Coastal Angler Magazine | July 2023 | North Central Florida /Nature Coast Edition

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Sfrequent, and the pelagics are plentiful. is time of year, you can usually point your boat o shore and eventually run into the mecca. However, these sought-a er pelagic species are moving around through their migrations and nding them isn’t always guaranteed. Sometimes you just get unlucky running and gunning all day, on the hunt for birds, debris and weed lines. Whether you are out there with no signs of life or just can’t seem to get away from schools of undersized sh, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan to save the day and make the fuel bill worth it.

Having a deep-drop rig ready to go can save a day of o shore shing. Sword shing can be an epic day saver, but it takes quite a bit of time, gear and involvement to have a good chance. ere are a lot of opportunities for shing the bottom between the reef and the sword grounds.

With a set-up that can handle shing between 500 and 1,000 feet, you will have what you need to quickly pepper in some drops during your day, without spending too much time setting it up and packing it away. ere are a variety of edible aliens that can be targeted, or even snagged as bycatch, when shing in the deep, but pretty much all

onboard, in case you get hung on the bottom, or adjustments need to be made due to the current. Having the right weight is important, and it is pretty easy to tell a er a drop if you have put on too much or too little. I would recommend having 6-, 8- and 10-pound weights to make your adjustments with. ese leads can be extremely pricey, so look into some DIY methods if this is something you plan to get into.

Depending on what you want to target, there are a few variations you will want for your rigs. Utilizing 300-pound mono and sleeve swivels, space out up to ve hooks along the leader, making the drop-down leaders short enough that they won’t tangle with each other. Play around with di erent size hooks and spacing between them. If you aren’t sure what might be living on a newfound bottom spot, drop a rig with varied hook sizes, having the biggest on the bottom. It is also a good idea to a x a 6-inch, 50-pound breakaway leader to the lead to save the rest of your gear when you inevitably get hung up.

Searching for new bottom spots can be one of the most exciting parts about this type of shing. You might see ledges full of life on your machine, or you might see nothing at all, and still nd sh.

You can even look for changes in the waves on the surface that indicate depth uctuations on the bottom. Mark your spots whenever you get a bite, and start your own collection of o shore honey holes.

Sweet E’nuf Charters’ two-boat eet specializes in deep-dropping out of Marathon, Florida Keys. Call them at (504) 920-6342 to book your trip this summer. Follow Capt. Quinlyn on social media @captainquinlyn.


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For many anglers, yellow n tuna settle right into the sweet-spot of the tuna shing world. ey’re bigger and stronger than black ns, while being far more approachable than giant blue ns. ey’re fast and strong, and they school up, sometimes crashing baits on the surface. ere’s so much to like about this tremendous game sh, and it doesn’t hurt that limits are relatively liberal in most places. Did we mention that yellow ns are made of the delicious meat known as ahi in sushi bars?

Here are three of the best destinations where you can test your strength against a few yellow ns. Win the battle, and you’ll eat like a king.

Venice, Louisiana:

One of the most consistent places in the world for catching yellow ns is out of Venice, e “Yellow n Capital of the World.” Tuna are a year-round possibility here in the Northern Gulf, where the Mississippi River produces rich currents and rip lines that roll out to hundreds of oil rigs and undersea mounts known as lumps.

Summertime brings better weather and calmer seas, when getting o shore more quickly and comfortably can reward anglers with mixed bags of mahi, wahoo, snapper and tuna in the 40 to 80-pound range. However, peak season for giant yellow ns is in winter, and triple-digit sh become the norm when the bite is hot. Fish heavier than 200 pounds are a de nite possibility.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico:

On Mexico’s Paci c Coast, where the landmass begins to curve east, Puerto Vallarta is positioned within range of some of the most proli c tuna grounds in the world. Outside of Banderas Bay, a series of islands and deep-sea banks draw in tuna like clockwork at certain times of year. ese are some of

yellow ns here, but shing is best from July through October, with a typical peak season of August and September. With runs of 36 to 125 miles to reach the shing grounds, anglers must commit to long days on the water or overnight trips. e rewards can be huge. A low-end average sh weighs 80 pounds out of Puerto Vallarta. Big ones weigh 350 pounds or more.

Outer Banks, North Carolina:

e Outer Banks get a lot of attention for giant blue n tuna that move through in the winter months, but yellow n tuna are around all year. With the Gulf Stream averaging 30 to 45 miles o shore and all the bottom structure on the Continental Shelf, large schools of yellow ns are frequently encountered along with many other pelagic favorites.

Unpredictable weather makes the deep winter months of January and February a crapshoot, which leaves October through December and March through June as prime time for catching yellow ns. ey run a little smaller here, with 25- to 65-pound sh being normal catches, but the action is usually fast once you nd them. Charters ll limits quickly, with doubles and triples coming tight when you troll through a school of them.

For more great destination shing, visit


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There’s a wide variety of snapper species in the Florida Keys, including mangrove snappers, yellowtails and cuberas. However, the mutton snapper is a distinct and noteworthy member of this group. ey are a ton of fun to catch, delicious to eat, and they become easier to target in summer.

During the summer months, typically from May to September, mutton snappers spawn in large numbers, gathering in groups around reefs and wrecks to reproduce. Since these spawning aggregations are typically found in deeper waters, this makes conditions for ghting them more challenging and more fun. ese sh are renowned for their impressive power, strength and agility, so successfully reeling them up from deeper water requires good angling skills. Muttons make strong runs and sudden dives, so it’s important to have 20- to 30-pound test and a little heavier gear than you’d need for smaller mango or yellowtail snapper.

Landing a big deep-water mutton is a rewarding and exciting experience.

I caught my personal best mutton while shing with Capt. Brandon Storin, aka Capt. Bean. It was a 16.2-pounder on light tackle, and it was such a fun and challenging ght. Muttons will de nitely test your endurance. Even with heavier tackle, they will give you a ght to remember!

In fall and winter, muttons can also be caught in shallow waters, and this is also exceptionally fun. When conditions are right, a good inshore/backcountry guide can put you on a few of these skinny-water brawlers, along with the other species found in the backwaters of the Keys.

Mutton snapper make excellent table fare, but it’s important to remember that you should only keep what you plan to eat out of respect for the shery, especially when they aggregate to spawn. A fully grown mutton snapper could feed ve or six people, so keep that in mind when you’ve got a boat load of people throwing sh in the box.

If you want to experience and immerse yourself in the Mutton shery here in the Florida Keys, I recommend booking an o shore charter with Bud N’ Marys Marina.

Check out Capt. Bean’s inshore charters, visit

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Planet’s Largest Sportfshing Show is the Can’t Miss Industry Event

ICAST 2023, the planet’s largest sport shing trade show, will invade Orlando July 11-14, lling the giant exhibit halls of the Orange County Convention Center with more than 600 companies showcasing all the latest and greatest in shing from all over the world.

Produced by the American Sport shing Association (ASA), the 66th annual ICAST promises to be bigger and better than ever. It is the epicenter of the sport shing world, where each year the trends in shing tackle, apparel and accessories are launched and countless valuable business connections are made.

“ICAST is the cornerstone of the global sport shing industry,” said ASA President Glenn Hughes. “ICAST is where connections are made that create business opportunities for our industry. It’s also where most new products make their debut into the shing marketplace.”

Each year, this is the one can’t-miss event of the season for everyone in the outdoors industry. From shing guides to retailers, media and exhibitors of shing-related products and services, it’s a one stop shop, where your business might nd its next big money-maker.

Coastal Angler and e Angler will be at ICAST in force. Look for our logo-emblazoned team members perusing the aisles in search of

the next big thing. Stop and ask us about special ICAST free giveaways and deals on advertising.

If you’ve got a message to share, we’ve got the vehicles to spread your story to hundreds of thousands of shing enthusiasts.

At its heart, ICAST is about the New Product Showcase, where the coming year’s hottest new

gear is debuted for the industry. From a eld of hundreds of new tools, tackle, lures, electronics, apparel and more, the following pages contain some of our favorite industry innovators right now.

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North Central Florida/Nature Coast

Cary & Lynn Crutchfield


Happy Birthday America. You are going through a really rough patch right now, but you are still the greatest country in the world! Until January 6th 2021, I pretty much took our democracy for granted. I thought all of that had been settled many years ago. God Bless America. I am so glad that Florida in the United States is where I landed! My heart breaks for the people of Ukraine.

See page 2 for this month’s recipe Spinach Salad with Shrimp and Warm Bacon Dressing, an encore presentation from July 2022. It is fast and easy, won’t heat up your kitchen, and too good not to share again! This recipe received a double “You can make this again.” from Cary, my inhouse critic.

If you have fishing questions, the greatest fishing experts in the world write for our magazine. Call, text or email them and thank them for taking their time to write for us and generously sharing their knowledge and expertise. Also, please thank our advertisers. Their support pays our print bill.

I just want to remind you that there is NO place for alcohol on the water. My opinion might be unpopular, but alcohol contributes to deadly boating accidents, just as it does to deadly car accidents. There are children on those scalloping boats. The 4th of July holiday will bring many boats to my beloved Suwannee and to every waterway in Florida and America. Every year, we hear about a deadly boating accident that involved alcohol. It doesn’t have to happen again this year. Safely enjoy summer on our magnificent Florida waterways. Have fun, but stay smart and stay alive!

Thank you, John Freeze for the beautiful scenic photos on this page.



Cary Crutchfield


Lynn Crutchfield


Rosa Crisman


Kathleen Stemley


Noel Kuhn

Dr. Kevin McCarthy

Capt. Jason Clark

Capt. Katie Jo Davis

Capt. Tommy Derringer

Capt. Andrew Fagan

Capt. Jonathan Hamilton

Capt. Tony Johns

Capt. James Kerr

Capt. Pat McGriff


Photo by: Suwannee River Water Management District
INSIDE THIS ISSUE Tide Charts Local Fishing Forecasts Monthly Recipe
North Central Florida Nature Coast Staff
JULY 2023 EDITION Find Your Outdoors Here! 352-542-0356

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.



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, FriSat 10:00-8:00. 201 NW 5th St. Crystal River 352-795-4700.


Remove stems from spinach. Wash, drain and pat dry. Place in large bowl and set aside.


• One bag fresh Spinach


Place eggs in small pot. Cover with water, bring to a boil and cover. Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes. Pour off hot water and chill as quickly as possible with cold water and ice. Peal and set aside.

Fry bacon in large skillet till crisp. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Crumble bacon and set aside.

Transfer 3 tablespoons rendered fat to a small saucepan and set over low heat. Add the white parts of the scallions and cook until soft. Whisk in the red wine vinegar, sugar, Dijon mustard and parsley. Set aside.

• 14 to 16 large jumbo Shrimp (shelled and deveined)

• 2 large Eggs

• 4 strips Bacon

• 3 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar

• 2 teaspoons Sugar (I use Turbinado Cane Sugar.)

• ½ teaspoon Dijon Mustard

• Salt and Pepper

• 2 large White Mushrooms sliced

• 4 Scallions chopped

• Handful of chopped Parsley

• 2 to 4 Campari Tomatoes sliced (or tomatoes of your choice)

Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat skillet with remaining bacon fat. Add shrimp and sauté shrimp a couple minutes on each side.

To spinach, add mushrooms, bacon, green parts of scallions, warm dressing, and toss to combine.

Divide the spinach between two plates, and garnish with sliced eggs and tomatoes.

Place hot shrimp over spinach mixture and add a twist of freshly ground black pepper if desired. Serve immediately and ENJOY.

(This dish received a double “You can make this again!” from Cary, my inhouse critic.)

Cary A. Crutchfield Registered Real Estate Broker GRI and CRS Designations
Thank you to The Crab Plant for the shrimp. Visit their Fresh Seafood Market or enjoy Cooked Seafood to go. You are welcome to sit at their table and view Lynn Crutchfield, Co-Publisher Coastal Angler Magazine of North Central Florida

Forts on North Florida Waterways FLORIDA WATERWAYS

Like waterways in other states, engineers built a number of forts on our waterways, especially rivers, that were invaluable for housing soldiers and equipment during skirmishes/wars throughout our history. For example, Fort Fanning on the Suwannee River, near present-day Fanning Springs, was built in 1838 during the Second Seminole War, to protect the river crossing there. Honoring in its name Colonel Alexander Fanning, who had served in the First Seminole War under General Andrew Jackson, the structure has been partly reconstructed to give some idea of what it looked like almost 200 years ago.

An isolated wooden fort that is hard to reach, is in San Marcos de Apalache State Historic Park, at the end of S.R. 363, called Old Fort Road in Wakulla County. What makes the site unusual and excellent for fishing, is the fact that the place is at the confluence of St. Marks River and Wakulla River on their way to Apalache Bay, as is clear from the photo supplied by the Florida State Parks.

The museum there has a display of pottery and tools found near the original fort, and an 18-minute video traces the days of the Spanish, English, American, and Confederate troops that once occupied the site. One can follow that up with a self-guided interpretive trail on the grounds.

Over on the east coast are several forts from different wars. For example, Fort Clinch in the northeastern part of Florida is a 19th-century masonry fortification on Cumberland Sound and included today in Fort Clinch State Park. Dating back to the 19th century and named after General Duncan Clinch, who fought in the War of 1812. The massive structure, pentagon in shape and containing some five million bricks, has occasional living history programs with reenactors imitating soldiers from the 1860s.

Guarding the so-called “back door” to St. Augustine, is Fort Matanzas National Monument. The fortified coquina watchtower, which visitors can tour after a short boat trip from the visitor center (no boats on Monday or Tuesday), dates back to around 1742. The fort is part of some 300 protected acres containing dunes, maritime forest, and much flora and fauna. The undisturbed surroundings give one a sense of the isolation the soldiers experienced as they guarded the southern approach to St. Augustine.

Fort Caroline is part of the Fort Caroline National Monument, and represents the French attempt to settle in North Florida. Located on the southern bank of the St. Johns River near Mayport, the reconstructed fort and nearby museum give visitors a good appreciation of what life was like for the French and

Spanish in the late 16th century. The fort was to be where Huguenots from France wanted to settle in North Florida, but the Spanish, under Pedro Menendez de Aviles, put an end to the venture.

Finally, the Castillo de San Marcos in historical St. Augustine is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States and a national monument. Easily accessible by the thousands of tourists who visit St. Augustine, the fort has withstood attempts to conquer it as well as very fierce hurricanes. The waterways of North Florida in a way hold a fascinating key to the long history of the region.ry fort

Kevin McCarthy, the author of “North Florida Waterways” 2013 (available at, can be reached at

Fort San Marcos Fort Matanzas Fort Fanning today Fort Clinch Castillo de San Marcos Fort Caroline

Boat with someone you can trust.

Onefish I really enjoy reeling in during the hot summer months is flounder. These fish move out of the creeks to the sandy/rocky bottoms where they are waiting for a tasty shrimp to swim by. Using a 1/8-ounce jighead, I cast up along the rocky shore and very slowly retrieve it across the sandy bottom. These are not hardhitting fish; they tend to grab the bait and bury back down in the sand. Often, it feels like a rock being reeled in until it realizes it is hooked and then begins the awesome fight.

The black drum are nearing the mouth of the rivers, as they follow the blue crabs into the freshwater areas. They also enjoy the deeper cuts around islands where the water temperature below the surface is a smidge cooler than the super shallow water. These fish like to eat when the tide is nearing slack and make for a fun time when the other fish decide to stop biting. I typically leave the shrimp along the bottom on a 1/8-ounce jig head with a slow twitch every so often to make it jump, in order for the fish to see it. Remember these fish are grazers, so they almost never hit the bait with a vengeance. It is more of a slow, soft bite until the rod tip barrels over.

I really like to target the inshore mangrove snapper bite this time of

the year as well. They make for some tasty fish tacos, freshly caught off the boat. The fish are found near the rocky points and near deep cuts within the oyster bars. Many of the 10-to-12-inch mangroves are hanging around these areas, waiting for a nice shrimp tossed in front of them on a 1/8-ounce jig head.

July welcomes the scallops, and I am excited to get the season started! Reports are showing them in better numbers this year along the Nature Coast.

Captain Katie
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-Wedding & Graduation

Hey anglers, hope y'all are enjoying your summer so far. I know we are. Between youth gator hunts with my kids, and becoming a notary so I can perform boat and beach weddings, it’s been non-stop. There's no sugarcoating this, it’s been a tough hit-or-miss bite here lately. The kind of bite where one day you are a hero and the next two, a zero. We have had some very strange weather this year and I think the fish are just as confused as we are.

The reds and trout have both been spread out over the flats and bars and they seem to be few and far between. I'm still working hard for my clients and managing to make it happen for them, but the fish aren't giving it up easy for us.

I recommend using multiple different tactics while targeting these fish and using what's working best that day. I'm here to tell you, right now, what worked yesterday might not work today or tomorrow!

If you’re lucky enough to get

a calm day, there are plenty of mackerel on the reefs to go play with and honestly, unless your following these fish day after day, that's more likely your best bet right now to have some good action.

Jason Clark In The Slot Fishing Charters


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It'sthe middle of June, and once again, we have had a spell of strong persistent WSW winds! The waters around the Lower Suwannee River are stirred up and muddy! Just three weeks ago, we had a little clear water to the North of Suwannee, and we were catching some really nice speckled trout. Hopefully, we will have another period of calm winds that will help clear up the waters.

If scalloping is something you would like to do, then unfortunately the Lower Suwannee River Estuary is not where you want to go. In years past, we had great scalloping just north of Horseshoe Beach, but it's been several years since that has occurred. Check out Steinhatchee and Crystal River for some great scalloping!

July is the peak of the spawning season for speckled trout in my area. The "big mommas" are loaded with eggs, while the smaller males are running around wondering, "When will it be time?!"

The primary spawn happens around the full moons of June, July and August. This time period can fluctuate based on the moon cycle. While I have always encouraged the release of the trout 19 inches and up, it's especially important at this time of the year! Just releasing ONE big momma will add 3 to 5 million ripe eggs to the aquatic system. If 1% percent survives, that's 3,000 to 5,000 new baby speckled trout! Catch-n-filet the smaller slot size fish, catch-n-release the "Big Mommas"!

I am excited to let everyone know that I will now be tagging fish here around the Lower Suwannee River Estuary and other locations that I may fish. I have been accepted into the "Gray Fish Tagging Program", and my clients will have the opportunity to tag a fish as part of "their adventure"! They

can name the fish and then have the ability to track the fish when it's caught by other anglers. Look for more info as I am just getting started with this adventure!

If you want to catch a big ole shallow water bull redfish, then July and August are the months you will find them here around the Lower Suwannee River and Estuary. What is a bull redfish? For me, in my area, I consider 39 inches and up to be a bull redfish. You will find these fish usually in small groups, of 2 to 5 fish and when feeding, they seem to focus on the cooler waters close to the river and adjacent deep creeks.

Best baits? If you haven't tried the FishBites FightClub Lures you really should! I have fished 60 plus years, and this bait is the real deal. It stays on the hook far better than any other "scented lure" and is very cost effective, plus, it "Catches Fish", multiple fish on each bait, inshore, backcountry, nearshore or offshore. FishBites are my go-to bait!

Until next time, be safe, Tightlines and Catchemup!

Captain Tony Johns | 352-221-2510

Instagram: captaintonyjohns

Facebook: Lower Suwannee River Fishing Adventures or Captain Tony Johns

FishBites are lip smacking good! At 44 inches this is my personal best redfish. It was caught in the Lower Suwannee River Estuary on a Johnson weedless gold spoon in about two feet of water!
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It’sbeach time baby! Right now, along our beaches, just outside the surf, there are pogies (menhaden) getting chased, thrashed, and eaten by one of many predatory fish who roam our waters in July. Tarpon, kingfish, huge jacks and sharks, are just some of the monster sea creatures, waiting for you to hook into for the fight of your life! A great all-around rig to catch just about all those fish is to put a live pogy on a circle hook and cast just around the edges of the pods. Getting an early start, will also increase your chances of hooking up along the beach, as the feeding frenzy tends to taper off as the temps climb, and the sun gets higher in the sky.

By now, tarpon should be thick along the beach, gorging themselves on the pogys, but another fun way to catch the silver king in our region, is to hunt them behind the shrimp boats. Summertime brings the shrimp boats within a mile or so of the beach. Look for the boats that have birds hanging around, as those are the ones getting ready to, or just recently dumped their by-catch overboard. Approach the shrimp boats from behind and be very aware of any rigging they may have in the water. It’s as simple as going slow and looking at what’s feeding on the by-catch. Net a few of the floating fish and use them for bait. When you see a tarpon gulping down by-catch, just toss your bait in the chum line and hold on. If you don’t see any tarpon,

you’re sure to see a ton of big sharks and they will definitely put a bend in the rod.

Inshore, the best bite will be early from first light to about 9 am, when things start to heat up. When it gets hot, the fish will slow down and not be nearly as aggressive. At first light, a top-water really can’t be beat this time of year, as redfish and trout will be willing to give serious chase and devour a Berkley J-Walker plug. Once the sun gets up a bit, you’ll want to change to something sub-surface like the Saltwater Assassin paddle tail. I like to rig them on a 1/8 oz. or ¼ oz. jighead to help keep the bait down where the fish will be. The deeper creek holes will be a good bet once the heat of the day sets in. A live mud minnow or shrimp pegged to a jighead will also work well when fishing deeper.

With the murky “Summer” water settling in, it’s a great time to use some baits with either scent, flash, or noise makers in them. One of the offerings from Fishbites under a popping cork, is a no-brainer, as it covers the scent and the noise. A gold spoon or spinner bait is also a good choice when searching for redfish on a higher tide in murky water. They give off plenty of flash and the thump from the spoon or spinner blade can call a fish in in the murkiest of waters.

Wow, the dog days of summer got here so fast this year. Last month we were already in the mid 90’s. I cannot stress enough how important it is to get to the beach early, especially on cloudless mornings. When the temperature rises so quickly, the bite usually shuts down between 9 and 10 AM. I get there about 5:30 AM, and about 15 minutes later, there is enough light to bait up and cast out. By 11 AM there are fish in the cooler, and it is time for an early lunch at the Seafood Kitchen, Palm Valley Outdoors, or Captain’s BBQ, just to mention a few.

One of my favorite things to do on hot calm summer mornings is to cast lures. I use a light weight nine-foot rod and a 3000 series reel spooled up with 20 lb. braid. My lure selection will vary with the conditions. Calm flat seas with little to no wind is prime conditions for a top water bait. Trout, Jack Cravalle, Spanish, ladyfish and bluefish will aggressively crash your top water bait. Be sure to carry extra lures and 20-pound mono leader with you. Yes, you will get cut off occasionally, but the light mono leader will get you more bites.

Even with the water temperature rising into the 80s, you can still catch some great table fare with the bait-and-wait method, meaning, a double dropper rig and a sputnik

sinker and two pieces of great bait. On my last outing, we caught pompano, palometa, ladyfish, bonnethead sharks, whiting, bluefish, catfish, and stingrays! However, by 10 AM, the bite went dead. All three baits, Fishbites, sand fleas and ghost shrimp produced equally well.

Of course, big sharks are now in the surf, and they will be, through November, when the water drops below 70 degrees. So, if you want to get your string stretched and hear the drag scream, soak a big fresh bait. My favorites are a ladyfish or whiting head. Because of the crabs, the head half will last five times longer than a tail section. The good news about the calico/spotted crabs chewing on your bait, is that with every nibble, they leave one great chum slick.

Remember to set your drag light. This time of year, you also have a good shot at a big tarpon. If you want to target them, just drop down to 60-pound mono leader.

Tightlines and see you on the beach.

43 years of surf fishing experience, surf fishing guide and long distance casting coach. Founding member of Florida Surf Casters club. 904-945-0660



Hello from Crystal River. Hopefully, everybody’s out enjoying the nice summertime weather. I know we are here in Crystal River and the fishing has been great.

The redfish bite has been great on the early morning incoming tides here lately. I’ve been fishing, using a live pinfish, shrimp on a jig, or cut bait. Like always, I spend the first part of my trip looking for mullet. This time of year, with the heat, I try to fish early in the morning or later in the afternoon up until dark. The bite is usually good when it’s cooler.

The snook has also been great. I’ve been using artificial bait such a DOA Jerk Baits and live pinfish. The key to snook fishing is to know where they

sit and lay, and cast to them without their seeing you, that usually gives you a better hook up ratio.

The trout bite has been OK in the early morning on the shallow flats. You can usually find a few on good hard bottom, using your favorite selection of artificial baits. Also, the deeper flats in the 6-to-12-foot range hold trout. While targeting trout in deeper water, I use a 1/8-ounce jig head, tipped with my favorite Little Jon.

Hopefully everybody gets an opportunity to get out and catch some fish.

Until next month.

Capt. James Kerr 352-362-6893


brings fireworks, BBQ’s, scalloping and good fishing! Scallop season is in full effect. Scalloping is a big to-do on the Nature Coast and brings people from all over. Scalloping is a great family time event for everyone. You don’t have to be a fisherman to enjoy scalloping. However, if you do want to get out and do some fishing, July is a great month. Red fishing is pretty strong in July and our snook fishery is still getting better each month. Look offshore for decent trout fishing on or near the near shore rock piles along with nice mangrove snapper. I like to head offshore this time of the year on the low tide, and pick up groceries. Shrimp on a 1/4 oz jig head will keep the kids happy around rocky areas, and not to mention mangroves are great table fare. Also, while out there, the trout bite can be pretty productive in the deeper water. I like to fish

the 8-foot range off shore in the summer with DOA Jig heads rigged with the MirrOLure lil Johns in glow or watermelon red flake. On the incoming tides, hit the outside points of St Martin Keys for redfish. Gold spoons work well but free-lined pin fish will keep the rods bent. Look for jumping mullet during the last two hours of the incoming tide. If you want to get out and do some scalloping, plan your day around the last two hours of the outgoing tide. The rock island tripod would be a good starting area. Remember to keep a look out for other boaters and bad thunderstorms. This time of the year we get some bad afternoon storms that produce a lot of electricity. Be safe out there. Be safe and tight lines!

Capt. Jonathan Hamilton




The hot weather is finally beating down on us as we’ve had a fair amount of wind and some rain to keep us running long enough to forget about the heat. Inshore, the redfish will be in a true summertime pattern; the outer points and outside flats and oyster bars will be littered with schools of mullet and redfish. Two hours before high tide and the first two hours of incoming is the peak bite every single day like clockwork. A 4/0 circle hook 30 pound seaguar flurocarbon leader, and a generous size of chunk mullet works every time.

Offshore and nearshore, I’m getting reports of the red snapper in 90 to110 feet of water. It’s a long run, but the fish are enormous, with many each trip into the 20-pound range! That long drive might finally be worth it for two fish, or perhaps not. Inside 20 to 35 feet of water, the mangrove bite remains strong. Light leader and a big live shrimp freelined, always gets the big ones . If you’re looking to beat the heat like my post suggests, get out super early, then get off the water around 1 pm and you’ll have enough energy to do it two days in a row! Tight lines guys.

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rout continue to be scattered and the sporadic bite, though concentrated around the high tide, is still more unpredictable than consistent. That said, we may have limits one trip and struggle the next day.

Live pinfish under Back Bay Thunders are the best ticket for success while our largest trout for the last two trips has come in on an Assassin 5-inch shad bounced on a 1/8-ounce Assassin Jighead. My better patterns lately have been Laguna Shrimp, Pink Ghost, Chartreuse Ghost, Violet Moon, Cantaloupe (sea shads) and Orange Gold Shiner 4.5 to 5.5 feet of water is producing the most fish, while some days we have caught good trout in 6 to 7 feet of water.

There is very little white bait out there unless you move to 12 to 14 feet and although some reports said trout were being caught in 11 to 12 feet, it doesn’t appear to be a very popular trend, at least not from Keaton.

We have found reds scattered also, and again, this is due to the lack of bait in the shallows. It is common, at least for the last few years, for reds to leave the hill and creeks and move out on the deeper grass flats and feed with the trout in July. Our Gulf water temps are around 80 to 82 degrees, and that is lower than this time last year. We have caught reds on Assassin soft

plastic, gold weedless HEX spoons and on live pinfish under Back Bays.

Cobia have thinned since the first moon in June, which is usually their spawning time. There may be a few still out there, but definitely not as plentiful in July, as in May and early June. Keep a live blue crab handy, so when one shows up trailing a hooked fish back to the boat, you can slip it to him with a 30 or 40 lb. outfit.

Meanwhile, Let's Go Fishing!

Pat McGriff dba One More Cast guide service for 30 years! cell: 850.838.7541

Hey guys and gals, Hope everyone had a good June! Fishing is definitely starting to slow down with the heat. Problem is, or was for June, the lack of rain which usually helps cool things down. Hopefully, we will start getting those afternoon showers more consistently for the next couple months.

Speaking of weather, especially with scallop season in full swing, I just want to touch on how fast stuff can turn on you, on any body of water in Florida. Play it safe guys. I’ve seen stuff come out of nowhere and topple boats

If you want to get out and do any trout fishing or red fishing, give us a call. I will try to fit in some scallop trips as well. Until next time, Keep It Reel Native!!!

Captain Brent Woodard Reel Native Fishing Charters This cobia was just an inch short and had to go back after a 30-minute battle
IF YOU ADVERTISED HERE 10,000 READERS WOULD HAVE SEEN YOUR AD. Contact Lynn Crutchfield | 352-542-0356 for more information
Carver Ricketson of Douglas, GA with a 22-inch trout caught June 6th.

Fishing in your “Anna” dress is sure to bring good luck, especially if catching the elusive Suwannee River Pink Plastic is your goal.



Scalloping is the perfect family fun activity. Kicking around in the shallows and picking up these delicious little morsels is like an underwater Easter egg hunt. Bay scallop season opens across most of Florida’s west coast this month, so grab your mask, fins and snorkel, load up the kids and hit the water.


Fenholloway through Suwannee Rivers Zone (including Keaton Beach, Steinhatchee): June 15-Labor Day. This region includes all state waters east of Rock Island near the mouth of the Fenholloway River in Taylor County and north of Alligator Pass day beacon #4 near the mouth of the Suwannee River in Levy County. This area has a lowered bag limit June 15-30. See bag limits for more.

St. Joseph Bay and Gulf County: Aug. 16-Sept. 24. This region

includes all state waters from the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County to the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County. The area marked with FWC buoys south of Black’s Island is a Bay Scallop Restoration Area and no scalloping or anchoring are allowed.

Franklin County through NW Taylor County (including Carrabelle, Lanark, St. Marks): July 1-Sept. 24. This region includes all state waters from the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County to Rock Island near the mouth of the Fenholloway River in Taylor County.

Levy, Citrus, Hernando Counties Zone (including Cedar Key, Crystal River, Homosassa): July 1-Sept. 24. This region includes all state waters south of Alligator Pass day beacon #4 near the mouth of the Suwannee River in Levy County and north of the Hernando – Pasco county line.

Pasco County: July 1-August 6. This region includes all state waters south of the Hernando – Pasco county line and north of the Anclote Key Lighthouse in northern Pinellas County, and includes all waters of the Anclote River.


Daily vessel limits do not allow individuals to retain more than the perperson limit. There is no size limit on bay scallops.

Fenholloway through Suwannee River Zone:

• June 15-30: Daily bag limit per person is 1 gallon in-shell or 1 cup shucked. Daily vessel limit is 5 gallons in-shell or 2 pints shucked.

• July 1-Labor Day: Daily bag limit per person is 2 gallons in-shell or 1 pint shucked. Daily vessel limit is 10 gallons in-shell or ½ gallon shucked.

All Other Zones:

Daily bag limit per person is 2 gallons in-shell or 1 pint shucked. Daily vessel limit is 10 gallons in-shell or ½ gallon shucked.


• Legal methods of harvest include by hand or with a landing or dip net. Recreational harvesters are required to have a Florida saltwater fishing license unless they are 1) exempt from needing a license or 2) have a no-cost shoreline fishing license and are wading from shore to collect scallops (feet do not leave bottom to swim, snorkel or SCUBA and harvesters do not use a vessel to reach or return from the harvest location).

• Direct transit of legally-harvested bay scallops is allowed through closed areas.

Crutchfields’ granddaughter Secelia
Cary with a
beautiful trout.


We are seeing a heavy line of sargassum right now. Here’s how to make the best of it.

Along with grass comes sh. We’re having a great dolphin year, with some nice yellow ns and wahoo in the mix. e grass is a wonderful thing if you know how to take advantage of it.

It’s a well-known fact that the surface trolling bite slows as the sun rises to the 10 to 11 a.m. position. is is the reason to get baits down where the sh are, rather than continuing to troll surface baits while the one “meat stick”—the deep planer rod—gets all the bites. Tuna and wahoo don’t wear Maui Jims. When the sun penetrates deeper into the water, they simply go lower in the water column.

And… who says you have to be moving at 6-8 knots to get bites? Why not slow down and put several lines down where the sh are? It can result in steady, sometimes multiple hook ups. ere are several ways to accomplish this. You can use downriggers with release clips, use heavier trolling lures that fall when you occasionally take the boat out of gear, or use planer lures coupled with a slower speed to get baits down.

For example, a beautiful swimming (frozen) squid or ballyhoo on the downrigger is a ringer for the wahoo and tuna bite. An arti cial squid with an attached natural bait on a planer jig head or a deepdiving plug will also get bites. In addition these choices, a spread of slow-trolled live baits down deep is the ultimate o ering. We have several videos detailing the options listed above on our website.

With all the sargassum grass this year, this may be an especially attractive alternative to the standard 7 knots. When you’re constantly “shaggin’ grass,” you’re not as e ective, and it’s not good for moral when

deck hands ght more grass than sh. If you slow troll down a nice weed line with beautiful baits down deep in the strike zone, chances of getting bites are much better than shaggin’ grass at normal speed. Find structure and bait near a weed line and you’ll have the scenario for success. With or without structure or marking bait, the weed line is home to all types of life. We’ve cleaned yellow n tuna with a double handful of le sh in their stomachs the size of a quarter and smaller, along with small bit of grass.

If the weeds are not too scattered, troll as normal to nd the sh. When the sun gets up, slow down and concentrate on the areas you had bites earlier. Remember that the weeds are moving, along with everything that lives and feeds around the mats. Keep an eye out for other items oating in the grass mats to help keep up with your relative location.

For more from Tim Barefoot, go to



As I write this, the largest mass of sargassum ever recorded is making its way to the Florida coast. For months, forecasters have been bemoaning the mess this 5,000-mile-long weed patch will make on our beaches, but I’m looking forward to what it brings.

Prey species live in the seaweed, and predators congregate around these weed lines. ere are going to be many di erent species of sh moving in closer than we usually get. Many anglers will enjoy chasing the larger predators; however, it’s fun to catch what we call peanuts, which are the small er dolphin sh that school up around the weeds.

e most distinguishing feature of dolphin sh is the bright neon green, yellow and blue coloration throughout their entire body. Dolphin have a long slender body, and the peanuts are typically 2 to 3 feet, with weights from 5 to 15 pounds. Dolphin get much larger than this, but the big ones don’t exhibit the same schooling behavior.

An amazing feature about dolphin sh is their dorsal n, which starts at the skull and continues all the way to the tail. To determine gender, male dolphin will have a more pronounced forehead, which almost becomes vertical with a 90-degree angle. Unlike most species of sh, the males tend to be larger than the females and are known as “bulls.”

Dolphin inhabit subtropical and tropical waters throughout the entire world. ey live o shore in the 70- to 300-foot depths. eir spawning season runs from April until August, as long as the water is warm enough. Dolphin broadcast spawn in current to ensure a higher rate of fertilization. Once the young hatch, they take shelter in sargassum patches or oating debris, which also provides a source of food since other juvenile sh will be hiding there also.

Fish in the big schools hanging around sargassum patches will usually be on the smaller side. So, you’ll want to use smaller baits like pilchards or thread ns and free swim them around the weeds. You might see a school of dolphin swarming your bait and ghting over it. eir bright colors and darting movements make them easy to spot.

Another option is to use small bucktail jigs or even 3-inch swimbaits. You can grab their attention by working lures like injured bait sh, and this is a great way to lure them out from under the debris.

While shing these patches, a great way to target larger sh is to sink a larger bait below the school. Larger dolphin and wahoo o en feed on peanut dolphin. It is illegal to use peanut dolphin as bait, but you could use ballyhoo, blue runner or even large thread ns.

e IGFA all-tackle world record dolphin weighed 87 pounds. It was caught by Manuel Salazar in the Papagayo Gulf in 1976.

Emily Rose Hanzlik holds 62 IGFA world records in various categories. She hails from West Palm Beach, where she has a part time Bow n Guide Service as well as shing classes for Jr. Anglers. Find her on social media @emilyhanzlikoutdoors.

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NOAA Fisheries has announced that a closure to recreational harvest of red grouper in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico will begin on July 21 and continue through the rest of 2023.


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e closure was spurred by landings information, which indicates the 2023 recreational annual catch target of 1,840,000 pounds gutted weight is projected to be met on July 20.

During the recreational closure, the bag and possession limit are zero for red grouper in or from federal waters of the Gulf. e prohibition on possession of Gulf red grouper also applies in Gulf state waters for a vessel issued a valid federal charter vessel/ headboat permit for Gulf reef sh.

If red grouper recreational landings exceed the annual catch limit (ACL) in a given year, the length of that following year’s recreational shing season will be reduced to ensure the recreational ACT is not exceeded in that following year.

For more information, visit www.

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In 2018, when Hurricane Michael bowled over the Florida Panhandle, it decimated the shoal bass population in the Chipola River. e Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates the population was depleted by 90 percent.

FWC is raising and stocking shoal bass to replenish stocks of this rare and native black bass. In May, 7,800 hatchery-raised shoal bass ngerlings were released into the river. is is the second consecutive year shoal bass were raised at the Blackwater Fisheries Research and Development Center near Holt, Fla. and then released into the Chipola River to enhance the wild population.

Shoal bass are one of four of Florida’s native black bass species, and this e ort marks the second time genetically pure shoal bass have been successfully raised at an FWC sh hatchery. Shoal bass are also a Florida Species of Greatest Conservation Need, which refers to native animals whose populations are of concern and are at risk or declining. e goal of raising and releasing these sh is to enhance the wild population to help maintain genetic purity and aid in the long-term conservation of this unique species of Florida black bass.

e Chipola River originates just north of Marianna, owing south for 95 miles through Jackson, Calhoun and Gulf counties where it joins the Apalachicola River. Currently, a catch-and-release-only regulation is in e ect for shoal bass on the Chipola River and its tributaries. Any shoal bass that are caught must be released alive immediately and possession is prohibited.

For more information, visit MyFWC/Freshwater.

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM JULY 2023 FLORIDA 21 Scallop Season OPENS June 15 on Dixie County Coast Where the Suwannee & Steinhatchee Rivers Meet the Gulf of Mexi


During the 2023 Emerald Coast Open, 144 competing divers removed 24,699 invasive lion sh from the Gulf of Mexico. With support from Yamaha Rightwaters as well as many local, national and international conservation-minded organizations, the annual event set records for largest lion sh ( ve times) as well as the number of lion sh caught in both the pre-tournament and main tournament.

e mitigation of aquatic invasive species is one of the four pillars of the Yamaha Rightwaters mission,” said Martin Peters, Director, External A airs, Yamaha U.S. Marine Business Unit. “ e Emerald Coast Open helps foster healthy marine environments in the Gulf while educating the public about the damage a large lion sh population can cause. Yamaha Rightwaters will continue to support this tournament and applauds the e ort to help the Gulf of Mexico thrive as a strong shery.” sh prey on more than 167 di erent native sh species and can reduce some reef sh populations by up to 90 percent. ey are capable of eating sh two-thirds their size, and one lion sh can consume roughly 20 sh in a half hour.

“Since its inception in 2019, the Emerald Coast Open helped remove more than 72,000 total lion sh from Gulf waters,” said Alex Fogg, Coastal Resource Manager, Destin – Fort Walton Beach and Emerald Coast Open Organizer. “ e tournament not only yields immediate results and improvement within our sheries, it also demonstrates that catching lion sh is fun – and they are tasty! We’re glad to have the support of Yamaha Rightwaters and look forward to developing our relationship as we begin to plan for the 2024 tournament.”

To learn more about the Emerald Coast Open, visit

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2024 Paddle Sports



On the Gulf side, Florida anglers are looking at a pretty solid red snapper season this year, with summer dates from June 16 through July 31 and additional fall dates to pursue one of the South’s favorite game sh.

It’s a di erent story over on the East Coast. With the way the federal government has regulated snapper shing in the Atlantic over the years, anglers have come to count themselves lucky if there’s any Atlantic snapper season at all. is year’s allowance of two days—July 14-15— for recreational snapper harvest in the South Atlantic has anglers looking for ways to make the most of it.

From all reports, there are scads of red snapper out there. Catching the per-person limit of one sh should not be a problem. e key to a productive day that’s worth the gas is planning. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of the red snapper rally.

Load the Boat: With a limit of one sh per person, it’s time to load the boat with as many people as it will comfortably and safely hold so that you can ll the sh box with as many snapper as you are allowed. is is your two-day opportunity to ll the freezer with delicious sh. So, the more people you bring, the more sh you get to bring home. is is a great time to take kids. Kids love to sh, and they also take up less room in the boat.

Go With a Plan and a Backup Plan: For two days, it’ll seem like everyone with a boat is parked over every wreck and reef in the Atlantic. Get to the ramp early, and plan to be patient, because there will be a bunch of anglers with the same idea. Know where you hope to start the morning, but have several back-ups in case your honey hole doesn’t pan out. When you get there, if your graph doesn’t light up with life, don’t waste your time. Keep moving until you nd bait and sh.

Fish Big: With a one- sh limit, and no size limit, it pays to target the biggest sh down there. Fish live baits that are big enough to get past the smaller snapper down to 20-pounders. It wouldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings if a big grouper took the bait, either. is also limits the number of small sh you’ll give a case of barotrauma, which is a good thing.

Remember, use of a dehooking tool is required. ere is also a requirement for the use of non-stainless steel hooks. In waters North of 28-degrees N. latitude, the use of non-o set, non-stainless steel circle hooks is required when shing for snapper grouper species. A descending device is also required on board all vessels and must be readily available for use (attached to at least 16 ounces of weight and at least 60 feet of line).

For more tips, go to

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With excellent strength for line-to-line connections, the double uni is a go-to knot for connecting main lines to leaders. It is a quick and easy knot to tie, unlike some of the other line-to-line knots, so it’s a great option for on-thewater applications. Furthermore, it is very good for connecting di erent line types and diameters securely, which makes it the best knot for mono-to-mono or mono-to- uoro connections.

It’s also a good option to secure braid to uoro, and while it might not have the strength of the FG knot for this application, the double uni is much easier to tie and will save you some headache in real-world situations.

A disadvantage to the double uni knot is it’s a little bulky. Although it is an inline knot that keeps everything running in the right direction, the bump it creates at the connection and the two tag ends pointing in either direction can interfere with casting performance. e knot can cause some friction going through the guides. e double uni, however, is perfect for rigs where your leader will remain outside your rod tip. It’s also the right choice when casting distance and accuracy are not primary concerns. In most real-world scenarios, it will not inhibit casting ability enough that you’ll even notice.

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By completing conservation projects, the Chambers High School shing team recently earned a private, in-person custom rod building class with Mud Hole Custom Tackle. ey were the winning team in FWC’s School Fishing Club Conservation Project Competition and completed six projects including cleaning up and building mono lament recycling bins for their local waterbodies to win the grand prize.

All student anglers participating in the FWC’s 2022-23 School Fishing Club Program were required to complete at least one conservation project to qualify for funding associated with the program. Prizes were o ered by Mud Hole, Toad sh and Pure Fishing to encourage teams to complete multiple conservation initiatives. e competition awarded points per club participation in a variety of conservation-minded activities aimed at reducing the impacts of plastic pollution.

“Congratulations to these young anglers for their dedication to conservation,” said Tom Graef, FWC’s Freshwater Fisheries director. “ ey are making a di erence by leading the way for the next generation of anglers with these creative conservation projects.”

Punta Gorda Middle School won the second-place prize, and A. Crawford Mosley High School won the third-place prize.

“Supporting youth education is so important to our mission at Mud Hole Custom Tackle,” said Anthony Youmans, Mud Hole’s Education Program Director. “We’re honored to contribute the grand prize in this year’s competition and are always supportive of FWC’s e orts to lead conservation projects here in Florida, our home state.”

Mud Hole Custom Tackle, based in Oviedo, is the world’s largest supplier of rod building and tackle cra ing goods and instruction. From rod building

and repairing, to y tying and lure building, Mud Hole is the leading e-retailer and mail order supplier to hobbyists, small manufacturers and large OEMs, worldwide. O ering a superior shopping experience at, rapid ful llment, stellar customer service, and world class online content and instruction, Mud Hole Custom Tackle is the trusted source for the rod building and tackle cra ing community.

FWC’s School Fishing Club Program welcomed 38 new and 14 returning student angling clubs in Florida to the program last year, supported by the Division of Marine Fisheries Management, the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management, and the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network. e clubs committed to complete the provided FWC curriculum and at least one conservation project. Club mentors provided support and hands-on training in knot tying and shing gear assembly, as well as assistance with the clubs’ local events to increase student anglers’ con dence in the sport of shing. Information about the 2023-24 School Fishing Club Program will be announced later this summer.

For more information, visit

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The 2023 CCA Florida STAR competition presented by Yamaha kicked o Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Four STAR tagged red sh have already been recaptured, but what you won’t believe is that none of the anglers were CCA members and registered in the competition. ose four anglers missed out on their chance at some awesome boats and packages, and that means all the boats and packages are still available.

Registration for the summer-long competition is open until Sept. 4 and invites CCA members, non-members, anglers and non-anglers to take a shot at winning their share of prizes valued at more than $500,000 including boats, motors, electronics, tackle, scholarships and more. is event is about the shery winning, too. Participants become citizen biologists and citizen garbologists by submitting photos of their catch or garbage collected during the competition in the STAR app. In order to win, participants must take their entry photo on the 2023 CCA Florida STAR o cial measuring device, which can be picked up for free in any West Marine store or one of the many other STAR distribution locations throughout Florida. Find them listed on the STAR website.

“Every year we have lots of tagged red sh recaptured by unregistered anglers who are not members. We hope that this year, with more prizes, we will see more winners,” said CCA Florida STAR Director, Leiza Fitzgerald. “ e youth participation has been heartwarming, and to date STAR has awarded $800,000 in youth scholarships, plus in 2021 two youth anglers won a boat motor and trailer package that consisted of a 16-foot ski , 25hp Yamaha, Minn Kota Trolling motor and trailer. Every year there are over 100 winners In the STAR competition. Get registered and you could be one of them.”

e CCA Florida STAR competition presented by Yamaha has a division for everyone, from the non-angler to the experienced angler. It is comprised of 15 divisions targeting 12 inshore and o shore species, plus the Kick Plastic Trash Division presented by Papa’s Pilar which encourages cleanup of trash from Florida’s coastal waters. STAR’s signature Tagged Red sh Division o ers seven winners, ve adults and two youth, the choice of a Contender Boats 22 Sport, Path nder Boats 2200 TRS and a Carolina Ski 162 JLS. STAR has additional new Tagged Red sh sponsors with Dek Kat Boats o ering a 27 Flatz Kat and Sea Doo and Can-am o ering a fun package of a Trophy Fishing Sea Doo and the Can-am Defender. Each boat will be powered by a Yamaha, the competitions presenting sponsor. Be the rst winning tagged red sh angler for your choice of all these packages as your prize.

Once again in 2023, we have the ALTA SUPER STAR tagged red sh swimming in Florida waters. If it is recaptured, the winner will receive $50,000 cash! For the rst two youth anglers who win in this division, prizes include a tiller boat powered with Yamaha outboard, trailer, Minn Kota trolling motor and Humminbird electronics.

Each of Florida’s coastal counties have on average four tagged red sh for a total of over 160 prize-winning sh. e best opportunity to catch one of this year’s tagged red sh will be in Citrus and Charlotte Counties, STAR’s 2023 Destination Counties, which each have eight tagged red sh in their coastal waters.

For the o shore anglers, the Tigress Outriggers and Gear Tagged Dolphin Division o ers one winner a $10,000 cash prize. e rst STAR registrant and CCA Florida member who catches a tagged dolphin will win. Twenty tagged dolphin (Mahi Mahi) were released for STAR in the lower Florida Keys.

STAR is a family-friendly competition, and CCA Florida youth members (ages 6 to 17) can participate for free. Kids are encouraged to submit entries in the Youth Scholarship Division presented by Realtree Fishing for an opportunity to win one of 12 scholarships totaling $100,000. Other divisions include the Power Pole Conservation Division, Bona de Kayak Division and Ladies Division as well as the Yamaha Guides which allows guides to participate when they are not on a charter for hire. Since most division winners are determined by a random drawing, it is not about catching the biggest sh, any size sh can win. Remember, it is very simple really, every sh you catch between now and Monday, Labor Day o ers the CCA member who is registered in STAR the opportunity to win their share of $500,000 in prizes and scholarships. You can’t win If you are not registered.

STAR is also a tool to gather catch data, it creates awareness for conservation, our sponsors and CCA Florida. Launched in 2015, the competition has set the bar for other shing tournaments to follow by implementing conservation-friendly alternatives such a catch-photorelease format and a trash division. Florida STAR focuses on conservation with its technology-based, CPR format and dedicated smartphone app which promotes the proper handling of species and allows participants who are members of CCA and registered in the competition to upload photos of their catch or trash buckets in the STAR competition and be rewarded for their e orts. CCA Florida also provides access to the data collected to other conservation organizations and universities to help educate the public and for use in their studies on conservation, habitat and stock assessments.

You can still register for STAR 2023. You have all summer and all the boats and packages are still available. To receive additional information on divisions, prizes and more, visit cca or Facebook.



Put Orange Lake on your bass- shing itinerary for next spring. is 12,550-acre lake in Alachua County southeast of Gainesville is a springtime conveyor belt of big bass.

From February through April this year, 19 Orange Lake largemouths heavier than 10 pounds were reported to TrophyCatch, FWC’s big-bass recognition program.

Bass heavier than 13-pounds are given “Hall of Fame” status by TrophyCatch. Five 13-pluspounders have been caught statewide this year. Four of them came from Orange Lake, and three of those were caught in February.

e most recent one we’ve heard of was a sh caught back on Feb. 7 that just popped up on the TrophyCatch Facebook


a giant 13-pound, 3-ounce monster swimming a

Man… that sounds like a lot of fun.

For more information, visit www.trophycatch

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Score From the Shore in Calm Conditions

The surf can be bountiful and as easy as shing can be when the seas are calm. On a recent trip to the Gulf of Mexico’s calm shores, I was certain I was going to catch them at will. To the naked eye, conditions were as good as it gets, but many fellow anglers fell short of their dreams on this beautiful day. Here are some modi cations I made on the y that allowed me to come out ahead of most others.

is day provided us with glass-calm seas, clear water and bait everywhere, but one key ingredient was missing, substantial tide. What most of us focused on, including myself, were the calm conditions. is is always the draw for trout shing on the beachfront in Texas, and it is seldom the norm.

I did research the tide, and it was an early high

heading out, which, once again, seems perfect. However, the slope on the graph was a slow outgoing tide, not one that was going to trigger many bites on its own. Once I realized this and watched others leave empty handed, I decided to search for places that would encourage the slow outgoing current to increase in velocity. I sought out guts in the bars perpendicular to the shore. ese same guts have the potential to cause dangerous riptides, and they can also be the best place to sh. You typically see these guts by studying the waves, but with no waves I had to use my polarized glasses. ankfully, the water clarity made this an easy task. I drove along the beach looking for these, and once I spotted them, I stood on the back of my truck to increase my elevation to identify the best ones.

I’d found my pattern. Now the catching could begin! Keep in mind, as slow as the tide was moving, it did not create a dangerous situation

(always be cautious of rip tides on the beach), but it did speed up the current enough to trigger a good bite. I thoroughly worked all edges of these guts, nding most bites on the back side where the tide pulled bait from the shallow gut to the deeper second gut.

When the tide is slow, I like to try and get a reaction strike by throwing something a little di erent or working my lure erratically. On this day, I was throwing a rattling so -plastic paddletail. I also picked one with a bright green tail to stand out from the millions of bait sh traveling the rst and second guts. All of these tactics combined allowed me to salvage a day when most le with empty stringers.

e beachfront can be a great place to sh, and it’s fun for the kids. My boys enjoy wading beside me, and when the shing is over it’s time to play at the beach!

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Alaska shing season started o with a bang for anglers visiting Ketchikan, Alaska. Halibut shing charters produced great catches of halibut, paci c cod, lingcod and rock sh. Salmon shing trips resulted in big king salmon while we awaited the arrival of silver salmon and pink salmon.

Early season typically is more inconsistent than the deep summer months of July, August and September. With that being said, our guests enjoyed better than average shing to start o the 2023 Alaska shing summer.

Fishing tours for cruise ship guests and y-in anglers spent the majority of May bottom shing. ese sheries consist of shing near and o shore waters for halibut, cod and rock sh. Deep-water jigging for halibut had guests reeling in keeper-sized halibut as well as oversized halibut ranging from 10 pounds to 120 pounds. ere’s nothing quite like the thrill of hooking into these deep sea dwellers, and the delicious white meat holds up well when frozen and shipped back home to the lower 48.

Halibut weren’t the only species caught during our halibut shing charters. Paci c cod were a staple while bottom shing for halibut. Cod were concentrated in large numbers on the sandy ats eating a variety of bottom rigs. Traditional halibut shing rigs with glow-in-the-dark squid and cut herring caught the majority of Paci c cod. We also found great success jigging for cod with metal jigs and so plastic swimbaits.

Following up halibut shing with rock sh and lingcod jigging made for a combination catch that had everyone smiling. We do this in shallower water with light tackle. While catching pelagic rock sh such as yellowtails and duskies, we also caught big lingcod. With such a phenomenal bottom shing area, you’re never quite sure what will grab the end of the line. Giant lingcod make a trophy catch for anyone visiting Alaskan waters.

King salmon shing opened June 1. Everyone rejoiced at the opportunity to pursue this iconic sh. Big king salmon catches came in throughout the entire southeast Alaska region. Ketchikan is known as the salmon capital of the world, and it didn’t disappoint. Herring Cove and Mountain Point were the rst areas to open up. is resulted in large numbers of anglers trolling for prized king salmon. As we look forward for the entirety of the region to open, these were the rst areas where big catches came in.

Over the next couple months, the shing will continue to heat up! Halibut will continue to show up in larger numbers as the water temperatures increase. In addition, the salmon shing will see a big burst of silver salmon and pink salmon to combine with the larger king salmon. It’s all happening now!

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Most of the time the saying is true, bigger baits equal bigger sh! Although elephants eat peanuts, a big bait pro le is something big sh sometimes can’t resist whether you’re shing the open ocean or the Great Lakes. I’ve spent a lot of time in the last couple years experimenting with lures that are larger than what my previous comfort zone was for bass. It is pretty special to see what gets curious to come look at or bite these big baits.

ere are many di erent types of swimbaits on the market, but I’ll break them down into two styles to keep it simple. ere are hard, gliding-style swimbaits with treble hooks and there are so -body swimbaits. Each has a time and a place, and both attract some very big sh.

Depending on where you are in the country and the size of the forage in your lake, a normal meal for a bass is usually much bigger than you would think. Bass have huge mouths to accommodate large prey items. A two- or three-pounder has no problem at all swallowing a 6- to 8-inch bluegill whole. I’ve seen 10-plus-pounders eat gizzard shad up to 14 inches long! Trying to exactly duplicate the larger bait sh in your lake with a natural presentation is the key to drawing attention to your arti cial lure.

With hard swimbaits, my rst choice is a shad imitation. Most of the places I sh are full

of shad, and shad seem to be a favorite food source for bass.


Crappie are another forage species people sometimes forget about. Lately, when throwing big baits

over deeper water, I’ve caught some big sh with crappie down in their throats.

With so swimbaits, I usually go to a bluegill imitation. I like so baits because they are more weedless, and you can creep them through the grass or along the bottom in places where bluegills live.

Big swimbaits can get mighty expensive. If you are just getting started with them, I would suggest sticking with the more a ordable baits that get good reviews until you get your con dence up. en you can dive into some of the larger, more customized lures.

Learning to sh big baits is best done by getting on the water and doing it. Just get out there and experiment with retrieves until you nd out what works. Of course, throwing giant lures requires special equipment. I like 13 Fishing’s a ordable Defy for a rod. It’s an 8-foot swimbait rod that handles most big lures with ease. I pair this with a 300 sized reel, like the 13 Fishing Concept A3 and some 20- to 25-pound Seaguar Abrazx.

I hope this article sparks someone’s interest to get out there and throw a big bait. Once I stepped out of my comfort zone, I discovered it to be one of the coolest and most fun ways to target big bass all year long. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me on social media if you have questions about these tactics or any others.

Tyler Woolcott is a professional tournament angler and guide. Check out his website at www.tylerwoolcott

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really realized that I hooked a monster. Adrenaline started pumping hard and the fear of losing it almost sent me into a panic. I was alone, facing the biggest cat sh I ever seen in 23 years.

Italy’s River Po has done it again.

Last week, MADCAT pro sta er Alessandro Biancardi caught a 9-foot-long wels cat sh that will likely replace the IGFA world length record for the species. e monster wels measured 285 centimeters (9 feet, 4.2 inches) in length and stands to beat out the existing record by just 4 centimeters, or about an inch and a half.

Biancardi is a veteran cat sh angler who has targeted wels for more than two decades. He landed his potential new record a er a more than 40-minute battle while shing solo in an aluminum


e giant sh ate a so -plastic paddletail shed on a jighead.

“In silence, I approached the rst spot and a er few casts a powerful bite arrived. e sh stood still some seconds before starting a very complicated ght, between strong currents and a lot of submerged obstacles,” Biancardi wrote in a blog post. “I calmly managed to ght what I felt to be a prehistoric sh. I followed it for 40 endless minutes. When it surfaced for the rst time, I

“I tried gloving its mouth two or three times, but it was still too strong,” he wrote. “I decided to go in shallow water trying to land it from shore, and a er few tries, I managed to land it! I tied the sh to let him recover from the long ght then I suddenly realized that the boat was not anchored, and it was going away in the current. I was forced to have a swim to recover it with all my stu .”

Biancardi then called some friends from a nearby sh camp to come help him get a good measurement on the beast. A er taking measurements, the sh was released. Without a weight, it will not be considered for the all-tackle world record, which stands at 297 pounds, 9 ounces for a sh caught from the Po back in 2010.

For more, go to https://madcat-



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The sun was just cresting the mountains and the moon was low in the west as Capt. Ron Ratlief, of Ron’s Fishing Guide Service, and I began shing for redear sun sh on Arizona’s Lake Havasu. is trip has been on my bucket list for years. I just never made the time, which is ridiculous considering Havasu is pretty much the Holy Land for bream shing.

Havasu is a large Colorado River reservoir on the Arizona/Colorado border. In recent years, the lake has produced a series of world-record redear sun sh, with the current mark standing at 6-pounds, 4-ounces. Havasu’s freakishly large redears are due to a plentiful food source of invasive mussels that have in ltrated the system. e lake also holds some enormous bluegills, which I came to nd out over two days shing with Ron and a third day with my buddy Zac Mickle.

You could feel it was going to be a hot one—over 100 degrees— as the cool morning air evaporated with the sun. A er all, Havasu is an oasis in the middle of a desert. We started the morning sight shing coves. Havasu’s water is as clear as the Keys, and I half expected to see bone sh swimming by. We searched several coves and saw lots of sh, including bluegills, carp, cat sh, giant gizzard shad, tilapia, green sun sh and small stripers, just

to name a few. We also found some redear sun our target species, but they were small, a pound or less, and we were looking for big ones!

We moved to plan B and headed to deeper water. Havasu has the most man-made attractors and brushpiles I’ve ever seen. might be a bunch in South Carolina’s Santee, but you would never see them. e crystal-clear water makes everything visible, and as the sun got higher, we could see even more. We saw structure clearly in 18 feet of water with large redears on it. I dropped a night crawler on a jig head down, and BAM! I had a good bite! We landed a nice redear heavier than two pounds and continued hitting deeper brush, where we saw some big ones and caught a thick 14-incher that was pushing 3 pounds. A er several other sh in the 1 to 1 ½-pound range, Ron suggested we move back to a cove for a few last casts before heading in.

In the cove, I got hammered by a good one, which upon landing was about the same size as the 2-pounder from earlier, but it looked more like a bluegill. I was thinking it might be a hybrid between the two species, which was later con rmed.

If you like bream, you need to check out Havasu. It is a beautiful lake in the desert with some giant redears and bluegills. I might not have

caught a world record this year, but I’ve already booked next year’s trip.

Check out Gary Turner’s shing adventures on his YouTube channel at @FishingWithGary.


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Check out the crazy markings on this Pennsylvania bass!

Recently the American Fisheries Society Black Bass Conservation Committee (BBCC) posted photos of this striking, black-splotched largemouth bass on its Facebook page.

During the old days of chumming, lots of shermen used glitter in their chum, but we sure didn’t talk about it. Why? It was a serious sh-catching secret, and it works as well now as it ever did.

Of course, back then we hadn’t heard of microplastics. We didn’t equate those tiny ashy akes with pollution. Traditional glitter is made with aluminum and plastic, which is a really bad thing to be throwing in the water. ankfully, today there is biodegradable glitter made of plant cellulose. is more environmentally friendly product enables us to keep using our old tricks without doing harm to the ocean.

When you add biodegradable glitter to your chum, the oils coat

every single small piece of glitter. When it hits the water, each piece of glitter becomes sh attractant. As it slowly spreads through the water column, it catches sunlight and re ects it. e oil onboard each small piece of glitter leaves a trail that only a hungry smart sh would care to follow.

You might ask how do I know that glittering chum works? Well, when you start getting hits and landing sh, open the sh box and take a look. You know how glitter is. It gets everywhere and sticks to everything. Well, your sh box and the sh in it will be coated in glitter. Trust me.

Capt. Judy Helmey runs Miss Judy Charters o the Georgia coast. Check them out at

e photos, by professional bass sherman Grae Buck, show his wife Jessica Buck holding a sh with melanosis. e post goes on to explain that this condition is when something a ects the pigment expression in the skin, turning it black. Termed blotchy bass syndrome, it has been found in black bass species in waterbodies across the United States with increasing frequency.

“While a truly melanistic sh would be all black, we more commonly see parts of the sh black, irregular blotches, spots, or ns,” the post reads. ese crazy colored sh show up from time to time, and previously it has been explained as a genetic mutation. In its explanation of this sh, however, BBCC pointed to research being conducted at the U.S.G.S. Eastern Ecological Science Center in West Virginia.

e research found that this blotchy skin condition is actually caused by a viral infection, an emerging novel adomavirus. Researchers have not pinned down a cause yet, but a U.S.G.S. report suggests higher incidences of blotchy bass syndrome in disturbed-water systems, with a potential link to chemicals. ere is currently broad ongoing research to try and determine the causes and e ects of this infection.

TheReturn of a

Follow the BBCC at

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Home of world class fishing on the beautiful Watauga Lake, rugged Doe River and designated trophy trout stream, Watauga River


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Score From the Shore in Calm Conditions

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Re-Discover Old Florida Waterfront Charm RED GROUPER TO CLOSE IN GULF FEDERAL WATERS

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Boat with someone you can trust.

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Forts on North Florida Waterways FLORIDA WATERWAYS

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ICAST 2023 HITS ORLANDO JULY 11-14 Planet’s Largest Sportfshing Show is the Can’t Miss Industry Event

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Muon but a Good Time!

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Throw Yourself a Bone

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