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THE FLORIDA KEYS EDITION

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GIFT GUIDE

Local

Fishing Reports Catch Photos News & Events

VOLUME 22 • ISSUE 263

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM

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SUMMER MIGHT BE WINDING DOWN, BUT THE SUZUKI SAVINGS SEASON IS JUST HEATING UP

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In addition, Suzuki is offering cash rebates of up to $800 on select models. Your dealer has the models and amounts or you can visit our website for more information.

The Suzuki Savings Season 2016 ends soon so see your participating Suzuki Marine dealer today – or visit suzukimarine.com – for details on these special offers.

Gimme Six Extended Protection promo is applicable to new Suzuki outboard motors from 25 to 300 HP in inventory which are sold and delivered to buyer between 10/01/16 and 12/31/16 in accordance with the promotion by a Participating Authorized Suzuki Marine dealer in the continental US and Alaska to a purchasing customer who resides in the continental US or Alaska. Customer should expect to receive an acknowledgement letter and full copy of contract including terms, conditions and wallet card from Suzuki Extended Protection within 90 days of purchase. If an acknowledgement letter is not received in time period stated, contact Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. – Marine Marketing via email: marinepromo@suz.com. The Gimme Six Promotion is available for pleasure use only, and is not redeemable for cash. Cash Rebates apply to qualifying purchases of select Suzuki outboards made between 10/01/16 and 12/31/16. For list of designated models, see participating Dealer or visit www.suzukimarine.com. Customer and participating Dealer must fill out the appropriate rebate form at time of sale. Customer will have the choice to either apply the cash rebate against the original dealer invoice (Suzuki will credit Dealer parts account) or have a check sent directly to the customer. There are no model substitutions, benefit substitutions, rain checks, or extensions. Suzuki reserves the right to change or cancel these promotions at any time without notice or obligation. * Financing offers available through Synchrony Retail Finance. As low as 5.99% APR financing for 60 months on new and unregistered Suzuki marine engines. Subject to credit approval. Not all buyers will qualify. Approval, and any rates and terms provided, are based on credit worthiness. $19.99/month per $1,000 financed for 60 months is based on 5.99% APR. Hypothetical figures used in calculation; your actual monthly payment may differ based on financing terms, credit tier qualification, accessories or other factors such as down payment and fees. Offer effective on new, unregistered Suzuki marine engines purchased from a participating authorized Suzuki dealer between 10/01/16 and 12/31/16.“Gimme Six”, the Suzuki “S” and model names are Suzuki trademarks or ®. Don’t drink and drive. Always wear a USCG-approved life jacket and read your owner’s manual. © 2016 Suzuki Motor of America, Inc.

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More Of A World Traveler’s Top Fishing Destinations By Patrick Sebile

L

ast month in these pages, I laid out what in my opinion are the top-5 fishing destinations in the world. It was a list of the most impressive fisheries I have experienced in a career spent traveling to fish the most renowned waters on this planet. From southern Africa’s Atlantic coast to Scandanavia, Panama, Australia and Venice, Louisiana, those five destinations topped the list among the 64 countries where I have fished. But there are other destinations well worth mention as some of the top fisheries in the world. With this article I will touch on five more destinations I believe to be some of the best on the planet. • Florida, U.S.A: Choosing a whole state and calling it a destination might be a stretch. However, the variety of great fisheries offered by this peninsula is what makes it one of the best places in the world for anglers. With fantastic inshore and offshore fishing, seasonal highlights like the east coast mullet run and some of the best bass fishing anywhere, Florida’s patchwork of options make it a great place for fishing. • South Island, New Zealand: This place is as wild as wilderness can get. Fishing for trout in New Zealand streams with the backdrop that was the set from the “Lord of the Rings” movies has to be one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Also, the north island offers great saltwater fishing for humphead snapper and yellowtail amberjack, which is one of the meanest and most powerful fish that lives in the world’s oceans. • Lake Biwa, Japan: This 259-square-mile lake is surrounded with history as one of the oldest lakes in the world. It is filled with millions of ayu—a small trout-related fish—that turned out to be the major food for a population of largemouth bass. There are consistently more

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Photo Courtesy of Al Stewart Photography

big bass in Lake Biwa than anywhere else I know of. It is where the longtime IGFA All Tackle world record was tied just a few years ago with a bass that weighed 22-pounds, 5-ounces. • Ivory Coast, Africa: Years ago, I ran a lodge on the Ivory Coast, not far from the city of San Pedro, where Stuart Campbell used to come targeting record blue marlin. He succeeded a number of times. From April to June, my average day consisted of three to five fish in the 300- to 600-pound range. • Massachusetts, U.S.A.: I’m a striped bass addict, and fishing the shores of Massachusetts is a pilgrimage I must make on an annual basis, period! There’s nothing like fishing for striped bass when they’re blitzing bait on the shorelines of the northeastern states. Patrick Sebile is the owner and lure designer of Sebile Innovative Fishing (www.sebile.com).

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM


It’s the Honda of Outboards. Literally.

Quality, reliability, technology and fuel-efficiency have made Honda an automotive legend. You’ll find those same strengths in every Honda Marine outboard. Honda outboards deliver best-of-class features in models ranging from 2.3 to 250 hp. Many even share engine technology and components used in Honda vehicles like the Accord, Odyssey, Fit and Pilot — vehicles that have proven themselves over millions of miles. No wonder all Honda outboards are backed by the only 5-year manufacturer’s warranty in the industry. Power your boat with the brand that offers millions of miles of proven performance — Honda Marine.

Take Advantage Of 2.49% APR Financing On All New Honda Outboards Or 4.49% APR Financing On All New Honda Outboard Engines Or Boat/Motor Packages — Going On Now! To Find Your Nearest Authorized Honda Marine Dealer, Visit Our Website Now From Your QR-Enabled Phone, Or Go To ca.hondamarine.com *APR financing available on all new Honda outboard engines through American Honda Finance Corporation upon approved credit. 2.49% APR financing for 24 – 48 months, available to customers who qualify for the AHFC super preferred credit tier. Example for new Honda outboard engines: 2.49% APR for 36 months financing at $28.86 a month for every $1,000 financed. 3.49% APR for 60 months financing at $18.19 a month for every $1,000 financed. 3.49% APR for 84 months financing at $13.44 a month for every $1,000 financed. Offer good on any new and unregistered Honda outboard engine, with a minimum amount financed of $1,000 and a minimum monthly payment of $100. Check with participating dealers for complete details. Dealers set actual sales prices. For well-qualified buyers, not all buyers may qualify. Higher rates apply for different terms and/or buyers with lower credit rating. Lower rates may also be available. Offer valid through 01/03/17, on new and unregistered Honda outboard engines (2hp – 250hp) and only on approved credit by Honda Financial Services through participating dealers. Honda Financial Services’ standard credit criteria apply. **APR financing available on all new Honda outboard engines or packages (boat, motor and trailer, where Honda outboard engine is the main source of power) through American Honda Finance Corporation upon approved credit. 4.49% APR financing for 12 – 180 months (term and rate based on amount financed) available to customers who qualify for the AHFC Super Preferred credit tier. Example for new Honda outboard engines or packages: 4.49% APR for 84 months financing at $13.90 a month for every $1,000 financed. 4.49% APR for 144 months financing at $9.00 a month for every $1,000 financed. 4.49% APR for 180 months financing at $7.64 a month for every $1,000 financed. Offer good on any new and unregistered Honda outboard engine or package, with a minimum amount financed of $1,000 and a minimum monthly payment of $100. Check with participating dealers for complete details. Dealers set actual sales prices. For well-qualified buyers, not all buyers may qualify. Higher rates apply for different terms and/or buyers with lower credit rating. APR may be subject to dealer mark-up. Offer valid through 01/03/17, on new and unregistered Honda outboard engines or packages and only on approved credit by Honda Financial Services through participating dealers. Honda Financial Services’ standard credit criteria apply. ©2016 American Honda Motor Co., Inc. Always wear a personal flotation device while boating and read your owner’s manual. All Honda outboards meet EPA and CARB emission levels. COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM DECEMBER 2016 NATIONAL 7


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ATLANTA/SW GEORGIA : Bob & Brenda Rice • (706) 614-8231 • bobr@theanglermagazine.com CHARLESTON/COLUMBIA : Eddie Hardgrove • (910) 264-5487 • eddie@coastalanglermagazine.com MOREHEAD : Eddie Hardgrove • (910) 264-5487 • eddie@coastalanglermagazine.com Brian Slesinski • (910) 797-6093 • brians@coastalanglermagazine.com MYRTLE BEACH : Kenneth & Ana Moore • (843) 446-5777 • kenmoore@coastalanglermagazine.com OUTER BANKS/VIRGINA BEACH : John Tiger • (757) 707-9654 • john.tiger@coastalanglermagazine.com Laura Seitz • (757) 707-9655 • laura@coastalanglermagazine.com SE & COASTAL GEORGIA : Tony Martin • (912) 269-9679 • tony@coastalanglermagazine.com Travis Harper • (912) 266-1430• travis@coastalanglermagazine.com WILMINGTON : Brian Slesinski • (910) 797-6093 • brians@coastalanglermagazine.com Eddie Hardgrove • (910) 264-5487 • eddie@coastalanglermagazine.com WESTERN NC : Debra & Joe Woody • (828) 775-9663 • woody@theanglermagazine.com

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

INTERNATIONAL BAHAMAS : Misti & Gary Guertin • (772) 285-6850 • treasurecoast@coastalanglermagazine.com flahama@coastalanglermagazine.com COSTA RICA : Thomas Hauer, Jr. • (321) 445-1557 • thomash@coastalanglermagazine.com Thomas Hauer • tomh@coastalanglermagazine.com PUERTO RICO/VIRGIN ISLANDS : Ace Bassue • (407) 285-9453 • ace@coastalanglermagazine.com © 2016. 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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Editor’s Note: Each month, Coastal Angler Magazine and The Angler Magazine staff search our vast coverage area for photos that will grace our covers. With well over a million readers in diverse coastal and inland markets, our magazines strive for broad national appeal as well as local-level intelligence to put anglers on fish. The cover is different depending on which edition you, the reader, are holding. The following is a little information about this month’s covers.

COASTAL ANGLER MAGAZINE Eleuthera, Bahamas

FREE

This year’s December holiday editions of Coastal Angler Magazine feature an image Holiday of Gene Dyer and a 30-pound mahi caught GIFT while fishing aboard Uncle Tom Dyer’s GUIDE 55-foot Hatteras off Eleuthera, Bahamas. Dyer is Coastal Angler’s newest franchisee, having recently taken over the Fort Local Lauderdale franchise location. Gene comes to Coastal Angler as a former advertising sales executive for Florida Sport Fishing. Eleuthera is one of the long skinny Out Islands that make up the eastern edge of the Bahamian archipelago. It is a spectacular vacation destination with miles of pink sand beaches, and for anglers it is a renowned bonefish destination, noted for expansive and easily accessible flats. As evidenced by Dyer’s Mahi, Eleuthera is also a fantastic jumpingoff place for the reef, spearfishing and sport fishing the Bahamas are famous for. Excellent reefs such as Devil’s Backbone are teeming with snappers, groupers and amberjack. And with depths of thousands of feet a few miles offshore, anglers can take a quick boat ride and tangle with tuna, marlin, snapper, mahi-mahi, sailfish and some huge wahoo. Fishing Reports Catch Photos News & Events

VOLUME 22 • ISSUE 263

COASTALA NGLERMA G.COM

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THE ANGLER MAGAZINE Southeastern Mountain Trout

WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA EDITION

FREE

There is no better gift for a trout angler than the opportunity to cast to gorgeous fish in the streams of southern Appalachia. The cover image for our holiday editions of The Angler Holiday Magazine comes from the north Georgia GIFT GUIDE mountains, where Tommy Nicodemus caught this big rainbow trout from Noontootla Creek Local while fishing with guide Chuck Head of Unicoi Outfitters. Noontootla Creek is one of the best small trout streams in Georgia, and it feeds the larger Toccoa River, which boasts one the Southeast’s premier tailwater trout fisheries. Noontootla itself flows from high-headwaters through public land on Blue Ridge Wildlife Management Area, where it is a small stream offering wild brown and rainbow trout. For decades it has been managed under special regulations, which have produced a great, if sometimes challenging, fishery. Our cover fish was caught from an extensively managed private trophy stretch of Noontootla Creek called Noontootla Creek Farms. The image was captured by Jason Weldon. PHOTO COURTESY OF JASON WELDON

VOLUME 22 • ISSUE 263

F R A N C H I S E

Fishing Reports Catch Photos News & Events

FISHING WITH UNICOI OUTFITTERS

THEANGLE RMAG.COM O P P O R T U N I T I E S

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DECEMBER 2016

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inter means giant redfish on the fly. From Florida to Texas and up the east coast of the United States, giant redfish are a prime target species for many saltwater fly anglers. In my opinion, there is no finer wintertime saltwater species to sight fish a fly too. The fishing opportunities are endless, and the chance to hook a true giant heavier than 30 pounds is very likely. However, for the fly angler to be successful he/she must be able to make the cast. First Things First The first thing I suggest to anglers before they jump into saltwater fly fishing is to really learn how to cast a fly line to 40 feet quickly and accurately. We are often led to believe that if the angler can cast a long distance then he or she will be a successful fly angler. There is nothing further from the truth. I’ve seen wonderful fly casters become frustrated when sight casting to redfish. They are so focused on making a long cast that they miss the f ish-catching opportunities within 40 feet of their rod tip. Casting to redfish is more about accuracy and quickness than is distance. Learn The Double Haul Developing a solid double-haul is the foundation of a quick and accurate cast. Not only does the double-haul help with distance, if executed correctly, it reduces the number of backcasts the angler must make. It is well to remember that the more time the fly line is in the air, the less time the fly is on the water. The best way to learn the double haul is to find a grassy area like a park. Next, strip out 40 feet of fly line and make a forward cast, allowing the fly line to lie on the grass in front of you. Next, lower your rod tip to where it is touching the ground in front of you. Then, pick up the fly line and make a back cast, laying the line out behind you. This is the single haul. Next, pull the fly line off the grass behind you with your line hand while the fly rod is moving forward, and with the rod moving forward, pull the line down towards your belt line. As you feel the fly rod load while it bends on the forward cast, release the line from your line hand, allowing the fly line to shoot forward through the guides. This is the second haul of the double haul, an effective cast when long- distance casts are required, but also important for the short, quick accurate cast needed when fishing red fish. The Back Cast Is Important Much of your success in fly casting is dependent upon the development of a smooth back cast, that is the ability to cast 20 to 30 feet of line behind you whenever demanded. Remember the fly fisherman’s adage that “your forward cast is only as good as your back cast,” and a good cast is the “rule-of thumb” when casting flies to redfish. If a redfish appears behind you, simply make a forward cast. With your fly line on the water, simply pick up the line, and shoot it behind you. Retain eye contact with the redfish’s position. In next month’s column, Casting to Redfish Part Two, I will write about the importance of the repositioning cast and quick cast.

FLY FISHING

ON THE COVER

CASTING FOR THE REDFISH GAME: PART ONE

Follow Conway Bowman at www.conwybowman.com, on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

For More Fly Fishing with Bowman, go to

CAMFLYFISHING.COM

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

DECEMBER 2016

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Gift Ideas FOR ANGLERS

C

heck out these great gift ideas for the outdoor enthusiast on your holiday gift list. These local merchants are available to ensure your holiday gift giving satisfaction. We always try to encourage our readers to shop locally. It’s our community and we all benefit from supporting our local businesses. They’re here for us all year long and our personal convenience depends on their sustainability. Tell them Coastal Angler/The Angler Magazine sent you. By the way, if you see something here that you wish could be under the tree with your name on it, just take out a marker and circle it. Then leave this page open for your friends and family to see. Yes, crude but effective.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Coastal Angler/The Angler Magazine.

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lthough winter’s here, it won’t stay cold forever. The holiday season is a great opportunity to pick up a catch bag so your favorite kayak angler will be ready to go come springtime. Also known as soft cooler bags, they keep a catch fresh, out of the sun and stashed safely away from predators. Consider the following to make sure your investment is a good one. The most durable catch bags are constructed of vinyl-coated polyester. Look for at least a half-inch of closed cell foam insulation under the tough fish spine-resistant exterior. If the closures use zippers, they should have large teeth that can handle sand and sun. I prefer a YKK zipper. Kayak catch bags come in multiple sizes. Large bags in the 70-quart capacity range are about three feet long. They are suitable for big fish and are most often mounted atop a kayak’s deck, either on the bow or in the stern storage area. Therefore, it’s important these bags come outfitted with multiple tie-downs or attachment points so they can be safely secured. A quality large bag retails for $180-$200. Check out Hobie’s new Soft Cooler Bag as a good example of what to look for. If your kayak angler prefers to keep the deck clear, consider a medium-size catch bag in the 26-quart range. About two feet long, they fit inside the bow hatch of many kayaks. These bags should open from the top to make for easier access. They retail for $130-$150. Other desirable features include carrying handles, easy-access drain plugs, and integrated shock cords for storage of additional accessories.

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SOUTH FLORIDA

By Pura Vida Divers

H

o, Ho, Ho, the holidays are here! In the rush of constant holiday shopping and festive parties, it’s sometimes challenging to remember why we’re officially celebrating and what the season is ultimately about. So, we thought we at Pura Vida Divers recommend a few alternative ocean-related “gift” ideas to keep with the true giving spirit of the holidays and aid in local conservation. Our first charity of choice for you Florida ocean lovers is Friends of Our Florida Reefs. Formed in 2015, Friends of Our Florida Reefs assists and enhances the critical efforts of the FDEP to conserve and protect the northern section of the Florida Reef Tract. Their goal is to work as a dedicated citizen support organization “filling significant budget gaps, preparing for rapid response to emergencies and self-initiate direct action, education and outreach.” We like this charity because of the direct local impact to our Florida reefs and the local community. We pledge this holiday season, for every new Facebook “like” during the month of December, Pura Vida Divers will donate $1 to Friends of Our Florida Reefs. This is an easy way to participate in charitable giving this year and only takes a quick click on your computer at this link: https://www. facebook.com/Pura.Vida.Divers. You can also give directly to Friends of Our Florida Reefs via their website in the form of donations, memberships, corporate memberships and vehicle donation options: http://www.floridareef.org/. Additionally, Pura Vida recommends Project AWARE. As their mission statement proclaims, “Project AWARE is a global movement of scuba divers protecting our ocean planet one dive at a time. Focused on the critical issues of sharks in peril and marine debris, Project AWARE empowers thousands to work together for a clean, healthy and abundant ocean planet.” As you may know, Pura Vida Divers adopted Phil Foster Park several years ago and more recently adopted Blue Heron Bridge through Project AWARE’s Adopt a Dive Site Program. As such, we host quarterly volunteer shoreline and underwater cleanups where we report all our marine debris findings to Project AWARE. The data we collect helps bridge the gap in knowledge and influences long-term waste management solutions at local, national and international levels. Join us

Photo Courtesy of Lazaro Ruda : TheLivingSea.com and effect global change through our grassroots efforts! Our next organized cleanup takes place on Saturday Dec. 17. Check-in at Phil Foster Park begins at 9 a.m. Alternately, contribute directly to Project AWARE by purchasing a membership or giving a donation via their website at: http://www.projectaware.org/. Or, take any Scuba Diving class with us and we will donate $10 on your behalf through the 100% AWARE program! In addition to the newest frying pan or plastic who-see-what’s-it, give the gift of ocean conservation and feel empowered with your conscientious choice. Plus, donations to both organizations are tax deductible so you get a little holiday gift for yourself as well. Happy shopping to you, and if you’re in the neighborhood and want to come join us at our festive holiday party, please stop by Pura Vida Divers at 2513 Beach Ct., Riviera Beach, FL on Dec. 10 at 6:30 p.m. for food, drinks and general merriment. We wish you an amazing holiday season and Happy New Year!

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Photo by Greg Poland

T

he cooler weather has arrived here in Islamorada and we are all looking forward to the approaching holiday season. The Upper Keys will be thriving with people, which means most all the charter boats will be busy. We are all hoping Santa brings lots of nice weather and hungry fish. The reef’s edge will be where the action is on the days when there’s good water clarity and current. The mackerel bite should be game on, live cigar minnows or pilchards on a small treble on 4 wire will get you bites without losing to cut mono filament. The cero mackerels will be on the shallower depth’s and the kings should be holding on any structure from 60’ out to 150’. Don’t forget to send one rod deep with at least a 20’ leader to pick at the deeper swimming kings. Live bait trolling some ballyhoos in the 100’-200’ depths should get action from mackerel, sailfish, bonitos, blackfins and mahi. Slow trolling around a current edge or color change will get your best results. Days when there’s enough wind flying some kites dangling live baits produces some cool bites. On days when the water is a little dirtier, anchoring anywhere from 50’ – 90’ and drifting with bait should provide plenty of action. Lots of chum is key here along with some thawed chum mixed with oats. To mix it up, put a live bait or 2 on a kite or rigger for sailfish or kings. Also putting a rod on the bottom with a lie pinfish could score you a nice grouper.

produce some mangrove snapper. A live bait on a spinner will pick up some mutton snapper or grouper bites. And my favorite way to patch fish is to have the wells loaded with small-medium pilchard, live chum to really get all the fish feeding. Winter time fishing here in the Upper Keys is my favorite season. You don’t have to go 25 miles and burn a full tank of fuel, the fishing is close and the options are endless. The Keys will be jam packed with people over the holidays so everyone please be safe on the roads as well as on the water. New Year’s Day there is the blessing of the fleet. Most all the charter boats and whoever wishes their vessel to be blessed are welcome to participate in the boat parade at Whale Harbor Channel at 10:00am. The parade is followed by a huge buffet BBQ cooked by Captain Shannon Attales. Shannon really does it up with pulled pork, hamburgers, hot dogs and all the fixings. There is a donation taken for the plate of food with all proceeds going to the Islamorada Charter Boat Association. Hope everyone has a safe and blessed holiday. We’ll see you out there!-Captain Ross Early

The shallower patches can also be very productive on days when there’s little water clarity. Drifting for yellowtails in the chum slick and any bait or cut plug on a knocker rig should 2 FLORIDA KEYS

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Captain Ross Early Earlybird Fishing Charters 305-942-3618 www.fishearlybird.com Fish Earlybird! FishingChartersEarlyBird earlybirdfishing

I

ts December and the piltchards have been plentiful in the bait wells around town and the fishing has been great, I have been starting my trips off extra early looking up and down the shoreline for diving pelicans and loading up on live bait then heading out to the shallow patch reefs or out on the edge looking for a sailfish. Lots of great bottom fishing from Muttons to Grouper being caught in the Islamorada area on the shallow patch reefs in the 20-30ft range, and while you are out there keep an eye out for the war birds if you happen to see them diving you might want to pull up the anchor and go take a look they are probably looking at a sailfish who is chasing the bait around. In the backcountry the snook fishing has been steady as well as the redfish over in the glades and locally I have heard some reports of good bonefishing. I had a client in town just a few days ago who wanted to try his hand at fly fishing for bonefish, we had a few shots and it was great to spend some time chasing them but unfortunately we didn’t get one. This is also a great time

of year to head out on the gulf side and fish for the Spanish Mackeral all you will need is a block of chum and a well full of live shrimp or pilchards, use light spinning outfits with a short trace of leader wire and either a jig head or a circle hook. I like to fish in the 10-12ft zone, when you find your spot drag your chum bag around for a few minutes to get the sent out then anchor up current of the area you just chummed. Tight Lines Capt. Greg

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minnows are best for this method.

T

here’s shopping to do and cookies to bake and houses to decorate. But you don’t want to miss some of the best fishing the Keys have to offer!

We are extremely happy to report that our weather so far this fall has been the closest to seasonal normal we’ve seen in a couple of years. And, the fish are responding predictably. The sailfish showed up early this year on Labor Day weekend. Fishing for them has been consistently good ever since, and we expect it to remain so for December. Ballyhoo is the prime food source for the sailfish this time of year. Major amounts of this baitfish have been pushing out from the bayside into the Atlantic, which should hold the sailfish in and around the reef for quite some time. Mornings and evenings are the best times to target spraying sails, or all day long in cloudy conditions. Our usual midday tactic during December is to gather a bunch of live ballyhoo and put a spread out anywhere from 100 to 120 feet of water, as this is the area where the sailfish hang when not actively pursuing the ballyhoo up in the shallows in 20 to 30 feet. They will often attack a wayward ‘hoo that has wandered too far offshore. Mixed in with the sailfish, we find dolphin, blackfin tuna, wahoo and king mackerel. Not a bad bycatch when you’re sport fishing! For the wahoo and kings, we like to fish a deep bait about half way off the bottom or wherever the thermocline might be located. Pilchards and cigar

On the Atlantic wrecks, there should be copious amounts of mutton snapper, amberjack, kingfish and wahoo. Live baits are key, including ballyhoo, pilchards, pinfish and small blue runners. Up on the reef, the shallower patches tend to hold the most fish this time of year, again due to the presence of the ballyhoo. You’ll find plenty of yellowtail, mangrove and mutton snapper, black, red and gag grouper all occupying the same areas.

SeaSquared Charters had the pleasure of having a member of our Coastal Angler family onboard with Capt. Wayne Burr. David Mowry, owner of the Galveston TX Coastal Angler franchise, and his group had an awesome snapper catch that included a slew of muttons and a yellowtail. Hogfish and porgy rounded out the catch.

All but the yellowtails will eat a variety of live baits, such as pilchards, pinfish and ballyhoo. The ‘tails prefer cut baits or shrimp.

The snappers feed aggressively this time of year. Because of this, you need to use copious amounts of chum. We supplement our frozen block chum with Yellowtail Up and ChumDrop from Aquatic Nutrition. These innovative dry chum kits are just what Dr. Snapper ordered and have dramatically improved our snapper catches. Ask your local bait shop or visit them online at AquaticNutrition.com. You can also expect to find hogfish and large porgy in these zones. Shrimp is crucial for these tasty critters. Cero mackerel and mid-size kings fill out the offerings in these regions. Live ballyhoo, pilchards or small blue runners do the trick for these toothy fish. Out in Florida Bay and around the bridges, we have good action on mangrove snapper. Small live pilchards and pinfish are your best choices as well as shrimp. In the expansive grassy areas eight to ten miles out in the bay is where we also find massive amounts of Spanish mackerel. Shrimp on a jighead, small shiny spoons, small bucktails or live pilchards work best. Make sure you have a small, six- to eight-inch, trace of wire to prevent bite-offs. In the Gulf of Mexico, we expect good fishing on the wrecks for cobia, gag grouper, Goliath grouper, sharks and mangrove snapper. On behalf of the entire SeaSquared crew, we thank you for reading our articles and wish you a joyous holiday season filled with family, friends and – of course – plenty of fishing! May all your wishes come true! Capt. Chris Johnson SeaSquaredCharters.com Facebook.com/MarathonFishing Marathon Florida Keys 305-743-5305 4 FLORIDA KEYS

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N

ovember is coming to an end and oh boy what a month it was! Good warm weather really kept the water from cooling down too much, keeping the inshore bite red hot. In a time when cold fronts can really slow down the shallow water bite, we enjoyed a great month of fishing. Very large bonefish were quite abundant. I actually found fish that were tailing so hard in such shallow water, I was unable to pole my Hewes Bonefisher any shallower to get to them. Permit were up and about on the prowl as well. Lots of bait swimming around the shallow water with quite a few small tarpon out and about. They were very cooperative to eat small flies. Offshore has been very hit or miss. Funky water has kept the major push of pelagic from moving into the shallow water. On the flip side the mangrove and yellowtail snapper bite has been unbelievable. Some very nice groupers were biting as well. It seemed the shallower on the reef fished, the better. The sailfish bite was pretty good despite not having the greatest water all the time. Live ballyhoo off the edge of the reef seemed to provide the best action. With December approaching I am getting pumped. Although water has been weird, offshore fishing in the Lower Keys is like a bomb waiting to go off. As soon the wind and current gets right, it will go off. December is my absolute favorite month to fish in the Florida Keys. Options are wide open. It is the last month grouper is open and is always a hot bite. Black, gag, and red groupers push into the shallow water, usually 20-30ft to feast on the large ballyhoo schools that work their way down the reefline. The cooler water kills most algae and produces nice clear water on the reefs. Sailfish and mahi mahi can be caught right on top of the reef in 15-40ft of water. When these offshore quarry move into the shallow water they display an incredibly bright array of colors quite different from when they are out in the deep blue. December is a great time to target wahoo and blackfin tuna as well. All kinds of species work our way down here following the large schools of bait. Large mutton snappers in the 10-20lb

range will be quite common everywhere from Hawks channel patches to the deep reefs. Great time of year to fish. My favorite! For more information you can contact me directly at (305) 394-2177

Captain Nate Wheeler www.waypointfishing.net captnatewheeler@aol.com (305) 394-2177

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LOWER KEYS

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inter fishing has some great advantages; comfortable temperatures, variety and action. Cold fronts move through, but when they leave, warm days usually follow and the fishing usually lights up. Get ready for some enjoyable days on the water. Here’s my recommendation on what to target: On the flats, there are several opportunities for action. Let’s start with barracudas....possibly very large barracudas. December is one of the best months for targeting this species. December through March, you can typically find them in good numbers. A tube lure works great, as do live bait such as blue runners. Also on the flats, offering a good fight, are shallow water sharks. Permit are a possibility on warm days, which we are fortunate to have a good deal of in between cold fronts here in the Lower Florida Keys.

be found in the channels. Sea trout and lady fish can be found in the basins. Remember to idle in or use your trolling motor to move you into position so that you don’t scare away any fish in the area that you are targeting. Good luck and good fishing.

Offshore, my recommendation is to take advantage of grouper fishing, which has been excellent. Grouper season closes on January 1st, so with that in mind, get out there and take advantage of being able to catch and keep these monsters while you can! A lot of restaurants in our area will cook your catch if you bring it in to them. And grouper is about as delicious of a fish as you can catch! Tuna and sailfish are also found offshore this time of year.

Capt. Andrew Tipler www.lastcastcharters.net (305)744-9796

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Well the winter has arrived in Key West along with it have come cooler water temperatures and the beginning of the winter bite. The North and Northeast breezes drop water temperatures and the bait begins to stack up on the reef. The ballyhoo on the reef brings the mutton snapper and grouper bite to life.While you chum for ballyhoo it is common to see sailfish spray ballyhoo on the reef. The cold waters of winter make the reef line alive with action. In the bluewater the tuna fishing early morning and late in the day is a blast. The tuna boil on the surface as the birds give them away, small williamson dolphin catcher lures trolled way back in the pattern and rapala mag 20s are a favorite. The sailfish will typically be found in depths between 120 and 200 feet of water. The tuna will typically be found from 150-250 in depth. Inshore in the harbor there are some resident tarpon and even some permit. But the action in the harbor will begin to slow down. In the flats we will see the last of our tarpon and the big barracudas will begin to fill in the flats. Look for the

Huge Mutton Snapper caught on the Compass Rose with Captain Mike Weinhofer

fishing on top of the flats to improve on sunny days when the waters on the flats warm up a little. The change in fishing his a blast. So many new opportunities and great adventures await.= Captain Mike Wienhofer Key West Florida Fishing

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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Florida Keys !!!! Ed Gocher Coastal Angler Florida Keys Edition

Sailfish are hoppin g!! Photo By Capta in Mike Weinhofer on the Compass Rose, Ke y West

s For Fun, Key West

Nice Permit caught on the Flat

wahoo Darren caught this 67 pound “Dodo” the rd boa on Off lower matecumbe

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We will be eating good this winter. Did awesome on our 2nd day with Kevin Wilson of Knee Deep Charters in Key West. Limited out again on yellow tail, got our Grouper and a grey Snapper. Life is good. Good fishing, great company and friends Lisa and Ken Clark, NJ

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he Dry Tortugas are a group of seven small islands 67 miles west of Key West. Encompassed within a 100-acre national park, the islands are best known for Fort Jefferson, a 19th century brick fort on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean. The history of the Dry Tortugas is pretty amazing, and so is the fishing. Fort Jefferson was built to protect the busiest shipping lanes between the Gulf Coast and the eastern seaboard. During the civil war, the fort was used by the Union army to disrupt shipping to confederate forces. During that same period, the fort was also used as a prison. The most famous prisoner held at the fort was Dr. Samuel Mudd, who mended John Wilkes Booth’s leg. In 1874, the army abandoned the fort and it was used solely as a coaling station for resupply. The Dry Tortugas received their name because there was no water on the island and the turtles prevalent on the beach made a good food source. The fort itself was never finished completely, but it is a testament to determination. All the building materials needed to build the fort were brought down by barge. The scope of it doesn’t hit you until you sit in the archways of the fort and think back in history of them hauling 14 million bricks 70 miles from Key West and roughly 200 miles from the mainland out in the middle of the ocean. Those arches of bricks often are made of six different angles meeting together to make the complex ceiling. A walk around the fort and climbing the walls is a must for anyone traveling to Dry Tortuga. Plan on just relaxing and watching the sunset from inside the fort. For anglers, the true magic happens when you go fishing off Fort Jefferson. The waters surrounding the fort are crystal clear. Often, when fishing in 30 or 40 feet of water you can watch groupers swim out of a hole and eat your bait. Whether you decide to fish K Buoy on the north side of the fort for yellowtails, East Key for groupers and mutton, or the south side of the fort for big groupers or kings, it is magical. The fishing at the fort is like going back 30 years in time and catching fish of yester-year. When you see a boat come back from the fort with its catch, you can tell where they have been without even asking. The fish are larger and more 14 FLORIDA

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colorful, and there’s just more of them. I think the remoteness of the fort has kept the fishing pristine. You know the king fishing at the fort is amazing when you see tournament teams run hundreds of miles to catch a fish there to win a tournament. I think there have been more winning kingfish caught at the fort than any place else, but the fort is known for its bottom fishing. Whether you decide to bottom fish on the Atlantic side of the fort or the Gulf of Mexico on the north side, be ready for some awesome action. On the Atlantic side, you can anchor down and chum up the yellowtails on the reef edge or drift fish the different drops. These drops are bottom contours that often only change by a couple of feet, but those edges hold myriad fish. The 204 drop or the 250 drop edges are loaded with fish, but you have to use the right tackle. I prefer braid when bottom fishing. The difference with braid when you are fishing deep is it takes half the weight to get down, and you can feel exactly what is going on with your bait. The amount of weight will vary every day, you want to make sure you have enough weight to hold bottom; you do not want your line scoping out away from the boat. When the line scopes out, you have to put more and more line out to find the bottom. Ideally, you want your bait a foot off the bottom. If you scope out, you also have a great tendency to hang the bottom. It can often be hard to get the feel for it for new anglers. Bait options are endless, whether you fish live bait (pinfish, pilchards, mullet) or dead bait, there is a time for each. There are days when they only want dead bait like bonita strips, ballyhoo or squid, and they will out fish live 10 to one. Then sometimes jigs with tails or ballyhoo are the secret. The best advice I can give is take it all: dead bait, live bait and artificials. It is a long way to the nearest tackle shop. Don’t be afraid to try different things at different locations. When it comes to jigs, I prefer white and everything from 1-ounce to 10-once. The current can be still, or it could be flying along at 3 knots. For I like to drift fish at the fort. There is so much bottom to cover and so many places I

want to get to that I rarely anchor. A perfect drift for me is 1 1/2 to 2 knots. If there is no current, typically there are no fish. Different times of day are better in different areas. I believe the fish migrate during the day from south to north or vice versa depending on where you are. When you setup a drift over a migration, you will know it instantly by the constant action. When you look at a chart of the Dry Tortugas, your imagination runs wild with all the great bottom contours to fish and different spots that just look fishy. Be mindful of the closed areas and restricted areas around the fort; the fines are expensive. The best part of fishing the Dry Tortugas is exploring a new fishery that is so widespread and alive with fish. You can expect to come home with stories and photos of a lifetime. So take the time to go down West and experience history. Visit the Dry Tortugas web page for more information (www.nps.gov/drto/index.htm). Contact Capt. Mike Weinhoffer and Key West Florida Fishing through their website www. Keywestfloridafishing.com or call 305-395-3474.

More Fishing in the Dry Tortugas, go to

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If you think you can triumph over anything that swims, we suggest you go straight to Key West. Because from mighty offshore gamesters including sails, tuna and marlin to backcountry stars such as bonefish, permit, tarpon and snook, you’ll discover your breaking point a lot sooner than you might think. fla-keys.com/keywest 1.800.527.8539

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T

he gift of peak experiences happens to all of us. Sometimes we set them up, and sometimes they’re gifts from heaven. We all do our best to orchestrate memorable experiences. For me, a common denominator has been the ocean. Diving, surfing, sailing and fishing are all included. During the 18 years I handled sales and marketing at Costa Del Mar Sunglasses, I was fortunate to witness blue marlin tournaments in St. Thomas, the first Redbone tournament in Islamorada and good times at the Sailfish Marina with the West Palm Beach Fishing Club. Another thread has been the fishing/surfing connection. Having an affinity for the ocean is common to people who fish, and for surfers. Ben Hartig, longtime member of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, was one of the most revered surfers at Reef Road in Palm Beach. Nobody dropped in on Ben Hartig. Bill Holmes, who manufactured legendary “Holmesy Surfboards” in Juno Beach, also had the woodworking talents to do custom interiors for Rybovich Boat Company for many years. The late Ted James started Fox Surfboards in Palm Beach County in 1968 while he was catching monster tarpon and snook in the area, and later fished the Outer Banks of North Carolina while manufacturing Fox Surfboards and Sailboards there. Mark Castlow of Fort Pierce started Atlantis Surfboards in the 1960s, and then moved into manufacturing world class Maverick flats boats and Dragonfly Boatworks today. Ralph Boynton, long time Lake Worth pier surfer, won the West Palm Beach Fishing Club’s annual Nora Award for the heaviest snook three times, and holds the 50-year record at 42.08 lbs. Kristy Murphy grew up fishing and diving in the Bahamas before moving to Jupiter. She was so good in the water she could free dive 30 feet, spear a grouper and grab a lobster with the same breath. Kristy went on to win the Women’s World Longboard Championships in big waves. One of the world’s best big-wave surfers, Mark Healy, often free dives 100 feet deep as a volunteer to tag sharks for conservation. The historic Sea Mist drift fishing boat out of Boynton Inlet has had two of the best local surf-

ers as long time captains: Burt Garnsey and Charlie Brown. And don’t forget our own Florida fishing guides/writers Capt. Mike Holliday and Capt. Rodney Smith, both also hooked on surfing. Holmesy Surfboards, Fox Surfboards and Kristy Murphy are all featured in the grand opening of the new Surfing Museum in the Lake Park Arts District on Dec. 9. The Surfing History Museum recently moved from Delray Beach to Lake Park at 738 Park Avenue and the grand opening includes the premier of the new surfing film Ted James with a gift from the ocean, “Dream Steeple.” The museum a 41.75-pound snook, circa 1967. showcases the 100-year history Photo by Ralph Boynton. of surfing in Florida. We hope to see you there, and “talk story” about peak experiences and gifts from the ocean. Tom Warnke is a Trustee and Historian for the Palm Beach County Surfing History Project. Email Tom at trwarnke@hotmail.com or click on surfhistoryproject.org for additional info.

For More on the Surf History Project visit

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f there is a point at which the world of art and the world of sport fishing came together, it can be found in fly tying. If you take a brief moment to scour the internet for videos on tying different types of flies anglers have developed, you’ll see that making flies is in a class all of its own when it comes to our world of fishing. Taking time to use natural or synthetic materials and making them look like something that will fool the wary eye of an elusive sport fish like bonefish or tarpon is a challenge to both our creativity and our knowledge as fishermen. However, learning to become a successful fly tyer can be one the most rewarding experiences in your fishing adventures, and it will force you to heighten your awareness of what your quarry is looking for. But let’s face it, it can be intimidating when you see pictures of some of the masterpiece flies that have been developed by more experienced tyers. Believe it or not, with only a few simple materials, some hooks, a vice, a bobbin, and tying thread, you can begin making quality flies all on your own in a very short amount of time. For the beginning fly tyer planning to fish fresh or saltwater in Florida, there are five flies I feel are not only very effective, but

are also very simple to begin tying on your own. Woolly Buggers, Clouser Minnows, Lefty’s Deceiver, gurglers, and polar fiber minnows are all flies that are a simple and effective launching pad for the beginning tyer. For the Woolly Bugger, you’ll need chenille, marabou and rooster neck hackle. The Clouser Minnow only requires two different colors of buck tail, painted dumbbell eyes and some Flashabou. Lefty’s Deceivers require matching (or varying if you choose) colors of rooster saddle and buck tail, along with some Flashabou and maybe a little paint to make the eyes. A simple gurgler only requires some marabou, chenille and foam, and for a polar fiber minnow, you only need one color of polar fiber, some fish eyes, and five-minute epoxy. For in depth instructions on all five of these flies, there are some great Youtube channels like Fly Fish Food, In The Riffle, or Tight Lines Video that offer great instructional videos for any one of these five flies and a multitude of other fantastic fly patterns. So as a fellow angler, I challenge you to head down to your nearest fly shop, pick up some of these materials and begin not only making your own flies, but catching fish on flies that you made! Good luck and tight lines.

For more fly tying tips, go to

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Offshore-Inshore-Nearshore...

The Choice Is Yours. Photo Courtesy CFOceanimages

F

or more than 50 years, the Islamorada Sailfish Tournament has kicked off the renowned triple-crown Florida Keys Gold Cup Sailfish Championship Series. This year’s tournament dates are Thursday through Sunday, Dec. 1-4. The all-release challenge, a primary fundraiser for the Islamorada Charter Boat Association, allows an unlimited number of anglers per vessel to participate. Tournament events are to be headquartered at the Whale Harbor Inn and Marina complex, located at mile marker 83 in Islamorada, and open with pre-registration and a kickoff banquet Thursday, Dec. 1. Fishing is scheduled Friday through Sunday, Dec. 2-4, with an awards ceremony Sunday. Entry fees after Nov. 15 are $750 and $650, respectively. The junior angler entry fee is $250 regardless of entry date. Specially priced Islamorada lodging rates are available for the weekend event. The second event in the Gold Cup Series is the Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament set for Jan. 19-21, 2017. The third is the Islamorada Fishing Club Sailfish Tournament scheduled Jan. 25-26, 2017, when the series culminates and the overall Gold Cup champions are crowned. For registration and information go to islamoradasailfishtournament. com/ or contact Dianne Harbaugh 305-522-4868.

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y earliest introduction to the Bahamas was Andros, and I really feel at home when I go back. Although I am blessed to have traveled throughout the Bahamas for my ongoing research of bonefish and the bonefishing industry, it was my initial angling trip to Andros that created ties to the Bahamas that draw me back. This, the largest and most sparsely developed of the Bahamian islands, offers some of the best fishing in the world. Andros is truncated by extensive, deep and vital oceanic creeks referred to as bights that act as fish highways, transporting rich nutrients from region to region and tremendous numbers of fish. North Andros, separated from Mangrove Cay by the north bight, extends roughly from Bering Point all the way north to the Joulters. Like the rest of Andros, a single road on the eastern fringe allows for travel from north to south. The western side of Andros is largely undeveloped, is challenging to reach and is now the largest Marine Protected Area in the Bahamas. Bering Point can be considered an epicenter of bonefishing on Andros and in the Bahamas for that matter. This small fishing community lies on the southeastern tip of Andros, south of Fresh Creek one of the largest settlements on Andros, and just south of the AUTEC naval base. Bering Point is home to many long-time lodges and some of the best-known guides in the world. Guides like Ivan Neymour, Charlie Smith, and Rupert Leadon started guiding anglers in the 40s and 50s, working to develop a premier bonefishing destination. Indeed, the flats of Andros are unriveled in their sheer size and many areas on the west side of Andros remain relatively untouched. Anglers visiting north Andros have a wide array of accommodations to choose from and while I was conducting interviews in the area, I stayed at the Andros Island Bonefish Club, founded by local legend Rupert Leadon, who passed in 2012. Although I was unable to interview Rupert for my research, I met and interviewed many of his family members. Through conversing with family and community members, it is very clear how much Mr. Leadon helped the local economy. Like the Leadon family, many guides working in Andros are descended from guiding greats, those men who ventured into a new industry receiving little credit for their tremendous efforts, until now. Flats within easy wading from Bering Point are extensive and varied. Anglers should have wading boots and larger flies for deeper water and larger fish. Double-digit bonefish are common in Andros. Fish the tides, look for moving water, look for places that get less pressure and do not be afraid to wade deep for big fish... however, watch for sharks. You can bet that if you find good bonefishing, you will also find sharks. Be wary of sharks while releasing bonefish, and reduce the potential for predation of your released bonefish. Do this by using adequate rods, reels and lines, by reducing fight time, by eliminating handling and using barbless hooks. “Keep ’em wet.” If you have to have a photo, consider waterproof cameras for interesting perspectives of you and your fish. North Andros is very interesting geographically. The south by Bering Point is sub-tropical. In the north, starting roughly near Stafford Creek, where the beautiful Stafford Creek Lodge is located, are extensive pine forests and some agriculture creating a significant change from the south. Bonefish angling is available all along the eastern shores, and creeks are great places to start. Car rentals are readily available from local airports and adventuresome anglers can reap great rewards for getting off the proverbial beaten path. Some creek 20 FLORIDA

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systems are extensive, and as with all of Andros, traveling to the west side requires a boat and expert local knowledge... a guide. The northern tip of Andros is known as the Joulters, recently hit hard by Hurricane Matthew. Local guide Phillip Rolle graciously showed me some of the Joulters, and I can genuinely say the habitat is rich and the fishing is amazing. Miles and miles of hard white sandy bottom flats welcome anglers venturing to the area. I get the impression less angling pressure has permitted the continued health of local fish stocks. Huge schools of large fish move through countless cuts, bars and shoals, making the need for a guide critical. Given the size of the Joulters and all of Andros for that matter, finding fish is a daunting task; local guides who fish every day will greatly improve your odds of catching fish. Although the fishing on Andros is outstanding, there is much to do for non-anglers or on days away from the flats. Many blue holes dot the landscape, fantastic diving and snorkelling are easy to access, world-class birding and ecotours are available, and a rich culture including festivals like Crab Fest make for a great trip. For much more on this research please visit: http://tomkarrow.wixsite.com/ bahamas-guide-tek. Tom Karrow is a doctoral researcher evaluating the sustainability of the Bahamas bonefishing industry through accessing local guide knowledge and history. Tom works in conjunction with Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, The University of the Bahamas and the Bahamas Fly Fishing Industry Association. Research is funded in part through partnerships with Nautilus Reels, R.L.Winston Fly Rods, FishPond, 12 Weight, Costa and World Angling.

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By Bert Marcus Last week I got a call from my friend Bill Washburn in Sarasota. He knew I had been running a Sailfish for the past seven years and wanted to know if I had seen the new Sailfish 236CC yet. I told him that I hadn’t and asked him why he cared. “Well I’ve got one tied up at my dock,” he replied. “I wanted to see if you wanted to go out with me tomorrow on my new boat.” I have never been one to turn down a fishing trip. We made plans to meet at his house on Longboat Key the next morning and said goodbye.

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After fighting a little traffic the next morning, I pulled back behind Bill’s House to his dock and there was Bill loading some rods and a cooler into what I could tell from a distance from its distinctive bow flare was a Sailfish, but the more modern profile and the hard-top frame integrated into the console were attractive new additions. “Get aboard,” he said, beaming with pride. “Just got it over the weekend.” He filled me in on all the details. The 236CC was a brand new Sailfish model, in fact this was number seven. “They’ve taken the best of your boat and added a lot of new innovations,” he explained, while starting to show me around the boat. “He really thought this one through, from the keel up – it’s got form and function.” I could see many of the old standards features from my old Sailfish – deep gunwales, built-in transom bait well, well-laid-out console, big fish boxes in he bow. However, there was plenty of “new” in this new model. “Look how they handled the transom seating,” Bill said, pointing to a fold-up seat attached to the transom. “And the whole thing lifts up to give you easy access to the bilge.” He then pointed to the leaning post lifted up the cushion on the passenger’s side and said, “look at this, a second live well build into the leaning post.” He also pointed out the tackle storage and stowable bait station built into the leaning post before getting behind the helm, tapping on the passenger seat and telling me to get ready to go. “I’ve put about 15 hours on the motor since Saturday,” Bill explained, “I could have gotten it with a 200 or 300 Yamaha, but I went with the 250.” “It runs 47 mph wide open,” Bill boasted. “And like all Sailfish’s, the VDS hull cuts into the water and the ride is real smooth.” As I said earlier, I have been running a Sailfish for the past seven years, and one thing that I have always appreciated is the way she handles in rough water. I have to admit, I was jealous of Bill and I spent most of the trip calculating what I could get for trading in my 218CC and what color my new 236CC would be.

CONNER’S NUTTER BUTTER Most fishermen will tell you they have a favorite color when it comes to specific fly patterns or lures. As a general rule, especially with streamers, it’s a good idea to have a range of colors to cycle through until you find what the fish are keyed in on. The Nutter Butter is a great pattern that falls toward the natural color palette, featuring mostly tans and browns and natural material like coyote fur. Something I have noticed is these subtle colors can draw a strike when brighter colors will not, making streamers like the Nutter Butter a staple for any streamer fisher’s box. In addition to color, the action and profile of the Nutter Butter are perfectly suited to drawing strikes from predatory fish. This fly really dances underwater. Rear Hook Hook: Gamakatsu B10S Size 2 Tail: Tan Extra Select Craft Fur Body: Tan Ice Dub Hackle: Polar Chenille Olive Copper UV Collar: Coyote Fur in a dubbing loop Front Hook Articulation: Senyo’s Intruder Wire and 2 6mm beads Hook: Gamakatsu B10S Size 1/0 Rattle: Hareline Plastic Rattle Medium Tail: Tan Craft Fur Body: Tan Ice Dub Hackle: Polar Chenille Olive Copper UV Collar: Coyote Fur in a dubbing loop Head: Brown Laser Dub Over Tan Eyes: 8mm CCG Eyes Tempt Head: CCG Flex

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By Capt. Michael Okruhlik

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t’s December. I’m ready for some winter wade fishing, and I am sure you are, too. Now the question, is our equipment ready? The last thing I want to happen… again, is to be waist deep in 45-degree water and 40-degree air temp and realize my waders have sprung a leak. Let’s go over a few things to prevent this. First, I start with storage last spring. I store all of my waders and jackets in a climate-controlled environment. I also make sure to hang them up to avoid items getting tossed on top of them. Well in advance of my first trip, I will do a thorough inspection in search of pin holes and abrasions. The best method I have found for this is to turn my waders inside out, grab a spotlight and head for a dark room. I shine the spotlight inside and look for any light shining through. In the event I spot a hole, I will circle that area with a permanent marker. Once identified, I then use the appropriate patch adhesive for my waders and make the necessary repair. After this, I like to fill them with water as a secondary check. Now, when it comes to the type of equipment to buy, there are endless options from economical to expensive. There are two trains of thought here, and over my career I have subscribed to both. I used to purchase the more economical prod-

ucts, and for the most part they served me well, but I have had those occasional uncomfortable long, wet and cold days. My thought process was I could buy 6 to 10 pairs of these waders or buy one pair of the expensive ones. The 6 to 10 might last me a lifetime. It was hard for me to see the benefits to spending substantially more money for what I felt was the same product. I heard reviews that the others were warmer etc., but I just didn’t see it since they are both fairly thin and breathable. Once I tried a pair of the more expensive brands, I was hooked! It was a night and day difference in the feel, comfort and warmth. Not to mention the more expensive ones typically come with some type of warranty. Although I have not had any problems to find out first-hand, I hear customer service is top notch if something does fail. As I mentioned, both price points will work, but there is something to be said for buying quality when it comes to winter wade fishing gear. So whatever your preference, always take the time to check your equipment prior to that first wade in search of those winter trophy speckled trout. Capt. Michael Okruhlik is the inventor of Controlled Descent Lures and the owner of www.MyCoastOutdoors.com.

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

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New African Surf Rod Design Promises ‘Seven Seas’ Success By Mike Pehanich

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he landscape is stark off Namibia’s South Atlantic Coast. Sands end in sea, and, well, that’s about all there is to see! But these coastal waters where Jeri Drake and wife Sue fish and train for international surf fishing competition are loaded with game species, including copper sharks (“bronzies”), spotted gully, cow sharks, blue rays, smooth hounds and many more. You might never make it to Africa to fish these waters, but the tackle and techniques that Jeri—a master rod builder, innovator, member of Namibian President’s fishing team, and owner of Excalibur Tackle (www. excalibur-tackle.com ) in the town of Henties Bay—takes to the surf could find application on your coastal waters, too. Fishing is serious sport along the “Skeleton Coast,” particularly for tournament anglers who, armed with long rods and a fighting belt, often wade out several hundred yards to sandbanks, routinely casting 6- to 7-once sinkers and bait 100 to 160 yards or more to reach hard-fighting game fish. Rod design for Jeri Drake, known simply as “Jeri” in southern African fishing circles, has evolved into 14-foot and longer rods. He has developed his own blanks for this style of fishing, with unique handles featuring short butt sections and long fore grips, the latter measuring around 28 inches. The essential difference to U.S. style blanks is a ‘faster’ action, as opposed to the usual ‘through’ action. Jeri employs the same “reel down” design—reel positioned relatively close to the fighting belt—with surf rods he builds for both “fixed spool” (spinning) reels and conventional reels. The long fore grips allow fishermen to change the fulcrum point while fighting the fish. The “reel down” design also makes it easier to master more powerful casting techniques and thus achieve better distances. Wading through troughs and casting and fighting fish in sea spray calls

for a non-slip rod grip material. Jeri crafts his rod handles individually, wrapping Winn Superior Rod Wrap (www.winngrips.com ) directly over the large butt section of the rod blank. The all-weather WinnDry polymer, which also wraps easily over existing cork or EVA grips with its tape-like backing, retains its tacky feel even when he’s immersed in sea spray. In lieu of finishing tape, Jeri terminates the ends of the rod wrap with thread wrap and a finishing coat. This prevents seawater, sand particles and any other substance to undermine the grip material by seeping in between the wrap and blank. It also gives the handle a more finished look. To protect the polymer material from wear and punishment where rod butt meets rod belt, Jeri places a woven carbon sleeve above the butt button. The base of the rod wrap starts above the sleeve. This keeps the polymer from contacting the rod portal of the belt. Adapt some of Jeri’s surf rod tips to the rods in your arsenal. You’ll be tipping your cap to the tackle innovations of the avid anglers of southern Africa!

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UNDER THE SEA

SPEARFISHING WORLD RECORDS SHERI DAYE

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ost people have heard of IGFA (International Game Fish Association), which manages world records for fishermen. But have you heard of IUSA (International Underwater Spearfishing Association)? IUSA keeps track of spearfishing world records. Both were founded more than 65 years ago and have a rich history—and both pride themselves for providing a universal code of sporting ethics as well as record keeping. The IUSA rules are fairly simple: the fish must be taken while freediving and using a muscle-powered speargun, sling or polespear. The catch must be legal, unassisted and weighed on a certified scale. The application must include photos of the weighing, dimensions and witness information. The categories are: men and women, saltwater and freshwater, speargun and sling/polespear. In other words, a woman can have a record black grouper taken by polespear in the ocean; a man can have a record walleye taken by a speargun in a lake, and so forth. I was inspired a few years ago to see if I could get a world record yellowfin tuna. That led me to learn to hold my breath, educate myself on equipment, get in better shape, learn all about tunas, save money for trips and make friends with other bluewater hunters. Having that goal set many other activities in motion.

I was fortunate to achieve my goal with a 179-pound tuna in Mexico. While the catch itself was exciting, I now realize that it’s the hunt, not the catch—or as they say, “it’s the journey, not the destination.” The lessons learned, the new friends made along the way, the memories—that is what becomes most precious over time. If you’re interested in pursuing a world record, here’s some quick tips: 1. Go where the fish are! Investigate areas, charters, and recent catches. 2. Use the right tool for the job. For example, Wong guns are known for bluewater hunting, Hammerhead is known for slings/polespears, etc. 3. Know the rules in advance so you don’t unwittingly disqualify a record. They can be found on the IUSA website at www. iusarecords.com. 4. Pack a certified scale and tape measure in your dive bag. You never know when that special catch will take place! Chatillon scales are known for being accurate and “certifiable.” 5. Above all, be safe and have fun. Records are an enjoyable pursuit, but they don’t compare to your health and wellbeing. With a bit of persistence and some luck, you might be able to immortalize the fish of a lifetime by claiming a world record. Life is short, so get out and enjoy it! Follow “Sheri Daye” & “The Blue Wild Ocean Adventure Expo” April 22-23, 2017 – Ft. Lauderdale - Instagram and Facebook.

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Team MHX finds Success in 2016

H

FLW Photo

ow does a team that collectively won over $425K in 2015 go out and improve? “Maintaining the incredible work ethic of our anglers while working directly with our team to continue to develop the best blanks out there,” said Bob McKamey who is The Man when it comes to rod building and managing the team. FLW Tour pro John Cox started off the year with a bang at Lake Okeechobee with a top-12 cut and valuable AOY points. John narrowly missed the Angler of the Year in 2015 but had and extra spark when starting out the new season. An interesting side note to that Okeechobee event was Brad Hallman from Norman, Oklahoma, who was flipping dense reed heads with a custom-built MHX-FS966. “We didn’t initially know Brad was using our blanks until after the win,” Bob said. Come to find out, one of the MHX Regional Staff members Brandon Mosley, who fishes the COSTA series built Hallman’s rods before the event. So with just one event down in the FLW Tour, MHX Blanks had accounted for over $100k, not a bad start. Less than a month later, the Elite Series was on the St. Johns River in Palatka, Fla., and MHX Pro Brandon Lester found himself in the Day 1 lead and newest Team Member Bradley Roy was not far behind. Although he relinquished the lead over the next few days, Brandon and Bradley finished in the Top 20 to earn valuable AOY Points and nice paydays. Not to be outdone, John Cox and the FLW Tour were on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina the very same weekend, and Cox had the lead in that event. Although he did not win wire to wire, he was at the top when the smoke cleared on Sunday. With a Top-12 in the first event and a win in the second event, it seemed Cox wasted no time getting back to his

2015 form. On the regional event side, team member Brandon Mosley maintained a hot hand through the Costa Series and made two out of three cuts while building his rods as well as Hallman’s out on the FLW Tour. As the FLW Tour and Elite Series went on throughout the year, Cox, Roy and Lester continued to produce all while building their own rods. Cox, the most notable, who builds lake-specific rods in his hotel room during practice also has fellow anglers coming to him to fix a tip-top or a guide in an emergency. As the 2016 Season comes to a close, MHX has had an incredible year with multiple titles, a FLW Cup Championship and even team members headed to the Classic for the first time in their careers. Keep an eye out for the MHX Team as 2017 Season begins in January. If you are looking to build your own fishing rods check out MHX Rods at www.fishmhx.com and Mud Hole Custom Tackle at www.MudHole.com.

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How Does Harbor Freight Sell GREAT QUALITY Tools at the LOWEST Prices?

2.5 HP, 21 GALLON, 125 PSI VERTICAL AIR COMPRESSOR

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ITEM 61258 shown 61840/61297/68146

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ITEM 62340 SAVE 62546/63104 71% 96289 shown

1500 WATT DUAL TEMPERATURE HEAT GUN (572°/1112°)

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ITEM 63100/69626

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RAPID PUMP® 3 TON LOW PROFILE HEAVY DUTY STEEL FLOOR JACK ITEM 61282 shown Customer Rating 61253/62326

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15999$395 $9999 $269.99 comp at

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R PE ON SU UP CO • Weighs 73 lbs.

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ITEM 68784 shown 69387/62270/62744

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44", 13 DRAWER INDUSTRIAL QUALITY ROLLER CABINET

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ITEM 69331/63091/63248 68998 shown

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R 10" SLIDING COMPOUND PE ON Customer Rating MITER SAW SU UP CO

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Coastal Angler Magazine-Dec. / The Florida Keys  

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