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FORT MYERS/CAPE CORAL/CHARLOTTE HARBOR EDITION

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Fall's Topwater Bonanza No-Pressure Grouper

Local

Fishing Reports Catch Photos News & Events PHOTO COURTESY OF CRYSTAL LAFOSSE VOLUME 23 • ISSUE 271

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EDITOR IN CHIEF : Ben Martin • camads@coastalanglermagazine.com VICE PRESIDENT : Tracy Patterson • tracy@coastalanglermagazine.com ART DIRECTOR : Rebecca Snowden • graphics@coastalanglermagazine.com EDITORIAL COORDINATOR : Nick Carter • editorial@coastalanglermagazine.com WEBMASTER : Dmitriy Pislyagin • webmaster@coastalanglermagazine.com ADVERTISING INQUIRIES: Corporate Headquarters info@coastalanglermagazine.com • 888-800-9794

FLORIDA

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 • (321) 436-5895 • donm@coastalanglermagazine.com FLORIDA KEYS : Cliff Lumpkin • (305) 849-9093 • cliff@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 Brasher • (352) 598-4219 • maryf@coastalanglermagazine.com NAPLES : Nadeen Welch • (239) 595-8265 • nwelch@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 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

MARINE-GRADE BOAT COVERS

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SOUTHEAST

ATLANTA/SW GEORGIA : Bob & Brenda Rice • (706) 614-8231 • bobr@theanglermagazine.com CHARLESTON : Jane A. Redden • (205) 725-9616 • jane@coastalanglermagazine.com Sam Buckareff • (843) 607-8629 • sam@coastalanglermagazine.com CHARLOTTE/PIEDMONT : Mark & Haley Alberghini • (704) 651-1934 • mark@theanglermagazine.com MYRTLE BEACH : Mike Masiero • (732) 674-3019 • mmasiero@coastalanglermagazine.com TIDEWATER/OUTER BANKS : John Tiger • (757) 707-9654 • john.tiger@coastalanglermagazine.com Laura Seitz • (757) 707-9655 • laura@coastalanglermagazine.com UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA : Gregg Thompson • (864) 542-3112 • gregg@theanglermagazine.com WESTERN NC : Debra & Joe Woody • (828) 775-9663 • woody@theanglermagazine.com WILMINGTON/MOREHEAD : Kenny Ritter • (910) 550-9094 • kenny@coastalanglermagazine.com

Chairs & Seats

NORTHEAST BOSTON : George Regan • (617) 488-2842 • boston@coastalanglermagazine.com LONG ISLAND : Lisa & Michael Danforth • (203) 321-7635 • lisad@coastalanglermagazine.com CONNECTICUT / RHODE ISLAND : Lisa & Michael Danforth • (203) 321-7635 lisad@coastalanglermagazine.com

GULF COAST

GALVESTON/MATAGORDA/UPPER COAST : Chanci & David Mowry • (713) 446-7395 • chancim@coastalanglermagazine.com • davidm@coastalanglermagazine.com MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST : Adam Nelson • (228) 627-5903 • anelson@coastalanglermagazine.com Toby Nelson • (228) 623-1761 • tnelson@coastalanglermagazine.com NEW ORLEANS : Dr. Dave Dunaway • (225) 400-8156 • nola@coastalanglermagazine.com

GREAT LAKES

UPSTATE NEW YORK : Frank Geremski • (518) 898-6484 • frankie@theanglermagazine.com WEST MICHIGAN : Phil Belsito • (616) 957-1714 • phil@theanglermagazine.com

INTERNATIONAL BAHAMAS : Misti & Gary Guertin • (772) 285-6850 • treasurecoast@coastalanglermagazine.com flahama@coastalanglermagazine.com PUERTO RICO/VIRGIN ISLANDS : Ace Bassue • (407) 285-9453 • ace@coastalanglermagazine.com COSTA RICA : Mike Erickson • (561) 262-2242 • mike@coastalanglermagazine.com © 2017. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Disclaimer: Coastal Angler Magazine / The Angler Magazine will not be held liable for injuries incurred while partaking in activities described herein, or for claims made against products or services provided by advertisers.

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no pressure

Gulf Grouper By CAM Staff

C

rystal LaFosse fishes a lot. She’s traveled to destination fisheries around the world. Everywhere she’s been has its own allure, but she said when it comes to catching fish, nowhere compares to Louisiana’s Gulf Coast. What would you expect to hear from a Louisiana girl? Cajun Tackle in Lake Charles, La. is the family business, which Crystal operates with her brother and her parents. She is the founder and director of the Salty Catch Fishing Rodeo in Lake Charles and director of the Tuna & Swordfish Challenge at Hurricane Hole in Grand Isle, La. Even with so much fishing in her work life, she relishes the opportunity to launch out of Lake Charles with family, friends and her 6-year-old son Cardyn. Despite the excellent inshore opportunities nearby in the maze of waterways and Calcasieu Lake, Crystal’s favorite destination is well over 100 miles out in the Gulf in grouper water. West Louisiana doesn’t enjoy the same proximity to deep water as destinations to the east. With runs inside 50 miles out of Venice or Grand Isle, anglers flock to the deep-water rigs and rock bottom where the edge of the Continental Shelf provides dramatic depth changes. Out of Lake Charles, it’s a 110- to 130-mile run to reach the 200-foot depths and prime grouper territory. However, those willing to make longer runs will find bottom that hasn’t already been picked clean by other anglers. “Most people don’t come here to target grouper because the run offshore is so far,” Crystal said, “but that also makes it good because the area is not over-fished.” Yellowedge, gag, and strawberry grouper are some of Crystal’s personal favorites, but she said it’s always fun when the rod tip bends over and you really don’t know what you’re bringing up. Regardless of the species, grouper are some of the best eating fish in the sea, and loading the box with delicious fish is half the fun. “There’s nothing better than cranking in a huge Warsaw grouper. That’s just the best!” she said. The challenge of strapping on a harness and battling a big Warsaw is enough to test anyone’s strength and endurance. Reeling up a 200-plus-pounder is on Crystal’s to-do list. “Typically the big grouper hang on the up-current side of the rigs in 200 to 250 feet of water,” Crystal said. “Bottom fishing, you’re looking for rock or reef formations, drop offs and drastic water depth changes. Usually anything over 200 feet is good grouper territory.” For Crystal, “anything over 200 feet” is sometimes 500 feet or deeper, when you never know what’s going to come up on the end of the line. Her rigs account for the dark waters at these depths with lights that mimic the bioluminescence of squid and attract grouper. “There are several ways to deep drop, and grouper rigs can be made with one to five hooks, ” she said. “Typically when you’re targeting a big warsaw, it’s with an 18/0 or 20/0 circle hook rig with glowing lights, a 3- to 5-pound weight and live bait around the oil rigs. I make my own three-hook rigs using 8/0 or 10/0 circle hooks, glow in the dark squid, lights, and topped with dead squid bait… You can use the 3-5 hook rigs around structure or just bottom fishing on rock piles. “The glow squid are from Offshore Angler, Fathom Offshore, and many other brands. The LED deep-drop lights range in colors of blue,

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red, green or disco, and there are many different brands from Offshore Angler or Lindgren-Pitman, which we have a selection of at Cajun Tackle,” she continued. “These lights and glow squid attract the grouper in the deep dark water.  The squid are put on just above the hook, so when you add your bait it’s glowing right above it.  The light is added about a foot above the rig and attached with a snap swivel or rubber band.” As much as anything, heading offshore is an opportunity to explore. Crystal said she and her friends all have the same standard coordinates marked on their electronics, but everyone has their favorites, and she’s had a few trips when they ran up on new bottom that turned out to be great. “We have spent time seeking out new numbers to mark, and that just keeps it interesting,” she said. “Keeping the depthfinder on while running from spot to spot, paying attention to any changes in depth and bottom, you can really find some good spots. The ocean is such a wonderful place, and there are so many new things to explore. I think that’s what keeps me coming back. Every trip is different and special in its own way.” When she’s not fishing, Crystal LaFosse can be found working the shop at Cajun Tackle in Lake Charles, La. After a successful second-annual Salty Catch Fishing Rodeo in July, the Tuna & Swordfish Challenge is coming up Sept. 28-Oct. 1 at Hurricane Hole Resort and Marina in Grand Isle. Follow Crystal’s adventures on Instagram @crystallafosse.  

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Mountain Lakes Are Calling

By Nick Carter eering into clear-green water from the casting deck, frantic movement is the first thing to catch your eye. As a morning fog evaporates, rolling mountains rise up all around and the sun breaks through to reveal small groups of blueback herring. They dart back and forth, skittering near the surface to evade or confuse predators below. Then it happens. It starts with a few scattered topwater hits and intensifies. By the time you look up from impaling the nose of a blueback from the bait tank, there is an acre of water boiling. Big hybrid bass herd herring around the cove. The trolling motor whirrs to keep you in casting range. For the next few hours the action came in flurries, with multiple anglers battling through double and triple hook-ups whenever baits encountered a school of hungry hybrids. Some fish came on multiple downlines arrayed in rod holders. The most exciting takes

P

were on the pitch rods, lightweight rigs kept ready for surfacing fish. Either way, the key to drawing strikes was a lively bait, and this is the style of fishing you’ll experience with Big Ol’ Fish Guiding Service. They fish the gorgeous mountain lakes on both sides of the Georgia, North Carolina border. This trip was on Lake Chatuge, a 7,200-acre impoundment of the Hiawassee River that stretches 13 miles from Hayesville, N.C. south to Hiawassee, Ga. The lake is known for big spotted and hybrid bass. If you’ve never battled a hybrid approaching double digits on light tackle, it makes reeling in a 10-pound largemouth seem comparable to fighting a wet shoe. The same could be said for most of the species guides Shane Goebel and Darren Hughes pursue. Big Ol’ Fish concentrates on three lakes in the region and plans trips based on where the current bite is best. Southwest of Chatuge, Lake Nottely is a 4,200-acre impoundment of the Nottely River. Its primary draw is trophy striped bass. Stripers from 20 to 40 pounds show up regularly on this reservoir outside Blairsville, Ga. The elusive 50-plus-pounder is what everyone seeks, and very lucky anglers just might find it trolling bluebacks, big gizzard shad or trout. Those who prefer counting fish to weighing them will find fast action on Lake Hiwassee near Murphy, N.C. It is a 6,000-acre reservoir in the same drainage, which for some reason is spelled differently in North Carolina. Lake Hiwassee features breathtaking cliff formations and spectacular fishing for smallmouths that reach 6 pounds and larger, as well as big walleye and striper. Over a couple action-packed trips with Darren and Shane on their The Angler Magazine-wrapped Carolina Skiff, one couldn’t help ask why they don’t fish artificials when the bite gets so hot. Their answer, almost in unison, was: “Because we like catching lots of fish.” That sentiment is hard to argue with, but it’s worth noting that Darren owns Hughes General Store in Blairsville, the area’s primary purveyor of live baits. Rumor has it they make a mean biscuit. Big Ol’ Fish Guiding Service can be found online at bigolfish.com. Call them at 828-361-2021.

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Micron : Generations of Innovation ®

The innovation continues… We are excited to introduce Micron WA as the newest addition to the Micron Technology family. Micron WA is a multi-seasonal, polishing, water-based antifouling with the unique Water Activated matrix. This novel paint technology delivers a crisp color, and premium long lasting protection for all waters! The Micron Technology family offers a range of premium products that meets your needs while delivering true and proven performance. For generations Micron Technology has been protecting boats coast to coast by improving fuel efficiencies while reducing paint build up through controlled polishing. Whatever the year, you know you’ll always have the latest and best in Micron Technology. Visit our website for more information – yachtpaint.com

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FOUL WEATHE ExOfficio Camino Convertible Pant-Short

Huk Next Level Kryptek All Weather Bib

Perfect storm, meet the perfect bib. Huk’s Next Level Bib is built to keep Mother Nature at bay. They start with a lightweight stretch 3-layer, waterproof 10,000mm/Breathable 5000g shell. It’s 100 percent waterproof and windproof, which keeps all the elements out while maintaining best-in-class breathability. All the seams are taped and zippers welded to keep them from leaking. Non-binding and high-stretch, the bib is exceptionally comfortable and gives the wearer a full range of motion. Zip side entry allows for easy on and off, and there’s a zip fly for… well, you know. Gear can be kept handy in a large waterproof tape-welded chest pocket or dual front-thigh bellowed cargo pockets. There’s an internal mesh chest pouch pocket for items you keep close to your heart. Articulated knees are reinforced for durability. Velcro side tabs attached to a rear belt system and boot hem zippers allow the wearer to completely customize the fit. Elastic Huk-branded shoulder straps also optimize comfort. With Huk’s Next Level Bib, there is no such thing as bad weather.

www.hukgear.com Dakine Caliber Jacket The Caliber Jacket is Dakine’s go anywhere, do anything rain jacket. The company’s most technical men’s everyday jacket, the Caliber is sure to become an everyday, lightweight layer for guys who enjoy any type of outdoor adventure. Don’t let the good-looking modern tailored fit fool you. This is a hard-core weatherproof jacket with a waterproof shell that features fully seam-sealed, breathable construction with waterproof zippers and a helmetcompatible cinch hood to keep moisture out. Mechanical stretch 2.5 Layer construction provides a 20K/20K rating, which means this outer layer provides a wide range of motion with superb waterproof breathability. Underarm pit zips provide added ventilation for temperature regulation. Anglers will appreciate bomb-proof zippers that will stand up to the roughest marine environments and the clean exterior, which limits linegrabbing and tangling potential. Notable fit features include an extended back hem, articulated sleeves and adjustable cuffs. An invisible zippered media chest pocket keeps your electronic gadgetry safe, dry and secure. Dakine is based in the windy and wet Pacific Northwest, and the Caliber jacket is designed to keep wearers comfortable and dry in just those conditions.

ExOfficio prides itself on high-performance apparel for travel and adventure, and their technical clothing might as well be custommade for anglers. Their Sol Cool line is designed for the sun, and the Camino Convertible Pant-Short is perfect to keep you comfortable whether you’re wetwading a mountain stream, casting from the deck of a bass boat or poling the Bermudian flats. The benefits of zip-off legs are obvious for anyone who has spent any time on the water, and UPF 50 sun protection is essential for long days in the sun. The jade-infused Nycott fabric with Teflon Shield+ is very durable, stands up to rough treatment and even feels cool to the touch. Silvadur anti-bacterial technology helps eliminate odor, so you’ll smell fresher when you come off the water. The Camino Convertible Pant-Short features two security zip cargo pockets, a cell phone pouch inside the right leg pocket, two security zip back pockets, zippered leg hems, full inseam gusset, contoured tricot-lined waistband and an indestructible button system. All lengths zip off to an 8.5-inch short. And weighing just 10.5 ounces, you might forget you’re wearing pants.

www.exofficio.com Xtratuf Legacy 2.0 Engineered to withstand the world’s toughest conditions, the Legacy 2.0 is a hardcore fishing boot 50 years in the making. The latest addition to XTRATUF’s iconic legacy collection features an advanced new outsole that surpasses the SRC slip resistance rating, a textured heel for easy on/off that won’t get caught in gill nets and a contoured toppling binding so it does not rub harshly against calves. Acid- and chemicalresistant uppers along with shin and bib guards keep fishermen protected while a Polyurethane insole ensures comfort for long days on deck.    All boots within the Legacy collection are 100 percent waterproof with unique performance features. Each boot is made with XTRATUF’s signature triple dipping technique, which creates a seamless barrier that is highly resistant to many organic and inorganic acids, chemicals and contaminants. The latex neoprene is ozone resistant and is softer, lighter and far more pliable than ordinary rubber. Cushioned insoles with arch support help fight fatigue and stress on the legs and back. All XTRATUF Legacy boots come with a non-marking,  slip-resistant Chevron outsole that provides unparalleled traction on any surface in the most extreme conditions.

www.xtratufboots.com

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HER GEAR Sherpa Nilgiri Pant

If they’ll keep you comfortable in the Himalayas, they’ll keep you comfortable anywhere. Sherpa’s Nilgiris are the perfect soft-shell pant for any outdoor activity in cold conditions.

If there’s anyone who knows how to stay warm in bitter cold conditions, it’s waterfowlers, who view frigid temperatures as invitation to go out into the field. Heybo’s Delta Vest is designed to protect you from bitter winds on those cold-weather days. This classic-cut piece features Realtree Max 5 camo, a vertical zippered pocket on the left chest, and two lower zippered pockets. The Delta Vest is built to be worn in the field or as a casual piece. With a full zip front, the Delta Vest features 100 percent poly fleece to keep your core warm while allowing freedom of movement for your arms. Even in damp conditions, this moisture wicking garment will keep you warm. The Delta vest may have been designed for duck hunting, but any outdoorsman will appreciate the warmth and functionality of this versatile vest.

www.heybooutdoors.com

Stretchy and quiet, Nilgiris keep you feeling warm, dry and comfortable even as you work up a sweat. They are made of a three-layer softshell laminate and lined with a light, soft fleece, so they provide breathable, durable, wind and water repellant shelter for your legs. They are also stretchy, which means moving in them feels unrestricted and effortless. Wear them with a base-layer or on their own to suit conditions.

The North Face Men’s Venture 2 Jacket The Venture 2 Jacket is an unlined, packable, weatherproof rain jacket that is perfect for year-round use. Whether you’re in the backcountry of the Florida Keys or the Blue Ridge Mountains, this lightweight, waterproof and windproof jacket will be there to protect you from the elements when you need it.

The Three-layer softshell laminate is highly breathable and wind- and water-proof. A gusseted crotch accommodates a full and natural range of motion. Three zip pockets—two hand and one thigh—keep essentials handy. Long, twoway, ankle zippers allow for venting and easy on and off over boots. An integrated, adjustable belt customizes the fit, and there are no seams on top of the knees to chafe or cause discomfort. These pants are functional enough to keep you happy in the harshest conditions and comfortable enough to wear around the house.

www. sherpaadventuregear. co.uk Under Armour Storm Surge The Storm Surge is exactly the lightweight rain jacket one would expect from Under Armour, a company devoted to designing high-performance apparel. Unbelievably lightweight and packable, the Storm Surge is a jacket that is easy to keep on-hand, whether in a pack or stowed in a box, which means it is the jacket that will be there when those pop-up thunderstorms roll over the water. UA’s Storm technology has created a shell that is 100 percent waterproof, with fully taped seams to keep the wearer dry in wet weather. And this piece of gear does not sacrifice breathability. A 10K/10K rating means the Storm Surge has found a good balance between keeping water out while allowing airflow For those warm, humid days, when some rain jackets just leave you wet with sweat instead of rain, on-demand zip vents under the arms provide additional breathability to keep the wearer cool and dry. On cool mornings, windproof materials and construction block out the breeze with 2.5 layer bonded fabric and a durable, smooth exterior. The Storm Surge has a loose, fuller cut for complete comfort and a full range of motion. Adjustable cuffs and a bungee hem keep moisture from creeping in, while zippered hand pockets keep gear safe.

www.underarmour.com

Heybo Delta Vest-Max 5

The North Face’s DryVent 2.5L technology utilizes a polyurethane coating that is remarkably waterproof, breathable and durable to create a jacket for active pursuits where light weight and packability are essential. An inner layer finished with dry touch print helps raise the fabric from the skin for comfort and to enable quick transfer of vapor to the outside. The Venture 2 also packs up small into its own pocket. In short, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, this jacket is designed to be there to keep you dry and comfortable. A relaxed fit and adjustable hood provide a full range of motion as well as room for extra layers, hats or helmets. Pit-zip venting increases breathability. Hand pockets are covered and zippered to store gear safe and dry. Adjustable Velcro cuff tabs keep water from running down your arm while casting, and a hem cinch-cord stops wetness from coming in from below. With a durable yet breathable ripstop exterior, it is likely the wearer will never need to use The North Face’s legendary lifetime warranty.

www.northface.com HammerHead Mahi Mahi Ahi Gloves The HammerHead Dentex, Mahi Mahi Ahi gloves are protection on “rear-knuckle” steroids! Hammerhead has taken its best-selling red Dentex cutresistant gloves and added a thick coat of “EKP” or Enhanced Knuckle Protection to create the perfect gloves for spearfishing and lobstering. Dentex gloves were already the No. 1 best-selling protective gloves for warm water. Made from special UHMW ANSI Level 5 fabrics, they are light, flexible and offer incredible cut and puncture resistant protection up to 15 times stronger than steel. With chemical- and heat-resistant Nitrile Grip coating, you’ll never lose your grip on pole spears, rocks, fillet knives, lobster snares or with any application where extra grip is desired. With the addition of EKP, Hammerhead has brought a new and improved glove to the marketplace that offers complete protection for the front as well as the back of your hands and especially your knuckles.

www.hammerheadspearguns.com COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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What’s It Like to Live in a Log Cabin?

By Ben Martin • Editor in Chief

View time-lapsed video at www.blueridgelogcabins.net As an outdoor enthusiast, I’m naturally drawn to the aesthetic charm of log cabins. I have enjoyed numerous stays and vacations in log cabins over the years. Living in one on a long term or even potentially permanent basis is an intriguing thought for me. With that question in mind, I set out to speak with individuals who have taken that step, just to get their honest opinions, before I make the leap to a log cabin as my permanent residence. My first call was to Mark Alberghini, our Charlotte, North Carolina co-publisher. He and his family have been living in a log cabin for more than 20 years. According to Mark, returning to his cabin after a stressfilled day in the publishing business offers an immediate calming effect. He went on to say that living in a log cabin has left him less interested in vacations than at any other time in his life. His now-grown daughters tell him they are always pleased to return to the log cabin for holidays and family events, and that it seems to have created a deeper sense of tradition than many of their friends who live in conventional homes seem to experience.

I then contacted several Blue Ridge Log Cabin homeowners to see how they compared the experience of log cabin living to conventional homes. Jerry and Carol Clark, who recently moved into their Blue Ridge Log Cabin, said the experience of returning to their log home is much more enjoyable than that of their previous conventional homes. Blue Ridge Log Cabin owner and high school principle Charlie Burry informed us that, “As a high school principle, I value regular downtime away from the pressures of my job.” In that regard, Mr. Burry went on to say, “My wife and I greatly enjoy the peace and relaxation afforded by log-home living verses a conventional home.” Jim Austin, another Blue Ridge Log Cabin owner, commented, “several years ago we decided to change our lifestyle and head out of the hustle and bustle of city life and settle for the quiet and serene country life. We found the perfect wooded location in the foothills of the Appalachians, complete with a little stream running through it. These past five years have been fantastic. We couldn’t have picked a better location or company to build our home. We absolutely love the quietness of the woods in which deer and turkey abound. The sound of our little creek in the morning mist seems heaven sent. Perfect setting, perfect cabin. We love it and wouldn’t change cabin living for the world.” Throughout the numerous interviews that were conducted, the response was always the same. Those homeowners who had changed from a conventional home to a log cabin unanimously agreed, the feeling of contentment, relaxation and satisfaction with the log home was far superior to that of their conventional home. Had this little research project been a survey, it would have seemed artificially skewed. Rarely will you find 100 percent of your survey group in agreement on nearly any subject. In this inquiry, every single person, without exception, agreed that they would never trade log-home living for a conventional home. That’s what it’s like to live in a log cabin.

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FLORIDA

T

he Islands of he Bahamas are like paradise for a boater! The best time to go is when some event is happening and with a shallow-draft boat to really enjoy all the gorgeous islands. There is no better time than during the July Regatta Time in the Abacos. It is one party after another, moving from island to island. I have made this journey close to a dozen times on various vessels. This year we took my wave-piercing catamaran, the 33’ SkeeterCat. Selection of guests for a long trip like this is very important. Never take a first-time boater, even if he or she is a friend. A portable freezer is a great option for longer trips. We borrowed a friend’s Engel 43-quart unit that uses 2.5 amps at 12volts and maintained it with a 65-watt solar panel. We cooked all our meals onboard and had gourmet dinners of filet mignon, barbecue chicken and fresh grouper and mutton snapper we caught. We took off from Palm City, Fla. and crossed the Gulf Stream in 15to 18-knot headwinds. It was a bit bouncy. We checked in at West End on Grand Bahama at lunchtime. After clearing customs, we ran down to Mangrove Cay Island, where we had a nice refreshing swim in crystal

clear water. We covered 130 miles that day. Next day, we made it to Hope Town and joined the party in Hope Town Inn. They had music, dancing, food and the most spectacular view of the open Atlantic. We anchored in the sound before following the racing fleet from Hope Town to Guana Cay, Treasure Cay and Green Turtle Cay. Some of our friends were racing, so we were the “chase boat.” After each race, there was a party with live entertainment and trophy presentation with the sponsored free bar. There is a lay day between each race to recuperate and sail to the next island. On these lay days, we took excursions to visit other local high spots and snorkeled at Pelican Coral Park, Elbow Cay and Manjack Cay, where some friendly stingrays and a nurse sharks come up to you expecting to be fed. Feeding them is a no-no. We ran down to Little Harbor to visit Pete’s Pub & Gallery and see some fantastic bronze art by Pete Johnston and other artisans. The entrance to the harbor at low tide is 2.5 feet, and the docks were full, except near the beach. A dock in very shallow water was just perfect for the beachable SkeeterCat. The ultimate sponsored party was on the last day of the Regatta at Fiddle Cay, called “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” More than 3,000 people and probably over 500 boats made this the biggest sandbar party ever. They served free hamburgers, rum drinks and cold beer. After two weeks of fun, we had to return to reality. Our return trip was uneventful, with flat seas and smooth running. We tried high speed trolling, but all I ended up with was losing two nice lures. The weather was perfect. The parties were fantastic. There were great food, great friends, great diving, and the boat ran perfectly. It was truly an adventure in paradise. Tom Mestrits designed and built the SkeeterCat 33 Power Catamaran. For more information on the SkeeterCat 33, see the ad in this magazine or go to www.StuartYachtSales.com under “Power Boats For Sale.” For more on the ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ event, go to

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Team Murderized, out of Grand Bahama, took top team honors in last year’s tournament with 11 fish weighing a total of 292.5 pounds, to take home $15,000 in cash winnings.

B

imini Big Game Club Resort and Marina, host to some of The Bahamas’ most legendary fishing tournaments, is pleased to announce that Wahoo Smackdown IX will take place Nov. 9-12. The ever-popular and authentic Bahamian offshore tournament, led by longtime Bimini Big Game Club dockmaster, Capt. Robbie Smith, has drawn thousands of anglers to the island since its inception and has become an annual tradition for many. With more than 50 record-setting catches from the waters that surround the island, Bimini has earned its title of Sport Fishing Capital of the World and, come winter, is considered a prime location for wahoo due to its position in the Gulf Stream.

Wahoo Smackdown IX is slated to kick off Nov. 9 with a captain’s meeting and conclude on Nov. 12 with an awards gala. Registration fee is $1,500 per boat and includes four anglers, tournament shirts and entry to social events. Additional anglers (over four) are $250 each. Extra social tickets are $150 each. Total payout is $25,000 based on 25 registered boats. Registration fee is 100 percent refundable if the tournament is canceled due to weather. A $300 instant credit will be issued for entries that book both hotel and boat slip for a minimum of a four consecutive nights. The $300 credit can be used in the restaurant or applied to the total resort bill. Sponsors include American Beverage Marketers www.masterofmixes.com as the Title Sponsor, Bahamian Brewery and Beverage (Sands) www.bahamianbrewery.com, artist David Dunleavy www. dunleavyart.com and Tropic Ocean Airways www.flytropic.com. To register, please visit www.wahoosmackdown.net. For sponsorship opportunities, contact Beth Watson at BWatson@biggameclubbimini.com or (954) 462-3400. Bimini Big Game Club Resort & Marina, in Alice Town, Bimini, The Bahamas, is a popular, internationally-regarded boutique Out Island resort less than 50 miles from south Florida. The property features 51 guest rooms & suites, a 75-slip full-service marina, a dive center with daily dives, rental equipment, a variety of scuba diving lessons and specialty training courses and a freshwater swimming pool. The Big Game Bar & Grill is the most popular restaurant in Bimini, serving American and Bahamian cuisine with all-day dining from a second-floor vantage point overlooking the marina and bonefish flats of Alice Town. Bimini is known for world class beaches, fishing and diving and is a family-friendly destination with many on-the-water activities, including kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling and boating. For more information on the Big Game Club Resort & Marina, go to www.biggameclubbimini.com.

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T

here is a pretty little waterway in St. Petersburg, Fla., called Frenchman’s Creek that boaters and fishermen have been frequenting for years. Those who have been there might wonder who the “Frenchman” was who was memorialized in the creek’s name. If those boaters and fishermen are bird lovers, they will not be pleased to learn that the namesake of the creek was a really despicable bird hunter named Jean Chevelier.

fashions in their hats. The Frenchman also somehow got his name on Chevelier Bay in the Ten Thousand Islands, very near to Watson’s Place on the southwestern coast of the state and near where the famous Loren “Totch” Brown lived and hunted. Chevelier and his cronies wantonly killed thousands of roseate spoonbills, egrets, herons and hawks. Thank goodness conservationists like Marjory

His real name was Alfred Lechevelier (nicknamed Jean Chevelier for some unknown reason), and he bought the Maximo Point in St. Petersburg, a picturesque point that is now the site of Maximo Park. Michael Grunwald, in a really good book about an important source of water in Florida, “The Swamp,” 2007, called Chevelier “Florida’s most notorious plumer.” And Jack Davis, in his recently published book, “The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea” (2017), noted that “the healthiest spot on earth was anything but that for birds” after Chevelier arrived in the 1880s. The Frenchman, who apparently came from Montreal or Paris, tried and almost succeeded in wiping out the plumed birds of St. Petersburg and the Everglades before sending on the feathers and sometimes the complete dead bodies of thousands, maybe millions, of birds to milliners in New York and Europe so that women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries could have the latest

Stoneman Douglas and even Harriet Beecher Stowe helped stop the mass killing of the birds. The Tamiami Trail was built by the Chevelier Corporation, also named after one of the worst hunters that ever came to the state. The 1958 movie entitled “Wind across the Everglades” had Burl Ives portray the plume hunter. It’s interesting how such a pleasant-sounding French name, Chevelier, has a sordid history behind it. Anyway, those who fish Frenchman’s Creek might not be pleased at the origin of the name, but they would surely be happy to know that the “Journal of the American Medical Association” in 1885 named Maximo Point the “healthiest place… of any portion of Florida.” I have not had the privilege of fishing in the creek, but my son, who lives nearby, likes the park and the creek. Kevin McCarthy, the award-winning author of “South Florida Waterways” (2013 - available at amazon. com for $7), can be reached at ceyhankevin@gmail.com.

For more on Kevin McCarthy, go to

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he Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation breathed new life into south Florida’s marine ecosystems with a massive artificial reef deployment about a mile and a half offshore of the Jupiter Inlet in August. The $500,000 deployment is the largest ever conducted by a private foundation on Florida’s east coast. While the sheer size of this deployment is impressive, what makes this project unique is the design of the artificial reef modules, as they mimic natural reefs. Additionally, these reef modules cause scouring along the ocean floor, which exposes bedrock and aids in the recruitment of algae, soft corals and sponges. The modules weigh 4 tons each, and 134 of them were deployed on Aug. 9 along with 1,000 tons of boulders. ENGEL, the leader in AC/DC fridges and freezers, high performance roto-molded coolers, vacuum insulated drinkware, outdoor adventure gear and soft-sided coolers, and No Shoes Reefs—a joint venture of ENGEL and Kenny Chesney’s No Shoes Nation—participated in the historic deployment. The venture was partly funded by dollars raised by No Shoes Reefs, which donates a portion of the sales of No Shoes Nation-branded products to building artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean and surrounding rivers and waterways. “Anyone who lives in south Florida enjoys our magnificent waterways, ” said Paul Kabalin, CEO of ENGEL Coolers. “Because ENGEL calls south Florida our home, we feel passionate about protecting our coral reefs, and creating new reefs, which are vital for so many marine species and for the protection of our shores. The No Shoes Reefs brand and associated products exist solely to ensure organizations like the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation can continue restoring, creating and deploying reef modules to ensure our ecosystems thrive. We are very excited to have played an integral role in this recent record-breaking deployment, which will undoubtedly breathe new life into our fragile marine habitats.” ENGEL Coolers Vice President, Mike Dixon, who serves as a board member for the South East Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI), is very passionate about ENGEL’s role in reef creation and preservation. “Partnering with the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation represented the most immediate and impactful opportunity to aid the SEFCRI (www.southeastfloridareefs.net) region,” Dixon explained. “This large coral reef tract in southeast Florida is lesser known compared to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and faces significant challenges, water quality issues, and sedimentation threats from beach “nourishment” and port expansions being primary among them. Placing this material in this ideal location allows for both the artificial and natural elements to aggregate reef life and allow a vibrant ecosystem to take shape where there previously was barren sand.” For more information about No Shoes Reefs, or to purchase a limited edition No Shoes Reefs shirt or hat, visit noshoesreefs.org. The t-shirts and hats feature the No Shoes Reefs logo, as well as the No Shoes Nation skull and cross bones. Close to 40 percent of the proceeds from sales of these items goes to support the reefs. Look for future No Shoes Reefs products from ENGEL in the future.

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By Terry Gibson • Photo by Ines Hegedus-Garcia/flickr

I

have needed an on-the-water tow three times over the last five years. Each of my experiences with maritime towing services has been prompt and professional. I believe that’s what most boaters find when caught in a bad situation. That’s why I was shocked when a friend who is a maritime attorney told me several horror stories of people being taken advantage of by price-gouging towing and salvage companies. After calling dozens of guides, fishing clubs and boating clubs, I realized that price gouging occurs more than rarely, and that few boat owners understand even the basics of towing and salvage law. There is a gap in consumer protections that incentivizes some maritime salvage and towing services to take advantage of boat owners experiencing trouble on the water. Unscrupulous salvers swoop in to help, but then leave boat owners with outrageous bills, which are often based on the value of the boat, not the service performed. With tactics that range from claiming simple assistance as a “salvage” job to embracing deceptive marketing practices, operators prey on unsuspecting boaters with surprise charges and questionable practices. Again, while most marine salvers are honest, hard-working folks, mari-

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1. Be prepared: The best way to avoid needing to call for help is to be prepared before you head out. Ensure your boat is properly maintained. Make sure you have enough fuel. Leave emergency communication lines open. Stay well stocked with a hand pump and other emergency tools. As an added measure, you can also take advantage of a free vessel safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard. A specialist will check out your boat and provide safety tips and recommendations, free of charge. 2. Read your contracts: Many boaters have memberships with companies that provide emergency services. Some insurance policies even cover membership for these services, reimburse boat owners for expenses and pay salvage claims. It’s important to review those contracts and know what a policy covers—and what it does not cover. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, because that knowledge may save thousands of dollars down the line. 3. Beware of “salvage” claims: If your boat experiences an emergency, you may get an offer of help from another vessel or a maritime salvage and towing company. Before you accept assistance, always try to negotiate a fixed fee. This will eliminate the possibility of pricing uncertainty or a costly “salvage” claim. It may seem like common sense, but remember what really matters during an emergency. Minor mechanical issues can be resolved, but when things start to get out of hand, call for help sooner than later. Be prepared with proper safety equipment, because you never know when you might need it. When it comes to on-the-water assistance, information is the most important tool to avoid being taken advantage of. A basic understanding of maritime towing and salvage law helps boat owners make informed decisions when emergency strikes. Terry Gibson is an outdoor journalist, conservation and consumer-protection advocate based in Jensen Beach, Fla. He has served in a many editorial capacities for leading fishing media.

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TIPS FROM A PRO

I

BRANDON LESTER

finished sixth in the recent Bassmaster Elite Series event on Lake Champlain in New York and Vermont using a fairly new technique called the “Ned rig” and a dropshot. The Ned has been out for a couple of years now, but I just picked it up and started fishing it this past spring. I haven’t put it down since, and I can assure you the Ned is here to stay. When I first saw it, I wondered under what circumstance would it be any better than a shaky head or a drop shot. Let me explain it like this: A mechanic has a whole box full of tools. Some of those tools can serve multiple purposes, but there will always be one tool that does each job the best. The Ned rig is a tool you better have in your bass fishing box. The Ned rig really shines when fish are on a clean bottom in pretty clear water. The rig itself is basically a mushroomstyle jighead with an exposed hook. The exposed hook makes it tough to use in cover. Start by looking for banks or flats where the bottom is fairly clean with some isolated targets that hold fish. These objects could be mooring buoys, big rocks, stumps, or really anything for the fish to get around. Although the Ned is a fairly slow way to fish, you can still cover water once you figure out the targets the fish are holding on. I’ve also had success fishing the Ned on bluff-type banks in the winter and early spring. This is especially good on lakes with smallmouth or spotted bass, but I’ve caught all three species on this rig. The way I fish the Ned is simple. All you do is let it fall to the bottom on a slack

line. Watch your line as it’s falling, as sometimes they will grab it on the fall. Once the bait hits the bottom, tighten your line and shake your rod tip. All you’re doing is shaking the bait in place, not moving it forward. Once you’ve shaken it, move the bait toward you a foot or two and do the same thing. Most of your bites will come on the initial fall or the first or second time you shake it, so don’t waste too much time on a cast. Many times you won’t feel the bite, so it is

important to use a line you can see to detect a fish swimming off with the bait. The right rod, reel, line, jighead and bait are the key to making this technique work. I start with an MHXEPS81-MLXF rod that is 6’9” in length and medium-light action. I like a pretty soft rod so I can throw that light jighead a long way. Use a good quality 2500-size spinning reel filled with 10-lb. Vicious Hi-Vis yellow braid for your main line with a 6- to 8-foot leader of 8-lb. Vicious Pro Elite fluorocarbon. I use the new Mustad Grip Pin Ned jigheads. I mostly between a 1/8-ounce, but they are made up to 1/4 ounce with 1/0, 2/0 or 3/0 hooks. I use an X-Zone Lures True Center Stick cut in half for almost all of my Ned-rigging.

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By Capt. Randy Cnota

T

his year, anglers heading out of C-Quarters Marina in Carrabelle, Fla. to catch the winning kingfish were met with challenging weather and high seas. On Sunday, storms rolled through the area making it extremely hard for smaller boats to reach the fertile fishing grounds. The winning team was “BillCollector.” Capt. Page Pitman, of Crawfordville, Fla., steered his 34’ Hydra Sport Custom to victory by concentrating his efforts on finding the right live bait and presenting it in the right manner. His son Gage Pitman hauled in the 47-pound smoker king for the win. No doubt, dad was proud! Capt. Pitman offered few details about how the winning fish was caught, but he recommends anglers try different techniques for bagging giant kings... hmmm? Avery Anderson won the youth division with a 10.3-pound king, and Kate Clark with Team Barnes Capital Group won the ladies division. Rob Grabemann of the Leukemia Research Foundation noted that, thanks in part to this event, new technology has rounded the corner in the treatment of leukemia, and they’re closer to a cure than ever before. Donations to the foundation totaled $50,000 for this year’s event, bringing the total to more than $915,000 raised over the Shootout’s history. The $1M goal is well within reach. The good people that plan, conduct and support this event continue their hard work and commitment in preparation for next year’s event to be held Aug. 3-5, 2018.

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C-Quarters Marina Carrabelle, FL

ABOVE: First-place team “Bill Collector” with their winning 47-pound king. Team members were Todd and Jessica Welch, Gage Pitman, David Bramblett and Page Pitman. Top right: Kingfish Shootout’s Youth Division winner was Avery Anderson, of Register, Ga., with his 10.3-pound king.

Come out to compete, spectate or help support this event in any way you can. You’ll be glad you did. It’s a great time, a great cause and it all happens in a beautiful place. Let’s go fishing for a cure! For more info, visit www.c-quartersmarina. com or call (850) 697-8400.

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SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

By Patrick Sebile

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t’s the perfect time of year for energized tuna, the tarpon of a lifetime or a big fat striper. What these fish and a few others have in common is they swallow prey whole. They do not bite it like a wahoo, barracuda or bluefish. That means the whole baitfish is getting sucked into a bucket-wide mouth. The same thing happens to the lure you’ll be using. Most hard baits have two or three treble hooks. The problem with this setup is large fish and lengthy fights can cause those tiny hooks to open up or tear from a fish’s lip. We all know this loss hurts. The bigger the fish, the worse it hurts and the more likely it is to happen. I came up with a solution for this scenario several years ago while targeting giant tarpon on the west coast of Africa. I adapted my hard baits to use a single large hook. It resulted in the successful landing of more big fish than with the original hardware. Both regular J hooks and circle hooks can be used. With a J hook there is a need to set the hook as usual. With a circle hook, the angler

should just keep cranking and allow the fish’s run to set the hook. Circle hooks work well, they usually hook a fish in the jaw and they rarely pull out. The drawback is not everyone is accustomed to circle hooks, and learning the technique when a big fish bites can result in heartbreak. To optimize this modification, I recommend lures that are sinking or fast sinking, as their balance won’t be altered too much by the removal of the treble hooks. Some floating or suspending lures also work well with this rig. Some might think this alteration would result in missed bites… and this is true. But the fish missed are typically small ones, or toothy critters like bluefish and ’cudas. In the middle of the night when I’m fishing for striped bass, it generally makes me happy to miss the chompers that peck at a lure’s tail. When the fish I’m targeting shows up, one that’s capable of swallowing the whole bait, the hook-set is typically solid, and with a much larger hook secured in the jaw. This gives the angler the ability to horse the fish, and it also makes unhooking a lot less dangerous. Here’s how I alter to my hard baits when pursuing powerful fish: • Pick up your favorite lure, a heavy-duty barrel swivel, a big J hook or circle hook and a bag of skirt collars. • Remove the treble hooks and their split rings. Keep or add a nose split ring. • Run the hook point through one eye of the swivel. There must be some wiggle room, but not too much. • Slide a skirt collar over the barb. This will secure the lure on the hook. • Attach the nose split ring to the swivel’s other eye. That’s it. Now the lure is ready to hook and do battle with larger, more powerful fish. Patrick Sebile is the owner and lure designer of Sebile Innovative Fishing (www.sebile.com).

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By Capt. Michael Okruhlik • Photo courtesy of Controlled Descent Lures.

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e all know about finding and fishing areas where we see signs of “active bait.” Or, do we? The importance of bait in the area we are fishing has been drilled into our heads for decades, and with good reason. However, it is easy to get caught up in the “active” or “visible” aspect of the equation, and that can cost us some missed opportunities. On one particular fishing trip, I was kayaking in 2 to 3 feet of clear water. The area was a mix of three different types of sea grass, and the bottom was mostly firm with some softer areas and potholes. During the time I was fishing, I only saw three mullet casually flip over the course of several hours. Most fishermen would have left this area in a hurry due to the lack of active or visual surface bait activity. The thing about bait, is just because we don’t see it or see signs of it doesn’t mean it is not there. What I noticed that kept me in this area is that from time to time I would see several pinfish follow my soft plastic paddletail back to the kayak. This was the key that let me know there was bait in the area that increased the probability of larger predator fish also being there and feeding. When the pinfish would follow the smaller paddletail, it was like fishing with live bait without actually using it. There is no doubt in my mind that the school of bait helped attract the trout and reds to my lure. Although several other kayaks and boats came into the area, they all left after a few minutes. Not seeing what they wanted, they just burned by and didn’t stop. By following the subtle signs and sticking to the area, I was able to keep a limit of reds, release many more, and I caught and released a 28-inch trout. Not a bad day for not seeing any “active” bait. The next time you are on the water, peer a little deeper and have the patience to notice more than just the surface activity, or the lack of. Capt. Michael Okruhlik is the inventor of Controlled Descent Lures and the owner of www.MyCoastOutdoors.com.

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What Works for You by Capt. Terry Fisher

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y intention of writing fishing articles is to assist beginning and experienced anglers alike. I am not able to speak to what works for other fishing guides, but I do know what works consistently for me. There are other methods and techniques, but I only write about mine. Please understand that my methods and techniques vary according to the time of year; due to migratory patterns, water temperatures, tide levels, current strengths and availability of specific baits. The advice I provide this month is based on experiences from previous Septembers. Regardless, my best overall advice for ‘offshore’ or ‘inshore’, is KEEP IT SIMPLE!

in them and go for it. If you want to catch more fish, use live or dead bait presentations and go with someone that is already successful with techniques and fishing locations. Snook is in season this month and my live baits of choice are pilchards, pinfish and ‘jumbo’ shrimp. They are plentiful and I like to ‘free-line’ them on small hooks that match the size of the bait. Do this along shorelines, around passes, mangroves, current cuts and under docks, on outgoing tides. Some favorite artificial presentations; are top-water (morning or evening), twitch baits, swim baits and soft scented plastics. Snook will become even more active this month as water temperatures subside.

This time of year, the redfish are beginning to school. Incoming tides make it easier to target them. They will be found on the higher tides around spoil islands with oyster clutter and dead wood. Otherwise, look for them along and under the mangrove roots. They will feed on the same presentations as snook, but the fact of the matter is; they are designed to feed Do what you know works directly off the ‘bottom’. In this regard, make it easy on them and Do not get caught up in purchasing everything that is on the offer a ‘jumbo’ shrimp, cut pinfish, ladyfish or finger mullet on a market in regards to equipment, such as hooks, lures or baits stationary jig-head on the bottom of the seabed.

1) 2) 3) Do not try and do too much during a fishing trip by varying baits, presentations and techniques 4) Commit and experiment on a limited basis during trips to see if new offerings and techniques work out 5) Read articles and fishing magazines to get overall and specific advice on what works and when it works for others, then try them 6) Finally, ***Go out with a buddy/friend that you know who is successful with catching specific species. Otherwise hire a professional guide that is willing to share knowledge and invest his/her time and techniques that will move you forward to accomplishing your objective, be it inshore or offshore***!

I recall my earlier days (30 years ago) in Florida and the Caribbean (Cayman Islands, Bahamas, Belize), whereby I made a point to fish with the ‘best of the best’. I watched and learned what they did, then combined that knowledge with what worked for me, to be successful on Dolphin, Wahoo, Tuna and Blue Marlin. When offshore, I still follow my number 1 advice (listed above) and do

THE SECRET TO CATCHING REDFISH IS TO LOOK FOR JUMPING MULLET! Redfish follow mullet. Mullet churn up the bottom in their quest for worms and eels. Mullet are vegetarians and as they feed, they expose shells (or shell parts) that hold small shrimps, crabs and food that the redfish prefer. September is the beginning of Redfish Season with big bull redfish coming in from the gulf to spawn and fatten up for the coming, lean winter months. This is the time of year to target them, as the bigger fish will start moving out around late November, at which time they will return to deeper water. Inshore Mangrove Snapper bite should be ‘hot’ under docks and around mangroves on small shrimps. They are also plentiful in the passes in 34 ft. of water. When fishing the passes or offshore, use a light two ft., 20 to 30lb. leader with a 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook below a 3oz. weight for good results.

what I know works for me. I am sure that more recent techniques, such as ‘kites’ and ‘spreads’ are effective, but few things beat trolling ballyhoo under a skirt for the above listed species. It works for me and I still do it! I offer the same advice when fishing inshore for snook, redfish, trout, mackerel and other species common to SW Florida. There is a lot of water to work, a lot of different baits to present; be it artificial, live or dead. There are more ways than one to catch fish. If you like fishing artificial, get a buddy, friend or guide that specializes

Remember, fish are creatures of habit. They will usually return to specific locations for a period of time, depending on water temperatures and the availability of food and safety. They do not stay in the same place 24/7, but are likely to ‘hang’ around in same locations for extended periods of time. Like migratory species such as tarpon, Spanish mackerel, king fish and permit, inshore species are somewhat predictable as well, even though they do not ‘migrate’ as far. It is still a challenge to the angler to find them. This is Captain Terry Fisher of Fish Face Charters wishing everyone tighter lines! I am also available as ‘Captain for Hire’ on your vessel (by the hour) to assist with safety, navigation, fishing techniques and locations that will insure you catch fish. Call me direct at 239-357-6829 or email fishfacecharters@yahoo.com to book your charter. Check out my website at www.fishfacecharters.com for more information

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Ladies SW Florida Fishing

by Vicki Fisher

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he dog days of summer are beginning to fade; the children are back in school and SNOOK SEASON IS OPEN! September 1st is opening day for snook and many people are anticipating a great season with our stronger tides and the abundance of baitfish in the flats. Now that the children are back in school there should be a decline in the number of fishermen out during the week as family vacations are limited with the school calendar. Weekends at the marina’s and boat ramps will continue to stay busy with the ‘weekend boaters’ getting out to enjoy our waters. My favorite time to fish for snook is early in the morning at sunrise or at sundown. I’ve never had much luck in the middle of the day. In the early morning, I enjoy the action given when I present a Spook Jr. top water lure. The sound of the lure walking the water fires the snook up and they cannot resist the temptation. This works along the seawalls

and edge of the mangroves and cattails in the canals. Now is also a great time for catching the big Bull Redfish that are making their way inshore to fatten up. We have been blessed all summer with an abundance of redfish in the flats and our clients have enjoyed the powerful fight one receives when using light tackle equipment! Pictured here is one of our junior anglers that landed this nice black drum while on board with my husband, Captain Terry, this past week. When targeting the Bull Redfish, I prefer large handpicked live shrimp using 30# test fluorocarbon leader and a ¼ ounce jig head on the bottom. I feel I have better control and can feel the fish messing with my presentation before the strike begins when I present the bait on the bottom. Many people prefer suspending a live shrimp under a cork and this works too. My suggestion is to work the backcountry cuts at islands and under the mangroves for the big beast! Make sure you fish with a moving tide, either incoming or outgoing. With the afternoon rains, we have plenty of water in the backcountry. This allows the fish to get back in the mangroves and hide, so, be patient! On an outgoing tide give the water time to start moving out and the fish will be forced to move out as well. This is First Mate Vicki Fisher sending you all good luck for great summer fishing! I’d love to hear some of your fishing stories and success! Feel free to contact me with questions or if I can be of assistance at (239) 471-7332 or email fishfacecharters@ yahoo.com

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Unexpected Catch of a Lifetime

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by Capt. James Marko

n August 10, 2017, I had a client on the boat by the name of Bob, from Missouri. His biggest catch before he got on the boat was a 30-pound catfish, so he wanted to go for a big Goliath to break that record. We started out around Picnic Island, throwing top water lures into schools of bait, looking for inshore predator fish. We got into a massive school of ladyfish, Spanish mackerel and speckled sea trout. After about two hours of catching an abundance of fish, we decided to go for something a little bigger. We kept a handful of big size ladyfish and headed for the Sanibel Bridge to try our luck for a Goliath Grouper. I rig my Goliath rod usually the same, 400lb mono with no backing, anywhere from 6 to 12 ounces of weight, a couple fancy knots, and about 6 inches of electrical tape from the hook up the line for abrasion resistance. We tried to look for them at B span (middle Sanibel bridge). With no luck, we made our way to A span (Sanibel toll bridge). I tried my normal spot and within a couple minutes we had a hook up, but lost our bait. I quickly rigged up and dropped another bait and within minutes we were on a solid fish. It ran us back to the other side of the boat in tremendous speed. It was something I’ve never seen a grouper do that before and that’s because 15 seconds later a 6-foot tarpon launched out of the water a foot away from the boat! After picking my jaw up off the boat, I quickly turned on Captain mode. I knew with the fish, the size, and the rig I had, I could lock the drag down on this fish.

I slowly reversed it from underneath the bridge. Once we were clear of the structure and loosened up the drag, we fought the fish into the shallow water. After a couple more jumps out of the water and a few more runs, we finally had the fish tired out in about 2 feet of water next to the Sanibel Bridge. After a couple high-fives, we started planning our photo shot, except we had no one to take the shot. Luckily a gentleman was wade-fishing and came over to take photos and enjoy the same excitement that Bob and I were having. We got a couple quick pics then revived and released the fish safely. I was so glad I got to experience something like that and at the same time have photo evidence for this fishtail.

Remember to follow us on Instagram @captjamesmarko & FB https://www. facebook.com/james.markovits?fref=search for our daily catches. Check out our website as well at www.Goliathfishing.com for trip information and contact information.

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The What, When, and Where of Fishing by Capt. Sam O’Briant

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his month we are still feeling the dog days of summer. The water temperatures are running close to if not over 90 degrees. This generally means that the fish are looking for any cooler place they can find. This could be a deeper hole or an overhanging tree. It could also mean that they may develop a case of what appears to be lock jaw. This also means we humans need to watch our health closely. We need to be aware of the heat and how it affects us. So, what can we look for or where and when should we go fishing? The first thing we need to consider this time of year is where can we avoid the thunderstorms? Generally, if we go early in the morning we can be home before the heat really builds and the thunderstorms start roaming around the area. Of course, this year it seems as if the norm has not been the usual. There have been many days with morning storms and a hot afternoon. Next, where do we go? As mentioned earlier, I would look along any of the mangrove lined islands, especially under the overhanging trees that are providing shade. If you can find a shoreline with decent moving water, toss your bait in the shade and let it drift along the shore. If you toss it enough times a snook may get tired of seeing it go by and strike at it. Another area you should give a chance is the deeper holes. If you have been fishing the shallows and moved out, be sure to adjust your fishing depth below your cork. You do not need to fish right on the bottom, but you do need to get in the strike zone. If you start out early enough you can always try fishing some of the grass flats. They will heat up fast as the sun gets higher, thus fishing early while some of the fish are cruising the cooler water may prove beneficial. They may be upon the flats looking for food since these areas are some of the most productive nurseries for all the food most fish like. Another thing you may want to think about is maybe taking a few weeks off and refresh your equipment and boat while avoiding the heat. The fall fishing season is just around the corner and we need to be ready for it. One fish that is in early stages of recovery is the short bill sawfish. There is a good chance you may catch one in the shallows of our creeks and rivers or along the mangrove shorelines. If you do catch one, be sure to call the information into the sawfish hot line so we can learn more and help continue their recovery. Redfish will be in the shade, so floating cut-bait under the trees is your best bet. The illusive snook will also be in the same areas looking for live bait. If you take young kids out, use shrimp and be happy with whatever they catch, for they will love it. Until next month be safe and take a kid fishing.

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

6 FORT MYERS | SEPTEMBER 2017 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM/FORT-MYERS/


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Protecting our Land and Waters

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by John Cassani, Calusa Waterkeeper

eptember typically represents the last month of the rainy season in Southwest Florida. Hurricane probability is highest in September and harmful algal blooms most likely occur at this time of the year. With high rainfall runoff and the pollutants that come with it, fish, shellfish and other wildlife communities are often at risk. High water temperatures, depressed salinity, low dissolved oxygen and toxins from harmful algal species are typical threats. Anglers should reduce the time involved with landing and releasing fish especially when the water temperature is relatively high and oxygen levels are low. Historically, wetlands would buffer the timing and volume of freshwater runoff into our estuaries. However, the loss of about 50 percent of historic wetlands in Southwest Florida has increased the stormwater runoff volume and associated pollutants. Bluegreen algae, more correctly referred to as cyanobacteria, can produce potent toxins and can be dangerous to both humans and pets, especially dogs. Risks associated with exposure to cyanobacteria can be found on our website but you would have to be able to distinguish cyanobacteria from similar algal species if alerts or warnings have not been made public. Better monitoring and notification of the presence of cyanobacteria is needed in Florida.

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The Calusa Waterkeeper volunteer Rangers do a great job of reporting their observation on the water. We provide periodic training on what to look for and where to report it. Please consider becoming one of our Rangers and contact us at www.Calusawaterkeeper.org or call 239-444-8584. FACEBOOK.COM/COASTALANGLERMAGAZINEFTMYERS/ | SEPTEMBER2017 | FORT MYERS 7


Paddlin’ & Fishin’ by Dan Carns

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hen it comes to kayak fishing, I have two favorite places that occupy my time, Big Jim Creek and the Indian fields just N.W. of Matlacha. You can reach this place in about twenty minutes from the free kayak launch at the Matlacha Community Park or fifteen minutes from our launch at Gulf Coast Kayak. This area is comprised of many mangrove covered keys, separated by outflow channels and large open bays. It took me about a year to really get a handle on the way the water pours in and out and just as importantly, how the wind effects the water level. I have had to drag my kayak out of the backside of this place more times than I will admit to, so be aware of the tides. Depending on the time of year, this fishery holds snook, trout, redfish, bluefish and tarpon, sometimes all at the same time, as well as young sharks! It’s a big area so don’t plan to visit it all on any particular trip, but you should focus on one piece at a time. Just when you feel like you’re wasting time in an area that looks unproductive you’ll find a channel or flat that the fish are just busting on and you hope the action never ends! Never approach the end of a key here without throwing something ten to fifteen feet off of the mangrove edge, big snook tend to hang on the ends of mangrove points and smaller snook surround all of the keys. Redfish move en mass around this area. Sometimes you can find them and other times it will feel like a desert! There are several large open flats where trout are the rule and once discovered can be continuous action for hours. These same flats at low tide can also be the source of great redfish action, especially when the wind is calm and the water is readable. As you exit the enclosed bays, you may come across one of the oyster bars on the outside where the tides tend to flow quickly, this is where any number of fish species can be found.

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The Indian Fields proper is a wide open area that is quite shallow close to the Pine Island shoreline, transitioning to a beautiful turtle grass covered flat with varying depths. This flat is bordered by the marked channel through Matlacha Pass, but is shallow enough that you and fellow kayakers may have the place all to yourselves! Plan to spend some time out here and watch mother nature unfold all around you! Often when the tide begins to turn you will see the bird activity increase, as the bait pods get pushed across this flat deep enough to host dolphins, sharks and the elusive tarpon. This is a multi-trip destination, so put some seat time in and you’ll see why it’s on my favorites list! It’s a wild world-get out there! Fishman Dan Gulf Coast Kayak, 4120 Pine Island Rd NW, Matlacha, FL 33993 Phone: 239-283-1125 8 FORT MYERS | SEPTEMBER 2017 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM/FORT-MYERS/

3771 Palm Beach Blvd. Ft. Myers, FL (239) 694-2185


Paddling Matlacha by Mike Hammond

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atlacha hardly needs an introduction to local anglers. Bait shops, restaurants and small inns all cater to paddlers, anglers and anyone else who enjoys the water in this island community that’s part of Greater Pine Island in northwest Lee County. Even one of the art shops (Wild Child) has a kayak launch behind its colorful garden. The most popular paddle craft launch though is located in Matlacha Community Park. There is a floating paddle craft launch and small beach behind the Pine Island Art Association building. Just turn left as soon as you drive into the park, unload your gear next to the launch, and then find parking in the main lot, which is free if you’re using a single vehicle without a trailer. (Those with trailers pay a parking fee.) Once in the water, paddlers have a choice of paddling north under the small bridge toward Buzzard Bay and Indian Fields or going south toward St. James City. Weather conditions may help you decide which way to go. If you choose to paddle under the bridge, beware that oysters may be exposed or just under surface on low tide. I highly recommend that standup paddle boarders kneel on their boards here and take their time to prevent any cuts. Just on the other side of the bridge are the Matlacha canals and the Olde Fish House, where the Calusa Blueway Kayak Fishing Tournament will be held again this fall. The Calusa Blueway splits into two directions on the northern side of Matlacha. The eastern leg of the trail is marked and numbered and takes you through mangroves and Buzzard Bay. The western leg of the trail has numberless blueway markers to help paddlers find their way through Indian Fields, Smokehouse Bay, around the northern tip of Pine Island, across Pine Island Sound, and ultimately to the end of the trail at the Cayo Costa dock. If you chose to head south, you’ll find mangroves, islands and productive flats. Because both directions are full of fish, wildlife and fantastic scenery, I usually let the wind determine my direction. For those looking for quicker access to Buzzard Bay or need to rent ‘yaks or boards, Gulf Coast Kayak is located on the northern (right) side of the road as you enter Matlacha from Cape Coral. They are a fully equipped paddle outfitter and have guides available. Just look for the kayaks in front of their shop. There is a $5 launch fee if you do not rent from them. Gulf Coast Kayak has organized the Calusa Blueway Fishing Tournament for the past two years and will be doing so again in November. This year, all participants will have an opportunity to win an inflatable Hobie Mirage as a door prize in addition to the cash payouts for the top three anglers. I’ll have a casting game for kids with prizes. For more info, you can go to Calusa Fishing Tournament Facebook page or contact Gulf Coast Kayak. With all the great launch sites, fishing spots, protected waters, novelty shops and restaurants welcoming paddlers and anglers, everyone should make Matlacha a regular paddle destination.

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For a complete schedule and registration information, please go to: https:// paddleguru.com/races/BattleontheBlueway2017 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. FACEBOOK.COM/COASTALANGLERMAGAZINEFTMYERS/ | SEPTEMBER2017 | FORT MYERS 9


Picking a Reel by Fishin’ Frank

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nook season is open, and whether it is to help keep a good aerobic workout program or to take it home for a dinner date, now is the time to go and catch a few! If you’re going snook fishing, you’ll want to have a dependable reel, because these fish can be tackle busters. Here are reels which are around the $100. Pen Reel-Battle II Why pick reels at this price range? In my experience, this is where you get better materials. The steel in the bearings is a much better grade of metal, it is about the quality of the materials, and this is the middle price in today’s world where reels last a lot longer. Let’s start with the one that started the $100 revolution - The Penn Battle. Every other company is trying to catch up, the Battle reels are the benchmark standard for what a $100 reel should be. Penn puts an additional stainless steel bearing for the drag to spin on. What size reel you choose should be by what size line you wish to use. In the old days, reels were designed by line capacity more than strength. Well, plastic mono filament line is similar to a coil spring

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and if the spool was too small the line would just uncoil off and if the reel was larger, the smaller line would catch in the cracks and the drag would, in many cases, break the lighter line before slipping. Today’s reels are made much stronger as line has gotten so small, the reels are made for that and in my opinion, here are the top reels for the money; #1 Penn Battle- the drag washers and ball bearing for the drag still best dollar value, #2 Fin-Nor LethalFin-Nor Reel they just don’t go bad, reliable. #3 Okuma Azore- again strong, I think with this one do you want a dark color or a silver reel, Yes, it is that close. #4 Daiwa BG- it got here for casting distance, it seems to cast a bit farther. # 5 Shield reels- I really like the design and feel and they seem to hold up so far. # 6 the Shimano NASCI- nice weight and feel, better than average casting distance, but random problems with returns, bail issues and the reel stem is a little short if you have larger hands. Reels are kind of how does it feel, the Daiwa and the Shield are newer and I cannot tell you how they will hold up long term yet. The Battle, Lethal and Azores are great, strong, and time tested. And one thing about the Shield is that I like it better with the Shield rod, a solid graphite rod, not a hollow core. I tried the reel on one of my rods and it was OK, but on the Shield rod, a very cool experience. For in depth questions, stop by the store and we will help and just F.Y.I., we are not under sold on Penn reels by any one on the net or in a store! Fishing’ Franks Bait & Tackle 4425-D Tamiami Trail, Charlotte Harbor, FL 33980, 941-625-3888 and 14531 N. Cleveland Ave., Ft. Myers, FL 33903 239-634-1043

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he season starts August 6th every year and this year JC Schwalback, a salesman from MarineMax Fort Myers led 11 boats on the MarineMax Florida Keys Getaway to the Faro Blanco Resort & Yacht Club for a 7-day lobster fishing trip. MarineMax Getaways in the Florida Keys usually involves a lot of time spent on the beautiful blue water. Lobstering is a CHALLENGING and fun family activity, requiring only some snorkel gear, a good breath hold, a stick and net, a boat and a lot of energy! Lobsters are found in natural ledges and holes in the Gulf of Mexico and on hard bottom areas and reefs on the Atlantic side of the islands. The most abundant lobster in Florida waters is the Spiny Lobster, named this because they lack the front claws of a Maine lobster. The Spiny Lobster may lack claws for defense but it makes up for it in speed - in a blink of the eye a Spiny Lobster can travel at great speeds backwards to avoid predators making them difficult to catch once they are in motion. “Dealing with some high winds and afternoon summer storms, the group was still able to catch a few lobster” stated JC Schwalback. Barbara Hildebrant, a MarineMax client, caught a pretty big one on her Boston Whaler 345 Conquest, appropriately named “E FISHN SEA”

For more information on MarineMax Getaways and Boat Sales, stop in at 14030 McGregor Blvd -Fort Myers, FL or give them call at 239481-8200 or visit us on line: https://www.marinemax.com/stores/ fort-myers

10 FORT MYERS | SEPTEMBER 2017 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM/FORT-MYERS/


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moon nights, it’s fun to get out there before dark and start your chum. The snapper will surface and you can use light tackle - ten-pound test and just a hook, game on! Be sure to check the regulations as to where your fishing spot is, as there are different bag and size limits in state waters and federal waters. Where I fish, the regulation for state waters is five fish, ten inches and up, federal is ten fish, twelve and up, for mangrove snapper. If you fish between eight and ten miles out, it could be more productive. So, do some checking before you go.

ello fellow anglers it has been a hot summer! The kids are back to school and this means that they are focused on the Monday to Friday classes and not out on the local waters. So, there should be some room to get out there during the week to do some fishing and relax. I have two grandchildren, which are boys, and they fish with me. We had a chance to go before the school year started. There was about a four-hour window of time before the afternoon thunderstorms were to start. We made a good time of it and traveled by boat to the Punta Gorda side of Charlotte Harbor. The tides were up enough to get close to the mangroves where we caught a nice 22” redfish and some mangrove snapper. With the time we had, along with the three-dozen shrimp, it was a memory making event. These are the type of trips that are enjoyable by all and you talk about for a long time. Some other species that you can keep an eye open for this month are the schools of reds starting to show up to fatten up for the spawn. This is where they come to find the schools of pin fish, which can be huge. Where to look would be close to the passes and ICW. This too could be a great month to catch an inshore slam, snook, red, and trout. The S/W Florida areas that I fish are from Lemon Bay to Pine Island, Charlotte Harbor and out into the Gulf of Mexico. These are the waters that I have learned to fish for forty plus years! Offshore this month, the lane and mangrove snapper action should be good. If it is too hot during the day to fish for some of you, try snapper on the close reefs and natural bottom out to sixty feet. On full

If you would like to go along with Capt. Bart Marx give me a call or e-mail captbart@alphaomegacharters.com Singing drags and tight lines make me smile. <*(((((>{

FACEBOOK.COM/COASTALANGLERMAGAZINEFTMYERS/ | SEPTEMBER2017 | FORT MYERS 11


Juvenile Tarpon By JoEllen K. Wilson, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust

Reel-Ality Sportfishing Charters Capt. Larry Conley 4/6/8 hr trips, Inshore & Offshore, Kid friendly

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FORT MYERS

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efore my little one was born, there was a lot of discussion in B my house about the nursery. What color to paint it, what furniture to buy and all of the little gadgets that new babies need.

She arrived in May and we quickly found that her needs were simple – sleep, eat, poop. Naturally, this got me thinking about tarpon. Juvenile tarpon nurseries may not be complex, but they are mysterious and scientists are trying to figure out exactly what they need. Once larvae reach the nursery habitat (Larval Tarpon: A Survivor Story), they metamorphose into juvenile tarpon which are miniatures of the big fish that we target. Usually these nursery habitats have still, brackish water that can be described as buggy, stinky, and in Florida, hot. We learned in Photo Credit: Randy Farber chemistry class that water molecules are made up of hydrogen and oxygen that bond to form H2O. There are other oxygen molecules in water that fish take in through their gills to breathe – this is dissolved oxygen. Think about baitfish in your bucket. Without an aerator, they won’t live very long because they consume all of the dissolved oxygen in the bucket. Shallow, stagnant water that is ephemerally connected or with a restricted tidal source makes a great nursery habitat for tarpon because of the low levels of dissolved oxygen in the water. Tarpon have a modified swim bladder that has a spongy texture instead of the balloon-like bladders we see in grouper and snapper that are reeled up too fast. A tarpon’s vascularized swim bladder allows it take oxygen from the air instead of relying on dissolved oxygen in the water. This is precisely where the rolling behavior comes from. Juvenile tarpon form the habit of rolling at the surface as a necessity to breathe and adult tarpon continue the behavior, even though there is plenty of dissolved oxygen in the waters they inhabit. As anglers, we appreciate this behavior that makes tarpon much easier to spot. Tarpon nursery habitats are quite vulnerable to degradation because of how close they are to humans – sometimes even in our backyard. They are affected by nutrient runoff that changes the composition of the water and can also introduce harmful chemicals. Even more devastating are the impacts from coastal development that can completely wipe out a nursery habitat. When you have a species like tarpon that is late to mature (~10 years), wiping out the juveniles will have a devastating impact on the fishery, but you won’t realize it until decades later. BTT is looking to combat nursery habitat degradation by using habitat restoration. We find juvenile tarpon habitats that have been affected by development or changes in water flows and collaborate with others to restore it to a more natural system. The challenge is that we still don’t know what the requirements are for the perfect nursery habitat. In Coral Creek Preserve (near Boca Grande, FL), we are using an experimental design to see what habitat features are most appealing to juvenile tarpon. The design includes 3 different treatments with variations in depth and tidal access. Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags and antenna systems that work like microchips and automatic toll booths allow us to track Attaching a PIT in a Juvenile tarpon for juvenile research tracking, Photo Credit: JoEllen Wilson

We could use your help in finding juvenile tarpon habitats. If you know of any locations of tarpon 12” and under, please contact JoEllen at jwilson@ bonefishtarpontrust.org. 12 FORT MYERS | SEPTEMBER 2017 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM/FORT-MYERS/


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FACEBOOK.COM/COASTALANGLERMAGAZINEFTMYERS/ | SEPTEMBER2017 | FORT MYERS 13


New C-Hawk and Mitzi Skiff Dealer

by Ron Gorka

Sunset Dreams, Inc., located on Pine Island in Lee County, FL is pleased to announce Southwestern Florida Dealerships for both Mitzi Skiffs and C-Hawk boats.

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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

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Mitzi Skiff 17’CC TournamentEdition Designed for the shallow water angler and fly fisherman, Mitzi Skiffs are ideally suited for Southwest Florida waters. Manufactured in 15’, 16’ and 17’ models, Mitzi skiffs are available as tiller, center console or side console models. An additional option, the Mitzi Skiff 17’ CC Tournament Model is pictured above. The Mitzi 17 Tournament, in addition to the design features common to all Mitzi Skiff models, comes standard with a bait well console, a rear release well and a built-in fuel tank. A wide variety of options are available including a hydraulic jack plate, powerpole, trolling motor etc. The Mitzi Skiff 17’ Center Console is rated for a 75 hp motor and will perform at up to 45 mph with a 60 hp motor and two passengers. Mitzi 17 Tournament Specs: Length: 16’ 10” Beam: 6’ 5” Draft: 7” (loaded with 2 anglers, motor, gear and fuel) Hull Weight: 530 lbs. Modified Vee Hull (11 degree deadrise at transom) No wood in any part of the boat!

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C-Hawk boats are built in lengths from 16’ to 29’ and in center console and sport cabin configurations. These bay or offshore boats are often used in commercial applications but are nevertheless ideal for the recreational boater or fisherman and have a proven record of toughness and durability since 1977. C-Hawk boats are built in lengths from 16’ to 29’ and in center console and sport cabin configurations. These bay or offshore boats are often used in commercial applications but are nevertheless ideal for the recreational boater or fisherman and have a proven record of toughness and durability since 1977. Sunset Dreams is located at 5149 Pine Island Road NW, ¼ mile east of the 4-way stop at Pine Island Center. The business is ideally situated with frontage on Pine Island Road, the gateway and only highway access to Pine Island and numerous marinas, boat ramps, and the communities of Bokeelia and St. James City. Sunset Dreams is a full service marine facility providing mechanical repair and maintenance for boats and all Outboard and Inboard engine makes with technicians certified for Mercury and Yamaha outboard motors as well as re-powers for Suzuki engines. Services include Power Pole sales and service, boat trailer repair and maintenance, boat bottom cleaning and painting and professional detailing. With a 140-slot storage lot, a secure facility under 24-hour surveillance, and a boat consignment and sales assistance program, Sunset Dreams promises to be worthy representatives for Mitzi Skiffs and C-Hawk boats, brands that have been favorites of fishing guides and charter captains for years.

Visit www.Mitziskiffs.com, chawkboats.net or www.sunsetdreams. com for more information.

14 FORT MYERS | SEPTEMBER 2017 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM/FORT-MYERS/


The Best Angler Photos From Southwest Florida!

Alberto Fernandez showing off his nice red, caught with Capt. Terry Fisher

Monster red caught in Pine Island Sound byDr. Rolando Rodiquez from Bradenton while out w/ Fish Face Charters. Nothing better than father & son lobstering! (Brian Creel- Creel Tractors - and son)

Tianna Rabideau, 7YO with her 30” redfish. Go Girl!

Capt. John Guy of Fishermen’s Headquarters in Bradenton w/ daughter Samantha and their 40” mahi caught offshore in about 150’ of water.

Courtesy of Backbay Extremes & Capt. Dave Stephens

The best surprise! From Gloiathfishing.com

Photos submitted courtesy of: Capt. Bart Marx Capt. James Marko Capt. Josh Roberts Capt. Larry Conley

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

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

FACEBOOK.COM/COASTALANGLERMAGAZINEFTMYERS/ | SEPTEMBER2017 | FORT MYERS 15


In addition, larger breeding size fish that have migrated to offshore schools to live out their lives tend to make occasional visits inshore during this fall spawn. The beach can be a great place to look for these larger fish. Snook, if they haven’t already started, are close to being on the move. In a matter of speaking, compared with redfish, one is coming and one is going. In other words, while the redfish spawn by Capt. Mike Manis is just starting, the snook spawn is winding down. They’re coming t’s the beginning of a transitional period around the harbor with off the beaches and deeper troughs outside major flats preparing some of our favorite inshore species on the move, providing some to settle down near backcountry creek systems when the water of the best opportunities of the year. As fall approaches, the next temperature starts to get a little too cool for their tropical liking. two months have good potential and this is just the beginning. Moreover, they’re hungry and need to fatten up after the spawn For redfish, as the days begin to get a bit shorter and the water and before food gets scarce over the winter. Unlike redfish, snook temperature cools down won’t be hanging out in open bays and sounds, as they prefer September Snook w/ Punta they begin their spawning sticking closer to shorelines and in particular, mangrove shorelines. Gorda Fly Charters period. As a result, the fish With all the creek systems adjacent to Turtle Bay, any shoreline group or “school” up. They inside here can produce. Also, although it’s a busy area, the West can show up in just about Wall can be very good as it has quite a few creek systems and any of the bays and sounds ends at the Myakka River, which is where lots of snook are going that surround the harbor, to end up later this year. The other side of Charlotte Harbor, the as well as the flats on either east side or “East wall” consists of a labyrinth of islands that runs side. To the north, the from Pirate Harbor north to Punta Gorda. Because of the island grass flats on either side network, it’s not as busy as the West Wall and is one of my favorite of the intracoastal inside spots, although it’s too big to call a spot, to look for snook. There’s Stump Pass in Lemon Bay definitely more going on with the fall bite, but it’s just a great time are always worth a look. to target reds and snook. Did I mention they’ll both readily eat a A little further south in fly, soft plastic, or plug. Gasparilla Sound, just about any flat outside Whidden’s Creek and towards the western edge of Bull Bay, could be good. That being Until next month, good tides said, probably one of the most probable spots to find schooling reds is Pine Island Sound. Over the years, there hasn’t been a more Captain Michael Manis is a U.S.G.C. Licensed captain and has been teaching the consistent area. It’s a lot of ground to explore, but with so many sport of fly and light tackle angling since 2002. He lives in Punta Gorda, Florida and can be reached at www.puntagordaflycharters.com. passes bringing clean, cooler Gulf water, it’s simply great habitat.

September Opportunities

I

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16 FORT MYERS | SEPTEMBER 2017 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM/FORT-MYERS/


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Kids Fishing Tips by Robert Field

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t’s so exciting to see more and more kids get into fishing at a young age. As the saying goes, I think it’s crucial to replace X-Boxes with tackle boxes (or any form of outdoor activity, really) to preserve the importance of outdoor recreation in the generations to come. Here are some quick fishing tips to help young anglers land more fish, regardless of the species:

Use Free Resources: Let’s face it: you’re a kid, and your allowance only goes so far. Luckily there are tons of free resources that you can access these days to help you find fish. If you have a smartphone (or can borrow your parents’), the Fishbrain app is a free tool that allows you to search on an easy-to-read map of nearby catches. Quickly see who’s

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catching what species, where they’re finding them and what they’re biting on. Fancy, Shmancy: You don’t need a $400 rod and reel combo to catch fish. Nor do you need an expensive boat. Some of my biggest fish have been landed on cheap gear, and the key is to take your time and stay calm when the big one strikes. If you’re using an inexpensive rod and reel, keep your drag a little looser so you aren’t putting as much pressure on that gear. If you want to get off the bank, save up or ask for a used fishing kayak for your birthday. There are plenty of great sit-ontop options that you can find in the $200-400 price range. Gather Your Buddies: One of the fastest ways to improve your skills is to fish with other people. Learning from their experiences, such as how they lost a big fish or what lures they’ve been catching them on, will help catch you up to speed way faster than videos or articles. If you share what you’ve learned with people, they’ll be much more likely to return the favor. Don’t Give Up: Fishing isn’t easy. If it was easy, I don’t think it’d be nearly as fun. The key is to not get discouraged on those long days with no bites. We all have them. I’m a professional angler, and I still have plenty of days where I catch zero fish. Every time out is another learning experience, and the key to making those “goose egg” days productive is to learn from them. Why weren’t you catching fish? Was it really hot outside? What was the moon like last night, full or crescent? Which direction was the wind blowing? What lures didn’t you try? Pay attention to those types of factors, and you’ll walk away from every fishing trip a lot wiser and a little more ready to hook a monster next trip. I make a living exploring new fisheries and struggling my way through them until I figure out how to catch fish there. If you’re looking for more tips, search for Robert Field on YouTube and browse my videos. I share all the info I can in hopes that others will return the favor. Robert Field Owner, YakFish TV Robert Field is a professional kayak angler and videographer. He travels the country (and beyond) exploring new fisheries in search of species he’s never caught before. His popular YouTube channel documents his travels and fishing trips: www.youtube.com/YakFishField

FACEBOOK.COM/COASTALANGLERMAGAZINEFTMYERS/ | SEPTEMBER2017 | FORT MYERS 17


Rain Brings Cooler Waters

by Capt. Dave Stephens

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ell fellow anglers, hopefully it will not be long before we feel some relief. The past few weeks have been brutally hot. On a recent charter, my depth finder read a surface water Temp of 92.3, at 10:45am. It was at low tide and an area with a dark bottom. I know some folks are fed up with the rain, however we need it with these water temperatures. Our afternoon rain helps keep our local fish from

boiling during this time of year. Nobody that has lived in Florida for any length of time has said, boy that’s some hot rain. Our fishery has survived with the freshwater intrusion for decades, and it will continue. On a better note, we have still been putting fish to the boat. I have been trying to get my bait and pick up my clients as early as possible. Luckily the bait has been cooperating with me lately. The snook fishing has been the most productive for me lately. We have been able to put some solid numbers of fish to the boat. Don’t get me wrong, for the most part they have been running under 30”. Most of the snook lately have been running 18-24”, but good numbers. High tides have seemed to be the better bite, as it cooler water is brought in and using live bait is key. We have been catching some very nice reds in the bushes. The best bite has been on the higher water in the shade. Most of them have been running in the top of the slot. The slot for reds is 18-27”. This is a welcoming sight. Baits fished slower have been getting the best bites, such as pinfish and cut bait fished on the bottom. A little more patience is required for this technique, but you will be rewarded. Large schools of ladyfish have been feeding on smaller schools of bait on the outside the bars in 5-8’ of water. This has caught the attention of the tarpon. At this time of year, these big guys try to fatten up for their migration. I highly recommend keeping a big rod ready. If you have never witnessed a school of tarpon feeding on ladyfish, it’s a jaw dropper. There is nothing like seeing 100-200lb fish sky rocketing out of the water on fish. Toss a ladyfish out behind the boat and get ready, I promise it will not take long for your bait to be inhaled! With this dark water, you can get away with upsizing your tackle. I also recommend it, to help land the fish faster in this hot water. If you would like 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.backbayxtremes.com

18 FORT MYERS | SEPTEMBER 2017 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM/FORT-MYERS/


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19th Annual

Pine Island

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he Matlacha Hookers are proud to host the 19th Annual Pine Island Elementary Fishing Tournament & Derby at the Olde Fish House in Matlacha, FL on Sunday, October 1, 2017. In 1998 twenty-one women came together with the unified goal to “Make a Positive Difference in Our Community” and formed the Matlacha Hookers, a 501c3 charitable organization. Currently almost 300 active members are striving to achieve this goal by exceeding last year’s effort to benefit the students and teachers at Pine Island Elementary. Over the past ten years, $155,000.00 has been donated; this has allowed them to provide an after school-tutoring program, stock their library with over 5,000 books, schedule educational field trips and provide supplemental educational materials. The principal; Steven Hook, awarded our organization this year with the Helping Us Soar award in gratitude for all we do for the children and the school. During the event, we have two types of fishing. The Derby is for the children who fish by land with help from parents and volunteers. Each child is provided with a brand new rod and reel and all the bait they need to catch “the big one”. The rod and reels are theirs to keep. We have seen kids hook into all types of fish over the years from puffer fish to grouper. Trophies are given to the place winners of each division. The adult angler’s tournament begins at 7am with weigh in at 3pm. The adults are fishing for cash prizes awarded to the heaviest legal snook, redfish and trout and

for a slam. Applications, information & event registration can be found online at www.Eventful.com or www.eventbrite.com (key word Pine Island Elementary) and on Facebook event page – 19th Annual Pine Island Elementary Fishing Tournament & Derby. For more information, call DJ Ruscik at 239-910-3829, Toni Trivelli 713-854-6199 or Kate Swanstrom 303-550-4459. If you are interested in donating an item for one of our auctions or to sponsor a child to fish in the event, please check out our website at www.matlachahookers.org All of this wouldn’t be possible without the help of everyone in our community; residents, businesses, anglers and patrons of this annual event. We thank you in advance for your generosity and look forward to seeing you there.

20 FORT MYERS | SEPTEMBER 2017 | COASTALANGLERMAG.COM/FORT-MYERS/


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Lure Makers Create New offerings By Tobin Strickland • Photo Courtesy of KWiggler.com

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ust when you thought you’d seen it all before, something unique shows up in fishing lures that solves a problem that frustrates you on the water. I recently saw a question on an online forum that asked if rod, reel and lure markets were oversaturated. One answer in that thread stated: “while many are making the same old thing, there are new creative solutions to be found for questions that just haven’t been solved intricately enough.” There just hasn’t been a time like today for creative lure makers to solve an angler’s problems and provide some really high-quality offerings. Using 3D modeling, computer graphics, and good ol’ American spirit, modern-day lure makers have the ability to make more sophisticated offerings that get closer to what the angler actually wants and needs. I’ve been around some Texas lure makers that are knocking it out of the park making new or improved lures that really solve key issues. Marker54.com’s Hard Shrimp has one of the best and most realistic shrimp actions I’ve seen. And the Controlled Decent Lure from MyCoastOutdoors.com is a foam-filled soft plastic that gives the angler complete control of depth in the water column. KWigglers.com’s new Willow Tail offers a new shape for a hydrodynamic flapping tail. And TroutSupport.com offers a long-casting, walk-the-dog weedless soft plastic. There hasn’t been a better time to make a new bait, and the industry only benefits from creativity. Throw a couple of these innovative baits in your bag to try out; they might become your new favorites. COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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6. If the bird has swallowed the hook or is severely injured, contact a local wildlife rehabilitator from the list at MyFWC.com/unhook.

Photo by Carol Cassels

E

ven if you take precautionary steps to avoid it, sometimes you might hook a bird by accident. That’s when it’s important to remember—don’t cut the line and let the bird fly away with it attached. This can lead to entanglement, resulting in death of that bird and possibly others as well. Instead, follow these simple steps to unhook the bird: Reel. Remove. Release. 1. Wear safety glasses and enlist a partner for help. 2. Reel the bird in slowly and lift it from the water using a hoop net. 3. Grasp the bird by the head just behind the eyes and fold the wings against the body. For pelicans, hold the beak, keeping the mouth slightly open so it can breathe. Cover the bird’s head with a cloth to keep it calm. 4. Remove the barb and hook from the bird using pliers or clippers. If the bird is entangled, remove all line. 5. Release the bird (if healthy) by placing it on the ground near the water and allowing it to take off.

Pura Vida Divers guide Katie Sandidge poses next to a goliath grouper during the aggregation in this image captured by Walt Stearns.

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n the blue void of water beneath the sea, a large shadow looms in the distance. As you approach, the outline of a sunken ship begins to appear. Lurking under the bow is a large mass of dense, dark fish bodies. Thick-lipped, dark brown or gray goliath grouper swim about, heavy tail fins swaying side to side. Every year, goliath grouper begin aggregating on the wrecks and reefs offshore of Palm Beach County. They school in the dozens, their hulking bodies congregating under ledges or swimming languidly through the water past ogling divers. These huge fish sometimes make a dramatic appearance, emerging out of a school of flashing silver baitfish, their side fins rippling, large mouths gaping open and slowly closing again. While our reefs are home to a few “resident” goliath grouper that are spotted consistently throughout the year, one by one more and more of

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How else can you help a seabird or wading bird? 1. Don’t feed the birds, which teaches them to approach where they are more likely to be hooked. 2. Dispose of filleted bones where birds can’t get them—in a trash can with lid or at home. Bones of a filleted fish can tear throats, stomachs and intestines. 3. Cover bait buckets and take unused bait home. 4. Dispose of fishing line in a monofilament recycling bin or cut into small pieces and place in the trash. 5. Don’t leave your line unattended. 6. Cast carefully to avoid being snared on trees, bridge piles, power lines or obstacles. 7. Help others learn what to do when they accidentally hook a bird. It’s pretty easy, once you know how. More detailed information can be found at myfwc.com/unhook.

these fish begin arriving as summer starts to fade away into fall. Goliaths begin arriving as early as July, and are only here for a short period of time, often leaving as the last days of September tick away. Since 1990, goliath grouper have been considered a protected species, with regulations in place that outlaw their harvest from both state and federal waters. Before that time, their massive size made them a prized trophy fish. Although goliath populations used to abound throughout south Florida waters, overfishing took a huge toll on their numbers, dwindling the species down to alarmingly low numbers. Over nearly three decades since then, goliath grouper populations have made a healthy return. Aggregations now draw hundreds of the species to south Florida waters, with groups spread out in globs along the reef line. The goliath grouper aggregation provides an exciting event for both local divers and tourists, who will travel from all corners of the earth to dive with these majestic fish. They are a favorite of photographers, with wide-angle images of the hulking fish sitting amongst a mass of small silver fish gracing the pages of dive and travel magazines around the world. Goliath grouper are unique animals, moving through the water with the grace of a ballerina and the breadth of a linebacker. Individually or en masse, these fish are a sight to behold, and their arrival each year signals an excitement amongst the dive community similar to the cheer of school holidays among children. If you have never dove with a goliath grouper, this is the time of year to experience a dive unlike anything you have encountered before. Pura Vida Divers is running charters specifically to see goliath grouper aggregations throughout the month of September, on both reefs and wreck sites along the coast of Singer Island and Palm Beach. If you have questions about goliath grouper, aggregation times, or how you can help protect this important species, call Pura Vida Divers at 561-840-8750. Make reservations to go diving with these majestic animals by visiting their website at www.PuraVidaDivers.com.

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8/16/17 12:56 PM


FISH & FISHING

I

MARK SOSIN

never understood it. An angler hooks an unseen denizen of the deep that puts up an incredible battle before it is finally brought to boatside. When the fish is visible and the species can be identified, total disappointment masks the fisherman’s face. It doesn’t happen to be a desired species. Never mind the excitement and thrill of fighting it or the anticipation that it is going to be a highly prized catch. All that is forgotten. Instead, the person on the rod is almost apologetic for wasting time with this pathetic inhabitant. Sharks fall in this category. The thought of targeting these toothy critters makes too many anglers turn up their noses. Particularly in shallow water, sharks are capable of powerful performances with exceptionally long runs thrown in. In many situations, you have to follow them with a boat to avoid having them strip all the line off the reel. And, they are particularly challenging on tackle matched to the occasion. People ask me about the biggest fish I ever caught. It was a shark that weighed at least 1,500 pounds and ate a 250-pound black marlin in three bites. Fishing in Panama for black marlin, I caught a 350-pound mako shark that was reportedly the seventh one ever caught on Pinas Reef up to that time. It put up a better battle than a black marlin. At certain times of the year, schools of sharks tend to migrate close to the beaches along different parts of the coastlines. Tether a live bait to a hook, and the distress vibrations emanating from every frantic tailbeat radiate through the water with the authority of a bullhorn. Predators home in on this ringing of the dinner bell like a crew of half-starved lumberjacks. Toss a live bait along the fringes of the school, and you’re about to yell “fish on.” For the relatively light tackle enthusiast, you can enjoy exciting shark fishing on the slightly deeper flats or by chumming sharks in water depths from 6 to 12 feet where a tidal current is flowing. On

the flats, a live bait is a better choice, but you can cast a whole, dead bait in front of a cruising shark and elicit a strike. The presentation should be the same as if you were casting to a gamefish. Make sure the bait gets in front of the fish and is moving away from its jaws. If you are going to chum sharks, anchor the boat in the current and start tossing pieces of dead bait. As you chum, float a couple of live baits back there and just hold them a reasonable distance astern. This is a situation when you can use sporting tackle, but make sure the reel holds a full spool of line. You’ll need a fluorocarbon or monofilament abrasion leader of a few feet with a foot or two of single-strand wire at the end. If you pass up the opportunity to hook and battle sharks, you’re missing out on an exciting challenge. Sharks have accounted for some of my best fishing memories, and I know they can become memorable moments for you.

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By Capt. Randy Cnota By Patrick Morrow

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s you pull onto the side of the road, you see mullet being chased by predators in the skinny waters of St. George Sound. You can’t help but grin because you know this area is inaccessible to most boats, and you’ll likely have it all to yourself. Redfish, trout, flounder, jack crevalle, pompano and so many more species are yours for the taking once you’ve settled into your kayak and floated away from land. There are more than 40 canoe/kayak launches in and around Franklin County, Fla. Most are found within Tate’s Hell State Forest or the Apalachicola National Forest.

The freedom kayaking offers anglers in this area is a refreshing alternative to motorized boating, and the amount of accessible waters seems endless. From the Carrabelle River to St. Vincent Sound, to include the Apalachicola River, Apalachicola Bay, St. George Sound and East Bay, these diverse ecosystems where fresh and salt waters meet create a kayak fisherman’s paradise. Slip your ’yak into Scipio Creek at the mouth of The Apalachicola River, paddle up the marsh and catch bass, trout and reds all in the same trip. Throw it in the Gulf of Mexico off of St. George Island and bag some pompano for the table; you can do both in the same day! You don’t have to be an expert kayaker to enjoy a day gliding across these pristine waters to cast for world-class fish or simply take in the amazing scenery; you don’t even have to own one. Places like Island Outfitters and Journeys have them for rent. Advice on how to catch what’s biting is always free, and they have all the gear you need for a successful day of fishing or just paddling. The fall version of the Apalachicola Paddle Jam festival will be held Oct. 6-8 in Apalachicola and on St. George Island. This threeday festival celebrates the Forgotten Coast through paddlesports, music and food, with events happening at various locations in Apalachicola and St. George Island. The highlight of the event will be an attempt by paddlers to break the world record for the largest floating kayak raft. For those with a competitive fishing edge, there will be a kayak fishing tournament. This event promises to be huge fun! If you’ve never experienced the peace and joy that kayaking can bring, add this to your bucket list and give it a go. There’s a reason this sport is growing so rapidly… it’s a blast, and this area is a kayaker’s paradise! Franklin County features multiple kayak and boat rental options. For a complete list of rentals, charters and supplies, visit

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By CAM Staff

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he excitement is evident in Capt. Dallas Hopper’s voice when he starts rattling off the options for fall out of Key Largo. Coming off tremendous summer days with huge numbers of mahi-mahi, things begin to change up a little in September. The mahi are still there for the taking, but there are a few other bites that kick off this time of year. Dallas runs Fantastic II Charters with his father Capt. Justin Hopper. And while tourist traffic begins to fall off this time of year, the fishing only gets better. The weather in the keys is still gorgeous, and the seas are typically calm. Even beneath the surface, currents tend to drop off a little in early fall, which makes it one of the best times to head offshore to do some deep dropping. Out of Key Largo, it’s only about a 13-mile run to reach deep-water ledges from 300 to 600 feet deep. Using electric reels, or hand cranks for Airline_Ad_CoastalAngler_8-1-14_Layout 8/1/14 1:14 1 those who want to test their mettle,1 dropping baitPM to Page the bottom is a fun way to load the boxes with delicious fish for the dinner table. The regular

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targets are porgi, vermillion snapper, yellow eye snapper and big snowy grouper. It’s a regular stop on Fantastic II trips when clients want to fill a cooler. “It can be red hot,” Dallas said. “When you’ve marked the fish, the rig barely has time to hit the bottom.” Blackfin tuna are another staple the Fantastic II counts on this time of year. They begin showing up in September on the humps and ledges as well as on the edges of the reefs in 200 to 400 feet of water. “They are an all-around great fish,” Dallas said. They taste good, they fight hard and they’re easy to catch.” Some days trolling big spreads of small lures on light tackle can lead to unbelievable action. Other days the best tactic is to drift and chum them up on the humps. These hard-fighting fish range from 2-pound footballs up to powerful 40-pounders, so anglers are often surprised to find themselves in epic battles on light tackle. Another surprise that might show up in mid to late September is wahoo. When trolling, the Fantastic II likes to pull a varied the spread that will tempt any fish that might be in the area. A ballyhoo on wire with a trolling weight is the ticket for picking up any wahoo that might be lurking. There’s nothing like a big ’hoo to make a good day great… except maybe sailfish showering bait. “It’s not uncommon to run into them crashing ballyhoo on the edge of the reef when we’re headed in or headed out,” Dallas said. Obviously a sight like that calls for an immediate change of plans. The sails show up like clockwork in mid to late September, and the bite gets better as the fall progresses. The Fantastic II guarantees fish. Find them online at charterkeylargo. com, or call 305-514-0211.

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8/16/17 12:16 PM


See grown men cry.

From gill-rattling, fly-dispatching brawls in the backcountry to hook-straightening tugs of war offshore, Key Largo will put your spirit and your line to the test. And with tuna, mahi-mahi and muttons ocean side and cagey tarpon, permit and snook in Florida Bay and the Everglades, your fish rag just might turn into a crying towel. fla-keys.com/keylargo 1.800.822.1088 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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SEPTEMBER 2017

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Make reel memories.

By Chris Beardsley

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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, Martin County is home to 100 artificial reef systems and over 800 species of fish. Its climate, waterways, natural environment and opportunity for diverse catches 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, saltwater or fresh, head out for an adventure and reel in the memories.

Plan your trip at discovermartin.com 18

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he spotted seatrout goes by many names including speckled trout, speckled, gator or just speck. Regardless of its colloquial tag, it can be found along the Atlantic coast and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Interestingly, spotted or speckled seatrout belong to the drum family and can be caught in the same general areas as their red and black cousins. Additionally, their willingness to hit on a variety of baits and the fact that they are excellent table fare makes the speckled trout a fan favorite. Just like their redfish relatives, speckled trout love flashy lures, but live shrimp rank high on the list of baits. Late spring and early summer, a Carolina or drop rig with a live shrimp or grunt is a simple and effective method for catching them in the surf, bays and estuaries. As summer progresses and water temperatures rise, lures and shrimp are still great but best fished during early morning hours. When the bite becomes less predictable, sometimes a complete change of tactics is required. A Doc’s Goofy Jig or similar offering can be productive, albeit a bit unorthodox. And just like fishing for pompano, I’ve found that tipping the jig with a shrimp head or tail and bouncing it off the bottom will coax even the most finicky fish into biting. Late summer, which includes September in most places seatrout live, requires a change in tactics once again, as warm water temperatures drive fish into deeper pockets. Look for holes or deeper ledges in the grass flats, and don’t overlook the drop-offs past the sandbars in the surf. A lazily retrieved gold spoon or Gotcha worked around shell beds will certainly catch fish, but keeping your lures away from the magnetic pull of the sharpest oysters is always the trick. When fishing spoons, the key is to reel just fast enough to make it wobble, then let it sink and bounce it off the bottom to kick up a little sand. Adding some action to your retrieve mimics a wounded baitfish or virtually anything edible that should probably be eaten. This is where a live shrimp or DOA suspended below a popping cork or float really shines. Use just enough weight that will allow the shrimp to swim or drift naturally. Ultimately, the fish will be where they are most comfortable. Fishing the flats during early morning hours is your best option, while targeting the deeper water edges later will be more productive. Getting into these areas undetected can make all the difference. Stealth is critical in the shallows, and a kayak allows you access to very skinny water virtually undetected. Additionally, a kayak is a slick addition to your fishing arsenal and is a fun way to get into areas where others might not venture. If you’re looking to try kayak fishing, a great place to start is Island Outfitters (www.sgioutfitters.com) on St. George Island, Fla. They are an authorized Hobie dealer with over 40 years experience with the gear, tackle and expertise to get you started.

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8/16/17 12:16 PM


By Patrick Sebile

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easons roll through one after another in the nature’s cycle. When we are in winter, we are thinking and wishing for the summer to come. Looking forward, dreaming ahead, planning for the next fishing season or for another trip in our beloved golden hole. The hot days of summer offer action in and out of the water, with holidays and vacations for many. Much has been said and written, and countless songs celebrate the summer. Indeed, summer is nice and I enjoy it, but it is just the precursor for what truly is the very best fishing season of the year, for many fish species, in many areas, in both freshwater and saltwater across North America. That season is now. Starting in September, going strong through October and into November, we anglers experience

the core of the core, the heart of the heart, of the fishing season. For many fish species, fall is the time to eat heavily and get fat to prepare for the sparse winter to come, because right after winter comes the spawning season for most. While cold winter water might lead to lethargy for some species, those that spawn in spring require the energy reserves to produce eggs and sperm. This takes a lot energy, so they must feed heavily in the fall, and take every opportunity to fill their stomachs. It’s a fantastic opportunity for anglers to cast lures or bait to fish that are more concerned with their next snack than anything else. In my homewaters on the Florida shoreline, snook and tarpon will be feeding ravenously on scads of mullet during the famous mullet run. At the same time, walleye will be raiding schools of minnows along the shorelines of a lake in Wisconsin. In Texas, largemouth bass will be ready for any chance to swallow a crawdad lurking around logs in a reservoir. Fat stripers will boil on bunker in their fleeing dance somewhere between the mainland and Cuttyhunk Island in Massachusetts, and calico bass will be involved in a mass killing baitfish along the California kelp lines. And this list could go on and on for countless species and fisheries across the continent. If I were able to build a year for fishing on my own terms, I would make six months just like September, six months like October, and I would add in a glimpse of November. I know this doesn’t add up to 12 months, but let me just dream. My perfect fishing year would mean it would now and forever be the best time of year. But enough of that, I need to take my hands from this keyboard and grab my rods. I suggest you do the same. The short window that is the best time of year has already begun.

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FWC Photo

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ach summer, biologists assess bay scallop populations along the Gulf coast of Florida, in open and closed recreational harvest areas from Pine Island Sound to St. Andrews Bay through adult population surveys. Scientists look at long-term trends in the abundance of scallops and present those findings to the Division of Marine Fisheries Management. Tracking the bay scallop population long term can be particularly tricky. With limited time to cover all of the state’s bay scallop habitats, molluscan fisheries biologists with the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute are turning to other people who know a thing or two about scallops: recreational harvesters. Information they provide will be compiled to complement the researchers’ annual population data. If you’re a recreational harvester, become a citizen scientist by filling out the online abundance survey found at myfwc.com.

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8/16/17 12:16 PM


By Steve Daniel

H

ow many times have you gotten up early to be the first boat on the lake, and then motor to your favorite spot in pitch darkness only to find the bass won’t even think about biting until daylight? Even if the fish don’t bite in the darkness, you still need to be there very early to catch as much of that early bite as possible. The same thing happens when you fish late in the evenings. The fish can be eating the paint off your baits, but when the sun is gone and the lake is in total darkness the bite stops just as abruptly as it started just before the sun went down. What is up with this? Is Okeechobee really that bad of a night-fishing lake. When I lived in Tennessee, we did a lot of night fishing in the summer, and it was great. Here on the Big O, the dif-

ference is we are usually fishing very shallow grassy water. In the daylight, all that grass is producing oxygen. When the light goes out, photosynthesis does not occur, and it seems just like the whole lake just goes to sleep. Now this is not to say that you can’t catch bass at night, but the shallow grassy areas are probably not the places you need to be fishing. The river or rim canals, or maybe the deep dynamite holes, might be a better option because these places don’t have all that grass pumping out oxygen all day long. Here is another observation: How many times have you been catching fish just before a storm and when the rains came the fish stopped biting? This has happened to me many times on Okeechobee, and I never really understood why. When I have a question that I don’t have the answer to, I go the experts. My friend Butch, who has done a lot of research on the effects of rainfall, asked me this, “just what is rain?” Rain is highly oxygenated water and is usually a lot colder than the water in the lake. When all this cold water falls in bucket loads on the warm lake water, it falls quickly to the bottom of the lake. Just what this does to the fish, I don’t know, the only thing I do know is the bite usually stops. There are a lot of things that we know and understand about our lakes and the fish we are trying to catch, but it is all the things we don’t know that make fishing the challenging sport it is. We never stop trying to figure out Mother Nature, but there will always be things we will never know. An Extremely successful professional bass tournament angler, Steve Daniel is a 30-plus-year veteran Okeechobee guide and the voice of Okeechobee fishing on WRVO Radio Network 1’s Hooked up with Steve and Deb. Check out the show at www.renoviolaoutdoors. com. Contact Steve at stevedaniel84@yahoo.com or 239-560-2704.

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Photo courtesy of Show Me The Fish Charters

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he University of Florida’s Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences program has ongoing several research projects studying the seasonal pattern and rates of movement of greater amberjack in the Gulf of Mexico. Of particular interest is to determine the mixing rate of the Gulf stock with the South Atlantic stock, especially in known spawning areas off southern Florida. As a part of the study, greater amberjacks in the Gulf of Mexico are being tagged from southern Florida to the Louisiana coast. Fish are tagged on their left side with an external yellow anchor tag, and anglers are strongly encouraged to report the catch of any tagged fish. Information on the tags include a four-digit tag number as well as a web address and phone number to call and report catches. Information critical to the research is the date, time and location of capture. Exact GPS coordinates are very helpful, and to protect people’s honey holes, those numbers will not be released. Also important, to measure growth rate, is a fork length measurement accurate to 1/8 of an inch. Other helpful information the angler can collect is the weight and sex of the fish as well as the depth it was caught at, the gear that was used and the condition of the fish, particularly around the tag site. Information on fisheries and the movement of fish benefits fisheries managers as well as anglers. If you catch a tagged fish, take the time to jot down the information and report it.

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Catch a Florida Memory With 10-Year-Old Katlyn Paul

S

ummer might be coming to a close, but for 10-year-old Katlyn Paul, this summer was one she’ll never forget. Katlyn submitted 10 different species to the 71-species Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Saltwater Fish Life List, one of three of FWC’s Catch a Florida Memory Saltwater Recognition programs. This qualified her for the first tier of the Saltwater Fish Life List Club. Shortly after, she also submitted a gray triggerfish to the Saltwater Reel Big Fish program, becoming the first angler to qualify for this species. In recognition of her efforts, she received FWC Catch a Florida Memory prize packs including T-shirts and certificates for each achievement. She will also receive two entries into a quarterly raffle drawing for fishing gear such as rods, reels and landing nets. Katlyn’s love of the water runs deep, and working on her life list is more about the experience than the recognition. “It’s really cool to go out with friends and see what’s out there,” Katlyn said. “It’s fun to see the water react,” referring to the varying sea conditions and changes in water coloration of nearby St. Andrews Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Katlyn caught her first fish, a gag grouper, when she was just three, and she was hooked. Today, she is still going strong, enjoying quality time with her dad, Devin, and getting to explore the marine environment around her. She’s even expressed an interest in pursuing a career in marine biology, following her passion to explore the unknown creatures of the deep. The Saltwater Fish Life List was developed as one way to encourage anglers to target a diversity of species, and according to Devin, that’s exactly what the life list has done for his family. “We’re chasing species that we wouldn’t go for otherwise; species that I haven’t fished for in years,” he said. To date, Katlyn has crossed spotted seatrout, ladyfish, dolphinfish, black sea bass, gag grouper, gray snapper, red drum, red snapper, Spanish mackerel and hardhead catfish off of her life list. Since she submitted her 10-fish application to the Saltwater Angler Recognition Program, she has also added a lane snapper, greater amberjack and her Saltwater Reel Big Fish qualifying gray triggerfish to her list of accomplishments. Can you catch up with Katlyn? Join her in participating not only in the Saltwater Fish Life List Club program, but also the FWC’s two other Saltwater Angler Recognition programs: Saltwater Reel Big Fish, which celebrates memorable-sized catches, and Saltwater Grand Slams, which awards anglers for catching three different specified species within a 24-hour period. You can also keep track of Katlyn’s pursuits on the Catch a Florida Memory Facebook page, Facebook.com/CatchaFLMemory. For more information visit CatchaFloridaMemory.com. COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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By CAM Staff

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ver on the Suwannee River, there are so many sturgeon that boaters have to worry about colliding with them when they leap from the water. They are much more rare across the peninsula and farther south. That’s why Alex Gianniny, of Fort Pierce, was so surprised when he was called to identify another angler’s catch and found it was a big Atlantic Sturgeon. The fish was revived and released. Gianniny’s discovery happened last summer at Taylor Creek in Fort Pierce. This spring and summer, there have been at least a couple more sturgeon encounters in the same region. An angler caught and released one from the same Taylor Creek spillway in July. In April, a dead sturgeon washed up behind a home on the St. Lucie River in Palm City. Sturgeon are anadromous, which means they spend most of their time in saltwater and move into freshwater to spawn. They can live as long as 25 years and grow up to 300 pounds sucking up mollusks and other small bottom-dwelling critters. For this reason, sturgeon are rarely caught by anglers. They are encountered more frequently farther north but are very rare in south Florida. So, while catches of Atlantic sturgeon are rare, they do occur. Anglers should know that all three species of sturgeon in Florida—Gulf, Atlantic and shortnose—are protected from harvest by state and federal law. If you are lucky enough to accidentally catch one, enjoy the fight, but handle the fish with care and release it immediately.

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Spectacular Salmon Season is On! By Frank Geremski

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ake Ontario consistently produces some of the best Great Lakes salmon catches, and this year’s fishing has been nothing short of spectacular. Significant early summer rains brought high water, which stimulated a feeding frenzy for giant king salmon. Recent summers have endured dry weather, low water and thinner salmon runs. Both lake and river health was questioned during these dry years, but cool and plentiful rains have done wonders for this fishery. It’s prime time to tangle with beasts that have been tipping the scales over 30 pounds! The experts are excited about lake and river conditions in New York’s Oswego County, holder of 12 New York state and world records. Bob Mallory is an expert on Lake Ontario and Oswego Harbor, where he pursues his passion for trout and salmon. Here are Bob’s thoughts on the 2017 Salmon Season: “Fishing in the lake out of the port of Oswego has Tom Fernandez of The continued to get better every Tailwater Lodge with a trophy week as the season has proearly season King Salmon! gressed. The number of fish being hooked and caught right now is nothing short of amazing and points to a great river season. Trolling in the lake with downriggers and Dipsy Divers with flashers and flies has been my go-to method. In low light conditions, white eChip flashers with A-Tom-Mik Hammer flies is producing. In overcast conditions, try greens; brighter days favor chrome and Mountain Dew colors. As fish get closer to the pier head, J-plugs will produce.” Tom Fernandez and the team at The Tailwater Lodge on New York’s Salmon River have developed a premier fishing resort. Huge salmon can attract a crowd when they blast up shallow runs and riffles on this picturesque river. The Tailwater’s 35 acres of private access solves that issue, and they provide a top-notch fishing concierge service. Tom is looking forward to an early salmon season with these words: “As the nights get colder in Altmar, we can only think about one thing, trophy king salmon exploding outside our back door in the Schoolhouse Pool. This year we are expecting the run to start earlier than we have seen in the past few years, with kings and cohos in the river system from September through October until we get deep into steelhead season. The high levels of Lake Ontario, the consistent good flow through the Salmon River and fish staging outside Oswego and Mexico Point have all the necessary ingredients for one heck of a salmon season. If I were looking for a time to experience the trophy fish on the Salmon River with thinner crowds, warmer temps and explosive fish, I would think about making the early run this year.” To truly experience the salmon spawning process and have a great adventure with the family, the Salmon River Fish Hatchery in Altmar, N.Y. will hold their annual open house Sept. 23, where you can view the complete spawning cycle. To learn more about Oswego County fishing, go to www.visitoswegocounty/fishing.com. Phil Belsito of The Angler Magazine of West Michigan said Lake Michigan fish are large and plentiful also. Go to www.theanglermag.com, then select Great Lakes Region for reports from both Lake Michigan and Lake Ontario.

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he quick answer to this question is “probably not.” The ideal lens for the visual rigors of hunting is an amber lens, sometimes referred to as a copper lens. Not to make this more complicated than it needs to be, but a green lens is sometimes referred to as a G-15 or gray lens. Depending on the time of day and sun coverage, the gray (green) lens may also be a preferred option for hunting. As a hunter, I prefer the low-light sensitive amber lens. The majority of my opportunities seem to come either during the early morning or late afternoon to dusk windows, when light enhancement is preferable to light dispersal. The requirements of your fishing sunglasses are starkly different than your hunting glasses. Looking deep into the water is directly in contrast to seeing long range with limited light. Selecting the perfect hunting sunglasses normally takes a bit of trial and error. My best advice when selecting a new pair of hunting sunglasses is to purchase them from a dealer with a liberal return policy. Finding your best fit and lens requires a little work, but once you find your perfect pair you will find that they improve and enhance your hunting experience. If you need any further advice on selecting your perfect hunting lens, always feel free to contact me or anyone here at Fowler’s. We know sunglasses. Fowler’s Pharmacy, 864-288-5905; 864-288-5920

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FLY FISHING

Lefty’s Deceiver By Carlos Hidalgo

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lthough he would deny it, Lefty Kreh is a legend. With great knowledge (he has authored or co-authored over 30 books and hundreds of magazine articles), boundless energy (he has performed countless lectures and casting demonstrations over the last 60+ years), down-home humor (a dumb person would “pick up a snake to kill a stick”), and showmanship (at casting demos, he finds a pretty woman and makes a cast that curls the fly line around her neck), Lefty has done more to popularize fly fishing than any other person in the last century. He has fished with Fidel Castro, Ted Williams and Ernest Hemmingway, but he hasn’t just witnessed fly fishing history, he has created it. His innovative fly casting techniques are used by millions of us today. Oh yeah, he also developed Lefty’s Deceiver, the best fly pattern ever devised. Lefty tied the first Deceiver during the late 1950s. He wanted a fly that was easy to cast, didn’t foul, looked like a baitfish and had great action in the water. The pattern can be easily described: a tail made up of several matching hackle or saddle feathers with a bucktail collar. Add flash material to either or both, eyes to

the head and some type of red material for the throat, as needed. The hook shank beneath the collar (the body) can be wrapped with the tying thread or a flashy material, like mylar tinsel or Diamond Braid. By the way, Lefty says the key to the pattern is to tie the collar at least as long as the rear of the hook, which keeps the hackle tail from wrapping around the hook. In appropriate sizes and colors, Lefty’s pattern has deceived just about every fish that swims, from four-inch bream to 400-pound billfish. Lefty’s Deceiver has even graced a U.S. Postal stamp. Lefty’s favorite Deceiver colors are chartreuse/white and yellow/ chartreuse. I tie them in many sizes and colors, and my favorite is tied in a Firetiger color scheme. This color works very well for many saltwater fish in sizes 1/0 to 3/0. It has also been very successful for me for peacock bass and largemouth bass in south Florida in size 2. I imagine smallies would jump all over it, too. Lefty’s Deceiver (Firetiger) Hook - Mustad 34007 or similar, size 2 to 3/0 Thread - fluorescent yellow Tail - two yellow and one yellow grizzly hackle on each side, topped with yellow Krystal Flash Body - yellow thread or Diamond Braid Collar - yellow bucktail with yellow Krystal flash and a small yellow grizzly hackle on each side, topped with green Krystal Flash and green bucktail Throat - orange bucktail, as long as the collar Head - fluorescent yellow, with painted orange/black eye, covered with five-minute epoxy Contact Carlos at cah6620@gmail.com to submit a pattern for consideration in this column or to order his book, “South Florida’s Peacock Bass.”

By John Rice

This is a simple tie and a very effective pattern for trout everywhere. Soft hackles are basically emerger patterns. They do not belong on the streambed like nymphs, so this fly should be dropped a foot or so off a nymph so it can suspend itself higher in the water column where an emerger belongs. Thread: 8/0 olive Abdomen: Olive goose biot Thorax: Tan superfine dubbing Hackle: Hungarian partridge Head: 8/0 Olive thread Hook: 1X long, size 18 Tiemco 3761 John Rice guides with Blackhawk Fly Fishing, which offers exceptional fishing for trophy trout in the north Georgia mountains. Contact john at jriceflyfishing@ gmail.com.

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UNDER THE SEA

before harvesting. Along with a closed mating season, this should keep the lobster population stable. 2. Mating season begins in the spring. Lobsters can be observed walking out of their holes in search of a mate, and males can be seen sparring for a lady’s affection. Mating season ends around August, here are a few good things about the fall season though egg-bearing females can be seen yearbesides cooler weather; one of them round. is the beginning of lobster season! 3. Males have proportionately larger legs and I dove with a commercial lobsterman for carapace, and females have a larger tail and extra a few years, and he was like a kid waiting pinchers on the abdomen to hold the eggs. for Santa. Teaming up with someone that Lobster tips from the master: knew where the good spots were gave me the 1. Let some air out of your BC, get your opportunity to spear some nice fish, but it buoyancy under control, and plant your knees in also gave me the opportunity to learn some the sand in front of the lobster. Your butt should tricks of the trade by watching a master not be up in the air! lobsterman at work. 2. Take your time and do not spook them. He First and foremost, you must learn said, “Lobsters are like cattle, you can herd them how to find lobsters. Fortunately, the same wherever you want, as long as you take your time.” territory that tends to hold fish life is also 3. The most common methods are the net good for lobstering. That is because life and tickle stick or looper, but there are some attracts life. When I was scuba diving beside interesting variations on the market now. Become Sheri Daye and Dave Earp display the results him and would see him approach an area of good at all of them, as some tools are better than of solid teamwork. the reef holding a school of fish fry, I knew others in certain situations. his senses were on high alert, and I’d start 4. When using a tickle stick, use aluminum looking for fish. Invariably, while he picked up instead of plastic. Lobsters do not respond as well a lobster or two, I would see a desirable fish. to plastic. Over the years, we honed the most efficient method for hunting as a 5. Be careful not to touch the antennas. Tap or nudge a lobster from buddy team. He focused on lobsters while I did all the spearfishing. He behind to move it into position and put the net over it. Measure the would tow the flag, which meant I could be faster and more streamlined carapace, check for eggs (by the way, extra skittish lobsters often have in the water while going after fish. We drifted with the current, parallel to eggs), then place in your catch bag, and enjoy your dinner! the reef, side-by-side. If he missed seeing a lobster, which was extremely Fall is in the air. Happy hunting! rare, I would bang my tank to alert him, and he would do the same with fish. Over the years, we became the best of friends and a formidable Sheri is a world-record holder, host of Speargun Hunter, and producer hunting team. of The Blue Wild Ocean Adventure Expo in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Follow Lobster fun facts: “Sheri Daye” and “The Blue Wild” on Facebook and Instagram. 1. Lobsters reach sexual maturity in two to three years when the carapace is a little longer than 3 inches. Florida law requires a carapace For more Sheri Daye, go to to be longer than 3 inches, thus allowing lobsters a chance to reproduce

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Coastal Angler Magazine - September / Fort Myers  
Coastal Angler Magazine - September / Fort Myers  

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