Coastal Angler Magazine | June 2024 | Lakeland Edition

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SPEND YOUR TIME WHERE IT STANDS STILL ©2023 Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA. All rights reserved. Follow instructional materials and obey all laws. Ride responsibly, wearing protective apparel and USCG-approved personal fotation device. Always ride within your capabilities, allowing time and distance for maneuvering, and respect others around you. Never drink and ride. WaveRunner® is a Yamaha brand personal watercraft and not a generic term. RUN THE WATER ™ // YAMAHAWAVERUNNERS.COM

the importance of boat insurance

Do you love boating? Then you know how fun and relaxing it can be on the open water. But you also know that things can go wrong sometimes, like storms, accidents, theft, or injuries. That’s why boat insurance is so important. Here are some reasons why.

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Swordfshing is great any time of the year, but during summer you can justify the fuel burn to get where they live. It’s nearly impossible to run that far ofshore in June and not come across diving birds indicative of mahi or tuna. With minimal efort, this can be a nice score to put something in the box if you don’t have luck with the swords. It is normal to get skunked while swordfshing, and I don’t recommend going if you can’t accept that possibility. Te best way to go into it is to be fully prepared for both a fsh of a lifetime or to just chill with friends. Make no mistake, when you do land one of these beasts, it’s some of the most exciting fshing you can experience, and it’s worth the skunk risk.

Although you don’t have to run as far, the same consolation prize applies to heading out for tilefsh, snowy and yellowedge grouper, queen snapper, barrelfsh and rosies. Mahi fshing to, from and during deep-dropping rounds out a trip nicely.

Be prepared for mahi when heading ofshore in summer. Keep at least four rods designated for working a school and more for trolling. J hooks are a must for these head-shaking, sky-rocketing, fippy-fappy, squirm-fsh, but just about any line and bait will do. Tese tasty little dummies aren’t picky and would strike a banana peel if you jigged it right. Tat said, the speed of the bait is a variable you might have to adapt to. Teir toddler mentality kicks in when you try to take a bait away from them, encouraging them to strike something they just turned their nose up at. If you get hit when reeling in your bait, open your bail and give them a chance to eat.

If you get excited about fsh with pointy faces, be prepared for a marlin encounter this time of year. I keep rigged ballyhoo in a trolling spread and a pitch rod set up. Marlin aren’t overly common here, but when you see one, you want to be prepared for more than to simply wave and think, “that was neat.”


ummer in the Keys, albeit hotter than the devil’s you-know-where, is one of the best times to be on the water. With more calm days, open seasons for most species, and mahi peppering ofshore waters, this is the time of year to boogie out and hunt for whatever tickles your fancy.

Marlin enjoy a mahi snack as much as we do and will pop up unexpectedly while mahi fshing. If you have a large live bait, toss that sucker out. If not, a mahi from the box will do in a pinch. Give her time to eat, hang on and enjoy the ride.

Mahi season is already of to a great start for both size and numbers. Come on down and fll your coolers!

Capt. Quinlyn Haddon; Sweet e’nuf charters, marathon, Florida Keys; @captainquinlyn;; (504) 920-6342.

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The “Grandaddy of all Kingfsh Tournaments” will get the First Coast buzzing July 13-20, as the 44th annual Greater Jacksonville Kingfsh Tournament presented by VyStar Credit Union hosts a full week of tournaments with more than $500,000 in cash and prizes.

Te competition kicks of July 13 with the Kingfsh Kick Of Beach Tournament, in which competitors are limited to state waters within 3 miles of shore. Tis event evens the odds for the smaller boats to haul in the largest kingfsh of the day and collect the $50,000 cash prize.

Fishing for the General Tournament begins Friday morning, July 19. Tis cornerstone event pays out to 20 places for both large fsh and aggregate. First place for largest fsh of the tournament will be awarded a Contender 28T with twin 200 Yamaha outboards, an Ameritrail Trailer and a custom T-top and leaning post by Custom Marine. Tis boat package is valued at more than $225,000.

Junior anglers have a shot at a 16foot boat with a 15 hp Yamaha, and the Junior Ofshore Tournament pays out to 25 places. Te Ladies Division pays out to 10 places.

cold beverages, hot food and vendors. Awards Day on Saturday, July 20 is all about celebration, with Kids Zone activities, rafes and seminars.

For inshore anglers, the popular Redfsh Tournament fshes on Saturday, July 20 with payouts of more than $12,000.

Jacksonville Marine Charities is the operating arm of the event, and it supports non-profts throughout the state. Recently, Child Cancer Fund, the Down Syndrome Association and the Child Guidance Center have beneftted from the organization, which also supports other local charity fshing events like Te Premier Trout, Flounder Pounder, Wounded Heroes on the Water and others.

For complete details, visit king

All the boats and fsh coming to the docks at Jim King Park and Boat Ramp at Sisters Creek Park in Jacksonville creates a festival atmosphere. Te

Trout are Eating Your Nymph More than You Realize

Alarge trout rising to a high-riding dry fy is one of life’s true pleasures. It’s pretty darn easy to see. Te fy is bouncing happily along the surface, and with a splash it’s gone.

On the other hand, that same fat rainbow trout sucking in a nymph 6 feet down in a dark run may not be as obvious. When you’re nymphing, speed is of the essence. In a second, that fsh will expel the fy. Tere are a bunch of diferent strike indicators designed to help you see the sometimes-faint signal of a hit. Some work well, some break, some slide, and some just suck.

I love yarn indicators for their sensitivity and the plastic air-flled bobbers for ease of use. Both styles rigged up the leader about twice the depth of the water you’re fshing help you detect the strike. Any hesitation, dive or shif in direction of your indicator might be a hit.

I tell clients, if they think a fsh might even be breathing on the fy to set the hook! You get a heck of a lot more strikes than you think you do when nymph fshing. Any slack between your indicator and fy allows a fsh eat and spit your nymph out, and sometimes go completely undetected.

At close range, high-stick or Czech-nymphing techniques work great. No indicator is needed, as diferent colored lines or coiled-line indicators that straighten when a fsh takes are the deal. A lot of the time, the trout is felt when it takes the fy, or you will see the line suddenly stop. Tis method is deadly in experienced hands.

Another method of strike indication is the use of a big dry fy as the

indicator. Usually, a piece of fuorocarbon tippet is tied to the hook and a nymph or two hang underneath. Tis is a good when the fsh might spook if a plastic bobber crashes on their heads. A buggy looking dry fy is a lot less scary.

Another cool way to catch trout on subsurface fies is to watch them eat it. I call this ninja fshing! You’ll need the sun at your back or directly overhead. Start by locating a particular fsh, and then tie on a brightly colored fy that stands out and is easy to see. Cast upstream of the fsh, and let it drif down to the fsh. Sometimes a fy bounced right into their face will get a refex strike. Tis is a good way to learn how fsh react to fies and how currents afect your ofering. If you are in a pool with several fsh, you might be amazed at how many fsh take a swipe at it. You will then realize how many strikes you’ve been missing.

David Hulsey is a North Georgia-based guide and fy fshing instructor. Call him at (770) 639-4001 and visit Hulsey Fly Fishing at hulsey fy



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Advanced ofers services such as routine maintenance, custom electronics, trolling motor and power-pole installation. Tey don’t stop there. Rewiring your boat, gauge and switch panel replacements, steering, canvas and Sea-Deck are also in their arsenal. Almost anything you can think of, they can handle including cutting custom dash panels with their computerized CNC router.

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Permit schools have been sighted in the Florida Keys over the past couple of months, and June marks the fnal stretch of their journey. Tese elusive permit are wrapping up their ‘spring break’ routine and are heading to some of our ofshore wrecks to spawn.

Tis time of year can be great for permit, because they school up and provide ample opportunity for hook-ups. Pursuing a permit takes strategy and stamina, since these fsh are known for putting up a serious battle. Any angler who is interested in trying to land one of these

prized sportfsh needs to know what they are signing up for.

When fshing for permit on ofshore wrecks in Islamorada, we usually target schools around wreck sites like the Eagle in June. Tese wrecks are typically on the ocean side in deeper waters, ranging from about 30 to 100 feet deep.

For tackle, we typically use 6500 combos with fuorocarbon leaders and circle hooks. Spotting and sight-casting to permit is usually the goto method. Tis means looking for glimpses of fashing silver just below the surface. Permit love

crabs, and they have great eyesight. fcial crabs like the Savage Gear 3D Crab are very realistic, and they are ective and cost-friendly. However, it’s tough to beat a live blue crab for permit bait. Hook them through the shell to keep them lively. Let the crab swim freely to drif into the school of permit and prepare for action. ght, fne-tuning the drag is crucial with permit because overpowering them won’t do the trick. You want the drag set just right, enough to make progress when reeling in, but allowing the permit to run… and it will run.

Permit are one of the most sought-afer sportfsh in the Keys because they’re notorious for their incredible strength. Anyone who’s ever hooked one can tell you that they’re strong enough to make even the toughest angler break a sweat. Once you do land your frst permit, it is a moment you’ll never forget.

While they are a ton of fun, permit aren’t known as a particularly desirable food fsh. Catch and release is the way to go because they play a crucial role in our ecosystem, and releasing them safely helps ensure we’ll have permit to play with in the future. Land them as quickly as you can. Handle them gently for a quick release to minimize stress and ensure the fshery thrives.

Many times while permit fshing, we encounter exciting bycatch like other jack species, grouper and snapper. It’s all about the thrill of the catch in these beautiful waters of the Florida Keys.

To book a permit charter, visit


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A 9-Year-Old’s First For-Real Fishing Trip

Remember the frst time you went fshing for real? For many of us, the earliest trips elicit memories of a blue plastic container of red wigglers, a red-and-white plastic bobber and the ripe muddy fsh smell of an active bluegill bed. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the frst time you went fshing for real.

Maybe it was the year you were fnally allowed on the annual charter trip? Or perhaps it was the long-planned bass fshing weekend with Grandpa? Whatever it was, the person who took you decided you were ready to grow beyond the pushbutton-reel stage of fshing. It was on that trip when you became one of the crew instead of the kid who stayed home with mom.

Remember gathering your gear in anticipation? Remember waking up throughout the night and checking the clock to make sure you didn’t sleep through the alarm?

Jackson Willer, 9, of Melbourne, Fla., recently experienced his frst for-real fshing trip. Really, Jackson has fshed most of his life. His frst fsh was a jack crevalle caught with his Pop-Pop, Chris Willer, and his Mimi, Joann Willer, when he was 3 years old. But the Willer men are saltwater people, and when Jackson’s older cousin Ryan Willer, 21, told him to be ready early the next morning because they were going fshing, it was something new and exciting… his frst trip as one of the boys.

In the morning, before Ryan and Jackson lef for Sebastian Inlet, Pop-Pop pulled a special surprise from the back of his truck. He handed the 9-year-old a Penn 450SS mounted on an Ugly Stik. With freshwater wash downs and occasional cleaning, these vintage reels spin smoothly for decades. Chris (aka Pop-Pop) had been fshing this one since he bought it in the 1980s.

“I’m going to take care of it for as long as I possibly can,” said Jackson

on receiving the gif. “It feels really special. He was the one that taught me how to use a shing rod and all that stuf.”

So…armed with the rod and reel and a tank of live shrimp, Jackson and Ryan fshing for “I thought, there he goes. He’s running with the pack now. He doesn’t need us anymore,” said Joann (aka Mimi).

It wasn’t exactly a jam-up day on the water, but that’s fshing, and Jackson had fun.

“First I caught a redfsh, and then I caught a snook,” Jackson said. “It was pretty fun trying to reel it in and everything. It was hard and it was fun.” Jackson also said he doesn’t know when the next trip is, but he’s excited.

And that’s the whole point. Even if it’s just another day on the water for you, remember that the kid you’re taking was likely lying awake last night seeing visions of monster fsh and epic drag-peeling battles.

If you’ve got a great fshing story to tell, email us at



Due to a fairly dry April and May the water levels have been dropping but the water level is about average for this time of year. The eel grass is plentiful, and the water quality is excellent. The shellcrackers bedded really good on the full moon of April and probably will repeat in May. The bluegill fishing has been real steady throughout the month. A lot of decent size bass have been caught on spinnerbaits, chatter baits and artificial worms. June is a special month for us. This year will be the 10th Annual Panfish Challenge. For those of you that haven’t been, you need to mark your calendars!! This year’s event will be Saturday June 15th.

Thanks to our great sponsors all the kids will get free rod and reel combo’s, tackle boxes with plenty of tackle, t-shirts and who knows what else. We will have plenty of raffle items and silent auction items as well. 100% all proceeds will go to our local schools and youth organizations. We have great sponsors to fund this event and pay all the expenses, so everything goes back to the kids. Anyone can fish in it, but we encourage everyone to bring as many kids as they can. Even if you don’t fish in it you might want to stop by for the free food and other activities. Once you witness all the kids having a great time you will be “hooked’ for life.....

All information, registration and rules can be found on www. and any questions can be answered by either e-mailing or calling Pana Vista Lodge 352-793-2061.

And remember “It’s all for the kids.”

Other fishing activity for June will be to fish for bream and bluegills during most of the month using redworms and look for the shellcrackers to bed again around the full moon or new moon.

Topwater action for the bass will pick up using your favorite topwater plugs. Fish the weed line edges or the potholes in the vegetation. Also look for the bass chasing the shad. Early morning and later in the afternoon will probably be your best bet.

The bottom line is to get out and enjoy the beautiful lakes and rivers Florida has to offer. If you are out and about stop by !!!!

— or follow us on our Pana Vista Lodge Facebook page Keep Florida the Fishing and Boating Capital of the World, Become a Florida Friendly Angler today!

Keep Florida the Fishing and Boating Capital of the World by becoming a Florida Friendly Angler today! This free, self-paced, online course is perfect for new and experienced anglers who want to learn about best fishing practices, protecting fish habitat and marine fisheries management.

This course is a great educational resource for clubs focused on the great outdoors, fishing and stewardship. It is also a great way to get family and friends involved in conservation practices to help ensure fishing opportunities for current and future generations.

Upon completing this course, anglers receive an electronic certificate and a mailed weatherproof Florida Friendly Angler decal to show their Florida friendly angling expertise and their commitment to help ensure fishing opportunities for current and future generations.

For more information go to:

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May in the Chain

can’t believe how fast summer is approaching! It’s the time of the year when the draw down starts on our water levels for the Kissimmee Chain. For anglers, a 2-foot draw down is a big deal and a major game changer. One huge change is the feed patterns for freshwater fishing. For Trophy Class bass, expect them to move to either heavy cover or deep water by 10 a.m. Expect them to move back into the edges of the cover by 3 p.m., and begin feeding somewhere between 5 and 7 p.m. This pattern will last until October. During this time of the season, it’s more important than ever to maintain a distance of twenty feet with your boat from the edge of the cover. The type of cover I prefer this time of the year is the wide-bladed Kissimmee grass that extends the furthest distance away from the shore line. As you look parallel down the grass lines these points stick out like a sore thumb. Even though I will bass fish the whole line of grass, the points get extra casts. I’ve found through the years that more often than not the largest of bass will set up on the points on the line of grass.

Even though I will bass fish the whole line of grass, the points get extra casts. I’ve found through the years that more often than not the largest of bass will set up on the points on the line of grass.


What’s biting now fishing on Lake Okeechobee? Bass and bluegill. The crappie bite ended the latter part of April and was another stellar season for quality stringers of specks and bass. The bluegills are spawning in the shallows and will continue throughout the summer months into early fall, so if you don’t want to fish in the heat and avoid afternoon rain showers, October is a great time to book a trip for bluegill, crappie, and bass. Capt. Angie provides the tackle for a variety of species in her new fully rigged Caymas bass boat which can accommodate one to three anglers. If you’re waiting to book a trip for crappie a.k.a. ‘specks’ - think about booking several months out to get your preferred date(s). The crappie and bass spawn happen during the winter and early spring months and it’s also the busiest time of year to fish the big O.

The June Bite - Areas to try now are Kissimmee River; Tin house; 2nd to 4th point; parts of Indian Praire; parts of Horse Island and the Dyess Ditch area; some areas in the Monkey box and Shoal and the north/west side of Dupree bar. If you’re fishing in the east side, try the areas around Nub N Slough, Hendry Creek and around J & S. Bass lures to consider are worms; swim baits/swim jigs; shallow jerk baits (hard/soft); some top water; flipping/pitching (isolated cover); shallow crank baits. Color schemes are shad; bluegill; crawdad and tilapia and live crickets/worms when pan fishing. The boat ramp to launch is Scott Driver located on the Kissimmee River in Okeechobee and Harney Pond canal located in Lakeport and is close to the Big Water Bait & Tackle store for all your fishing needs. To book your next exciting and fun day fishing Okeechobee call 863-2287263 or log onto where you can find more trip information, customer reviews, pics, rates etc. Captain Angie’s sponsors: Toho Marine; Mercury; BnM Poles; Real Magic; Lews; Bullet Weights; Gene Larew; Pradco Brands; Mid-South Tackle; Maui Jim; Gill and Rapala.

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Running water is also an excellent choice this time of the year for big bass. As water temperatures often get into the nineties in the summer, water temperatures in most of The Chain’s creeks stay in the eighties. So—beat the highest temperatures and choose the creeks.

With water levels down, another good option for big bass is the Old Kissimmee River.

Big Blue gills and Shell crackers are abundant at this time, especially during the full moon cycle when fly hatching occurs. Use live crickets for bait. This time of the year, fly fishing is really good. I favor the Betts Black Ant or Bumble Bee during the hatch.

During the morning hours, long line trolling for big Specks is a good option. A white Road Runner 1/16 ounce tipped with a minnow or a 1/8 ounce Mepps spinner works great. I don’t catch a lot of Specks like this, but when they are 1 ½ to 2 ½ pounds, it doesn’t take a lot of them for a fine meal!

Best baits this month for Bass are: Zoom U Vibe speed worm and Texas rig 3/16 ounce Gambler Brass rattle weight. Also Zoom Super fluke – weightless and Yamamoto 5 inch Senko-weightless or Carolina rig wit an 1/8 ounce rattle weight. This bait is deadly when fished through the cover on the surface.

Have a great month of fishing…til next time!

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First off we’d like to “welcome” all of the new vacationers down here in Central Florida, and “welcome back” all of the many seasoned vacationers in our area. Hope you like the heat cause we have plenty for ya!!

In Winter Haven on the South Chain of Lakes, and a handful of the stand alone lakes, the largemouth bass have been out chasing schooling bait fish for many weeks now in deeper waters. It is definitely a “morning bite” that we are chasing out here with most trips leaving the dock by 0630.

Heading over to Camp Mack, a Guy Harvey Lodge, Marina, and RV Resort on the Kissimmee River we’re talking about fishing in Olde World Florida at it’s finest.

There are two reasons for that: first is that the bass are out feeding at sunrise most days, the second is that we’ve had requests for trips less than 4hrs so that the anglers can get back to their hotels or condos to meet the rest of the family and get to the parks or beaches in the morning still. With that said, some people are not early risers and like to fish from 0900 for a couple hours and still catch good fish before it gets too hot, then head back to the hotel, we can accommodate that also. Back to catching these green beasts, 99% of our trips offer both live and artificial baits. Our best baits this time of year are Pop-Rs, Z-Man PaddlerZ, Mulletron and flukes, swimbaits, jerkbaits, and senkos. We mostly fish clear spring-fed lakes with a good 6’-10’ of visibility so natural colors and lighter lines are in order. You can use “heavy” gear but most of these fish get very line and tackle shy so downsizing is key. Besides, we’re not trying to horse a fish out of a hyacinth mat or bulrush points, we’re in mostly open water.

Heading over to Camp Mack, a Guy Harvey Lodge, Marina, and RV Resort on the Kissimmee River we’re talking about fishing in Olde World Florida at it’s finest. This is were we can truly get lost in the world catching big bass with the alligators, eagles, osprey, turkeys and deer. Here we still give shiners swimming lessons earlier in the morning while throwing bigger black & gold topwater or sub-surface baits, bigger 5”+ swimbaits, Spooks, etc for the first few hours. After that most guests opt for heading into the jungle and some combat fishing with frogs, jigs, flipping worms, and EZ Swimmers in the heavy grass and pads.


855-FL-GUIDE (855-354-8433) or, Senior Pro Guide for Camp Mack, a Guy Harvey Lodge, Marina & RV Resort. Official Guide for the Polk County Tourism Sports & Marketing Board, for more information please visit:

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Redfish in the last several months have been biting good on the flats.  June should not be any different. The grass is growing higher and thicker on the flats so fishing the sand holes is more productive.  Early morning is best for tailing fish and as the day goes on the fish will lay up in the grass. The water is a little dirtier, so sight fishing is best in the sand holes and on the shorelines.  Try using more jerk baits with weedless hooks and no weights or freeline shrimp in the sand holes.  On windy days use cut bait in the sand holes for redfish and spotted seatrout. Throwing flies works well on tailing fish this time of year. Also look for deeper drop offs on the flats where there is mullet activity in the morning. Use live croakers or live pigfish for catching seatrout.

Ocean fishing for tarpon along the nearshore Atlantic in Central Florida should be good in June. Usually run down the beach till you see them roll.  For results, use 30-40# braid with 60# fluorocarbon leader with a 10/0 circle hook.  The best bet baits are live pogies and croakers. Sharks are also around the tarpon so make sure you have plenty of hooks. In the buoy line if the water is clear and pogies are present you can catch kingfish trolling live pogies with 43# test wire leader and a small treble hook tied to 20# mono.

In June we have more rain, and the water level should start coming back up. We should start to see small tarpon around the creeks and runoffs. For small tarpon - flyfishing and small mini jigs work well. A mini jig is a tube jig with a stronger hook and 1/8-ounce jig head. Use a light spinning rod with 4-8# test braid with 20-30# mono leader. That is why fly-fishing works well because you must throw something small and light and occasionally you catch a juvenile snook with the same methods.

Troy’s tip of the month: Go early when it is hot. Go early the redfish are tailing. Go early the tarpon are rolling.


June is not only a hot month in temperature, but in bass fishing as well. Thankfully the June rains will bring our lake levels back up to give the fish better access to the heavy cover they love to get in during the summer months. When the water gets as hot as it is the oxygen becomes low in the deeper parts of the lakes, forcing the fish to move into shallower water with dense vegetation where the oxygen is rich. Grab your flippin’ sticks! Pitching small profile crawfish baits, like the Zoom U Vibe Speed Craw or the Gambler BB Cricket, at the base of reeds or in pad pockets will surely entice a bite any time of day. The low light conditions of early morning or late evening are highly productive over and around the dense cover using a frog type bait or a swimming jig with a trailer. Try slowly walking a Booyah Pad Crasher over top of the pads, pausing regularly to help increase your chances at a strike. Later in the day deep water grass edges and the old river channels in both Lake Harris and little Lake Harris are good areas as well as the man-made fish attractors all over the chain of lakes. Large deep running crank baits or soft plastic swim baits are always a good choice. The old stand-by Carolina rig are producing bigger fish. Find the bait fish and you will find the bass.

The bluegill, shell cracker and red ear are in full swing of their spawning cycles and are still very productive. Target them with grass shrimp, red wigglers or crickets under docks and in the grass lines or near a flat close to the lily pads in the shallows. Once you locate these spawning beds fan cast the area for a bunch of fun and great table fare. Watch out for the afternoon storms and be safe, take a kid fishing for these tasty eaters and make a memory that will last a lifetime.


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June is a great time to be on the water. It is also a very busy time to be on the water.

School is out for summer, and everyone wants to be at the beach! Here’s a few safety tips for the summer. Boaters, have all your gear loaded and ready before you get to the boat ramp. Make sure you have the appropriate amount of life vests for all passengers. Visit FWC website for safety information. If you are new to boating, I recommend a boaters safety course or hire a captain to show you the ropes. Most of the issues that I see are at the boat ramp. Depending on the tides, there can be a lot of current and if you add a heavy wind to that you can easily get turned around. Give us a shout and we’ll make sure you know how to operate your vessel.

Now that the water is warming up the large schools of sheepshead have moved out.... For all the waders and beachgoers, make sure you’re doing the stingray shuffle. And finally- don’t forget your hats, polarized sunglasses, and lots of sunscreen!

Now on to fishing! Snook will be at the beaches and passes, pinfish, grunts, or white bait is my go-to. Free line with 20 to 30 pound fluorocarbon leader and a 2/0 or 3/0 hook depending on bait size. Another great way is under a popping cork. This enables you to drift your bait at the right depth by adjusting your leader length. Search mangrove shorelines for redfish. I like to use live shrimp all year long for redfish. Although they will eat pinfish and white bait as well.

Now that the water is warming up the large schools of sheepshead have moved out, and the snapper have taken their place. A lot of times the same rocks and structure that you find sheepshead on in the winter hold snapper in the summer. If you’re throwing artificial, top water in the morning and evening. Twitch baits, jerk, baits, paddle tails, midday. For all the waders and beachgoers, make sure you’re doing the stingray shuffle. And finally- don’t forget your hats, polarized sunglasses, and lots of sunscreen!

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CCA Florida STAR presented by Yamaha launched into year-10 on Memorial Day weekend! For 100 days, this unique fshing competition will award more than $500,000 in prizes and scholarships.

CCA Florida, the state’s leading marine fsheries conservation, habitat restoration, education and advocacy organization, holds the annual event to create awareness for conservation and support the protection and enhancement of Florida’s marine habitat.

Tis year, participating in STAR is easier than ever. Te competition has eight divisions including Tagged Redfsh Division, Tagged Dolphin Division, an Inshore and Ofshore Division, Native Watercraf Kayak Division, Realtree Youth Scholarship Division, Power Pole Conservation Division and Costa Kick Plastic Trash Division, and there are more than $500,000 in prizes and scholarships available!

“We are excited to kick of Florida’s largest family friendly saltwater

fshing competition for the tenth year,” STAR Director Leiza Fitzgerald said. “Tis year, it is easier than ever to participate in STAR because we have simplifed the competition to give anglers and non-anglers the chance to win big. Since 2015, we have given away more than $4 million in prizes, including $900,000 in college scholarships, and we can’t wait to do it again!”

STAR’s signature Tagged Redfsh Division presented by TH Marine ofers fve adult winners the choice of a Contender Boats 22 Sport, Dek Kat Boats 27 Flatz Kat, Spyder Boats FX19, Micro Draf Ski package that includes a Sea-Doo Fish Pro Trophy and a CanAm Defender. Each boat is powered by Yamaha and equipped with an Infnity trailer. For the frst two youth anglers, prizes include a tiller boat powered by Yamaha, a trailer, a Minn Kota trolling motor and Humminbird electronics.

In total, there are more than 160 prize-winning tagged red of Florida’s coastal counties. Citrus and Charlotte counties, STAR’s 2024 Destination Counties, ofer the best shot at a prize-winning received twice as many tagged reds as the other counties.

Te STAR competition also focuses on conservation with its CatchPhoto-Release format and smartphone app. STAR’s Trash Division has set the bar for other fshing tournaments to implement conservation-friendly alternatives.

All STAR entries must be photographed with the o Florida Measuring Device, which is available free of charge at locations throughout the state, including all Florida West Marine stores.

Te CCA Florida STAR competition presented by Yamaha has a division for everyone. Now with only eight divisions, plus ALL saltwater species included in the event and most winners determined by random drawing, anglers of all ages and skill levels can fsh from anywhere in Florida’s saltwater and have greater opportunities to win.

Registration is $40 for current CCA Florida members or $80 for nonmembers, which includes CCA Florida membership. Kids ages 6-17 can register for free with their current ($10) CCA Florida youth membership.

To register, visit today!

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In case you haven’t seen it yet, this enormous 888-pound bluefn tuna caught in late April out of Destin just might be the largest bluefn ever caught of Florida. It was brought to the docks at Boshamps Seafood and Oyster House on Destin Harbor, and although the fsh won’t qualify as a state record because landing it was a team efort, no one in Destin really seems to care. It’s a catch worth celebrating.

According to Te Destin Log, Capt. George Gill was piloting the Flat Dangerous on its frst Gulf of Mexico trip on Wednesday, April 24. About 68 miles out of Destin, the new 80-foot Viking encountered a massive school of surfacefeeding bluefns while the crew was fshing for bait.

With just four baits onboard, some small yellowfn, skipjack and blackfn, the captain gave chase, and the crew tossed baits into the school of bluefns. Tey lost three big fsh in short order, but the fsh of a lifetime for boatowner Warren Williamson, of Alabama, came tight on the fourth and fnal bait.

Te fsh died about an hour into the fght, and it was a team efort to haul it to the surface over the next four hours with 100-pound main line, 150-pound braid and 400-pound leader.

Te fsh measured 110 inches in length and weighed 888 pounds. Tat’s a heck of a fsh to break in a new boat!

Te existing state record, caught by Rick Whitley out of Destin in 2017, weighed 826.5 pounds. Another would-be new record was caught in 2022, also out of Destin by a team of anglers sharing time on the rod. Tat fsh weighed 832 pounds. Te Gulf of Mexico bluefn tuna record stands at 1,152 pounds. Tat fsh, caught of Louisiana in 2003, is the largest fsh caught by rod and reel in state history.

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CCW Petitions Big Sugar Over Everglades Restoration

Captains For Clean Water (CCW), a non-proft organized by fshing guides, is petitioning Big Sugar to drop its lawsuit seeking access to irrigation water from the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir.

Te EEA reservoir, which is currently under construction, is the centerpiece of Everglades restoration projects designed to provide relief from devastating Lake Okeechobee discharges and restore the fow of freshwater south, as nature intended, through the Everglades to Florida Bay.

Big Sugar, made up of sugar producers United States Sugar Corporation, Okeelanta Corporation (Florida Crystals) and Te Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, claims farming interests in South Florida were promised water access by the federal government. Last year a federal judge threw out the case brought by Big Sugar, and this recent lawsuit is in the appeals process, with no projected timeline.

Explanation of the CCW petition reads: “If Big Sugar wins, they could push to use the EAA Reservoir as their personal taxpayer-funded water supply, upending years of restoration progress and sealing the fate of Florida’s future to include more damaging discharges, more toxic algae blooms, and more economic and environmental peril. It could also set a dangerous precedent, forcing Everglades Restoration projects to prioritize Big Sugar’s interests and replace their historical water supply over benefts to South Florida’s waters— regardless of how and when Sugar lost water supply since December 2000.”


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I’ve long been a proponent of chumming up a place on the bottom with squid and then feeding grouper a big live bait.

However, afer the last few trips, I’m starting to rethink this tactic because of the number of sharks we’ve been catching.

I’ve never seen as many sharks as we are seeing right now. Te bottom is covered with them, and the top layer of the water column is full of them. Tis past trip, we put out fve Spanish mackerel on light lines hoping for a wahoo bite. We caught fve sharks almost instantly. One of these bites was the biggest tiger shark I’ve ever seen. It was at least 12 feet long and 2 feet wide across the head. Te rest of them were standard 6- to 9-footers; it takes a toll on you to get them to the boat for dehooking.

apart to create a lot of smell down on the bottom. Ten I drop live pinfsh or small snappers to the grouper drawn in by the “chum.”

Lately, I’ve resorted to dropping big, pretty live baits frst to see if we can get a few grouper bites before the taxman arrives, and it’s become a matter of WHEN rather than IF he shows up. It’s “hit-and-run” fshing. We pull up on a nice mark with pinfsh and grunts already rigged on the jig. I hit the spot lock on the Rhodan and drop in for a few good bites. When the sharks show up, we just move up or down the ledge. Lather, rinse and repeat as ofen as needed. Granted, we haven’t boated as many of the smaller snappers or seabass for the cooler, but we’ve caught some beautiful grouper with this “hitand-run” style of bottom banging. Te wahoo are diferent story. We quit putting the light line out due to the instant shark bite. I’ve got to fgure something out for that. From now until the end of October or the frst of November, wahoo will be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Tey will come inside the edge of the Gulf Stream following big stacks of bait. As usual, some king mackerel fsherman will catch a 100-pounder on a live menhaden in less than 100 feet of water while chasing a tournamentgrade kingfsh.

Between all the American red snappers—which we aren’t allowed to keep—and all the sharks, we’ve been run of of several square miles of bottom lately. Tankfully, we’ve found some of the grouper we’re looking for, but I’m seriously rethinking the “chumming” part of the tactics I usually employ. Normally, I begin on a spot by dropping whole squid on jigs, which the smaller fsh pick

I said all that to say this: We’re going to take more pinfsh and less squid to catch “hit-and-run” grouper. Someone please educate me on a bait that will not catch a red snapper!

For more info on the jigs and bait, check out Tim Barefoot’s YouTube channel and website,

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C-HAWK MITZI SKIFF: & Two Brands, One Philosophy

In the boating world, brand loyalty is earned. Over years, boater experiences with vessels— good and bad, on and of the water—are what build the reputations of boats. It might, or might not, come as a surprise that two brands that have garnered sterling reputations in the industry for functionality and dependability are manufactured by the same builder.

C-Hawk and Mitzi Skif are both built in the U.S.A. with the same philosophy that simplicity leads to vessels that are easier and more afordable to operate and maintain. A simple, well-designed and well-built boat, comes with less hassle, leaving more time to spend on the water. Especially among anglers, this philosophy has built large followings for both brands among people who are more interested in fshing and boating than they are in pampering their pretty boats.

“We build a keep-it-simple-stupid boat. If you want something you can sof scrub at the end of the day and put it away, you’re my guy,” said Brad Grubbs, the owner and manufacturer of C-Hawk and Mitzi Skif. “We set out to make boats that are afordable to operate and afordable to own, and the philosophy has worked.”

Mitzi Skiff

Although Mitzi Skif originated in the 1990s for a singular purpose, the same philosophy for simplicity applies. Fly fshing the fats drove Tom Mitzlaf to design a skif with quiet maneuverability, extremely shallow draf and a clean deck layout to make him a better fsherman. It was simple by necessity, and it revolutionized the industry.

Tree decades later, Mitzi’s line of 15’, 16’and 17’ skifs achieves those purposes exceptionally well, and they have led the way with innovations that make them the fats boats other boat builders imitate. A Mitzi does everything the pricier skifs do, yet they are afordable enough for any angler to own and operate.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fx it,” Grubbs quipped. Mitzi builds skifs for anglers more interested in fshing than in spending a lot of money.

Te 15’ remains a purpose-built fats boat for one or two anglers to sneak up on wary fsh in super-skinny water. Te 17’ models are more multi-purpose. Tey can fsh three anglers, and while they are primarily a fats boat, they perform admirably as bay boats with a modifed V-hull and an 11-degree deadrise at transom to reduce hull slap. Rolled gunnels knock down spray for an exceptionally dry ride.

Tey are solid and durable for long years of heavy use, and from hideaway pushpole holders to fush-mount hardware, Mitzi delivers clean and stable casting decks designed specifcally for hard-core anglers.

C-Hawk Boats

C-Hawk has been around since the mid1970s and ofers lines of bombproof 16’ to 29’ center consoles and 22’ to 29’ sport cabins that were originally developed for commercial applications. C-Hawks remain widely used commercially, and many recreational

boaters also see the value in a vessel that’s built to take a beating.

“Really, we just took a commercial-duty boat and put a little lipstick on it,” Grubbs said. “ Te boat is as tough as it ever was. It’s been the same boat for nearly 50 years.”

At their core, C-Hawks are hardcore workhorses, and the center console models have become popular with charter captains because they are built to withstand hard use for years of trouble-free boating. Grubbs pointed to C-Hawk’s 25 CC as a great example of what the brand has become. It’s an extremely stable fshing platform that drafs just 12 inches, and with a 300 horsepower max it’ll take you anywhere you need to go from skinny water to light ofshore duty. What’s more, it’s infnitely customizable from the factory.

“We can mix and match consoles, fsh boxes, full transoms, cut transoms, bare hulls… you name it,” Grubbs said. “ Tere are some recreational guys adding towers and sight fshing for cobia, and such. Everything we do is built around keep it simple, keep it efcient, keep it easy to maintain, keep it cost efective to own and operate. Tey are all unique… no cookie cutter trailer queens here. Te 25 is a great example of what C-Hawk is.”

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Every month, I provide tips to help make you a better angler. Tis month’s tip is one of the most important. With so many tackle and gear options on the market these days, staying organized on the water is difcult. Here are a few things I do that make me a more efcient angler because I know exactly where to go when looking for the right tool for the job.

Storage options vary depending on the type of fshing you do. I’m going to stick to bass fshing, but don’t be afraid to alter these tips to your style of fshing.

When storing baits, hooks, line and gear, your No. 1 enemy is moisture. Keeping your tools dry should be a priority because it keeps hooks sharp and everything else rust-free. I store almost everything in waterproof boxes or bags. Tese storage options might be a little more expensive up-front, but when compared to losing a whole box of lures or hooks to rust, your investment will pay for itself many times over.Another good trick I’ve learned is to use DampRid moisture absorbers. Here in Florida, where humidity is high and temperatures fuctuate, condensation builds up in boat compartments. Te best thing to do is to take your tackle out of the boat and move it inside, but this is not an option if you fsh a lot and have a lot of gear. DampRid containers help keep everything safe and dry by absorbing moisture from the air in your boat’s storage compartments.

Now let’s talk about organization. If you’re a bass angler, you have a ton of sof plastics in diferent styles and colors as well as packs of hooks, jigs and weights to fsh them. I use plastic Sterlite containers with latches to store my bags of sof plastics. You can buy them at Walmart. I organize my baits by the type of sof plastic they are, and I label each container. On the water, this makes it easy grab the style of bait I’m looking for. Also, before I leave the house, labels make it easy to load what I think I’ll need for the day and remove what I don’t.

On the hook side of organization, one mistake people make when organizing hooks is to take them out of the original packaging to place them in compartment boxes. Tis is a huge mistake. Hook packs are clearly labeled by size and style, which allows you to quickly identify them on the water. Also, hook packs are designed to keep hooks sharp, untangled and dry. You can store your hooks in a box, but you should leave them in their original packaging.

Hopefully, these tips help you be more efcient on the water and save you some money by protecting your investments.

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

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Travel the globe, without leaving home—with this set of the world’s fve most popular pure silver coins. Newly struck for 2024 in one ounce of fne silver, each coin will arrive in Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) condition. Your excursion includes stops in the United States, Canada, South Africa, China and Great Britain, and this is the first time the Silver Passport Set has included two coins with obverses featuring Britain’s King Charles III!

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Each of these coins is recognized for its breathtaking beauty, and for its stability even in unstable times, since each coin is backed by its government for weight, purity and legal-tender value.

2024 American Silver Eagle: The Silver Eagle is the most popular coin in the world, with its iconic Adolph Weinman Walking Liberty obverse backed by Emily Damstra’s Eagle Landing reverse. Struck in 99.9% fine silver at the U.S. Mint.

2024 South African Krugerrand: The Krugerrand continues to be the best-known, most respected numismatic coin brand in the world. Struck in 99.9% fine silver at the South African Mint.

2024 Canada Maple Leaf: A highly sought-after bullion coin since 1988, this 2024 issue is the FIRST Maple Leaf coin to bear the effigy of King Charles III. Struck in high-purity 99.99% fine silver at the Royal Canadian Mint.

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2024 China Silver Panda: China Silver Pandas have been collectors favorites since their introduction in 1983—noted for their heartwarming one-year-only designs highlighting the maturing of Panda cubs. Struck in 99.9% fine silver at the China Mint.

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The 5 Most Popular Pure Silver Coins on Earth in One Set Asset Marketing Services, LLC d/b/a GovMint is a retail distributor of coin and currency issues and is not afliated with the U.S. government. Te collectible coin market is unregulated, highly speculative and involves risk. Prices, facts, fgures and populations deemed accurate as of the date of publication but may change signifcantly over time. All purchases are expressly conditioned upon your acceptance of AMS’s Terms and Conditions (; to decline, return your purchase pursuant to our Return Policy ( Keeping your purchase means you agree to the Terms and Conditions. © 2024 GovMint. All rights reserved. SPECIAL CALL-IN ONLY OFFER The Royal Not sold yet? To learn more, place your phone camera here >>> or visit BONUS Case! by Emily Damstra’s Eagle Landing reverse. Struck in The New 2024! Just Released and In Stock! 5 Pure Silver Coins!
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