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FORT MYERS/CAPE CORAL/CHARLOTTE HARBOR EDITION

FREE @CAMTAMagazine

Gifts for Anglers Issue

SURF EXPO

Jan. 8-10 in Orlando PHOTO COURTESY OF DARCIZZLE OFFSHORE VOLUME 24 • ISSUE 297

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM

F R A N C H I S E

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

A V A I L A B L E

DECEMBER 2019

W O R L D W I D E


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Boaters and anglers up and down the east coast know there’s an important season between the holidays and spring: Boat Show Season! Timed perfectly to gear-up for some of the best fishing of the year, the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s (NMMA) line-up of premier boating and outdoors shows are the venues where shoppers and dreamers alike can peruse the latest the industry has to offer. From yachts to kayaks and all the accessories, these shows offer hands-on experience with the hottest boats and gear bound for the water in 2020. It’s no secret that shoppers take advantage of the best deals of the year on the floor at NMMA’s annual boat shows.

Here’s the rundown of this years best shows and expositions:

1) Progressive Insurance Atlanta Boat Show

Jan. 16-19, Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta With 600-plus boats, the Southeast’s premier boating event returns for its 58th year to Exhibit Hall C of the Georgia World Congress Center. A boating bonanza, show-goers tour hundreds of boats, and interactive features including virtual reality exhibits, educational seminars on boating, fishing and sailing, a nautical Kids’ Zone, Touch-a-Boat Tour, events with local breweries, DIY workshops, Career Day and more! Entry is just $15 for adults. Kids 12 and younger are free. Tickets are $3 off for active-duty military, retired military, veterans, law enforcement and firefighters. Advance tickets are also $3 off when purchased at www. AtlantaBoatShow.com.

2) Progressive Insurance New York Boat Show

Jan. 22-26, Javits Center, New York City A New York tradition since 1905, the world’s first and longest-running boat show enters its 115th year with a five-day celebration of boating at the Javits Center. Boat hop and shop 350 boats along with the latest boating innovations, technology and gear. Highlights include Kids’ Build-aBoat and The Progressive Boathouse, which features hands-on boating courses for all experience levels. Entry is $16 for adults. Kids 12 and younger are free. Tickets are $3 off for military and first responders. Save $2 by buying advance tickets at 5) Progressive Insurance Atlantic City Boat Show NYBoatShow.com. Feb. 26-March 1, Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City The Progressive Insurance Atlantic City Boat Show brings activities to 3) Progressive New England Boat Show give lifelong boaters and novices an all-access pass to discover why life is Feb. 8-16, Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Boston For nine days, this nautical extravaganza will showcase more than 700 better with a boat. Serious shoppers benefit from “Super Thursday” and new boats and watercraft, along with a stunning array of must-have ma- find bargains on hundreds of boats as well as gear, technology and acrine accessories. There is something for all ages and boaters at this year’s cessories to go with them. With everything from kayaks to sportfishers, show. Dozens of seminars will cover fishing, sailing and boating. Explore there is a boat for every lifestyle and budget. Admission is $17 for adults. Children 12 and younger are free. Adboating careers at Marine Innovation & Career Day. Hop on “Salt,” the life-size inflatable humpback whale. Boost your boating IQ at the Pro- vance tickets can be purchased at ACBoatShow.com. gressive Insurance Boathouse. Kids can captain their own paddleboat at 6) Progressive World Fishing & Outdoor Exposition the Kid Paddle Pool. Feb. 27-March 1, Rockland Community College, Suffern, N.Y. Entry is $16 for adults. Kids 12 and younger are free. Active military The Northeast’s premier fishing, hunting and travel exposition features receive one free ticket with valid ID. Purchase advance tickets at www. a vast selection of outdoor sports vendors, speakers and events. With newenglandboatshow.com. major manufacturers, trusted brand names and local retailers, show-goers can compare and shop new and hard-to-find outdoors products and 4) Progressive Miami International Boat Show enjoy a variety of educational seminars and attractions. For more inforFeb. 13-17, Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin, Miami Over President’s Day weekend, the world-renowned Progressive mation, go to sportshows.com/suffern. Miami International Boat Show will host nearly 100,000 visitors from around the globe to shop more than 1,400 boats as well as gear, tech- 7) Progressive Insurance Saltwater Fishing Expo March 13-15, New Jersey Convention & Expo Center, Edison, N.J. nology and accessories from more than 1,000 vendors. From yachts and The one-stop shop for saltwater anglers of all experience levels, catamarans to offshore fishing boats, high-performance boats and family cruisers, visitors will experience one of the largest and most influential the Progressive Insurance Saltwater Fishing Expo returns to Ediboat shows in the world. Sea trials allow serious buyers to take their son, New Jersey, offering a vast selection of vendors, speakers and special events. The three-day event kicks off the region’s saltwadreamboat for a spin. Tickets are $30 per adult; two-day passes (Feb. 14-17) are $55; Premier ter season with deals from more than 200 vendors selling everyDay (Feb. 13) is $45. VIP packages available. Children 12 and younger thing you’ll need to hit the water, from boats to terminal tackle. For more information, go to www.sportshows.com/saltwater. are free. Purchase advance tickets at www.MiamiBoatShow.com.


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ENTER TO WIN! Editor’s Pick Holiday Gifts for Anglers

FireDisc Cookers

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A modern, high-performance version of an authentic plow disc cooker, FIREDISC is built to last and designed to be easily taken down for travel and storage. FIREDISC fires up fast, cooks virtually anything, seasons like a cast-iron skillet and cleans up quickly with just water. These portable propane cookers are going to change the way you cook outdoors — you’ll never go back to a traditional grill!

You’ve got a lot riding on your hitch, and the only thing keeping your truck and trailer connected are those relatively small pieces of engineered steel. The hitch matters to your safety and the safety of our roads. That’s why B&W treats the manufacture of your trailer hitch with the respect it deserves. For one, we insist on American-made steel.

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Simms G4 Pro Jacket

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Cut from advanced GORE-TEX Pro Shell three-layer fabrics and kitted with ingenious fishing details, the G4 Pro Jacket is Simms’ highest-performing, most durable jacket. The streamlined design of four front pockets reduces bulk and allows rain to sheet off. A three-point adjustable storm hood and a long rear hem to collar length extend protection from the elements. Nine pockets include hand-warmer pockets as well as a large rear game pocket, accessible through the front. .

With over 20 years of experience, AO Coolers offers well-constructed, innovative coolers made for all outdoor activities, including boating, fishing, and camping. We’ve now taken our knowledge to make the best 80-quart hard-sided cooler – we are excited to introduce the Everest Series! Built tough to handle the abuse of the great outdoors. Keeps your food, drinks or catch ice cold for days. Rotomolded polyethylene construction, the same process to make whitewater kayaks, ensures excellent impact resistance and long-lasting durability. Now available in three colors: white, deep blue and tan.

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99.9% Pure Gold History In Your Hands In 1934, the U.S. Government issued $100,000 Gold Certificates—but they were never meant for general circulation. The United States had left behind the gold standard the year prior, and were in need of a new way to transfer large amounts of wealth between Federal Reserve banks. The $100,000 Gold Certificate legally represented its worth in gold, and didn’t require a forklift to move. By 1960, the notes had served their purpose, and most were destroyed. Only a small number still exist, including notes held by the Smithsonian.

100mg of 99.9% Pure Gold These Series 1934 $100,000 Currency Strikes bear a design based on the Smithsonian’s originals—a portrait of President Woodrow Wilson, along with the official Smithsonian sunburst. Best of all, they come minted in 100 mg of 99.9% pure (24k) gold!

Limited Mintage — Secure Yours NOW! For this first-ever release, only 5,000 of these Series 1934 $100,000 Gold Certificate Currency Strikes were produced. These are the very first of their kind, created with 100mg of 99.9% pure gold. They’re already going fast, and there’s no telling how long our limited supply will remain in our vault. Don’t let this shining gold piece of Americana pass you by—secure Each currency strike comes sealed in a protective plastic holder to preserve its GEM condition yours now! 1934 Smithsonian $100,000 24k Gold Certificate $29.95 ea. + s/h FREE SHIPPING on 5 or More! Limited time only. Product total over $149 before taxes (if any). Standard domestic shipping only. Not valid on previous purchases.

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FLORIDA

SOUTH FLORIDA

SAILFISH ON THE MOVE

Photo by Craig McMicken

By Gene Dyer

S

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ailfish are on the move off the coast of southeast Florida. It happens every year as the first cold fronts make their way south and bring cooler temperatures and northerly winds. Highly migratory in nature, these acrobatic pelagics can be caught here year round, but the highest concentrations occur from November through April. Techniques for targeting sailfish vary depending on location. In Stuart, trolling dead ballyhoo with dredges in the spread is the most popular method. Off Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, kite fishing with live bait on the drift is the go-to technique. In the Florida Keys,

it could be a combination of both or it could be sight fishing with a few live pitch baits ready to throw at a hungry sailfish. Regardless of location, wind and sea conditions change constantly and play a huge role in determining the best fishing technique on any given day. The best sailfish bite happens during tailing conditions. Typically, tailing conditions occur right after a cold front passes, while the western edge of the Gulf Stream is in close proximity to the coast. When the strong north current of the Gulf Stream clashes with strong winds from the opposite direction, it fires sailfish up into a feeding frenzy. In tailing conditions, it is not uncommon for the top sailfish boats in the fleet to catch and release 20 or more sailfish in a day. Not everyone can afford the expensive electric reels and other gear required for kite or dredge fishing, but anyone who owns a boat with outriggers can slow troll or bump troll baits to get tight with arguably the most majestic gamefish in the ocean. You will need four 20- to 30-pound conventional outfits. Since sailfish are capable of swimming at high speeds, you want reels with at least a 5:1 gear ratio and high line capacity. Connect the main line to 6 to 8 feet of 40-pound fluorocarbon leader with a small barrel swivel. Tie an inline circle hook to the business end. Use a 7/0 hook for larger baits such as blue runners or goggle eyes. For smaller baits like pilchards or cigar minnows, use a 5/0 hook. Deploy the two outrigger baits first with one long and one short. Then send out your flat lines from the corners with one short and one long. Once your spread is out, position your boat down-sea and keep it moving forward slowly by putting the boat in and out of gear. Keep an eye on your spread, as sailfish will sometimes show up out of nowhere. Sailfish tend to swim in packs, so it’s a good idea to keep a 20-pound spinning outfit ready to go with a live pitch bait. Once you get your fish to the boat, grab it by the bill and remove the hook. Hold your sailfish alongside the boat while in gear to revive it before release. Gene Dyer is editor and co-publisher of Coastal Angler Magazine/Fort Lauderdale.

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don’t throw much anymore. I don’t throw them except for around the spawn, but it sure does work that time of year! JD: What was your most productive technique this year? Lester: A wacky rig, especially early in the season. It’s always huge for me during and around the spawn. It just gets bites and catches big fish, too. I put fish in the boat using the Mustad Titan X Wacky Neko hook with an X Zone Lures True Center Stick. I fish it on the MHX NEPS 81MXF. That rod was my MVP this season too.

BRANDON LESTER

JD: Speaking of MHX rods, you’re well-known for building your own custom rods on tour. What rods will you build this off-season? Lester: Mud Hole is always making new blanks available, so I plan on building nearly a whole new set this winter. You can build rods efficiently once you do it a few times, and it really doesn’t take much time. For anglers out there looking to have a full complement of rods that are the same brand but won’t break the bank, I highly suggest building MHX rods. They have a starter kit (great Christmas gift) on their website www. MudHole.com, and all the other bass rods a man would need. They have all the kits broken down by style, and if anyone has any questions they can ask me on social media. Instagram is @ brandonlesterfishing and Facebook is @proanglerbrandonlester.

By JD Blackburn JD: How did your Bassmaster Elite Series season go this year? Lester: I finished in sixth place in the Toyota Angler of the Year point standings and also finished sixth in the 2019 Bassmaster Classic. Those were both career-best marks. JD: What one new piece of equipment did you adopt this year that really helped you? Lester: The new C-Map card from Lowrance Electronics. Case in point: on Lake Guntersville this year, I fished structure I had no idea was in existence on that lake. The detail the card has on it is just amazing.

For more Lester visit,

JD: What was the biggest fish you caught this season? Lester: The biggest weighed 7-11, and it came from the St. Johns River in Florida. I used an 8-inch lizard, which is a bait people

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he world’s largest and longest-running watersports and beach/ resort lifestyle show is a best-kept secret for retailers of fishing apparel and accessories. Surf Expo launched its Bluewater category in January 2018 with some of the hottest brands in fishing. Since then, angling has become an integral part of the twice-annual show, which returns to Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center Jan. 8-10. Savvy buyers will find that today’s Surf Expo is a lot more than surf. Featuring internationally influential brands from all facets of watersports, Surf Expo is the show that drives water-lifestyle trends each season. It is geared toward buyers seeking to stock their shelves, which makes it a unique opportunity for retailers to get ahead of the market’s next big thing. Bluewater is where buyers can find all the freshwater and saltwater fishing and marine lifestyle apparel and accessory brands grouped together in one easy-to-shop area of the show floor. Since Bluewater’s inception, more and more marinas, tackle shops and outfitters have discovered that Surf Expo is a very convenient way to shop all their mainstay apparel and accessory brands and then easily browse other products they need such as sunscreens, sunglasses, coolers, T-shirts and PFDs. Tackle dealers who don’t take advantage of the crossover between fishing and the overall watersports lifestyle are missing out on a powerful revenue stream. Surf Expo is the one show where you can see and touch it all… and attendance is free for qualified retailers. “We’ve been attending Surf Expo for many years,” said Aledia Tush, owner of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, a fishing and boating landmark in Sarasota since 1959. “We’re always looking for new products, T-shirts, sportswear, suntan products, towels, sandals, shoes and sunglasses. Being a Florida retailer, Surf Expo is a show not to be missed!” Brands exhibiting in the Bluewater category include: HUK, AFTCO, 5Fin, Marsh Wear, Fish Hippie, Hooked Soul Fishing Co., Heybo

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Outdoors, Salt Life, Big Ocean Sport, Florida Cracker Trading Co., REEL Happy, Deep Blue Gear, Salty Crew, MANG Gear, Sunday Afternoon, Anglur, Huntworth, Skinny Water Culture, Tormenter Ocean, Costa, Bimini Bay and more. “We’ve been coming to Surf Expo since the beginning, and we were one of the first to be in the Bluewater section—where we’ve found a new home,” said Bill Shedd, president of AFTCO and 5Fin. “There’s a whole lifestyle that’s being developed around saltwater, offshore and big game fishing that’s bled off into inshore fishing and more of an outdoor activity in the broader outdoor world. AFTCO and 5Fin fit into that. Bluewater at Surf Expo is a perfect section to corral up a growing number of brands like AFTCO, 5FIN and Marshwear. The buyers don’t have to walk around looking; we’re in one area.” Surf Expo is a place where it’s easy to get business done. It is a pure, trade-only event, which eliminates the hubbub of open-to-the-public trade shows. It’s also a fun place to be, with a laid-back atmosphere that appeals to those in the watersports industry. The Bluewater Lounge has become a popular hangout for the fishing crowd. Hosted by Hell’s Bay Boatworks, it features happy hours daily and talks with special guests from Captains for Clean Water. Preserving the waters we love has always been an important part of Surf Expo. It is a platform for the watersports industry as a whole to promote clean water, water access, conservation and sustainability. “When people come to the Surf Expo for the first time, they notice the relaxed, cool atmosphere. It’s that lifestyle we all buy into, and there are a lot of down-to-earth beautiful people at a surf show,” said Surf Expo buyer relations manager Steven Fisher. “It’s just a great place to be if you’re in the watersports industry. If you’ve got a shop, come check it out for yourself.” For more information or to register now, buyers should visit www. surfexpo.com.

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Photo: TBA Outdoors


feet; the fish are swimming along the trough looking for baitfish. When there’s bait around the trough (the deep channel where the breakers hit the beach), there are fish. Look for birds. When there are birds diving around the trough, the fish are near. There are several techniques I use to catch fish.

By Richard Matteson

S

urf ’s up! Grab your spincaster and head for the beach. I just moved to Hutchinson Island, one of the barrier islands on Florida’s Treasure Coast, and I’ve had a lot of fun fishing the surf early in the morning and late in the evening. I’ve averaged several snook per trip, with a few jacks, plus bluefish and mackerel. My best hour so far was four snook, a dozen jack, two ladyfish, two bluefish and a mackerel. Now that’s an action packed 60 minutes, and the best thing is you don’t have to cast more than 30

W

TACKLE: I use a spincasting reel with 10-pound braided line and a clear 20-pound fluro or mono leader. Tie 2 feet of leader onto the braid with a double uni knot, and then tie your lure on with a loop knot so it moves more freely. I use a 3/8- or ½-ounce jig with a D.O.A. paddletail either in pearl white or silver sparkle. I like the lighter weight, but it’s harder to cast. Silver spoons and topwaters are my secondary lures. THE SURF: you want some wave action, and rough surf is better than calm, but if it’s too rough the jig doesn’t stay in the strike zone long enough. Always fish into or toward the wind so you keep in contact with the lure. TECHNIQUE: I wear shorts and stand in the shallow wash. You don’t have to get wet. After a wave breaks, fish the backside between waves, jigging gently and keeping some tension on the line. When a wave overtakes the lure, keep in touch with it and let it tumble until the wave crashes on the beach. Then fish the backwash on the beach side of the trough. If you fish perpendicular to the trough, the lure is only in the trough for a few seconds. If you cast parallel to the beach, the lure stays in the trough longer and you have better action. Remember, the fish are feeding in 6 inches of water sometimes and can even strike in the backwash. Keep tension on the fish when you get one on, and lower your rod tip so Spanish, snook and bluefish won’t jump as much. When a fish rides the wave into the shore, you’ll need to reel fast to keep tension or they will flip off. Where to Fish: Any beach access is good, but look for birds and activity. No birds, consider moving to another beach access. I like the St. Lucie beaches in the Herman’s Bay area and the beaches near the inlets. Richard Matteson is staff writer for the Stuart Rod and Reel Club. For information, call 336-414-3440.

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By Darcie Arahill

s the holidays approach and temperatures drop, many will feel the need to scratch that fishing itch. There is no better place to catch your next trophy this winter than down in sunny south Florida. If it’s monster offshore pelagics you seek, winter offers some of our best fishing. Take your boat or book a charter out of Stuart, Fla.—aka “The Sailfish Capital of the World”—and you are sure to land a sailfish, a bucket list fish for many. Mahi, cobia, kingfish and wahoo will also be biting. Our average January high of 74 degrees will also quickly quench your thirst for warmer weather.

North of Palm Beach, we do a lot of trolling, and south you’ll find live baiting very popular, so don’t forget your sabiki rod. No boat? No problem. We have multiple beach-access points where you can catch your fill of Pompano, whiting, bluefish, snook and more, maybe even a permit or bonefish. In Martin County, check out Stuart Beach, Hobe Sound Beach and Tiger Shores. Excellent jetties and piers include Juno Pier, Ft. Pierce Inlet and Sebastian Inlet, where I recently limited out on redfish one day and caught an inshore slam the next! Fishing off the beach, a “pompano rig” will catch a ton of species and even cut bait on the bottom with a pyramid sinker will work. For lures, I like topwaters in the morning and after that I throw lipped crankbaits and paddletail swimbaits. Regarding inshore saltwater, I love fishing from the Saint Lucie Inlet north to Ft. Pierce. Under the docks and along the mangroves you will find snook, redfish and trout, as well as flounder and drum in deeper holes and channels. If you can’t find any mullet to net, a simple live shrimp and a bobber will catch everything and anything. If you do not have a boat, walk the shoreline for some incredible wade fishing. I caught my first snook wading the docks in Ft. Pierce many years ago. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about you bass guys! Our incredible bass fishing this time of year starts with the largemouth spawn and plenty of crappie on Lake Okeechobee. I also love Camp Mack in Lake Wales, Fla. Mix up your freshwater game with abundant exotic species fisheries featuring clownknife fish, peacock bass, hybrid bass and even the bullseye snakehead. You will catch exotics in any of the Lake Clarke, Lake Osborne or Lake Ida chains in Palm Beach County. If you have any questions, Google “Darcizzle Offshore” to find my Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, website, podcast and e-mail to drop me a note.


Serving the Coastal Communities of Southwest Florida

FACEBOOK.COM/COASTALANGLERMAGAZINEFTMYERS/ | DECEMBER 2019 | FORT MYERS 1


Take a Break!

By Capt. Bart Marx

T

his is the time of year that we have our northern visitors, family, and friends and some of them like to fish and eat fish, too. With all the activities we schedule making things a little crazy, it might be nice to get in the boat, take a break, and bend a rod. Maybe catch something to eat. The offshore bite is good with grouper, reds, and gags. To harvest gag groupers, I like to troll X-Raps and other big lipped deep divers. When I troll I use Suffix Performance Braid, usually 30-50 pound.

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off and you can save your lure. Plus, if you hook a big fish it will not rip the lure out of the fish’s mouth, giving you a chance to harvest it. When we do this, we can troll some shallow running lures from that can catch Spanish, kings, and cobia too. Another type of fishing is bottom fishing and you can drift or anchor up. Anchoring you want a nice ledge or something artificial/man made that will hold grouper and snapper. I use spinning and conventional reels with Suffix Performance braid , usually 20-50-pound in hi-vis colors with a top shot of monofilament, usually around one hundred feet. When I bottom fish, I use a knocker rig with enough weight to get to the bottom nicely, around two ounces if anchored. I also, may us a chicken rig; this puts your weight on the bottom and your bait is above the bottom. I use VMC 3/0 to 5/0 Nice 25” Redfish, released from inline circle hooks to Charlotte Harbor. catch most of these fish in 50’-80’. There is This line is smaller in diameter also a method called drifting than monofilament, so it’s for grouper (this is mostly red easier to get the lures down to grouper). This usually takes the bottom, even in 50’ plus more weight, depending on of water. We troll from 4-6 the wind if you don’t have a knots, keeping an eye on the drift sock. You can end up lures and rod tips to be sure with as much as eight ounces they are digging deep and not of weight, just to keep your surfacing. Also, if your rod bait close to the bottom, again tip is jumping this means you depending on the wind. Call are hitting bottom. So, if you us for a gift certificate for your are trolling around ledges or guests. Always remember artificial reefs you will need to singing drags and tight lines know how to adjust, so you do make me smile. <*(((((>{ not get hung up on the bottom. (Read about Capt. Bart’s Leave the drag loose enough s n a p p e r that you can pull it out, while t i p s you are trolling, by hand. IF it online.) gets stuck, the drag will sound

Capt. Bart Marx at 941-979-6517 2 FORT MYERS | DECEMBER 2019 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM/FORT-MYERS/


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FACEBOOK.COM/COASTALANGLERMAGAZINEFTMYERS/ | DECEMBER 2019 | FORT MYERS 3


Winter

W

ell, if we have a fall here in SWFL it’s in full swing. Over the past couple weeks, a couple fronts have pushed down into our area. Fortunately for us, the warmup happens fairly fast. The stronger these fronts get, it will begin to drop our water temps, as water temps drop we start to focus more on fishing our winter patterns. I have been

focusing on locating fish in deeper waters. Lucky for us we have plenty of fishy waters on the upper harbor. One of the major areas that fish migrate to is PGI; a vast area of deep residential canals that was dug many years ago. As our water temps drop, many of our game fish seek deep water for winter. Locating fish in a large area can take time, so I’m going to tell you things that I look for. One of the main things I look for is depth, since it’s the major reason for fish moving into these areas. The majority of these canals are the same depth, however over time the current flow has made some areas deeper. I recommend spending a day driving around scanning the area with your depth finder locating the deeper water. I also look for docks that have lots of oysters growing on

by Capt. Dave Stephens

Patterns them. Small crustaceans and bait fish like to hang around these docks. If you find the food source, chances are you’ll find predatory fish. The cooler water temps will have fish keying in on shrimp, also your local tackle shops should start having some nicer sized ones. That’s always a sign that things are starting to switch to a better shrimp bite. Normally, things don’t switch over night, it will be a transition period. For the most part, our fish have been living in a tropical environment, so it will take some time for them to acclimate to the change. One of the biggest things I stress when making the change, is slowing down. When our water drops below seventy, and possibly into the sixty’s these fish are going to slow down. However, over time they will become more aggressive, it will just take time. For some anglers the cooler water is welcoming. If you look forward to fishing for sheepshead, then this is your time of year. These guys are often overlooked and confused with other fish. During the winter these crustacean-eaters gather in schools to spawn. Some of the best fishing will be around old crusty docks and jetties. We’re gonna talk more about these striped baitthieves next month. If you would like to experience some of Charlotte Harbor’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.

Back Bay Xtremes at 941-916-5769 4 FORT MYERS | DECEMBER 2019 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM/FORT-MYERS/


New Spots

By Capt. Mike Manis found around harbor channel scattered around the pilings.

A

t this point, the beginning of winter, I find myself looking for windows of opportunity. By that, I mean waiting between fronts for calmer days where both the run and fishing are tolerable. And, even though the days are short, it’s nice not having to get out at the crack of dawn. In fact, I like to wait till late morning

in order to let the sun warm the flats and provide some visibility. Due to lower tides combined with minimal rain, sight fishing can be good as there isn’t enough water for game fish to get deep into the mangroves. Essentially, it’s this dynamic that provides the open water sand hole techniques that are so common on the winter low

the water temperature is a bit more stable. Creeks, rivers, and canal systems are the type places they’ll call home until spring. Because of their vulnerability to cold, I’ll leave them alone. Most days, it’s not unusual to have to deal with a northeast breeze. For this reason, I like to look for spots that provide as much protection as possible and try to work with the wind at my back. If I can get the sun at my back, it’s even better. All this makes seeing, casting, and poling a little easier. Because bait is scarce, predator species change their diet and in turn I’ll downsize my baits and slow down my presentation. I’ve been working the maze of mangrove island shorelines on the east side below Punta Gorda and I’ll continue this pattern as it provides decent protection from the northeast. However, now with dropping water temperatures I’ll push further back into the backcountry. Here, in addition to more stable water temperatures and wind protection, I have access to quite a few adjacent creek

tides. I’ll still pole shorelines, particularly sandy sections, but it’s the sand holes off the shoreline that hold the best numbers of redfish and spotted sea trout that are most abundant. Being a subtropical species, our snook are not very comfortable and move up into areas where

systems. You can’t go wrong fishing anywhere around a creek mouth. Outside the backcountry, pompano should be on the hard bottom off Cape Haze Point as well as outside the bar along the southern end of the west wall. Spanish mackerel will be

markers. Bluefish should be mixed in within these same areas. For backup, if you’d like to get out and Mother Nature isn’t cooperating, there are always the canal systems. Whether it is Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, or the Boca Bayou, the docks in all the above will be holding fish. It’s not unusual to see sheepshead and black drum

Moreover, as for sheepshead, this is the beginning of prime time. On the calmer days, the Alligator Creek Reef is a great place to drop a piece of shrimp or fiddler crab. Until next month, good tides.

Capt. Manis at 941-628-7895

FACEBOOK.COM/COASTALANGLERMAGAZINEFTMYERS/ | DECEMBER 2019 | FORT MYERS 5


Riverside Park

By Mike Hammond the island is popular with strong winds last week. We

R

ecently, a person commented to me that there is not much access on the Caloosahatchee River for paddlers. I was surprised by the comment because there are actually many private and public launches open along the river. In addition to several launches written about in previous articles, the Riverside Park, operated by the City of Fort Myers, is one of my favorite access points. In the shadows of the Oasis Condominium high-rises lies this small community park which includes a community center/ banquet hall, playground, free parking, port-a-potties, fishing pier and a floating paddlecraft launch. I found the floating dock easy to launch my standup paddleboard from

but kayakers may have a bit more difficulty. The distance from the top of the dock to the water creates a significant drop. Because it is a floating dock, high tides will not help ease the process but there is

a small sandy beach next to the playground that will make kayak launching easy. From Riverside Park, it is only about a mile to the City of Fort Myers-owned Clint’s Island. The beach on the southwest portion of

weekend boaters. It is a great spot to stretch the legs, grab a snack, fish or just relax in the shade of the Australian pines. Many boaters and paddlers are looking forward to this becoming a wateraccess-only public park. Dave Westra from Lehr’s Economy tackle reported snook, redfish, ladyfish and sharks can be caught in the area year round. As the salinity levels gets higher, more salt water species move into the downtown area. Many anglers target the bridges. Anyone paddling here, be aware of the multidirectional wave action caused by the current, wind and structures. Those little whitecaps we see driving over the bridges are not so little when you are paddling in them. Always check the wind report before doing this paddle. Friends and I were returning to Riverside Park from Clint’s Island when we were hit by

joked about just letting the wind push us down river to the small beach next to Joe’s Crab Shack and using an Uber to get back to our vehicles. The joke almost became reality. Beginner paddlers should probably wait until very flat days to paddle this section of the river. The protected creeks around Marinatown in North Fort Myers are a good alternative on breezy days. Paddlers also have to be aware they are crossing a boating channel. We always check to make sure the channel is clear of oncoming boats and cross as a group straight to the other side quickly. With a few precautions and low wind, this is a very enjoyable paddle with some g r e a t fishing. Just pick a good day and have fun!

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Cooler Hunts

By Wayne Nichols minutes at a time is about all where big gators stay is also key

W

ith cooler temps in the morning and night, right now is a great time to after BIG alligators. Public alligator season may be over, but on private lands you can still hunt for gators and it’s the perfect time. Most landowners/outfitters still have tags available and some give great discounts for end of year hunts. With cooler temps in the morning, finding big alligators laying up on the banks usually doesn’t take too long and spot-n-stalk methods are generally easier this time of year. Cooler temps make them lazier and more unaware of surroundings...ok, actually cooler weather has them conserving more energy right now. Gators need temperatures to stay above the mid 70’s to ensure digestion of their food, which is a lot of why they lay in the sun. Generally, once they’ve been sunning for a short time

they take a nap, allowing you to slip in close to them. In the summer months it’s actually

much harder to catch big gators sunning for any length of time. Sporting a leather jacket in our 100° heat is a great way to have a stroke, so sunning 20-30

they can stand, before needing to cool back off in the water. While gun hunting is highly productive year-round on private lands, late Fall/Winter is prime time for an archery hunt, day or night. Daytime archery hunting sunning Gators allows close quarters stalks and more time for shot placement, while night hunting is cooler and using calls can flat out put one in your lap. Baby gator (hatchlings) calls are extremely effective right now. Bull Gators love coming into the sounds of distressed baby gators for an easy snack (this method also works great in the daytime). Can’t seem to find a gator? Turn a call on and wait a few minutes; if there’s one anywhere nearby you’ll know it pretty quick, they normally rush in without hesitation... we’ve filmed gators coming in from half a mile away. Knowing

in calling them in. This allows you to place a call behind you and in most cases across from you. From a light portable ground blind or some brush for cover, you will have a better shot angle for the back of the head or shoulder vitals as they swim by you. It might sound a little complicated, but after a few practice sessions you’ll see how easy it really is. We’ve got plenty of guides and outfitters with tags available throughout the end of the year to ensure a great hunt for you. Combo hunts, as always, are also available year-round; right now is a great time for hog hunting as well. We’re heading back in the woods y’all stay safe out there. Remember to take a kid hunting or fishing anytime you get a chance.

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FACEBOOK.COM/COASTALANGLERMAGAZINEFTMYERS/ | DECEMBER 2019 | FORT MYERS 7


December

I

By Capt. Terry Fisher

Fishing Recommendations

t is that time of year when the area ‘lights’ up with numerous visitors and home owners alike, returning from their summer habitats, to enjoy some of the best climate

current flow and deeper water, than those or spoil islands with little depth. OFFSHORE, reef fish and migratory species are affected mostly by water temperature.

and pristine waters that North America has to offer. It is also a time to reflect on another year gone by, of wonderful experiences on and off the water, with clients returning to enjoy another Christmas and the New Year. Recalling seasonal changes and the inherent challenges that require constant adjustments to guarantee clients had a good time on the water, catching fish. This December should be no different than others, except for any new challenges, to make ‘Memories of a Lifetime,’ for clients and their families on the water. December is a transitional month in regards to current strengths, water levels and water temperature, which for the most part, determine the species that myself and other guides will target. This is crucial to success on the water and is most important for the recreational angler to understand. INSHORE, low water levels not only restrict access to numerous areas for most boats, it also changes the location of fish. When this occurs, I begin to fish areas around docks with

Fish temporarily relocate to areas that sustain their basic needs for food, spawning, and survival. That is why in winter months, fish such as, mackerel, permit, tarpon, tuna and cobia migrate south, while in the summer months, they reverse their migratory pattern. If not migratory (grouper and snapper), they simply move into depths that meet their needs. Our job is to find them. Regardless of one’s preference to fish inshore or offshore, water temperature is the main determining factor as to where the fish will be found. As the baitfish change location, (due to water temperature) so will the target species. In my opinion, ‘baitfish will not follow game fish so they can be eaten’, as it is more likely than not that, ‘game fish follow baitfish, so they can eat them’! The question becomes: which fish will provide the better opportunity for anglers throughout the month of December and where will they be? The answer depends on water temperature. As the temperature cools, offshore species (grouper, snapper, sheepshead) will likely move

in to shallower waters, while many of the inshore species (redfish and seatrout) will move away from seasonal shallow haunts, to deeper waters that suit their required body temperatures. All but the pelagic species such as wahoo, sailfish, tuna and dolphin, will utilize both inshore and offshore estuaries sometime throughout their lives. Inshore, this month I suggest that, as the cold fronts come in from the North and Northwest, concentrate on sheepshead and mangrove snapper around docks and old piles using shrimp and fiddler crabs on small hooks. Fish the canals and passes for snook. Big Jack Crevalle will be found in the rivers, especially at the mouth of feeder creeks. Look to catch black drum, redfish, snook, sheepshead and mangrove snapper on incoming and outgoing tides around the structures at Redfish, Captiva and Boca Grand Passes. seatrout will hold on the grass flats. Redfish and

larger reef fish within ten miles of the coastal islands. This may provide opportunity to catch larger grouper and snapper that have recently been holding 40 to 60 miles out. Wind velocity will be the dominant factor as to whether or not one goes. Look for baitfish and diving bird activity on the surface. These are telltale signs of fish, such as mackerel feeding. Fishing can be very productive in December as long as one concentrates on the species that provide the most opportunity ‘of the season’. This is Captain Terry Fisher wishing everyone Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, a safe New Years Celebration and TIGHT LINES! Check out my website at www. fishfacecharters.com for all services offered. Feel free to call me direct at 239-357-6829 or email fishfacecharters@ yahoo.com to book a charter. I am also available as ‘Captain for Hire’ (by the hour) on your vessel (including Boat Club Member Vessels) to

seatrout will also hold in deep potholes on the flats providing opportunity for anglers with shallow running boats. Fish for Spanish mackerel and ladyfish where the birds are diving. Offshore; I suggest that anglers with boats unable to go to reefs and structures far offshore, capitalize on the fact that the cooler water temperature should push the

assist with safety, navigation, fishing techniques and secret locations that will make all your fishing adventures a success. More fishing reports with pictures of clients and catches may be found at www. goboatingflorida.com under the fishing section.

8 FORT MYERS | DECEMBER 2019 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM/FORT-MYERS/

Capt. Fisher at 239-357-6829


FACEBOOK.COM/COASTALANGLERMAGAZINEFTMYERS/ | DECEMBER 2019 | FORT MYERS 9


Landing Fish

By Dan Carns

W

in a Kayak

hen it comes to landing fish in a kayak everyone has their preferred method, some use a net, some do not. There is no right or wrong here, it’s really a personal preference. As an instructor I’ve come to recognize that most folks do not have a net, so I teach fish handling 101 in a kayak. Unless you’re catching little fish,

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never use the rod tip to bring a fish into your craft, you know that move when you yank a fish overhead and its jumping around in the air, the rod tip is swinging back and forth, you hoping it lands in the cockpit like a gymnast sticking a landing. This move has broken more rod tips than car doors, so it’s best to bring the fish broadside to your kayak. I know you’re thinking now that you’ve hooked your personal best redfish you want to get it in as fast as possible, but truthfully, you want to play this fish, enjoy the fight, make her a little tired before attempting to boat her. Use your rod tip to bring her along the rail of your craft, preferably facing the same direction as you and slip your hand underneath the belly, this move also ensures your hand is wet (good for the fish) then simply lift and roll the fish up into your cockpit. Now that she’s in, always take a moment to open your bail and

stick the rod in a holder so it’s out of the way. If you’re going to take a picture leave the hook in just in case it launches back out or use a fish grip. Make no mistake, landing nets are the most efficient and secure way possible. Like anything else there are drawbacks to using a net; do you have a decent place to store it and can you get to it readily w h e n the time comes. By far the biggest problem arrives when you’re casting and you hook it, so it needs to be out of the way for the back cast especially with treble hooks. Make sure to purchase a coated net, as the hooks won’t penetrate the nylon mesh while your fish is writhing around once in the net. Also make sure the net spacing is wide because treble hooks will get tangled in multiple holes and be hard to extract. Design factors to consider when buying a net: some are folding or collapsible, while another style is telescoping. Just keep in mind that we’re kayak fishing and the fish is going to be really close to you once it comes along side, so the handle doesn’t need to be too long. I prefer an oval shape with a deep pocket, as some of our inshore fish can be big! It’s A Wild World-Get Out There! Fishman Dan

Dan Carns at 239-283-1125 10 FORT MYERS | DECEMBER 2019 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM/FORT-MYERS/


Full

T

By Capt. Philip Watson quickly. Make sure to get the

Coolers

he winter season is setting in and the shallow reefs are alive! I favor ledges in the 45’-70’ range with an area of hard bottom around them. Gags and hogfish are the fish of the month for me. With fish in close, short runs usually offer full coolers of mangrove snapper, Key West grunts, red and gag grouper, hogfish and porgys. For this month, the featured trip was with Isaac and Elliot Ullmann. We set out on a Hogfish Hunt and ended up with a couple of nice ones! We

headed offshore out of Anna Maria Island and started fishing in 50’ of water. The fishing started slow, but we got them going. Everybody caught at least one hogfish with a couple other snapper and food fish mixed in. To hook and line hogfish I like to scale down to 30lb fluorocarbon leader, while using a knocker rig or Captain Chappy’s Hogballs. He makes a variety of colors and weights for you to choose from. Make sure you stock up on shrimp because all you need to do is bait them with small pieces. I typically make sure that I have at least 10 dozen shrimp when leaving the dock on my six-hour trips. It feels weird to use so little bait while hogfishing, but in this case you must remember that elephants eat peanuts. Another key piece of advice is to not give up on a spot too

bite going before

y o u move on; most of my hogfish are all caught within a few minutes of each other. Also, while on the Hogfish grounds you will have a good opportunity to do some grouper digging. I find that while fishing the shallow stuff, the gags will kind of hang back and watch the show for a while. Once your chum slick is

going drop down a pinfish. I prefer to freeline them back, so beef up your fluorocarbon to 60 to 80lb. Make sure to turn those fish, nothing will shut down a bite quicker than an angry gag grunting in his ledge after he breaks you off!

Capt. Philip Watson @ 941-226-1100

FACEBOOK.COM/COASTALANGLERMAGAZINEFTMYERS/ | DECEMBER 2019 | FORT MYERS 11


Where to Start

By Joe Sheaffer

M

any of us have a couple of days a week to fish, if we are lucky. Some of us will check our local tackle shops, online fishing sites, check with fishing buddies for fishing reports, or we will go to the same areas where we have had success before. While this information may be helpful, my experience has been, especially fishing inshore tidal waters, conditions can change day by day and even tide by

don’t meet certain criteria. Simply zero in on maps of areas that you plan to fish or have fished in the past and identify possible fish holding structure. The areas that have multiple types of structure increase your odds that fish will be close by. Ask yourself what is structure, what do fish need or want to meet their survival needs. Most inshore species like grass, depth changes, current breaks ( docks, bars,

tide. We are very fortunate to live in a time with so much technology and information at our fingertips. There are all types of free satellite maps that we can access (Google maps, Bing maps, just to name a couple). Spending a few minutes using these tools can help us find very probable fish-holding areas; at the very least, giving us more areas to explore. Add current, seasonal weather patterns, water temperatures, wind, and tidal conditions and we not only can find potentially productive areas, but also eliminate areas that

mangroves, points, oyster bars, and many others), potholes, sea walls, rip rap just to name a few. It might take you awhile to figure how to identify these different types of structures on these satellite maps, but my experience has been if it looks different from everything else it is a form of structure. An area that has grass, docks, and some depth changes close by, will have an advantage over an area that just has grass. When I’m planning a trip I like to research maps for productive looking areas to fish during my fishing day. Fishing these areas aren’t always productive, but I have definitely found many more productive areas to fish. It is very satisfying to catch fish in areas that I have found. Doing a little research before each trip may give you an awesome fishing experience.

12 FORT MYERS | DECEMBER 2019 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM/FORT-MYERS/


Happy M

erry Christmas to all and Happy New Year. I hope everyone has had a wonderful year in 2019. This is the 4th year for the Freshwater scene and I am not sure I have much more I can say. So this month and this section are going to

be short a sweet. I just want to thank everyone who reads my article each month and has come by the shop to visit. I hope that the information I have given over the years has increased everyone’s ability to catch the fish everyone wants to catch. I have had a lot of fun writing this section and am looking forward to another year in 2020. This year we are going to branch out a little more regarding tackle selection and techniques for catching both Fresh and saltwater species in SWFL. Fishing this month should continue to be strong as long as the weather stays relatively the same. If we experience any duration of extreme cold that will change things greatly, but I am not seeing any signs of this on the long range forecasts. A little cold is good, a lot of cold BAD!!! Canals have been producing lots of small to medium peacock bass, both the Golden Gate and the Miami have been pretty good for the peacocks. Fishing in all

By Capt Roan zumFelde

New Year

the lakes is still getting stronger and will be good if the weather stays roughly the same. Fronts are starting to push through and as everyone should know, just after a front comes through fishing can be tough. They no likey the pressure change. Slowing down your presentation and working much closer to cover will help, but it will still be a tough bite. Fishing usually picks up about the third day after the front has passed. Anyhow, I hope all have a wonderful Holiday and get lots of presents, like new fly rods from Indian Pass Outfitters and Mike’s Bait House. See you next year!!!! Come visit Mike and me at Mike’s Bait House and Indian Pass Outfitters on Danford Street, next to Bayview Park in Naples and we can talk fishing. We carry a full line of tackle including: fly fishing needs and both saltwater and freshwater gear, food, drink, and bait. Thanks and good fishing. Roan z If you want to contact Capt. Roan z for a freshwater fishing trip or ask any fishing questions he can be contacted at the Shop 239-775-2248 or cell number 239-269-4426. Check the Web Site www. indianpassoutfitters.com and www.mikesbaithouse.com

Capt. Roan z at 239-775-2248 FACEBOOK.COM/COASTALANGLERMAGAZINEFTMYERS/ | DECEMBER 2019 | FORT MYERS 13


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Safety

I

By Rick Bennett

On The Water

n March 2019, my two teenage sons were out in our family’s 22’ center console with friends fishing near the mouth of the Manatee River. They had been casting to docks, frequently pulling anchor, moving a short distance to the

next dock, and resetting the anchor, when they decided to run around Emerson Point into Terra Ceia Bay. Instead of stowing the anchor inside the boat, my son Caleb had placed the anchor on the deck at the bow of the boat. While the boat was underway; at a speed of 20 to 30 mph, the anchor fell off the front of the

boat and when the 24 foot of line pulled tight, the forward movement of the boat caused the anchor to “sling shot” up into the boat from behind. The anchor struck my son Caleb in the head, causing the metal rod of the anchor to penetrate his skull 2.78 inches, just above his right eye. By the grace of God, the anchor went past, but did not damage the blood vessels in his brain, actually coming to rest up against a major blood vessel necessary for life. The anchor moved this blood vessel, but miraculously did not cause it to leak. One friend called 911 and Andrew told them that he would take Caleb to the dock at the Bradenton Yacht club. Paramedics took Caleb from there to the Bay Flight helicopter that was able to land across the street. Minutes later Caleb was in emergency brain surgery at Johns Hopkins

All Children’s Hospital in St. Pete. A large section of Caleb’s skull was removed so that his brain could swell without constricting the blood vessels. He was kept in a coma for five days to allow the swelling to reduce. During that time we did not know if he would ever walk or talk again. Thankfully, within minutes of waking, he began talking, remembering, and moving his arms and legs. The doctor asked him if he remembered what happened. He said “The anchor hit me in the head, I thought I was going to die, and I just kept thinking if that was the last snook I was going to catch, I wish it had been bigger”. The heroic efforts of the

16 FORT MYERS | DECEMBER 2019 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM/FORT-MYERS/

first responders and medical professionals at Johns Hopkins and God chose to spare Caleb’s life and give him a miraculous recovery. Ten days after the accident, Caleb walked out of the hospital to continue his recovery at home. He has had one additional surgery to replace the portion of his skull that was removed and is expected to be able to lead a normal productive life. His team has since won the “biggest youth snook” award at the Big Art Snook Tournament with a 40 incher they caught. I hope that everyone who reads this will continue boating, but take time to think about what you are doing and the potential consequences. Stow that anchor in a safe place; what happened to Caleb is a fairly common occurrence. Since the incident, I have heard several similar stories of a forgotten anchor flying violently into the boat.


Great

By Capt. Billy Norris regular system.

Fishing!

F

ishing this month has been great, despite the return of red tide. If you know where to go and how to avoid the cruddy water, you’ll have a great fishing

day! The backwaters have been producing a ton of redfish. Small rat reds from 18-25 inches are abundant, with some bigger stud fish mixed

in. Look for them on the flats, against the mangroves, and even in deeper water on a low tide. Snook have also been active in the backwaters and big jacks are of no shortage. Bait has been tough. Although the red tide isn’t killing the bait off while it’s swimming in the gulf, it drops dead as soon as it hits the livewell. Your best bet is to fill your livewell with clean water where you know there is no red tide, and then cut your pumps and close the intake off. When you catch bait, put them in the clean water and run a recirc pump or aerator on them to keep them alive until you get back to fishable water. Once the water’s clean, turn your livewell back on like a

Nearshore has been on fire. Once you get past the red tide water, fish are waiting! As far as fish for the dinner table, cobia and snapper have been the stars of the show. As we reach wintertime the cobia will thin out, but this past month has been excellent. Mangrove snapper have been readily available on the nearshore wrecks and patch reef. Heavy chumming with a light 30-pound fluorocarbon leader have led to many successful days, limiting out on good mangs. If you’re looking for sport fish, the action has also been fantastic. There are plenty of big barracudas crushing baits and goliath grouper are on nearly

every wreck putting your tackle to the test. We’ve also done very well on permit this past month, with some solid fish coming boat side. Fishing has been on fire and will continue to be great through the winter m o nt h s , so get out there and catch the big one!

Contact Billy Norris at 239-285-7710

FACEBOOK.COM/COASTALANGLERMAGAZINEFTMYERS/ | DECEMBER 2019 | FORT MYERS 17


Starting Over

By Capt. Tim Ramsey

T

here are two things wrong with fishing by yourself. The first is, you miss the camaraderie of a fishing partner, the laughing, joking, chit-chat, and witness to your catch. The second is, you can never really tell how good you’re doing. I retired from the US Army recently and found myself, after the death of my father, changing directions in life from returning to the Middle East with a defense contractor to staying in Naples to make sure my mother was okay. Life didn’t just take a turn.

I also discovered my “blurting” problem, like when I see an oh-so-trendy man in Florida wearing shorts and a scarf, I can’t help but blurt “manscarf,” out loud. Jean shorts get “Jorts!” Don’t even get me started on people with the collars up on their shirts. Yes, I’ve become incorrigible. And I digress. As I was saying, two things wrong with fishing by yourself. While fishing alone can be therapeutic sometimes, usually it’s a bit lonesome. My wife works in Panama so

It made a 360, went through the mud, fell over a few cliffs, got doused in donuts, depression and doubt, ruined by a hurricane, and set on a course that would see me selling boats, fishing alone, spending more time at the gun range than I did in a full military career, living in my mother’s house (thanks to Irma), and writing. It was a strange transition, but interesting in small, but interesting (at least to me) ways. Sometimes frustrating ways. For example, I find myself practicing my sarcasm skills on social media. I seem to have a knack for it.

I’m alone a lot, and it led to problem number two: I can’t tell how well I’m doing. Sure, if it’s tarpon season I can go and catch tarpon. But, doing it alone is difficult and I’m not into being a tarpon torturer anyway. I know, I catch and release everything else, but I don’t fight those fish for an hour. Yes, I’m catching fish. Sometimes, I’m catching bunches of fish, but I can’t tell if it’s good or not? Am I catching all the small ones and everyone else is getting the biggies? Am I concentrating on one species when everyone else is tearing-up something else?

18 FORT MYERS | DECEMBER 2019 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM/FORT-MYERS/


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Am I better at this than most people but just don’t know it? And the paradoxes continue: I can catch tarpon, but while catching one I might be able to catch ten snook. While waiting for tarpon I could be running those trap lines catching tripletail. Baby reds are all over, but I know where the big ones hang out so, do I catch a bunch of little ones or a couple big ones if I’m not keeping any of them anyway? I could enter some tournaments to check my skill level but I’m by myself and it’s a pain to do that alone, plus it’s sort of embarrassing. Yes, this taking care of Mom thing is not without its embarrassing, humiliating, soul-crushing moments, like when you witness something exciting on the boat, blurt out “hey, did you see that,” and turn to realize no one is there. This is actually where we start. A retired army guy, back in the area, rediscovering fishing; figuring out the migratory patterns of snook and redfish, running my Skeeter in the backcountry, scowling at the guys that use the bait cleaning table and the jet ski tours, keeping five rods ready with bucktail, rubber

jig, top-water lure, suspending lure, and floating/diving lure. I don’t say “plug” and stopped keeping a rod with a circle hook and one with a rattle float and hook. I found my cast net skills are still there, but live baiting isn’t my thing. Bottom fishing also isn’t on the menu. Anyone asks what I’m fishing for, it’s always “Snook, what else?” I reaffirmed my belief in Montes bucktails and joke about buying so many I paid for his car. October to May, I’m the guy that’s in your way near the stone crab floats. I’m starting to take small videos of fishing in the back country or out in front and I will show others what I’m doing and where…if they ask. I don’t divulge spots frequently used by local guides, mostly because that sucks, I’m not that guy, but lately, it’s because I see them just trying to keep the action going and I’m looking for something else. Besides, since the bad red tide of last year, we have a lot of fishermen and guides from outside the area, and I don’t want to rat (censored) the locals. But stay tuned. I’m out there somewhere. I’ll let you know what happens.

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was secured in their vault). If you don’t want a loan, they will also buy it outright from you. The best way to decide what to bring in is to visit with MidTown Pawn & Jewelry and look around! It’s just like going shopping in a boutique. Robert and Israel are the best hosts and their top priority is making sure all customers are treated fairly. They are gracious, understanding, and knowledgeable. MidTown Pawn & Jewelry will loan on almost anything of value! Visit MidTown Pawn & Jewelry where their motto is: WE DO MORE FOR YOU! Visit our location at 2291 Cleveland Ave, Fort Myers, FL.

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Length,

By Capt. Neil Eisner

Power, Action

T

here are three things to look at when buying that new fishing rod, length, power, and action. I find the best allaround length when fishing mangroves is a seven-foot rod. Some rods I call specialty rods, like a seven-foot six inch I use for fishing the flats where I want to cover a lot of water with a top water plug. A six-foot six inch is nice for fishing in tight quarters when you want to flip a jig under an overhang. But for all around fishing, chose that seven-foot rod. Let’s now talk about actions. There are four actions and we won’t bother with slow action rods. Extra fast, fast, and medium. Extra fast action will bend from the tip down about four inches and then transfers the weight down to the back bone of the rod. Fast action will bend more and medium even

more, about a third of the way down. The slower the action, the harder it is to set the hook. The action will influence how sensitive the tip is and how far it will cast.

Powers are the back bone of the rod. Heavy, med-heavy, medium, med-light, and light. The bigger the fish the heavier the power you want. I use the

med-heavy rods with a fast action. Want to learn more, call or email me.

239-860-4242

FACEBOOK.COM/COASTALANGLERMAGAZINEFTMYERS/ | DECEMBER 2019 | FORT MYERS 23


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The Best Angler Photos From Southwest Florida!

Fish Face Charters & Paige Conner with a nice pompano!

Living Waters Charters guests with a nice grouper. A nice linesider caught on the Reel Tight!

Reel Salty Endeavours on light tackle.

Mike Leichty w/ a 40â&#x20AC;? Kingfish, trolling light tackle, 4 miles off Venice.

Bobby caught some nice yellowtail on the Just Kickin Back.

Fun times for this Pales Horse Fishing Charters guest!

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Matlacha Fishing Charters is putting guests on the fish!

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Decked for the holiday season during Palm Beach’s By John out Lidington 2018 boat parade. Photo by Andrea Whitaker.

I

t’s the holiday season, a time of giving and good cheer, and divers are as ready as any to participate. One source of good cheer is supporting good causes. Humanitarian causes are typically linked to this season, but we can feel good about aiding organizations focused on our diving environment, too. A number of worthy organizations stand ready to put your aid to good use. This year, on the humanitarian front, there’s a special cause for divers to consider. Hurricane Dorian did a number on Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands. The devastation has dropped out of the news cycle, but their needs will be great well into the future. The Bahamian government maintains a webpage listing relief organizations at www.bahamas.com/relief. While donations are a major component of the relief effort, restoring jobs is also essential. If you want to boost your spirits along with the local economy, try a winter dive vacation to Grand Bahama. Its major dive operations are back up, and flights to Fort Lauderdale and other international airports should have resumed. Restoration of Abaco’s services will lag Grand Bahama’s, but the islands should offer

great adventures for the more self-reliant. Of the many marine-focused organizations, here are several that Florida divers might consider: Probably the best-known diver-oriented nonprofit is Reef Environmental Education Network, based in Key Largo. Check out R.E.E.F.’s website (www.reef.org) but plan on a lengthy visit. Their “quizlets” will hook you if you’re into fish-ID. Coral propagation is an important tool in restoring disease-damaged reefs. The Coral Restoration Foundation (www.coralrestoration.org) has focused primarily on growing elkhorn and staghorn corals to replace stands wiped out in the 1980s. Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium (mote.org/research/program/coral-reef-restoration) is working with brain and boulder corals, with the goal of repairing reefs hit by the new disease outbreaks from Martin County down into the Florida Keys. Are sea turtles your thing? Two long-established local organizations are the Loggerhead Marinelife Center (marinelife.org) and the National Save The Sea Turtle Foundation (savetheseaturtle.org), which now hosts the Florida Hawksbill Project (www.floridahawksbills.com). In addition to collecting nesting and tracking data, Loggerhead operates a turtle hospital. NSSTF funds turtle research projects, including several at Florida Atlantic University. There are more ways to offer support than giving organizations cash. Check off your gift list while supporting your favorite cause. Check out their online stores. Apparel, books, toys—they’re all there. Save the Sea Turtle even offers subscriptions to “Florida Environmental Outreach” for a gift that gives all year. You can spread the holiday cheer close to home, too. Pura Vida Divers is participating again in the Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade and supporting the Toys for Tots donation drive. Every new, unwrapped toy you donate at the shop earns you 20 percent off in-store items and a raffle ticket for Pura Vida’s Holiday Party on Dec. 13. This year, pick a cause and support it. Your holidays will be even happier!

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By Will Schmidt

G

rowing up, I used corks a lot, usually to know when a bream had taken my little dough ball when I was fishing in my backyard. Later, I used them to keep track of lively white bait or aid in casting shrimp farther. Now days, I use them more as a dinner bell than anything else. I am also using them in much deeper water than you would ever expect, but here you need a little patience.

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If you’ve fished the flats in saltwater, you have probably used a popping cork and a shrimp at some point. Giving your rod a sharp tug to make the cork pop always seemed to liven up the action. Well, the same can be done in deep water to help hungry reds find your meal offering. The really cool thing about this is it works with conventional tackle as well as fly setups. The concept is pretty simple, a popping cork with about 20 inches of mono out of the bottom tied to large swimbait or fly. We use them around large schools of bait that are being worked over by breeding-sized reds. “Pop it hard and wait at least 10 seconds. You know it’s deep here and it will take at least that long for the fish to find it,” said Capt. Gary Dubiel. He should know since he invented the Pop N Fly technique. The key is to make a huge pop with a lot of noise and then pause. The deeper the water, the longer you wait. The fish are in constant movement around enormous schools of bait. When they hear what seems to be another fish feeding, they come running to get their share. But it might take a minute. You want to make sure your bait gets straight down below the cork, as well as giving the fish plenty of time to locate it before popping again. On average, wait 8 to 10 seconds in 14 feet of water, longer if the water is deeper. It is also nice that you don’t need live bait for this technique because it saves time at first light, making it easy to run and gun on large schools of bait. For tackle, a medium weight spinning rod with plenty of 20- or 30-pound braid will do the trick. On the fly, you will want a 10 weight to cast the rig and plenty of backing. Below the cork, your fly or swimbait will slowly sink down looking like a stunned or wounded baitfish that seemingly escaped a vicious attack… aka an easy meal. Pop and be patient, the strikes are basically unremarkable; the cork just disappears. But the fight of these 40-plus-pound beasts on light tackle or a fly rod is much more noteworthy. Will Schmidt is a seasoned tournament angler who has been writing about fishing for two decades. Reach Capt. Dubiel at (252) 249-1520.

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VISIT THE

STUART BOAT SHOW JANUARY 10-12

Photo by Cayne Grace

A wide variety of boat brands are represented at the show including the latest models of motor yachts, cruisers, center consoles, speed boats, sport fishing boats and pontoons ranging in size from 12 feet to 90-plus feet in length. Additional exhibitors include the latest in personal watercraft, safety equipment, marine electronics, inboard and outboard engines, financing and insurance companies, nautical clothing and jewelry, fishing gear, accessories and financing and insurance companies. The schedule is full all three days with seminars presented by female angler Darcizzle, captains Chris and Alyse Caldwell, Capt. Paul Sperco, Capt. Planet and Mark Palazzo. It will be lots of fun for the whole family with an expanded food court area with delicious food, and a bar and large screen TVs to round out the show.

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Friday, Jan. 10, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 12, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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54-290 NW Dixie Hwy., Stuart, FL - Free shuttle service available from Whitham Field and Wright Blvd./Dixie Hwy. parking lots.

ENTRY:

$14 General Admission, $12 Veterans and $7 Children 12 and under. Tickets available at www.stuartboatshow.com/tickets. Sorry, no pets.

F

ind your dream boat at the largest boat show on the Treasure Coast Jan. 10-12 in Stuart, Fla. In its 46th year, the Stuart Boat For more information on the Stuart Boat Show, visit http://www. Show will feature more than 175 local, national and interna- stuartboatshow.com. Follow the Stuart Boat Show on Facebook, tional exhibitors displaying hundreds of boats in water and on land. YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.

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FWC has approved several draft rule changes for spotted seatrout. Based on public comment, the Commission also directed staff to continue considering public input and update the proposal as needed prior to bringing this back at a future meeting for final approval.

Approved draft changes include:

• Splitting the Northwest spotted seatrout management zone into two separate zones including the Western Panhandle (Escambia County through most of Gulf County, not including Indian Pass/Indian Lagoon) and the Big Bend (Franklin County, plus Indian Lagoon, through Fred Howard Park Causeway in Pinellas County). • Moving the boundary between the southern management zones to create the newly-renamed South Florida zone (Fred Howard Park Causeway in Pinellas County near the Pasco County line through Broward County) and Central East zone (Palm Beach through Volusia counties). • Reducing bag limits - Western Panhandle: five to three fish - Big Bend: five to four fish - South Florida: four to three fish - Central East: four to two fish - Northeast: six to five fish • Modifying the recreational slot size limit from 15-to-20 inches to 15-to-19 inches total length.

• Allowing one seatrout over 19 inches per vessel (currently, per harvester). • Changing the current daily commercial limits to 50 per harvester and 100 per vessel. • Prohibiting captain and crew from keeping a bag limit on a for-hire trip. • Re-establishing the February recreational closure in the Western Panhandle zone and the November-December recreational closure in the Central East zone. Provide online comments about these draft changes at MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments.

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By Paul Tyre

F

rog fishing is one of the most exciting ways to catch the largemouth bass that ambush feed in grass-choked reservoirs of the South. Lake Seminole, on the Florida/Georgia border, is one of the best frog-fishing lakes in the country. If you ever get the chance to visit Seminole, do it. In the meantime, these tips and techniques may help on your local grass mats. My favorite hollow-body frogs are the Spro Bronzeye series. Spro Bronzeye frogs are built

around a Gamakatsu EWG double hook that is very strong and sticky sharp, which is needed for getting big bass out of heavy cover. They come three styles: Bronzeye Frog, Bronzeye POP and Bronzeye Shad. Each has a unique action that works great under different circumstances. The Bronzeye Frog 65 has a pointed nose that can be worked over and through the heaviest cover or in open water. It’s the frog I choose for covering water to find concentrations of bass under grass mats. As the grass starts to die under mats, it creates open pockets and perfect frogging conditions. When fishing a Bronzeye Frog 65, heavy braided line is a must. My choice is Cortland Master Braid for its durability and strength. I also prefer a high speed reel, at least 7:3:1 gear ratio mounted on a 7-foot, 2-inch to 7-foot, 6-inch heavy action rod with a fast tip and a lot of backbone to haul big bass out of cover. Make long casts across a flat and work the frog with a fast hopping action. Expect a blowup! This is a great technique for covering large expanses to find out where fish are holding. When you get a strike, be sure to pause before setting the hook. Also, when a missed strike occurs, reel the bait in as fast as possible and cast back past where the strike occurred. Work the frog slowly with slight twitches to move it side to side but not forward. The bass should key in on the bait and strike again. The Bronzeye Pop 60 has incredible attention-drawing power. Its concave nose allows you to fish slower with a popping of the rod tip. The frog remains in the strike zone longer and generates explosive strikes. Fish this frog around all types of cover from laydowns to docks, to grass lines and holes in grass beds. I prefer a 7-foot to 7-foot, 3-inch heavy action rod with a fast tip and a high-speed reel with 50- to 65-pound braided line, depending on the cover I’m fishing. The Bronzeye Spit Shad 65 has a spitting and gliding action. It can be fished anywhere you would want to throw a hard bait but can’t due to hangups. I fish lily pad fields with this bait. It comes through pads very well and allows faster fishing to cover more water. Contact Paul Tyre, of Lake Seminole Fishing Adventures, at (850) 2647534, e-mail paultyrefishing@yahoo.com and follow him on Instagram @lakeseminilefishingadventures and Facebook @paultyrefishing.

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ve he R ! e Old Florida Waterfront Charm Re-Discovered N t s e O R R fO eas The Perfect Vacation Getaway for Fishing, Boating and Outdoor Enthusiasts NOWteR s N Wi Accommodations are nestled on 6 lush tropical acres of pristine waterfront directly on the Indian River Lagoon. As you make your way down the one lane road you will truly be stepping back in time. Your hosts Kim and Robert Pruitt have re-captured the very best of Old Florida charm with modern conveniences and services to make your stay truly memorable and unforgettable.

• Cable TV, Hi-Speed Internet • Boat Trailer Parking on site w/ Water and Power • 2 miles to the Ft. Pierce Inlet • 12 miles to the Gulf Stream • Water Taxi Service Available

• Fully Furnished 3 Room Cottages w/ Fully Equipped Kitchens • 250 Foot Dock w/ Covered Guest Area • Laundry, BBQ Grilles • FREE Ice / FREE Guest Dockage • FREE use of our Kayaks

All ReseRvAtions of 28 DAys oR longeR Receive A 50% Discount on AccommoDAtions Offer valid through April 2020. Rates subject to change. Limited availability.

3011 N. Indian River Dr., Ft. Pierce, FL 34946 www.indianriverlagoonwaterfrontcottages.com Reservations and Information: (772) 349-2206 Nightly • Weekly • Monthly • Seasonal Rates Available It turns out that being a Florida resident meant two things for Viens, racing and boating. As for racing, Viens started locally at the New Smyrna Speedway and fell in love with the sport. After starting racedaysponsor.com and climbing the ranks, he found himself at the Daytona International Speedway racing before all of his friends and family. “My first time there was surreal,” Viens remembered, “definitely my favorite moment on the track.” One day, after fighting again with a rusted adjustable wrench trying to get the drainplug from his boat, Viens knew there had to be a better way. On one of the Nascar driver’s long walks, the idea for the Boat Gadget was born. Viens wanted an all-in-one boat tool that could truly be useful and not something that just sat in the garage. What came to fruition was one of the most useful tools on the market today. The Boat Gadget has more than 10 uses, including: 1) Molded notches for deck plates 2) Wine or canvas snap opener 3) Fishing line cutter 4) 30mm & 35mm gas cap key 5) T-bar drain plug crank 6) Bottle opener 7) Flat top drain plug tool 8) Flip top gas cap 9) Safety whistle 10) Square boat drain plug

By CAM Staff

N

ascar driver turned inventor Tim Viens is bringing a revolutionary new boat tool to the industry this December, and Coastal Angler sat down to see just how he made the switch from the track to the docks.

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You can find this innovative new product for purchase at www. boatgadget.com, and make sure you follow them on Facebook and Instagram @boatgadget.

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® 14101 Southcross Drive W., Ste 155, Dept. JCW208-01, Burnsville, Minnesota 55337 www.stauer.com † Special price only for customers using the offer code versus the price on Stauer.com without your offer code.

Profile for Coastal Angler Magazine

Coastal Angler Magazine | December 2019 |Fort Myers/Cape Coral/Charlotte Harbor Edition  

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

Coastal Angler Magazine | December 2019 |Fort Myers/Cape Coral/Charlotte Harbor Edition  

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