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November 2010

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Merle's Mind

A Happy Man

November 2010

There are those who say, “the two happiest days of a man’s life are when he buys a boat and when he sells a boat”. I’m not sure this is 100% true, but I know such days rank pretty high for me.

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Over the years I have been lucky enough to own a lot of boats (somewhere north of 22, not counting a fleet of rental boats and boats bought only for sale) so I guess that would mean that I have had a lot of happiest days. About the time that this magazine goes to press, I sincerely hope to experience another such day. I have arranged to trade my current boat (a 48’ Ocean) for a 36’ Hatteras plus cash. Since the trade will occur all in one day, I expect to experience the total ecstasy that only comes from both selling and buying a boat on the same day.

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In this case, the joy also will also come with some regret. The Ocean is really a dream boat for an offshore fisherman, but I simply don’t have the time to use it enough to justify the investment. The smaller Hatteras will fit behind my house where I can keep a closer eye on it and where I will hopefully use it more. The Hatt is still a great diesel powered offshore boat, but just a bit smaller and more economical to operate. The many purchases and sales of boats that I have participated in have made for some interesting stories. I recall selling a 46’ Nautaline houseboat located on lake Ouachita in Arkansas. The prospective buyer and his wife and 3 small kids showed up to look at the boat on a Saturday morning. They had not been to see the boat before, but as they prepared to board, the smallest child (a little girl about 4 years old) approached me and asked “is this the boat my Daddy is buying?” After looking at the boat, they appeared serious and asked to go for a ride. I ran the boat from the flying bridge while they climbed all over it checking things out. Once again, the smallest girl approached me and proudly declared “my Daddy says we’re buyin this boat”. As you can imagine, when we were tied up in the slip, Daddy approached me with a generous offer that I would gladly have taken two hours earlier. I quickly rejected the offer and insisted that I could only accept the full asking price. He willingly paid it and I was a very happy man. The moral of the story is, don’t let your kids do your negotiating for you, they usually don’t have much of a poker face.

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MERLE'S MIND Random Thoughts from Merle Seamon For Our Love of Country & Heritage by Capt. Mark W. Gore Fishin’ Buddies by Capt. Tim Whitfield

Redfishing 101! by Capt. Jason Prieto

Publisher/CEO Capt. Bret Gamrot bretg@onshoreoffshore.com 727.647.2524

WEST COAST TIDE CHART Tides for the Month of November Surprise! It's a Cobia! by Capt. Brent Gaskill

Director of Event Management Cynthia Gamrot cynthia@onshoreoffshore.com 727.421.7722

Strokin' Tail by Spencer Goodwin What's Your Reason for Fishing? by Capt. Ric Liles

OOM COVERING THE KEYS

When Life Cuts Like a Knife by Capt. Bret Gamrot

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Catching Anything? by Capt. Pat Damico

Dinner and a Show… Keys Style! by Capt. Rob Harris Page 28

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Merle

Sales and Marketing Hunting & Guns Rob Shewmake 727.637.1010

Fishbone

DSFBUJWF

COVER Story Game Plan for Gulf Coast Grouper by Paul Bristow

Bryan R. Hudson bryan@fishbonecreative.com 727.687.6437 Web Design

Do It Yourself Duck Hunt by Jackie Otto OOM PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT Great Gift Ideas for Everyone!

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Reader Photo of the Month Proudly Sponsored by The Bridgewater Inn!

Distributors Sal Liggieri Kyle Kelso Cynthia Gamrot Capt. Todd Gilbert Capt. Chris Gillespie Capt. David Rogers Contributors Capt. Merle Seamon Capt. Jason Prieto Capt. Pat Damico Capt. Ric Liles Capt. Mark W. Gore Capt. Tim Whitfield Capt. Rob Harris Capt. Brent Gaskill Spencer Goodwin Paul Bristow Jackie Otto

Check Us Out on Facebook!

The current economic situation has led to many great opportunities for you to have a happiest day of your own. If you are one of the lucky ones who still has cash there are once in a lifetime boat deals out there. There is never a better time to buy a boat than now, but don’t forget BOAT stands for "Break Out Another Thousand".

Director of Sales & Marketing Sal Liggieri sal@onshoreoffshore.com 727.359.3471

Design & Layout

Unfortunately, most of my boat deals have not been quite as lucky as the Nautaline one. For a few years the marina I owned was a dealer for several new boat lines. While I usually did well with used boats and trades, I was a bit of a failure at new boat sales. My wife will tell you that my sales philosophy was “loose a little on every one, but make it up in volume”. Sadly, while not intentional, this seemed to be the way it worked out most of the time.

Co-Publisher Editor-in-Chief Capt. Merle Seamon merle@onshoreoffshore.com

Letters, questions, subscription information and comments can be sent to:

While fishing with a 4-in-1 Lure, Bo Radebaugh caught and released this big red near Fort Desoto.

on the Covers: On the front cover, Mike Mahoney of T.A. Mahoney's fished offshore with Capt. Dave Paul and had some big gag grouper success. Remember this November 20th at TA Mahoney's is Customer Appreciation Day from 8am to 5pm. Great food! Great deals and raffles! Come join us! On the back cover, Jackie Otto takes a visit to Louisiana for some duck hunting and takes care of business with her husband, Brad Otto.

Onshore-Offshore Publications, LLC 331 Anclote Road, Unit 301 Tarpon Springs, FL 34689 Phone: 727.935.4866 Fax: 727.935.4867 Any duplication of this publication without written permission is unlawful and punishable by law.


For Our Love of Country and Heritage

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n the early 1900s there were essentially no laws or regulations related to appropriate land use or the taking of wildlife for food or for sport. Conservation was not an important part of the English heritage. In more recent years changing conditions demanded that people step up and take responsibility for conserving natural resources. Since hunters, fishermen, and trappers are among the heaviest users of these wildlife resources, it only made sense that they lead the charge for recovery and conservation. Before conservation efforts could happen, it was necessary for hunters to evolve into "sportsmen" and for those sportsmen to take responsibility as caretakers of wildlife if we were to keep our hunting and outdoor heritage. In an effort to save game populations and from further decline, hunters and fisherman imposed upon themselves a code of ethical conduct. This was a code defined by the rules of behavior required to be a true sportsman. This

code was nothing fancy; it was simply composed of common sense guidelines. Accepting this code involved establishing and accepting hunting seasons, bag limits, and appropriate means and methods for taking game. Of many events that set the course for conservation in North America, outdoorsman accepting responsibility for the welfare of wildlife and establishing a code of ethics for taking of wildlife in "fair chase" were among the most important. During the early 1900s sportsmen became viewed as honorable members of their community. These sportsmen began to be seen as "conservationists" - those who cared enough to make sure there would always be game to hunt and wildlife for everyone to enjoy. Sportsmen took on larger responsibilities for land conservation in every form possible. They sought, and were deemed worthy to be appointed, directly and indirectly, as stewards over land and wildlife resources. Our

by Captain Mark W. Gore

predecessors fought to ensure that sportsmen carried on our heritage and preserved hunting rights as Americans. We still must continue to fight as sportsmen to insure that current or future Administrations never take away this right. Change is never easy this President says in his speeches. This is the New America and it may be one that all sportsmen have feared. If we are not careful, the good old days could be gone forever. Activist groups who oppose our hunting heritage are watching for any opportunity to take our freedom as Americans away. These groups would like nothing better than to do away with sportsmen as the guardians over wildlife. These groups spend millions every year to take our hunting and outdoor freedoms away. We as sportsmen and sportswomen must be vigilant and involved to insure that our favorite pastimes are preserved. The consequences of attempts to eradicate of our American Outdoor Heritage become more apparent every year. Fast paced American life along with the many children who do not share our heritage as sportsman and sportswomen will keep making us fight and struggle to keep our core values as Americans.

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What Can You Do? As Sportsman and Sportswomen, We should take pride in accomplishments and recognize, and assume the responsibilities that have been passed to us by our hunting forefathers. If we don't stand up for our hunting and fishing heritage and our outdoor way of lives, who will? What we do individually affects us all. We must continue to make passing on our traditions to young people a priority and we must get involved in the political process - opportunities are lost through inactivity. Thinking, it will never happen to us is a mistake that we cannot afford to make. There are many ways you can contribute and be heard on both local and national levels. This demands that you step up and take responsibility to get out and vote and vote for the people who will help represent your core values that our founding fathers put in place for us.

You can also help by supporting conservation organizations that have been and continue to do tremendous things to protect our right to hunt, fish, and to conserve and manage our natural resources. Your membership and support are needed now more than ever. You can also introduce someone to the hunting and fishing way of life. Sharing the experiences that make our way of life a special privilege is quite possibly the most important thing we can do. We cannot give up and we must push forward with in our family’s beliefs as sportsmen and sportswomen. I hope and pray that the hunting and outdoor traditions in our country, the United States of America will be passed on to future generations.

Capt. Mark W. Gore is an outdoor writer, fishing guide & speaker from Tampa Bay. He owns Guide Headquarters offering fishing charters & outdoor communications. Contact him at: 813.434.5504 by email at: mgore2@tampabay.rr.com or visit www.captainmarkgore.com.

November 2010 • Onshore-Offshore Magazine 9


Fishin’ Buddies

Watch Between the Lines

L

ike everyone, I have a short list of those who I enjoy fishing with the most. Some of them I only fish with once or twice a year, but they still remain one of my favorite fishing partners. This past week, my list became shorter. My father-in-law was taken from my family unexpectedly. I would like to share a couple of our stories with you. In June of 2005 we had one of the days that dreams are made of. My family was staying in Englewood, and a hurricane had just blown through the gulf heading to Destin. A day after it passed, we decided that it was safe to fish. We caught bait in 3 foot waves in the flats and idled to the protected set of docks(this spot shall forever be kept between Mr. Dale and I). The fish had come off the beaches, and out of the back country and found a little piece of solitude in the docks (so did we), they were literally stacked like cord wood , and starving. We began by going 5 for 5 on my first baits, he went 3 for 3, (He was extremely careful to release every fish unharmed so I had time to catch more fish) In less than 10 minutes we had 8 snook and we decided to keep count of the number we caught. To spare you the details of every catch, we caught and released 172 snook in a matter if 4 hours, When we ran out of bait, we caught them on arti’s . It was pure madness with

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doubles almost constantly, toss the bait out count to 4 and fish on! The last time we fished together was in June of this year. We again fished the beaches of Boca Grande. We caught plenty of snook and trout. This day we just wanted to fish the first couple of hours of the morning and get in before it got too hot. Had I known this would have been our last time to fish together, I don’t think I could have handled the pressure to make it a memorable day, but not knowing this, it has become a memorable one. I have the memories hanging on the walls of my house, and the memories are forever filed away in the back of my mind. These memories accompany this article, his last snook and the release, I’m glad it was a good one! The thing about fishing buddies, you can learn a lot from them, you just gotta watch between the lines. The things I learned about fishing from Mr. Dale, I learned that even though it is a cliché’ it is not about catching fish. I learned to enjoy the company of the people on my boat, which later when I began guiding has particularly become important. I learned to respect the fish, Mr. Dale was quick to thank God for every fish he ever caught, he also thanked the fish, and spent , sometime too much time , releasing them. He referred to the fish that fell prey to his skills as Mr. Snook, Mr. Redfish and Mr. Trout,

by Captain Tim Whitfield

with a lot of enthusiasm in his voice. Capt. Mel Berman used to say, good friends, good fishing, good conversation….two out of three ain’t bad, but with Mr. Dale it was always three out of three! As a husband I learned how to treat my wife, Janice (Mr. Dale’s Wife) was on a pedestal to him, she was the queen of his heart, everyone knew it! I learned how to treat a woman, these things I learned from my Dad as well, but like fishin buddies, they might have a technique, or little trick, that you don’t know about or maybe a different way to go about it. I learned to be patient with everyone, and respect everyone, notice in this article I refer to him as Mr. Dale, we were very close, but I never could bring myself to call him Dale, it was Mr. Dale or Poppy. My parents were Mr. Gene and Mrs. Ernie to him. It is a southern thing to treat your elders with respect, if he respected you he always used a title, he would answer the phone heeeeey Mr. Tim, when I got licensed to guide it was heeeey, Capt. Tim. I felt that by him calling me by those names I had earned his respect. To have the respect of your wife’s father, to me was his way of telling me, I trust you, and trust you will take care of her, and….I will. I also learned acceptance, not just of my friends and their life decisions, but of strangers. When Robin and I met I knew we were going to be married, I honestly think he did too, I was accepted into his family right away. He treated me like a son, at times correcting me, advising me and teaching me even if I did not realize it at the time.

left his driveway, the hand shake every time I saw him, and the fish we stalked together! He told me several times, I could not have picked a better son in law. I know I could not have picked a better father in law! This may not seem much like a fishing article, but fishing, like any other outdoor activity, there can be life lessons, even if you don’t think so. Watch your fishing partner, but watch between the lines, you never know what you might learn! Good bye my old friend, you are free from stress, worry, and relieved of duty here, your work is done, it was time well spent, I am a better man having known you for 18 years of my life, we will meet one glorious day on the other side, and I will gladly pole you up to a tailing red fish that WILL eat! Over and over again. Dale Adams aka Mr. Dale Poppy, Graced this earth on May 1, 1950 and went to be with the lord on October 6, 2010. Captain Tim Whitfield is a Florida native and fishes the waters of Tampa Bay, Tarpon Springs and Boca Grande. He can be reached at 813714-0889. Fishing is more than a passion…it is an obsession! Check out www.slotlimitradio.com on Thursday evening from 6:30 to 7:30 pm.

I will miss the early morning phone conservations as we talked, me on the way to the ramp and him on his way to some waypoint on his route, his crazy over exaggerated wave as we

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www.jigsonline.com

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When Life Cuts Like a Knife

him 20 months to fulfill. Call this an act of God? I think so. “God opened a door and I’m not just going through it, I’m running through it!” Mike states. When Mike is not building knives, he is an avid hunter and fisherman. It has been a pleasure getting to know him and I personally look forward to putting Mike on his dream fish, a giant tarpon! Get down here Mike!!!

by Captain Bret Gamrot

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bout a year ago I was bored and flipping through channels one Sunday evening. I dialed into 60 Minutes and started watching a segment about the troubled economy. I put the remote down once I noticed a rugged, soft-spoken man, tearfully talking about his hometown of Wilmington, Ohio. His name was Michael O’Machearley and he along with 12,000 other Wilmington residents had found themselves jobless. DHL, a German owned delivery business that bought out Airborne Express, was in the process of shutting down operations in Wilmington. DHL employees, many of whom had worked there for many years were being shown the exit doors. The DHL closing was hitting Wilmington with the blunt trauma of a major earthquake, but without the physical damage. Mike O’Machearley had just taken a job at DHL as a bus driver. Mike depended on his DHL salary to support his wife, four children and grandson. Prior to taking the job at DHL, an unthinkable tragedy had hit the O’Machearley family. Mike’s oldest son was shot down in a helicopter and killed with 16 other Marines in Iraq. By this time I found myself at the end of my couch as I watched this man talk about the loss of his son and his job. I was wondering what would happen to his beloved Wilmington and to his family. I then heard him say, “Wilmington is ground zero, we’ve got to get back to being America. We are losing sight of what my son died for…what the other 16 soldiers died for. We’ve got to get America back.” His words really struck me and all I can do is pray for the guy. “What is this poor soul going to do?” I thought to myself. At that moment the story switched gears and started showing Mike in his workshop pounding on red-hot steel pulled from a fire forge. I became even more focused on the man. Mike is a passionate craftsman and he had been building beautiful custom engraved hunting knives from scratch as a hobby. Mike then said, “God closes one door and opens another.” Facing a crossroad in his life, Mike is now relying on himself to make ends meet by taking a hobby and turning it into a lifeline.

Check out his work and pay his web site a visit. If you are an avid knife collector you have to get one, or just get one and become a collector like me! For more information or to order one of your own, please visit www.omachearleycustomknives.com or call Mike at (937) 728-2818.

Mike O'Machearley during his interview on 60 Minutes. You can see the interview on www.youtube.com. Search "Mike O'Machearley".

I was really intrigued by this guy’s attitude, drive and fight to survive. Watching Mike work his craft during the interview, I rushed to open my laptop and Googled his name. I just had to find his contact information or a web site! Thankfully, in a few minutes, I found his site and I was completely taken by the beauty and quality of his work. I knew what I had to do…like it was calling me. I had always wanted to purchase a top quality knife, but never got around to it. However on that Sunday evening I was compelled to change that. After hearing his story and seeing his passion, I felt like we were kindred spirits. I couldn’t think of a better opportunity or a better guy to buy my first custom knife from. On his site I noticed a handsome knife called the Brahma Camp knife. Without hesitation, I clicked “Buy”: After many months of waiting, the day came when I got an email from Mike saying my Brahma Camp Knife was finished and would be shipping out of Wilmington: UPS mind you. Upon receipt, it was everything I imagined a top quality knife

would be. The blade was amazingly sharp and forged from the best grade steel available. The handle was crafted to perfection. It felt so comfortable, and it fit in my hand like we were made for each other. Every knife comes with a leather sheath, hand made cut-n-leather by Mike’s own hands. The mere presence of the knife was amazing. Most outdoorsman/friends I show my knife to totally admire the artwork and craftsmanship and even more so the story behind the man that made it. Since then I have ordered a second knife. The Dropped Hunter ATS 34. This is a legal blade that I can carry on my belt daily and even use while out to dinner cutting into a steak, or dressing a deer or hog out in the field. I can say I am a full-fledged O’Machearley knife collector now. Soon I plan on ordering my next knife made with a custom carved stag handle.

Stiffhorn, ATS-34 with a nickel silver bolster and an Ivory handle. PRICE: Approximately $300 depending on the current price of ivory.

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Captain Bret Gamrot's latest O'Machearley gem. The dropped hunter and hand made sheath.

Since 60 Minutes was aired, knife orders just keep coming. The show didn’t even publish his web site or phone number, yet Mike has taken over 200 orders that will take

November 2010 • Onshore-Offshore Magazine 17


On the web at: www.bearcharters.com

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Catching Anything?

H

ow many times, when you are on the water, has another fly fisher asked you this question? How do you answer? A short, yes, or no, is usually not in order. It can be one of those rare days when almost anything works, but more frequently an accurate answer would involve considerable detail. “Caught three browns on a size sixteen blue wing olive,” tells us something, and could be an acceptable response. In saltwater, “A size one deceiver in white over chartreuse is producing,” would sound typical. Is this enough information to help the other fisherman get a start on a day of success? Is more detail needed? Should the first response be, “Luck has nothing to do with it, they are just sipping, had to use a nine foot 6X leader with a downstream presentation without drag, the leader close to the fly better be under water, stay out of the water as much as possible and make a very soft delivery a few feet above where the fish is holding, a right hand curve cast with a reach upstream mend will help present the cdc pattern that they seem to want in the surface film. As you can see, I’m wearing camo clothes to blend in with the trees on the bank; move quietly because any vibration will send them scurrying.” Huh? When did you last get a detailed answer like that? And

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if you did, you were probably wondering why you asked the question. One of the attractions in fly-fishing is the more I learn, the more inquisitive I become. Sometimes a whole new series of interests is generated by a recent discovery. A halfcentury of chasing fish with a long rod has made the sport more of a challenge that ever. When I first began, knowledge was not as readily available. A couple old wet fly fishermen took me under their wing and helped me get a start with some hand-me-down equipment. Technical improvements in rods, reels, lines, leaders, and synthetic tying materials, are just a few of areas where there has been an explosion of beneficial products to further fool a fish with a brain the size of a pea. The Internet, books, videos, fly fishing clubs and personal instruction can all give the beginner, or expert, a wealth of

by Captain Pat Damico

knowledge. Do we take advantage of this knowledge to improve our ability to catch fish, or are we stuck in the same pattern of limited skill each time we venture out? Do we keep remembering the day when we could do nothing wrong, and hope it will recur? Or are we on a constant journey to improve our skills so that we become one of the ten percent who catch ninety percent of the fish? Do you have the attitude that I’m just out for the fresh air and catching fish isn’t important to me, or is that saved for fishless days? Since I love all areas of fly-fishing, I really enjoy this never-ending journey. Recently, I spent a few weeks in my native Pennsylvania, doing some trout and bass fishing. As a saltwater inshore guide in Florida, I get a variety of clients who want to pursue the challenges of this type of fishing. Speckled trout, snook, redfish, tarpon, and jack crevalle are some of the species we target. Many clients have fished freshwater, and have little or no saltwater experience. While giving some clinics on the transition from fresh to saltwater fly-

fishing, I emphasize what some of the requirements are for success. I encourage questions and feedback, but I usually get the impression that what I am telling them about success is something they are capable of doing. The moment of truth occurs on the bow of a flats skiff when their first sight fishing opportunity unfolds and their knees turn to rubber. As a saltwater guide who fishes mostly shallow inshore water, most of my contacts begin with a phone call, or an email. This is an opportunity to share honest information. Your casting ability especially should be understood. If your ability is limited, a guide can give you some instruction and target species that are within the scope of your skills. Many of our trips will devote the first hour or so to helping clients get their casting in tune. The growth of fly-fishing has many new devotees who have varying degrees of experience and abilities. Fly fishers who have spent many years on the water may be well prepared for a trip, or may have poor preparation for a productive day of fishing, depending on how well they have continued to grow in the sport. Unlike many other pastimes, age can be an advantage in fly-fishing if we use our time wisely. Capt. Pat Damico, a FFF Master Certified Fly Casting Instructor, welcomes comments or questions. Contact him at www.captpat.com, or 727-504-8649.

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T

he West Coast of Florida is home to some of the finest grouper diggers in the fishing world. On one beautiful fall day, these anglers are gladly sending pinfish to their doom, accompanied only by a half-pound of lead and a circle hook. Once Mr. Pinfish hits the rocky bottom, the scene on the boat looks like hand-to-hand combat. A bit of blood and a few bruised egos later, these hardcore anglers are laughing at their wounds as they fillet some monster gags. At the same time, on the northern end of Tampa Bay, a recently married couple is setting their downriggers. They are employing a precision trolling approach, perhaps more commonly seen among Great Lakes Salmon Fishermen. They set some large jigs and diving plugs at various depths as they use their high-tech electronics to follow the shipping channel. It is not long before the downrigger release pops and the drag sings. Somewhat surprised at their immediate success, the morning cocktails are spilled as they each rush to the rod holder. The following day, a hard North wind begins to blow, putting a winter-like chill in the air. While the anglers discussed above decide to stay in bed, a gray pickup truck leaves a St. Petersburg driveway. The truck arrives at the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier at 7:30 A.M., knowing the North wind will only increase the speed of that morning’s outgoing tide. The angler first sets out a pinfish using a bottom rig and then proceeds to send out a diving plug with the tide. At the same time the man begins retrieving the plug, the pinfish rod has doubled over. So much for sleeping in on a North wind. The above examples show there are many great ways to target grouper in the Sunshine State. Perhaps the most popular way of grouper fishing on the West Coast is what locals affectionately call ‘grouper digging’. The technique may be simple, but those who have it mastered are rare. Bottom fishing for grouper most often involves live or dead bait fished on a strong circle hook and heavy monofilament leader. Some anglers prefer to place an egg sinker above a short leader with a swivel, while others prefer direct contact between the hook and weight or ‘knocker’ style’.

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Pinfish, sand perch, and even small jacks make great live baits for grouper. Don’t forget some dead bait as well, with Spanish sardines, threadfin herring, and even fresh squid among the best choices. Anglers should seek out suitable structure such as artificial reefs Captain David Paul shows off a big red grouper and channel edges taken just 22 miles offshore Anna Maria Island. or offshore wrecks and pipelines. Some captains prefer starting with dead bait to establish a scent trail before switching to live bait for the largest grouper. Heavy conventional gear is most appropriate here, where a locked down drag and fully loaded rod are the only thing keeping Mr. Grouper out of the rocks. Over the past decade, trolling has become much more popular as a method of die-hard grouper anglers. Trolling not only allows anglers to cover a lot of water, but the use Mike Mahoney of TA Mahoney's and a nice high-tech electrongag for the ice box. Don't forget customer appreciation day Nov 20th at TA Mahoney's. ics in conjunction with trolling is a great way to pinpoint prime fish holding structure. Indeed, many fishermen will return to marked spots to do some ‘digging’ with live baits after discovering a honey hole while trolling. Because trolling often takes the most aggressive fish on a piece of structure, the use of live or dead baits might produce fish that initially turned down a trolled offering. Most grouper trolling is done using large diving plugs that reach depths ranging from 15 feet to 30 feet. The depth

Capt. Merle Seamon holds a big gag on one of his offshore trips aboard his 48 Ocean.

a particular lure will reach varies depending on the lip style, type of line used, and the speed of the boat. Indeed, some of the top manufacturers publish ‘trolling curves’ for their baits that attempt to show exactly how that lure will perform under various conditions. While many rod and reel styles will work, serious trolling anglers use conventional reels with line counter mechanisms and longer rods specifically designed for trolling. Anglers seeking more precision in their trolling spread can employ depth control mechanisms such as diving planers or downriggers. Weighted diving planers are an inexpensive alternative to downriggers and most models perform admirably. Downriggers are the only way to achieve absolute precision that can be reproduced trip after trip. Indeed, some of the finest downrigger fishermen prefer trolling large bucktail or curly tail jigs instead of plugs on their downriggers because the jigs run true in depth to the downrigger weight. Anglers in the Tampa Bay region have one of the finest resources for shore-bound anglers to target grouper available anywhere in the world. Captain David Paul shows off a big red grouper taken The Sunshine Skyway just 22 miles offshore Anna Maria Island. Fishing Piers have prime grouper habitat only a cast away. With artificial reefs lining both sides of the pier, anglers will find success by casting live bait rigs or free-lining live baits out to the rock piles. Some of the finest grouper anglers at the Skyway Piers have begun employing floats to get their baits out to the rocks and even fishing diving plugs against the tide in a method similar to trolling. Tackle for grouper at the Skyway Piers varies depending on the style of fishing. Many bottom fishermen employ heavy conventional tackle, while some plug anglers use stout spinning gear. Anglers unfamiliar with rigging can purchase tackle specifically designed for the piers at the bait shop. The Love’s Lures line of grouper rigs cover most scenarios anglers will encounter at the Skyway Piers. Finally, consider a pier hook or net as some grouper exceeding 30” are hauled over the rail each season! The scenarios set forth above illustrate an important point for gulf coast grouper fishermen. Becoming comfortable with a variety of techniques not only increases grouper catch rate, but also allows anglers to spend more enjoyable time on the water. In the late fall and early winter period, weather conditions often prevent long runs to offshore structure. The ability to catch grouper by trolling, and even from land, allows fishing in most any weather scenario Mother Nature can dial up. Establishing a diverse grouper game plan will mean more gags in the box this fall. Paul Bristow has written articles for various outdoor publications since 1999. He is currently the manager of Apollo Beach Bait & Tackle Company, LLC which distributes the popular Love’s Lures line of baits. Questions can be e-mailed to Paul at loveslures@msn.com.

November 2010 • Onshore-Offshore Magazine 27


Do It Yourself Duck Hunt

F

lorida is a great place to try your hand at waterfowl hunting. Our state is filled with waterways and lakes that waterfowl thrive in during the winter months. Just like the snowbirds, waterfowl need to get away from the snow covered grain fields and find un-frozen lakes and sources of food during the winter months. Getting started duck hunting is not that difficult, you can get by with a few decoys, a little duck calling and a simple johnboat, kayak, or canoe for many of our lakes. Knowing which lakes or waterways that the ducks prefer is as important as good GPS numbers are offshore. Research online, Ducks Unlimited forums and the FWC website all are helpful places to look. You simply need to find the rules and regulations plus finding what ducks like to eat and where they hang out to get started. I am a firm believer in hiring a guide to learn the ropes if you are new at duck hunting. There are many duck hunting guides available online, Ron’s Guide Service was the first one I used and I think he is still the best on Lake Okeechobee.

by Jackie Otto

Waterfowl are federally protected and managed, so there are a lot of rules including seasons and bag limits on different types of ducks that you must be aware of. State and Federal duck stamps along with HIP recording and a Hunting License are required before duck hunting. All of this information can be found at www.myfwc.com, look under hunting and migratory birds. We have many “migratory” birds that live here year round, including the Florida Mottled Duck and some Greenhead Mallards that thrive on our local golf courses. (No, you cannot hunt on the golf course.) They are still considered migratory birds and are regulated as such even though they are here year round. Once you have located a lake that holds ducks, hunting them is not that difficult, as long as they want to cooperate. Making them want to land in your decoys comes from experience and reading many “how-to” articles in magazines. Basically you want to set up a vee shape with a few decoys, making a landing strip for the ducks to come in. (Align decoys with the

will also help hide you and your boat. Always have the wind at your back and preferably avoid having the sun in your eyes if at all possible. When decoying ducks come in to land, they will always land with the wind in their face, which means keep the wind at your back. Scouting is also important to your success in a couple of different ways. One way is to help you know where the ducks are and will want to be while they aren’t being shot at. In other words, they are feeding in an area that is going to attract them to come back each day. Scouting will also help you find a good hiding spot for your boat and a good area to set your decoys. Some years the ducks aren’t here until it really gets cold up north and some years they get here early. Scouting the lake first is going to let you know for sure if the ducks have arrived. Scouting for ducks can be done anytime of the day, just ride around the lake and scare them up…watching for them jumping up as you go by. Using a Go-Devil motor or an Airboat is the best way to travel as you can get back into the nitty-gritty parts of the lake where no one else can go. For many years my husband and I successfully hunted out of our yellow and brown bass boat, camouflaged in palmettos and burlap but we now have a Go-Devil and John Boat and there are not many places we can’t go.

vee pointing towards you) You also want to be camouflaged as much as possible, not having anything on your boat or canoe that would shine or look out of place. Using cut palmettos and placing your boat inside a cattail bunch

Three of the largest lakes in the state, Okeechobee, Kissimmee and Toho often hold large numbers of Ring neck ducks, (ring bills). These are a good “decoying” duck and also make good table fare. On these lakes you can also harvest many green and blue winged Teal, Whistling Tree ducks, along with Florida Mottled ducks. Later in the season a few Pintails, Gadwalls and Redheads may show up, depending on how cold it gets up north. Last year, young duck hunter Braden Otto took his first mottled duck with some jewelry. A tagged duck to report! Good job Braden!

28 Onshore-Offshore Magazine • November 2010

Accommodations around these lakes are available in many fish camps, campgrounds and motels that all cater to duck hunters, during the season. We have a small pop-up camper that I pull with my vehicle and my husband brings the boat. I sure wish we could figure out how to pull them both without getting stopped by the highway patrol.

I grew up hunting ducks using lead shot then rules changed and Federal laws required steel shot only for migratory duck hunting. The difference between the two was a major speed and knock-down power. Steel shot didn't have the density of lead shot and wounds many birds for them to fly off and die elsewhere.

My family has After trying many new tunghunted ducks for sten, bismuth and steel shots quite a few years, we trust and use Hevi-Shot by including many trips Environ Metal, their motto is, to Arkansas hunt"I didn't come this far to miss!" When you travel to Arkansas, ing flooded timber, Louisiana you need to trust and more recently your ammo, it's all we use. It's to Louisiana in also our favorite turkey shot, it the flooded rice shoots further and has massive fields. We make knock-down power. these trips for huge greenhead Mallards and plump Teal, all of which we love to dine on. In the many years that I have hunted ducks, I have yet to get the coveted “banded” duck. These are ducks, which have a metal band to identify where they were captured last, and when it was harvested. My husband and son both have shot a few, and now my 8 year old grandson has gotten his first banded Florida Mottled duck, what a trophy for a up and coming young duck hunter. He loves to duck hunt and we love to have him with us each time because those young eyes can see ducks long before Pop and Grammy can. I am so proud of his safety with his gun and his first trophy “banded” duck. Duck blinds can be very dangerous places, hearing protection and gun safety is of the utmost importance, please know your regulations and be safe while trying it on your own.

November 2010 • Onshore-Offshore Magazine 29


Product Spotlight

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FISHTALES & HUNTTALES - FISHING AND HUNTING LOGS These handsome affordable hunting and fishing journals can help improve your success and productivity by keeping valuable trip-to-trip information organized, accessible and at your fingertips. FishTales and HuntTales Log Books are durable, easy-to-store, and easy-to-fill-out. Keep accurate detailed notes of your hunting and fishing experiences. Note when, where and how the fish and game are feeding. Follow and observe patterns of a particular target species. Create a priceless knowledge-base that will help you pinpoint successful tactics and techniques. Track and record catch, game taken, weather, water and lunar conditions, terrain, vegetation, tide and much more. Map pages for sketching details of favorite spots and logging GPS coordinates. Share your experience - Create a lasting keepsake that you and your family will treasure. “Pink” logo logs now available. An excellent gift for any sportsman. Get yours today at: www.fishtaleslog.com. BALL Engineer Hydrocarbon Trieste Chronograph is the world's first 7,500G shock resistant automatic mechanical watch with chronograph functions operable under water to 600 meters! Featuring selfpowered micro gas lights that glow continuously up to 100 times brighter than phosphorous paint for up to 25 years. As a tribute, the dial features the mission badge of the Bathyscape Trieste. The watch also features an automatic helium release value, a uni-directional rotating bezel, a patented screw-down and lock-down crown, and a 4mm thick sapphire crystal. Limited edition of 1,000 pieces! Old Northeast Jewelers: International Plaza - 813.875.3935 or St.Pete: 727.896.0622. Securod hitch mount rod transports Celebrate! Finally, a safe and secure alternative for the transport of your valuable rods and reels! Fully locking and complete with unique hitch mount which connects while leaving your hitch free to tow AND its own storage and display stand. Securod comes in light and sturdy aluminum for long life and convenience. We are sure you will enjoy the efficiency and engineering of this product for years to come. Keep your eyes open at our website www.secuRod.com for our ever expanding 2011 line of products to solve your fishing and trailering needs. Join our pleased customers and discover SecuRod for yourself or your favorite fisherman! Please call 727.712.8401. The Bassroom portable bathroom system For fishing, hunting, camping, tailgating, at work, and more! Don’t leave home without it! A unique, complete portable bathroom system that consists of a privacy cover, toilet, waste bags, and storage carrying bags, our product has been developed with your privacy and a clean water initiative in mind. An extremely versatile, very compact, and environmentally safe option to making continuous trips back and forth to shore. Nobody wants to make that mad dash for the nearest restroom when the urge arises especially when you’re on top of a good school of actively feeding fish. Now, with the Bassroom, you don’t have to! Visit www.coveryourbass.com or call 972.849.4868.

Product Spotlight

30 Onshore-Offshore Magazine • November 2010

Sea Foam Motor Treatment Have you ever had engine trouble spoil the day when you want to go fishing? Gas and oil mixtures sometimes become gummy and form varnish between uses, making your engine run poorly. Sea Foam Motor Treatment, a 100% pure petroleum product, will safely and effectively clean your internal fuel and oil system components. Sea Foam will safely help your engine run cleaner and more efficiently by removing gum, varnish, and carbon deposits.

TWI SAFETY 800 by SEASENSE® It's a Jack, It's a Scale, It's a Solution! Do you know how to correctly measure your tongue weight? Now you can with the TWI Safety 800 trailer tongue weight jack featuring an 800 lb. built-in scale. This is the only device of its kind that instantly tells you when your trailer is safely loaded and in its most fuel efficient posture for travel. Features: Exclusive Design, Safe And Simple To Operate, Measures Tongue Weight Between 200 & 800 lbs., Lock And Go Collar, Black EDC Premium Finish. Start your journey assured your trailer is safe and ready to travel with the TWI SAFETY 800 Trailer Tongue Weight Jack from Road Warrior. MSRP $99.00. Visit WWW.SEASENSE.COM or call toll-free: 800-282-8725

November 2010 • Onshore-Offshore Magazine 31


Redfishing 101!

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ovember is one of my favorite months to fish. Things are cooling down and fish are settling into their fall and early winter homes. Bait is pushing to deeper water and thinning out on the flats. With water cooling down and our first few cold fronts starting to come through, the action in the shallow water really starts to heat up. Many fish really start to turn on as they start to feed to get ready for the cold winter. Redfish is the highlight of November, with big schools in full force roaming the flats searching for crustaceans, shrimp, chubs, greenbacks, and any other type of bait that might make an easy meal. Schools can range from just a few fish to those that cover an area the size of a football field. I have seen fish from 15 inches to 25 pounds on the flats this time of year. You can still land big Bull Reds with typical light tackle rigs, but they definitely test your angling skills and put your tackle to the test. Unlike many other species, Redfish are very spooky fish. One slam of a hatch, stomp, bang of an anchor or any other noise will spook Redfish, especially when they are schooled up. The further away from the fish you can stay, the better. The long casting ability of 8 ft rods matched with ultra light braided line are a great advantage when fishing for redfish. When rigging for redfish I like to use 20lb Ohero fluorocarbon for leader and #10 Fins

32 Onshore-Offshore Magazine • November 2010

by Captain Jason Prieto

windtammer braided line matched with a 1/0 Daiichi Bleeding hook. This rig will be a deadly combination. I like to use live bait as my first choice, but since Redfish love crabs, shrimp and many other small baits, there are a lot of artificial baits that will perform just as well as live bait. I like to match the bait that is in the area. Finding an artificial that mimics the bait in the area will increase your chances of catching more fish. After you have found the correct rig and found your favorite bait, where do you find the fish? I can give you the basics and you should be able to find a few good spots. The first thing to look for are the tides and water movement. Get a tide book and pick a day to fish that has good tides. This is going to fall around the new and full moons. Once you have moving water start looking for points, cuts, healthy grass, oyster bars, banks and creek mouths, just to name a few. After finding a few good spots, setting your boat up in the right spot is critical. This can vary depending on the situation, but one rule is that

Tell Everyone You Saw It In... you want to always position your boat up tide and try to let your bait look as natural as possible. Redfish are one of my favorite fish to target. Finding schools of fish can be very time consuming, but the reward is worth every minute! Put common sense and basic knowledge together and you will soon be catching Redfish one after another. Captain Jason Prieto is owner and operator of Steady Action Fishing Charters. To book a charter, call 813-727-9890 or visit www.steadyactionfishingcharters.com. Catch him on the radio by tuning into Outdoor Fishing Adventures, Saturday mornings from 8AM to 10AM on 1040 sports talk radio.

November 2010 • Onshore-Offshore Magazine 33


November 2010 Tide Calender

Conversions for Tampa Bay Area High Low +0:49 +0:58 Gandy Bridge +1:38 +1:55 Courtney Campbell Cswy. +1:38 +1:55 Safety Harbor +0:20 +0:22 Ballast Point +0:07 +0:26 Hillsborough Bay +0:21 +0:29 McKay Bay Entrance +0:41 +0:39 Old Port Tampa -2:27 -2:24 Egmont Key -2:53 -2:46 Anna Maria, Bradenton Bch -2:10 -2:19 Anna Maria, City Pier -1:24 -0:55 Bradenton, Manatee River -0:30 +0:14 Redfish Pt., Manatee River -2:22 -1:58 Mullet Key Channel, Skyway +0:08 +0:17 Shell Point -0:22 -0:29 Point Pinellas -1:34 -1:30 Pass-a-Grille Beach -1:32 -1:05 Gulfport -1:18 -0:44 St. Pete Beach Causeway -2:14 -2:04 John’s Pass -1:40 -1:18 Madeira Beach Causeway -2:00 -1:25 Cortez, Sarasota Bay -1:38 -0:58 Sarasota Bay -2:02 -1:38 Venice Inlet -0:57 -0:40 Englewood, Lemon Bay -1:27 -0:59 Placida, Gasparilla Sound

These tide conversions are based from the St. Petersburg Pier. They are published strictly for reference and are not designed for navigational aid. Onshore-Offshore assumes no responsibility for their accuracy.

+1:38 +1:56 El Jobean, Myakka River +1:52 +2:30 Shell Point, Peace River +1:06 +1:27 Punta Gorda, Charlotte Hbr.

Conversions for Clearwater Beach Area High Low -0:02 -0:10 Dunedin, St. Joseph Sound -0:05 -0:15 Anclote Key, South End +0:42 +0:42 Tarpon Springs, Anclote River -0:07 -0:03 North Anclote Key +0:41 +0:39 Old Port Tampa +0:33 +0:53 Gulf Harbors +0:42 +1:05 Hwy 19 Bridge, Pithlachascotee River

Conversions for St. Marks River Area

-1:12 -1:56 Boca Grande, Charlotte Hbr. -0:19 +0:26 Pineland, Pine Island

High Low

+0:43 +1:28 Matlacha Pass

+0:23 +1:18 Everglades City

-0:55 -1:14 Redfish Pass, Captiva Is.

-1:17 -1:03 Cape Romano

-0:46 -0:20 Captiva, Pine Island Sound

-1:04 -1:08 Marco Island

-2:20 -2:28 Captiva, Gulf Side

-1:59 -2:04 Naples

-0:25 +0:16 Galt Isle, Pine Island Sound

-0:46 -0:09 Indian Bay

-0:30 -0:44 St. James City, Pine Island

-0:59 -0:42 Bayport

+2:08 +2:44 Fort Myers

-0:25 +0:23 Withlacoochee River

+1:15 +2:02 Cape Coral Bridge

+0:50 +1:35 New Port Richey, Pithlachascotee River

+1:08 +1:40 Iona Shores

+0:36 +0:43 Hudson, Hudson Creek

+0:51 +0:42 Indian Rocks Beach, ICW

34 Onshore-Offshore Magazine • November 2010


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all migrations in the bay area are best known for schools of mackerel swimming through our waters headed south. Along with the kings and Spanish macks, an oftenoverlooked species can be found following the very same bait schools. Cobia! The big brown bombers are sometimes forgotten until one appears on the end of your line as they too are traveling by. At first, many anglers misidentify them as sharks because of their size, strength and flat rounded head. When the fish comes boat side however, attitudes change quickly when they recognize one of the tastiest fish around.

Cobia seem to always have an element of surprise by showing up when least expected. They can also be quite a tease by disappearing just as quickly. If you are not armed and ready, you will probably miss your shot. Having two rods rigged and ready at all times can be the key to connecting. One rod should be rigged for live bait and the other should be rigged with a large jig. Each rod should be kept in the same location on every trip so there is no guesswork finding the outfit on a seconds notice. The reason for the dual rod set up is that usually there isn't enough time to find a live bait in the well and get it hooked up before

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the cobia disappears. The option of having a jig handy allows a cast to be made quickly to keep the fish's attention until the live offering is made available. Throwing out a handful of chum is also helpful to keep them around the boat. A popular tactic used by many Tampa Bay guides is to hop from buoy to buoy down the shipping channel until a cobia is located. The problem with this method is that sometimes at the end of the day you never saw one, and you didn't catch a single fish. A better and more productive method is to fish wrecks, artificial reefs, or any other high relief structure to take advantage of all the other fish available while being ready to go when a cobia arrives at the scene. With this method kingfish, Spanish mackerel, grouper, snapper, barracuda, bonito, and a variety of other fish can all be caught making for a much better fish catching day. If a cobia shows up to the party it's a bonus, but it usually happens more often than not right now. Cobia must be at least 33-inches to the fork of their tail to be legal for harvest, so make sure they are the proper size before sinking a gaff in them. If

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they are going into the cooler beware, a worn out fish will typically go crazy when gaffed so hang on tight. A cobia's thick white fillets lend themselves to a variety of preparations and any recipe used for grouper will taste excellent. Capt. Brent Gaskill is a full-time guide in the Tampa Bay area fishing both inshore and offshore. He can be reached at 727-510-1009 or captbrent@summervacationcharters.com. View his website at www. summervacationcharters.com.

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727.515.4399 36 Onshore-Offshore Magazine • November 2010

November 2010 • Onshore-Offshore Magazine 37


Strokin' Tail

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here are few things that make an inshore fishermen get weak at the knees; rolling tarpon, busting snook, and cruising permit to name a few. What could possibly be more alluring than the mighty silver king, the ever-elusive linesider, or the mystique of a permit? For me, the answer to that question is simple… the sight of a tailing redfish. Every other week, in accordance to the new and full moon cycles, we experience low tides that often dip below the mean low water level into the negative range. When this happens, grass flats are often left completely exposed and fish are forced to find deeper water to await the incoming tide, but not all fish. Adult redfish that have no fear of ospreys and other flying predators are more than happy to make their way onto a shallow flat and wave their tails around for any angler lucky enough to find them. For kayak anglers this provides an excellent opportunity to experience some of the best sight

38 Onshore-Offshore Magazine • November 2010

When approaching a tailing fish it is important to have stealth in mind. Being in a kayak you are already at a huge advantage. Very slowly pole or paddle towards your quarry, if you notice a small wake moving away from your boat then move slower – this displacement of water is often all it takes for a skittish redfish in shallow water to become alert of your presence and spook. Fan cast in the area immediately around where you see fish tailing, often there will be other fish in the area that aren’t tailing and if you happen to spook one then that fish will probably spook the other fish you intended to target. Anchor or use a stake out pole when you are within casting distance to hold you in place and make your cast… and again, I cannot stress enough how important it is to be QUIET.

by Spencer Goodwin

fishing the west coast of Florida has to offer. So, you have found your low tide, now where do you start looking? Grass flats with lush grass and soft ‘crunchy’ bottom are a good place to start. You’ll want to find water deep enough to support a swimming redfish, but shallow enough to expose their tails. I’ve found a good depth to be just below knee height, depending on how tall you are that’s no more than a foot deep. Not that redfish won’t tail in deeper water, that all depends on the size of the redfish you’re targeting, but for the average sized redfish in Tampa Bay this is a good depth to start looking in. Areas with good water flow, often adjacent to deeper water but surrounded by a sand bar or shallower water are likely spots. For kayak anglers this is a prime example of an instance where kayaks have a great advantage over other vessels.

These are actively feeding fish, if there is no forage available for them in the area, then you probably will not see them there. What you can see above the surface is a tail waving freely, but below the surface these fish are rooting through the grass and mud actively searching for their favorite delicacies. These may include, but are not limited to; shrimp, crabs and all varieties of baitfish. Most often they are primarily seeking crustaceans. For the artificial enthusiast any soft plastic crustacean imitation will work well, especially darker colors like golden bream or avocado, rigged weedless. Another exciting and often overlooked lure that can be very effective for tailing fish is a well placed topwater plug. For those that prefer live bait, a live un-weighted shrimp will work very well, however

this will make casting much more difficult. Cut ladyfish and mullet are another alternative that can be more easily cast. Whenever casting to a tailing fish, it is important to carefully place your bait. Cast ahead and past the fish, and slowly bring your bait into the fish’s path. This will ensure that you don’t spook the fish when your bait hits the water. Be sure to use a light leader, no more than 20lb fluorocarbon is a good bet, however in extremely clear water 15lb and under can be necessary to get bit.

So next time you’re out on your favorite redfish flat and the tide is dropping, don’t think deeper water is the only place to find fish. Wait for that water level to drop and the tips of grass to become visible. Survey that water surface closely and I’m sure that you too will be strokin’ tail in no time! Spencer Goodwin Tampa Bay Kayak Charters tampabaykayakcharters.com (727) 742-4736

November 2010 • Onshore-Offshore Magazine 39


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What's Your Reason for Fishing?

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s a charter captain, I get anglers with a wide variety of expectations on my boat. These fishermen often have an individual goal that only they themselves can label. The most common reason is to have fresh fish for the table, but that is not the only purpose for spending the day on the water. I would have to guess that about 50% of my clients want that post trip fish fry. The other half of those fishermen seem to have different reasons for the adventure. There seems to be a growing trend toward anglers that fish for the sport. I can appreciate this because as much as I like eating fish, I seldom keep a fish for myself when I'm not working. My personal enjoyment comes from the catch. It seems to me that most sport fishermen have more experience than others and are better at fishing as a result of spending more time on the water. They also seem to have a little more patience while fishing which is important, especially while doing battle with a big fish. After loosing a nice keeper fish on a charter, I

often say that I would rather have hooked it and had it get away than to never have hooked it at all. This statement has produced some unusual looks from a few clients. I had a gentleman from Texas 2 years ago curse at 40 Snook before he finally caught one that he fell in love with. I finally told him that it was not the fish’s fault that they were not slot size fish. Thank goodness he finally caught a keeper because I think I was the next target of his verbal assault. Another thing that draws anglers to the water is the therapeutic value that we get from a day afloat. When I first started fishing for a living, one of my first clients was freshly retired from the corporate world and he informed me from the start that all he needed was to catch 1 fish and that nature would make the rest of the trip a success. He still fishes with me on a regular basis but has raised

Captain Ric Liles

the bar of his expectations and has developed into a very productive angler. Fishing is healthy and studies have shown that it actually lowers blood pressure. This was not the case with Mr. Texas. I have talked with my peers about this and I certainly am not alone with my clientele. I say all of this because this time of year quite a few of our fish will be out of season and I hope anglers will still find a reason to get out and enjoy one of the best pastimes there is. If you are an inshore angler in the bay area, our Trout season closes for the months of November and December. Snook season did not open this year and even though Redfish are in season, it will be a little harder to consistently catch those upper slot fish. This is the time of year that true inshore fishermen fish for the love of the game. This is the time of year that I try to go out on my own time and learn a new area. Trust me, you really have to have a love of the game to spend 8 to 10 hours on the water creeping around on the trolling motor, doing nothing but fishing with your eyes and making an occasional cast. It may seem to be wasted time, but you would be surprised what you can learn.

around the Honeymoon Island area. I learned a lot and it has paid off for me. I guess the point that I'm trying to drive home is there are many reasons to get out and spend time on the water. If your favorite fish is off the list it may be beneficial for you to look for new areas to fish for them when they are back in season. Even if you disagree with me, there is one reason to fish or get out on the water when no other reason is good enough. Every day on the water adds 3 days to your life. Gotta love that. Until next time, good luck and be safe on the water. Remember: don't let your kid be the one that got away, take them fishing. For charter information you can call (813)601-2900, go to www. ReelSimpleFishing.com, or email CaptainRic@msn.com.

Last year I studied Miguel Bay, the year before Weedon Island and the year before that I snooped

42 Onshore-Offshore Magazine • November 2010

November 2010 • Onshore-Offshore Magazine 43


in the Keys

Dinner and a Show…Keys Style!

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inally, the bulk of the storm season is behind us. The hot/ humid southeast winds are being replaced by cool/dry breezes from the north. That can only mean the next change of seasons is upon us, and we are more than ready for it! November brings plenty of opportunity for high probability catching with the Lower Keys and Key West being considered “ground zero”.

Just to give you a preview of what to expect…What if I told you Sailfish, Blackfin Tuna, Wahoo, Grouper and Mutton Snapper will make for typical catches? What if I told you that all of that will be caught within 15 miles of Key West? Do I have your attention now? Well, it’s true! Our normal November run of pelagics will start with a strong showing of Sailfish. These early arrivals will be found chasing ballyhoo on the edge of the reef and can be trolled into striking with either live or dead baits. For these early Sails, I prefer a 3 bait (dead ballys) spread run close to the boat. I will also deploy a 12 bait dredge consisting of artificial ballyhoo (Williamson Ballyhoo are my personal choice). I keep the dredge no farther than 30’ behind the boat, and will place my first bait 10-15’ behind the dredge. 8 out of 10 times, this will

44 Onshore-Offshore Magazine • November 2010

by Captain Rob Harris

be the first bait taken. I rig this bait with a 6/0 circle hook on 60lb fluorocarbon leader. The “other” 2 baits will be staggered at 30’ intervals behind the first, and run off the riggers and if you’d like, live bait can be substituted. So you’ll be fishing live baits? Well, let’s open up the possibilities then! Once your live bait spread is set, send a live bait to the bottom. Hopefully, you’ve marked bait in the water column you’ll be working in. That being the case, by holding a live bait a couple feet of the bottom, you’ve just expanded your catching opportunities to Grouper and Muttons. November is when we start to see the deep-water predators (such as Grouper) start to move back into shallower water. This is due to the amount of bait that we have here right now and the fact that the water has cooled to more favorable (read as;

If you’re looking to do something different…try free diving and spearing them. Yes, there’s that many and they can be in schools of more than 100. You might even want to just say the heck with Thanksgiving turkey and go for the Grouper, Tuna, and Wahoo feast!

comfortable) temperatures. Since you’ll be targeting your Sails between 80’-180’ on the first push of the outgoing tide, you’ll also be in prime hunting grounds for bottom fishing. Don’t pass up the chance to bring home some tasty fillets. While I’m on the subject of live bait, did I mention that there’s plenty of it here right now? We are practically over-run with ballyhoo and pilchards (white bait). The bait push started in mid-October and will continue into November. Most locals have already started penning up baits in anticipation of the Tuna run. If you’re just down for the weekend, have no fear. There’s plenty of bait to go around. Some of the popular live chumming areas are wrecks such as the Vandenburg and Curb. You can also expect to find them on

So there you have it, dinner and a show all within 15 miles of Key West. Too bad that I don’t have more room to write so that I could tell you about the Snapper, Grouper, Kings and Cobia on the “other side” of the island! Catch’em Up!

the airplane, just off Sand Key. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention “the sub”, but that’s outside of the 15 mile range we talked about earlier (17 miles in case you’re wondering).

Captain Rob Harris of Got TA Go Charters can be reached by phone at (305) 587-9228 or by E-Mail: rw_harris@msn.com.

My personal favorite species to target in November is Wahoo. If you have ever wanted to get out and actually “target” wahoo, you need to start planning to be here on/or about the 19th. The hottest bite is always just before, during and just after the Full Moon. There are enough Wahoo here during that time frame that you can catch them any way that you try (and sometimes when you don’t want to!). A popular stretch to troll for wahoo lies between the Airplane and the End-of-the-Bar. It’s easy for me to say that you want to be there on the outgoing tide, and stay just off the edge of the color change. I prefer to work between 150’ to 300’ in a zigzagging run until I locate the schools moving around.

November 2010 • Onshore-Offshore Magazine 45


Where You'll Find Us in the Keys! Pirate’s Cove Bait & Tackle 305.245.7618 328 SE US Hwy. 1 Homestead, FL 33034

Big Time Bait & Tackle 305.289.0199 11499 Overseas Hwy. Marathon, FL 33050

West Marine 305.453.9050 103400 Overseas Hwy. Key Largo, FL 33037

Captain Hook’s 305.743.2444 11833 Overseas Hwy. Marathon, FL 33050

Yellow Bait House 305.451.0921 101741 Overseas Hwy. Key Largo, FL 33037

Marathon Bait & Tackle 305.289.2248 3740 Overseas Hwy. Marathon, FL 33050

Smugglers Marine 305.664.3636 85920 Overseas Hwy. Islamorada, FL 33036

West Marine 305.289.1009 2019 Overseas Hwy. Marathon, FL 33050

Islamorada Outfitters 305.664.3232 85932 Overseas Hwy. Islamorada, FL 33030

Linda’s Bait Shack •305.872.0650 30945 Ave. A. Big Pine Key, FL 33043

World Wide Sportsman 305.664.5659 81576 Overseas Hwy. Islamorada, FL 33036

Reef Light Tackle 305.872.7679 29770 Overseas Hwy. Big Pine Key, FL 33043

Captain Pip’s 305.743.4403 1410 Overseas Hwy. Marathon, FL 33050

Jig’s Bait & Tackle 305.872.1040 30321 Overseas Hwy. Big Pine Key, FL 33043

The Tackle Box 305.289.0540 1901 Overseas Hwy. Marathon, FL 33050

Conchy Joes 305.295.7745 1970 Roosevelt Blvd. Key West, FL 33040

Onshore-Offshore Magazine thanks all our Keys distributors. Interested in carrying OOM? Call Sal Liggieri at 727.359.3471.

November 2010 • Onshore-Offshore Magazine 47


November 2010

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