Coastal Angler Magazine | July 2024 | Florida Keys Edition

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Trout don’t grow huge on a diet of insects alone, so Budkey fshes 2- to 3-inch-long bait lures to take advantage of the carnivorous tendencies of big fsh. Tese fsh have good eyesight, so he fshes 4-pound-test and said light line can be the diference between catching dozens of fsh or nothing at all.

Now… battling 10-pound trout in current with light line is tricky, to say the least.

“You really have to wear them out. you all the way down the creek and back up it, jumping and thrashing,” Budkey said. “If you try to muscle them, they’ll break you o


Part-time guide Stephen Budkey catches a lot of outsized trout fshing the streams of western Pennsylvania. Much of his success with giant 6- to 15-pound rainbows and browns has to do with location, but he also uses some interesting tactics that specifcally appeal to large fsh.

Te setting is on Lake Erie tributaries. Tese streams vary in size, but generally Pennsylvania is known for smaller fows. Te key to their productivity is the lake. Lake Erie feeder streams experience steelhead runs a lot like the rivers of the Pacifc Northwest. Fish grow large gorging on baitfsh in open water before pushing into tributaries in early fall to spawn. Te lakerun rainbow trout in this migration are called steelheads, and there are bruiser brown trout that run up out of the lake, as well. Budkey also has access to a stretch of privately managed tailwater, which is an obvious target-rich environment for very large trout. Regardless of where he’s fshing, he uses tactics and gear that might seem odd to

trout anglers in other regions.

If you’re a snooty fy fsher, set your tweed hat aside for a minute. Tis might not convince you to pick up a spinning rod, but Budkey has an undeniable knack for catching giant trout, and you might just learn or adapt something from his style of fshing.

Reading water in western Pennsylvania is the same as it is anywhere. Trout like the cold, welloxygenated water of broken water and rifes. When targeting large trout, Budkey said he looks for the deepest runs or waterfall holes in the creek he’s fshing.

“I’m talking about creeks that are sometimes just the width of your car, and these fsh will just stack up in there,” he said. “And when they stack up, they really stack up. It’s wild.”

Budkey said clients who are decent anglers can have 25-fsh days that include trout that might weigh 6 to 10 pounds. Most of these trout were originally stocked by the state, but there is some reproduction, and holdover fsh that have been in

To even the odds, Budkey fshes a 10-footlong noodle rod, which is extremely absorb shock during the fght and protect that light line. Another important factor is a big net for landing fsh, and it doesn’t hurt to have someone else to serve as net-man. Sometimes it’s not possible to bring big fsh to hand, and a net man can wade out to get them.

When trout are aggressive, they are super aggressive, Budkey said. He likes a good-old foating Rapala when the trout are actively chasing and fshes a 2-inch F05 or a 2.75-inch F07 tied on with a loop knot. He just throws it into the current, gives it a jerk to get it wobbling and lets it sit there until a fsh crashes it.

If fsh want something on or near the bottom, Budkey fshes jigs. Trout Magnet jigheads in 1/32 and 1/64 ounce—the lightest you can get away with—paired with Gulp! sof plastics are deadly. Trout are suckers for these scented plastics, and he likes the 2.5- and 3-inch minnows as well as Killer Crawlers and Pinched Crawlers.

Te technique with the jigs is slow. Budkey said he just wiggles the rod tip to give the lure some action.

“It’s almost like I don’t want to move the jig toward me very much, at all. I just want it to sit there and wiggle,” he said. “It’s like shaking a donut in someone’s face at the gym. Tey can’t handle it. Tey’ll run out and grab it.”

Afer the take, it’s time to start worrying about how to battle that fsh to the net on super-light line. Budkey said that is the most fun part of trout fshing, and he loves nothing more than showing other people how to experience it.

See some of Budkey’s tactics on YouTube @FishFightsPA.

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In mid-June, NOAA Fisheries announced a one-day recreational season for red snapper in the South Atlantic. Although there was widespread grumbling and gnashing of teeth by recreational anglers, it did not come as a surprise to pretty much anyone.

First the season: Red snapper harvest will be open for recreational anglers in the South Atlantic, from North Carolina through Florida, on July 12. Te limit is one fsh per angler.

Te date is subject to change in case a small craf weather advisory is projected. Any change in the date of the recreational season will be announced in the Federal Register, Fishery Bulletin, and an announcement via NOAA Weather Radio.

Now the reasoning: In 2008, NOAA’s stock assessment indicated red snapper in the South Atlantic were in bad shape and devastatingly overfshed. Over the last 16 years, NOAA has essentially shut down recreational fshing for the species, and catch limits for commercial fshing have been kept very low. Not surprisingly, it worked! Populations rebounded to the point where data indicates red snapper are now more plentiful in the South Atlantic than at any time since such data existed. What’s more, the fshery continues to improve ahead of the projected recovery timeline.

Tis year, instead of allowing greater access to the fshery, NOAA decided to tighten already draconian restrictions. Te overall quota for red snapper was cut by 25 percent for 2024. As the fshery has improved, recreational anglers have gone from a ridiculously short fve-day season in 2019 to an absurd one day of fshing in 2024.

According to NOAA Fisheries, the red snapper fshery is in a “recovery trap.” Abundant red snapper have led to increased incidental catches by anglers, and NOAA extrapolates that data into a formula for catch-and-release mortality. Basically, they’re telling us that there are so many red snapper that anglers are killing too many of them by catching and releasing them.

Te result is tighter regulations in an infexible system, where highly questionable data is used to shut down access to a public resource. We’re not even going into numerous occasions in recent years when NOAA has been forced to admit its data is shockingly fawed.

According to the American Sportfshing Association, work is underway to improve data collection for the South Atlantic red snapper fshery.

In the meantime, try not to get in a boat wreck during the one-day mad dash to catch your one red snapper from the Atlantic. Or you can just trailer your boat to the Gulf of Mexico, where the states fnally managed to bludgeon some sense into federal fsheries managers a few years ago.

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Welcome to the best day of the week—the day before your next fshing trip! If you’re going ofshore tomorrow, it’s time to make a game plan, and a look at current Sea Surface Temperature (SST) charts is the frst step. With knowledge of accurate surface temps, chlorophyll imagery and other environmental factors, you can home in on areas that are likely to hold baitfsh and feeding predators.

to consider when targeting gamefsh. It provides shelter and feeding opportunities for all marine life. While you can stumble upon fsh just about anywhere in the ocean, you’ll locate more on and around structure.

Large underwater structure defects current and pushes nutrient-rich water toward the surface, creating areas where bait concentrates and holds. Also remember that weed lines are a key form of structure on the edges of the Gulf Stream.

A reasonably priced satellite service is a small price to pay when compared to rising fuel prices and time spent running in search of gamefsh. Here are a few of the factors SST charts can help you decipher and improve the odds of fnding fsh.

Color Breaks: Te boundary areas between blue and green water, ofen referred to as color breaks, will typically stack up bait and hold above-average numbers of gamefsh.

Chlorophyll is the beginning of the food chain for marine life. Find it and you have a good chance at locating bait and fsh. Temperature and chlorophyll breaks ofen correspond with color changes. So, once you’ve reviewed the images and located the general area of a color break, this becomes an area of interest.

Structure & Current: Structure is critical

If you can fnd a color change that corresponds with structure, this is where you want to begin fshing. If everything lines up, there’s a good chance upon arrival that you’ll see marine life including birds, porpoise, fying fsh and other bait. Tis doesn’t mean you won’t catch fsh in of-colored water, but there’s a much better chance you’ll fnd concentrations of bait in or around the edges of areas where green and blue water interact.

Tides from inlets also play a role in water clarity, creating rips and weed-line formation. Bait will concentrate along the edge, especially where this water pushes up against the waters of the Gulf Stream. Look for these demarcation lines on incoming and outgoing tides.

Learn to read these vital signs both on and of the water using charts. If you can consistently

fnd areas that hold bait, you’ll always have a shot at your quarry. You will have become a top predator!

Mark Ambert, IG @marksgonefshing_™


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The electric reel is a game changer for highspeed jigging. Electric provides some distinct advantages in comparison to hours spent manually cranking jigs at high speed through the water column.

With this style of jigging, I’m talking about working heavy jigs for big fsh on deep structure. Te key to catching fsh is fnding areas that consistently hold bait. Look for reefs, hills, and larger wrecks in deep water that hold baitfsh. Tis is where you’ll fnd feeding fsh.

Check your sonar screen frequently and look for “scratches” or fsh feeding in the water column. We usually assign one person to call out depth changes along with depth of marked fsh. Tuna can be found from 250 feet up to the surface. Highspeed cruisers like wahoo and kingfsh prefer the upper 50 feet of water, while amberjack will be close to structure. Jigging and adjusting depth to target fsh is more efcient under electric power, and the most difcult part of the electric game is picking the right equipment that works together.

Simplicity, along with reasonable size and weight, are key considerations for long days targeting big game fsh. I landed on the Piscifun Kraken X electric reel, and it has become indispensable in my arsenal.

Te Kraken is moderately priced and uses the same proven Japanese motor technology as many of its competitors. Te 33 pounds of max-drag were put to the test unexpectedly in the reel’s frst trip during a battle with the ultimate slugger—a 40-pound-class amberjack. Tey’re not called “reef donkeys” for nothing! Tis reel made short work of that AJ without heating up or momentarily shutting down, which is a common issue for overtaxed electric reels. I fsh a lef-handed model when high-speed jigging, and the Piscifun PB5000 battery pack provides all-day power and complete

mobility around the boat.

Te Kraken mates perfectly with the Goofsh Monster Deep PE4-7. It’s a 7-foot rod that handles a maximum jig weight of 700g. It can deadlif 44 pounds, and has held up to some signifcant adversaries without being too heavy.

I spool all my reels with FINS braid. I use the 45/6, which has 45-lb. breaking strength and the diameter of 6-lb. monoflament. Tis matches the reel specifcations while adding line capacity. Te thin diameter also cuts through the water with little resistance, which is critical for vertical jigging.

On the business end, I use jigs in the 180-to320g range but can go as heavy as 700g if needed to reach bottom. I use a 50-lb. wind-on leader from Sufx. My go-to jigs are from Williamson, under the Rapala family of lures. Rapala also owns VMC,

so these lures are equipped with high-quality hardware. I use Koika, Kensaki, Vortex, Abyss and Benthos jigs.

With these in your arsenal, you can cover any situation and depth. Make sure to purchase glowin-the-dark options along with high visibility and natural colors. Purchase your favorites in multiple size ranges from light to heavy, and you’re set!

With an electric reel, you can easily alternate jigging retrieves from a slow yo-yo motion, which mimics a wounded baitfsh, to a full-on high-speed assault, which triggers the bite refex. Experiment with diferent techniques and settle on the one that works best on any given day.

Make sure the drag is set like any other star drag reel with the ability to pay out line when a big fsh slams your ofering. Once hooked up, use the electric motor to apply constant pressure. I fnd this is more efective for wearing a fsh down than manually pumping the rod while reeling.

Most of all, experiment with your new rig. It will open a world of new options and make your days much more enjoyable. I alternate between the powered setup and a quality spinning rod setup specifcally for jigging.

I personally have over 400 hours of hardcore jigging on this combination without a single point of failure. Now get one on the water and enjoy your new-found passion!

Mark Ambert, IG @marksgonefshing_™

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Blackfin Schools are Still Here!

Just in case you missed the frst few runs of blackfn tuna that made it to south Florida, they’re still around, and this month I’d like to share some information and tips about targeting this amazing eating fsh.

Blackfn are very easy to distinguish from other tuna species. Like all tuna species, they are football shaped with smooth scales. Unlike yellowfn, blackfn do not have elongated dorsal or anal fns. Tey have a black stripe running along the top of their back. Most blackfn caught around here weigh between 5 and 10 pounds and measure in the 20- to 30-inch range.

Tese tuna are found from Massachusetts down into Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico. Within these regions they will almost always be found in schools. Tese schools can be found in a variety of water depths which varies due to current and water conditions as well as the presence of baitfsh. However, they will typically not venture past 200 feet.

Since blackfns are highly migratory fsh and are constantly moving, they can’t exactly be targeted of reefs and other structures, like some other species. However, they do feed primarily on baitfsh and hunt prey like grunts, threadfns, blue runners or even pinfsh, and many times structure is what consolidates these baitfsh. Tuna schools can ofen be found wherever the bait schools are, and they tend to stick around for a while as they clear out all the baitfsh in an area. Tere are occasions when they will also eat squid or shrimp that foats past them.

Of Florida, blackfns spawn from April to September. When they spawn, the schools of blackfn move farther ofshore and participate in broadcast spawning. Te purpose of moving ofshore is to make sure that the eggs stay adrif in the Gulf Stream and don’t get pushed inshore. However, since the eggs and young tuna spend a majority of their life ofshore, this creates opportunities for predators such as mahi-mahi, skipjack tuna, sailfsh, birds, and of course sharks.

Tere are many ways to target blackfn tuna. I like to drif fsh for them with whatever bait is prevalent and available, whether it’s blue runners, sardines or threadfns. A typical spread for drifing might include two weighted downlines—one for the middle of the water column and one deeper— and a couple of freelines, one on each corner. Kites are another great way to present baits on the surface. With a spread like this, you’ll cover the water column from top to bottom and have a good chance of putting baits in a school of hungry blackfns. If you don’t love live bait, slow-pitch jigging around reefs is also an option. Either way, you never know what else you’ll catch while fshing for tuna.

Remember, fshing is called fshing and not catching for a reason. Try and try again until you succeed! Te IGFA all-tackle world record blackfn tuna weighed 49 lbs., 6-ozs. It was caught of Marathon, Florida back in 2006.

Emily Rose Hanzlik has caught more than 60 IGFA world records in various categories. Find her on

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Every fsherman has a story of the “one that got away.” In my case, the “one that got away” story is of an ongoing battle that became personal.

One fall morning in central eastern Florida, I was fshing under a dock with a Zara Spook. During my retrieve, an explosion broke the water in a way I had never seen in 35 years of fshing. I stood in shock as line peeled of my 4000-size Penn Battle II combo. When the fsh jumped, I saw it was in the mid-40-inch range, and as is frequently the case with big snook, she played with me for a while before bolting into the pilings to break me of. Tis monster would have been my personal-best.

A few weeks passed before I returned to the same dock. Tis time I went armed with a paddletail. Maybe 15 casts in, she bit. I could tell right away it was the same fsh because of the way it fought and because it hit in the exact same location. Speaking of the same, she did the same thing and broke me of in the pilings.

Would you believe me if I told you it happened again? Well, you better, because it happened six more times! Afer the fourth break-of, as I was walking along the shore, I found the Spook I lost the frst time I hooked the fsh.

I told you it became personal. Over the next

four months, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. fve or six days a week to fsh the same spot.

I ended up having a total of seven hook-ups and break-ofs with that fsh before I went back to the drawing board.

I geared up to a Penn Battle II 5000 rigged with 30-pound braid and a 50-pound mono leader. I changed lures to a Zman MinnowZ pinned to a ¼-ounce DOA red long-shank jighead. My logic was the long shank would give space between the hook point and the leader, which kept getting frayed by the fsh’s teeth or sliced by the gill plate.

On the morning of Aug. 11, on the third cast of the day at the same spot, my lure just stopped. As I came tight, I saw the head of a snook. As it got closer, it kept getting bigger, and when I gave my rod a hard tug, the fsh didn’t even fght. It swam straight to the shoreline. I knew right away it was THE ONE! I worked quickly to measure and photograph

the fsh so I could release it safely. It was 44 inches, without the tail squeezed.

We all have stories of the ones that got away. How many can say they’ve had the same fsh get away seven times, only to land it eight months later in the same spot?

Got a great fshing story? Write it up and send it with a few photos to We might just share it with the world.


Florida Keys

The Heat is On

It has been a great start to the summer, and we’ve been catching plenty of fish. I have been enjoying my new 26ft Contender and can’t believe it took me so long to get a T-top for it. I have been fighting it for years because I fish so many days at the local bridges during tarpon season, I was afraid it would get in the way. However, I would like to say I made through the tarpon season so far without a scratch, even though there were some nervous moments running through the old bridge with a jumping tarpon on the other end of the line!

The tarpon season is nearing the end for the bridges, but there is still some good backcountry fishing for the silver kings. If you missed the bridge action, give me a call and let’s schedule an Everglades adventure where we will find everything from tarpon to snook to redfish during the next several months.

On a recent snook trip to the backcountry, we came back to the Keys when the tide was right for a little permit action. Permit are one of my favorite fish and we catch them with everything from a fly rod to a live crab. If you have never experienced this, I recommend a 15 spin rod with beaded line and a fluorocarbon 30# leader the length of the rod, and a live crab the size of a silver dollar. Cast it in front of the permit and hold on, you will be in for a good fight!

Summertime is a great time to fish in the Islamorada area where you can catch a sport fish or something else dinner, so now is the time to get out there and go fishing.

If you don’t have a boat and want to get out on the water, or if you do have a boat and would like me to show you how we get it done around the area drop me a line. I can also show you how to better use your electronics for a better fishing experience, so let’s get out on the water!  Greg

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un facts about tarpon: Scientists have proven from fossil research that tarpon have existed in our oceans since prehistoric times. Tarpon are BIG. They have been documented reaching sizes of up to eight feet long and can weigh in at up to 280 pounds. Tarpon have incredibly long life spans. It’s not uncommon for tarpon to live more than 50 years and the oldest tarpon in captivity lived to be 63 years old. Tarpon are nicknamed “silver kings” due to their size, color, and dynamic appearance. Tarpon can be found from shallow coastal waters and estuaries to open ocean waters and are frequently seen around coral reefs. They have even been found in some freshwater lakes and rivers! Because of their strength, size, and fighting ability, tarpon are one of the most sought-after game fish in Florida.

Most fun fact about tarpon in my opinion is that I have caught a lot of amazing fish, but I had never caught a tarpon until my soul sister and fellow lady captain, Captain Whitney Wemett, introduced me to a real tarpon captain, Captain Justin Rousey. Captain Justin and I had a meet and greet breakfast one day where we talked travel and fishing stories for three hours. We became fast friends. Captain Justin was leaving for the summer in mere days to surf in Washington and charter fish in Ketchikan, Alaska. When Captain Justin realized that I had never caught a Tarpon, he selflessly offered to delay leaving town for a couple of extra days to take me out and try to get my first Tarpon. I was thrilled!

We left on our planned afternoon, and we head to the bridges to find the ever elusive prized tarpon that I had dreamed of for so long. We anchored and put out live Finger Mullet for bait at a few different spots along the bridge spans but did not have any luck. We made the move to a different bridge. That’s when things got a bit frustrating, as we were trying to set the anchor and baits, we were right at slack tide and nothing was happening the way we wanted. After a couple of hours of relentlessly trying, the tide finally started to move out. We got the boat anchored perfectly and the live mullet out and everything was looking good. To add to the excitement, and frustration, we not only saw another boat hook a tarpon, but we even saw one do an epic jump just a few bridge spans down. Captain Whitney, Captain Justin, his trusty dog Penn, and I kept our hopes high. Now the sun was setting, but we kept on trying. We anglers know that small window of dusk twilight can sometimes lead to magic, and on this occasion, it definitely did! So, the sun sets and the sky is a beautiful pink hue and that prized tarpon I had wished for so long hit. Then the real magic started!! I took the rod and this fish was big! I am a pretty experienced angler, but the sheer strength and agility of the tarpon was like nothing I had ever experienced. The fight was intense. Captain Justin continued to expertly move the boat as I relentlessly fought the tarpon and the tarpon relentlessly fought back. Captain Justin’s easy demeanor and perfect coaching was exactly what I needed to stay somewhat calm and focused. It got dark quickly and now Captain Whitney is holding a spotlight on the fish and Captain Justin placed a headlamp on my head so that he could continue to maneuver the boat in a way that would help me with my fight and not break this big angry fish off under the boat. Every time I got this amazing beast to the boat he would run again, and all of my efforts were for naught. I have never had a fish just keep taking line like this monster. I even got him boat side at one point and as the line went slack, I thought I lost him, but quickly I felt him running and he did an amazing jump about 100 feet from the boat and then a second jump even further out. I had to start again as I was intent on not losing this prized fish. I finally got him tired and boat side the final time, Captain Justin unhooked him and handed him off to me. My arms were jelly and my hands were shaking, but I held that big guy up long enough for photos, because without pictures, it’s just another fish story! So, I got my tarpon and my heart sang! I hugged Captain Justin tightly as I couldn’t thank him enough for this amazing and long-awaited experience. All my thanks go out to Captain Justin, Captain Whitney, Penn the dog for his patience, and the tarpon that I will dream of for a long time to come. And if you want to catch one of these prehistoric beasts, call me and I’ll hook you up with Captain Justin for an unforgettable fishing experience!

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Summertime is here and we’ve got so many different kinds of fishing available. Of all the different species available to us in the Florida Keys, the most popular by far would be the dolphin fish or mahi-mahi! They’re everybody’s favorite sportfish.

After a slower than usual summer last year in 2023, the fishing this year has rebounded and we’re having a pretty decent season so far. Of course, every day is different. They’ll be slow days where you must really work hard to put a catch together and days with red hot fishing where it seems like there are mahi everywhere! Huge schools of fish all around the boat!

When heading offshore in search of mahi in the Florida Keys one thing you’ve got to remember is that every day truly is different. For one thing we’re fishing in the Gulf Stream, with the current moving at an average of about 2 knots. That means that the water you fish in today will be 50 miles up the road tomorrow, and any weed, floating debris, and fish will be far away the next day. It also means that every day is a fresh start. With new water, new fish, and new habitat like weed lines, weed patches and debris floating up from the southwest.

What all that means is that every day is truly a new adventure heading off shore in the Florida Keys. While being out there every day gives me a general idea of where I’ll start the next day. It’s kind of like I’ve got to erase the chalkboard and start over again each day. That’s part of what keeps it fresh and makes every day interesting when running offshore charters here in the keys. Every day I’ll head offshore looking through my binoculars and paying attention to all the signs to try to figure out where they’ll be that day. Every day a new hunt begins.  I would highly recommend getting on an offshore charter this summer and trying your luck mahi fishing. There is nothing like the site of a huge school of mahi with beautiful tropical colors all around the boat. Come on out and see for yourself!

— You can reach Captain Bruce Andersen at Capt. Easy Charters, MM 85, call 305.360.2120 or email at: Mile Marker 48 / Marathon / 305.289.0540 Penn – Daiwa – Shimano – Fin Nor – Okuma Rod & Reel Sales / Service / Repair Bait: Live – Frozen – Fresh Ice: Bagged – Block – Bulk FISHING CHARTERS & GUIDE SERVICE Dexter Knives Smith Optics Costa Sunglasses and Apparel Pelagic and Oceanic Apparel & Hats Tackle Box T-shirts - Hats - Visors No-See-Um Insect Repellant Calcutta Merchandise Triple D and Tuna Killers FishingTormentor Gear
It’s kind of like I’ve got to erase the chalkboard and start over again each day. That’s part of what keeps it fresh and makes every day interesting...
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Iwoke to the predawn light just breaking over the horizon. It was already steamy out. Looks like another sweltering day. Today is the start of my offshore fishing season. There is nothing I could be more excited about. As the boat rocked against my dock, I loaded up my gear. It has been a few months since I have been this thrilled. Sun blazing, I got to the Sword Ground. Lines in…I was ready. Mahi surrounded the boat. There it was… fish on. I caught several Mahi while waiting for a Sword bite. Patiently watching the line, a shark hit. 2 hours later he was released back into the blue water. Unfortunately, I definitely have them dialed in.

I saw a hit a couple hours later. It was the biggest Blacken Tuna I ever caught. The first day of my season was a success. I’m so happy to be back in my happy place.

— Beth Steele Owner, Hooker BookerLLC @hookerbookerllc
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When it comes to combining the thrill of fishing and the joy of eating, nothing beats some mahi mahi tacos. And to top that, nothing beats fresh mahi mahi tacos! That’s what I love most about a good ole catch, clean and cook because the day doesn’t end when the boat comes back. You can spend all day on the boat fishing for some schoolies, working on your tan, and maybe having too much rum. That’s just a highlight! The real magic happens when you go back inside your house and start working on your chef skills. This time, focusing on fish tacos. Everyone does them differently, but my favorite way is to blacken the mahi. I then chop up some white onions and cilantro, slice a few limes and blend together the perfect cilantro and tomatillo green sauce. Sometimes I like to add a twist and put something tropical in the mix like pineapple or mango (maybe even some spice) and bon appétit, you have the best fish tacos ever! Now just add coconut margaritas and start working on dessert then boom, your guests will never want to leave, and you just successfully did your first catch, clean and cook! Whenever you take that first bite, let’s remember to honor the fish and be grateful we have the opportunity to do what we love! Also, the next time you are out and about fishing, remember you’re not just catching dinner, you’re reeling in memories that will last a lifetime! Tight lines and tasty tacos, my friends!

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23 Tue 11:14 1.7 11:45 1.8 6:06 0.0 6:26





12 FLORIDA KEYS JULY 2024 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM/FLORIDA-KEYS Key Largo, South Sound, FL - Jul 2024 Date High Low AM ft PM ft AM ft PM ft Rise Set Moon
Mon 5:24 1.5 6:22 1.6 12:32 0.1 12:57 -0.2 6:31 8:17
Tue 6:25 1.5 7:21 1.6 1:31 0.1 1:53 -0.2 6:32 8:17
Wed 7:23 1.5 8:16 1.6 2:27 0.1 2:47 -0.2 6:32 8:17
Thu 8:18 1.5 9:06 1.7 3:20 0.1 3:39 -0.2 6:32 8:17
Fri 9:09 1.5 9:53 1.7 4:10 0.1 4:28 -0.2 6:33 8:17
Sat 9:56 1.5 10:37 1.6 4:58 0.1 5:15 -0.2 6:33 8:17
Sun 10:42 1.5 11:18 1.6 5:44 0.1 6:00 -0.1 6:34 8:17
11:25 1.5 11:57 1.6 6:29 0.1 6:44 -0.1 6:34 8:16
12:35 1.5 12:50 1.4 7:56 0.1 8:09 0.1 6:35 8:16 11 Thu 1:12 1.5 1:34 1.4 8:39 0.1 8:53 0.2 6:35 8:16
Tue 12:08 1.4 7:13 0.1 7:26 0.0 6:35 8:16 10 Wed
Fri 1:49 1.4 2:19 1.3 9:23 0.2 9:40 0.3 6:36 8:16
Sat 2:29
0.2 10:30
Sun 3:12 1.3 4:01 1.3 10:56 0.2 11:23 0.4 6:37 8:15
1.3 3:08 1.3 10:08
0.3 6:36
Mon 4:01 1.3 4:58 1.3 11:47 0.2 6:37 8:15
Tue 4:55 1.3 5:57 1.4 12:18 0.4 12:38 0.1 6:38 8:15
Wed 5:54 1.3 6:55 1.4 1:12 0.4 1:30 0.1 6:38 8:14
Thu 6:52 1.3 7:49 1.5 2:04 0.3 2:21 0.0 6:39 8:14
Fri 7:48 1.4 8:40 1.6 2:54 0.3 3:10 -0.1 6:39
8:41 1.5 9:28 1.7 3:42 0.2 3:59 -0.2 6:40 8:13
21 Sun 9:32 1.6 10:15 1.8 4:30 0.1 4:47 -0.2 6:40 8:13
Mon 10:23 1.7 11:00 1.8 5:18 0.0 5:36 -0.2 6:41 8:12
-0.2 6:41 8:12
Wed 12:06
-0.1 7:17 -0.2
1.7 6:56
6:42 8:12
Thu 12:31 1.8 12:59 1.7 7:47 -0.1 8:10
6:42 8:11
1:18 1.7 1:54 1.7 8:40 -0.2 9:07 0.0 6:43 8:11
Sun 3:02 1.6 3:55 1.6 10:36 -0.1 11:10 0.2 6:44 8:09
Sat 2:08 1.7 2:53 1.7 9:37 -0.1
0.1 6:43
11:38 -0.1 6:44 8:09 30 Tue 5:04 1.5 6:06 1.6 12:14 0.3 12:40 -0.1 6:45 8:08 31 Wed 6:09 1.5 7:07 1.6 1:15 0.3 1:39 -0.1 6:45 8:08 Islamorada, Florida Bay, FL - Jul 2024 Date High Low AM ft PM ft AM ft PM ft Rise Set Moon 1 Mon 7:01 0.7 8:49 0.3 1:33 0.2 3:23 -0.1 6:35 8:17 2 Tue 7:54 0.7 9:55 0.3 2:22 0.2 4:24 -0.1 6:35 8:17 3 Wed 8:46 0.7 10:50 0.3 3:13 0.2 5:18 -0.1 6:36 8:17 4 Thu 9:37 0.7 11:37 0.3 4:05 0.2 6:07 -0.2 6:36 8:17 5 Fri 10:26 0.7 4:55 0.2 6:51 -0.1 6:37 8:17 6 Sat 12:18 0.3 11:13A 0.7 5:44 0.2 7:32 -0.1 6:37 8:17 7 Sun 12:54 0.4 11:57A 0.7 6:32 0.2 8:12 -0.1 6:37 8:17 8 Mon 1:29 0.4 12:40 0.7 7:20 0.2 8:51 0.0 6:38 8:17 9 Tue 2:02 0.4 1:21 0.7 8:09 0.2 9:29 0.0 6:38 8:17 10 Wed 2:34 0.4 2:02 0.6 9:02 0.2 10:06 0.1 6:39 8:16 11 Thu 3:07 0.5 2:45 0.5 10:00 0.2 10:43 0.1 6:39 8:16 12 Fri 3:41 0.5 3:32 0.5 11:05 0.2 11:18 0.1 6:40 8:16 13 Sat 4:18 0.5 4:30 0.4 12:11P 0.2 11:51 0.2 6:40 8:16 14 Sun 4:59 0.5 5:46 0.4 1:17 0.1 6:40 8:16 15 Mon 5:44 0.6 7:18 0.3 12:26 0.2 2:21 0.1 6:41 8:15 16 Tue 6:34 0.6 8:43 0.3 1:04 0.2 3:20 0.0 6:41 8:15 17 Wed 7:26 0.6 9:47 0.3 1:49 0.2 4:14 0.0 6:42 8:15 18 Thu 8:18 0.7 10:36 0.3 2:41 0.2 5:03 -0.1 6:42 8:14 19 Fri 9:11 0.7 11:17 0.3 3:35 0.2 5:48 -0.1 6:43 8:14 20 Sat 10:03 0.8 11:55 0.4 4:28 0.2 6:30 -0.1 6:43 8:14 21 Sun 10:54 0.8 5:21 0.2 7:11 -0.1 6:44 8:13 22 Mon 12:32 0.4 11:46A 0.8 6:13 0.2 7:51 -0.1 6:44 8:13 23 Tue 1:08 0.5 12:37 0.8 7:08 0.1 8:31 -0.1 6:45 8:12 24 Wed 1:44 0.5 1:29 0.8 8:05 0.1 9:11 0.0 6:45 8:12 25 Thu 2:21 0.6 2:24 0.7 9:08 0.1 9:51 0.1 6:46 8:12 26 Fri 3:00 0.6 3:22 0.6 10:16 0.1 10:31 0.1 6:46 8:11 27 Sat 3:43 0.6 4:31 0.5 11:30 0.1 11:14 0.2 6:47 8:11 28 Sun 4:32 0.7 5:56 0.4 12:47 0.0 6:47 8:10 29 Mon 5:29 0.7 7:33 0.3 12:00 0.2 2:03 0.0 6:48 8:09 30 Tue 6:33 0.7 8:56 0.3 12:52 0.2 3:17 0.0 6:48 8:09 31 Wed 7:38 0.7 9:56 0.3 1:51 0.2 4:22 0.0 6:49 8:08
29 Mon 4:01 1.5 5:00 1.6
JULY 2024







FACEBOOK.COM/CAMFLORIDAKEYS JULY 2024 FLORIDA KEYS 13 Key Colony Beach, FL - Jul 2024 Date High Low AM ft PM ft AM ft PM ft Rise Set Moon
Mon 5:19 2.0 6:45 1.3 12:11P -0.2 11:50 0.4 6:37 8:18
Tue 6:15 2.1 7:51 1.3 1:10 -0.4 6:37 8:18
Wed 7:11 2.1 8:45 1.3 12:45 0.3 2:05 -0.4 6:38 8:18
Thu 8:05 2.2 9:31 1.3 1:37 0.3 2:55 -0.5 6:38 8:18
Fri 8:55 2.2 10:12 1.3 2:26 0.3 3:42 -0.5 6:39 8:18
Sat 9:42 2.2 10:50 1.3 3:14 0.2 4:26 -0.4 6:39 8:18 7 Sun 10:27 2.1 11:27 1.4 4:00 0.2 5:08 -0.3 6:39 8:18
Mon 11:10 2.1 4:46 0.3 5:48 -0.2 6:40 8:18
Tue 12:03 1.5 11:52A 2.0 5:32 0.3 6:27 0.0 6:40 8:18 10 Wed 12:40 1.5 12:35 1.9 6:20 0.3 7:04 0.1 6:41 8:17 11 Thu 1:18 1.6 1:20 1.7 7:10 0.4 7:42 0.3 6:41 8:17 12 Fri 1:57 1.6 2:09 1.6 8:04 0.4 8:20 0.4 6:42 8:17 13 Sat 2:38 1.6 3:03 1.4 9:02 0.4 9:01 0.5 6:42 8:17 14 Sun 3:21 1.7 4:05 1.3 10:03 0.3 9:47 0.6 6:42 8:17 15 Mon 4:09 1.7 5:13 1.2 11:03 0.2 10:38 0.6 6:43 8:16 16 Tue 5:02 1.7 6:22 1.2 12:01P 0.1 11:31 0.6 6:43 8:16 17 Wed 5:56 1.8 7:24 1.2 12:54 0.0 6:44 8:16 18 Thu 6:51 1.9 8:18 1.3 12:24 0.5 1:44 -0.2 6:44 8:16 19 Fri 7:44 2.1 9:06 1.3 1:14 0.5 2:31 -0.3 6:45 8:15 20 Sat 8:35 2.2 9:50 1.4 2:03 0.4 3:17 -0.4 6:45 8:15
Sun 9:24 2.3 10:32 1.6 2:52 0.3 4:02 -0.4 6:46 8:14
Mon 10:13 2.4 11:13 1.7 3:42 0.2 4:45 -0.4 6:46 8:14
Tue 11:03 2.4 11:54 1.8 4:33 0.2 5:29 -0.3 6:47 8:14
Wed 11:54 2.3 5:27 0.1 6:12 -0.2 6:47 8:13 25 Thu 12:35 1.9 12:47 2.1 6:24 0.1 6:56 0.0 6:48 8:13
Fri 1:18 2.0 1:45 1.9 7:25 0.1 7:42 0.2 6:48 8:12
Sat 2:04 2.1 2:48 1.6 8:31 0.0 8:32 0.4 6:49 8:12
Sun 2:55 2.1 3:59 1.4 9:40 0.0 9:27 0.5 6:49 8:11
Mon 3:51 2.1 5:20 1.3 10:51 0.0 10:26 0.6 6:49 8:11
Tue 4:54 2.1 6:42 1.3 11:59 -0.1 11:29 0.6 6:50 8:10 31 Wed 6:00 2.1 7:48 1.3 1:02 -0.1 6:50 8:10 Key West, FL - Jul 2024 Date High Low AM ft PM ft AM ft PM ft Rise Set Moon 1 Mon 6:22 1.8 8:10 0.9 1:16 -0.1 6:41 8:21 2 Tue 7:15 1.9 9:16 0.9 12:15 0.5 2:17 -0.3 6:41 8:21 3 Wed 8:07 2.0 10:11 0.9 1:06 0.5 3:11 -0.4 6:41 8:21 4 Thu 8:58 2.0 10:58 0.9 1:58 0.5 4:00 -0.4 6:42 8:21 5 Fri 9:47 2.0 11:39 0.9 2:48 0.4 4:44 -0.4 6:42 8:21 6 Sat 10:34 2.0 3:37 0.4 5:25 -0.3 6:43 8:21 7 Sun 12:15 1.0 11:18A 1.9 4:25 0.4 6:05 -0.2 6:43 8:21 8 Mon 12:50 1.0 12:01 1.9 5:13 0.4 6:44 -0.1 6:43 8:21 9 Tue 1:23 1.1 12:42 1.8 6:02 0.5 7:22 0.0 6:44 8:20 10 Wed 1:55 1.2 1:23 1.6 6:55 0.5 7:59 0.1 6:44 8:20 11 Thu 2:28 1.3 2:06 1.5 7:53 0.5 8:36 0.3 6:45 8:20 12 Fri 3:02 1.4 2:53 1.3 8:58 0.5 9:11 0.4 6:45 8:20 13 Sat 3:39 1.4 3:51 1.1 10:04 0.5 9:44 0.5 6:45 8:20 14 Sun 4:20 1.5 5:07 1.0 11:10 0.4 10:19 0.6 6:46 8:19 15 Mon 5:05 1.5 6:39 0.8 12:14P 0.2 10:57 0.6 6:46 8:19 16 Tue 5:55 1.6 8:04 0.8 1:13P 0.1 11:42 0.6 6:47 8:19 17 Wed 6:47 1.7 9:08 0.8 2:07 -0.1 6:47 8:19 18 Thu 7:39 1.8 9:57 0.9 12:34 0.6 2:56 -0.2 6:48 8:18 19 Fri 8:32 1.9 10:38 0.9 1:28 0.6 3:41 -0.3 6:48 8:18 20 Sat 9:24 2.1 11:16 1.0 2:21 0.6 4:23 -0.3 6:49 8:18 21 Sun 10:15 2.1 11:53 1.1 3:14 0.5 5:04 -0.3 6:49 8:17 22 Mon 11:07 2.2 4:06 0.4 5:44 -0.3 6:50 8:17 23 Tue 12:29 1.2 11:58A 2.1 5:01 0.4 6:24 -0.2 6:50 8:16 24 Wed 1:05 1.4 12:50 2.0 5:58 0.3 7:04 0.0 6:51 8:16 25 Thu 1:42 1.5 1:45 1.8 7:01 0.3 7:44 0.2 6:51 8:16 26 Fri 2:21 1.6 2:43 1.6 8:09 0.2 8:24 0.3 6:51 8:15 27 Sat 3:04 1.7 3:52 1.3 9:23 0.2 9:07 0.5 6:52 8:15 28 Sun 3:53 1.8 5:17 1.1 10:40 0.1 9:53 0.6 6:52 8:14 29 Mon 4:50 1.9 6:54 0.9 11:56 0.0 10:45 0.6 6:53 8:14 30 Tue 5:54 1.9 8:17 0.9 1:10P 0.0 11:44 0.6 6:53 8:13 31 Wed 6:59 1.9 9:17 0.9 2:15 -0.1 6:54 8:12

The Tackle BAG

IAs my time on the water increased, my tackle arsenal decreased. ... carried with me only those that had proven themselves over time.

usually have all the items needed close to each other for easy boat loading, and I also keep a checklist on my cell phone, so as not to forget anything important. Let me tell you, that list has saved me quite a bit of pain and aggravation over the years. I generally pre-rig my rods with the basics, so that when I reach my intended destination, I’m ready to make that first cast without hesitation. It also comes in handy if I run across surface signs of feeding fish along my route. And then there’s the tackle bag, complete with trays and trays of lures, one or more of which I’m hoping will be a winner at some point during my day of fishing.

Years ago, when I first started fishing the salt, and later when I began my fishing guide career, I’d pack the boat with not one, but several tackle bags, along with extra tackle trays. There was also a special bag in which I carried line, leaders, packages of various soft plastics, pliers, line cutters, knives, and anything else I thought would be needed that day. Yes, during that one day. All this stuff on an eighteen-foot skiff. Probably fifty pounds worth. Along with rods and reels. My boat resembled a small tackle shop!

Over time, I began to notice that I was only using about one tenth of the tackle and supplies I had packed for a day of fishing. I also noticed that the lure, jig or hook I’d tied on before leaving the dock was pretty much that same gear that I removed from my rods on my return to the garage. Hmmm.

What I learned as I continued to individually evolve in the sport of fishing was that we anglers tend to lock on to the tackle that we have a great deal of confidence in. These items have worked in the past and we believe they will continue to work just about every time we go fishing.

And that, my friend, is mostly true. While variations of the lures we’ve used continue to improve, they are still, basically, the same. Same style, same color, same size and mostly the same action.

As my time on the water increased, my tackle arsenal decreased. I slowly, but surely, began to eliminate most of the unusual, strangely- colored items, and carried with me only those that had proven themselves over time.

Of course, there was a small package of new items purchased on the recommendation of friends. “Hey Rob! You have to try this! It really catches fish!” And it really didn’t. At least it didn’t for me.

Currently my fishing supplies are contained in one tackle bag with only what I need for the day, and that isn’t much. Heck, I carry more water and munchies now than tackle.

I’ve taken the saying, “Keep it simple, stupid” to its highest level. The reduced tackle load is much easier to organize and handle, with the added bonus of much better on-the-water gas mileage.


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n the heart of South Florida, a specialty coffee company is brewing more than just a great cup of coffee. Castaway Coffee is on a mission to fuel your day while supporting ocean conservation efforts. With a passion for sustainability and a commitment to ethical sourcing, Castaway Coffee is redefining the coffee industry in Florida and the Keys one cup at a time.

Founded by Felipe and Laura Sixto and Marine Artist Steve Diossy, the Castaway Coffee team came together to create a brand that reflects their love for great coffee and all things marine.  Castaway Coffee combines high-quality, ethically sourced coffee beans, a passion for sustainability and a relentless commitment to quality coffee. Their coffees are 100% small batch roasted in South Florida using 100% Arabica coffee beans.

At the core of Castaway Coffee’s mission is their partnership with the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) Florida. A portion of every sale goes directly to supporting CCA Florida’s efforts to protect recreational fishing rights, creating marine habitats, restore fisheries, and promote sustainable fishing practices. By choosing Castaway Coffee, customers are contributing to the protection of Florida’s coastal ecosystems and the preservation of marine life. “Our goal is to have all anglers, boaters, and ocean loving coffee drinkers enjoying Castaway Coffee,” said Laura M. Sixto, Castaway Coffee co-founder and conservation coordinator.

But Castaway Coffee’s commitment to sustainability doesn’t stop there. Their coffee beans are sourced from environmentally responsible farms, ensuring that every cup not only tastes great but also supports ethical farming practices. The company’s eco-friendly recyclable packaging is designed to minimize waste and reduce their carbon footprint. From the farm to the cup, Castaway Coffee is dedicated to protecting Florida’s oceans.

Castaway Coffee offers an online subscription service that makes it easy to enjoy their coffee from the comfort of your own home. With a subscription, you can get regular shipments of your favorite coffee which are available in a variety of brew methods, flavors, and roast levels.

In addition, Castaway Coffee’s co-founder, marine artist Steve Diossy, has helped raise millions of dollars for oceanographic research, conservation, and education by designing the “Protect Wild Dolphins” and “Protect Marine Wildlife” license plates for the state of Florida. To properly portray the coastal lifestyle, Castaway Coffee has designed their packaging utilizing Diossy’s unique and whimsical artistic style.

Castaway Coffee is also a member of the 1% for the Planet initiative, which reinforces their commitment to their community, customers, and the planet. Castaway Coffee has a full line of bagged coffees, K-cups, Nespresso capsules, and ready-to-drink Nitro Cold Brews. For more information about Castaway Coffee, visit Follow them on Instagram and Facebook, for updates and join the movement towards ocean conservation one bag of coffee at a time.

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Summer truly is a fun time to go sight fishing on the flats here in the Lower Keys. The days are long, the glamour flats species of bonefish, permit, and tarpon are around in numbers, and winds are usually light which makes for easier paddling. But summer also has some challenges you won’t find during other times of the year.

The most obvious thing is the heat. Temps in the low 90s, high humidity, light breezes (or calm conditions), and the blazing Florida sun can combine to make things uncomfortable in a slow moving, human-powered vessel like a kayak. Stripping down to your swimsuit is tempting. (I even knew one kayaker who paddled naked!) But these options aren’t a very good idea since you could easily end up nursing a nasty sunburn. The answer is proper tropical weight clothing. High tech, quick drying, moisture wicking fishing clothes are easy to find and worth the money, turning a miserable, sweaty, sticky day into a pleasant one. Go for

long pants and long sleeves and remember your hat and face mask. Gloves are also nice to protect the back of your hands. Some opt for less clothing, preferring to use sunscreen on any exposed skin. That works too, although in recent years I’ve chosen to keep sunscreen use to a minimum. I don’t want to slather chemicals on my skin day after day. But either way, protect yourself from getting too much sun and you’ll be able to fish longer and more comfortably. Another thing I’ve been incorporating into my personal fishing trips is to take a short swim.

A snorkel mask tossed into a hatch takes up very little space and can provide a nice mental break from the intense focus of looking for fish and cool you off as well.

Summertime fishing in the Keys also will put you in the vicinity of thunderstorms. Sometimes it’s simply an awesome light show in the distance. But other times it’s a direct threat to your well-being. Daily weather forecasts are notoriously unreliable. I strongly recommend getting good radar and lightning apps on your smartphone and using them. They’ll give you real time data for your specific location. The problem for kayakers is we can’t fire up a motor and outrun a squall like a powerboat. Which means you will eventually get stuck in a storm. The best course of action is to find a nook or cranny in a level-topped mangrove shoreline and wait it out. Pull down all of your rods and put away your paddle. Whatever else happens, DO NOT get caught out in open water during a lightning storm. There is a bright side to all this stormy business. It is usually a short-lived event, and after the squall passes, conditions often get flat calm for an hour or so. The rain cools the water ever so slightly, and the fish like it! Juvenile tarpon will start rolling, permit tails will start popping up, and the fishing can get as electric as the justpassed lightning storm, making the rain delay worthwhile. — Randy Morrow, Kayak Fishing Guide | Phone/Text: 305.923.4643 | Email:

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Georgia Team Hurrucane II Wins $27,900 at Skippers Dockside

Skippers Dockside Restaurant hosted the 10th Annual Skippers Dolphin Tournament with seventy-three teams made up of 278 anglers competing for over $100,000 in cash and amazing trophies from King Sailfish Mounts. Anglers were allowed to weigh two fish on Saturday and two on Sunday, but it would be the combined weight of three fish that would determine the winners.

Hurricane II captained by Captain Skye Stanley along with his 2 anglers; Matthew Carlton from Tallahassee, FL and Josh Hufstetler of Thomasville, GA got to the winners circle weighing 41.1 pounds of dolphin. The combined weight of their largest 3 fish, a 29.9 pounder plus a 4.7 and 6.5 would win $27,980.00!

The 29.9 pound dolphin caught by Josh also won the team $8485.00 for the Largest Fish on Saturday. Second Place team was Shaka Kai captained by Joshua Holmes. They caught a combined weight of 39.5 pounds to win $15,985.00. The team of Ryan Clevenger of Grandville, OH, Joshua Holmes of Homestead, FL and Shawn Shipman of Virginia Beach, VA weighed in fish at 20.3, 15 and 4.2 pounds. Joshua Caught a 20.3-pound dolphin to win 3rd Largest Fish Day 1 winning $500.00. Shawn also caught a 15 pound dolphin to win the 2nd Largest Fish on Day 2 winning $6844.00.

Third Place team was Crazyfish with anglers Per Pedersen from Ft Lauderdale, Sebastian & Kent Pedersen of Miami, FL and Alec Ramoski of Key Biscayne, FL catching a total of 36 pounds winning $5,000.00.

Fourth Place team was Peace & Love with anglers Ben Breier, Shawn MacMullin Jr & Ray MacCall from Tavernier & Key Largo, FL with fish totaling 35.8 pounds winning $5,990.00.

Fifth Place team was won aboard Charisma run by Captain Chris Dillon. Anglers Jerry Metallo, Gary Shafer, Joe Mara and Thomas Gonzalez of Princeton, FL and Sean Sheehan of Key Largo, FL caught a total of 33.5 pounds winning $2,995.00.

Sixth Place team was Dream Weaver. The team of six had a total of 32.3 pounds winning $500. Dream Weaver angler Corbin Buckley of Marathon, FL also won 3rd Largest Fish on day 2 weighing 14.1 pound dolphin winning $4396.00.

Second Largest Fish on Saturday weighing 20.8 pounds won $4,990.00 for Daniel Frade of Fort Pierce, FL fishing aboard Putemindakoola. Largest fish on Sunday weighing 16.7 pounds was caught by Daniel Gonzales of Ormond Beach, FL aboard Team Net Worker.

Jill Paglia of Ocala, FL won $2,000.00 for Largest Fish Lady Angler with the 13.6 pounds aboard Executive Decision. Second Largest Fish Lady Angler was won by Kylie Cochrane or Miami, FL fishing aboard Reel Good won $1,000.00.

Largest Senior Angler winner was Paul Knapp of Pompano, FL fishing aboard Pauly’s Girl won $1,000 catching an 8.2 pound dolphin.

Junior anglers competed for top three places with Brock Stoky of Key Largo taking first place with his 7.3 pound fish winning $500.00. Second would go to Matthew Rangel of Key Largo, FL winning $250.00 with a 7.3 pounder and third to Tavernier, FL angler Reef Bennett winning $100.00 with a 5.4 pound dolphin.

The largest other species fish winners each took home King Sailfish Trophies and $750.00 each including Deep Green angler Michael Born from Key Largo, FL with a 10 pound Kingfish. Eco Marine’s angler Lindsay Nara of Port Charlotte, FL caught a 13.7 pound wahoo. Salt Shaker’s angler Jessie Hall of Islamorada, FL landed a 16.9 pound tuna.

Skippers Dockside Restaurant showcased their fabulous seafood for the kick-off party, which was sponsored by Gus’ Toy Box. The awards party which was done up right with perfectly cooked whole pigs with all the fixing’s and followed by amazing bread pudding!!!

For information visit:

1st place team Hurricane Top Female Angler. Top Junior Angler Largest Fish Team Hurricane II 2nd Place Team Shaka Kai 3rd Place Team Crazyfish



• Install motion sensor lights. Make sure areas around the boat are well lighted.

• Install surveillance cameras and make sure they will capture the face of an intruder. Cameras are often installed too high and only capture the top of a suspects head or the brim of the hat he is wearing.

• Install a GPS tracking device on your boat and/or engines.

• Install a boat alarm. Alarms are very effective at preventing equipment and boat thefts.

• Disconnect the batteries to disable the trim / tilt function. Keep the engine down, touching the ground so the lower unit can’t be removed.

• If the boat is on a trailer, chain the rims together or boot one of the wheels to prevent the boat and trailer from being stolen.

• Keep a trailer hitch lock on at all times.

• Install bolt locks on the engine or put extra-long engine bolts on and bend the ends.

• Destroy the threads on one bolt so the nut can’t be removed.

• Keep valuable electronics in a secure location. It might be a hassle, but it will same you thousands of dollars in the long run.

• Take pictures and record serial numbers if available.

• Don’t leave fishing and diving equipment unattended outside. It only takes a thief a minute - literally - to take it.

• If you are gone for an extended period, call your local Sheriff’s Office substation. Our deputies will keep an eye on your property while you are away.

Crime Stoppers offers a reward for the arrest of anyone in a felony criminal case. If you see anything suspicious, call the Sheriff’s Office immediately! It is our job to check out suspicious activity. Your call may be the one that helps us catch the bad guys!


If you see something you think may be suspicious. Call CrimeStoppers with any crime tips: 1-866-471-8477

Submit tips online at DOWNLOAD
Use Your Phone Camera and click on this QR Code for more info.


If you have a catch to brag about send your picture and caption to:

Girls just want to have fun! Flag Yellowtail snapper for the ladies, aboard Main Attraction Sportfishing Charters Gordon Winfree landed this Lon Tail Bass in 700’ of water off Islamorada. Graduation Pic of the YearCongratulations Brianna and Olivia! Vick family, catching this mahi with the Main Attraction Sportfishing crew. Beautiful Snowy Grouper pulled up by Heiko deep dropping at 450 ft. Jose Rodriguez landed this beast of a Mutton Snapper off Key West!
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Fishing in the Everglades is always a blast, and sight-casting tripletails is one of the coolest challenges out there.

Tese fsh are unique with their three-tail look and tendency to hang out near foating debris. If you want to catch them, using live shrimp and spotting them is a great way to do it. Idle around and look for foating seaweed, as tripletails like to hang around that to camoufage.

Use polarized sunglasses to cut the glare and make it easier to spot them. Move slowly through these areas, keeping your eyes peeled, but fair warning— it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Once you see a tripletail, don’t rush in. Tey can be skittish, and sudden

moves or loud noises can scare them of. Drif toward them with the wind or current to avoid using your engine.

Tripletails love live shrimp, so get the liveliest, healthiest shrimp you can fnd. Hook them through the tail or behind the horn on their head so they stay active and attractive. Cast your shrimp past the tripletail and slowly bring it back toward them. Let the current make it look natural.

If the fsh is near the surface, just freeline it. If they’re deeper or the current is strong, add a little weight to keep the shrimp down. Sometimes it takes a while to fnd and approach tripletails, so don’t rush it.

Use light to medium tackle, 15- to 20-pound good since tripletails have sharp gill plates. Early morning or late a is usually best, since tripletails are more active and easier to spot then. should be around for the next couple of months of the summer.

Catching tripletail is truly a fun challenge that mixes the thrill of the hunt with the excitement of the catch. Whether you’re a fshing pro or just starting, targeting tripletails in the Everglades is an adventure you won’t forget.

If you are interested on getting on some Tripletail, book a charter with Bean Sportfshing, www.beansport

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During the 2023-2024 bonefsh spawning season, researchers with the Bonefsh & Tarpon Trust documented, for the frst time, bonefsh prespawning aggregation sites in Florida. Te frst was discovered in the Upper Florida Keys and the second is a suspected site found near Key West. Tese discoveries are a hopeful sign of continued recovery for the species afer a decades-long decline.

“Finding these nearshore areas where bonefsh school by the thousands before migrating ofshore to spawn in deep water is essential for their conservation,” said Jim McDufe, BTT President and CE0. “As our science team continues to identify these sites, we will work with our state and federal partners to ensure that they are protected, ensuring a healthy future for one of Florida’s most iconic fsh species.”

Over the course of the 2023-2024 bonefsh spawning season, which spans from October to April, BTT Florida Keys Initiative Director Dr. Ross Boucek and his team tagged 44 bonefsh with acoustic transmitters with the help of Florida Keys fshing guides. BTT scientists also deployed 37 acoustic receivers on the reef tract, which allow them to monitor bonefsh spawning movements.

“We documented seven spawning events during the 2023-2024 spawning season,” said Dr. Boucek. “Four bonefsh tagged with archival depth measuring tags spawned during these events; three of the four fsh recorded maximum depths of 332 feet, 310 feet, 302 feet. Te fourth fsh recorded a maximum depth of 180 feet on its frst possible spawning or false spawning attempt. Te recorded spawning depth of approximately 300 feet is consistent between the Upper Key spawning site and the suspected spawning site near Key West, and with recorded spawning events in Te Bahamas.”

During full and new moon cycles from fall through early spring, bonefsh

migrate 70 miles or more from their home ranges to nearshore pre-spawning aggregation sites, where they prepare to spawn by gulping air to fll their swim bladders. At night, they swim ofshore and dive hundreds of feet before surging back up to the surface. It is believed the sudden change in pressure as they ascend makes their swim bladders expand, causing them to release their eggs and sperm. Afer fertilization takes place, the eggs hatch in about 24 hours, and the larvae drif in ocean currents for between 41 and 71 days before settling in shallow sand- or mud-bottom bays, where they develop into juvenile bonefsh.

“Our long-term goals are to conserve the reproductive cycle of our growing bonefsh in the Florida Keys,” said Dr. Boucek. “We still need to know where spawning occurs across the Keys, what threats like habitat loss those spawning fsh might face, where their larvae go, and the habitats the juveniles need to ensure that our new population of bonefsh can reach their full potential.”

For more information, go to

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Regulations change and so do reporting and license requirements. Here are some things FWC wants you to remember before you head out on the water.

1. Get a License and Reef Fish Angler Designation

In addition to a fshing license, you’ll need a State Reef Fish Angler designation if you plan to target any of the following reef species: mutton snapper, yellowtail snapper, hogfsh, red snapper, vermillion snapper, gag grouper, red grouper, black grouper, greater amberjack, lesser amberjack, banded rudderfsh, almaco jack and gray triggerfsh.

Te State Reef Fish Angler designation is free and required for all anglers fshing from private recreational vessels for reef fsh. Tis includes anglers who are exempt from a regular fshing license. Tis free-of-charge designation is used to help fsheries managers improve recreational data of reef fsh, which helps improve the management of our fsheries.

Get your license and State Reef Fish Angler designation online at, in person at a license agent or tax collector’s ofce or by calling toll-free 888-FISH-FLORIDA (888-347-4356).

2. Know the Regulations

Know the regulations for the species you are targeting, as well as those you might catch incidentally, before you drop a line. When you reel in a fsh, you will know whether or not you can throw it in the fsh box.

Tere are also specifc reef fsh gear rules, such as using non-stainless steel circle hooks, a dehooking device and a descending device or venting tool. Check regulations in the area you plan to fshing by visiting MyFWC. com/ReefFishGear.

3. Have the Correct Release Gear

Quick and proper use of a descending device or venting tool can help fsh get back down to depth and improve their chance of survival. Such a tool must be onboard when you are targeting reef fsh, and you should know how to properly use it to alleviate barotrauma in fsh hauled from the depths.

Venting tools are sharpened, hollow instruments designed to release expanded gases in the swim bladder of fsh experiencing barotrauma. Knives, ice picks and hooks are not legal venting tools and ofen cause more harm to the fsh than good.

To learn more about barotrauma and how to use descending devices or venting tools, visit or check out BestPractices, where you could be eligible to receive free descending device gear.

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For the past two years, I’ve had the pleasure of taking Coastal Conservation Association’s Leiza Fitzgerald out on the water to assist in tagging dolphinfsh for the CCA STAR competition. As if going fshing wasn’t enough of a prize, recreational anglers can sign up for this competition, with a donation to a good cause, and participate in this fshing side quest for all sorts of epic prizes.

Tagging trips with Leiza are some of my favorite mahi trips. She is more excited about catching throw-backs than anything we put in the box. Each undersized mahi, and most of the keepers, are handled with care and released with some fancy new jewelry.

With her tagging gun locked and loaded and a towel to lay over the fsh’s eyes to calm them, Leiza carefully and quickly turns peanuts into prizes, and sends them on their way.

CCA Florida STAR presented by Yamaha is a summer-long event that invites anglers and non-anglers to participate and win prizes valued at almost $500,000, including boats, motors, scholarships and more. Te competition is currently live, and registration is open until Sept. 2.

“In the past nine years, it’s been amazing to see STAR participants support conservation and embrace the catch-photo format,” Fitzgerald

said. “Awarding nearly $4 million in prizes, with $900,000 specifcally awarded in youth scholarships to the thousands of statewide STAR registrants is exciting, but even more exciting is the awareness STAR has created for the conservation of our marine fsheries.”

Te 2024 STAR competition is comprised of eight divisions targeting inshore and ofshore species along with trash cleanup. Wherever your home waters are, there is a way to get involved.

Te most notable of the STAR competitions is for tagged redfsh. Te best opportunity to catch this year’s tagged redfsh will be in Citrus and Charlotte counties, STAR’s 2024 Destination Counties, which each have eight tagged redfsh in their coastal waters.

Six years ago, STAR initiated a tagged fsh division for ofshore anglers, the Tigress Outriggers and Gear Tagged Dolphin Division. Tis division ofers one winner a $10,000 cash prize or scholarship. Te frst STAR registrant who catches a STAR tagged dolphin wins.

Te tagged dolphinfsh were caught and released of the Florida Keys. Tese fsh will migrate up the east and west coasts, providing anglers a shot at recapturing one. Tere have only been two tagged dolphin recaptured in six years, and neither angler was registered in the competition. You have to be in it to win it!

Make sure to report any tagged fsh you catch, whether you are registered or not. Take photos, measurements, tag numbers and information, and note the location of recapture. You do not need to remove the tag if you are releasing the fsh.

Fish are very mysterious, and there is so much we don’t know about them. Te more data we collect, the better conservation we can provide.

Capt. Quinlyn Haddon; Sweet E’nuf Charters, Marathon, Florida Keys; @captainquinlyn;; (504) 920-6342.

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- Over 100 Days of Fishing

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Fishing during the hot stale days of summer is ofen thought to be the toughest and slowest fshing there is. I am here to help with that.

Not only are the next few months an amazing time to catch fsh, they can also be the easiest time to pin-point patterns for big bass. Spawning bluegills are the key. Bass will set up around bluegill beds and feed heavily on an easy meal of bluegills that congregate in the shallows to spawn.

Whether you are an experienced tournament fsherman or someone who just gets out every once in a while to stretch a line, this pattern is easily found if you know what to look and listen for.

You heard me right, listen! Tere are many ways to locate bluegill beds, and my favorite way is to use my ears. When you get around bluegills feeding in grass or lily pads, you will hear distinct little popping sounds of small fsh sucking prey from the surface. When you hear this, you know you are in a productive area, and the big bass should be close by.

Another way to locate these areas is to use your eyes in shallow water. Bluegill fan


out an area on the bottom just like a bass when they spawn, but they do it in big groups and create a pattern on sand and hard bottom that looks like the surface of the moon.

If the water is even a little clear, you should be able to spot a bunch of odd craters and divots on the bottom even from a distance. Tis is typically in very shallow water, and bass use this shallow water to their advantage. Spawning bream make easy pickings.

If all else fails, or in murky water, I fnd these beds with my electronics. I idle around with side scan in 2 to 5 feet of water to locate crater patterns on my units and mark them with waypoints to come back and fsh later. Tis is a good way to locate beds that are less pressured, because they are harder for other anglers to fnd.

Tere are a few diferent baits I use to catch bass around these beds. Te most important thing is to stay as far away from these areas as you can, while still being able to get a cast into them. Be stealthy because shallow-water bass are skittish.

I like a bluegill-colored popping frog and also a bluegill-colored swim jig with a trailer to match. I’ll also throw a weightless wacky-rigged Senko and will put a little nail weight in the Senko when fshing deeper beds. A lightweight Carolina-rigged Trick Worm or a shallow-diving squarebill crankbait are two other good options. Hopefully this summertime bass tip helps you have a fun and productive day on your waters!

Tyler Woolcott is a professional tournament angler and guide. Check out his website at



When we inshore anglers gather around the dock, you can count on one or more of these being the topic of conversation: trout, redfsh, founder or snook. Seldom is it the sheepshead. Although they are not a species frequently targeted with lures, they can provide an aggressive bite and a worthy fght. Keeping them out of the structure they love is the real challenge.

depending on the current, were all it took to place his shrimp in the strike zone. Te strike zone is typically as close to the structure as possible. If you notice the sheepshead swimming around, they always have their noses to the structure.

Te sheepshead is a fsh that my son had never caught until a few weeks ago. We took a trip to South Texas to view our second of four Starship launches at the SpaceX facility. Afer the excitement and rumble of the launch, we picked up some live shrimp, and he was soon rumbling with many sheepshead.

We set our sights on the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway, as it has a nearly unlimited amount of structure ideal for attracting sheepshead. Using the anchor mode on our trolling motor made it easy to stay close to the bridge pilings where the sheepshead were congregated. My son especially liked targeting them because we were under the causeway and in the shade, as opposed to being out on the open fats where we typically fsh.

A small sharp hook and a split-shot or two,

I fnd that keeping your bait small helps attract the bite. It is benefcial to keep a tight line, as the bites can be very light. One tactic that served my son well was to walk toward the back of the boat and away from the structure once a fsh was hooked. Tis assisted in pulling it away from the structure. Trying to manhandle the fsh out on light tackle would certainly have led to some break-ofs.

Stay vigilant in checking your line for frays afer several casts and defnitely afer each fsh. Keeping a sharp hook will also help in landing more fsh because of their boney, teeth-flled mouths. Tis turned out to be an extra memorable fshing trip. We witnessed another historic space launch, and his catch landed him in second place for the Texas CCA Star Tournament with his sheepshead.

Tis is why I always say, take a kid fshing! Tey might win a college scholarship.

Capt. Michael Okruhlik is the inventor of Knockin Tail Lures®, and the owner of



Amonster blackfn tuna caught during Te Miami Dolphins Fins Weekend tournament is an unofcial world record. Te 50.1-pound blackfn was certifed by an IGFA biologist, and it outweighs the existing IGFA all-tackle world record by a little less than three-quarters of a pound.

Angler Robert (Bob) Kowalski landed the huge blackfn aboard the 34’ Express Sportfsher Miss Britt, which was captained by Gareth Haddam and chartered by Pete Sinnick and his family. In addition to being a potential new world record, the fsh won the largest tuna division at the tournament and earned the team a $30,000 payout.

Te existing IGFA all-tackle world record blackfn tuna weighed 49 pounds, 6 ounces. It was caught in 2006 of Marathon, Florida Keys by Capt. Mathew Pullen. Fins Weekend is an annual fundraiser hosted by the Miami Dolphins. It is a two-day tournament with proceeds going to support the Baptist Health Orthopedic Institute Youth Athletic Outreach Program. For more information, go to

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When it comes to growing giant largemouth bass, Texas has fgured some things out. Since 1986, the state’s Toyota ShareLunker program has conducted a breeding program using huge largemouths caught and donated alive by anglers. Tese donated bass, called Legacy Class, must be heavier than 13 pounds. Tey spawn in a facility before being released, along

with their ofspring, to spread big-fsh genetics across the state.

Te results of the program are apparent in the giant Texas bass caught each year. Many of them go right back into the breeding program, and the spring of 2024 was the fourth ShareLunker season in a row that the program has deemed exceptional.

Tis spring, anglers contributed 19 Legacy Class, 13-plus-pound bass from seven diferent Texas lakes. O.H. Ivie in west Texas is the best big-bass fshery in the country right now. It produced 12 bass heavier than 13 pounds this season, continuing a hot streak that goes back to the 2021.

Highlights from the 2024 Toyota ShareLunker collection season:

• Angler Kyle Hall’s 15.82-pounder was the 37th heaviest all-time Texas largemouth bass.

• Angler Kyle Hall has recorded a Legacy Lunker in three consecutive seasons.

• Six out-of-state anglers etched their name into the program’s record book. Te anglers hailed from Kansas, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma and Washington.

• Angler Larry R. Walker reeled in two Legacy Class Lunkers in 2024. State biologists did genetic analysis of this year’s Legacy Lunkers and made some incredible discoveries:

• ShareLunker 666, reeled in by Larry R. Walker from O.H. Ivie, was a recapture of ShareLunker 646 originally caught by Mechelda Criswell in 2023.

• A 13.2-pound fsh from Lake Athens was the ofspring of ShareLunker 552, which was caught by Randall E. Claybourne in 2014 at Lake Fork. Tis is the frst time a Legacy Class descendant from this family tree was discovered in the program.

• Of the 19 Legacy Class ShareLunkers, 13 had secondary relationships to either previous Legacy Class fsh or other ShareLunkers from which anglers submitted scale samples for genetic analyses.

• In the last fve years, the program has achieved an excellent overall fsh survival success rate of 94 percent.

The Return of a

Tat’s a lot of big-fsh genetics going back into Texas fsheries.

For more information, go to

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With more than 60,000 surface acres and 1,300 miles of shoreline, Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees is one of the largest outdoor destinations in Oklahoma. Located on the Grand River, the lake is hugely popular with boaters, fishermen, campers and anyone else who loves spending time in the great outdoors. Anglers are sure to have a blast searching for largemouth bass, white bass, crappie, channel catfish, bluegill and the rare paddlefish on Grand Lake waters. And Grand Lake’s shores are lined with so many unique attractions, shops, restaurants, state parks and casinos that seeing everything in one trip is next to impossible. There’s truly something for everyone to love in the Grand Lake Area!

Discover all the fun things to see and do in the Grand Lake Area as well as places to stay, places to eat, festivals and more at


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