As we exited the bustling Turnpike on a sunny March Friday afternoon after a six-hour drive south from Tallahassee, we noticed the weekend traffic picking up, boats being trailered to the water, tops down on convertibles and Jeeps—spring had arrived in the Sunshine State. Winding back on a county road to a series of dirt roads in western Martin County, my husband Tony and I made our way to a gate where cattle skulls welcomed us from each side of tall fence posts made of railroad ties.
Both waterways terminate at Lake Okeechobee, arguably the world’s most famous largemouth bass fishery. But if your idea of bass fishing is pitching soft plastics through hydrilla mats, drifting huge wild shiners and zooming home with 250 horses at your transom, you’re in for an awakening.
Update on where and when to go for silver king action in the Sunshine State. Where do you want to fish for tarpon this year? For Florida boat-owners and even many shore fishermen, the answer may be as simple as, how long do you want to wait for them to arrive?
This winter, I was granted a unique vantage point from which to observe the decision-making process. I was on board a SeaVee center console with the Sailsmen team. The 7-man team, many of them longtime friends, were preparing for Operation Sailfish, first of a 4-leg competitive series, the Quest for the Crest. The series wraps up April 12-17 with the Final Sail event.
When you hear the word bass, most think of sparkly boats, baitcasters and big tournament payouts. But for fisherman in South Florida, the peacock bass is the staple in the local freshwater systems. With their aggressive eats, strong runs and beautiful colors, these fish have become prized gamefish.
If Stephen Foster had known about the Econlockhatchee, or Econ, the lyrics to his famous song may have been different.
The Econ doesn’t come up in discussions of great Florida fishing waters. Fishing the Econ is usually a lovely day on the water with a few beautiful fish thrown in. It can be better than that, but you really can’t expect it to be.
Spoil the reed and spare the fish. Let’s face it. Dropping even the smallest anchor in a tidal creek or wilderness canal can turn off the fish. Whether it’s the splash, or simply because fish sense your presence, they can be frightened by anchors, particularly in tight quarters.
Easy ways to find currents and eddies offshore. Tracking weather fronts has long been a big part of offshore fishing. Pretty easy, too. Just turn on the TV or check the Internet. No excuse for getting caught in a norther on your way to the marlin grounds.
The first time I live chummed offshore I had my angler standing beside me with a fly in the water waiting for a fish to cast at, only to have a 15-pound bonito make an arrival that just about ripped the rod out of his hand. There was no need to set the hook, as all his concentration and strength went into retaining possession of the rod as the fish dumped the 8-weight well into the backing.
1 of 40