Coastal Angler Magazine | February 2022 | Emerald Coast Edition

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EMERALD COAST EDITION

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LOCAL CATCH PHOTOS

GRASS FLAT

GATOR TROUT

CURRENT INTEL FROM AREA CAPTAINS PHOTO CREDIT: PAUL MACINNIS IG: @RSOCFISHING

VOLUME 27 • ISSUE 323

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM

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ost folks associate the word “gators” with big scaly reptiles or a college mascot. Mention gators to a cadre of hardcore inshore anglers and you are likely to elicit fond memories of 30-plus-inch silver flanks speckled with black spots and gaping yellow mouths sporting a wicked pair of canine teeth. I’m talking about seatrout, big trophy trout that prompt some of us to wake up at 4 a.m. so we can be on the water throwing topwater plugs at first light. Big trout don’t act like their smaller brethren, and the techniques that hammer schoolies won’t work on bigger fish. Most gator trout are caught on shallow grass flats 1 ½ to 3 feet deep. Look for flats with dense grass mixed with a few sandy potholes that big trout use to ambush prey. The flat should also have a healthy supply of bait like mullet or pinfish, and it should be close to deeper water, so a wary old trout has a short escape route. During the hottest days of summer, big trout retreat to deeper water off the edge of a flat or seek out shade under mangroves or docks. During the coldest nights of winter, gator trout move into deep channels, canals and dredge holes where they can be targeted with sinking plugs and shrimp imitations worked slowly along the bottom. Seatrout see well in low light, unlike their prey items, like mullet. So, big trout feed best during low light. It is best to

By Paul MacInnis

SLING LURES for Grass Flat Gator Trout

fish early mornings, late evenings, on overcast days and at night. It may seem counter intuitive, but more trophy trout are caught on artificials than bait. Big trout are loners. Lures allow you to cover a lot of water, increasing your odds of intercepting bigger fish. About 80 percent of an adult seatrout’s diet is fish. With that in mind, large mullet-imitating lures are a good choice. The classic gator trout lure is a topwater “walk-the-dog” bait like the venerable Zara Spook. Of course, big swimbaits and shallowrunning plugs also work, along with soft plastic shrimp. A seatrout doesn’t grow to trophy size by being stupid. Big trout are wary and will evacuate a flat at the slightest indication of danger. Hull slaps and pressure waves from a drifting boat put wise old trout on high alert. It’s best to ditch the skiff and either wade or fish from a minimally invasive vessel like a kayak. It also helps to make long casts to get your lure in front of a fish before it detects your presence. Catching a true gator seatrout is not easy, and even when you do everything right there is still an element of luck involved. When you finally catch that trophy fish, handle with care and release her gently. A mature female seatrout can release over a million eggs during a spawn. Let her go to release her big-fish DNA into the gene pool.

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The Experts in Custom Rod Building Have Much to Share

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ud Hole Custom Tackle is the world’s largest supplier of rod building and tackle crafting goods and instruction. The heart of Mud Hole is its people, who strive for excellence and truly care about what they do. From leadership to customer service, and from product development to the warehouse floor, Mud Hole is comprised of passionate anglers and rod builders who use their own products every day and are eager to bring custom rod building to anglers everywhere. Established in the 1970s as a custom rod shop in New Jersey, and named after the famed Mud Hole trench at the outflow of the Hudson River, Mud Hole has truly humble, “tackle-shop” origins. Things really picked up in 1999, when the headquarters moved to Oviedo, Florida and the Internet made it easier to connect across the globe. Promoting the many benefits of custombuilt fishing equipment, Mud Hole Custom Tackle thrived and brought custom rod building to the masses. As interest in rod building grew and the industry flourished, Mud Hole dedicated itself to providing accessible DIY rod building instruction and resources to anyone who wanted to learn. Today, the Mud Hole YouTube channel hosts almost 500 videos with over 10 million views, and is followed by over 31,000 subscribers. From Rod Building

101 instructional videos to product reviews to Rod Recipes to Mud Hole TV episodes—where the team builds custom rods and puts them to the test against the most popular target species—Mud Hole provides the highest quality, most entertaining rod building content available. In addition to recorded video content, Mud Hole also hosts a live, streamed rod building show, Mud Hole Live, where hosts and guests share rod building techniques with an interactive, online audience. Who knew that custom rod building would hit the big time! Beyond making quality rod building content easily accessible to DIY audiences, Mud Hole also offers custom rod building classes with professional instructors. The workshops take place in the Mud Hole Education Center in Oviedo, Florida, in local markets across the U.S., and even online, in the comfort of your own home. A variety of topical classes are offered, from beginner workshops to application-specific builds, such as surf, fly, redfish and mahi rods. All classes include every component, supply, and all of the personal interaction needed to build high quality, custom fishing rods. Mud Hole also collaborates with schools and youth organizations like the Boy Scouts of America and 4-H to bring rod building to students through

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WHAT A TRIGGERS THE BITE? PHOTO COURTESY OF KNOCKIN TAIL LURES

By Capt. Michael Okruhlik

ction, color, profile, style, which is more important when fishing artificials inshore? I investigate this question more than the average fisherman does on each trip, because I manufacture lures. To prove my point, how many of you switch tactics or lures when the bite is hot? I do! Years ago, I would not change a thing while the bite was on. If I lost the last soft plastic of a particular color, I would dig through every compartment to find one more identical to what was working. I might even rig it upside-down or sideways to get that last soft plastic to stay on the hook for a few more bites. Designing and fine-tuning lures has driven me to fish differently and explore more frequently, even when the fish are biting. On a recent trip, I was trying a new design, even though I was more confident in one of my original designs for this scenario in these conditions. The bite was strong, I switched between two lures about every three fish just to see if there was a preference. I started with the new design in a green-back, clear-belly color and caught a fish on the first cast! I was feeling confident, since it was a new lure and a new color, but it took dozens of casts to catch a few more fish. I switched to my original design in a pearl color. Once again, fish on the first cast! It didn’t take long to land a few more, and I decided to switch back to the new design, only this time in the same pearl color. My intent was to see if color was what the fish were keying on. Although I caught fish on both lures, the original produced considerably more fish per cast. I kept switching to gain knowledge and validate my findings. Both lures were the same color and 5 inches long with very similar body size. The actions, however, were completely different. One was a paddle tail, while the other was a soft jerk- or twitch-bait style. The fish on this day undoubtedly preferred the erratic side-to-side action of the twitch bait. Although I attempted to work the swimbait more erratically, the paddle tail did not have the quick side-to-side action that triggered the strike. Both lures were rigged on the same weighted swimbait hook, and I used the same rod. In this scenario, the action and lure style were the keys to triggering the bite. Even if you’re catching fish, it is a good idea to change things up from time to time. The day before, in the same area, I caught an equal number of fish on both the abovementioned 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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I DO NOT FEEL THE NEED FOR SPEED (SOMETIMES)

fish) on as light tackle as possible. I like to slow it down, and use the correct tackle for the job, while getting baits down in the strike zone. While drifting or trolling, I like to use a jig when I need to get my baits down deeper where the mid-day fish are hanging out. A 4-ounce Squid Decoy Jig is a good option because it drifts and trolls well and can be fished with or without bait. Tipped with cigar minnow or sardine, Tim Barefoot the jig looks like a squid that has caught supper, and everything eats squid. his is a play off the famous line from the movie This is a wahoo bait that can be fished with fluorocarbon instead Top Gun, but it has a clear meaning when it comes to fishing for palegics. Are there times when I want to high-speed troll of wire or cable, simply because almost all wahoo strikes on squid are to locate areas with fish? YES. Are there times when I want to troll 6-7 knots to catch numbers of good fish when they are on or near the surface feeding? YES. With all that said, are there times to slow down and get baits down to where the fish are in the water column? YES, Definitely! intended to cut the back half the These times are typically squid off before consumption. after 10 or 10:30 a.m., when Predatory fish know that they the sun is high in the sky, and can easily eliminate a squid’s on, or around a full moon. The only defenses… tentacles and a first reason is obvious. Fish don’t biting beak. have Maui Jims, so they adjust A stinger hook in the the amount of light they need/ head of a live or frozen cigar want with water depth. This is minnow or sardine will do especially true with wahoo and the work. There is only one tuna. And the full moon thing… major problem with this setup. they stay up all night eating with Don’t let it get too close to the “big light” on. the bottom, or you’ll have a Have you ever noticed how the bite dies down after 10 or 11 in the morning? Have you ever noticed grouper or big snapper bite. I think we just got ’em on a technicality. If the days around a full moon are typically slow? These are not just a you are “trolling for wahoo” and let the bait get too close to the bottom coincidence. Granted, the planner rod (aka “the meat stick”) is the one and catch a grouper, oh well, I wasn’t using circle hooks. Just sayin’. that produces in the middle of the day, and at daylight for that matter, See more from Tim Barefoot at barefootcatsandtackle.com. and around the full moon, but I much prefer to catch these fish (any

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I DO NOT FEEL THE NEED FOR SPEED (SOMETIMES)

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Tim Barefoot

his is a play off the famous line from the movie Top Gun, but it has a clear meaning when it comes to fishing for palegics. Are there times when I want to highspeed troll to locate areas with fish? YES. Are there times when I want to troll 6-7 knots to catch numbers of good fish when they are on or near the surface feeding? YES. With all that said, are there times to slow down and get baits down to where the fish are in the water column? YES, Definitely! These times are typically after 10 or 10:30 a.m., when the sun is high in the sky, and on, or around a full moon. The first reason is obvious. Fish don’t have Maui Jims, so they adjust the amount of light they need/want with water depth. This is especially true with wahoo and tuna. And the full moon thing… they stay up all night eating with the “big light” on.

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n the cigar ill do y one setup. ose to have a lity. If ottom in’.

Have you ever noticed how the bite dies down after 10 or 11 in the morning? Have you ever noticed the days around a full moon are typically slow? These are not just a coincidence. Granted, the planner rod (aka “the meat stick”) is the one that produces in the middle of the day, and at daylight for that matter, and around the full moon, but I much prefer to catch these fish (any fish) on as light tackle as possible. I like to slow it down, and use the correct tackle for the job, while getting baits down in the strike zone.

While drifting or trolling, I like to use a jig when I need to get my baits down deeper where the mid-day fish are hanging out. A 4-ounce Squid Decoy Jig is a good option because it drifts and trolls well and can be fished with or without bait. Tipped with cigar minnow or sardine, the jig looks like a squid that has caught supper, and everything eats squid. This is a wahoo bait that can be fished with fluorocarbon instead of wire or cable, simply because almost all wahoo strikes on squid are intended to cut the back half the squid off before consumption. Predatory fish know that they can easily eliminate a squid’s only defenses… tentacles and a biting beak. A stinger hook in the head of a live or frozen cigar minnow or sardine will do the work. There is only one major problem with this setup. Don’t let it get too close to the bottom, or you’ll have a grouper or big snapper bite. I think we just got ’em on a technicality. If you are “trolling for wahoo” and let the bait get too close to the bottom and catch a grouper, oh well, I wasn’t using circle hooks. Just sayin’. See more from Tim Barefoot at barefootcatsandtackle.com.

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FLORIDA 9 LOCATION 3


PHOTO BY JAMES MARTINS

an empty pail and hold it vertically on the surface of a pool, pond or tub of water, and you can easily recreate this for yourself. Apply force to the pail, straight downward, until its rim is just under the surface. Water rushes in to fill the pail until it has reached full capacity. If there are objects on the surface or suspended in the water, they will accompany the inrush of water. What you have done is introduced a void into the water. This empty space must be filled if water is to adhere to its own principles. Essentially, a vacuum effect occurs in which both water and the objects it contains are pulled into the void. Fish generate a similar vacuum via the expansion of their mouths, and anything within range of that vacuum will be drawn inside. This form of attack is concentrated in the fish’s head, requiring little or no forward motion of the body. If the fish wants to swallow what it has trapped in its jaws, it will expel the water through its gill slits in a rapid jet. Between a closed mouth and the fish’s gill rakers, solid objects are trapped inside, where they can be directed down the fish’s throat. If the fish should decide it doesn’t want to swallow what it has in its mouth, it will simply open its jaws and let the water float out along with whatever else was inside. It is much like a terrestrial animal opening its mouth and drawing in a big breath of air. Any airborne particulate matter will be taken in with the breath. If something noxious is taken in—smoke, for example—it can be ejected by exhaling or coughing. The difference between fish and terrestrial animals is the comparative enormity of most fish mouths and the great density of water compared to air. While a vacuum may be of little benefit to land animals, it is extremely useful to fish. Most fish, therefore, employ this technique to some degree in their feeding. For the sake of efficiency and the surer capture of prey, predatory fish are likely to use this method in conjunction with a more traditional attack featuring forward motion of the body. When employed together, these techniques allow the fish to draw its prey closer and seize it with the most By John Saporito security. When swallowing prey whole, they will turn it in their mouth so that espite different designs among the many species, there is a it can be taken headfirst—scales, fins and other parts folding tight against the commonality in fish when it comes to the capture of prey, a special body to facilitate an easier passage down the throat. procedure making use of the physical properties of the water they John Saporito is a lifelong fisherman, writer, and student of the seas. live in. Visit him online at johnsaporito.com. When a fish suddenly opens its mouth underwater, a void is created. Take

HOW FISH EAT

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10 FLORIDA

FEBRUARY 2022

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destin, FL February 2022 Tide Chart Provided by

Destin (Choctawhatchee Bay, East Pass), FL Perdido Bay, FL - Sep 2021 Feb 2022 Nix Point,www.USHarbors.com Date

ft

1 Tue PM 2 Wed 9:53

3 Thu 10:43

High

ft

Wed

8:56

1.0

2

ftFri PM 11:08 ft 1.0 AM

Thu

10:06

1.0

4

Sat

ft 5

Sun

6

0.0 7

Mon

0.0 9

Wed

8

Tue Thu

0.0

2

0.1

9

0.2

0

0.3

0.3 0.2

Mon

15

Wed

16

Thu

8

Tue

17

Fri

9

Wed

18

Sat

7

10 Thu 11:50A 11 Fri 1:45 12 Sat 3:29

PM

1

AM3

ft

AM

Low ft

12:03

PM

PM

ft

Rise

Set

9:53

0.0

6:25

7:13

10:43

0.0

6:26

7:12

6:26

7:11

6:27

7:09

6:27

7:08

0.0

6:28

7:07

0.1

6:28

7:06

12:49

0.2

6:29

7:05

12:30

0.3

ft

10:38 0.7 8:51 -0.3 1.0Moon Rise Set 12:54 11:25 9:231:47 -0.2 1.0 12:23 6:25 0.5 7:13 2:47 0.9 12:42

6:26 4:19

0.6

1.1

9:384:05 -0.2 0.7 7:12 6:11 0.6

9:27 -0.1 7:11 8:34 0.0 10:19 0.0 7:09

6:31 0.0 7:08 8:29 1.1 3:03 0.41.1 12:57 9:55 6:28 7:07 0.0 11:11

24

Fri

25

Sat

26

Sun

3:23

1.1

0.9

7:14 3:41 0.60.9 6:31 4:10 1.0 8:08 0.6 4:50 6:31 1.0

5:54 -0.2 7:01 6:41 -0.2 7:00

Low ft

3:30 0.5 7:06 2:0612:17-0.1 1.0 6:28 19 Sun 4:12 0.5 7:05 3:031:16 -0.1 0.9 20 Mon 6:29 2:15 0.8 21 Tue 5:07 4:27 0.50.5 4:013:26 -0.2 0.7 9:30 0.2 11:10 0.3 6:29 22 Wed 3:26 0.6 5:21 0.6 11:35 23 Thu 6:11 3:15 0.50.8 5:00 0.2 6:30 7:02-0.2

0.1

www.USHarbors.com

High

AM

10 4:00 0.7 4 Fri 12:10 0.4Fri 6:26 11:24 0.0 11 Sat 4:18 0.9 12 4:57 0.21.0 5 Sat 12:59 0.2Sun 6:27 3:21 11:56 0.0 13 Mon 5:53 1.0 6 Sun 2:26 0.1Tue 6:27 2:54 14 7:05 0.31.1

3

5

Date

Low

www.USHarbors.com

Rise 11:24 Set 0.0 Moon 11:56

6:35 5:23 6:34 5:24 6:34 5:25 11:50A

6:33 1:45 5:26 3:29

6:32 5:13 5:27 6:52

6:32 8:19 5:28 9:30

6:31 10:28 5:28 11:12

6:30 11:42 5:29 6:29 11:55 5:30 11:41

6:29 10:56 5:31

0.3 0.2

9:18

6:28 12:58 5:32 2:03

6:27 3:07 5:33 4:19

13 Sun 0.1 6:26 5:43 5:33 27 Mon 5:13 28 Tue 5:43 1.0 7:04 14 Mon 29 Wed 8:54 0.61.0 7:18 -0.2 6:25 8:09 5:34 6:50 6:52 0.0 6:32 6:58 8:05 15 Tue 30 Thu 9:34 0.61.0 7:46 -0.2 6:24 9:00 5:35 8:19 0.0 6:32 6:57 16 Wed 10:14 0.5 8:07 -0.2 6:23 5:36 9:30 0.0 6:33 6:56 17 Thu 10:59 0.5 8:20 -0.1 6:22 5:37 10:28 0.0 6:33 6:54 18 Fri 11:57 0.3 8:23 -0.1 6:21 5:37 11:12 0.0 6:34 6:53 19 Sat 2:26 0.1 8:09 0.0 6:51 0.1 6:21 5:38 11:42 0.1 6:34 6:52 20 Sun 1:24 0.2 1:33 0.3 7:19 0.1 9:20 0.0 6:20 5:39 11:55 0.2 6:35 6:51 21 Mon 1:31 0.4 11:14 -0.1 6:19 5:40 11:41 0.2 6:35 6:49 22 Tue 1:59 0.5 6:18 5:40 10:56 0.3 6:36 6:48 23 Wed 2:48 0.6 12:58 -0.1 6:17 5:41 9:18 0.3 6:37 6:47 24 Thu 3:56 0.6 2:32 -0.2 6:15 5:42 12:58 0.2 6:37 6:46 25 Fri 5:16 0.7 3:55 -0.2 6:14 5:43 2:03 0.2 6:38 6:44 26 Sat 6:37 0.7 5:06 -0.3 6:13 5:43 3:07 0.1 6:38 6:43 27 Sun 7:50 0.7 6:05 -0.3 6:12 5:44 4:19 0.1 6:39 6:42 28 Mon 8:54 0.7 6:54 -0.3 6:11 5:45 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

0.0

0.2

11:10

0.3

0.2

6:30

7:02

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

0.0

6:33

6:54

0.0

6:34

6:53

0.1

6:34

6:52

0.2

6:35

6:51

0.2

6:35

6:49

0.3

6:36

6:48

0.3

6:37

6:47

0.2

6:37

6:46

0.2

6:38

6:44

0.1

6:38

6:43

0.1

6:39

6:42

0.1

6:39

6:41

0.1

6:40

6:39

0.1

6:41

6:38

0.1

6:41

6:37

Moon

6:29

We do fishing.

Panama City Beach, Destin and Navarre

www.HalfHitch.com

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FEBRUARy 2022

the emerald coast 1


Fishing forecasts

ups and

downs I

t's not an easy life in the fishing industry. People say to me all the time how lucky I am to get to fish everyday here in paradise. And you know what? They are right. I am lucky, but that doesn't come without faults. It's not a straight and narrow road to get to this point. It has a lot of ups and downs. We miss a lot of time with our spouse, our kids, even our parents and friends. We

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clock in early and clock out late at night with just enough time for a quick bite to eat and a few hours to sleep. We do this because we are passionate about our work. We do this so people can have an experience of a lifetime. Not every day is going to be a fill the box kind of day, it's still fishing. We work hard each day to make sure you and your family is having fun, even on the days the fish just don't want to cooperate. We are still there to make sure you have the best time. Trust me when I say we hate finicky fish more than you do. Just remember whenever you are on a fishing charter, the crew is working as hard as they can to make sure you are having as much fun as possible. Don't blame them if the fish don't bite. Kick back and relax, it's all for fun. Don't forget to check us out on social media. As always keep your lines out and keep them tight!

Sit back and catch

more buSineSS!

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Anchored in Quality Julia McPherson (cell & text) 850-974-6090 juliathecanvaslady@gmail.com

Capt. Alex Kendrick Reel Salty Charters Destin www.reelsaltydestin.com FB: Reel Salty Destin IN: @reelsaltydestin @captain_alex_kendrick

COASTAL ANGLER contact elizabeth

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his February let’s remind ourselves how great the world of saltwater fishing is. Especially here in the panhandle with our amazing clear water, warm summer breezes and a rich melting pot of fish just a stone’s throw from the white sand beaches. There is a wow factor here in Destin that is simply a must see. Let’s talk about that word “wow”. The last time you used the word “wow” do you remember what happened? Usually, it’s the first time you experience something. When someone says “wow” it means certain senses have been triggered that have never been felt before - something profound has occurred. I find it so interesting that I hear the word “wow” often as a charter boat captain. Multiple times a day in fact. And it’s sobering to know that I’m helping somebody achieve a first in their life - a wow moment. What I’ve learned is that fishing enlivens your senses quickly; like an emotional freeway with a fast pass to the unknown and as a fisherman you buy in subconsciously every time. It could be a jolly sea turtle surfacing boat side, an endless number of jellyfish as far as you can see, a shark attacking your catch just beneath your nose or a bold pelican stealing the bait off the back of the boat. “Wow”, is such an undermined word and I’ve made a promise to myself to cherish it more.

4 THE EMERALD COAST

FEBRUARY 2022

As the fishing season approaches next month here in the panhandle, what will be your wow moment and more importantly how will you capture it? “Inside all of us is hope, fear and adventure. Inside all of us is a wild thing.” - Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are - my sons favorite bedtime book)

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1. Prepare grill for indirect cooking at 450-500 degrees. 2. Place shrimp on wooden skewers (soak skewers in water to prevent burning). Use kitchen shears to split lobster tails down the top. Gently work the meat away from the shell using your fingers. 3. Drizzle shrimp and lobster with olive oil. Combine the garlic salt, parsley, and red pepper in a small bowl and season the shrimp/ lobster with several pinches of the seasoning blend. 4. Cook the shrimp and lobster on the grill until no longer translucent. Shrimp about 4-5 minutes, lobster about 8 minutes. 5. Remove shrimp from skewers and lobster tails from shell. Chop into bite size pieces and toss together. Place meat in a small bowl. 6. Ladle Alfredo sauce onto the pizza crust and top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Add the shrimp and lobster meat. Season with a pinch of garlic salt seasoning blend and a drizzle of olive oil. 7. Place the pizza on a ceramic cooking stone and cook until crust is brown and cheese is hot and bubbly.

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The importance of electrical connectors

T

he importance of electrical connectors for your time on the water is very important. Having proper heat shrink connectors ensures all of your main components are in working order. Electrical wire and connectors for marine applications is a must….house wiring connectors are not. We see lots of house wiring nuts, which will not seal. Heat shrink connectors in the proper coloring wiring for your components allow easy diagnosis of electrical problems…this will save you time and money. Heat shrink connectors creates a proper seal, which keeps water intrusion out of the electrical system. Marine electrical wiring systems are color coded to help you keep your console organized and easily identify each components when a problem arises. There are wiring charts on the internet to help you with your selection. For example, bilge pumps are brown and black, lights are gray and black, etc. We have many boats that come with the same colored wire for all components, which costs the customer lots of labor costs due to trying to diagnose the problem. Marine grade wire is tin copper to help prevent corrosion.

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Perdido Bay, FL February 2022 Tide Chart Provided by Nix Point, Perdido Nix Point, Perdido Bay,www.USHarbors.com FL - Feb Bay, 2022 FL - Sep 2021 Date

Low ft

AM23

0.0

2

0.1

9

0.2

0

0.3

0.3 0.2

High

Wed

ft

8:56

1.0

Low

ftThu PM10:06 ft 1.0 AM Fri 11:08 1.0

4:19

ft

ft

Set 12:54

0.6

AM

PM

ft

ft

14 Mon 6:52 15 Tue 8:19 16 Wed 9:30 17 Thu 10:28 18 Fri 11:12 19 Sat 11:42 20 Sun 11:55 21 Mon 11:41 22 Tue 10:56 23 Wed 9:18 24 Thu 12:58 25 Fri 2:03 26 Sat 3:07 27 Sun 4:19 28 Mon 5:43

24

Fri

25

Sat

3:23

6:11

ft

Rise

Set

0.0

6:25

7:13

6:26

7:12

6:26

7:11

6:27

7:09

6:27

7:08

6:28

7:07

6:28

7:06

6:29

7:05

Rise 10:43 Set 0.0 Moon 11:24 0.0 11:56

1.1

0.6

12:30

0.1

6:40

8:09

0.1

6:41

6:38

9:00

0.1

6:41

6:37

6:39

0.2

11:10

0.3

0.2

6:30

7:02

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

0.0

6:33

6:54

11:12

0.0

6:34

6:53

11:42

0.1

6:34

6:52

0.2

6:35

6:51

0.2

6:35

6:49

0.3

6:36

6:48

0.3

6:37

6:47

0.2

6:37

6:46

0.2

6:38

0.1

6:38

0.1

6:39

0.1

6:39

6:29 8:09 5:38

0.1

6:40

0.1

6:41

6:28 5:39

0.1

6:41

0.3

11:50A

6:37 1:45 5:30 3:29

6:36 5:13 5:30 6:52

6:35 8:19 5:31 9:30

6:34 10:28 5:32 6:34 5:33 6:33 11:55 5:34 11:41

6:32 10:56 5:35

0.3 0.2

9:18

6:31 12:58 5:35 2:03

6:31 3:07 5:36 4:19

6:30 5:43 5:37 7:04 9:00

Moon

6:29

Sit back and catch 6:44 6:43

more buSineSS! 6:42 6:41 6:39 6:38 6:37

12:18 -0.2 6:27 5:39 12:31 -0.1 6:26 5:40 12:34 -0.1 6:25 5:41 11:02 0.1

FEBRUARY 2022

7:04

0.0

1.0

0.9

10:16 3:41 0.70.9 10:05 -0.2 0.1 6:31 7:01 26 Sun 4:10 1.0 27 Mon 11:10 4:50 0.71.0 10:52 0.1 6:31 7:00-0.2 28 Tue 5:43 1.0 11:56 0.71.0 11:29 -0.2 29 Wed 6:32 6:50 0.0 6:58 30 Thu 8:05 1.0 11:57 -0.2 0.0 6:32 6:57 12:36 0.7 0.0 6:33 6:56 1:16 0.6 0.0 6:33 6:54 2:01 0.5 0.0 6:34 6:53 2:59 0.4 5:28 0.2 12:20P 0.0 0.1 6:34 6:52 4:26 0.3 4:35 0.3 11:30 0.1 0.2 6:35 6:51 4:33 0.4 1:31 0.0 0.2 6:35 6:49 5:01 0.6 3:25 -0.1 0.3 6:36 6:48 5:50 0.7 5:09 -0.1 0.3 6:37 6:47 6:58 0.7 6:43 -0.2 0.2 6:37 6:46 8:18 0.8 8:06 -0.2 0.2 6:38 6:44 9:39 0.8 9:17 -0.3 0.1 6:38 6:43 10:52 0.8 10:16 -0.3 0.1 6:39 6:42 11:56 0.8 11:05 -0.3 0.1 6:39 6:41

10 THE EMERALD COAST

PM 9:53

1:02 -0.3 6:39 5:27 Moon 1:47 1.01:3412:23 -0.2 0.06:38 5:28 7:13 2:47 0.9 12:42 0.1 4:05 0.71:4912:49 -0.2 0.26:37 5:29 7:12 12:03

Sat

Thu

Low

PM

4 Fri 3:12 0.5Fri 4:00 0.7 1:38 -0.1 10 11:24 0.0 6:26 7:11 11 Sat 4:18 0.9 5 Sat 4:01 0.3Sun 6:234:57 0.21.0 12:45 0.0 12 11:56 0.0 6:27 7:09 13 Mon 5:53 1.0 6 Sun 5:28 0.1Tue 5:567:05 0.31.1 2:30 0.0 10:42A 0.0 14 6:27 7:08 15 Wed 8:29 1.1 7 Mon 16 Thu 6:059:55 0.51.1 5:08 0.0 6:28 7:07 11:11 8 Tue 17 Fri 6:32 0.51.1 6:17 -0.1 18 Sat 6:28 12:17 1.0 7:06 9 Wed 19 Sun 7:14 0.6 7:141:16 -0.1 0.9 7:05 20 Mon 6:29 2:15 0.8 21 Tue 8:09 4:27 0.60.5 8:123:26 -0.2 0.7 9:30 10 Thu 11:50A 0.2 11:10 0.3 6:29 22 Wed 3:26 0.6 5:21 0.6 11:35 23 Thu 9:13 3:15 0.60.8 9:11 11 Fri 0.2 1:45 6:30 7:02-0.2 12 Sat 3:29 13 Sun 5:13

www.USHarbors.com

High AM

1 Tue 12:49 0.9 PM ft 5 Sun Rise 6 Mon 2 Wed 1:40 0.8 6:25 9:53 0.0 7 Tue 3 Thu 2:278 0.6Wed 10:43 0.0 6:26 4

9

3

5

Date

1

www.USHarbors.com

6:24 5:42 6:23 5:43 6:22 5:43 6:21 5:44 6:20 5:45 6:19 5:46 6:18 5:46 6:17 5:47 6:16 5:48 6:15 5:48

advertiSe in

COASTAL ANGLER contact elizabeth

(850) 499-5685 capt.elizabeth@ coastalanglermagazine.com

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34

Capt. Matt Miller Miller Fishing Company 850-501-5016 www.millerfishingcharters.com

degrees

I

got up at 5:45 am this morning, made my coffee and walked outside to see the thermometer; 34 degrees it said! Ha too cold for me to go fishing! Haha, we waited for the day to heat up, but we knew there were fish to catch. We met at the boat ramp at 10am. Fishing a strong incoming tide- ran to the pass to see how rough it was, and the gulf was angry (like it is most days this time of year.) So, we ran back in the bay to the 3-mile bridge in Pensacola Bay to do some bumping around looking for schools of reds and boy we found them. Chumming them up with live bait and cut bait, they started to swarm. We used a variety of jigs, live bait and chunk bait while fishing with medium heavy spinning rods, 30-50lb fluorocarbon. We caught a total of 14 bull reds (10-15lb, 30-45”) on that trip along with 6 large red snapper (8-10lb) mixed in. This is a common trip during February, some days are better than others (weather & fishing wise). I wanted to do this report a little different than most, lots of charter boats in our area are doing boat work this time of year in the shipyards or in their own back yards. Getting everything in tip top shape for the 2022 season, which usually starts the first or second week of March (spring break) for most.

As always - Thanks again, Calm Seas and Tight lines guys.

Bowfishing rod and reel fishing • trips to craB island

plan your next fishing adventure in Beautiful

destin, florida! Call or text 850-528-9212 www.reelnockoutfitters.org www.facebook.com/reelnockoutfitters

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FEBRUARy 2022

the emerald coast 11


Big uglies

Capt. Mason O'Daniel Pensacola Fishing Co. 850.733.7436 www.pensacolafishingco.com Social @pensacolafishingco

Fellow Anglers,

G

reetings! February Fishing!!! The weather has finally cooled. We had quite the mild start to our winter here and the fish have certainly been paying attention. Now that the cooler temps are here for a bit, we are focusing on the Inshore bite, chasing Sheepshead, Flounder, Trout, Bull Reds and Black Drum also known as “Big Uglies.” For the Black Drum and Sheepshead, we are searching along the bridge pilings and Jetties mixed in with e occasional seawall. Shrimp, Fiddler Crabs and Sand Fleas on a Carolina Rig are our go to. Don’t forget to switch over to a J hook, no larger than a dime. Speckled Trout will be found in the colder, deeper waters and in the deeper holes. Slow trolling can be an

effective method as their bite is less aggressive this time of year. For the days we can make it out, Scamp and AJs are in waters about 70 feet and deeper. Live pinfish, frozen Northern Mackerel and Cigar Minnows on the end of a Carolina Rig will do the trick. While crying in and out, keep an eye open fo winter Bonita. Get hooked up on a 3500 Spinfisher and get to work!! Oh yeah, the Super Bowl is right around the corner, who you got??? That’s all for now folks!! Keep those lines tight and we'll see you in March.

mobile Bay Capt. Dan Kolenich 251-422-3474 info@captdankolenich.com captdankolenich.com

W

inter is here and So far it's not as cold as I expected. The water temps are headed for the 50's. This should be the coldest we'll see this year. Likewise the fishing is as slow as it will be until the middle of the summer. Bait fish have headed for the deeper water to keep warm and that's where you have to go to find specs and reds. At least until the weather starts to warm-up. On cooler days, look in the deeper parts of the creeks that flow into Mobile Bay like Bon Secour River, Fish River, Magnolia River, Dog River, Fowl River, and the Theodore Industrial Canal. Explore the small creeks in these rivers especially where the creeks flow into these rivers. On warmer days look near the banks close to deeper water. Work your bait slow and expect bites to be

12 THE EMERALD COAST

FEBRUARY 2022

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

soft and slow. Live or dead shrimp on a carolina rig on the bottom are a good bet. If you're fishing artificial bait, my favorites are a Mirrolure Glad Shad or High Tide Shrimp soft plastic on a jig head. I start with a white/chartreuse, root beer/chartreuse, chartreuse/red, or natural shrimp rigged on a 3/8 oz jig head and if they don't go for that I go home and come back the next day. If you find a calm day and want to head into the gulf, the near shore rigs are a good bet as well as Sand Island Lighthouse and Dixie Bar for Bull Reds. Send a live croaker or pin fish to the bottom at these places and let the bait do the work. Stay warm and watch the weather, springtime is just around the corner. I can't wait.



pensacola, FL February 2022 Tide Chart Provided by Nix- Feb Point, Perdido Bay, FL - Sep 2021 Pensacola, FL 2022 www.USHarbors.com

Nix Point, Perdido Bay, FL - Sep 2021

Date

High

Date

AM

ft

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ft

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ft

AM1

1

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2

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3 PM

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1:32

0.5

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10:06

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10:43 6 Sun

1.0

7 Mon 11:24

1.1

5

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12:54

1.0

6

Mon

1:47

1.0

12:23

0.0

7

Tue

2:47

0.9

12:42

0.1

8

Wed

4:05

0.7

12:49

0.2

9

Thu

4:19 0.6 6:11 0.6 12:30 Owned and operated locally for 25 years

0.3

10

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4:00

11

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4:18

12

Sun

13

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14

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Co., Inc. 4:57 1.0 • Custom Boat Trailers 5:53 1.0 • Trailer Repair 7:05 1.1 • Trailer Parts 8:29 1.1

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9:55

8

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11:56 9 Wed 10

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11

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4:27

0.5 3:26always 0.7 free.9:30 Quotes are

22

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3:26

23

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3:15

0.6 5:21 0.6 11:35 (850) 623-4353

24

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25

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

26

Sun

4:10

1.0

27

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4:50

1.0

28

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5:43

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6:50

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8:05

21

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6:52

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ft

10:06 1.41.0 9:25 11:11

-0.9

11:58

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12:03

Rise 6:25 3:54

9:57

10:12 Set 12:54-0.5 10:011:47 -0.2

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0.9 0.8

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11:10 0.3 6:29 10:47 3:26 1.10.6 8:415:21 -0.6 0.6 11:35 6:30 3:23

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0.90.8 0.9

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0.51.0

6:50 6:32

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5:43

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7:53 7:000.2

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27 Sun 11:12

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6:52

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5:42

5:43 9:00 5:44

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SINCE 1981

0.2

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6:43 103 New Warrington Road

4:19

0.1

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FEBRUARY 2022

6:27

6:19

11:41

14 THE EMERALD COAST

0.0

5:27

11:55YOUR 0.2HOMETOWN 6:35 6:51 AUTO DEALERSHIP

0.8

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-0.2

7:12

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6:34 11:50A 5:30 0.3 6:33

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COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

7:13

0.0

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11:24

0.0 6:36

7:47 1.21.1 6:28 11:11

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ft

Set 9:53

6:31

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PM

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5:34

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1.1

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6:32 3:21 1.2

Fri

ft

7:05 1.11.1 4:35 5:40 6:27 7:08-0.5

Wed

29 0.0

PM

1.0

Mon 0.5 Tue

AM

4:57 1.0 6:27 7:09 4:45 1.0 3:37 -0.4

27 1:57 28

ft

4:00 0.80.7 1:31 3:36 6:26 7:11-0.1

0.7 Sun 2:59 4:10 0.31.0 8:43

0.1

Low

Low

PM

12:30 26

8:19 23 Wed 25

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

2:15

Fri

20 Sun 5:13

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17

1.1

18

ft

0.0 6:26 7:12 2:59 0.2 9 Thu 3:27 4:19 0.60.6 7:056:11 0.1 8

11:50A 16 Wed

Eddie English

11:11

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12:03

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ft 5

High AM

ftWed PM8:56 ft 1.0 AM

4

1 3

High

Date

www.USHarbors.comwww.USHarbors.co

petemoore.com

Pensacola, Florida | (850) 456-7000

Moo

6:29


why are some

bite. I always have synthetic bait in assorted colors and scents and an assortment of natural bait such as shrimp, sandfleas, and a couple of blue crabs. Fish are finicky creatures, and their appetite can change from day to day. One day you may catch them on straight synthetic bait, and the next, they only want shrimp. Some days they want a combination of artificial and natural bait. You have to be prepared; that's why bait diversity is so important. Next, be sure you are playing the different zones. I see so many anglers making the mistake of only playing the long game. They are bombing casts out as far as possible and usually right past or over the fish. On average, most of us fish four rods. Therefore, you should be covering four different zones to zero in on the fish. Send one long, then stagger the other three back to shore. I have caught some of my biggest fish no more than 10 yards from the shoreline. Once you start catching a few fish in one zone, you can distribute the rest of your rods out to the same distance. That way, you can capitalize on where the fish are hanging out. There it is folks, some of the secrets to joining that top 10 percent of fishermen. You don't have to try all these tips at once. Start slowly and incorporate one at a time. If you are still having trouble, you can always hire a guide. That's a great resource to help jumpstart your fishing knowledge; we'll save that topic for another story. Until next month folks, may your lines be tight, and coolers be full!

fisherman so lucky?

rs.com

Moon

W

Mike Smith Smitty's Surf Fishing www.smittyssurffishing.com FB: @SmittysSurfFishing IN: @smittys_surf_fishing

e've all heard the old saying, ten percent of the fishermen catch 90 percent of the fish. But do you ever wonder what makes that ten percent so lucky? I mean, seriously, you can be using the same bait and everything, and these folks consistently out-fish everyone. What if I were to tell you that you can be in that top 10 percent? In this article, I will give you some tips to help you consistently catch fish. The first thing you need to understand is how to read the beach. There is a ton of information on the internet about this topic. The critical thing to remember is before you toss out a line, take a few minutes to scan the beach and figure out what's going on. The first thing I look for is a rip current, some outgoing water movement. Movement is essential because rip currents carry bait such as sandfleas and coquina clams from the beaches to deeper water. Fish will hang around this food source. Another feature I scan for is deep pockets of water. These deep pockets usually hold foraging fish such as pompano and whiting. However, you can also get the surprise redfish hanging out in those pockets also. Another great tip to consistently catch fish is to carry multiple baits with you. Sure, you may catch a few fish on the old tried and true. However, bait diversity is vital to ensure you are on that hot

roses

are red and the

water

is blue

Capt. Brian Demo Avid Surf Angler Host of “Finding Demo Surf Fishing” Podcast

F

ebruary is already here! It seems like we were talking about Christmas and then New Year just last week. I hope you've been able to get out fishing since the previous article and that the bite has picked up for you. If not, it might be time to re-evaluate what you've been doing to see if you're falling into the trap of insanity! Don't be afraid to try new things, especially if you're not putting up the numbers you would expect. With it being the month of love, don't forget to put a reminder of the 14th on your phone! I've heard there is a lovely lure bouquet out there on the internet you could buy! The pompano run past our area (IMO) during the storms back in November & December. While this is only my thought,

there are still many local ones to target. I have found that more are eating my blanched sand fleas than my lines with just Fishbites or FishGum alone. Fresh dead shrimp from my local tackle shop, Half Hitch, has also yielded a few good fish to come home with me and jump on the Blackstone grill. The Sheepshead have been very shy as well unless you're in a kayak or boat. The regular reports from Bob Sykes bridge and some surrounding areas are not reporting big catches like before from above, but the kayakers are getting after it. Jack "yakin with Jack" and Sean "The Lawless Tide" Lawless have been posting videos on their YouTube channel showing great pick-ups of the convicts and also the monster drums. Maybe it might be time to get out there and stretch those legs? This brings me to a great Segway! If Santa dropped off a Kayak for you for Christmas, but you haven't been out yet due to not being sure, I highly recommend checking out Emerald Coast Kayak Anglers on Facebook. There are daily posts of people going out to fish and have welcomed many new people to join them. It is the perfect way to meet new people, get acquainted, and go out with someone more experienced. Just follow the golden rule: no stealing honey holes! While we are inshore, let's talk about that! A good majority of the fish run up into the canals and creeks during our cooler months. As our "winter" keeps driving, you might start seeing them start to come out and find food on those sunnier and warmer days. Remember, on those windy days, get behind a point and start jigging away. They may be a little lazy due to the weather, but you never know when one is going to strike! The reds, trout, and flounder are there for the taking. You can't leave out the glorious surf! The big Black Drum are still being caught, and the whiting bite has been HOT! A few Red Drum have popped up, too, it would seem, so the beach is still a great place to go! The local pompano population is still hitting up the holes and bars looking for clams and fleas, so stagger those lines around structure changes (points, cuts, front/back of bar), and you should find some success. As the story started, it is February, so you know the 14th is coming. Don't forget to hook your loved one up with something nice and loving. Nothing says I love you more than a brand-new piece of fishing gear. Well, if your loved one isn't into fishing, you might want to invest in a new air mattress for the doghouse for yourself, just in case. Have a great short month, and we will have some new stuff coming in March! Go forth and do great things.

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FEBRUARy 2022

the emerald coast 15


t s a o C d l a r e Em B O A G A R R D B ark Fishing Provided by Kyle Mac's Sh Charters & Excursions

Bobby Harman with a black drum caught in Okaloosa County with Reel Nock Outfi tters

Provided by Kyle Mac's Sh

ark Fishing Charters & Excursions

26" red fish caught by Marshall Adams in Okaloosa County

Provided by Smitty's Surf

Provided by David Gaillard Fishing

If you have a catch to brag about, send your picture and caption to: capt.elizabeth@coastalanglermagazine.com


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By Capt. Quinlyn Haddon

Fishing the bay side may not even be a second choice this month, with the abundance of cobia, snapper, mackerel and the other usual suspects that frequent our shallow-water wrecks. However, if the weather allows, fishing the Atlantic side is advisable. Snapper and amberjack are a viable option, while being near an excellent pelagic fishery. Wahoo and king mackerel will be cruising the reef, along with sailfish, tuna and the occasional mahi. Mahi may be few and far between in February, but they will likely be much larger than summer schoolies. On the reef, incredible tailing conditions occur this time of year, which pushes migrating species to the surface. Once in a lifetime sightings can be had, but the most notable species affected by this anomaly is sailfish. On days like these, we target sailfish by cruising waves along the reef and looking for fish swimming on the surface. Sailfish appear black in the water, and on sunny days you can see them several waves ahead, leaving ample time to set up a pitch bait for sight casting. In the beginning of winter, when sailfish season begins on the reef, ballyhoo are extremely abundant, and the challenge is to get the fish to choose your bait out of the rest. This time of year, when bait is more scarce, your bug-eyed, red-nosed bait might actually have a chance at coming across as appealing to these hungry travelers. Tailing conditions in Marathon are caused by an east wind that opposes the current of the Gulf Stream. Migrating fish are traveling against the current, and heavy wind creates waves that push in the direction they are going. By swimming on the surface, to the point where their tails even breach, they use the force of the wind to surf the waves. It gives them a little break. It is a breathtaking experience to see these fish with such clarity, as if they are in a rolling aquarium. For obvious reasons, this type of fishing requires some heart to brave the he coldest month of the year may shut off a lot of fisheries around waves, and possibly some Dramamine. If you are prone to seasickness, take the country, but the Florida Keys thrive throughout the month of Dramamine the night before. This allows time for it to get into your system February. and eliminates the uncomfortable drowsiness that occurs from taking it the While the Keys are not immune to seasonal cold fronts, the temperatures morning of your trip. remain significantly higher than the rest of the country and provide the Capt. Quinlyn Haddon, of Blue Magic Charters, can be reached at versatility of being able to duck onto the bay side if waters on the Atlantic (504) 920-6342. Check out her social media: @captainquinlyn. side get too sporty.

SIGHT FISHING

Sailfish

IN TAILING CONDITIONS

T

14 LOCATION 2 FLORIDA

FEBRUARY JUNE 20202022 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM


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FLORIDA 15


2 LOCATION 16 FLORIDA

TYLER WOOLCOTT

I

n the South, bass are making their transition to prepare for the spawn. This time of year can present an awesome opportunity, with large groups of fish ready to feed before they head to the shallows to do their business. One of the best ways to catch bass is to locate a large group of feeding fish with electronics and put them in the boat. This time of year is my favorite time to do it. Bass group up, stage on certain things in a little bit deeper water near spawning areas and feed heavily. This scenario presents some very fun fishing days! The first thing you need is a fish finding unit with side-scan capabilities and a little bit of patience. Finding the perfect spot sometimes isn’t easy, but when you do find it, it can be extremely rewarding. The first step is to identify a general area in a lake where bass will eventually go to spawn. After that, you want to look for a transition area with structure that bass will stage on and feed before they

JUNE 20202022 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM FEBRUARY COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

move up to spawn. For most of the country, a transition area can be anything from deeper water with structure, points, or even deep banks leading near the spawning grounds. Here in Florida, we look for submerged grass clumps or edges, brushpiles, and even shell bars in a bit deeper water near spawning areas. This habitat provides bass with an ambush point to feed heavily and an easy route to spawning grounds when they are ready. Side scan is very helpful in for finding these things, as you can see the bottom 150 feet or more on each side of your boat at idle speeds. This allows you to cover a ton of water and eliminate a lot of the guesswork. With some trial and error, you can actually see fish with this technology as well! I know this technology is expensive and takes some time to learn and understand. However, if you can get your hands on it and learn how to us it, your understanding of where these fish move, live, and feed will grow exponentially. The best way to learn is to get out on the water and find that special area for yourself. Content and video on the Internet helps if you get stuck in a technological bind or aren’t quite sure what you are seeing on your screen. You can always reach out to me on social media with questions. I’d love to help in any way I can. Tyler Woolcott is a professional tournament angler and guide. Check out his website at www.tylerwoolcottfishing.com.

TIPS FROM A PRO

TIPS FROM A PRO

UTILIZING ELECTRONICS TO FIND GROUPS OF PRE-SPAWN BASS


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UTILIZING ELECTRONICS TO FIND GROUPS OF PRE-SPAWN BASS

SEAWALL EROSION CONTROL I TYLER WOOLCOTT

n the South, bass are making their transition to prepare for the spawn. This time of year can present an awesome opportunity, with large groups of fish ready to feed before they head to the shallows to do their business. One of the best ways to catch bass is to locate a large group of feeding fish with electronics and put them in the boat. This time of year is my favorite time to do it. Bass group up, stage on certain things in a little bit deeper water near spawning areas and feed heavily. This scenario presents some very fun fishing days! The first thing you need is a fish finding unit with side-scan capabilities and a little bit of patience. Finding the perfect spot sometimes isn’t easy, but when you do find it, it can be extremely rewarding. SAFE FOR THE The first step is to identify a general area in a lake where bass ENVIRONMENT will eventually go to spawn. After that, you want to look for a transition area with structure that bass will stage on and feed before Our Polyurethane they move up to spawn. For most Fills voids of the country, a transition area can Seals cracks Strengthens soilsbe anything from deeper water with structure, points, or even deep banks leading near the spawning grounds. Here in Florida, we look for submerged grass clumps or edges, brushpiles, and even shell bars in a bit deeper water near spawning areas. This habitat Free Estimates Competitive Pricing provides bass with anofambush Free 2nd Opinions Serving All Floridapoint to feed heavily and an easy route to spawning grounds when they are ready. Side scan is very helpful in for finding these things, as you can see the bottom 150 feet or more on each side of your boat at idle speeds. This allows you to cover a ton of water and eliminate a lot of the guesswork. With some trial and error, you can actually see fish with this technology as well! I know this technology is expensive and takes some time to learn and understand. However, if you can get your hands on it and learn how to us it, your understanding of where these fish move, live, and feed will grow exponentially. The best way to learn is to get out on the water and find that special area for yourself. Content and video on the Internet helps if you get stuck in a technological bind or aren’t quite sure what you are seeing on your screen. You can always reach out to me on social media with questions. I’d love to help in any way I can.

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By Richard Matteson

Cool Water, Hot Surf Fishing

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ebruary is one of the coolest months for surf fishing, and it’s one of the best for cool-water fish. Mackerel, jack, bluefish and ladyfish are coolwater fish that are very active this month. February is also one of the best months for table fare like large pompano, whiting and croaker. The schooling predator fish mentioned above are active chasing bait in the morning around daybreak and in the evening. They are shallow in the morning around the first breakers and running the trough, a deep cut along the shoreline under the closest breakers. Any shiny, fast-moving lure will produce strikes. I prefer small crocodile-style spoons (1-ounce) in the morning, a shallow-running crankbait, if there are no weeds, or small jigs (4-inch pearl white with a 3/8-ounce chartreuse jig head). Schooling mackerel and bluefish will cut your line, so use a heavy 40-pound mono or fluoro leader tied onto braid. Whether it’s early morning or not, you need to find bait to be successful. Look for birds feeding. On any beach, there will usually be some schools of bait. They might be 100 yards away or a half a mile. Walk the beach and look for dark spots in the water and small splashes on top. Although birds will be feeding on large schools of bait, they may not see smaller schools. Make long search casts past the bait and use a fast, steady retrieve to pull the lure through the bait. The action can be fast and furious as long as you are around bait and feeding fish. All the cool-water predator fish will take live bait and cut bait. Greenies and live shrimp work as well as cut ladyfish and frozen shrimp. If it gets cold, try beach fishing with waders. Numbers of pompano have been reported along many of the beach accesses in the Treasure Coast area, including Bathtub Beach and Middle Cove up to the Ft. Pierce Inlet. February is one of the best months for large 3- to 5-pound pompano. Pompano beach fishing is an art in itself and requires longer fishing rods as well as triple rigs baited with sand fleas or FishBites (red or pink). One of the easiest ways to catch pompano is to fish the lagoon bridges (Jensen Beach Causeway/Stuart Bridge if you are in Martin county) with pompano jigs (pink) on moving tides. The whiting bite has been very good this winter with small pieces of frozen shrimp. Cast just past the shoreline breakers. When fishing live or cut bait on the beach, make sure you reel in pompano or whiting fast or your fish might be shark bait. The best table-fare beaches have deeper water. The best times are when high tide is moving in or out. The weeds have been much better on the beach and the water is clear. Richard Matteson is a long-time contributor to Coastal Angler Magazine who reports from the Stuart Rod and Reel Club. Contact him at (336) 414-3440.

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CATCH SMALLMOUTHS IN THE MOUNTAINS OF NORTH CAROLINA

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By Capt. James McManus

ere in the western North Carolina mountains, we get a lot of visitors. Snowbirds are what we call people who come here from up north to enjoy our milder climate. One snowbird most fishermen cherish is the smallmouth bass. We are at the southern end of their natural range, and almost all of our watersheds contain some. Smallies have characteristics that endear them to anglers. They are aggressive, eat year-round, grow to respectable size and when hooked spend as much time out of the water as in.

You can find these beauties in most of our sizeable rivers. River fish seem to be more active in summer. I think it’s linked to terrestrial food items being more available. Floating area rivers like the Tuckasegee, Little Tennessee, Hiwassee and French Broad will keep you in fish regardless of your preferred method. For fly guys, any minnow or crawdad imitation will draw strikes, and in warmer weather nymphs and hoppers get their attention. Poppers and sliders can be lots of fun, just remember river smallies tend to be smaller than their lake buds. I spend more time chasing lake fish. There is less competition from other anglers, and average size is much better. Winter and early spring are the best seasons, in my opinion, only because the females are chock-full of eggs. It is when we catch our largest fish of the year. Many methods produce, and I throw a lot of jigs and jerkbaits. Lake fish have a variety of forage, so anything resembling threadfin shad, blueback herring or crawdads fits their menu. Dropshot, Shaky head and wacky-rigged worms all catch fish. Average depth for smallies year-round is 45 feet, or so. However, our clear mountain lakes allow them to identify prey up on the surface. Don’t shy from throwing topwater just because you mark fish deep. Especially when they are feeding up pre- and postspawn, you’ll find smallmouths on rock or gravel, where they love to eat little lobsters. They also suspend in open water to chase shad, but this is more of a warm-water behavior. On Lake Fontana, my home lake, we troll a good bit, and it’s not unusual to find them suspended at 45 feet over 200 feet of water. I should note that while we still have good smallmouth fishing, invasive spotted bass have forced their way into smallie enclaves. For this reason, we never kill a smallmouth. If you like to eat fish, take all the spotted bass you want; they are better eating anyway. Smallies and spots use the same spawning areas and hybridize. While not good genetically, it produces a fish that has that hybrid vigor, hence the name “meanmouth.” Markings and coloration make the smallmouth one of the prettiest of all fish. We should try hard to preserve them so our kids have the thrill of fighting one of the gamest fish around. Captain James McManus owns 153 charters out of Sylva, N.C. Call him at (828) 421-8125. James fishing McManus/Instagram.

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H that’s built to take a beating. “Really, we just took a commercial-duty boat and put a little lipstick on it,” Grubbs said. “The boat is as tough as it ever was. It’s been the same boat for nearly 50 years.” Mitzi Skiffs were designed for a specific purpose, yet the same philosophy applies. When the first Mitzi was designed in the mid-1990s, the concept was simple. There was nothing on the market with the shallow draft, clean layout and quiet maneuverability needed for fly fishing the flats. Those ideas propel the company today. Almost 30 years later, Mitzi’s line of 15’, 16’ and 17’ skiffs achieve those purposes exceptionally well, and they are inexpensive to own and operate. With the original design and continuing innovation, Mitzi Skiffs are flats boats other boat builders imitate. C-Hawk and Mitzi Skiff boats are available exclusively through select dealers. Contact your local dealer to find out how they can be rigged out to fit your style of fishing.

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