Better Off Wet Water Lifestyle Magazine Winter 2014

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Tel: 1-888-272-9838

BETTEROFFWET.COM   3 Jupiter, Florida

THE NEW FAST “Next to excellence is the appreciation of it.” – William Makepeace Thackery


34' Open | 34' Pied-A-Mere | 37' Open | 37' Cabin | New 39' S Open | New 39' S Cuddy | New 43' Open | 60' SSY IN STOCK • FINANCING AVAILABLE • TRADES WELCOME

SALES • SERVICE • PARTS • STORAGE • MOBILE MARINE REPAIR 1490 N. Federal Highway • Pompano Beach, FL 33062 • (954) 581-8355 2890 N.E. 187th Street • Miami, FL 33180 • (954) 593-5232 •

The perfect companion to a day on the water!

PUBLISHER Benjamin Chewning SALES & DISTRIBUTION Andrea Duenas CREATIVE DIRECTOR Joe Sweat GRAPHIC DESIGNER Theresa Barzyk info@theresabarzyk GRAPHIC DESIGNER Tony Catalano PRO STAFF Captain Billy Norris Captain Brian Nelli Justin Hayskar Jonathan Dickinson Kyle & Julie Durkee Capt. Kyle Monti CONTACT Better Off Wet P.O. Box 821 Okeechobee, FL 34973 863.634.7710

F CENTRO YBOR • YBOR CITY 1600 East 8th Ave. Tampa, Florida 33605 |

Better Off Wet, all rights reserved. No part of this magazine or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted without the express written consent of the Publisher. BETTEROFFWET.COM   5









Catch up with Team High Water Companies out on the tournament trail.


Big Snook, Redfish and Goliath Grouper...Caught with Capt. Billy Norris of Pale Horse Charters & Better Off Wet.


See what Dixie Divers has to offer & check out some great East Coast dive sites.


Get to know the wonderful people at Cowabunga Surf and Sport and what they have to offer...Q & A with Brett and Melissa.


Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge & Diver 4 Heroes set sail and head out spearfishing.


Kyle Monti gives tips on winter time Bass fishing. Get ready to catch some lunkers!


Buying a new boat? Choosing a dealer & taking advantage of boat shows could be your best bet.


Check out the brand new, custom 42’ center console, presented by Powerplay Powersports.


Come on board Boomerang with the Better Off Wet crew, to target Sailfish, Mahi-Mahi and more.


Check out the Talica II from Shimano


Daryl Wong custom made spearguns!






POWERPLAY POWERBOATS After 15 years of being a boat dealer, here in south Florida, we were tired of selling other peoples designs. We wanted something unique that we could call our own. And we wanted to go factory direct to give our customers the best service available anywhere on the planet. So, in 1997 we sold our dealership and started what, at the time, was the largest center console on the market Midnight Express.



In 1998, our first hull hit the water. In 2000, we were fortunate enough to win the contract for supplying all of U.S. Customs/ Homeland Security interceptor fleet. Around 2001/2002, we were asked to show our boat in the Mercury space in the water at the Miami International Boat Show. We showed up with the only triple engine center console on the market (funny how times have changed). We did demo rides and sea trials for the duration of the show running in and out of Haulover inlet and we literally smoked all of our competition. The following year we were invited back into the Mercury spot and not to be out done we showed up with the first quad engine center console. The rest as they say is history ! In 2002/2003, Midnight Express’ entire production was sold out for the year and my kids were giving me a hard time about why does the boat builder not have his own boat. I had been on the hunt for the next model center console that we could offer to U.S. Customs that would significantly upgrade the ride, handling and speed of the 39s we were providing as part of our contract. By chance I was

BOATING offered a ride in a 38 Powerplay Sport deck with twin 525 Mercruisers. I was completely blown away by the attitude and ride of the dual stepped hull AND the speed was addicting. We worked out a deal with Danny Weinstein the original owner of Powerplay and ordered the first and only 38 Powerplay Sport Deck with outboard power. We kept that boat for 4 ½ years and ran her ALL over the Bahamas and the Keys. In the end, we liked the boat so much we got involved financially with Powerplay. Our association with Powerplay did not work out so after about a year and a half we parted ways. In 2004, Powerplay ended up going out of business and in 2005 we bought the molds for the 33 and 38 along with the name and the trade mark. Before we could start designing the ultimate center console based off of the 38 hull, fate intervened. At the end of 2005, I was approached by a group out of Maryland about buying Midnight Express, after two or three months of telling them that Midnight was not for sale I ended up accepting their offer and sold the company (I was wrong everything really is for sale). I kept Powerplay separate from the sale and signed a five-year non-compete. In 2011, my non-compete was up and my son was ready to be a part of the boat business and I had an unfulfilled passion for a center console design that was put on hold 5 years previous. I did not want to build what everyone else was building so we set on a path that would set us apart from the pack. The basics were easy, raise the hull sides and the deck so she would self-bail. Incorporate a European transom to eliminate the need for an aluminum engine bracket and give the hull a sleeker shear to match the additional length. We modified the mold and built the first of two test hulls. We put hull #1 in the water just to make sure we had not adversely affected the ride of the boat and with the changes we made she ran great. With triple 275 Verados and no deck or top, we hit 72 mph right out of the box. I was not happy with the floatation at the stern so we built a second hull with an improved bracket design. Now its late 2012, and we start on the deck design. I hate the cuddy cabin design; they are never tall enough to stand up in, most are two short or to small to sleep in and they become a catch all for stuff nobody uses. I wanted to build a center console that you could actually have some creature comforts in. We decided to eliminate the cuddy and


move everything we wanted inside the console. We built the cabin around the bathroom and the bed. We came up with a design that gives you a full size head and shower WITH a privacy door separating the head from the rest of the cabin. A 6’6” queen size bed and room for galley, with a cook top and/or microwave in between. We air conditioned the console and made available hot and cold running water, all without the need for a generator. By moving everything inside the console, we opened up the entire bow area for a multitude of seating of fishing options. Because our hull is so efficient we showed and sold our first boat with twin 350 Yamahas. With the twin 350s, she will be comparable or faster than most triple engine applications. The twins also allow us in incorporate a center walkway between the motors for unobstructed access to the swim platform. And, lastly our cockpit design is an open floor plan

so we can actually build your boat to your specs whether it’s the ultimate fishing machine with multiple live wells and fish boxes or the ultimate cruiser with an abundance of seating and creature comforts. Performance wise, in our two test boat with twin 300 HP Verados at a 30mph slow cruise, we are getting almost 2 miles per gallon, 1.88, and at a 40 mph cruise, we are burning 24 gallons per hour or 1.67 miles per gallon. With 400 gallons of standard fuel capacity, this should translate to better than a 500 mile cruising range. The 42 Performance open starts at $389,000.00 turn key with a pair of 300 Mercury Verados or $395,000.00 with a pair of 350 Yamaha outboards. Of course, she is available as a triple or quad engine outboard set up and a diesel package is also available. If you have the need for speed, the low maintenance of owning a center console and also enjoy some big boat cruising comforts contact us and we will get you on the water to experience firsthand what we consider the “ultimate” center console. INFO

Tom Mason

Phone: 954.868.2021 email:




Birdsall Marine Design Cooler Slides make it easy to load and unload your cooler. The slides are made of non-corrosive starboard with stainless steel spring latches which secure the slide in the retracted position. The space required to install the slides is the length of the cooler plus 2” and the height of the cooler plus an 1 1/ 4”. Visit to get yours today. Price $ 269.95

Retractable Slides for easy storage

“A great way to store your ice packed cooler and save on space for your boat!”




The Arcticor is a completely innovative product that is a one-of-a-kind cooler. It not only insulates your beverages as you transport them from the fridge to your final destination, but the built-in chilling cup-holders keep your drinks from heating up once you start sipping! The Arcticor Cooler works by surrounding the cup-holders with the icy slush already inside the cooler. So keep your cool and visit


E-SeaRider® designs, manufactures, and distributes marine duty gear for recreational, professional, and commercial applications. They are known as the market leader in innovative marine bean bag seating with an emphasis on quality and customer service. For more information about E-SeaRider® Marine Bean Bag models, sizes, and colors designed to fit your boating needs, please call (888) 335-3732 or visit


The Dock Key makes boating easier, safer, and is simple as 1-2-3. It is designed to allow you to dock your vessel without having to get off or lean over the side of the boat. It is made of stainless steel to hold up to either fresh or salt water environments; as long as the dock has planking with at least a gap of 3/16- and 3⁄4-inches, then you’re able to secure your boat safely. For more information call 704-773-3402 or visit


GripPro was founded with a simple mission: develop the toughest most durable bucket with a comfortable handle that would make it in any environment. Stylish | Durable | Comfortable Shatter Proof | Performance


Quality Quality Performance Performance and and Reliability Reliability


Aboard the

BOOMERANG Andrea Duenas We arrived at the Sailfish Marina in West Palm Beach, where Capt. John Krohn and his first mate Matt Richardson greeted us at the stern of the beautiful Boomerang, a 44 foot 1955 all wooden Rybovich. It was a beautiful day, with a small cold front that just arrived causing it to be slightly windy at 15 mph, but did not hinder a successful day of fishing. We got acquainted with each other after boarding the Boomerang getting ready to start our day. Both Capt. John and Matt are Florida natives who have fished the West Palm Beach waters since they were children. Captain John has been captaining Boomerang for 39 years now with Matt being one of his first mates for 3 years. Matt caught his first Sailfish aboard Boomerang in 2004 with his brother Justin, which was one of the many things that sparked his passion for working on fishing boats.




t was a quick ride heading north out of the PalmBeach/Lake Worth Inlet to reach our starting point where we would slowly drift and kite fish back. During the ride out to our starting point, Matt gave us a run down for what they specialize in and what we would be doing. They use many methods to catch fish aboard Boomerang. But, thier specialty is kite fishing, which is what they had in store for us, targeting Mahi Mahi and Sailfish. For bait they use Goggle Eye’s and occasionally they use scaled baits, such as thread fin and Spanish sardines. But, Goggle Eyes seem to be the best and heartiest baits out there, according to Matt. Boomerang flies a kite specifically made for this type of fishing, using Bob Luise and SFE kites, depending on the strength of the wind. He bridled the bait to a 5/0 live bait hook using a small rubber band. This method allows the bait to move a bit more freely and they tend to live longer than if you just pushed a hook through their back. He sent out 3 baits per kite used.

The baits were separated by clips. Each clip is about 80 feet from the next, allowing the baits to hang from the kite without getting fouled. He used 15 foot leaders with snap swivel, an orange weighted cork for visibility, and a small glass ring, attached to the clips on the kite lines. (If the wind is strong, which it was, he said to add a 1 oz egg weight to sit right on top of the snap swivel). Once all 3 baits were out and situated, Matt sent one more out and up the rigger to keep it from getting tangled with the short kite bait. Matt was very meticulous and had everything rigged up, just waiting to put the Goggle Eyes in the water, as soon as we were stopped. We watched him manage all

5 reels as if he was playing an instrument. The first sound of line spooling out and popping the line down from the outrigger excited everyone for what the first catch would be! Matt was first to the reel, handing it off to Channing… She reeled it right to the boat, to find out it was a shark. It turned out to be an interesting shark, Matt identified it as an Atlantic Sharpnose, AKA Puppy Shark, because they do not grow to be very large. The one caught looked to be full grown. We released the Puppy Shark and Matt began to re-rig the pole, getting us set up for the next fish. And, surprisingly it was his wife Carissa’s first Sailfish exploding out of the water on the other end. Captain John and Matt immediately went into action communicating to each other, while Carissa jumped into the fighting chair and began hoisting and reeling continuously without ever letting up. Like a pro, she was

Settin’ The Hook Apparel,



determined to have a legal catch, waiting for Matt to grab her leader. After 25 minutes of a tiresome battle and great showmanship of teamwork and communication between the 3 of them, we came to see the beautiful sail and colors of a 92 inch Sailfish alongside the boat. Matt and Carissa gave a big high five to each other and were able to hang Boomerang’s Sailfish flag, showing the catch and release of her first Sailfish. It was hard to calm down after that, but we got back to watching the lines and endless horizon of blue waters. There were a few other boats running parallel in the same area, targeting the same Sails we were. Before we knew it, we were on again, giving Whitney a shot at the next catch, which she reeled up within minutes. At the first glance of the fish’s colors in the water we thought…”maybe a huge yellowtail”, but Matt identified the fish as a Rainbow Runner…a nice 10-12 pounder. Captain John explained it as tasting similar to Mahi Mahi. Moving into the last hour of our trip, we were already ecstatic with our day. But, once again we heard the spooling sound coming from the starboard outrigger reel and the popping of the line. That was Channing’s side and she was in for a fight. No one was sure what was on the other end, until we saw those distinctive yellows, greens and blues of a Mahi Mahi jumping out of the water in the distance! Within seconds, we were in for a double header, because the portside outrigger pole bent over, as well. Carissa knew im18   BETTER OFF WET | WINTER 2014

mediately that Matt was helping Channing and went into action. She was able to begin reeling in the other line. Carissa had her Mahi Mahi to the boat first, while Channing was still battling her monster. Matt moved quickly with the gaff, hoisting Carissa’s Mahi into the boat. He placed it in the fish box, so he could return back to Channing, as she brought her Mahi Mahi to the back of the boat. This was the perfect ending to our day aboard Boomerang. We all had the opportunity to reel in some great fish, which were delicious that evening. And, Captain John was right about the Rainbow Runner Whitney

caught… it was a very delicious white and flaky fish, similar to Mahi Mahi. Carissa had a great time, being able to catch and release her first Sailfish with her husband Matt…On the same boat he caught his first Sailfish 10 years prior. The Better Off Wet crew would like to thank Captain John Krohn and Matt Richardson, with Boomerang Sportfishing Charters, for a successful day of fishing off the West Palm Beach coastline. If you are in the area, be sure to call Boomerang for a trip!





Shimano Talica II - With Talica 2-Speeds we set out to break the mold. We wanted to make a 2-Speed Leverdrag that could underhand a sardine 40 feet to the chum line with ease. We also wanted to increase the fishable drag capabilities of a small diameter reel to fish with heavy PowerPro and short Fluorocarbon top shots that anglers are using to land huge fish. Shimano has designed a 2-Speed reel that beaks the mold. It is a two-speed lever drag set out to fight big fish and built for high drag fishing situations. You can find this reel at your local tackle shop or try White’s Tackle in Fort Pierce and Stuart, Florida.




Offshore Hunter is a Powerful PC computer software that organizes your fishing and diving spots into an easy-to reference, printable format that will transfer to your GPS. - Only $99.95 • Store, Log, Plot and print your numbers • Show coastlines of entire USA • Convert LORAN numbers • Import/Export numbers from your GPS* • Includes 1000’s of reefs and wrecks • Sort, search and plan trips • Calculate Distance and Heading to a number


Simms Plier is an ultra-lightweight, extremely durable with aircraft grade aluminum. Hollow stainless steel hinge allows for a better grip, exterior finger guard to prevent slippage, beveled notch for tightening knots & retractor clip-in points, 7” length; compression molded nylon holster included.


Sportsman’s Release Knife. A double inward facing razor blades in a plastic housing will cut 800 lb. leader in a split second. This is perfect with Sailfish season upon us! Wrist cord and extra blade (inside handle) included.


The new Marine Bucket from Bucket Innovations is purpose built for marine applications. The patent pending designs make this bucket unique due to our molded bottom grip handle and our integrated nylon rope handle. With custom Don Ray artwork this bucket looks as good as it works!


WHY FREEDIVE? If you are reading this magazine you must already be a water person, but likely not a freediver. So why should you consider freediving? Freediving is the most natural way to be under the water. It requires only a mask, fins, and snorkel. What initially draws many people to freediving is the freedom from all the cumbersome gear and tanks associated with scuba diving. Marine life that would normally be skittish around a noisy scuba diver, will allow you much closer approach as a freediver. Many new free divers become interested in the sport because of freediving spearfishing. If you are interested in learning to spearfish, I would highly advise you get good at freediving first, THEN add weapons to the equation. Three are several common misconceptions about freediving. I often hear people say, “Yeah freedivng looks cool, but I can’t do it because, I’m too old, I’m too out of shape, I can’t equalize my ears while freediving, or I can’t hold my breath more than 30 seconds. You don’t need to be an elite athlete to enjoy the sport of freediving, if so I’d be out of business. I regularly have people in my entry level 3 day PFI freediving program that have zero

freediving experience. They are snorkelers or scuba divers and can hold their breath for 30 - 45 seconds. Yet after my 3 day course these same students can hold their breath for 2 to 3.5 minutes and perform 60ft freedives. Freediving is a sport where your performance is largely determined by your techniques. Learning proper technique will go a long way to getting you where you want to be. Freediving has risks associated with the sport just like scuba diving. The problem is you can’t go scuba diving until you take a scuba course, yet anyone can go freediving. This results in most freedivers not fully understanding the risks associated with the sport, and lack a thorough understanding of the procedures and protocols to enjoy the sport safely. When freediving always dive in a buddy team, one up one down. When your buddy surfaces be close enough to grab them and watch him or her for no less than 30 seconds. Ted Harty is the founder of Immersion Freediving, 280ft freediver, USA Freediving record holder, and Captain of the 2012 USA Freediving team. He runs freediving courses year round in Fort Lauderdale.

Manatee Tours | Scuba Lessons Snorkeling | Scalloping | Dive Gear

48 NW US Highway 1, Crystal River

352-794-7227 - 866-518-1530




rd Annual Suncoast Spearfishing Challenge There are only a few opportunities a year for new and avid spearfishing men, women and juniors to come together and compete in a spearfishing tournament, compared to all the different fishing tournaments Florida hosts year round. Captain Chris Barton, owner of Reef Pirate apparel and Reel Diversion Charters is a 20 year Army Veteran, who has been a part of these tournaments and clubs for years. He decided to help grow the sport of spearfishing and the Sarasota community by launching the Suncoast Underwater Club (SUC) 3 years ago. The members of SUC host The Suncoast Spearfishing Challenge every year in September. It has quickly become one of the premier spearfishing tournaments on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Every year the tournament has over doubled in size; starting with 48 shooters the first year, 108 last year and a total of 158 this recent September 2014. This event takes place in the heart of downtown Sarasota at the Marina Jack. The marina provides dockage for all competitors during the tournament and direct, no bridge access to the Gulf and a deep water harbor. There are full amenities, fuel

dock, ship’s store and ground transportation offered as well. Chris states that this event would not be possible without the help and support from the entire group of sponsors that participate every year; And, he was definitely right in saying so. Throughout the entire event from the start to finish the sponsors were visible in helping with hands from set up, weigh-in assistance, awards ceremony to clean up. SUC’s work with different veteran’s groups each year to help provide exposure and financial support to smaller veteran and first responder charities. They have supported Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Divers 4 Heroes, Sarasota/Bradenton Chapter of Heroes 24   BETTER OFF WET | WINTER 2014

Stephen Sanders, Pat Bennett, DJ Skelton, Ron Gaither

on the Water and Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba (SUDS) throughout the tournaments. They also include free entry for active Military, Fire, EMS and Law Enforcement personnel. It is their way of saying thank you to the ones that give so much for us. The tournament was a fun and eventful Sunday as all the participants stood in line with their teams and coolers full of freshly speared fish from the day before. Having weigh-in on Sunday is a nice option as it allows the participants to spearfish in different areas and drive their catches in the next day, limiting chaos, rushed shooters trying to make the cut-off time and excess fish being removed from one limited area. Once the weigh-in was complete we were all shown up to Marina Jack’s Banquet Room that held all the participants, their friends and family for the awards ceremony with trophies and tables full of prizes for the participants to choose from in ranking order. Our Better Off Wet team enjoyed sponsoring the event and having Capt. AJ Hally from Into The Blue Charters participate in the tournament on our behalf. He said he had a blast and that is a great tournament and will return again next year for the 4th Annual Suncoast Spearfishing Challenge. Thank you Captain Chris for your 20 years of service to our country and for all your hard work to make this event to take place.

Chris Barton with Charlie Schaffer

Suncoast Spearfishing Challenge Winners: Overall: Douglas Strott - 119.40 Chip Garber - 118.97 Jen Young - 111.70 Female: Jen Young - 111.70 Freedive: Matthew Brueckner - 108.85 Junior: Charlie Shaffer - 54.45 Tournament Director/President INFO

Even Hogfish love Reef Donkey.

Capt Chris Barton PO BOX 110426 Lakewood Ranch, FL 34211 (941) 405-9689 Email: director@suncoastspearfishing








Tilden’s Scuba Center Has Spiced up our Mini Season Lobster Tournament. This year we want participants to bring a lionfish to accompany their bugs for weigh in. Lionfish are a non indigenous species that threaten the fragile eco system of our beautiful reefs. What many don’t know is, THEY ARE GOOD TO EAT!!! The Tournament is to promote the health of the reef while having a fabulous time.


Enjoy breathing underwater without time consuming pool training or the need for heavy equipment in the water. Our instructors will give you a thorough orientation before you arrive at one of our beautiful reefs and they will accompany you while you are in the water. Whether you live here in the Keys or you have friends/family visiting, SNUBA® is great for the whole family, ages 8 and up. We also train all levels of scuba certifications, starting with Open Water at age 10. Combination trips of SNUBA®, Scuba, Freedivers and Riders are run twice daily at both of your locations.

We are also trying to help out a local who is suffering from stage IV bone cancer. Cathy McKoy, is the wife of one of our dear friends who runs another dive /fishing operation here in Marathon. We are donating 50% of all proceeds for the tournament to them to help in their very costly treatments and travel.

Winners for a variety of categories will be rewarded with AWESOME PRIZES such as :

Scuba Regulators ~ Spear Guns ~ Cameras ~ Dive Accessories ~ Scuba Gear ~ Local Restaurant Certificates and more… National:

Our Sponsors: Local:


Call today for your reservation. 2 Training Facilities • 4 Boats • 2 Retail/Repair Centers

D A I LY R E E F T R I P S 8a.m. 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. 5 p.m.


Dive from Long Key to West of Sombrero - over 60 sites!

Creating Divers & Changing Lives

All dive trips go to 2 sites



2 GREAT LOCATIONS NEAR YOU! Tilden’s Scuba Center

Dive Duck Key

4650 Overseas Hwy 49.5mm Next to Hurricane Bar & Grill

61 Hawks Cay Blvd. 61mm Hawks Cay Resort & Marina

(305) 743-7255

(305) 743-9633

Entry Fee is $30 per person (Each participant gets a cool hat!) • Last entry taken at 8am Wednesday, July 30th. • Final Weigh In at 6pm Thursday, July 31st. • All contestants will be asked to sign a waiver and lionfish collection understanding sheet. • We will have both lobster and lionfish gear for sale at the shop. • Our hours are extended for Mini Season.

• Fantastic Dive Trips • Quality Instruction • Honest Sales Staff • Full Equipment Service

Tilden’s Scuba Center Captain Scott Crawford - Advanced Open Water Instructor 4650 Overseas Hwy Marathon, FL 33050 2109-A Main St. Dunedin • 727-733-1919 • 727-637-8463 (305)




Dixie Divers first opened its doors in Ft. Pierce, FL, in 1976. Dixie Divers was once a part of a larger franchise with several locations; the location in Deerfield Beach was opened in 1986. Arilton Pavan then bought the store which has grown and become a stand-alone dive shop. The franchise is gone, but Dixie Divers in Deerfield is growing strong with new innovations and excellence in customer service. What started as a small town dive shop has now grown into an amazing 5 star PADI dive center with our own 48 foot dive boat and our own training pool on the property. 26   BETTER OFF WET | WINTER 2014


ot only has Dixie Divers expanded our horizons, but we’ve also pushed the envelope. Did you know that Dixie Divers was instrumental in making the use of Nitrox legal? We made history in 1999, making it possible for instructors, dive guides and scuba divers to use Nitrox. Nitrox diving, a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen gases replaces compressed air as the breathing gas. The partial pressure of nitrogen (a gas that causes decompression sickness) in the gas mixture is lower than it is in compressed air, and that lower pressure allows the diver to remain longer at specified depths than conventional SCUBA divers who breathe compressed air at those depths, and to do so without increasing their risk of decompression sickness. Today, the store is fully equipped with an air and premix Nitrox tank filling station (pioneer, first one in the area to have Nitrox premix continuum flow). The fill station has automatic doors for a drop-off fill at your convenience and also, an overnight gear drop off area. We also have everything needed to certify you from Discover Scuba to Instructors and Tech Divers. We have several Course Directors on staff with skill and expertise to spare. Dixie Divers is a great loca-

tion to learn to dive, or to meet new challenges. Our store has two full size classrooms, a 9 ft. deep training pool located out back, and our boat, the “Lady Go Diver” is the biggest dive boat in the area comfortably accommodating 29 divers, each with two tanks, or 43 snorkelers. We have a knowledgeable team of professionally trained and certified technicians and all repairs are done in house.With our frequent loyal customers and longtime employees, along with Pavan’s large family, you are made to feel right at home in paradise and you will leave with new friends of your own. Come in and experience it for yourself! Frequented local dive sites: The east coast of Florida has some of the best diving in the country. With warm ocean temps, and a variety of options, South Florida is hard to beat. The Florida Reef Tract runs from southern Martin County to the Florida Keys. It is a three reef system, with the reefs running north-south, spanning depths from 15 ft on the inside tract to over 90 ft. These reefs can rise as much as 20 feet out of the sand, creating lots of natural ledges and structures that our local reef creatures love to hang out at. This depth range offers reef accessibility to any level of certified


Dixie Divers Boat The LADY GO DIVER

Dixie Divers 9 ft deep Training Pool

diver. Another unique feature of our area is our artificial reefs, more commonly known as shipwrecks (although most were put there on purpose). With over 100 wrecks off Broward County alone, wreck divers can find locations from 20 feet on the Copenhagen, to over 170 feet on the Hydro Atlantic. These artificial structures give fish and many other forms of life refuge, creating a flourishing marine community. With a variety of diving and warm ocean temperatures, South Florida is hard to beat. Some of our more popular reefs would be Angels’ Reef, dedicated to lost divers by Dixie Divers. Finks Grouper Hole which we frequent for lobster and usually do after visiting the M/V Castor, a top spot during Goliath Grouper spawning season. Nursery reef in Pompano is very popular for divers and snorkelers, it’s on the first reef ledge and ranges from 10 to 30 ft. Our most popular wrecks would be the Ancient Mariner, and

the Copenhagen, which we dive all the time and have interesting back stories. The Hydro Atlantic is one of the best locations for Deep or Tech Diving. One of the few natural wrecks (alongside the Copenhagen) it went over in a storm off our coast before it was stripped for salvage. All the engines, large pipes, deck cranes and other large equipment is still in place with lots of opportunities for wreck penetration, making for one of the most interesting, eerie, and remarkable dives. Being 320 feet long, it’s impossible to see it all in one or even two dives. Dixie Divers played a large role in the sinking of the Miracle of Life. The Miss Lourdies was confiscated by the US Customs and border patrol. Pavan worked with city and county officials to get it cleared as an artificial reef. It sits in 142 feet of water, with the deck at 120 feet. The large (12 ft.) angel statue (again, an idea of Pavans) overlooks the deck. Dixie Divers is focused on the sustain-

ability of diving, and that means sustaining the ocean ecosystem! This sport is not only enjoyable, but it also opens people’s eyes to the world underwater. The Angels’ Reef foundation is based on making new artificial reefs by sinking retired vessels, creating new ecosystems and relieving pressure on natural reefs. Having successfully completed the Angels Reef and Miracle of Life project, they are setting their sights on Deerfield Beach again with another artificial reef. Alongside city officials and members of the private sector, this is planned to sit in 70 ft. of water directly off Deerfield Beach with beautiful artistic sculptures and artificial structure to draw in both marine life and divers from around the world seeking a new and provoking experience. If you would like to know more about the project, or if you would like to help in any way (we can use lots!) please contact Dixie Divers! BETTEROFFWET.COM   27


Dive On In

HYDRO ATLANTIC WRECK – One of the few “Natural Wrecks”Lat 26 19.500 Lon 80 03.043 On December 7, 1987, a ship of huge proportions sank in a storm just one mile east of the Boca Raton Inlet. The ship was being towed to Brownsville, Texas where it was to be salvaged. Instead it sank on our door step and was discovered one month later by Captain David Turbeville. Today the Hydro Atlantic is considered to be one of the 10 best dives in the United States. Lying in 172 feet of water, the 320 foot long freighter is a real ship wreck, not a diver prepared, artificial reef wreck.

COPENHAGEN WRECK Lat 26 12.349 Lon 80 05.108 Location: About 1/2 mile due east of the large blue water toweron Pompano. Scattered wreckage lies between Pompano Ledge buoys # 3& 4. The 325-foot single screw steamer

ANCIENT MARINER Lat 26 18.110 Lon 80 03.700 Location: Almost a mile offshore inside the third reef line. The former Coast Guard Cutter Nemesis served as a sub chaser during WW II; she was launched in 1934 from Point Pleasant, Virginia.

ANGELS’ REEF (SEPARATED ROCKS) Lat 26 18.780 Lon 80 03.979 Located South of Deerfield pier off the south end of the public Beach. Nice ledge on the second reef line provides excellent cove for lobsters and morays. It is 45 feet to the sand and 40 feet on top of the ledge.

FINKS GROUPER HOLE Lat/Long: 26 24.695 North and 80 03.081 West. Location: Directly seaward of the large Highland Beach Water tower and 4 miles North of Boca Inlet. The depth is of 68 to 70 on the sand, sloping up to 51 on the edge at high tide, with mostly sleep ledges and some step ledges. We frequent this area to find lobsters, grouper, snapper and grunts and a wide variety of tropical fish. This spot makes for an excellent drift dive, especially after hitting the M/V Castor – a Goliath Grouper spawning location. 28   BETTER OFF WET | WINTER 2014


455 S Federal Hwy, Deerfield Beach, FL 33441 (954) 420-0009






It was a rare opportunity for a group of 14 combat wounded and injured veterans representing the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge in Galveston, Texas. The Challenge Warriors gathered for the CWVC Adaptive Sailing Championships Challenge, sponsored by KO Sailing. These Challenge warriors came from different parts of the country, with varying war related issues. Whether it’s a traumatic brain injury, partial paralysis, post-traumatic stress or limb loss, they were all on a mission of healing and self-discovery through adaptive sailing. KO Sailing was kind enough to donate the sailing gear for the warriors in an effort to thank them for their service and provide an opportunity for learning the sport of sailing. Competitive sailing is not easy. You don’t jump in a boat and take off on the high seas. There’s a lot more to it than that. Led by Nelson Corbin, in an expedited one week “boot camp” the veterans learned how to sail with the help of the Texas A&M at Galveston Sailing Team, coached by Gerard Coleman, as well as members of Sea Scout Base Galveston and the Galveston Community Sailing Center. It was a lot to learn, crammed into one week! But more importantly, it’s amazing how these three organizations supported the event with resources and shared their love of competitive sailing with the CWVC wounded veterans. Gerard Coleman has been involved with Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge since 2011, and the Adaptive Sailing Challenge was his brainchild. The Sailing boot camp ran Oct. 20-24, and was only part of the overall challenge. After learning the ropes, these new sailors competed in backto-back racing events – the Galveston Disabled Sailing Championships (Oct. 27-29) and the U.S. Disabled Sailing Championships (Oct. 29-Nov. 1). The sweat equity resulted in the CWVC teams

sweeping the novice division of the Galveston Regatta with first, second and third place finishes. In the U.S. Disabled Sailing Championships Regatta CWVC teams placed first and second in the novice division. It was a highly successful debut for this initial foray into competitive sailing for Team CWVC! The three CWVC teams performed so well that they were issued a special invitation to participate in America’s Disabled Open Regatta December 4 – 7 at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge is currently seeking additional sponsors to help fund this unexpected but exciting challenge. For the warriors, many of whom were new to sailing and CWVC, it was a time of camaraderie and learning. Together they studied the art of sailing competitively. They also shared information and emotions that only soldiers understand…bonding as only a band of brothers feels when they are together. There were moments of reflection and moments of frustration. Team CWVC was challenged in unimaginable ways and overcame physical and mental limitations to provide inspiration to those around them and to the newly injured. New friendships seemed old by the time they departed for home. These Challenge Warriors will forever remember what they have learned….because not all the learning took place in boats sailing on Galveston Bay. We wish them fair winds and following seas in life as well as future regattas.


INFO Darcel Schouler 727.942.8415 Conquered








On a beautiful October morning off the coast of St. Petersburg, Purple Heart Warriors on team Divers 4 Heroes set out on a mission to spearfish a great catch for lunch. It was the perfect day for a boat dive; flat, glassy with 50 feet of visibility only 20 miles offshore with Capt. TJ Konitzer with Off The Wall adventures. “Any opportunity I can take to get underwater to scuba dive I will take! It’s so nice not having to be in any uncomfortable pain whatsoever,” said Purple Heart veteran Damon. The wounded veterans who were able to participate in this spearfishing excursion have been diving with D4H for several years. All have started out with Divers 4 Heroes in a discover scuba class, then are able to obtain an Open water certification through scuba diving international which also offers an adaptive certification called Scubility. Scuba diving offers freedom for these wounded veterans in a gravity free environment that levels the playing field. They are able to leave their wheelchairs, prosthetics, crutches behind entering into the great blue free! This day proved to be a success. Groupers, hog fish and snapper were the catch of the day. The veterans returned victorious and the team was able to eat lunch at Sea Critters, on the water, where their fresh catch was cooked and served. “You live life, get busy, and forget how much freedom there is in the water ... Until you dive, and remember how much you love it. It is definitely a happy place. I want to shoot more fish!” noted Purple Heart veteran, Patrick. Divers 4 Heroes began in 2007 when the founders saw a group of young men and women exiting a wounded warrior van and attempting to maneuver through the streets in Key West. It was then they thought that diving could make a difference in the lives of these wounded soldiers. Divers 4 Heroes is a federally recognized 501(c)(3) that offers classes to Wounded Veterans using scuba diving as therapy. D4H continues with 30   BETTER OFF WET | WINTER 2014

monthly opportunities for wounded veterans to experience scuba diving, stewardship, and quarterly certification classes. All expenses for the Wounded veterans are covered by Divers 4 Heroes. Please consider a tax-deductible donation today. Www. . Help us give back to those who have given so much of themselves.

INFO There are many ways to help Divers 4 Heroes 501c3. Please contact us: photo copyright Debbie Rivera




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SUPER GROUPER Jonathan Dickinson, Florida Freedivers

On a day like any other in Harbor Island, Bahamas, we woke up and took off on the boat to try to slay some fish. We headed to some deeper water to see if we could find the bigger species. After diving a spot close to the cliff, we started making our way off shore. We tossed tow ropes out of the back of the boat and prepared to ‘drag’ for a while. Doing so would give us the ability to cover a vast area of reef without tiring out our legs while being able to easily stay with our buddies. After about 15 minutes or so, I tugged my dive buddy’s fin and we dropped the line. I spotted a mutton down in the sand and was headed after him! He was probably an eight pounder and was running hard. Not being able to close the gap, I made my way back to the surface. Upon completing my dive I realized the other dive group was shouting that they had just seen a monster! My dive buddy and I swam over to them while passing one of the divers who was saying, “We are going to need more pole spears!”. Dave, one of the divers we swam over to, was still freaking out about the fish he had just seen. After we got him to calm down, he began to explain which hole the grouper swam into. Now, if you have ever tried this before then you know how explaining which exact hole in the camouflaged

reef is the right one, is extremely difficult, let alone trying to do this in 65 feet of water. Once I thought I had a good enough idea of where it was, I did a short breathe up and made my dive. My expectations were not terribly high, especially without having seen the size of the fish. Luckily, I was able to make a slow, relaxed dive without the jitters of shooting a personal best fish. Once close to the bottom, I could hear Dave screaming on the surface indicating I was apparently on the correct spot. As I looked into the crevice, about the width of an oversized basketball, I saw a massive head and eyes staring straight through me. Almost startling me, I made the quickest

estimate on the most effective way to land the beast. The thought ran through my mind that there was no way I was achieving this on the first least we would have a piece of my broken pole spear sticking out of him to track him down, I thought. As I cocked the band and took aim, the grouper turned his head exposing his forehead area. In disbelief, I let my pole spear fly and nailed him square in the top of his head. His mouth popped wide open, and I couldn’t believe it! When this happens, the fish goes limp and is what some people refer to as ‘stoning’ the fish. I finagled him out of the hole and started my ascent. Not yet fully seeing how large he was, my swim was more difficult than I expected. My knees were hitting his body as I tried to kick which made the swim that much longer. I was hearing Dave scream like crazy on the surface which confirmed my extreme excitement! Once on the surface, my one and only thought was “Let’s get this fish in the boat before he wakes up!” Sometimes when you think you have ‘stoned’ a fish and the water starts rushing back through their gills they can actually come back to life, so this is why it was important to get him on the boat as soon as possible. This was the largest fish I’ve taken on a pole spear, and I will never forget the excitement and enjoyment that my friends and I shared that day! We were able to make grouper steaks and ate like kings for the rest of the week. Staying safe and making sure we always watch each others’ backs was and is always number one priority!




o, you’ve decided to by a boat, and figured out what type of boat you’re looking to buy Great! Buying a boat (contrary to some beliefs) is a very pleasurable experience. Our first bit of advice, look for a dealership that’s close to where you plan on doing most of your boating because anything you need, will be nearby. You’re not just buying a boat, you’re buying a dealer. So, make sure you choose a dealer who will offer you the best satisfaction and make sure to go out of their way to offer a great experience and service. A boat dealer is someone who maintains an inventory of boats, as well as offer service departments, and maintain ongoing relationships with the builders whose boats they offer. They have a physical presence and a reputation to uphold. So, it is important to protect and maintain a stable business in their communities. Dealers often have a lot more at stake than brokers and consignment houses. This usually translates into excellent after-sale follow-up and service. One of the biggest advantages of buying from a boat dealer, is that you have a little bit of recourse with a dealer, if you find something wrong with the boat purchased. A private party might not even take your call or give you the time of day after the 36   BETTER OFF WET | WINTER 2014

sale. For example, if you buy a used car from a reputable dealership then a problem arises the next day, by contacting the dealer a solution will be achieved. In order to keep the customer pleased, the sales team will work to resolve the issue and provide assistance. Therefore, research and customer reviews will assist in chosing a dealer. The best way to visit multiple dealerships in one stop is boat shows. Better Off Wet has been looking for a new boat, for business purposes. We decided a 21 ft center console with lots of seating would be our best option. We went with 21 foot, because it was

big enough to have several people on board but, small enough to trailer around the state and not kill our fuel budget. We had no idea what manufacturer we were going to go with, nor the dealer we were going to purchase from, but we knew that starting at the boat show was the best option. At a boat show, you get the chance to stand on, walk on , sit on, and touch boats from multiple manufacturers. And, you get the opportunity to “qualify” your dealer. We knew that we were going to be using the Better Off Wet boat quite often. And, therefore we were going to need to develop a good-lasting relationship, with the dealer from

BOATING whom we were going to purchase the new boat. We were very fortunate to meet the great folks from Central Marine (St. Petersburg, Florida), at the Tampa Boat Show. They were very informative and led us to look at Release’s 208 RX. A 21’ Center Console, light weight, with plenty of seating, good fishability, nice platform area at the stern for diving, and rigged with a reliable Yamaha 150. This boat was right in our price range and would definitely suit our needs. Plus, it was built with lots of extras (trim tabs, LED lighting, bow/stern cushions, radio/speakers, freshwater shower, and more) that were a bonus to us.

“The best way to visit multiple dealerships in one stop is boat shows.” We knew that Central Marine’s reputation was awesome, they had a great technical staff, and we fell in love with the Release 208RX. So, our next step was to purchase! The boat we saw at the Tampa Boat Show was perfect but, unfortunately, someone else thought so too, it was already sold. But, without hesitation, Central Marine’s manager got on the phone with the Release factory, and got our boat into production. Of course, like most Americans, we were looking forward to getting the new boat right away. But, we are happy that we didn’t because it gave us the opportunity to see our boat being built, and to meet all the great folks

at Release! At Release, they pride themselves on building high performance Coastal and Inshore fishing machines. Release has been family owned and operated since 1977. They always build their boats one at a time, and with lots of love. This has enabled them to maintain the fine quality they are known for. The quality and high customer satisfaction are the reasons it is nearly impossible to find a used Release boat for sale.If you are not going to keep your boat moored or in dry storage, chances are you will be using a trailer. When buying a new boat, a lot of people tend to forget about what that new investment, is going to be riding on. Pur-

chasing a new boat trailer is just as important as the boat! It wouldn’t make good sense to have your beautiful new pride and joy riding around on the cheapest thing out there. For the Better Off Wet crew, knowing which trailer we wanted was no problem. We gave Pam Paulsen and Eric Worthy, from Loadmaster Custom Aluminum Trailers (Tampa, FL) a call. We have had numerous conversations about the importance of trailer maintenance and selection. Loadmaster has been family owned and operated for 25 years! They have standard features that blow the wheels off most other manufacturers out there. And, thanks to Loadmaster’s construction of



“At Release they pride themselves on building high performance Coastal and Inshore fishing machines.” Better Off Wet’s new boat trailer, we will require very little to no maintenance for years to come. Best of all, we will have no worries about how the new Release is handling behind our pickup. Lastly, if, you decide to purchase a new boat, you will have the opportunity to set it up as you choose, with all the extras. Make sure you consult a professional (like the folks at Lakeshore Marine in Okeechobee, FL) when you are deciding on electronics, T-tops, outriggers, and all the other wonderful accessories available to boaters. A special thanks to Joshua Lavine, Josh Person, Jake Duff (Central Marine), Gerritt Walsh (Release Boats) Pam Paulsen, Eric Worthy (Loadmaster Custom Aluminum Trailers), Steve Brantley, and Chad Thomas (Lakeshore Marine). You are all true professionals in your industries!



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The standard Release 208RX package includes: 20’ 8” LOA • 8’ 6” Beam • 19° Deadrise 68 Gallon Fuel Capacity • Yamaha F150XA • Tandem Axle Trailer w/Dual Axle Disc Brakes T-Top w/Sunbrella Canvas • Leaning Post Tri-fold Aft Seating with Cushions • Cockpit Bolsters • Bow Cushions • Porta Potty Powered by Please contact your Release dealer for a price quote Release Boats, LLC, 145 SW 3rd Avenue, Homestead, FL 33030 Protected Dealer Territories Available Email Other models: Classic 15, Tarpon Bay 17 & 21 Flats Boats, 180RX, 190RX, 200RX, 208RX, 301RX Boat shown at top of page has extra-cost options included.



While fishing, there is the debate of should we stay or should we leave a fishing spot? This is a debate we face each and every tournament with Team High-Water Companies. In the recent Fall King of the Beach tournament, we set out on a plan to fish an area well known for holding massive tournament winning Kingfish. The Egmont Shipping Channel spreads over 20 miles into and out of Tampa Bay. It has long been a popular area to fish for many species. The shipping channel has many areas where there are steep drop offs, ledges, eddies, structure, markers and bridges. All of this attracts many fish species and most importantly bait! Kingfish are attracted to bait and this man made channel is a giant estuary of life. The hardest part about fishing the skyway shipping channel is trying to decide what part of the channel to fish especially when the grass is bad or bait can not be located on the surface. Typically our team prefers to fish smaller areas of bottom such as wrecks, ledges and springs offshore where we don’t have to compete against a crowd and where we can con42   BETTER OFF WET | WINTER 2014

centrate and really fish a small area of bottom. The shipping channel is the complete opposite of our team’s typical tournament strategy. The King of the Beach is a unique tournament with a western boundary of 30 miles so many of our offshore spots are beyond the boundaries. We were also fishing in our 22 foot bay boat that we used from the summer’s tarpon tournaments. The strategy we took for this tournament was hoping for the opportunity to catch two fish so we could weigh in two different divisions our team qualified for in the tournament. Another unique aspect in the King of the Beach is the massive number of ways teams can win a prize. Our game plan was based around the belief that we would have an afternoon bite when the tide turned. We knew this would clean up the water and the bait would show up. The problem we faced was that the Skyway Ship Channel is just such a big body of water that it made it hard to locate where the fish were located. Anywhere along the channel holds Kingfish and mixed in on any given day you can find one in the mid 30’s to upper 40’s. Knowing that those few big fish make their way into the skyway channel is what keeps us positive. Even though there were 350 plus boats in the tournament we knew because of the conditions and water clarity many boats would avoid the dirty water of the channel. What was interesting though was the boats that got inpatient and left after spending the whole morning trolling near us. Which brings us to this article. Why did we stay? When we arrived at our spot we found dirty water, no bait, and zero action! Not a good start to the tournament day! But we stayed positive. No other spot on the west coast of Florida has consistently produced so many winning fish then the shipping channel. Not to mention that it has such a good current flow and depth that no other inshore body of water cleans up better than this channel after a good blow. Fishing was slow! Actually it was non-exis-

tent! We started fishing at sunrise and it was a grind against the elements. The water was dirty, the grass was bad and its hard to stay positive when nothing was biting and no one around us was catching a fish. Now, the question on our boat was what to do? Move to another area or stay? We decided to stay. Why stay with dirty water, no bait and no action? Good question! We knew later in the day the weather was turning for the worst with 20-knot winds, rain, and cold temperatures on the way. We knew the approaching storm would make fishing hard and the shipping channel offered good protection from the approaching weather.

We also knew the full moon and strong afternoon incoming tide would pull in all that clean offshore water and with it the bait. After fishing for almost 7 hours we had nothing to show for our efforts. Did we make the correct decision? All the signs pointed to yes! When the tide started running the water cleared, the bait showed up, the birds were feeding everywhere, still no Kingfish! Now we had less than 2 hours until the weigh-in and no fish. Leave or go? We had a plan B about 30 min away for a last chance effort at a fish. After talking, we felt that was not on the table; with the weather rolling in and increased wind and waves the plan B spot would have been too rough and the water too churned up to fish. So we stayed in the channel and fished an area with lots of


diving birds and action. Where there is bait there should be something bigger eating it! Twenty min until our cut-off time to make it back to the weigh-in -- boom! Finally, we were on after almost 9 hours of fishing, we had a bite. After a short 15 min fight, we had boated a respectable 25 – 28 lbs fish. It ended up at 26.22 lbs at the weigh-in earning the team 21st place out of over 375 boats! What did we learn from the day fishing? Stick to your game plan and don’t just leave because a fish is not in the boat. When we arrived things looked terrible, but we knew conditions were going to change and we felt they were conducive to catching a fish. All we needed was a bite and that just comes down to the luck of the draw! We felt confident that if we kept our bait clean, fresh and worked the only bait school we could find that we would get that bite we were working so hard to find. It was hard fishing for one bite but in the end it was worth it!

Team High-Water Companies would like to thank everyone for their support. We are already in planning mode for the 2015 season. We would like to welcome our most recent sponsor! Check out their ad in this edition of Better Off Wet. Strong , purpose built and stylish it truly is a marine/fishing enthusiast bucket! Find it at your local marine/fishing store or visit their website at www.

As always thank you to Better Off Wet, Dockside Fuel,, Physicians Casualty, and for their continued support! 2015 Season here we come! Thanks and tight lines! INFO

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Fishing Charters Staff Report

Capt. Billy Norris is originally from Naples and grew up fishing the area’s local waters. As a kid, he told us he would always head to the beach to catch Snook, Redfish, Sharks and Tarpon. He has always loved the outdoors and fishing, and could never get enough. During college, he worked as a fishing guide to make money for school. After he graduated from Florida Gulf Coast, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, and served on multiple deployments as an infantry officer all over the Middle East and Africa with 1st Battalion 2d Marines. He transferred into the Marine Corps Reserves in 2013. After transferring to the Reserves, he wanted to get back to being a fishing guide. I had to ask him about the name he picked for his business...And, he replied, “I couldn’t figure out what to call the business, so my Platoon Sergeant just suggested calling it Pale Horse which was our Company’s call sign during our deployments. Pale Horse stood for the fourth rider of the Apocalypse from Revelations in the Bible, the verse is Revelation 6:8.” Currently, he is a Captain in the Marine Corps Reserves with 1st Battalion 23d Marines out of Houston, Texas. His guide service specializes in big game species including Goliath, sharks, Tarpon, and giant Snook. Everyone at Better Off Wet is extremely grateful for what Capt. Billy Norris and the rest of our Veterans have done and continue to do on a daily basis, to keep our country safe. Not only is he a great fishing guide but, he is a great person and true hero, as well! We arrived at Capt. Billy’s place around 4 p.m. on a late October afternoon. He had already prepped the boat and was ready to hit the water. We made a quick stop by his favorite local bait and tackle shop, Master Bait & Tackle in Bonita Springs, to hook up with some live white bait. Gary, an employee, was super friendly and shot us a couple stories about Capt. Billy, when he was a kid, working at the bait store. After the bait store, we were ready for an evening of fishing. Capt. Billy’s wife (and great fishing partner) Tina BETTEROFFWET.COM   47

INSHORE FISHING bites to make even the most seasoned angler smile. Capt. Billy was two for two, so far on our weekend of fishing. Capt. Billy was very meticulous about how he handled the fish. And, we let all the Snook head back into the water to feed and fight another day. We did keep a nice slot Redfish, that had dinner written all over him. And, boy did he turn out to be tasty! Having had the inshore fishing experience of a lifetime, we would have been content with the successful day. But, Capt. Billy, having a fishing addiction, wanted to take advantage of the extremely flat water and, head offshore to catch a nice Goliath! So, without any hesitation from the rest of us, we were off. Capt. Billy anchored us over a decent sized wreck. AnWhile the rest of us chattered about the monster Grouper we were going to hopefully catch, Capt. Billy rigged the gear. We were using a Penn International, spooled with 300 lb dacron line, 4 ft of 300 lb steel leader, and a 14/0 circle hook. The bait of choice was live ladyfish. We waited patiently as the lines were down and, sure enough after 20 minutes or so the rod bent over and it was all we could do to stay in the boat. Capt. Billy had put us on the fish of a lifetime! Capt. Billy was 3 for 3 with the Better Off Crew, on his fishing spots. And, we truly had a blast. We would like to say thank you to him and his wife, Tina, for being such great hosts. A special thanks to the Capt. for all that he has done for our country. Not only is Capt. Billy a great fishing guide but, a wonderful host and new friend to us here at Better Off Wet, as well. If, you are wanting to do some exciting fishing with a true pro, give Capt. Billy Norris a call! Contact Capt. Billy at (239) 285.7710 Email: met us at the ramp, and we launched the boat. After a short ride, Capt. Billy had taken us to a true haven for big Snook. Tina anchored the boat and Capt. Billy rigged the fishing gear. While we were getting ready to fish, we could hear big fish breaking the water and feeding all around us. We were using Quantum Smokes with Quantum rods. The setup was 30 pound test fluorocarbon leader with 3/0 Owner circle hooks, and about three feet of leader suspended by a popping cork. We floated the white baits under the mangrove overhangs and around


oyster bars. It didn’t take long before we had a Snook on! We caught several nice fish with the biggest being a hefty 36” slob. After the sun went down, we pulled anchor and headed back to Capt. Billy and Tina’s place for a nice steak dinner and a good night’s sleep, before another big day of fishing. 4:30 came early Saturday morning but, everyone was excited for some big fish. So, with just a little bit of coffee and few nods to the fish gods, we were on our way. Capt. Billy started off by cast-netting plenty of live bait for us. And, just as the sun was up, he was heading to the spot. We fished the mangrove lines in Estero Bay, using the same tactics and tackle as we did the previous evening. As soon as the boat crept up to our first spot, everyone heard the fish hitting the water and feeding. Within ten minutes of showing up, the first Redfish was on the boat! And, maybe five minutes later, the first nice Snook came onboard, as well. After that, we had enough Redfish and Snook



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Cowabunga Surf and Sport is a familyowned and operated, contemporary surf boutique located on Hutchinson Island, Florida, right across from Jensen Beach. Serving all ages from infants to greatgrandparents, they offer a full line of new, used, and custom surf, paddle, skim, body, and skate boards; beach supplies; and surf and boutique apparel, accessories, and gifts for men, women, and children. Key brands are Hayden Shapes, Walden, Madden, Watersedge, and Carver boards; OluKai, Reef, and Sanuk sandals; Costa, Maui, and Native sunglasses; and exclusive swim and sport apparel from O’Neill, Trina Turk, Joules, Rip Curl, Aerin Rose, Body Glove, Snapper Rock, and many more!! Shop owners Brett Jenkins and mom, Melissa, are joined by cheerful sales professionals Jazmin, Liz, and Theona as they greet with friendly conversation and readily assist with seaside shopping. A true family-centered shop, Cowabunga’s goal is to offer unique, quality merchandise at a fair price in an environment where everyone feels welcome and comfortable. 52   BETTER OFF WET | WINTER 2014

Throughout the year, Cowabunga also offers short- and long-term rentals of boards, bikes, and even Corn Hole games and provides delivery service to nearby locations. Surf and paddle board lessons, as well as paddle board tours and surf clinics, areprovided for all ages and experience levels. Proclaimed as “The Best Summer Surf Camp Ever!”, Cowabunga presents one of the largest surf camps in Florida. Experienced, certified, and attentive counselors who adore working with children provide a 3:1 ratio in an environment where campers are KING! Each day, kids age 5 to 15 enjoy learning to surf, paddle board, body board, and skim board while building confidence and safety skills on the beach and in the water. Beach games, pizza parties, and surf competitions round out the fun! Held each week from June to August, the camp will celebrate its 6th year in 2015. Entering their third year in surf retail, the Cowabunga team looks forward to exciting expansions including new brands for men, women, and children, online shopping options, and week-long family surf camps.

Q A &



Early in high school, my grandma bought my first board for me and surfing quickly became one of my great passions. At 17, I began teaching and its been non-stop ever since. I worked with the former Cowabunga owner, eventually developing the summer surf camp, drawing from my many years’ experience at Kanakkuk Kamps and Boosterthon. Running a kids camp was one of my life-long dreams and I didn’t want to give it up, so when Cowabunga came up for sale, my family and I took over. We had no real retail experience, but plenty of surf, sales, and marketing background!!



Definitely, the people that we meet. We have the best customers EVER, many of whom have become great friends. From die-hard surfers to wonderful families to retired snowbirds, we enjoy meeting and helping everyone that comes into the shop, whether they buy something or not. Everyone has such interesting stories to share and we love hearing them all!



I believe it is our family atmosphere and customer service that sets us apart. Although we are always on the lookout for new, quality brands that aren’t found in most department or discount stores, our real goal is to be a shop that caters to everyone, especially families. We are a G-rated, contemporary surf boutique where all ages can come for a smile and a warm welcome!!


That depends on the person and how much time they commit to the sport. However, if you count our summer campers, Cowabunga has taught over 2500 people to surf. Using our method, every single student, young and old, who takes a private or small group lesson has successfully been able to stand up and ride a wave during their first hour-long lesson.

“...Cowabunga presents one of the largest surf camps in Florida.”


On the board side, we carry a broad selection of surf, paddle, skim, body, and skateboards. On the boutique side, we offer quality swimwear, apparel, and accessories for men, women, and children of all ages, as well as unique gifts and a wide variety of beach supplies. We rent all types of boards, beach cruiser and hybrid bikes, wetsuits, corn hole games, and even GoPros. We also offer surf lessons & clinics, SUP lessons, tours & clubs, and private parties for all ages. And every summer, we present ten week-long sessions of our rockin’ surf camp for kids age 5 to 15 where they learn to surf with our easy-to-succeed method! Q&A




As a kid, I taught myself how to surf. I had no idea what I was doing and it took almost 3 years to really get the hang of it. From that experience, I was able to figure out everything not to do and the easiest way to succeed. In everything we teach, we break down the process to very simple steps and make it super easy and fun to learn!

4336 N. E. Ocean Boulevard Jensen Beach, Florida 34957 772-334-SURF (7873)




WatersEdge custom SUPs are created and manufactured in Edgewater, FL. These handcrafted, American-made boards are fashioned with high quality, vented EPS foam core, carbon fiber & Aramid cloth, durable lightweight glassing, proprietary epoxy coating, and custom graphics. With a WatersEdge board, you can be assured of a superior board you’ll enjoy for years to come. Stop in at Cowabunga Surf & Sport in Jensen Beach to see their inventory of WatersEdge boards or visit


For all the night paddlers and adventurers of nocturnal water life...NOCQUA Adventure Gear by I-Lumenate is a new and unique water sports accessory package that can be attached to any stand up paddle board, kayak, or canoe providing battery powered lights to illuminate the water around you for night paddling and water life viewing. Visit to learn more Photo Credit: Nick Doll Photography


Finally, a cooler to make your fishing trip frustration-free! The Award Winning Engel UC30-RH, for even the most expert fisherman or angler, getting an armful of rods out to the water is beyond frustrating, especially when you’re carrying so much other gear. That’s why Engel created the Cooler / DryBox with Rod Holders, a unique cooler with fishing rod attachments that hold your rods, so you don’t have to! This ideal gem has all the reliable insulation, rugged durability and storage protection you’ve come to expect from Engel Cooler / DryBoxes – with the added convenience of removable rod holders that stay firmly secured thanks to specially-molded brackets that attach to our cooler wall from the inside. ICAST 2014 New Product Showcase “WINNER” Best of Show in Tackle Management Systems. *Shown with: Comfortable - Optional Cooler / DryBox Cushion Made of durable vinyl dipped closed cell foam rubber. Die cut for accessing cooler handle - for easy carrying. Hook and loop attachment for securing to your coolers lid. Engel Cooler / DryBox weight limit is 220lbs - for UC30 model. l 888.272.9838




So the winter in Florida will soon be upon us. I realize that doesn’t mean blizzards, iced roads, and being confined indoors. However, some would say it is still enough to put water related activities on hiatus. This doesn’t have to be the case at all! What if I told you that some water based adventures are BETTER in the winter? Or only possible this time of year? True story folks, a case in point is the Three Sisters Spring near Crystal River, Florida. The waters that flow from deep underground to the surface here are a constant 72 degrees. That may not seem warm until you compare it to winter time air temps or water temps in the nearby Gulf of Mexico that can be considerably colder. If this sounds attractive to you, you should know that other warm blooded mammals agree. Manatees congregate here at the spring in the colder months, sometimes by the hundreds. They come for the warm(er) water and hang around until the Spring. Three Sisters Springs is only accessible by water. There are pontoon boats that bring small groups here, but if you are reading this magazine, I would guess you might prefer a more adventurous means of transport. My friends and I launch our Stand Up Paddleboards at the nearest ramp and enjoy a 20 minute paddle to the spring entrance.

Along the way you are likely to encounter several manatees shuttling back and forth from the springs. Remember to observe passively as much as possible. In some instances, you may find some of the “locals” are extremely friendly. Once you arrive at the spring, you will find the entrance is a narrow bottleneck that leads to a larger pool where several springs flow forth. Manatees can be coming and going through the bottleneck at any time so it is best to step off your board and wade in with it. There are several attendants observing you making sure that the manatees are respected. Once inside the spring, you are surrounded by these gentle giants. They are remarkably graceful under the water. They are curious and docile as they “nap” and lazily float about. Wetsuits are recommended and a mask and snorkel goes without saying. Diving to the bottom is frowned upon, but you will have plenty of close

encounters by snorkeling near the surface and letting the manatees approach you if they wish. On the coldest days, the spring has been known to close to swimmers if the manatees are stacked in very thick. A manatee stampede is not ideal. The local volunteers and officials may seem over-protective of these rotund residents, but this is one of the only places in Florida (if not THE only) place where you can interact with Manatees so I can’t blame them. So you see, winter actually brings something to look forward to for the water people like us out there. So grab your Standup Paddle Board, some dive gear, and friends. Enjoy one of the things that make Florida such a great place to call home if you enjoy a life on, in, and under the water. See for yourself what is worth protecting at Three Sisters Springs.


• Manatee/Eco

Discounted rooms with tour reservations

Tours • Snorkel & Dive • Scuba Training, Tours and Trips • Fishing & Scallop Charters • Kayak Rentals & Tours • Boat Ramp & Overnight Docking • Gift Shop • Ice, Bait & Tackle


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ALL ABOUT THAT BASS It’s a cool breezy November afternoon in south Florida, this could only mean one thing. Winter is just around the corner; and with it comes the best bass fishing in the entire country! My name is Kyle Monti and I grew up fishing Lake Okeechobee. I’m going to let you in on some tips that will help you catch the fish of your lifetime. Lake Okeechobee, AKA the Big “O”, is well known in the bass fishing community as one of the best bass fishing destinations there is. I was lucky enough to have been raised on these waters by my Father John and my Grandfa58   BETTER OFF WET | WINTER 2014

ther Ray. Here are some things they taught me along the way. Watch the wind; Lake Okeechobee covers 730 square miles and has an average depth of only 3 feet. Strong winds (which are very common in the winter) can wreak havoc, and quickly ruin your favorite fishing spots. I usually check 2-3 different sources for wind direction and speed the day before I fish the Lake. As a general rule, if the wind is less than 10 mph you can fish anywhere, but anything over 10 mph you should look to fish areas adjacent to the wind direction. Also, take note of the previous 2-3

days of wind direction and speed. You don’t want to fish an area that has had strong winds blowing into it, unless you can get way inside of the outside wall of vegetation, which surrounds the majority of the Lake. Lake Okeechobee has the longest spawning season in the country. We start to catch bass spawning as early as September and as late as May. If you find clean water, then you usually find fish; Bass need light to incubate their eggs, so stay away from “muddy” or dirty water. I consider “clean water” to be three to five feet of visibility. Just like a big buck going into

SURF FRESH & PADDLE WATER rut, big Bass become predictable this time of year because they have but one thing on their minds…spawning. Pre-spawn, spawn, and post-spawn are the three major stages. Bass are positioned in specific areas of water based on what stage we are in. Pre-spawn is when the big girls start to move in and eat like machines to prepare for the spawn. I target points in the vegetation, closest to the main lake for the earliest pre-spawn fish. Bulrush, Cattail and Hydrilla are what I look for to flip my Medlock Jig around. Also, if a cold front hits and you are faced with post front conditions, look for matted vegetation that creates a canopy.

The “big girls” come in to spawn once the water reaches right around 70 degrees, and the moon is within 2 days of being a full moon or a new moon. If conditions are perfect, I love to slowly ease my way through the clean backwaters and look for bright orange colored spots on the bottom, these are the “beds” that the fish use to lay their eggs. The smaller male bass will arrive early to make the bed, and then stay later to guard the fry. Typically the female bass will only hang around a day, maybe two. I like to cast a Big Bite Baits “Cane Thumper” on a Texas rig and quickly retrieve it when looking for beds. When you find one cast past the bed and retrieve your bait to where it crosses directly over the top, and then hang on! Post-spawn can be exciting because this is when the fish start to re unite and group together preparing for summer. Similar to Pre-spawn, I target points made up of Bulrush or Hydrilla, and if it’s high pressure I go to the mats. It can be very rewarding when finding that one 50 yard stretch of grass that has multiple Bass that are six pounds plus; And that being the reason you come to Lake Okeechobee in the winter! Go big or go home if you are coming to Lake Okeechobee


to fish a tournament this time of year. I opt for 65lb braid, a 1 ounce Medlock Jig and a 7’11” Rosewood series Denali Rod when flipping to Cattails and Bulrush. When I’m punching mats, I use the same rod and line paired with a 4/0 flipping hook and 1 ½ ounce tungsten weight and compact soft plastic, such as a Big Bite Baits fighting frog. If it’s fun fishing your looking to do, then stop by one of the local tackle stores like Fast Break Bait and tackle, or Garrard’s Bait and tackle to pick up some wild shiners. For shiner fishing, I like a 7’6” Jadewood series Denali rod, 17lb monofilament line, a 3/0 Kahle hook and a bright colored float of choice. Look for grass lines that are defined, hook the bait through the nose and allow it to swim freely and do all the work for you. If it’s a trophy sized largemouth that you’re after, be sure to look into spending a few days on Lake Okeechobee this winter. I hope this article allows you to have a more successful trip when you come down to beautiful South Florida, good luck and tight lines!




The Canyon Reels DJR3500 has been out a few years, but it’s still one of the best spinners around. This 8 ounce powerhouse catches anything from trout to tuna. The stainless steel bearings, carbon fiber drags and 5.1:1 gear ratio make it super smooth. Plus a lifetime frame.


The SpiderWire Stealth Camo Braid is designed for low visibility so it blends into the underwater environment. Its varying color pattern blends in with any water and vegetation conditions you might be fishing. The Stealth Camo Braid is made of the same ultra-high strength Polyethylene fibers as with other braids, and it’s Teflon pressure-treated so it’s super quiet and flies through the guides for longer casts. It won’t cut into your guides under heavy tension either.


The new DOA 4 – inch Shad was developed in response to the company’s customers’ demands for a larger profile shad-style bait. The heavy mass of plastic in the nose of this bait allows for maximum holding power when matched to a DOA jighead. The large opening in the belly of the bait and recessed hook slot allow for flawless rigging with worm or screw lock-style hooks. The Shad’s broad tail provides a hard “pulse” in the water as well as a natural flutter on the drop. This new bait has already performed impressively in both salt and freshwater. l 877.DOA.LURES



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Jypsea Local Swim is brought to you by, Stefanie Holtzheuser, the designer and creator of Jypsea Local Swimwear and Accessories. Her store is based out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, targeting active women who aren’t afraid to show a sexier side of life underwater. Everyone should be able to find exactly what they are looking for in a swimsuit and have it made custom for an affordable price. To see all that Jypsea Swim has to offer visit



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Our winter design, The Offshore Sail long sleeve performance shirt, created by Steve Blair featuring sportfishing near the Jupiter Lighthouse in Florida. All shirts are made right here in Florida. Sizes XS-XXL, Made in the USA, Moisture Wicking UPF 40 Sun Protection, Dye Sublimated


Oceanic Gear, Our face shields are constructed of high quality, breathable MicroMesh Polyester. They incorporate several unique features that set them apart from the rest. Tired of your sunglasses fogging up? Well that problem has been solved! Don’t like how most sun shields bunch up around your neck? That’s a problem of the past! Try one out and you’ll see. These were created by fishermen for fishermen.


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Our face shields are constructed of high qual The EyeOuts UPF 50+ Microfiber Hat Features: * Microfiber Fabric - for light weight, UPF 50+ sun protection MicroMesh Polyester. They incorporate several and it is water repellent * Hydrotec Moisture Wicking Fabric - four inserts at the top for heat release and that from the rest. Tired of yo minimizing sweatset * Hydrotecthem lining - to avoid apart side head pressure * One Sided Strap with elastic strap - for sizing fogging up? problem has been solved multiple users * Plastic Visor BodyWell - for those who that like to go boating or doing water sports * This Hat Floats! most sun shields bunch up around your neck? T l 203.936.8872 of the past! Try one out and you’ll see. These w fishermen for fishermen. BETTEROFFWET.COM   65

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