The Angler Video Magazine | May 2024 Edition

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Your Helm Into A Multi Function Masterpiece
The All-New NavNet TZtouchXL Series Transform

Furuno’s New NavNet TZtouchXL Delivers “Off The Charts” Performance

Furuno has again raised the bar for the most powerful, easiest-to-use Multi Function Displays (MFDs) with the new NavNet TZtouchXL. Five sizes of MFDs provide all the functionality boaters desire and never-before-seen features.

An all-new chart offering called TZ MAPS sets these MFDs far ahead of the field. Navigators have complete control of data they download, such as raster or vector charts, satellite photos and bathymetric data. Plus, they can select specific areas to keep updated. Objects can be turned on and off in the Layers menu with a single swipe on the display. Users can create custom objects or update charted objects, on the system on the fly. Custom objects can be shared with other users through

offers “off the charts” bathymetric data with contours that can be easily configured to a resolution three times better than anything else on the market. Bathymetric data can be overlaid onto navigation charts. All of this can be rendered with custom color palettes and terrain shading.

Purchase of TZ MAPS areas also unlocks AI Routing to plan routes. The free TZ iBoat app for mobile devices allows at-home planning that transfers to TZtouchXL. With a free TimeZero account, waypoints and routes can be backed up or retrieved from the cloud. Charts can be purchased directly from the MFD!

DRS Radar connection unlocks two new safety features: Risk Visualizer™ and

AI Avoidance Route™. These two features provide 360° representation of collision risks and a route around them that can be sent to a Furuno NAVpilot autopilot.

The series comprises five MFDs with displays from 10” to 24”. All feature a powerful hexacore processor for lightningfast response.

All magnetron or Solid-State Doppler Radars, high-powered Fish Finders, AIS, Autopilot, and Deep Water Multibeam Sonar options of NavNet TZtouch3 are compatible with TZtouchXL. Many of the must-have features are also available, including Target Analyzer™, Bird Mode, Rain Mode, and PIN Code Lock. The TZT10X, TZT13X, and TZT16X feature a built-in 1kW TruEcho CHIRP or CW Fish Finder and built-in 235kHz or 455kHz CHIRP Side-Scan. Two new remote-control options are also available.

To learn more, visit:


Mhere in the Florida Keys. Over the past four months of season closure, a multitude of released catches taunted local fisherman, and now the hunt is officially back on!

While the Keys might not be well known for grouper, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be. Between the reef, wrecks and offshore deep-dropping, the Keys are home to a plethora of grouper species. The reopening of red, black, gag and snowy grouper vastly increases fishing opportunities here in our Atlantic waters.

When fishing for grouper on the reef, keeping your rig from getting rocked-up on the bottom is the biggest challenge. Do not

times. Grouper are notorious for grabbing a bait and taking it back into their homes immediately. When you lose a big grouper, especially with a mouthful of your tackle, they grunt a warning to the other fish. This shuts down the grouper bite. It is best to keep the grouper rod in your hand when possible and be ready to crank them away from their hidey-holes. There isn’t much room or time for error on the initial bite.

Fishing for grouper over wrecks can also be highly productive. Amberjacks, which received a short closure in April, can be caught as bycatch while wreck fishing for grouper. Their


season also reopens in May.

Deep-dropping offshore also expands greatly this month, as snowy grouper and blueline tilefish reopen. Yellowedge grouper remains year-round, but even with large grouper hooks, tilefish can be a frequent bycatch. Deep-drop rigs can be modified this time of year to include smaller hooks that welcome the tilefish bite and increase productivity of each drop.

The abundance of mahi-mahi this month sweetens the deal for heading offshore to deep-drop. Not only can you fish for mahi-mahi on the route to, from and on your deepdrop numbers, you can also chase birds for a chance to read the bottom for new deep-drop spots. There is nothing quite like finding a new fishing spot, and with so much in

season right now, it is the perfect time of year to scout.

Remember to check fishing regulations, as there are often surprise closures on many species. Venting and descending tools are required when fishing for grouper and are especially important at the depths where snowy grouper are found. One look at the bug-eyed balloon face of barotrauma will tell you these fish cannot return home safely without help. It is easy to go over a limit of snowy grouper by accident, so have your gear ready and know how to use it.

Sweet E’nuf Charters specializes in grouper and is already booking up quickly for the much anticipated reopening. Give us a call to get tight!

Capt. Quinlyn Haddon guides with Sweet E’nuf Charters out of Marathon, Florida Keys. Contact her at (504) 920-6342 or Find her on social @captainquinlyn.

Life on the Water...

Waterfront • Boat Dock Pool • Hot Tub • Pet Friendly! Waterfront 5/3 Home Sleeps 12! Located on Deep Water Canal, Room for 2+ Boats!
Life on the Water is the perfect vacation home for the multi-family desiring waterfront accommodations with multiple living areas. What You’ll Love: New Property! All New Furniture and Amenities Dec. 2022! Distance to Beach: Car 5.7 mile, 0.5 miles Boat. Located on the Gulf Breeze FL peninsula, on a hidden deep water canal. Boat Ramp 1 mile away, 2 min to open water, 2 marinas with fuel within a 5 min boat ride. 120 ft. of brand new dockage, fish cleaning station, power and water. Ultimate outdoor space featuring a pool, hot tub, patio areas with grills, and open-air shower.

The Ultimate Vacation Home for Anglers

Be it red snapper season, Blue Angels air shows, or everyday exploration of the miles of Pensacola Beach just three miles away, fishing is a huge part of Emerald Coast Getaways’ Life on the Water vacation rental, and the creation of this property kept that in mind for the discriminating angler and boater.

Located on the Gulf Breeze peninsula between Pensacola Beach and Pensacola, Life on the Water is situated on a deep water canal, with 120 ft. of brand new dockage plus 30 feet under boat house cover, there’s plenty of protected room for two+ boats. Your boat will be secure, protected from open bay beatings, yet less than two minutes to open water and three miles to Flounders, Pensacola beaches, and the various restaurants accessed via boat. The property has two driveways, so trailer parking is available, with the Oriole Beach Boat Ramp one mile away, and two marinas with fuel within a five minute boat ride. Life on the Water also boasts a custom fishing cleaning station, power and water for the boats, and there’s even a lower dock landing for the kayaker and paddle boarder. Just out the canal are miles of grass flats with great fishing for speckled trout and redfish. There’s even a pinfish trap on the dock for bait!

If you decide not to trailer your boat, rent a boat! Pensacola Pontoons will deliver a boat right to our dock. Just say when and they will get it delivered. Lets get you on the water!

Guests will fall in love with the ultimate outdoor space featuring

a pet friendly fenced-in yard (pet fee does apply), upstairs and downstairs entertainment decks, 2 gas grills and private pool overlooking the water.

From the coastal decor to the amazing outdoor spaces, this 3,143 sq. ft, 5 bedroom/3 bath home is sure to impress. Just released to the market, this multi-level home accommodates 12 guests comfortably allowing plenty of space for everyone. This kitchen is well stocked and fit for a chef, comes complete with the stainless-steel appliances, Calphalon cookware and beautiful quartz counter tops. The open concept design allows the perfect space to interact with family and friends.

No detail was overlooked in the design and décor, a stately home in a charming neighborhood, making this an unforgettable vacation location! Life on the Water will become your families hidden gem. We truly look forward to hosting your stay!


One of the most important aspects of fishing for any angler is patience. Extending that patience over long hours, especially for saltwater fishermen, can mean the difference between coming home with a handsome trophy or leaving with empty pockets. From the time it takes to get to the fishing spot to the passing minutes—or, in some cases, hours—between strikes, it's patience that can make all the difference.

And a big aspect of that patience is comfort. Few things can erode a person’s patience, like trying to perch in an uncomfortable seat for hours or waiting for that muchanticipated bite on the other end of the line. A lack of comfort can quickly turn into a lack of patience, leading an angler to throw in the towel early in the trip.

Millennium Marine has the answer to those comfort problems with their line of PRO-M Series Saltwater seats for watercraft. The PRO-M series of ComfortMax seats has three distinct models available with anodized, heavy-duty aluminum frames designed to stand up to the rigors of daily use in a saltwater environment.

Millennium’s unique, patented saltwater design provides unmatched comfort and durability, no matter the conditions' severity. It features the

breathable, cool fabric of Millennium Marine’s ComfortMax seat for mold and mildew resistance. Thanks to anodized aluminum construction, the PRO-M Series can withstand elements from saltwater to the blazing sun. Each seat in the series mounts to any standard boat seat pedestal and has a one-year warranty.

The PRO-M 200 features a unique design with lumbar support will enable hours of comfort while sitting, while the PRO-M 300’s unique design allows hours of comfort while sitting, leaning, straddling, or casting. The top-of-the-line PRO-M 100 features a ComfortMAX contoured, tight sling seat that is adjustable and reclining. It also folds flatter than competitor’s seats, allowing better visibility while under way.

All three series come in a choice of grey or white colors.

PRO-M 200 PRO-M 300 PRO-M 100

B100 BOAT SEATS COMFORT, DURABILITY Millennium Marine’s Pro-M B100 features a unique, patented design that provides unmatched comfort, functionality and durability. Enjoy all-day comfort on the water rain or shine with Millennium Marine.

Relentless performance for every yacht, everywhere, every time.

10 MAY 2024 THE ANGLER VIDEO MAGAZINE A Revolution in Topside Paint


Instead of going “bottom fishing” this season, I would focus on going “grouper fishing”… at least for gags while the season lasts. You can go ‘bottom fishing” for the next seven months, but let’s put some gags in the boat while the law allows it! Here are some tips to help you bag some gags.

• Having the right bait is a major part of this puzzle. A pinfish trap in a productive area for just a few hours and an (otter-proof) floating bait pen at the marina are priceless.

• You must anchor up or use the trolling motor in “spot lock” to properly fish any piece of good bottom.

available on the structure. Here’s how it works:

of the structure directly under your boat, and they will be ready to eat.

3) After four or five volleys of squid, everyone baits up with a beautiful baseballin-diameter-sized live bait and sends them back down to the bottom together. These baits are too big for most bottom fish to get their mouths around.

1) The squid might catch a handful

• When I first post up on a good-looking mark on the recorder, I have everyone else on the boat fire down whole frozen squid on a jig. At the same time, I use a sabiki to catch whatever baitfish are

“bottom fish,” and maybe a grouper or two.

2) Most importantly, it sets a nice chum slick on the bottom that attracts the real predators

4) Now, the grouper appear on the scene, curious about all the noise and the good smell. What do they see? They see a pinfish from the marina or whatever came up on the sabiki. I like to fish these baits on one of my Crab Decoy Jigs, which makes it look like the bait is struggling in the grasp of a hungry crab or squid. A big grouper, and especially a gag grouper, sees this as a Happy Meal. They love crabs, squid and baitfish, and with this rig they think they’re getting it all in one bite.

5) An added bonus is that this is clean tackle, free of excess hardware, that sends the correct signal to grouper and results in bites.

• The downside to this style of fishing is it will attract sharks, as well. It’s all fun and games until the man in the gray suit shows up. Then it becomes hard work. Sharks of all kinds are drawn to struggling snapper.

For more info on the jig, tackle and/or bait, check out Tim Barefoot's YouTube channel and website at





Dodging busy boat ramps, launching from dirt roads, exploring small creeks and hidden pockets to sight fish big fish in skinny water… these are the reasons Skye Burkhardt prefers to fish from a kayak. On her home waters of Florida’s storied Mosquito Lagoon, snook, tarpon and redfish are favorite targets, and stalking into casting range with artificial lures is as close to big-game hunting as fishing gets.

Skye guides kayak-fishing trips through Yellow Dawg Bait & Tackle in Ormond Beach, Fla. She said she feels most at home and closest to nature in a kayak and enjoys teaching anglers as much as she does putting people on fish.

With that in mind, she said most folks have questions about gear. Here are some things to think about when outfitting yourself to kayak fish:

KAYAK: “Do as much research as possible. Read reviews, compare brands and gather knowledge of the features and specs before making a purchase,” she said. “Watch YouTube videos, read reviews for insight from other anglers who fish and paddle similar waters and target the same species the same way you do.”

Wide, short kayaks are more stable and maneuver better in tight spaces. These are advantages for standing to fish and weaving through tight backwaters. On the other hand, paddling across a bay against wind and current is easier in a long, narrow kayak, which is faster and tracks better.

Consider the waters you’ll fish. Buy the boat that best suits your needs.

PROPULSION: Peddle-drive boats are awesome, especially for covering lots of water and having your hands free to fish. They’re also

more expensive and less capable in extremely skinny water. Most have retractable rudders or propellers for zero additional draft, but this can clutter the deck. You’ll want to carry a paddle with you, anyway, both for maneuvering in the shallows and for redundancy.

Paddle-powered kayaks are simpler and generally less expensive, but you’ll need stamina and arm strength to cover water. A traditional paddle-powered boat is likely better on shallow flats and backwaters, and it’s

worth investing in a decent paddle.

ANCHORS: A stake-out pole is handy for stealthy anchoring in shallow water. If you’re fishing deeper, a lightweight anchor with folding flukes to dig into the sand is another good option. Either way, you’ll want something to keep your boat in place when you pull up on a school of fish.

SAFETY: This list will vary depending on where you’re fishing, but here are some items to consider: a PFD—the inflatable ones are

more comfortable to wear; a knife attached to you to cut free from entanglement; Signaling devices such as lights, beacons, mirrors and whistles; a first-aid kit will keep you on the water in the event of minor injuries.

Book a kayak adventure with Skye Burkhardt at Enter to win a free guided trip and a kayak fishing package at Follow Skye on social @brassyangler87.

Drawing to be held June 28, 2024. Winner announced on Facebook. Skye Burkhardt A KAYAK FISHING TRIP WITH @brassyangler87 AND AN ULTIMATE KAYAK FISHING PRIZE PACKAGE INCLUDING A MOKEN 10 KAYAK!
THERE ARE STORIES TO TELL BELOW THE SURFACE ©2023 Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. All rights reserved. Follow instructional materials and obey all laws. Drive responsibly, wearing protective apparel. Always drive within your capabilities, allowing time and distance for maneuvers, and respect others around you. Don’t drink and drive. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT YAMAHABOATS.COM OR CALL 1.800.88.YAMAHA. RUN THE WATER ™ // YAMAHABOATS.COM


Yamaha’s 22 FT FSH boat series has become a fan favorite amongst anglers new and old to the trade. Building upon the success of Yamaha's versatile 21-foot center console line that it replaced, there are three separate 22-foot FSH® models that come with Yamaha’s innovative center console technology and features.

This series begins with the value-minded 220 FSH Sport powered by twin 3-cylinder, 4-stroke TR-1 HO (High Output) engines. Moving up the line is the feature-rich 222 FSH Sport, and the premium 222 FSH Sport E being the pinnacle of the series. Offering sleek lines, agile handling, and superb performance, the 222 Series center console boats are big, with the all-new twin 1.9L HO Yamaha Marine Engines for a quicker and smoother acceleration.

All three models come with a fabric or fiberglass-molded T-Top with four "rocket launcher" rod holders. The spacious 22-foot platform continues Yamaha's trend toward contemporary design with its deep cockpit and great freeboard, enabling a spacious interior and large bow and cockpit areas.

The center console is nicely finished with plenty of room for Yamaha's Connext® 5-inch touchscreen that controls the boat's entertainment and vital system functions, a glass windshield, stainless steel steering wheel, a locking glove box, and a 9-inch Simrad® marine electronics system. All three models flaunt wireless-charging phone mounts to ensure everyone stays connected when it matters most.

There's nothing better than hanging out at a favorite cove listening to a great summer playlist. Yamaha has you covered here with its a Hertz® premium sound system that comes

standard on the 222 FSH Sport E. This marine sound system comes with a Hertz® head unit, four deck speakers, and two speakers in the color-matched hardtop.

And all three 22’ FSH models come standard with mounts for optional swim-up seats. At anchor, two removable seats can be attached to the stern. These seats sit just below the water's surface, providingcomfortable inwater seating facing the transom of the boat. And since the reboarding ladder is located between both seat positions, egress onto the swim platform is a breeze.

Ultimately, Yamaha’s 22’ FSH models have set the standard in versatile luxury, while continuing to keep the end consumer in mind with its plethora of convenient amenities.

22 FT FSH Series Fishing Amenities for Anglers

Understanding that fishing is the heart and soul of the 22 FT FSH product line, anglers around the globe have the below features to look forward to when purchasing a Yamaha 22FT FSH series boat:

• Storage for eight rods under the gunwales

• Storage for six rods on the side of the console

• Aerated 26-gal stern livewell

• Simrad® multi-function display

• Jet Wash® washdown system

For more information on Yamaha’s 22FT FSH boats, visit


This has been my theme for the year, and I can’t stress enough how important it is to be aware of your surroundings. Years ago, when I was in my early 20s, a good friend of mine told me about a guide his friends had fished with. He said this guide could see fish where everyone else only sees water.

Naturally, I had to experience this for myself. A few buddies and I booked a trip with Capt. Blaine and witnessed this phenomenon for ourselves. We were drifting in an open area near a river mouth in 10 feet of water. The captain yelled, “there they are!” and hurriedly encouraged us to reel in our lines before heading full throttle toward the middle of the bay. We all looked at each other, “What did he see?” We still didn’t see anything, no disturbed water, no bait jumping, no diving birds. Then he said, “Cast over there!” and we all three hooked up on big redfish before our

soft plastics reached the bottom. What he saw were mud boils. Understanding and learning how to interpret these is something that took me a long time to master in deep water. These schools of reds were feeding 10 feet below the surface, and they were stirring up the bottom. As the silt rose to the surface, it gave away their location.

Fishing mud boils on shallow flats is a little easier to master because of the water depth. If you are fortunate to see a small boil and cast to it, the fish will still be in the immediate area. While fishing mud boils in deep open bays, the boil is typically larger by the time it reaches the surface, and you need to determine which direction the fish are moving. In this scenario, you could easily cast behind the school and not

get a bite. Understanding the wind and tide and assessing the shape of the boil are all critical skills to master. A quality pair of polarized sunglasses is also a must.

Many lures can be deployed under these conditions, and I feel soft plastics are the most effective. Having a lure that can effortlessly bounce on the bottom will produce more strikes because that is where the fish is feeding, hence the mud boil created by that activity.

Go to my YouTube channel or check out the link at the top of this page for a video of me fishing mud boils on a shallow flat. The video will show this situation and greatly complement the article. As always, take a kid fishing and begin to teach them how to read the water.

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


The Place to Stay and Play on Florida's Nature Coast

Plantation Resort on Crystal River offers unforgettable experiences for travelers of all ages and interests to enjoy endless outdoor activities. From boating and fishing to scalloping and wildlife encounters, visitors from around the globe travel to Florida's Nature Coast to enjoy all it has to offer. Reflect on the peaceful joy you'll feel swimming alongside a manatee and her baby, the rush of adrenaline after hooking an evasive gag grouper in the shallow waters of the Gulf...there are so many memories waiting for you here!

Guests will find a full-service resort with classic rooms, excellent dining, a lagoon-style pool, an Aveda spa, and a traditional golf course. Discover all there is to create your next great vacation memory.

(July 1 – Sept 24, 2024)


Book Your Trip Now!

Our reservation team can help you make all the arrangements. We have the best guides that will take you out, which is the best way to ensure a great time on the water. We can also accommodate those do-ityourself folks with a boat ramp and seawall tie-ups if you bring your boat. Reservations: 800.632.6262 | Hotel: 352.795.4211 Scallop Season
Is Almost Here!

Endless Outdoor Adventure Awaits!

From boating and fishing to scalloping and wildlife encounters, Plantation on Crystal River is an ideal setting for travelers of all ages and interests to enjoy endless outdoor activities. To follow is just a sampling of the abundance of available outdoor pursuits.

BOATING: With more than 25,000 accessible acres of waterways, including Crystal River and Kings Bay, Plantation on Crystal River is a boater’s paradise. In addition to scenic river tours from Plantation Adventure Center & Dive Shop, kayaks, jon boats and pontoon boats can be rented by guests who want to explore on their own.

FISHING: With Central Florida fishing at its finest, Plantation on Crystal River is located alongside the Crystal River inlets and Kings Bay, just a short distance from local lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. Whether by land or by sea, anglers can cast a line for bass, grouper, snook, flounder, redfish and more. At the end of a successful day of fishing, Plantation’s chefs will be happy to prepare the fresh catch for the guest’s dining pleasure.

GOLF: Guests can tee off on the resort’s traditional Florida-style 18-hole championship course. Surrounded by native plants and oaks, the championship course challenges guests with a number of difficult fairways and waterways, including the course’s signature No. 11 hole. The Original Golf SchoolTM at Plantation on Crystal River accommodates players of all levels, with experienced professionals offering on-course instruction, with no more than four students per professional instructor.


SCALLOPING: There is no better place to go scalloping on Florida’s Gulf Coast than Plantation on Crystal River. Taking place in shallow waters, scalloping is a fun family activity that only requires a snorkel, net and a pair of fins; no previous experience is needed. Scalloping does require a special permit, but licensed group tours and charters are available

for those without a license. Scalloping season is typically July 1 to September 24.

MANATEE TOURS: Plantation on Crystal River’s Adventure Center & Dive Shop provides guests with a once-in-alifetime opportunity to swim and interact with threatened West Indian Manatees in the waters of Crystal River and Kings Bay. Snorkelers will find many of the gentle creatures in the crystalclear spring waters migrate during cooler winter months with some that stay year-round. The manatees can also be easily observed from any part of the Plantation’s expansive sea wall and gazebo point.

Countless on-property amenities also provide entertainment to guests at Plantation on Crystal River. Highlights include a scenic, lagoon-style swimming pool overlooking the river, sand volleyball court, horseshoes, shuffleboard, oversized outdoor chess and checkers and a regulation croquet court. Nearby attractions include Three Sister Springs State Park, Crystal River Archaeological State Park, Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, Coastal Heritage Museum, Weeki Wachee and the Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins State Park.

Transportation is convenient with nearby international airports, including Tampa International Airport only 70 miles away, and Orlando International airport just 90 miles away.

For more information, visit


Every fisherman has a story about the “one that got away.” In some cases, they’re funny to our audience as we try to make light of it. But down deep inside, losing a big fish is upsetting. We fishermen take it personally. It’s a loss, a failure, a disappointment, or all of the above. In my case, my biggest “one that got away” story is an ongoing battle with a fish that became personal.

One fall morning in central eastern Florida, I was fishing under a dock with a Zara Spook. During my retrieve, an explosion broke the water in a way I had never seen in 35 years of fishing. I stood in shock as my 4000 size Penn Battle 2 combo literally screamed as the line pulled off it. This

monster fish zig-zagged to the right of the dock, and I kept trying to see just how big this snook was. When it jumped, I saw that it was definitely in the mid-40-inch range.

As is frequently the case with big snook, she played with me for a little while before bolting into the pilings to break me off. Words can’t describe my adrenaline rush from the fight, but that was quickly overcome by the anger and disappointment of losing what would have been my personal best snook.

A few weeks passed before I returned to the same dock. This time I went armed

because I felt the water was too cold for a topwater. Maybe 15 casts in, I felt a small tug, and then, BOOM! Line screamed off the same Penn Battle 2 combo. Normally, I would have assumed it was a different snook, but I could tell right away it was the same fish because of the way it fought and because it hit in the exact same location. Speaking of the same, she did the exact same thing and ran straight to the pilings to break me off.

I told this story of the one that got away


for a couple of weeks. It seemed hard to believe. But what if I told you it happened again? Would you believe me? Well, you better, because it happened six more times in the same exact spot! After the fourth breakoff, as I was walking along the shore, I found the Zara Spook I lost the first time I hooked the fish, and it was mauled.

I told you it became personal. Over the next four months, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. five or six days a week to go fish the same spot. I ended up having a total of seven hook-ups and breakoffs in the exact same place with the exact same fish before I went back to the drawing board.

I geared up to a Penn Battle II 5000 rigged with 30-pound braid and a 50-pound mono leader. I changed lures to a Zman MinnowZ pinned to a ¼-ounce DOA red long-shank jighead. My logic was the longer shank

would give space between the hook point and the leader, which was always getting frayed by the fish’s teeth or sliced by the razor-sharp gill plate..

On the morning of Aug. 11, as I began my retrieve on the third cast of the day at the same spot, my lure just stopped. I thought maybe a

flounder had grabbed it in the shallows. As my line grew taught, I saw a white flash through muddy water in about 7 inches of water. I saw what appeared to be the head of a snook. As it got closer, it just kept getting bigger, and when I gave my rod a hard tug, the fish didn’t even put up a fight. It swam straight to the shoreline. Completely in shock at the sheer size of this snook, I knew right away, it was the ONE!

My legs gave out and I fell on my knees in the water in sheer admiration of this fish. I began hyperventilating, feeling shock, excitement, and frankly disbelief. Knowing I had little time to get the measurement and the photo so as not to risk the life of this fish, I worked quickly. No exaggeration, it was about 44 inches without the tail squeezed.

I tried to lift up the fish for a photo, but it was just too big to get a good selfie. I took what photos I could and returned the fish to the water. After a few push and pulls, she swam right back to the pilings where I had my first hookup with her.

As I said at the beginning of this story, we all have the stories of the ones that got away, but how many can say they’ve had the same fish get away 7 times, only to land it 8 months later in the same spot?

Got a great fishing story? Write it up and send it with a few photos to We’ll help you clean it up, and we might just share it with the world.


Suzuki Marine USA has unveiled its new Stealth Line™ of outboards for 2024, designed to provide boaters and anglers with a bold yet “stealthy” new look that sets any boat apart from the crowd. The Stealth Line™ (“Shinobi” in Japanese) was introduced to boating enthusiasts, press, and the industry at the 2024 Miami International Boat Show, the largest recreational boating show in the world. With a new, all matte black finish and matching Chrome Black graphics, Suzuki’s new Stealth Line™ delivers a look that compliments a range of popular boat styles, from bass boats, bay boats and flats skiffs to performance pontoon and deck boats to large offshore center consoles. With their “sneaky” good looks, this family of motors has a way of giving any boat an extra dose of attitude — whether sitting at the dock or accelerating across the water.

Underneath each of these motor’s bold exteriors lurks all the performance, advanced technology, fuel efficiency and rock-solid reliability boaters have come to expect from Suzuki 4-stroke outboards. Suzuki’s DF115B Stealth Line™ outboard is an inline 4-cylinder that delivers a powerful punch to flats skiffs, small center consoles, aluminum fishing boats and other popular vessels. The big block inline 4-cylinder DF150 and DF200 Stealth Line™ outboards are ideal for all applications including center consoles, bay boats and other freshwater/inshore boats that need to fish fast and hard all day long. Now offering a 2.5:1 gear ratio, these two Stealth Line™ outboards deliver serious power and fuel efficiency in a motor that is compact, lightweight, and of course, feature the eye-catching Stealth Line™ look.

Suzuki’s V6 Stealth Line™ includes the big-block DF250 Stealth (mechanically

controlled), ideal for powering large bay boats, high-performance pontoons, and deck boats, as well as bass boats. Finally, the DF250A Stealth (digitally controlled) delivers a superior hole shot, strong acceleration and blistering top-end performance required to power premium high-performance bass rigs, walleye tournament boats and single application bay boats. Suzuki Marine also unveiled the sleek and sexy Stealth Line™ concept version of its flagship V6 DF350AMD outboard, the industry’s first motor to provide the performance benefits and increased efficiency of dual contra-rotating propellers. Make sure to take the survey using the link below to vote on the next Stealth Line™ production model addition.



very once in a while, technology comes along that changes the game.

For anyone who is challenged by hours and hours of high-speed jigging—the electric reel is a game changer. Electric reels provide some distinct advantages over manually cranking a jig at high speed through the water column. The most difficult part of getting into the electric game is picking the right equipment that works together.

With this style of jigging, I’m talking about working heavy jigs for big fish on deep structure. The number one environmental factor to catching fish is finding areas that consistently hold bait. Look for reefs, hills, and larger wrecks in deep water that will hold baitfish that are swept along with the current. This is where you’ll find feeding fish.

Check your sonar screen frequently and look for “scratches” or fish feeding in the water column. We usually have one person assigned to calling out depth changes along with depth of marked fish. Tuna swim in and out of the thermocline layer and can typically be found from 250 feet up to the surface. High-speed cruisers like wahoo and kingfish prefer the upper 50 feet of the water column, while amberjack can be found mostly close to structure such as reefs or wrecks. Time spent jigging and adjusting depth to target fish marked on the screen is much more efficient under electric power.

When investigating this technology, I wanted something that was simple to use, and of reasonable size and weight yet would hold up for many hours on the water targeting powerful gamefish. Enter a relative newcomer

to electric power reels — Piscifun. No stranger to reel manufacturing, this company has been around producing quality products for years. Piscifun has put its considerable resources and expertise into designing the Kraken X. It has quickly become indispensable in my fishing arsenal.

The Kraken is moderately priced and uses the same proven Japanese motor technology as many of its competitors. Features include an all-aluminum body, high strength copper and stainless gears, and a proven carbon fiber system with 33-pounds of max-drag that I would unexpectedly put to the test in my first trip boating the ultimate slugger—an amberjack in the 40-pound class. Anyone who has tackled one of these fish knows the reputation. They’re not called “reef donkeys” for nothing! I can happily report that this reel made short work of one of the hardest fighting fish that swims and without heating up or momentarily shutting down—a common issue with electric reels when they are over-taxed.

I prefer a left-handed model when high-speed jigging. I use the Piscifun PB5000 battery pack for all-day electric power. This pack attaches to the reel and gives the angler complete mobility around the boat.

The Kraken reel mates perfectly with my rod of choice for electric jigging—the Goofish Monster Deep PE4-7. It’s a 7-foot rod that handles

a maximum jig weight of 700g. This rod balances perfectly with the Kraken reel.

The Monster Deep rod has proven itself to be indestructible —even against some significant adversaries. What I like about the rod is its sensible blend of materials that allow for durability, strength and power while not being too heavy. The Goofish Monster can deadlift 44 pounds!

I spool all my reels with FINs braid for some significant reasons. FINS 40G is a nine-strand composite braid that comes in multiple sizes. I use the 45/6 which has 45-lb. breaking strength and the diameter of 6-lb. monofilament. This matches the recommended specifications of 45-lb. braid for this reel but adds a lot more capacity. Although substantially thinner, this braid maintains its strength and integrity. Due to its incredibly thin diameter, the 40G cuts through the water with little resistance, which is so critical for vertical jigging success.

On the business end, I use jigs in the 180-to320g range with this combination but can go as high as 700g if needed to reach bottom. I use a 50-lb. wind-on leader from Suffix.

My go to jigs are from veteran lure company Williamson, under the Rapala family of lures. Rapala also owns VMC, so these lures are equipped with high-quality hardware and hooks. These components are a point of failure in lesserquality jigs. I use Koika, Kensaki, Vortex, Abyss and Benthos jigs.

With these in your arsenal, you can cover any situation and depth. Make sure to purchase glowin-the-dark options along with high visibility and natural colors. Purchase your favorites in multiple size ranges from light to heavy, and you’re set! Make your selection based on current speed, depth and effort to reach the bottom without scoping.

When using an electric reel for jigging, you can easily alternate retrieves going from a slow yo-yo motion, which mimics a wounded baitfish, to a full-on high-speed assault, which triggers the bite reflex by imitating a fleeing baitfish. Experiment with different techniques and settle on the one that works best on any given day.

Make sure the drag is set like any other conventional star drag reel and that it has the ability to pay out line when a big fish slams your offering. Once hooked up, use the electric motor to apply constant pressure to turn the fish. I find it incredibly useful and much more effective at wearing a fish down than manually pumping the rod while reeling.

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

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

Mark Ambert, IG ePropulsion Electric Outboard Motor 500 W NEW ・Eco-Friendly ・Whisper-Quiet ・Easy-to-Use ・Compact Whether you’re fishing in a kayak, canoe, or small boat, the ePropulsion eLite is your reliable companion. Max 5.6 miles at half throttle and 3.5 miles at full throttle. Experience the eLite Difference. Go Electric. Go Silent. Go Fishing! Get Yours Today! MSRP $999 (excluding tax and shipping) Nominal Power Maximum Power (in Sport Mode) Battery Charger Rated RPM Trim Tilt Angle Shallow Water Mode Tilt Angle Dimensions (L x W x H) Motor Weight (excluding bracket) Adjustable Shaft Length 500 W 750 W Integrated 378 Wh 25.2V Lithium-ion 100 to 240V AC charger included, 12V charger optional 1500 to 1700 8° / 17° / 26° 75° 36° 297 x 75 x 890 mm (11.7 x 3 x 35'') 6.7 kg / 14.8 lbs 401 / 362.5 / 322 / 282.5 mm (15.8 / 14.27 / 12.7 / 11.1'')

ePropulsion eLite: The Ultimate in Portable Propulsion

In general, the trend in boating these days is bigger is better. Right? Engine horsepower is getting higher and higher, and boats are being built able to accommodate two, four, even six engines. But what about the other end of the spectrum – anglers and cruisers that are looking for the ultimate in portable propulsion? Whether you are looking for a boost for your kayak or a reliable motor for your inflatable fishing boat or tender, the perfect engine should be lightweight, easy to take on and off, easy to use and provide the range and speed for almost any conditions. It should be self-contained, so you don’t have to deal with lugging around a fuel tank, or even have to purchase and safely store gasoline on your boat. Electric propulsion is the way to go, but no one has really gotten the right combination of affordability, reliability and power – until now.

technology, this addition to the ePropulsion range raises the bar in electric boating standards.

The ePropulsion eLite, which has been created for the tender and smaller boating market, represents a new era in clean, quiet, and eco-friendly marine propulsion. The direct-drive motor and advanced propeller design delivers high efficiency with near-silent operation, especially attractive for anglers, as it is less likely to scare away fish. With a focus on minimal maintenance and cutting-edge

Designed to be the most compact and lightweight electric outboard in its class, the ePropulsion eLite 500W electric outboard is an easy-to-use carbon-free solution for small engine application. Its Sport mode adds an additional 50% boost in power for challenging conditions bringing the top speed to over five miles per hour. With multiple charging options, including 110/220V AC, 12V DC and solar with the use of optional ePropulsion converters, the eLite can be fully charged in around four hours. For added capability and convenience, the engine includes a USB-C output that allows users to charge and power other electrical devices.

At just under three-feet in length and

weighing 14.7-pounds including the built-in battery, the eLite stores easily and the one-click quickrelease bracket allows for installation and removal in a matter of seconds. For exceptional portability, the tiller handle converts to a perfectly balanced carry handle. With multiple trim and tilt angles, adjustable steering resistance and shaft length, and a shallowwater mode, the eLite is completely customizable. Its Smart Battery Monitoring System efficiently optimizes performance, carefully regulating battery level, temperature, and remaining state-of-charge all displayed on an ultra-simple interface, leading to extended range, a more energy-efficient operation and longer battery life. Built to last, it is IP67 waterproof, and is constructed of aviation-grade aluminum alloy for lighter weight and greater durability. In addition, the anti-ground auto kick-up feature protects the motor from accidental damage. Available for under $1,000, it is also the most affordable electric outboard in its class.

There’s no time like today to upgrade to the electric outboard of the future. The ePropulsion eLite is in stock and ready to take you quietly and sustainably to your next adventure.

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The year is 2024, and technology is getting better and better. Whether it be the retail tech business or the fishing industry, there are tools now available that a few years ago we would have never thought were even possible. One of those technologies is forward-facing sonar (FFS). There’s a lot of debate about FFS in the fishing right these days, but there’s no denying it’s an amazing tool when used correctly.

I have been using this technology since its earliest stages, and catching fish while looking at my screens has become one of my favorite ways to fish. It is extremely cool to watch a fish eat your lure in real time, and it can also teach you a tremendous amount about what is happening under the water.

Not only do I use this tech to find and catch fish, I use it to pinpoint bait and areas with life, find sweet spots and differentiations in an area, and eliminate dead water much faster ever before.

Another thing that helps you understand the picture on your screen is objects that are visible above the water. Point your transducer at a bridge, dock, tree or grass, and picture in your head what should be under the water while also watching your screen. This will help beginners dial in settings and get a better understanding of what is displayed. It takes time, patience and dedication to learn, but don’t get frustrated and try to have fun with it.

There are varied opinions on forwardfacing sonar and its place in the fishing industry, but it isn’t going away, it will only get better! Some of the coolest things I’ve witnessed and some of my best fishing days were due to the electronics on my boat. Spending the time to learn how to use FFS is well worth the effort. The technology is dominating pretty much every tournament right now, and it absolutely revolutionized the way I break down a body of water.


Figuring out how to use this new technology can be a little frustrating at first if you don’t quite understand what’s going on. Spending time on the water, doing as much research as possible or getting someone experienced to teach you are the best ways to get an upper hand. Fishing lakes where catching fish isn’t very hard in general helped me tremendously with deciphering what I saw using FFS. Smallmouth fishing in the north country was a big helper, as these fish are aggressive and you get many opportunities to present baits and dial in your skills.

There are many resources out there to help you in your learning process and people like me who are always willing to answer questions. Don’t be afraid to reach out, tight lines!

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




Trim control the way it’s meant to be . . . at your fingertips. With Pro-Trim, you can keep both hands on the wheel and concentrate on your driving. Its clean, modern design looks at home in any cockpit and there are no cords to tangle around the steering wheel, a big plus for boats with hydraulic steering! The Pro-Trim single-switch controls one function (engine trim or jackplate) Pro-Trim Dual controls two functions (trim and jackplate).


Precise Control of Engine Trim and/or Jack Plate Adjustment at Your Fingertips

etting the most out of today’s highperformance, high-powered outboard fishing machines requires precision engine height and trim position control. This is precisely what Dometic Marine’s innovative Pro-Trim System delivers, making it an ideal “bolt-on” upgrade for bass boats, bay boats and other high-performance fishing rigs.

Properly adjusted outboard motor trim and engine height can help a boat pop out of the hole quickly and get up on plane faster, while also getting the best top-end speed and hull stability while running at Wide Open Throttle. A welltrimmed outboard boat will also get better fuel economy, helping fishermen squeeze the most fun out of every day on the water.

With its clean, modern design, straightforward installation and single or dualfunction capability, Dometic Pro-Trim is an ideal choice for a range of outboard powered boats and an easy DIY upgrade serious for anglers.

Pro-Trim is designed for use with a range of

popular SeaStar hydraulic and mechanical steering systems. By mounting either a single or dual Pro-Trim System between the steering wheel and the helm bezel, boaters will have precise control of engine trim and/or jack plate adjustment right at their fingertips.

Functioning similar to an automotive “turn signal” switch, Pro-Trim allows boaters to make quick and precise up/down adjustments to engine trim and jack plate height, all while keeping their hands on the wheel and their vision ahead of the boat. This is vital when running at speed and when operating in shallow waters.

“Professional bass anglers, saltwater guides and other high-performance boaters know how important proper engine trim and motor height are to optimizing boat performance and control,” said Dometic Marine Segment President Eric Fetchko. “This system was designed to help boaters make incremental adjustments on the fly, to get the best ride, efficiency and safety in any

situation,” added Fetchko. Single and dual-function systems can be used to control not only engine trim and jack plate height, but also horns or other systems. Pro-Trim is engineered for marine use, with a strong stainless-steel bracket, UV-stabilized ABS switch cover and heavy-duty marine wiring harness. An ideal DIY boat improvement project, Pro-Trim comes with all required mounting hardware and boater-friendly installation instructions.

Anglers can learn more about Pro-Trim, hydraulic and electric steering, and other innovative Dometic products to enhance the ride and control of today’s boats by visiting



It’s well known that some of the best kingfish fishing starts with a livewell full of frisky baits. Unfortunately, catching them can eat up much of your fishing time. After that, it can be hours of bump trolling waiting for a fish to hit. Fortunately, for those who just want to head out for a couple hours of fun and blistering runs, it can be accomplished with artificials. Besides getting you straight to the fishing, you can cover a lot more ground by pulling hardware, and it is not nearly as tedious.

Like using live bait, wire leader is crucial. Kingfish have razor sharp teeth that will go through even stout mono with little effort. I prefer single-strand wire and usually opt for at least #7 (80-lb.). Single strand tends to kink after just one fish, but that’s not always a problem when pulling big plugs, as they will pull the wire straight. Also, watch your split rings. They can weaken the loop where it attaches to the lure, so be sure to constantly inspect your connections.

water column when trolling. I start with a shallow runner like the Nomad 190 AT that runs 3 to 5 feet deep, which I set way back. I also like the Nomad Madmacs that run just slightly deeper. I run it 30 to 50 feet in front of my shallow long-

stick once they make contact.

When you’re trolling the deeper-diving DTX 165s, you will need a reel with some significant drag, as these big-lipped plugs take a lot to hold in place. The Accurate BV600, with its dual drag system, is a great reel for the job. The BV X76H matches perfectly with it and is a great multi-duty trolling rig that doubles as an awesome grouper rod. Even though you don’t need a super light tip, like with live bait, a rod that gives is a plus with these soft-mouthed fish.

I like to cover many different depths in the

bait to facilitate turning. Then I like to go deeper with a DTX Minnow 165. I run that close to the boat and right under the prop wash. This is hands down my most productive bait. I find speeds of 6 to 8 knots usually work well. This allows me to cover a lot of ground and is fast enough to elicit a strike. I often find any slower and the fish don’t seem interested. The other great thing about these lures is the hooks are very large, and they

As for spots, look for hard bottom that holds bait. Wrecks and reefs are great too. It sometimes pays to make wider circles around these structures to get away from the barracudas.

With a few lures and some know-how, you can easily head out and catch some kings without dedicating an entire day to your efforts.

Will Schmidt is a seasoned tournament anglers who has been writing about fishing for more than three decades.



, the leader in high-performance soft-sided coolers, is hitting the water this year with new, upgraded fishing products. Our fishing team partners told us what they needed, and we listened!

Products are in stock and ready to ship; The Fishing Cooler Backpack, 2, 4 & 6ft Fish bags, Fillet bags, Boat fenders, EVA Traction pads, Inflatable Docks, ISUPs, and of course, our high-performance coolers specifically designed for use on boats, guaranteed not to leak, and to keep ice cold for up to 24 hours.

Thirty years ago, AO was launched to provide active, hard-core people with quality products at a reasonable price. We started selling our soft-sided coolers to the hard-core, go-fast boaters and fishermen in Lake Havasu. We aimed to keep ice in our coolers for up to 24 hours in 120-degree Havasu heat. That goal was accomplished 30 years ago, and we’re still at it.

We know our customers; they fish and boat in the summer and ride the dunes or trails in the winter. AO products give those high-octane souls greater freedom to embark on and enjoy what’s important to them.

Make sure that your gear does not hold you back from doing what you love. AO products are built to handle whatever offshore adventure is coming next.

AO is flexibly rugged, seriously fun, and honestly real!

We’re looking for active, adventurous folks that demand quality and performance from their gear. Share your adventure and send us your fish story or photo.


You’ll find some real giants lurking in Florida waters, often hanging out near wrecks, structures and mangrove roots. The notorious Goliath grouper is a massive, territorial and iconic Florida fish that has experienced a remarkable comeback in recent years, prompting the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to introduce a lottery system for limited harvest.

It’s been quite the journey for these giants of the sea. Back in the 1990s, they were critically endangered, and conservation efforts swung into action to protect them. Through the 2000s, Goliath grouper started reappearing in South Florida’s coastal waters in greater numbers. Some saw this as a positive thing, while others focused on the negative potential impact on the marine ecosystem.

With their enormous size, reaching lengths of over 8 feet and weighing up to 800 pounds, these beasts could easily throw off the delicate balance of fish populations and reef habitats. Despite the initial concerns, strict conservation

measures and protective regulations led to a remarkable population rebound. They once again rule as apex predators; some would even call them bullies!

We were lucky to receive one of the tags to harvest a Goliath this year. There were specific protocols to follow. The FWC divided it into Category I and Category II, restricting the fishing areas. Additionally, there was a stipulation to use non-offset, non-stainless steel hooks to improve survival chances. There was also a research element involved. We were issued a kit for taking samples and instructions on where to drop off the carcass after our fish was cleaned.

Goliath grouper have big appetites, eating large quantities of food to sustain their massive size. These underwater monsters can consume up to 5 percent of their body weight in a single feeding, so an average adult weighing around 400 pounds might eat 20 pounds. That’s a hefty meal by any standard. They also eat pretty much anything that moves, and they love crustaceans,

especially stone crabs.

With our tag, we managed to catch one that fell within the slot size of 24 to 36 inches set by the lottery. We gave it a try, and to our surprise, it tasted great, like a meatier version of traditional grouper: white, flaky and juicy, probably due to their diet.

Goliaths are a lesson in how tricky the balance can be between preserving our marine life and using it responsibly. From nearly disappearing to bouncing back in a big way, these amazing creatures keep us hooked on their journey. They remind us how everything in the ocean is connected and how important balance is. Whether we’re rallying to protect them or frying them up for dinner, Goliath grouper are a significant part of what makes Florida’s marine ecosystem so unique.

To see the episode of our Goliath Grouper Catch & Cook, go to “Bean Sportfishing TV” on YouTube.

For more information about FWC’s Goliath Grouper harvest program, visit:




Hilton’s innovative SAT2NAV system connects your Garmin, Furuno or Raymarine chart plotters to HiltonsOffshore. com’s server directly from your MFD. Customize/download the latest dynamic charts and then navigate on them outside of cell range — ALL FROM YOUR MFD SCREEN! Split screen a Hilton’s chlorophyll or sea temp chart along with a bathymetry chart and/or instrumentation.




Since 2004, Hilton’s has helped serious offshore anglers catch more fish while burning less gas. This is the company that pioneered online satellite fish forecasting with timely updated charts that display all of the pertinent fishfinding information at a reasonable cost for the best anglers in the world.

This year, Hilton’s pushed the industry forward again with its SAT2NAV system. In a quantum leap ahead of any other service in the industry, Hilton’s has brought its unparalleled charts where they belong… to your boat’s chart plotter screen!

Gone are the days when a separate smart device was required to navigate on charts downloaded while in cell phone range. SAT2NAV allows you to surf Hilton’s online mapping portal, select desired charts and then navigate on them—all on the water and all from the multifunction display in your cockpit. Nobody in the industry can do what Hilton’s is doing with SAT2NAV.

SAT2NAV is an external device that connects to the monitors of your Garmin, Raymarine or Furuno multifunction displays. It has its own WIFI and GPS antennas and brings access to Hilton’s charts to the monitors at your helm. It is now possible view your vessel’s position relative to temperature breaks, color changes, high-res bathymetry, altimetry, etc. on your multifunction display.

With split-screen, all of this powerful imagery can be displayed alongside sonar, radar or other desired information.

With SAT2NAV, it’s never been easier to identify and navigate to ocean features where bait and gamefish congregate. You can do your homework on the charts at home, but sometimes it’s necessary to call an audible on the water. With Hilton’s charts clearly visible on your monitor, you can find those good currents, minute temperature changes, sea-surface upwellings, color breaks and navigate to them. Perhaps more importantly, you can eliminate dead water, which makes you a much more efficient and effective angler.

Of course, all of this comes with Hilton’s unrivaled service. Their philosophy, reputation and longevity in the industry rely on the concept that if the information doesn’t help you catch fish, you won’t use it. So, they continually strive to provide the best up-to-date imagery, information and technology, and they’ll go above and beyond to make sure you know what you’re looking at and how to use it.

Hilton’s, again, is leading the industry.

With SAT2NAV they can do what no one else in the industry can do right now. At the same time, they are continually working to be better with additional eye-opening features that will further distinguish Hilton’s as the best in the fish forecasting industry. Stay tuned…

+1 713-530-2267 • HILTON@RT-NAV.COM


Ever heard of a monkeyface prickleback? Neither had we until an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife press release showed up announcing what could be a new world record for the species.

And yes, we did do a quick Internet search to confirm that this oddly named fish was in fact a real species. It was caught on April Fool’s Day, and although Oregon DFW might not be known as zany pranksters, you can never be too careful.

Fishing from a jetty, Oregon angler Rebecca Jones caught her 4.8-pound monkeyface prickleback on a sand shrimp she had dug in hopes of catching a rockfish for dinner. She hadn’t ever seen one of these eel-like fish before, either. It was 28 inches long, and she weighed and measured it to submit to IGFA for record consideration. The current world record monkeyface prickleback of 3 pounds, 4 ounces was caught


Forty-nine reservoirs stretch across the Tennessee Valley like a string of pearls. And for those who love to fish, those lakes are just as valuable. Whether it’s bass, crappie, walleye, or catfish, whether for sport, food, or just fun, you can find world-class lake fishing only hours away from any spot in the Tennessee Valley. From more than 11,000 miles of shoreline or while floating on more than 700,000 acres of water, residents and visitors will quickly learn why this area is considered one of the best fishing destinations in the U.S. and, some would say, the world.

Find Your Own Fishing Hole

Fishing from the shore can be restful and rewarding—and anyone can do it. All you need is a little intel about how to find a spot where the fish might be biting. Here are a few tips for successful shore fishing from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency:

• Fish are often swimming near the shore in the spring and fall. If you’re fishing from the shore in the heat of summer, do it in the evening or early morning—or even after dark.

• Fish near-unique features such as docks, logs, trees, rocks, or rocky areas; aquatic vegetation; or places where creeks enter the water.

• When fishing in moving water, look at the surface for boils and breaks—this means there is some underwater structure blocking the current, which could be the perfect hiding place for fish.

• Begin fishing (casting) close and parallel to the bank, then work your way outward (fan casting) toward deeper water.

• If you don’t get any bites, try switching baits. If this doesn’t work, move to another hole.

• Wear polarized sunglasses so you’ll be able to see fish as well as submerged objects more clearly. (Your eyes will also be protected from the tackle.)

If you love outdoor sports—boating, hunting, fishing—and the natural world, or if you just like to observe wildlife, build birdhouses, maintain a bird feeder or are just curious about the critters in your backyard, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is here to help enrich your outdoor experience. Visit us at



When scanning the state big-bass lists, it becomes readily apparent that big bass usually come from lakes with a big-bass reputation, and that anglers listed often have multiple huge bass to their names.

There is a lesson here for anyone in search of their personal-best largemouth, whether it’s a 10-pounder or one that weighs into the teens. Luck is rarely the primary factor that leads to a true giant. Most of the time anglers who catch monster bass use specialized tactics to specifically target them.

These are not the tactics used by professional tournament anglers. Finding a productive pattern and making high-percentage presentations wins tournaments, it does not catch double-digit bass. Bass large enough for the record books are loners. Anglers who pursue them are looking for one big bite.

Here’s a little insight on how successful trophy hunters fish:

LOCATION: With a few exceptions, large reservoirs are not the best trophy bass fisheries. It’d be a good wager that more giant bass are caught from jonboats than from high-performance bass boats.

There is a south Georgia gentleman, who prefers to remain unnamed, who has caught countless 10-plus-pounders and several fish that weigh in the high teens. He’s made a practice of looking for out-of-the-way lakes and ponds. Upon getting landowner permission, it takes him a single trip to determine if he’s found the right mix of depth, water flow, vegetation and forage to produce monster bass.

If it doesn’t have what he’s looking for, he

moves on. If he sees what he likes, he fishes it hard, often at night and often concentrating on just one point or drop-off where the biggest fish in the lake is likely to be. The strategy is to make a thousand casts to the likeliest holding water or to sit there quietly for hours keeping a live bait fresh.

When it comes to public waters, smaller reservoirs or hidden gems like oxbow lakes off productive rivers can be pay dirt. Find waters with a reputation for large fish, and then scour them with electronics for the edges where sunken creek channels with plenty of cover lie adjacent to shallower feeding areas. Keep in mind that large fish dominate prime holding areas. Find that magic spot, fish it hard, and it will produce year after year, even if it’s just one big fish for a week’s worth of fishing.

TACTICS: Giant bass don’t like to chase food, and they prefer large meals. Trophy bass hunting with lures is slow and tedious. Drag a big jig with a chunky trailer across the bottom, Texas-rig a big 12- to 16inch worm or slow-dance a swimbait. Fish as slow as you can, and then slow down more. Stick with it and remain vigilant.

Remember that you’re fishing for one bite. If you’re not snooty about it, live bait will absolutely increase your odds. Go with the natural forage in the water you’re fishing. If it’s gizzard shad, fish a big one. Largemouth bass have huge mouths relative to their body size.



Rainshadow Rod Blanks from Batson Enterprises have a 25 year track record of delivering custom-level quality, high performance, and value to the world’s premier fishing rod producers and elite anglers.

Batson has combined the industry’s best line up of rod blanks and components with direct access to our network of professional rod builders that make awesome rods happen. Click to visit us online, browse rod blank and component options, and get in contact with the best fishing rod creators in the business.



Home of world class fishing on the beautiful Watauga Lake, rugged Doe River and designated trophy trout stream, Watauga River

Doe River


Watauga River Watauga Lake

Tennessee’s Mountain Playground

Trout are Eating Your Nymph More than You Realize

Alarge trout rising to take a high-riding dry fly is one of life’s true pleasures. Nothing is quite like it, and we like it that way! Let’s face it, it’s pretty darn easy to see. The fly 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 fast run may not be as obvious. When you’re nymphing, speed is of the essence. In just a matter of one or maybe two seconds, that fish will expel that fly. There are a bunch of different products out there called strike indicators, bobbers, etc... that are designed to help you see the sometimes-faint signal of a hit. Some work very well, some break, some slide, and some just suck.

I love yarn indicators for their sensitivity and the plastic round air-filled bobbers for ease of use for beginners. Both styles of indicator— rigged up the leader about twice the depth of the water you’re fishing—certainly help detect the strike when having to cast a little distance to the trout. Any hesitation and definitely a dramatic dive or shift in direction of your

bobber might be a hit. I always tell my clients, if they think a fish might even be breathing on the fly to set the

hook! You get a heck of a lot more strikes than you think you do when nymph fishing. Any slack allowed between your indicator and your fly allows a fish eat and spit your nymph out, and sometimes go completely undetected.

At close range, using under-the-rod-tip high-sticking or Czech-nymphing techniques works great. No attached indicator is needed, as different colored lines or coiled-line indicators that straighten when a fish takes are the deal. A lot of the time, the trout is felt when he takes the fly or you will see the line suddenly stop. This method is deadly in experienced hands.

Another method of strike indication is the use of a big dry fly as the indicator. Usually, a piece of fluorocarbon tippet is tied to the hook and some type of heavy nymph or two is hung underneath. This is a good method of fishing when the fish might spook if the old plastic bobber goes crashing down on their heads. A buggy looking dry fly is a lot less scary to them. Try this same rig with a foam popper and Wooly Bugger dropper on bass and bluegill, and hang on… it’s a killer.


Another cool way to catch trout on subsurface flies is to actually watch them eat it. I call this Ninja fishing! You have to get the sun at your back or directly overhead. Start by locating a particular fish that you haven’t spooked into next week, and then tie on a brightly colored fly or a fly that stands out and is easy to see. Cast upstream of the

fish, and let it drift with the current down to the fish. Sometimes even if the fish are on edge about you being in their living room, a fly bounced right into their face will get a reflex strike. This is perhaps the best way to learn about how fish react to particular flies or how currents affect your offering. If you are in a pool with several fish, you might be

amazed at how many fish will actually 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 fly fishing instructor. Call him at (770) 639-4001 and check out Hulsey Fly Fishing at


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You don’t need an invitation to have fun in Upcountry South Carolina: Come kayak crys-tal blue lakes, hike to rushing waterfalls, dig into local cuisine, attend family oriented events and breathe fresh mountain air. But when you hold a South Carolina fishing license, it feels like an official ticket to enjoy the great outdoors.

Fish bite year-round in the lakes, rivers and streams of Upcountry South Carolina, which is located in the state’s northwest corner in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Devils Fork State Park in Salem is a great place to access Lake Jocassee, which holds state records for rainbow trout, brown trout, redeye bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass and yellow perch. Or try your luck at Lake Hartwell, at Lake Hartwell State Park in Fair Play and Sadlers Creek State Park in Anderson, three-time host of the Bassmaster Classic.

The Chattooga River boasts healthy wild trout populations and is also regularly stocked by Oconee County’s Walhalla State Fish Hatchery. The Whitewater River above Lower White-water Falls is another great option for wild trout. Lake Keowee, at Keowee-Toxaway State Park in Pickens County, swims with largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass, crappie, bluegill, yel-low perch, catfish, brown and rainbow trout.

Pick up everything you need—including advice— at local fly shops or book a guided fish-ing trip. Sam Jones, of Jocassee Charters, puts anglers on trophy trout. Buster Green’s Guide Ser-vice reels in stripers, hybrids and bass on Hartwell and Keowee. Chattooga


River Fly Shop leads fly fishing trips on the Chattooga and Chauga rivers.

Even if you don’t fish, you can still get on the water. Jocassee Lake Tours offers tours of the lake and of Jocassee Gorges, which National Geographic called a “destination of a Lifetime.” Some amazing spots can only be reached by boat. Several tours are offered, so you can learn from a naturalist while riding on a pontoon or paddle a kayak through coves and under waterfalls.

Prefer to captain your own boat? There are several rental companies, including Tri-County Boat Rental, on Keowee, Jocassee, Hartwell and other lakes.

If you’d rather be under the water, Jocassee is a world-renowned freshwater diving desti-nation that boasts visibility of more than 50 feet at depth. Lake Jocassee Dive Shop offers lessons and guided trips to see “The Wall,” where a section of mountain was blasted to build the dam, or a 40-foot swim-through wooden sailboat.

From fishing to boating, hiking to camping, biking to bird watching and more, the Up-country’s state parks are a great place to play. Dip into the swimming hole at Oconee State Park. Hike to the tops of Pinnacle and Table Rock mountains at Table Rock State Park. Explore the 13,000-acre Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area at Caesars Head State Park. Or create your own adventure at any of the Upcountry’s 13 state parks.

Visit to learn more.


The March brown is a large mayfly that hatches early spring into early summer depending on where in the country you fish. March browns are a big bug, and trout take notice even when the hatch is not heavy, so adding a few March brown patterns to your box is definitely worthwhile.

Although this pattern is tied in various forms, wet, nymph and dry, the wet fly pattern has always had a certain allure for me. The March Brown Wet has a wing similar to an adult mayfly but is fished subsurface like a nymph or emerger would be. This is somewhat confusing if you look at the pattern as an exact imitation of the mayfly


March Brown Wet

from which it gets the name. However, sometimes anglers give their quarry too much credit, and the unrealistic qualities of the fly can be overlooked when you realize trout aren’t always as smart as we think they are.

The fact is patterns like the March Brown Wet have stood the test of time because they work. The March Brown Wet fly is a fun pattern to tie as well as fish. This fly works well dead drifted as a nymph pattern, but if you really want to get in touch with the classic roots of the March brown, fish it downstream and swing it across the current.

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HOOK – Daiichi 1550 size 8

THREAD – Uni Thread Black 6/0

TAIL – Mallard Flank

BODY – Hare’s Ear Dubbing

RIB – Gold Tinsel

WING – Two matching sections cut from Mottled Turkey Wing Feathers

HACKLE – Partridge

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Iconic images dwell in the minds of avid anglers who’ve seen photos of massive halibut caught in Alaska. Halibut are a globally pursued bucket-list trophy fish. So, what’s the big deal about them?

First off, halibut are rightfully renowned for their exceptional fighting power and quality as a food fish. They also grow to huge size. You’ve likely seen photos of anglers lying beside giant “barn door” halibut. In Southern fisheries of the United States, big flounder are

called “doormats” because they’re the size of a doormat lying there on the bottom. Well, halibut are like flounder in their body shape, except halibut might actually be as large as a barn door. Barn door halibut might weigh 400 pounds and grow to 8 feet in length. The IGFA all-tackle world record was caught from Dutch Harbor, Alaska in 1996. It weighed 459 pounds. Anglers love giant fish; that’s why halibut are on the bucket list, and even people who don’t know or care what these fish look like could absolutely tell you that a firm, white

halibut steak is an amazing culinary treat. Fishing for halibut requires knowledge of the sea floor and an understanding of the habitat halibut prefer. During the summer fishing season in Alaska, halibut move into “shallow” waters ranging from 50 feet to as deep as 500 or 600 feet. The sweet spot where we typically fish for halibut is in the 200- to 400-foot range. Pacific halibut concentrate on sandy flats and underwater seamounts, where food is concentrated by the large tidal flows. The halibut diet consists of basically


everything including herring, salmon and cod, as well as crustaceans such as crab and shrimp.

At these depths, we target halibut using a variety of fishing equipment meant for deep sea fishing. Basically, it’s heavy-tackle bottomfishing reels and rods rigged with braided line designed to haul big, strong fish up from deep, cold water. It’s definitely a test of strength.

We might entice these bottom dwellers with a glow-in-the-dark artificial squid baited with chunks of herring, salmon or cod. In addition, halibut fishing with metal jigs and

grubs is very productive. Pacific halibut are a scent-driven fish. In the deep dark waters off the Alaskan coastline, a lack of light makes sight less important. A keen sense of smell is the primary tool halibut use to feed and thrive in these conditions.

Fishing for halibut out of Ketchikan, Alaska requires a 30-minute to 1-hour boat ride to reach the richest grounds. In these waters, you can expect to catch halibut, pacific cod, rockfish and sharks. Although there are monster halibut lurking below, the most commonly caught weigh in the 20- to

60-pound range. These are the best sized halibut in terms of eating quality for the table, and even the smaller ones provide a deep-sea wrestling match anglers are unlikely to forget. Enjoy catching your own fresh-caught halibut and ship some home on an Alaskan fishing adventure. Give us a call, and we’ll help you plan it.

Check out Ketchikan’s Finest Fishing Charters at Contact them at (907) 617-4717 or e-mail





he Chattahoochee Jig Company is based in north Georgia and specializes in crafting custom, handtied jigs for anglers. We ofer high-quality jigs that come in various styles and color combinations to enhance fishing success. Here are some of their notable products:

Chattahoochee PBJ: A versatile jig designed for effective fishing in local waters. Hand-tied with expert craftsmanship

Chattahoochee G.G. CHART Casting Jig: Another quality offering from the company, designed to attract fish with precision

Chattahoochee Pain Killer Casting Jig: Crafted with care and attention to detail, this jig is a reliable choice for anglers

Explore A full range of products, including jigs, shakey heads, and jig heads, on our website. Tight lines!







Recently published research from scientists at Texas A&M, partly funded by Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, provides information important for the management of juvenile tarpon habitats in Texas and builds on understanding of adult tarpon migrations throughout the Gulf Coast and in the Atlantic.

Juvenile Tarpon in Texas

The study analyzed decades of data from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department sampling program and found that abundance of juvenile tarpon in sampling has increased over the past four decades, especially over the most recent decade, which is great news.

Juveniles were most abundant in southern Texas estuaries, likely due to low water temperatures in winter in the northern estuaries. But as winter temperatures continue to rise due to climate change, we should expect more juvenile tarpon to survive winter in the

northern estuaries.

An important conclusion of the study was that salinity is an important factor in when and where juvenile tarpon were captured. This information will be especially important for conservation strategies since salinity is strongly influenced by freshwater flows from land. Thus, freshwater flow management, in addition to habitat protection, should be a focal point of management measures.

Adult Tarpon Migrations

In October 2023, the Tarpon Acoustic Tagging Project, revealed that adult tarpon migrations to and from Florida split the population into two sub-groups. Mixing in the Florida Keys during spawning season, one

tarpon migrates along the eastern U.S. coast; the other subgroup migrates along the Gulf of Mexico coast as far as the Mississippi Delta.

The new research from Texas completes the adult migration picture. Also using acoustic tracking, researchers tracked 16 tarpon that


were tagged along the Texas coast, and two that were tagged east of the Mississippi River Delta. None of the tarpon tagged crossed the Mississippi Delta. In the fall, Texas-tagged tarpon migrated southward along the western Gulf of Mexico toward Mexico. The tarpon tagged east of the Mississippi Delta migrated south and were detected in Florida.

Combining the results of these two studies, reveals that the regional adult population is actually made up of three subgroups – one that migrates along the U.S. east coast, one that migrates along the eastern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, and one that migrates along the western coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The eastern Gulf and Atlantic subgroups mix seasonally in South Florida during spring spawning season. In contrast, the strong influence of the Mississippi River outflow may create a barrier that maintains an east-west split in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Importantly, in both acoustic tracking studies, tarpon showed repeated seasonal migration patterns. They showed the same timing of seasonal migrations and tended to use the same routes and locations.

Conservation Implications

BTT advocates that Texas efforts toward juvenile tarpon conservation should focus not only on habitat protection—and restoration, where appropriate—but also on management of freshwater flows into estuaries. The research out of Texas showed the importance of salinity to juvenile tarpon abundance, and alteration of freshwater flows into estuaries is highly influential on salinity. In general, alterations in

the timing, quantity, and quality of freshwater flows causes ecological impacts in estuaries, which may affect tarpon as well as their prey.

The adult migration data reveal that each region depends upon a finite portion of the overall adult tarpon population to sustain the

on tarpon conservation.

Importantly, in contrast to the adult migration findings of three subgroups, genetic data suggests one large regional population. This is probably because after being spawned, larval tarpon can be carried considerable distances

fisheries. Thus, apparently issues that impact tarpon, like red tide in southwest Florida, will have an impact on the regional subgroup of tarpon. And that since younger tarpon likely learn migration patterns from older tarpon, and repeat these patterns, disturbances like pollution events might have longer term implications. That these regional migrations cross jurisdictional borders further complicates the challenge, and calls for a regional outlook

during the 30 or so days they are drifting in ocean waters. A larval tarpon that hatches after being spawned in the Gulf of Mexico, for example, might end up in an estuary on the east coast of Florida. More research on tarpon population genetics is urgently needed to better address this important topic.

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Surf casting is a great and inexpensive way to catch quality fish. I’ve landed big tarpon and snook from the beach and small panfish like whiting and croaker. You can catch dinner or experience the thrill of battling some the top sportfish in the world.

GEAR: I carry two rods, one for big fish and one for smaller fish, so I’ll be prepared for whatever I encounter. My lighter set-up is an 8-foot medium-action rod with a spinning reel filled with 10- to 20-lb. braid attached to 12 inches of clear 30-lb. fluorocarbon leader.

For tarpon, big snook, sharks and big jacks, you need 40- to 60-lb. braid (200-300 yards) with a 60- to 80-lb. clear fluorocarbon leader. For big fish, you need a heavier rod and 60008000 reel with a bigger spool for more line.

LURES: Tie your lures to your leaders with a loop knot. My favorite lures include 4-inch DOA paddletail (pearl white or silver sparkle) rigged on a 3/8-oz. chartreuse jig head; a 1- or 2-oz. spoon (silver Krocodile or gold Johnson); topwater plugs (Skitterwalk, Zara Spook, or various chug plugs); and shallow-running crankbaits. If it’s windy or rough, you might need to fish heavier jigs or spoons.

BEST TIMES TO FISH: First light and an hour before dark are the best times to fish. The best tides are early incoming and early outgoing. Avoid slack tides. I also use moon phases, which regulate the amount of rise and fall during each tide.

FIND THE FISH: Find the bait, and you’ll find the fish. Bird activity is the most obvious sign of bait in an area. This could be pelicans, gulls or even small terns nipping at baitfish. You also need to be able to spot baitfish. Identifying the little splashes or dark mass of a school is critical.

I walk the beach looking for bait. When I see bait, I stop and fish. Birds aren’t always there, and the bait just pops up for a few seconds and you need to be ready. Go to a beach access, get out of the car and scan for birds. If you don’t see any birds, it might be worth going to another beach access, but remember that finding bait is sometimes just a matter of moving down the beach a hundred yards.

TECHNIQUE: Identify the feeders. Bluefish, jacks, mackerel, ladyfish, kingfish and barracuda are all aggressive feeders that like flashy lures and fast retrieves. If you’re fishing for tarpon, a slow steady retrieve is better. Snook will hit a slow retrieve and can also be caught in shallower water by jigging off the bottom around the first cut. Whiting, pompano and croakers are all easily caught twitching a lure off the bottom, but you must get it out to them.

Richard L. Matteson is a long-time contributor to Coastal Angler Magazine. Contact him at (336) 414-3440.

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