Coastal Angler Magazine - November / North Central Florida

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NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST EDITION

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VOLUME 23 • ISSUE 273

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM

F R A N C H I S E

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EDITOR IN CHIEF : Ben Martin • camads@coastalanglermagazine.com VICE PRESIDENT : Tracy Patterson • tracy@coastalanglermagazine.com ART DIRECTOR : Rebecca Snowden • graphics@coastalanglermagazine.com EDITORIAL COORDINATOR : Nick Carter • editorial@coastalanglermagazine.com WEBMASTER : Dmitriy Pislyagin • webmaster@coastalanglermagazine.com ADVERTISING INQUIRIES: Corporate Headquarters info@coastalanglermagazine.com • 888-800-9794

FLORIDA

BIG BEND : Mike McNamara • (850) 510-7919 • captmike@coastalanglermagazine.com BREVARD : David String • (321) 684-5888 • dstring@coastalanglermagazine.com DAYTONA/NEW SMYRNA BEACH : Don Meadows • (321) 436-5895 • donm@coastalanglermagazine.com EMERALD COAST/DESTIN/PENSACOLA : Scott Risher • (850) 428-0996 • srisher@coastalanglermagazine.com FLORIDA KEYS : Cliff Lumpkin • (305) 849-9093 • cliff@coastalanglermagazine.com FORT LAUDERDALE : Gene Dyer • (954) 680-3900 • gene@coastalanglermagazine.com FORT MYERS : Nadeen Welch • (239) 595-8265 • nwelch@coastalanglermagazine.com GREATER MIAMI : Scott Deal • (561) 945-6999 • scott@coastalanglermagazine.com Monica Isaza-Deal • (561) 945-8899 • monica@coastalanglermagazine.com GREATER ORLANDO : Phillip & Giselle Wolf • (407) 790-9515 • phillip@coastalanglermagazine.com LAKELAND & SUMTER : Mary Brasher • (352) 598-4219 • maryf@coastalanglermagazine.com NAPLES : Nadeen Welch • (239) 595-8265 • nwelch@coastalanglermagazine.com NC FLORIDA/NATURE COAST : Cary & Lynn Crutchfield • (352) 372-4237 • crutch@coastalanglermagazine.com NE FLORIDA : Danny Patrick • (904) 742-4696 • danny@coastalanglermagazine.com PANAMA CITY/FORGOTTEN COAST : Randy Cnota • (229) 834-7880 • randyc@coastalanglermagazine.com PALM BEACH COUNTY : Barbara Ryan • (561) 373-8040 • barbara@coastalanglermagazine.com SARASOTA : Phil Prevoir • (239) 257-4684 • pprevoir@coastalanglermagazine.com TAMPA BAY : Chuck Atkins • (239) 464-5153 • chuck@coastalanglermagazine.com TREASURE COAST : Misti & Gary Guertin • (772) 285-6850 • treasurecoast@coastalanglermagazine.com flahama@coastalanglermagazine.com

SOUTHEAST

ATLANTA/SW GEORGIA : Bob & Brenda Rice • (706) 614-8231 • bobr@theanglermagazine.com CHARLESTON : Jane A. Redden • (205) 725-9616 • jane@coastalanglermagazine.com Sam Buckareff • (843) 607-8629 • sam@coastalanglermagazine.com CHARLOTTE/PIEDMONT : Mark & Haley Alberghini • (704) 651-1934 • mark@theanglermagazine.com MYRTLE BEACH : Mike Masiero • (732) 674-3019 • mmasiero@coastalanglermagazine.com TIDEWATER/OUTER BANKS : John Tiger • (757) 707-9654 • john.tiger@coastalanglermagazine.com Laura Seitz • (757) 707-9655 • laura@coastalanglermagazine.com UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA : Gregg Thompson • (864) 542-3112 • gregg@theanglermagazine.com WESTERN NC : Debra & Joe Woody • (828) 775-9663 • woody@theanglermagazine.com WILMINGTON/MOREHEAD : Kenny Ritter • (910) 550-9094 • kenny@coastalanglermagazine.com

NORTHEAST BOSTON : George Regan • (617) 488-2842 • boston@coastalanglermagazine.com LONG ISLAND : Lisa & Michael Danforth • (203) 321-7635 • lisad@coastalanglermagazine.com CONNECTICUT/RHODE ISLAND : Lisa & Michael Danforth • (203) 321-7635 lisad@coastalanglermagazine.com

GULF COAST

GALVESTON/MATAGORDA/UPPER COAST : Chanci & David Mowry • (713) 446-7395 • chancim@coastalanglermagazine.com • davidm@coastalanglermagazine.com MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST : Adam Nelson • (228) 627-5903 • anelson@coastalanglermagazine.com Toby Nelson • (228) 623-1761 • tnelson@coastalanglermagazine.com NEW ORLEANS : Dr. Dave Dunaway • (225) 400-8156 • nola@coastalanglermagazine.com

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GREAT LAKES WEST MICHIGAN : Phil Belsito • (616) 957-1714 • phil@theanglermagazine.com

INTERNATIONAL PUERTO RICO/VIRGIN ISLANDS : Ace Bassue • (407) 285-9453 • ace@coastalanglermagazine.com COSTA RICA : Mike Erickson • (561) 262-2242 • mike@coastalanglermagazine.com

Cover Image Credits: (Clockwise from top left) Sailfish: Alphonse Fishing Co., Wesley Rapson; Bumphead Parrotfish: Alphonse Fishing Co., Andre Henn; Salmon: Scott Norton; Trout: Big Cedar Lodge; Bass: Nick Carter; Roosterfish: Francisco Mejias © 2017. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Disclaimer: Coastal Angler Magazine / The Angler Magazine will not be held liable for injuries incurred while partaking in activities described herein, or for claims made against products or services provided by advertisers.

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FLY FISHING By Nick Carter

F

ly fishing for bonefish and permit might have originated on the flats of the Bahamas and the Florida Keys, but these islands hardly hold a monopoly on the style of fishing. In the Indian Ocean, about 1,000 miles off the east coast of Africa, there is an archipelago that claims the highest density of bonefish in the world on one of its outer island groups. The Alphonse Group is three small islets on the southwestern end of the Seychelles, a nation of 115 islands in gorgeous tropical waters northeast of Madagascar. Within the Alphonse Group, Alphonse Atoll and St. Francois Atoll offer more 10,000 acres of hard, white-sand bonefish flats as well as a lagoon with channels, finger flats and coral heads where fly fishers sight fish in clear water to more than 60 species of fish. There are characters familiar to Atlantic flats—bonefish and permit—and there are also species exotic to North American fly rodders, like milkfish, colorful triggerfish and seven species of trevally. Instead of tarpon, the Seychelles offer up the giant trevally, which can weigh in excess of 120 pounds. And with a 10-minute boat ride out of Alphonse Island, anglers can access reef species and big pelagics like sailfish, wahoo, dorado, dogtooth and yellowfin tuna. Either trolling or teasing them up and casting flies to them, these offshore species offer a delightful break from the flats as well as a dinnertime treat on the island. “The Seychelles has become known as the best giant trevally fishery in the world and has become the benchmark for anglers searching for an outstanding saltwater flats fishing experience,” said Keith RoseInnes, managing director of Alphonse Fishing Company. “The sheer numbers and variety of fish species has amazed the fly fishing world, with anglers from across the globe queuing up to sample this ultimate fishing playground.” St. Francois is most well known for its bonefish, with ridiculous

numbers of 4to 6-pound fish and the occasional 8-pounder in the mix. “On falling tides, it is often the case that huge shoals of bonefish can be targeted when leaving the flats in what has been described as a continuous river of bonefish,” said Rose-Innes. “You hunt them on foot and not from a skiff, as the sand flats are hard and white.” It’s also as close to a sure thing as it gets for anglers seeking the Holy Grail of saltwater fly fishing. Good numbers of Indo-Pacific permit populate the flats, and Rose-Innes said his guides have near-perfected the art of catching them. Along with natural environs conducive to awesome fishing, a strong conservation ethic ensures an incredible angling experience. Alphonse Fishing Company tightly controls the amount and type of fishing pressure its waters see, and the fisheries are completely closed a minimum of three months per year. That’s the fishing side of the conservation effort. Alphonse also protects the unique flora and fauna of the islands, which makes for a sensational overall vacation experience, with comfortable lodging among beautiful tropical forests and beaches. For more information, see www.alphonsefishingco.com.

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Craig Sutton with a Costa Rica yellowfin.

“M

ost people my age buy a house in Costa Rica to retire,” said Craig Sutton, of Nosara Paradise Rentals and FishingNosara. “When I bought my first house in Costa Rica, my life was just starting to get interesting.” Craig first discovered Nosara, Costa Rica on a surfing trip in the late 1990s and immediately fell in love with the people, the culture and the year-round excellent surfing. He purchased a small house near Guiones Beach, bought out his neighbors’ land, and spent the next 15 years building a nature preserve campus of 14 houses plus a pool, common areas and maintenance facilities. One thing was missing from this surfer’s paradise: good fishing. As a native Floridian, Craig’s passion for fishing runs deep. He has been a regular on the kingfish tournament scene for years, with his boat Fishtastic posting top-5 finishes in the several tournaments.

“The problem with fishing in Costa Rica is that fish are so big and so harsh that they will destroy your tackle, plus the costs for fuel is astronomical at $7 a gallon and rising,” said Sutton. “Captains trying to make ends meet would have to choose between new lines, new tackle and a full tank of gas, or putting food on the family table.” After years of struggling to find a captain in Costa Rica who was willing and able to fish aggressively, Sutton realized his only option was to build his own boats and crew them with hand-picked locals. “These guys had the drive and the talent to be great fishermen, they just lacked the tools and the logistical support,” said Sutton. “The team-centered approach allows FishingNosara captains to pursue the fish as aggressively as a professional tournament boat without being distracted by losing lures or running up the gas bill.” FishingNosara launched their first boat, The Wanderer, in 2009 and have added a boat every year since. The results have been astounding. In the 2017 season, the five-boat FishingNosara team ran over 730 trips with over 80 marlin releases and 800 sailfish releases. More importantly, the team inflicted zero billfish fatalities. “Reviving and releasing billfish is a sacred priority to us as conservationists, plus it makes good business sense,” said Sutton. “We have created a market of charter fishermen, which means billfish are worth more money alive and swimming than they are on a scale at the meat market.” As for retirement for Sutton, don’t bet on it anytime soon. Last April he scored a billfish grand slam (blue marlin, striped marlin and sailfish) to win the Ship of Fools Billfish Tournament in Costa Rica. Sutton is looking to up-the-ante again in 2018. Back in the States, a new version of the Fishtastic came online this year. It’s an exact copy of the 32’ Eduardono Harvester currently in Nosara, and Sutton is already amped up for a new challenge. “My goal with the new boat is to snag a tournament winning king mackeral in July then go catch marlin in August… seems like a good way to bring two worlds together.”

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By CAM Staff

M

urrells Inlet, S.C. has always been a fishing town. Long before Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand began drawing tourists to experience the beaches, shopping, golf and nightlife that have made it famous, Murrells Inlet was a fishing village. And it’s no wonder. The inlet itself is an inshore angler’s dream. It’s an enclosed system, one of very few inlets on the east coast free from the influence of the Intracoastal Waterway or coastal rivers.

There’s no dirty water flowing in from upstream, and this system of marshes and backwaters is a completely saltwater environment, with no freshwater pumping in to reduce salinity. The result is excellent fishing and exploration of backwater creeks for speckled trout, redfish and the doormat flounder that Murrells Inlet has gained a reputation for. Another thing the area has a well-earned reputation for is huge red drum, which hang out around the jetties to provide anglers with the bulldog runs only a big bull red can provide. It’s some of the best red fishing on the east coast, with fish in the 20- to 40-pound range arriving in numbers in both spring and fall. For those who don’t mind a short boat ride to fill the cooler,

there are numerous nearshore reefs that can be easily accessed with a half-day trip and a run of less than 5 miles. Mackerel, sharks, black sea bass, reds, flounder, bluefish, spadefish and more make for an exciting outing even for the family, and you’ll come back with a cooler full of delicious fish. Out to 15 or 30 miles, there is also excellent trolling for king and Spanish mackerel, cobia and amberjack, as well as bottom fishing for snappers, groupers and sea bass. But those who want to get serious should look into a full-day trip to the Gulf Stream. From 55 to 70 miles offshore, opportunities for tuna, dolphin, wahoo, marlin and sailfish abound. Trolling the Gulf Stream for big-game species off the lower end of the Grand Strand is tough to beat anywhere. So… it’s easy to see why Murrells Inlet has always been a fishing village, and perhaps the best way to experience it is from a base camp at the Inlet Sports Lodge. Located at the heart of Murrells Inlet, the Inlet Sports Lodge is a comfortable and classy boutique hotel that caters to anglers and golfers with the finest amenities in the area. It’s minutes away from three marinas, works closely with the area’s best charter captains and can accommodate boats up to 25 feet. There’s a fish cleaning room for prep, as well as gas and charcoal grills available in the courtyard to cook your catch. Or, for those who’d rather let someone else do the cooking, the COSTA Coastal Kitchen and Bar on-site offers up fine, fresh Italian and seafood fare. There are also several other restaurants nearby that prepare the kind of delicious right-out-of-the-water dishes that have made Murrells Inlet the “Seafood Capital of South Carolina.” And don’t forget the golf. If days on the water paired with days on the links sounds like the perfect way to relax, the Inlet Sports Lodge has you covered. With golf packages booking a wide variety of the Grand Strand’s famous courses, there’s more golf than you can swing a stick at, including two award-winning courses with the same ownership as the Inlet Sports Lodge. Caledonia Golf & Fish Club and True Blue Plantation are two of the finest courses in the area as well as the nation. For more information on fishing, golfing and the Inlet Sports Lodge at Murrells Inlet, S.C., go to www.inletsportslodge.com/ or call 877-585-9360.

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FLORIDA

By Dianne Poston

T

he South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAC) recently issued a news release stating that they have approved a request to NOAA Fisheries that would allow fishermen access to red snapper in federal waters off the coast of the Carolinas, Georgia and the east coast of Florida. The Council is requesting that NOAA Fisheries allow an interim annual catch limit (recreational and commercial) of 42,510 fish for 2017 via an emergency rule. The annual catch limit would allow for a recreational mini-season with six to 12 days of fishing over a few weekends beginning in late October. The recreational bag limit would be 1 fish per person/day with no minimum size limit. The recreational sector is allocated 71.93 percent of the total catch limit of 42,510 fish for 2017. The Council also approved measures in Amendment 43 to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan with

the intent to have a red snapper season in 2018. If allowed, the recreational fishery would open the second Friday in July (July 13, 2018) and the commercial fishery the second Monday in July (July 9, 2018). SEDAR 41 is 805 pages and contains all the information on how the South Atlantic Council arrives at the numbers of fish that fishermen are allowed to catch. During the last season in 2014, biology tables were set up at the boat ramps to assess the red snapper stock. We fished in this last season and believed that the council was interested in how many older, breeding red snapper were available. We noted that the only fish that were making it to the biology table were the older, large fish and no one brought in the smaller red snapper to be assessed. As a result of this, there was a spike in the number of older fish being included in the council’s data. They assumed that fishermen had been discarding the smaller red snapper, allowing them to become dead discards, to catch the larger snapper. The council believed that the dead discards were greater than the allocated number of red snapper to be caught and therefore closed red snapper harvest for 2015 and 2016. During the 2017 season there will also be biology tables to assess our catch. Please be responsible fishermen and report all your catches, large and small, and also the ones you released. Private recreational fishermen will also have an opportunity to report their catch information as part of a voluntary pilot project using the mobile iAngler tournament app. Dr. Duval, of the SAC, is recommending practices such as moving off areas when you have caught your limit and if you need to release fish to use a descending device. Washington state, Oregon and California recently mandated fish descending devices for all bottom fishing. California reopened rock fish harvest after a study using descending devices showed that mortality was significantly reduced when using a descending device. There are several other states currently looking at mandating fish descending devices. There are many fish descending devices on the market. A good one is the Fish Saver by Roy’s Electric Reels. For more information, go to Fishsaverdevice.com.

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nglers in search of big-game sportfishing have chosen the Palm Beaches since the 1900s. Some of the earliest sportfishing boats were built in the area. With the Gulf Stream waters passing closer to the coast than anywhere in the continental United States, the annual migration of Atlantic sailfish to Palm Beach County sets the stage for Operation Sailfish on Dec. 6-10, hosted by the Sailfish Marina and Resort in Palm Beach Shores, Fla. Operation Sailfish is the first leg of the Quest for the Crest series, where the world’s best sail-fishing teams will compete. Prior to the

start of the competition, there is a special event, “Take a Hero Fishing Day.” Men and women of the United States military are invited to join the fishing teams for a fun day of fishing on Dec. 7. Active duty men and women, veterans and wounded warriors are eligible to participate in this event, created to honor and thank them for their service. The Quest for the Crest four-leg series teams are expected to compete for an estimated purse of $3,000,000 in 2018. The series begins at the historic Sailfish Marina and Resort in December. The Sailfish 400, the second leg will be January in Miami. The largest sailfish tournament in the country is the third leg of the series, known as The Sailfish Challenge, with a three-inlet format; Ft. Lauderdale will be the home base. The series wraps up with the Final Sail in Key West in April. The Sailfish Marina and Resort is the perfect venue for the tournament, with accommodations, the waterfront restaurant, ship’s store, dockage, fuel, heated pool and a weekly sunset celebration featuring live music. Many tournaments enjoy the amenities of the resort throughout the year, including The Big Dog Fat Cat KDW, The Silver Sailfish Derby and Blue Water Babes. A family tradition since 1952, the Sailfish Resort and Marina offers transient and annual docking, a charter fleet, 32 hotel accommodations, Peanut Island shuttle, as well as a snorkel trail and beach just a few blocks away. If you don’t compete in any of the tournaments based at the resort, come make some memories of your own. For more information, visit www.sailfishmarina.com.

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By Terry Gibson • Photo by Pete Markham/flickr.com

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he maritime salvage laws on the books today originated well before the days of Christopher Columbus. Today, salvage laws remain relatively unchanged. Boaters in Florida and across the nation should understand how and when these laws apply to them. Otherwise, you could end up with a shocking bill for even basic assistance on the water. A long-time friend of mine is a charter captain in Sebastian, Fla. He was fishing offshore with clients and noticed a slight crack in the hull, which let water in below decks. With an abundance of caution, he headed back to shore and contacted a popular maritime salvage and towing company to provide assistance. This company rushed a boat to his location and tossed him a pump to help minimize the effects of the leak. The company representative never set foot on my friend’s boat. A couple weeks later, my friend received a shocker of a bill—for $3,800. I recently learned about another individual who received a bill for a salvage claim that was several times that amount. This particular individual was a few hundred yards from shore while traveling to Key West when he saw there was more water in the bilge than normal. He got on the radio and called for a friend to help, but a maritime salvage company met him and helped pump water from the bilge. The company employee was on the boat for less than five minutes. Because the company classified the service as “salvage,” this boat owner received a bill for $30,000 even though he had a membership agreement with this company. I don’t share these stories to make people distrust maritime salvage and towing companies. I personally have a membership with one of these companies, and all the assistance they’ve provided was swift and above board. More than half of Florida boat owners invest in a membership for maritime assistance. Every boater should be aware that when you receive assistance on the water, you could be on the hook for a huge bill–even if you have a membership. Unless you have a pre-arranged contract with a salver that protects you, that individual or company has the right to make what’s called a “salvage claim” against the value of your vessel if it’s in “impending peril.” According to numerous maritime attorneys, the salvage fee amount depends upon factors including but not limited to the value of your vessel, the direness of the situation and the risk the salver took. Dishonest salvers know there’s legal gray area and that most salvage claims are settled in or out of admiralty courts. You can prevent an unexpected bill when you need assistance by negotiating a fixed fee or a set hourly rate. That way everyone is clear on what assistance will be provided and what it will cost. Mechanical and hull-integrity issues happen on the water; that’s the nature of boats. When they do, it’s good to know there are services available to help. To keep these challenging moments from turning into real financial problems, know what’s in store before calling on the help of a maritime salvage and towing company. To learn more about this issue or to share you own story about a salvage experience, visit StopSeaPiracy.com.

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By Costa Rica Pro Staff

Photos by Francisco Mejias

W

orld-class sportfishing and the sexy big-game species get a lot of attention on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, and for good reason. However, the inshore fishing can be just exciting. It is action-packed and diverse, utilizing different techniques to target more than a dozen different species. The main target of inshore anglers in Costa Rica is the hard-hitting and powerful roosterfish. They will smash artificials, and even topwater plugs, but the easiest way to catch them is with live bait. We bridle a live runner, sardine, lookdown or even a skipjack tuna on a 9/0 Trokar circle hook. Slow trolling around rocky structure or along beaches is a surefire way to draw strikes. Once hooked, the average 20-pound rooster is as ferocious as it is beautiful, and these beasts can get a whole lot bigger than average. We very often encounter fish in the jack family, including jack crevalle and different species of trevally in many of the same areas as the roosterfish. These can also be caught on live bait but are even more responsive than roosterfish to topwater baits such as poppers and stick baits. The lures are rigged with one or two in-line hooks from Lazer Sharp. We replace the factory treble hooks, which makes the fight much cleaner, the fish handling safer and does a lot less damage to the fish. These are fast fish, and quick retrieves often get the fish’s attention. Topwater does also work for smaller roosterfish, but the larger ones are harder to lure to the surface. Not so for the snappers, including cubera snapper, which will rise from 100 feet to smash a well-worked popper. This is one of the ultimate challenges in inshore fishing. They dive right back down to the rocks, often leaving the angler with a cut leader. Heavy popping gear, with 80- to 100-lb. line is necessary for the big ones. We have put 44 pounds of drag on big cuberas, and they keep going like there is no drag at all! Jigging is also a popular and fun technique we use a lot. Jacks,

trevally, seabass, snappers, groupers and mackerel are common catches. We look for underwater structure like rocks and drop jigs ranging from 2 to 9 ounces. The jigs are rigged with a pair of the new Eagle Claw Trokar assist hooks. On and close to the bottom, a slow jigging pace interests the snappers, groupers and seabass. As you move higher in the water column, a speed-jig style approach with rapid jerks gets the bite from the pelagics. Bottom fishing is also an option we sometimes use for an even larger variety of fish. Costa Rica does have some big bottom fish like giant grouper, broomtail grouper, cubera snapper and big stingrays. Live or dead bait gets the job done. Snook can be found in and around river mouths and are a fun species to target. Live bait works, but artificials like a small stick baits or jigs are more common and more fun. Wazo jigs with a Mr. Twister tail and a Trokar hook have resulted in many double-digit snook. If you haven’t tried inshore fishing in Costa Rica, take the time to try it. It’s great fun.

For more fishing with Costa Rica Pro Staff, go to

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Center sp UNDER THE SEA

will also have a break-away setup instead of a reel so that the rig (and fish) are attached to your float instead of your gun. There are several good companies that make this specialized equipment, such as Wong Spearguns, Riffe, Omer, Sporasub, Rob Allen, Gannet, and more. Retailers include SpearfishingWorld.com, SpearAmerica.com and many local dive ore than a few spearos have shops. spearing a tuna on their bucket Here are some quick tips to make sure list. Some are surprised to hear me your travel is fun, safe and productive: say that spearing a tuna is actually pretty 1. Go with a mentor or guide the first few easy. It’s the before and after activities times. Safe diving requires that you look out that are more challenging, along with the for one another, especially when bluewater planning. hunting. Due to safety considerations, it’s not the 2. Choose a reputable charter that first species one should aspire to. A more specializes in tuna spearfishing, as this likely progression would start with reef requires an experienced captain who can hunting for hogfish and red groupers, then give you good “drops.” on to mutton snappers and black groupers, 3. Use a Sportube to pack your spearguns and then perhaps some bluewater action and use the wetsuits for padding. Tell TSA with mahi and wahoos. you have “fishing equipment” rather than In addition to experience, going after using the word “speargun.” yellowfin tuna will likely require you to 4. Make sure all body parts are clear of travel, and it will also require special rigging the line when shooting a tuna. Tunas will to withstand the increased speed and size Sheri with 179-lb tuna from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. frequently sound and have a strong initial of this awesome prey. These two factors are Photo by Terry Maas. run. key. Traveling to the right place will increase 5. After cinching up the line through a clip on the float, use a second your chances of seeing them, and having the right equipment will ensure speargun for the kill shot. Do not handle a “hot tuna” with your hands. a successful capture. Don’t be disappointed if it takes a few trips to land your first tuna. It Currently, the most active places to spear yellowfin tuna include Louisiana, Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama. In more recent times, may take some effort, but in the end, it’s worth it. It’s hard to think of a spearos have been landing bluefin tuna off the coast of California. The fish that is more beautiful to look at or more delicious to eat. best way to find out which places are productive is through word-ofSheri is a world-record holder, host of Speargun Hunter, and producer mouth and social media. After selecting the right destination, here is what you will need to of The Blue Wild Ocean Adventure Expo in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Follow take in terms of equipment. Instead of the standard speargun with a “Sheri Daye” and “The Blue Wild” on Facebook and Instagram. reel, you will use a specially designed bluewater tuna gun. This will most likely be 60 to 70 inches long, the diameter of the shaft will be thicker, For more Sheri Daye, go to and it will have four to five bands (versus 1 to 2). It will have a slip tip and cable (versus flopper and mono)1 for a more Airline_Ad_CoastalAngler_8-1-14_Layout 8/1/14 1:14sure PM hold Pageon 1 a strong fish. It

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COASTAL ANGLER North Central Florida/Nature Coast

NOVEMBER 2017 EDITION

Find Your Outdoors Here!

Cary & Lynn Crutchfield

North Central FL/ Nature Coast Staff

ALACHUA, MARION, COLUMBIA, GILCHRIST, BRADFORD, DIXIE, LEVY AND CITRUS COUNTIES

Cary Crutchfield

SALES

EDITING & PRODUCTION Lynn Crutchfield

DISTRIBUTION Rosa Crisman

N

ovember is here, and maybe—finally-cooler weather. Fall this year has certainly been very hard on all of Mother Nature’s creatures, flora, fauna and humans alike. I am praying for a calmer end to 2017, and a mild winter. Our country needs a chance to repair and rebuild. This month, we welcome a new writer, Captain Stacy Horak. Captain Stacy lives and guides in the Nature Coast Area. See her column, STA-SEA’S NATURE COAST ADVENTURES on page 6. Our sweet grandbaby at three months, is on page 5. This picture of her should bring a smile to your face, especially if you love orange and blue! Yummy recipe on page 2 for Grouper Cheeks and Shrimp in a Wine Cream Sauce. Those sweet little cheeks are my very favorite and this recipe is another easy one. I never learned to drink wine but I love to cook with it. See page 10 for our new advertising partner, Quality Tree and Stump Removal. Jim Moore has the experience and equipment to safely remove that hazardous tree on your property, that tree you know you shouldn’t try to remove yourself. Do you still have storm debris? Call him! If you really enjoy reading something in our magazine or found some special advice useful, call that guide and let him or her know that you appreciate the time they take to write for us. You might also hire them for a special guided fishing experience. Also thank the generous folks at the location where you picked up this magazine. We really appreciate the loan of a bit of their real estate.

Lynn Crutchfield Co-Publisher Coastal Angler Magazine of North Central Florida /Nature Coast

GRAPHIC ARTS & DESIGN Kathleen Stemley

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Dr. Kevin McCarthy Bruce Butler John Freeze Capt. Stacy Horak Noel Kuhn Gary Simpson Capt. Dan Clymer Capt. Jimbo Keith Capt. Pat McGriff Capt. Clay Shidler Capt. Brian Smith Capt. Craig Spitznogle

CONTACT INFORMATION

crutch@coastalanglermagazine.com 352-372-4237 www.CoastalAnglerMag.com/NC-Florida

INSIDE THIS ISSUE Tide Charts Local Fishing Forecasts Monthly Recipe

Photo by: Suwannee River Water Management District

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GROUPER CHEEKS AND SHRIMP IN A CREAM WINE SAUCE

FLORIDA SUWANNEE RIVER WATERFRONT

FOR SALE 43 acres (+or-) 1100 feet (+or-) on Suwannee River in Lafayette County at US 27, across river from Branford. Heavily wooded, perfect for residence, camp ground or hunting lodge. Elec. and well.

Thank you to The Crab Plant for the beautiful grouper cheeks and shrimp. Visit their Fresh Seafood Market or enjoy Cooked Seafood to go. You are welcome to sit at their table and view beautiful Kings Bay while you enjoy your delicious, freshly prepared meal, watching manatees, dolphins, pelicans and boats. Or, you can carry it home; your choice. Open Tues-Thurs 10:00-5:30, Fri-Sat 10:00-8:00. 201 NW 5th St. Crystal River 352-795-4700.

Cary A. Crutchfield Registered Real Estate Broker GRI and CRS Designations

352.372.4237

COOKING DIRECTIONS

TIDES • North Central Florida Time Height

1W 2Th 3F 4Sa 5Su 6M 7Tu 8W

12:14 AM 6:34 AM 12:38 PM 6:50 PM 12:48 AM 7:19 AM 1:28 PM 7:32 PM 1:21 AM 8:02 AM 2:17 PM 8:12 PM 1:54 AM 8:45 AM 3:05 PM 8:52 PM 1:29 AM 8:30 AM 2:53 PM 8:33 PM 2:07 AM 9:16 AM 3:44 PM 9:15 PM 2:47 AM 10:04 AM 4:36 PM 10:00 PM 3:33 AM 10:56 AM 5:34 PM 10:52 PM

3.5 0.5 3.6 0.6 3.7 0.0 3.7 0.7 3.9 -0.3 3.8 0.8 4.1 -0.6 3.8 1.0 4.2 -0.7 3.6 1.2 4.2 -0.7 3.5 1.3 4.2 -0.6 3.2 1.5 4.0 -0.4 3.0 1.6

HERNANDO BEACH

NOVEMBER 2017

9Th

10F 11Sa

12Su

13M

14Tu

15W

16Th

Time Height

4:27 AM 11:54 AM 6:37 PM 11:54 PM 5:33 AM 12:59 PM 7:46 PM 1:11 AM 6:59 AM 2:10 PM 8:51 PM 2:38 AM 8:34 AM 3:20 PM 9:45 PM 3:56 AM 9:58 AM 4:21 PM 10:29 PM 4:57 AM 11:05 AM 5:10 PM 11:07 PM 5:46 AM 11:58 AM 5:51 PM 11:41 PM 6:28 AM 12:43 PM 6:29 PM

3.8 -0.1 2.9 1.6 3.4 0.3 2.9 1.6 3.2 0.5 3.0 1.4 3.0 0.7 3.1 1.0 3.1 0.8 3.3 0.6 3.2 0.8 3.5 0.2 3.3 0.9 3.7 -0.1 3.4 1.0

KINGS BAY

High Tide -20 min Low Tide 58 min

High Tide 2 hrs, 20 min Low Tide 3 hrs, 7 min

CRYSTAL RIVER

WITHLACOOCHEE ENT

High Tide 36 min Low Tide 1 hr, 30 min

High Tide 7 min Low Tide 55 min

CEDAR KEY

Time Height

17F 18Sa 19Su 20M 21Tu 22W 23Th 24F

12:12 AM 7:06 AM 1:24 PM 7:03 PM 12:43 AM 7:41 AM 2:02 PM 7:37 PM 1:13 AM 8:14 AM 2:39 PM 8:10 PM 1:43 AM 8:47 AM 3:15 PM 8:44 PM 2:14 AM 9:20 AM 3:52 PM 9:19 PM 2:48 AM 9:55 AM 4:31 PM 9:57 PM 3:25 AM 10:32 AM 5:13 PM 10:41 PM 4:08 AM 11:14 AM 6:01 PM 11:34 PM

Time Height

25Sa 5:00 AM 12:04 PM 6:55 PM 26Su 12:38 AM 6:09 AM 1:02 PM 7:52 PM 27M 1:51 AM 7:34 AM 2:07 PM 8:47 PM 28Tu 3:05 AM 9:00 AM 3:13 PM 9:37 PM 29W 4:11 AM 10:15 AM 4:15 PM 10:22 PM 30Th 5:07 AM 11:20 AM 5:09 PM 11:03 PM

3.2 0.3 2.9 1.4 3.0 0.5 3.0 1.3 2.8 0.7 3.1 1.0 2.9 0.8 3.3 0.6 3.0 0.8 3.5 0.1 3.2 0.9 3.7

HORSESHOE BEACH

SUWANNEE ENT

STEINHATCHEE RIVER ENT

High Tide 6 min Low Tide 18 min

• Grouper cheeks, 4/serving For each serving, melt 1 tablespoon butter in sauté • Large shrimp, 4/serving pan. Season grouper and (peeled and deveined) shrimp with salt and pepper • Flour for dusting and dust with flour and add • Salt and Pepper to pan. Sauté over medium heat a couple of minutes • Butter on each side, until lightly • Scallions, finely chopped browned. Remove from pan (2/serving) and keep warm. Melt another tablespoon butter in pan, • Celery, finely chopped add scallions and celery and (1T/serving) sauté over medium heat until • White Wine (Chardonnay) tender. For each serving, • Whipping Cream add a “splash” of wine, and a “splash” of cream to the pan, and simmer, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened and most of alcohol has evaporated. Serve over grouper and shrimp. Delicious served with green beans and wild and white rice with almonds.

(This simple sauce is awesome! I add mushrooms and serve with chicken or pork.) Lynn Crutchfield, Co-Publisher Coastal Angler Magazine of North Central Florida

HOMOSASSA RIVER ENT

High Tide 4 hr, 30 min Low Tide 5 hr, 41 min

2 NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST

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3.8 -0.3 3.4 1.1 3.8 -0.4 3.4 1.1 3.9 -0.4 3.3 1.2 3.8 -0.4 3.2 1.3 3.8 -0.3 3.1 1.4 3.7 -0.2 3.0 1.4 3.6 -0.1 3.0 1.5 3.4 0.1 2.9 1.5

INGREDIENTS

High Tide 12 min Low Tide 20 min

High Tide 2 min Low Tide 0 min

NOVEMBER 2017

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FLORIDA WATERWAYS

A

The Rainbow River

Florida river with a very different kind of history from most rivers is the Rainbow in southwest Marion County near the town of Dunnellon. Located about twenty miles southwest of Ocala and a hundred miles northwest of Orlando, the river is only about six miles long and joins the Withlacoochee before heading west into the Gulf of Mexico. The start of the Rainbow River is a first-magnitude spring, the By Kevin McCarthy fourth largest such spring in the state, that pours 400 – 600 million gallons of fresh water into the river every day, All along the river smaller springs discharge even more water into the river, making it deeper and wider as it flows west. The spring and the river are two of what many of us consider the finest group of waterways in the country, maybe the world. The headwaters of the river used to be the site of a park that was very popular in the 1930s, complete with glass-bottom boats that took visitors over the crystal-clear waters that measure a swimmable 72 degrees Fahrenheit. When major highways like I-75 took traffic away from the area toward Walt Disney World, the resort at Rainbow Springs faded in popularity and closed in 1974. The State of Florida took over the site and made it into the popular Rainbow Springs State Park, where visitors can swim, canoe, picnic, or just stroll along the meandering walking paths. Archaeologists tell us that Native Americans lived in the area ten thousand years ago, but the modern popularity of the area resulted from the discovery of hardrock phosphate in the late 1880s, which brought more settlers there. Nearby are two ghost towns, Juliette (respelled from Shakespeare’s Juliet) and Romeo, both apparently named after a girl and boy who loved each other, but were forbidden by their

families from getting together. Officials named the Rainbow River a Registered Natural Landmark (1972), an Aquatic Preserve (1986), and an "Outstanding Florida Waterway" (1987), three years before the State of Florida bought the original park area in 1990, cleaned it up, and opened it up to the public in 1995. Boaters and swimmers today can see many species of fish in the clear waters, as well as different types of wildlife and plants. Probably the quietest time to visit the river and park is in the winter, when one can still swim in the water, but also see much of the surrounding wildlife from the walkways, especially the two-mile-long trail. One may even see some of the small waterfalls and former phosphate pits. The Rainbow River is one of the gems of our North-central Florida waterways. Kevin McCarthy, the author of “North Florida Waterways” 2013 - (available at amazon.com), can be reached at ceyhankevin@gmail.com.

ation of the river

The headwaters of the river

One of the springs along the river Swimming at the spring

s

A glass-bottom boat at the springs

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A map showing the loc

NOVEMBER 2017

A walkway through the woods there NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST 3

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WELCOME TO THE C

Frederick Snell, Broker Associate

NATURE COAST

itrus County is known for waterfront living at its best. We have it all: rivers, canals, and bays with access to the Gulf of Mexico, even lakes and estuaries where a variety of exotic fish, birds and wildlife cohabitate. Work or play, Citrus boasts numerous amenities, unique to Florida’s Nature Coast, that make it a wonderful place to visit or call home. Chassahowitzka, Homosassa, Crystal River, and Inverness, all have easy access to pristine waterways, with city and county boat launches. The barge canal, located on the

Northwest end of the county, offers excellent fishing, boating, and other water activities to explore. For the avid fisherman, Citrus County’s many bodies of water, host fishing tournaments throughout the year. For biking, hiking, and even horseback riding enthusiasts, Rails to Trails, spans a stretch of paved trail-ways, from the northern most end of the county, continuing on down to the heart of Tampa Bay. Located between Orlando and Tampa, many choose Citrus County as their forever destination because of its rare blend of

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Lynn and Cary’s granddaughter, Secelia.

CRYSTAL RIVER New Arrivals

November 11, 2017 9 am—5 pm Lake Hernando Park 3699 E Orange Drive, Hernando FL 34442

T

he past few years many local anglers have begun to key in on the latest addition to our inshore target list, the snook. Over the past few years the snook have begun to show up in droves, sometimes even seemingly crowding out the other species, such as redfish, who have called certain areas home for decades. But snook are also known to love warm water, so November can be a great time to target them as they gather up to try to find a warm piece of real estate to spend the winter months. Areas such as the rock piles in the Crystal River, and the discharge canal at the power

plant, are known snook hot spots, with a live finger mullet, often being the go-to live bait for a trophy linesider. Other anglers who tend to take a more sporting approach, will often be seen throwing jigs or lipped diving, in the lowlight hours, trying to hook into a monster. However, you choose to target these apex predators, make sure that your tackle is up to par and that you have a stiff piece of 40lb bite tippet to help from getting frayed by their rough mouths and sharp gills.

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NOVEMBER 2017

he sun is just starting to peek up from behind the miles of mangroves. The water is so still, you can see every ripple. It smells fishy-it looks fishy. My heart starts beating faster, because I know what’s in store! I quietly drop my anchor, and I try to determine what I think the fish want to eat today. Do they want to chase, or are they feeling lazy? I determine they want to chase. I cast my suspending twitch-bait as close to the grass as I can possibly get-without getting hung up. The second it hits the water, BAM, the fight begins! He pulls, and tries to shake the lure, but I know I’ve got him! I let him run a little, as I don’t want to horse him in. As he gets closer to the boat, I see he’s exactly what I’m after, snook! I quickly release him, and cast again and BAM, another fight. This time it’s a different feel. I have learned the different fighting patterns, and I already know it’s a red. I see him dart down and I can hardly contain my excitement. He’s at least 25 inches! I’m perfectly content after reeling in these awesome fish. That could have been all I caught, and I would have been happy, but I decided to keep fishing for as long as I possibly could, while the tides were right. When the sun is coming up, and the tides are going out, that is a fisherman’s dream! When you know you are at the right place at the right time, it’s an indescribable feeling. I cast out and slowly retrieve and again, it’s a fight. There is no other feeling in the world like the fight of a powerful fish! This went on for two hours and the reds and snook never

stopped. What an incredible day!!! I’m so enthralled with the bite that I don’t realize I’m now in less than a foot of water, surrounded by oyster beds. I take my time heading in. The scenery is breathtaking. The dolphins are playing right next to my boat, and there is a cormorant following right behind me, waiting for some scraps, and what a sight to see directly in front of me--an 8-foot alligator, watching my every move. I can’t help but think he knows these waters, and is just biding his time, waiting for me to get stuck, waiting for me to get out and push! Getting stuck on an oyster bed out here means you will be here for hours and hours, until the tide comes back in. I’ve had to learn that the hard way! Sorry alligator, I’ve outsmarted you this time! You never know what you are going to see here in these Nature Coast waters. We are beyond blessed to have such diverse wildlife. On any given day, you can catch a glimpse of a manatee swimming right alongside dolphins and alligators. Where else in the world can you see that? Charter Fishing with Captain Stacy 352-553-3604 freelineinajeep@Yahoo.com

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SURF & PIER

Check out this huge red, caught in the surf. Angler Scott Donelenko from Gainsville, FL

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he good news is, Irma did not destroy our fishing like Matthew did last year. Just one week after Irma, the surf fishing was hot once again. The mullet run is in full swing, again, unlike last year when Matthew wiped it out. So grab your cast net and get to the beach or pier ASAP. Everything that eats a mullet is jammed up next to the beach and munching on these tarpon, redfish, bluefish, sailcats, jack cravalle, Spanish, ladyfish, trout, and several species of shark, are all here now. Oh yeah, let’s not forget the ugliest fish in the surf. If you’d like to bag a nice flounder, target the inlets near the slack tides. During October, I’ve stepped on so many flounder while wading across the sand bar to make a long cast. Use a sliding egg sinker, followed by a swivel and one foot of twenty-pound mono. Then end it with a 2/0 kahle hook. Tip this with a frisky 3 to 6-inch mullet, and drag it slowly across the sand bars and sloughs to score a flatty! Now that the water temp is finally dropping, its pompano time! Target the sand bars where the waves are just starting to break over. My

favorite time is an out-going tide. As the tide falls, the waves will start to break on the bar. In that white foamy water is where you want your bait. As long as there is three feet of water on the bar, you’re in the strike zone. Pompano, whiting, and puppy drum have small mouths. So, keep your bait to about 1 inch x 3/4 inch. This is the approximate size of a sand flea or a crab knuckle. Cut down your shrimp or clams to this size, and you’ll have more hook-ups and less stolen bait. Remember, you can catch a huge fish on a small bait but you can’t catch a small fish with a big bait! From now until our surf water temperature drops below 65 degrees, is the best time of year. If you would like to catch more fish every time you go to the beach, call or email me and we will set up a one-on-one charter/coaching lesson.

To set up your own surf fishing adventure or long distance casting lesson please visit www.thesurfangler.com or call Noel at 904-945-0660

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ey there Folks, I sure hope all y'all faired well through Hurricane Irma,. The good news is that Cedar Key, and the Big Bend area got hardly anything off of her. Now on to the important stuff! The redfish bite is still holding on, even though we aren't getting the big schools of fish. Since the pin fish have slowed down a little, we have started to use both shrimp and cut mullet. The mullet, we fish right on the bottom still, and the shrimp we fish under a cork. We like to use the B52 cork as a 1/8oz Bass Assassin jig head. Remember, you don't have to pop it as hard when you are using live bait and in skinny water. We are still catching fish around the islands on the incoming tide. The bars that have good shell bottom around them seem to be the best ones. The trout bite has really picked up this month with the cooler water temps. They can be found on just about any grass flat in 2 to 4 feet of

water the has good grass. The B52 cork is still the number one bait this time of year, with your favorite Saltwater Assassin tail beneath it. Well folks, I hope this has helped you out. Capt.Jimbo Keith FishCedarKey.com Saltwater Assassin Fishing Charters 352-535-5083

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ello everybody, and I hope you are surviving this hurricane season okay. Cedar key so far, has done very well, and we are definitely open for business. As far as fishing goes, this is one of the best redfish and snook bites I have seen in a long time. Live minnows, pinfish, and FRESH cut mullet has been absolutely irresistible. Work the edges of these tons of oyster bars. Redfish are not the only things biting. There have been some really nice snook caught, along with some tripletail, and of course our seatrout our showing up just on time. Here is the best advice I can give you to find the right spots–Google maps! Switch it to satellite view, and look at what is going on under the water. Drop a pin or to and let that little blue dot that will follow you, take you there. We have some pretty awesome resources available to get your monies worth. I'm gonna keep it short this month, but never forget that we are

here to help with anything we can at the shop, and always try to take a kid fishing! Capt. Daniel Cedar Key Paddling 352-665-1276 Dan_Gator@yahoo.com

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ou have to love the fall time of year! The cooler waters have made the inshore species more active, and for the offshore fans, the gag grouper are an easy reach away. The first really aggressive cold fronts usually arrive in November, and especially on the blue bird days after the cold front, it’s time to troll up some grouper. Over all my years of fishing, November has always been my absolute favorite month to target grouper. The majority of the 20lb plus fish I’ve caught have usually been taken the week of Thanksgiving, and the ever-reliable bright orange colored plug, usually gets the job done. Rocks and ledges from 10 to 30 feet, are the depths to concentrate your efforts. If you don’t have a bunch of productive grouper honey holes, put the sun at your back and begin trolling over the dark bottom patches. When the rod goes

off, mark the location, and you’ll be rewarded with a new grouper spot. The speckled trout fishing has been fantastic since October, and I expect it to continue right through the holidays. Shallow hard-bottom areas with good stands of kelp grass, are holding the fish. Long drifts with jig and cork rigs, like the DOA deadly combos, are a simple and very effective way to capitalize on the trout action. The snook are migrating into our spring-fed rivers to seek comfort for the upcoming winter, and can be targeted with success. Boat docks and rocky points are likely spots and many fish may be holding on one location. I always prefer an outgoing tide and a MirrOlure MirrOdine, attached to a 30lb fluorocarbon leader. Don’t be surprised to catch red fish, trout, mangrove snapper, or even a largemouth bass while fishing the rivers. The red fishing is still good on the outer keys, but more and more fish will begin to spread out in the back country. These fish are usually in small pods, and for those anglers that enjoy sight fishing, now is the start of the “low tide” sight fishing season. The golden bream color in your favorite soft plastic brand is usually all you need if you want to use an artificial lure and it’s always tough to beat a free lined live shrimp too. Good Fishing… Capt. Dan Clymer | 352.418.2160 www.crystalriverfishing.com

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INGLIS/YANKEETOWN

River Coast Realty, Inc 352-302-3114 • Fax 352-447-0001 84 Highway 40 West Inglis, Florida sunnyp45@bellsouth.net www.Yankeetownwaterfront.com

his month is the start of my favorite time of year to fish in our area. The water temps are dropping, you have to put on a sweatshirt to make that first run in the morning, and the fish are stacked in tight. The water is starting to get really clear, and the site fishing gets really good. The redfish and snook are going to find darker bottom or rock to hang around, because the temperature will stay a little more constant. As I mentioned earlier, the water will become extremely clear, so I like to stick with more natural bait colors. For our area that means a Zman diezel minnowz in the redbone or mulletron pattern. If I find fish just sitting on the bottom, I prefer a trout trick or ez shrimp. Make sure that in these clear water site fishing situations, that you make a cast well in front of these fish. A well-placed cast, and small bait disturbance hitting the water, will greatly improve your odds. The big gator trout are going to start showing up in big numbers this time of year as well. My go-to bait for the next few months has to be a Paul Brown devil or soft dine. You have to work these baits slowly. If you

know me, I fish fast, but you cannot do that with these baits. If you work them right, it will pay dividends. I will focus on the 2 to 3 foot range over grass with good potholes. If this is what you are targeting, please be careful with these bigger fish and if you want to take some home to eat, take the lower slot fish. The trout fishery has gotten much better the past few years, and it is because so many of these breeder fish are being released. The gag grouper are starting to chew on some diving plugs now. If you can find some rocks in 8 to 10 feet of water, there will be a few of these guys around. My weapon of choice here is a Rapala X-Rap. Cast over the pile and rip it back. You better make sure you have a good grip on the rod because these guys will take it out of your hands. If you are ready for an amazing day on the water, give me a call and book your trip today. Until next month, have fun, be safe and take your kids fishing.

s The best of both worlds, with fresh water canal and sailboat access to the Gulf of Mexico. Home has been refurbished after Hurricane Hermine. This canal is one of the deepest in Yankeetown, with saltwater species coming in during the winter. See the manatees, dolphin, redfish, snook and lots of wildlife.

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STEINHATCHEE

KEATON BEACH

Cooling Down while Heating Up

Billy Pillow with a fine flounder!

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oes it get any better than this? November traditionally represents a drop, in water temperatures of 15 to 20 degrees, which, when it occurs gradually, creates some of the best fishing of the year. Hungry trout and reds will attack almost every type of lure, bait, plug or plastic you throw at them. The Gulf water temperature, as it cools down throughout the month, will determine your best choice of artificial baits, lowering the metabolism of the fish as it drops. Stickbaits will be on fire as the temps move through the seventies, next, lipped jerkbaits take first prize; followed by soft jerkbaits, with suspending hard baits taking up the slack, once water temps dip into the upper fifties. Of course, there is plenty of overlapping success with these choices; but if you don't pull out a different plug/ bait and experiment each trip; you could miss out on some of the finest

Dave Farmer of Logan West Virginia

H fishing Keaton Beach has to offer. The suspending family of hard baits made by L&S (MirrOlure) such as the Catch 2000s, Catch Juniors, 4 sizes of MirrOdines, and MirrOminnows are certainly the most versatile of these choice as they can catch fish in warmer water or cold water, while the floating hard baits will be mostly refused once the water temps move into the lo 60's to hi 50's, etc. If you are getting "short strikes" or no strikes on your stickbaits and lipped jerkbaits, it is time to switch over to the soft jerkbaits or the suspending plugs. Remember to learn your drop time, by testing each plug in the water next to the boat, so you can "count down" your suspending baits to the proper depth before you "twitch" them thus triggering your strikes. Soft plastic will catch tons of trout in November whether you rig up bouncing it on a jighead, put the jighead under an Original Cajun Thunder or fish the 5 inch Assassin Shads unweighted on a 5/0 Daiichi offset wormhook. Don't forsake your live bait rigged under a Back Bay Thunder as pinfish will still take trout early in the month, while the switch to live shrimp maybe necessary by Thanksgiving. No matter what bait you choose, don't miss out on fishing at Keaton Beach in November! Pat McGriff dba One More Cast guide service for 28 years! www.onemorecast.net 850.838.7541

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istorically, November is a month, when the weather cools down noticeably, while the fishing heats up happily. Many outdoors people miss the fishing part because they're in the woods. To each their own, but I'd rather be in a boat gripping and ripping than be in a stand, being quiet with doe pee on my boots. Actually, I'm not a big hunter, so I don't get the big in-thewoods thrill; I just like eating the expensive wild critter meat others provide on occasion. Besides, there ain't no ticks or chiggers on a boat. November is the mass migration of pelagic fish. Fish, such as cobia, kingfish, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, etc. are southbound following the bait. It is time to intercept them, to relieve them of such a long swim. Furthermore, all listed fish will be passing by near our coastline, locally referred to as “the hill”. An ironic term in Florida. An easy way to collect the pelagic species, as well as, grouper and seabass, is to slow troll (~4kts) an eclectic spread of spoons, jigs and plugs preferably in and around bait pods. Most of the trolling will be done inside of thirtyfive feet in depth. Anything that mimics the baitfish being pursued is a good start. Also, every fish hates a lizardfish. It is the Eddy Haskell of the fishing neighborhood. So a plug with a yellow belly, and a brownish back, often catch fish when other colors fail to work. That is a professional “slip of the mouth”. Never release a lizardfish! They NOVEMBER 2017

are great bait, dead or alive. Setup correctly as bait, fish will hit it out of pure revenge from the nips and bites received during its lifetime from pesky lizardfish. Grunt fishing in and around thirty-five feet is simply yo-yo fishing. Over good live-bottom, drop a chunk of cut-bait, squid, or gulp, then slowly count to three, and set the hook! The grunts are large, most fun caught on light tackle and delicious to eat. It only takes an hour or so at anchor or drifting to catch enough grunt to make a fish fry, to make many people happy.

Trout and redfish fishing will be amped up in November. The cooler water, flips on the EAT switch. The special aspect is the topwater action. I'd rather catch one on the top than ten on a jig, just due to the excitement. The bite, as always, is better first of the morning and of the evening, but with the cooler water, the bite is prolonged! Fabulous Fall Fishing ahead! Brian Smith | BIG BEND CHARTERS www.BigBendCharters.com CaptBrian@bellsouth.net 877.852.3474 | 352.210.3050

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ello to all of you outdoors folks. As I am sure you know, Florida was hit by Hurricane IRMA 2017, and indeed it was. However, not all of Florida was affected. The south Florida area (The Keys) was hit really hard, and they are doing their best to clean up, and remodel to assure that you and your family will have a great vacation in the months to come. As tour guides and boat captains, we hope this little article reaches your heart. Most of Florida was not affected by Hurricane IRMA, just the south and the Keys. As these affected areas are rebuilding, and they are getting there tours up and running very soon. However, from the everglades, to the GA/AL/MS lines, Florida is open for business was not affected by the hurricane. We ask that you support the tourism and the opportunities to explore the wonderful outdoors in central and north Florida. There is so much to offer, kayaking, fishing, guided hunts, snorkeling with the manatees, snorkeling in the springs, hiking, bed and breakfast lodging

NORTH CENTRAL FL

and the wonderful beaches of the East Coast along with the amazing beaches of the Nature Coast, Forgotten Coast, the St. John’s River and the Suwannee River. If you are in doubt about coming to Florida, just give a call to your resort or tour guide to find out if the area is open. We look forward to seeing each and everyone of you this year. Captain Gene Parker 352-257-8687 www.snorkelwithmanatees.com Winners of "King of the River" tournament. Bill Counts and Terry www.facebook.com/Snorkel- Scroggins. Tournament Director, Steven Thames (r) helps by With-Manatees-191853084161635 holding fish #5.

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n angler looking to visit North Central Florida for bass fishing this month, can expect to find full, nice-looking lakes. At this writing, the bass fishing has not fully come around, following our September visit from Hurricane Irma, but everyone agrees that the natural lakes---including Newnan’s, Lochloosa, Orange, and Santa Fe-are surely looking good. I feel it’s a strong bet that we will be enjoying excellent bass action here, by the time our first cool snaps arrive. Until then, local bass fans don’t have to travel far to find great fishing. Despite the recent flooding, the St. John’s River is putting out some topnotch bassing. A just-completed event out of Palatka, called the ‘King of the River’ bass tournament, saw almost a third of the field, top the 20-pound mark, on five-bass limits. The winners (and now, official Kings of the River), BASS Elite Pro Terry Scroggins and Bill Counts, took five 6-pounders to the weigh scales. Their actual weight was 30.27 pounds. Of course, it was already well-known that Scroggins and Counts are ‘king material’ as bass anglers. A short drive south, takes the Gainesville angler to another red-hot bass producer. Like in many post-storm Florida freshwaters, water in the Harris

Otter Springs in the Fall

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Chain of Lakes near Leesburg is moving through creeks, runouts, drains, and spillways, and this has drawn in tons of sizable, feeding bigmouths. Our friends who have fished Griffin, Dora, Eustis, and Harris through late September and early October, have commonly reported catching thirty-plus, nice bass a day. Back to our nearest lakes that are high and pretty, there are actually a lot of fish being pulled from them. But the fast-biting fish here are speckled perch. As boat ramps started re-opening a couple of weeks after Irma, it became quickly evident that all of the new water had not hurt the crappie bite. Newnan’s and Lochloosa in particular, have put out excellent speck catches fairly steadily for fishers drifting, or slowtrolling crappie jigs out in water 8 to 10 feet deep. Irma might have roughed us up a bit, but freshwater anglers will long benefit from the new water it left us. Gary Simpson Gary’s Tackle Box 352-372-1791 Garystacklebox.com garystacklebox@gmail.com

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TALES FROM THE TUPPERWARE NAVY

CENTRAL FLORIDA INLAND

(with apologies to Otis Redding) "Sittin’ with Doc on the Bay, watching’ the tide roll in… and we'll watch it roll away again". I hope he and I will watch it together many times from many places.

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ater levels just keep getting higher, forest fishers. Aside from flooding our prairies, the rain is also staining the water clarity. Lures with a lot of action, and baits that are extra stinky, will help draw strikes when the fishing gets tough. Bass have started feeding up for the winter. Small fish fight like “biggins” now, due to how thick and heavy they are. Swim-style soft plastics will help you search flooded areas, while a trickworm is good for slowly picking apart brush piles. Junebug color works best in stained water. If you really want to target a "wall hanger", troll live shiners (nose hooked) along grass lines and wait for the explosion! Lake Bryant and Lake Kerr are great for lots of action, but any lake out here has the potential for a "Trophy Catch"! Fried catfish is delicious, and the dams at Rodman and Moss Bluff are producing some heavy stringers! Recently, Moss Bluff Dam was flowing like white water rapids, due to heavy rains. The water's edge actually came all the way up to the parking lot. Everyone I spoke with said it was the best fishing they'd seen in years... coolers full! The rule of thumb is: More flow = More fish! Cane poles were most people’s weapon of choice, and live worms were their bait. Speckled perch have started to show themselves here in the forest. Lake Bryant was my favorite "speck" spot last winter. However, the Ocklawaha River is where the true "slabs" come from. Serious “speckers” put in at Moss Bluff and ride south; slowly trolling minnows and vertical jigging fallen trees. Dropping temperatures will make specks group up. So when you find

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one, you've usually found a school. Deep water ledges are key, and a depth finder will help locate those steep drop-offs. However, as long as you just keep trolling, you're sure to find plenty of tasty game fish . The full moon is Nov. 4th, for all you night-fishers. Lighted bridges and docks will draw in specks and other species. Astor is a great place for dock hopping. The "snowbirds" have started coming down for the winter, and they are telling me how much they love what they're seeing. It's gonna be a great season of fishing! Send me pics and stories of your adventures, and I'll keep you posted with the newest info. John Freeze | 352-216-5798 Swampsurf@embarqmail.com

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remarked, "God put this here for all of us! How could I have missed it for all these years?” We paddled past a manatee and diamondback terrapins, saw dolphins frolicking the bay and watched as an osprey dove for mullet and did that mid-air shake to dry off after its dive. It seemed like every time I'd start paddling to try a new spot, Doc was sitting there with a blissful smile on his face and he’d say, “OK, we can move if you want, but I'm fine right here.” Once in a while, you get to see something special through someone else's eyes; and that happened for me all day long with Doc. Sure, we caught fish, but that seemed secondary. It was as if we both knew that this was just the beginning of better times to come. As the day progressed he said something to me that I will never forget as a guide, as a person and as a Vet, "This is the first time I've felt alive in three years, and the best day I've had in ten". Talk about a day to remember! I love you, Doc! Semper Fi. When we finished the day, he tried to hand me money, but I said, “No, this was for you.” His comment was, “Bruce, I've got money, but I don't have enough in the bank to pay you for what you did for me today.” Later that week we found him his own yak. I guess I can stand one more guy fishing my spots. How I keep taking out charters and ending up with new fishing buddies I don't know, but I know that I'm richer for it; and I don't mean money! I share this in honor of Veterans Day and in response to all those who "Take a knee". I will always respect the flag and honor those who fought and died to give us our freedom! Many thanks to all who served! God bless each and every one of you!

his tale is my poor attempt to tell a piece of one friend’s story. As you all know, for many of us who served in our country’s uniform, wars don’t end when we get back to the land of the big PX. Memories and demons followed us home, and all of us deal with them in our own way. I've lost several friends to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) over the years; some through their own intervention, and some more slowly through drug and alcohol abuse. My friend, Doc, whom I hadn't seen in about four years, and knew had been dealing with PTSD, is a Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam during both Tet Offensives of 1968 and ’69. I was there for one Tet, and that was more than enough for me! We had never really swapped "war stories”, but I knew that he hadn't served with a unit, “back in the rear with the gear”, as we used to say. I had heard that he’d sort of been living life in a holding pattern; and last week he called me out of the blue and told me that he needed to do something. He wanted to try kayak fishing and asked if I had the time to take him out. So we set up the date and time, and his “You want to meet at what time?” question was priceless! I don't think he'd seen that time of the morning in years, except maybe to answer nature’s call. We put our boats in along the road at Indian Bay near Aripeka at close to first light, and a great day began! As we paddled out and watched the sunrise, I knew that Doc was hooked. He was in awe of the beauty I see on every trip and he Brian Kelly credit for the photos COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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* Image represents the Model. Model pictured may differ from those available NOVEMBER on site, which2017 includesNORTH but is not limited toFLORIDA/NATURE color, options, & rigging. COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM CENTRAL COAST 19 ** Prices on all Models are subject to change without notice. Prices do not included tax, title or dealer prep. CAM_NCFL_1117.indd 19

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If you have a suggestion for a distribution location for COASTAL ANGLER MAGAZINE, please let us know. We can be reached at 352-372-4237 or Crutch@CoastalAnglerMagazine.com. You can view all forty-plus magazines in the US, including the Bahamas, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands, at www.CoastalAnglerMagazine.com. 20 NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST

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Make reel memories. By Ed Killer - This 6-pound pompano was caught with Native Salt Clam bait in Vero Beach, Fla. Photo by Manuel Briceno.

F

all and winter along Treasure Coast beaches offer up some of the finest fishing there is. Surf fishing is fun, fulfilling and best of all, can fill a freezer in a couple of trips. Whiting, pompano, croaker, bluefish and Spanish mackerel are prime targets. While none of these species will ever earn acclaim for their size, they earn high marks at the dinner table. The hours of the incoming tide and beginning of the outgoing tide are the best time to go. Seas don’t have to be flat calm, but there is a threshold where if the shorebreak is too heavy, it might not be worth the effort. Surf fishing is generally a modified form of bottom fishing. If the waves are too large and require too much lead weight to hold bottom, it makes it impractical to fish. Plus, fish move out beyond casting range when the water is too sandy near the beach. Tackle requirements include a long 9- to 12-foot rod. Some anglers prefer spinning reels, however, the professionals keep one or more conventional reels in play, which helps reduce the potential for line being “spun” up by jacks and bluefish. Light line is the norm, too, about 10-pound test, but no more than 15. Most use monofilament with 1/0 or 2/0 hooks in a double-hook rig. Small pieces of bait like clam strips, pieces of shrimp, sand fleas or artificial bait like Fish Bites work well, as many of the targeted species feed using scent. Using a clip swivel, hook on a sinker heavy enough to hold bottom. Sometimes that weight might be 2 ounces; sometimes it might be a Buick. Whiting are nice to catch, and croaker mix into the cooler just as well. Both produce white flaky fillets and can be prepared in any number of ways. Take the skin off the fillet and bread for frying. Or try a whiting Reuben on rye bread with cole slaw and Thousand Island dressing for a true delight. Bluefish are voracious predators that feed in schools reminiscent of toothy piranhas, except larger. They are fun to catch, peeling off line and pulling like a jack crevalle. The Florida state record was caught in Jensen Beach in 1972. It was a whopper of a chopper, weighing 22 pounds. Spanish mackerel are also a fan favorite, and both macks and blues can be caught with topwater plugs, large spoons like Krocodiles and fast-reeled jigs. Bluefish taste fishy. Spanish mackerel are flavorful, but are best day-of fresh, and not great otherwise. But pompano really draw the crowds. In case there is any question, stop by a fish market and check the price per pound, which hovers around $19.99. Pompano have a delicate, rich flavor and elegant texture. Fillet with the skin on, which leaves them perfect for grilling or broiling. Lemon and pepper and a little tartar sauce make for a great reward for taking one’s fishing rod to a Martin County beach. Ed Killer is an outdoors columnist with Treasure Coast Newspapers and the USA Today Network.

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Stuart, located in Martin County, is known as the Sailfish Capital of the World. Sitting on the most biodiverse estuary in the Northern Hemisphere, Martin County is home to 100 artificial reef systems and over 800 species of fish. Its climate, waterways, natural environment and opportunity for diverse catches make it a mecca for fishermen and nautical explorers year-round. An array of unique shops, fine restaurants, great golf courses and quiet beaches make a day ashore fun, too. Inshore, offshore, saltwater or fresh, head out for an adventure and reel in the memories.

Plan your trip at discovermartin.com

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T

he Bassmaster Classic stands out as one of the biggest bass fishing events each year, and this year three pro anglers will don the signature Mud Hole colors on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell for the 2018 Classic in March. Joining the Classic line-up is a huge accomplishment for any angler, so let’s take a look at how Bassmaster Elite pros Brandon Lester and Bradley Roy as well as FLW veteran John Cox were able to capitalize on their opportunities to make the cut. Brandon Lester Captures His Spot Heading into Mille Lacs Lake in Onamia, Minnesota, Bassmaster Elite pro Brandon Lester found himself on the Classic bubble. On

the verge of either making the Classic or watching his bubble burst, Brandon knew it wouldn’t be easy, but welcomed the challenge. After three days of tight competition and a lot of learning on the lake, Lester caught 43 pounds, 1 ounce to finish in the money and leave with a qualifying ticket for his third Bassmaster Classic appearance. Although he was nervous coming off the lake, he later left weigh-in with a huge smile knowing he’ll be fishing Hartwell in March. Bradley Roy’s Big Return Like Brandon, Bassmaster Elite pro Bradley Roy entered the Mille Lacs event with his mind focused on making the Classic cut and his custom MHX Rods dialed in for smallmouth fishing. But after just day two, Roy could rest easy knowing he bagged 36 pounds, 13 ounces, which also gained him enough points to seal a place in the 2018 Classic. Bradley ultimately finished with 52 pounds, 1 ounce of Mille Lacs bass, a nice check to cash, and a ticket to his second straight Bassmaster Classic. Considering this will be his second Classic and he placed seventh in his first appearance, Bradley is incredibly hungry for a strong return. John Cox Fishing Familiar Water When John Cox finished on top of the B.A.S.S. Southern Open at Chickamauga Lake in Dayton, Tenn. with 68 pounds, 3 ounces, his big win came with more than just a check, it also included a spot in the 2018 Bassmaster Classic. After hoisting the Forrest Wood Cup and making a major splash on the FLW Tour, Cox and his custom MHX Rods are crossing over to fish in the Classic. The sight fishing phenom is excited for the opportunity, especially considering this Classic will be held on Lake Hartwell, where he secured a huge Tour win back in 2016. With his spots and some new rod builds in mind, Cox is a dangerous competitor looking to capitalize on his knowledge and experience of Lake Hartwell. To fish the Pro Tour Rods these pro anglers are taking to the Classic, visit www.mudhole.com/pro-kits.

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FISH & FISHING

MARK SOSIN

S

ounds transmitted into the water can either repel or attract fish. The key, of course, is to avoid driving fish away with the wrong kind of sound and, instead, arouse their curiosity or gain their attention with the right kind of sound. Keep in mind that sound travels five times faster in water than it does in air and that fish are extremely sensitive to a wide range of frequencies. You will hardly ever see a fish make a mistake and swim toward an alarming sound. However, the gentle splat of a bait or lure at a respectable distance from the fish will often attract its attention. Although fish don’t have protruding earflaps like those of humans and other mammals, they do have ears buried on either side of the head protected by skin, flesh and bone. In addition to their ears, fish have a second sound-detecting organ known as the lateral line, which is unique in the animal kingdom. Vibrations in the water pass through thousands of openings along the lateral line alerting a fish to their presence. The lateral line works within 20 to 30 feet of the fish. As the fish gets closer to the source of the sound (a baitfish or a lure), it can locate its prey even if it can’t see it. Within 5 feet or so, a fish can accurately strike its prey or a lure without actually seeing it. Sound plays a vital role in the daily activities of fish. Using their ears and lateral line, they can detect any disturbance in the water and react to it, whether

it is food or a predator ready to target them or simply some foreign sound that puts them on the alert. From a fishing standpoint, the key lies in eliminating alarming sounds. You can talk all you want, and the sound will bounce off the surface of the water. If you’re aboard a boat and you scrape a tackle box or bang your feet on the deck, that noise will transmit through the water. On clear shallow flats, it’s easy to see the effect of noise. Drop a lure too close to a bonefish, a 100-pound tarpon or even a large shark, and you can bet it will vacate the area. Even if it doesn’t go far, it’s on the alert and difficult to get to strike. One reason that fishing with live bait proves to be very effective is that its swimming ability is restricted and it sends out signals that it is in trouble. If you can keep the live bait on the surface where it continuously splashes, the results can be even more positive. That’s one reason why kite fishing with live bait proves so effective, particularly if you change baits frequently. Researchers tell us there is little doubt that sound with all its ramifications is a critical factor in the life of a fish, and it is equally important from a fisherman’s standpoint. As an angler, you should be totally aware of the effects of sound on fish and make them work for you both in attracting fish and by avoiding those sounds that would frighten fish or alert them that something is not right.

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ne of my favorite places for fishing, boating and enjoying nature is Hontoon Island in the St. Johns River in Volusia County. Accessible only by private boat or the park ferry, the island offers something for everyone, including the fisherman, canoer, hiker or archaeologist. A walk through the park or a stop in the visitor center can tell one about those who inhabited the island hundreds of years ago, for example Native Americans. The parking lot for the park’s ferry, which operates daily from 8 a.m. to right before sunset, is six miles west of Deland off State Road 44. The boat ride takes just a few minutes, but takes one into a world that seems little changed for hundreds of years. The 1,650-acre island has over three miles of hiking trails and cabins for rent for those who want to spend even more time fishing and swimming and exploring the river. One may learn in the museum there how the island once functioned as a center for commercial fishing. As in many places along the river, fish caught near the island and in the river waters offshore include bass, bream, catfish, crappie, perch and sunfish. What I have particularly enjoyed is boating the side streams around Hontoon Island, where one can find a wide variety of fish hiding in the grasses along the edge of the water. Nearby Lake Beresford, which is two miles long and a half-mile wide, is the site of the Stetson University Crew Boathouse, near which one can see boat crews racing along the waterway. South of Hontoon Island is the very popular Blue Spring State Park, which has the largest spring on the St. Johns River and is a designated manatee refuge. The most amazing finds on the island by archaeologists include wooden effigies called totems. They include what early visitors called a large owl totem carved from a log, a smaller carving of a pelican, and one of an otter holding a fish. One can see replicas of the totems on the grounds, whereas the so-called owl totem is at Fort Caroline National Monument Museum near the mouth of the St. Johns River north of Jacksonville and

near Mayport. The replica on Hontoon Island may represent the largest wooden effigy ever found in a North American archaeological site and the only totem of its kind in the eastern United States. All in all, a visit to Hontoon Island can satisfy the angler in the family as well as those interested in one of the jewels of the St. Johns River.

Whenever I walk the really old paths around the island, I can picture how Native Americans lived and fished there. The island still retains much of the charm of a pristine wilderness in the midst of the river that was the lifeblood of those who lived in Central Florida over a thousand years ago. Kevin McCarthy, the award-winning author of “South Florida Waterways” (2013 - available at amazon.com for $7), can be reached at ceyhankevin@gmail.com.

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H

ello, and welcome to the scuba diving column in Coastal Angler Magazine! Each month we fill you in on what’s happening below the surface here in Palm Beach County. This month we’d like to give you some basics about diving in Palm Beach County and why it’s so spectacular. To begin with, Palm Beach is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the blue waters provided by the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream flows east along the equator turning north as it swings by Florida and up the eastern seaboard. Its clear-blue, warm waters dip closest to the continental United States right here in Palm Beach, and that’s great for us. This current swings in delivering a bounty of underwater creatures in its flowing tropical waters. Everything from small tropical fish to giant whalesharks gather in our local waters, and different creatures show up in abundance at different times of the year. Because the Gulf Stream brings warm water year-round, we dive all year long. Winter water temps average around 72 degrees and summer temps get as high as 84. The cooler winter waters bring big creatures to our area like migratory whales, whalesharks, and many species of shark, including the migratory lemons and spinner sharks. Spring kicks off our sea turtle nesting season with the giant leatherbacks arriving first, followed by loggerheads and then green turtles. By the time summer hits, it’s sea turtle craziness with nests hatching out and frisky adults lounging on the reefs. Fall brings the giant Goliath grouper in by the hundreds to spawn just offshore on our wrecks and artificial reefs. It’s not uncommon to see more than 50 500-pound grouper on one dive here in August and September. And people come from all over the world just to have a chance to dive with our amazing creatures! Palm Beach is home to the third largest barrier reef in the world, stretching from the Florida Keys up through Jupiter and just into Martin County. Because we have thousands of different species on our reefs, no matter what you enjoy seeing, chances are you don’t have to leave the “backyard” in Palm Beach. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy the beautiful Florida waters. As a good friend used to say, “Don’t take Florida for granted... she’s good to ya!”

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F

lorida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) fisheries biologists certified a new state record jaguar guapote, weighing 2.78 pounds and measuring 16.7 inches long. It was caught by 14-year-old angler Jerry Martin from Miami. Martin was thrilled to catch his jaguar guapote in the Snapper Creek Canal (C-2) with live bait. “When I caught it, I freaked out,” said Martin. “I was excited because I knew it could be a state record.” Martin has never targeted jaguar guapote before. He most often fishes for largemouth bass and peacock bass. “It was an accident to catch the state record jaguar, but now I’m planning to start fishing for more records,” he said. Jaguar guapote are primarily known to exist in the urban canal systems of southeast Florida, ranging as far north as West Palm Beach. The species was first reported in 1992 from a photograph of two specimens caught in a farm pond near Miami Canal. The jaguar guapote was made eligible for state record status in 2012, and this is the first confirmed record for this species. Jaguar guapote is one of 34 nonnative freshwater fish species that have become established in Florida. The FWC strongly encourages anglers to catch, keep and eat nonnative fish (except legally-introduced peacock bass and triploid grass carp), as many nonnative fishes provide excellent table fare. In addition, releasing fish from aquariums or moving them between water systems is illegal and could produce detrimental effects.

UPF

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TIPS FROM A PRO

FRESHWATER BRANDON LESTER

B

eing from middle Tennessee, I was introduced to many diverse fisheries in my younger years. This area of the country has long been known for great smallmouth bass fishing, as it should be, but in my opinion it can’t compare to the smallmouth fishing in the Great Lakes region right now. I am certainly not bashing the smallmouth fishing down south, but fishing the Elite Series allows me to see some of the best lakes in the country, and the “good ole days” of smallmouth bass fishing on the Great Lakes is right now. Flowing out of Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River is one of my favorites on our schedule because it fishes similar to the rivers back home. The river has a lot of current, which positions the fish. The water is clear, and you can catch smallmouth from 2 feet deep all the way out to 60 feet. The St. Lawrence is absolutely full of smallmouth, and 30- to 40fish days are just another day on the water. In addition to the fishing, the area is also just an awesome place to spend time. Waddington, N.Y., which is our host city when we go, is in a very rural part of New York with lots of cropland and cattle farms. If you’ve not visited this fishery, I strongly suggest you do. Lake St. Clair is on fire right now. The final Elite Series tournament of the regular season was held there this year, and overall bass weights were absolutely phenomenal. The big smallmouth of the tournament weighed almost 7 pounds. In the past, tournaments on St. Clair were won by guys who ran to Lake Erie or Lake Huron, but not anymore. It seems now that St. Clair is the place to be. The style of fishing is different than most smallmouth destinations. Lake St. Clair is just a big bowl-shaped lake with a shipping channel running through the middle of it. That’s about the only real contour change on the whole lake. The big keys are

looking for clean spots in the grass and finding bait. If that doesn’t fit your style, you can run up the river toward Huron or down the Detroit River toward Erie. Both rivers have plenty of current and plenty of smallmouth. After fishing a tournament on Lake Champlain this year, it is my new favorite lake in the country. The smallmouth fishing is phenomenal, and you can catch big largemouth, too. The smallmouth hang out on offshore shoals, old bridge blow-throughs and rocky structure around the shoreline. If you get tired of catching them, there is an abundance of milfoil, docks and reeds where largemouth bass are willing and ready to bite. Lake Champlain, in my opinion, has the healthiest population of bass of anywhere I have ever fished, and that makes it fun, period. Plattsburg, N.Y. is a great place to visit, as well, with lots of cool sites to see. If you make one of these trips, be sure you’re prepared with the right MHX rods, Mustad hooks and Vicious fishing line. Hit Brandon up on Facebook or Instagram with any questions.

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By CAM Staff

I

t’s got the beaches, with fine white sand and the emerald green waters of the gorgeous northern Gulf of Mexico. It’s got the nightlife, the shopping and fine dining, the beautiful golf courses and everything else that draws vacationers from around the world. But what Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island—the heart of northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast—have more of than anything else is fishing. Back in 1956, Florida Gov. Leroy Collins called Destin “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” after catching a big king mackerel on a 15-minute photo-op boat ride during the Destin Fishing Rodeo. More than 60 years later, the historic Destin Fishing Rodeo just wrapped up its 69th annual October-long event, proving once again that this fishing village is just as lucky as ever. Daily weigh-ins at the rodeo give spectators a close look at what the waters off the Emerald Coast have to offer. Excitement builds on the docks in front of the landmark AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar when big tuna, wahoo, king mackerel, dolphin, groupers and snappers come to the scales. And in the Billfish Division, the big sportfishing yachts are out there pulling spreads for sailfish—and marlin that easily eclipse the 500-pound mark. There have been a couple grander blue marlin caught on the northern Gulf Coast over the years and a few more that came very close to tipping the scales past the 1,000-pound mark. Even swordfish show up pretty regularly, meaning there’s a real possibility for a grand slam fishing out of the marinas of Okaloosa County. It’s world-class fishing on the Panhandle, which in recent years has seen the big pelagic species moving closer to shore with changing currents. And what’s more, the action is yearround. There’s a good reason the world’s largest charter fishing fleet is based out of Destin Harbor.

Nearshore

Nearshore, warm and fertile Gulf waters coupled with numerous wrecks and reefs to create some of the most bountiful fishing Florida has to offer. With a short boat ride less than 8 miles off the beach, anglers can bottom fish or troll with family pleasing and cooler-filling consistency for amberjack, numerous snapper and grouper species, cobia, blackfin tuna, king and Spanish mackerel and more.

Offshore

Due south about 25 to 30 miles out, the continental shelf drops and there are multiple renowned hotspots, with some of the best big game fishing in the Gulf. South Florida seems to get most of the bright, hot spotlight when it comes to the big pelagics, but serious anglers out of the Emerald Coast quietly and consistently catch serious fish. Whether it’s a full-day trolling trip or an overnight expedition deep into the Gulf, dolphin, blue marlin, tuna and

wahoo are available to those who mean business when it comes to fishing.

Inshore

Those who would rather explore grass flats and oyster beds in search of trout or tailing redfish will also find that on the Emerald Coast. Inside East Pass and Okaloosa Island, Choctawhatchee Bay spreads out vast and shallow. It’s the perfect place to launch a skiff or a kayak into 130 square miles of inshore action that’s some of the best on the Panhandle.

Spring Cobia

Finally, any discussion of fishing options around the Emerald Coast has to include the cobia run, which is one of the best on the planet. Book your charter now, because in spring—peaking in April—cobia that have migrated north along the Gulf Coast arrive off the beaches bringing some of the most exciting fishing there is. This is sight fishing for one of the ocean’s tastiest and hardest fighting fish, and during this spring run they can arrive with weights in excess of 100 pounds. With a spotter in the tower, you cruise the clear blue-green waters looking for the telltale brown shadows of a pod of cobia doggedly pushing west. With a Airline_CoastalAnglerAd_3-2016_Layout 1 3/18/16 1:07 PM Page 1 smooth approach, the boat moves to intercept, and then it’s up to the angler to make an accurate cast with a live bait or a jig. Anticipation is almost unbearable for a few seconds before the take, and then bedlam breaks loose. Cobia put up the most unpredictable fight in fishing. They are capable of long, drag-burning runs, leaps, rolls and deep dives, but sometimes they save the thrashing until they hit the deck. Either way, catching a big cobia is exciting, and there’s no better grilling fish that swims. So, while the Emerald Coast offers gorgeous beaches and all the activity of a top-notch beach vacation destination, on the water it remains what it was before the Miracle Strip and Harbor Boulevard grew up around it. It’s one of the best fishing destinations in the world in terms of quality, quantity and variety of angling opportunities. For information, go to www.emeraldcoastfl. com. COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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