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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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F R A N C H I S E

O P P O R T U N I T I E S

A V A I L A B L E

APRIL 2020

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Photo courtesy of Knockin Tail Lures

By Capt. Michael Okruhlik

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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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ew for 2020, Outcast Sporting Gear released a sweet little inflatable kayak with the performance, portability and comfort to take you wherever the fish are. The OSG IK Angler 11 was recently awarded Best of Show for boats/ personal watercraft at the American Fly Fishing Trade Association show in Denver. It was designed specifically for avid anglers seeking to access more open water. Weighing just 32 pounds, the IK Angler 11 is lightweight and compact, making it easy to take with you on those trips to out-of-the way places that are difficult to access with bigger boats. And it will haul a load, too. With a 350-pound capacity, it’ll carry even the largest anglers and all their gear. This kayak was built for all-day fishing in comfort, with an adjustable seat that sits high off the water for easy casting. It is a stable platform to fish from, and a removable fin provides straight tracking on long paddles as well as a shallow draft for skinny water. Other features include a quick, one-handed paddle holder; a self-baling floor; interior cargo loops for lashing gear; and an innovative Integrated Gear System, which incorporates a moveable base in a sleeve that accepts cargo pockets, rod holders and anchor mounts. At just under 11 feet in length and 37 inches wide, the OSG IK Angler 11 is a compact boat that delivers on the water. It comes with a www.outcastboats.com 5-year warranty.   COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.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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he sun rises and sets at peak travel periods, during the early morning and afternoon rush hours and many drivers find themselves temporarily blinded while driving directly into the glare of the sun. Deadly accidents are regularly caused by such blinding glare with danger arising from reflected light off another vehicle, the pavement, or even from waxed and oily windshields that can make matters worse. Early morning dew can exacerbate this situation. Yet, motorists struggle on despite being blinded by the sun’s glare that can cause countless accidents every year. Not all sunglasses are created equal. Protecting your eyes is serious business. With all the fancy fashion frames out there it can be easy to overlook what really matters––the lenses. So we did our research and looked to the very best in optic innovation and technology. Sometimes it does take a rocket scientist. A NASA rocket scientist. Some ordinary sunglasses can obscure your vision by exposing your eyes to harmful UV rays, blue light, and reflective glare. They can also darken useful vision-enhancing light. But now, independent research conducted by scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has brought forth ground-breaking technology to help protect human eyesight from the harmful effects of solar radiation

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FORCE ISC™ 10K B2

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

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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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A BUCKET-LIST FISH WORTH CROWING ABOUT Photo courtesy of Crocodile Bay

By Todd Staley

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hen anglers think of the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, they usually think about billfish. Costa Rica is one of the top destinations in the world to chase these pointy-nose acrobats. Many folks travel to Costa Rica with billfish fever and are not even aware of the great inshore fishery available. A fish many anglers have never even heard about before their arrival in Costa Rica is the roosterfish. This unique-looking fish with seven combs as a dorsal fin is only found in the Eastern Tropical Pacific between southern Mexico and Ecuador. In its most northern and southern ranges, the fish move as the seasonal drop in water temperature arrives. Costa Rica, being in the smack-dab middle of Roosterfish’s range, enjoys a fairly constant water temperature and a year-round fishery. In many places, roosterfish are only available by fishing the surf break. Not in Costa Rica. Of course they cruise the beaches looking for an easy meal, but they also roam the many volcanic reefs. One area that is extremely productive is the Golfo Dulce on the Osa Peninsula in southern Costa Rica, a 32-mile-long tropical fjord. Here you find roosters almost everywhere, along the beaches and even over reefs in 200 feet of water. This allows anglers to target them using several different fishing styles. The locals also catch them with dead bait using handlines off the beach. Roosterfish in the Golfo Dulce average 15 pounds, and fish over 50 pounds are taken weekly. The resort record at Crocodile Bay is 106 pounds. Live bait is most always a sure bet. Blue runners, goggle-eyes, sardines and lookdowns are the favorite choices and are readily available. If you are looking for a monster and have the patience to wait it out, bridle up a 3- to 5-pound live bonito and hang on. The best method to fish live bait is to either slow troll behind the surf line or drift fish over volcanic structure. In the deeper areas, a 2- to 6-ounce weight is added to send the bait closer to the top of the reef. In Costa Rica, circle hooks are required by law when using bait, so it is best to have the “crank don’t yank,” mentality firmly planted in one’s brain. Popper fishing is also popular. Fish will often rise to a lure that is really ripped through the water. This is not a walk-the-dog fishing. The faster you work the popper, with lots of splash, the more hits you will get. At times, you will be surprised by a big orange flash as a hefty cubera snapper comes up from 80 feet to smash a popper. If a fish misses its target, don’t stop. They will often come back and strike again. A long stiff rod and six weeks of dumbbell curls are required to cast poppers any length of time.

Photos by Capt. Allan Smith Jigging will also get you your first rooster, but they are a little shyer to a jig than live bait or poppers. White or chartreuse bucktails produce in the shallow water and mental jigs work in the deep areas. Just about any brand of jig will work as long as it is worked fast. No one I know has found the “Holy Grail” for taking roosterfish on a fly. If you are looking for a real challenge, it’s game on. If you are looking for big numbers on a fly, roosterfish is probably not a good choice of adversary. There has been some success by teasing up roosters, much like you would a sailfish. They can be teased with a lure or live bait or by casting a popper with the hooks removed. To get a fly in front of charged-up rooster though, you have to have the speed of a Western gunslinger and the accuracy of William Tell. If you happen to be lucky enough to be on top of a school of bait and a herd of roosterfish charge in on them, you can get your fly in the middle of that action and have a good chance of hooking up. Some have had success trolling the fly, but that is taboo in many a fly guys’ book. To sum it up, if someone tells me they regularly catch roosterfish on a fly, I certainly wouldn’t leave my wife alone with them. Surely they can’t be trusted. Anyone thinking about a Costa Rica billfish vacation should really book at least one day inshore. Roosterfish are a strong and beautiful fish with an iridescent hue. Their unique dorsal cuts the surface as it hones in on its target. When hooked, they make powerful runs and sometimes clear the water in an aerial display. They make for an exciting sporting challenge and a replica makes for a great conversation piece on the wall. They really are a fish to crow about. More information can be found at www.crocodilebay.com or by calling (800) 733 1115.


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MATCH YOUR TACKLE TO THE FISH

By Robert Wiggers

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or fish that are released, their survival often depends on the rod and reel used to catch them. Fish naturally don’t want to have a hook in their mouth, attached to a line, being pulled in a direction they don’t want to go. So, like any animal, they resist in an attempt to free themselves. The longer they fight, the more exhausted they become, and in some instances they deplete every amount of available energy in an effort to escape. The battle is over and the angler has won. Unfortunately, when it comes time to release the fish, it’s too exhausted to swim away on its own. Even if it is able to swim away, it certainly doesn’t have the energy to avoid predators that may be lurking around waiting for an easy meal.

Hooking and fighting a fish is an exhilarating experience. There was a time when it was considered to be more “sporting” to catch a large fish on very light tackle. A long fight requires a degree of skill and finesse in order to successfully bring a large fish to the boat. Anglers are recognized for such achievements through acknowledgement in the record books. However, the majority of recreational anglers don’t go fishing with the sole intent of trying to break a line-class record for a specific species. We go fishing simply to catch fish. Some anglers want something for the table, while others just want the satisfaction of catch and release. Regardless of reason, we usually choose a rod and reel that gives us the best chance of successfully landing the species we are targeting. Most anglers wouldn’t use freshwater bass tackle if they were trying to catch a billfish. The rod and reel you choose to use when fishing for a particular species should be carefully considered when practicing catch and release. Nowadays, the options for rod and reels are endless. Rods come in all lengths and are designed with different actions ranging from ultra light to heavy. Reels also range in size to match the rod, but have different gear ratios that allow an angler to retrieve the bait at a faster pace with less effort. Each combination performs differently. For this reason, many anglers carry a number of rods with them on any given trip. While it may be more fun to use a light rod and reel for catching a big fish, it’s simply not good for the fish or its chances of survival after being released. Studies have even shown that mortality of released fish can happen several hours after being released. There are always instances when anglers unexpectedly hook an exceptionally large fish on light tackle. But if you know beforehand that you are going to fish specifically for large fish, be sure to use appropriate tackle that reduces the fight time. I don’t know of any conservationminded angler that wouldn’t be heartbroken to see a large fish float away knowing the fish was potentially older than they were or that they just killed a spawning fish that could contribute more to the population.


About Us

Charleston’s April Fishing Forecast By Captain Mark Phelps

Coastal Angler Magazine Charleston is a Family Business published by SABJAR Media, LLC. We’re in our 3rd year of of publishing CAMC We’re based in Summerville, SC. Ten thousand copies are distributed monthly in the Charleston region at 250 locations and growing. Visit our website coastalanglermag.com/charleston for a list of our distributors. If you have any suggestions or comments send us an email to Charleston@coastalanglermagazine.com. Follow and like us

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ishing the Charleston area in April can simply be unpredictable. The type of fishing will depend on the weather. We have had several 80 degree days already so we should be fishing an early summer pattern. Some days the red fish in the spring will get quite picky to say the least. When this happens you might find that anchoring the boat and soaking some cut bait works best. I like to use cracked crabs or cut mullet for this purpose. However, if you have some live mud minnows or live mullet they will also work well. If April brings continued warm sunny days and the water warms to the high 60s or low 70s, we will have several options. The redfish will began to look for crabs in the grass at high tide and you might find the first “tailing” fish of the year. Crab flies and a weedless DOA shrimp or artificial crab work great. This will be a great time to start fishing for sea trout. A mud minnow or DOA shrimp under a cork is hard to beat. I always like April for the start of flounder season. Use a mud minnow or finger mullet on the bottom fished slowly and you might catch dinner. If the seas are calm you can look for the annual cobia run off the beaches and jetties. The last few years have seen some red hot cobia action in April as they migrate north for the summer. Cobia love bait fish and eels so anything that resembles these will work. Make sure you have a rod and reel in the 20-50 lb class because some of the cobia can be over 50 lbs!!! It’s time to get on the water and enjoy being in Charleston!

A great way to spend the day on the water is to book one of the area’s great guides. Having fished in Charleston for twenty five years, I am extremely knowledgeable and experienced in this area. As owner and operator of Shore Thang Charters, I would love to share my expertise with you on the water. Please email me at ShoreThangCharter@hotmail.com, check out my web page, www.ShoreThangCharters.com, or call 843-475-1274

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Mt. Pleasant Pier April Fishing Forecast

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pril is a great month to fish in the Charleston area. Temperatures should be just right to grab a beer or milkshake from the River Watch Café & Gift Shop and head down the pier to bend a rod. A fun species to target in April is the flounder. One of the best ways to target flatty’s is to use a basic Carolina Rig and “walk the dog.” To do so, hop a finger mullet or mud minnow along the bottom between the pier pilings where the tide rips through. Drop your rig over the side of the railing and let it down slowly until the weight hits the bottom. Once Dale Thorn’s 17 in flounder you’re there you’ll want to reel in just a bit so that you can walk along the pier with your rod over the side and ease it back to the bottom every few feet. Since flounder are ambush feeders this trick works great and allows you to cover more ground. Vudu shrimp and other artificials can produce similar results when fished the same way as well. Flounder aren’t the only predators hanging out below the pier. April typically is a month we see a fair number of trout and redfish under the pier as well as along the grass line. Live shrimp or mud minnows along with soft plastic jigs are nice options when looking for any of these species. You’re welcome to bring a minnow trap or cast net when fishing and try to find your own live bait. Just be warned that before throwing a cast net you may want to check the areas around the pier out at low tide. There’s leftover rebar and concrete from the old bridge in some spots and a cast in the wrong location will surely damage the net. April should be a great month at the pier as more species move in for the summer. Be sure to give the Mount Pleasant Pier a call at (843) 762-9946 and the staff will be glad to let you know exactly what is biting and the best way to land the big one. It is a great time to hone your skills and get ready for the first pier tournament of the year. Currently the first Cast Off Fishing Tournament of the year is scheduled for Saturday, May 2. Be sure to follow Charlestoncountypaks.com for any possible event postponements or cancellations related to current events. The competition runs from 6am – 2pm and entry is only $5 plus the regular daily fishing fee. Youth competitors (age 12 and under) will receive a FREE entry into any Cast Off Fishing tournament with a paid adult registration. Bring your kids or grandkids and possibly take home some cool prizes. Note: There will be NO FISHING from the pier April 26, 2019 due to the Blessing of the Fleet Festival at Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park.

. For any additional information about the pier or what’s biting this week feel free to call the River Watch Café & Gift Shop on the pier at 843-762-9946. Chris Pounder, CPRP Manager | Mount Pleasant Pier

SC GOVERNOR’S CUP BILLFISHING SERIES 2020 SCHEDULE May 6 – 9

Bohicket Marina Invitational Billfish Tournament Contact: Beau Anderson 1880 Andell Bluff Blvd Johns Island, SC 29455 (843) 768-1280 marinamanager@bohicket.com

May 20 – 23

53rd Annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament Contact: Ed Keelin P. O. Box 1704 Georgetown, SC 29442 (843) 546-1776, FAX (843) 546-7832 ed@georgetownlandingmarina.com

June 17 – 20

Carolina Billfish Classic Contact: Deidre Menefee 20 Patriots Point Road Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464 (843) 345-0369 dm@fishcbc.com

July 15 – 18

Edisto Invitational Billfish Tournament Contact: Brian Bell 3702 Docksite Road Edisto Beach, SC, 29438 (843) 631-5055, FAX (843) 631-5065 bkbell2009@gmail.com

** The Megadock will be under construction during the summer of 2020 and will be unable to host a tournament yet will return in 2021. **

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CHARLESTON HARBOR RIVER ENTRANCE

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pringtime and I’m personally a lot happier! I don’t know about y’all but good times just keep on coming! We have more time to fish now after the time change and the days are getting longer! Traveling to fish can always be a fun adventure if you’re looking for Spring break or just a fun weekend getaways! I’ve had some great opportunities of meeting new people through social media. One of my favorite adventures was meeting another fellow Coastalangler magazine friend! I went to Fort Lauderdale and had the opportunity to meet Gene Dyers and got to fish In South Florida! Mahi season is a little longer there and to get offshore it’s a lot closer. It was a great place to get my friend Sarah out offshore and find out if she gets sea sick or not! Florida fishing was great and we were more than grateful to find out she doesn’t get sea sick and now enjoy offshore adventures in Charleston as well! Gene managed to put us on some Mahi aka dolphin and showed us the ways of deep dropping. Traveling to fish is always a fun adventure and it was great to make new friends in cool places. So if you’re looking for something fun to do don’t let the travel bans scare you just stay here in the US and explore new places! I’m forever grateful to Gene and my friend Sarah for the adventures we had and the memories made! Gene can be found @camftl on Instagram Tight lines! Mandy Henderson / Instagram @onefishynurse

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Monthly Report

South Carolina Governors Cup Billfishing Series By Cameron Rhodes

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s we find ourselves in the midst of spring, many South Carolina boats will begin making their way back to lowcountry ports from trips abroad or weeks in the yard. And while anglers begin preparing for the start of the bluewater season, the fish – dolphin, blue marlin, sailfish, white marlin, and spearfish– also make their way back to South Carolina’s coast. Unlike wahoo and tuna, which can be targeted during the colder months, dolphin and billfish tend to arrive in droves throughout the spring and summer. And with their arrival this year, the highly anticipated South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series will kick off its 32nd season of competitive sportfishing. The Series, which has a longstanding tradition of marine conservation, sportsmanship, and camaraderie, will celebrate its 32nd year with four individual tournament legs this summer: the Bohicket Marina Invitational Billfish Tournament, the 53rd Annual Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament, the Carolina Billfish Classic, and the Edisto Invitational Billfish Tournament. Each tournament, with its own set of traditions and unique features, awards cash prizes to top competitors. Points are accumulated at each event, resulting in an overall Series winner, as well as awards for top youth angler, leading lady angler, and other categories. In recent years, around 40-60 teams

Picture credit South Carolina Governor’s Cup & Cameron Rhodes.

from South Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida have competed at each tournament, all vying for top prizes in meatfish (dolphin, wahoo, and tuna) and billfish categories. While most billfish are released during the Series (only blue marlin measuring over 105 inches –typically weighing over 400 pounds- are permitted to be landed), dolphin, wahoo, and tuna are frequently landed and weighed at the scales at the end of each day, a fun experience for those unable to fish the event but interested in spectating. Those interested in learning more about the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series are welcome to visit govcup.dnr.sc.gov for additional information about its history, sponsors, conservation practices, fishing guidelines, and ways to stay connected, including links to the Series’ Facebook page, Instagram account, and blog series. - Cameron Rhodes, is the social media coordinator and photographer for the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series and is a proud member of Charleston’s billfishing community.

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Focus on Fishing Are We Losing Our Flounder in South Carolina? By Jiggin Jerry

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here have been studies done by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources on our Flounder population. The reports and statements made by some of the individuals involved with the study speculate that we are losing our Flounder due to overfishing by sport fishermen and are contemplating banning Flounder fishing by sport fishermen. I have read articles put out by newspapers, DNR and other magazines. I have seen one article state to the public regarding Flounder fishing that there are 400,000 licensed fishermen in the state of South Carolina. Of course, after the public reads this statement, the novice would assume that there are 400,000 fishermen fishing for Flounder. If the statement was broken down correctly, it should have explained that the majority of licensed fishermen in the state of South Carolina are freshwater fishermen and do not fish inshore, which is saltwater, and the location where our Flounder reside. The other large portion of fishing licenses for saltwater are utilized by offshore fishermen, and since the majority of South Carolina citizens do not live ocean-side, a trip to the inshore waters is usually very limited. This is because most of South Carolina’s sport fishermen, and what we refer to as the “weekend warrior,” are working class citizens and commonly work 40-hour weeks, leaving them very little time during their time off, usually the weekends, to go fishing, especially if they have to utilize their time cutting the grass, doing home repairs, weekend cleaning, laundry, etc. There is not much time left for them to perfect or specialize in many fishing techniques. Unfortunately, the majority usually grab a rod, a reel, a couple of double-hook bottom rigs and a frozen tub of Shrimp, cast out and hope for the best. If one of them accidentally catches a Flounder on a piece of frozen Shrimp, it is usually considered a great piece of luck. But, now that this is in the open and made easier to understand by the public, let’s review the thought of our Summer Flounder or Southern Flounder diminishing in our coastal waters. You may be wondering, what is the difference between a Summer Flounder and a Southern Flounder? They are two different species of Flounder. Southern Flounder reside in South Carolina year-round, and Summer Flounder, hence the word “summer,” migrate to deeper water and usually go south during our winter months and return in the spring. I personally have not found any indication of the Southern Flounder diminishing, but one of the differences between DNR and professional sport fishermen is that DNR are not fishermen. In fact, the reason DNR sits at boat landings and asks sport fishermen questions about species of fish is to obtain information that they are not capable of gathering without the help of fishermen. Unfortunately, in most cases, like explained above about the weekend warrior, is when they are asked, have they caught any Flounder? The answer is usually no. It is not because the Flounder are not there. It is because they are not targeting the Flounder. DNR usually obtains its specimens by either shocking the water in easy, accessible locations, or dragging a sane net, and if they do not find Flounder in their sample locations, then I guess there’s just no Flounder! But, sport fishermen that have trained themselves to find and fish for Flounder have had no issues catching them. Flounder eat Finger Mullet, live Shrimp, Mud Minnows and are an ambush predator. It takes patience and specialty rigging to target and catch these fish, using a number of techniques that have been developed by fishermen for decades. So, why would it be difficult to find Flounder in locations where they were abundant at one time? There can be a number of reasons for this, and one of them being habitat loss due to over-dredging and over-building. The Charleston Harbor is a

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prime victim of exactly that. The domino effect that is caused by these actions is as follows: when you remove sediment aggressively to maintain or increase water depths, what you’re also removing are habitats that are in the soil, housing crustaceans and microorganisms that feed other species of life, for example, fish in their juvenile stage, Shrimp, Mullet and Menhaden. When these species cannot find the food they are accustomed to, their numbers are reduced greatly, and they have to move to different locations to find food and a home either for the season or for the rest of their lives. The Flounder, along with other species of fish, move to locations and congregate in larger numbers where their food supply is plentiful. So, if their food is no longer available in a location where we were finding them, then the Flounder will not be found. This does not mean that the Flounder have died off or have been overfished. This means that the Flounder would have to move to a new location that has the requirements they need to survive. As a professional sport fishermen, I follow the food and habitats that have not been affected by the over-dredging and over-development, severe pollution, and in some cases, over-fishing, but not by sport fishermen, but by gigging boats. I personally have nothing against gigging for Flounder, but in this day and age, it has not been hard to find in some form of social media photographs of gig boats with 30 to 40 Flounder lined up on their boat, usually taken from one flat. This can have a devastating effect in a small habitat. After all, it’s not like you back up a truck from Wal-Mart and restock them. You could put 20 fishermen with rod and reel in the same flat and not come close to the amount of fish obtained by the gig boat. Other ways to damage habitat that have been overlooked and part of over-development are projects trying to build new boat marinas in prime habitat in estuaries where fish species spawn and raise their young. There needs to be a common ground when it comes to coastal development. We have to maintain some conservation wetlands and waterways for the wildlife to prosper. After all, if we develop our whole entire coast and privatize it or commercialize it, what is left for the public or for the marine life? I find it interesting that DNR seems to be so concerned about conservation and our Southern Flounder. In fact, I am happy that they are. But, the proof is in the pudding. If you are so concerned about these species of fish, then why do you keep allowing permits for development that would cause the destruction or a severe impact on these species’ life cycle and way of life? Of course, I have personally heard some of your professional opinions that the development in these habitats, including the prop wash of 40-foot vessels jetting out the shallows in some of the locations that are being developed, would not have a devastating effect on habitat. As I chuckle, I could only remember a statement that I have made before during an interview by local media on the subject. I said, “It would be like running a rotor tiller through your flower garden.” There are no stronger conservationists than sport fishermen. After all, if we do not take care of our wildlife and their habitats, there is no sport fishing, and we would have to watch the memories and the future fade away. No more smiles on children’s faces or anyone’s face that would have enjoyed the sport of fishing. On behalf of our public, we ask SCDNR to continue doing their job, but do it correctly and cover all aspects of this subject. Like I always say, good luck out there and have fun fishing! To view some fishing adventures, go to my YouTube Channel Fishing With Jiggin Jerry.

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3/18/2020 12:15:13 PM


Folly Beach Pier Report April Fishing Forecast By Joey Crawford

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ny species you see on our summer challenge board can be caught in the lively month of April. From baitfish to game fish, they can all be found feeding around the Folly Pier. On the end of the pier diamond, one can target blues, jacks crevalle, Spanish mackerel, and king mackerel. Bluefish are the first to show up and can range from 1 to 9 pounds or more. Soon to follow will be the mackerel that prefer clean water at temperatures above 67° F. Just be sure to have a proper trolley rig set-up when targeting mackerel. Move closer to the shore and one will find whiting, drum, sheepshead, and the distinctive pompano. These fish congregate in the ocean surf searching for shrimp, mollusks, or other baitfish. Saltwater surf fish typically feed during a moving tide in the shallow gullies of 2 to 5 feet of water. Depending on tide, this can range from the first to second sun shelters located on the pier If you’re new to the fishing community, no problem. We have everything you need to get a line in the water. Walk on up to the gift and tackle shop and we’ll set you up with the rental rod, bait, and daily fishing pass. Our extended summer fishing hours have started, so come join us from 6:00am to 10:00pm everyday this month. For more information visit CharlestonCountyParks.com.

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The Offshore Report April Forecast By Capt. Will Adams

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ummer has always been the most popular time for offshore fishing in Charleston, but as a charter captain, I’ve slowly learned different techniques that yields just as many fish and makes the off season just as enjoyable. Black bass are quickly becoming my biggest request and during our colder months I’ve had my best luck in 65’ water using jigs and cut squid. Another popular request recently have been trigger fish. Generally I go to 80’-100’ water and most are suspended anywhere from 50’ to 70’ above live bottom using cut bait and smaller pieces of squid. Vermillion snapper have always been a choice catch and during the winter/spring months they tend to be in about 90’ of water and prefer cut bait and squid. I’ve had some great catches in about 120’ where we’ve caught some of the largest I’ve seen. The restriction on American red snapper has been very successful from what I’ve seen in the last few months, I’m catching bigger and more than I’ve seen in recent years, it’s an invasion! I’m catching

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dozens anywhere between 65’ and 100’ using live bait and cut squid. Jolthead porgys are being caught with more frequency in 65’ to 90’ and my clients always enjoy the good fight they put up. White grunts have high numbers and great size in about 65’ using cut squid and are another new favorite in the past few months. Cobia haven’t been as prevalent this year, but I’ve come across a few in 90’ water and they’re usually accompanied by dusky and sand tiger sharks. One fish I thought I’d never see in abundance is the scorpion fish, but I’ve caught quite a few in just the past few weeks in 90’ and they’ve made my clients trip unforgettable. With the warmer weather slowly approaching, lots of action is starting on top water and it’s only a matter of time before the Gulf Stream sends even more fish our way. Capt. Will Adams Write off the Rip Charters 843-270-0909 or email: writeoftheripcharters@gmail.com

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3/18/2020 12:15:21 PM


The Southside Fishing Report April Forecast for Kiawah, Seabrook & Edisto Islands

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pring is in full bloom with April upon us , and constantly changing weather has fish patterns changing daily. The water is now holding steady in the 60’s and by the end of the month it should reach the magic temperature of 68, and all of our summer species will start to flow into our waters. The warmer water has the fish on the move, with the redfish transitioning from huge schools in shallow water to breaking up into smaller groups and moving on and off the flats, instead of staying hunkered down in safety mode. The spotted trout have been moving the opposite direction of the redfish, last month we had been targeting trout with slow retrieve in 7-15ft of water, and with the warming water we have been doing well fishing the banks, creek mouths and points in 3-4ft of water. Sheepshead and black drum have still been pilled up near inshore structure and in large numbers and mixed sizes with the most productive baits being: fiddlers, blue

crab and shrimp. The bait is staring to show up in the creeks and we have been down sizing our artificials to match the hatch of the smaller bait fish and shrimp, and also using some brighter colors with the more turbid waters. Out at the nearshore reefs the bite has been good with tons of black sea bass, huge sheepshead, with a few redfish and triggers, by the end of the month we should see mackerel , doormat flounder, sharks and cobia move onto the reef for some better variety . The key to fishing April is transition and variety , because the fish are bouncing between winter and summer patterns to keep us on our toes, so be willing to change your methods and presentation on the fly. Tight lines, take a kid fishing. Captain John Ward /Affinity Charters www.affinitycharters.com 843-693-2460

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Artificial Intelligence Clack, Clack, Splash!

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aunching in the pre-dawn, we turn on the nav lights and head cautiously to our desired spot: A gravelly shallow point, with the outgoing tide pushing against it. We shut down the big motor far from the bank, and ease in slowly and quietly on the trolling motor. We make a long cast, guessing at the distance to the bank as we can’t really see where our topwater plugs will land. A turkey gobbles in the nearby woods as we listen to our plugs clack-clack, with random pauses. Suddenly a splash, and drag peels off the reel. Unseen, we are left to guess at the size based on the frequency of the head-shakes. This is the essence of trout fishing in April. Now through June will be your best opportunity to catch your biggest speckled trout of the year. The big ones are almost always female and need to fatten up for the spring spawn – thus they are feeding on larger baits. Your best chance for a gator trout on artificial will be using a topwater plug, or suspending lure. Jig heads and soft plastics will also work but require, in my opinion, more skill to catch the big girls. Thanks to our friend Chris Bush, of the Speckled Truth on social media, we know more than ever about how to target large trout. We know that your best chance of catching a big one will be a few days either side of the full and new moons, corresponding to solunar periods. In Charleston, solunar periods generally correspond to the high and low tides, along with sunrise and sunset. In my personal experience, I believe that big trout only feed in short windows of time – approximately 30 -45 minutes. What causes the switch to be flipped, I wish I knew, but I have some theories. Anyone can catch a big trout by chance, but to catch them on purpose is a whole different thing. First of all, you need to be where big trout live, with the right

lure in the water, when the feeding w i n d o w opens. This is often more of a grind than most people are willing to commit to. Are you willing to go all day without a bite, in hopes of catching a 25+ inch trout? There is no shame in not being that committed, but that’s often what it takes. Where do big trout live? Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but they seem to hang around very hard structure near deep water. What are some examples? Rock walls, concrete, gravel, etc. There are examples literally everywhere in Charleston. I’ll close with a conservation message. It’s very important that big trout be handled carefully and released to spawn. The number of eggs in a large trout is exponentially more than smaller trout. They reached their size by being especially fast growing, resistant to cold or disease, etc. Therefore, it’s important to allow them to propagate these superior genetics to ensure great trout fishing for years to come. Launch early, and we may see you there. Sleeping in is for teenagers! David Fladd Partner, Eye Strike Fishing dfladd@eyestrikefishing.com eyestrikefishing.com

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Lowcountry Kayak Fishing DISTANCE LEARNING From snook in the Cooper River to COVID-19, it’s been a heck of year for local anglers! As social distancing becomes the new normal needed to return to the old normal, kayak fishing comes well-equipped to deal! Most kayakers fish alone or with a buddy or 2 at most and typically not much physically closer than needed to snap a hero shot with your phone. Sound good? Fantastic because Lowcountry Kayak Anglers (LKA) is the perfect place for you to hang out during social distancing, and we have nearly 2,800 like-minded people for you to hang with. Find us on Facebook by our name. Before continuing about the club, let me get on the soapbox for a moment. These are difficult times for many people, especially local businesses. So as you decide where to get what you need, please remember the folks down the street from you that own the local tackle shop, kayak dealer, hot dog joint, hardware store, this magazine, and the folks advertising in these pages just to name a few. For the duration of whatever lay ahead for us, as long as going outside and fishing are permitted by law, LKA has your social life covered. For our (optional) paid members, April 1 kicks off our annual Angler of the Year competition. Angler of the Year goes from April through November with a different target species each month. As a catch/photo/ release tournament, all that’s required is the monthly identifier and a picture of your catch on a ruler submitted by email. We do the scoring and awarding monthly prizes. Best of all, this year’s Angler of the Year receives their choice of any 3 rods made by Toadfish Outfitters! To help get you started, the fish for the month of April is speckled seatrout, so get on them. Jump on the Facebook page on the last day of March for the first identifier and

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remember to join by the end of April to be sure not to miss a month. A primer on trout fishing was developed by our Saltwater Tournament Director and regular CAM columnist, Mike Kohler, is available on the LKA Facebook pages. There you can also find full rules and current information about membership, online events, and general discussion and fishing information. Every month as the AOY species is revealed, so will be information on how and where to target it for those not familiar. Our roster of in-person events that require close personal proximity will continue to be canceled on a case-by-case basis as the event date nears. HOWEVER, we have or will begin testing online tournaments and digital captain’s meetings. Our effort is to help you retain not only excuses to go fishing, but also maintain the amazing kayak angling community we have by continuing to design creative ways to help achieve a degree of normalcy in these uncertain times. What that fully means will need to remain fluid. As you follow along, know that your club will try its best to continue supporting and growing the sport of kayak fishing with the help of the best kayak fishing club in the country with the hope we soon return to normal. I hope to meet you soon! Chris Tweedy, President LKA - Topwater Kayak Fishing Charters Call 843-906-7112 or visit wegsite CarolinaTopwater.com

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The Science of Sport Fishing. Fish Mapping™ is the newest, most comprehensive service package from SiriusXM Marine. Delivering regularly updated, science-based data via satellite to compatible Garmin multi-function displays, this service is available well beyond cellular range to help locate the right conditions to fish faster – saving time and fuel. Fish Mapping also includes all the weather information in SiriusXM's Marine Offshore package as a chart overlay on your display. It’s great for offshore anglers fishing in tournaments, taking clients on charter trips or just fishing for fun. Fishing features include recommended locations for specific game fish, Weed Lines, Sea Surface Temperatures and Front Strength, Sub Surface Sea Temperatures, Sea Surface Height Variance, and Plankton Concentration data.

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MORE FISHING. LESS GUESSING.™

See recommended spots to fish – marked directly on your boat’s display.

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Learn more and Offer Details at siriusxm.com/fishmapping OFFER DETAILS: Activate a new subscription to SiriusXM Marine Fish Mapping and receive your first month free (a $99.99 savings), plus get free activation (an additional $25 savings), for a combined savings of $124.99. Add SiriusXM Select radio package at the discount rate of $11.99/mo. Fees and taxes apply. A credit card is required on this offer. You must cancel during your free month to avoid being charged. At the beginning of your second month service will automatically renew thereafter every month and you will be charged at then-current rates. Fees and taxes apply. Please see our Customer Agreement at siriusxm.com for complete terms and how to cancel, which includes calling us at 1-800-985-9200. All fees, content, and features are subject to change. This offer may not be combined with any other trial offers and may be modified or terminated at any time. Subscription and hardware sold separately. $100 Rebate from SiriusXM available through Dec 31, 2020, limited-time $150 Rebate from Garmin available Jan 20th - March 31st with hardware and subscription purchase, see Rebate Offer Details at siriusxm.com/fishmapping. Photo by Cody Spinadel. © 2020 Sirius XM Radio Inc. SiriusXM, Automatic, Pandora and all related logos are trademarks of Sirius XM Radio Inc. and its respective subsidiaries. All other marks and logos are the property of their respective owners. All rights reserved.

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E E V R Old Florida Waterfront Charm Re-Discovered E R TH ON! S E R FO EAS The Perfect Vacation Getaway for Fishing, Boating and Outdoor Enthusiasts NOWING S SPR Accommodations are nestled on 6 lush tropical acres of pristine waterfront directly on the Indian River Lagoon. As you make your way down the one lane road you will truly be stepping back in time. Your hosts Kim and Robert Pruitt have re-captured the very best of Old Florida charm with modern conveniences and services to make your stay truly memorable and unforgettable.

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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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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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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

Ezanchorpuller.com/collections/anchor-winch

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FOULFREE TRANSDUCER COATING

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Enter To Win A VOODOO KAKUKAYAK! The Kaku Voodoo is the ultimate sight casting paddle craft. This Authentic Fishing Paddle Craft has a unique look and performance. Part Kayak, part paddle board, with some micro skiff qualities. “ The Kaku Voodoo is like a Cadillac on the water, comfort and stability combined with all the accessories an angler could want.”

Visit

Length 13’ Width 35” Hull Weight 77lbs Capacity 450+

CoastalAnglerMag.com/contest 18

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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.

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM


T

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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Airline_CoastalAnglerAd_3-2016_Layout 1 3/18/16 1:07 PM Page 1

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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30 VALUE

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WE RIF

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YO

$

COM

PEL $

26

MODE

7 FT WEA

Custo

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$

COMP

WEA $ 9

8

MODEL

20v 1/2" IMP 1/2"

ITEM 63852

2" EX ITEM

COMP

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72

MODEL CTB81

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COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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1,000+ Stores Nationwide • HarborFreight.com SUPER COUPON

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At Harbor Freight Tools, the “Compare to” price means that the specified comparison, which is an item with the same or similar function, was advertised for sale at or above the “Compare to” price by another national retailer in the U.S. within the past 90 days. Prices advertised by others may vary by location. No other meaning of “Compare to” should be implied. For more information, go to HarborFreight.com or see store associate.

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.

INSTANT SAVINGS INSTANT SAVE RIGHT NOW ON

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™ ™

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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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Limited Collector’s Edition

Damascus steel forged to throw them for a curve at only $79

F

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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êêêêê “Very hefty, well-built knife and sheath. Extremely goodlooking and utilitarian.” — R., Lacey, Washington Damascus Curva Knife, you’ll be ready to throw a curve of your own. Limited Reserves. Damascus steel blades are a lost art form that only a handful of artisan bladesmiths have mastered. These legendary blades take time to forge and only a few are crafted each month. Don’t let this beauty slip through your fingers. Call today!

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

Stauer… Afford the Extraordinary.®

Rating of A+


Profile for Coastal Angler Magazine

Coastal Angler Magazine | April 2020 | Charleston Edition    

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

Coastal Angler Magazine | April 2020 | Charleston Edition    

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