Coastal Angler Magazine | December 2022 | Greater Miami Edition

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Trout like cold water, but there’s no denying the slow down that occurs on most wintertime trout fisheries. When water temps fall into the low 40s and below, insect life and other food sources are less prevalent. Trout metabolisms slow and they go into energy-conservation mode. They are content to hover near the bottom out of heavy current and feed only when an easy opportunity arises.

That said, fish still need to eat, and intrepid anglers will find joy in the seclusion of a wintertime trout stream. Here are some tips to raise the odds of a great wintertime trout trip. Dress warmly, wade carefully and savor the taste of the ice you suck from your rod guides.

1) Choose Destinations Wisely: Winter is not the time to explore high-elevation brook trout streams. Instead, float a tailwater, where water temps are consistent year-round, or go to lower elevation streams that are a bit warmer. For a target-rich environment, try out a delayed-harvest fishery. They are stocked heavily through the cooler months.

2) Fish Warm Spells: Two or three days of consistently warmer weather are primetime in terms of winter trout fishing. Everything in the stream, from the trout to the bugs and baitfish they eat, perks up.

By the same logic, the best bite is usually during the warmest part of the day. Sun warms the shallows, bringing out the tiny little midges, black stoneflies and blue-winged olives that are wintertime staples. Even if the action is subsurface, trout will take advantage of easy feeding opportunities.

3) Fish Meticulously: Unless trout are visibly rising, subsurface is the way to go. Turn your attention away from the riffles where rainbows pop dry flies in spring, and look to the deeper, slower runs. Pick them apart with nymph rigs. Keep in mind that most winter food items will be small, but fish a variety of sizes and patterns at the same time and cover every inch of each run vertically and horizontally. The idea is to hit a fish in the nose, and this is best achieved fishing slowly and carefully.

If you want to tempt a giant trout, it’s a good time to dead drift a big streamer with the same meticulous patience. Don’t hesitate to fish a heavy streamer deep under an indicator. Sometimes a big mouthful is enough to convince a lock-jawed bruiser to eat.

4) Fish Safely: Flooding your waders can kill you when it’s frigid. During cold snaps, consider fishing near the truck, where a quick jog can put you in a heated cab if you get wet. If you do go into the backcountry, take a dry-bag with fire-starting equipment, a towel and a change of clothes.

Wherever you fish, wade carefully, avoid stepping on frozen-over rocks, kick any snow off your boots before entering the water and avoid taking chances like wading deep water or heavy flows.

Nick Carter is the author of “Flyfisher’s Guide to North Carolina & Georgia.” Contact him at


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Peacock Bass Luxury

Next stop Manaus, Brazil! It all started when my good friend Capt. Johnny Stabile called.

J: I know what you’re going to say before I even ask.

G: What is it?

J: Do you want to go Peacock fishing in Brazil?

G: When?

J: We would leave 13 days after our Alaska trip.

Of course, my response was, “Ok, sounds great!”

That would give me just enough time to get back from Alaska, fulfill orders for my business, and get things ready to head south. We flew out of Miami, and with a layover in Panama City, Panama met up with several other fishermen on the expedition. After a very long night of traveling, we finally landed in Brazil and hopped on a quick seaplane ride to the Rio Matupiri for six and a half days of non-stop fishing!

We stayed aboard the Amazon Legend with a very accommodating crew of 14. We ate like kings and fished hard. Our typical day of fishing consisted of getting up before the sun for a quick breakfast and loading into skiffs to spend the day zipping around to the guide’s best fishing spots. We threw a variety of lures, mostly topwaters like big choppers and walking baits. Johnny’s favorites of the trip were a Rebel Jumping Minnow and a Borboleta Woodstock 10.5 cm. He wore out the peacock bass on that Jumping Minnow. I threw bucktail jigs, and they produced the largest number of fish, but for Johnny it was all about the BIG’UNS!

Johnny loves to fly fish, so one special thing about fishing in Brazil for him was catching several nice fish on the fly rod with easy-to-tie flies that he made myself. These fish are so much more aggressive than the peacock bass you find in south Florida. For a little perspective, we caught more than 350 peacocks and more than 50 piranha along with several other exotic species. The average peacock was 2 to 3 pounds, and Johnny’s biggest weighed more than 8 pounds. One person in our party caught a big peacock that pulled the scales to nearly 14 pounds.

After a long morning of non-stop action, sometimes we would take a quick lunch break and hide in the shade of a tree for a wonderful shore lunch. The guides packed everything for remote meals on land, where they cooked native fare on an open fire. While they cooked, we relaxed in hammocks with

plenty of cold drinks and the opportunity for a quick nap before lunch was served. Many of the fish we caught contributed to these lunches, and there were also steaks and chicken available with all the fixins. Homemade salsa and native seasonings complimented the meals perfectly. After a relaxing lunch, it was back on the skiff and back in the action!

After afternoons of fishing, we indulged in fivestar dining and the most important part of the trip, air conditioning! The crew made up our rooms, did our laundry and prepared dinner every evening. Specialty cocktails were also provided, if that’s your fancy, but Johnny’s favorite was the freshly squeezed juices. He’s already looking forward to the passion fruit juice when we return next year!

Johnny shot some great video of our trip. Check it out in the December edition of The Angler Video Magazine

If you are interested in a Brazilian fishing adventure, e-mail Johnny at captain@ or Gary at

By Capt. Johnny Stabile and Gary Turner

For as long as I can remember, offshore bottom fishing is what we look forward to during the last half of November and the entire month of December. The week of Christmas has always been considered the apex of the bottom-fishing year.

You can see the move of the big snappers marching offshore on the edge of the colder water. This will pile big snapper and other bottomdwelling species up on certain staging areas, along with a clean water temperature line that also stacks up the kings and wahoo. Keep a light line bait out while you’re bottom fishing. There is no telling what you’ll catch and on what baits.

Of course, I love a pinfish, grass grunts or sailors choice for grouper and snapper baits for more than one reason. 1) They get bites from the target species; and 2) they eliminate most of the trash bites from grunts, pinkies and sea bass.

Yes, I love a live bait on a jig, but don’t ever forget that a big grouper also loves a big chunk of cut bait. We have seen a huge uptick in amberjack and almaco jacks in the past few

years for some reason. This is an excellent bait source! I like to keep one of the first, smaller, amberjacks that come up just for this cut-bait option. The big chunks of cut bait do

of my bottom-fishing strategy. This is also the reason I take a couple boxes of squid on every trip. I start every new post-up on a ledge or live bottom area with everyone firing down whole squid every drop. I don’t care what they are catching. It’s usually grunts, pinkies or seabass, but what is really happening on the bottom is the squid are being ripped to shreds and small pieces are swirling around and creating a chum slick. After several volleys of whole squid, I change it up to live pinfish, grass grunts or other live baits on a jig.

Grouper and big snapper see the live bait as a smaller fish that was grabbed by a crab while feeding on small pieces of squid. It’s a winning technique that has been very successful for me and other Decoy Jig users for years now. It is also new to the fish, tackle-wise.

two things. They get bites and they also create a “chum slick” on the bottom right where you are fishing. When the cut bait gets pecked at, all the small pieces of flesh swirl around as it’s being eaten.

This is one of the most important aspects

The beauty of this cold water line moving farther offshore with every cold front creates opportunity for a variety of species. You never know; keep firing down cut bait and setting the hook on “strange feeling bites,” and you might even catch a big deep-water lobster like the one in the video below.

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grouper for the table.

e harvest will be very limited and tightly regulated, and permits will be issued by random drawing of applicants who applied during the Oct. 15-30 deadline. e cost to apply was $10 plus fees and permit at

Details for this limited, highly regulated harvest include:

• Total recreational harvest of up to 200 goliath per year, with a maximum of 50 from Everglades National Park.

• A goliath harvest permit and tag, issued via a random-draw lottery ($150 for residents, $500 for non-residents, plus fees) are required to participate. Permits and tags are non-transferable and no exemptions apply.

• A limit of one sh per person per open season with permit and tag.

• An open season from March 1 through May 31.

• Hook-and-line as the only allowable gear.

• A slot limit of 24-36 inches total length.

• Post-harvest requirements including proper application of the tag, reporting harvest data and submitting a n clip for genetic analysis.

• Harvest will be permitted in all state waters except those of Martin County south through the Atlantic coast of the Keys, all of the St. Lucie River and its tributaries, and Dry Tortugas National Park.

• Harvest will continue to be prohibited in federal waters.

“ e highly regulated, limited take of goliath grouper is an exciting and unique opportunity to provide access to this resource a er decades of closure, and we believe limited access is sustainable,” said FWC Commissioner Robert Spottswood. “We also look forward to collecting the post-harvest data to help guide future management decisions for this species.”

In October, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission opened the application process for recreational harvest of goliath grouper in Florida state waters. Harvest of the species was banned when the shery collapsed, and the 2023 spring season will be the rst time since 1990 that recreational anglers will have an opportunity to keep a goliath

is opportunity is intended to provide additional access to this shery while balancing the values of various stakeholder groups. Adult goliath grouper will continue to be prohibited from harvest statewide as well as goliath in heavy dive ecotourism areas. is limited harvest is not intended to address shing depredation concerns.

For more information about the goliath grouper harvest permit and details on the permit lottery and eligibility requirements, visit FWC’s Goliath Grouper Harvest Permit webpage.


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’Tis e Season for Gulf Coast Hogfish

With their oddly shaped mouths and a diet made up of crustaceans and mollusks, hog sh were once thought to be a species too di cult to target with rod and reel. All that changed over the last decade or so, as captains gured out how to speci cally target these delicious and beautiful bottom-feeders.

Wintertime is the best time to target hog sh on the Gulf Coast. From late November into March, they congregate on nearshore reefs and ledges to spawn, which makes them a great option in a season when rough weather can prohibit long runs to deep water.

Hog sh are protogynous hermaphrodites, which means they are all born female and change into males as they age. A single male will tend a harem of numerous females, which means nding good hog sh bottom can result in quick limits of ve sh per angler, but few of them will be large mature males. ere is a 14-inch minimum size limit in Florida, and hog sh of 18 or 20 inches are considered very good sh.

is time of year, dozens of hog sh can be found congregating together on reefs, rockpiles, and hardbottom in 50 to 75 feet of water. In most places, this can be found inside of 20 miles o shore. A prominent ledge with lots of growth is prime hog sh habitat. ey like to hover around reefs and use their long snouts to

probe cracks or root in the sand for critters like sand eas, crabs and snails.

Once you nd them, the secret to catching hog sh is pretty simple. Like just about anything else that swims, they are suckers for shrimp. Big live shrimp, fresh dead shrimp and even stinky thawed shrimp are irresistible. Just leave it right on the bottom, where a hog sh is likely to nd it while rummaging around in the sand. e rigs used to catch hog sh are also pretty simple. A knocker rig with a 1- or 2-ounce slip-sinker right up against a 1/0 circle hook will keep that shrimp right on the bottom. A half or 1-ounce circle-hook jig head will do the same thing. Some successful captains swear by hogballs, which are painted weights tethered to a hook by a small chain.

Regardless of the rig, you don’t need to go too light because hog sh aren’t particularly leader shy. A 5000 series reel with a comparable rod and 25-pound braid to a 30-pound leader is enough to haul even the largest hog sh up from depth. e trickiest part of catching hog sh is getting a good hook-set. You’ll want a little bit of slack in the line, which allows them

to pull that shrimp into their snout. Typically, you might feel or see a subtle rst bump, which will be followed by a second bump as they actually take the bait. Allow the sh to pull the line tight before reeling down and swinging the rod to drive the hook home.

For more information, go to

PhotoS courtesy of Capt. Quinlyn Haddon
By CAM Sta
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A mackerel’s ability to slice through line as if they were wielding a set of Ginsu knives leaves many anglers frustrated a er losing tackle. But if you target these speedsters with the right equipment, they can make for a fun day of action packed shing.

I like light spinning like a GLoomis GLX PR844 with a 2500 Stradic or an 8-weight NRX y rod with a Nautilus NVG 8/9 with Scienti c Angler sinking line. Chances are anything less than 30-lb. mono will be shredded immediately, so it is imperative to use wire leader when mackerel are around. Even then, they are known for hitting the line at the swivel connection from wire to mono, so it’s best to have several rigs ready. Also, make sure your swivels are black and not silver, these guys like shiny things. All that said, a spoon or a small jig rigged on wire will usually last a while.

Best of all, once mackerel move in, they are typically found right in the passes to within a few miles of the beach. I nd the sh o shore tend to be larger, so I like to target them. A 3-pound mack will make a blistering rst run that is reminiscent of a bone sh, and they are much less spooky than bones. e easiest way to nd them is to look for birds working. at’s a tell-tale sign. Reefs and good hard bottoms that hold bait are great places to search, as well. ese types of spots can be trolled or chummed to keep the action close to the boat. A standard chum bag will bring the school well within casting range for both conventional and y shermen. Just throw out something shiny, move it fast and you’ll hook up quickly.

Mackerel get a bad rap as table fare, as they are oily and can be strong tasting. at oiliness makes them perfect for smoking, and that, too, could not be easier. Simply llet the sh, leaving the skin on. Salt them liberally and let them rest in the refrigerator for about an hour. Rinse the salt o and add some Cajun seasoning to the sh and smoke over indirect heat at 250 degrees for about two hours. It is done when it akes easily o the skin. Smoked mackerel tastes great on its own in a salad or rice bowl, and it’s fantastic when made into sh spread.

As the water temperatures drop this time of year, bait sh shows up in force. Pods of bait sh are followed closely by schools Spanish mackerel. is o en-overlooked speedster is viewed as nuisance by some anglers, but mackerel are a blast on light tackle and y rods if you gear up correctly.

If you are looking for some hot action with minimal work, grab some wire and enjoy the return of the mack.

Will Schmidt is a seasoned tournament angler who has been writing about shing for more than two decades.

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Ajerkbait is a good idea whenever bait sh are plentiful. A jerkbait’s natural movement, size and resemblance to what the sh are already eating make this bait deadly.

ere are many scenarios I would consider good times to throw a jerkbait. One of the best situations you can encounter is when sh are actively feeding on bait sh and schooling. When bass are doing this, throwing a natural-bait sh-colored, shallowdiving jerkbait is an awesome way to replicate a dying bait sh. It at out gets bit, even when you can’t nd anything else they will touch.

Another awesome way to use a jerkbait is to blind cast in areas where bass are staged up and feeding. If you can identify bait sh already in an area, this makes the scenario even better. A lot of times this pattern sets up along grass lines, rip-rap banks and in pockets close to areas bass use to spawn. Depending on water clarity, I like a naturalcolored jerkbait or one with a little bit of chartreuse. Use a shallow or deep-diving jarkbait to match the depth you’re targeting.

Jerkbaits are also a great option for bass that are suspended with bait. Typically these sh are less pressured because they are harder to nd. You’ll need to spend some time searching with your electronics, but nding

this scenario and knowing how to target the bass can line up as some of the most fun shing you can imagine.

is can happen anywhere, but typically it occurs on points and pockets where sh can ambush the bait easier.

I use forward sonar a er I locate an active area and use the jerkbait to imitate the bait these sh are chasing in the water column. Typically, a shallow-diving jerkbait like a 13 Fishing Loco Special will work absolute wonders if you can get a sh to see it amongst the other bait sh.

Picking colors can get a bit confusing, as there are so many di erent options. I keep this decision as simple as possible and use only two di erent colors… ever. 13 Fishing makes a lot of natural colors as well as colors that stand out in dirty water. My go-to color is Casper Shad; it’s one of the most natural shad patterns you can get. Another color they make that is awesome in stained water is Neon Disco Shad.

With jerkbaits, I like a shorter rod, something between a 6’10” and a 7’. Actionwise, I like a medium-fast, which allows the sh to get the bait when you feel them hit it. e 13 Fishing Omen Black 6’10” MF is absolutely perfect. Reel selection doesn’t need to be too complicated. A 7:0:1 ratio allows you to work the bait and pick up line at the perfect pace. For line, I like 10- to 12-poundtest, and Seaguar Invizx uorocarbon is a very good line for the job.

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

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The jaguar guapote sh numbers have exploded and have become another of the freshwater exotic species that we target in south Florida. Native to central America, speci cally the jungles of Honduras and Costa Rica, they have made our urban freshwaters their home away from home. e sh were rst recorded here in the early 1990’s in a farm pond, in the horse country region of Miami. ese once, so-called pets, somehow made their way into our waterways and now can be caught throughout the city in our local canals and lakes.

Ranging in size upwards of 3 pounds, they tend to be a scavenger type bite although I have had them red up before, hitting full speed swim baits. ey usually feed on slower moving baits or injured shiners. You’ll want to target them on the edges of lakes and canals during the late morning or a ernoon, once the waters have warmed a bit. eir unique color patterns and strong ghting abilities have made them a new fan favorite among our clients. Using their entire body and ns to get away, they sure make for a great ght and a nice check on the old bucket list of exotic sh Miami has to o er its anglers.

During the cooler months, the clown knife sh bite goes crazy! ey will congregate on ledges, rock piles in lakes, and structure pilings. You’ll want to target them with a smaller live bait, no more than three inches in size, paired with a #2 hook. Add a small weight or split shot about 8-10 inches from the hook allowing the bait to get to the bottom but still swim naturally. ey are not fast takers by any means and usually a bit wary. I recommend not setting the hook until at least the third or fourth tap of the line. ese sh have small mouths and like to test the prey thoroughly before fully committing to eating it. Be patient and don’t mess with the line upon every movement until you feel con dent the sh has taken your bait. With that being said, we have had reports over the years of clowns striking spinner baits and rattle trap lures, silver in color with black lines down the side.

Although live bait is usually the rule, you can catch them with lures as well if you put in the time.

Captain Mike Tojdowski Urban Legends Fishing Charters Call/Text 305-998-3375 Facebook / Instagram @Urbanlegends shing
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The FishermanTraveling

What a great month I had in October!

I started the month with Captain Leon Dana shing Saint Augustine Inlet. What a day! We watched thousands of mullet migrate south while being pounded by tarpon, jacks and buzz bombed by ospreys. We caught half a dozen red sh up to 10 pounds and a jack crevalle.

My next event was a visit from Captain Abie and Yudith Raymond and their fabulous son Ryder. Ryder and our dog Riley played for days. en I headed for Fellsmere Florida to bass sh with Captain Mike Arnoldy. We caught numerous bass on a variety of lures. Mike o ers airboat and bass boat bass shing and he and Janice o er a beautiful place to stay. @Haulinbassguide on Instagram.

Continuing south I then shed with a new client o Fort Lauderdale. High winds ran us o the water, but Eric learned a lot about planer shing. I shed Fort Pierce Inlet a couple times with my old friend Steve. We got abused by big sh constantly but did land some big jack crevalle and a snook.

I had a epic trip out of Sebastian Inlet with Capt. Glyn Austin and shing pal Mike Falk. We caught 3 out of 6 tarpon, jacks to 12 pounds, a couple 9 pound blue sh, a couple sharks, lots of bonita, a trout and a nice snook.

Back in Miami I shed with Tom and Jimmy. We trolled ballyhoo and caught several barracuda and an 18 pound mutton snapper. Deep dropping was slow, but we did catch a 75 pound amberjack.

I shed on the Haulover charter boat, Free Spool, with Capt. Dennis Forgione and caught several king sh, mutton snapper, rainbow runners and assorted jacks. I also had two great trips with Capt. Bill Lepree, @ south oridabasscharters. Along with Mike Falk and artist Dennis Friel. We caught clown knife sh, largemouth bass, hybrid bass, cat sh and peacock bass.

I had a great time in the Hooker Electric and Dusky booths at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. While there, I also had a special time at the IGFA Legendary Captains and Crews Awards dinner and the Bill sh Foundation Awards Dinner and Auction.

So, let’s look at the shing for December.

Shallow water trolling with ballyhoo or drop diving plugs should peak in December. Grouper should dominate the show, but mutton snapper, mackerel, king sh and barracuda will share the spotlight. Spanish mackerel should frequent dredge holes o Miami Beach, along the beaches and even might appear inside the inlets.

Dri ing live shrimp will produce tarpon along the beaches and around Biscayne Bay bridges. Where there is any kind of structure, gray snappers are liable to crash that live shrimp action. Speaking of shrimp, take the family, a bright light and a long handled shrimp net to an inlet and try your luck at catching shrimp at night. Way o shore it is sword sh time. If you see calm seas try those gladiators’ day or evening for the catch of a lifetime. Say hello if you see me on the water or shore.

Capt Bouncer Smith 305-439-2475


Bridge Fishing

the Florida Keys

The water is cooler, the bait is everywhere, and the best part is there are a lot less people on the water. ere are many di erent types of shing that will produce in the month of December; pier, jetty, wreck, reef, beach, and o shore, but my all-time favorite, will always be bridge shing the Florida Keys! ere is something nostalgic about it. e best time to go is right a er a cold front. Any change in the weather is good but a cold snap is the best. ere’s nothing better than cruising the Overseas Highway, windows down, with a group of close friends in anticipation of a day of shing, old school style. We’re listing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird or Simple Man. It’s the smell of the ocean ripping through the car while telling the same stories each of us has heard and told and retold a hundred times about the same sh we caught years ago. ere are so many di erent species of sh that hang out by the Florida Keys bridges. We have mangroves and mutton snapper, yellowtail snapper, porgys, and permit, goliath grouper, tarpon, snook, jack crevalle, yellow jack, cobia, and Mack’s. We head to the keys around 1 am and we’ll be parking the car by 3:30 to have baits in the water at sunrise. e serious bridge sherman takes a serious assortment of bait. In a large cooler with an Air Head pump, made by Marine Metal, we’ll have live shrimp, live grunts, and live pilchards. We’ll bring along fresh or frozen ballyhoo. We’ll have four, twenty- ve lb. blocks of chum. We use the shrimp to catch yellow jacks, the ballyhoo for muttons and mangroves, and the pilchards for macks and jacks, grunts for tarpon and grouper.

Upon arrival we’ll start rigging. We may be running up to 15 rigs at once, so it takes some time to get going. Bridge shing is shing around rocks and concrete, pilons and barnacles and oysters, in heavy current. e gear has to stand up. You want heavy tackle. In a sti current, twenty feet above the water, a two lb. sh feels like ghting a ten lb. sh. e rig we use for yellow jacks is a chicken rig with two 1/0 or 2/0 jay hooks and a two oz bank weight with live shrimp, one on each hook. is rig keeps the baits o the bottom. For the grunts we use a knocker rig with eighty lb leader and 6/0 circle hook. When using the ballyhoo, we use a sh nder rig, six oz lead, forty lb. leader, and 5/0 circle hook.

All of the gear is loaded into carts and trucked to a point, somewhere close to middle of the channel. A few favorite bridges are Long Key and Channel 5. When choosing where to set up, we are looking for life. Bait, birds, sharks, and anything we see that indicates action. We’ll pick a spot on the down current side of the bridge. e rst chum bag goes in the water, and we’ll run those twenty- ve lb. blocks constantly until they are gone. Once a spot is chosen, we’re pretty much committed until the tide changes. Both tides will produce.

We set the rods about ve to ten feet apart, staggered in an order where every other rig is heavy and straight down on the bottom, alternating between lines cast as far as possible away from the bridge down current. Each rod is leaned against the rail with light drag and the eye touching the concrete rather than the rod itself so as not to chafe the line. When a sh is hooked a sturdy bridge net is a must have. We have had December bridge days where we lled coolers with grouper and snapper and yellow jack. ere is typically a lot of action. Bring food and drinks, a big hat, and hold on tight!

Capt. Jax Captain Jax Bait and Tackle 490c E 4th Ave, Hialeah, FL 33010 @captainjaxmiami 786.300.5362


Wintertime is here! For the next couple of months we’ll experience some cooler air and water temperatures. Even though down in South Florida our winter is much warmer than most places in the country, we do get some chilly days. With that said as we move into our cooler months, you will nd me back in Flamingo with my clients. is time of year, I tend to sh deeper channels, runo s and points around Cape Sable, East Cape Cannel, Little Sable and Big Sable. A 1/4oz jig head or bucktail jig rigged with a shrimp or a 3in Gulp shrimp are my day-to-day go to.

Moving water is key this time of the year, especially on cooler than normal days. I’ll have clients cast towards the area where the sh should be positioned and let their bait sit on the bottom, allowing the current to carry the scent of the bait to the sh. Sometimes I’ll have them bounce it o the bottom, looking to get a reaction strike from someone.

On really cold days, I have my clients work everything much slower. Our sh aren’t used to big temperature drops and these quick drops put them in a lethargic state, so working your baits slower tends to be more e ective.

Another productive thing to do around Flamingo this time of the year, is shing the park boundary markers and inshore wrecks for cobia. ese sh will tend to be high up on the surface or on the bottom of these structures. If the sh are up on the surface, a 1oz jig head with a grub will always do the trick, but you can also pitch out a pin sh or shrimp at them. Cobias don’t really tend to be too picky on what they choose to eat. If they’re not on the surface you can always lower a live pin sh to the bottom on a knocker rig or work a heavier bucktail jig close to the bottom.

@hooked_on_ amingo_charters 786.387.2443


December, Lite-tackle shallow-water. December gets me stoked to pull out the light spinners and anchor up for some action-packed shallow water light-tackle shing for snapper and grouper. December brings cooler water and greater numbers of shrimp. ose two things lead to bottom sh on the patch reefs. Patch reefs all along Dade county’s coastline in 8-40 of water are holding heavy opportunities for action-packed quality shing in December. Start by anchoring just up current and in casting range of the patch reef you’re shing. If there is no current, anchor just up-wind of the patch and chum with ground menhaden chum. REMEMBER: Do NOT anchor on top of the patches as these reefs are living coral reefs with millions of critters living there and they are a vital part of our shery and ecosystem. While the chum line is getting established, sh live or fresh-dead shrimp on the bottom with knocker rigs. Use 15 lb. braid main line. Your terminal tackle should be 3 of 30 lb. uorocarbon leader tied to your main line with a uni-uni knot. Use a slide on a small egg sinker large enough to hold bottom with the speed of the current. Tie on an inline circle hook with a perfection loop (match the hook to the shrimp size you have). I usually like a 1/0 Mustad ultra-point and a 1/4 oz egg sinker. e shrimp on the bottom will produce all the snapper species, porgies, grouper, hog sh, mackerel, and countless other species. Everything eats a shrimp! While your rods are bending and the sh are ying in the boat, you will likely have a school of ballyhoo in your chum right behind the boat. Catch a dozen of them with a small cast net, hoop net, or very small hook and a tiny piece of shrimp oated back. With a medium sized spinning rod, attach 15 feet of 40 lb uorocarbon leader with a spider hitch or Bimini twist, tied to your main line with a no-name knot. At the terminal end of your 15 uorocarbon wind-on leader, tie on a 7/0 circle hook and hook on a live ballyhoo. I like to break o the bill and hook them up through both lips. Cast the live ballyhoo as far as you can into your well-established chum line and you will likely catch some nice muttons, grouper and mackerel. Even sail sh and big Dolphin eat that bait! Don’t miss this time of year on the patches. Good luck and don’t forget to GO HARD.

Captain Abie Raymond 305.775.5197 @abie_raymond www.gohard


The Two Hearted River

The Two Hearted River is a river system located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Brook trout are the most common sh in this river, but depending on the season, pink salmon, coho salmon, rainbow trout, and the notorious steelhead can also be caught. is river gained notoriety when author Ernest Hemingway wrote an article about how amazing the shing was on this system. e Two Hearted, empties into Lake Superior, with the mouth being just west of the infamous wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald or White sh Point. e water is very dark due to the tannic waters coming from surrounding swamps, so it looks black but is very clear, clean, and cold.

Accessing the river is a long way from town 45-60 min, down dirt roads mostly covered in chatter bumps that will certainly add a new rattle to your vehicle. It’s a very intimate setting, where standing chest deep in water is more the norm than being able to cast a line from the bank. Eagles, osprey, bear, deer, coyote, a rare moose, or even a wolf might be seen on a day of shing.

A good friend of mine and local wildlife artist Mike Williams cut his teeth as a steelhead sherman on this river. He o en shed with his grandpa and has acquired over 32 years of shing experience on the Two Hearted River. Whenever I’m in Michigan, Mike and I are either shing for steelhead trout or swapping sh stories at the local watering hole known as Bell’s Brewery. Our choice of beverage is the Two Hearted Ale. Bell’s Brewery has been creating awesome and inspired cra beers in Michigan for more than 30 years. Bells Two Hearted Ale is an American IPA bursting with a er notes of citrus, grapefruit, and pine. is amazing beer was named a er, you guessed it, the Two Hearted River. It’s an exceptionally balanced beer with a smoothness like no other IPA. Next time you’re at Publix, look for the beer with the depiction of the brook trout on it. You won’t be disappointed.

For info on custom artwork by Mike Willams contact him by texting him at (989) 820-5346 or looking him up on instagram @mikewilliamsart

Captain Tony Tojdowski Urban Legends Fishing Charters WWW.ULFISH.COM Social: @Urbanlegends shing (305) 998-3375
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El número de peces guapote (también conocidos como jaguar guapote) se ha disparado y ha añadido otro exótico espécimen a la larga lista que ya tenemos como objetivo en las abundantes aguas que llamamos hogar, aquí en el sur de Florida. Originarios de América Central, concretamente de las selvas de Honduras y Costa Rica, han hecho de nuestras aguas dulces urbanas su hogar lejos de casa. Se registraron por primera vez a principios de la década de 1990 en el estanque de una granja local, en la región de los caballos de Miami. Estos peces llegaron a nuestras vías uviales y ahora se pueden capturar en toda la ciudad, en canales y lagos locales. Nosotros los hemos visto en algunas ocasiones a lo largo de los años.

Con un tamaño de más de 3 libras, tienden a ser un tipo de mordedura carroñera, aunque he tenido que disparar antes, golpeando a toda velocidad los cebos de natación. Suelen alimentarse carnadas que se mueven más despacio o de espinillas lesionadas. Es recomendable pescarlos en los bordes de los lagos y canales, a última hora de la mañana o de la tarde, una vez que las aguas se han calentado un poco. Sus patrones de color únicos y su fuerte capacidad de lucha los han convertido en los favoritos de nuestros clientes. Utilizando todo su cuerpo y aletas para escapar, seguro que son una gran pelea y una buena marca en la vieja lista de peces exóticos que Miami tiene para ofrecer a sus pescadores.

Durante los meses más fríos, la picada del pez cuchillo de payaso se vuelve loca. Se congregan en salientes, pilas de rocas en los lagos y pilotes de estructuras. Es conveniente pescarlos con carnada vivo más pequeño, de no más de tres pulgadas de tamaño, con un anzuelo del número 2; añada un pequeño peso o un brote dividido a unas 8-10 pulgadas del anzuelo para que las carnadas llegue al fondo, pero siga nadando de forma natural. No son rápidos y suelen ser un poco cautelosos, por lo que recomiendo no clavar el anzuelo hasta por lo menos la tercera o cuarta pasada de la línea. Estos peces tienen bocas pequeñas y les gusta probar la presa a fondo antes de comprometerse a comerla. Sea paciente y no juegue con la línea a cada movimiento hasta que se sienta seguro de que el pez ha mordido su carnada. Dicho esto, hemos tenido informes a lo largo de los años que dicen que los payasos caen por los cebos spinner y señuelos trampa de cascabel, de color plateado con líneas negras por el lado. Aunque la carnada vivo suele ser la norma, también se pueden capturar alimentándose con señuelos si se dedica el tiempo necesario.

Capitáns Mike Tojdowski Llamada / Texto: 305-998-3375

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El invierno ya está aquí!


Durante los próximos dos meses experimentaremos algunas de las temperaturas más frías en el aire y el agua. Si bien en el sur de la Florida nuestro invierno es mucho más cálido que la mayoría de los lugares en el país, tenemos algunos días fríos. Dicho esto, a medida que avanzamos en estos meses de baja temperatura, yo me encontraré de nuevo en Flamingo con mis clientes. En esta época del año, tiendo a pescar en canales más profundos, escorrentías y puntos alrededor de Cape Sable, East Cape Cannel, Little Sable y Big Sable. Una cabeza de jig de 1/4oz o un jig de cola de ciervo, con una gamba o una gamba Gulp de 3 pulgadas, son mis opciones diarias.

El agua en movimiento será la clave, especialmente en los días que suelen ser más fríos de lo normal. Pido a mis clientes que lancen hacia la zona en la que debería estar el pez, o que al menos pasen por ella, y que lo dejen reposar en el fondo para que la corriente lleve el olor del cebo hasta el pez. A veces incluso les hago rebotar en el fondo, para que reaccionen.

En los días muy fríos, hago que mis clientes trabajen todo mucho más despacio, pues nuestros peces no están acostumbrados a los grandes descensos de temperatura y estos los llevan a entrar en estado de letargo; por ello, he encontrado que trabajar los cebos un poco más lento de lo usual, tiende a ser más e caz.

Otra cosa productiva para hacer alrededor de Flamingo, en esta época del año, es la pesca de los marcadores de límites del parque y los naufragios de la costa en busca de cobias, ya que tienden a estar en la super cie o en el fondo de dichas estructuras. Si los peces están en la super cie, un jig de 1oz con un grub siempre hará el truco, pero también puede lanzar un pin sh o camarón en ellos. Las cobias no suelen ser demasiado exigentes con lo que eligen para comer. Por el contrario, si no están en la super cie, siempre puede bajar un pececillo vivo al fondo con un aparejo de golpeo o trabajar con una plantilla de cola de ciervo más pesada. Nestor Alvisa

@hooked_on_ amingo_charters Hooked On Flamingo Charters 786.387.2443

Pesca en los Puentes en Los Cayos

Durante este mes el agua es más fría, hay menos gente y, lo mejor, carnada está en todas partes! Hay muchos tipos diferentes de pesca que se producen en el mes de diciembre; muelle, embarcadero, naufragio, arrecife, playa y hasta en alta mar, pero mi favorito de todos los tiempos, siempre será la pesca de puente de los Cayos de Florida. Tiene algo de nostálgico y el mejor momento para ir es justo después de un frente frío. Cualquier cambio de temperatura es bueno, pero una ola de frío es lo mejor.

No hay nada como cruzar la autopista de ultramar, con las ventanillas abajo y en compañía de un grupo de amigos cercanos a la espera de un día de pesca, al estilo de la vieja escuela. El olor del océano que recorre el coche mientras contamos historias y escuchamos “Free Bird” o “Simple Man” de Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Hay una gran variedad de especies diferentes de peces que pasan por los puentes de los Cayos de Florida; entre ellos los pargos, pargos de cola amarilla, porgys, palometas, meros goliath, sabalos, róbalos, jureles, cobias y caballas. Nos dirigimos a los cayos sobre la 1 de la madrugada y aparcamos el coche a eso de las 3:30, para tener carnadas en el agua al amanecer.

Un pescador serio lleva consigo un surtido serio de carnada, por lo que en una nevera grande con una bomba Air Head, fabricada por Marine Metal, tendremos gambas, roncadores y sardinas (todos vivos); también llevaremos ballyhoo fresco o congelado. Tendremos alrededor de cuatro bloques de 25 libras de carnada y los usaremos así: • gambas para pescar jureles • el ballyhoo para los chuchos y los mangles • las sardinas para los macarras y los jureles • los roncadores para los sábalos y los meros.

Al llegar empezaremos a aparejar y podemos llegar a tener hasta 15 aparejos a la vez, por lo que se necesita algo de tiempo para ponerse en marcha. La pesca en el puente consiste en pescar alrededor de las rocas y el hormigón, los pilones, los percebes y las ostras, en una corriente fuerte. El equipo tiene que resistir, así que debe ser pesado. En una corriente fuerte, a seis metros por encima del agua, un pez de dos libras se siente como un pez de diez libras.

El aparejo que utilizamos para los jureles es un aparejo de pollo con dos anzuelos de 1/0 o 2/0 y un peso de banco de dos onzas con gambas vivas, una en cada anzuelo. Este aparejo mantiene los cebos fuera del fondo. Para el caso de los roncadores, utilizamos un aparejo knocker con un líder de 80 libras y un anzuelo circular del 6/0. Cuando usamos el ballyhoo, empleamos un aparejo con buscador de peces, un plomo de seis onzas, líder de cuarenta libras y anzuelo circular del 5/0.

Todo el equipo se carga en carros y se lleva a un punto, en algún lugar cercano al centro del canal. Algunos de mis puentes favoritos son Long Key y Channel 5. A la hora de elegir el lugar en el que nos instalamos, buscamos la vida, por lo que estaremos atentos a cebos, aves, tiburones y cualquier cosa que veamos que indique acción. Cuando lo tengamos, elegiremos un lugar en el lado de la corriente del puente. Eso sí, quiero dejar en claro que, un vez elegido el lugar, nos comprometemos hasta que cambie la marea.

La primera bolsa de carnada se echa al agua y hacemos correr esos bloques de veinticinco libras constantemente, hasta que se acaben. Colocamos las cañas a unos cinco o diez pies de distancia, escalonadas en un orden en el que uno de los dos aparejos es pesado y está recto en el fondo, alternando entre líneas lanzadas lo más lejos posible de la corriente descendente del puente. Cada caña se apoya en la barandilla con un arrastre ligero y el ojo toca el hormigón, en lugar de la propia caña, para no rozar la línea. Cuando se engancha un pez, es imprescindible tener una red de puente resistente.

Hemos tenido días en diciembre en los que hemos llenado neveras con meros, pargos y jureles. Normalmente hay mucha acción, por lo que recomendamos que además venga preparado con comida, bebida y un gran sombrero ¡Agárrese bien que comienza la aventura!

Captain Jax Bait and Tackle

490c E 4th Ave, Hialeah, FL 33010 • 786.300.5362


Los Arrecifes de diciembre

El mes de diciembre me anima a sacar las cucharillas ligeras y echar el ancla, para pescar pargos y meros en aguas poco profundas. Este mes trae agua más fría y un mayor número de camarones, lo que conduce a que los peces del fondo se asomen a los arrecifes. Los arrecifes, ubicados a lo largo de la costa del condado de Dade en 8-40 pies de agua, están llenos de oportunidades para disfrutar de una pesca activa y de calidad en esta época.

Comience por anclar justo encima de la corriente y en el rango de fundición de los arrecifes de su pesca. Si no hay corriente, fondee justo a barlovento del arrecife y utilice carnada de sábalo. RECUERDE: No ancle en la parte superior, ya que estos son arrecifes de coral vivos con millones de criaturas que viven allí y son una parte vital tanto de nuestra pesca como del ecosistema.

Mientras establece la línea de carnada, pesque gambas vivas (o recién muertas en el fondo) con aparejos de golpeo y utilice una línea principal de trenza de 15 libras. Su equipo terminal debe ser 3 pies de líder de uorocarbono de 30 libras, atado a su línea principal con un nudo uniuni. Recomiendo usar una corredera en un pequeño huevo de plomo, lo su cientemente grande como para mantener el fondo con la velocidad de la corriente; posteriormente, ate un anzuelo circular en línea con un bucle de perfección (haga coincidir el anzuelo con el tamaño de la gamba que tenga). A mí me suele gustar un Mustad ultra-point del 1/0 y una plomada de huevo de 1/4 de onza. El camarón en el fondo provocará a todas las especies de pargos, meros, peces de colores, caballas y muchos más. ¡A todos les gustan las gambas!

Mientras sus cañas se doblan y los peces vuelan en el barco, es probable que encuentre un banco de ballyhoo (conocido también como balajú o agujeta brasileña) justo detrás del barco; atrape una docena de ellos con una pequeña taralla, una red de aro o un anzuelo muy pequeño junto a un diminuto trozo de gamba otando hacia atrás. Con una caña de spinning de tamaño medio, ate 15 pies de líder de uorocarbono de 40 libras con un enganche de araña o un giro Bimini, atado a la línea principal con

un nudo “sin nombre” (si, así se le conoce). En el extremo nal del bajo de línea de uorocarbono de 15 pies, ate un anzuelo circular del 7/0 y enganche un ballyhoo vivo. A mí me gusta romper el pico y engancharlo por ambos labios. Finalmente, lance el ballyhoo vivo tan lejos como pueda en su línea de cebo bien establecida y es probable que así capture algunos buenos chuchos, meros y caballas. Incluso los peces vela y los grandes del nes se comen ese cebo.

No te pierdas esta época del año en los arrecifes. ¡Buena suerte y no se olvide pescar a lo grande!

Capitán Abie Raymond 305.775.5197

@abie_raymond www.gohard


será tan maravilloso que le permitirá crear recuerdos que durarán por años.
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Ralph Carreño Peacock Bass Peacock bass caught by Ryan Zamorano Steven Hernandez Mutton snapper
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What Did We Name Our Boats in 2022?

With recreational boating season coming to a close across much of the country, BoatUS compiled a list of the top-10 boat names ordered this season through its online boat graphics service. Here are the rankings.

1) Andiamo: Meaning “let’s go/we go /come on” in Italian, Andiamo remains in the No. 1 spot from last year’s list. It’s also a happy refrain heard from the person behind the helm as they put the throttle down and head to open waters.

2) Osprey: is year was the rst time Osprey has made the top10. In a unique twist, Osprey bumped last year’s No. 2 boat name, Social Distancing, completely o the list. ’Nu said, right?

3) Serenity: is No. 3 name is so popular it has made the top 10 seven times since 2010, tying the record with Second Wind. Yep, you guessed it – both are popular with sailboat owners.

4) Encore: Also a newcomer to the top-10 this year, Encore may be the boat name of choice for an entertainer. Or, it could indicate the “next” boat – either satisfying the three-foot-itis or scaling down, or maybe even coming back to boat owning a er a hiatus.

5) Zephyr: Last appearing on the top-10 in 2010, sailors will welcome this reference to a gentle breeze back to the list.

6) Second Wind: Is this boat named for a new chapter in life or achievement? A comeback? A new strength? We’ll never know for sure, but gosh is it perennially popular.

7) Adventure: A boat with this name is usually out of the slip every weekend putting miles of water under the keel.

8) Knot on Call: is boat name serves as a notice that on-the-water time can’t be tampered with. Of unique importance, the owner of this boat can silence their cellphone ring in just under two seconds.

9) Shenanigans: Quit fooling around. Shenanigans are a part of every boating culture.

10) Grace: In its fourth appearance on the top-10 boat names list since 2010, Grace likely holds deep meaning for vessels with beautiful lines or for those that navigate with nesse. is is the one boat in the marina that also makes docking look easy.

For a look at all of the BoatUS Top-10 Boat Names lists over the years, visit

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This Isn’t the PANFISH of Your Youth

More o en than not, pan sh were the sh that introduced most anglers to the sport. e term “pan sh” is used to describe any of the commonly found species that usually never grow bigger than the size a frying pan. Most of them are legal to keep, regardless of size.

ese are species known as sun sh, bluegills, red eyes, rock bass, pumpkinseeds and countless other names, o en depending on the region. But this article is about a di erent kind of pan sh, and one that was naturally found only in other countries.

e Mayan cichlid is native to southeastern Mexico and the waters of Central America’s Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua and Guatemala. e rst reported non-indigenous population was recorded here in Florida Bay in 1983. Due to their adaptability and south Florida’s favorable climate and water conditions, they now can be found in great numbers from the canals in Miami to the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, and almost all inland waters between.

Mayan cichlids are a freshwater species, but are known to thrive under a variety of environmental conditions, from a wide range of salinity to low oxygen conditions, and therefore can inhabit most waters in this region.

is oval-shaped sh has spiny anal and dorsal ns, and it ranges in color from olive green to a light brown, with darker vertical bars. During breeding season, their colors become vibrant, and their throats and n edges glow bright red to orange, which earned them the nickname “atomic sun sh” or “orange tiger.” Similar to their cousins the peacock bass and the oscar, they sport a black spot and ring on the tail to confuse predators. e Mayan’s spot is black with a turquoise ring.

Mayan cichlids are a very attractive sporting species that o ers strong ghts on light and y shing tackle. Mayans readily take a variety of natural baits as well as small arti cial lures and ies. e countless canals, lakes and neighborhood ponds of south Florida are full of these amazing little ghters and many other species. I am a y sherman, and Clouser’s Minnow or any small bait sh pattern, along with a Gurgler work well for this aggressive feeder.

I would recommend an out t in the 7/8 weight range, because cichlids share these waters with much larger species. It’s common to catch snook, juvenile tarpon, tilapia and largemouth bass in these locations.

Mayan cichlids are not considered invasive, although they are nonnative. ey have no season or bag limit, and harvest is encouraged. ey have white aky meat with a mild avor and are considered very good table fare.

I will not o er an opinion on just how this species found its way to this region, but I believe they’re here to stay. We might as well sh for them.

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With the mullet run over and the cold setting in, our target species begin to change. Most of the high-energy sh like jacks and tarpon slow down during winter. So we turn our attention to already slow bottom-feeding sh that aren’t as a ected by cooler water. Black drum are a highly praised bottom-feeder. Not only do they taste delicious, they grow to amazing trophy size.

Black drum are in the drum family with red sh, but they are di erent in appearance and their way of living. Black drum have a high arched back compared to most sh that levels out toward the tail. ese sh are a darkish gray or black with some tones of brown that fade to a lighter belly. Normally, juveniles have four to six vertical bars on their side, similar to sheepshead. e bars fade with age.

Black drum have barbels or whiskers on their lower jaw like cat sh. ese barbels are used to smell mollusks and other prey in the sand, which the drum digs out. ey then use rows of molar-like pharyngeal teeth to crush mussels, crabs and other hard-shelled creatures. ese teeth line the top and bottom of their mouths and can extend to the back of their throat.

Black drum live from Texas all the way up past New Jersey. ey congregate around structures like bridges and docks. However, they also can be found in bays, river mouths, oyster beds and along beaches. Juveniles are mostly found in estuaries.

As these sh begin to spawn in the colder months, they move toward owing inlets. Just like red drum, they participate in mass free-spawning, where they release sperm and eggs while grouped together in owing water. e pre-spawn move to the inlets gives anglers plenty of time to target them in groups.

Jalon Tomlinson enjoys targeting black drum during peak season. He said shing is best during cold fronts on an outgoing tide. He uses a chicken rig with a 3- to 4-ounce pyramid sinker or a Carolina rig with a 3-ounce egg sinker and a 2/0 hook. He recommends a 40-pound leader because powerful sh heavier than 30-pounds are a real possibility. Ideal baits are fresh dead shrimp or old stinky shrimp. However, Tomlinson has also caught them on crabs and sand eas.

Tomlinson catches some monster drum with this technique, but he prefers to keep the 14- to 28-inchers because they’re better to eat. In Florida, there is a daily bag limit of ve per harvester, with a slot size of 14 to 24 inches. One sh is allowed over the 24-inch slot.

e IGFA all-tackle world record black drum weighed an amazing 113 pounds, 1 ounce and was caught out of Lewes, Delaware.

Emily Rose Hanzlik holds 56 IGFA world records in various categories.

She hails from West Palm Beach, where she has a part time Bow n Guide Service as well as shing classes for Jr. Anglers.

Find her on Social Media @emilyhanzlikoutdoors.

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Florida seasons for snook harvest close this month in state and federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic.

e Gulf snook season closure date is Dec. 1, and snook harvest will remain closed through the end of February in Gulf state and adjacent federal waters. e Atlantic snook season is closed Dec. 15 through Jan. 31 in state and adjacent federal waters. Special regulations for di erent zones exist for this species, so be sure to check current regulations online at

When snook season re-opens, anglers who wish to harvest a snook must have a snook permit in addition to a recreational shing license. ere is a slot limit of not less than 28 inches or more than 33 inches total length. e daily bag limit is 1 per harvester per day with zero captain and crew for-hire limit.

For more information, go to

Photo courtesy of Richard Matteson



It’s on! You made a very long cast, and within a few cranks a sh grabs your lure and you’re engaged in a ght!

Long distance lures allow you to hook-up with sh other anglers can’t reach, but ghting sh with so much line out presents complications, mostly in the form of environmental elements the angler does not control.

If you’re shing from a at sandy beach on a calm day with no waves, little current and no oating sargassum, then nothing is di erent. Just ght the sh and enjoy it. But when ghting a sh at great distance, elements like current or obstacles such as rocks or weeds become magni ed threats to successfully landing the sh. e more line you have in the water, the less direct in uence you have on the sh. e sh has more freedom to swim sideways or even directly at you. ere’s a greater chance your line will snag an encrusted boulder or load up with oating grass. Ripping currents and wave action are more pronounced during the ght, and sh—especially bigger ones— will use this to pull away.

Here are tactics to better ght sh from long distances.

• Keep the rod tip up and hold it high to keep as much line as possible out of the water or high in the water column. is limits the risk of snags and reduces drag on the line. I sometimes put the rod butt against my shoulder and hold the rod almost vertically to gain as much height as possible.

• When a sh swims or is pushed by waves or current into a snag-prone area, it’s o en counter productive to crank down and pull directly against the sh. Pulling hard works OK on small or mediumsized sh, but with larger sh I like to angle the rod horizontally and

sideways in the direction the sh is going. It’s like judo in that you use the sh’s momentum against it. By pulling the sh sideways, instead of directly against it, it will curve toward you. is is unconventional, but it has saved sh for me a number of times.

• When sh use strong currents during the ght, walk with them. Try to walk the same speed the sh is moving with the current and continue picking up line.

• Use a power-pull to put a lot of pressure on big sh. Keep the rod at a 30 to 45 degree angle from horizontal, and walk backward at constant speed. When I was guiding in Africa for tiger sharks and giant tarpon, this was the best way to bring sh closer to shore.

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

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Perhaps Florida anglers are getting used to the regulations changes that closed fall harvest of ounder for the rst time last year. With a 45-day closure during the peak of the fall spawning movements, keeping ounder is by design illegal when it’s easiest to catch them. e season closure ran Oct. 15 through Nov. 30, and many Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic states enacted similar closures in the face of several years of falling ounder numbers. So, while you likely didn’t get to enjoy stu ed ounder at the anksgiving feast, you should be able to go catch, or gig, a doormat to serve at Christmas.

Starting Dec. 1, ounder harvest is allowed with a 14-inch minimum size limit and a daily bag limit of ve sh per person. ese regulations apply in state and federal waters o Florida. Legal gear includes spears, gigs, hook and line, seine and cast nets.

For more information, go to

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Chipola River Shoalies are on the Comeback

If you’re not familiar with shoal bass, they are a distinct species of black bass that evolved to inhabit the riverine shoals of the Apalachicola River Basin in Florida. ey are considered a Species of Greatest Conservation Need by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission because they are native only to one drainage worldwide, and habitat in that drainage was forever altered by dams.

e Chipola River, which roughly bisects the Panhandle to join the Apalachicola River at Sumatra, Fla., is home to Florida’s only known

reproducing population of shoal bass, and it is potentially the species’ most genetically pure population. Farther north, Georgia’s Chattahoochee and Flint rivers are part of the same drainage. ere, shoal bass are considered an excellent sport sh. ey grow to weights heavier than 9-pounds and o er a unique opportunity for anglers, especially y shers, because they inhabit swi -water shoals and will readily slam arti cial lures, topwaters and ies.

Shoal bass are in trouble in Florida, and FWC is on the case. In 2018, the Chipola River population of shoal bass was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Michael. Impacts from the storm resulted in nearly a 90 percent decline in the population. In May, 2022, biologists with the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management released 3,300 1- to 2-inch genetically pure, hatchery-spawned shoal bass from the Blackwater Fisheries Research and Development Center into the Chipola River.

Recent sampling discovered the released sh have made a signi cant contribution to the existing population. DNA analysis of n clips taken from shoal bass collected during these sampling events con rmed that 65 percent of the yearlings collected were from sh produced and released by Blackwater Hatchery. ese stocked shoal bass had grown to 4 to 6 in the four months since being stocked. Additionally, data suggests these stocked sh may comprise nearly 20 percent of the entire shoal bass population in the river.

“ e shoal bass population in the Chipola River has become a top priority of sheries biologists within the northwest region of Florida since Hurricane Michael,” said Fisheries Biologist Andy Strickland. “Management actions to suspend harvest and successfully stock shoal bass have yielded positive results for this unique black bass species.”

FWC biologists anticipate stocking additional hatchery reared shoal bass in the Chipola River in the spring of 2023 to increase the number of genetically pure sh in the population and eventually restore population numbers to pre-Hurricane Michael levels.

Currently a catch-and-release-only regulation is in e ect for shoal bass on the Chipola River and its tributaries.

To learn more, visit MyFWC/Freshwater.


Florida Angler Ties Georgia Pompano Record

In November the Georgia Department of Natural Resources certi ed a sh that tied the state record for Florida pompano. e sh, which weighed 1 pound, 7.68 ounces, was caught by a Florida woman who was at St. Simons Island, Ga. volunteering at a youth shing tournament.

Cathy Sanders, of Palm Coast, Fla., landed her record-tying pomp while surf shing on St. Simons Island on Oct. 9. Her catch tied the previous record holder, Laura Cheek, who landed a 1-pound, 7-ounce pompano on Sea Island in 1982. Sanders’ pompano was 12 inches fork length.

Sanders was volunteering with the Kids Can Fish Foundation’s Running of the Bulls youth tournament when she caught the sh. She was surf shing with a 12-foot Okuma Rockaway rod and Okuma Rockaway 6000 reel. As bait, she used Fishbites EZ Crab (Electric Chicken) with Sinker Guys glass beads and salted shrimp on 20-pound high visibility mono lament. Her terminal rig was a 2/0 circle hook on a double drop rig with 3-ounce Guy Sputnik sinker.

Under the rules of the Georgia Saltwater Game Fish Records Program, Sanders’ catch quali ed as a tie because it weighed more than the current record, but did not exceed the record by more than 4 ounces.

e IGFA all-tackle world record Florida Pompano weighed 8 pounds, 4 ounces. It was caught by Barry Huston in St. Joe Bay, Fla. in 1999.

See Georgia’s saltwater records at

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The question of lure size is o en pondered in the shing world. Di erent circumstance requires a di erent mentality, but one thing is for certain, the sh did not read any articles, attend any seminars or watch that YouTube video. ey eat what they want, when they want, but I have an approach that I nd useful in deciphering the riddle.

As winter approaches, it brings changes to our estuaries: cooler water temps, a change in the type and abundance of forage, less pressure from boaters, and in some areas, much better water clarity. ere are two trains of thought on lure size when it comes to winter shing in the bays. Should I go bigger or smaller? I know anglers who immediately upsize for the entire season, while others downsize for its duration.

Both can be e ective, but here is how I typically tackle early winter shing.

Cooling water temps and increasing frequency of cold fronts put the sh on both spectrums of the feeding attitude. Unlike more stable weather patterns, when sh are less a ected and feed more consistently, these fronts can make them, for a lack of a better term, moody.

Late fall and early winter can be some of the best inshore shing of the year. Schools of

bait ushed from the bays with the dropping tides are followed by hungry specks and reds. In these situations, I like to use a smaller lure. Generally, they feed on shrimp or smaller bait sh, and having a lure of similar size is a good idea. When they are following these schools, I like non-natural colors so the sh have something to key in on when bait is abundant. I like my lure’s color to stand out in the fall feeding frenzy.

Now, for the other end of the mood swing, the inactive period caused by post-frontal conditions. is is another situation when I favor smaller lures in early winter. When the bite is o , smaller o erings entice bites from non-aggressive sh. Using myself as an example, if I am not hungry, the chance of me driving to a restaurant for a steak dinner are slim, but I might grab a few peanuts for a quick bite just because they are on the counter.

e nal reason is clearer water. Some bays I sh will have 1 to 2 feet of clear-green water in the summer, but 6 to 7 feet of air-clear water in winter. ese sh are not accustomed to this transitional clarity. When I can see my lure bouncing in the sand in depths of 7 feet, a much smaller lure will produce more bites.

I hope these tips help you catch more sh this winter, and next month I will explain my transition to larger lures as we press deeper into winter’s grip.

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Ohio Angler Gregg Gallagher caught a 10.15-pound smallmouth bass on Nov. 3 that once certi ed should be a new Lake Erie record. e 23 ¾-inch sh is also the largest bronzeback ever caught from the Great Lakes.

Gallagher told In-Fisherman his was the result of his son’s extensive time surveying bait and bottom structure. With sonar, they were able to do what some call video-game shing and target individual sh with drop shot rigs. He was shing 8-pound test.

“With an abundance of bait sh and unique bottom composition located a er long days behind the graphs, we dropped down our forward-facing sonar and we were able to individually target these pelagicesque smallmouth,” he told In-Fisherman. “On what turned out to be the most memorable cast of my life, my bait got hit before it even hit the bottom and my rod quickly doubled over. I honestly thought I had hooked into a sheephead and not a smallmouth. We quickly learned we had just caught the smallmouth of a lifetime.”

e monster smallmouth is the only certi ed 10-plus-pounder ever caught from the Great Lakes. It should beat out the Canadian record of 9.84 pounds, which was set 68 years ago. It is also heavier than the Ohio state record, which weighed 9 pounds, 8 ounces and was caught in 1993.

e world record smallmouth bass weighed 11 pounds, 15 ounces. It was caught from Tennessee’s Dale Hollow Lake in 1955.

You raise the flags of the fish just caught to show you weren’t skunked.
Once onshore you can take it a step further showing your fellow anglers your catch of the day wearing “slippahs” from Scott Hawaii.
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Instead of spending the next few months holed up inside, get yourself a good parka, nd a window of decent weather and go shing. Believe it or not, for some sheries winter o ers some of the best action of the year. Here are a few ideas to help you combat cabin fever.

1) Wintertime Wahoo:

is time of year, wahoo pile up around the Bahamas. Some of the largest sh of the year will show up over the next couple of months.

High-speed trolling is the technique that allows captains to cover lots of water along rocky ledges, color changes, temperature breaks and dropo s. ’Hoos hunt in packs, so multiple hook-ups and double-digit days are possible. is shery requires some forethought and perhaps some exibility. ey bite best around the full and new moons, but you’ll de nitely want to avoid fronts and those wicked north winds.

2) South Florida Sailfsh: From


through February

the Atlantic Coast of South Florida becomes one of the best sail sh destinations in the world. Release ags will be ying along the edge of the Gulf Stream from roughly Fort Pierce down through the Keys.

For this bite, you’ll want to sh when the weather’s a little rough. With strong winds from the north, tailing conditions push sail sh high in the water column to feed. ey surf the swells and it’s possible to sight sh for them, which is about as exciting as shing gets.

3) The Outer Banks: In winter, North Carolina’s Outer Banks are the destination for several migrations which bring excellent shing to the island chain from Oregon Inlet down past Ocracoke.

Out of Hatteras, it’s a short ride out to the edge of the Gulf Stream, and this time of year tuna congregate there to feast on a bounty of bait sh. Big blue n tuna 200 pounds and larger are on the prowl, and anglers can also do battle with black n, yellow n and bigeye tunas.

At the same time, big schools of striped bass will be marauding bait sh on the beaches and in the inlets. Surf anglers can encounter them blitzing menhaden by looking for bait and birds. Charter boats do good business this time of year trolling while keeping eyes peeled for stripers herding and crashing bait balls.

4) South Padre Island, Texas: Way down on the Mexican border, South Padre Island is as far south as you can go in Texas. e winters are mild and the shing is good year-round.

When water temps drop, snook pile into the canals and school up. ese schools of sh can be giant, and they are suckers for arti cials. At the same time, the grass ats experience the clearest water of the year. Red sh, big trout and black drum cruise the ats, where anglers can sight sh them in shin-deep water.

5) Delayed Harvest Trout: On the East Coast from Maryland down to Georgia, most states have developed robust delayed harvest trout sheries which keep y shers on the stream through the winter. ese specially regulated sheries are catch-and-release only through the cooler months and most of them have single-hook, arti cial-only regulations.

Most delayed harvest streams are heavily stocked, usually with some largerthan-normal hatchery sh. Since you can’t keep them, they stay in the creeks and rivers all winter long. Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia are some of the states with excellent delayed harvest programs. See the state wildlife agency websites for information.



For the rst time in a while, sheries managers are reporting some good news about striped bass populations on the Atlantic Coast. In early November, e Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) accepted an updated 2022 stock assessment that looks good enough that no additional harvest cuts will be needed.

is stock assessment found that rock sh stocks are still over shed but they are not currently experiencing over shing. e female spawning biomass appears to have been on a modest upward trend for at least the last three years, but at an estimated 143 million pounds is still far below the 235-million-pound target for rebuilding.

Total mortality in 2021 from commercial and recreational shing was estimated at 0.14, which is below the mortality threshold of 0.20 as well as below the mortality target of 0.17.

What does this mean for anglers?

Currently, a reduction in catch is not needed, and the rebuilding program is on schedule to declare the striped bass stock rebuilt by 2029.

“ is 2022 assessment was the rst check-in point for progress toward stock rebuilding by 2029,” said Board Chair Marty Gary with the River Fisheries Commission. “It is extremely important shery removals and conduct regular stock assessments to keep evaluating rebuilding progress and stay on track.”

e next stock assessment update is scheduled for 2024, and the Board will review the 2022 removals as soon as the data are available to evaluate whether catch remains at sustainable levels.

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