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ALABAMA/PENSACOLA EDITION

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PELAGICS From Little Plastic Boats

PATTERN SPRING SPECKS PHOTO BY JORGE BUSTAMANTE, COURTESY OF BRIAN NELLI - WWW.TCKAYAKFISHING.COM VOLUME 25 • ISSUE 301

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Photo courtesy of Knockin Tail Lures

By Capt. Michael Okruhlik

F

or those who want to catch a heavy speckled trout, April is perhaps your best opportunity. April trout are still heavy from their lowered metabolism of winter. They are heavy with eggs and about to spawn. This makes April a prime month for heavy fish. The warmer water also makes them extremely aggressive and more willing to strike artificial lures of all styles. Let’s go over the how, when and where to target trophy trout in the spring. How: When water temp reaches the low to mid 70s, topwater action can be some of the best of the year. Aggressive trout are attracted by the rattling sound and erratic sway of the cigarshaped lures. You can’t go wrong with bone/white/ silver or a combination of these colors. I like to match the size to the conditions and forage in the immediate area. Required casting distance and surface conditions also play a vital role in my decision making. In rougher conditions, I typically use a large lure. The rattles of various lures also have different pitch. I prefer to use the higher pitch over a muddy bottom and a lower tone over sand, grass or shell. Slow-sinking, rattling, shad-style twitch baits

are also a good choice when trout don’t want to “rise” to the occasion. I prefer these lures with near-mirror reflective finishes. They do an excellent job of impersonating a wounded baitfish, and no large spawning trout in its right mind will pass up an injured baitfish. I can’t leave out the most versatile trout lure of all, the soft plastic. There are many styles, sizes and colors, but I prefer those that give more bang for the buck. When the fish are aggressive, I steer toward a soft plastic with a larger paddle that vibrates, creates a great swimming motion even on the pause, and one that rattles. These three components stimulate a fish’s lateral line, and they can’t resist the need to feed. When: I plan trips according to the solunar tables. I make every effort to be at my spot fishing during peak feeding times so that I’m not traveling from spot to spot when the fish are eating. Where: In spring, I direct my attention to grass flats. Wading is the superior method to consistently catch large trout, but you can still target flats from a boat. I prefer a flat with broken grass patches, potholes, channels, the dreaded prop scar or anything else that breaks up the grass to create ambush points for trout. Try to cover each transition from multiple angles, as trout will

stage on the edge of the sand against the grass. Pay attention to the where, when and how on your next trip. It will increase your odds of landing a trophy trout. It never hurts to practice catch and release on these beautiful fish. Capt. Michael Okruhlik is the inventor of Knockin Tail Lures, Controlled Descent Lures and the owner of www.MyCoastOutdoors.com.

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atching big pelagics is one of those “someday” goals for many kayak anglers. Venturing into the open ocean under paddle power after species like kingfish, mahi, sailfish and tuna can seem daunting to anglers accustomed to inshore waters or freshwater lakes and rivers. The first question you might have is: “Where am I going to find them?” Inshore, there are grass flats, mangroves and channels drop-offs that offer kayak anglers good places to start. Offshore waters don’t always give up information quite as easily, but the clues are out there. You just have to know what you’re looking for. The ocean is a big place, but I believe 10 percent of the water holds 90 percent of the fish. Narrowing it down to that 10 percent is the first step. Start your research off the water by locating a beach or other launch point that is close to hard bottom, wrecks or a reef line. This can be done with a little online research and a good mapping chip for your GPS. When the day comes to venture into the pelagic zone, take some time on the beach before heading out. Know the current, wind and water conditions. Is it calm? Is it rough? Are there a lot of weeds on the beach? Is there bait close to shore? Which way is the wind blowing? Answering these questions helps you decide what baits to use and at what depths to fish them. In general, calm days call for running baits deeper in the water column. With some surface chop or visible action on top—like bait jumping or fish breaking the water—run baits closer to the surface. Other things to look for are rips, color changes, birds and weed lines. A rip is an area where two currents meet. The water will look more turbulent than surrounding areas. A defined color change will have strong current running along its edge. Usually these color breaks and rips consolidate debris and weeds, and often birds will hover over these areas. The weeds and current attract bait, which in turn attract the pelagics. When you’re offshore, you have to take what the ocean gives you. Anything that looks different than the surrounding water is a place to put baits out. If you find yourself on the water with no wind, surface activity or weeds, look to your GPS to show you the way to hard bottom, structure, rock piles or reefs. There will always be some type of baitfish around these areas to attract pelagics. Find the bait, and you will find the fish. If you are new to offshore kayak fishing or are thinking about trying it, this information should give you a start on your quest to land a pelagic from your kayak.

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By Brian Nelli

Brian Nelli operates south Florida’s Pushin’ Water Kayak Charters. Check them out at www.tckayakfishing.com and email Brian at brian@tckayakfishing.com.

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By Nick Carter

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ennessee’s Lake Chickamauga has garnered a lot of press in recent years for giant largemouth bass. The introduction of Florida-strain largemouths certainly paid off for this 60-mile-long Tennessee River impoundment. The thing is, all the hype over bucketmouths has overshadowed world-class fisheries that already existed on the Tennessee River from Chickamauga down through Chattanooga. Flowing between high ridges of The Scenic City, the big river pumps out some pretty spectacular action for catfish and smallmouth bass. Richard Simms, of Scenic City Charters, said the fishing heats up with water temperatures this time of year. Whether you’re looking for bigshouldered river smallies, giant blue cats—or a little bit of both—right now is the time to be on the water. Smallmouth Bass: The Chickamauga tailrace lights up with aggressive smallies in spring. They feed up in a 10-mile stretch below the dam. Simms said fishing jigs and soft plastics around rip-rap, current seams and edges is productive. But drifting live threadfin shad or shiners with the current leads to faster action. With light 6-poundtest line enticing the most bites, any smallmouth is a handful. They typically run from 2 to 4 pounds on the river, and a decent day will produce 10 to 15 of

these scrappy bronzebacks. Simms said to expect a mixed bag on live bait. Everything eats shiners, so anglers will also catch white bass, spotted bass, largemouth bass, crappie, yellow bass, catfish and maybe a striped bass. Catfish: Big blue catfish are abundant on the Tennessee River from Chickamauga Dam all the way down through Chattanooga. When flows are right, the tailrace can be very good. When too much water is being released from the dam, Simms heads up to the reservoir. Either side of the dam, the prespawn bite peaks in April. “Both fisheries hold great big catfish,” said Simms, “and pre-spawn is a great time for catching trophy fish.” On the reservoir, deep drop-offs and river channel holes with structure are the places to vertical drop cut skipjack herring, bluegill or chicken breast. Below the dam, Simms drift fishes those same baits on light 10-pound tackle. In 2009, Simms’ client, Jerry Uhrine, caught a 52-inch-long, 75-pound blue catfish on 10-poundtest line. It is a National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame line-class record. “That light tackle technique is really fun because the average catfish we catch is 5 to 10 pounds,” said Simms. “Those 10 to 20 pounders aren’t unusual,

Photos courtesy of Scenic City Charters.

and every now and then we get one of those really big fish.” An average half-day trip from April through October typically yields 50 to 100 pounds of catfish. “It’s real easy to stock a freezer,” said Simms. Check out Scenic City Fishing Charters at www.sceniccityfishing.com.

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Photos courtesy of Tuna Duck Charters, Hatteras, NC.

April action can be fast and furious off the Outer Banks. Here’s one on deck and another on the line.

By Tom Schlichter

T

he Outer Banks of North Carolina needs little introduction to fishing fans. A true angling Mecca, it boasts super action with striped bass, red drum, cobia, sea trout and a host of inshore species while also offering tremendous offshore action for tuna, billfish, wahoo, mahi and additional pelagic favorites. These ocean predators really get your blood boiling in April, when the action comes alive 25 to 30 miles offshore. “We really do see a great mix of blue water species in April,” said charter Capt. Dan Rooks of the 51-foot custom Carolina Sportfisher, Tuna Duck (252-216-6160; http://tunaduck.com) which sails out of Hatteras Harbor Marina (252-986-2166; https://www.hatterasharbor.com.) “Typical action this month sees yellowfins in the 40- to 70-pound class, blackfin tuna weighing 20 to 25 pounds, and wahoo to 60 pounds. Early in the month, you might also deck a bluefin while the end of the month sees white marlin, blue marlin and sailfish arrive on the scene. Many of the big blues will top 400 pounds.” It’s the combination of bottom structure and a meeting of offshore currents that draws big game species to these waters, explained Rooks. The warm waters of the Gulf Stream flowing up from the south and cool waters of the Labrador Current dropping down from the north meet along the edge of the continental shelf, providing sharp temperature breaks that stack squid, ballyhoo, flying fish and other baitfish. Match a Anglers aboard Capt. Dan Rook’s Tuna Duck Charters celebrate a break over some structure, and you have a great spot to start hefty tuna that slammed a popper off North Carolina’s Outer Banks. your search. “It’s not as important that the temperature break be large as that it be well-defined,” noted Rooks. “I’ve seen breaks here as small as half-a- said. “A storm might push the cool water farther out or bring warmer water degree and as large as 20 degrees. Any break can produce if the surrounding closer in, so you constantly need to make adjustments. Expect to spend some conditions are right. Look for clean water, active baitfish and plenty of life. time searching out the fish even if they were stacked up just a day before. That’s one plus for heading out with a charter skipper; we’re on the water daily, Those are tip-offs that you are in the right area.” Although he’ll sometimes jig or work poppers for tuna, Rooks spends which helps us keep track of shifting currents, temperature breaks and baitfish most of his time trolling. His favorite setup is a natural dead-bait spread, with schools. Some days you find the predators sooner than others – but never give eight ballyhoo trolled in a V-pattern at 7 knots. He works hard to drag his up hope because once you dial ’em in, the fishing here is as good as it gets.” Anglers looking to trailer to this area can find transient dockage, fuel, hotel offerings across structure points, where temperature breaks are discovered accommodations and a boat launch ($10) all at Village Marina (252-986-2522; using on-board temperature gauges and satellite imagery. “The breaks move, of course, and you need to be aware of that,” Rooks www.villagemarinahatteras.com) in Hatteras. COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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n today’s uncertain world, everyone, especially kids, welcomes an opportunity for stability. One obvious source is family, and any activity that strengthens family will pay dividends. Snorkeling certainly qualifies as a family building activity. The family that plays together stays together. Having fun is important for building family unity if for no other reason than it makes you want to continue what you are doing. But it’s what happens during play that creates feelings of strength and security that make family members see family as a source of support. Building family strength requires communication, shared responsibility, commitment, shared chores and established routines. Snorkeling together fits this framework well. It gives adults and children the chance to demonstrate and practice these behaviors. Consider what goes into planning a dive outing—and how each family member can have a role: • Where do we go? Everyone can have a say on the big trips, while choice of quick local trips could rotate among family members. • What do we bring? Deciding what gear will be needed and how to organize and pack it may require adult oversight, but kids can, and should, take part. • How do we stay safe? Again, age may dictate how you buddy up, but even youngsters should understand they have a responsibility to stay close and check on their partner. Who tows the dive flag this time? • How do we finish up? Everyone needs to take on chores to pack up,

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unpack, clean, dry and store the gear once home. So, when should you introduce your child to snorkeling? Plant the seeds early. I think using a mask and fins should be part of learning to swim. A mask gives clear underwater vision and forces mouth breathing. Fins greatly increase kicking efficiency, boosting a child’s confidence. As soon as they are comfortable swimming and diving with the mask and fins, add a snorkel. While teaching basic snorkeling skills is a family affair, there are other fun ways to strengthen and add to those skills. Pura Vida Divers’ offers a summer Kids’ Snorkel Camp for kids 8–12, built around the PADI’s Skin Diver program. This day camp uses exciting, interactive games and group activities to enhance skills ranging from marine life identification to underwater buddy rescue. The last day brings the whole family together for a pizza party and snorkel outing. The ultimate memory maker is a family snorkeling vacation. There’s no shortage of locations offering interesting aquatic environments for snorkeling. Two very special snorkeling trips are offered each year by Pura Vida Divers—a manatee watching trip to Crystal River, Fla. and swimming alongside whalesharks off of Isla Mujeres, Mexico. For information on the Kids’ Snorkel Camp, guided snorkeling at the Blue Heron Bridge or manatee and whale shark trips, call Pura Vida divers at 561-840-8750 or visit their website at www.puravidadivers.com.

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By Capt. Kirk Waltz

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n a lifelong pursuit of many fish up and down the East Coast, I finally found the species that constantly holds me in awe when I planted roots in northeast Florida more than 30 years ago. With their beauty, strength and tenacity, redfish are second to none. At one point not too many years back, redfish were almost was wiped out, but with good conservation they bounced back in a big way. They have become one of Florida’s pet fish, a favorite of many anglers, that have provided untold hours of fun. Of all the redfish studies conducted, one intensive study by South Carolina’s Dr. Charles Wenner stands out as one of the best. He dissected the habitat of the species and really gives insight as to where, when and what they do. North Florida’s Atlantic coast offers prime habitat that allows redfish to grow to enormous size. Here are some interesting tidbits gleaned from Dr. Wenner’s study. The world record redfish weighed 94 pounds, 2 ounces and was caught out of Avon, N.C. on the Outer Banks. With a range that extends from the Texas Gulf Coast all the way to Maryland and Delaware in the Atlantic, they are also called red drum, spottails, channel bass, redfish and puppy drum. After hatching, juvenile reds grow to about a half-inch in a short period of time and then move from deep water to shallow estuaries. They love our spartina grass flats, where they begin the transition from fry to sub-adults. This occurs during the fall and winter, when they don’t eat much. They remain fairly inactive while waiting for spring. When spring sets in, their metabolism kicks into high gear. By July, juveniles can grow to 7 to 8 inches or longer by

eating small crabs, shrimp and small fish. Redfish mature at about 33 inches and 5 years of age. They typically begin the spawning cycle around the last moon of August and peak from October into November, depending on water temperature. Males produce a drum-like sound, hence the name red drum, which draws the females close and lets the school know it’s time to spawn. Dr. Wenner studied eight females and 22 males in a huge tank. They produced 60 million eggs in a three-month period. Large individuals reach a ripe old age of 45 to 50 years. That’s a long time for a fish to live, so be sure to handle big ones carefully. One of the coolest things I learned was that a redfish tagged in Bulls Bay, S.C. was caught 189 days later in Mantanzas Inlet, Fla. That’s quite a journey for a fish that measured 18 inches to start. Most redfish only travel about 5 to 10 nautical miles from where they were hatched. Capt. Kirk Waltz is a radio talk show host, writer and charter captain who runs Enterprise Fishing Charters. Like them on Facebook or Instagram or go to www.Enterprisefishingcharters.com. Listen to the Outdoors Show in the First Coast area every Saturday on 1010am or 92.5fm from 7-10 a.m.

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Photo courtesy of Capt. Scott Burgess, Skinny Situation Charters

By John Saporito

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n fishing, it often pays to be suspicious. Unchecked hearsay saturates the pursuit, and it all amounts to an unfortunate barrier that every novice angler must confront. As a result, few people ever really get good at this sport. For the proficient angler, a thorough understanding of fish and their habitat ushers fishing far closer to a science than it does to a crapshoot. As humans, we are born only with an understanding of how to operate on dry land. We are able to breathe, to move about, and we know how to seek out comforts and avoid dangers. These capacities do not translate to the marine environment. We are biologically unfit to survive beneath the water’s surface, and most people, therefore, cannot empathize with the aquatic world. Water is an incredibly different medium than air. The most tangible distinction is the tremendous shift in density from one medium to the next. The sea is roughly 800 times denser than the air. Think about that for a moment. Sea creatures, as a result, don’t experience the constraints of gravity that land-based organisms endure. Their bodies are perpetually supported by water. This leads to a phenomenon known as indeterminate growth, which allows fish to continue growing throughout their lives. If a fish keeps living, it keeps growing. Such a trait can give rise to colossal specimens, but it requires a feat of survival. The sea is the ultimate crucible of life and death—a domain where mistakes spell doom and second chances are nonexistent. A seemingly endless, hopelessly convoluted food web blankets the planet’s marine ecosystems, bridging regions that are separated by immense distances and orchestrating the fates of all organisms that make their home in the sea. There is no getting ahead in this world; survival ensues on a meal-by-meal basis. Predatory fish, masters of instantaneous evaluation, must promptly determine the risk and reward in every feeding opportunity. Each decision a gamefish makes will dictate whether it perishes or lives long enough to feed again. The fundamental duty of all fish is to eat without being eaten by something else. From its earliest days as a fledgling hunter, the survival of any gamefish is contingent on its ability to carry out this task. Most will not even have the good fortune of transcending their formative stage as hunters of plankton. The minority that survive long enough to contribute a new generation to the sea will do so by becoming proficient in sensing danger and making good predatory choices. This is why big gamefish are so hard to catch; their size is a reflection of a lifetime of excellent judgment. A big fish is a smart fish, an experienced fish. John Saporito is a lifelong fisherman and student of the seas. Visit him online at www.guerillaangling.com.

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Sunfish and Seatrout

For the past couple months, I’ve been spending plenty of time learning how to sling feathers and hair at unsuspecting aquatic predators. Just so happens, they seem to really hate it when a fly drifts into their zone, and the reactions are often intense struggles with lots of splashing and head shaking. The beauty of fly fishing is the art of casting into a small target area, to target a specific fish, often seen before the cast is planned. Lately I’ve been targeting several different species, with better than expected success, especially given my very limited experience casting fly rods. The Red-Spotted sunfish could be one of the most aggressive panfish species I’ve ever encountered. They are small, dark, and seemingly solitary fish. They cover long distances to attack carefully mended flies presented just outside of heavy cover. Small creeks off of rivers seem to hold bigger Red-Spots, while numbers of them can be found in even smaller ditches. Flies that resemble natural insects have been the ticket to fooling these beautiful, hard-fighting fish. Crappie jigs, slow sinking bumblebee patterns, and rubber legs in size 12-16 are kryptonite for them. Red-Spots can be distinguished from other panfish in the water by their dark, almost black appearance. From above the water, they look like they have white tips on their tail and fins. As long as they aren’t spooked, they will attack anything presented near them. Over on the salty side of things, I’ve been tying some of my own flies. Honestly, they don’t look like much, but the fish don’t seem to mind. Since I’m extremely new to fly fishing, I’ve been starting out by finding fish with conventional casting gear before breaking out the lighter gear. Fortunately, I found a school of small Speckled Trout using the current sweeping over a small peninsula as an ambush point. After catching a few trout in the 10-13” range, I decided to wet a fly and see if anything reacted. I was using a 4” root beer paddle tail on a 3/16 oz. jig head on my bait caster, but only had a small 3” rabbit hair fly to use that appeared similar in color. After getting the fly wet, I positioned my kayak with the wind at my back left shoulder, and casted directly toward the direction of the school of trout. Once the fly hit the water, I let it sink to around 10” and started stripping the fly line in. On the second strip, the water exploded and the floating line started shooting to the left. After setting the hook twice with my left hand, I lifted the 9’ rod straight into the air, where I could feel the fish. There was no doubt about it, this was a bigger fish than I was catching on a jig. After an impressive head-thrashing, water-slinging show, the trout finally came within my grasp and I scooped it up. My first saltwater fish on the fly, and the first fish on my new Orvis Helios rod. After snapping a few pics, I watched all 17 inches of a beautiful Speckled Trout swim away. I can’t say for sure I caught the biggest speck in that school, but I definitely caught one bigger than any others I’d caught on a jig that day. It could be coincidence, but I’d like to think downsizing to a fly afforded me the chance to tangle with that trout. I’ll continue to use conventional equipment, but fly gear has been quickly earning its place into my fishing arsenal. .

Jeff Jones Good Vibes, Tight Lines, and God Bless

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Mobile Bay

April is usually the best fishing for Specs and Reds on Mobile Bay until the fall. This year is off to a good start. Water temps are in the low 70’s and pretty dirty from the rains in March. This is all pretty normal for April and an improvement over the past three years with all the rain we had. In April, specs should be scattered out from Point Clear to Daphne and all along the ship channel into the Mobile River. The water will be in the 70’s and the muddy water from April rains should be cleared up in early April. Look for clear salty water. Shrimp should be showing up off Fairhope and Daphne late in the month. So, try to find some clear water and work the docks along the bay. Specs and reds will be looking for a meal. For the live bait fishermen, try a shrimp under a popping cork. Artificial guys can work a soft plastic on a jig head, top water plug, or a Mirrolure suspending bait like a catch Jr. or a catch 2000. Away from the docks look for birds working and you’ll find specs. The action is fast so approach them from up wind and drift down casting soft plastics on jig heads. My favorite colors are root beer/chartreuse, natural shrimp, white/chartreuse, and chartreuse/red on a 1/4 or 3/8 oz jig head. Try North Pass and the other cuts thru the causeway for reds, as we head into June. Flounder should start showing up along the western end of the causeway. Look around sandy points that face into the current. Another good place will be in the pilings of the docks along the bay. A bull minnow on a Carolina rig is the best bet. A soft plastic on a jig head is a good bet for the artificial fisherman. I like a curly tail or shrimp plastic. Get out and get it while the water is in the 70 to 80 degree range. By mid-June the water will start to get warm and slow the trout fishing down for the summer.

Catch you later, Capt Dan 251-422-3474

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Lake Martin

Needless to say I as a guide have seen as much rain as I want to see for a while . Fishing the last several weeks has been very tough even though we had some awesome days of catching we also had some days where it was hard to find clear enough water to get a bite. We also fished in wind speeds of 5-30 mph and let me tell you that’s work but you got to love it and that I do! One particular day we boated 57 stripers in 5 hours so that’s what makes people want to keep coming back. Ok, here it is ,April, and in a normal year (weather wise) this is definitely the most exciting month for striper fishing there is ! It is well into trophy season and the top water bite is on ! Stripers are feeding on larger live baits this month which also means you can catch them on giant top water lures such as Redfins. You trollers can also catch them by just not trolling as deep. April brings some of the best pier light fishing for stripers there is but you must remember there is a lot of debris out in the spring so you’ve got to be on top of your game or you’ll get in trouble fast . Lots and lots of striped bass and crappie are caught in April here on Lake Martin . Pick your favorite species to fish for and rig your tackle for that species get on the water go to your favorite area start fishing and hang on because you are going to catch no doubt about it, oh one other thing say hello to the person that’s fishing your favorite area because your definitely going to have company but you know what there’s enough good fishing this month that having someone right on top of you is not always a killer so try to be patient so it doesn’t ruin your day of fun . If at all possible try a weekday of fishing and who knows you might get to fish your brush pile or dock or point by yourself !!!!!!! Our water patrol and game wardens are out in force in April doing what we pay them to do so don’t be surprised if you get checked several times in April and at all times be very nice to them and respectful because they’re just trying to keep you safe and at the same time protecting our lakes resources for the next generation of fishermen and fisherwomen. Until next time catch one for me!

Capt David B Hare

Alex City Guide Service 256-401-3089 davidbhare@yahoo.com www.alexcityguideservice.com Fbook/alexcityguideservice/LakeMartin

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READING THE BEACH

Photo by Paul Brennan

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o the uninitiated, surf fishing might seem easy. Stake out some rods, sit back in a chair and enjoy a cold one, right? Well, if you actually want to catch fish, it’s necessary to read the surf. For beginners seeking to catch fish from the beach, setting up in the right place is the first step to success. Ask the local tackle shop about baits, rigs and appropriate gear. This article should get you started seeking out productive water. Ever notice five or six dudes clustered on one short stretch of beach with an array of rods stuck in the sand just a few yards apart? These guys know what they’re doing. They’ve found structure that consolidates bait and fish. Don’t assume there’s an invitation to plop down and fish with them. But be polite, don’t crowd them, and they might share advice. Notice what the beach and the surf look like where they are fishing, and 18

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try to find something similar somewhere else. Scouting begins with a long walk on the beach. Low tide might not be the best time to fish the surf, but it’s a great time to see how the bottom will lay out when the tide rolls in. Bottom contours manipulate current, and any irregularity on a flat expanse off the beach will draw bait and fish. Often, fine sand indicates a bottom with a gradual slope and little structure. Coarse sand with crushed shell or gravel points the way to steeper drops or deeper holes. Pay attention while you’re walking, and you’ll likely see the sand change character. The most common structure you’ll find off the beach is a sandbar. This is where the waves begin to break as they approach the shore. Inside of this sandbar there is a trough of deeper water between the sandbar and shore. There’s another drop off the ocean side of the sandbar. Fish of all kinds utilize these slightly deeper waters to move along the beach, hunting smaller fish or crustaceans. Dropping baits in the trough or on the backside of the sandbar can lead to hookups, but your odds increase if you can find a break in the sandbar, where a large tide, a rip current or a storm surge has punched a hole in the bar. Sand stacks up on either side of the cut, leaving shallow points on either side of a deeper bottom. These spots are obvious when the tide is out. When the tide is in, it’s the spot where waves don’t break as they pass over the sandbar. On a falling tide, you might notice faster water being sucked out through the cut. Fish use these breaks to move in and out of the trough. Current rushing through sandbar breaks also disorients baitfish, and predators will line up. Keep in mind that the sand is always moving. It changes day-today, and being cognizant of even small irregularities on an otherwise featureless bottom can help locate fish.

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AT YOUR LOCAL GEICO OFFICE. GILBERT SUAREZ 305-914-9220 13631 Biscayne Blvd North Miami geico.com/northmiami Some discounts, coverages, payment plans and features are not available in all states or all GEICO companies. Boat and PWC coverages are underwritten by GEICO Marine Insurance Company. GEICO is a registered service mark of Government Employees Insurance Company, Washington, D.C. 20076; a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary. GEICO Gecko image © 1999-2019. © 2019 GEICO 19_216446

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Clean Up Florida Waters July 11

F Reel in the memories. Sitting on the most biodiverse estuary in the Northern Hemisphere, Martin County is a fisherman’s paradise. Ocean, lake and river ecosystems are home to more than 800 species of fish, from the ever-popular sailfish and snook to largemouth bass and perch. Forget your gear? Visit one of Martin’s many bait and tackle shops or outdoor retailers. Inshore, offshore, saltwater or fresh, head out for an adventure and reel in the memories.

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lorida Realtors, the state’s largest trade association, is organizing a statewide event slated for July 11 to clean up Florida waters. Drawing from the organization’s extensive reach and calling out to all marine enthusiasts and conservationists, the event is aimed at cleaning up lakes, rivers, streams, retention ponds, bays, Intracoastal Waterways, the Gulf and Atlantic Ocean. The event was dreamed up between Orlando and Jacksonville realtors Mark Feagle Jr. and Jeff Fagan, who are avid anglers and Coastal Conservation Association members. The idea was quickly adopted by the trade association, which has the manpower of 195,000 members. The goal is to remove tons of trash and debris from waterways statewide in a single day, utilizing volunteers on land and water. “As a native Floridian, I have always enjoyed surfing, fishing and diving in our local waters. I want the natural beauty of this state to endure for my daughter and future generations,” said Feagle. “When you ask tourists or future residents what attracted them to Florida, the answers are typically: white sand beaches, lakes for boating, rivers for kayaking and our natural springs. Yet, many of our waterways are littered with bottles, cans and other debris. The good news is, trash is a people problem, which means we are also the solution.” On July 11, join thousands of Florida realtors to clean up Florida waters. Every effort   makes a difference. To get involved, visit www.floridarealtors.org/events/clean-up-florida-waters or contact your local real estate offices to get details on local efforts. Use the hashtag #cleanupfloridawaters on social media to find local events and support the effort.

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elebrate the fight against invasive lionfish at the sixth-annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Festival May 16-17 at AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar and HarborWalk Village in Destin. Activities will include fillet demonstrations; family friendly games and activities; art, diving and conservation booths; and the world’s largest lionfish spearfishing tournament, the Emerald Coast Open. Satisfy your taste buds by visiting any of the participating locations of Lionfish Restaurant Week (May 11-14) for your chance to try this delicious invasive. Learn more by visiting FWCReefRangers.com. The 2020 Lionfish Challenge removal incentive program will begin May 22 and continue through the Pensacola Lionfish Classic on Oct 11.   Register for the tournament at EmeraldCoastOpen.com. For more information on FWC’s lionfish awareness programs go to FWCReefRangers.com and MyFWC. com/Lionfish.

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SOUTHWEST FLORIDA SEAGRASS RESTORATION UNDERWAY

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apid fluctuations in salinity due to freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee have caused the loss of up to 1,200 acres of seagrass beds in NOAA photo by Heather Dine Caloosahatchee Estuary on Florida’s southwest coast. For more than a decade, prime habitat for inshore gamefish has dwindled. In 2018, an ambitious project began to restore seagrass to Caloosahatchee Estuary. Spurred by the Angler Action Foundation and funded by the state of Florida, the first stage of plantings appear to be thriving. In late 2018, about 20 acres of tape grass and widgeon grass were planted in areas decimated by excessive freshwater releases. Widgeon grass was selected for its ability to pioneer new habitat and tolerate a wide range of salinity. Tape grass, also known as eelgrass or wild celery, is more tolerant of freshwater than other grasses. Planting these two species provides some insurance that seagrass beds will establish and remain intact under widely varying salinity levels. Seagrass plantings were protected by wire-mesh exclosures to protect them from turtles and manatees, to allow the plants to take root. Initial surveys indicate very high survival rate, with up to 95 percent of plantings thriving and producing seeds and rhizomes that will disperse and hopefully establish themselves in adjacent areas, resulting in a self-sustaining seagrass meadow. Future plans are to expand the footprint of the planted areas. It is hoped the same methods can be used in other parts of Florida, such as the Indian River Lagoon, which has also suffered devastating losses of seagrass habitat.

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his is the time of year I start organizing for the upcoming fishing season. Whether I’m traveling abroad or staying close to home (which might be the case with current Covid-Virus situation), being practical and thorough are the keys to success. Pack Light: Many fly fisherman decorate themselves with useless stuff: dull-bladed scissors, moth-eaten fly patches and rust-encrusted hemostats; in addition, vest pockets are crammed with fly boxes of every size, each pocket on the verge of popping its stitching. On occasion, I have noted fly fishermen toting as many as three tackle bags, each bag containing enough stuff to stock a small fly shop. When saltwater fly fishing, dispense with the stuff and use the less is more approach. One box of flies will cover your targeted species, and you’ll need small spools of tippet material, nippers and pliers. If you’re fishing with a guide, he or she will have most of these items available to you. Know What the Fish Eat: Research flies you’ll need for the location and if your guide will provide them for you. Far too many anglers allow ego to take over their thinking in the selection of flies, resulting in the purchase of flies ill-suited for the targeted species. Ask the guide what flies are appropriate.

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Traveling Abroad? If you’re fishing in a foreign country, investigate the culture, customs and perhaps the language spoken. Doing so will ensure your trip’s success and impress the natives. Don’t forget your passport and an extra copy placed in another piece of luggage or carry on. Leave a copy of it at home just in case! And get a Trusted Traveler card (formally Global Enter card). It’s well worth the $100 and saves you from suffering the long customs lines when re-entering the United States. Cast: Prior to your trip, spend a half-hour each day casting into the wind, a practice that will prepare you for unforgiving, blustery winds you will encounter on the flats and offshore. Work on distance. Casts of 40 to 50 feet with no more than two false casts are a must. Find A Guide: A good fishing guide is an outstanding provider of the information you need when fly fishing unfamiliar waters or in distant fly fishing destinations. Your guide has logged hundreds of hours studying the local fish and has honed saltwater fly fishing skills. Listening is guaranteed to make you a better fly fisherman. Hiring a guide and lending him your ear is a giant step in the right direction if learning to saltwater fly fish is your goal. Once you have enlisted his assistance, pay attention; listen and learn. You’ll find most saltwater fishing guides are good listeners, and often they become good and trusted friends. However, avoid bending his ear too much with stories about your skills as a freshwater fly-flinger. You are there to learn from him, not vice-versa.

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TONS OF TRASH Removed From Broward Waters

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Rick Gibbs - Agent

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ore than 1,000 volunteers showed up in early March for the 43rd Broward County Waterway Cleanup. On land and in water with 120 vessels, including boats, kayaks and paddleboards, volunteers collected nearly 25 tons of trash and debris from 35 sites around the county. The event was presented by the Florida Inland Navigation District (F.I.N.D.) and National Marine Suppliers and organized by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF). “We had beautiful weather, dedicated volunteers and a great time,” said Event Coordinator, Nicole Hoekstra, “The annual Waterway Cleanup is a perfect day to celebrate all that Broward County has to offer, while taking part in keeping it clean,” Following the cleanup, volunteers were invited to attend the Trash Bash Thank You party at MIASF Headquarters, where participants were treated to live music, free food and beverages, and more than a dozen raffle prizes.  For more information, visit www.waterwaycleanup.org.

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CHERRY DOMINATES THE CLASSIC

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here was no denying Elite Series veteran Hank Cherry. Riding a first-day sack of nearly 30 pounds, he led wireto-wire during the 50th anniversary Bassmaster Classic at Lake Guntersville to capture the most coveted title in tournament bass fishing. The 46-year-old B.A.S.S. photo by Gary Tramontina from Lincolnton, N.C. hoisted the trophy on championship Sunday March 8 and accepted his winnings of $307,500 as the Classic champion. It was sweet redemption for a man who’s fished the Classic five times and came heartbreakingly close to winning the whole enchilada back in 2013. During the 2013 Classic at Grand Lake, Oklahoma, a lost jerkbait fish dropped Cherry into third place. It’s safe to say his luck held on Guntersville, where limits of 29-3, 16-10 and 19-8 gave him a three-day total of 65 pounds, 5 ounces. He did most of his damage during Friday’s first round with a Z-Man Jack Hammer. The pattern led to a tournamentbest bag that featured a pair of 7-2 largemouths. On Days 2 and 3, he relied on his own Hank Cherry Signature Series Jig from Picasso in green pumpkin with a matching Berkley MaxScent Chunk trailer and a jerkbait—a Megabass 110+1 in the French pearl OB color. He spent practically the whole event fishing one causeway and one grass flat after a Day 1 arm injury limited his travel in windy conditions. “I never put gas in the boat all week,” Cherry said. “Y’all know me. If it’s windy, I’m not going to be making a lot of long runs—and anyway, I just didn’t need to.” South Carolina pro Todd Auten finished second with 58-10. Arkansas angler Stetson Blaylock took third with 58-1. The Berkley Big Bass award went to Auten for a 7-9 he caught on Day 1.

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SCADDEN DRAGONFLY XT2

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nglers looking for a two-man raft as versatile as it is portable and functional will have a hard time finding anything that tops Dave Scadden’s Dragonfly XT2. At 10 feet long, 54 inches wide and weighing just 100 pounds, the Dragonfly XT2 can be thrown in the back of a pickup truck, yet it fishes and handles as well as a much bigger boat. It can be set up one person frameless, two-person frameless or decked out to the moon with Dave’s Dragonfly travel frame. It is super lightweight and portable yet offers performance levels never before achieved in the inflatable world. The Dragonfly XT2 is so outrageously tricked out that there are just too many cool gadgets to list. Go to www. davescaddenpaddlesports.com and watch the videos. You’ll see why professional guides around the country are choosing this boat for their river trips. All Dragonfly models are bladderless, miterless and fully rockered with rigid dropstitch technology and removable self-bailing floor systems. They are rated for Class V whitewater, have a 1,500-pound weight capacity and are backed by an exclusive unconditional lifetime warranty.  

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ound is critical to a fish’s survival beneath the surface of the water. They rely on sound to signal the presence of prey or warn them of impending danger. Since sound travels five times faster in water than it does in air, it becomes a critical factor in a fish’s daily life. If you have watched fish for any period of time, you know they instinctively become alert to unfamiliar sounds or noise and tend to move away from the source. I watched a scientific experiment with trout in a clear water stream from a concealed tower. As an associate approached the edge of the stream from wooded concealment on the opposite bank, the trout became instantly alert. A few slipped back into protective cover, while the rest became motionless and waited to see what would happen. Every fish within view stopped feeding. Large predators sometimes invade a chum slick simply because they respond to the sound of smaller fish feeding. They can actually hear potential prey as the little guys devour the chum. The sound of other fish feeding will often trigger additional fish to begin feeding. Game fish are intensely aware of the distress vibrations given off by injured or impaired fish and usually are attracted to move in closer. These distress vibrations telegraph the

presence of an easy meal. That’s why a larger predator often attacks a hooked fish as you struggle to land it. Unique in the animal kingdom, the lateral line on either side of a fish is an extremely precise sound-detecting organ. It responds to low frequency sound within relatively short range in a system known as near-field displacement. Anything moving through the water disturbs the molecules and this is detected by neuromasts in the fish’s body. The accuracy of the system is nothing less than amazing. A fish can strike prey it cannot see with incredible accuracy. Negative sounds or noises are equally important. Too many anglers ignore the damage that noises can cause. Once a fish is alerted that something is not right, it seldom will risk striking a bait or lure. A plug landing too close to an oversized shark or a 100-pound tarpon can send that critter scurrying for safety. The noise of an outboard can eliminate fish in a given spot. Racing to reach a spot or to get to breaking Photo by Nick Carter fish as quickly as possible can shut down the activity. And making noise aboard a boat, particularly when it is easily transmitted through the hull has negative effects. The shallower the water, the more damaging noise can be. All it takes is dropping a pair of pliers, sliding a tackle box so it scrapes or making heavy sounds of any type. It pays to live by the rule that silence is golden. If you do, you’ll catch more fish.

For more from Mark Sosin, visit

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NOAA CLAMPS DOWN

ON ATLANTIC SNAPPER

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n early March, NOAA Fisheries announced that red snapper season in the South Atlantic, from the Carolinas to Florida, will be a scant three days long with a one-fish per person daily limit… if there is to be a snapper season at all. It’s frustrating news for anglers, who are experiencing a similar situation to what occurred in the Gulf of Mexico prior to states taking control of red snapper management. While anglers and charter captains report plentiful and increasing red snapper catches, federal managers continue clamping down on regulations. And even the three-day season is contingent on a change to regulatory framework, which currently does not allow a season at all if NOAA determines it will be three days or less. According to a release from the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (SAFMC), the change that would allow a three-day season is expected to be in place before the 2020 season. Since 2010, recreational anglers have been allowed just 37 days total to harvest red snapper in the South Atlantic. NOAA’s decision on the 2020 season is based on landing estimates from 2019, when a five-day recreational season produced an estimated 49,674 fish and exceeded the annual catch limit. The current annual catch limit is set at 29,656 fish.

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E-Z ANCHOR PULLER PATRIOT SERIES

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-Z Anchor Puller Mfg. Co. provides a solid, reliable, easy-to-use solution for anchoring. As a leading drum anchor winch manufacturer, our products are a safe, consistent launch and retrieval system for vessels in calm or rough seas. No more trips toward the front of your boat to untangle line and chain: we have a drum anchor winch that provides years of dependability and safety for you and your anchor, from 18-foot all the way up to 55-foot vessels! The Patriot series is especially developed for fiberglass fishing boats in shallow coastal waters. Before purchasing his E-Z Anchor Puller unit, Jarrett Sanchez pulled up a 22-pound anchor and 230 feet of rope and chain onto his 1977, 25’ Mako Center Console all by himself, by hand. Now, he can simply press a button to drop his anchor to the bottom, then simply push “up” for three seconds to ensure his line is nice and tight. Manufactured completely from 316 stainless steel and rated IP68 waterproof submersible, the Patriot series is immune to saltwater environments, whether it’s exposed on the deck or hidden away in the rope locker while you’re out on the water. With three sizes (EZ-1, EZ-2 and EZ-3) in the series, the Patriot is the winch of choice for Florida boaters who own vessels 18 to 35 feet, and can hold between 175 and 325 feet of ⅜-inch line, or 150 to 200 feet of ½-ich line depending on preference and need. The power-up, power-down direct drive button gives boaters more control over deployment and retrieval with an average of 100 feet per minute for deployment and retrieval. Sanchez’s particular unit, the Patriot EZ-2, holds 150 feet of ½-inch line where he boats off of the coast of Treasure Island, Fla. Even though his decision to buy our unit was, “99.9 percent his wife and family,” we think Sanchez is one happy customer, too! No drifting, no tangled lines and one less thing to worry about on the open water. To check out the Patriot series in its entirety, visit our website at ezanchorpuller.com/collections/anchor-winch

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FOULFREE TRANSDUCER COATING

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arine growth on the transducer inhibits the performance your sonar. A fouled transducer reduces sensitivity, bottom-echo returns and positive fish targets. In other words, when the transducer is dirty, you’re not seeing what’s down there. Also, transducers perform best when there’s minimal turbulence over their surface during operation. Consider this next time you’re idling over structure looking for bait and fish. With streamlined water flow over your equipment, you’ll get a better image of what’s below. To solve these performance issues, Propspeed, a leading innovator of underwater coatings, developed a revolutionary foul-release coating designed specifically for transducers. Foulfree is a biocide-free coating that when cured creates a super-slippery surface over the transducer. It prevents marine growth without poisons to keep your transducer clean, streamlined and performing at its peak. One application lasts through an entire year of service and even longer in cooler climates. “Foulfree is an exciting new coating specifically made to enhance the performance of transducers,” said Chris Baird, CEO of Propspeed. “Bringing together our revolutionary product design and working with the experts in transducer functionality from Airmar, we are able to offer boaters around the world a new solution to an age-old problem and improve sonar performance for anglers and cruisers alike.” Foulfree joins Propspeed’s award-winning product line which includes Propspeed an industry-leading foul-release system for propellers and running gear and the groundbreaking transparent foulrelease coating specifically formulated www.oceanmax.com for underwater lights, Lightspeed.

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he dawning of the new year has been good to West Virginia anglers who are setting new state records. A monster blue catfish and a big grass carp were certified as state length records by the West Virginia Division of Naturaral Resources, and then the grass carp record was broken again. On Jan. 3, Zachary Adkins, of Cabins, W.Va., caught a 53.1-inch, 59-pound grass carp from Warden Lake, a 44-acre state-managed reservoir in the northeastern corner of the state. Adkins used a large swimbait to catch the fish, which broke the previous length record of 50.75 inches. Then, on Feb. 18, John Miller, of Lost City, W.Va., bested Adkins’ mark with a 54.75-inch, 67.4-pound grass carp, also from Warden Lake. Warden Lake is apparently a hotbed for big carp. The state weight record of 71.69 pounds also came from Warden. It was caught by William Tucker in 2005. On Jan. 11, Justin Conner, of Culloden, W.Va., caught his 49.84-inch, 58.38-pound blue catfish on the Ohio River over on the Ohio border. Conner’s big blue ate a chunk of cut shad. It broke the previous length record of 47.75 inches. Mark Blauvelt still holds the weight record with a 59.74-pound blue catfish caught on the Ohio River in 2016. The IGFA alltackle world record blue catfish weighed 143 pounds. It was caught out of Kerr Lake, Va. in 2011. COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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RIDE THE BULL In Grand Isle Louisiana

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he maze of bayous around the mouth of the Mississippi River south of New Orleans holds the best redfish fishing in the world. This unique system of waterways on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast also lays out perfectly for anglers fishing from kayaks. It’s fitting that the world’s largest kayak fishing tournament should be held out of Grand Isle, Louisiana. On Aug. 28-29, Ride the Bull will flood Caminada Pass with hundreds of kayak anglers chasing the event’s heaviest single redfish. It will be the 11th edition of this catch-and-release bull redfish tournament hosted by CCA Louisiana. And whether you’re a competitor or one of the hundreds of spectators, it’s an event you need to see. Because of the tournament’s boundaries within Caminada pass, it is suitable for anglers of all ages and experience levels. The fishing, however, can be pretty serious, with a leaderboard filled by redfish approaching 30 pounds. In addition to the fishing on Saturday, Aug. 29, vendors will be there displaying their wares, and usually there’s live music on Friday night after the captains meeting. Registration opens June 1 and hotel rooms on Grand Isle fill up quickly, so make reservations early. For more information, go to ccalouisiana.com.

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3/6/20 4:13 PM


Time to get to your local Suzuki Marine Dealer for the Ultimate Outboard Motors. Buy during our Spring Sales Event and get Suzuki’s 3-Year Limited Warranty plus 3 years of Time to get to your local for the Ultimate Outboard Motors. Extended Protection at noSuzuki extra Marine charge.Dealer There are Instant Savings on select models,Buy and during ourFinancing Spring Sales Event and get Suzuki’s 3-Year Limited Warranty plus 3 years of Low-Rate is also available. Extended Protection atSuzuki no extra charge. There are Instant Savings on select models, and See your participating Marine Low-Rate is also available. dealer for Financing all the details. See your participating Suzuki Marine dealer for all the details.

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Gimme Six Extended Protection promotion applies to new Suzuki Outboard Motors from 25 to 350 HP in inventory which are sold and delivered to buyer between 04/01/20 and 06/30/20 in accordance with the promotion by a Participating Authorized Suzuki Marine dealer in the continental US and Alaska to a purchasing customer who resides in the continental US or Alaska. The Gimme Six Promotion is available for pleasure use only, and is not redeemable for cash. Instant Savings applies to qualifying purchases of select Suzuki Outboard Motors made between 04/01/20 and 06/30/20. For list of designated models, Gimme Six Extended Protection promotion applies to new Suzuki Outboard Motors from 25 to 350 HP in inventory which are sold and delivered to buyer between 04/01/20 and 06/30/20 in accordance with see participating Dealer or visit www.suzukimarine.com. Instant Savings must be applied against the agreed-upon selling price of the outboard motor and reflected in the bill of sale. There are no model the promotion by a Participating Authorized Suzuki Marine dealer in the continental US and Alaska to a purchasing customer who resides in the continental US or Alaska. The Gimme Six Promotion is available substitutions, benefit substitutions, rain checks, or extensions. Suzuki reserves the right to change or cancel these promotions at any time without notice or obligation. * Financing offers available through for pleasure use only, and is not redeemable for cash. Instant Savings applies to qualifying purchases of select Suzuki Outboard Motors made between 04/01/20 and 06/30/20. For list of designated models, Synchrony Retail Finance. As low as 5.99% APR financing for 60 months on new and unregistered Suzuki Outboard Motors. Subject to credit approval. Not all buyers will qualify. Approval, and any rates and see participating Dealer or visit www.suzukimarine.com. Instant Savings must be applied against the agreed-upon selling price of the outboard motor and reflected in the bill of sale. There are no model terms provided, are based on creditworthiness. $19.99/month per $1,000 financed for 60 months is based on 5.99% APR. Hypothetical figures used in calculation; your actual monthly payment may differ substitutions, benefit substitutions, rain checks, or extensions. Suzuki reserves the right to change or cancel these promotions at any time without notice or obligation. * Financing offers available through based on financing terms, credit tier qualification, accessories or other factors such as down payment and fees. Offer effective on new, unregistered Suzuki Outboard Motors purchased from a participating Synchrony Retail Finance. As low as 5.99% APR financing for 60 months on new and unregistered Suzuki Outboard Motors. Subject to credit approval. Not all buyers will qualify. Approval, and any rates and authorized Suzuki dealer between 04/01/20 and 06/30/20. “Gimme Six”, the Suzuki “S” and model names are Suzuki trademarks or ®. Don’t drink and drive. Always wear a USCG-approved life jacket and terms provided, are based on creditworthiness. $19.99/month per $1,000 financed for 60 months is based on 5.99% APR. Hypothetical figures used in calculation; your actual monthly payment may differ read your owner’s manual. © 2020 Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. based on financing terms, credit tier qualification, accessories or other factors such as down payment and fees. Offer effective on new, unregistered Suzuki Outboard Motors purchased from a participating authorized Suzuki dealer between 04/01/20 and 06/30/20. “Gimme Six”, the Suzuki “S” and model names are Suzuki trademarks or ®. Don’t drink and drive. Always wear a USCG-approved life jacket and read your owner’s manual. © 2020 Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. NATIONAL APRIL 2020 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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or centuries, a Damascus steel blade was instantly recognizable and commanded immediate respect. Recognizable because the unique and mysterious smelting process left a one-of-a-kind, rippled texture on the steel, and respected because Damascus steel’s sharp edge and resistance to shattering were the stuff of legend. If you carried Damascus steel, you were ahead of the curve. Today, you can own the legend.

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• Damascus steel blade & bolster • Buffalo horn & colored bone handle • Liner lock • Overall length, open : 7 ½" • Includes genuine leather sheath

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Profile for Coastal Angler Magazine

Coastal Angler Magazine | April 2020 | Alabama Gulf Coast Edition  

Coastal Angler Magazine and our interior (freshwater) publication, The Angler Magazine, are monthly editions dedicated to fishing, boating,...

Coastal Angler Magazine | April 2020 | Alabama Gulf Coast Edition  

Coastal Angler Magazine and our interior (freshwater) publication, The Angler Magazine, are monthly editions dedicated to fishing, boating,...