Coastal Angler Magazine | March 2022 | Mississippi Gulf Coast Edition

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MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST EDITION

INSHORE TRANSITIONS

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LOCAL PHOTOS & FORECASTS VOLUME 27 • ISSUE 324

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S R E V I L E D H C A E PALM B

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t was a good winter in the Atlantic off south Florida’s Palm Beach County. Capt. Austin Rowe said that bodes well for the spring season, when a convergence of several different bites typically makes for some of the best action of the year. “March, April and May are by far my favorite time of year around here,” he said in mid-February. “We’re already starting to see some blackfin tunas right now, which is kind of uncommon. It was a crazy-good winter for mahi, and it was a good for sailfish, as well. I’ve got my fingers crossed that the fish stick around for spring, and we can really put a hurting on them.” Rowe is a young captain who grew up fishing here, where the Gulf Stream sweeps warm nutrient-rich waters northward just a few miles offshore. He captains “Angler Management,” a 34’ Legend center console with twin 300s. With a crew of up to six clients, it is a perfect ride for making the short runs out of Singer Island’s Sailfish Marina quickly and comfortably.

By Nick Carter

“One of the really beautiful things about fishing around here is you don’t have to go very far to get to the fish,” he said. “A full tank of gas lasts a long time.” Most spring mornings start for clients with a run of just 3 or 4 miles out of the inlet with tanks pre-loaded with live threadfin herring and/or goggle eyes. Kite fishing is the preferred method in this part of the world, and that’s exactly what Rowe does when conditions are right. “I’m looking at water color, temperature and moving water. I’m also looking for bait,” Rowe said. “I’m a big fan of charts, and I study them religiously looking for eddies and things, but keeping your eyes open is the biggest thing when you’re out there. If you see live water, with birds diving, it’s probably time to pick up and go see what’s happening over there.” With kites—or drifting with flatlines when conditions call for them—you’re targeting anything that will eat live baits at the surface. That can produce some pretty exciting mixed bags.

“We see a lot of blackfin tunas. There should still be some sailfish around. The kingfish start to show up pretty thick this time of year, and there are also mahi,” Rowe said. “And don’t forget wahoo. Wahoo can get really good around the full moon in March.” If all else fails, or if his clients just want some more meat, the reef is just a couple miles from the kite-fishing grounds, and it’s usually no problem to load up a cooler full of snappers in short order. Big African Pompano also make regular appearances on the reef. Rowe said that by the end of the day, if his anglers aren’t too worn out, he’ll stop in the inlet and let them test their strength against some hard-pulling jack crevalle. You can pack a whole lot of fishing into a full day when you don’t have to run far to find fish. Check out Austin Rowe and Absolute Action Sportfishing Charters at absoluteactionfishing.com.

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ventilation, you’ll conquer every battle, every day. GILLZ took its Pro Series UV Hoodie to the next level. They went one step further and provided anglers with a built-in mesh mask to go along with the 3-piece hood construction. Now, you’re able to keep your gear organized in one place for when that unexpected pull on the reel turns into a clash of strength. Brand new to this collection is the Pro Series Board Shorts. Made of recycled quickdry polyester, the 9-inch inseam gives you the freedom to move without worry, and the secure cellphone hip pocket keeps your devices safe from any damage. This time, Gillz introduces anglers to a new design feature: a no-sew fabrication. This means no chafing or irritation as you charge headfirst against the waves. The Contenders Series, delivers an amazing fit and feel for each and every angler. With the Contender Series Long-sleeve or Hoodie, you’re guaranteed to have 360-degree cooling and 170 GSM interlocking polyester that gives you perfect performance every single time. Moreover, you’re given an extended range of motion that allows every angler to move freely. When facing the unpredictable outdoors, GILLZ Gear and the new Spring 2022 who want Collection will give you the power to perform to face the at your best, no matter where you and Mother elements head-on. With our GILLZTEC proprietary fabric, Nature meet. With prices starting at $39.99, there’s 4-way stretch, and the ability to modify with something for every angler from the Atlantic to the shoulder shape, the Pro Series Long-Sleeves and Pacific and every waterway in between! Hoodies fit every angler to perfection. Plus, when Check out the Gillz Spring 2022 Collection you add on UPF 50+, ultra cooling, a single seam at gillz-gear.com. underarm mesh gusset, and complete 360-degree

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MONSTER BASS ON

JURASSIC LAKE

I

t piques my interest when “Jurassic” appears in a nickname. So is the case with Jurassic Lake, a 10,000-acre reservoir in Fellsmere, Florida, officially known has Headwaters Lake. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) had a goal to turn Headwaters into a worldclass trophy bass fishery. By all accounts, they succeeded. Just a little over 10 years ago, this bassfishing mecca was farmlands, cattle pastures and orange groves. The St. Johns River Water Management District purchased the lands from Sun-Ag to build a reservoir intended to provide a water supply for surrounding communities and flood control for the St. Johns River. The FWC saw an opportunity and invested $1.35 million in bass fishing “enhancements.” Prior to the reservoir’s flooding in 2015, the FWC constructed fish habitat in the form of winding channels, dredge holes, flats, islands and more, with the goal of providing the optimum combination of structure, depth and spawning habitat. The FWC planted 15,000 bald cypress and red maple trees on the numerous islands, and they stocked over a million bass, bream and crappie. If there is a downside to Headwaters, it’s that there is so much awesome, fishy-looking habitat that it can be a little over whelming trying to figure out where to fish. Since August 2020, when the Headwaters Lake boat ramp opened, 103 trophy bass (bass eight pounds or larger) have been registered into FWC’s Trophy Catch program from Headwaters. Who knows how many other giants were caught that were never entered into Trophy Catch? The biggest registered catch is a 13-pound, 1-ounce monster caught by kayak angler Mary Kelly on January 24, 2022. Those are pretty impressive results for a reservoir that is not even seven years old. Jim Fallon, the Godfather of Headwaters,

10 NATIONAL

MARCH 2022

By Paul MacInnis

has probably fished these waters more than anybody. “I love this lake because of the design of the habitats, the natural beauty and all the great fishing,” said Fallon. You’ll find Fallon on the reservoir three to five times a week. He’s been fishing there since 2018, before the boat ramp opened, when he’d drag a kayak into the reservoir from the bank. Fallon says a competent bass angler should catch 15 to 40 bass on an average day with a decent shot at a trophy fish every trip. Fallon has caught almost 50 bass over eight pounds from Headwaters, including 13 in the double digits, all on artificial baits. The address for the Headwaters Lake boat ramp is 16245 Fellsmere Grade Road, Fellsmere, Fla. Headwaters is an hour and a half drive from Orlando, making it a great diversion on a central Florida vacation. The nearby city of Palm Bay has convenient hotels, many with bass boat friendly parking lots. An internet search will bring up several Headwaters guides who can put you on a bass of a lifetime. For more information, visit MyFWC.com.

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APPROACHING THE

TRANSITION

A

By Capt. Michael Okruhlik

s I type this article in early February, the temperature is 38 and the forecasted lows across the Texas coast will dip into the mid to upper twenties for a few nights. This should place larger seatrout into full-blown winter mode, which is a great thing. It might not be so cold where you fish, but similar patterns should exist wherever there are big trout. Predicting movements and habits is always easier when the seasons are typical. This tells me where I should start in early March versus where I should fish later in the month. In early March, I look for shallow areas with irregular soft mud and grass bottoms. I particularly like these areas adjacent to deeper water, as the night temps will still cool flats to less favorable temps for large trout. The term “deeper” will be different for each area. So, as you plan your trip, you should focus on deeper pockets in relation to the overall area. Early in the month, I will stick to a larger profile lure

like a 5-inch paddletail. The trout will still be feeding on mature mullet, and the 5-inch swimbait is a great imitation. These lures are versatile, and they are ideal due to the finicky nature of trout during the transition from winter to spring. A slow roll can be deadly when trout move onto a flat to warm and feed. Depending on the conditions, a slow roll just under the surface that creates a slight ripple can trigger an aggressive strike. If the bait is down, I will slow roll the lure in the mid to lower water portion of the water column. The versatility of these lures also allows them to be jigged and twitched; however, I prefer to do that in a little deeper water. As the water temps rise later in the month, fish become more difficult to pattern. Although high temps warm the water faster, persistent cool fronts still chill the waters, and the wind shifts can wreak havoc on the pattern. It keeps fish and anglers confused. During this part of the season, I tend to move often, not devoting too much time to a location or pattern. Changing things up often until you find them is more effective than banging it out in a spot like I would do in early March. Lures to choose from are wide open here. Small and large soft plastics in the twitch or paddletail style can all be effective. Topwaters and slow sinking hard baits can also produce. Keep moving and changing lure styles, sizes, colors and action until you find the bite. Don’t forget to take a kid fishing. You will be surprised what they can teach you when they put the electronics down. Capt. Michael Okruhlik is the inventor of Knockin Tail Lures, Controlled Descent Lures, and the owner of www.MyCoastOutdoors.com.

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arm weather is right around the corner and flip flop season is upon us! With this comes some amazing speckled trout fishing!

ut

As the water temps begin to creep back up into the 60s, the speckled trout are going to leave the deep channels of the creeks and begin to make their way south for the spawn. These migration patterns create some outstanding opportunities to land not only quality trout but also catch them in numbers! As these trout prepare for the spawn, they are going to feed heavily creating larger feeding windows and more opportunities. One of the key areas to look for these trout are going to be the flats just outside of the main river and creek mouths. These trout will be a little easier to locate, just look for the huge pods of glass minnows being blown up on in the shallows. I like to target these trout with a Mirrodine 17MR, the erratic action, flash and rattle are hard for an aggressive trout, whose been freezing all winter long, to turn down. Lastly, keep an eye on the water temps. Cold fronts will push push the trout back into the creeks and warming trends will push the trout further south ultimately leading them to their spawning grounds. For more information on Spring time speckled trout and all things inshore fishing, be sure to check out our YouTube channel “Southern Salt”. We drop several videos each week and go in depth with fishing tutorials. Until next time Tight Lines and hope to see you out on the water!

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in March Fishin'

Forecast by Sonny Schindler

2 MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST

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arch is kind of a "hope for the best, but plan for should be teeming with redfish. the worst" kinda month. I'm not saying that in a Watch for bait, and signs of life. If bad way, you just need to have a plan. you aren't seeing crabs, minnows, Historically, March is a chilly and breezy month. You shrimp, or obviously reds, make a can and will get a few nice breaks from Mother Nature. move to another area. You always Usually, you're getting a northerly breeze this month. want the wind in your face and That's not a bad thing. The sheepshead, puppy drum the sun at your back for your best And redfish should be stacked on the reefs and visibility. When the reds are there, bridges. Being able to use the shorelines to break the you can throw just about anything. winds will you allow way more days to fish. This is a tough Spoons, soft plastics, top water, flies month for our live bait stores. If and when they have live will all work. Just lead the fish, and shrimp, get it and always be sure to tip those hard working get it in front of them. men and2021 women.COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM GET YOUR BOAT, NOVEMBER We are using 20lb braided line on the Okuma Epixor ENGINE, TRAILER, TACKLE, 30 spinning reels. A stout rod helps, because you're gonna SAFETY GEAR, ETC need to yank these fish away from structure. I like a in order now. Spring is just sturdy 1/0 hook, and really any weighted bottom rig will about here, and it's gonna be busy work(Carolina, Dropper, knocker, etc). Getting as close as on and the off water. you can to the strictures is key. Plan to loose tackle as well. As always, have fun and be safe. On those picture perfect days, we are gonna be down in the Louisiana Marsh. The shallow ponds and shorelines

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Offshore Report Derek Stiglet Nelson Outdoors Pro-Staff

Of March 2021 January 2022 MARCH 2022 D Offsh Nelson Der Nelson Ou Soon enough, the winter weather will begin to slowly fade out and bring in the warmer, summer weather to get the fishing season cranked up. These African Pompano are an exciting species to target majority of the year. The summer and fall months have proven to be the best time of the year to harvest them. This particular fish was caught in March on a vertical knife jig in 250ft of water over some natural bottom areas along the shelf out of Pascagoula, Mississippi. They range across the Gulf waters from Florida to Texas. South of Mississippi in 250ft of water seems to be my main area of focus when I target them. They are easily caught once located with a good sonar. They tend to school up just like Amberjack or Jack Crevalle and can be caught in most of the same ways. Chunking baits such as herring or pogys or vertical jigging knife jigs or flutter jigs will entice them to strike. They strike just as fast and fight just as hard as an Amberjack and in my opinion, have more strength and more stamina than some Amberjack when fishing with a Spinning reel outfit. They seem to never stop fighting until you sink the gaff in them and land them in the boat. Along with the fight and excitement is the Excellent table fare that comes along with it. I’ll tend to rig up my 5’ 6” to 6’ spinning style jigging rod on a Penn Spinfisher VI reels spooled with 80lb braid. I’ll top the braid off with 4-6 ft leader, preferably 60-80lb Seaguar Fluorocarbon and tie the leader straight to a vertical jig or flutter jig. Slow retrieves and high speed retrieves have both worked for me. With a conventional style setup, I’ll use my Penn Fathom 30s and 40s on Penn Fathom conventional jigging rods. They will be rigged with the same 80lb braid and leader tied to a 7/0 to 8/0 circle hook. Topped off with a piece of cut bait drifted out of the back of the boat usually does the trick once the fish are located up high in the water column.

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Kitchen Delights i p p i s s i s Mis

March Recipe: Redfish Courtbouillon

Contributed by: Aaron Kopp

D

ecember is when we usually get our first taste of winter here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Cold fronts blow through bringing strong north winds that can chill you to the bone after a long day of fishing. Next time, keep a couple Redfish and try this recipe. Redfish Courtbouillon (pronounced “Coo-Bee-Yawn”) is a delicious fish stew that’s served over rice. This is a great way to share your catch at the holidays or the big game. Simply double the ingredients as required for your group. Dial back the Cayenne and substitute the Rotel with canned diced tomatoes if less spice is desired.

Method (Serves 3-4):

Ingredients: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

3-4 Redfish Fillets 1 Bell Pepper 1 Small Yellow Onion 3 Celery Ribs 3-4 cloves garlic 1 sprig fresh Rosemary 1 sprig Thyme 3-4 Green Onions diced 2 ten oz. cans Rotel 1 Tbsp. Whole Peppercorns 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce 4 Bay Leaves ½ tsp. Cayenne ½ cup Canola Oil ½ cup All Purpose Flour Salt to taste Fresh cracked Black Pepper to Taste ½ cup white long grain rice 1 ½ cups of water

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1. Dice and chop the bell pepper, onion, celery, and garlic. Remove the leaves of the rosemary and thyme from the sprig and mince. Discard sprigs. 2. In a high walled saucepan or ceramic Dutch oven, make a roux over medium heat on your stove top by combining the canola oil and flour. Do not stop stirring. Roux will take 10-30 minutes. Be patient. Cook the roux to a milk chocolate color. Watch a YouTube video on making a Roux if this is your first time. 3. Sauté the bell pepper, onion, and celery in the roux till translucent. Add salt and pepper to taste. 4. Add garlic, minced rosemary, and thyme and sauté for 30 seconds. Any longer will scorch the garlic. 5. Pour in the Rotel. Stir to combine ingredients. 6. Pour in a half cup of water (or fish stock if you have it on hand). Add Cayenne, Bay Leaves, Worcestershire Sauce, and Whole Peppercorns. 7. Bring it to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour or longer. 8. After simmering, submerge the redfish fillets in the liquid and continue to simmer until fish is cooked through and flakey approximately 15 minutes. Taste for salt and add if necessary. 9. Serve over rice. Garnish with Green Onion.

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High

Date

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12:49

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6:14

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Mon

1:16

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6:13

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Tue

1:51

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12:10

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3:27

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4:32

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10:10

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11:09

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1:35

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6:58

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Sun

12:46

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1:08

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6:02

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7:33

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MARCH IS THE TURN-AROUND MONTH

The early part of the month will feature very cold water temps around the inlets and river mouths, and keep the trout, drum (redfish) and flounder a little on the sluggish side, but that doesn’t seem to bother the shad, rock and cats. As a matter of fact, it kicks them into overdrive. It’s not water temperature so much as it is the length of daylight in the beginning of the month, but water temps do come into play by the end Tim Barefoot of March. The end of March will see the big spawning female speckled trout his has been a winter for the books, with cold temps, constant wind and sometimes too much rain keeping us arriving at the inlets and river mouths, and the drum bite will be on from the offshore grounds weekend after weekend. In light of fire. This is the time of year when you stand to catch an egg-filled gator trout, but for goodness sakes, take some this, let’s talk about some of the things that brought a lot of good photos and dimensions/weight us to the dance, the anadromous fish that are coming home and let her go do her spawn. This can be in the month of March. the time of year for some great topwater/ If you live on the East Coast, white and hickory shad, popping cork trout and drum bites. striped bass and sturgeon are coming back to the place There are bites, then there are topwater they were born to spawn. March is traditionally a very bites. It’s exciting fishing to say the least. windy month, so on the days we can’t get offshore, there is March will also produce tuna, a safe haven up in the river for some entertainment. Truly, dolphin and wahoo when you can get some of the best to them. The wind will keep us inside memories I have a lot during March, but whenever the were made up seas lay down enough to get offshore, the river. While go for it. This can be the time to catch a not the best stud wahoo and numbers of tuna. Find table fare, white a temperature break and/or the bait, and and hickory you’ll find the wahoo and tuna. They are shad are right on the move and chewing. up there at I don’t care what the wind is doing, I the top of the can always find somewhere to get a bite entertainment and grin in this turn-around month we list. Other fish call March. that have always been at the top See more from Capt. Tim Barefoot of my favorite spring entertainment list are striped bass (rock) and blue at barefootcatsandtackle.com catfish. They come back to the upper reaches of the river to spawn in and rigandjig.com. large numbers.

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PHOTO BY SEIGO SAITO/B.A.S.S.

At Hartwell, Stage is Set for 2022 Bassmaster Classic By TAM Staff

F

or months the field has been set for the big show. From March 4-6, some of the world’s top professional bass anglers will fish South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell, vying for a championship in the 2022 Bassmaster Classic. Upstate South Carolina will play host to the field of 55 professional anglers as well as hordes of fans, who will attend daily weigh-ins at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville and morning takeoffs at Green Pond Landing & Event Center, near Anderson. The annual Bassmaster

Classic Outdoors Expo will take place each day at the Greenville Convention Center. As for the fishing, Hartwell is familiar to the anglers. The 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk will mark the fourth time the tournament has been held on the 56,000-acre reservoir. The fishery is renowned for excellent spotted and largemouth bass fishing. Early March is typically a transition period on upstate lakes, when bass begin moving up in preparation for the spawn. Weather will have

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everything to do with how successful anglers will fish. The two normal patterns that set up that time of year are either a deeper bite on ditches and points in 30 to 60 feet of water, or a shallower bite when bass move up into the 5- to 20-foot range to stage next to the spawning flats. The prespawn bite can provide excellent numbers of fish as well as some solid size, which could potentially produce fast action and heavy sacks for Classic competitors. Lake Hartwell’s bass eat a lot of blueback herring, and Hartwell tournaments are responsible for the rise of the underspin as popular bass lure. If the fish are deep, it’s likely underspins, shaky heads and football jigs will see a lot of time in the water. If fish are shallow, jerkbaits, jigs and red crankbaits are Hartwell staples. Each of the three previous Classics have provided action-packed finishes. In 2008, Texas pro Alton Jones Sr. went into the final day with little more than a pound lead, but managed to hold off the rest of the field and claim his only Classic trophy. In 2015, when temperatures dipped as low as 9 degrees, hometown favorite Casey Ashley, of South Carolina, came from behind on the final day to win his only title. Then in 2018, young Alabama pro Jordan Lee jumped from sixth place on the final day to win his second-straight Classic. Fans turned out in droves for all three visits, creating an electric atmosphere for the weigh-ins and packing the Expo all three days. For information on fishing Upcountry South Carolina, visit FishUpcountrySC.com.

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WILD SALMON THREATENED BY INTERBREEDING WITH FARMED FISH

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nterbreeding between farmed salmon and wild populations in Norway is changing the lifecycle of wild salmon, according to a report from the website Phys.org. Researchers with the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and Rådgivende Biologer studied scale growth patterns in thousands of salmon taken from rivers in Norway from 2010 to 2017. They looked at the impact of escaped farmed salmon breeding with wild salmon by collecting scales from 6,900 adult wild Atlantic salmon in 105 Norwegian rivers. The researchers conducted genetic tests on the scales to learn the genetic history of the fish. The researchers found that both farmed salmon and wild salmon with farmed ancestry mature and age at a faster rate and return to rivers earlier to spawn. It was hypothesized this accelerated maturation process puts salmon at a higher risk of predation because they venture into saltwater earlier, when they are less likely to evade capture by sharks and halibut. Prior studies have indicated that salmon with farmed ancestry are less afraid of predators. The study suggests interbreeding of farmed and wild salmon will result in reductions in wild populations, which has already been observed in some areas. To read the entire report, see phys.org

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A classic tennis bracelet serves up over 10 carats of sparkle for a guaranteed win

I

t was the jewelry piece that made the world stop and take notice. In the middle of a long volley during the big American tennis tournament, the chic blonde athlete had to stop play because her delicate diamond bracelet had broken and she had to find it. The tennis star recovered her beloved bracelet, but the world would never be the same. From that moment on, the tennis bracelet has been on the lips and on the wrists of women in the know. Once called eternity bracelets, these bands of diamonds were known from then on as tennis bracelets, and remain the hot ticket item with jewelers.

Join more than 1 million thrilled diamondAURA® customers We’ve captured this timeless classic with over 10 total carats of DiamondAura®, our signature diamond alternative stone. This sparkling marvel rivals even the finest diamonds (D Flawless) with its transparent color and clarity, and both are so hard they can cut glass. Don’t believe me? The book “Jewelry and Gems – The Buying Guide,” praised the technique used in our diamond alternative DiamondAura®: “The best diamond simulation to date, and even some jewelers have mistaken these stones for mined diamonds,” it raved. For comparison,

we found a similarly designed 10 carat tennis bracelet with D Flawless diamonds from another company that costs $57,000! Want to look like a million bucks without stressing over losing or damaging something that cost you a fortune? The Love Wins Tennis Bracelet is a simple strand of glittering gems in precious sterling that epitomizes elegance. The first time we offered this bracelet, we sold out literally in minutes. It was our fastest selling product of 2021. It took six months to get it back in stock — Get yours before we run out! Jewelry Specifications: • 10 ¾ ctw of the Ultimate Diamond Alternative®, DiamondAura® • Rhodium-finished .925 sterling silver setting • Fits wrists to 7 ½" Love Wins Tennis Bracelet (10 ¾ ctw) $399 $39* + S&P *Special price only for customers using the offer code.

1-800-333-2045 Your Offer Code: LWB152-01

Stauer, 14101 Southcross Drive W., Ste 155, Dept. LWB152-01, Burnsville, MN 55337 www.stauer.com

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