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.
Many of the largest swordfish of the year are caught as they migrate through our waters in winter. Each year as the weather turns cold, Florida east coast anglers begin targeting sailfish as they migrate south with each passing cold front. When chasing sailfish, the best fishing usually occurs on the leading edge of the cold front when the wind is blowing the hardest and the seas are rough.
King mackerel fishermen know all about downsizing tackle to lure big fish to the bait. Smaller diameter fishing lines, lighter gauge hooks and swivels are more likely to catch the eye of a mature and educated king mackerel. Perhaps the most critical adjustment, however, is in the size of the wire bite leader.
In the clear Gulf Stream water that sweeps along the coast of South Florida, wahoo aficionados use the scaled-down planer method to entice more strikes than they might otherwise get with the heavy lures and steel cable leaders used in high-speed trolling.
My all-time favorite surface feature, which I often look for when fishing close to an inlet, is a tide line. Tide lines are typically formed at the mouths of inlets that feed into the ocean. Here, an incoming or falling tide will have a tide line on either side of the inlet, created by the currents colliding with ocean waters.
During this FS Seminar, Rick Ryals ventures 60 miles offshore of Jacksonville Beach in search of fast-moving pelagics. Bruiser blackfin tuna, wahoo, and dolphin gobbled hard-plastic lipped diving plugs, in favor of natural presentations.
That slim stretch of land halfway down the Keys is a stroke of geological genius for anglers. Only three miles to Islamorada’s south stands the reef, home of snapper and grouper. From there, the sea floor quickly drops off to the continental shelf.
Florida Sportsman’s Rick Ryals gives advice on how-to most effectively slow troll live baits while offshore fishing. It’s important to note that trolling live bait is not the same as trolling dead baits and lures. Live baits would quickly die if pulled at similar speeds. Not to mention, look very unnatural.
In this FS Seminar, Rick Ryals shows us that heading offshore for tasty bottom creatures doesn’t always require picking up frozen baits or stopping to throw the net or sabiki rig, it can be as easy as grabbing a pack of scented soft plastic lures.
In this FS Seminar, Rick Ryals tells us what the most important things are to consider when selecting the right hook for the job. Ryals explains which hooks are best for live bait and dead baits, and the key differences and advantages of using j-hooks and circle hooks.
One of the keys to successful live bait fishing is matching the size and style hook to the bait you fish. Regardless of whether you catch or buy your bait, baits vary in size from trip to trip. That’s why we’ve developed a hook box system so that we are always prepared to find the right hook for the bait at hand and the species of fish that we are targeting.
No fish in the sea is immune to the lure of fresh menhaden. If menhaden ranged throughout Florida, I’m convinced they would top every angler’s list of best baits. These fish are oily, reflective and loaded with energy. From the backwaters to the beaches, they’re a top menu item for a huge variety of gamefish, from seatrout to sailfish.
Florida Sportsman member: mahiwahi Several casts in I hooked a fish and it went flying into the air. I thought I had foul hooked a bonita but my friend yelled “it’s a dolphin”. Since it’s January I was in disbelief but as it got closer and I saw yellow I knew he was right.
There is one time where we always include a swivel in our wind-on leader system: when we are chunking dead bait for yellowfin tuna. Unlike all of the other wind-on leader applications such as trolling and live baiting, retrieving chunked dead bait can cause severe twist in your main line and leader. To help reduce line twist, we connect the wind-on leader to the main line with a high quality barrel swivel.
An often fast-paced and highly visual pursuit, snaring mangroves within a rod length of the transom defines “cool,” but it’s also practically advantageous. Normally, when a guy tells me my fishing day will involve glass minnows and pompano jigs, I assume we’re talking flats and beaches.