Coastal Angler Magazine | October 2021 | Emerald Coast Edition

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STREAMERS FOR

FALL TROPHY

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By Jacob Milholland

ctober is a special month in the mountains. Autumn colors and cooler weather signal it’s time to head back to trout water. Hunting a trophy brown trout is what fall is all about. These fish can be caught nymphing a big stonefly or drifting an October caddis, but the old adage, “big bait, big fish,” holds true. Streamer fishing is a surefire way to try and target these old brutes. Streamers are flies that imitate forage such as baitfish, crawfish, sculpin, other trout or even mice. While the common way to fish a streamer is to enact action by “stripping” or pulling the fly line, streamers can be dead drifted, jigged or swung. There is no wrong way to fish streamers, but the goal is to make the fly look like the real thing. Equipment: We fish heavier rods, tippets and leaders, as we are targeting larger fish. The flies are more wind resistant or heavily weighted, and the strikes can be more aggressive. Think 5 to 8 weights and 8 to 20-pound fluorocarbon tippet/leader. A misconception of streamer fishing is that it must be done from a boat on a large river. While a boat is nice for covering ground, wading anglers can adapt these tactics to any size body of water. If you have the option to fish from a boat, multiple rods with different rate-of-fall (ROF) sinking fly lines should be in your arsenal to probe different depths: floating, intermediate (falls at one foot per second), and ROF-6 (falls at six inches per second). Fly Selection: Ask anyone what they throw, and you’ll get a different answer. It’s hard to go wrong with Woolly Bugger variations—like Sparkle Minnows or Bow River Buggers—any Kelly Galloup pattern or Clouser minnows to start out. Pick staple colors that allow you to adjust to conditions: white, black, bold (yellow or chartreuse) and flashy. Big fish drop their guard in nasty weather, and these can result in the best days on the water. Tactics: Brown trout ambush their prey, so look for places adjacent to current where fish can sit without expending too much energy. Covering water is paramount to success with a streamer. Likely holding water can produce results immediately, so don’t spend too much time in one spot. You are hunting the largest fish willing to eat the fly, not trying to force inactive fish to feed. Vary your retrieve; sometimes jigging or dead drifting can be better than a strip, or slower or faster retrieves may get a fish to react. Mental fortitude is just as important as the where and how. You can go hours or even days without seeing a fish follow the fly, but the magic of streamer fishing lies in the take of the fly and the caliber of fish. Jacob Milholland fishes with Cohutta Fishing Company in Blue Ridge, Ga. Check them out at www.cohuttafishingco.com or call (706) 946-3044.

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By Capt. Quinlyn Haddon

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t seems even the most remote waterways are becoming more crowded every year. More boats can lead to some extremely dangerous situations when boaters exhibit a lack of respect for the water, and it’s pretty easy to identify those who should not be allowed to operate a boat. But there are also people who create frustrating situations, particularly while fishing, who might just be unaware of certain etiquette. It is unique to the Southeastern United States to have access to such vastly diverse fisheries within a relatively small area. It is fortunate boat owners can easily travel to a new and different fishery and bring their own vessel with them. However, just as you don’t have to travel far before the fishery changes, the same applies to local fishing etiquette. Some of the unspoken rules will apply no matter where you are, but it is generally a good idea to check in with local knowledge and identify the local vhf channel before launching your boat somewhere new. While nobody owns the water, commercial and charter fishing captains generally operate with respect for each other to make sharing the fishery feasible and pleasant. When pleasure boaters don’t understand or don’t respect local etiquette, it disrupts fishing enough to affect the people who are trying to make a living on the water. As a general rule, try to stay away from other boats as much as possible. If you have to maneuver around or fish near another boat, be respectful of the type of fishing they are doing. If a vessel is anchored, they will generally be fishing off the back of the boat, often running a chum slick, which means you should avoid driving behind them. If a boat is anchored

offshore, in an area that you are unfamiliar with, they are probably fishing coordinates that took them years of hard work to acquire. You should absolutely not anchor near them,

nor should you drive next to them to mark their location. If you are offshore hunting for fish that appear under flocks of diving birds, look for a flock that isn’t currently being worked by another fisherman. These birds are moving around over fish that are traveling, and moving in can cause the boat that got to the birds first to be cut off from the school of fish. The ocean is vast and birds are plentiful, look for birds on your own, not just an easy-to-spot boat under birds. Overcrowded fishing areas, that don’t operate under anchor, follow certain traffic patterns. These patterned drifts or trolls should be observed and followed just like any roadway. The Marathon Humps, for example, should be trolled east to west, and west to east. Fishing oil rigs in the northern Gulf of Mexico can be made extremely difficult by poor etiquette, as locations are limited and can be made even more limited due to weather. Places like this rely heavily on unspoken rules of the road, and respect. These areas are primarily fished in two different ways: live bait and chum drifts. Charter boats take the time to catch live bait before making it out there, which can be time consuming and difficult. If there are fish on the surface, and someone nearby starts a chum drift, this pushes the surface fish down deep, where the fish will no longer be eating the hard-earned live bait. This is horrible etiquette that rewards lazy and ignorant fishermen. If you show up to a rig without live bait and see other boats using it, with fish clearly on the surface, you should probably just troll lures until other people start a chum drift. Learn and respect the local etiquette anywhere you get your boat wet. There’s no reason we can’t all catch fish, be safe and have fun doing it.

Capt. Quinlyn Haddon fishes with Blue Magic Charters in Marathon, Florida Keys. Check her out at CaptainQuinlyn.com, @captainquinlyn or call (504) 920-6342.

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WHEN TEMPS COOL DOWN, THE GROUPER BITE HEATS UP

I

’m going to date myself here, but what is about to happen will come as no surprise to me. This is time of year I live for. You see, I’ve been watching this beautiful cycle happen with grouper for almost four decades now. As soon as the mullet run slows, and the vast schools of cigar minnows (cigs) and sardines drift inshore, so do the larger (male) gag grouper. This generally occurs around the middle of October. The scamp bite will be hard and fast during this same time in deeper water. I started my grouper fishing career with heavy electric and hydraulic commercial reels and eventually switched over to Elec-Tra-Mates and Precision Auto Reels, but now I’ve gone full circle to lighter (heavyduty) level-wind reels with braided line and ultra stealth terminal tackle to stay ahead of the mental evolution of grouper and large snapper. You see, back in the day when there were so many grouper, it was a competitive atmosphere on the bottom. The first bait to the bottom used to catch the biggest red snapper or gag, even using monofilament leader, but

Tim Barefoot

sardines are by far the best choice for instant bites, but the problem with them is everything down there gives them a whack. Fishing a bait that eliminates everything but large black sea bass, large snapper and grouper helps weed through the smaller fish to find the big male grouper you’re looking for. Live pinfish, sailors

now it’s just not that way. I haven’t cleaned hundreds of grouper… I’ve cleaned thousands of them before selling them, and I’m always curious about what they were eating. One common denominator in gags and red grouper, but not as many scamp grouper, are the small red crabs that are obviously plentiful on live bottom.

This is what prompted me to experiment with crab jigs. I made my first batch of Crab Decoy Jigs over a decade ago and quickly realized they out-fish any other bottom rig I’ve ever used. I tie them in with red braided line and a short piece of fluorocarbon leader tied in a loop knot. Then I sweeten the pot with a live bait. Bait selection is important. Live cigs and

choice grunts, grass grunts and tomtate grunts all work. I like to fish big stacks of beeliners, and that makes beeliners one of my alltime favorite baits. I fish them live or butterflied on a Crab Decoy Jig. The older, wiser males are growing increasingly tackle shy, so shed all the useless terminal tackle and scale down to “clean” heavyduty tackle that can fool ole big boy into biting. For video with detailed instructions on fishing Tim Barefoot’s rigs and proof that they work, visit his website at barefootcatsandtackle.com.

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ANGLERS SET NEW FLORIDA SALTWATER FISHING RECORDS Scamp

I

t was a monster summer for three anglers who Record on April 7 while fishing at Santa Rosa each landed a Florida Saltwater All-tackle Beach. Sidney’s 2.8-pound catch beat out the previous record of 2.4 pounds. If you feel like Fishing Record. you’re having déjà vu, don’t worry, you’re not Scamp alone. That previous record of 2.4 pounds was set A new Florida Saltwater Fishing Record for earlier this year by angler Joseph Peckham. scamp was set by Mark John Gibner during a Schoolmaster fishing expedition near John’s Pass Marina in Pinellas County on June 11. His 29.6-pound scamp Anthony Mastitski filled the vacant beat the previous record of 28.38 pounds set by schoolmaster category, which was opened Jan. 1, Braden Douglas Pursell in April 2002. 2019. Mastitski’s 2.07-pound schoolmaster was “I think that for the first 20 feet or so, the caught in Broward County on July 27. fish didn’t know that it was hooked,” said Gibner. Claim Your Record “When it did, it started to dig. At first, as he was Want to claim your own state record? There pulling drag, I had to palm my reel to slow him are currently no records listed for white grunt or down. But after a short back and forth, I finally got blueline tilefish in the all-tackle category. There the upper hand and was able to land him with lots are also numerous fly-fishing tackle categories of enthusiasm from my friends.” with vacant records, giving anglers an opportunity Whiting (Gulf kingfish) to hold the record for these species. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Capt. Sidney Little caught the latest Gulf kingfish (whiting) Florida Saltwater Fishing Commission (FWC) maintains state records in 2 FLORIDA

OCTOBER 2021

fish)

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all-tackle and fly fishing categories for 81 species caught in Florida state waters and adjacent federal waters. Saltwater record holders receive a certificate of accomplishment, prize pack, recognition in various publications, and a custom ink fish print to memorialize their catch courtesy of Fish Print Shop. To qualify for a record, the catch must be weighed on land with a certified scale, and photographs must be submitted clearly showing the weight displayed on the scale, the scale’s certification, the rod and reel used to make the catch, the angler with their catch, and various views of the fish for identification purposes. The angler’s signature on a completed application form must be witnessed by a notary. For more information and to view current records, visit CatchaFloridaMemory.com and click “Records,” contact AnglerRecognition@ MyFWC.com or call 850-487-0554.



EIGHT MONTHS OF THE KEY WEST FISHING TOURNEY

A

look at the results from the eight-month-long Key West Fishing Tournament is a pretty good glimpse at what’s been going on in one of the world’s best fishing destinations over the last year. The 2021 tournament drew 312 participating anglers who entered 753 releases and 262 weighed catches. A South Dakota woman was named the women’s master angler after scoring multiple divisional wins and tournament records in the long-running challenge. Katelynn Wells, of Miller, S.D., took top honors for overall releases with 59, including six dolphin, as well as tallying 14 division-leading catches including a 28-pound amberjack, a 12-pound barracuda on plug and a 17-pound red snapper on 30-pound-test line that set a divisional record. She also scored three “heaviest fish” wins and two fish that set tournament weight records: a 2.8-pound ladyfish on plug and a 4.8-pound seatrout on 12-pound line. Wells fished on Off the Rock with Capt. Brad Nowicki and on Live Action Sportfishing with Capt. Ryan Carter, both of Key West. The men’s master angler was Rob Ripka, of Pulaski, New York. His achievements included catching two division-leading fish on 12-pound line: a 12-pound bonito and a 4-pound yellowtail snapper—as well as a divisionleading 31.6-pound kingfish. Fishing on Bait Stealer with Capt. Dale Bittner, of Key West, he also set a “heaviest fish” record for catching a 6-pound yellowtail on 30-pound line. Ten-year-old Julia Bernstein, of Miami, fishing in the peewee division, eclipsed her competitors to earn the peewee master angler award for achievements including a remarkable 104 releases. Her catches included a 23.8-pound Jack Crevalle on 30-pound line that earned a tournament weight record, a 24.8-pound barracuda on 20-pound line that earned divisional “heaviest fish” honors, four other “heaviest fish” winners and three division leaders. The young Bernstein fished with Bittner on Bait

Re

bl Stealer and also on a private boat. Capt. Bill Wickers III, of the Linda D V, earned overall guide honors in the general division, tallying 14 winners and a division-topping 36 releases including three marlin. Capt. Brice Barr of the Double Down was named top guide in the light general division, guiding his anglers to a divisional best of 66 releases—64 of them sailfish. Capt. Tim Carlile of the Outcast earned the overall guide achievement award in the flats division. He also guided his anglers to the most flats releases with 213, including 86 tarpon. Celebrating the diverse variety of fish found in Florida Keys waters, the Key West Fishing Tournament provides recognition and awards to anglers posting the heaviest catch in each of 33 species and the most releases of fish in seven other species. The 2022 challenge begins Dec. 1, 2021 and continues until July 31, 2022. For a complete list of winners and catches, visit keywestfishingtournament.com.

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USE THE WIND TO FIND FISH

By John Saporito

T

he wind is a great mover of bait, and a mover of bait is a mover of fish. Among the myriad factors that contribute to gamefish location, wind ranks somewhere near the top. Short-term winds influence the whereabouts of baitfish schools in many ways, which in turn influences the location of the gamefish that feed on them. Fish are highly sensitive to water temperature. Even a change of a degree or two can motivate them to seek out water of a more desired temperature. In the northern hemisphere, a cold northerly wind may lower water temperatures enough to force baitfish to move toward areas of more stable temperature, such as deeper water. Conversely, a southerly wind may raise water temperatures beyond a certain bait species’ comfort range, causing them to seek out areas with cooler water. Many migratory baitfish begin their seasonal journeys based on temperature changes initiated by short-term wind events, such as storms. They respond by relocating to areas that better suit their specific needs. When a localized or short-term wind pattern changes the water temperature, you can bet the baitfish will take notice and act accordingly.

6 FLORIDA

OCTOBER 2021

Baitfish of all sizes are always on the lookout for an easy meal. Just like the predators that hunt them, baitfish prefer to feed with the lowest possible expenditure of energy. Suspension feeders, such as many members of the herring family, look for big blows to stir up detritus, plankton and other small organisms and organic matter that they can eat. The wind also creates surface currents, which push plankton and other miniscule prey items. Any significant wind has the potential to concentrate, stir up, or otherwise move the food baitfish feed on. The wind also has the power to enhance or diminish tidal action. A wind moving in the same direction as a tidal current will accelerate the water’s movement, overpowering and transporting both baitfish and their prey. A wind-against-current scenario may form a natural corral that concentrates and traps baitfish in a temporary location. In bays and other inshore waterways, a strong offshore wind can combine with a low tide to render certain areas uninhabitable to baitfish due shallowness. A strong onshore wind, in conjunction with a high tide, can pile up water in areas that before were dry, allowing baitfish to enter feeding grounds that were previously inaccessible.

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It’s important to know where there is deep, stable water for baitfish to take shelter in when the temperature suddenly rises or drops. Also look for “dead ends” in the areas you fish, such as coves and points of land, which act as barriers that trap and hold bait when the wind is howling. If you find baitfish, odds are good that the gamefish are nearby. John Saporito is a lifelong fisherman and student of the seas. Visit him online at guerillaangling.com.


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GIANT SWORDFISH IS A CANAVERAL RECORD By CAM Staff

I

n the early morning hours of Saturday, Sept. 11, three anglers fishing out of Cape Canaveral, Fla., idled the “High Maintenance” into Sunrise Marina towing a swordfish that’s being called a Port Canaveral record. The broadbill bottomed out a set of 500-pound scales after being dead for more than 16 hours, so it’s safe to say it outweighed the unofficial and long-standing port record of 365 pounds. One of the anglers, Steven Sharpe, estimated its weight to be 550 pounds, based on measurements. Records aside, it was a huge fish. Sharpe, his long-time fishing buddy, Jeff Thummel, and George Birkhead, who was on his first swordfish trip, were drifting in 1,500-foot depths about 40 miles out of Port Canaveral. On their first set, they had bite that came unbuttoned. They re-baited with a whole ladyfish and dropped it down to about 1,400 feet. The big fish came tight at about 10:30 a.m. and then rocketed toward the surface. Sharpe said they had no idea of the size of the fish through most of a 5 ½-hour fight.

Their Lindgren-Pitman S2-1200 electric reel and Handler custom rod battled the fish as it surfaced and dove numerous times and dragged the boat 25 miles from where the fish was initially hooked. “About every hour, he’d show,” Sharpe said. “We didn’t realize how big he was until we got him to the boat. “We harpooned it, hauled it in and gaffed it. When we gaffed it, all hell broke loose.” The big fish beat itself against the boat until it finally expired and the crew got a tail rope on it at about 4 p.m. Only then was there a moment for celebration and cigars. They pulled a tape on the fish and got a short length of 101 inches from the fork of the tail to the tip of the lower jaw. Then the hard work began. “There were three people on board, and we couldn’t get that fish in the boat,” Sharpe said. “We tried everything and ended up having to idle it all the way home. We didn’t get to port until about 1 a.m.” They had to wait until 8 a.m. Saturday morning to get the fish up on scales.

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destin, FL October 2021 Tide Chart Provided by Destin (Choctawhatchee Bay, East Pass), FL Perdido Bay, FL - Sep 2021 Oct 2021 Nix Point, www.USHarbors.com Date

Date

Low ft

1

Fri

2 3 PM 4

High

AM1

ft Wed

2 6:18

Thu 0.9

Sat

3 7:27

Sun

8:35

0.8

Mon

9:49

0.7

9:53 5 Tue 6

Wed

7

Thu

9

Sat

10:43

8 Fri 11:24

11:56 10 Sun

4

ft 5 6

0.8Fri

Sat

Sun

High AM

ft

10:06

1.0

11:08

1.0

PM 8:56 ft 1.0 AM

Mon

0.0 6:25 1:18 0.4 7 Tue 11:18A 0.6

1:23P 8

0.0 9

0.6 Wed 11:04 Thu

0.0 11

Sat

12

Sun

10

0.0

Fri

12:22 13

0.9 Mon

14 1:18

Tue 1.0

6:26

3:43

0.9

5:08 18

0.9 Sat

6:28

0.1

14

Thu

9

0.2

15

Fri

16

Sat

0

0.3

17 Sun 11:50A 18

Mon

1:45 19 Tue 20

Wed

21

Thu

3:29

6:31 19 20 7:50 21 9:09

0.8 Sun

0.2 24

Thu

1:25P

0.4

Fri

Sat Sun

22 Fri 5:13

27 0.1

Mon

6:52 24 Sun

29 0.0

Wed

23

Sat

28 30

Tue Thu

25 Mon 8:19

12:22 0.0 0.9

9:30 27 Wed

1:07

0.8

2:00

0.8

0.0

26

Tue

0.0

28 Thu 10:28

11:12 30 Sat

0.0 5:08

2:58

0.8

29

Fri

3:59

0.8

31

Sun

11:42

6:33

11:55

0.2

0.1

11:11

1.1

0.7 0.7

7:12

0.1

6:39

11:24 6:31

0.0

6:26

7:11

6:21 0.1 Moon

6:39

6:30

0.0

6:27

7:09

6:27

7:08

6:28

7:07

6:28

7:06

6:29

7:05

5:58 6:33

4:27

10:41A

0.5 0.6

0.5

6:30 0.7 10:39 3:15 3:23

0.8 0.9

0.2

6:40

0.0

12:30

6:42

7:08

11:44

6:50 6:32 8:05

6:32

0.9

1.0 1.0

7:07

0.3

11:10

0.3

1:45

0.2

6:30

7:02

3:29

0.1

6:31

7:01

0.1

6:31

7:00

0.0

6:32

6:58

0.0

6:32

6:57

0.0

6:33

6:56

10:28

0.0

6:33

6:54

11:12

0.0

6:34

6:53

0.1

6:34

6:52

0.2

6:35

6:51

0.2

6:35

6:49

6:24

0.0

2:40

0.0

6:45 9:30 6:19

3:50

0.0

6:46

4:42

0.0

6:44 8:19 6:20 6:18

7:05 2:15

0.9 5:19

0.1

6:46 11:42 6:17 6:47 11:55 6:16

0.8 5:36

0.1

6:48 11:41 6:14

3:26

10:58

0.7

0.6

7:02 6:19 0.2 7:01

0.6

9:45

4:35

0.3

2:39

0.3

0.2

4:45 6:50

6:37

6:47

12:58

0.2

6:37

6:46

2:03

0.2

6:38

6:44

0.1

6:38

6:43

0.3

6:11

6:39

6:42

6:52 5:43 6:08 6:52 6:53 6:54

0.1

6:39

6:41

7:04

0.1

6:40

6:39

8:09

0.1

6:41

A Full-Service Marine Canvas & Upholstery Shop 6:38

9:00

0.1

6:41

6:37

6:07 6:06 6:05

0.0

6:55

6:04

2:13

0.0

6:55

6:03

6:54

2:59

0.0

6:56

6:03

6:53

3:34

0.0

6:57

6:02

4:01

0.0

6:58

6:01

4:17

0.1

6:58

6:00

6:33 6:34

6:52

6:49

0.1

1:12

6:56

The Canvas Lady

6:36

6:51 4:19 6:09

0.0

(850) 837-6611

0.3

0.1

6:58 0.0

6:29

0.3

6:50 3:07 6:10

10:45

• Outdoor Heritage Park Complex - Primrose (Destin’s oldest seine boat),Post Office (Destin’s original post office) with all new exhibits, memorial pathway and heritage markers • Reef, beach, & bay ecology exhibits • Over 100 mounts of locally caught fish • Rodeo Gallery which features all things Destin Fishing Rodeo • Community Life exhibit features the history of our school, community center, Blessing of the Fleet and churches. The exhibit includes backlit stained glass from the Greek Orthodox Church • Hands on stations for kids and teens • Scavenger hunts for the young and young at heart. • Audio tours • Small and large group storytelling tours.

Moon

9:18

0.1

11:57 6:57 0.0

Experience the exciting and educational exhibits detailing early life in Destin...

108 Stahlman Avenue, Destin, FL 32541 6:48

5:28 9:300.2 0.36:48 10:56 6:13

6:29 11:35

Set

0.2

1.0

0.3 5:21

6:41

6:26

12:17 7:06

6:33

6:34

6:28

1:13

4:50 0.81.0 7:00 11:16 8:57 0.1 6:31 1.0

11:56

6:43 5:13 6:22 6:44 6:52 6:21

11:36

4:10 0.81.0 8:12 10:55 5:43

PM

0.36:42 11:50A 6:25

0.0

10:42 3:41 0.70.9 7:23

6:31

ft

0.0

12:23

7:12

1:16

11:10 3:26

0.5

26

1.1

Wed

12:06

25 0.1

1.1

6:29

Tue 0.6

23

8:29

Mon 0.7

0.2 22

6:26

1.0

7:09 0.0

Wed

2

7:13

0.0

PM

ft

7:13 11:33 0.3 0.16:25 2:47 0.5 0.9 3:3212:42 5:574:05 0.2 0.7 5:2812:490.3 0.26:41

1.0

13

Fri

Moon 6:25 0.0

6:38 10:43 6:32

1.0

5:53

9:55 6:28

17

Rise 9:53 Set

1:47

4:57

1.1

www.USHarbors.com

Rise

Set 12:54

10:05 1.0

7:05 6:27

www.USHarbors.com

ft

1.1

6:27

0.9

AM

5:27

8:44 0.1 7:11

4:18

15 2:25

Thu

ft

11:38 6:26 0.9

0.7

Tue

16

0.6

4:00

12

0.0

ft

Find out why Destin’s historical and natural ingredients have made it into the world class resort it is today!

Low

Low

4:19 0.80.6 7:256:11 0.1 0.6 11:10

Mon

Wed 1.0

PM

12:03

Rise

11

3

5

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11:41

0.2 6:35 6:49 Three Rivers Bait & Tackle

0.3

10:56

0.2

9:18

6:48 frozen We6:36 now carry mullet and squid! 0.3finger 6:37 6:47

12:58

0.2

6:37

6:46

2:03

0.2

6:38

6:44

0.3

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Baker, FL 32531

5:43

0.1

6:39

6:41

7:04

0.1

6:40

6:39

8:09

0.1

6:41

6:38

9:00

0.1

6:41

6:37

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Fishing forecasts

Lines

OUT

Capt. Alex Kendrick Reel Salty Charters Destin www.reelsaltydestin.com

ant Photo Credit: Gabrielle Mercado

O

ctober, by far my favorite fishing month of the year! Mild weather and water temps are cooling off creating the perfect balance of fishing conditions. This is the time of year Blackfin Tuna and flounder start moving into shallower water. You can find flounder on the near shore reefs anywhere from 50’-70’. This is where your light tackle comes into play. I like Medium 6’ rod with 20# test, along with a 2oz egg weight to a small barrel swivel. As for my leader I tend to run 12# fluorocarbon about 24” long with an Owner 2/0 light wire circle hook. Now the best choice of bait for flounders are live Mud Minnows hooked through the bottom of their mouth going out the top of their nose. When fishing the near shore structures let your weight lay right on the bottom with just a little slack in the line. This allows the bait to swim around more freely and cover more area. When the line comes tight start reeling. As for Blackfin Tuna we tend to find them anywhere from 10 miles offshore to as close as our sea buoy. Best thing to do is look for large schools of bait either on top or focus on your bottom machine and find the bait balls. Live bait is always clutch but if trolling is your favorite, lay out a nice spread with a mix of cedar plugs and smaller skirts. My ideal trolling speed is about 6-7 knots but I have caught them as fast as 12 knots. If you’re going to live I suggest a fluorocarbon leader with 5/0 circle hooks and use either Cigar minnows or Herring. Now live baiting I like to look for the bait balls on my bottom machine then do a slow controlled drift around 1 knot. Chumming for tuna is a good way to get them fired up. Bow into the tide, set your baits, then start chunking bait. If you’re in water over 100’ I will run my bait down about 50’ on a down rigger trailing about 30’-40’ of line behind my weight. I will run 2 top water baits as my short one will be about 30’ behind the boat and my second one about 40’. This helps reduce the chances of tangles while you’re drifting. Remember when it comes to fishing find what works for you. As always keep your lines out and keep them tight!

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october 2021

the emerald coast 3


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3. Grill, turning and basting occasionally, for 10 minutes per inch of thickness or until fish is flaky and no longer translucent in the center.

83


fall fishing

heats up

in the Panhandle Capt. Preston Muller Gulf Angler Charters 850-428-0118

M

mmm October in NW Florida. When I think about the month of October here in Destin, so many memories come to mind. The cool morning air, the red skies in the evening, the smell of saltwater when I open my truck door at the docks and oh let’s not forget about the fishing. Fall in Florida is a time where your senses are enlivened with the distant smell of smoke from a bonfire as the sun glistens off the dew on the grass. It’s windows down, 90’s country on 10 time of year and I can’t get enough of it! Now let’s talk fish. Fall in the panhandle brings new life to our fishery. It’s kind of the last hoorah after a long season. The water is cooling off and with that brings in a good push of blackfin tuna, king fish and large Spanish mackerel near the pass. Keep your eyes peeled in the morning on the bait bench for Blackfin skying on bait. A popular way to target them is bump trolling live baits or trolling feathers, cedar plugs and spoons. The blackfin here in the

Destin area are above average grade and it’s not uncommon to catch one over 25lbs. They are built for speed and endurance so hold on tight and enjoy the ride! Big kingfish at the ledge in the 180’ of water range can also be a fun way to occupy your October day of fishing. If you want the big boys, we recommend using larger fin baits trolled slowly behind the boat or on your flat line while bottom fishing. The reef species are excited for cooler weather as well; in particular mangrove snapper. Our favorite way to catch mangroves is using chumming techniques with super light tackle (20 lb range). We like to tell our customers that mangrove snapper fishing is like dancing with your old lady; once you get hooked up on light tackle just take it slow and easy and don’t forget to buy her dinner and drinks before you take her home - finesse is key here. They are smart and delicious. I have learned to really appreciate our Mangrove Snapper fishery. As always, keep in mind that October is a weather transition month. Cool air over warm Gulf waters can chop things up out there so choose your days wisely. The locals will sometimes say it’s “Rocktober” due to some days being rough. Regardless, the fishing is great just use common sense and if it’s too rough, don’t push it; there’s probably a good college football game on anyway. As always, check out our friends at Emerald Coast Bait & Tackle and Half Hitch Tackle for insider knowledge and gear. Happy October fishing!

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october 2021

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Worth the wait Capt. Lionel James Instagram @lionstaleadventures YouTube.com/ lionstaleadventures

O

ctober is a great month of fishing in the Destin, Florida area. As fall starts to set in and we creep closer and closer to winter our waters start to cool off. When this happens, these black drum become more active and willing to eat. It is common to find these black drum in schools ranging from 4 or 5 fish to as many as 20-50 fish. Where you will typically find these fish is near brackish water with the adult fish most often found in water with higher salinity. Often juvenile fish can be mistaken for sheepshead, having four to five vertical black bars. While sheepshead are easily recognized by their teeth, the black drum have chin barbels, kind of like a catfish. Black drum are known to be bottom feeders, while mature black drum diets consist mostly of crabs and shrimp. How do you know if a black drum is feeding… like the Red Drum they feed with their heads down so that their tail are slight out of the water (tailing) those same chin barbells help them locate food much like the catfish does with theirs. Typically, you can locate black drum on our jetties and all bridges in the local area. When fishing for these black drum be very patient as it can take a good amount of time to get a bite. However, it’s worth the wait. You are probably going to catch you biggest black drum ever! The black drum in this photo was caught on a 10-weight fly rod by moonshine rods on a small crab/shrimp patter fly. 6 THE EMERALD COAST

october 2021

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Perdido Bay, FL October 2021 Tide Chart Provided by Nix Point, Perdido Bay, FL - Sep 2021 Nix Point, Perdido Bay, FL - Oct 2021 www.USHarbors.com Date High

Date

Low ft

AM1

ft

ftWed PM 8:56 ft 1.0 AM

Low

Low

PM

ft

ft

AM

PM

ft

ft

PM

ft

Rise

Set

Rise 9:53 Set

Moon 0.0 6:25

7:13

1

Fri

2 9:20

Thu 1.0

10:06

1.0

9:38

0.0

6:42 10:43 6:36

0.0

6:26

7:12

2

Sat

3 10:29

1.0Fri

11:08

1.0

10:09

0.1

6:42 11:24 6:34

0.0

6:26

7:11

Sun

11:37

0.0

6:27

7:09

6:27

7:08

6:28

7:07

6:28

7:06

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www.USHarbors.comwww.USHarbors.com

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O

ctober is our favorite month of year to fish! Pelagics, such as blue marlin, sailfish, white marlin, wahoo, and of course mahi are near shore and have been caught around the nipple / 131 hole & of course the fads. Inshore the slot redfish have been hit or miss but anytime now we should be seeing the giant fall schools of both slots and bulls. But our favorite fishing is the flounder fishing on the shallow wrecks just off the beach. From the east side of Pensacola beach all the way down to Panama City beach on natural and artificial reefs we catch flounder in 20-45ft using short Carolina rigs with small fish baits, and using bucktails tipped with squid or gulp, which is my favorite way to fish for them - we also occasionally catch keeper gag groupers while jigging on these spots this time of year! Most of the flounder are just keeper size but every once in a while, you get a doormat!

Blue marlin picture courtesy of Capt. Jason Hallmark in Destin, Florida

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october 2021

the emerald coast 11


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Hey Fishing Friends,

O

ctober is here and finally giving us all a break from the summer heat and humidity! These cooler mornings seem to put a little pep in everyone's step, or maybe it is just College Football! This month, along the Emerald Coast, we are still seeing our share of Blackfin Tuna as well as the occasional Sailfish. The Tuna are hanging closer to the live bottoms and wrecks and so we will troll with Cigar Minnows as well as mix in a squid chain or two. Along with Tuna, we will be targeting King Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, and Bonito which are found in slightly deeper water, typically in the 25-100 ft range when fishing within 9 miles. The best time to find those nearshore Mahi is when the wind is on the calmer side. We are still in season for Amberjack as well as Grey Trigger, Vermillion, and Lane Snapper. Inshore the bite is all about Redfish, Trout, and Flounder, and as the temperature cools, Flounder will begin making their way into the bay during spawning season. If you want to take a stab at some Flounder, you have the first half of the month to take advantage of the cooler temps before the season shuts off from Oct. 15 - Nov. 30th. Flounder are sensitive to loud noises and can scatter quickly if you start knocking the boat with your gig or other gear. Nighttime gigging produces the best results, but you can certainly still try during daylight. Target them in the shallows when the tide is low. They also like to hang in groups, so if you spot one there's likely a few close by. As always remember to check the regulations and make sure your saltwater fishing license is up to date before heading out. Keeper size has recently increased to 14" total length and your bag limit is now set to 5 Flounder per person as of March 2021. Until next month, let's continue to dodge those storms and keep those lines tight!

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october 2021

the emerald coast 13


pensacola, FL October 2021 Tide Chart Provided by Nix Point, Perdido Bay, FL - Sep 2021 Pensacola, FL - Oct 2021 www.USHarbors.com

Nix Point, Perdido Bay, FL - Sep 2021

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5724 U.S. 90 Milton, FL 32583 3:23 0.9 www.facebook.com/eddieenglishcompany 3:41 https://eddie-english-co-inc.business.site 0.9

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1.0

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october 2021

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at 8am Monday-Friday 12:17 1.0 until 6pm Saturday 1:16 from 0.9 8am - 12pm

21 9:42

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Mon

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Open

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3:29

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18

17 Sun 11:50A

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7:12

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Eddie English

Sat

ft 5

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11

Owned and operated locally for 25 years

11

4

High AM

ftWed PM8:56 ft 1.0 AM

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2 6:51

High

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Moo

6:29


Pumpkins and Doormats

L

Mike Smith Smitty's Surf Fishing www.smittyssurffishing.com @SmittysSurfFishing

N

o, we’re not talking about a new HGTV series about Fall home decorating. The pumpkins and doormats I’m referring to are the fish known as Red Drum and Flounder. The cooler temperatures of October mean two things for surf anglers up and down the Emerald Coast…big redfish and big flounder. When these massive surf dwellers start moving, you need to be ready. I’m sure if you follow these tips you’ll be hooked up to a pumpkin or doormat in no time. Red Drum also known as, puppy drum, redfish, bulls, pumpkins, or simply reds, start making their way to the passes usually around the first cold front of October. These large schools start to make their migratory journey up and down the Gulf Coast and will hang around most of the winter. To target these fish, we like to use cut mullet or whiting, sometimes even a whole whiting depending on the size. I use 30lb braid for my mainline with a sliding sinker attachment followed by a bead and swivel. The bead acts as a knot protector, and from there I use 12-18-inches of 50lb mono leader tied to a 4/0 circle hook. You’ll find these cruising fish just off the first bar in about 3-5-foot of water. Typically, they will strike and circle back for the bait. Be patient, if you miss the first strike, give it about 30 seconds the fish will usually return, then get ready to yank ‘em in!

Sit back and catch more buSineSS.

Southern Flounder also referred to as, flatties, flukes or doormats, are migrating from the bays and estuaries headed to the Gulf of Mexico to spawn. Again, just like redfish, the best place to target the largest of this delicious table fare is along shorelines closest to the passes. To catch these guys, you’re going to need to do some walking, pitching your bait into deeper holes and pockets along the surf. For the best results you’ll need to downsize your tackle. I prefer about an 8’ rod paired with a 30004000 size spinning reel, spooled with light 10lb braid. The rig of choice is a small Carolina style set up, with a 1oz egg sinker. Your leader should be 12-18-inches of light fluorocarbon tied to a 2/0 circle hook. The preferred bait is mud minnows; however, live shrimp work well also. You’ll just have to wade your way through all the whiting if using shrimp, which isn’t a bad thing, they make great tacos. As I mentioned just pitch that bait into the deeper holes and pockets, then get ready to yank ‘em in! October is an awesome month for fishing along the Gulf Coast, the cooler temperatures make it great for long days on the beach. Get out there and explore, don’t be afraid to stray from your normal tactics, you never know what you may catch! Until next month folks, may your lines be tight and coolers be full.

advertiSe in

contact elizabeth

(850) 499-5685 capt.elizabeth@ coastalanglermagazine.com COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

october 2021

the emerald coast 15


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HOT SURF FISHING

T

he weather is starting to cool, and days are shorter. Sunrise is a 7 a.m., and it’s getting dark around 7:15 p.m. At the end of October, daylight savings time will begin. Fishing on the beach has been improving, and October is an excellent beach-fishing month. Snook and tarpon have been cruising near the trough, and my friend Larry recently hooked a tarpon that was so big it straightened out the treble hooks on his Krocodile spoon. Snook are being caught on live bait (greenies or croakers) but are also hitting jigs and crankbaits. In October, you may harvest one snook between 28 and 32 inches, except in the catchand-release areas on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The weeds (sargassum) are much better, and the wind has not been that bad. In general, tides are higher and the trough is deep. Croakers and whiting are hitting small jigs tipped with shrimp, and they can also be caught on small jigs. Cast, let the jig hit bottom, and then jerk it near the top of the water and let it sit. The fish are trying to pick it off the sand. Numbers of small jacks have been reported, with an average size of 2 pounds. I usually use 3/8-ounce DOA chartreuse jig with a 4-inch pearl Shad Tail. I’ve had good luck for jacks, ladyfish and snook when there is bait present. Look for birds, and then walk the shoreline looking for bait. Most of the fishing action is in the trough during high incoming or outgoing tides. The best time to fish is morning and evening. I’ve had more luck this year fishing slower and keeping the lure down near the bottom. On low tide, the fish are not in the trough; look for deeper shorelines. I’ve been fishing the bridges in the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie around dusk and at night. There’s some hot night fishing on topwater for snook where overhead lights hit the water. I use Zara Spooks (gold) and Rapala Skitterwalks (trout) and have been getting some great action on preslot snook. If you fish from the bridge, you’ll need a long-handled net. Try fishing around the lights on Jensen Beach Causeway or the 10-cent bridge in Stuart. Crabs are swimming along with the current near the top of the water. Predator fish are looking to the top to grab them. Both bridges are excellent snook spots, and you might just catch a big trout. Richard Matteson is a longtime contributor to Coastal Angler Magazine who writes for Stuart Rod and Reel Club. Contact him at (336) 414-3440.

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PRESSURE IER

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By Ryan Izquierdo

hen I was 12 years old, I moved to Palm Beach County, and I didn’t know anyone. I found a great way to spend my time when I discovered the Juno Beach Pier. From the first moment I walked out on that beachfront pier, my addiction for pier fishing was born. I have become a better fisherman and a better person because of it. What I find most exciting about pier fishing is the diversity it offers. Seasonal changes bring different species to catch and a variety of techniques to catch them. Bait & Lures: Organization is key. There is usually a limit on how many rods you’re allowed to bring on the pier. I bring a light spinning rod to catch bait, a conventional rod for casting live baits on bottom and a long surf rod to cast lures and freeline live baits. I always have Sabiki rigs. Usually you can find pods of pilchards, sardines, cigar minnows or other baitfish at piers. I use a size 3 Sabiki and a 1-ounce weight. Cast into the school and jig slowly. You will have a bucket of live bait in no time. From tarpon and snapper to snook, pretty much every species will eat a live pilchard. I keep a little bit of everything in my tackle bag to match the conditions: leader from 20 to 80 pounds, pyramid and egg weights, swivels and 1/0 to 6/0 J and circle hooks. Mullet Run: The changing of seasons initiates the mullet run. Millions of baitfish push south along Florida’s east coast. It’s not hard to spot or hear. Mullet are being attacked from every direction by hungry tarpon, snook,

16 FLORIDA

OCTOBER 2021

jacks, Spanish and king mackerel, bluefish and sharks. I recommend buying or cast netting mullet on the beach or in the river. Make sure to have a livewell or bucket and bubbler to keep the bait alive. Hook mullet through the lips or under the dorsal fin. Live-line them around the outside edges of bait schools with 60- to 100-pound leader, a 6/0 to 8/0 circle hook, and nothing smaller than a 5000size reel loaded with 30- to 50-pound braid. I recommend a drop net to help land and release your catch safely. Artificial Lures: I love to throw artificial lures at piers. I find the most success when the wind is blowing and the conditions are rough with white wash in the surf. Large 2- to 4-ounce plugs, swimbaits, Flair Hawks, bucktails and topwater plugs are some of my favorites. If I’m throwing lures, I won’t use anything less than 60-pound leader. Throw lures at first light and sundown because it can be tough hooking up in the middle of the day. Try and match the hatch with whatever live bait is around. Throw lures similar in size and color to what’s actually in the water. For more pier fishing tips from Ryan Izquierdo, check out the videos posted on his YouTube channel: Ryan Iz Fishing.

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM


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21

From Yam just

STONE CRAB HARVEST OPENS OCTOBER 15TH

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tone crab season opens Oct. 15 and runs through May 1. Remember that regulations changes were made last year that changed requirements for traps as well as the minimum length for legally harvestable claws. The minimum harvestable claw length is 2 7/8 inches. Trapping is the most efficient method of collecting the legal limit of 1-gallon of stone crab claws per-person, per-day. There is a 2-gallon possession limit per vessel, regardless of how many harvesters are on the boat. Requirements for stone crab traps are also very specific, so be sure to check the current regulations at myfwc.com before dropping them. Legal traps can be purchased at most bait and tackle stores. Recreational harvesters are allowed up to five traps. Although it’s not nearly as easy as pulling traps, diving and snorkeling for stone crabs is more adventurous and a lot of fun. In many areas, you can find spiny lobsters and stone crabs on the same reefs or rock piles. Whether diving or trapping, it is illegal to harvest claws from eggbearing females. Although it is permitted to take both claws if they are of legal length, most people choose to take just one. This leaves the crab with something to feed and defend itself with, which also allows it to re-grow its missing claw more quickly. For more information, go to myfwc.com.

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ith students across the country returning to school, Mud Hole Custom Tackle stepped up in its efforts to bring custom fishing rod building and tackle crafting to the youth of America. As the industry’s number one supplier of tools, supplies, components and education content, Mud Hole is uniquely positioned to engage kids and create an educational experience through rod building. “We’ve been working closely with teachers and school organizations throughout the United States for over a decade, teaching students valuable life skills, and in many cases, providing an avenue to earn required academic credits in their science and agriculture programs,” said Brook Oliva, Vice President of Operations at Mud Hole. “Rod building is the core of our business, and we are always excited to bring this craft to kids. Whether they pursue rod building as a pathway to a career in the hunting and fishing industry, or if they simply gain a lifelong passion, Mud Hole is happy to play a small part in their development.” Mud Hole works very closely with educators as well as youth groups and clubs, including Boy Scouts of America and 4-H, to provide discounted pricing for all the equipment and supplies needed to bring rod building and tackle crafting to the classroom. Mud Hole also provides personal online instruction to the teachers, sharing the skills needed to transfer rod building 24 FLORIDA

OCTOBER 2021

expertise to their students. Since its inception over 13 years ago, the Mud Hole Education Program has reached more than 650 institutions and over 30,000 students across America and in Canada and Australia, with hands on activities that promote classroom engagement. “It’s an honor for me to work directly with the teachers who bring this important skill set to students across the country,” said Anthony Youmans, Mud Hole’s Education Program Director. “I lead online rod building workshops each month dedicated to teachers, and I attend state-level teacher conventions throughout the year. We have even set up a Mud Hole Education Program Facebook group as a platform for educators to share their experiences and techniques with each other. It’s an amazing community, and I am so proud to support it.” In 2021, Mud Hole has stepped up efforts to reach new students with new classroom-focused education kits and enhanced price discounts, and adding new online resources to assist teachers through their curriculum— by all with the goal of supporting education. For more information about Mud Hole’s Education Program, contact Anthony Youmans directly at 866-790-7637, ext. 135.

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DRAG: SET IT AND FORGET IT

S

F

By Will Schmidt

I

cringe every time I see it, whether it’s a seasoned pro or newbie. A fish makes a blistering run; the angler reaches down to tighten the drag only to part ways with the fish due to too much pressure. There are a variety of reasons why tightening the drag during a fight is a bad idea. First, as the diameter of the spool gets smaller with less line, the drag already actually increases. The spool is spinning at the same rate, but less line is coming off. Physics, who knew? Also, the drag of the line itself in the water adds more strain—the more line, the more pressure. Finally, even if the line doesn’t break, the chances of pulling or straightening the hook increases with the additional load. Worst of all, losing a fish due to applying too much pressure is one of the easiest things to avoid. Set your drag and forget it. Old-school tactics still hold true today when it comes to setting a drag. Set it to 20 to 30 percent of line test strength. For example, if you’re using 10-pound test, you want your drag to be set between 2 and 3 pounds, 4 to 6 pounds for 20-pound test. To do this, you need a scale and a friend to hold it. An inexpensive spring scale will do the trick. Attach the line to the scale and pull against it. When the drag starts slipping, read the scale and that’s your drag setting. There’s some debate as to whether you should pull straight or with a bend in the rod. I use a bend, and it has never failed me. I generally set my drags at 25 percent of the test strength of the line, but there are certain situations that call for going higher and lower. If you are grouper fishing or chasing big snook near structure, you need to be able to turn the fish by applying maximum pressure. In this case, setting your drag more toward 30 percent of the test strength would be advisable. Because this rule was devised before the advent of braid, the type of line should also be

considered. The stretch of mono gives you a bit of forgiveness at the strike and during jumps. When setting the drag for braid, lighter or closer to 20 or 25 percent would be sensible. Many seasoned anglers, myself included, will add extra pressure to turn a wayward fish by thumbing or palming the spool. This can be useful, but it takes practice to get that touch, and all who do it will at some point apply too much pressure. Sometimes it’s a case of turn the fish or lose it, so your only option is to apply more pressure. However, in general, your best bet is to set it and forget it. Will Schmidt is a seasoned tournament angler who has been writing about fishing for more than two decades.

Gulf Cobia Study Underway

T

exas researchers are conducting some pretty cool research with Gulf of Mexico cobia in order to better understand the migratory patterns of this highly mobile species. Each spring and fall, you’ll see tower-bearing cobia boats cruising Gulf Coast beaches sight fishing for cobia as they migrate along the coast from Texas to the west coast of Florida and back again. Research has shown that brownies over-winter off the coast of Mississippi and Alabama as well as off South Florida, where there is mixing of Gulf and Atlantic cobia stocks. Researchers with the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation are tagging Texas cobia with pop-up satellite archival transmitting tags (PSATs) to better understand the species. Many Texas anglers have reported declining cobia landings in recent years. Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and federal agencies have funded additional assessments of Texas’ cobia populations. Areas of interest are post-release survival, habitat use patterns and seasonal movements. Evaluating whether or not cobia stocks mix between U.S. and Mexican waters is of particular interest. It could have Gulf-wide management implications if the stock overlap between the U.S. Gulf and Mexican waters is high. To learn more about the program, and how to claim your reward if you catch a tagged one, check out this video: https://bit.ly/LoneStarLing.

10 NATIONAL

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COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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INSPECT AND MAINTAIN YOUR BOAT’S HYDRAULIC STEERING E

By the Experts at Dometic Marine

xperienced boaters know regular inspection, preventative maintenance and fixing small problems before they become large ones are keys to trouble-free time on the water. Many boaters, however, tend to overlook hydraulic steering systems. This isn’t surprising, given these systems’ reliability and durability. Owners of outboardpowered boats expect smooth, easy steering control and rarely think about steering-system components until they wear out or need repair. According to Brian Dudra, vice president/ general manager for Dometic Marine, boaters can ensure trouble-free steering and extend the life of components through simple inspections and maintenance. “While each of our hydraulic systems are designed for the harsh marine environment, like any critical control system, it requires periodic checks and maintenance,” Dudra explained. “As per your owner’s manual and product labels, hydraulic steering systems should be inspected prior to every use for fluid level, steering response, leaks or worn/ binding components.” In addition, most systems require a small amount of maintenance from a qualified dealer every six months. Here’s how to inspect and care for your hydraulic steering system. Check the Helm: Starting with the steering helm, make sure the steering cylinder and helm hydraulic hose connections are tight. Dudra recommends greasing the helm shaft when installing the steering wheel to facilitate easier future removal. Check hydraulic fluid level inside the helm by unscrewing the fill plug and looking inside. The level should be 1/8- to ¼-inch below the lowest thread in the fill port. If lower than this, fill the helm to the proper level, but avoid over-filling. Check steering response when turning the wheel. It should respond within a quarter turn. If not, the system might need fluid or there might be air in the system, which requires purging. For tilt-and-lock steering helms, make sure the plastic covers are secured. Inspect Hoses & Fittings: When inspecting hoses, run your hand down them to feel for cuts, chafing or cracks. If you discover wear, have a qualified service shop replace suspect hoses. Also, ensure hose fittings are tight. Feel for hydraulic fluid leaks or weeps by running a finger around the fitting. If you find a leak, tighten the fitting. If that fails, have a qualified service shop address the issue.

Check Steering Cylinder & Glands:

Most outboard-powered boats use front-mounted hydraulic steering cylinders. The cylinder should be periodically inspected with focus on the cylinder hose connections and glands on each end of the cylinder to ensure there are no leaks. 12 NATIONAL

OCTOBER 2021

Inspect the glands, which contain seals, on the ends of the steering cylinder by running your finger around the edges. If you discover fluid weeping, it’s time to replace the gland with authentic SeaStar parts. Check the steering cylinder’s shaft and support rod. Inspect the cylinder shaft for salt buildup, corrosion and nicks that might damage the cylinder. Major damage might require replacement of the entire cylinder. Apply a thin film of grease to the visible portions of the support rod. Remove and inspect the rod annually. The support rod and outboard tilt tube must be cleaned of old grease and debris prior to re-applying quality marine grease before re-installing.

Fix Leaks: If the hose fittings are weeping fluid, the hoses might require replacement. The same applies to the glands. SeaStar offers a gland replacement kit and O-ring seals for the bleeders and other fittings. If you follow the provided instructions carefully, fixing leaks is relatively easy for competent DIY boaters. You can also turn the job over to a qualified marine shop. To ensure the steering is secure and tight, check all assembly nuts for proper tightness,

including the adjusting nut on the starboard side of the support rod. Purge Air: Air in the hydraulic steering system causes sloppy unresponsive steering and noisy operation. It can make your boat unsafe. Air finds its way into the hydraulic system through leaks or when replacing key components. It must be purged through a process called “bleeding.” Your owner’s manual explains bleeding. If you lack confidence, tools or manpower to do it yourself, ask a qualified marine shop to handle this.

Check for Water Intrusion. Make sure water hasn’t entered the system. Water can cause damage and internal corrosion. “This is a subjective examination, but can be performed by taking a syringe and sampling the fluid in the helm reservoir,” Dudra advised. “If the fluid looks like ‘chocolate milk,’ then the fluid is likely contaminated with water.” If this occurs, the entire system must be inspected for leaks. Once these are fixed, the system should be flushed with clean oil to remove any contaminated oil. To learn more about marine steering and components from the industry leader, visit www.dometic.com.

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Together. Carrying what matters most. 14 NATIONAL

OCTOBER 2021

By Rex Hannon

S

itting in the Cancun International Airport, I couldn’t help but reflect on the past 15 days on Mexico’s beautiful Caribbean coast. In August, I traveled to the little fishing village Xcalak to compete in the Silver Scales International Fly Fishing Tournament. Xcalak is a quaint little village very near the border of Belize in southern Quintana Roo. It doesn’t make it on most tourist lists. In fact, a large 9:54 AM percentage of Mexican citizens have probably never heard of the place. If it wasn’t for Xcalak’s world-class flats fishery, even fewer would know of it. The Silver Scales International Fly Fishing Tournament is an annual gathering of some of the finest saltwater fly fishers on the planet. The tournament focuses on the “grand slam” of permit, bonefish and tarpon. Combine that with a snook, and you have the “super slam.” Points are assigned for each fish, and there’s an added bonus for anglers who catch a slam. The grand slam is all three species in a 24-hour period, or in this case the day’s allotted fishing hours. Xcalak is an amazing fishery. If your bucket list includes the pursuit of this elusive challenge, there is no better place on the planet. Sighting schools of bonefish is commonplace, but the real prize is the abundance of “black-tailed devils” known as permit. Just because there are great numbers of these highly sought after game fish, they are by no mean easy. It’s much more fishing than catching. Fifteen teams and 30 total anglers fished three days in 2021, and the results were impressive. There were seven grand slams caught and two super slams. Total catch included 27 bonefish, three snook, 13 tarpon and 22 permit. Like I stated earlier, the Silver Scales draws some very talented anglers from around the globe. Brothers Javier and Mauricio Osorio, of Escamas Plateadas dedicated months to ensure the gathering was a success. The success our team “Fly Fish Costa Maya” is due to the passion and dedication of my friend Will Robins and the hard work and intimate knowledge of our guide Moises Cordova. The tournament is a grueling three days of hot sun, little sleep and nothing short of physical torture. It was one of the best times of my life. Preparation, hard work and endurance paid off in a respectable fourth-place finish. But, our success in fishing the tournament was nowhere near the highlight of this trip. Just knowing there are special places and people like this warms the heart and makes you want to return. I was anxious to board the plane for home and see my beautiful wife, but— with God’s blessing—I know I’ll return to this place soon.

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FISH A LIPLESS CRANK

T

TYLER WOOLCOTT

he weather is cooling, and bass are feeding heavily before the spawn. This time of year, baitfish is prevalent in waters across the country, and there is one lure that puts fish in the boat just about everywhere. This bait is a lipless crankbait. A lipless crank can play a huge role in getting baitfish-feeding bass to bite. I use it all over the country. Sometimes it’s as easy as casting it out and retrieving it steadily. But sometimes it’s a bit more complicated. Inside the lure, there are rattles. Sizes vary from ¼-ounce up to an ounce, and it is best to match the size of baitfish bass are feeding on. There are different types of rattles inside different lures. Two I like are a multi-rattle and a one-knock. Multi-rattles make a lot of noise. I throw this style when fish are very active and feeding heavily. The noise draws their attention from real baitfish and gets them to react and eat your bait. I like the one-knocker version and its slower, deeper-pitch knock when fish are feeding on baitfish, but not very actively. Fish tend to scatter out when they aren’t actively feeding, and that deeper pitch can sometimes trigger them to bite. There are many ways to retrieve a lipless crankbait. A steady retrieve can sometimes be the trick, especially if you see bass

feeding. But my absolute favorite way to fish a lipless crank is to yo-yo it. This is a varied retrieve with the reel handle, with an occasional pull and pause with the rod to let the bait flutter up and fall back down. This technique is deadly. When you pull the bait up fast, it makes a loud rattle. Then, when you let it flutter down, it looks like an injured baitfish, and bass can’t resist it. In the fall, bass also feed on crayfish in some parts of the country. A lipless crank can be a massive player in this scenario. When crayfish flee, their tails smack against their bodies and make a clacking noise similar to a rattle. When deciding colors, I match the color of the lure to the color of the baitfish present. 13 Fishing makes an awesome lure called the Magic Man that comes in both multirattle and one-knocker versions. When matching baitfish, I use chromes, whites and sometimes chartreuse. When mimicking crayfish, I use reds and oranges.

Trap Fishing Gear I’ve done a ton of experimenting with setups for lipless cranks, and I’ve got it down to a science. When dealing with treble hooks, you want a rod with a decent amount of backbone and a bit of bend to let the fish get the hooks. I use a 13 Fishing Omen Black 7’4MH Moderate action rod. I pair this with a 7:1 Concept A 13 Fishing reel spooled with 15-pound Seaguar Abrazx line. Tyler Woolcott is a professional tournament angler and guide. Check out his website at www.tylerwoolcottfishing.com.

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OCTOBER 2021

NATIONAL 15


PHOTO COURTESY OF KNOCKIN TAIL LURES

TIPS FOR CATCH-AND-RELEASE FLOUNDER

A MONSTER CANADIAN STURGEON

W

hite Sturgeon can live longer than 100 years, so it’s likely this monster fish has been swimming between the northern Pacific and British Columbia’s Fraser River for the better part of a century. According to the Vancouver Sun, it took a group of Canadian anglers about 25 minutes to land this huge sturgeon in August. It stretched the tape to 11-feet, 6-inches and had a girth of 55 inches. An estimate based on those measurements puts the weight of the fish near 900 pounds. That would make it a Canadian provincial record for the species, according to the Sun. The anglers were fishing the Fraser River east of Vancouver. National Hockey League great Pete Peeters and his buddy Jake Driedger took turns on the rod. White sturgeon are widely protected, which makes them a difficult species in terms of records. In British Columbia, catch-and-release fishing for sturgeon is allowed, but fish longer than 5 feet must remain in the water before release. These protections as well their size makes it nearly impossible to get a certified weight on angler catches. The IGFA all-tackle world record white sturgeon was caught in 1983 and weighed just 468 pounds. There have been several reported but uncertified catches heavier than 1,000 pounds, including a 12-foot, 4-incher caught in 2012 from the Fraser River. It was estimated at 1,100 pounds. However, it’s likely the all-tackle record is permanent because it’s no longer possible to weigh white sturgeon. For more on fishing opportunities in British Columbia, see www.gofishbc.com.

16 NATIONAL

OCTOBER 2021

By Capt. Michael Okruhlik

s the weather changes, so do the fishing patterns. This year, along with the seasonal changes, we also have some regulation changes to keep in mind. Here in Texas and also in Florida there are new closed seasons for flounder in 2021. From Nov. 1-Dec. 14, Texas flounder will be catch and release only. In Florida, the recreational season will be closed Oct. 15-Nov. 30. These closures are part of regulations-tightening trend for Gulf and Atlantic states after a federal study showed southern flounder numbers at historically low levels. I’m happy to report we’re still catching flounder, but be sure to check for updates to your state’s seasons and bag limits before applying the following tips. I enjoy the precise approach to successfully and consistently catch flounder. Although I won’t be able to harvest any during the closed period, I’ll still land some saddle blankets for photos before release. I’ll also modify my tactics to improve my hook-up ratio, which will also increase the odds of flounder survival during this spawning season. While targeting flounder, I generally pause after I feel the initial strike. I do this for a few reasons. Flounder hold their prey in locked jaws for a period of time in order to kill the bait and reposition it before swallowing. I don’t get as many hook-ups when setting the hook on the first thump of a flounder strike. In preparation for the closed season, I’ve practiced downsizing lures. A shorter and smaller profile significantly increased my first-strike hookup ratio. A lure that has proven very effective is the new 3.25-inch Knockin Tail Lure. It has a small profile, which allows for a wider gap between the plastic and the hook tip. With the boney jaw of a flounder, ample hook exposure increases penetration. This lure also has a built-in tail rattle and a ton of action. When targeting flounder, I start each day with a new jighead, and I might even replace it during the day depending on the bottom structure in the area. A sharp hook is crucial to consistently piercing a flounder’s jaw, which is where most of the hooks will be if you’re not waiting for the second or third bite, which is what I do if I plan to retain my catch. I also recommend a jighead with a strong solid hook with little to no flex. My final tip for targeting flounder is to use bright colors. Any color can work, but I catch more flounder on bright patterns. Some of my favorites are, white/limetruese, chartreuse with glitter and a bright green/bright red combo. I hope these tips give you the edge during this year’s flounder runs. Don’t forget to take a kid fishing. Flounder can be an easy target for young anglers, even on lures. Capt. Michael Okruhlik is the inventor of Knockin Tail Lures, Controlled Descent Lures and the owner of www.MyCoastOutdoors.com.

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