Coastal Angler Magazine | May 2022 | Miami Edition

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MIAMI EDITION

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DRUM BEAT

LONG DISTANCE LURES

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@CAMTAMagazine

OF THE WORKING MAN

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VOLUME 27 • ISSUE 326

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The Workingman’s Drum By CAM Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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


LURES

CASTING FAR: THE DYNAMICS OF LONG DISTANCE LURES

PATRICK SEBILE

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

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

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

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

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Shiner Fishing for Giant Florida

LARGEMOUTHS

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

By Nick Carter

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

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


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Monster Blue Cat Smashes Mississippi Record By CAM Staff

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

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

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

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Permit Monitoring Funded for Western Dry Rocks

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PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVE POWELL

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

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

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF FWC TROPHYCATCH

PINK-TAGGED BASS OFFER BIG MONEY

T

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

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

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

10 FLORIDA

MAY 2022

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

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

tagged fish. There is one tagged fish that is worth $50,000 cash. This special tag is sponsored by Alta Equipment Company. For offshore anglers, the Tigress Outriggers and Gear Tagged Dolphin Division offers one winner a $10,000 cash prize. The first STAR registrant and CCA Florida member who catches one of the tagged dolphin will win. These dolphin will be tagged and released in the coastal waters of Florida for STAR by the Dolphin Research program implemented by the Beyond Our Shores foundation. STAR is a family-friendly competition, and CCA Florida youth members (ages 6 to 17) can participate for free. Kids are encouraged to submit entries in the Youth Scholarship Division presented by Realtree Fishing for an opportunity to win one of 12 scholarships totaling $100,000. Other divisions include ladies, kayak, conservation, guides and many more. Since most division winners are determined by a random drawing, it is not about catching the biggest fish. Any size fish can win. Registration is open throughout the competition, but anglers who register before May 28 will be entered in the Engel Early Bird Drawings for weekly prizes. To register for STAR 2022 or receive additional information on divisions, prizes and more, visit ccaflstar.com or Facebook.

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MAY 2022 PUBLISHER & EDITOR SCOTT GOODMAN

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS NESTOR RAYMOND JORGE BOUNCER CHRIS MIKE

ALVISA MUNIZ POLO SMITH TAVERA TOJDOWSKI

GRAPHIC DESIGN JENNY DIAZ

CONTACT INFORMATION For editorial comments, articles, photography, artwork and all other inquiries please contact:

SCOTT GOODMAN miami@coastalanglermagazine.com

786.863.7823

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MAY 2022

MIAMI 1


3

The

Big

by Coastal Angler Magazine Staff Writer.

C

an you tell the difference between a black grouper and a gag grouper? Although these fish look very similar and there does seem to be confusion about which is which, there are some failsafe characteristics that will help you tell one from the other. Here on the East Coast the recreational regulations are the same for both species. In season, you can take one gag or one black per harvester per day as part of your grouper/ tilefish aggregate bag limit. I hear lots of conversations over beers and fish pictures about that’s a gag and that’s a black and so on. Always check official regulations, as the above refers only to what’s current at the time of this writing. There are about 160 species of grouper in the subfamily Epinephelidae. The gag, the red and the black grouper are the most recreationally significant grouper species’ in South Florida. We’ll call them the big three. These three fish, really only occur in the Western Atlantic and can be found up the Eastern seaboard throughout the Gulf of Mexico and roughly down to Southern Brazil. The black and the red occur all over the Caribbean as well with the gag not showing up as much as you move further East across the chart. Other species of grouper do have homes here in South Florida, including the scamp, the yellowfin, the yellow mouth, the warsaw, the speckled hind, the snowy, among others. The big three are all non-migratory, however, that’s not to say that they do not move around based on various factors including season, forage, and habitat. On the East Coast, the winter time with its cooler water temperatures, can bring all three fish into shallower water. The fish can be caught in the bay and on the patch reefs in as shallow as 10 feet of water. In the warmer months the larger fish generally move offshore to the second reef and beyond. Three species are slow growing and take years to reach sexual maturity. The big three are all protogynous hermaphordites, and change their sex from female to male as part of their natural life cycle. All red, gag, and black grouper start off as females and most individual fish change into males between 6 and 10 years of age, depending on species and other factors. Science theorises sex change could be triggered by size, age or ratios of male to female in a given group.

2 MIAMI

MAY 2022

THE RED GROUPER

The red grouper (Epinephelus Morio) is the smallest of the three but also composes over 60% of the grouper commercially harvested in Florida, almost 3 million lbs annually. The gag and the black compose most of the other 30%, although there are others. Most commercially harvested grouper in Florida are caught in the Gulf of Mexico. The red grouper can reach weights in excess of 50 pounds, lengths of over 3 feet, and can live over 20 years. However smaller fish are far more common. The All-Tackle World Record is 42 lbs caught off of St. Augustine FL. They can thrive in depths from 10 feet to over 300 feet. They eat just about anything that appears in front of them, including finfish, crabs, squid and octopus. I recently caught a red grouper with a whole spiny lobster in his stomach, antenna protruding from his mouth when he hit my Rapala X-rap. They are aggressive and voracious. The red grouper is unique in comparison to the other two in that it actually is a member

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM


of a different genus. His feeding habits are different. A red grouper is more apt to eat a dead bait, or a cut bait. That’s not to say he would turn down a live pinfish. The red grouper tends to be more lackadaisical and shy when compared to the other two species. It is the least athletic of the three with a stockier build, and a tendency to feed close to home. Reds typically spawn in April and May.

THE GAG GROUPER The gag grouper (Mycteroperca Microlepis) is among our larger bottom dwelling sportfish. The all tackle world record for a gag according to IGFA as of this writing is a fish over 80 lbs caught off of Destin FL back in 1993. Gags are a little more oblong and a bit more athletic than their red cousins. The fish can be targeted dropping live baits on structure drifting, jigging, and even trolling with diving plugs. The gags on our side of the state will range from any structure in the bay, in literally as shallow as 10 feet of water, all the way out to over 300 ft of water. Gags can be caught in grass, on patch reefs, on wrecks , and under docks. They can be targeted in passes and in holes Gags are similar in appearance to the black grouper with some subtle differences. They tend to have a tan and dark brown pattern on the body with lighter color fins and a white or even sometimes turquoise highlights on the edges of ther second dorsal fin, anal fin and tail. In addition blacks and gags both have a sharp almost knife like plate in their cheek. The gag cheek plate has a sharp serrated edge, whereas the blacks cheek plate is more round and smooth. Gags spawn from January to May.

For more information on the big three visit us on the web at coastalangler.com/Miami

THE BLACK GROUPER The mature black grouper (Mycteroperca Bonaci) is undoubtedly one of the most dominant fish on the reef, save only for the goliath and maybe a shark or two… The black is the largest of our big three, growing up to 48 inches and up to 180 pounds. The State record black was 113 lb fish caught near Tortuga. The all tackle world record is 124 lb fish caught in the Gulf of Mexico off of Texas. When targeting big blacks, big live baits are the way to go. We like to use a hearty bait like a pinfish, a grunt, or a blue runner but the black grouper is a total opportunist and will eat anything and everything. In addition the blacks will come out of their haunts and chase baits. It’s not uncommon to find them out hunting 100 yards off of the structure. Blacks like ledges and caves and can often be found on the up current side of the structure. If you’re drifting a wreck give it an extra beat before resetting for your drift. Blacks typically spawn in the winter months.

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

MAY 2022

MIAMI 3


FRESHWATER

SNOOK & TARPON

by Captain Mike Tojdowski

T

he weather in South Florida in the month of May is not the only thing that is heating up; the snook and tarpon bite is red hot as well! These weather conditions make both species highly active. Your best bet when targeting them is at dusk or dawn feeding on bridges or other moving bodies of water. They tend to feed more this time of year to maintain their size coming off the plentiful winter months. Due to this higher activity level, I notice tarpon rolling more often, taking breaths to replenish their depleted oxygen levels in the warmer water lakes and canals to survive in freshwater. This gives anglers an added advantage of spotting them roll and make casts in front of them. Key to success: Tarpon and snook are very smart fish with great eyesight, so the element of surprise is very important when targeting them. Making long casts and presenting your bait as naturally as possible is imperative. Both snook and tarpon have been known to follow bait for a long while, only turning away at the last minute if they think something is off with your presentation.

TIPS:

Structures: These fish are ambush predators. Look for structures in the water such as fallen trees, bridge pilings, drain culverts with flowing water and areas where two or more bodies of water come together. Bait: Choose the right bait! The best option is always live bait: jewel chilids, golden shiners and shad. If not possible, then the best artificial baits are Paddle Tails Lures, Z-Man Lures, Series III Suspending Twitch baits, Tannic Stained Shad Lures and Live Target scaled lures. Waters to fish: The C-100 waterways for largemouth and peacock bass, C-111 for peacocks, tarpon and snook. C-2/4 is the most difficult area in South Florida to fish due to deeper water and lots of private property only accessible by boat. You can still find some nice examples if you put the time in. Kendall and South Dade have some small lakes and canals that are easily accessible off land and hold great examples of all these fish. Mistakes to avoid: These fish are acrobatic in nature and typically go airborne in the first few seconds after striking the bait a few times during the actual battle itself. The two most important mistakes you need to avoid making are: Failing to set the hook hard enough immediately upon the strike to penetrate their bonny mouths Not extending the rod to create adequate slack to reduce tension on the line when the fish make the first and subsequent leaps in the air. Studies have shown that a tarpon produces over 150lbs of pressure when they thrash their heads in the air, also known in the angler community as “Bowing to the King” (aka tarpon). On the other hand, snook have razor sharp cheekbones that will likely cut you off if you don’t give your line enough slack during the jump and it comes into contact with them at any point. Both fish have their own secret weapons to avoid being caught. These formidable beasts are considered trophy catches for a reason. It takes skill and finesse to land them. Keep in mind that tarpon over 40 inches must never be taken out of the water for any reason and FWC fines violators heavily. Snook have many of their own restrictions, depending on the region and size limits, as well. I highly recommend checking with your local FWC office before targeting any fish in Florida waters to avoid any confusion. Urban Legends Fishing Charters always practices catch and release of all species to ensure the safety and preservation of these fish so future generations can enjoy for years to come. Captain Mike Tojdowski Urban Legends Fishing 305-998-3375 Follow us on Instagram @Urbanlegendsfishing or check out our website ULFish.com 4 MIAMI

MAY 2022

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MAY 2022

MIAMI 5


Slow Pitch Jigging R by Jorge Polo

T

he transformation of recreational fishing over the last few years has been pretty incredible. It is estimated that more than 3 million people in the US joined the ranks of our recreational fishing community last year alone. New anglers also brought with them innovation. The evolution of fishing tackle and electric reels have made a tremendous difference in introducing new techniques to the US market. During my childhood in Valencia, Spain, which is located on the Mediterranean Sea, fishing was to me, an obsession. Unfortunately, commercial fishing was under regulated, and the Mediterranean had been abused for many years as a source of food and resources for the local communities. Fish stocks were severely depleted. The reality was that traditional bait fishing or trolling wasn’t productive anymore. As a result of the pressure a new technique emerged from Japan. Slow Pitch Jigging offered a completely new way of fishing. Developed by the Japanese, this new technique allowed us to fish deeper and catch a wider variety of fish without the hassles of organic baits. The main point was to imitate an injured bait fish using lures made of lead with very specific shapes that swam as they were falling or being lifted through the water column. I was introduced to this new technique when I was 14 years old. It was truly exciting to watch the Japanese guys catching enormous, strange fish with tiny rods and pieces of painted metal. Soon I started my journey, researching and translating every article I could find on the internet. After learning the basics I began to be successful, which only made things more exciting. Fast forward a few years later, my journey took me to Atlanta, Georgia. I started my professional career as an engineer in the plastics industry. During the 3 years that I lived in Atlanta my only connection with the ocean was creating my own Slow Pitch Jigging lures, and planning the next vacation in Florida where I could have an opportunity to use them. At the beginning of the pandemic, we had the opportunity to move to Jupiter Florida, bringing fishing back to my life. Soon after moving, I started to connect with people interested in jigging. I was fortunate to meet one of the pioneer anglers in the US, Benny Ortiz, who welcomed me to the community and introduced me to the right group of guys. After a few trips I shared some of my creations and shortly after, Reel Deal Bait and Tackle in Pompano Beach reached out to purchase some. This is where the JYG PROFISHING journey began. I was able to turn my passion into a career. Three years later, the Slow Pitch Jigging community has grown exponentially. More than 10,000 anglers have joined in Florida alone. This technique has captivated anglers of all ages, and it has become one of the most productive ways of fishing. Tackle stores, charter captains, and fishing celebrities are offering information and products, making it accessible and possible. We are currently working with IGFA (International Game Fishing Association) to adapt rules to incorporate to this new way of fishing into IGFA standards. The ultimate goal would be for slow jigging to have its own IGFA category. At JYG PROFISHING our primary focus has been creating original, unique and effective Slow Pitch Jigging tackle that helps our anglers be more successful on the water. With a focus on hydrodynamics, materials, and performance we design every lure in house. The process includes drawing, 3D printing, molding, painting, testing and finally commercializing. So far, more than 150 different species of fish have been caught with our JYGs, including some incredible catches:

6 MIAMI

MAY 2022

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM


g Revolution swordfish, largemouth bass, bone fish and many species of grouper and snapper. Slow Pitch best targets bottom species like grouper and snapper. These fish will react aggressively to the action of the lures while they are falling. The slow falling action makes the jig appear to be an easy prey item. This is one of the reasons why Slow Pitch Jigging is so effective. Even when fish are not active or hungry, they still attack. It’s a proven reactionary bite. To properly improve your chances of catching fish you will need a specific type of rod and reel and braided line. The rods are usually 5’9” – 7’10” long and they must have slow action through the blank. The rod should also be as light as possible, since you will hold it for long periods of time. Conventional reels are ideal. The reels should have a high retrieve rate and high torque. Large line capacity and a narrow spool is crucial as well. Line selection makes a tremendous difference, since the thinner the line the better it will cut through the water column, we usually use 30lb – 8lb braided line. As a general rule, the shallower we fish the thicker the line, as we fish deeper the line diameter should decrease to get better contact with the bottom, since the distance is longer. The most important part of the process is selecting the right JYG Jig for the right conditions. When it comes down to JYG selection the most important part will always be its shape. Understanding the conditions, SOG (speed over ground) and direction is crucial. This is where technology comes into play, your fish finder will help you with this. As a general rule, use one gram for foot (with a 30% +/-tolerance) if you are fishing in 200 feet of water, you will start with a 200 gram JYG. Once we’ve selected the size we will focus on the shape. Longer shapes will cut through the water column faster and will allow to fish in heavier current conditions, our STRYKE COLLECTION is specifically designed for heavy current situations. See picture 1. Wider shapes will offer slow falling action and will produce more in low current conditions, our DEEP COLLECTION is perfect for lower current scenarios. See picture 2 Of course hooks are crucial for anything related with fishing. To rig our Slow Pitch Jigging jigs we use twin assist hooks for depths shallower than 400 feet and single assist hooks for anything deeper. Using sets of hooks on top and bottom is important. The hooks are thin and smaller than normal, and having more of them will secure a better hook up and landing ratio. I know this looks like a lot of decisions, but it’s a really enjoyable process. Selecting and understanding what to use when, makes the catching process more rewarding. If you are curious about this technique, give it a go, it will make your time on the water more enjoyable and it will sure exceed all your expectations. Picture 1. STRYKE COLLECTION

Picture 2. DEEP COLLECTION

Jorge Polo JYG Pro Fishing 678.435.5089 • jorge@jygprofishing.com COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

MAY 2022

MIAMI 7


g n i l e av TheTrFisherman by Capt. Bouncer Smith

G

rouper Season is an exciting time all along the coast from North Carolina to the Dry Tortugas. I usually start out in Miami. We fish two speed Penn International reels filled with 65 to 80 pound braid. This ends with a uni to uni knot splice connection to 40 feet of 80 pound fluorocarbon leader. Our splice is trimmed with about a quarter inch of fluorocarbon sticking out. We add our weight by rigging a long line clip to about two feet of 50 pound mono. The other end has a large loop tied in it. This loop allows changing bank sinkers, from 8 ounces to 2 pounds based on the current. The longline clip is attached to the braid coming from your rod and stops at the tag end of the leader splice. This system allows quick removal of your lead to allow fighting your catch to the gaff. We use triple strength VMC 8/0 circle hooks and bridle our baits through the eye sockets with 50 pound wax thread. Another way to fool a grouper is using a Mustad 10/0 3407D baited with a chunk of Bonita and a live grunt or pinfish hooked up through the lips. Off South Florida we fish almost exclusively with live baits. A Speedo or a baby bonito are the very best baits but hardest to acquire. Large pin fish or grunts are also great baits that work good and are readily available. Legal yellowtails are deadly as well. I drive outboard boats in reverse holding the boat against the wind and current to keep the boat just up current of the structure you are targeting with your C mor mapping chart. If the wind is against the current you have to fish with the wind on your stern and therefore you might be driving forward to hold your position. Anchoring is the very best way to fish for grouper. Your baits stay right in the strike zone with no engine noise to concern the cautious fish. However with the sharks today, you have to constantly keep relocating. If a shark gets one fish, odds are the sharks will get every fish on that spot. As a Note, the stronger the current the better the grouper bite so include a couple of 3-5 pound leads in case you get that strong current. Well, I hope you and I are both enjoying grouper fingers soon. Check out Bouncer’s new book “I’m Capt Bouncer Smith • 305-439-2475 • captbouncer@bellsouth.net Note from the Editors and Publishers of Coastal Angler Magazine about Captain Bouncer: Captain Bouncer Smith is a legendary Captain in South Florida, and might we add an amazing fisherman. Although he is now retired he continues to contribute to the magazine and continues to share his vast wealth of fishing experience through a new series of books he has released called The Bouncer Smith Chronicles. All three books are currently available on Amazon. We would encourage you to look them up and enjoy them as we have! This Man is part of our South Florida fishing heritage and part of the Coastal Angler family. Please consider supporting him so that he can continue to share the wisdom of 50 plus years of sportfishing experience in South Florida.

8 MIAMI

MAY 2022

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not done yet” available on Amazon


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MAY 2022

MIAMI 9


10 MIAMI

MAY 2022

G O L I A T H

FLAMINGO by NestorAlvisa

A

s we push into May, most charter captains are blocked out or booked up for the start of grouper season. There are several species of grouper in Florida waters. One that is in abundance in my area, (Flamingo, Florida Bay, and the Southern Gulf of Mexico) is the goliath grouper. It seems like the fish has become increasingly more of a nuisance statewide over the last few years. Even though grouper season opens May 1st , the harvesting of any goliath grouper is still prohibited. Due to overfishing and the virtual decimation of the stocks, laws were passed in 1990 to protect the goliath grouper. With that said, 30 years later, they have made an amazing comeback. This significant increase in goliath grouper numbers have resulted in many anglers pushing the state for some type of harvest of the species to help control the numbers of these fish. Many have complained of their catches getting swallowed whole on the way up from the wrecks and reefs both in the Atlantic and Gulf waters. Others have complained about these fish taking over whatever structure they move onto and decimating other sport fish species. For some it seems their prayers have been answered. Starting in the spring of 2023 the harvesting of these fish will be permitted once again. Through a random lottery draw, anglers will be given a chance to win a harvest tag to harvest one of these fish. The state will issue 200 tags to permit fish to be harvested around the state. Of those 200 tags, only 50 tags will be available for harvest of fish in Everglades National Park. According to FWC tags will cost $150 per tag for residents and $500 per tag for out-of-state anglers. Harvesting is limited to one fish per angler, per open season with the tag, which is non-transferable. SEASON WILL BE MARCH 1 THROUGH MAY 31. These fish shall only be caught on hook and line. Goliaths will be a “slot” fish, meaning keepers must be between 24 and 36 inches long. Other waters off limits to harvesting include all of the St. Lucie River and it’s tributaries, the Dry Tortugas National Park and Federal waters. After catching the grouper, anglers must report harvest data and submit a fin clip to the state for genetic analysis. THE APPROACH Now, how do we target and catch these fish? Many would agree these fish are vacuum cleaners! Goliath grouper will inhale anything that is presented to them. So, the first thing I do is identify the structure that I think will hold the fish. I use My Spot Lock on my Minn kota Ulterra to hold the boat directly over the structure. In my zone, we are rarely fishing in more than 30 feet of water. I’ll then have my anglers cast some small bucktail jigs on light spinning rods to catch any jack crevalle, blue runners, or spanish mackerel that are hanging around the structure. Once we’ve secured our bait, we are ready to drop down to the bottom where these goliath groupers live. I use a size 30 to 50 conventional reel, spooled with anything from 65lb-120lb braid and 150lb-400lb wind-on leader, on a heavy rod. I rig the bait on anything from a 8/0-12/0 heavy hook with a 4-24 egg sinker/ knocker rig style so the leader can slide through the wight. We’ll choose the amount of lead based on depth, current, and type of bait. Now you are rigged and ready to drop, be sure to hold on tight. Once that bait gets to the bottom, if the fish are there, they will find it pretty quickly!

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Nestor Alvisa HookedOnFlamingo.com @hooked_on_flamingo_charters 786.387.2443


SPEARFISHING

by Capt. Christopher Tavera @MiamiSkinDiver

F

or all of the Miami spearfisherman out there May first marks our most coveted time of year. It’s kinda like our spearfishing miniseason! Both grouper and hog season kick off and our stocks have had a solid four months without any fishing pressure! I like a 50 inch gun, my preference is a Risee with double floppers, rigged with one and a half wraps of 400lb mono shooting line. I replace my bands pretty often, and would recommend you do the same (you don’t ever want to be face to face with a great fish and have no power). I like to start a Miami spear trip in 55 to 85 feet of water depending on my clients abilities. I have Garmin machines so I use Garmin relief shading to find the bottom I’m looking for. If you have a Simrad machine check out Cmor mapping which offers similar features. I like to work isolated bottom away from the larger reef because they seem to get a little less pressure and the fish may congregate, making them easier to find. I also prefer isolated coral heads over big gorilla bottom where fish have lots of places to hide. I try to start my trips in the middle to back of the incoming tide. The cleaner water makes it easier to see fish and the bottom from the surface. In addition look for reefs that have steep drops and or coral fingers that push down into deep water. We’ll set up a drift that takes us over several areas. I always prefer a drift over anchoring as it allows us to cover more ground traveling with the current. Additionally, it allows the boat to keep on top of the divers and acts as a blocker, maneuvering between the divers and any other boat that might be in the area. As a general rule we always dive the buddy system, one up and one down. The diver on the surface is not only watching the diver on the bottom for safety but also watching the fish, keeping track of hit fish, spooked fish, or just other fish the diver on the bottom may not be able to see. Again, the operator in the boat is keeping eyes on two main things, divers and possible other boats that may get too close for comfort. When operating the boat, always try to keep the sun at your back so that you are not squinting directly into the glare of the sun off the water while watching your divers. Operators should stay at least 300 feet away from any divers down flag in open water and at least 100 feet away in a river, inlet, or channel. Always check current laws in your area for the most up to date regulations. Once the tide changes and the water starts to get a little dirtier I’ll often move into shallower water, twenty to thirty feet to maintain good visibility and again, I’ll search for isolated coral. The shallower water is more likely to produce red grouper, muttons, other snapper, and hogs. I hope these few tips help you to enjoy the start of grouper and hog season. Please remember that safety is paramount and no fish is worth a compromise of anyone’s safety. As a side note, respect each other! Respect other divers, respect the resource, and have fun!!! Get out there and get after it! Be safe on and in the water! Captain Christopher Tavera @MIAMISKINDIVER 305.984.4777

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MAY 2022

MIAMI 11


BEACH FISHING by Raymond Muniz, Capt. Jax

M

ay kicks off grouper season! While everyone else is licking their chops waiting for the bottom fishing to get underway, squinty eyed and evasive, I slip down to the beaches on foot. The warming temperatures and temperate wind patterns of May usher in what I call the Spring Bait Blitz!!! The Spring Bait Blitz in South Florida is when the mullet, croaker, whiting, herring, and pilchards flood the beaches by the millions. As all good fishermen know, the big fish always follow the bait; tarpon, snook, blue runners, barracuda, monster jack crevalle and even sharks show up in abundance and with an appetite. The action will start early and continue throughout the day. First, I drive to the beach, any beach, and look for birds crashing. If I see no birds, I get back in the car and keep driving until I find them. The birds, as usual, are your best friend in locating these massive schools of bait. I search out the dive bombers to witness large schools of bait with attacking fish slicing through them and exploding at the surface. Keep in mind that bait can be massed in pods by the thousands right up against the beach but can also be found hanging around at as much as 100 yards offshore. Big snook commonly cruise the trough between the beach and the bar. When the sun gets a little higher in the sky you will see the shadows of big fish a long way off before you can actually see them. Black Tips are common, along with schools of 20 plus pound jack crevalle. I start off slinging the Rapala X-Rap SXR-12 in either silver or glass ghost. You may have to walk into the water neck deep to be able to reach the school with spinning tackle. Other times casting from the beach is no problem. I prefer to use a stiff 8 ft spinning rod with a 6,000 series reel spooled with 30 lb braid and topped off with 3 ft of 50 lb fluorocarbon leader, this rig gives me lots of horsepower and maximum casting distance. When the Spring Bait Blitz is in full swing I take my fishing cart, cast net, live well, tackle bag and 2 to 3 rods with me. Again, I look for the birds crashing and I’ll throw the cast net for live bait. Finger mullet are a hearty, versatile bait and will catch tarpon, snook, sharks and more. To rig them I like to use a 5 ounce pyramid sinker with a sinker slide and a 4 ft 50 lb leader with a 7/0 circle hook. If I’m netting pilchards, I’ll either free line them, or set them up on a trolly rig. My trolly rig is a five once pyramid weight tied to the main line and casted straight off the beach. The pilchard is hooked through the nose on a 2/0 circle hook tied to a 4 foot fluorocarbon leader and attached to a sliding snap swivel which is then connected to the main line so that the live pilchard is allowed to swim freely the length of the main line. Any of these methods will produce fish. While waiting for the bite on your live baits, keep working your artificials. Capt. Jax Captain Jax Bait and Tackle 490c E 4th Ave, Hialeah, FL 33010 @captainjaxmiami 786.300.5362

12 MIAMI

MAY 2022

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MAY 2022

MIAMI 13


NOW LET’S C GROUPER OSCAR The oscar preparation is typically a topping for meat or in this case fish that consists of crab or lobster with a butter or cream sauce.

GROUPER PICCATA CLASSIC ITALIAN AMERICAN Piccata generally refers to a cutlet pounded thin, then breaded and fried with a sauce of lemon, capers, butter and parsley. Sources suggest that it is a sudo italian creation perhaps originating in Little Italy in New York around the turn of the century. Its true origin is beyond the scope of this writer’s research allowance. No matter, grouper makes a tasty Piccata variation especially when served with pasta. Save the pounding for the veal or chicken versions. This dish is not hard to make but is a real crowd pleaser so long as you don’t overcook the fish. INGREDIENTS 2-4 grouper filets Panko bread crumbs 2 eggs beat Salt and pepper to taste 1/3 cup olive oil 1 clove garlic, minced 1/2 cup dry white wine 1 cup fish stock / Seafood stock 2 lemons 3 tablespoon drained capers 1 stick unsalted butter 1 bunch finely chopped fresh parsley PREPARATION Cut the fish into serving size pieces, and pat dry with a paper towel. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Place the panko in a shallow dish and then dip the fish in the egg. Dredge the fish in the panko, shaking off any excess. Cook the fish in hot oil in a non-stick skillet over medium- high heat 2-3 minutes per side until done or just under. Remove from the skillet and set aside. Prepare a large pot of boiling salt water and cook the pasta until al dente’ In the skillet add the olive oil and the butter and warm over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds to a minute, careful not to burn, add the white wine and scrape up all of the brown bits left from the fish. Once reduced by half add the capers and the stock and reduce by half again. Add the fish back into the sauce and squeeze in the lemons. Next, add the fresh chopped parsley just before serving. To plate, place the fish over the pasta and spoon sauce over fish and pasta. Serve immediately.

14 MIAMI

MAY 2022

INGREDIENTS 2-4 Grouper filets 1 Florida lobster tail ⅓ cup olive oil 1 stick of butter Salt and pepper 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour 1 cup of lobster stock / seafood stock 1 bunch scallions diced 1 whole lemon 1 lemon Juiced PREPARATION Prepare the lobster tail by using a pair of kitchen shears to snip through the back of the shell, the length of the tail. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and blanch the lobster tail for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the tail from the boiling water and shock in an ice bath . This immediately stops the cooking and firms the meat. Remove the meat from the shell and using a chef ’s knife chop the meat into quarter to half inch chunks. Sprinkle lemon juice over the meat and set aside. Divide the grouper into serving size pieces. Season fish with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium high heat add olive oil and let the pan heat to just before smoke point. Add the fish and cook 2-3 minutes on each side until the fish has a nice crust on the outside and flakes on the inside. Do not over cook. Set fish aside Let the pan cool to medium heat and add the butter. Once the butter is melted add the flour. Stir until completely combined. Slowly add the broth and the lemon juice and reduce. Just before serving add in the lobster meat and scallions and warm. Plate the fish and spoon the lobster meat and sauce over the top. This dish could be served over wilted spinach or with other green vegetables like asparagus. .

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S COOK THAT GROUPER A

s we discussed in the feature article, the big three grouper species - the red, gag, and black, are the most common of the grouper species found here in South Florida. Whether you are catching and cooking or visiting a local seafood restaurant, grouper is likely some of our finest. The big three do offer a firm buttery flesh that can stand up to a robust preparation. It can handle it. The meat is firm and when cooked separates into large flakes. The taste is mild and savory with a sweet finish. When fresh and properly cooked there is no fishy flavor. The big three are versatile in that they can be prepared in an unending variety of ways. This section will take you through a couple of preparations beyond grouper fingers and grouper sandwiches.

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MAY 2022

MIAMI 15


16 MIAMI

MAY 2022

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MAY 2022

MIAMI 17


3

Los

Grandes by Coastal Angler Magazine Staff Writer.

¿

Sabe diferenciar un mero negro de un abadejo? Aunque estos peces se parecen mucho y parece existir confusión sobre cuál es cada uno, hay algunas características infalibles que le ayudarán a distinguir uno de otro. Aquí, en la costa este, la normativa de pesca recreativa es la misma para ambas especies; así que en temporada, se puede capturar un mero negro o un abadejo por pescador y por día, como parte del límite de capturas totales que tienen los mero y los blanquillos. Escucho muchas conversaciones, entre cervezas y fotos de peces, sobre que eso es un mero y eso es un pez negro, etc. Compruebe siempre la normativa oficial, ya que lo anterior se refiere únicamente a lo que está vigente en el momento de escribir este artículo. Hay unas 160 especies de meros de la subfamilia Epinephelidae. El abadejo, el mero rojo y el mero negro son las especies de mero de mayor importancia recreativa en el sur de Florida. Los llamaremos los tres grandes. Estos tres peces, en realidad, sólo se dan en el Atlántico occidental y se pueden encontrar en la costa oriental a lo largo del Golfo de México, aproximadamente hasta el sur de Brasil. El negro y el rojo

Orgulloso Patrocinador de la Sección Española.

CUANDO EL TRAYECTO ES

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3/11/2022 12:54:30 PM


se encuentran también en todo el Caribe, más sin embargo el abadejo no aparece tanto a medida que se avanza hacia el este. Otras especies de mero tienen su hogar aquí en el sur de Florida, incluyendo el rabilargo, el boca amarilla, el varsovia, el moteado y el nevado, entre otros. Los tres grandes no son migratorios, pero eso no quiere decir que no se desplacen en función de varios factores como la estación, el forraje y el hábitat. En la costa este, el invierno, con sus temperaturas de agua más frías, puede llevar a los tres peces a aguas menos profundas. Los peces pueden ser capturados en la bahía y en los arrecifes de parche en tan poco como 10 pies de agua. En los meses más cálidos, los peces más grandes se desplazan generalmente hacia la costa, al segundo arrecife y más allá. Las tres especies son de crecimiento lento y tardan años en alcanzar la madurez sexual, además son hermafroditas protogínicos y cambian su sexo de hembra a macho como parte de su ciclo vital natural. Todos los meros rojos, meros negros y abadejos empiezan siendo hembras, y la mayoría se convierten en machos entre los 6 y los 10 años de edad, dependiendo de la especie y de otros factores. La ciencia teoriza que el cambio de sexo puede ser provocado por el tamaño, la edad o la proporción de machos y hembras en un grupo determinado.

EL MERO ROJO

CUNA AGUAJÍ O ABADEJO

El mero rojo (Epinephelus Morio) es el más pequeño de los tres, pero también compone más del 60% de los meros que se capturan comercialmente en Florida, lo que representa casi 3 millones de libras al año. El mero negro y el abadejo componen la mayor parte del otro 30%, aunque hay otros. La mayoría de los meros que se capturan comercialmente en Florida son atrapados en el Golfo de México. El mero rojo puede alcanzar pesos superiores a 50 libras, longitudes de más de 3 pies y puede vivir más de 20 años. Sin embargo, los peces más pequeños son mucho más comunes. El récord mundial de pesca es de 42 libras, capturado en las costas de San Agustín, Florida. Pueden prosperar en profundidades de 10 pies a más de 300 pies y se alimentan de cualquier cosa que se les ponga por delante, incluyendo peces aleta, cangrejos, calamares y pulpos. Recientemente pesqué un mero rojo que tenía una langosta entera en su estómago, con la antena saliendo de su boca, cuando golpeó mi Rapala X-rap. Son agresivos y voraces. El mero rojo es único en comparación con los otros dos, ya que en realidad es un miembro de un género diferente. Sus hábitos de alimentación son distintos, pues es más propenso a comer un cebo muerto o un cebo cortado; eso no quiere decir que rechace un pececillo vivo. El mero rojo tiende a ser más displicente y tímido en comparación con las otras dos especies. Es el menos atlético de los tres, con una constitución más robusta y una tendencia a alimentarse cerca de casa. Los meros rojos suelen desovar en abril y mayo.

El cuna aguají o abadejo (Mycteroperca Microlepis), es uno de los peces deportivos más grandes del fondo. El récord mundial para estos peces, según la IGFA, es un pez de más de 80 libras capturado en Destin, Florida, en 1993. Son un poco más alargados y un poco más atléticos que sus primos rojos y se pueden pescar lanzando cebos vivos en la estructura, a la deriva, con poteras e incluso al curricán con tapones. Los abadejos en nuestro lado del estado se encuentran en cualquier estructura de la bahía, literalmente a 10 pies de profundidad, hasta más de 300 pies de agua. Se pueden pescar en la hierba, en los arrecifes, en los pecios y bajo los muelles. De igual forma, se pueden abordar en los pasos y en los agujeros. El aspecto de los abadejos es similar al del mero negro, con algunas sutiles diferencias. Suelen tener un patrón de color tostado y marrón oscuro en el cuerpo, con aletas de color más claro y un toque blanco o incluso a veces turquesa en los bordes de la segunda aleta dorsal, la aleta anal y la cola. Además, tanto los negros como los abadejos tienen una placa afilada, casi como un cuchillo, en la mejilla. La placa de la mejilla del abadejo tiene un borde afilado y dentado, mientras que la placa de la mejilla del mero negro es más redonda y suave. Los abadejos desovan de enero a mayo.

EL MERO NEGRO El mero negro maduro (Mycteroperca Bonaci) es, sin duda, uno de los peces más dominantes del arrecife, con la única excepción del Goliath y tal vez uno o dos tiburones. Este pez es el más grande de nuestros tres grandes, ya que crece hasta 48 pulgadas y pesa hasta 180 libras. El récord estatal del mero negro, fue un pez de 113 libras capturado cerca de Dry Tortuga, y el récord mundial es de 124 libras, capturado en el Golfo de México, cerca de Texas. Cuando se trata de pescar meros negros grandes, lo mejor es utilizar cebos vivos de gran tamaño. A nosotros nos gusta utilizar un cebo fuerte como un pinfish, un grunt o un blue runner, pero el mero negro es un oportunista total y comerá cualquier cosa. Además, estos son peces que saldrán de sus escondites y perseguirán los cebos, por lo que no es raro encontrarlos cazando a 100 metros de la estructura. A estos meros les gustan las salientes y las cuevas, así que a menudo se les puede encontrar en el lado de la corriente ascendente de la estructura. Si estás a la deriva de un naufragio, dale un golpe extra antes de restablecer el camino. Los meros negros suelen desovar en los meses de invierno. Para más información sobre los tres grandes, visítenos en la web https://coastalanglermag.com/miami Escritor de Coastal Angler Miami

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MAY 2022

MIAMI 19


AGUA DULCE by Capitán Mike Tojdowski

E

l clima en el sur de Florida en el mes de mayo no es lo único que se está calentando: ¡la picada de róbalo y tarpón también está al rojo vivo! Estas condiciones meteorológicas hacen que ambas especies estén muy activas y su mejor apuesta para encontrarlos es al anochecer o al amanecer, mientras se alimentan en los puentes u otros cuerpos de agua en movimiento. Tienden a alimentarse más en esta época del año para mantener su tamaño, después de los abundantes meses de invierno. Debido a este mayor nivel de actividad, noto que los tarpón (conocidos también como sábalo real) se revuelven más a menudo, tomando aire para reponer sus niveles de oxígeno agotados en los lagos y canales de agua más cálida para sobrevivir en agua dulce. Esto da a los pescadores una ventaja adicional para verlos rodar y hacer lances delante de ellos. La clave del éxito: El tarpón y el róbalo son peces muy inteligentes con una gran vista, por lo que el elemento sorpresa es muy importante a la hora de pescarlos. Es imprescindible realizar lances largos y presentar el cebo de la forma más natural posible. Tanto los róbalos como los sábalos son conocidos por seguir el cebo durante mucho tiempo, y sólo se alejan en el último momento si creen que hay algo raro. Consejos: 1. Estructuras: Estos peces son depredadores de emboscada. Busque estructuras en el agua como árboles caídos, pilotes de puentes, alcantarillas con agua corriente y zonas donde se unen dos o más masas de agua. 2. Cebo: ¡Elija el cebo adecuado! La mejor opción es siempre el cebo vivo, como los peces joya, los lucillos dorados y los sábalos. Si no es posible, los mejores cebos artificiales son los señuelos Paddle Tails, los señuelos Z-Man, los cebos Suspending Twitch de la serie III, los señuelos Tannic Stained Shad y los señuelos con escamas Live Target. 3. Aguas para pescar: Las aguas C-100 para la lubina y el pavón, C-111 para el pavón, el sábalo y el róbalo. La C-2/4 es la zona más difícil de pescar en el sur de Florida debido a las aguas más profundas y a la gran cantidad de propiedades privadas a las que sólo se puede acceder en barco. Kendall y South Dade tienen algunos pequeños lagos y canales que son fácilmente accesibles fuera de la tierra y tienen grandes ejemplos de todos estos peces. Puede encontrar más lugares si dedica algo de tiempo a la búsqueda. Errores a evitar: Estos peces son acrobáticos por naturaleza y normalmente se lanzan al aire en los primeros segundos después de golpear el cebo unas cuantas veces durante la propia batalla. Los dos errores más importantes que debe evitar cometer son: 1. No clavar el anzuelo con suficiente fuerza inmediatamente después de la picada, para así adentrarse en sus bocas. 2. No extender la caña para crear una holgura adecuada, que reduzca la tensión en la línea cuando el pez dé el primer salto en el aire y los siguientes. Los estudios han demostrado que un tarpón produce más de 150 libras de presión cuando agita la cabeza en el aire, lo que también se conoce en la comunidad de pescadores como “reverencia al rey”. Por otro lado, los róbalos tienen pómulos afilados que probablemente le cortarán si no le da a su línea suficiente holgura durante el salto y entra en contacto con ellos en cualquier momento. Ambos peces tienen sus propias armas secretas para evitar ser capturados y es por ello que estas formidables bestias se consideran capturas de trofeo. Se necesita habilidad y delicadeza para desembarcarlas. Tenga en cuenta que los tarpón (sábalos) de más de 40 pulgadas no deben sacarse del agua por ningún motivo y la FWC impone fuertes multas a los infractores. Los róbalos también tienen sus propias restricciones, dependiendo de la región y de los límites de tamaño. Recomiendo encarecidamente que consulte con su oficina local de la FWC, antes de dirigirse a cualquier pez en aguas de Florida para así evitar confusiones. Urban Legends Fishing Charters siempre practica la captura y liberación de todas las especies para garantizar la seguridad y la preservación de las mismas, con el fin de que las generaciones futuras puedan disfrutar en los próximos años. ¡Líneas tensas para todos! Capitán Mike Tojdowski 305-998-3375 Síguenos en Urban Legends Fishing Charter Síguenos en Instagram @Urbanlegendsfishing o visita nuestra página web ULFish.com

20 MIAMI

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A

FLAMINGO

by NestorAlvisa

medida que nos adentramos en mayo, la mayoría de los capitanes de Charter están bloqueados o reservados para el inicio de la temporada de Mero. Hay varias especies de meros en las aguas de Florida, una de las que abunda en mi zona (Flamingo, Bahía de Florida y el sur del Golfo de México) es el mero Goliath. Parece que este pez se ha convertido en una molestia cada vez mayor en todo el estado en los últimos años. Aunque la temporada de mero se abre el 1 de mayo, la captura de cualquier mero gigante sigue estando prohibida, pues debido a la sobrepesca y a la práctica destrucción de las poblaciones, en 1990 se aprobaron leyes para proteger a esta especie. Dicho esto, 30 años más tarde, han hecho una sorprendente reaparición. Este aumento significativo del número de meros ha hecho que muchos pescadores presionen al estado para que se realice algún tipo de captura de estos peces, para así ayudar a controlar su número. Muchos se han quejado de que sus capturas han sido tragadas enteras al salir de los pecios y arrecifes, tanto en las aguas del Atlántico como del Golfo. Otros se han quejado de que estos peces se apoderan de cualquier estructura a la que se desplazan y diezman otras especies de peces deportivos. Para algunos parece que sus plegarias han sido atendidas, ya que a partir de la primavera de 2023 se volverá a permitir la captura de esta especie. A través de un sorteo, los pescadores tendrán la oportunidad de ganar una etiqueta para capturar uno de estos peces. El estado emitirá 200 etiquetas para permitir la captura de los meros en todo el estado y de esas, sólo 50 estarán disponibles para la captura de peces en el Parque Nacional de los Everglades. Según la Comisión de Conservación de Pesca y Vida Silvestre de Florida – FWC: • Las etiquetas costarán 150 dólares cada una para los residentes y 500 dólares cada una para los pescadores de fuera del estado. • La captura está limitada a un pez por pescador, por temporada abierta con la etiqueta, la cual es intransferible. • La temporada será del 1 de marzo al 31 de mayo. • Estos peces sólo se podrán capturar con anzuelo y sedal. • Los Goliath serán peces de “límite reglamentario”, lo que significa que deben estar en el rango de 24 y 36 pulgadas de largo. • Otras aguas fuera de los límites de la cosecha incluyen todo el río St. Lucie y sus afluentes, el Parque Nacional Dry Tortugas y las aguas federales. • Después de capturar el mero, los pescadores deben informar de los datos de la captura y enviar un clip de aleta al estado para su análisis genético. EL ENFOQUE Ahora bien, ¿cómo podemos capturar estos peces? Muchos están de acuerdo en que estos peces son “aspiradoras”, ya que el mero Goliath inhala cualquier cosa que se le presente. Así pues, lo primero que hago es identificar la estructura que creo que albergará a los peces. Utilizo la opción de My Spot Lock en mi Minn kota Ulterra, para mantener el barco directamente sobre la estructura. En mi zona, rara vez pescamos a más de 9 metros de profundidad. A continuación, hago que mis pescadores lancen algunos pequeños jigs de cola de ciervo con cañas de spinning ligeras para capturar cualquier jurel, corredor azul o caballa española que esté rondando la estructura. Una vez que hemos conseguido nuestro cebo, estamos listos para bajar al fondo donde viven estos meros Goliath. Utilizo un carrete convencional de tamaño 30 a 50, cargado con una trenza de 65 a 120 libras y un sedal de 150 a 400 libras, en una caña pesada. El cebo lo monto con un anzuelo pesado del 8/0-12/0, con un huevo plomo del 4-24 para que el bajo de línea pueda deslizarse por el peso. Elegiremos la cantidad de plomo en función de la profundidad, la corriente y el tipo de cebo. Ahora que ya está montado y listo para lanzar, asegúrese de sujetar bien el cebo. Una vez que el cebo llegue al fondo, si los peces están allí, ¡lo encontrarán rápidamente! Nestor Alvisa @hooked_on_flamingo_charters Hooked On Flamingo Charters 786.387.2443

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MIAMI 21


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PESCA en la PLAYA by Raymond Muniz, Capt. Jax

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n mayo comienza la temporada de meros y mientras todos los demás esperan que la pesca de fondo se ponga en marcha, con los ojos entornados y evasivos, yo me deslizo hasta las playas a pie. El calentamiento de las temperaturas y los patrones de viento templado de mayo marcan el comienzo de lo que yo llamo el “Spring Bait Blitz”. En el sur de la Florida, el “Spring Bait Blitz” es el momento en que los salmonetes, las corvinas, las merluzas, los arenques y las sardinas inundan las playas por millones. Como todos los buenos pescadores saben, los peces grandes siempre siguen el cebo; el sábalo, el róbalo, los corredores azules, la barracuda, el Jack crevalle monstruoso e incluso los tiburones aparecen en abundancia y con apetito. La acción comenzará temprano y continuará durante todo el día. Para comenzar, me dirijo a la playa, a cualquier playa, y busco pájaros; si no veo aves, vuelvo al coche y sigo conduciendo hasta que las encuentro. Los pájaros, como de costumbre, son el mejor amigo para localizar enormes bancos de cebo. Busco aquellos que están bombardeando en picada, pues esto me permite presenciar grandes bancos de cebo con peces atacantes, que los atraviesan y se disparan hacia la superficie. Tenga en cuenta que el cebo puede estar concentrado en miles de grupos justo frente a la playa, pero también puede encontrarse a 100 metros de la costa. Los grandes róbalos suelen navegar por la depresión entre la playa y la barra. Cuando el sol está un poco más alto en el cielo, verá las sombras de los peces grandes a una gran distancia antes de poder verlos realmente; las puntas negras son comunes, junto con cardúmenes de jack crevalle de más de 20 libras. Yo empiezo con el Rapala X-Rap SXR-12 en plata o cristal fantasma. En algunas ocasiones es posible que tenga que entrar en el agua hasta el cuello, para poder llegar al banco con el equipo de spinning y, en otras ocasiones, hacer el lanzamiento desde la playa no será un problema. Yo prefiero utilizar una caña de spinning de 8 pies, con un carrete de la serie 6.000 con un trenzado de 30 libras y un bajo de línea de fluorocarbono de 50 libras. Cuando el Spring Bait Blitz está en pleno apogeo, me llevo mi carro de pesca, la red, el pozo vivo, la bolsa de aparejos y unas 2 o 3 cañas. De nuevo, busco los pájaros que se estrellan contra el agua y lanzo la red para conseguir un cebo vivo. Los salmonetes son un cebo abundante y versátil que sirven para pescar sábalos, róbalos, tiburones y otros. Para montarlos me gusta usar una plomada piramidal de 5 onzas con una corredera y un bajo de línea de 4 pies y 50 libras, con un anzuelo circular del 7/0. Si voy a pescar sardinas con red, lo hago con una línea libre o con un aparejo de carretilla. Mi aparejo es una pesa piramidal de cinco pulgadas, atada a la línea principal y lanzada directamente desde la playa. La sardina se engancha por el morro en un anzuelo circular del 2/0, atado a un bajo de línea de fluorocarbono de 4 pies y unido a un eslabón giratorio deslizante, que luego se conecta a la línea principal para que la sardina viva pueda nadar libremente a lo largo de esta. Cualquiera de estos métodos producirá peces y mientras espera a que piquen los cebos vivos, siga trabajando con los artificiales. Captain Jax Bait and Tackle 490c E 4th Ave, Hialeah, FL 33010 @captainjaxmiami 786.300.5362

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MIAMI BRAGBOARD We want to see your catch! Send your photos with name(s) and details to miami@coastalanglermagazine.com

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FWC CONSIDERS STATEWIDE REDFISH MANAGEMENT CHANGES

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

Figure 1. Proposed redfish management regions.

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

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

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

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

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

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he Florida Fish and Wildlife Conser vation Commission will seek final approval for regulations changes to facilitate management for trophy largemouth bass at Fellsmere Water Management Area, also known as Headwaters Lake, in Indian River County. Fellsmere, which was designed to become a trophy bass fishery when it was impounded more than a decade ago, is already renowned as a trophy bass fishery. It is believed custom regulations will help the fishery grow bass 15 pounds and larger. Special regulations for Fellsmere would include catch and release of all largemouth bass and circle hook requirements when fishing live bait greater than 3 inches in length. These measures were previously approved at the December 2021 meeting of the commission. FWC staff will request final approval at the May 4 meeting of the commission in Gainesville.

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REPORT YOUR COBIA CATCH

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PHOTO COURTESY OF CAPT. CEFUS MCRAE

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

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he market’s swimming with overpriced dive watches. We’re here to tell you those guys are all wet. At Stauer our philosophy is everyone deserves the best without having to dig deep into their pockets. We’ve been in the watch industry for decades and know more than a thing or two about getting the ultimate bang for our buck— which means we can pass the fruits of our know-how onto our clients. Case in point: The Explorer Dive Watch. This tough-as-nails sophisticate would cost you in the thousands if you got it from a high-end retailer that’s really in the business of selling a big name more than a quality watch. We keep the big names out of the equation so we can price this top-notch timepiece for just $99 –– a price that let’s you dive in and have enough left over for an excursion or two...or three. You’re getting a lot for your money with this watch. The Explorer is the perfect companion in any locale–– whether you’re exploring coral reefs or investigating the rum options at a beachside bar. With a case, band and crown of stainless steel, this watch is built to last, and its water resistance rating of 20 ATM means it can handle most of your aquatic adventures to a depth of 678 feet. The striking metallic blue face reflects the “...dive watches feel authentic—they project an air of necessity which other categories of timepieces simply fail to match” —Hodinhee.com

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

PHOTO BY PATRICK DOLL

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CoastalAnglerMag.com/contest 14 NATIONAL

MAY 2022

FLEXIBLE LIMIT

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PROPOSED FOR MAKOS

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

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

TARPON FIGHTING TIPS By CAM Staff

1) Bow to the King:

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

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

PHOTO COURTESY OF CAPT. JEFF MAGGIO

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

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


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THE SCREEN TELLS ALL

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Tim Barefoot

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

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

m

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

MAY 2022

NATIONAL 19


Making Memories M

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

By Capt. Michael Okruhlik

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

The Return of a

PHOTO COURTESY OF KNOCKIN TAIL LURES

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Offshore,

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

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MAY 2022

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

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