Coastal Angler Magazine | February 2019 | Alabama

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ALABAMA/PENSACOLA EDITION

Tampa's

Treasures

Record-Class

Blackfish Inshore Rigging Tips PHOTO COURTESY OF DARYN ANDREW WHITE VOLUME 23 • ISSUE 288

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LIFE ON THE COAST IS BETTER WHEN YOU STAY CENTERED.

190 FSH SERIES

Make the most of the open water with Yamaha’s 190 FSH® Series. Our all-new 19-foot center console boats have been redesigned from the ground up for more fishing and family fun. A saltwater corrosion resistant driveline protects you from the harshest elements. And with an extra spacious layout and new storage pods to keep all of your gear, the 190 FSH Series will put you in the middle of everything you love about living on the coast. Starting at $29,799.

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FROM SHIP TO SHORE

All trademarks mentioned are owned by, or licensed to, the AkzoNobel group of companies. © AkzoNobel 2018.

© 2 0 1 9 H AVA LO N K N I V E S

AND EVERYWHERE IN BETWEEN.

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For over a century, a league of canned crusaders have been fighting to keep boats safe from barnacles, slime, algae and other aquatic evils that rob your boat of its true performance. With advanced know-how and unique capabilities, each antifouling is tailored to different conditions, and has the power to defeat fouling in all its forms. Micron® WA is a water-based formula that’s powered with advanced Water Activated Matrix technology to efficiently release active ingredients over time for valiant multi-season protection. Micron® WA is easy to apply and clean up, making it ideal for boaters in all waters and regions. For super-powered antifouling protection and proven performance, choose Interlux®.

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Tampa Bay, A Jewel On

Florida’s Gulf Coast By Rosemary J. White

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ampa Bay has some of the very best fishing in the state of Florida, which means it is some of the best fishing in the world. What makes Tampa Bay so unique is the many different varieties of both freshwater and saltwater fish to catch, as well as the many different ways to catch them. If you are not a boat person, Tampa offers the world’s longest fishing pier, the Old Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Here you can catch snook, tarpon, grouper, black sea bass, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, cobia, sheepshead, red snapper and pompano. That’s 10 species of highly desirable fish from just one location, without a boat! And if that list alone is not impressive enough, fishing the bridge is convenient, too. You’ll need some specialized gear, but once

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you’ve got it you can drive right onto the pier to your exact sweet spot and unload. It’s also lit at night! There’s no limit as to what time of the day you can fish. Feel like delving into the ocean world a little deeper than a concrete bridge? Tampa Bay boasts the stunning Fort Desoto County Park. Here you can simply slip on a pair of old sneakers and wade into cerulean blue waters and lush seagrass beds. Sound surreal? It is. Wading is a stealthy approach to fishing. In addition to species from the list above, you can also catch redfish, trout and flounder. Looking to fish the deeper waters of the bay? About 45 miles out, the water depths start to reach the 80-foot range. Out here, the possibilities are endless. Varieties of grouper, assortments of snapper, arrays of sharks, blackfin tuna, sailfish, mahi, amberjack, jack crevalle, permit and bonita can be added to the previously mentioned lists of available species. What if you tend to lean more toward the fresh side? Tampa Bay has some of the most diverse freshwater fishing opportunities one can imagine. Use a kayak to quietly glide through the tannic waters of our creeks to catch largemouth bass that grow upwards of 10 pounds. The creeks also hold massive bluegills, crappie, toothy alligator gar, tilapia, catfish and carp. The secret to what makes our freshwater fishing so thrilling is that you never know what you are going to catch. You see, many of our saltwater species inhabit our freshwater, as well. It is not only possible, but it is common to catch a big largemouth and then five minutes later a 15-pound common snook. Tampa Bay offers a temperate climate, direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, artificial reefs, a unique slowly sloping continental shelf, and an abundance of freshwater feeds. From grass flats and mangrove systems in our inshore ecological system, to the deeper channels throughout the bay and Intracoastal Waterway, anglers have the opportunity to catch anything from sharks to Goliath grouper. The potential for the catch of a lifetime exists on every cast.

*At Ma sal inc

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*At participating dealers only. Qualifying retail customers may receive instant savings off the selling price of a Honda powered boat package or Honda Marine engine(s) sold for repower. This promotion is limited to new Honda Marine 40 HP through 250 HP outboard engines, 2014 and newer models, sold and delivered between January 3, 2019 and June 3, 2019 and registered by the Dealer in accordance with American Honda Motor Co., Inc.’s sales registration requirements. Only Honda Marine outboard engines sold for personal use qualify for this promotion. Fleet, commercial & government sales are ineligible. Engines sold under special pricing / promotions including (but not limited to) demo and tournament fisherman engines are also excluded. Honda Marine reserves the right to modify, amend, cancel or revoke, in whole or in part, this promotion at any time without prior notice. © 2019 American Honda Motor Co., Inc. Always wear a COASTALANGLERMAG.COM personal flotation device while boating and read• your owner’s manual. All Honda outboards meet EPA and CARB emissionIlevels. THEANGLERMAG.COM I FEBRUARY 2019 NATIONAL 7

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NauticStar Introduces

SEE IT AT THE MIAMI INTL BOAT SHOW BOOTH A237 The 251 Hybrid offers a fresh new look and a new 25-foot model to NauticStar’s very successful hybrid lineup. This unique multipurpose vessel offers the perfect size and features for a family friendly pleasure boat and a tournament ready fishing platform. NauticStar has also moved into the 30-foot plus category with its

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newest member of the family: the 32 XS Offshore. This outstanding saltwater performer delivers all the necessary fishing features for the serious angler with a smooth, dry, comfortable ride with cutting edge styling and comfort features never before seen in a boat of this style and size. With its 10’ 6” beam, the 32 XS Offshore offers a spacious and comfortable bow that features large forward lounge seating with arm rests and plush wrap-around bow seats. The head console has a fully lined interior with a sink, SeaDek floor and electric flush toilet. It has a spacious and ergonomic helm to allow for dual 12-inch or 16inch multifunction displays. The leaning post features ergonomically correct Llebrock double billfish seats with flip-up bolsters and pivot arms. It has a sink, tackle storage, and a slide-out, 35-quart YETI cooler. The D-channel, integrated T-top can be fitted with a variety of options such as a retractable shade and fold-down cockpit television. Aft, the jump seats flip-up for a spacious fishing deck with sizable, infloor fish boxes and large port side dive door. “Engineered for exceptional reliability and performance, the new 32 XS Offshore carries forward NauticStar’s 100-percent wood-free construction and one-piece foam filled fiberglass stringer system,” said Ryan Witt, director of engineering. “Additionally, we’ve added some great new design features such as sculpted hull sides, a sideentry cockpit door, and large insulated in-floor fish boxes. The 32 XS Offshore also features cutting edge technologies with NaviOP digital vessel control system and Klipsch custom-tuned audio system.” “I am very proud of the team and all they have accomplished over the past year,” Schiek added. “These new models are truly exciting and we look forward to introducing many great new models in the future.” The 251 Hybrid and 32 XS Offshore will be on display in Miami at booth A237 and available for test rides in the Yamaha in-water display. For more information on each of NauticStar’s new model introductions, please visit: 195 Bay - https://nauticstarboats. com/boats/nauticbay-boats/195-nauticbay/ 251 Hybrid - https:// nauticstarboats.com/boats/hybrids/251-hybrid/

TI EES EHT TA LTNI IMAIM WOHS TAOB 732A HTOOB

auticStar Boats, a subsidiary of MasterCraft Boat Holdings, Inc., has been reinvesting in the business at an accelerated pace, specifically, modernizing the plant and developing leading edge new products. The Company launched the new 195 Bay Boat in August, followed by the 251 Hybrid in September and will debut its largest offshore model yet, the 32 XS Offshore, at the Miami International Boat Show. “To say we have been busy at NauticStar is an understatement,” NauticStar President Tim Schiek said in a statement. “We have assembled a strong team of marine experts focused on delivering the highest quality and best performing boats in their segment. This is not only driving continuous improvement in our boat building processes, but throughout the entire organization. We have also implemented a more disciplined product development process that is delivering more new products, at a faster cadence, with increased consumer insights and innovation that ultimately will deliver the best boating experience for our consumers at a reasonable price.”

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Get A First Look At Miami International Boat Show

THE ALL NEW

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IT’S CRAZY COOL!

NAUTICSTAR’S

251 HYBRID

Three Exciting New Models!


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With its sleek lines and stylish contours, the new 251 Hybrid offers a fresh new look and a 25 foot addition to the NauticStar Hybrid lineup. This unique multi-purpose vessel offers the perfect size and features for a family friendly pleasure boat and a tournament ready fishing platform. If you need a serious fishing machine for yourself or a boat with enough room for a large crowd, the 251 Hybrid is the boat for you! Check out all the incredible features of the 251 on our website and design the boat of your dreams.

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By Tom Schlichter

Winter Bulldogs Out Of Ocean City, Maryland By Tom Schlichter

Ron McClelland caught this 24-pound blackfish aboard the Fish Bound out of Ocean City, Md. in April of 2018. Mate Kevin Twilley helps hoist the beast. Photo courtesy of Fish Bound Charters.

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enneth Westerfeld was expecting a big blackfish when he set up on a solid, single-tug while wreck fishing out of Ocean City, Md. back in January of 2015. What he wasn’t expecting was a new International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world record at the end of the line.

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“We were into big blackfish right off the bat,” explained the Queens, N.Y. angler, “and I knew immediately when I set the hook that this was a double-digit white chin. I got three quick turns on the reel and then all I could do was hold the rod high and tight while she dove for the wreck. More than half way to the top, however, she got a second wind and tore 40 feet of line from my drag, which was nearly locked tight. I couldn’t believe the power. That’s when I knew this one was more than special.” When the monstrous bulldog finally hit the deck, Westerfeld was stunned by its size. Back at Sunset Marina in Ocean City, the huge white chin officially tipped the scales at 28 pounds, 8 ounces. That blackfish, still the all tackle world record for the tough-lipped bottom feeders, was decked aboard Capt. Kane Bounds’ six-pack charter boat Fish Bound, a vessel on which Westerfeld has taken several ’teen-sized bulldogs over the years. “I’m convinced there’s even bigger blackfish in Maryland waters,” he said. “A couple of years ago, an experienced SCUBA diver reported seeing two giant blackfish on an offshore reef there—the smaller one he estimated at 30 pounds.” Capt. Kane agrees that bigger fish probably lurk in the 80- to 150-foot depths where he concentrates most of his blackfish efforts. “I think our ’tog have a little longer growing season than up north,” he reasoned. “That makes a difference with a fish that can live more than 30 years. In 2017 alone, we had five that broke the 20-pound mark. Three of those were released.” You’ll want to fish heavy in these waters if giant ’tog are your target. Bounds recommended conventional outfits with smooth drags and 50- to 60-pound test braided lines. He also goes big on hooks, choosing 5/0 and 6/0 sizes over more traditional 3/0 and 4/0 selections. Expect to need 8 to 12 ounces of lead to get to the bottom. Monster blackfish bite right through the winter months, with many of the largest fish decked each year in February, March and April. Westerfeld advised anglers looking for the blackfish of a lifetime to use fluorocarbon leaders no matter which rigs or hooks they choose. “Maryland’s waters are pretty clear in the winter and low visibility fluorocarbon leaders really provide an edge,” he said. “Seaguar’s 60-lb. test Blue Label fluorocarbon leaders have worked well for me. They have great abrasion resistance and impact strength, plus very little stretch—three things you really need with these brutes.” To fish with Capt. Kane on the six-passenger Fish Bound, contact: www. fishboundcharter.com; 443-497-1361. Open boat fans can check out the Morning Star (http://morningstarfishing.com; 410-520-2076).

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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Central Florida Bass Are On The Beds By Nick Carter • Photo by Brett Cannon

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hile largemouth bass across much of the country remain hunkered down in a winter pattern, bass in central Florida are running full tilt in all three stages of the spawn. Right now tournament angler and guide Ricky Congero is wearing out big Florida strain largemouths on the eight Kissimmee Chain lakes around Orlando. Whether you’re an angler in need of a road trip or if you’re sitting in an easy chair waiting on your reservoir to get right, Congero’s tactics might help steer you to the largemouth of a lifetime. Starting in November and December, Kissimmee largemouths begin staging up in prespawn behaviors. The first big waves of fish hit the flats toward the end of January. They’ll move in and out with the passage of cold fronts, but from January into early March there will be fish in all stages of the spawn. The key to locating them among miles of thick vegetation is to find hard-bottomed shallow flats. “You can pattern them year-round based on the spawning flats,” Congero said. “During prespawn, they’ll be staged in the first grass maybe

100 yards off those flats. Postspawn, they’ll move out into the dense hydrilla and hyacinth.” Congero starts by covering water with moving baits like swim jigs and Chatterbaits in search of bass preparing to move up. When the smaller males arrive on the flats to fan out beds, it’s an indicator that fishing is about to get very good. “If you start catching a bunch of young bucks on the flats, the big females won’t be far behind,” he said. In the tannic waters of the Kissimmee lakes, it’s difficult to spot fish on the bed. Instead of sight fishing, Congero looks for the locations big females prefer. “You always find the bigger females bedded on isolated pads, as opposed to the big clumps of pads,” he said. “They’ll spawn right at the base of the stem.” And while heavy braid and heavy-duty tackle are mainstays for hossing big fish out of thick vegetation, fishing beds requires stealth and finesse. Sizing down to 17- or 20-pound fluorocarbon, Congero likes a short 5- or 6-inch Senko. A staple on the Kissimmee lakes is black with a blue tail. He Texas rigs it with 1-ounce tungsten bullet weight, which is pegged to the head of the worm. This allows him to feel when his bait hits the stalk, at which time he lets it sit on the bottom until the bass picks it up. “Don’t set the hook as soon as you feel her pick it up,” he warned. “She might just have the tail in her mouth and you’ll come back with half a worm. Wait until she’s swimming off with it. Reel up all the slack and give her a second or two before you set it.” For a guided trip, contact Congero at (973) 6998981 or email info@blackcloudfishing.com. Follow him on Instagram @Ricky_Congero.

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VISIT AND Visit andEXPLORE Explore Burnsville, NC Burnsville, N.C.

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hether you’re hiking, exhibits. The restaurant, conces- through Yancey fishing or camping sion stand and gift shop are open County. hether you’re hiking, fishing or Mountains and the South Toe in the mountains or May thru a fun camping in the mountains, at- October. River Campground Valley. StretchingEnjoy nearly has 9 tent sites only. attending a performance at Parkfilled day on tending a performance at Parkway 500 miles through the mountains the Playhouse ororcoming North Virginia way Playhouse comingtotothe theMt. Mitchell Winding of along the Carolina southern and water, catching Crafts Fair Crafts or Carolina Literary without a single red light, Mt. Mitchell Fair orMountains Caro- edge of Yancey County, the Blue the the fishBlue native to Festival, there’sLiterary alwaysFestival, a good day waiting Ridge one of the best lina Mountains Ridge Parkway givesParkway travelersisan our mountains. for you in Burnsville, North Carolina, espe- scenic drives in America. there’s always a good day waiting amazing view of the Black MounWe is guarantee cially for travelers who like to discover their The Blue Ridge Parkway the forown youjourney. in Burnsville, North Car- tains and the South Toe River your fishing only access to Mount Mitchell County is home State Park at Hwy andwill mileolina, Yancey especially for travelers whoto waterfalls, Valley. Stretching for nearly 500128trip be full campgrounds, hiking post It’s five miles sumSnakeroot Ecotours offers custom tours like to discover theirbackroads, own journey. milestrails, through the355. mountains of to of the fish-catching clean rivers, and six the 10tohighest peaks mit. and The Parkway by Civilian Con-Observation at Mount State Park. of one ofplatform the wildest andMitchell most scenic corNorth Carolina Virginia was – built Yancey County is ofhome experiences! in the eastern United States. servation Corps labor in the 1930s. Workers ners of Western North Carolina. They invite and not one single redlight – the waterfalls, campgrounds, backToe River, Located in southern Yancey County, used dynamite to blast tunnels through the you into astoundingly Southern diverse Appalachian habitatsMounand Blue Ridge Parkway is one the a Carolina roads, hiking trails,(6,684 clean feet) rivers,is the Hemlocks, Black Mount Mitchell highest mountains andofcarve road through rough, and reveal the mysteries of the Southern Appatains. More info at www.snakemountain of the peaks Mississippi River. It drives remote terrain. The Parkway rises to an el- lachian scenic in America. and six of theeast 10 highest in best Mountain Campgrounds are all lo-Mountains. See more info at www. rootecotours.com. was designated North evation over 5,000 as it off passes through snakerootecotours.com. Blue Ridge Parkway is thefeetcated Eastern America. the first state park in The Highway 80 in the South The Burnsville-Yancey ChamCarolina in 1916. Today it features an obYancey County. Located in southern Yancey only access to Mount Mitchell Toe River area of Yancey County. servation platform on the summit next to Enjoy a fun-filled day on the water, The Burnsville-Yancey Chamber of ber of Commerce and Visitor State Park at catching Hwy 128the andfish mileCounty, Mount Mitchell (6,684 State Park and and Visitor Center is located at Elisha Mitchell’s grave and an interpretive nativeMount to ourMitchell mountains. Commerce Center is located at 106 West Main post 355. It’s miles to thefishing feet) is the highest mountain East Crabtree Meadows by Main Street in Burnsville. Inside museum with historical and environmental Wefive guarantee your trip will be full are of accessed 106 West findofa inforhelpful The restaurant, standThe Parkway fish-catching experiences! was built by the Blue Ridge Parkway. you’ll find aStreet. of exhibits. the Mississippi River. It wasconcession des- summit. helpfulInside staff you’ll and lots and gift are park openinMay through River, Carolina Hemlocks andEcotours Black offers staff and lotslodging, of information mation shopping,on CCCOctolabor in theToe 1930s. Workers ignated the shop first state North Snakeroot cus-on attractions, ber. Theincampground limited to used only nine Mountain are all located off dining and local businesses and services. The attractions, lodging, shopping, dynamite to blastcampgrounds tunnels tom Carolina 1916. Today itisfeatures tours of area one of of the wildest tent sites. Highway 80 in the South Toe River Visitor Center and office are open Monday& dining, and local businesses through the mountains and carve an observation platform on the most scenic cornersthrough of West-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call Winding along the southern edge of Yancey County. Mountand Mitchell State Park road through rough, remote ter- ern summit to Elisha services. Visitor Center and office Carolina. Yanceynext County, the Mitchell’s Blue Ridge a Parkway and Crabtree Meadows areNorth accessed by theWe invite (828) you 682-7413. givesand travelers an amazing view ofrain. the Black Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway rises to an ele- into astoundingly diverse habitats open Monday thru Friday 9am to grave, an interpretive museum with historical and environmental vation over 5,000 feet as it passes and reveal the mysteries of the 5pm. Call (828) 682-7413.

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THE ALTERNATIVE TO BUYING A NEW BOAT

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hat a wild, wet and woolly week it was for the fleet fishing the Pelican Yacht Club Invitational Billfish Tournament out of Fort Pierce, Fla. Jan. 9-12. First, the fleet of 30 fishing teams crushed all the records for the 39th annual tournament, and for the 65-year history of sailfish tournaments fished in eastern Florida waters. The final tally was 969 sailfish caught and released. The tournament’s second day of action wound up being the single best day in sailfish tournament history for any event fished north of Palm Beach County in waters of the Atlantic Ocean. A total of 712 sailfish were caught and released by the 27 boats on the water that day. The top three boats that day accounted for 121 sailfish by themselves — JT, led by Capt. Mark McDevitt, had 41 sailfish; Cowpoke, led by Capt. Mike Brady, had 40 sailfish; Alikai, led by Capt. Patrick Price, had 40 sailfish. The 41 by JT, owned by David Johnson of Beach Haven, N.J., stands as the new record for the tournament for a boat in a single day. Consider also that tournament rules stipulate fishing time as 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. But since the boat departed Fort Pierce Inlet each day, and the sailfish were concentrated in an area north of Patrick Air Force Base and south of Port Canaveral’s main channel some 45-50 miles north, tournament boats were forced to sacrifice up to 1:45 of fishing time each day just to reach the best fishing. But when they did, they were rewarded, at least for two days. The event began Jan. 9 when Grand Slam, led by Capt. David Grubbs

of New Smyrna Beach, sat down on an area so packed with hungry sailfish that it looked like a feeding frenzy under his boat. Grubbs felt it was going to yield some fish, and ran there because he knew it would produce bites. Few, if any, in the fleet knew his plan. By noon, the cat was out of the bag. Big time. He wound up with a Treasure Coast area then single-day record 38 sailfish catches that day and a substantial lead on his competitors, known to be some of the best sailfish skippers in the western hemisphere. Teams racked up catches of an incredible 86 double-headers, 45 triples and 15 quads. It was truly staggering. On Jan. 10 the fleet followed the leader, Grubbs and crew, to the fertile fishing grounds off the Space Coast and helped him achieve something many experienced sailfish specialists thought could only be accomplished in Mexico or Costa Rica. The captains called it epic and incredible, unbelievable and amazing. But it wouldn’t last. On Jan. 11 the fish had either scattered a bit, moved back north out of range, or simply quit biting, like fish of any species do. The fleet of 27 fishing that day picked up “just” 93 releases. Saturday, with a smaller fleet fishing because of lay days mandated by tournament rules, those numbers dwindled more. The final day anglers tallied only 29 releases, reminiscent of the season’s start in December when sailfish bites were very hard to come by.

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Close Encounters of the Shark Kind By John Lidington

A diver observes a reef shark near Shark Canyon. In natural encounters, when sharks are not being fed, they rarely approach divers much closer than this.

“K

atharine the Giant Great White Shark Lurks Off Florida — Again” If Katharine was here, as the South Florida SunSentinal announced on Nov. 26, winter was on its way. Usually this snowbird shark from Cape Cod arrives first, and being a great white, she always makes the news. For divers, though, her arrival means the migrating lemon and blacktip sharks are on the way. It’s shark time for Florida’s Gold Coast! When I started diving in the 1960s, the arrival of sharks meant the departure of divers. Prevailing wisdom held that sharks were dangerous and unpredictable and should be avoided. That outlook on sharks began to change in the 70s. Scientists, such as the University of Miami’s Dr. Samuel Gruber, had turned shark behavior into a major study area. H. David Baldridge analyzed data from more than 1,500 cases in the worldwide shark attack file established by Dr. Perry Gilbert to identify the real factors behind shark “attacks.” The emerging picture showed an animal superbly adapted to its environment by its 400-million-year existence in the oceans. Man, as a newcomer to their world, was not seen as food, and usually ignored. In his 1974 book “Shark Attack,” Baldridge wrote: “I wish not to generate any

fear of sharks in the mind of any reader, yet a healthy respect for these beautifully adapted beasts would appear to be justified…” It took the PR genius of Jacques Cousteau to popularize this science and help dispel unnecessary fear of sharks. The air of authority gained from his highly regarded TV series lent credence to his book “The Shark: Splendid Savage of the Sea,” in which he documented divers regularly interacting with sharks. Sharks were becoming accepted in the diving world. But there was a bump in the road. At the same time “Shark Attack” appeared, Peter Benchley published Jaws. His depiction of sharks as malevolent killing machines was promptly translated to visual form in Steven Spielberg’s movie adaptation. The impressions from those twin horror assaults did eventually fade, but for quite a while it was the rare diver who didn’t experience flashbacks of huge toothy mouths while doing back entries. The twenty-first century has seen divers’ attitudes shift even more favorably toward sharks. Today many divers want to encounter sharks. They regularly visit sites naturally frequented by sharks in hopes of diving alongside these majestic fish. When diving Jupiter during the winter shark migration, your chances for shark encounters skyrocket! According to Shana Phelan of Singer Island’s Pura Vida Divers, “The most common sharks we see year round are nurse sharks, reef sharks and lemons. Our most active shark months are in the winter, with lemons in January and blacktips in January and February. Winter sightings are most likely at Shark Canyon and on some of the wrecks.” Shark Canyon, here I come! Pura Vida Divers hosts regular shark dives in February. To learn more about these awesome creatures, book a PADI Shark Conservation Specialty Diver class, or hop aboard their next charter. Contact Pura Vida Divers at 561-840-8750 or visit www.PuraVidaDivers.com.

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In addition to a huge selection of boats and marine products, there are special events for the whole family to enjoy! The Fetch-n-Fish dog show returns with dog jumping, training tips and lots of fun for the kids; and the Talk 106.5 Guide’s Corner boasts a great line-up of local and regional fishing talent sharing their secrets and tips. “Kids Fishing 101” is a free event for children, teaching them how to cast and use a rod and reel and water safety through a fun interactive program. The first 100 participants will receive a free fishing rod, tackle box and tackle courtesy of Plano, Pure Fishing Matrix Shad and Odd Ball Tackle.

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KAYAK REPORT BY: BENTON PARROTT

T

he cold temperatures are still around, but hopefully that will be improving soon! The colder water temperatures have made things difficult to find fish. Dead end deep canals are producing good trout and some reds. Soft plastics like the Saltwater Assassin sea shad and Korky fat boys have been my go-to baits. I fish the sea shads on a 1/8oz. pro-elite jig head and let them fall slowly to the bottom. A slow retrieve with small twitches should get a bite. Same things when

fishing Fatboys. Keep tension on the line so you can feel a strike but maintain a slow steady pace. As always when we get a few sunny days in a row, don’t pass up shallow flats near deep water that the fish will come to feed. The shallow water of the flats will heat up first and get the fish that little extra boost to eat. Soft plastics flutter bounced, top waters, and twitch baits all produce reds and trout on these warmer days. Not to miss in February is the MBKFA Speck-

Tacular. Feb.1st -3rd it is a MBKFA members only CPR (Catch, Photo, Release) tournament consisting of the longest 3 speckled the angler can catch. For more info or to join the club go to MBKFA.com. The KBF is running a month-long online CPR Redfish Challenge based on 3 slot reds. More info can be found at kayakbassfishing.com The inaugural season of the Hobie Bass Open Series aims to provide a true open format and an elite feel for kayak anglers across the country and it kicks off Feb.23-24 0n Lake Chickamauga, TN. Each open allows the top finishing angler to earn a spot on the North American team for the Hobie Worlds 9! As always, we have a running tab on what’s going on in the kayak community at our Facebook page Kayak Fishing U. Always dress for the water temperature and not the air. One wrong move could spell disaster if you aren’t prepared. Remember while fishing from a kayak to always think safety. We are low to the water and not always easily seen. Keep a 360-degree light on at dark and low light conditions, wear a PFD, keep hydrated, and let someone know your float plan. Benton Parrott Hobie Regional Team / Pro Staff Fishing Guide dbparrott@bellsouth.net

4 ALABAMA / PENSACOLA, FL | FEBRUARY 2019 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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NAVIGATING THE WINTER BLUES BY: RICH ELLISON

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inter is upon us. It hasn’t been particularly cold, but it has been full of rain. It is safe to say the torrential downpours that filled November & December depressed fishermen who normally celebrate the upper delta. There were some who managed to score decent limits, but most folks I spoke with reported doom and gloom. I am here to give you hope during these dark days of winter. First things first, the fish are still here; they just are not very cooperative. Provided global warming and Al Gore don’t ruin spring; the fishing could be epic. Think about it, there are thousands of trout swimming around that didn’t

get caught in 2018. That should provide some shred of hope. I can’t prove this, but I believe there will be a collective rebound effect. Mother Nature will restore balance to we aggrieved fishermen and provide us with many full coolers & screaming drags. Then again, we may see the first March snow storm since 1994? I have been banging on every dock I know, trying to coerce a bull red into biting. The best I’ve been able to produce are some decent over slot fish in the 28”-33” range. It just hasn’t been a great year for catching giant bull reds in Mobile Bay. Some folks have been doing it, but they aren’t

200-F N. OWA Blvd, Foley, AL 36535

thick like they were two years ago. The red fish bite has been stellar this past year, but the fish have been anywhere from 12”-33” more or less. Hard to complain about that come to think of it. It’s time to pick your days and nights wisely. Dress warm and make sure to follow all the safety protocol. For day time trips I recommend fishing deep water with a good jig, but don’t neglect the shallows as the sun warms them. You may be surprised what you can pick up. Night times are super slow right now. I recommend staying home and waiting on warmer weather. If you must go, beware the fog! It will absolutely swallow you in the winter. In closing I will suggest using the winter to organize your tackle. Clean & lubricate your reels; spool them with some new line. Replace rusty hooks. Throw away the countless junk lures you know good and well you’re never going to fish with. Research the gear and gadgets you’ve had your eye on and get your boat ready for spring. It will come. It always does. Even if these short, dark, rainy days make time feel as if it has come to a standstill. Hold fast, spring comes on the morrow! Rich Ellison Outback Fishing Adventures 251-223-7085

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MOBILE / DAUPHIN ISLAND BY: CAPT. CHARLIE GRAY

D

own around Dauphin Island, we are definitely in the winter fishing pattern, the water is still fresh and cold and well below that magical number of 62 degrees which is when the trout will begin moving out of the deep rivers and onto the warmer flats around the small islands. Until then, the trout will still be in the deeper tidal rivers like Fowl, Dog, and Bayou La Batre and some of the warmer and deeper bays around the Island.

Mainly now, I am throwing hard baits like the Yo-Zuri 3DS Minnow with a green or black back and silver sides and soft plastics. When using the soft plastics, make sure you jig lightly and keep in contact with the bottom when jigging; I am still using various types of soft plastics too like the shrimp, mullet or minnow imitations including the Matrix shad, VuDu Shrimp in various colors from pink and chartreuse to natural. As the temps rise, so will the fish, as they start to move out to the shallow flats that are close to the main deeper channels in the rivers and bays. One positive thing that occurs in late Winter into Spring is the spawn of the Sheepshead; they will congregate in huge numbers around most any good structure in the bay and sound and around the gas rigs in the lower bay and near shore. Fish rock piles, bridge pilings and the gas rigs with live shrimp or the freshest dead shrimp you can find. The Sheepies also love fiddler crabs and even cracked hermit crab that some of the bait shops sell as well. I fish a khale or suicide hook or any other small hook that is stout on about 2 feet of 15lb to 20lb flouro clear or clear mono leader, tied to a barrel swivel, above the swivel I will use a 1/4 oz, 3/8 oz or even a 1/2 oz

egg sinker on the main line which is 12lb mono or 20-pound braid. Fish as close to the structure as you can but be careful because the Sheepshead will wrap you in the structure very quickly when hooked. Use the lightest egg sinker that you can that will allow the bait to present more naturally. Check your bait often. Sheepshead are notorious bait stealers and will often steal the bait as you drop down, it takes a bit of practice to catch them but once you get it down it will be on! There are still ground mullet (whiting) on the Gulf front beach too. There will be large Reds on Dixey Bar, and also in the tidal rivers and bays, like Heron, Portersville and Grand, fish the areas where small rivers flow or dump into the bays, look for water movement. Moving water is critical, no moving water = no fish biting usually. Artificial baits work well here for the redfish, try jigging shrimp and or mullet imitations or fish the soft plastics under a popping cork or throw the hard baits. It’s BOAT SHOW TIME in Mobile. Come see me at the FM Talk 1065 Outdoors Guides Corner at the Mobile Boat Show February 8 – 10, stop by and say Hi! Capt. Charlie Gray Gray Gulf Charters Dauphin Island / Mobile Bay / Ft Morgan Alabama 251.379.5067 Charlie@Graygulfcharters.com www.Graygulfcharters.com

6 ALABAMA / PENSACOLA, FL | FEBRUARY 2019 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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MOBILE BAY / EASTERN SHORE BY: CAPT. DAN KOLENICH

W

inter is here and it’s as cold as any winter that I can remember. The water temps are is the 50’s. This should be the coldest we’ll see this year. Likewise, the fishing is as slow as it will be until the middle of the summer. Bait fish have headed for the deeper water to keep warm and that’s where you have to go to find specs and reds. At least until the weather starts to warm-up. On cooler days, look in the deeper parts of the creeks that flow into Mobile Bay like Bon Secour River, Fish River, Magnolia River, Dog River, Fowl River, and the Theodore Industrial Canal. Explore the small creeks in these rivers especially where the creeks flow into these rivers. On warmer days look near the banks close to deeper water. Work your bait slow and expect bites to be soft and slow. Live or dead shrimp on a carolina rig on the bottom are a good bet. If you’re fishing artificial bait, my favorites are a Mirrolure Glad Shad or High Tide Shrimp soft plastic on a jig head. I start with a white/chartreuse, root beer/chartreuse, chartreuse/red, or natural shrimp rigged on a 3/8 oz jig head and if they don’t go for that I go home and come back the next day. If you find a calm day and want to head into the gulf, the near shore rigs are a good bet as well as Sand Island Lighthouse and Dixie Bar for Bull Reds. Send a live croaker or pin fish to the bottom at these places and let the bait do the work. Stay warm and watch the weather, springtime is just around the corner. I can’t wait. Capt. Dan Kolenich info@captdankolenich.com 251-422-3474

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DIVING REPORT

SO, YOU WANT TO SCUBA DIVE? BY: KERRY FREELAND / DIVE PROS

T

he warm weather is approaching fast. I am reminded of the inevitable phone call I get every Memorial Day weekend, someone sitting on the beach, looking out over the Gulf of Mexico. “I am here for the weekend, and I want to learn to scuba dive”. As much as I would love to accommodate these folks there is just too much to cover in one weekend. In recent years the scuba courses have become more streamlined; the advent of the online training process allows 10 to 12 hours of academics to be completed at your leisure. Once that is completed you have some hours to spend in the pool, and all the training organizations require two days of diving in the open water to complete the course. In the day and age of instant gratification and next day shipping, the tendency is to take the shortest easiest route. It is a mistake to opt for the quickest diving course. There is no teacher like experience. Those who take this sport seriously seek the tutelage of mentors for many years after their first certification. If one can get a few more hours of knowledge out of their first course, do it. Scuba diving is something you can do safely into your later years, and if you are going to pay for the instruction of some lifelong activity, why not get a good education? There are three components to the scuba certification process. You have the academic component, which will delve into the physics and

the physiology of how being underwater affects you and your body. You will also learn what this new environment is like, and how it is different than what we are born into. The information contained therein is not overly challenging or difficult, but you need to know these things in order understand the basic “rules” of scuba diving. The second component is the confined water, or pool training. This part of the training is equally important as the other phases, but really it is where the rubber meets the road. The confined water is where the student will learn the operation of the scuba kit, assembly, disassembly, usage, as well as the care and maintenance of the equipment. Once in the water with the gear you will learn how it works and how to configure it for comfort. You will learn mask clearing and replacement, as well as recovery and replacement of all the scuba equipment. We will practice sharing air, buddy assists, and buddy tows. And best of all, are the neutral buoyancy skills. Once mastered, you are freed from the bonds of gravity, you will then be able to float in the water column, at whatever depth you like. This is truly one of the most liberating experiences you can have. The more time your allowed to work on these skills the better diver you will become. Now we are ready for the third component of the scuba certification, the open water dives.

We use several sites for the open water dives. The site visited will be determined by many variables, weather and environmental conditions being the most important factors. Divers are expected to duplicate the skills covered in the confined water while out in the “real world” environment. Easy enough, you’ve already done this in the pool. Once these skills are demonstrated it is time for the fun. The environmental tour, as we call it, should give you the opportunity to swim around surveying to scenery while displaying good buoyancy skills. Our students get to see a diverse array of marine life. We regularly interact with curious wrasse, shy octopus and puffers, swarms of spadefish, mullet, and snappers. I will regularly dive one of our training sites, just as I have for the last thirty plus years. It is the same site, but every dive is a little different. I am in for life. Learning to scuba dive is not something you should do in a weekend. Learning to scuba dive requires a little more preparation and planning. Take the time to get a more moderately paced course that gives you plenty of time to hone skills in the pool; it is worth the effort and your time. If you approach the course with these facts in mind you will realize that your scuba certification is actually, “a license to learn more”. I have been teaching scuba for the better part of my existence, my goal is to make “true” divers. If I, and my people, do our job, you will be in for life.

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ORANGE BEACH BY: CAPT. JOHNNY WILLIS

H

ope everyone had a fantastic New Years! The fishing from Pensacola to Orange Beach has been fantastic! There has been an abundance of sheepshead, trout and redfish with these cool overcast days. Recently we’ve had the trout and redfish which have been found around large schools of hand sized mullet in the backs of the rivers and creeks. As usual my favorite lure of choice is a 1/4oz jig head with a Matrix soft plastic with color depending on clarity using lighter colors with more clear water. Fishing along the banks and the middle of the creek or river until you find that healthy school of fish you’re looking for! The sheepshead can be found around structures such as docks, sea walls, bridges and jetties eating on the barnacles off of them. For catching these I use a carolina rig with as light a weight as possible with a 20lb fluorocarbon leader, a small number two circle hook and a live fiddler crab or shrimp! Staying as close to the structure as possible, while paying very close attention for their bite is very light, almost lethargic. But don’t let that take anything away from the fact they are a very strong fighting fish! We wish everyone fair seas and great fishing from Lost Bay Guide Service and hope to see you soon! Captain Johnny Willis Lost Bay Charters 850-748-5076

LAKE MARTIN BY: CAPT DAVID B. HARE

I

t goes without saying, we all have had more than our share of winter rains with Lake Martin being no exception. Our lake rose approximately 5 ft in January hopefully by the time your reading this, things are back to somewhat normal???

Yes, January was a tuff month for catching but most days we caught our limit or more of stripers. How did we do this you ask well we searched for cleaner waters which wasn’t an easy task but when we found it we fished right on the break of the dirty water and cleaner

water. The stripers were, for the most part, right on that break. As the day progressed, we had to move with the current from them pulling the water to be able to stay on the fish. My days on the water didn’t produce much top water action as it has in the past years in January, but the deep-water bite was active. Now to get into February forecast I personally don’t think your going to see many changes until at least mid-February. Hopefully mid-February will bring a little more consistent weather and less rain. If this is the case, then your past years favorite February spots should produce. I’ll probably be planer boarding early morning then be switching over to some down lining on thru the day. My past February’s have let me boat fish from one end of the lake to the other end, it all is depending on which area I prefer to target that day. February also should begin some creek action

for these stripers so do not overlook the creeks. This month also produces a lot of tournaments and more than our share of weekend fishermen so always have respect for one another, and you need to have an extra careful attitude while on the water. Do not assume the other boat or boats see you because that’s not always the case, be a defensive driver at all times, wear your PFD and kill switch, follow all boating laws and you should have a safe day of fishing. If you haven’t booked your springtime trip with us yet, then don’t hesitate any longer call me now at 256-401-3089 to reserve your favorite date. Until next time catch one for me. Capt. David B. Hare Alex City Guide Service 256-401-3089 2036 Cherokee Rd Suite 205 Alexander City, Al. 35010 davidbhare@yahoo.com www.alexcityguideservice.com Fbook/alexcityguideservice/ LakeMartin

12 ALABAMA / PENSACOLA, FL | FEBRUARY 2019 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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By Capt. Terry Fisher

L

ast September, my first-mate Vicki and I took off on a whirlwind vacation to explore the waters of Italy. We started in Venice, where other than the shoe leather express, the only way to get around is by boat. To my knowledge, Venice is the only place on earth where unique modes of water transportation play out in day-to-day living. The Adriatic Sea plays host to yachts, cruisers, pleasure and fishing boats. The Riva de Biasio (The Grand Canal), Venice’s main thoroughfare, is busy with all types boats, like taxis, police, garbage, ambulances and construction cranes, which all share the canal in relative peace. Fishermen line the canals with long poles, catching what look like small baitfish for dinner. Tuscany, in central Italy, was our second stop, where we hired fly fishing guide, Gianlucca Orselli, of Florence. Gianlucca was one of four terrific guides from a local fly shop in Florence. He grew up fishing the Arno River, which runs through the middle of Florence,

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but suggested we fish the Lima River, close to the towns of Lucca and Pisa. During a 90-minute drive to the river, we saw the old castle walls of Lucca and other historical sites we would not have seen without the drive. Once in the mountains, the views were as picturesque as those of northeast Georgia. The river and its feeder creek were comparable to places we’ve fished in Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming. We worked hard to catch rainbows and browns. Unfortunately, the fishing was not as productive as we had hoped, but it was no different than some days I’ve spent on rivers in the U.S. There are a lot of trout and char streams in Italy to consider, but we would not trade our experience of being together in this lovely setting. Our third stop, the Italian Riviera, is where Vicki and I left part of our hearts. The Cinque Terre is part of an Italian National Forest located in northwestern Italy on the Liquarian Sea. The rugged coastline is incredibly beautiful. Five villages are built on mountain ledges, with steps up to each cliff-side dwelling. Fishing and boating are “old world,” existing mostly for locals who make their livelihoods on the sea. A limited number of recreational fishermen on small vessels were seen close to shore or sitting on the rock ledges catching small fish on sabiki-like rigs. We chose the quaint town of Vernazza as a base and stayed for three nights. I rented a 20-foot boat for two days to explore the waters. There were reports of yellowfin tuna swimming the rocks as close as 300 yards offshore, but all we could do was wish for adequate equipment and bait, as there were no tackle shops. Next time we will take our own. Explore the possibilities of fishing in Italy at www.flyfishitaly. com. Or contact me by email or phone at fishfacecharters@yahoo. com, (239) 357-6829.

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he Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council would like to gain a better understanding of yellowtail snapper in the Southeast region of the United States. It is seeking information from anglers and divers about trends or “strange things” that scientists and managers may need to know. A scientific stock assessment of yellowtail is scheduled to begin in February of 2019, and the council would like to know if you have noticed anything “fishy” about yellowtail, or yellowtail fishing, in recent years. The information provided will help inform scientists and managers as they formulate a current understanding of the yellowtail stock. Please visit our “Something’s Fishy About Yellowtail Snapper” questionnaire at http://gulfcouncil.org before Feb. 8 to report anything you’ve noticed about yellowtail in the Gulf of Mexico. Contact Emily.Muehlstein@gulfcouncil.org with questions.

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onsider this an important decision. Other than deciding whether or not to use one, a surprising number of anglers seldom give leaders much thought. As long as there is some type of buffer against the deadly dentures of some species or the abrasive hide of others, fishermen tend to be satisfied. Their attention shifts to other aspects of the sport. Choosing the right material and proper construction for an effective leader are some of the most overlooked challenges in rigging. The ultimate, of course, centers on fishing a light line without a leader. That seldom is possible on the saltwater scene. Experience will prove to you that the fish you hook has teeth, abrasive skin, or the bottom is rugged. Any of these factors will end the battle almost before it starts. The general rule is that the heavier the leader material, the fewer strikes you will get. The solution demands a compromise. You want the strongest leader possible without sacrificing too many strikes. Monofilament leader invariably produces more strikes than single strand wire or nylon coated wire. Sometimes you have to use wire or every fish of a given species will cut you off. When you do use wire, rely on the shortest length that will produce favorable results. For offshore trolling, a short length of wire makes it easier to rig a bait. Some anglers even insist that a skipping offering being trolled works better if there is a short length of wire in front of it. The length of the leader is equally significant. From

MARK SOSIN a protective standpoint, if the species you seek has an abrasive body, the leader should be longer than the average fish you might catch. Then, when the fish is moving away from you and the line streams over its back, you have the protective advantage of a leader. This part of the leader does not have to be as heavy as the short length around its mouth and gills, but it should be stronger than the line. Fly fishermen become aware of a leader’s importance very quickly. In that type of fishing, the leader helps to turn over the fly properly so it lands on the water delicately. In very clear and shallow water, a longer leader enables the caster to enjoy a more delicate presentation where the fly line lands farther from the fish. This is particularly important on the saltwater flats for a variety of species including bonefish, permit, tarpon and redfish. Fly leaders take many basic forms, but the most important thing to remember is that each succeeding section should be shorter than the one before. The majority of tournaments and all recordkeeping organizations establish specific leader requirements. It makes sense to study them before you decide to compete or fish for a record. Leaders are a critical part of rigging each outfit you use. Cutting corners or ignoring details can be a serious mistake. If you lose a trophy fish because of a faulty leader, you’ll have a hard time forgiving yourself.

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Queen Conch In The Bahamas Sheri Daye

W

hile hunting for that perfect fish for dinner, you sometimes run across other tasty treats. One of my favorites is from the Bahamas: the famous queen conch. This creature is as delicious as it is beautiful and deserves to be treated with great respect. Their slow growth and late maturation makes them susceptible to overfishing. Once abundant in the Florida Keys, it became illegal to harvest them in the 1980s when they were harvested to the point of collapse. It’s taken quite a few years to see the beginning of a comeback, but they will likely need continued protection for years to come in the U.S. In the Bahamas, the importance of this valuable resource has been realized and rules are in place to protect it. The recreational limit is six, and they must have a thick, well-formed lip—meaning they had a chance to grow into adulthood and reproduce. Also, they must be harvested while freediving. Inside the conch shell is a soft-bodied mollusk, which is in the same family as clams, oysters, octopi and squid. They live near coral reefs and seagrass beds and can reach up to 14 inches long. Besides humans, they have a few predators in the water—loggerhead turtles, nurse sharks, spiny lobsters and more. The meat has been consumed for centuries by islanders in the Caribbean and serves in a multitude of dishes such as salads, chowders and fritters.

Conch Tips:

1) Regulations are subject to change so double check before harvesting any marine life. 2) When diving, it is easy to see that in certain places in the Bahamas, especially close to highly populated areas, the conch are 16

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not as abundant. Do not take any from these areas, even if it’s legal. 3) They are easy to spot and move slowly, so use good judgement. Target mature adults that have reproduced and are toward the end of their lifecycle. Consider taking less than the legal limit. 4) The mollusk is not easy to extract or to clean, so if you don’t know how, make sure you have a professional on hand at the end of the day to help you or teach you. 5) Don’t forget to check for pearls in the mantle. These pink pearls are beautiful and more rare than traditional pearls. 6) The inedible part of the conch (the guts, also called “slop”) makes excellent bait for fishing, especially for mutton snappers. Nothing goes to waste! 7) You might (or might not) want to eat the pistol, also known as “Bahamian Viagra.” It is part of the conch’s digestive system and looks like a clear noodle. 8) The Bahamas exports conch to the U.S., but bringing your own conch meat back to the U.S. by boat is strictly prohibited. Safe diving and Happy Hunting! Sheri is a world-record holder, host of Speargun Hunter, and producer of “The Blue Wild Ocean Adventure Expo” in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Follow “Sheri Daye” and “The Blue Wild” on Facebook and Instagram.

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As fisherman, we all know how hard live bait can be to find. Seasonal weather patterns change the way fish are biting, so a variety of bait is key. Bait fishing is so important that fishermen spend weeks prior to tournaments catching bait and then keep them penned up all for a couple epic days of fishing. The last thing you want is for your bait to die because of a pump failure. At Hooker Electric, we have designed a durable, strong and long-lasting baitwell system. This system is capable of supplying multiple livewells with its adequate DC brushless motor. You will no longer need multiple pumps to supply each livewell. Now, by adding the Hooker Electric custom manifolds, you can divert water to the designated wells by adjusting the amount of water flow to each well with our variable flow knobs. This allows you to run all of the wells from one Hooker Electric pump and have another one for redundancy. The system is easy to use with the variable flow dial, without having to restrict the pump. This Hooker Electric livewell system is a plumb-andplay setup with a variety of sizes. It’s available in 2500, 4500 and 7500 GPH and we also offer an on/off feature for the pumps. For more information, visit www.hookerelectric.com or check out their Instagram page @Hookerelectric_pumps.

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he older I get, the more I like to fish inshore for all the usual suspects from the Northeast, down through the Carolinas all the way to the Keys. From stripers and specks, to drum and snook, every fish loves a shrimp or minnow imitation under a float. And this includes many freshwater predators. I always keep a float rig tied on when fishing inside. Popping, cigar and oval floats all have their place, and an added “clicking” sound adds value, especially when fishing a soft plastic shrimp under the float. There are plenty of commercially available floats, but I want to share a simple and effective way to achieve the same end result… and one that will rarely foul or tangle. Whether the beads are external or internal, the clicking sound is perfectly married with the splashing sound that drives fish bananas. To make the simple external-bead-style clicking float, view the video below. Allow 1/16- to 1/8-inch clearance (total, not both ends) between the beads and ends of the pegs to allow the beads to tap the plastic pegs. Follow the instructions below to make the internal-bead-style clicking float. Materials: 80-pound fluorocarbon; small plastic beads, like those found in sliding cork kits; small swivels; a commercially available foam slip cork with plastic pegs. Steps: • Thread braided mainline through the plastic peg and one of the small beads. • Feed the mainline through to the other side of the slip cork and then tie it to one side of the swivel. • For the other side, thread a fluorocarbon leader through the other peg, thread on a small bead and tie it to the other end of the swivel.

• Press one peg securely into the slip cork, and then pull the bead and swivel into the float’s interior channel. • Press the second peg into the cork, and your slip cork is now a clicking float. The tiny beads slide back and forth on the line to tap the plastic pegs inside the float. • Tie a 3/8-ounce jig head and a soft plastic shrimp onto the leader, and… just add water. There are a number of opinions on how deep to fish below the cork. I like between 18 and 24 inches of fluorocarbon, depending on water depth. This same tackle works extremely well in freshwater for striped and hybrid bass in moving water. Just use a fluke-style soft plastic instead of a shrimp. The largest largemouth bass I caught this year was under cigar float with an internal clicker. I was fishing a Super Fluke for striped bass. Smallmouth bass in rocky rivers are complete idiots over this same rig. Wherever you are, and whatever you’re fishing for, a float rig is something you should keep tied and ready on the deck. Visit Barefootcatsandtackle.com. For video instructions on making a clicking cork, see:

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nglers are catching a lot of big largemouths in Texas. Last year’s Toyota ShareLunker Program, which tracks bass heavier than 8 pounds, certified 486 bass caught from 89 Texas lakes in 2018, and that’s just the fish that were reported. At the beginning of 2018, the Toyota ShareLunker program debuted a new year-long season for anglers to enter bass for prizes, recognition, and to help enhance bass fishing in Texas. Anglers entered largemouths into four categories including six “Legacy Class” bass of 13 pounds or heavier that were entered during the spawning window Jan.1 through March 31 and loaned to TPWD for the selective breeding and stocking program. The total number of entries in other categories who provided citizen science data included: five “Lunker Legend” bass 13 pounds or heavier caught outside the spawning window or not loaned for spawning, 107 “Lunker Elite” bass weighing 10 to 12.99 pounds, and 368 “Lunker” bass at least 24 inches or weighing between 8 and 9.99 pounds. The top five ShareLunker producing lakes in 2018 included Lake Fork near Quitman with 73 entries, Lake Conroe near Houston with 41 entries, Lake Athens in Athens with 28 entries, Sam Rayburn Reservoir near Jasper with 21 entries, and O.H. Ivie Lake near San Angelo with 17 entries. For updates on the Toyota ShareLunker program visit https:// www.facebook.com/ShareLunkerprogram and https://texassharelunker.com/.

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FRESHWATER Nevada’s WORLD-CLASS CUTTHROAT

T

he International Game Fish Association (IGFA) keeps the most extensive list of fishing records in the world. With categories for all types of tackle and species, some records are more impactful than others. This potential all-tackle length world record for cutthroat trout is without a doubt an impressive fish. Adam Garcia caught and released this giant cutthroat on Nov. 11, 2018 while fishing Nevada’s Pyramid Lake. The fish measured 85 centimeters in length, or more than 33 inches. Once the paperwork clears, the fish could dethrone the old 81-centimeter length record. Garcia is no newcomer to the record books. According to IGFA records, he holds four line-class world records for weight, all cutthroats caught from Pyramid Lake in 2016 and 2017. Some of those were actually longer than his Nov. 11 fish. The biggest one, which holds the 16-lb. line class record, weighed 24 pounds. Pyramid Lake is a large and natural desert lake near the California border northeast of Reno. It is the world hotspot for giant cutthroat trout, where anglers can wade from shore and cast jigs for record-class fish. Every single one of IGFA’s line class cutthroat records were caught from Pyramid, as well as the all tackle world record, which was caught back in 1925 by John Skimmerhorn.

Surprising Winter is the Best Planting Time

I am often asked when is the best time to plant fruiting plants. My answer is usually the same; the best time is 20 years ago or today. The second best time to plant is during the winter months. Plants are dormant, and can be easily shipped and planted with no stress on the plant because there is not a lot of maintenance once the plant or tree has been planted. Simply dig a good hole, water thoroughly

at planting, and take the rest of the winter off. Even though there are no signs of growth above ground, the root systems will have time to get adjusted to their new location and begin to initiate new root growth. There are plenty of advantages of growing your own edibles. First of all, you know what has been done over the course of the growing season from a chemical stand point. Second, the fruit just taste

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better coming out of your home orchard versus buying fruit from the grocers that have little to no flavors. Thirdly, it is good for your soul and you will feel more connected to the environment and nature. Whether it is an apple tree, muscadine vine or a blueberry bush; now is the time to plant. Let’s Grow Together. Greg Ison, Ison’s Nursery and Vineyards, 800733-0324, www.isons.com

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TIPS FROM A PRO

Cold-Water Bassin' BRANDON LESTER

F

ebruary is one of those transition months. Spring is just around the corner, and it might have already arrived in some places, but it’s still wintertime for most of the country’s bass fisheries. Bass are cold-blooded animals, which means the colder the water is, the more the fish’s core body temperature decreases. That also means the fish’s metabolism slows down. Metabolism is the chemical processes that occur which allow the fish to maintain life, grow, heal and make energy. Humans are warm blooded, so our body temperature stays a steady 98.6 degrees. A fish’s temperature drops with the water temp, which makes them more sluggish the colder it gets. If you’re like me, you’re ready to eat three meals a day and some snacks 365 days a year. It’s different with fish. In warm water, fish feed every day, throughout the day and into the night. In the winter they don’t feed nearly as often. One reason is they don’t move around as much, so they don’t come into contact with prey. Fish feed-up heavily in the fall when the water is still warm to put on weight. Bait is plentiful then, and instinctually they feel cold weather coming. I have way more 20- and 30-fish days in spring than winter. You’re not likely set any records for fish catches in cold water. Fish bite for two basic reasons, either because they’re hungry and the bait looks like food or because the bait has come into their territory

and they instinctively attack it. Reaction strikes are greatly reduced during the winter. In water mid-50 degrees and lower, you really need to make the fish want to eat in order to catch them. I try and fish the warmest water on a lake, as fish in these areas will be more active. A couple degrees in water temperature can make all the difference. Slower-moving baits work best for cold-water bass. I like baits that stay in one place and can be worked slowly, like a jig. A suspending jerkbait with Mustad KVD trebles will hang in one place, hopefully right in front of their face. Use lighter line in cold water, as it allows the bait to move more realistically. Eight or 10-pound Vicious fluorocarbon is preferable on a jerkbait. Objects in the water, especially rocks, retain heat. On sunny days, the shallow water near rocks on the bank will often be warmer. Keep in mind that fish don’t bite nearly as hard in cold water. You will feel them kind of “load up” on the bait instead of slamming it. The fish are just picking up the bait and doing as little as possible to catch it. Those “light bites” increase the importance of having a sensitive rod. I build my own rods and will tell you that MHX Rods from Mud Hole Custom Tackle help me catch more fish, especially in cold water. Higher quality graphite makes a more sensitive rod. MHX Rods are much more affordable and the quality is better than a vast majority of rods out there. For extremely light bites, I recommend the NEPS series of blanks built with Winn Grips.

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Six Years of Protection at no extra charge on all new outboards 25 to 350 HP.

Instant Savings on select models when you buy at the boat show. See your dealer for details.

Rates as low as 5.99% on new Suzuki outboards on approved credit.* [60 Months]

3 Years Limited Warranty + 3 Years Extended Protection

Gimme Six Extended Protection promo is applicable to new Suzuki Outboard Motors from 25 to 350 HP in inventory which are sold and delivered to buyer between 01/01/19 and 03/31/19 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. Customer should expect to receive an acknowledgement letter and full copy of contract including terms, conditions and wallet card from Suzuki Extended Protection within 90 days of purchase. If an acknowledgement letter is not received in time period stated, contact Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. – Marine Marketing via email: marinepromo@suz.com. The Gimme Six Promotion is available for pleasure use only, and is not redeemable for cash. Instant Savings apply to qualifying purchases of select Suzuki Outboard Motors made between 01/01/19 and 03/31/19. For list of designated models, 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. (Suzuki will, in turn, credit Dealer’s parts account.) There are no model 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 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 terms provided, are based on credit worthiness. $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 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 01/01/19 and 03/31/19. “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 26manual. NATIONAL FEBRUARY I COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM © 2019 SuzukiI Motor of America, 2019 Inc.

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Progressive Casualty Ins. Co. & affiliates. Annual premium for a basic liability policy not available all states. Prices vary based on how you buy. *Available with comprehensive and collision coverage. COMMON CVRS_0219.indd 3

There’s a reason they say, Curse like a sailor. That’s why we offer basic plans starting at $100 a year with options that won’t depreciate your watercraft and accessories*. 1.800.PROGRESSIVE | PROGRESSIVE.COM

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Don’t take the same old journey. Be somewhere genuine. Be somewhere amazing. Be changed.

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800.828.4244

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