Coastal Angler Magazine | November 2022 | Mississippi Gulf Coast Edition

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Shhhhh. No wake zone. Protect your baby (and their toys) with coverage for shing gear and personal property too. 1 800 PROGRESSIVE / PROGRESSIVE.COM Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. & af liates. Additional charge may apply. Prices vary based on how you buy.

Aboard The Hard Merchandise

icked Tuna is a show my ancé, Capt. Brandon Storin, and I like to watch. As an avid angler betrothed to a charter captain, I think it’s pretty cool to watch these guys reel in giants, but it’s even cooler to do it Brandon and I wanted this experience, so we went on a charter with the legendary crew of the “Hard Merchandise.” Docked in Gloucester, Mass., the boat is very spacious with a heated cabin, full head and all the latest electronics. Capt. Joe Marciano and his Mate, Jay, are exactly as they are from the show, and their skillsets for catching

During our time with them, conditions were a bit rough. It called for us leaving the docks earlier than anyone else, and while riding out, you could really see how meticulous they are in each part of the rigging and set up. During the boat ride, conversation was great, with plenty of laughs to go around. Before we knew it, we were at the tuna grounds.

In the midst of catching and soaking baits and waiting for the bite, the crew made us fresh breakfast and it was amazing. We had bacon and scrambled eggs with lobster.

e experience is very much like what you would expect from watching the show. ere’s lots of refreshing baits and waiting for a bite. When they mark sh on the sonar, the enthusiasm from the crew is amazing, just like on television. Capt. Joe and Jay jump up, yelling “WE’RE MARKING!” Adrenaline starts pumping with anticipation as you hope everything is lined up perfect enough to get a bite.

Fortunately, we did get tight, and I have never seen a sh take such a wild and ferocious run… several times. I was up to battle this sh with coaching from Capt. Joe and Jay. ere is nesse needed to ght a giant like this, and a cra in staying tight and knowing when to let him run. Every second spent reeling elevated the hope that we might land this big tuna. Yet there was also anxiety. If you’ve watched the show, you know that losing one of these monsters is a very real possibility.

We battled the sh for a while. Gaining where I could, adrenaline kept me pumping while the crew maneuvered the boat. e communication is constant as everyone works together.

Finally, I saw this huge beast start surfacing. Capt. Joe moved in with the harpoon, ready to take the shot. Everything happened so quickly! e beast surfaced, and Capt. Joe drilled it with a perfect gill shot. It wasn’t over yet, but it was just a matter of time. A er the sh made one last run, taking a bunch of rope, we hauled it back in and roped its tail. At that point, I knew I had landed my top bucket-list sh.

It was an amazing experience, and it felt like we were literally in an episode of Wicked Tuna. What you see from the show is what you get in person. ere is no script; nothing is fake. ere is only grit, talent and hope, and these guys have all that.

e Hard Merchandise team recently launched Angelica Seafoods, where one can order fresh blue n, lobster, scallops, oysters and more to be delivered to your door. If you plan a trip to Boston and want to catch a sh of a lifetime, book a charter with the Hard Merchandise.

For more information on the Hard Merchandise, visit www.angelica sheries.com/fv-hardmerchandise.

IG: @catching_astrid @bnmbean @hardmerchjoe @melodyredwing @hardmerchandisejay.

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HILARY MARTIN:

INFLUENCER, YOUTUBER AND BASS ANGLER

That’s quite a headline for a 17-year-old high school student from Clewiston, Fla. who loves bass shing.

I spoke with Hilary while she was in Palatka, Fla. preparing to sh the Florida Bass Nation tournaments on the St. Johns River, and her enthusiasm and passion for the sport of bass shing were impressive.

Last year, at 16, she nished h at the State Championship of the Florida Bass Nation with a total weight heavier than 19 pounds. She’s hoping to do even better this year.

I asked her if she could remember when she rst started shing, and she laughed as she guessed that she was “probably only 2 years old.” A er all, she does come from a pretty well-known family of professional bass shermen.

Her grandfather, the legendary Roland Martin, is one of the greatest bass shermen of all time. Her father, Scott, won the 2011 Forest Wood Cup Championship, and also has 45 top-ten nishes and eight tour victories in the FLW and hosts the Scott Martin Challenge.

But things are di erent today than they were

Iin the past. Today, social media is the key to reaching your audience, and Hilary has done an incredible job on both YouTube, with over 100,000 subscribers, and Instagram with 103,000 followers.

Most of her videos are bass shing, although she’s had some very interesting saltwater shing videos, as well.

Hilary said she started taking bass shing seriously when she was 15 years old, and at 16, joined the Florida Bass Nation Series.

She has her own bass boat, a 20’ Skeeter FXR, with a 250hp Yamaha, but she also shes out of her dad’s boat from time to time, because, “it’s got all the goodies,” she laughed.

Her biggest bass, a whopping 9.1-pounder was caught ipping a black/blue Sweet Beaver along the edges of cattails on Lake Okeechobee when she was only 14 years old. She hopes to break that personal best soon.

Her shing arsenal includes a Favorite Phantom Series shing rod, a Shimano Curado reel and braided or uorocarbon line, along with her favorite bait, a Zoom Speed Worm.

“I was shing out of a kayak and I saw this

far away, so I threw my Speed Worm just past the mark,” she recounted. “I started a fast retrieve when a big bass came up and just exploded on it. at sh drug me around for what seemed like forever before I nally landed it. It weighed just over ve pounds. e cover picture of me holding a bass was taken the day a er.”

Listening to her tell that story, her excitement, enthusiasm and passion for bass shing became even more obvious.

If you haven’t seen one of her videos on YouTube ( eReelHilarySue), I’d strongly recommend you check them out. ey’re fun to watch, and you might just learn something. She’s a natural.

What an incredible future this beautiful, talented young lady has in store. I think she’ll be one of the biggest names in professional bass shing in the years to come.

Don Norton is co-publisher of the Okeechobee edition of e Angler Magazine.

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HOOD WINKED

There’s a new player in town when it comes to artificial lures, and it is hoodwinking a ton of fish! The all-new Southern Salt Bait Co. Hoodwink is a 4.75” slender bait that glides extremely smooth and was designed to catch BIG Speckled Trout.

However, the surprising news from customers is that it is SMASHING their Flounder PBs! There have also been some very nice trout and redfish landed on this lure as well.

The Hoodwink features a flat tail with rudders on it to ensure the bait stays upright and glides through the water. The tail features a ball on the end of it to help the lure kick and displace water, driving the fish crazy! The lure can be rigged on a jig head as well as weedless on a belly weighted swimbait hook.

With Fall in full swing and Winter on the way, I look to be targeting big speckled trout with this lure gliding it along ledges. In the past I have looked to Fluke style baits to achieve this but now with the Hoodwink I believe it will be my go-to for Big trout through the next several months!

These baits can be purchased at southernsaltbaitcompany.com. Until next time stay safe and tight lines!

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Fishin' inNovember

Forecast by Sonny Schindler

Thing Fishing Charters Bay St Louis, MS 228-342-2295

November

is a great month to be on the water. Yes, you have to watch the cold fronts, but the bites leading up to the fronts can be amazing. We won't be able to keep flounder in Louisiana waters. Hopefully their closing of the season will help stocks rebound. The flounder fishing in Mississippi waters will remain open. We have seen great numbers of flounders from Heron Bay to Cat Island. A jig head bouncing off the bottom is usually our go to rig. Tipping them with a piece of shrimp or cut bait works even better. A good broken marsh or shell covered shoreline is a great area to work. A falling tide works helps too.

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The speckled trout should be feeding heavily all month. We typically aren't seeing huge trout in the marsh, but we do see big numbers. The big white trout should be mixed in as well. Moving water, and bait are what we look for. Shell bottoms or deep drains spilling into shallow bays are great spots to check as well. A simple Boat Monkey popping cork, 2 feet of 20lb leader with a soft plastic like a Matrix or Vudu shrimp work great.

The redfishing is what we really enjoy in November. Our copper whoppers start pushing deeper into the marsh. We start looking along shorelines and in shallow drains for feeding reds. Sight casting can be incredible all month long. Just remember to watch your tides and always be careful in the west wind, it drains our water.

Spoons, spinners, top water, flies, and twitch baits all work. If you're an area with feeding reds, they will literally eat anything. We always bring some live or dead shrimp for insurance though.

As always, have fun and be safe.

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM november 2022 mississippi gulf coast 7
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lime

IngreDIents:

2 lbs fresh speckled trout filets

Thin Corn tortillas or small flour tortillas

2 tsp ancho chili powder

2 tsp hot Mexican chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp ground white pepper

Red cabbage slaw (recipe follows)

Herdez Avocado Cilantro Street Sauce

Mexican crema

Queso Fresco crumbling cheese

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

6-8 limes, cut into wedges

Fall on the Mississippi and Alabama Gulf Coasts typically bring pretty large temperature swings. The habits of speckled trout tend to change with these swings; during warmer weather, they prefer shallower waters and during cooler weather they prefer deeper waters. During the early fall, large trout can usually be found in hunting grounds that feature both deep and shallow water in close proximity. Targeting the waters where rivers and bayous run into the Gulf of Mexico is a great way to find your fall catch and fish tacos are a great way to enjoy speckled trout! Cook this quick, easy meal outdoors on a griddle or in the kitchen any day of the week because Tuesday's aren't the only day for tacos!

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Cooked on the Blackstone griddle or on a cast iron skillet, served with tortillas,
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Heat

Mix spices and salt and pepper in a small container, taste to check for balance and heat. Adjust if necessary.

Sprinkle seasoning

Cook filets 2 mins or so on each side until

and

through.

Set fish aside on warm platter while tortillas are warmed on the griddle or in a 350 degree oven.

Assemble tacos by placing a small portion of flaked fish down the middle of a tortilla, top generously with slaw, cilantro, queso fresco, a drizzle of Mexican crema, and a drizzle of Herdez Avocado Cilantro Street Sauce. Serve with lime wedges.

slaW IngreDIents:

• 1/2 of a red cabbage, thinly sliced

2 jalapeños, thinly sliced

5 green onions, thinly sliced

• 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro Combine all veggies in medium sized non reactive bowl and toss with the following dressing. Let slaw sit for at least 30 mins. The longer it sits, the stronger the acidity will become.

Dressing For slaw:

• 1/8 cup olive oil

• Juice of 3-4 limes

• 1/8-1/4 cup red wine vinegar

• Pinch salt and few grinds of pepper. Whisk all ingredients in a glass measuring cup.

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COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM november 2022 mississippi gulf coast 11 Here's WHat YOu DO: Fish tacos: 1.
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JUNGLE JEOPARDY

In September, I embarked on one of the craziest adventures I’ve ever experienced to sh for crazy exotic species on the Rio Guaviare deep in Columbia’s Mapiri Jungle.

Just getting there was an adventure. We spent two days ying from Miami to Bogata and then to San Jose, Colombia, which was a buzzing little town where we picked up last minute supplies, ate a breakfast of pirahana head soup and got wrist bands tied by an elderly women and her pet spider monkey, Kiki.

At the port, we loaded gear in a small shaded boat powered by a Yamaha 200 2-stroke, with a spare lower unit tied on top. I was accompanied by my cameraman Adrian, from Poland, good friends Jake, Derek, Karl, and our jungle guide Diego, from Chile.

We set out downstream and rode for hours, passing through two army checkpoints, before we reached our halfway point at 118 miles. We stopped for lunch and to refuel at an isolated jungle town only accessible by boat. As we creeped up muddy stone steps, we were shocked to see a small town with convenience stores, restaurants, a playground, a basketball court, and happy people everywhere. It was a cool window into a di erent reality.

A er playing soccer with the local kids and a delicious fried sh lunch, we headed farther downstream. When darkness arrived, the jungle came alive and our driver did not feel comfortable navigating the rapids at night. So we stopped and Diego traded goods with an indigenous man for permission to sleep at his house. Some opted to sleep in the boat. e mosquitoes, hornets and massive cockroaches made it tough to sleep. A er long hours, the sun nally rose, and we headed another 45 minutes downriver to base camp, where we discovered we were in for even more travel.

We packed lighter for three days of shing and camping at a sacred waterfall inhabited by one of the jungle tribes. It was another 2.5 hours downstream to a small creek that would lead us up to a second camp. We shed our way up the creek.

On my rst cast, a 15-pound sardinata exploded on my popper boatside. Imagine a huge pilchard but with sharp teeth and hyper-aggressive topwater strikes. Fully grown, Sardinata can weigh 25 pounds. is one threw the hooks, and shing only got crazier from there.

I was throwing a 9-inch Countdown Rapala in Firetiger at the tree line and retrieving it to the boat. Almost every cast we hooked massive payara. is sh is similar to a tarpon, with silver scales, acrobatic leaps and a bony mouth that made hook sets di cult. Payara have long fangs on their lower jaw capable of slicing thick-scaled sh and shing line with ease. ey are without a doubt the most challenging, unique and aggressive jungle predators I’ve ever targeted. I managed to catch quite a few on y and spin tackle.

Another unique species was a matrinxa, a silver-scaled delicacy. ey are omnivorous and sit below trees to eat dropping fruits and nuts. ey also hit lures with insane power. ese sh were extremely hard ghting and very tasty. ey have teeth like human molars for cracking hard nuts.

Red bellied pacu are another ferocious species we caught. ey have a similar ambush style and diet to the matrinxa. ey are equally aggressive and display gorgeous hues of purple and black

Iwith a blood orange/red underbelly. Black and red bellied pirahana were in no shortage, either. A er three days of shing by the waterfall, we headed back to base camp for new species.

Heavy rains raised water levels, which busted our hopes to catch big peacock bass. But it opened a new door: catching monster cat sh.

I caught several new species of large cat sh. One of the most unique was a ripsaw cat sh. ey have so lips and a long face, similar to carp. ey also have a sharp chainsaw blade for a lateral line, earning them the nickname “Caiman Killer.” I caught small tiger shovelnose cat sh, as well as red tail cat sh. Red tail cat sh are one of the strongest ghting cat sh I’ve ever encountered. It took three days of break-o s before I was able to muscle one up. It weighed 40 pounds.

Fishing the jungle is tough, and it is not for everyone. is trip scarred me with bug bites from head to toe, and I su ered many bee and hornet stings. It is not comfortable in any sense, but it is good for the mind. ere’s no cell phone reception; you are stripped of everything. e only thing that matters is the present moment. For me, it is the biggest adrenaline rush to travel into the unknown and learn about new shing and culture.

Check out Ryan Izquierdo’s YouTube Channel, “Ryan Iz Fishing” for a series called “Jungle Jeopardy.” E-mail him at Ryanizquierdoyt@ gmail.com with questions or to nd out how you can go on one of these trips.

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OPTIONS ABOUND

There’s

more to Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula than world-famous salmon runs. e saltwater shing is also phenomenal, with species like halibut, salmon shark, ounder, yelloweye rock sh and ling cod being primary targets.

When you run out of Seward to Resurrection Bay, you might see some of the Deadliest Catch boats, and you might see multiple species of whale. We saw a lot of humpbacks this past summer. At more than 900 feet deep, with glaciers around the rim, the bay is awe-inspiring. ere are several good charter operations. Some make long runs for big halibut, while some o er shing that’s a little more local. Check with J Dock Fishing Co. in Seward for the latest shing information and charters. If you’re more of a DIY angler, Miller’s Landing in Seward o ers lodging and charters, and they also rent boats and shing equipment. If you want this option, book early. I have mine booked for next year, already.

Homer is the Halibut Capital of the World,

and it’s another great Kenai destination. We went with some friends and got on some good Halibut! I’m new to the electric reels we used. You had to time the hook-set just right. It took several bites to gure it out, but we caught sh once we got the hang of it. I pulled one a good way o the bottom before it decided it wasn’t coming in and broke a 150-pound-mono leader! We caught several good keepers and turned the smaller ones loose. ere are plenty of charters in Homer. North Country Charters is a great one that o ers halibut and salmon trips. ey will put you on some big halibut. My largest weighed 99 pounds, but North Country catches sh that are much larger.

If you want a long-run charter, check out Casino Charters. If you want to catch sh from the beach, check out Family Shore Fishing. ey set you up with a guide, shing rods and bait at Lands End, which juts out into the bay. Fishing low tide on the shelf, you can catch cod, ounder and halibut. We lled a cart with cod

and ounder in less than two hours shing from shore. en we went back another day without a guide and wore them out again!

Fishing in Alaska is just like anywhere else, once you learn what works, you can do it over and over. ere are lots of di erent kinds of shing there, but once you learn where and how to catch them, you can do it yourself.

On this past summer’s trip, as we were headed to the airport to go home, we drove along Cook Inlet and spotted a school of beluga whales swimming the shoreline. You never know what you’ll see in Alaska. Some things are just so amazing!

I’m currently pulling together next summer’s trip to Kenai, and I’m making a short guide of things traveling anglers might want to know. Feel free to shoot me an email with questions.

For more information, contact Gary Turner at gary@purgeright.com.

LOST FIN-NOR SETUP RETURNED AFTER 50 YEARS

About 50 years ago, Ralph Vodicka lost one of his favorite rod and reel combos when his boat capsized in North Carolina’s unpredictable Oregon Inlet. Recently, Vodicka was reunited with his 9-foot rod equipped with a Fin-Nor 4 spinning reel, and it still works!

Here is a brief recount of the amazing story reported by Summer Stevens in e Coastland Times.

In fair weather in the early 1970s, Vodicka and three buddies attempted to return through Oregon Inlet a er shing o Hatteras National Seashore in a 17-foot 1966 Boston Whaler. e outgoing tide colliding with incoming rollers created rough conditions, even for a large trawler the anglers watched navigating the inlet. Vodicka was faced with a decision. ey could either wait for the tide change, which would force them to make their run in the dark. Or they could go for it.

“Waiting it out would put us in the middle of the night,” Vodicka remembered. “We decided that the best choice was to race on in while we could see. I told everyone, ‘Hold on, don’t move. We’ll ride on the back of one of the breaking waves. Even if it takes a little water, it’ll be ok.’”

In the middle of the inlet, as they were taking on water, a line caught in the prop and it stopped turning. e boat was at the mercy of the tide and waves, and an 8-foot breaker ipped it end over end. e story of the exciting rescue is reported in detail in e Coastland Times. It involves the captain of an old 25-foot boat and his grandson risking great peril to time the waves and rescue each of the anglers one at a time. Vodicka’s badly damaged Whaler was later recovered, and he lost a bunch of shing gear, including the rod and reel that began this story.

e details are lost to time, but apparently the Fin-Nor reel and the rod were hauled up in a commercial angler’s net. e unique set-up ended up doing decades of duty as a showpiece on the wall in Dennis Dudley’s Elizabeth City, North Carolina home.

Vodicka,” and Dudley tried to locate the Fin-Nor’s owner when he received the rod in the mid-1970s. Dudley’s phone book searches came up empty, and the search was forgotten… until recently.

Dudley, 78, remembered the mystery of the reel’s owner while going through his possessions. A quick Google search turned up Vodicka, who is 89 and living in Raleigh, N.C. e men met to eat lunch, and Vodicka was reunited with the beautiful rod and reel he lost half a century ago.

Amazingly, the antique Fin-Nor is already back in action. Instead of hanging it on the wall, Vodicka had it serviced and used it on the Neuse River over Labor Day weekend.

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e reel was equipped with a custom plate engraved with “Ralph E.

“It worked. It worked ne,” he said. “It’s amazing that a er 50 years you get your favorite rod and reel back.”

To read the whole story, go to www.thecoastlandtimes.com.

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TOURNAMENT CHEATERS BUSTED

Everyone hates a cheater, which is why it’s no surprise that tempers ared when two cheaters were caught red-handed at a Lake Erie Walleye Tour (LEWT) event on Oct. 1. e event was the tour championship for the series, and the Team of the Year would also be crowned a er weigh-ins. Team Crankin’ Hogs brought to the scales a ve- sh limit that weighed more than 33-pounds. It It would have secured Jake Runyan and Chase Cominsky well over $20,000 for the championship win and for Team of the Year honors. ey overplayed their dirty hand.

Tournament Director Jason Fischer suspected something was amiss when the sh hit the scales. Fischer later told CNN that the sh looked like they should have weighed 4 pounds each, but the total weight indicated they were much heavier. He handled the sh and felt something hard inside one of them.

In a now-viral YouTube Video, Fischer guts the sh as the cheaters stand by silently. “We have weights in the sh!” Fischer announced, and that’s when the shouting started as other anglers hurled obscenities at Runyan and Cominsky.

All-told, there were 8 pounds worth of lead weights, llets from other walleye and a pair of pliers inside Team Crankin’ Hogs’ sh. ey were immediately disquali ed and banned from the tournament series. Both men were later indicted by an Ohio grand jury on charges of cheating and attempted grand the .

It will be interesting to see if the team’s other tournament wins are called into question. ey have won numerous events over the last couple of years, including the 2021 LEWT Championship.

For more information, go to lakeeriewalleyetrail.com.

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