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EDITOR : Nick Carter • editorial@coastalanglermagazine.com WEBMASTER : Dmitriy Pislyagin • webmaster@coastalanglermagazine.com ADVERTISING INQUIRIES: Corporate Headquarters info@coastalanglermagazine.com • 888-800-9794 BIG BEND : Mike McNamara • (850) 510-7919 • captmike@coastalanglermagazine.com BREVARD : David String • (321) 684-5888 • dstring@coastalanglermagazine.com DAYTONA/NEW SMYRNA BEACH : Don Meadows • (407) 960-2340 • donm@coastalanglermagazine.com FLORIDA KEYS : Ed Gocher • (305) 587-9101 • ed@coastalanglermagazine.com FORT LAUDERDALE : Gene Dyer • (954) 680-3900 • gene@coastalanglermagazine.com FORT MYERS : Nadeen Welch • (239) 595-8265 • nwelch@coastalanglermagazine.com GREATER MIAMI : Scott Deal • (561) 945-6999 • scott@coastalanglermagazine.com Monica Isaza-Deal • (561) 945-8899 • monica@coastalanglermagazine.com GREATER ORLANDO : Phillip & Giselle Wolf • (407) 790-9515 • phillip@coastalanglermagazine.com LAKELAND & SUMTER : Mary Flaitz • (352) 598-4219 • maryf@coastalanglermagazine.com NAPLES : Mike Weber • (414) 531-4172 • mikew@coastalanglermagazine.com NC FLORIDA/NATURE COAST : Cary & Lynn Crutchfield • (352) 372-4237 • crutch@coastalanglermagazine.com NE FLORIDA : Danny Patrick • (904) 742-4696 • danny@coastalanglermagazine.com OKEECHOBEE : Ken Gabryel • (863) 532-3671 • keng@coastalanglermagazine.com PANAMA CITY/FORGOTTEN COAST : Randy Cnota • (229) 834-7880 • randyc@coastalanglermagazine.com PALM BEACH COUNTY : Barbara Ryan • (561) 373-8040 • barbara@coastalanglermagazine.com SARASOTA : Phil Prevoir • (239) 257-4684 • pprevoir@coastalanglermagazine.com TAMPA BAY : Chuck Atkins • (239) 464-5153 • chuck@coastalanglermagazine.com TREASURE COAST : Misti & Gary Guertin • (772) 285-6850 • treasurecoast@coastalanglermagazine.com flahama@coastalanglermagazine.com

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Catching Winter Cobia In The Keys By John Steinhorst

F

ebruary through April offers some of the most productive fishing of the year in the Florida Keys. An amazing variety of migratory fish species travel to the Keys as cold water temperatures push them south in the Gulf of Mexico and on the east coast. The most convenient place to base a Keys fishing adventure is directly out of Marathon, which comfortably rests in the middle of this tropical island chain. Marathon encompasses a unique collection of islands, creating the ideal boating and family destination with access to both ocean and gulf waters but far enough from the crowded streets of Key West. Capt. Chris Morrison, a 20-year Keys veteran who guides out of Marathon, enjoys hooking excited anglers up with these hungry migrating species, which include record-breaking cobia, king and Spanish mackerel, trophy sailfish and several species of jacks. Versatility is the name of the game, and options are abundant. Most often the best plan is to just decide where you want to fish, from the immense Gulf or blue ocean waters to the many reefs and wrecks surrounding the islands. Then be ready for anything when you get there. There are several techniques that work for each species, and Morrison utilizes a wide variety to keep his 8

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Temple Fork Outfitters’ Gary Loomis Inshore boat, although cobia sometimes swim with bull sharks and rays. Start drifting live shrimp back Series rods bending and his clients smiling. Live bait and jigs are most productive to with light monofilament leader and small hooks, ensure positive results. Pinfish and live shrimp and you are bound to get action from one of are among the easiest to obtain, since most local several species of snapper. If you start getting bit bait shops carry them. Deep jigs, such as butterfly off clean, add a piece of leader wire and you will types, and ¼- to 1-ounce bucktails are essential likely get hooked into a cero or king mackerel. to carry in your arsenal. For catching cobia, If you decide to fish the bay or gulf side of the present the pinfish on ocean-side wrecks and Keys island chain, you might want to anchor reefs as well as Gulf waters from 15 to 100 feet in 10 to 15 feet of water and hang that chum using the same rig for grouper down deep. Limit bag for landing Spanish mackerel. Head out to is one per person with a 33-inch size minimum. deeper Gulf waters and expect more cobia, king On sunny days, Morrison likes to spot cobia mackerel, and goliath and gag grouper. The with his polarized sunglasses from the tower of wintertime fishing action in the Florida Keys will his SeaVee boat above the reef line or in blue be sure to heat up your reel. If you need an expert light-tackle fishing water when a color change edge is present. When you see a cobia on the surface, cast the bait in guide, Capt. Chris Morrison has guided anglers front with no weight and at least 60-pound to more than 100 world records and received monofilament leader. Wire is usually necessary a Lifetime Achievement Award from the on your jigs as king, Spanish, and cero mackerel International Game Fishing Association. Visit are numerous throughout these prime fishing www.captchris.com for more info. grounds. John Steinhorst has contributed to many If you do not have a guide, the reef line on the ocean side from 25 to 40 feet is a good place publications during the last 20 years and can to start. Anchor and hang a chum bag over the be contacted at www.JohnSteinhorst.wix.com/ IslandMedia. side with ground-up frozen baitfish. Chum brings the For more Cobia fishing in the Keys, go to party to the back of your COASTALANGLERSALTWATER.COM

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Captain Fantastic.

How have so many of Marathon’s light-tackle guides achieved super-hero status? Because whether it’s tailers in the shallows, migrating tarpon out front or snook and redfish out back, our professional captains come to the rescue by putting you onto some amazing angling action. fla-keys.com/marathon 1.800.262.7284 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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RodsandReels Product Review AVET REELS SXJ 6/4 RAPTOR Since 1999, Avet Reels has been bringing to the market revolutionary reel designs that set the standard for performance. Their innovative SXJ 6/4 Raptor lever drag casting reel features Avet’s patented dual carbon fiber drag system, which produces twice the drag of the original Avet reels. The powerful system features adjustable strike pre-set and a strike stop button to prevent accidental advancement. The reel’s one-piece frame is precision machined 6061 T-6 marine grade aluminum with stainless steel components and is anodized for superior corrosion resistance. An offset machined handle arm reduces center-line profile and cranking wobble and is capped with a comfortable soft-touch handle knob. The two-speed transmission has a user-friendly shifting mechanism. Avet’s silent dog and gear anti-reverse system and M.C. Cast adjustable magnetic anti-backlash cast control system, both patented, are some of the most innovative and reliable in the industry. The SXJ 6/4 Raptor has nine stainless ball bearings, an alarm clicker and a light, narrow spool designed for optimal jig casting efficiency and less line leveling on the retrieve. It’s proudly made in the U.S.A.

CANYON REELS EX-80 TWO SPEED TROLLING REEL In case you hadn’t heard, Canyon Reels has redesigned its powerful EX-80 Two Speed Trolling Reel to give anglers the edge when pulling spreads for huge fish. The original EX-80 was extensively tested and matched up very well against the giants off the Northeast coast. When the captains made suggestions, Canyon listened, and the result is an even better EX-80, which features multiple upgrades that make it smoother, and easier to use. The EX-80 is a monster reel. It boasts a max drag of 105 pounds at strike and more than 155 pounds at full drag. A pre-set feature allows for accurate drag settings with an easy one-touch shifter. Upgrades include additional harness lugs that provide better balance control, an all new double drag system for drag runs that are even smoother than the original, and an oversized T-bar handle for additional cranking power. Several other improvements have also been made to increase the durability of this already remarkable reel. The end result is an incredibly smooth and user-friendly reel with the power to stop any fish in the ocean.

WWW.AVETREELS.NET

WWW.CANYONREELS.COM

ENIGMA HPT TITANIUM CASTING RODS

JP ROSS BEAVER MEADOW

Enigma Fishing is raising the bar on performance, while lowering the price point. Every aspect of their HPT Titanium Casting Rods were designed with extreme attention to detail. These high-performance tournament level rods are designed with premium, ultra-light Japanese Toray Carbon proprietary blend blanks. The HPT rods were designed and tested with input from professional anglers such as three-time Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year, Aaron Martens. Enigma Fishing has customized and precision balanced each individual HPT rod to be ultra functional, exceptionally beautiful and tailored to exacting actions and specifications demanded by today’s tournament anglers. All rods feature premium American Tackle components, including the multiaward winning MicroWave Line Control System, which increases casting distance and accuracy. The blank-through reel seats offer finger-to-blank contact for unparalleled sensitivity and incredible ergonomics and palmable comfort, while further reducing weight as well. Premium cork grips balance out each rod perfectly! Enigma Fishing’s new HPT series features a sleek black rod blank, cork handles, stylish purple wraps and chrome accents. Delivering technique-specific performance second-to-none, the all-new HPT series raises the bar for all others!

WWW.ENIGMAFISHING.COM

MUD HOLE TURNKEY INSHORE ROD KIT

The JP Ross Beaver Meadow is a fly rod meticulously designed to fish the beaver dams and plunge pools of small trout streams where an 11-inch fish is a trophy. That’s not to say this rod can’t handle an 18-inch brown on big water, but blue lines are where it shines. It is a short, sensitive rod with the feel needed for the gentlest of nibbles but enough power to reach out 50-plus feet with a hopper-dropper rig. The Beaver Meadow is available in a 5’ 2/3-weight, two-piece and a 6’6” 2/3-weight four-piece for fishing small streams with wet flies and dry flies. The 6’6” also has the ability to cast medium weighted streamers. The 7’6” 4-weight four-piece, the 7’9” 3-weight fourPhoto by Draper White piece, and the 8’0” 5-weight four-piece all have the shorter length required for tight quarters but the backbone to land larger fish and cast streamers and multi-fly rigs. JP Ross rods are custom-made by hand in Upstate New York. Each rod is made to order, so the details are exquisite, and components can be customized from the grip and reel seat to the guides and thread color. The Technology used to achieve this awesome balance of sensitivity and power is breakthrough technology, the joining of carbon fiber and fiberglass that JP Ross calls Carbon Silica Hybrid interface. It makes a beautiful casting and wonderfully sensitive rod.

WWW.JPROSSFLYRODS.COM

Mud Hole Custom Tackle is offering amazing value with its inshore fishing rod building kit. This turnkey kit includes everything you need to build your own custom inshore trout and redfish fishing rod. The kit features the extremely popular and versatile SJ842 rod blank. This 7’0” medium-light power rod features a fast action for throwing soft plastics and topwater lures at wary flats fish. Along with the blank, the kit includes a matched guide set, handle kit and everything from the CRB Wrapper, a CRB rod dryer and ProPaste and ProKote Rod Finish along with all the tools needed to build your own custom rod. This is a great set for the avid fisherman who wants to take his or her fishing to the next level. To get started custom building your own high quality rod, visit www.mudhole.com and check out all our Turn Key Kit options or simply Google: Mud Hole Turnkey.

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RodsandReels Product Review OKUMA KOMODO SS BAITCAST REELS

The original Komodo 350 size baitcast reel has been the recipient of tremendous accolades. It is considered an extremely tough reel and an excellent value. For 2017, the Komodo family welcomes the Komodo SS, featuring a new 450 size and stainless steel drive system. The Komodo SS is built around a heavy-duty stainless steel main gear, pinion gear, drive shaft and spool shaft to deliver an internal foundation of unrelenting strength and corrosion-resistance. Komodo SS reels use rigid, machined aluminum frame and spool, aluminum side plates, high-output Carbonite drag system capable of a maximum drag output of 30 pounds, and updated 6-pin Velocity Cast Control System. Performance features include six or seven (depending upon size) stainless steel High Performance Bearings, plus roller bearing, for outstanding corrosionresistance. The synchronized level-wind system does not disengage for casting, which allows it to maintain alignment at all times and eliminated drag pressure spikes when using braided lines. Bait clickers are standard on all models. The Komodo SS series includes two sizes, 350 and 450. The 350 size includes a 6.4:1 gear ratio and maximum drag output of 25 pounds. There are four models in the 350 size. The 450-size Komodo is available in a 6.3:1 gear ratio and a hyperfast 7.1:1 ratio. Komodo SS series baitcast reels are covered by the Okuma 3-Year Limited Warranty.

WWW.OKUMAFISHING.COM

UGLY STIK BIGWATER SERIES Ugly Stik has refreshed its iconic Bigwater series with all-new Ugly Tuff saltwater guides and an updated look. Beginning with Ugly Tech construction, the Bigwater series maintains the toughness for which all Ugly Stiks are known. One-piece Ugly Tuff stainless steel guides eliminate insert pop-outs and provide durability and corrosion resistance for those harsh saltwater applications. The Bigwater series retains the traditional Ugly Stik Clear Tip design for more strength at the tip of the rod. Comfortable EVA handles and conventional reel seats give anglers a non-slip, comfortable grip no matter the conditions. The fly, standup, downrigger/dipsy diver, surf, spinning and casting models have also been upgraded to include a standard seven-year limited warranty. Four Bigwater spinning combos and two trolling combos for downrigger applications are also available. The combos feature a graphite spinning reel, available in sizes 50, 60 and 70, and have a durable aluminum spool. The reel featured on the Bigwater downrigger combos is a size 30 line counter round reel with a metal handle and power knob.

PENN SLAMMER III The Penn Slammer III, which won Best of Show in the saltwater reel category at iCast 2016, is the reintroduction of the heavy-duty reel that has become trusted by charter captains around the world. Slammer III reels feature a new IPX6 Sealed System, which keeps water out of the gear box and drag system in heavy spray and sea conditions. An updated Slammer Drag System now utilizes a proprietary Dura-Drag material. With the computer-controlled CNC gear technology system, the precision brass main, pinion and oscillation gears are individually machined for exact tolerances to provide the smoothest operation. Eight models of the Slammer III are available, ranging in size from 3500 to 10500 models. Gear ratios range from 6.2:1 with 37 inches of line retrieve on the smaller reels to 4.2:1 with 43 inches of line retrieve on the largest. Maximum drags start at 30lbs in the smaller models and run to 60lbs on the largest. The oversized reel handle grip gives the angler added control during the fight. The 3500 Slammer III is the smallest of the family weighing 13.9oz while the 10500 weighs 43.1oz.

WWW.PENNFISHING.COM

DANCO BAIT STIK Danco’s Bait Stik is the original rod and reel combo developed specifically for catching bait with a sabiki rig, and it is still the best. The rod in this combo is 7’3” and features two-piece construction with an extra-hard phenolic tip for superior strength and extreme sensitivity. Comfortable EVA grips and a gimbal butt with cover means anglers will be yanking bait from the water with ease. Anyone who has ever tried to store a sabiki rigs knows the frustration of attempting to keep them from becoming a tangled mess. With the Bait Stik, that is not a problem. While not in use, the sabiki rig can be safely and conveniently stored inside the rod, which is a huge plus. The combo comes with either a casting or spinning reel. The spinning reel comes with an anodized aluminum spool, a graphite body and rotor and an oversized eggshaped knob. The casting reel has an aluminum body and side covers, brass gearing and a star drag. Catching bait has never been so easy. When the bait tank is full, rinse everything down with fresh water, store the sabiki rig in the rod and forget about it. Look for the Danco Bait Stik in your tackle store.

WWW.SHAKESPEARE-FISHING.COM

OCEAN 2 RIVER TOURNAMENT COMBO

ZEBCO BIG CAT SERIES Zebco is launching an impressive offering of beefedup rods and reels called “Big Cat” to accommodate serious value-minded anglers who passionately pursue catfish. The spincast reels are built with a titanium nitride plated stainless steel spinnerhead to add durability and reduce friction. Big Cat XT conventional-style reels will likely be the top pick for the most avid trophy hunters from the Mississippi River to Santee Cooper and all waters in between. Two conventional reels will be offered. The Big Cat XT 30 conventional trolling reel will hold 455 yards of 30-pound test. The Big Cat XT 350 round baitcasting reel holds 200 yards of 20-pound test. Worth noting is that a headlamp handy for nighttime catfishing will be free to consumers who purchase rods and reels within the very affordable Big Cat and Big Cat XT series.

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Ocean 2 River (O2R) Tournament spinning combos are designed to perform to the exacting standards of serious tournament anglers while standing up to the grueling conditions and treatment offered up by hard-core fishermen in the marine environment. The IM-7 fast action graphite rods come with Seaguide Atlas Performance aluminum oxide guides, comfortable cork split grips and a graphite reel seat with a cork inlay and cushioned stainless steel hoods. These rods combine strength with sensitivity and excellent casting power. They are available in medium and medium heavy weights to suit a range of line and lure weights. The reels feature a solid aluminum frame, graphite side covers and rotor and a double anodized aluminum spool to stand up to the saltwater environment. A 5.1:1 gear ratio is suitable for fishing a wide range of lures all day long without wearing out the angler’s wrists and hands. Stainless ball bearings and a comfortable oversized T-knob provide for longer casts, smoother drag runs and comfort while fighting fish. Look for the O2R combo and other fine Danco products in your tackle store.

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ON THE COVER

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Editor’s Note:

Each month, Coastal Angler Magazine and The Angler Magazine staff search our vast coverage area for photos that will grace our covers. With well over a million readers in diverse coastal and inland markets, our magazines strive for broad national appeal as well as local-level intelligence to put anglers on fish. The cover is different depending on which edition you, the reader, are holding. The following is a little information about this month’s covers.

COASTAL ANGLER MAGAZINE The Florida Keys, Marathon

FREE

BIG BEND EDITION

The February edition of Coastal Angler Magazine features a cover image of Capt. James Platt with a 35-pound cobia he landed onboard a SeaVee boat about 10 miles out from Marathon’s Tarpon Creek Marina on the ocean side of the Florida Keys. The photo was provided by Capt. Chris Morrison of Keys Light Tackle Fishing Charters, who Local was fishing with Platt when they caught a limit of cobia, along with king mackerel, mangrove snapper and grouper. Morrison uses medium-heavy, Gary Loomis-designed Inshore Series rods from Temple Fork Outfitters along with 30-pound test Cortland Master Braid line to handle cobia and many species he targets in winter months. Home to the world-famous Seven Mile Bridge, Marathon is a group of tropical islands perfectly situated in the middle of the Florida Keys island chain. This ideal boating and family destination offers easy access to the Atlantic Ocean, Florida Bay, Everglades and Gulf of Mexico waters for an amazing diversity. Wintertime in the Florida Keys means anglers see large numbers of migratory fish such as cobia, king and Spanish mackerel, wahoo, sailfish and blackfin tuna pushed down from colder northern waters. Marathon is an excellent destination to base your Keys vacation for an unforgettable adventure. See writer John Steinhorst’s article on winter and early spring fishing out of Marathon in this month’s issue. Fishing Reports Catch Photos News & Events

VOLUME 22 • ISSUE 265

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THE ANGLER MAGAZINE Ice Fishing On Golden Pond, New Hampshire

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This month’s cover image for The Angler Magazine was taken by Chuck Fritz on the ice at Squam Lake in Holderness, New Hampshire. Old Timers might remember the 1981 movie “On Golden Pond.” It was filmed on Squam Lake, and the most interesting storyline in the film had to be the cantankerous Local character Norman’s obsession with catching a humongous rainbow trout named Walter. Squam Lake looks a lot different with a layer of ice over it than it does in the movie, which was shot in the summer. The fishing is still good, though. Just ask Tim Moore, the ice fishing guide who was photographed for the cover with a pretty yellow perch he caught through a hole in the ice. The ice fishing season on Squam and nearby Lake Winnipesaukee generally runs from January through March each year, and anglers target giant white perch and lake trout as well as smallmouth bass, crappie, sunfish and yellow perch. If there’s anyone out there who knows where Walter is hiding after all these years, it has to be Tim. See Tim’s story inside this months issue and check out his website at www.timmooreoutdoors.com. Fishing Reports Catch Photos News & Events

VOLUME 22 • ISSUE 264

F R A N C H I S E

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MERCURY MARINE’S VESSELVIEW MOBILE AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD

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ercury Marine’s VesselView Mobile app is now available for free download on the App Store and Google Play in North America. Available for iOS and Android mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, the VesselView Mobile app instantly provides users access to their boat’s SmartCraft digital data in the palm of their hand. The product recently won a prestigious IBEX innovation award. The VesselView Mobile module, which is needed to fully utilize the app, is available for purchase at participating Mercury Marine dealers, from the VesselView Mobile app or on www.vesselviewmobile.com. The product is compatible with all Mercury SmartCraftcapable engines built since 2003. One module supports single through quad engine applications. SmartCraft is a fully integrated suite of digital technologies, including marine gauges, sensors, vessel systems and computercontrolled features, giving users a higher level of control over their boat’s propulsion and electrical systems. Now, with Mercury Marine’s VesselView Mobile, users can see SmartCraft engine data right on the screen of their mobile device. The app also includes useful new features such as Fuel Information, Maintenance Reminders, Mapping, Performance Summary, and Fault Code Diagnostics. VesselView Mobile makes preparing for and spending a day on the water easier, safer 14

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and more enjoyable by letting users perform the following functions from their mobile device: • Connect to the SmartCraft data network in your boat from your iOS or Android mobile device via BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0) • See SmartCraft engine parameters like engine hours, fuel burn, water temperature, battery voltage, RPM, etc. (parameters available are specific to each engine family). • Get fault code diagnostic information so you know and understand if that fault is something to be addressed when you return to the dock, or is more urgent. • Fuel Management provides accurate fuel usage data along with fuel remaining plus indicates time and distance to empty when the user enters fuel added via the app. • Locate your nearest Mercury Marine dealer • Get points of interest information for your body of water, including fuel and restaurant locations, and more • Record a moment on the water for future reference • Access checklists associated with your boating lifestyle • Get maintenance reminders and access historical maintenance information logs. Mercury Marine’s VesselView Mobile app also provides users with a Web-based account that gives them and their preferred dealer app and module will be on display at the 2017 an even deeper connection to their boat. The Miami International Boat Show.

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Core Concepts Make

Ice Fishing Easier By Tim Moore

S

pending hours on a frozen lake isn’t easy. Your body works overtime just to stay warm. Then, add the activity level that often accompanies ice fishing, such as drilling or chiseling holes and chasing tip up flags, and it can be downright exhausting. The degree of difficulty extreme cold temperatures add to fishing is what keeps most people from trying ice fishing. While there is a ton of gear designed to make ice fishing easier, core concepts, such as efficiency and mobility go a long way to make ice fishing easy enough for even the most warm blooded people. When you strengthen your core muscles with exercise, you train the rest of your 16

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muscles to work in harmony, which leads to better balance and stability. The same can be said for ice fishing. Exercising core concepts on a regular basis not only improves technique and lure control, but ice fishing actually becomes easier. The hottest new lures and trending techniques might catch a few fish, but they do little to improve your ability as an angler, especially when everything is frozen. Efficiency is arguably the foundation of any core. A highly efficient ice angler accomplishes more tasks in a shorter amount of time, and therefore catches more fish. Being efficient means eliminating unnecessary steps. Fewer steps means more time fishing, and more time fishing means more fish caught. Every second you spend with your line out of the water is time spent not catching fish. Efficiency begins off the ice. There are many things you can do before you leave your house that will make you more efficient. Start by leaving equipment and lures you won’t need at home. If you’re going fishing for panfish and you have larger rods mixed in with panfish rods, you will have extra gear to deal with on the ice. It doesn’t seem like a big deal until you’re fishing in subzero temperatures and the rods you need get tangled with the rods you don’t need. Rigging multiple rods with different lures before you leave your house will also reduce steps on the ice. Then you can cycle through pre-rigged rods rather than tie new jigs in the cold, wind or snow. Have you ever seen the deck of a tournament bass angler’s boat? They have many rods rigged with different lures so they don’t have to re-tie while they are fishing. The same goes for ice fishing, especially when it’s freezing out. The work you do at home pays off on the ice, but there is more you can do while fishing to make things easier, such as putting gear back in its place when you’re not using it. Then when you want to move you have less equipment to put away. Sometimes we are so

excited to get fishing that we tend to lay gear on the ice when we are done using it rather than put it back where it belongs. By the time we decide to move there is gear all over the place, which makes moving harder. The Godfather of modern ice fishing Dave Genz always says, “If it’s easy you’ll do it.” Focus on ways to make everything easier and you will be more productive. The little things add up. Just as backpackers try to shave ounces off their packs to make hiking easier, successful ice anglers are always trying to shave off unnecessary tasks to make fishing easier. The equipment you use also contributes to your efficiency. A Vexilar sonar flasher removes a lot of the guesswork. Figuring out if there are fish under you and their depth could take hours without a flasher. A sonar flasher is easy to use. It will instantly show you the entire water column including the bottom, your jig, and anything else that shows up under you, such as a fish. All in real time! Clam Outdoors makes a number of items specifically designed to make certain tasks easier on the ice. Prices range from a few dollars into the $1,000 range. The simple lowcost products often make a big difference. The Clam Can allows you to carry bait in your pocket. Not a big thing, but it makes a huge difference when it’s cold. Rod Slicks keep ice rods from getting tangled, and Fish Trap shelters get you out of the cold quickly and allow you to move around easier. The parts all have a sum that equals success. Mobility is another important core element of ice fishing. Mobility allows you to cover more water, which allows you to put your lure in front of more fish. Think of ice fishing the same way you do when open water fishing. We rarely head out onto the water and cast in the same spot over and over again. Ice fishing is no different. Every hole you drill is a cast. Make more casts and you’ll catch more fish. If you make a lot of casts in an area and don’t catch anything, move to another area and repeat. Give yourself a time limit, and don’t stay in the same area if you’re not catching fish. Ice Fishing doesn’t have to be cold and difficult. Core concepts that make ice fishing easier also make it more fun. Establish a routine and it will become second nature. By constantly thinking of ways to strengthen your core, you make ice fishing easier. Before you know it, you will be catching more fish than ever before. And who doesn’t love catching more fish? Tim Moore is a full-time licensed fishing guide in New Hampshire. He owns Tim Moore Outdoors and the New England Ice Fishing Academy. For more information visit www. TimMooreOutdoors.com. For more Tim Moore, go to

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Introducing the Element F21: As low as $25,499* Our largest center console to date, we designed the new Element F21 to be three things; fishable, versatile and affordable. We started with our proven M-Hull™ design, giving it a deeper entry for even more seaworthiness. Then we gave it the features anglers demand to make sure it was serious about catching fish—plus options should you choose to expand your activities. Its most attractive feature could be its price. Shop if you must… we’re pretty sure you’ll end up here. Go to bayliner.com to learn more.

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or those seeking ultimate enjoyment at one of the world’s largest and greatest boat shows, the VIP Experience is the hot ticket for the 2017 Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show Feb. 16-20. In its second year at the iconic Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin, the show will offer more boats, large yachts, marine product debuts, transportation options, dining and fun than ever before. There will be excitement for everyone, but those who prefer more of an upscale experience should treat themselves to the VIP Experience. With ticket packages ranging from $70 to $100 per day, guests will enjoy exclusive access to

the VIP Lounge aboard a 111-foot luxury yacht docked at Pier 9 among more than 100 of the biggest and most extravagant motor, cruising and super yachts ever displayed at the show. The VIP Experience includes upscale dining and beverage service, live music daily, an air conditioned indoor lounge, an open sky deck with stunning views, private restrooms, complimentary Wi-Fi and an array of complimentary services and luxury product displays. All of this comes on top of what the Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show is recognized for: a worldclass boat-show experience for more than 100,000 attendees and exhibitors. This year’s show will be the best ever. Organizers anticipate more than 1,300 new boats on display with more new model debuts than ever before. What’s more, the number of boats in-water is expanding to an estimated 550 boats and yachts— all located in the show’s state-of-the-art marina. From sport fishing boats and high performance boats, to personal watercraft and wake sport boats, family cruisers and luxury yachts, there is something for every lifestyle. The show will also once again offer sea trials, where shoppers can take boats out for a spin. This year, more boat exhibitors will participate, giving boat buyers a chance to test-drive a number of options. And be sure to come hungry and thirsty. A highlight of the 2017 show is an enhanced food and beverage program featuring more than 150 options ranging from luxe to casual fare. Whether you choose to come by water taxi, shuttle bus or car, the show offers seamless transportation to and from the show as well as ample and convenient parking options. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day of the show. Regular admission packages range from $25 to $100 for multiple days, and children younger than 15 are free. For more information, go to www.MiamiBoatShow.com. To learn more about last years boat show, go to

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AN AUTUMN SAIL STORY By Michael Landress

W

e blasted through the Boynton Inlet on the first full day of fall and set lines in 33 fathoms near one of the many reefs just a short pelican’s glide offshore. It was ramp-to-reef in minutes for the five of us, Capt. Chris Lemieux, Carson, Jeff, Mike and his father-in-law, Joe. It’s one of the many perks we enjoy fishing out of Boynton Beach, also known as the Gateway to the Gulf Stream. Our goal this day was modest, to catch and release Florida’s premier game fish for our senior angler, Joe. During his 84 years, Joe had never battled a sailfish. Unfortunately, any hope of doing so on the reef was quickly trammeled by a school of ravenous rainbow runners that pillaged our lively baits at an astonishing rate. A relative of the greater amberjack, rainbows are feisty on hook and line, but offered no food value for the men of this vainglorious crew. We decided to run farther offshore into deeper water to hunt the harlequin green and yellow denizens of the deep—dolphin! After a short run on a flat

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sea, we arrived at a large patch of pelagic weed drifting in 800 feet of 86-degree water. Baitfish soon rained down upon the blue water after being violently wacked from a cozy dip net by the well-placed palm of our determined captain. After a few minutes, it became evident this seemingly perfect, floating asylum harbored zilch predators. Then, a dark silhouette suddenly appeared against the morning glare 50 feet from the bow of the Conch Cruiser. Shark or marlin I thought. “Sail, sail, sail!” we screamed like school boys. It was Florida’s fish, the sleek marauder that we sought earlier on the reef. As she laggardly cruised on the surface with sail raised, Chris pitched a live threadfin herring a few feet in front of her… a perfect cast. Enticed by the presentation, she gobbled the bait and the fight was on. Lit-up and furiously angry, she raced across the ocean at warp speed. Chris barked for Joe to take the rod, and the grizzled angler complied. After 20 arduous minutes, first mate Carson captured leader and the billfish was free. Underwater GOPRO footage indicated a successful release as her large symmetrical tail propelled her into the depths. There is no photographic evidence of Joe’s multiple naps later that day, but more importantly a fine and weary man was able to complete one of the items on his (chum) bucket list: dueling an autumn sail! For a great sailfish catch fight, go to

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and deep drop fishing for yelloweye snapper, blackfin snapper, queen snapper and mystic grouper. Even when the east winds are howling in the spring and summer months, comfortable fishing conditions exist on the leeward side of the island. When the wind lays down, The Bridge is a short 16-mile run from the marina. The Bridge runs from the southern tip of Eleuthera to the northern tip of Little San Salvador. It’s a 9-mile underwater ledge that averages depths of 200 feet between the two islands with drop offs to 800 feet on the Exuma Sound side and 3,000 feet on the Atlantic Ocean side. Big wahoo, dolphin and yellowfin tuna can be expected here, and you never know when a blue marlin will show up in your spread. The resort offers world class accommodations in the form of 14 two-story, luxury villas with views of both the sunrise and sunset. There is also a well-stocked ship’s store, a new waterfront restaurant, bar and swimming pool. The marina is a state-of-the-art, Blue Flag awarded facility with average depths of 12 to 14 feet that is flushed on every tide making the waters crystal clear. All slips have 30 and 50 amp power and water with dockage for vessels up to 200 feet. There’s a full fuel dock with both gasoline and diesel. Pump out services are also available. Getting here is relatively easy, as there are several carriers with daily flights to and from Nassau. From Nassau, it’s a very short flight to Rock Sound, which is just 30 miles from the cape. Both Bahamas Air and Pineapple Air offer service to and from Rock Sound several days a week. Watermakers Air offers direct service from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport to and from Rock Sound four times per week. From Rock sound, a cab ride will cost you about $70. There are also car rentals available. The Stuart Sailfish Club, in its 75th year, has announced a Flotilla to Cape Eleuthera for May 5 to May 14. Fifteen member boats have already signed up. If you would like to participate in the Flotilla to the cape, you must be a member of the club. Family memberships are available for just $200. For more information, visit the club’s website at www.stuartsailfishclub.com. For more information on the Cape Eleuthera Resort and Marina, go to www. capeeleuthera.com.

ESCAPE TO THE CAPE

T

hose living in South Florida are fortunate to have Bimini and West End, Grand Bahama a short boat ride from the shoreline. But there’s an undiscovered jewel of the Out Islands within reach for those looking for something more. Just 56 miles southeast of Nassau, lies the Cape Eleuthera Resort and Marina. From bonefish on the flats to blue marlin on The Bridge, this special place is no less than paradise. Just outside the marina in the Exuma Sound, you will find some of the best yellowtail snapper fishing on the planet, consistent gaffer dolphin action

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SWIMMING WITH SHARKS

can systematically decimate their food sources by feeding so much in one area that they permanently impact the ability of that food source to regenerate. Sharks act as a regulatory body in these instances through their mere presence. Just by having a shark around, fish and other animals are forced to expand their hunting or grazing grounds and seek out food over larger areas, where their impact will be less dramatic. Sharks play such an integral role to the health of marine ecosystems that studies have found a decline in their populations results in a correlating decline of many commercially significant fish species, including those, like tuna, that are a favorite on our dinner plates. Without sharks in our local waters, we would not be able to enjoy the wide variety of fish species and marine animals that we take for granted. As anglers, there are easy ways to “fish friendly” Photo by Melissa Johnson • A scuba diver watches as two when it comes to sharks. If you’re fishing from shore, try Lemon Sharks swim by on a local reef. to keep the shark in water as you release it so they can maintain a constant flow of water through their gills. If very February at Pura Vida Divers, we dedicate a month to it’s hard to remove a hook from the shark, it’s better to cut the line than shedding light onto one of our favorite, but often overlooked, marine animals: sharks. As scuba divers and nature enthusiasts, we spend more time exerting yourself and stressing the animal. Using non-stainless circle hooks helps lower the longevity of the hook rely on this keystone species to help hold in place the precious balance of underwater, which is beneficial to hammerheads and other species that life that allows our coral reef systems to thrive. Sharks are an easy scapegoat, portrayed by films and most media as are particularly susceptible to exhaustion during catch and release. Helping preserve shark populations is one step towards ensuring aggressive predators. In reality, sharks play an important role policing and that the activities and ecosystems we enjoy today remain healthy for even strengthening the populations of their prey. Sharks are opportunistic predators that feed on old, weakened or generations to come. If you’re interested in learning more about sharks or conservation sick fish. This in turn ensures that only the healthiest members of a fish population reproduce, overall strengthening a species gene pool. efforts, we invite you to join us on Friday, Feb. 24 for a fascinating Similarly, by targeting prey made weaker by disease, sharks help prevent presentation by Angela Smith of Shark Team One. The event will be hosted at Pura Vida Divers, and details can be found on our website at the rapid spreading of that disease through a school. If fish or other marine species thrive without a predatory threat, they www.puravidadivers.com.

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Stuart, located in Martin County, is known as the Sailfish Capital of the World. Sitting on the most biodiverse estuary in the Northern Hemisphere, and the northernmost point of the South Florida Reef, Martin County is home to 100 artificial reef systems and over 800 species of fish. Its climate, waterways and natural environment make it a mecca for fishermen and nautical explorers year-round. An array of unique shops, fine restaurants, great golf courses and quiet beaches make a day ashore fun, too. Inshore, offshore, salt water or fresh, head out for an adventure and reel in the memories.

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Center sp By Richard L. Matteson Jr.
 Stuart Rod & Reel Club Staff

Don’t Chase Rust, Protect Your Gear! Save your Fishing Rods, Reels, Tackle Boxes & Especially your Boat!

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ading puts you in the water with the fish. You are now part of their element, and this gives you an advantage over a noisy boat with a motor or trolling motor and anglers bumping around on it. As a wader you can silently fish under piers and under mangrove branches where boats can’t go or even approach without spooking the fish. Winds and Tide When you wade the lagoon, you need to know the tide and the wind. You don’t want to fish during a slack tide, and you might not want to fish if it’s too windy. You might want to fish out of the wind or with the wind at your back. The tide determines if you fish shallow or deep as well as where the fish are.

Finding Fish 
As you enter the water, start looking for signs of bait and fish activity. Look for birds on the water or over the water. Use search lures like C.A.L. jigs that can be cast and retrieved quickly and cover a lot of water area. Use heavier jigs in windy conditions. Move quickly without making noise. Vary the speed of retrieve. Fast retrieves in the top of the water column catch ladyfish, jacks and snook, but you might miss trout, redfish and flounder. When you find fish, slow down and fish the area carefully.

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Areas To Wade The South Indian River Lagoon The South Indian River area I fish stretches from Vero Beach to Stuart. The Bridges: Fort Pierce has two bridges. The north bridge has a boat ramp on the east side from which you can wade, and there’s an area across the bridge from Little Jim’s on either side of the second boat ramp. The south Fort Pierce bridge has an area on the east side that stretches to the inlet. South of the bridge on the west side is a fishing area. In Stuart, the north bridge (Jensen Causeway) can be waded on either side and the same is true of the south Stuart bridge (Earnest Lyons). There are two bridges on the St. Lucie River, but they are hard to access for waders. The Shoreline: My favorite wading areas are Walton Road (Port St. Lucie), Walton Scrub, Midway (Ft. Pierce), and Wilcox Road (Vero Beach). On the east side there’s Herman’s Bay (PSL) and Bear Point (Ft. Pierce). 
Be Respectful Remember the pier owners have the access rights to their piers and don’t want waders parking along the pier areas without permission because it blocks their view of the lagoon. 

Happy wading! For more wading in the Indian River Lagoon, go to

CAMINSHORE.COM

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1/18/17 10:18 AM


SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

GULF SEASONS CHANGES FOR AMBERJACK, GRAY TRIGGER, GAG

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ith the coming of 2017, several recreational fishing season changes in Gulf waters went into effect. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) manages marine fish from the shore to 9 nautical miles in the Gulf of Mexico. • Greater Amberjack Season Open The greater amberjack season in Gulf state waters had been closed since Sept. 10. This temporary closure was put in place because NOAA Fisheries estimated the 2016 annual federal recreational quota was exceeded and the recreational harvest season in adjacent federal waters closed. The quota is the poundage of fish that can be caught each year while maintaining a sustainable fishery. Federal rules require that any harvest in excess of the quota for this species must be deducted from the next year’s quota and could result in a shortened federal season. State waters closed early in 2016 to help minimize negative impacts of a quota overage on Florida anglers and the 2017 season.

FWC Photo

• Gray Triggerfish Season Closed The gray triggerfish recreational season will remain closed Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2017 in Gulf state waters in response to an announcement that the 2016 federal gray triggerfish quota was exceeded by more than 200 percent and that federal waters will be closed through Dec. 31, 2017. The state waters closure will help avoid a quota overage in 2017. The FWC will consider a limited gray triggerfish season for fall 2017 at an upcoming meeting. • Gag Grouper Season Closed Gag grouper closed for recreational harvest in most Gulf of Mexico state waters and all Gulf federal waters Jan. 1, 2017. This is an annual closure. The season will reopen June 1, 2017. State waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties are open from April 1 through June 30 only and are not open during the June 1 through Dec. 31 season. Monroe County is also excluded from the June through December season because it follows Atlantic rules for gag grouper.

For more fishing on the Gulf of Mexico, go to

CAMOFFSHORE.COM

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FEBRUARY 2017

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COASTAL ANGLER MAGAZINE • FT. MYERS EDITION • Publishers: Nadeen Welch & Phil Prevoir

Ft. Myers Beach to Charlotte Harbor FEBRUARY FISHING IN SW FLORIDA

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am happy to see February come around, as it basically ends the transition month of species and all winter inhabitants are surely in good numbers and sizes in our waters. Water temperatures control the species and their activities. This is definitely ‘Sheepshead’ month. Rumored to be difficult to catch and clean, they are also fun to catch and great to eat. They will be found throughout Pine Island Sound along the seawalls, piles, mangroves and oyster beds. Look for them when and where there is current flow for better results. Like most all other inshore species, fish on either the incoming or an outgoing tide. The big ones are in from the depths of the gulf to spawn and eat, while offering some of the best action that light tackle will provide. Sheepshead are not difficult to catch when the ‘bite is on’. Just like all other species of fish, they do not bite non-stop, but have feeding times when they are very aggressive. When these fish go into their feeding mode, they are quite easy to catch. Anglers targeting these fish need only to realize that it is during the feeding phase, that they basically hook themselves and become easier to catch. Like other species, they have a tendency to ‘school’. When the small fish eat, the larger ones are on ‘break’. However, when the larger ones decide to feed, the small fish seem to disappear, as if to make room for them. Recognizing a sheepshead bite from another species is key to understanding how and when to set the hook (or when to move to another location in search of them). Hard hits and redundant ‘nibbles’ are small mangrove snappers. When mangrove snappers are biting, odds are the sheepshead are not eating or are not in that location. Light ‘tugs’ or gentle ‘pulls’ are sheepshead. Often they will pick up the bait and swim away to the left or right of the initial presentation. Any of these events triggers the time to remove some of the slack in the line and set the hook. My bait of choice is the tail of a small shrimp. A lot of anglers swear by Fiddler Crabs, but I only use shrimp. They are easier to find, easier to use, less costly and just as effective. I chum the heads of the shrimp to incite more bites. Set the boat up close to the site you are going to fish. Use light equipment, such as an 8-17 lb. test rod with a compatible spinning reel. They are easy to handle, offer sensitive feel and allows for effective casting with light lines (10-15lb test). Attach a short, 30lb. Fluorocarbon leader. Attach a #1 or #2 bait hook. Place a small #5 or #6 pinch weight about 6” above the hook for good results. The size of the weight should be just heavy enough to keep the shrimp presentation down and in the area you suspect the fish to be holding. However, too much weight will prevent feeling a bite. I spend as much as 4 hours in one ‘honey’ hole constantly

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February 2017

By Capt. Terry Fisher

catching fish as the bite goes ‘on and off ’. Larger and good numbers of Spanish Mackerel is another February species available in and around San Carlos Bay, Pine Island Sound, Charlotte Harbor, off the gulf side of the outer islands and in the passes. Live and artificial presentation all work for these fast moving, darting, aggressive fish. They are toothy critters and require either wire lines (some with stinger hooks) or heavier monofilament leaders (30 to 40lbs) to prevent bite offs. Look for birds diving to locate them. When using spoons, be sure to use a swivel to prevent line twisting. Any spoon will work, as they resemble small baitfish. I prefer silver to gold color. Fish the grass and sand flats anywhere from 6 to 12ft. deep. If not using artificial presentations, I suggest placing a jig head on a long leader, under a popping cork with a shrimp. Light tackle rod and reel combination as mentioned above will handle any size and offer lots of action. Using this technique requires no feel, but simply watching the popping cork. Seatrout is another February species to consider. They begin showing up in good numbers and sizes on grass flats. They seem to prefer the turtle grasses. Light tackle should be used with either artificial or live presentations. Swim baits, top water and spoons all work. Use them in the early morning hours before the winds pickup. Live shrimps, suspended under a popping cork will provide the most consistent action of all baits mentioned. Fish the milky-green colored water in depths of 4 to 6ft. for good results. The greenish color indicates the seabed is covered with grasses. This is where the fish hide and feed. By-catches will be Pompano, Spanish Mackerel, Jack Crevalle and Ladyfish.

This is Captain Terry Fisher of Fish Face Charters wishing everyone a ‘Fish of a Lifetime’! Feel free to contact me via email at fishfacecharters@ yahoo.com with any questions or charter requests. You can also call me direct at 239-357-6829 to book your charter or for immediate assistance. Check out my website at www. fishfacecharters.com for more fishing tips and reports. I am also available as ‘Captain for Hire’ (by the hour) on your vessel for navigation/safety instructions, fishing locations and techniques.

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GULF & INTRACOASTAL FISHING

FISHIN’ FRANK

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oys and Girls of Fish World-lots of great things happening-Big, Huge, things. Goliath Grouper are biting in the canals and in the passes. It was not too many years ago we first started finding/ catching in our canals these small grouper looking fish, some less than 6 inches long. These fish which were brown with red or maybe yellowish and dark with spots. I took quite a while to figure out what type of grouper they were. This was just before the internet and back then you had to use dial up. Let your parents explain that. Be-boop-whirl, Photo Credit: Zach Harris had to throw that in for us old timers. Finally, a book and it was the round fins of the Goliath which made the I.D. Possible. Males take 5 years or so to become able to spawn and females about 6 years and maybe goliath turn male to female or maybe not. What I do know or think I know is that they like to live, once they are about 6 or so inches, in the canals. And they stay in the canals until they are about 50 pounds, just before they get 4 feet long. These groupers seem to move out of the canals and out to the passes. Boca Grande Pass is the preferred pass as the old Phosphate dock has lots of heavy cover for them and they like having a home. Open sand bottom is not where they like to be. I use a chunk of mullet or ladyfish with a large enough hook to hook the bait and have the point of the hook far enough out to hook the fish. I flatten the barb on the hook, as I know it is catch and release. Casting the chunk or bait under the dock as center as possible, then it’s a waiting game. Studies have shown, much to my surprise, that goliath grouper do not reduce the fish populations on the reefs, like I and many other people would have thought, because they are lazy. Most of their diet is crabs, shrimp, things that they can just gulp down without a lot of chasing. Goliath tend to meander over to the food, not run over to get it. Out by the phosphate dock at Boca Pass, the technique is a bit strange. You need a boat to get here. On the outside of the piling is where we look for these giant fish to play with or at the large round tie-up bumper. How we do it is to use a 2 or 3-pound fish with a 13/0 hook or larger, with 200-pound test leader. Sometimes I use a 10 once sinker slid onto the line before the hook. Big rod-I like the Bill fisher 80 to 130-pound class and an International reel 50 with 100-pound mono on it. The Angler/fisher person sits in the front of the boat and the operator of the boat puts the nose of the boat up to the dock. Drop the bait to the bottom and as soon as the rod person feels the fish bite, the boat is put in reverse and that helps pull the fish away and into more open water. This has to happen before the fish figures out what you are trying to do and decides to pull back. The driver of the boat never leaves the helm, as that fish is going to try and pull the boat back to the dock. So, have back up people for the person on the rod, as a 300-pound fish mad at you is going to really fight. Now at this point it is simple- you pull, the fish pulls, whoever pulls the hardest wins. If the person operating the boat and the person on the rod work together, you should be successful. Teamwork- the rod person gets the glory and the boat operator gets yelled at if the fish gets back into the pilings. Hummm So remember to congratulate the boat person as well when the fish is landed and the pictures taken. Just though I would share a little of the unusual things that are possible here in Charlotte Harbor.


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4 FORT MYERS | FEBRUARY 2017 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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February in S.W. Florida

Voted BEST Bait & Tackle shop on the Island

By: Capt. Bart Marx

D&D MATLACHA

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ebruary in S.W. Florida is an awesome time of year. The weather is cooler and there are plenty of fish to harvest. As I am putting my thoughts into this article there are some changes. Yes, there are some changes in the Florida waters regulations so make sure you know what they are so you may be in compliance with these changes. Out along the coast there are the close reefs off Stump Pass, Gasparilla Pass, Boca Grande Pass, Captiva Pass, and Redfish Pass. These artificial reefs will be holding sheepshead and flounder. On these close reefs, you may also find some white grunts and mangrove snapper. As you travel around the area where there are trap buoys, take a look and you may spot a tripletail. They look like a plastic bag stuck on the line going to the buoy. It is best if you have a live bait of some type, to cast it to the buoy. Ease your boat in to casting range, not too close to spook the fish, then cast a shrimp or a small bait and let it do its thing. Be patient like top water fishing, set the hook when you feel the weight of the fish or you may just pull it out of the mouth. This is great fun and excellent eating too. Moving to the inshore waters, the reds shall be on both sides of the harbor, out on the grass flats. You may find them lying in a sand hole where the water is warmer,

waiting on you to put a bait in striking range so they may have a snack. Trout should be active as well in the grass, lying alongside the edges of the sand holes waiting to ambush suspecting baits. The bait of choice this time of year is shrimp because that is what is naturally in the local waters. I get my live shrimp from Fishin Franks. In the harbor around the bridges you can find black drum you can catch with crabs or shrimp too. Pompano can be found around the points, where there is moving water with bait to attack. Whiting and silver trout in some of the deep holes in the harbor. As you fish for these, you may hook into a cobia. They are lots of fun and great eating. And for some fun, fish for snook around the bridges at night near the shadows and lights that attract bait where the food chain begins. If you are new to the area and would like some help, I will come on your boat and help you learn some areas and tactics to use to harvest fish. And if you have guests coming to the area we can schedule a trip on the boat with Capt. Bart Marx 941979-6517 or e-mail captbart@ alphaomegacharters.com To schedule a fishing trip. And always remember singing drags and tight lines make me smile.

Capt. Bart Marx can go with you on your boat show you some things about our area, to shorten the time of your learning curve. Or if you have guests coming from the cold areas to and fish you may e-mail captbart@ alphaomegacharters.com or cart Capt. Bart Marx at 941-979-6517. And always remember singing drags and tight lines make me smile.  

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FEBRUARY PROSPECTING

By Capt. Sam O’Briant

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elow average rainfall in southwest Florida over the past several months has significantly reduced the volume of stormwater runoff into local waterways and estuaries. November may have been the driest month on record. Most notably, water transparency has improved dramatically which should help seagrass recover from massive runoff earlier in the year. Red tide has also diminished to a degree but blooms can be unpredictable as rainfall continues to show extreme variability. One downside of drought is that the upper estuaries, which are productive areas for seasonal fish production, may become too salty. This condition of elevated salinity has developed recently for

the Caloosahatchee estuary where historic seagrass is still in recovery. During early January, salinity was high enough and long enough to cause an “exceedance” to the SFWMD’s Minimum Flow Rule. If the condition persists it could impact estuarine fish reproduction and recruitment at a critical time later in the spring. The Calusa Waterkeeper is recruiting “Rangers” to help monitor southwest Florida’s waterways. If you have an interest or just want to learn more, contact the Calusa Waterkeeper, John Cassani at cassani@caloosahatchee.org or www.CalusaWaterkeeper.org. To report pollution or other water related issues at any time call 239444-8584.

o, what are the prospects for February? This should be the last cold month, so if you live in the area, you may want to stay warm inside and wait a couple weeks. On the other hand, that would really be senseless since there are fish out there that need feeding.  This time of year, the main quarry will be speckled trout.  Look for these beauties upon the grass flats first.  I would start a little deeper than normal and work my way up on the flat as the sun warms things.  The dark grass will heat the area up quicker than the surrounding area. Then there are the sand bars and oyster reefs, especially south of the Matlacha Bridge.  I would fish the lee side of them.  The side the current is flowing toward.  The trout will be holding up in the protected areas waiting for the tide to wash their dinner to them.  Though not as lazy as snook, they do slow down considerably in colder water.  Knowing this we must also slow our retrieve down also. If the wind is up and you get driven up the creeks or deeper back country, you can expect to find sheepshead hanging around any barnacle encrusted object.  Sheepsheads have a habit of crushing the barnacles then spitting out the shell.  Therefore, it is best to use small hooks and just a little piece of shrimp.  Then be ready for the bite.  At first nibble, you might want to set the hook or it may be spit out. While looking for the sheepshead you may also run

into a snook or two. This time of year, they are holed up in the creeks and up river.  If the water is anywhere near 65 degrees you can almost pick them up.  If it gets any colder they are apt to die.  This is why they have migrated deeper inland.  If you can find any greenies or white bait and the current is moving, you may be able to coerce a snook out. This time of year, minnows can be quite hard to come by.  If the water has been really cold they usually head south and will not return until March or April.  This means we generally have to turn to shrimp.  The good thing is that we are back to a decent size.  Even better is that like humans, almost every fish likes shrimp.  It makes a good universal bait. You will hear all sorts of ways to hook shrimp.  You can hook them under the horn, through the back, through the tail, or underneath from the tail forward.  I find it does not matter which way you do it.  It does not seem to cut down on the bites.   I use the underneath method.  I find this keeps the shrimp on the hook better than the others.  Hooking them under the horn is the least effective in keeping the shrimp on the hook. Happy fishing and enjoy your outings.

Capt. Sam is a local licensed guide for hire who may be reached at 239-994-1495 or captainobriant@gmail.com

6 FORT MYERS | FEBRUARY 2017 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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Paddlin’ & Fishin’ By: Dan Carns

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e host a lot of kayak fishing trips out of Gulf Coast Kayak in Matlacha. Recently the call came in to see if I was available to guide a fisherman from North Fort Myers, as he wanted to go and work out some bugs regarding lures, tide, and fish habitat. I suggested that we start at 6:30 a.m., he suggested we start at 6 a.m.! Anyone who has fished with me knows that this is my idea of a perfect start. I’m very focused regarding the details of every trip, is the tide right, what is the wind direction and speed, will we be able to catch bait, is my shrimp guy going to be open, and most importantly, will the fish cooperate! My hopes were high! We were launching at the golden hour (daybreak) and everything seemed to be working in our favor. After introductions, a brief discussion regarding kayak safety, some fishing basics for S.W. Florida, an overview of the Matlacha Aquatics Preserve and possible wildlife encounters, we set out into calm water. My client Ron had great angling skills, accurate casting ability, an understanding of cadence and top water experience. Oyster bars are key feeding grounds for predatory fish like trout, redfish, snook, sharks and a number of other fish. We fished around this very large oyster bar without a single hit. When the sun hit the horizon and the tide began to flow, we suddenly saw what looked like fish feeding steadily on the surface. We carefully pulled up to within 30 ft. of the edge of a mangrove island

where the tide was now pouring around the point. Once anchored we re-rigged a popping cork with a circle hook and tipped it with live shrimp, as he was new to bait fishing we reviewed the many ways to hook shrimp. The first cast was 10’ short of the mangrove overhang so the tide swung the cork right past the feeding fish. The second cast was right on the edge of the trees and as the cork came across the strike zone, down it went! With light pressure, Ron had his first ever snook, not big but memorable. After a couple of pictures and some big smiles, we repeated the same cast and the second snook was a little bigger, more photos and smiles and for about an hour we boated 10 more snook, lost about 6 and practiced other methods of hooking live shrimp. We threw other baits and lures and plastics but these fish were keyed in on the shrimp. The fishing slowed down so we moved to a few more points, edges and channels and boated a few more snook, mangrove snapper and a drag screaming Catfish! On our way back, we talked about the diversity of fishing habitat that this area has to offer, a true paradise! This was one of those days that all anglers pray for and moments that drive us all back to the water’s edge! It’s a wild world - get out there!

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COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM | FEBRUARY 2017 | FORT MYERS 9

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Rules of the Road for Boaters By Dave Sully, Lee County Sheriff ’s VOICE Volunteer

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n an earlier article, I wrote about the need to understand the terms “slow speed” and “idle speed,” as there is a need to regulate certain areas around the waters of Lee County. Most of my references coincided with the desire by authorities to protect manatee zones, which are particularly sensitive to boats moving at high speed. However, there are some places where a mixture of speed and a high concentration of boats in a relatively small area can create problems for veteran boaters and visitors alike. Such an area is Matanzas Pass, which begins at the north end of Estero Island, near Bowditch Point State Park. Bowditch, as it’s referred to by local residents, is a rounded area of land, which provides a natural environment for those want to get away from the bustle of Fort Myers Beach. Part of Bowditch faces the Gulf, while the rear of park faces the entrance to the back bay area behind Estero Island. The back bay features much calmer waters during windy conditions than the volatile Gulf, especially for small craft, like deck boats and the popular pontoon boats, known as “party barges,” along

with much larger vessels of all stripes. It runs the length of Estero Island, passing under the Matanzas Bridge shortly after entering the bay. Because of its strategic location, it attracts many traveling boats, while the back bay is home to many more vessels, including the shrimp fleet, with much larger than normal craft, replete with extensive rigging. The rub is a fairly narrow channel which creates a choke point or bottleneck as vessels make what amounts to a ninety degree turn around Bowditch Point to gain entry to the back bay channel. The process is complicated by the fact that as soon as boats make the turn in the channel to enter the bay, a slow speed zone begins, lasting about two miles, before boats can resume normal operation. Further complicating matters, there is no speed zone in the channel until boats reach that point coming in and going out. With the arrival of more boats every day, this spot can prove extremely dangerous and requires due diligence when passing through the area. Of particular concern to the Lee County Sheriff ’s Marine Unit is the tendency for boaters to neglect the slow speed

zone coming in, failing to slow down after they pass the speed zone sign, which requires vessels to be fully settled in the water, creating minimum wake. The same problem exists when vessels are leaving and heading out to the gulf. They accelerate before they reach the sign, creating hazardous conditions for boats entering the area. The complaint when boaters are pulled over by the Sheriff ’s Marine vessels is they didn’t see the sign; they thought they were past it, or they thought they were navigating slowly enough. By the way, most boaters can’t define “slow speed” as described in the law, nor “idle speed” either, which means producing no wake and traveling just fast enough to maintain course. There are zones in the back bay, especially in mooring fields adjacent to the Matanzas Bridge, the canals, and approaching marinas designated “idle speed.” Safe boating requires strict adherence to these restrictions. Citations and possible accidents await those who ignore them. Please use extra caution in the area of Matanzas Pass so everyone can enjoy it without risk.

GOLD

MINER

PAWN

10 FORT MYERS | FEBRUARY 2017 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail By: Mike Hammond

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n the heart of Bonita Springs flows the Imperial River. The narrow, black water river has become popular with local paddlers and is one of my favorite recommendations for visitors looking for alternatives to the bays and mangrove tunnels. Manatees and other wildlife move up and down the river throughout the year. I often describe the section east of Riverside Park as a “jungle paddle” because of the dense canopy with banyan tree prop roots and Spanish moss reaching down to the water. The canopy, combined with the black water tinted naturally by tannins, provides an excellent opportunity for great photographs. It also offers some much needed shade for paddlers in the warmer months. To the west of Riverside Park, the river opens up and flows into Fish Trap Bay. For a small river, the Imperial offers several convenient public launches. Cullum’s Trail Park is the launch farthest to the east. This Bonita Springs Park site is off Kent Road (Please refer to Calusa Blueway map). Paddlers walk a short distance from the parking area and put into the river amongst cypress trees. Locals have affectionately named this paddle “the run” because of the fast moving current that occurs after it rains and the slalom course formed by cypress knees. Beware though. Some cypress knees may be right under the water’s surface. Most paddlers have a vehicle waiting for them downriver when doing the “the run.” It is about a three mile paddle from Cullum’s

Trail to Riverside Park. My favorite launch on the Imperial River is Riverside Park. CGT Kayaks rents paddlecraft from their cottage next to the new ADA launch on the river and has a full paddlecraft shop right across the street. This is very convenient if members of your group do not have their own gear or you need to pick something up before your paddle. For the fishermen, Engel’s is Outta Line Bait and Tackle is practically in the park. Benson’s Grocery Store is next door to the CGT Kayaks store in case you need to grab snacks or drinks before or after your trip. Paddlers who have their own gear may want to enter the park off Pennsylvania Avenue just west of the train tracks. This will lead you to a parking area right next to the water. Off the Tamiami Trail just north of Bonita Beach Road is the Imperial River Boat Ramp. This is a Lee County ramp primarily used by motorized vessel enthusiasts. There are facilities on-site and a $5 per day parking fee. Kayak fishermen with heavy rigs may prefer this launch because of the ramp. River Park, on the west side of 41, features two floating docks a short distance from the parking lot. With all of its easy access, natural beauty, and abundant wildlife, the Imperial River is an easy choice for a laid-back paddling adventure. Mike Hammond is based in Fort Myers, Florida, and is a staff member at Lee County Parks & Recreation. He is the Calusa Blueway coordinator for Lee County.

Frozen Bait, Live Bait, Lures, Jigs, Nets, and Much More! Custom Rods, Rod Repair & Reel Servicing & Repair Boat Sales & Boat Storage 405 NE Pine Island Rd Cape Coral, FL 33909 capetoolandtackle.com 239-574-6950 Monday - Saturday 9am. Until 6pm. Sunday 10am. Until 4pm

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM | FEBRUARY 2017 | FORT MYERS 11

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MarineMax Yacht Gala to Benefit Golisano Children’s Hospital

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Ladies SW Florida Fishing By: Vicki Fisher

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t was a glittering evening with a heartfelt purpose. On January 20th, MarineMax hosted a yacht gala to benefit the Golisano Children’s Hospital. The new hospital site is only two miles from the MarineMax facility in Fort Myers.  Beginning April 1st, Golisano Children’s Hospital will be the only standalone facility dedicated to children living between Tampa and Miami, a major advance for medical care for Southwest Florida’s youngest, most vulnerable patients.  The 2017 Yacht Gala created a tradition that began last year.  The connections between health and happiness made the MarineMax event a natural extension of the company’s mission, United by Water.  More than 225 people were in attendance to support this fundraiser, which took place at MarineMax’s 25-acre waterfront facility.  Guests were invited to board beautiful Sea Ray, Azimut, and Ocean Alexander yachts during the cocktail hour.  Once again CBS affiliate, WINK, news anchor Jen Stacy guest emceed the event. The President and CEO of Lee Health, Jim Nathan, delivered the keynote

address prior to an exciting live auction, featuring a diamond ring and a weeklong vacation at a North Captiva vacation home. Attendees were a cross-section of MarineMax customers and leaders from the community interested in supporting this vital healthcare development.  Though donations are still rolling in, the donation to Golisano Children’s Hospital is expected to be over $50,000.  Golisano operates with a “whole family” approach to the health of a child, from medically compromised newborns to toddlers struggling with dangerous illnesses, to the injuries and dangers of the teen years. Providing familycentered compassionate care is the heart of the mission of Golisano Children’s Hospital.  MarineMax has a similar devotion to the happiness of families with their commitment to developing great experiences on the water.  As the world’s leading boat dealer, MarineMax creates opportunities for families to come together on the water, through Getaways for customers, women on water educational seminars, and parts and service amenities.

Visit us at:

www.marinemax.com/stores/southeast/fort-myers

14030 McGregor Bld., Fort Myers, FL 33919 Phone: 239-481-8200

s we enter the month of February, we welcome all of our northern visitors who come to our area for the beautiful weather, sandy beaches and the opportunity to catch their ‘fish of a lifetime’. February is the perfect month to target many species that migrate to our waters from the Gulf! The sheepshead and Spanish mackerel are plentiful in the passes, as well as along docks, mangroves and pilings in the flats. Both species are a lot of fun to catch on light tackle and will put up a good fight with lots of excitement for the angler. One of the challenges we face this month are winds from the north and lower tides, as well as cooler early morning temperatures. When preparing to go out for the day, I always layer up my clothing so that as the flats warm up I can shed layers and enjoy the day on the water. February is a busy month for all of our local waterside spots to have a bite to eat or visit with friends over a beverage. I live in Cape Coral and we have several dining opportunities accessible by boat that offer entertainment in the evenings. In SW Cape we have Cape Harbor and Tarpon Point, who both have tropical spots for dining by the large tiki huts and both offer beautiful marina views! Just a few miles west is the fun and eclectic community of Matlacha on Pine Island. In Matlacha, we enjoy the fun atmosphere at Micelli’s, sitting out back listening to the music and watching the manatee’s go by at sunset! All of

the establishments mentioned have extensive menu selections and family fun atmosphere. As a reminder for our boating friends… be cautious of the many crab traps in the waterways, both inshore and offshore! It is open stone crab season (offshore) and there are hundreds of traps out in the water, with some that are barely visible at high tide. Generally speaking, ‘crabbers’ will set their traps in a line and spaced evenly apart. You may notice boats following the traps and weaving in and out…they are looking for ‘Tripletail’, which are also great eating and fun to angle! The Tripletail will lay suspended along the sorghum that collects on the ropes of the traps. They are very wise with good eyesight so when trying to catch these beauties you must stay back and throw past them with a small shrimp and bring it to them. Enjoy the fight and the feast! If I can be of any help or assistance feel free to contact me via email at fishfacecharters@yahoo.com or call my cellphone (727) 5349071. I will enjoy sharing my knowledge and enthusiasm of the sport of fishing!  Until next month, this is First Mate Vicki Fisher, reminding you to keep your lines tight!

12 FORT MYERS | FEBRUARY 2017 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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Charlotte Harbor By: Capt. Mike Manis

Boat, RV & Trailer

Service, Sales & Storage

5149 Pine Island Road, 1/4 mile East of the 4 Way Stop at Pine Island Center

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ypically, February is an extension of the previous two months in that the weather is dominated by cool north winds and low tides. With spring on the horizon, I like to venture out of the creeks to adjacent shorelines and take advantage of some backcountry sand hole opportunities. This is where redfish and spotted sea trout drop into the shallow depressions on the lower tides waiting for water to come back onto the flat. The flats are full of these depressions and they come in all shapes and sizes. Gasparilla Sound and Bull Bay hold good fish and are easily accessible from close by ramps. In particular, Bull Bay fishes really well on these tides. Small shallow draft boats can also take advantage of some exceptional fishing in Pine Island Sound as well as Lemon Bay. In the sound, I like fishing out of Pineland or the Bokeelia boat ramp and hanging tight to the western edge of the Pine Island Shoreline in order to hide from the wind. In Lemon Bay, I like the flats adjacent to and north of Buck Creek. These also provide protection from a strong north east wind. Matlacha is one of my favorite spots and the shoreline outside Big Dead Creek and down through Buzzard Bay is well protected from the winds that come out of the north in early spring and the deeper water with strong current hold redfish, spotted sea trout and snook.

The open harbor and adjacent bar systems also hold potential as winter winds down. Pompano are still on the bars like the one that runs the length of the West Wall and down onto Cape Haze Point. Spanish mackerel are scattered throughout the harbor and will be mixed in with lots of ladyfish outside the bars working schools of glass minnows. The Cape Haze and Alligator Creek artificial reef systems hold good numbers of sheepshead and both of these reef systems are well marked. In addition to the reefs, sheepshead are still at the Boca Grande and Placida trestles in good numbers and are great spots to fish with or without a boat. Lastly, area canal systems can also be good. In particular, because of good tidal flow, the perimeter canals of both Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte hold lots of species. Redfish, black drum, spotted sea trout, and snook hang close to the cement seawalls that hold heat from the afternoon sun. Corner spots are prime as that is where current moves the fastest. Captain Michael Manis is a U.S.G.C. Licensed captain and has been teaching the sport of fly and light tackle angling since 2002. He lives in Punta Gorda, Florida and can be reached at www. puntagordaflycharters.com

• Competitive rates • Secure facility under surveillance • Regulated 24 hour access for customers • Conveniently located near multiple boat ramps • Engine flush/wash down area

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• Outboard Engine Service. • Re-Powers by Suzuki. • Power Pole Sales, Service, Installation. • Mechanical Repair & Maintenance. • Boat trailer repairs. • Boat Bottom Cleaning & Painting • Boat Detailing. • Boat & RV Storage • Consignment Sales • Stop by for a quote on the services you need. • We take pride in delivering high quality work. Hours: Mon-Fri 9am - 5pm

Phone: (239) 283-4843 Fax: (239) 282-8451 Sales: Ron@sunsetdreams.com Service: Mark@sunsetdreams.com

www.sunsetdreams.com Like us on Facebook: “Sunset Dreams”

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM | FEBRUARY 2017 | FORT MYERS 13

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Recommended

Local Bait & Tackle Shops D&D MATLACHA BAIT & TACKLE

3922 Pine Island Road • Matlacha, FL 33993 239-282-9122 • www.PineIslandBait.com

4839 Vincennes St Cape Coral, FL 33904 239-257-2446

405 NE Pine Island Rd Cape Coral, FL 33909 239-574-6950 • capetoolandtackle.com

4425-D Tamiami Trail • Charlotte Harbor, FL 33980 14531 N Cleveland Ave • North Fort Myers, FL 33903 941-625-3888 • fishinfranks.com

14 FORT MYERS | FEBRUARY 2017 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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The Best Angler Photos From Southwest Florida!

Jo n En gl an d fr om hi s 20 20 Ac ti on Cr af t, ni ce sn oo k!

sno ok! Jon ath an G., 12Y O, SLO B

Em m a H, 10 YO , 32 ” sn oo k

Ja co b S. , 12 YO , Be au tif ul Re d!

Ma yna rd Fis hin g Ch ar ter s & Tou rs

Photos submitted courtesy of: Capt. Bart Marx Capt. Joel Brandenburg Capt. Larry McGuire

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Capt. Neil Eisner Capt. Mike Manis Capt. Terry Fisher

Zach Harr is, Nice Bass !

Gabe Owe ns, Smo ker King fish!

Send us a photo of your catch to: camftmyers@gmail.com - please include your name, location of where caught, type & size of fish and we’ll do our best to include you in our next edition

1/17/2017 5:32:03 PM


Call 941-697-1000 to schedule your personal demo!

16 FORT MYERS | FEBRUARY 2017 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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1/17/2017 5:32:04 PM


Peace River – Charlotte Harbor By: Capt. Dave Stephens

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ell fellow anglers, Mother Nature has brought us some weather that has dropped the water temperatures. Don’t worry, Charlotte Harbor still has plenty of great fishing. The last couple weeks we have changed up our approach and have been putting a lot of fish to the boat. Shrimp and soft plastics have been the baits of choice, and the fish have been eating them very well. The trout have really begun

to school up with the cooler waters. The biggest issue we face is the swing in temperatures. We might be in the high of 60’s a few days, then have a high in the upper 70’s for a week. Locating fish after those cooler days might take a little time. Water cools from the surface down, so starting deeper is the best choice. After a front passes, fish will move to the deeper water to stay warm. On those nice sunny Florida days, look to the shallower flats. Shrimp has been the bait of choice on the cooler days. If I have been fishing water depths over four feet, a shrimp on a jig head has been the big producer. My personal choice is a 1/8oz chartreuse jig. Honestly,

I believe whatever color you like will work. As the water warms, I have been changing things up. Soft plastics and shrimp under a popping cork has been doing great. The warmer water moves trout in the shallower water and they have been more active. Z-man minnow-z have been very productive. Over the grass, darker patterns are working well. Lighter colors have been doing well over sandy bottoms. The redfish bite has been doing well in deeper cuts in the mangroves. Most of these fish have been running under the 18” minimum length, but the numbers have been good. The bars and potholes along the mangroves have been holding bigger fish. Shrimp has been the bait of choice. I have been fishing them on a jig head on the bottom. Low incoming tide seems to be when the reds have been most active. The sheepshead are also beginning to school up. Winter

time is when they spawn, so this is the time for big sheeps. Big structure is the key for these guys, dock’s and rocky walls will be holding good numbers of fish. Look for the oldest crusty structure you can find and they will be there. If your local tackle shop has fiddler crabs, get you a few dozen. I highly recommend getting more than you think you might need. These guys are masters at picking your hook clean. A small circle hook with enough weight to hold the bottom will work. Don’t let the cooler weather keep you off the water, we have plenty of fish to keep you busy. To experience some of southwest Florida’s finest fishing, give us a call or send an email. All of our charters are private and customized to fit you and your party’s needs. Capt. Dave Stephens, 941-916-5769, www. backbayextremes.com

Lake Okeechobee – North End By: Capt. Ed Perry

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ass fishing on the north end of The Big ‘O’ has been up and down, just like the weather. Cooler water temperatures and windy days have made for some tough days, but this is Okeechobee, where on any given day the fish are biting somewhere. On the days where we have had cold fronts bringing water temperature down, the Kissimmee River has produced good numbers and big fish up towards the 11-pound range. When temperatures drop, deep water ledges and points are just what the doctor ordered. Carolina rigged worms and deep diving crank baits are great baits to try on cold days. Live shiner fishing in deep water when the water is cold is usually very good. Put a shiner right on the bottom and wait for a bite just like you would if you were fishing with a float. The only difference is instead of watching a bobber you’ll need to watch your

line. If you see your line jumping around you can bet your shiner just saw something that he does not want to see. Deep water areas on the north end of the lake are the Kissimmee River, Government Cut, and the Rim Canal. All of these places have rock ledges and underwater humps that will hold fish. In the Rim Canal, stick to the lake side of the canal where the shoreline break is usually quicker (deeper) and where there is more vegetation to provide shelter for the bass. Remember that a good fish finder is very handy when fishing deeper water, a good graph is a must have when locating structure in these areas. When the weather is nice and you can get out into the lake, Grassy Island, Kings Bar, and Tin House Cove have been very good areas to fish. But remember, if the water temperature drops from a cold front the bite can be very tough, so head toward deeper water. The Speck fishing continues to

improve as we move farther into winter and closer to spring. Indian Prairie, Horse Island and Third Point have produced good limits of Specks on jigs and minnows and fisherman that are drifting out in front of Taylor Creek are catching limits as well. Chartreuse and white jigs and lime green jigs have been very good but always have a good assortment of colors and sizes when you go. Over the recent weeks, the Specks have been running quite large, reports of 2 to 2.5 lb. slabs are quite common. Capt. Eddie Perry is a 5th generation Floridian and has fished the Big ‘O’ since he was a little boy and professionally guided on the lake since 1996. There isn’t much that he hasn’t seen on the lake. He can be reached by telephone at (863) 7637722, www.OkeechobeeAdventures. com, Facebook.com/ OkeechobeeAdventures, or at Garrard’s Bait and Tackle.

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TOP

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DON’T JUST REACH ANGLERS 10 WE Our readers enjoy all the outdoors and a variety of recreational activities.

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90% male, 80% home owners, 35% college degree, $82k annual income. 10,000+ locally, 190,000+ throughout Florida, or over 500,000 nationally. New readers and “fresh eyes” each month that see your ad. The area’s most experienced fishing guides, charter captains, and writers. A rate schedule that offers the lowest cost per thousand impressions in the industry. For a small business this can be a life-changing event. Your ad will also appear in our e-magazine, marketing your business on the internet. We are the largest free outdoor publication in the U.S. and Bahamas with over 1 Million Readers Every Month!

Contact Nadeen Welch for More Information:

NWelch@CoastalAnglerMagazine.com 239-595-8265 18 FORT MYERS | FEBRUARY 2017 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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ACTION CRAFT BOATS: DEMO DAYS

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f you are considering purchasing a flats boat or a bay boat, an Action Craft boat should be at the top of your list. Why, you ask? One reason would be that Action Craft Boats are built in Cape Coral, FL. That means if you live in Lee, Charlotte, or Collier County, you can take advantage of Factory Direct Pricing. Factory Direct Pricing effectively cuts $20,000 off the price of your new boat. That’s a lot of money to keep in your pocket! The second reason is, you can get your boat the way you want it. If customer service is important to you, then you want to deal with a company that prides itself on its customer service and satisfaction. To many of us, the time we spend on the water is priceless. “Action Craft understands that each of you have many choices when it

Cape Tool and Tackle: Customer Appreciation Day

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n January 14th, Wayne and crew hosted their Annual Customer Appreciation Day. This was my first time at the event and when I pulled up, I had to park almost a mile away and could smell the food as I came in. Wayne was behind the grill and served me up a plate of wild hog, coleslaw, baked beans, and corn on the cob! A meal fit for a king (or queen) – and Wayne cooked it all.

Wayne puts a lot of time and effort into this event. Preparation starts right after Christmas with the hog hunting. The beginning of January I was in the store talking to Wayne and he told me he had been out hog hunting. He shot, prepped and cooked nine hogs for his customers to enjoy. To accompany the food there was live music, guest speakers, seminars and discounts on everything in the store. I especially enjoyed Dalton’s seminar on throwing a cast net! Cape Tool and Tackle is a store you can go into and ask for assistance on pretty much anything and get a reliable answer, or just spend some time and talk fishing. How many people do you have in your life that will go out and shoot, butcher, and cook a hog for you?! On your next visit, say thanks to Wayne and let him know how much you enjoyed his Customer Appreciation Day, (and ask Dalton why he shaved his face) because he did it for you. Thanks Wayne!

comes to buying a boat, therefore, each staff member and craftsman are empowered to go the extra mile for our customer.” Action Craft Boats will have both a flats boat and a bay boat available to test drive and ride. Come out and test for yourself their patented Qui-Dri hulls and see that these boats are fun, safe and comfortable! February 4th, 2017 at Horton Park, (2600 SE 26th Pl, Cape Coral, FL 33904), 9:00 AM – 3 PM For more info, www.actioncraft.com or call (239) 574-7800 if you have any questions.

COMMUNITY EVENTS January 27 - February 5: Charlotte County Fair www.TheCharlotteCountyFair.com Charlotte County Fairgrounds, Port Charlotte, FL January 27 – February 4: DeSoto County Fair www.DeSotoCountyFair.org Arcadia Rodeo Arena, Arcadia, FL February 3 – 5: ArtFest Fort Myers www.ArtFestFortMyers.com Downtown Fort Myers, Friday 6-9 pm, Sat. & Sun Art Festival March 2-5: Bonita Boat Show www.GoBoatingFlorida.com Naples Fort Myers Greyhound Track, Thurs. Sat. 10-6, Sun. 10-5, $8 admission March 9-12: Punta Gorda Boat Show www.PuntaGordaBoatShow.com Downtown Punta Gorda, Thurs.Sat. 10-5, Sun. 10-4, $3 admission

March 11: Blind Fishing Tournament, SKIPPERS NEEDED Please contact Michael Ulrich at (239)540-7431 or (239)565-5845 or mulrich@centurylink.net One-of-a-kind fishing tournament, organized by The Florida Council for the Blind March 11: 20th Annual Naples Free Kid’s Fishing Clinic www.miacc.org Naples Municipal City Pier, Registration will begin at 9am and close at 12pm. This is photo catch and release event. Ages 5-15 must be accompanied by an adult and will receive a free Shakespeare fishing combo upon completion of the clinic while supplies last. Send your local events to: CAMFTMYERS@GMAIL.COM, by the 5th of the prior month and we will list them here, free of charge. (February 5th for March’s edition)

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20 FORT MYERS | FEBRUARY 2017 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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1/17/2017 5:32:08 PM


CASTING DISTANCE POWER AND REEL SETTINGS

By Tobin Strickland • Photo Courtesy of Lews Reels

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ne of the first things any angler can improve to catch more fish without getting new gear is to increase his casting distance. The first adjustment to make is the “spool tension” knob on the right hand side of any baitcaster. With the lure just hanging from the end of the rod tip, first tighten the knob, then release your thumb and slowly unscrew the tension knob until the lure just begins to fall. On the left side plate, you’ll see the centrifugal brake external setting. If you are new to throwing a baitcasting reel, start with a setting of about 4-6. If you have an internal centrifugal brake, set at least two brakes “out / engaged.” If you want to cast far, you have to make a powerful, rod-loading, casting stroke. It’s compact and uses 2 hands. It’s not a big one-armed cast. Tighten the spool tension knob about a quarter turn and practice casting hard. Once you’re throwing your hardest without backlash, slowly begin loosening the settings and feathering the spool edge a little. Slowly adjust the centrifugal brake setting looser, one click, or one brake, to maximize cast distance. Then slightly re-adjust the spool tension knob. In the end, I find that I can still adjust slightly lighter and manually feather the spool edge with the thumb. This is where you’ll get your longest cast distances. Cast hard my friends. Tobin Strickland (aka TroutSupport) is a field staff angler for Lews Reels.

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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MUTTON SNAPPER REGULATIONS CHANGES Photo by Andy Blackledge

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everal mutton snapper management changes approved at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) September meeting are in effect for 2017. • Recreational, commercial, importation and sale minimum size limits will be 18 inches in all state waters. • Recreational bag limit will be five fish per person within the 10-fish snapper aggregate bag limit in all state waters. • Commercial trip limit will be five fish per person, per day or per trip from April through June in Atlantic state waters. This replaces the prior May through June commercial trip limit for all state waters. • A 500-pound commercial trip limit for the remainder of the year (July through March) in Atlantic state waters. Though mutton snapper is not overfished or undergoing overfishing, the 2015 stock assessment indicated that the population is smaller than previously estimated. Atlantic federal fishery managers recently approved measures that would make Atlantic federal regulations similar to the recent state changes. Gulf federal fishery managers are also considering making similar measures for Gulf federal waters. These changes are intended to prevent harvest from exceeding the planned federal quotas, or number of fish that can be harvested. To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Snappers.”

VERY EXPENSIVE FISH By CAM Staff • Photo Courtesy of Canyon Reels

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hen you think about it, it’s not as ridiculous as it sounds. According to the Associated Press, a sushi chain boss in Japan recently made a $632,000 winning bid for a 466-pound bluefin tuna at auction. That’s the second highest amount ever paid for a bluefin, and it equates to more than $1,356 per pound. That’s a mighty pricey chunk of fish. But when one looks at the money a recreational angler spends on fishing each year, $1,356 per pound is really not all that outrageous. The average angler in the United States spends about $1,261 per year on the sport. This average includes everyone from the bank-bound bucket-sitter to the guy who spends a million clams on a sport-fishing yacht. The range of expenditure is wide; as is the per-pound return on that expenditure. Someone who fishes bait from shore might only spend a couple hundred bucks a year on gear, bait and gas to get there. If they’re good, they might bring home several pounds of good protein every time they fish. It’s a tradeoff that is economical if one disregards the lost wages from time spent watching a rod tip. On the other end of the spectrum, it would take a lot of fresh-caught dolphin at market price to pay for a decent offshore rig and the gas to run it. This is a scenario in which the angler likely pays a whole lot more per pound than the Japanese sushi boss. And then there are the catch-and-release purists. Whether its billfishing, fly fishing for trout or tournament bass fishing, those who catch fish to release them are looking at a price per pound that is infinite.

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Marsh Harbour, Abaco features its share of quaint resorts, including the Abaco Beach Resort and Boat Harbour Marina the Sandpiper Inn and Cottage and Four Winds Cottages. Treasure Cay boasts the luxury Treasure Cay Beach, Marina and Golf Resort, a highend spot frequented by celebrities. Out on the flats, the water is still, a perfect mirror reflecting the cloudy sky. It is a gorgeous day to bonefish. Albury maneuvers through the flats like only a native could. He swerves through tightly packed mangroves at breakneck speeds until we reach the spot. At that moment, he cuts the engine and begins poling the boat. I sit at the bow, rod in hand with shrimp for bait. Albury surveys the waters and points out a bonefish at my two-o’clock. I cast my line but miss. “Throw it out again,” Albury says. I cast again and reel it in just enough. Suddenly, a splash on the surface and a tight line tell me the fish has the bait. We fight for a moment until I reel him to the edge of the boat. Albury grabs him and turns him on his back sending the fish into a catatonic state. There is excitement onboard. As we surveyed for another catch, I explained to Albury that my father is a bonefish guide in Crooked Island. “I love fishing,” I say to him. “You know if you love fishing once you hook a fish,” Albury says. “If that doesn’t excite you, nothing will.” Interested fishermen can reach Jody at jodysbonefishing.com.

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e set out on a small boat shortly after 8 a.m. on a warm Wednesday morning. For Jody Albury, this is just another day of bonefishing in Abaco, Bahamas. He’s been a professional guide for 10 years, but an avid fisherman since he was a boy. Jody, a quiet yet jovial Abaconian, has serviced fishing enthusiast from the around the world. He quit his day job to make a living doing what he loves, bonefishing. Abaco, one of the 700 islands of The Bahamas, is regarded as one of the world’s premier destinations for bonefishing. Thousands of anglers descend on the Abacos during the winter months in search of the elusive gray ghost. The island and its cays are in the northeast Bahamas 91 miles northeast of Nassau, Bahamas, a 20-minute plane ride, and 120 miles from Miami or an hour plane ride with flights from American Eagle and Silver Airways, to name a few. The Abacos are made up of nearly a dozen cays. Unlike most other islands in The Bahamas, visitors can take a ferry to the various cays including Hope Town, Green Turtle Cay and Great Guana Cay. Some rent yachts or other boats and sail the cays themselves. My first stop in Abaco was Hope Town with its scenic beaches and historic candy striped lighthouse. Hope Town features a small community where most everyone moves around by golf cart or bicycle. The island is quiet yet filled with life, hotels, small properties and bed and breakfasts. The architecture features colonial design, a lingering tradition from the Loyalists who settled in the Abacos centuries ago. Hope Town fuses rustic charm with modern advances. It’s easy to sit on a hammock under two palm trees and watch Netflix.

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SWEET STICKS:

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n nearly 20 years of kayak fishing, I’ve seen the boats radically change. These days they are purpose-built for angling, and much more stable and forgiving. On the other hand, the thinking on what makes a good kayak rod has scarcely evolved. There’s been little need. For most applications, off-the-shelf gear made for the general fishing market works fine. A standard bass or flats quiver will suit you well whether you’re fishing from a ’yak, a powerboat or the shore, although the adjustable butt of Manley Rods’ offerings is a nice feature. It’s only when you get to big game that the need for specialized kayak sticks is magnified. Let’s cover the big exception: the rod tip. When landing a fish from a kayak, you’d do well to have some glass for shock absorption. High-sticking is almost inevitable. Most big game kayak anglers fight their fish while sitting. An intermediate length butt is an advantage, something on the order of 12 to 13 inches, about 2 to 4 inches shorter than normal. That’s just right for tucking into your belly while seated. A strong backbone is a plus for easier fish management, particularly when the battle is in its closing stages. Rod length is a matter of preference. It’s nice to have enough reach to get the tip around the bow, but it isn’t strictly necessary. If you’re hooked up and you point your rod tip at the bow, the fish will pull the kayak around to face it.

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COOL WATER SUSPENDERS

water, but they will still have an eye on what’s going on, as a prey in their stomach is still necessary to fuel them. What I like to do is fish slowly, twitching suspending baits once or twice between long pauses. And sometimes these pauses are truly long pauses. I’ve found that’s one thing most people have a hard time doing. Most are unable to pass the two or three second mark without feeling the need to twitch their bait again. When I’m on a spot that’s worth it, or if I catch a By Patrick Sebile glimpse of a nice fish, I will hold my suspending Stick Shadd still for up to 30 seconds. It might feel like an eternity; it might feel worthless, but some of my best inshore catches came on such long, 15- to 30-second pauses. I keep the rod tip down close to the water, and I don’t rely on feeling a bite. I leave a little slack in my line, no more than 6 or 8 inches, and watch the line very closely. Most of the time the bite is just a tiny tap that is hard to feel but very easy to see on the line. If the line moves just an inch or two, that’s it. Set the hook without delay. You might be surprised at the trophy fish you’ll catch with such minimal action. Another technique that produces well for me on cold water is simply to cast and retrieve my suspending twitch bait super slowly. I sometimes retrieve it so slowly that it This nice trout was caught in Vero Beach, Fla. on a suspending Stick Shadd 114 using won’t even have any side-to-side action at all. Yep, you very minimal action and long pauses. read that right. Just the lure moving through the water straight ahead and slowly is the right presentation on o matter where you are in North America, winter brings cold winds some days. In cold water it will often out-produce the and sore throats to all. And the effect is even more brutal on fish than typical action-packed movement of this type of bait. men. Immersed in the water, in an unstable environment that changes It may seem surprising, but it’s efficient. In both cases, a suspending bait quickly, they have no choice but to exist the best they can where they are. is key, as well as the patience and confidence to resist working it too quickly There’s no option for fish to go on a cruise in the Bahamas to tan their or erratically. scales in the tropical sun. And the shallow-water inhabitants feel the impact Patrick Sebile is the owner and lure designer of Sebile Innovative Fishing even more than the deep-water ones, given that the skinny depth they live (www.sebile.com). in can drop in temperature sharply. Their behavior can turn sluggish, but For more tips on cold water fishing, go to they still need to feed. It is therefore crucial to adjust the lure’s action to their temperature-driven mood. Airline_Ad_CoastalAngler_8-1-14_Layout 1 8/1/14 1:14 PM Page 1 Seatrout and redfish will dive into grass to limit their exposure to colder

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By Brandon Tourigny Brandon Tourigny with an Everglades bass caught on a Lefty’s Deceiver.

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f all the different methods of fishing, fly fishing has a reputation for being one of the more overpriced methods for landing fish. With all of the extremely high-end rod and reel brands in the fly fishing world, it can be a little disheartening for those trying to get started. As a broke college student who has to also buy food, gas and textbooks, purchasing the newest Sage rod and Tibor reel just wasn’t in the budget for me. Since not fly fishing wasn’t an option, I had to find ways to get quality gear at a more reasonable price. Here are a few brands I personally like that have proven to be affordable and reliable pieces of equipment for me. Temple Fork Outfitters produces some fine rods for the money. With all their rods ranging from under $100 to around $450 for their most expensive rod, it’s not hard to find a rod in their line that fits your budget. A rod I highly recommend is the TFO Mangrove. This rod comes in sizes from a 4 weight all the way up to a 12 weight, costing anywhere from $250 to $300. Another thing TFO has going for them is their no-nonsense lifetime warranty. A good warranty is something a lot of fly rod makers provide, and it is an important consideration because rods break. For reels, the best deal I’ve seen are actually some of the off-brand reels found on Amazon and produced by brands like Piscifun or WetFly. The thing about fly reels is you don’t need them to cast. Until you get a fish on and need a smooth drag or to pick up line quickly, all they do is store line. If your targets are panfish, small bass or seatrout, it’s likely you will seldom even need a reel except to hold your line. On the other hand, if you expect to do battle with bonefish, tarpon or redfish, a good reel becomes very important. Although they don’t carry the prestige of the American-made reel companies, reels like the Piscifun Sword are made from 100 percent CNC machined aluminum, and based on my experience and the testimony of other fly fishermen, these reels hold up considerably well. When you also factor in that most of these reels come in under $100, it’s hard to find a reason to not at least give these reels a try. If you are a stickler for only buying American products, I would suggest taking a look at the Waterworks-Lamson Liquid and Remix which both come in at $160 or less and are both assembled in Lamson’s factory in Idaho. At the end of the day, fish don’t care how shiny or expensive your equipment is. The only thing that matters is if you can present a fly to them in a manner realistic enough for them to eat it. So, if you’ve been hit by this incurable disease called fly fishing but can’t afford the high prices, there’s no need to fear thanks to affordable and highperforming rods and reels

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UNDER THE SEA

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SHERI DAYE

peargun selection is one of the most hotly debated topics on spearfishing forums. Fortunately, there are many great brands nowadays – such as Wong, AB Biller, Riffe, Hammerhead, Cressi, SEAC, Mares, Rob Allen, Koah, Mako, JBL and more. Over the last century, spearfishing equipment has evolved from very simple muscle-powered slings and polespears, made with wood and rubber bands, to the modern-day spearguns equipped with a trigger mechanism and more exotic materials. Interestingly, slings and polespear are making a comeback—but that’s a topic for another month—so let’s concentrate on how to select a modern-day speargun. If you walk into your local dive shop, you will notice there are two main categories of band-powered spearguns: the American style, usually recognized by the wood stock, and the Eurogun, which has a tubular shaped barrel and a rear handle. The Eurogun originated in Europe where most spearfishing is freedive-only, fairly deep, and for small, easily spooked fish. Hence these spearguns have a low-profile, streamlined design and thinner shafts. If you are diving in similar conditions, the Eurogun style might be for you. On the other hand, if you want a sturdy, durable and easy-to-load gun that will handle bigger fish, you might lean toward the American/wood-style gun. This is also the style used for big powerful tuna guns, because they can be ballasted and accommodate up to six bands. There’s also a hybrid design, which incorporates the best elements of both with wood stock in the back and a carbon fiber tube in the front. Once you’ve chosen between styles, the next question is length. Most Eurogun sizes are 90 to 160 centimeters, and most American guns are between 36 and 65 inches. So, with the conversion from centimeters to inches, they have pretty much the same length range. If you are diving in low visibility or hunting in rocks like they have in California or Rhode Island, you would choose a shorter gun. If you are hunting spooky fish in clear waters like mutton snappers in Florida, you would opt for a longer gun. If you are just getting started and expect to dive in variable visibility, 130 centimeters or 50 inches would be a good medium length for an all-around reef gun.

Sheri Daye hunts with a Wong Hybrid Speargun. Photo by Joe Marino.

Here are some additional tips: 1) Join a local spearfishing club and learn from the more experienced people. Observe what equipment they use and ask for advice. 22) Shop at a dive store that caters to spearfishing. They carry more choices and have experienced personnel to help you choose. These include Austin’s in Miami; Florida Freedivers in Palm Beach; James & Josephs in San Diego, Calif.; Freedive Shop in Sacramento, Calif. and more. 3) Check out the custom-gun builders. There are some high-quality builders who will work with you directly, give you advice, and design it to your specs—such as Wong Spearguns from Hawaii or Sea Sniper from California. Most importantly, you should pick a style that suits you and the conditions you dive in. Chances are you will get hooked and add more spearguns to your arsenal in the future! Follow “Sheri Daye” & “The Blue Wild Ocean Adventure Expo” April 22-23, 2017 – Ft. Lauderdale - Instagram and Facebook.

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TIPS FROM A PRO

FRESHWATER THE REBIRTH OF 8- TO 10FOOT BASS RODS BRANDON LESTER

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ver since I can remember, there has been a rule in B.A.S.S. tournaments barring the use of rods longer than 8 feet. To my knowledge, it is because Dee Thomas and other Californians were using 10-foot and longer rods for “flipping” when the technique was first invented. Evidently the powersthat-be back then didn’t like this new way of fishing, so they banned the use of long rods. At the conclusion of 2016, B.A.S.S. decided to change this rule and allow us to use any rod up to 10 feet in length. Bass fishing has evolved

they fight. The extra rod length will help keep the line tight during the fight, giving the fish less opportunity to escape. For the small wooden crankbaits, the longer rod gives control over how deep the bait dives. Hold the rod tip up, and the bait dives shallower. Stick a couple feet of the blank in the water, and it runs deeper. Add longer casting distance and you will be hitting depths never before achieved with some baits. A longer rod will also be beneficial for flipping and pitching. We all know what

tremendously in the past several years, and there is no doubt this rule change will be another big breakthrough. Will long rods become the norm in everyone’s boat? I don’t think so, but I believe these rods will have a time and place in bass fishing. I have been busy building and testing a few of these longer rods with the guys at Mud Hole Custom Tackle. We’ve made encouraging findings. The first long rod I built is a 8’6” medium power spinning rod. I wanted a rod to cast small, wooden crankbaits on light line for more distance. I also wanted this rod to act as a drop shot rod for open-water smallmouth fishing. Although I don’t see myself using this rod all the time for drop shotting, imagine a scenario where you are casting a drop shot in current and need that extra length to control the way the line drifts. Also, anyone who has ever fought a river smallmouth knows how hard

happens when we set the hook on a 12-inch bass with a 7’6” rod, well imagine what will happen when you set the hook on one with a 9-foot flipping stick. We’ll be jerking 3-pounders out of the thickest cover! When that 10-pounder bites, she might not be the one that got away anymore. There might be cases where a long flipping rod is more efficient, as well. The technique of flipping, as it was done originally, by stripping line through the guides and never using the reel, will probably come back to light because we can now use a rod long enough put a bait where it needs to go. I will be building a long flipping stick before the elite series heads to Lake Okeechobee. What better place to try it out than the land of the giants? Keep tabs on 8-foot-plus rod building by visiting www. MudHole.com, and hit me up on Facebook with any questions.

Get more tips from Lester at

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Surprising Winter is the Best Planting Time

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

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

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

“ I had the chance to test the new Bossman TailSpotter and I must say I was very impressed. I’ve run a lot of boats in my career and this boat is as good if not better than anything I’ve driven.” Capt. Mike Hakala, Aqua Dream Lures

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ackle geeks have climbed high rungs of reel optimization for decades. Their basic game remains the same today: super-tune fishing reels by adding premium components and applying best cleaning and maintenance practices. But better materials and technology have elevated expectations of what fishing reels can be made to do. Russ Lane, who has earned six appearances in the Bassmaster Classic, took his habitual tackle tinkering to high-tech heights several seasons back. Lane today replaces standard reel parts with premium components that extend reel life and enable spools to spin at dazzling RPMs. What’s the fisherman’s takeaway after these reel transformations? The clearest advantages are longer casting distances, better control, heightened casting accuracy, and improved feel and sensitivity. Some premium reel components—strikingly colorful multi-textured reel knobs and anodized star drags and cast control caps, for example—can practically turn reels into showpieces, too. “Fishermen can’t believe what custom components can add to a reel’s capability,” said Noah Arroyo, owner of Off the Hook Reels. “And some fishermen are just as attracted to the unique colors and finishes you can bring to a reel and the rich look of premium parts.” Consider replacing standard reel parts with these upgrades: • Ceramic bearings – Ceramic bearings or ceramic hybrid bearings (the latter feature ceramic balls in a stainless steel or plastic cage) can elevate reel performance dramatically. Ceramic bearings can range up to 60 percent lighter than stainless steel bearings. They generate less heat and lower vibration levels, too, reducing friction as the spool revolves. Spool RPMs may climb dramatically, extending casting distance and improving accuracy by reducing the effort required to execute a cast. They also possess five times the life expectancy of stainless steel bearings. The one downside is that they produce a very audible hum, a turn-off to some anglers. HawgTech promotes its ABEC-7 hybrid bearings in nylon cages as allowing “a more free spinning bearing that also runs quieter.” • Carbon Fiber Reel Handles – Lightweight carbon fiber reel arms are

the most common reel upgrade. The difference in weight and sensitivity from conventional reel handles is discernible. They also give a sleek, skeletal look to the reel. • Winn Reel Knobs – Reel knobs made from Winn’s patented WinnDry polymer deliver the same all-weather “tacky” feel and security that Winn grips bring to fishing rods. “The Winn knobs available from HawgTech are so good, your grip never slips even when hands are wet or coated with fish slime,” said Arroyo. Two of Lew’s Best of Show awards at ICAST 2016 featured fishing reels with Winn reel knobs. HawgTech offers these knobs in several bold colors. • Anodized Aluminum Star Drags, Cast Control Caps – Colorful anodized aluminum can give a reel an “auto show” glow. You can go with matching or complementary color options for star drag controls, cast control caps and related parts. Maintenance steps: Of course, flashy parts alone won’t optimize reel performance. Make sure the internal workings of your reel are flawlessly cleaned and lubricated, too. “You have to optimize everything when you super-tune. Polish and clean ends and shafts and pinion gears,” said Arroyo. “When you do and then add your ceramic bearings and premium parts, you really end up with a great piece of machinery.”

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TAUTEN LINEWELDER Sick of having to learn and tie complex knots? The Tauten LineWelder creates a weld that is actually stronger than any knot. The device creates a “sleeve” of thermoplastic polymer around both ends of a looped line, holding the loop in place without bending or weakening the line. Knots weaken the line, and most lines’ strengths are rated with a knot, so using a Tauten LineWelder in place of tying a knot lets you get a connection that’s stronger than the advertised strength of most lines! The process is quick, easy, consistent and doesn’t require you to tie complicated knots. It’s perfect for new fishermen or veteran anglers who don’t want to bother with finicky knot tying. Just loop the line in the device, pull it taut and push the button to create a weld. This device can help fishermen who don’t want to tie complicated knots by removing the need entirely and allowing anglers to focus on the sport they love. The LineWelder works best on 10- to 12-pound-test monofilament nylon and fluorocarbon lines and 10- to 50-pound-test braided lines. Using an experimental technique, it can even join braided lines with monofilament nylon or fluorocarbon leaders to eliminate the need for a swivel. Accessories to weld a wider variety of lines are currently in development and will be available in the future. Visit tauten.com for more information and to see videos of the LineWelder in action. The Tauten customer service staff is always eager to answer any questions, so don’t hesitate to contact them.

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DEXTER UR-CUT FILLET KNIFE Dexter UR-Cut Fillet knives are the only fillet knives that allow you to custom mold the handle to your hand. UR-Cut provides the ultimate in comfort and control and is virtually non-slip in your hand. It’s simple and takes only minutes to customize UR-Cut to fit your hand. First, grip the handle and determine your grip position, paying attention to your thumb position. Dip and completely submerge the handle in boiling water for 2 minutes. Make sure the pot is deep enough so the handle does not contact the bottom or the sides of the pot. Then dip in cold water for 1 second, grip, squeeze, and hold the handle for 10 seconds. Dip back in cold water for 10 seconds and let cool. You now have a custom fillet knife, molded to fit your hand. Just like other Dexter knives, UR-Cut features the same legendary DEXTSTEEL blade, with super-sharp edges that are easy to re-sharpen and have just-right flexibility. UR-Cut fillet knives are made in the U.S.A. and are available in 6”, 7” and 8” lengths. Available at your local and online retailer. For more information and to view all Dexter fishing knives visit dexteroutdoors.com.

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A DIFFERENT APPROACH MARK SOSIN

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small sign on the corner of my attorney’s desk warns his clients to “Assume Nothing.” That caveat is just as valid on the water as it is in the practice of law. If an angler does not start catching fish within minutes of arriving at a spot, he begins to assume that his quarry must be elsewhere. The assumption, of course, is that he has chosen the right bait or lure and presented it in a natural and appealing manner to a fish that is ready to eat. A fish’s behavioral patterns, honed over eons, follow very specific guidelines with few deviations. Anything that differs from the norm instinctively alerts a fish that something may be amiss and it thinks of its own safety first. Regardless of size, a predator does not expect to be charged or attacked by its prey no matter how small the prey is in relation to the predator. That’s why a 3-inch fly made of feathers can spook a 100-pound fish. And remember that fish do not feed constantly for a variety of reasons. Most species use tidal currents, water flow, or the neck of a funnel to their advantage as they search for food. They either hold facing the current, swim against the flow, or work across it. Whenever you present a bait or lure, it should be upcurrent from where you expect the fish to be so that your offering appears to go with the flow. That tenet even applies when you are casting to a cruising fish. The more natural the presentation, the better the chance of a strike. Your quarry automatically measures energy tradeoff. The idea is to exploit each situation so they will expend the least amount of energy for the value received. That translates into the fact that they frequently refuse to chase a bait or lure very far before turning away. An ambush feeder merely wants to dart out, grab its prey and return to its lair. Bottom denizens follow a similar practice. If your offering isn’t close to the sea floor, it’s difficult to get them to swim toward the surface to get it. Successful bottom bouncing starts upcurrent and allows the bait to drag along in the productive zone. Once it sweeps above the quarry, the potential for getting a strike diminishes rapidly. Water temperature enters the energy tradeoff equation. In cold or even cool water, fish react sluggishly because the water temperature slows down their metabolism. It might even force them out of their usual lair in search of warmer water. In those situations, choose baits or lures that are easy for a fish to catch and slow down the retrieve or the trolling speed. And remember, in cooler water it takes fish longer to digest food so they feed less frequently. Those who catch fish consistently study and comprehend the basics of feeding strategy. You can be sure that the behavioral patterns of each species are not about to change. That puts the onus on you to modify your tactics until you uncover the combination that works. Before you abandon a spot because you think it doesn’t hold fish, make sure you have explored the full gamut of options. If you do make any assumptions, convince yourself that a fish is looking at your bait or lure right now. The results might surprise you.

For More Mark Sosin Visit

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NEW INTERLUX MICRON WA BOAT PAINT Micron WA (Water-Activated) is the newest addition to the AkzoNobel’s Interlux industry leading Micron Technology product range. It is a showcase antifouling paint that offers long-lasting, multi-seasonal protection in a water-based formulation. Micron WA combines powerful antifouling performance while reducing impact on the environment, leaving a smooth, clean hull. This paint is ideal for cruise, power and sailboats and suitable for all waters. Using a novel paint technology called Water Activated Matrix, Micron WA delivers a crisp, vibrant color and uniform appearance to provide a striking, attractive finish, while at the same time efficiently releasing the active ingredients to deliver powerful antifouling performance. More information is available at: www.yachtpaint.com/usa/diy/ products/antifouling/micron-wa.aspx

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