Coastal Angler Magazine | December 2022 | MississippI Edition

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TROUT TIPS FOR Wintertime

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nick Carter is the author of “Flyfisher’s Guide to North Carolina & Georgia.” Contact him at nsc8957@gmail.com.

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Berkeley County, South Carolina

Berkeley County is a wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts, sports buffs, adventure seekers, and water lovers. From exemplary fishing for striped bass, or a trophy largemouth bass, to our hiking trails and water activities, along with scenic outdoors where you can catch a glimpse of white tail deer and gators, Berkeley County has activities to fit all visitors and families. Learn more about Berkeley County at: exploreberkeleycounty.com

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Peacock Bass Luxury

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

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

G: What is it?

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

G: When?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you are interested in a Brazilian fishing adventure, e-mail Johnny at captain@ SFLFishingCharters.com or Gary at gary@purgeright.com.

By Capt. Johnny Stabile and Gary Turner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is one of the most important aspects

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

Check out some awesome bottom fishing videos at https://youtu.be/w1YmT6M0ObQ.

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As the water temps continue to drop with every cold front, speckled trout are going to continue to push further up in to our creeks and rivers in search of warmth. The mudlayered bottom of these creeks is a good insulator of heat. The muddier and softer the bottom is the better the spot will be. A key area I look for when finding these spots are open bays or flats in close relation to creek or river channels.

Rocks

Another area that holds a lot of heat are

There are also several videos covering These Topics and many oThers on our youTube channel “souThern salT KayaK Fishing”. be sure To head over These and subscribe To our channel.

rock banks. I particularly look to fish these areas on blue bird days where the sun is shining bright. These rocky areas are going to put off a lot of heat from the sun and will provide a warmer area for speckled trout. The bigger the boulders the better the spot!

channels

Lastly, I like to look for deep channels in the 20 – 30 foot range. Speckled trout will gather in huge schools in deeper water. I prefer to fish these areas on gloomy days when there is more cloud coverage than sunshine. When mapping out and looking for these areas always try to focus your efforts in areas that hold a lot of underwater structure as this is where the baitfish will congregate and the speckled trout will not be far behind.

I hope you all find this article helpful and gets you out there on some big trout this winter. Until next time, tight lines and good luck!

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December is always a fun month to be out on the water. Yes, you'll have to watch the cold fronts coming down, but on those calm days, it's unbelievable fishing. With the drought and low river, the salinity should be way up. Temperature will be the big factor this month.

If the weather stays on the warmer side, our trout should stay on the oyster reefs and in the Bays. If it's colder, the trout typically head into the deeper ditches, holes, and rivers. The colder it gets, the slower your presentation should be. Lighter lead and or slow sinking twitch baits work well. If you haven't done this type fishing, when you think you're fishing slow enough, slow down more... of course live bait will work fine too.

The nearshore reefs from Waveland to Pass Christian have been stellar pretty much all year. You never know what's waiting for you on these reefs. One cast it's speckled trout, the next it's sheepshead, another it's redfish, etc. The bigger swings in the tides have usually been the better bites.

Our all time favorite part of December is the sight casting to redfish!!! On those calm, blue bird

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days, we are putting the boats deep into the marsh. The duck ponds should be full of feeding redfish. Finding the fish is the biggest hurdle. Once you find a pond or shore line holding reds, it's not too difficult after that. You definitely wanna be quiet. No stomping or slamming lids. Ideally, you want the sun at your back and the wind in your face. If the fish are feeding, you can get creative with your baits. Top water, spoons, spinners, flies, whatever. If the fish get lock jaw, some live or dead shrimp does well to trigger a strike. Please be careful with the weather and the tides. Let someone know the area you'll be fishing, and when you should be back. As always, have fun and be safe.

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Mississippi Kitchen Delights

SEARED RED SNAPPER WITH SALSA VERDE RISOTTO

My good buddy, Captain James McCanless of Aquiline Custom Charters, LLC, invited me on a late season snapper fishing trip last week. Thanks to his Simrad sonar system, we were able to find some good structure that were home to plenty of red snapper! We dropped down dead pogey and squid to catch a quick limit! For my late season catch, I decided to go simple and pair seared filets with a warm, salsa verde risotto. This meal is absolutely perfect for a cool fall night!

IngreDIents:

• 4 cups chicken bone broth

• 2 tbsp butter

• 2 tbsp olive oil

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• 2 shallots, minced

• 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano

• 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

• 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

• 4 anchovy filets, chopped

• 1/2 to 1 jar capers

• 1 tbsp white wine vinegar

• 1 1/2 cup Arborio rice

• 4 Snapper filets

• Lemon wedges for serving

1. Add stock plus a cup of water to saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and keep warm.

2. Heat butter and oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallot and cook 4 mins until soft. Add garlic, mustard, anchovy, and capers; cook for a minute or until fragrant.

3. Add rice, stir to coat evenly with oil and cook 2-3 mins while stirring.

4. Add hot stock to rice, one ladle at a time. Stir in stock and allow it to absorb before adding more stock. Continue this process until the stock is gone and the rice can absorb no more liquid. The risotto will be creamy and thick. The grains of rice will be similar to pasta in texture.

5. When rice is done absorbing stock, stir in herbs and vinegar and season to taste. Keep warm.

6. Season snapper with Fishmonger Fisherman's Blend by Fire&Smoke.

7. Heat griddle to medium-high heat. Add filets and cook 2-3 mins per side.

8. Serve snapper over a bed of risotto along with a generous amount of lemon wedges and crusty bread.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 NATIONAL DECEMBER 2022 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM
Big
Capt. Michael Okruhlik is the inventor of Knockin Tail Lures®, Controlled Descent Lures™, and the owner of www.MyCoastOutdoors.com.
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On a recent trip to Tucson, we spoke with fourth generation turquoise traders who explained that less than five percent of turquoise mined worldwide can be set into jewelry and only about twenty mines in the Southwest supply gem-quality turquoise. Once a thriving industry, many Southwest mines have run dry and are now closed.

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MONSTER SMALLIE IS GREAT LAKES RECORD

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

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

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

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

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

12 NATIONAL DECEMBER 2022 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM
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5 WINTERTIME FISHERIES

Instead of spending the next few months holed up inside, get yourself a good parka, nd a window of decent weather and go shing. Believe it or not, for some sheries winter o ers some of the best action of the year. Here are a few ideas to help you combat cabin fever.

1) Wintertime Wahoo:

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

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

2) South Florida Sailfsh: From

December

through February

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM DECEMBER 2022 NATIONAL 13

TROUBLED ATLANTIC STRIPED BASS STOCKS TREND UPWARD

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

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

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

What does this mean for anglers?

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

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

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

The Return of a

For more information, visit www.asmfc.org.

14 NATIONAL DECEMBER 2022 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM
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