Coastal Angler Magazine | May 2022 | Lakeland & Sumter Edition

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LAKELAND & SUMTER EDITION

FREE

DRUM BEAT

LONG DISTANCE LURES

LOCAL REPORTS

GROUPER TIME!

@CAMTAMagazine

OF THE WORKING MAN

PHOTO COURTESY OF LAURA CHERIE IG: @LAURALOVES2FISH

VOLUME 27 • ISSUE 326

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The Workingman’s Drum By CAM Staff

Young angler Hayes Grinnell did battle with this big black drum while fishing the Texas coast with Slinging Mullet Guide Service and Get Em Guide Service.

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n some circles, black drum don’t get the respect they deserve. Maybe it’s their appearance? With weird chin barbells and a humped head, they hug the bottom, looking like the hunchbacked cousins of the sleeker redfish inshore anglers adore. Or maybe it’s their reluctance to take a lure? Black drum feed primarily by scent, and while you might catch one slinging a spoon, targeting them requires bait, which is more effort than plug and paddletail aficionados are willing to put forth. However, for anglers who aren’t too prissy to get their hands dirty, black drum have a whole lot to offer. They are the workingman’s drum, found nearshore and inshore throughout the Gulf of Mexico and up the Atlantic seaboard to New England. Black drum pull hard, with powerful bulldogging runs regardless of size. And they grow quite large, reaching weights well over 100 pounds. On top of that, they provide consistent action in a wide range of areas where they can be caught. Shore-bound anglers can target them from docks, bridges, jetties and piers, where drum hunt crustaceans around structure. Surf anglers often connect with them on quartered blue crabs cast outside the breakers. From a boat, passes and inlets are prime feeding grounds as is nearshore structure. Shallow-water anglers find younger specimens way up in the estuaries tailing like redfish for fiddler crabs in tidal creeks.

Their movements are seasonal, but as long as you’ve got bait, you can pursue black drum pretty much anywhere you choose. Like most fish, they bite best on a moving tide, when your bait’s scent disperses over a wide area. They’ll eat halved blue crabs, whole fiddler crabs or mud crabs with backs cracked to let a little scent out, and also live or dead shrimp or fresh cut bait. On the northern end of their range, anglers add clams, mussels and blood worms to the array of baits a drum will eat. As long as your bait is on the bottom and smelling like food, it’s likely to draw the attention of a drum. Rigging and gear are pretty simple. A classic Carolina rig with just enough weight to keep the bait on bottom will get the job done in most situations. Up in the creeks, where you’ll be doing more casting and maybe even sight fishing, baits can be fished on a jighead or even a simple hook with a split shot. Tackle in the 20-pound class is a good starting point, and it’s wise to beef up to pull big drum off structure. They do get big. The IGFA world record, caught in 1975 off Delaware, weighed 113 pounds, 1 ounce. Fish in the 40- to 50-pound range are regular catches across the drum’s range. Those big fish aren’t good to eat, though. The meat is often full of worms by the time fish reach weights heavier than about 15 pounds. Smaller drum are excellent table fare. For more information, go to coastalanglermag.com.

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IT’S GROUPER TIME AGAIN! By Capt. Quinlyn Haddon

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ay is finally here, opening grouper season for fishermen on the Atlantic Coast. For the past several months of the season closure, charter captains in the Florida Keys have been boasting incredible throw-back grouper catches. The reopening of this species enriches each fishing trip with an extra opportunity for a great fighting fish, which is also excellent tablefare. Grouper fishing can easily be peppered into a day of fishing by dropping a bottom rig down while yellowtail fishing, trolling lures or stopping offshore to deep-drop for snowy grouper while on the mahi hunt. While the fishery in the Keys may not be famous for its bottom fishing, there is no reason it shouldn’t be. Red, black and gag grouper are plentiful and close to land. Snowy grouper aren’t too far either, and can be reasonably reliable to target. Snowy grouper are found within 1,000 feet, and can be targeted with electric or hand-crank set ups. Electric reels are advisable when mahi season is in full swing, as to make quick work of the one-per-boat limit of snowy grouper. The trek offshore for a single fish might seem like a waste of time, but there is a little more to it. Snowy grouper can get quite large and yield impressively sized, excellent tasting fillets. There

are also the welcomed bycatches of rosies, barrelfish and tilefish while deep dropping in these areas. Furthermore, there should be ample opportunities for mahi fishing on the way to and from the spot. Another reason the electric reel is preferable is an 8-pound weight should be used to keep your bait on the bottom in the heavy current. Keep your weight as close to the bottom as you can and utilize a chicken rig, with multiple hooks along the leader, baited with just about anything. Continuously recheck the bottom to make sure it hasn’t gotten away from you, and bring a spare weight or two, as it isn’t overly difficult to lose one while fishing this way. Targeting red, black and gag grouper on the reef can be a little different than typical grouper fishing on the west coast of Florida. Heavy weights can easily get snagged on the rocky bottom in the heavy current, potentially making inexperience quite expensive in terms of lost tackle. There are also plenty of smaller reef fish waiting to pick apart your bait. Over-baiting can be a good tactic, but the most reliable way to bypass these conditions, is to simply freeline a live bait on a jighead. After breaking client’s hearts by releasing trophy grouper throughout the closed season, we are thrilled to be able to add these tasty critters to the icebox yet again. Right now is an excellent time to visit the Florida Keys and enjoy our full fishery. Capt. Quinlyn Haddon guides with Blue Magic Charters out of Marathon, Fla.


LURES

CASTING FAR: THE DYNAMICS OF LONG DISTANCE LURES

PATRICK SEBILE

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’ve enjoyed fishing from the shore since I was a teen angler, and one thing that became obvious to me very quickly was there are numerous situations when casts are a tad bit short to reach targeted fish in specific situations. This is a constant truism when fishing from the bank, the beach, a pier or jetty, but it also applies to boat anglers. Quick, long casts are often required for fastmoving fish like tuna. Long casts are also useful when it’s necessary to keep the boat away from reefs, boulders and breakers for safety or to avoid spooking fish. Long ago, I began making sure to always have lures in my possession that

were especially efficient for reaching out long distances. These lures sometimes trade realistic swimming action for distance, yet there are also a few that find a balance between great range and great action. When you read the packaging of a saltwater lure, and especially a surffishing lure, it often mentions how good the lure is for longdistance casts— or how good it is supposed to be. The problem is, there is no scale. There is no quantifiable reference for comparing lures that honestly presents the real numbers of yards any given lure will deliver. Marketing promises do not

always translate into real performance. To make things more complex, there is theoretical and real distance. A lure that casts great on a parking lot with no breeze can turn into a disaster when casting into an onshore breeze at night, which are conditions many serious fishermen face in the surf. There’s no magic, and what makes some lures reach farther distances than others is a mix between their concept, their balance and, to a certain extent, the gear used to throw them when the goal is to reach a little bit farther than other anglers. This conversation is all about the physics that translates to longer casting distance for better fishing results. The key points that will help you pick the proper lures to do the job are shape, buoyancy, the position of weight on the lure, the total weight and sometimes extra appendages, such as side wings that really help a lure fly as far as possible. These elements are just a primer to a discussion on lures designed for distance. Next month, I plan to go in-depth on ways you can select lures that will truly help you cast super-long distances to reach fish other lures cannot. Arming yourself with a longcasting arsenal gives you an edge in catching fish, simply because you’ll be able put a lure in front of them.

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Legendary angler Patrick Sebile is a world record holder and an award-winning designer of innovative lures and fishing gear. Check out his creations at abandofanglers.com.

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Shiner Fishing for Giant Florida

LARGEMOUTHS

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ass tournament anglers get excited about 20-pound five-fish limits, and a 30-pound tournament sack is a lifetime achievement for most. It takes a little bit more to impress hawg hunter Sean Rush. Rush makes a living guiding clients to trophy largemouth bass, mostly on Rodman Reservoir in north Florida. The best five fish haul his boat has seen weighed 61 pounds, 9 ounces. Think about that. That’s a more than 12-pound average. Rush said it was the best fishing day he’s ever witnessed, with two fish well over 13 pounds and the smallest of the five weighing a measly 11 pounds, 1 ounce. Most bass anglers across the country spend a lifetime seeking out a single 10-pound-plus largemouth. Rush’s anglers did five lifetime’s worth of trophy catching in a single day on April 26 of 2021. “And we probably lost between three and six fish that were that big or bigger,” Rush added after rattling off the astounding statistics. “Those guys were from New Jersey. They had never done any Florida shiner fishing before. I told them it was all downhill from there.” The downhill slide, however, is not too steep. Even a decent day using Rush’s techniques on Rodman produces results that would impress just about anyone. When it comes to catching big largemouths, he’s got several advantages over your average angler. Location is a big factor. Rodman is a 9,500acre giant bass factory. It is a 15-mile long stump field with a deep river channel running down the middle of it and the matted vegetation Florida

By Nick Carter

fisheries are known for. In more than three decades guiding, Rush said his clients have boated close to 1,000 bass better than 10 pounds. He landed 73 10-plus-pounders last year alone and has overseen the landing of eight fish on FWC’s TrophyCatch Hall of Fame list, which is for fish heavier than 13 pounds. He does 95 percent of his trips on Rodman. “If fishing is good, we commonly catch 30 to 60 fish a day,” he said. “The average size at Rodman is pretty solid. Usually we’ll have fish in the 8- to 10-pound class on the top end of that range.” Tactics are everything when it comes to catching fish like that. Live bait provides a huge advantage over the lures tournament anglers must fish. Rush fishes exclusively with live, wildcaught shiners, which he keeps lively in a huge bait tank on his custom-built, 22-foot Prodigy Razor. The tournament guys can keep their fiberglass glitter rockets. Rush’s sturdy aluminum boat is rigged out for the style of fishing he does, and it’s powered by a 150 hp Mercury with a power-assisted hand tiller. The tackle is also sturdy. Rush pairs heavy duty Daiwa 300 Lexa baitcasting reels with super heavy 7 ½- and 8-foot rods he said are essentially musky rods. He fishes straight 20-pound Berkley Big Game in green, which is thin enough for low visibility and strong enough to get the job done. He hooks his shiners through the tail above the anal fin with 3/0, 4/0 or 5/0 Eagle Claw 84s, which

are standard J hooks with a slight offset. In a typical spread, his anglers will work shiners under bobbers set 3 to 5 feet deep, and he’ll throw out one or two shiners on freelines to swim up under the vegetation. For big fish, he prefers shiners 7 to 9 inches long. Rush’s big-fish reputation has gotten around, so he stays booked 300-plus days a year. His favorite time of year is fall, before the December through February spawn. “It’s prespawn, the fishing pressure is lower and the fish are feeding up that time of year,” he said. “The fish are also big then. They look like gorillas.” Late spring and summer are also good, once fish settle back into normal patterns after the spawn. Most of the year he targets them around floating mats of vegetation and deep river bends. The exception is during the spawn, when bass push up on the flats. Rush does not bed fish, though. He’ll set up on mats near known spawning flats and try to catch big females staging. One more thing: don’t call Rush if you want to eat bass or have a trophy mounted. Rodman is managed under regular Florida regulations— which allow five fish, with one fish longer than 16 inches—but Rush’s trips are catch-and-release. “I’m up front and honest about it on the phone,” he said. “If they even talk like they want to keep one, I just won’t take them.” Contact Capt. Sean Rush and Trophy Bass Expeditions of Central Florida through the website at www.floridatrophybass.com.


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Monster Blue Cat Smashes Mississippi Record By CAM Staff

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he Mississippi River near Natchez, Miss. has a history of producing giant blue cats. The most recent monster catfish, caught on April 7, weighed 131 pounds and absolutely crushed the existing state rod-and-reel state record. Eugene Cronley, of Brandon, Mississippi, had just set up in a 90-foot-deep hole downstream of Natchez. About five minutes after making his first cast, the big fish took the cut skipjack he was using as bait, according to a report in the Mississippi Clarion Ledger. “He hit the rod and started pulling drag,”

Cronley told the Clarion Ledger. “We had to untie the boat and float down the river. “I couldn’t move him. I’d pull on him and take in a foot of line and he’d pull and take 10 feet. I just sat there like I was hung up.” After a 40-minute fight on 30-pound line, the angler’s exhaustion made hauling the fish into the boat a chore. Cronley has caught 50-pound fish from the area before, and he didn’t

realize exactly how big this fish was until he put eyes on it. Then, it was time to start looking for a certified scale with the capacity to weigh such an enormous fish. Cronley’s fish waited on ice for three days before he was able to get a certified weight. Fish lose weight when they are out of the water. The Clarion Ledger reported that the fish had an initial weight of 138 pounds on uncertified scales. Even out of the water for three days, Cronley’s blue cat shattered the previous rod-and-reel state record of 95 pounds, caught from the Mississippi near Natchez in 2009. In 1997, a 101-pound Mississippi trophy record blue catfish was caught in the same stretch of river. The IGFA all-tackle world record for blue catfish is 143 pounds. It was caught from Kerr Lake, Buggs Island, Virginia in 2011. Cronley’s catch, if certified by IGFA, would possibly be a new 30-pound line class record. The 30-pound line class record stands at 111 pounds. It was caught in 1996 from Wheeler Reservoir in Alabama. For more Mississippi fishing records, visit mdwfp.com.

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Permit Monitoring Funded for Western Dry Rocks

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PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVE POWELL

ast year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), initiated an annual total fishing closure from April through July at a popular fishing location off Key West known as Western Dry Rocks. Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) recently announced a $600,000 investment to monitor the effectiveness of the closure in protecting spawning permit. Western Dry Rocks is an area of reef and rock about 10 miles southwest of Key West that hosts large spawning aggregations of permit and various snapper and grouper species each year. Its proximity to Key West and the dependable nature of the fishery make it a popular spot for bountiful half-day trips. The intent of the closure, which bans fishing in a 1 square-mile area from April through July for seven years, is to protect populations of several species

by allowing them to spawn unmolested by anglers. Permit, yellowtail snapper, mutton snapper and gray snapper are all known to aggregate at Western Dry Rocks from April through July. These spawning aggregations, along with the swirling currents that sweep past Western Dry Rocks are thought to play a role in the distribution of fish eggs and larvae throughout the Florida Keys and up the Atlantic coast of southern Florida. BTT’s investment will fund a monitoring program for three years. “We can’t overstate the importance of this analysis for fisheries management and how appreciative we are to our partners at Bonefish & Tarpon Trust,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto. “Working together on this important research initiative helps to ensure Florida’s status as the Fishing Capital of the World.” FWC is requiring updates on regulation effectiveness at three, five and seven years, with a sunset clause at seven years if the closure is not meeting expectations. BTT scientists expect the spawning-season closure will have positive impacts on the behavior of permit at Western Dry Rocks, resulting in more relaxed schooling behaviors and enabling spawning fish to remain at the site longer. BTT will work with collaborators from previous permit research projects to test these predictions by comparing data collected at Western Dry Rocks (WDR) with data from other known permit spawning locations where fishing is allowed. “The monitoring will build on datasets that measured depredation, spawning permit aggregation characteristics, and permit spawning migrations at key spawning sites prior to the closure,” said Dr. Ross Boucek, BTT Florida Keys Initiative Manager. “By studying permit at WDR and comparing the WDR data to information gathered at other permit spawning sites that aren’t protected, we’ll be able to assess the effectiveness of a spawning season closure at WDR as a management tool.” The monitoring program will utilize acoustic telemetry, sonar technology and laser-mount underwater cameras to monitor permit spawning behaviors, estimate permit abundance and estimate permit size. The program will also employ methods previously used at WDR to determine rates of depredation at spawning locations that are still fished. For more information, visit myFWC.com.

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here’s a whole lot of gift-card money out there for the lucky anglers who catch one of 10 pink-tagged largemouth bass that were distributed around Florida waters this spring. To celebrate the tenth season of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) TrophyCatch program, biologists stocked 10 trophysized largemouth bass with bright pink tags into 10 different freshwater fisheries. Each angler who catches and documents a pink-tagged bass will score a $5,000 gift card to Bass Pro Shops, $1,000 to shop at AFTCO, and secure a chance to win an additional $10,000. “Our freshwater biologists tagged 10 huge bass across the state – just about everyone is within a day-trip’s distance to fish for one of these tagged bass from a boat, kayak or even the bank. Now comes the fun part for anglers!” said TrophyCatch Director KP Clements. “Get out there and catch one! Tag, you’re it!” FWC’s TrophyCatch program is a valuable tool for freshwater fisheries research and management. It provides reward incentives to encourage anglers to catch, release and report trophy-sized (weighing 8 pounds or more) largemouth bass in Florida. The program develops public-private partnerships to protect trophy bass, promote fishing and support fisheries conservation programs. TrophyCatch anglers with approved bass receive rewards from program partners while FWC biologists learn more about producing and sustaining the best trophy bass fishery in the world. Here’s a list of the waters where pink-tagged bass are swimming: • Newnans Lake, Alachua County • Lake George, Putnam/Volusia counties • Lake Talquin, Gadsden/Leon counties • Lake Walk-in-Water, Polk County • Tenoroc Fish Management Area, Polk County • Lake Trafford, Collier County • Lake Istokpoga, Highlands County • Lake Griffin, Lake/Orange counties • Lake Rousseau, Levy/Citrus counties • Johns Lake, Orange County For more information, visit www.trophycatchflorida.com.

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ecently, federal fisheries managers approved cuts to cobia harvest in federal waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. At the May 4 meeting of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, FWC staff will recommend regulations for state waters that are consistent with the new federal regulations. The proposed rule would: • Increase the minimum size limit from 33 to 36 inches fork length in all state waters. • Reduce the commercial bag limit from two to one fish per harvester, per day for Atlantic state waters. • Reduce the recreational and commercial vessel limit from six to two fish per vessel, per day for Atlantic State waters. These regulations changes were spurred by a recent stock assessment that shows cobia are undergoing overfishing. According to the proposal, a substantial portion of Florida’s cobia harvest comes from state waters. Staff is recommending the commission adopt these new regulations without further hearing. For more information, go to MyFWC.com.

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Summer-Long Statewide Fishing Competition Launches May 28 F or the first time in the history of Florida STAR, CCA Florida, will launch the annual STAR competition presented by Yamaha with a Title sponsor. CCA Florida STAR is proud to announce West Marine as the Title sponsor of the 2022 competition. West Marine began its support of the STAR competition in 2016 and each year has stepped up to a greater level of sponsorship. For 2022, West Marine has chosen to title the competition in order to increase awareness of the company’s commitment to the conservation of our fisheries resources for future viability which is so important to the future of its business. The West Marine CCA Florida STAR competition kicks off on May 28, the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. The 101-day, summerlong event invites anglers and non-anglers to participate and win their share of prizes valued at almost $500,000, including boats, motors, scholarships and more. Launched in 2015, STAR focuses on conservation with its technology-based, catch-photo-release format. STAR’s dedicated smartphone app promotes the proper handling of species and allows participants to upload competition photos, eliminating the requirement to harvest or capture and transport fish. CCA Florida also uses data collected from the app to educate the public on the importance of protecting Florida’s marine resources. This

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important data is also available to other conservation organizations and universities for use in their studies on conservation, habitat and stock assessments. “In the past seven years, it’s been amazing to see STAR participants support conservation by embracing the catch-photo format and picking up garbage during the annual competition” CCA Florida STAR Director Leiza Fitzgerald said. “Even more exciting is the participation of over 7,000 registrants annually and awarding more than $2.1 million in prizes, with $700,000 specifically awarded in youth scholarships.” The 2022 STAR competition is comprised of 17 divisions targeting 12 inshore and offshore species plus the cleanup of trash. STAR’s signature Tagged Redfish Division offers winners the choice of a Contender Boats 22 Sport, Pathfinder Boats 2200 TRS or Spyder Boats FX19 Vapor, all powered by Yamaha Outboards. For the first two youth anglers who win this division, prizes include two tiller boats powered with Yamaha Outboards, trailers, Minn Kota trolling motors and Humminbird electronics. The best opportunity to catch this year’s tagged redfish will be in Brevard, Citrus and Charlotte counties, STAR’s 2022 Destination Counties which each have eight tagged redfish in their coastal waters. There will be on average four STAR tagged redfish in every other coastal county of Florida for a total of nearly 170 released

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t the May 4 meeting of the Florida Wildlife Resources Commission, staff plans to propose several changes that will alter the way redfish are managed statewide. This initial presentation is a first step that seeks to obtain approval to publish the proposed rule changes and begin public workshops for stakeholder engagement. Here are the proposed rule changes: • Modify the redfish management regions • Prohibit captain and crew from retaining a bag limit during for-hire trips • Reduce the off-the-water transport limit from 6 to 4 fish per person • Increase the bag limit for the Big Bend region from 1 to 2 fish per person • Reduce the 8-fish vessel limit in each of the proposed management regions: » Panhandle, Big Bend, Northeast: 4 fish » Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay, Charlotte Harbor, Southwest, Southeast: 2 fish • Only allow catch-and-release fishing for redfish in the Indian River Lagoon region Along with altering bag limits, these rule changes would allow FWC to utilize smaller regional units and annual reviews to evaluate redfish fisheries using six metrics: habitat, harmful

Figure 1. Proposed redfish management regions.

algal blooms, escapement, relative abundance, fishing effort and stakeholder feedback. A summary of the proposed changes reads: “Anglers primarily target redfish inshore, so an angler’s redfish fishing experience is closely linked to local environmental conditions as well as local fishing effort. Given this link and stakeholder feedback in support of a new management approach, the FWC is using a new approach that incorporates a holistic review of ecological and human factors. Applying the new approach, staff

evaluated the nine proposed management regions (at left) and prepared the first Annual Reviews.” Jumping out ahead of the proposal, CCA Florida has issued a call to its members to oppose the increase in bag limits from one fish to two in the new, smaller Big Bend region, which would stretch from Wakulla County to Pasco County. The current region covers this area, but also includes Escambia County. CCA Florida commended FWC for its other management redfish management efforts. These rule changes will be introduced at the May 4 FWC meeting beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center in Gainesville. The meeting is open to the public. For more information, see the “Commission Meetings” link at MyFWC.com.

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The 2022 Central Florida Shootout features a weekend of fun, from the Captain’s Party to the Awards Ceremony & Angler Ticket Drawing. OVER $20,000 in cash prizes will be paid out for the Tournament! Award categories include 10 different species, a general entry category, as well as entry categories for Lady Anglers and Juniors. You can also purchase tickets ($50) for a chance to win a brand new 2022 Avid Magnum w/Yamaha VF250 V MAX SHO, aluminum trailer, and T-Top VALUED AT $70,000. Winner will be drawn at the Awards Ceremony. You do not have to fish in the tournament to participate in the drawing.

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LIONFISH REMOVAL EVENTS MAY 8-15 M ay is Lionfish month in Florida. In a continuing effort to raise awareness and combat this invasive pest that populates Florida reefs, there’s a host of activities centered around Destin this month. The 2022 Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival will be held May 14-15 at HarborWalk Willage in Destin. The two-day festival includes lionfish tastings, fillet demonstrations, conservation and art booths, an interactive Kids’ Zone and more. For more information on the festival, go to FWCReefRangers.com. The Emerald Coast Open, the largest lionfish tournament in the world, will be held in conjunction with the Lionfish Festival. With big cash prizes as well as tens of thousands of dollars in gear prizes, divers will compete for most, largest and smallest lionfish. There will also be raffles for gear. Pre-tournament runs through May 12. The tournament will be held May 13-14. Final weigh ins will be held at AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar in Destin at 11 a.m. on May 15. Registration is $100 at emeraldcoastopen.com. May 8-14 also brings on Emerald Coast Open Restaurant Week, when the chefs of Destin-Fort Walton Beach’s featured 18 FLORIDA

MAY 2022

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restaurants will highlight lionfish in unique and delicious dishes. Here’s the daily line-up of featured restaurants: DEWEY DESTIN’S - MAY 8 CRAB TRAP DESTIN - MAY 9 HARBOR DOCKS - MAY 10 LA PAZ - MAY 11 BROTULAS - MAY 12 AJ’S SEAFOOD & OYSTER BAR - MAY 14

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REPORT YOUR COBIA CATCH

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PHOTO COURTESY OF CAPT. CEFUS MCRAE

f you catch a Florida cobia, scientists want to know. FWC is researching reproduction and movement of cobia in Florida waters, and anglers are being asked to help by reporting their cobia catches through September. Cobia along Florida’s coasts have been fitted with conventional dart tags and surgically implanted with acoustic transmitters. Data collected by acoustic receivers along the coasts allows researchers to track cobia movements and learn more about the spawning migrations of the Gulf and Atlantic stocks. Scientists are also working with the public to sample the reproductive organs of harvested cobia. This data will allow scientists to determine if and where cobia are spawning along Florida’s coasts. If you catch a cobia from now until September, call (561) 882-5975 to arrange for a biologist to meet you and get a $50 reward. Fish must be kept whole or filleted with the carcass and organs intact on ice. If you catch a tagged cobia: • For the purpose of this study, harvest of tagged cobia is discouraged. • Photograph the tag. • Record the tag number, fork length, date and general location of catch. • Release the fish in good condition with tags still intact.Call (561) 8825975 to report the cobia and get a reward and shirt. Releasing tagged cobia will allow researchers to continue gathering valuable data. If you harvest a tagged cobia: • Report all information listed above for tagged cobia. • Return both the internal acoustic transmitter and plastic dart tags to: Attn: Jim Whittington Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Tequesta Field Laboratory 19100 SE Federal Hwy. Tequesta, FL 33469 The internal acoustic transmitter can be found implanted just inside the body cavity on the underside of the fish. This will provide valuable information to researchers. E-mail questions to Joy.Young@MyFWC.com or Jim.Whittington@MyFWC.com.

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n Illinois angler broke the Missouri state record for paddlefish in March. He snagged a 140-pound, 10-ounce paddlefish at Lake of the Ozarks. It beat out the previous record— set in 2015 at Table Rock Lake—by just one ounce. Record-breaking angler Jim Dain, of Pittsfield, Ill., was on a family fishing trip and almost decided not to take the boat out because of shifting weather conditions the day he caught his monster fish. “The forecast was calling for storms, and then it changed to no rain, so we went out, but it just kept getting colder,” Dain said. “We weren’t having much luck, but decided to fish for another hour. So we took another turn, and that’s when the drag on the reel started. It felt like a tree was on the line!” Paddlefish are an interesting target for anglers because they are filter feeders and will not take lures or baited hooks. The most popular method for catching them is to troll large, un-baited treble hooks to cover water and hopefully snag one. “We got 16 one-gallon bags of meat out of this catch,” laughed Dain. “We’ve fried it, grilled it and made paddlefish tacos the other night. We’ll be having paddlefish for a while!” Missouri’s paddlefish seasons run March 15-April 30 on its major paddlefish snagging waters: Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake, Truman Lake and their tributaries. There is a minimum length limit of 32 inches. The paddlefish season for the Mississippi River is March 15 through May 15 with a fall season of Sept. 15 through Dec. 15. For more information, see the Missouri DNR website at dnr.mo.gov.

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MAY 2022

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OAA Fisheries has proposed establishment of a flexible retention limit for shortfin mako sharks with a default limit of zero in commercial and recreational highly migratory fisheries. This measure follows a 2021 approval to ban mako shark harvest in the North Atlantic in 2022 and 2023 in a decision handed down by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). ICCAT’s juridiction is over highly migratory species, like sharks, which cross international boundaries. NOAA’s flexible retention limit would fulfill ICCAT’s recommendation, while allowing flexibility if conditions change. During the fishing year, NOAA Fisheries could increase the shortfin mako shark retention limit from the default, or subsequently decrease the retention limit, for the commercial fishery, the recreational fishery, or both, based on regulatory criteria and retention allowed by ICCAT. Strict conservation measures have been on the table for mako sharks since 2017, when a stock assessment indicated the species was being overfished. Annual take from both sides of the Atlantic ranged between 3,600 and 4,675 tons, mostly caught with commercial gear. ICCAT warned that catches must be kept below 1,000 tons to rebuild the population. Off the U.S. east coast, Atlantic shortfin mako sharks are found from New England to Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to Texas, and in the Caribbean Sea. For more details or to comment on the proposal, see www.fisheries.noaa.gov.

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t’s tarpon time, and as big fish flood the channels, bays, flats, beaches and passes up the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, every angler with a monster silver king on the bucket list hopes to get a piece of the biggest show on water. Most of the time, all they’ll get is the aerial show. Whether it’s a thrown hook from a head-shaking leap, a sharp gill plate that cuts the line, or a big hammerhead that makes the line go slack, hooking a big tarpon is a lot easier than putting hands on one. Studies have shown less than 40 percent of hooked tarpon make it boatside to have their photo taken. Here are a few tips to help you turn a hook-up into a great release photo.

TARPON FIGHTING TIPS By CAM Staff

1) Bow to the King:

If you have any interest in tarpon at all, you’ve heard this one already, but let’s just get it out of the way for those who don’t know. When a tarpon jumps, stop reeling, drop your rod tip and point it at the fish. When the fish is doing all its head shaking and tailwalking, a slack line doesn’t provide as much leverage to throw the hook. When the fish lands, lift the rod tip back to about 45 degrees and reel quickly to take up the slack.

2) Predict the Jump: Watch the fish’s behavior and you can often predict when it will go airborne. A hard run usually culminates with a big jump. Also, when you see the line angling up, it means the fish is headed to the surface. Pay attention and you won’t be caught off guard.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CAPT. JEFF MAGGIO

3) Go Hard on Them: Tarpon are big and powerful. If you don’t break their spirit quickly, they just might break yours. Use heavy tackle and do everything you can to get them in quickly. Use an anchor buoy to quickly unhook and chase fish down. This allows you to gain line and maintain the upper hand. By adjusting the drag, you can let the fish tire itself out more quickly. Start with the drag lower in the early stages of the fight, when the fish is still making long powerful runs that can break the line. As it begins to tire from running and jumping, start ramping up the drag pressure and continue pumping and reeling. If you’re good enough, palming the reel allows you to manually control drag pressure without committing to a higher setting. This can save you if a fish has a sudden second wind. Keep the heat on a big fish from start to finish. If it runs to the right, swing your rod to the left and vice versa. By keeping constant pressure against the direction the fish is trying to go, it is sometimes possible to convince them to give up.

4) Don’t Feed the Sharks: Sharks always seem to show up when there’s tarpon fishing going on, and it’s a pity so many big tarpon end up getting sharked on the end of a line. When sharks show up, ethical anglers pull lines up and move. Reeling in half a fish is worse than reeling in no fish at all. If a big shark shows up during the fight, clamp down on the drag and try to break the line. For more, go to coastalanglermag.com.


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Tim Barefoot

s you should know by now if you read my articles or subscribe to my YouTube channel, I like to fish for everything with fins. From offshore in 300plus feet of water to creeks, there is one thing that makes us more effective now than we were years ago: electronics! When I was very young, we went to the very first mark off the beach and loaded up on sea bass, gray trout (weakfish), flounder and whatever else would bite a crude chicken rig with cut mullet. Those days are gone. Now, we have evolved to using the most advanced electronics available to locate and stay on fish. We’ve got side imaging and live imaging technology, which is not (almost) cheating, to… screw it… It’s cheating, and I’m doing it. I love a gag grouper like Peter loved the Lord, and I also like to fish for bass as well as drum, trout and snook. Electronics like side scan make me dangerous. They are the difference between being close to a good place on a ledge or wreck versus being ON THE SPOT. It’s now possible to see whether you’re close to a stack of baitfish or on it. The stack of bait is the key to catching instead of just soaking baits. Look for the giant stack of bait, because that is what holds

predators, bottom fish below and pelagics above. For example: The video link at the end of this article as well as the blue photo on this page are a prime example of electronics telling us what’s below us and how deep. The marks near the bottom are African pompano and other bottom fish. The marks in the 100-foot range are blackfin tuna. The other photo is of crappie in a creek. I was watching them in real time using Garmin LiveScope. Regardless if you’re fishing in 300 or 15 feet of water, having the correct electronics will make a huge difference. We rely on our fishing instincts to catch fish. I’m a believer in the “cleanest” terminal tackle being the most effective tackle. The most important thing of all, though, is to position your boat on top of fish. For this, proper electronics have become essential. Check out barefootcatsandtackle.com, and watch this video https://youtu.be/qGzW6QFZHKE on using electronics offshore.

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COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

MAY 2022

NATIONAL 19


Making Memories M

ay is a great month to take or introduce a child to the sport of fishing. The summer crowds haven’t arrived, the weather is tolerable, and there should be a nice breeze to keep it comfortable. If your child is already catching more than you, this is a great time to teach them some new techniques or how to use a new lure. Jetties, piers or docks are great locations to target this month, and sheepshead can be an entertaining target for the beginner. They can be corporative, and a nice trophy for a child. At times, they can be easy to catch and will provide a solid fight for the saltiest of anglers. Sheepshead love structure. Focus your attention on the most barnacle-encrusted structure you can find. At times you can hear them munching on those barnacles! If it is legal in the area you are fishing, scraping barnacles off the structure is a great way to chum for sheepshead and really gets them fired up. Small live or fresh dead shrimp are great, readily available bait. Small jacks, croaker, pinfish and whitting are also good options to give young anglers a strong tug and a good time. Once again, live and dead shrimp are a good choice to lure in these aggressive feeders. Beach fronts, jetties and structure are good areas to target them. If your child is up for a challenge and wants to learn something new, like my 11-year-old, May

By Capt. Michael Okruhlik

is a good month to explore. With optimal water temperatures that keep fish aggressive, May is ideal. My son and I were in our favorite local tackle shop one day, and he picked up a custom painted lure and showed it to me. The owner, Mike, had painted these and they are renowned for catching big trout. My son had never fished one, but wanted to learn and catch a big one! For a few weeks, every time my son walked into the lure room and saw the Corky hanging on the rack, he would say, “Dad let’s go fishing.” He wanted to use the lure from Mr. Mike and catch a big trout. When we finally had a chance to hit the water, conditions were not ideal. We went to learn how to work the lure, if nothing else. My son did accomplish catching his first fish on a Corky. Even though it was not the big trout he planned on, it gave us a good laugh and memories that will last forever. This photo shows his first fish on that style of lure… the first of many I am certain. Go grow up little pinfish. Hopefully the next time we meet you are in the belly of a big trout! Take a kid fishing, leave the electronics at home, and everyone will have fun learning something from each other!

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PHOTO COURTESY OF KNOCKIN TAIL LURES

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Offshore,

conversations. Satellite phones are an option but are cost prohibitive for most of us. Luckily, the satellite network has created a new choice with two-way texting devices like the Garmin inReach Mini, which I find offers a great mix of features, affordability, size and peace of mind. All these devices require a subscription plan, but most are affordable and allow you to pause them during off seasons. There are several manufacturers and options on the market, and they have many different features. Some have built-in keypads for easy composition of messages, but that makes the size larger. Most will pair with your cell phone, making it simple to create and send messages. They all also have SOS buttons that send a distress message along with your location to a communication center. Like EPIRBs and PLBs, they will continually transmit your location to By Will Schmidt search and rescue, helping them to find you quickly. Unlike the others, you are notified when your SOS is received. You can also communicate the nature of your emergency and answer vital questions from rescuers via text. The small size and waterproof rating means you can clip these devices to a life vest and continue sending and receiving information should you need to abandon ship. Furthermore, you can send non-emergency messages to check in with others. The inReach Mini allows you to create three preset messages that can be quickly sent and have unlimited sends on each of their data plans. This is a great feature for sending useful updates and non-emergency messages such as: “Just checking in, everything is fine.” Or “Everything is ok, but we are running late.” Other features many of these devices offer are waypoint navigation, tracking and weather reports. If navigation features are of primary importance to you, a larger device with a bigger screen might suit you better. Since mine is a backup navigation device, the connection to my phone is sufficient. I can even pair my inReach with my chart plotters to quickly send and read messages while underway. Whether you travel offshore, into the backwoods or to a remote island ith technology helping us get farther away from shore, it is lodge, if you want the ability to summon help or just check in at home when imperative that we have a reliable way to communicate with others. off the grid, these satellite devices offer great usability in an affordable easyIt’s not unheard of for people to take a bay boat 40 miles offshore to-use option. where VHF might not be heard. While Emergency Position Indicating Will Schmidt is a seasoned tournament angler who has been writing Radio Beacons (EPIRB) and Personal Locator Beacons (PLB) are a great about fishing from more than two decades. way to request assistance in an emergency, they lack the ability for two-way

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All five of these exotic beauties possess the radiant rainbow of color we’ve been looking for. Arranged in a sterling silver setting finished in lustrous gold, this ring is a beautiful tribute to your lasting love. So how about our price promise? We met that too. We want you to know there is absolutely no reason to overpay for luxury gemstones. The big name jewelers have been deceiving B. 1 ctw Opal the public long enough, charging as much Stud Earrings as $16,000 for an Ethiopian opal ring. We won’t trump up the price to make you think it’s luxurious. This ring is just as luxurious (if not more) than the big designer name rings, AND it’s yours for

 “The play of color in opals is so gorgeous they sometimes don’t even seem real and yet they are.” —from the Couture Show under $60. I think it’s safe to say we more than met our price promise. We exceeded it... by well over 16,000%! Your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed. Slip this rainbow on her finger. If she’s not absolutely delighted, simply send it back within 30 days for a complete refund of the item price. See if your jewelry store can match that! The Five-Star Opal Ring is one of Stauer’s fastest sellers. Supplies are limited. We can’t seem to keep this ring in stock. Don’t miss this rare opportunity. Order the Five-Star Opal Anniversary Ring today and catch this radiant rainbow before it’s gone! Jewelry Specifications: • Ethiopian Opals in gold-finished .925 sterling silver settings • Ring: whole sizes 5–10. Earrings: post backs Five-Star Opal Anniversary Collection A. Ring (1 ½ ctw) $399 $59* + S&P Save $340! B. Earrings (1 ctw) $199 $79* + S&P Save $120! Ring & Earrings Set $598 $99* + S&P Save $499! *Special price only for customers using the offer code.

1-800-333-2045

Your Insider Offer Code: OAR305-04

Stauer, 14101 Southcross Drive W., Ste 155, Dept. OAR305-04, Burnsville, MN 55337 www.stauer.com

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AFFORD THE EXTRAORDINARY

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IT MIGHT JUST BE CRAZY ENOUGH TO WORK! Berkley played a pretty good gag for April fools that likely sent a group of very specialized anglers to the store looking for a product that doesn’t exist. The company, which produces scented and flavored artificial baits, announced the release of the Berkley PowerBait Noodling Glove. “Infused with PowerBait, this glove is designed to give noodlers a way to successfully wrangle catfish and give the fish a flavor so good, they’ll never let go,” read the press release. Berkley went on to tell sportsmen the following: Originally designed to withstand the fight of giant catfish, the team at Berkley Labs quickly discovered that the PowerBait Noodling Glove can be effective on more than just catfish. Extensive field testing proved that the PowerBait Noodling Glove increased angler catch rates for bass, trout and other species. The team even tested the glove with local hunters and found it’s just as effective in luring white-tailed deer as it is in luring catfish. There is nothing that can’t be caught using the PowerBait Noodling Glove. The Berkley PowerBait Noodling Glove may also get its time to shine on the bass tournament trails this year thanks to Berkley Pro Angler John Cox. Cox says, “The way I fish is very similar to noodlers; they go down the bank and look for holes. Well, I go down the bank looking for a 5 or 6 pounder either on a bed or chasing bluegill. So, when I heard about noodlers using the Berkley PowerBait Noodling Glove, I thought ‘Hey, this might work really well for me.’ Noodling is definitely not for just catfishing anymore. That was a pretty good one, Berkley.

BRING HOME THE BAIT. Home of America's #1 cast net, the SuperSpreaderTM , and the industry's largest net selection – from beginner to pro.

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MAY 2022

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM


ACOUSTICS, BALLISTICS, HYDRODYNAMICS AND THE

SCIENCE OF SMASH. SALTWATER HARD BAITS Five marvels of engineering that earned their stripes smashing fish in lakes and rivers, supertuned by Berkley® scientists to conquer the salt and its fiercest inhabitants. Action, vibration, casting distance, hook-up ratios – every aspect has been optimized to your advantage. All built for battle with virtually bombproof bodies and hardware, featuring ultra-sharp, anti-rust Fusion19™ 3X Hooks for ultimate endurance. Over 80 sizes and colors to choose from.

CHOPPO SALTWATER 2 SIZES | 10 COLORS

Capt. Peter Deeks @captpeterdeeks

©2022 Pure Fishing, Inc.

YO U R F I S H . O U R S C I E N C E .™

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J-WALKER SALTWATER

HIGHJACKER SALTWATER

CANE WALKER SALTWATER

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2 SIZES | 10 COLORS

10 COLORS AVAILABLE

2 SIZES | UP TO 10 COLORS

7 SIZES | UP TO 15 COLORS

Berkley_SW_Topwater_CostalAngler_8.125"x10.875"_Final.indd 1

4/7/22 10:19 AM


PARTING WATERS

LIKE NO OTHER INNOVATION DRIVES SUZUKI ON THE WATER Unparalleled throttle response and silky-smooth shifting along with the outboard industry’s first Contrarotating Dual–Prop design, the 350hp outboard is in a class of it’s own. With Suzuki Marine’s reputation for performance and reliability, you can rest assured your boating day is going to make memories that will last for years to come.

YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY

5 YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY applies to qualifying purchases of Suzuki outboard motors sold and delivered to the retail purchaser, for pleasure (non-commercial) use only, from April 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. See Suzuki Limited Warranty for additional details. Suzuki, the “S” logo, and Suzuki model and product names are Suzuki Trademarks or ®. Don’t drink and drive. Always wear a USCG-approved life jacket and read your owner’s manual. © 2022 Suzuki Marine USA, LLC. All rights reserved.