to Fall patterns and this means that they are in the mood to eat. Now is the time to get out on the water and take advantage of it.

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Seeing Red

Florida Sportsman member: G8trbait

Then the girls got a double hook up. It must have been a small school that swam by because they were hooked up back to back! April’s was a keeper, but Sophie’s had to grow up a little. It was legal, but we could afford to be picky and I don’t usually keep them unless they’re over 20 inches.

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Big Bend Redfish Action

Florida Sportsman member: cthurow

Drew’s first cast with his Zara Spook and boom, fish on! Nice drag screamer. I already had a piece of lady fish rig on a larger rod so I went ahead and threw it out while Drew played his fish. As soon as I netted Drew’s 26 inch red, he yells, Dad that rod is bowed to the water!

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Suwannee River Tripletail and More

Florida Sportsman member: Scott Crown

As we trolling motor up to the first pole, a 10 pounder sky rockets 6 feet in the air about 75 yards out in the open. First time I have seen one free jump. My brother makes a cast at the pole and hooks up instantly. The fish gave two amazing jumps and spits the hook.

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Crystal River Fishing and Fun

Florida Sportsman member: ripnlips

Forum member ripnlips and friends had a great weekend, catching a slew of fish. They also loaded on scallops, making for a nice meal!

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Waccasassa Reds

Florida Sportsman member: Redbonz

About the time the tides were getting right the heat was kicking into gear. After a couple of decent Reds a storm started brewing up towards Cedar Key so it was time to cut it short.

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Tearing Up the Tripletails

Florida Sportsman member: Scott Crown

The chop made it a slow boat ride out but busted one on the very first pole. The fishing was hard due to waves coming over the bow and only being able to see down 3 to 4 inches but we made the most of it and put 5 in the box and called it after about 4 hours.

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Big Bend Slam

Florida Sportsman member: Billy

All the fish were caught on artificial and I believe we didn’t get any on topwater. The snook was about 31 inches, the red is dinner, and the trout is back in the water. I have a place that you can almost always catch a trout even in this heat so we went there so Duane could try to get his slam. Duane came through with a Mirrodine.

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Horseshoe Beach Inshore

Florida Sportsman member: florida_dorksman

The thunder cloud may have saved the day, because the first creek we hit had more activity than I have seen out of there in almost a year. A steady stream of live shrimp kept the bite on fire, and within an hour and a half we had 4 redfish to 28 1/2 inches, an 18 inch sheepshead and a 24 inch black drum.

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Waccasassa Reds

Florida Sportsman member: Redbonz

So after the skies cleared up we were able to get up to where we wanted to fish. Strong tide and the breeze made for some tough fishing at first but we stuck with it and hit some quality fish. Five reds from 16 to 34 inches with two right at 27 inches that went home for dinner.

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Yankeetown Black Drum

Florida Sportsman member: Biggary16

Forum member Biggary16 got into some nice black drum! Only fishing for a few hours he caught 6 “big uglies” and a nice flounder. Tight work!

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Big Bend Snook Bite

Florida Sportsman member: Snook Spanker

These fish weren’t just slobs, they were smart slobs just like all the big snook I’ve encountered. In fact the first 6 or 7 I hooked were on topwater lures and either threw the hooks, ran me into and around rocks and snags or had me on so long they wore through the 50 pound leader!

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Wrecking the Reds

Florida Sportsman member: PONCE

Brandon and I had the best day of our life inshore fishing for Reds. We caught Reds up to 32 inches and 13 Reds overall on the outgoing tide, all reds and trout were caught on soft plastic paddle tail on a jig. The big fish came first then as the tide was bottoming out came the four 26 and 27 slots for the cooler.

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Tarpon and Scallops in the Big Bend

Florida Sportsman member: Bluewaterdrew

Started off the day at my honey hole. Caught several jacks and runners. Then Jen hooked a nice little Tarpon that burned off lots of line and gave us several great jumps for the camera. Later we headed out for scallops and quickly got out limit.

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Yankeetown Slam

Florida Sportsman member: StandOutI2

5 minutes after we came off plane I get a little 16 inch red on a topwater plug to start the day off. My step brother threw right behind me and picked up another one about the same size. It was starting out as a promising morning. Just around the corner I threw into a spot I knew I was gonna hook up with a fish. I didn’t expect a 27 inch red to go into the box.

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Big Bend Inshore Bite

Florida Sportsman member: Scott Crown

My brother said he was tired of catching jack so he declined to throw into the madness. I got hit three times before getting buttoned up. This was a better class of fish. Thought it was one of the 12 to 15 pound jacks but after a good battle a 10 pound permit pops up next to the boat.

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Crystal River Opening Day

Florida Sportsman member: ripnlips

If I was to guess how many boats we saw out of Crystal River I would say maybe 1000. Even with all of the crowds we still got a boat limit of scallops in a decent amount of time. We had time today to even get some fishing done.

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Scouting the Crystal River

Florida Sportsman member: ripnlips

After seeing the scallops we decide to see if the fish were biting. Jeremy got a quick slam and I got a decent snook. Jacks seem to be everywhere as always. Everything was caught on the same bait, DOA Cal shad tail on a jig.

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Big Bend Slammin’

Florida Sportsman member: Billy

Initially we stopped for some fishing and I hook up a decent snook but lose it, I hook up a red, yep, and lose it. Duane hooks a red and he too loses it. We’re thinking maybe we are getting rusty.

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Father’s Day Fun

Florida Sportsman member: huntentails

Its not always about the fish You catch, it’s about the memories made and the things passed on from one who loves to fish to another! All I can say is thanks son for a great day on the water!

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Getting to the Point

Florida Sportsman member: shuterkng

Forum member shuterkng got out this weekend and got into the fish! Fishing Long Point with live shrimp produced some nice fish, including black drum and flounder.

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Cedar Key Catching

Florida Sportsman member: Flash

Picked one of the islands out and moved down the shoreline. Saw some reds but got no action. Finally I eased us up along a bar, gave it a cast and fish on! Took me under the boat a couple of times but managed to bring him to the net girl.

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Shired Island Monster and More

Florida Sportsman member: jwroe

I started throwing my top water at it, but no luck, and a few minutes later , the tail pops up again. My wife casts a shrimp to it, and off to the races. She nails a nice 35 inch plus drum. about 10 to 15 minutes of fighting and we had it boat side. I reached down to get the lippers on it and it turned and broke line right at the boat.

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Cedar Key Trout and Macks

Florida Sportsman member: lboverhof

After being done with catching mackerel and before the tide slowly started coming back in, we started drifting over some grass between 3 to 4 feet of water behind snake. We ended up with 5 keeper trout with the biggest being 19 inches. At first there was maybe one other boat out there, but around 3:00 I look around and it looks like a parking lot. There had to have been 15+ boats that were pretty close to each other on the flats!

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Reds, Over and Under

Florida Sportsman member: Billy

No fish dinner tonight. Two over slots that were fat and healthy, plus eight under slots. I did catch a trout but no snook. All fish came on spoons, redfish magic, and soft jerkbaits.

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Busting Reds on Both Coasts

Florida Sportsman member: Scott Crown

I then jump up on the poling platform and start poling the boys around this big mud flat that has some scattered fish on it to see if we could sight fish some. We see a few and miss a few, then I see one headed down the bank and tell josh to cast a 11 o’clock and he nails the cast and the red jumps on the fluke. Another nice upper slot fish joins the party.

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Birds to the Bay

Florida Sportsman member: huntentails

“We hit the water at the crack of noon. It wasn’t long before we had trout on almost every cast. Most were just underslot but we did manage to sort thru them for a nice bunch for dinner along with a nice pompano…”

Want to catch trout like this? Click here for how-to videos, feature stories, and more!

 



Slammin’ the Big Bend Backcountry

Florida Sportsman member: Billy

Still looking for reds and trying to avoid the trout we pulled up on a point and a 33 inch snook hits my lure. After a long fight on trout and redfish gear I got it in the boat. The area we fish has some nice snook but they aren’t easy to catch until it warms up a bit.

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Light Tackle, Low Tides and Keeper Trout

Florida Sportsman member: PONCE

I finished today around noon and took off to Waccasassa. Short and Sweet, here it is guys I`m not going to hide where , what bait and everything. Got on the water at 2:30 this afternoon and headed in around 5:30. Fished the outgoing tide back in the creeks and caught Trout up to 18.5 inches and a small Red around 16 inches.

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Seein’ Red in Cedar Key

Florida Sportsman member: GatoRella

The contrast of a dark fish on a light colored bottom made them real easy targets for sight fishing. For the next hour or so we took turns netting and releasing big over slot reds, high-fiving, and generally having an awesome time. We ended up with 3 keeper reds including 2 bookend 27 inch tourney winners, a handful trout, and a bunch of 30 plus inch over slots.

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Rainy Day Trout

Florida Sportsman member: huntentails

Liking what I was seeing, but with little or no bait action we decided to fish a few of the points with deep water. It didn’t take long as the fish were there and hungry, we made short order of putting some in the box for a couple dinners until this weather cleans up.

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MidDay Trout Bite

Florida Sportsman member: dakilmartin1

We worked the edges of deeper cuts during the outgoing tide and the shallow flats on the incoming. Every fish was taken on a MirroDine and several were sight fished. Long light leaders and longer casts were the trick today. Both Rob and I caught our personal best trout today on hard baits but I was more excited for rob as this was his first trip down the river! We easily put a limit of upper slot trout in the boat today but only kept a dozen.

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Steinhatchee Bulls

Florida Sportsman member: JC_UF_ITK

Outside of a handful of trout, 3 being keepers, we managed two monster redfish on a double hook up. The first fish ate a jerkbait and was followed by two others. A quick cast of a spinnerbait managed the second fish. One weighed 26 pounds and the other was 20 pounds.

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Catching A Little Bit of Everything

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

The first stop Jake says “Look at that gag”. I told him it looked like a trout to me and caught it to prove it. Seems like those trout just like me! It was so smooth I could read good structure from a half mile away by the surface boil from the tide moving over the rocks. Knocker rigs with 2/0 worm hooks 1/8 to 3/16 oz bullet weights tipped with shrimp did the job for us.

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Big Bend, Big Reds

Florida Sportsman member: Scott Crown

Had a good bit of time of over the holidays. Unfortunately the weather was bad for a good part of it. Was able to fish in several locations including Wacasassa/Cedar Key, Suwannee, and Palm Coast on the east coast. We managed to get good numbers of trout on the lower tides, but once the tide came in it was all about reds! Caught reds from 8 inches to 34 inches.

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Winter Time Trout

Florida Sportsman member: kingkong954

Then with about an hour left before we were due at the marina, headed off to the flats in search of the trout, which I thought were supposed to be tucked into their creeks. To our surprise, we found them! In about an hour of fishing we landed 4 keeper trout, Nia catching two 18 inch trout and I found a much smaller pair.

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Steinhatchee Reds

Florida Sportsman member: JC_UF_ITK

While we didn’t find fish at the same spot I’ve been seeing them, we did manage two nice reds while working our way to the spot. The largest was well over 36 inches (biggest ruler I have) and weighted 18.5 pounds on the boga grip.

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Homosassa Inshore

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

The larger trout were in the skinny stuff along with a few reds but not real thick or active. The shallow flat north of the channel up to Homosassa point had a decent number of big trout. Ladyfish were in front of the river along with some big mackerel. Another good day to be on the water with friends!

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Creeping The Creeks

Florida Sportsman member: PONCE

We fished some nice deep creeks right behind our Red spots. The big Trout were loaded up in the deep cuts. There was a double hook-up mixed in there that were keepers. We lost some nice ones but Brandon had a real nice couple hours with his limit and I had a big one in the boat.

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Homosassa Reds and Trout

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

The largest trout of the season so far made it into the boat. Along with the trout were a pair of upper slot redfish and a pile of rat reds. We worked the channel edges waiting for the tide and moved in close as soon as we could. Several of the trout were between 23 and 26 inches with most of the big girls released. The reds were in all the usual places and feisty.

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Crystal River Trout Bite

Florida Sportsman member: OneMoreYear

For 90 minutes the action was non-stop, with the majority of fish caught on Mirrolure Lil-Johns. The biggest trout was 20.5 inches. We had a good number of fish between 18 to 20 inches. We had our 3 person limit by noon. Ended up releasing about five 15 to 16 inch fish, and probably caught 5 to 7 shorts. The majority of fish were keeper trout, with only 2 ladyfish and a small redfish.

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Windy Weather, Nice Fish

Florida Sportsman member: shuterkng

She got a nice over slot red, I got a little sheepy. After that the waves were getting to all of us so I figured I could maybe find some action in the crystal river. We anchored up inside of shell island near some bars and the rat reds were eating! We all proceeded to catch and release numerous little reds.

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Shallow Creek Reds

Florida Sportsman member: PONCE

The water temperature was running about 59 degrees today and had a slight breeze to keep us comfortable. We got out to a dead low tide and as the tide turned there was even very little tide on the high. All the bars we fished were out of the water at High Tide.

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Homosassa Gator Trout

Florida Sportsman member: Troutman57

Trout, ladyfish, and bluefish were all over our Mirrodines. For a couple hours we circled a small area and took a bunch of fat trout all pushing the top of the slot to over 23 inches. We did find a few smaller reds but stayed on the trout since they were pulling more drag. We kept a few for Mikes freezer and one for Bill and his better half’s dinner.

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Big Bend Snook

Florida Sportsman member: Bluewaterdrew

I saw huge swirl and quickly cast on it. Instantly the fight was on making plenty of exciting runs. After what seem like an eternity, this beautiful linesider broke the surface and was quickly scooped into the net. She measured in at 35 inches and I am happy to say swam off to fight another day.

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Great Homosassa Inshore Bite

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

We hit several islands and took a total of 8 reds with 3 being between 30 and 32 inches. As a bonus we caught fat 24 inch trout up with the reds on bait. Yes we fished bait as this was Eric’s first time targeting redfish and it was going to be an easy day

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Seeing Red Solo

Florida Sportsman member: PONCE

Immediately started throwing Mikes Aqua Dream Gold Spoons and landed a 20 inch Red within 30 minutes and got my 27 inch Red on a Zoom Super Fluke about a hour later on a weedy point to finish my limit.

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Kayaking Kings Bay

Florida Sportsman member: NoQuarterNoMercy

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!

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Cedar Key Smorgasbord

Florida Sportsman member: Flash

Her personal best Flounder to date at 19 inches. I saw some action also and tossed a rattle trap. Hooked up and had a good fight going until it came free. Turned out it broke one of the hooks on the trap. Looking at them, it needs a new one for sure.

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Big Bend Bulls on Top

Florida Sportsman member: jperdue

Took the wife fishing this morning. Top water is about the only thing she fishes with anymore. I Caught one red about 22 inches then she went back to back on top water with a 38 incher and 36 incher. Bite shut down at 10:00am. Both were the largest I have ever seen caught on top water. They were sent back in with no harm done. Skitter walks around the creek mouths seem to work the best.

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Crystal River Reds and Scallops

Florida Sportsman member: tekmunki

We had a great time, went for a dip with a few scallops, didn’t get too crazy or gung-ho about limiting, just wanted a nice day and something to nibble on… it should be noted, my scallop location skills pale in comparison to Marrio’s. LOL We didn’t spend all day on the scallops by any means, we managed to sneak in some fishing, which I’m sure was a welcome refreshing change to the nonstop scalloping Marrio has been busy with.

With Marrio’s help, I caught my first mangrove snapper and the kids each got to reel one in, then we moved into the red-fishing where Marrio got a taste of my redfish curse for a bit- that is until— BAM big hit, big fish, 30-inch red. I caught my first overslot red!

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Holiday in Hudson

Florida Sportsman member:Jim311

A friend of mine has a small house on a canal in Hudson. I hadn’t ever been to the area and she is out of town and asked me to mow the lawn so I figured I might as well make a weekend out of it. Adam met me down there Friday night. We fished in the canal for a few minutes but got run off by the rain. Got up at a decent hour Saturday and hit the nearest boat ramp. The wind was blowing a fair bit, and we were in my gheenoe and seeking protected water. We fished some grass flats right near the ramp and deep cuts on the outside of a little private bayou with no luck. We ran into some creeks south of a big residential canal and knocked around in there too. The water looked great, lots of deep cuts, grass, good amounts of bait.. but nothing was biting. We got tired of that after a while and ran back towards the marina and had lunch at the restaurant right near the marina.

Lunch was pretty good, and after chilling there for a while we went to the marina and got some frozen shrimp, and then headed north to try that area on a suggestion from a forum member here. The area there looked similar to the last place. We beached the Gheenoe near a shack and wade fished for a bit. After a while I had a blowup on a topwater plug, and landed an upper slot trout. That was the only fish caught wade fishing in that spot, so we shoved off and drifted a deep cut between islands, casting topwater plugs, paddle tails, and Mirrodines. Good size trout were just blasting my topwater plug and we took home 4 for a fish fry…

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Crystal River Mixed Bag

Florida Sportsman member:nick

We went out Saturday and got rained on a bit, but that’s what rain gear is for. Cruised in the shallows basically spooking reds with the trolling motor down, alternating between; the gulp shrimp, pumpkin spice zoom super fluke, gold spoon, mirrominnow, and a top dog.
Released 6 slot reds and one overslot. I lost a 30 inch plus red that went airborne after my top dog. After 3 attempts at the bait he finally got it but pulled the hook after a few runs. Big trout were busting the mullet schools and this made easy pickings with at mirrominnow. Released 8 trout that were all over 20 inches except one that was 18. Pops also got spooled by a tarpon after it made two jumps. Fish was probably 80 pound’s but he didn’t stand a chance with a 2500 stradic. Lots of juvenile sharks swimming in the shallows. Water temp 79-84.

Sunday-Only went out for a few hours throwing gold spoons we released 5 lower slot reds and one 25 inches. I did manage to successfully sight fish a 42 inch black drum with a gulp that put up a good 15 minute fight. After the tide got up high it was over and we decided to try for triple tail on the way back even though I had no shrimp. Saw 7 tripletail, hooked 4 and put 2 on ice. One that wouldn’t eat I attempted to throw the cast net on Water temp 81-85


Crystal River Snook, Reds & More

Florida Sportsman member: mitziboy

By the time I loaded the boat, made a sandwich, and lowered my baby into the canal it was about 11am. First spot first cast I missed about a 25 pound snook on topwater, that will get the blood flowing. It was a super low tide so I didn’t expect to get much more than that hit since whatever fish were in the hole would be trapped, but that was not the case. We ended up with close to a dozen snook, most around 25-30 inches and a half dozen reds around 17-20 inches. Fished around some more and caught a few more of both and headed back to the house.

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Chassahowitzka Trout & Reds

Florida Sportsman member: Billy

Ran to my trout spot and I put a decent trout in the boat. We both said nope, “we want reds”, so back it went. After a couple more fish that didn’t make it into the boat we went hunting for reds.

To say Duane knows the area is an understatement. I thought I had a pretty good feel for fishing spots but he took it to another level.

The skies were clear as a bell and the sun was beating down but he had a few spots to try. First nice fish was a 21 inch red, then I got a 23 incher, we lost a couple more, Duane hooks a decent snook but it gets off at the boat. He hooks another and it gets off. He then hooked a touney winning red…right under the mark. I hook up on a snook, hoping for some sort of slam[...]

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Homosassa Redfish & Trout

Florida Sportsman member: huntentails

We had a window Saturday morning so another instructor and long time friend from North Dakota and I
made a run from the south to the Bend for some shallow water fishing. We hit the ramp at just after 6:30 am and I finely new why I have been spoiled by fishing weekdays, and staying away on the weekends! With that being said, we were out front Homosassa around 7:45 and in search of a bite There was no shortage of boats and people. It makes it tough fishing the skinny stuff with people constantly running by checking you out. The fish were there but very spooky and most times would fail to engage, even though you put the plug where it needed to be. We did manage a nice red and 7 big trout for our efforts with the red a hair under 27 inches, trout of 24 & 23 inches and five more from 18 to 20 inches.

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Crystal River Inshore Slam

Florida Sportsman member: HammerheadTed

Went out for what I thought was a couple hours topwater. Tide was high incoming, light wind and blue sky. First place- nothing. Second place, the bar was covered, but I fished it thoroughly, getting a few small Jacks and a lady fish and finally a small trout, but a trout none the less that would become important later. With the water higher than I expected, I decided to head way inshore. Even though it was getting late and the sun was high I pressed on with my trusty Skitterwalk. This 25 inch Red rewarded my perseverance with a great battle. It was one of those fish that would not give up[...]

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Crystal River Trout

Florida Sportsman member: anglerbros 7286

Jake and I headed towards the channel out of Ozcello this morning looking for trout. Saw overcast skies so we thought it would be a good day for topwater! Started off with some nice trout on the spooks, the bites were a bit spread out and the tide was moving out so I didn’t want to get stuck so we moved out a bit. We started thinking when we hit 5 keepers we would limit easy so we were letting go anything in the 15 inch range and not bother measure anything unless it looked pretty big. Got a couple 20 inchers to add to the cooler and limit around 12. Jake’s went 22 inches and mine went 20 inches. Then came the tide change an wanted to get in the water and dive to change pace. Feels good to jump in once in a while to look at the inshore rocks and see all the spade fish, snapper, small sheephead and the ocassional gag in 3-8 feet of water. Caught and released some more trout, not many more keepers but we released a good 5-10 keeper trout and several under sized trout on the lil johns.

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Homosassa Reds and Trout

Florida Sportsman member: Dogdoc2011

Went with two buddies of mine out of crystal river and ran south at first light. Got on a school of nice slot reds at first spot and had a double and triple hook ups on topwater. Limited out on reds in about 20 minutes and turned a few back before moving onto trout. Found the trout in 2-3 feet spotted bottom and all they wanted was topwater as well. Caught 3 limits of nice trout with the biggest being 24 inches by 11:30 and called it a day.

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Crystal River Trout

Florida Sportsman member: anglerbros 7286

Jake and I headed towards the channel out of Ozcello this morning looking for trout. Saw overcast skies so we thought it would be a good day for topwater! Started off with some nice trout on the spooks, the bites were a bit spread out and the tide was moving out so I didn’t want to get stuck so we moved out a bit. We started thinking when we hit 5 keepers we would limit easy so we were letting go anything in the 15 inch range and not bother measure anything unless it looked pretty big. Got a couple 20 inchers to add to the cooler and limit around 12. Jake’s went 22 inches and mine went 20 inches. Then came the tide change an wanted to get in the water and dive to change pace. Feels good to jump in once in a while to look at the inshore rocks and see all the spade fish, snapper, small sheephead and the ocassional gag in 3-8 feet of water. Caught and released some more trout, not many more keepers but we released a good 5-10 keeper trout and several under sized trout on the lil johns.

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Homosassa Reds and Trout

Florida Sportsman member: Dogdoc2011

Went with two buddies of mine out of crystal river and ran south at first light. Got on a school of nice slot reds at first spot and had a double and triple hook ups on topwater. Limited out on reds in about 20 minutes and turned a few back before moving onto trout. Found the trout in 2-3 feet spotted bottom and all they wanted was topwater as well. Caught 3 limits of nice trout with the biggest being 24 inches by 11:30 and called it a day.

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Crystal River Nearshore Cobia

Florida Sportsman member: Clay G. Shidler

With reports of Cobia moving north and the hot tripletail bite that has being going on out of Crystal River me and my brother headed out in search of some nearshore pelagics. We started our search at the scallop rack where we promptly caught a well full of live pinfish and a few small spanish mackerel. After loading up on live bait we headed west under cloudy skies in search of brown bombers on a series of small limestone ledges in 12 feet of water and we were not disappointed. As we pulled up on the first spot, my younger brother threw a 2 ounce Spro jig towards the spot and his jig was immediately crushed by a spunky 25 pound Cobia. As he landed his fish I pinned a live bait on a 5/0 circle hook and dropped it over the side and before I could put the rod in the holder my pinfish was eaten. I reeled down tight and the fish took off like a rocket towards the south and the fight was on.

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Homosassa Nearshore Trout

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

We took off at 7:15 and headed out about 6 miles to a 5 foot flat I call the bombing range. Nothing military just the area we break out the bombers and pitch them at anything that would bite. This being my 1st trip there this season I really didn’t know what to expect. Ladyfish, blue runners seabass mackerel shark and of course trout. Lots of everything but plenty of trout to fill our limit with 16 to 22 inchers. The only slow period was on the tide change for about a half hour. Had a live pinfish out for any big guys that wanted to play but only shark today. The trout pushing offshore right on time and seemed to really like chartruse in the morning and green backs in the late morning and afternoon.

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Waccasassa Reds

Florida Sportsman member: G8trbait

When the wife is away the men will FISH! Wife headed to California for her spring break so I took a planned mental health day this Monday with a coworker of mine. Hit the water around 8:30 in the morning to high cold winds The bite was too quick, caught two nice ones at 24 inches and 25.5 inches, and that was it. The water was coming out of the creeks so fast it reminded me of trout fishing in N.C. I was actually trying to get hung on the bottom. Once hung the fish would come by and pick up my shrimp. This did make for two very good fights. They would turn sideways and just pull drag! Unfortunately the catching was done within the first hour. The wind pushed the tide in so fast I don’t even think the fish noticed it.

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Warming Weather and Hot Fishing

Florida Sportsman member: Clay G. Shidler

This past week has been great for inshore fishing; guides from both Crystal River and Homosassa have had successful days with good catches of both trout and redfish not being uncommon. Rising water temperatures has been the driving force behind the great fishing this week. Anglers should look for the trout to be active in water temperatures above 65 degrees and redfish to become active in temperatures of 63 degrees and higher. The kelp grass flats and oyster bars in the Crystal River and Homosassa areas are holding good numbers of trout because those are the areas that warm up the fastest. The redfish are beginning to school up on the hard bottom flats and oysters bars in the Ozello area and they can normally be found patrolling the backside of most islands that are in the sun and out of the wind. The best way to target these fish is to fish live baits in the morning when the fish are colder and less active, as the sun warms the water artificial lures become the best way to cover the most water.

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Windy Post Front Trout

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

Forum member Roger was heaqding to Homosassa for a visit and asked me if I would take them out fishing for a day during thier visit. I rarely say no to a forum brother and we chose Wednesday to chase some trou. We took off at 11 and found scasttered slot trout while we waited for the tide to get right. There were pockets of small trout to be caught on every cast but we avoided those to find larger fish. As the tide turned to incoming the wind picked up to 20 from the NW making our drifts faster than ideal. Racheal had the hot stick this day catching several overslot trout. They took a dozen trout for a fish fry and released the rest. The water was clear and 62 degrees with small pockets of 64 degrees.

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Red Hot Crystal River

Florida Sportsman member: jbehnen

Weather was not promising, but Dan said lets give it a try, and I was glad we did. We hit some rock bars, oysterbars and shorelines off Crystal River and it was one fish after the next in the boat. The trout bite was so good we ended up throwing back a ton of fish because they were too big and we already had our three over twenty on board. We started hoping for some shorter fish. We hit it all, trout, reds, pompano, spanish mackerel, and sheepshead[...]

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Rainy and Cold with a Hot Bite

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

Kevin Joined me again today to see if we coulld get some big trout to pose for the camera (I lost the shots Monday). His brother Tom joined us as well. The forecast said light breeze and 30 percent chance of showers. Well it rained from the time we tossed our first lure till I was finished cleaning fish. Kevin used to -fish with me up in Rochester NY trolling for salmon but his brother has not spent that much time on the water. Despite the conditions the trout were really chewing. Another 50+ fish day with several solid 3 and 4 pounders.

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Short Day on the Bay

Florida Sportsman member: huntentails

Linda and I did the ten to two today despite the wind? All I can say is the fish are there even though today most were just a little shy of the slot? Its always fun having the action but we kinda picked our way around the sub slots to end up catching a few nice ones? Linda had fish of the day today at 22 inches most were returned to fight again, but we headed home with three for the grill!

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Waccasassa Bay Shalow Creeks

Florida Sportsman member: PONCE

We went up the West side to a nice productive hole last year but things were tough. The beginning of a new moon and nice winds did not go well for the hunt for Reds today. Lots of mullet but no signs of reds at all. Brandon got out and walked some creek bars and caught a couple smaller slot reds with me landing a nice 19 and 21-inch trout all on soft plastics.

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Homosassa Trout’n

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

Don and I spent a few hours on the flats today doing what we love to do. The day started off a bit slow while we killed time waiting for the tide to shift to incoming. Working the edges of cuts with Mirrolures we picked away at mid to under slot trout. When the tide got right we started picking up quality trout on a regular basis. We released several over slot fish and kept a limit of smaller 17-20 inch trout for the table.

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Homosassa Gator Trout

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

Don and I chose today to jead out for the day on the bay. It looked like Thursday was to be the best day for us so off we went. The water temp started out at a chilly 58 degrees and very low tide. We worked the shallow stuff exclusively looking for some big girls. Today they were on but not in any real big numbers. The quality more than made up for it. We picked away for 4 hours and bagged 4 over slot trout from 21 to 26 inches. the 26 incher was my best in a year and she was fat and fought like a redfish despite the cool water temps[...]

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Playing Around in the Backcountry

Florida Sportsman member: river1

My wife and I fished up around the Salt River today. What a great day in the back country. We casted plastic on 1/8 oz jigs. My wife does not like treble hooks so that was an easy fix. We only got one under size trout but oh boy we landed some nice trout over slot and a Spanish mackerel all in the skinny water. We did have to bring a couple fish home for dinner only because they were eating so hard they swallowed the bait deep.

[...]

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Crystal River Reds & Trout

Florida Sportsman member: ripnlips

The day started at around 9am with one of my friends from work Will and my son Jeremy. Launched at F.I.T. and went to the mangrove covered shorelines of the Salt River to sight fish some reds and trout. We saw a bunch of reds from the tower but soon realized that they can see me just as good as I can see them. We found some shorelines that the sun was at the correct angle to camouflage the boat. We got into a ton of rat reds next to a sandbar that appeared to have fiddler crab holes all over it. After getting our fill of rat reds we drifted some flats that had a good amount of kelp grass. That was the ticket today for the trout [...]

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Homosassa Reds & Trout

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

We started in an area along a series of islands casting spoons for reds with no luck. We saw very little life there so we decided to head inside to look for trout. With the 68 degree clear water we were unsure where the larger trout might be. We tossed mirrodines from the barrier islands out to about a half mile onto the flats with some success but nothing fast. I decided that we should move inside a good bit and that did the trick with trout coming to the boat often. Don hooked a nice red and landed it for a quick photo and back it went. Then we hit a deeper cut that put a trout on our lines on almost every cast. when that bite slowed we started drifting along a shoreline and I hooked and landed a 27 inch red that we took a photo and released [...]

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Still Catching  Fish on a Rough Day

Florida Sportsman member: anglerbros 7286

We couldn’t wait to even put the fish away we were tossing them on the floor trying to get a bait in the water asap! After about 15-20 minutes of this bite we brought in 5 nice sea bass with two around 12 inches and a nice sheepshead a little short of 16 inches. Bite slowed down we looked at the floor and was like I guess we can put the fish away now . Moved around a bit in this nice hole, picked up a keeper here and there and then I got another sheepshead pushing 17 inches [...]

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Great Weather, Great Bite

Florida Sportsman member: Scott Crown

Put the boat in around noon to flat calm overcast conditions. I was thinking topwater all afternoon. Got to the first spot and within 5 cast had a nice trout in the box. 5 more cast and Bruce adds a 24 inch red to the party in the cooler. But then the clouds parted and the sun came out. Had to switch over to soft plastics and the bite slowed a bit but was steady and we had our limit of trout and reds with in just over 4 hours. I also took my fishing bow to shot the sheephead we have been seeing but had a very high tide that put 3 foot of water over most of the bars. Now the black drum are in full force and were running down soft plastics[...]

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Good Day in King’s Bay/Crystal River/Salt River

Florida Sportsman member: ripnlips

Got out today with Adam (LineDrive) and my son Jeremy for a day of fishing. Got out to Kings Bay early this morning to see if we could jump some tarpon before the dive boats show up. Got a bunch of ladyfish early on. Fun to catch but we wanted to see the pooners. Each of us ended up with one hitting our baits but no connection. The dive boats show up in full force and put the pooners on edge so we decide to hit the salt river for some trout and redfish action[...]

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Homosassa; Staying Busy.

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

Today’s forecast was looking like a winner so we shoved off at around 11AM. The sun was shining bright but the wind was blowing a bit stiff from the north. As we hit the rivermouth well into the long outgoing tide, we picked an area that would allow us to cover productive areas casting with the wind. We worked the edges of cuts adjacent to the shallow flats with slow sinking twitchbaits and shallow diving crankbaits. The action wasn’t fast and furious but I managed half a dozen trout all right at 20 inches with one being 22 inches[...]

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Homosassa Trout

Florida Sportsman member: angler18

Since I was there and had a few hours to play Sunday morning, me and Mitchell left the dock at 8 am to see if we could find him a few trout to take home for dinner. The water was 64-65 everywhere we went, and the wind was lighter than forecasted for a change. We threw mirrodines and soft jerk baits for about 3 hours and picked up about a dozen trout with 2 just over 18″ and 6 keepers in all. Also had about a dozen ladyfish to keep us busy between the tide change. A better than expected quick trip and a good time[...]

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Foggy Day Trout

Florida Sportsman member: Scott Crown

Wanted to see if the trout have showed up yet. I Have not been to my old stomping grounds in months and my buddy Mike bought a new (to him) flats boat last week, so I had an excuse. Hit the water at daylight, if that’s what you want to call it. It was flat calm, very foggy conditions. Went to some of my shallow spots first and they were[...]

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34 Inch Snook caught at Blind Pass

Florida Sportsman member: PONCE

The fish were more active down there with average size 20-to 24-inch snook being caught along with some black drum off the bridge along with a assortment of other fish. There were a ton of mullet and white bait running the shoreline at Blind Pass so the cast net came in very handy [...]

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Waccasassa Bay Reds

Florida Sportsman member: Redbonz

Well what do you do when it’s going to be windy, tides are wrong, and the Gators are playing in the evening. Go fishing of course. I knew it was calling for some wind and they were right. It did make for some tough fishing but me and Capt. Mullet still got a good mess of trout while waiting for the afternoon high tide. Bright skies and a pretty good breeze made topwaters a no-go. So go to back up plan of traps and spoons and we were able to put a few reds in the boat [...]

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A Good Morning on the Crystal River

Florida Sportsman member: ripnlips

After nearly a month off the water I was finally able to spend a couple of hours harassing some fish today. The day started out with a beautiful sunrise on the Salt River. We made our first stop at a few mangrove shorelines at high tide and my Uncle Roger was the first to hook up. A fat 23 inch redfish. We got on a few rats but this was the one that was coming home for dinner [...]

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Trout, Reds, and Flounder

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

Don and I took a short trip today to work the inshore flats with plugs. I packed a light tackle bag with just (what I thought) I needed. The trout were taking Rapala Flat Raps but right off the surface. With my topwater plugs at home I made it work twitching that flat rap along the surface. Before long we had a couple trout each in the box for dinner and released a few more most pushing 19 inches [...]

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Hot Homosassa Redfishing

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

So, when the bite is good, it’s hard to stay home. Plus, it’s always fun to put some friends on the hot bite, so I had Don and Lee join me today. We finally found a few ladyfish and some decent trout so the bait was in the box by noon and it was off to the islands. A strong high tide along with overcast skys and rain on the way put the reds on the bite even better than yesterday [...]

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CR Reds and Rain

Florida Sportsman member: HammerheadTed

Woke up early for some topwater and was greeted with some rain just offshore, SHOCKER. Actually, it worked out well since there was a good cloud cover, just what I like. Decided to stay in the Salt River area since it is a shorter run when the %#&@* hits. Caught a 21 inch red in the first area, but the Jacks were so thick it was hard to get an undisturbed retrieve, but fun! [...]

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Crystal River Scalloping Day

Florida Sportsman member: wmflyfisher

First of all I would like to thank windysurfer and troutman for helping me over these past few weeks. It’s been YEARS since I’ve been scalloping and yesterday didn’t disappoint. We put in at Yankeetown and traveled south to CR for scallops. Water was clear and the tide was high. My wife, mother, and sister had never scalloped before. Once I figured out what I was doing we had our limit in a couple of hours. Had to move around a few times but no biggie. Had a BLAST!

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Spoon Fed Reds

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

Both reds were in the mid-slot and returned to fight another day. A first for me was seeing two reds casting at both and actually catching both. I usually blind cast to areas that I know hold fish but this time was a bit different tossing spoons past and infront of fish I spotted. It certainly is a ton of fun to see a the fish smash a spoon (or any other bait). A short but sweet trip with my neighbor and friend Don.

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Nature Coast Reds and Trout

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

Don and I got up early this morning to hit the daybreak tide to get after some reds with spoons and then head out to drift for some trout. We hit the 1st half of the outgoing and the reds had started moving out off the banks a bit. But for an hour the bite was hot with 3 reds boated all in the upper and over slot [...]

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Homosassa Scalloping Report

Florida Sportsman member: Catalyst

We headed to the Camp and Water Outdoor Resort for our first family scalloping adventure. I have always wanted to give scalloping a try and finally got a chance to make it over to Homosassa.

We started our trip with very little knowledge of the area other than head out the river and look for boats. We quickly found the boats and also got a few scallops. We started kind of deep in 6-8 feet and didn’t really know what to look for but we still got a few dozen [...]

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Inshore with New Neighbors

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

Mike contacted me from Coneticut by reading our fishing reports. His Mom and dad bought a place in my neighborhood and love to fish but are new to saltwater fishing. Mike and his wife are here on a visit and asked if I would take His wife Laura, his Mom Patty, His dad Eric and himself out and show them the ropes [...]

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Homosassa Trout Bite

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

Had to shake the cobb webs off after the storm so I decided to head out and work the shoreline for ladyfish with Pete. The water temp was a comfy 80 degrees and stained. We worked the cut infront of the Homosassa River and picked away at ladyfish and trout all morning. The trout came near structure at the ends of the tides and the ladyfish were everywhere. I believe I limited on slot trout, keeping only one for dinner [...]

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Father’s Day Trout Driftin’

Florida Sportsman member: ripnlips

We decided to give the redfish a break today and do a little Carolina drifting for trout. We first started the day around the oyster bars and the mangrove shorelines for a little top water action. Got a few to cooperate [...]

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Fishing with the Reel McCoy’s

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

Forum Member Brent (Reel McCoy) has fished with me a few times before this trip and it is always fun to have him and his family aboard. Today both of his sons Colby (the younger guy) and Dallas joined dad for a day drifting up some trout. We hit the water at 7:45 and ran out to 9′ to begin our drift with the outgoing tide [...]

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Fishing the Waccasassa

Florida Sportsman member: Redbonz

You know the weather man never gets the forecast right. So they predicted rain and since they are usually wrong it going to be a good day. With a early morning high tide we get to the ramp at first light.. A perfect morning for top-waters. I get this big blowup and don’t connect so Ponce comes back and scores a slot red.

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Nature Coast Weekend

Florida Sportsman member: jaeforceone

Had a chance to sneak out and do some fishing over on the Nature Coast with A2OZ. Working a certain cove I hooked a ladyfish and she spit the spook in the air. oh well…I twitched the lure three more times to have this fat snook smash it. Probably the most epic topwater bite I have ever experienced. With such a wide back I was hoping she measured over 35 but was 5 inches short. Either way it was a good fight and a great way to test out the new eyecon 6’8 MXF.

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Wacasassa Fishing

Florida Sportsman member: Redbonz

Friday the 11th we hit Wacasassa knowing there was a little bit of a high in the morning but not a lot of water moving. Caught a few redfish on topwater, gotta’ love the blowups on topwater and quite a few blowups and short strikes. Not going to tell what color was happening- ha, ha. Trout were hitting Gulps and dines and got a good Georgia limit. Water was pretty clean for the WB [...]

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Spoon Fed Reds

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

Mike and Rye wanted to get on some redfish on artificials. Like myself that means no bait no gulp just spoons, spinnerbaits and plugs. we took off at 3:30 to catch the late afternoon high tide. The skys were high so I concentrsated in areas that I knew would have some colored water. The reds were fiesty right from the start. They were chasing the spoons and we could see them miss often. A few found thier mark and inhaled the spoon. We moved around points with good flow and deep water near by and picked away finding a great late afternoon redfish bite. All the reds we caught were in the slot.

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Super Moon Slammin’

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

The CCBA tourney is a family fishing tournament that I have fish the past 5 years.The format is simple and fun for all. It’s main prize money is for trout and redfish and includes cobia and catfish as secondary categories. The past couple years Joe and Billy joined me as the team on my boat. It seems to be a rare thing when 3 guys can spend 3 days aboard a boat and not get on each others needs. It’s even better when my two guests are superb fisherman with the drive necessary to fish hard all day while keeping it fun and focused [...]

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Crystal River Reds

Florida Sportsman member: ripnlips

I finally got back on the water after 2 weeks. I end up getting a chance to fish with my old friends Dennis and Mike. We haven’t fished together since Christmas because our work schedules do not match but he took off today to fish with me [...]

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Inshore Red

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

Don and I hit the water for a short afternoon trip on the inshore flats. The water temp was 69 degrees out near Marker 22 and clear. We drifted over the skinny flats on the incoming tide and the large trout and redfish were hungry! Mirrodines fished slow over the flats and along the shorelines produced lots of trout most over slot to 24″ and four reds to 32″. The fish are scattered all around the flats including some out to 6′ that I heard of today. Another fine productive day on the bay here in the Big Bend.

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Lesson One and Nice Snook

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

Mike, A neighbor on our street had moved here a few months ago and is getting into the swing of saltwater fishing. He has spent lots of time here in Florida mostly bass fishing and has chartered a few times on the flats. He hooked up with a guide here and also a few neighbors that to him over complicated the flats fishing here and wouldn’t really show him the here and why of Homosassa. His friend who rewards our forum talked him into approaching me to teach him the ins and outs of Homosassa. Of course i agreed ’cause it’s what I truly enjoy doing.

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Homosassa Inshore with Don

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

Well the family is all back to work and home now so it’s time to get back into my routine. Well the same game but the names have changed to protect! Don and I hit the water at a leisurely 9:00 and headed out onto the flats looking for some trout for dinner. We took a few in tight on mirrodines but decided to look around for some other areas. We did find some trout around the outer St. Martins Keys and once we had enough for 3 households dinner we moved inside looking for reds [...]

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Fish Were Hungry

Florida Sportsman member: Fishin Rod

Lightnin’ and I headed for HSB again this morning to see what we could get to come out and play. We dropped the boat in the water at a little after 6:00am and sat there in the howling wind waiting on daylight. As soon as it got light enough to see we headed for our favorite redfish hole and it was way to rough to hit the flats or even fish the outside today. We hit one of the creeks and it was nice fishing with the wind being blocked but then came the rain.

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HSB

Florida Sportsman member: tekmunki

The inshore seas were super-calm this morning and remained as such all day, the breeze was just enough to keep the heat from getting to you, and kept the bimini top down all day in spite of equipping it expecting a 90+ degree scorcher… When it got too toasty, we got up on plane and cooled off with some ice-cold dye-free Gatorades that really hit the spot. Now this was a great day to take kids fishing [...]

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Every Other Day

Florida Sportsman member: jaeforceone

Took some of my nursing classmates to the Homosassa area for a late morning launch. Started off landing 20″ Seatrout and some lower slot reds. Soon after a short instruction I had them working the spook jr trying to get the rhythmic motion down. Each of them caught only one fish each but they were big fish. One Trout at 20″ and One Red at 27.25″ [...]

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Reds with Joe and Billy

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

There are always a few guys that just seem to click when together on the water and today I had the pleasure of fishing with two of the best. Joe and Billy (both forum members) joined me this afternoon for a day pounding the banks for reds. With the strong high pressure and strong winds I figured we would go through the motions but really didn’t expect too much. We hit the incoming tide for it’s duration and found what shelter from the wind we could manage.

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Lovin’ Spring Time

Florida Sportsman member: jimsfishingobsession

I did a few fishing trips over the past couple weeks and of course got a dive in too. We got a ton of snook in the river one afternoon. The snook came in at all different sizes anywhere from a foot long to almost 40 inches. we mainly fished with the D.O.A. terror eyzs for the snook. We also managed to catch about a half dozen reds and 3 mangrove snapper that same afternoon in the river but most were small even though we did get 3 slot reds, all after the sun went down [...]

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FS TV Nature Coast Shoot

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

Blair contacted me a couple weeks ago and asked if I would help out by doing an inshore segment for thier television series “Destinations” Our part was the Nature coast area. I agreed figuring it would be relatively easy to put together some inshore action this time of year. Well a couple of curve balls were toosed my way. Mother nature decided to blow 20 out of the east for a solid week having me worried about having enough water to even get near my fish. The other part was a real challenge [...]

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Windy River Fishing

Florida Sportsman member: ripnlips

Me, my son Jeremy, and my friend John decide to hit the creeks of Crystal River today no matter what the weatherman said about the SW winds. We end up hitting the river early so we can catch the incoming tide. We hit the water at about 7 am with the winds blowing at a 10 to 15 from the west. The winds got worse and worse the rest of the day. Turned 20 to 25 real quickly [...]

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Big Big Snook

Florida Sportsman member: Indianoutlaw

I got to fish a little bit with SnookMagnet two weekends ago, but we didn’t have much to report. Simply had a great day on the water, did well with the trout, but only managed three reds. Captain Jerry Kernan sent me pictures of a great snook he caught last week. Fish was hooked in 18 inches of water on a falling tide down South, made three blistering runs of 50-75 yards, and then [...]

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Homosassa Trout and Reds

Florida Sportsman member: troutman57

Mark contacted me and asked if I would take him and a couple friends out on the flats fishing during thier stay here in Homosassa. I offered to show them around at the begining of thier trip so they would have an idea where to start when they set out on thier own. We settled on a Friday afternoon trip with Bob and his friends Steve and Craig. They met me dockside at 12:30 ready to fish. All of them were able fisherman so I planed a day of chasing trout with artificials (mirrodines) and maybe a redfish or two

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Sheepshead Beat Down

Florida Sportsman member: ripnlips

Today’s plan was to hit the near shore rock piles and see if we could get the sheepshead to bite. The day started out beautiful with light winds from the west and air temps in the low 50’s. With the baitwell filled with 200 shrimp we set off to some rock piles that shutterkng and I hit a few weeks back and also some that I have not been to in nearly 15 years.

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Buying the Right Kayak

How to choose a purpose-built fishing platform.

Big trout from a big kayak: This 14-foot “hybrid” model offers loads of storage space, best-suited for calm waters.

The sit-on-top kayak in the 12- to 14-foot range has become the most popular paddle craft for fishing, and for good reason. These boats are stable, relatively fast, virtually unsinkable and have plenty of room to move your body while fighting a fish. Modern sit-on-tops are hollow and molded from polyethylene, with sealed holes through the hull. The deck, as it were, is above the water line, so any waves or splash-in water simply drain through scupper holes.

The standard design allows you to spin and hang your feet over the side, convenient when fighting a fish and great for getting in and out of the boat. Some anglers trick out their kayaks with rod holders, anchors, baitwells, 12-volt power for electronics, ice storage, and tackle storage. Let’s look at some of the basics.

For starters, shop for a kayak that was designed with fishing in mind. One indicator is flush-mount rod holders—a good sign that the manufacturer was at least thinking about fishing. There are certainly “fishing kayaks” out there that don’t come with flush mounts and some are pretty good. But if you are just starting out, stock flush mounts make sense in that you won’t be tempted to drill holes for custom rod holders before you know where you want them. That said, plenty of flat deck space where custom rod holders can be mounted is important, too. There are several mountable rod holders to choose from. Scotty and Ram Mounts are a couple that come to mind.

Size

If you are a big fella, it makes sense that you are gonna need a bigger boat. Height counts just as much if not more than weight here— comfort becomes an issue after a few hours, and when the bite is on, you don’t want to be thinking about your aching back or sore keester. Conversely, if you are buying a boat for your diminutive spouse or kids, they will be able to handle a shorter, thinner boat much easier.
Accessories

If your boat doesn’t come with goodies like a rudder system or foot braces, does it at least make room for you to add them? I mentioned pre-set spaces for rod holders. Some boats were designed for simple accessories. For example, the Heritage Redfish 14 has a space right behind the seat that perfectly fits a standard milk crate, which can be a fantastic portable gear tote.

Paddle Power

Kayaks with foot pedal propulsion systems are especially useful if you plan to fish afloat often in open water. The Hobie Mirage Drive and Native Propel systems are gaining fans in parts of Florida. Try one!

Hull Shape

“Rocker” refers to the amount of curve at the stern and bow. A kayak with a sharp curve forward will turn easier than a kayak with a straight rocker that cuts the water with a pronounced “V.” Conversely, the straight rockers will track better, meaning you lose less energy when travelling long distances. Ocean paddlers like straight tracking; river paddlers need the maneuverability.

Home Storage

Don’t leave your new boat outside in the sun. While these hulls are tough as nails on the water, the sun can slowly degrade the integrity. Garage space is best, but at least shoot for covered, off the ground, and in the shade. Building a rack from PVC pipe is a cinch.

Compact Kayaks

Fishing rivers or canals but still want the freedom to delve into bigger water? A shorter kayak might be to your liking. The Coosa by Jackson Kayaks comes to mind. Designer Drew Gregory is a river angler who got to tinkering. “It’s stable, like any sit-on-top designed for fishing, but it has more maneuverability due to its shorter length [11’3”],” Drew told me. But it goes further than that—rod storage inside the hull, a retractable drag chain to slow-drift rivers, and “rod stagers,” notches where a rod can rest in while you paddle.

Hybrids

If you’re used to fishing from a canoe and just can’t get past the idea of leaving the open hull design, fear not. Hybrid kayaks offer the best of both worlds: single-layer hulls with an open top like a canoe. But like the sit-on-top kayak, they offer a very low profile which allows you to cut under the wind when paddling. The Wilderness Systems Commander 140 is an example of a hybrid kayak designed for anglers. While these hybrids aren’t self-bailing and therefore might not make sense to take into the ocean, they can handle just about any other kind of fishing. Because you sit lower relative to the water, these boats offer more stability. This model has running tracks along bottom that stabilize the boat for standup fishing—not something I would try on most kayaks. Probably the most obvious advantage of the hybrid design is the massive amounts of gear storage areas. Like a canoe, you can fill the wide-open bow and stern areas with more than a week’s worth of camping and fishing supplies. Just remember to waterproof your gear! FS

Keep Your Gear Dry

Three gasketed boxes for small electronics and other gear.

If your sandwich gets soggy you’re out a lunch, but if your phone or camera gets wet you’re out a hundred or more dollars and perhaps an important safety device. A variety of things can keep your belongings dry. What you choose will depend
on your budget, your boat, what you need to keep dry, and how long you intend to stay out. We’ll only discuss day trips here. Camping trips require a separate treatment.

We can divide portable dry storage containers into three main categories: waterproof bags, waterproof boxes and waterproof packs. The easiest bag to use is any kind of plain plastic bag. The main advantage to these is they’re cheap and readily available. Their main disadvantage is simple: They don’t work very well. Water has soaked things I’ve had in zip lock bags many times.

A waterproof backpack is a good option for gear protection on small boats.

A proper waterproof bag is a rubberized cloth or heavy plastic sack with some combination of a folding top and snaps or straps. You put your items in the bag, fold the top over two or three times, and strap or snap it down. These bags come in various sizes, from cellphone size on up, and they work well. If the bag was completely submerged they might leak, but I’ve used them for years in all kinds of boats without a problem. They take the shape (more or less) of the items inside and the space they’re given, and are a good choice for any small boat applications.

Waterproof boxes also work well, and are fairly inexpensive. The classic waterproof box is similar to an ammo box, except the waterproof boxes are made of plastic and usually have a gasket to seal the water out. A cam-action latch closes the box firmly. These boxes are fairly small but easily fit items like car keys, wallet, phone, a small first aid kit, and a small point-and-shoot camera.

Most coolers are only moderately good as dry boxes. However, Yeti, Engel and other high-end coolers like them seal tight and make great dry boxes. If you have larger items you might consider a bucket with a snap-on lid. For years I used a bucket picked up at a Dunkin Donuts store to carry my cameras, sometimes several thousand dollars worth, on all kinds of boats. It was a very good investment, not too stylish perhaps, but very functional.

A sturdy cooler can be enlisted into service as a useful dry box. This one also has rod holders.

Most photographers use a specialized camera box called a Pelican Case to carry their equipment. Pelican Cases are professional devices and work exactly as they are supposed to. Their only disadvantages are the initial expense and the fact that they look and carry something like a briefcase. You can’t carry a Pelican Case and fish at the same time. But you could back your truck over one and your cameras would still be fine.

If you fish out of a boat and like to wade, carrying a camera with you and keeping it dry becomes a problem. The Dry Creek Backpack from Simms solves it. This excellent piece of equipment is the size and shape of a standard daypack, and has the daypack’s shoulder straps so you can carry it on your back. It has the material
and tie-down straps and snaps of a waterproof bag.

You can put whatever you want in this pack, and even if you fall down in the water your stuff will stay dry. As with all of Simms products it’s made to the highest quality standards and will last for years. You can see the Dry Creek Backpack at www.simmsfishing.com.

The fact is, most of us need and will use a variety of the methods used here. If you spend much time around the water in small boats, it can’t be helped. FS

First published Florida Sportsman July 2015

HD – Cabin Bluff

Cabin Bluff Tarpon Cup, photo by Andy Ippensen. Angler Dr. Aaron Adams hooked up to a big tarpon at the second annual Hell’s Bay Cabin Bluff Tarpon Cup, with Capt. Ron Gibson at the helm. The tournament was held at Cabin Bluff Resort on the Cumberland River in Georgia.

Sportsman HD Gallery

Finding the Blue Water

By Corky Decker

Find blue water and save big using sea surface temp services.
“Black dots” ROFFs analysis for northern Gulf reveals hotspots where cooler, green water transitions into warm blue water.\

The Gulf of Mexico is a hard place to fish offshore. You have to travel upwards of a hundred miles to get to 100 fathoms, if you live in the Big Bend or south towards the Tampa area. The Panhandle, you are a lot closer to the deep water, but also a lot closer to that huge muddy river to the west.

The Mississippi River dumps billions of gallons into the Gulf of Mexico every day. Offshore currents and winds can send the river water hundreds of miles from the Louisiana source and dirty up our prime marlin spots off Destin and Pensacola. There is nothing I hate more than burning daylight hours and worse, three- to four-dollar-a-gallon fuel in green water. I have never caught a billfish in the green water. I burn more fuel because I’m mad, and keep bumping the throttles up. It is hard to pull a marlin spread at 15 knots. I need the blue water.

I’m not a rich man but I have a rich man’s habit, so I save money and billfish on the cheap (well, kinda). Fuel is where you can save. How do I save enough money on my fuel bill to be able to follow my passion? I go 8 knots everywhere, and I order a ROFFS Fishing Oceanographic Analysis before we leave the dock. Marlin fishing for me out of the Panhandle is a 4 p.m. departure, an 8-knot overnight trip to the Spur or where Dr. Roffer told me the blue water can be found. I wake up at daybreak in the blue water, and put out a spread. I’m fishing before the guy with the 40-knot G&S arrives. He burned 500 gallons getting to where I am. I burned 40 gallons, slept 6 hours and am in the tower with a cup of coffee.

I knew where I was going before I left the dock. I saved search time. I hate search time. It costs me money and lines-in time. I fished throughout South Pacific for seven years. I’m spoiled, really spoiled (and also why I can’t afford my G&S). I also learned from my time doing 10-day liveaboard charters with a 40-foot boat and fuel bladders: You went 8 knots and always pulled lures when you traveled. You fished. We caught hundreds of blue marlin, and we burned an average of 50 gallons a day and anchored up at night, shutting the genset down when we all went to sleep.

I took this lesson with me to the Gulf. I go easy on the fuel, drift for swords at night, and we leave the genset going (I like my AC; I’m in my fifties now).

There are other available satellite services. Some of my buddies use Hiltons. FishTrack is another site which has come along in the last year or two. I can only write about what I know and those are the ROFFS. Never used anything else. Those guys have Ph.Ds in fish science. Your 60 bucks gets you an interpretation of realtime ocean information for fishing. They even put big black dots with numbers inside where you should look. Great waypoint, start there! The higher the number, the greater the chances for finding fish. Some free sites, such as one hosted by Rutgers University,
offer pretty satellite images, but lack the interpretation and analysis.

The Gulf of Mexico is the hardest body of water I have ever fished for marlin, but jeez it can be really good! Our best day is one blue and four whites. That is not Vanuatu or Cape Verde numbers, but tagging 5 billfish a day is still a day. I had that day on one of those little black dots. FS

First published Florida Sportsman Magazine August 2015

Skipcasting from Kayaks

This kayak angler is a proper distance from a mangrove edge, allowing him to skipcast underneath the overhangs.

Fishing mangroves and docks requires being able to cast your presentation underneath overhanging structure using a method called the skipcast. Fish stage under the structure to attack current-swept prey. Plus, they stay cooler in the moderate waters during the midday sun and are protected from larger predators.

It’s vital that you get your lure or bait to them.

Many boat fishermen are familiar with the technique–casting low and parallel to the water’s surface, allowing the bait to skip along top until it reaches its destination. It requires a strong arm motion to keep the water from “gobbling up” the bait too early.  Aim your bait to initially hit the water’s surface just outside the overhang, allowing the bait to skip or tumble end-over-end into the strike zone. If you cast too hard, grab the top of the reel and stop the line.

One quick bounce or a “rolling” along the surface are both different outcomes to a skipcast. They both work, too. Consider that your angle of trajectory may vary depending on your rod length and how close you are to the structure. Too drastic of an angle and your bait splashes into the water loudly near the boat; not enough angle and your bait may never touch the water’s surface.

A few quick tips for skipcasting:

1) Shy away from skipcasting with a baitcaster unless you are experienced with these types of reels. Tournament bass fishermen will tell you that they have more control with their baitcasters than spinners–but they tend to be the exception. Most saltwater inshore anglers use spinners when fan-casting or live-baiting: stick with it when skipcasting.

2) A 6-foot spinning rod is not a bad option when skipcasting. The shorter length allows for pinpoint casts. Longer rods generally mean longer casts, which are not necessary when skipcasting near structure.

3) If spinfishing and right-handed, leave room along your right side to make casts. Left-handed fishermen should leave room on their left side. It’s amazing how quickly skipcasting becomes frustrating when casting from your non-dominant side.

4) Use soft baits that are weedless, or at least single-hooked. Live baits work well too. When skipcasting, a light bodied soft bait skips best across the water’s surface. Plus, if you accidentally hit the structure–and you will catch the overhang–a weedless bait should pop right out (and may even fall into the strike zone). Treble hooks get caught and don’t come out.

A kayak skipcast is a different animal altogether

Plenty of flats and bayboat fishermen have enough trouble with the skipcast as it is…and they have the advantage of standing. Because kayakers sit much closer to the water, their cast should be angled more like a baseball swing and less like a boat fisherman’s golf swing.

Treat the lure like it’s a flat-sided rock and you want to skip it across a lake. Cast so your rod is parallel to the H20 surface, and your bait is just inches from the surface. Don’t have more than one foot of leader hanging from the rod tip when preparing for a cast. You have to get that bait low and keep it low. If the structure has an overhang that extends far over the water, give the cast a bit more power–that first bounce off the water’s surface always slows down the lure’s speed significantly.

As with most things in life, practice makes perfect. Don’t expect to master kayak skipcasting on the the first trip out, but once you do, snook and redfish will know you by your first name. Below, Captain Rich Jones demonstrates the proper way to skipcast while standing from a Native Watercraft.

By Sam Hudson

Cleaning an Alligator

*Warning: Graphic Content

Recently, the outdoors website Wide Open Spaces, shared our ‘gator cleaning video, and provided some helpful insight with it as well, check it out, here.

In the seminar above, Florida Sportsman’s Trey Wheeler met up with the staff at All American Gator Products in Ft. Pierce, FL to learn how to properly skin and clean a Florida ‘gator. If you are considering cleaning your gator kills on your own this year, this video will take you through the entire process from start to finish with professionals that have been in the business for over 20 years.

“During the 2012 Florida alligator harvest I was lucky enough to draw and fill two tags. The first gator I took down was no monster, measuring in at eight feet, but it was big enough for dinner. I decided with my first gator that I would skin and fillet the gator myself. I had spoken with a few guys who had cleaned their own and they told me it wasn’t all that hard. Armed with a knife and what I thought would be a good instructional YouTube video I began the process.

Step by step, I followed the video making slow process as I played, paused, and rewound to play the video over and over. After a couple hours, dull blades, and a scene that belonged in a blockbuster Slasher film, I had finally finished “cleaning” my first alligator. It was not easy to accomplish cleaning my own gator without proper instruction. It was nothing like learning to fillet a fish with Dad standing over your shoulder telling you each step. Note: Do not cut open the stomach!

The second alligator was larger, measuring in at 10 feet long on the dot. After my first attempt, I figured it would be much more beneficial to have a professional do the skinning while I took a few notes. Watching the experienced alligator skinner work showed me the dos and don’ts of cleaning an alligator. What had taken me a few hours to accomplish he did in less than one hour.

I now know the steps to take for cleaning an alligator for future opportunities. I was not lucky enough to pull tags in 2013, but lucky enough that my brother and father did get tags. I will use the steps taken by the experienced skinner and apply them on my own this year to make cleaning an alligator a much better all-around experience.” – Trey Wheeler