Coastal Angler Magazine | August 2019 | Mississippi Gulf Coast

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MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST EDITION

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Nearshore Destination + Kingfish Basics

SURF EXPO IN ORLANDO SEPT. 5-7 2019

PHOTO COURTESY OF DARYN ANDREW WHITE VOLUME 24 • ISSUE 293

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OUT OF PANAMA CITY

By Nick Carter

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he rising sun revealed unaddressed devastation as Capt. Randy Cnota backed his 22-foot Pathfinder down the ramp at Tyndall Airforce Base. Less than a year after Hurricane Michael rocked the Florida Panhandle, we launched near the heart of the destruction. Just east of Panama City and a short drive from the catastrophe that unfolded at Mexico Beach, this slice of the Panhandle is a community doggedly enduring the slow process of rebuilding. The bright boards of new framing show progress in neighborhoods of single-story homes. Blue-tarped roofs, shredded metal buildings and acres of tall pines snapped like so many twigs are reminders of just how far there is to go. At the docks, bare wood pilings and concrete footings are left from what was a bustling little marina before the storm surge. But the fish don’t care. And with an eager 8-year-old angler perched on the leaning post, Capt. Randy pointed us toward the open Gulf of Mexico. This was early July, during the Gulf red snapper season, and Capt. Randy’s numbers would take us a few miles out to some hard-bottom that promised big snapper. But first we had to catch bait, which was plentiful in the form of Spanish sardines balled up around the markers just outside the pass from St. Andrews Bay. The 8-year-old would have spent all day catching sardines on a Sabiki rig, but shortly we left the other boats jockeying for position at the marker. We had our bait, and Capt. Randy now had an idea of how the boy would handle his first fishing trip on the open ocean. The kid emitted enthusiasm, and it’s a good thing we didn’t make a several hour run. The waiting would have driven him mad. Bigger boats out of Panama City can comfortably take anglers dozens of miles out to deeper water, quick limits and huge fish, but this nearshore trip was more our speed. Less than 10 miles from the coast, and even inside the 9-mile state waters, there are wrecks, reefs and hard bottom in the 100-foot depths that offer plentiful bottomfish as well as shots at some big pelagics. Within minutes at our first drop, the boy was hooked up with a big bonito, and Capt. Randy was steering with one hand, while holding the butt of the rod with the other. The kid had a death grip on the handle and cranked with all his might. “You’re gonna have to come over here and make sure this rod doesn’t get pulled out!” Randy barked at me with both hands full. But I couldn’t. On the other side of the boat, I was pumping and grunting on what turned out to be a stud red snapper. Somehow, both

fish made it onto the deck, and Randy went right back to work feeding out a freelined sardine from the stern. “Where there’s Bonnies, there’s kings,” he called the shot. Shortly thereafter, he handed me a rod with line ripping off the spool. I came up tight on a good king mackerel. It was one of three kingfish we had on that morning, but it was the only one that made it in the boat. Through the morning, the fish kept us continuously busy. We caught more red snapper than we could keep track of as well as gag and red grouper. Capt. Randy was great with the kid. Seeing the big bottom rigs were too much for an 8-year-old, Randy tied up a chicken rig on a lighter rod, showed the boy how to bait and fish it and then set him loose. Although the beeliners we were hoping for didn’t show up, the boy had a field day hauling snapper and triggerfish off the bottom. He was particularly proud of an FWC-tagged trigger he caught. “Part of the fun is you never know what you’re going to catch when you’re out here,” said Randy as he unhooked a 2-foot-long smoothback pufferfish. The whole time out, we kept eyes peeled for weeds and surface activity that might belie the presence of mahi-mahi or cobia. In the week before our trip, Randy managed to put clients on a sailfish and a big blackfin tuna. Although we didn’t encounter these species, we did watch in awe as two 10-foot tiger sharks circled uncomfortably close to the boat. We went home with a cooler full of fish. But more importantly, while those meaty chunks of snapper sizzled in hot oil, the boy regaled his grandparents with stories of the trip. His first time was an experience he will never forget. Snapper seasons may be over along the Gulf Coast, but if you find yourself hankering for a good fishing trip that’s fun and easy, consider hiring a captain out of the Panama City area. Capt. Randy said fall brings better opportunities for sailfish and tuna nearshore, and with his smaller boat, he is also well equipped to fish inshore. The fall redfish and trout bite can be off the charts. These hurricane-battered communities remain in recovery, but the fish, beaches and visitor ammenities are still there. Go spend some time at Panama City and eastward along The Forgotten Coast. You’ll be glad you did, because the fishing is pretty spectacular. Capt. Randy Cnota is co-publisher of the Panama City/Forgotten Coast edition of Coastal Angler Magazine and owner of C-Note Charters. Check him out online at www.cnotecharters.com or call 229-834-7880.

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Urban Chrome In Grand Rapids, Michigan

Photo by Aaron Peterson Photography, LLC for Experience Grand Rapids

By Tom Werkman

W

hy do people feel the need to head to remote destinations a million miles from nowhere to fish? Some of the best fishing opportunities exist right under our noses, and many times they are very close to major metropolitan areas. The Grand River is just such a place. Michigan’s largest river runs through the heart of the state’s second largest city, Grand Rapids, and offers great fishing through its 252-mile run from rural headwaters in Hillsdale County down to Lake Michigan. Downtown Grand Rapids: Home to more than 37 craft breweries, Grand Rapids is Beer City. But there is another side of Grand Rapids that few know about. It offers the

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lure of big-river fishing in an urban environment. The river through downtown Grand Rapids offers the angler a unique opportunity to fish for steelhead in swift rapids beneath the city’s skyscrapers. On an early leg of their run up out of Lake Michigan, these fish are strong and as hot as they come. From October through December and again during March and April, droves of steelhead run through downtown as they migrate through and hold up in the rapids. Some of the best steelhead fishing lies between Sixth Street Dam and the Fulton Street Bridge. It’s not uncommon to see people wading the river, fishing from the banks or in boats landing these chrome bullets. When fishing here, the angler can expect to only move a few times to get on fish. Once you have your spot, you don’t want to move very much as it can be crowded at times. If you’re not on a fish right away, be patient. These fish get backed up at the dam and constantly move around in search of the fish ladder to pass through and continue their migration up the river. Lowell To Ada Section: Just minutes from downtown Grand Rapids, a roughly 10-mile stretch of the Grand River between the towns of Lowell and Ada offers fishing that is a little more secluded. From late spring through early fall, this section offers smallmouth bass and northern pike. There is little public access here, and the angler can expect solitude and no-pressure fishing in a remote river setting just outside Grand Rapids. A typical trip involves floating in a drift boat or jet boat from Lowell to Ada, covering a lot of water while casting to the banks, river timber and rocks. Bald eagles, osprey, blue heron and deer are common sights on this piece of river. Rarely will the angler lay eyes on another boat or fisherman. On the Grand River, one can enjoy spectacular fishing and then enjoy a cold beer and everything else the city has to offer. Tom Werkman, and his son Max, are owner/guides at Werkman Outfitters, a guide service on the Grand River in and around Grand Rapids, Michigan. Contact them at tom@werkmanoutfitters.com or check them out at werkmanoutfitters.com.

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FISH & FISHING

FOCUSING OUR EFFORTS MARK SOSIN

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t may seem logical, but it’s not always right. My favorite example is George Westinghouse, the man who invented the air brake for oversized vehicles. Researchers relied on logical thinking and experimented continuously on using air to apply the brake. It didn’t work. Westinghouse took an opposite approach and used the air to hold the brake off the drum until the driver stepped on the brake pedal and released the air. The common approach to understanding fish behavior lies in applying human values with the assumption that a fish’s brain has the capacity to reason. Just because a particular lure looks good to us does not mean it’s a fish’s favorite, too. Few of us can boast even the slightest knowledge of the release that triggers a fish into striking or simply passing up an offering. And, we probably wouldn’t recognize it if we saw it. Repeated observations hold the key to helping us focus our efforts on techniques that have worked in the past. As an example, fish have an amazing alertness to movement. It can cause them to flee a situation or take advantage of it and feed. The same applies to underwater sound. Low frequency vibrations such as those that indicate a fish is in distress usually cause predators to investigate with the hope of finding food. The more natural a bait or lure appears to a fish, the greater the chance a strike will occur. When you can see your quarry

and observe hesitation of any type, assume that something in your offering appears unnatural. Fish may be curious, but they are seldom in the habit of wasting energy to pursue something needlessly. Many species have the ability to measure energy expended in chasing food against the value received. Because fish are creatures of habit, they tend to do the same things over and over. That’s why captains and guides boast the ability to find fish. The quarry may hold in one spot with uncanny precision day after day, month after month, and year after year. If that fish is caught or leaves for any reason, another will take its place. Those fish that work a tide follow the same pattern daily. Even offshore skippers understand reliable patterns that fish follow and troll the waters where their quarry should be. For some unknown reason, fish tend to hold at the same depth over a wide area. If another angler can tell you the depth where he found fish, you don’t need to know the precise spot. Keep in mind that water temperature can play a role. Each species has its upper and lower limits. As water temperature drops, fish tend to swim slower and chase an offering for shorter distances. Figuring out what motivates a fish to strike a bait or lure becomes a continuous challenge for leading anglers as well as the scientific community. The important thing to remember is that fish do not think like humans. Their basic approach is simple, yet it is not always easy to detect. The more you observe fish behavior and understand that it follows patterns and procedures established a long time ago, the more successful you are going to be.

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t first glance, Alphonso Jackson’s 2-pound, 1-ounce redbreast sunfish might not seem all that impressive. But when you consider the size of your average redbreast, this thing is a monster. Jackson was fishing the Lumber River in central North Carolina’s Scotland County on June 10 when he caught the fish on a cricket. It bested a 36-yearold North Carolina state record for the species by 5 ounces. The previous record, caught in 1983 by Ronald Stanley in Big Swamp in Bladen County, N.C. weighed 1 pound, 12 ounces. Jackson’s fish also outweighs the world record. The current IGFA all-tackle world record for the species has stood at 1-pound, 12-ounces since 1984. That fish came from Florida’s Suwannee River. Wikipedia claims the heaviest redbreast on record weighed 2.3 pounds (2 pounds, 4.8 ounces), but there’s no information as to where that weight came from or whether it was angler-caught. So, if Jackson bothers to complete all the paperwork properly, he would definitely be the new IGFA record holder. Jackson, 43, is an avid fisherman, a passion he attributes to his father Johnny Jacobs who taught him how to fish when he was a boy, and one that he has passed on to his children, ages 23, 18 and 17. They were with him the day he caught the massive readbreast. “We started fishing in a pond but weren’t having any luck, so I said to my kids, ‘Let’s go back to where I learned how to fish.’ And this is what we caught,” Jackson said. “I’d like to thank my daddy for teaching me how to catch fish and where to catch fish.” COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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TIPS FROM A PRO

READ GRASS MATS FOR BIG BASS

BRANDON LESTER

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ate summer and early fall absolutely scream for a frog. With big bass holed up in thick vegetation, working a frog across grass mats can lead to some of the most explosive strikes in fishing. I always look forward to the frog pattern setting up around this time of year. This year should be especially sweet because of the reemergence of Alabama’s Lake Guntersville as one of the best bass fisheries in the nation. This Tennessee River impoundment is frog fishing heaven. Over the last decade the Guntersville bass fishery saw a bit of a decline. But the “Big G” has come back in a big way. Bassmaster ranked Guntersville the No. 2 fishery in the nation in this year’s “100 Best Bass Lakes” listings. It is fishing lights-out, with five-fish tournament sacks regularly approaching and surpassing 30 pounds. I just came off a top-10 finish in the June Elite Series event on Guntersville. Some fish came off frogs, but the best patterns I found were deep cranking and worms. You can bet the frog bite will ramp up soon, though. No matter where you fish, the key to topwater frog fishing is reading the grass. To really dial in a pattern, you need to observe what’s happening on the lake. At Guntersville, the two prominent grass types are hydrilla and milfoil. There are other types, but these are the two you will encounter

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most often. From the time the grass first tops out in the summer until the first frost of the fall, I will concentrate on milfoil. Milfoil creates a great canopy and is hollow underneath, so the bass can get through it to get to your frog. When the hydrilla is still green, it is so thick that a bass has trouble seeing your frog on top of the mat. With that said, later on in the fall when the hydrilla starts to turn brown and break up, it starts to get hollow underneath. That is the time to start targeting it more. Another key to frog fishing is to listen and watch for “active” grass. Bass school up in grass mats just like they do on ledges, points and humps, so it is important to find a mat that has activity in it. Listen for bluegill popping the mat or watch for shad to flicker. Those are signs that bass are not far away. Also, look for points, turns and indentions in the mat itself. Anything different will often hold bass. Rod selection is important for hauling bass out of matted grass. I throw a MHX-MB-874. This rod is 7’3” heavy power with plenty of backbone, but more importantly it has enough action in the tip to allow the fish to eat the bait. I use 50-pound Vicious braid and a 7:1:1 reel. Try a topwater frog on your next trip out, or better yet plan an excursion to Guntersville for the trip of a lifetime.

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NANTUCKET SHOALS:

HOME OF THE DOORMATS! “Jimmy the Greek” from On Time Sportfishing charters in Yarmouth, Massachusetts shows off a nice summer flattie taken earlier this year at Nantucket Shoals. Photo courtesy of On Time Sportfishing.

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or anglers looking to hook-up with the fluke of a lifetime, there’s no spot more likely to bring success these days than Nantucket Shoals, Massachusetts. Action for summer flounder has absolutely sizzled here for the last several years, with many anglers drilling doormats weighing 8, 10 or 12 pounds and heavier. “This truly is an amazing place when it comes to catching outlandish summer flatties,” said Capt. Demetrios Koutalakis, also known as “Jimmy the Greek.” He runs On Time Sportfishing (www.ontimefishingcharters. com) out of Yarmouth, Massachusetts and launches from various local ramps based on weather conditions. “The action is generally fast-paced with typical keepers running 20 to 24

inches long and a disproportionate number of bigger fish in daily catches,” said Koutalakis. “It’s not unusual to see a double-digit doormat hit the deck in these waters. We had a 14.4-pounder yesterday, released a 14.9-pounder last week, and had two over 15 pounds last year.” Nantucket Island is roughly 16 to 17 miles from Koutalakis’ typical departure sites in the Bass River area. From there, the fish can be anywhere southwest of the island from up tight to 7 or 8 miles out and beyond. The entire area features a hilly bottom that’s more gravel than sand or rock. In the spring, squid and mackerel get swept through the shoal waters by strong currents and the big fish show up in hot pursuit. By mid-summer, sand eels dominate the baitfish scene and the fluke fishing settles in to a steady, consistent pattern that runs right through August and into September. “It’s the combination of the hills, currents and baitfish that give this place big fish appeal,” explained Koutalakis. “The biggest fluke, especially, like to settle into the gullies and wait for the current to bring the bait right across their noses. The water depths where I like to fish typically vary from 30 to 60 feet deep, and the best action moves around from day to day based on bait movements. So it really helps to have a skipper who is out working this area on a daily basis. It also helps a lot that the waters here are slow to change temperature, so small cold fronts or a couple of hot days generally don’t dampen the bite. I think the big fish really like that.” Koutalakis favors a hi-low rig with 6- and 8-ounce Berkeley bucktails tipped with 5- or 6-inch Berkley Gulp! Grubs or Swimming Mullets. He’ll spool up with 20- to 30-pound test Berkley X9 braided line on a fast retrieve reel. Typically, white, chartreuse and Nuclear Chicken color grubs work best but this year pink shine seems to have an edge. “More important than color choice,” he advised, “is keeping your rig active and bouncing all the time. Big fluke will follow a bait being dragged smoothly across the bottom—but they’ll absolutely SMASH a jig with exaggerated action.” If you’d like to give this super fluking a shot, you are best off using a professional skipper to reach the grounds. For those traveling overnight, Koutalakis suggests staying at the Wind Drift Hotel (https://www.windriftmotelcapecod. com) in Yarmouth. If you’d like to sample these waters via a party boat, the Helen H Fishing Fleet in Hyannis (https://helen-h.com) offers both one- and two-day trips.


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I’m one of those people that prefers heat over cold, so I actually love this time of year. Yes, August is brutally hot, but there is always something to do. The triple tails should be in open water from coast to coast. Any buoy, piling, or floating debris is worth checking. Nothing beats a live shrimp next to a triple tail. The bull reds should be thick as thieves this month. Watch for schools of minnows or pogies, the big bulls shouldn’t be too far. Big poppers, soft plastics, or live baits will ALL get smashed. Don’t think for a second you need to run far. These schools will often times be close enough for wade and pier fishermen to get in on the fun. For the speckled trout, we are going deeper. Typically, we like stuff in 2-4 feet of water. During the hot August temps, we are looking for reefs in 6-12(or deeper). Big live croakers, shrimp, mullet and pogies will work well on a Carolina rig. Put that alarm clock to good use, and get out there early. The midday temperatures this month will be harsh. Bring plenty of water, and sports drinks. Schools start back this month, so please get those kiddos out before that happens.

As Always, Have Fun and Be Safe

Publishers: Capt. David Kuehn Nicole Kuehn August CAM.indd 1

To Advertise With Us: Davidk@coastalanglermagazine.com COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THE ANGLERMAG.COM 228-860-0068AUGUST 2019

MISSISSIPPI 1

7/17/2019 4:58:23 PM


Sonny Schindler Shore Thing Charters I pulled the throttle back on the engine and let the boat drift down wind. We were on the south side of Cat Island just off the coast of Pass Christian, Mississippi. In the direct path of the boat were explosions resembling cannonballs launched from fighting pirate ships. No, we were not caught in a pirate battle, we had stumbled upon a solid acre of feeding jack crevalle. Mullet were launching themselves in every direction, fleeing for their lives. We spent the better of the morning launching every bait we had into the melee and doing battle with some of the strongest fish that swim . Almost every day from May to November along the Mississippi Gulf Coast big Jacks can found in huge schools feeding. Not much for table fare, the Jack crevalle can, and will test both tackle and angler to their limit. The greatest part of fishing for Jacks, it can be done all across the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Most anglers associate big fish(25 plus pounds) with far runs to deep water. Long runs and hefty fuel bills do not go hand and hand with jacks. The first Jack crevalle I ever encountered was back in the early 1980’s off Garfield Ladner pier, in Waveland MS. Ever since that day, the idea of catching “big fish”, a couple of hundred yards off the beach has been a real treat. I have said it before, and I will say it again, I LOVE TO FISH. Sure I love eating fish, but nothing beats the stalk and fight of a big fish. Jack crevalle seem to be a perfect fish for someone, “looking to pick a fight”. They are around almost all year, they eat almost any bait presented to them, and they fight with endless energy. Add all of the above to the close proximity of these giants and you have one heck of a game fish. Finding big jack crevalle is very very easy. If you have a boat, head to the barrier islands(Cat Island, Ship Island, or Horn Island) and scan the horizon. Big jacks make themselves known, huge white explosions and jumping bait fish are a dead give a way. If you are lucky enough to stumble upon a shrimp boat in the Mississippi Sound, throw out a hand full of chum and enjoy the show. For those without a boat, load up the truck and head to the beach. When we were younger we would wade the beaches for speckled trout in the mornings and then go hunt jacks. On a calm clear day, you can see them off the shores crushing schools of mullet, rain minnows, and pogie. Simply “cruise the coast”, anywhere from Ocean Springs to Waveland. Now that several new reefs are being constructed along the coast, the jacks should have miles of real estate to forage.If you do see a school of jacks, stop your vehicle and figure out which way they are moving. Move your vehicle at least half a mile down from the fish and wade out to meet them. When you hook up, try to make your way to the beach for an easier release of the fish. Tackle for jack crevalle is basically a simple question,”how tough do you think you are”? You can easily bull dog the fish with 60lb braided line on a heavy spinning set up. This will give you all the fight you want, but it will take the finesse work out of the game. Since light tackle is more my speed, I have taken a different approach for fighting big jacks. A seven foot, medium heavy Okuma Relexion rod will handle jacks over 30lbs. Being a big fan of Okuma spinning reels, I am using the new Helios(40) with 30lb braided line. I have seen jacks close to 40lbs released using this set up, and have 100% confidence in it. Simply attach your bait to at least a 40lb mono leader and make sure your knots are tied well. There really is not perfect bait for jack crevalle. The most exciting strikes are gonna come off a big top water popper. We have caught hungry jacks on every thing you can imagine:live bait, dead bait, chum, poppers, suspending baits, plastics.... For a real challenge, try tangling with these beasts using only a fly rod. A good 9 or 10 weight fly rod is a must. Start with a 25lb fluorocarbon leader and throw clouser minnows or popping flys into boiling schools of jacks. Just be sure to bring plenty of food of water, you might be there a while. People travel all over the globe to catch fish they don’t eat. Billfish, tarpon, bonefish are hard fighting fish that people pay thousands of dollars to catch. Why not save a few bucks, throw the kids in the boat and go make some lasting memories with one of the hardest fish that swims. As always, have fun and be safe. Shore Thing Charters

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AUGUST 2019

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We’ll, it’s August. Water temps are high and it’s hot outside. Most of your trout are out at the islands. One of my favorite lures to use out there during the hot months is a Limbo Slice Matrix Shad. I dunno what it is about this color, but it works very well out there. Slow reeling or slow jigging is usually key this time of the year out there. I like 1/8th oz jig head if it’s not windy and a 1/4oz for distance if it’s a good bit windy. You will either need to reel it or work it a little faster with the 1/4oz. Good luck and stay hydrated out there!

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7/17/2019 4:58:34 PM


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AUGUST 2019

MISSISSIPPI 7

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August CAM.indd 9

AUGUST 2019

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7/17/2019 4:58:41 PM


Offshore Report Derek Stiglet Nelson Outdoors Pro-Staff

August 2019

It’s Grouper Time! Midst of the summer and all grouper are in season. One of the many Grouper is this Scamp Grouper. One of the tastiest in the Gulf in my own personal opinion. I start the trip a day ahead by setting bait pins for live pinfish. One of the best live baits for grouper. Load the livewell with an ample supply of lively baits which are irresistible to grouper. I tend to use a conventional 2 Speed reel such as my Penn Fathom 2 speed lever drag reel and I outfit it with medium-heavy action Penn Fathom hugging or a boat rod. I’ll spool the reel with 80lb Power Pro braid and top it with a 5ft length of 80-100lb Seaguar Flourocarbon leader. I’ll then tie in a Mustad 3x strong Demon circle hook around a size 8/0 - 10/0 using a unit knot for the connection knot. Other baits such as live cigar minnows or mullet are all good, reliable baits for Grouper. I start fishing in around 200-300ft depth range of water around standing platforms or sunken wrecks or rig jackets. Stout tackle is a necessity for grouper fishing to pull the fish away from the wreckage so prepare wisely.

Nelson Outdoors is your one stop shop for all your hunting and fishing needs. 2034 Market St. Pascagoula, Ms 39567 228-769-6699

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AUGUST 2019

MISSISSIPPI 11

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7/17/2019 4:58:45 PM


Dog Days of Summer

Chris Barlow

Barlow’s Charters & Guide Services

August fishing is here. The dog days of summer have arrived. This can mean many different things to different anglers depending on who you ask. The first few things I think of off the top of my head are; #1 Hot water temperatures of 90 degrees or higher, #2 Hopefully calm seas, and #3 the fact that a lot of anglers are burnt out from fishing all summer and also the fact that children are back in school. The above means that perhaps there will be less anglers on the water. I am hoping for calm seas the majority of the month. The bite can be tough for certain species due to the warm water. First let’s look back at the year so far. It seems to me that in the spring we battled rough seas and high winds. Heck, I feel like the past few years it’s been some of the nastiest most inconsistent weather we have had. Let’s not forget about the high Mississippi River water level, the opening of the Bonnet Carrie spillway, freshwater in the sound, the algae blooms and algae “scares”, and Hurricane Barry to name a few. Looking back now it truly is amazing that we have fought through it all and have had great catches along our gulf coast. With everything in mind, August can be a treasure to the local angler if you know what to target and when to target them. You truly can catch absolutely every species the coast has to offer this month. You can also come back empty handed by targeting the wrong species during the wrong part of the day. If you’re chasing speckled trout fish during the first few hours of light at your typical shallow (sub 5’) areas at the islands or inshore. Once this bite dies, and it will as the water temperature rises, the trout will quickly head to deeper water. You might luck up fishing deeper drop offs, reefs, or deep structure. Think winter time fishing tactics here and fish your lures or baits slow as the trout’s metabolism will slow with the high water temperature and lower oxygen count. Another early morning option may be the tasty white trout and ground mullet. These will be holding on almost all oyster reefs but look for the deeper ones with more current flow. Fish them early before the bite ends. As the sun rises and heat bears down, you might have great luck in the oxygenated waters of the surf on the south side of any of the barrier islands. There’s a good chance you will find whiting, pompano, and redfish prowling the surf throughout the day. Look for a gulley or drop off and use live shrimp or sandfleas or strips of fish-bites on your favorite jig. If you’ve successfully fished until noon without having a heat stroke and want to further your fishing adventure, crank up your a/c (I mean your outboard) and start covering ground looking for tripletail and the return of the cobia to our coastal waters. A cross between hunting and fishing, sight fishing for both of these species can be enjoyable. Crab pot buoys, channel buoys, wooden pilings, and really anything floating or at the surface can hold either species. A live shrimp under a cork is the go-to for tripletail and I prefer to pitch a freelined live croaker to any Cobia I may run across. While running around in your vessel catching that slightly cooler breeze you may even luck up and find a school of red minnows or other baitfish with predators lurking below. These schools usually show up mid to late summer and can hold bull redfish, sharks, jacks, tarpon, Spanish mackerel, and the not so loved ladyfish. To fish these schools you can troll planers and spoons, drift or bump troll live baits, or cast your favorite lure. For the offshore angler Red Snapper, Mangrove Snapper, King Mackerel, and Cobia will all be eager to bite your hook. The water temperature seems not to bother them at their deeper depths. Amberjack season also opens August 1st so many anglers will take advantage of the calm seas to make the long run and fill their box with some groceries. Sargassum grass count is high this year in the gulf so keep your eyes peeled for patches and lines of the grass and you may stumble across a big school of hungry Mahi. Remember, when fishing in August stay hydrated throughout the day and get an early start. Fish for your trout or targeted species early and come back in mid morning or swap up your targeted species and tactics for the remainder of the day. As always, be courteous to other anglers and practice safety on the water.

Captain Chris Barlow 228-861-8535

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THE ANGLERMAG.COM

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AUGUST 2019

MISSISSIPPI 13

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Saltwater Spotlight Vibrio Vulnificus- The Truth

Jay Grimes,Ph.D.,FAAM,FAAAS Okechukwu Ekenna,MD,MPH,D(ABMM),FACP This month’s article will focus on public awareness regarding the Vibrio vulnificus bacteria, naturally occurring bacteria found in all of the planet’s oceans and waterways.

Jay Grimes,Ph.D. received his BA and MA degrees in Biology from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa and his doctorate from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. Dr. Grimes joined the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in 1997 as Director until his retirement in 2017. Q. Can you give our readers a general statement about vibrio bacteria? A. Vibrio vulnificus bacteria strains, of which there are several 100, have lived in the waters of planet Earth for millions of years. These micro disposals feed on dead material both plant and animal. They are ubiquitous to the earth meaning they are found world wide. Vibrio vulnificus causes both food-borne and wound-related illnesses. The overall death rate from V. vulnificus disease is slightly over 50%, said by many experts to be the highest human fatality rate for any bacterium. Q. What are the most ideal conditions for bacteria to grow? A. A water temperature above 4 degrees C. (39.2 F.)is best along with quantities of fresh water and new nutrients for the bacteria to feed on. Low water temperatures and low salinity conditions seem to slow them down. During the winter, populations of V. vulnificus populations are low to almost non-existent, so they present little threat to the general public. Q. Can anything be done by science or man to stop the occurrence of Vibrio bacteria? A. In a word…nothing can be done. Q. Are the areas around the gulf barrier islands any safer than the mainland beach areas? A. Maybe somewhat because of increased salinity and absence of nutrient-rich water from the mainland. Q. What advice would you give the public to help guard against possible infection. A. I would not tell people to just stay out of the water but to be aware of “at risk” factors per individual. If you suspect exposure to a cut or open wound no matter how small you should rinse with Hydrogen Peroxide and then apply Iodine or Merthiolate. Okechukwu Ekenna,MD, Master’s in Public Health, Diplomat(American Board of Medical Microbiology),Fellow of American College of Physicians Dr.Ekenna has a clinic in Pascagoula, MS where he specializes in infectious diseases and internal medicine. He is the author of the book Cases in Clinical Infectious Disease Practice. He is also Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at the U. of South Alabama in Mobile, AL. Dr. Ekenna also has active consulting privileges at Singing River Hospital and the Ocean Springs Hospital. He is certified in Clinical Tropical Medicine and Travelers’Health. Q. Involved with this discussion of Vibrio vulnificus bacteria, how frequently do you see patients with this infection? A. Not to frequent, however, when they do arise they are generally serious cases. Q. What part of the population represents “high risk” groups. A. Older people, diabetics, people with liver disease involved with alcoholism or from immunosuppressive drugs. Cancer patients with compromised immune systems from chemotherapy. Q. What time of year are vibrio problems most prevalent? A. When saltwater temperatures are above 20 degrees Celcius (68 degrees Fahrenheit).Usually in the months of June, July, August, and September on the Gulf Coast. Q. What are the symptoms the public should look for regarding Vibrio infection? A. After someone is exposed to saltwater and they have a cut, scrape or abrasion the symptoms will begin very soon. Redness, swelling, bruising, a dark, bluish, purple, blister and pain, along with chills and possible fever should prompt immediate medical attention. The attending physician should be informed that the patient has been in saltwater and that they have some type of open wound exposure. Prompt medical attention is key to the best hope for a complete recovery.

C. Gordin-Ocean Spring, Ms

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August CAM.indd 15

AUGUST 2019

MISSISSIPPI 15

7/17/2019 4:58:48 PM


Freshwater Day on the Creek

As I slipped the boat into the gentle flowing creek, I could only hear the sound of traffic filling the air. Knowing if I could only get down the creek a hundred yards or so, I could forget the stress of daily life and drown out the sounds of reality. Launching a boat under a bridge before daylight is hardly the beginning to a dream fishing trip, but the dog days of summer call for drastic measures. With the long days of summer, come the extreme temperatures that most fishermen dread, but there are still ways to beat the heat and catch a few bass. The small waters of your nearby creeks and rivers hold fish all year and there’s no better time to fish them; however, with “skinny” waters come the trouble of trying to cast. This is where the old short rods make a come back. Although most rods push the 8’ mark now, there’s still a time and place for the 5’ 5” - 6’ rod lengths. The creek I decided to tackle this day was maybe 20’ wide in most stretches. Throw in a 4’ wide boat and limbs hanging over with from both sides…well, you’re not left with much room. As daylight breaks, I start with a summertime staple in tackle: the buzzbait. After 10 minutes or so with no bites, I swap to a jerk bait. Still with no success. This is where I start to think that maybe I picked the wrong day. Even in areas where tidal movement is key, small waters usually have current continuously, which makes them a good choice for even the “poor” fishing days on your calendar. The normal, “catch a few on topwater early”, isn’t working either…even though conditions seem perfect. I hesitate to go to something else this early, but the fish (or lack thereof) are the deciding factor. The next bend reveals what has to be the best bass habitat ever created! I throw the crawfish-colored crankbait, land it as close to the bank as it can get, give it a little switch, and... realize it’s stuck on a vine. Not to disturb this perfect spot, I reach for another rod. The soft, “Kevin VanDam” landing of the spinnerbait was soon disrupted by the swirl of a 2lb spotted bass. The spotted bass are mingled in with the largemouth throughout the waterways in the south. Spots, largemouth, and the occasional “red belly” bream all fell victim to the flashing blades of the white/chartreuse spinnerbait on this trip. Alternating between these two lures seemed to be the ticket to fill the ice chest with a very respectable limit of bass. In addition to the rods and tackle, there are a few other items to add to your checklist before venturing out on your float trip. Although trolling motors are convenient, some creeks only require the steering from a paddle as the current carries you. Tied to the center of the back of the boat, I keep a 10’ piece of rope with one foot of 3/8” chain tied to the end. If the current gets swift, or if I just want to fish a stretch a little slower, I slip it over the side. A life jacket is a necessity, as well as a cushion. A cushion paired with a stadium seat makes a comfortable combo! Other items to consider are bottled water/snacks, fish stringer or cooler, sunscreen, bug spray and needle nose pliers.

K

Travis Bragg

w 16 MISSISSIPPI

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COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THE ANGLERMAG.COM

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August CAM.indd 17

AUGUST 2019

MISSISSIPPI 17

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COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THE ANGLERMAG.COM

7/17/2019 4:58:55 PM


ICAST Jeff Jones Brackish Coast Outdoors Every July, anglers from all over the United States come together at ICAST, the world’s largest sportfishing trade show. This year, in my time away from the booth I was working at, I wandered the show floor looking for new products that would specifically help the anglers along the Mississippi gulf coast. Although I gravitated towards kayak specific products, boaters can also benefit from some of the products mentioned below. First off I ran into the Gruv Fishing Tungsten Vault. This small tackle storage solution, has a small footprint with a lot of benefits. First off it will hold your weights securely, without them bouncing around and making noise like in a regular tackle tray. The weights sit down in one of the four different sized silicone anchoring spots. The box keeps weights very organized and can hold a total of 48 weights from size 1/16oz all the way to 1.5oz. The GET’EM SHAD by High Water Fishing Lures, really caught my eye with their very natural color selection. Part of the company’s marketing was literally pictures of their lure colors right beside the corresponding live bait it was intended to imitate, and they done a very good job at making the lures look really natural. The tail looks like it will displace quite a bit of water, and the injected scent and oils in every lure are sure to entice fish. I brought a good sampling of these lures home to test on our local fish. The Stealth QR2 Rod Holder is a product that I will absolutely have on my kayaks. We’ve all seen the QR1, but the newest offering will accommodate nearly any rod. Unlike other kayak rod holders, this one is built, well...overbuilt would be a better term, to hold up to some serious abuse. The first thing that comes to mind when looking at this holder is quality. The locking mechanism that holds the rod is remarkably simple and easy to use. When a fish bites, a “hookset” motion is exactly the way to get the rod out of the holder. The dual locking point track mount base is another reason these holders will be on my yak when the water temps drop into those magical speckled trout trolling days. Head to your nearest tackle shop and start asking for Stealth rod holders, they are the most well-built holders on the market. The Texas Eye Jigheads are jigs I’ve been using for quite a while, but now Z-Man Fishing has partnered with EyeStrike fishing to release these jigheads as an official Z-Man product. This means they will be much easier to get, and wow are these jigs great! Aside from the massive eye on the head, the head has a swinging hook design and accommodates a “Texposed” or “Texas-Rigged” plastic for increased action and weedless capability. Pick some of these up as soon as they are available, they work great on our waters. Clenzoil released a Reel Cleaning Kit this year to keep all your reels in top notch shape. Clenzoil isn’t a “new” product by any means, but having all the tools and oil in one kit for reel cleaning is a very convenient and easy way to do some preventative maintenance. The kit comes with a 1 ounce needle oiler, 2 ounce pump sprayer, a syringe of synthetic reel grease, a screwdriver, brush, microfiber towel, and a convenient case to keep it all in. Plus Clenzoil is proven to be the best oil you can use on your reels. The next two products will be together since they compliment each other so well. Vibe Kayaks released the Shearwater 125 kayak, as not just a “game changer” but a “game ender.” So just what do they mean by that? First off this kayak comes in at $1299 for the paddle version, a stellar deal for what you’re getting; or $1799 for the pedal drive version. Not only is this already incredible, but they opened up the propulsion style to whatever the user wants. Not only can you use the Vibe X-Drive, you can drop the brand new Hobie 360 drive into this kayak as well! Different drive-well pods are being offered with this kayak to accommodate nearly any drive system on the market, not to mention the potentials for electric propulsion. Bixpy has partnered with Vibe to include a “plug and play” rudder system that you can mount a Bixpy jet motor to in less than 5 minutes. Dual Power Pole mounting plates round this kayak out as one of the most versatile vessels that was shown at ICAST. Of course these products are literally only about 2 percent of the new products that were shown, but these are truly the ones that will change the way I fish on the MS gulf coast. If you want more information about any of these products, or want to know the release dates, visit the manufacturers website or Facebook page, or you can email me at jeffjonesfishing@yahoo.com. As always, stay safe on the water. Good Vibes, Tight Lines, and God Bless.

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THE ANGLERMAG.COM

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COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THE ANGLERMAG.COM

7/17/2019 4:58:58 PM


Fish At Night...Cool Temps, Hot Bites RIGGING & JIGGING

F

Tim Barefoot

or the remainder of the summer and into early fall, the best fishing can often be at night. Temperatures are more comfortable, there’s less boat traffic, less wind and fewer anglers. There’s no need for sunscreen, and best of all… fish are very active. I fish for several species in fresh and saltwater at night around the big lights on bridges and docks. I’ll also bring my own lights. Light draws the baitfish, and then it’s just a matter of time until the target species show up. Squid, cigar minnows, sardines and tinker mackerel (boston mackerel) show up in numbers around a bright light on an anchored boat over a ledge or wreck. This is a wonderful opportunity to fill the livewell with a Sabiki. It also brings all the action right to your back deck. It’s really cool to watch the life that is attracted. It’s like a National Geographic show right behind the boat. The key is bright lights. Years ago I bumped into the owner of Hydro Glow Lights at ICAST, and he quickly brought me into the modern age of offshore and inshore lights. New LED, low-amperage lights are powerful and require low power usage. Not only do I use a light on the surface, but I also drop at least one down 20 or 30 feet, and one even deeper depending on the target species. See video of this on the website. In addition to the good bite at night, it’s kinda like hunting in some respects when running the existing lights in waterways and sounds. You can go from light to light and watch, and you can also be very quiet and hear surface activity. Being stealthy is important. You don’t want to stomp around the boat, or yell over thumping music. Some of the standout species that hunt the edge of the light are

DUDLEY WINS FOURTH FLW ANGLER OF THE YEAR

D

avid Dudley made history by winning his fourth FLW Angler of the Year title at the last regular-season stop for the FLW Tour on Lake Champlain in late June. His seventh-place finish at the Lake Champlain event vaulted him to the top of the AOY rankings. “I’m still making the championship and still doing well, but in my mind I thought I had peaked out,” said Dudley. “To win my fourth makes this one very special and satisfying.” Dudley has finished in the top 25 at every event this season, with the exception of one stumble at Lake Seminole. Coming into the Lake Champlain event, Dudley trailed John Cox by one point in the standings. “I knew I had a very good chance at winning after day one at Lake Champlain,” said Dudley. “I had an 18-point lead, but what was more encouraging was that I had almost a 2-pound lead over John. I had the confidence that with a 2-pound cushion, I had a good shot at winning.” Consistency is the hallmark of Angler of the Year, and Dudley personified this throughout the year with timely, on-the-water decision-making. “The decisions you make out on the water separate a good angler from a great angler,” said Dudley. “Understanding how to play the game better than good anglers is key. We all can skip docks the same way, but knowing when to pick up and leave an area at the right time can make all the difference.”

kings, wahoo, most all the snappers and tuna, offshore. Inshore, snook, tarpon, drum and trout are susceptible. In freshwater, striped bass, crappie and panfish are suckers for well-lit water. I have memories of commercial trips of kings and beeliners in numbers at night. The beeliners really chew it up a few days before and during the full moons of summer, but the bite shuts down right at daylight. Even though the largest gag grouper I ever caught was at night, groupers can be difficult at night. Snapper, on the other hand, move higher in the water column and really chew. King mackerel under the lights can be off the charts. Once you get the squid and minnows concentrated under the lights, the dinner bell is ringing for kings, wahoo and tuna. Be sure to fill the livewell and fish the first couple hours after daybreak, while it’s still cool. Then head back in with a full box while other folks are just headed out. For video instructions on how to tye this rig, see:

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When submitting a photo for consideration for use as a cover image or editorial image, please follow the guidelines specified here: Optimal size: 10 x 12.5 at 300 DPI (3000 x 3750 Pixels) 1) Don’t zoom in too closely. Allow additional background to give our art directors the opportunity to create a horizontal or vertical layout. 2) Don’t hold your fish way out in front of you to create the illusion of a bigger fish. We call this telescoping and we just don’t use images like this. 3) Make sure the lighting is good. Having the sun behind a subject will create a silhouette effect and too strong a light source will burn out details in a photo. 4) Don’t have blood in the photo. It may not bother you, but it doesn’t contribute to making a better photo and many readers find it unattractive. 5) Hold the fish properly. The subject should hold the fish in a horizontal position supporting it with their hands. Don’t let fish hang by the head, gills or tail. Send to: graphics@coastalanglermagazine.com

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Since it came out last summer, Havalon has been dedicated to making the Talon the most versatile, sharpest, easiest to clean and all-around best fishing knife ever

made. Havalon has continued to strengthen the Talon platform by developing 10 different blade types that all seamlessly interchange onto any Talon handle. The latest addition to that collection of blades is the new Talon Fish Serrated Combo pack. Each pack comes with 3 multi-function blades all created to make life easier after a day on the water. The pack includes a 5-inch fillet with back serration, a 7-inch fillet with back serration and a 5-inch scaler. Like all Talon blades, the three new blade types are made of stainless steel and can be easily resharpened after extensive use and can be easily swapped on to any Talon handle with the press of a button. The new Talon Fish Serrated Combo pack is available now at Havalon.com.

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, KINGFISH BACK TO THE BASICS Photos by Gene Dyer

By Gene Dyer

K

6 barrel swivel. I like to stay on the long side with my leader to be a bit stealthier. This step will help to avoid line twist, especially when using a spinning reel. Now it’s time to put together some rigs. You’ll need some #5 stainless steel, coffee-colored wire, and depending on the bait that is available, octopus hooks ranging from 3/0 to 7/0 and some treble hooks in size 4 and 6. If you are using smaller baits like pilchards, you’ll want to use a smaller main hook and smaller treble hook for your stinger. For bigger baits like goggle eyes, blue runners and speedos, step up your hook size for your main hook and stinger. Use a haywire twist to attach a 20inch length of wire to the main hook. Don’t over do it, as four to five twists on a 45-degree angle will suffice. Finish off your haywire with three to four straight wraps to secure the connection. Now it’s time to attach your stinger to the main hook. Again, depending on the size of your bait, attach 4 to 8 inches of wire to your stinger hook with a haywire twist and then attach the other end of your stinger rig to the eye of the main hook with another haywire twist. It’s extremely important to rig your stinger with enough slack so that your bait will swim naturally. Now you are ready to attach your rig to your leader. Use an albright knot to connect your rig to your leader. If you don’t know how to tie an albright knot, do an Internet search and plenty of pages and videos will pop up. You can fish this setup a couple of different ways. If you will be drifting, fish at least two rods. You’ll want one bait on the surface and one deeper, from 30 to 60 feet. Send your surface bait out first and allow it to swim away from the boat. You can attach a balloon to your main line to help keep track of where your bait is. Depending on conditions, add 4 to 8 ounces of lead to your deep rod. Slip your lead on above the swivel or attach it to the main line with a rubber band. If you utilize the rubber band method, it’s highly likely that you’ll lose your sinker on the strike. These rigs can also be used for slow trolling baits. Slow trolling can help determine what depth the fish are in. Start trolling in about 60 feet and head out to 200 feet and then back to 60 feet. Once you find the fish, set up your drift at the depth. When kingfish strike, they typically go on a long run away from the boat. Take your time and slowly work the fish toward the boat. Don’t be surprised if you get it close and it takes off on another short run after it sees the boat. Let the fish run and tire out. You should then be able to get your fish back to the boat for a gaff shot to the head.

ing mackerel are aggressive predators with extremely sharp teeth. To catch them with consistency, you must prepare accordingly. Though there are many ways to rig your rods for kingfish, I’d like to focus on a few techniques that have worked for me over the years. These techniques can be utilized on both spinning and conventional tackle. To start, you’re going to want a rod in the 7-foot range that has a sensitive tip, so you can feel the bite, but also some backbone to turn the head of a smoker that just peeled off 100 yards of line in 20 seconds. Sometimes, a big king will swim right back at the boat after a blistering run, and you will have a better chance of coming tight with a higher speed reel. You’ll want nothing less than a 5-to-1 gear ratio. When it comes to line choice, you can certainly spool your reels with braided line, but I prefer 20- to 30-pound monofilament, as I’m kind of old school and learned to fish for kingfish before braid became so popular. That said, you’ll want to connect your main line to Gene Dyer is co-publisher of Coastal Angler Magazine’s Fort Lau4 to 10 feet of 40- or 50-pound fluorocarbon leader with a size 4 or derdale edition. Contact him at gene@coastalanglermagazine.com. 14

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FLY FISHING 16

CHUMMING UP MAKO SHARKS One of the greatest adversaries on the fly rod in saltwater is the shortfin mako shark. The mako is considered by many as the fastest of all sharks, but what makes this great gamefish stand out is not only its fighting ability but its tendency to leap 20 feet in the air once hooked! The mako shark is one of saltwater fly-fishing’s outstanding but unappreciated gamefish. Found on both in the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, a smaller mako in the 20- to 30-pound range can be perfect for the beginning saltwater fly fisherman; of course, fishing for sharks is a tad different than fishing for bluegills in your Uncle Ned’s farm pond. First, you’ll need a boat, preferably a boat over 18 feet that can handle fairly choppy seas. Most center-consoles will do; however, a skiff with a beam of 8 feet or wider and a not-too-deep V will settle in the water better and reduce pitch and roll to a minimum, guaranteeing a much more stable casting platform. A chum line is the most effective way of attracting makos into casting distance of your boat. Chumming attracts the larger makos and will allow you to sight-cast to them. Into a chum bag, place the belly sections or fresh carcasses of tuna, bluefish or bonito. Then place the bag into a milk crate or five-gallon bucket, lower this mess by rope over the side and listen for the musical score from the movie “Jaws” to begin. You won’t have long to wait once that chum slick begins to spread. Ideally, you should use fresh carcasses, but store-bought chum will suffice. One bit of important advice: Less is more when chumming; you don’t

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3/15/19 2:26 PM


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