Coastal Angler Magazine | July 2022 | North Central Florida/Nature Coast Edition

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NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST EDITION

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2022

Orlando, FL JULY 19-22

39th Annual

KINGFISH TOURNAMENT

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SNAPPER TIME! PHOTO COURTESY OF: CAPT. KURT TILLMAN / IG: @CAPTAIN_KURT_T APP.FISHINGCHAOS.COM/CHARTER/CAPTAIN-KURT-CHARTERS VOLUME 27 • ISSUE 328

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4 NATIONAL

JULY 2022

’GILLS, ERS ’CRACK

e m i t r e Summ AND

By Nick Carter

E

! N U F

very now and then, it’s good to rediscover what ushered you into fishing in the first place. For many of us, it all began with small ponds and eager bream. The simplicity of just catching fish, without concern for size or species, is a pursuit that brings back a certain child-like joy. It’s even more fun when you take a kid. Witnessing the light of discovery and pride pass over a child’s face turns untangling lines and dodging errant casts into a labor of love. It doesn’t need to be difficult. If you time it right and have a good place to go, it’s easy to load a stringer full of fat bluegills or redear sunfish in a hurry. They are easy to clean, and they are delicious dredged in a seasoned cornmeal-flour mixture and fried crispy. The traditional preparation is to behead them, gut them and scale them, which yields those great crunchy fins. They can also be filleted for folks who don’t like picking through bones, and the resulting bream nuggets make tasty fish sandwiches or tacos. Throughout the spring and summer, bluegills return to the beds to spawn around each full moon. They spawn in groups, so their fanned-out beds look like honeycombs on the shallow bottom. Shallow flats with a sand or gravel bottom are the preferred areas, and they pile up on these beds for three days or so on either side of the full moon. In all but the most dingy water, you can see the beds on the bottom. Once you find them, the same spots will provide fast action year after year. A cricket under a bobber and a long cane pole is probably the way your grandfather yanked ’gills off the beds. If your young angler is competent with an ultralight spinning combo, a 1/32-oz. crappie jig can also be deadly when reeled steadily across the beds. Fly rodders can wear them out with a small popping bug or small streamer. Redear sunfish, also known as shellcrackers, can be more difficult to locate and catch than bluegills, but it’s worth it once you find them. They are the heavyweights of the bream world and regularly grow up to a pound or two. They fight very hard on light tackle. Shellcrackers spawn in early spring and prefer similar areas to bluegills, only deeper. Their beds can be difficult to find because they are usually too deep to see, and they don’t spawn throughout the summer. When they are on the beds they are very aggressive and will hit small jigs, spinners and flies. When they move off the beds, it’s time to switch to live bait. Shellcrackers feed near the bottom on snails and mollusks. After the spawn, they move off the banks to feed around grass or submerged structure like stumps and treetops. A red-wiggler, either slowly dragged across the bottom with some split-shot or a lightweight dropshot rig are both effective for ’crackers. Once you find one, you can usually find several.

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Red Snapper

The Official Fish of Summer Vacation By CAM Staff

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ed snapper should be the official fish of summer vacation. These hard-fighting and delicious reef fish are the traditional driving force behind the Gulf of Mexico charter fishing industry. The season dates are set to align with the arrival of tourists seeking fun in the sun, and whether you’re pulling your own boat to the Gulf for a week-long fishing expedition or you plan to hire a captain for a day on the water with the kids, here’s a state-by-state look at what you need to know to get in on the action.

Non-stainless steel circle hooks are required when fishing with natural baits. At least one de-hooking device is required and must be used to remove hooks. A descending device or venting tool that is rigged and ready for use is required when fishing for reef fish in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Federal For-Hire Season

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Gulf-wide, most of the recreational catch of Gulf red snapper comes from federal waters, which begin 9 miles offshore for purposes of reef fish management. Charter operations targeting red snapper and other reef fish in federal waters must have a federal for-hire reef fish permit to fish federal waters. The 2022 red snapper season for federally permitted vessels began June 1 and will close on Aug. 19. The bag limit is two fish per person with a 16-inch minimum length limit. Captain and crew may not retain a bag limit. Each state sets its own regulations for private anglers in state and federal waters as well as for charter boats in state waters. FLORIDA: Florida’s season opened June 17 and will run through July 31. Florida has also set aside the following weekends for snapper harvest in fall: Oct. 8-9, Oct. 15-16, Oct. 22-23, Nov. 11-13 and Nov. 25-27. The bag limit is two fish per person, per day with a 16-inch minimum length. The open season includes the These seasons apply to recreational anglers fishing from private vessels Monday of Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. The season in Florida Gulf state and federal waters. For-hire operations that do not have will remain open until recreational landings approach Louisiana’s allocation. a federal reef fish permit may also participate in the season but are limited to Anglers must have a Recreational Offshore Landing Permit (ROLP) to fishing for red snapper in state waters only. All anglers who intend to fish for fish for or possess red snapper and electronically report their catch via the or harvest certain reef fish, including red snapper, from a private vessel are ROLP app or the ROLP website. required to obtain the State Reef Fish Angler designation. MISSISSIPPI: Mississippi’s red snapper season opened for private ALABAMA: The season for private and state-licensed charter vessels recreational anglers and state for-hire vessels on May 27, with a mid-season opened May 27 in Alabama state and federal waters. The season consists of closure date of July 4. The mid-season closure allows for compilation of four-day weekends, Friday through Monday, until the private angler quota landings to examine a potential season extension. is projected to be met. The daily bag limit is two per person, per day with a The season will be open seven days a week in both state and federal waters minimum size limit of 16 inches. and will close if the annual catch target for recreational anglers is reached. One angler per vessel, per trip is required to report through the MDMR Alabama uses Snapper Check to monitor landings during the season and provide weekly updates at outdooralabama.com. Anglers must have an Tails n’ Scales system. The daily bag limit is two fish per person with a 16-inch length limit. Alabama Gulf Reef Fish Endorsement. The owner or operator of each vessel is required to complete one landing TEXAS: The private recreational angler red snapper season in federal report per trip through Snapper Check prior to removing red snapper from waters of Texas opened June 1. Red snapper fishing is open year-round in the boat or the boat from the water. Red snapper caught from non-powered state waters. The bag limit in federal waters is two fish per person daily, with vessels, piers and the shoreline are also required to be reported through a 16-inch minimum size limit. In state waters, the limit is four fish per person Snapper Check. A landing report may be submitted through Snapper Check daily with a 15-inch minimum. Red snapper caught in federal waters count in the Outdoor AL app, which is available at outdooralabama.com. as part of the state bag limit. No more than two red snapper in federal waters LOUISIANA: The season opened May 27 in state and federal waters of and four red snapper in state waters may be in your possession while fishing. Louisiana. It will run weekends only (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) with a For more information, go to gulfcouncil.org. daily bag limit of three per person and a 16-inch minimum size limit. 6 NATIONAL JULYfish 2022 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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ong-casting lures are not limited to one shape or style, and that is a good thing. Distance is sometimes important in reaching fish, and a specific action or type of lure is important in convincing them to bite. Here’s a look at several lure styles and the pros and cons of fishing them. Diamond Jig: The first longdistance lure ever was likely the diamond jig and other elongated metal spoons. Originally designed for handline jigging, it just turned out that this lure’s shape allows it to cut through the air to reach great distances. This one is always worth carrying. It allows you to cover a lot of water and cast in high winds pretty well. This said, the diamond jig being made of metal makes the lure size relatively small compared to its weight. It’s not the best option when fish are looking for larger prey. Topwater: Nothing is more exciting and eye opening than topwater action. When water explodes with snapping mouths as predators gobble prey on top, it gives you an obvious target to cast a lure to. Poppers, pencils, chuggers and walkers all belong to the noble

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or a fast retrieve. In most situations, I prefer topwaters that sink at rest. They draw those exciting topwater strikes, and they regularly achieve 50 percent or longer cast distance than PATRICK SEBILE floating lures. Swimming Plugs: This category includes race of lures that we all love just about anything with swimming action. I to fish because they are fun, group billed minnows, hard swimbaits, darters, especially when you can cast bottleneck swimplugs and others into this to fish that are feeding actively and visibly. category. I do not, however, consider soft-plastic swimbaits such as a paddletail/jigheads to be distancecasting lures. Like topwaters, floating versions of these plugs are common, but they limit the distance you can cast. Longdistance “rocket” or “bullet” models are typically heavier and sink at rest. They have the ability to reach fish far from the boat or shore, and they will also draw strikes right at your feet. A key point about sinking distance-dedicated lures is they cast much better into wind than floating models, and this matters because the bite is often best—especially for large fish—when the wind is in your face and the water is white. Next issue we’ll dig into the Floating topwater lures are traditional, but appendices and lure designs for long distance. they don’t cast the farthest. Some topwaters Legendary angler Patrick Sebile is a world are designed to be fished at the surface, rather than on top of it. These sinking and/or heavily record holder and an award-winning designer loaded lures significantly improve range, and of innovative lures and fishing gear. Check out his creations at abandofanglers.com. they can be worked on top thanks to design

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NATIONAL 9


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39TH NASSAU SPORT FISHING ASSOCIATION KINGFISH TOURNEY IS AUG. 6

ig-time kingfish tournament action returns to Fernandina Beach, Fla. this August with the 39th Annual Nassau Sport Fishing Association Kingfish Tournament and Fishing Rodeo. This Southern Kingfish Association-sanctioned event is slated for Saturday, Aug. 6 with Fernandina Harbor Marina as headquarters. There’s up to $10,000 on the line for first place in the Kingfish Division, and with eight different species in inshore and offshore divisions of the rodeo, there’s a shot at the leaderboard no matter what style of fishing you prefer. There are also Single Engine Boat,HOURS: Lady Angler and Youth Angler Divisions. FISHING For Division, early bird entry is just $350 6:30the AM Kingfish – 5 PM through July2-5 15. WEIGH-IN: WEIGH 5 PMThe entry fee rises to $400 from July 16 through AWARDS:Aug. 7 PM4. The on-site fee is $450. For the Rodeo Division, early bird entry is just $100 through July 15. Then it’s PUBLIC INVITED/FOOD NVITED/FOOD $125 through Aug. 4 and $150 on-site. Anglers may choose to ENTERTAINMENT fish either division or both, so make your plans and get ready for SILENT AUCTION one of the hottest tournaments of the season. Boat numbers will be issued Friday Aug. 5 from 3 to 7 p.m., and then $ at 7 p.m. at Fernandina Harbor ST will be held INGFISH a mandatory IVISIONcaptains meeting LACE (BASED ON 100 PAID BOATS WITH 80% PAYOUTa.m. ) Marina. Fishing begins at 6:30 on Saturday, Aug. 6, with all boats SINGLE ENGINErequired BOATback , LADY NGLER OUTH ANGLER at theAdocks by AND 5 p.m.YThe public is invited to come take part in THROUGH food, live entertainment and Asilent as boats EARLY BIRD ENTRY IS $350 JULY 15 TH . T HEN $400 THROUGH UGUST 4auctions TH , T HEN $450 ON-SITE.and fish return to the docks for the weigh-in. The scales open at 2 p.m. The awards ceremony will begin after weigh-ins. ODEO IVISION PECIES AID Proceeds from the tournament go to benefit the Nassau Sport Fishing (BASED ON 100 PAID BOATS WITH 80% PAYOUT) Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing and ST ND in the Nassau County promoting area while adhering to $ saltwater fishing $ LACE LACE state, federal and local regulations, to encourage compliance with rules of EARLY BIRD ENTRY IS $100 THROUGH JULY 15 . THEN members $125 THROUGHand AUGUST , THEN $150 ON-SITEand . to promote youth water safety byTHclub the4THgeneral public, related community activities. If you or your company are interested in becoming a sponsor for this event, contact NSFA at Info@nsfafish.net. NSFA meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at Kraft Athletic Club on Amelia Island. Anyone interested in joining should visit the website at NSFAFISH.net.

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BAMA BOAT THREE-PEATS AT MGCBC

By Capt. Dave Lear

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wner/angler Nick Pratt, Capt. Chris Hood and the It Just Takes Time team swept the blue marlin divisions by weighing the only qualifier during the 2022 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic. The 763.6-pound blue gave the team an unprecedented third consecutive win. That feat has never been accomplished in the 26-year history of the Classic or in any other Gulf Coast big game tournament. It Just Takes Time, a 72 Viking based in Orange Beach, Ala., took home a payout of $630,985 for the marlin tournament award, crew division and all

marlin optional entry categories. The total prize purse this year’s event was $1.36 million. Quantified, a 64 Spencer with Capt. Justin Drummond at the helm, had an impressive showing, too. Angler Cyler Pape wound in the top dolphin at 37 pounds and the team released three sailfish and three white marlin to score 1,500 points in the release division. With tournament and optional entries, the team earned a payout of $140,060. The top release boat with four blue marlin on its ledger (2,400 points) was Ramble On, a 67 Billy Horton run by Capt. Shannon Allman. With an optional dolphin entry (25.9 pounds), the team won $120,170 for the tournament. Shock Wave, a 69 Spencer with Capt. Shelby Johnson on the throttles, scored three blue marlin in the release division, good for a check totaling $47,025 in optional entries. Sunrise, a 53 Guthrie (Capt. Billy Blount) also had three blue marlin releases, along with the third-place dolphin (Chris King/32.8 pounds), a 102.4-pound tuna and a wahoo optional, good for a $42,065 payout. Angler Drew Phillips outlasted a yellowfin tuna weighing 206.9 pounds after a 45-minute fight. Phillips was fishing aboard Second Wind, a 72 F&S run by Capt. Marlin Brown. The team earned $36,695 for that record catch. Rising Sons’ two optional entry tuna (52.1 and 50.9 pounds) paid out $34,650 for angler Evan Crochet and Capt. Toby Berthelot and the team. Rising Sons is a 58 Viking based in Orange Beach. Capt. Dennis Bennett and the Destin team aboard Salt Shaker (58 Viking) capitalized on two blues and a white marlin release in the Catch and Release Division. That score earned the team $32,760. Owner/angler Timothy O’Brien on Panhandler scored the second-place dolphin at 36.1 pounds. Capt. Nick Millsap was at the helm of the 63 Hatteras. With the tournament award and optional entries, that fish was worth $22,864. Iona Louise was the first boat to weigh on Saturday and the 52.5-pound wahoo they hoisted aloft held on to take first place in the division. Capt. Clip Hopkins runs the 58 Hatteras and Christopher Nolan for the angler. A total of 73 boats and 360 anglers competed in the 2022 MGCBC. The fleet caught 56 blue marlin, eight white marlin and three sailfish. In the game fish categories, 29 yellowfin tuna were weighed, along with eight dolphin and five wahoo. For complete results, see mgcbc.com.

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Pharmaceuticals Discovered in South Florida Bonefish

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three-year study by Florida International University (FIU) and Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) has discovered pharmaceutical contaminants in the blood and other tissues of bonefish in Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys. “Coastal fisheries face increasing threats associated with human-based contaminants,” said Jim McDuffie, BTT President and CEO. “Pharmaceuticals are an often overlooked dimension of water quality and their presence in South Florida bonefish is cause for concern. These contaminants pose a significant threat to the flats fishery, an important part of Florida’s recreational saltwater fishery, which has an annual economic impact of $9.2 billion and directly support over 88,500 jobs.” Since the study began in 2018, FIU scientists and BTT research associates, in partnership with Sweden’s Umeå Unversity and the University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), have sampled 93 fish in South Florida, finding an average of seven pharmaceuticals per bonefish, and a whopping 17 pharmaceuticals in a single fish. The list includes blood pressure medications, antidepressants, prostate treatment medications, antibiotics, and pain relievers. Researchers also found pharmaceuticals in bonefish prey—crabs, shrimp and fish—suggesting that many of Florida’s valuable

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fisheries are exposed, and not only the bonefish fishery. Lead researcher Jennifer Rehage, a coastal and fish ecologist and associate professor at the FIU Institute of Environment, presented the study’s findings at a BTT panel event in Tallahassee. “These findings are truly alarming,” Rehage said. “Pharmaceuticals are an invisible threat, unlike algal blooms or turbid waters. Yet these results tell us that they are a formidable threat to our fisheries, and highlight the pressing need to address our longstanding wastewater infrastructure issues.” Approximately 5 billion prescriptions are filled each year in the U.S., yet there are no environmental regulations for the disposal of pharmaceuticals worldwide. Pharmaceutical contaminants originate most often from human wastewater and are not sufficiently removed by conventional water treatment. They remain active at low doses, can be released constantly, and exposure can affect all aspects of fish behavior, with negative consequences for their reproduction and survival. Pharmaceutical contaminants have been shown to affect all aspects of the life of fish, including their feeding, activity, sociability and migratory behavior. “These troubling findings underscore the urgent need for Florida to expand and modernize wastewater treatment facilities and

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By Capt. Quinlyn Haddon

T

n e m er

T A H W

sh i F

he fishing industry offers some of the most grueling, labor-intensive and lengthy days of any profession. The pay isn’t always exceptional, and it takes a major toll on the body. So why would anyone choose this career? Why do so many who are in it seem so happy? What are these fishermen made of? As a female, who fell in love with fishing at age 25 with absolutely zero prior experience, I had a difficult time cracking into the industry. The time between being introduced to the sport and having it consume me was very short. I knew with every fiber of my being that fishing professionally is what I wanted to do with my life. I quickly found out what fishermen are made of, and what truly makes them good at what they do. Fishing will always be about a healthy combination of skill and luck, but without heart the aforementioned come with an expiration date. If you are someone with that unique passion for fishing and a curiosity about getting into the industry, here are some very basic tips. First, you must start at the bottom and pay your dues. It doesn’t matter how long you have owned a boat or held a captain’s license, spending time working as a deckhand is highly advised. Second, nobody is going to hire you over the

F O E D A M E R A

phone. Just show up, which is actually the third, fourth and fifth pieces of advice I can offer. The biggest downfall with deckhands is they don’t show up, or they don’t cover the extent of their chores. Just being at the dock to talk to captains about potential work speaks to the type of character they are looking for. Show up at the dock to look for work when boats are coming in from charters. Perhaps their deckhand didn’t show up that day, and they’d be happy to put you to work cleaning fish or the boat. If you get a foot in the door this way, be prepared to say yes if the captain asks you to be at the dock the next morning for a charter. Better yet, show up at the dock before boats head out on charters. When the deckhand, who only thought he had the heart for the job, is a noshow, you’ll be on deck. If you don’t get lucky the first time, keep showing up. Captains will notice. Once you’ve landed a job on a boat, forget everything you know and learn exactly what your captain expects of you. Even if you disagree, or know a better way, you’re wrong. Learn everything you can about the boat and the fishery, and never ever stop learning. Be a robotic, superhuman machine, with your head on a swivel, absorbing every piece of data you can. Be prepared to stay late, making sure everything is done properly and thoroughly, and that everything is prepared for the following day. If you’re on time, you’re late. Find out what time your

captain likes to arrive, and get there before then. Entertaining customers is also extremely important, especially when fishing is slow and your captain is grouchy. Never make your captain look bad in front of clients, even when they rip you a new one for something that might or might not have even been your fault. Accepting all blame publicly is, in fact, part of your job description. Eat the humble pie, and keep the energy positive for the clients. Deckhanding might feel like slavery a lot of the time, but mates also have a lot of control over the atmosphere on deck. Remember your customers’ names, be personable and start collecting jokes and one-liners. When fishing is slow, a good deckhand makes or breaks the experience of a charter. Heart is what makes a good fisherman a great fisherman. It’s what makes this career more than just a job. It’s what makes the crew more excited about catching fish, and more upset about losing one, than the customers. It’s heart that keeps us learning and trying new things every day. If that is something that speaks to you, you probably aren’t happy at your desk job. If you belong on the water, don’t put it off any longer. Somewhere, a deckhand didn’t show up for work this morning. Capt. Quinlyn Haddon fishes for Blue Magic Charters out of Marathon in the Florida Keys. Contact her at (504) 920-6342 or through social @CaptainQuinlyn.


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17 Divisions with Inshore & Offshore Species

Beca�se every �sh co�ld be a winner!

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CCA Florida STAR:

State’s Largest Family Friendly Fishing Competition Kicks Off T he 2022 West Marine CCA Florida STAR Tournament presented by Yamaha began with a bang, as three tagged redfish were caught in the first three days of the competition. Tagged Redfish is STAR’s signature division, and since the three fish were caught and released in Wakulla, Brevard and Charlotte counties by anglers ineligible for the competition, there remains plenty of opportunity for registered STAR participants to win new boats, motors, scholarships and more valued at more than $500,000. “The STAR kickoff could not have been more exciting with having three tagged redfish caught along Florida’s coasts,” CCA Florida STAR Director Leiza Fitzgerald said. “But, since these anglers did not comply with rules, they missed their opportunity to win a new Contender, Pathfinder or Spyder boat; however, it means these boats along with other amazing prizes are still up for grabs.” STAR, a 101-day, family friendly fishing competition, invites anglers and non-anglers alike to participate, and registrants who catch

a tagged redfish and follow the rules will win a Contender Boats 22 Sport, Pathfinder Boats 2200 TRS or Spyder Boats FX19 Vapor all powered by Yamaha Outboards. The first two youth anglers who win this division will each be awarded a tiller boat powered with Yamaha Outboard, Minn Kota trolling motor, Humminbird electronics and sitting on a trailer. The best opportunity to catch this year’s tagged redfish will be in Brevard, Citrus and Charlotte Counties, STAR’s 2022 Destination Counties, which each have eight tagged redfish in their coastal waters. There will be on average four STAR tagged redfish in every other coastal county of Florida for a total of nearly 170 released tagged fish. There is one specially tagged fish worth $50,000, sponsored by Alta Equipment Company. In addition to the Tagged Redfish Division, there are 16 other divisions targeting 12 inshore and offshore species, plus the trash cleanup. For offshore anglers, the Tigress Outriggers and Gear Tagged Dolphin Division offers the first STAR registrant and CCA Florida member who lands one of the tagged dolphin $10,000 in cash or

scholarship. The dolphin have been tagged and released in the coastal waters of Florida for STAR by the Dolphin Research program implemented by the Beyond Our Shores foundation. Other divisions include ladies, kayak, conservation, guides and many more. Since most division winners are determined by a random drawing, it is not about catching the biggest fish, any size fish can win prizes. The family-friendly competition runs through Labor Day with registration being open throughout the competition. STAR registration is $40 and participants must be a CCA Florida member to be eligible for prizes. For youth participants (ages 6 to 17), STAR registration is free with CCA Tide membership for $10. To sign up for STAR 2022 or receive additional information on divisions, prizes and more, visit ccaflstar.com or Facebook.

This map shows the number of tagged redfish released in all of Florida’s coastal counties.


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COASTAL ANGLER North Central Florida/Nature Coast

JULY 2022 EDITION

Find Your Outdoors Here!

Cary & Lynn Crutchfield

North Central Florida Nature Coast Staff

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

Cary Crutchfield

H

JULY

appy 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 figured all of that had been settled many years ago. God Bless America. I am so glad that the United States and Florida is where I landed! See page 2 for this month’s recipe Spinach Salad with Shrimp and Warm Bacon Dressing. What is not to love? It is fast and easy and it won’t heat up your kitchen. 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. In the HOMOSASSA forecast, page 12, Capt. Jonathan Hamilton, “Stump” asks that you be “patient and kind” while you are on the water, especially scalloping. In addition to what Stump says about patience, I want to add 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. 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. Stay smart and stay alive! Thank you, John Freeze for the beautiful scenic photos on this page.

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

SALES

EDITING & PRODUCTION Lynn Crutchfield

DISTRIBUTION Rosa Crisman

GRAPHIC ARTS & DESIGN Kathleen Stemley

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Dr. Kevin McCarthy Capt. Jason Clark Capt. Tommy Derringer Capt. Katie Jo Davis Capt. Andrew Fagan Capt. Jonathan Hamilton Capt. Tony Johns Capt. James Kerr Capt. Pat McGriff Capt. Brent Woodard Noel Kuhn

CONTACT INFORMATION

crutch@coastalanglermagazine.com 352-542-0356

INSIDE THIS ISSUE Tide Charts Local Fishing Forecasts Monthly Recipe

Photo by: Suwannee River Water Management District


SPINACH SALAD WITH SHRIMP AND WARM BACON DRESSING (SERVES 2)

F

Sw

M

centu Florid

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 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.

DIRECTIONS

TIDES • North Central Florida Time Height

1F

2Sa

3Su

4M 5Tu

6W

7Th

8F

4:53 AM 9:54 AM 3:23 PM 10:44 PM 5:25 AM 10:34 AM 4:04 PM 11:18 PM 5:56 AM 11:17 AM 4:50 PM 11:54 PM 6:27 AM 12:03 PM 5:41 PM 12:32 AM 7:00 AM 12:54 PM 6:38 PM 1:14 AM 7:37 AM 1:53 PM 7:44 PM 2:01 AM 8:19 AM 3:01 PM 9:05 PM 2:56 AM 9:07 AM 4:12 PM 10:32 PM

3.2 1.9 4.0 0.1 3.2 1.8 3.9 0.1 3.3 1.7 3.8 0.3 3.3 1.6 3.7 0.4 3.4 1.5 3.5 0.7 3.5 1.3 3.3 1.0 3.7 1.0 3.1 1.3 3.8 0.7 3.0

HERNANDO BEACH

JULY 2022

9Sa

Time Height

3:57 AM 9:59 AM 5:18 PM 11:53 PM 10Su 4:57 AM 10:50 AM 6:21 PM 11M 1:07 AM 5:57 AM 11:42 AM 7:21 PM 12Tu 2:11 AM 6:57 AM 12:36 PM 8:16 PM 13W 3:06 AM 7:53 AM 1:30 PM 9:08 PM 14Th 3:55 AM 8:47 AM 2:25 PM 9:57 PM 15F 4:40 AM 9:38 AM 3:20 PM 10:43 PM 16Sa 5:20 AM 10:30 AM 4:16 PM 11:27 PM

1.6 4.0 0.3 3.1 1.8 4.2 -0.2 3.2 2.0 4.4 -0.5 3.3 2.1 4.6 -0.7 3.4 2.1 4.6 -0.7 3.4 1.9 4.7 -0.6 3.4 1.8 4.6 -0.4 3.4 1.6 4.4 -0.1

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

17Su 5:56 AM 11:24 AM 5:14 PM 18M 12:08 AM 6:29 AM 12:18 PM 6:13 PM 19Tu 12:46 AM 7:02 AM 1:15 PM 7:14 PM 20W 1:24 AM 7:37 AM 2:17 PM 8:23 PM 21Th 2:04 AM 8:18 AM 3:27 PM 9:45 PM 22F 2:52 AM 9:06 AM 4:37 PM 11:08 PM 23Sa 3:49 AM 9:58 AM 5:41 PM 24Su 12:22 AM 4:50 AM 10:51 AM 6:38 PM

3.4 1.4 4.1 0.4 3.5 1.2 3.7 0.8 3.6 1.1 3.4 1.2 3.7 1.0 3.0 1.5 3.7 0.9 2.8 1.8 3.8 0.7 2.8 2.1 3.9 0.5 2.8 2.2 3.9 0.3

Time Height

25M 1:22 AM 5:49 AM 11:42 AM 7:26 PM 26Tu 2:09 AM 6:45 AM 12:30 PM 8:08 PM 27W 2:48 AM 7:36 AM 1:16 PM 8:45 PM 28Th 3:22 AM 8:20 AM 1:58 PM 9:19 PM 29F 3:53 AM 9:01 AM 2:39 PM 9:51 PM 30Sa 4:22 AM 9:40 AM 3:19 PM 10:23 PM 31Su 4:48 AM 10:19 AM 4:00 PM 10:54 PM

3.0 2.2 4.0 0.2 3.1 2.2 4.0 0.1 3.2 2.1 4.0 0.1 3.3 2.0 4.1 0.1 3.3 1.9 4.1 0.2 3.3 1.7 4.1 0.2 3.4 1.6 4.0 0.3

HOMOSASSA RIVER ENT

HORSESHOE BEACH

SUWANNEE ENT

STEINHATCHEE RIVER ENT

High Tide 4 hr, 30 min Low Tide 5 hr, 41 min High Tide 6 min Low Tide 18 min

2 NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST

High Tide 12 min Low Tide 20 min

High Tide 2 min Low Tide 0 min

JULY 2022

INGREDIENTS

• One bag fresh Spinach Remove stems from spinach. • 14 to 16 large jumbo Wash, drain and pat dry. Place in Shrimp (shelled and large bowl and set aside. deveined) COOKING DIRECTIONS Place eggs in small pot. Cover • 2 large Eggs with water, bring to a boil and cover. • 4 strips Bacon Remove from heat and set aside for • 3 tablespoons Red Wine 15 minutes. Pour off hot water and Vinegar chill as quickly as possible with cold • 2 teaspoons Sugar (I use water and ice. Peal and set aside. Turbinado Cane Sugar.) Fry bacon in large skillet till crisp. • ½ teaspoon Dijon Mustard Remove to a paper towel to drain. • Salt and Pepper Crumble bacon and set aside. • 2 large White Mushrooms Transfer 3 tablespoons rendered sliced fat to a small saucepan and set over • 4 Scallions chopped low heat. Add the white parts of the • Handful of chopped scallions and cook until soft. Whisk Parsley in the red wine vinegar, sugar, Dijon • 2 to 4 Campari Tomatoes mustard and parsley. Set aside. 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.) Lynn Crutchfield, Co-Publisher Coastal Angler Magazine of North Central Florida

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

By

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FLORIDA WATERWAYS Sweetwater Wetlands Park

M

any scientists have warned us that water will be one of the most pressing needs in the 21st century throughout the world, including Florida. With some 850 new residents moving to this state every day, the immense pressure of maintaining clean drinking water and the beauty of our North Florida springs is By Kevin McCarthy constant. One way that hydrologists are helping to keep our waterways clean, is by using conservation methods and ways to filter out pollution and nutrients, from our lakes and streams. A relatively recent addition to these efforts is the establishment of Sweetwater Wetlands Park, a man-made wetland habitat of over 125 acres near Paynes Prairie in Alachua County. The effort to restore a natural water flow to more than 1,300 acres of what had been drained wetlands in Paynes Prairie is working, as evidenced by the huge variety of waterfowl and gators to the park. Visitors are encouraged to explore the park, but not with their dogs (since gators have been known to eat our furry friends), by walking on several miles of trails, reading the instructive signs at the beginning of the park, and taking photos of the more than 250 species of birds there. One can learn about the many efforts at the beginning of the 20th century, to drain Paynes Prairie, in order to provide more grazing land for cattle. One such remnant

A swamp marsh rabbit in the park

of those efforts can still be seen in Camp Canal to the east of Micanopy. Scientists are in the early stages of planning a second wetlands park in Alachua County. Such efforts will no doubt improve the water quality in the Alachua Sink and the Floridan Aquifer. One can only hope that other sections of the state will follow suit and build their own wetlands parks. You can learn more about the park, including directions how to get there and a history of water conservation in the county, by checking out its website: https://www. sweetwaterwetlands. org/ You will learn how scientists created the Paynes Prairie Sheetflow Restoration Project in 2009, greatly helped by Gainesville Regional Utilities and the City of Gainesville Department of Public Works, which finished the first phases of the park in 2015. A video on the website is particularly well done. When I was there, I saw some wood storks, scouring the muddy bottom of a lake for worms and other food, completely oblivious to us visitors. A dozen or so people were walking on the 3.5-mile-long pathway made up of crushed gravel and boardwalks. We learned that the local park

A wood stork in Florida

A small gator in the wetlands park

A boardwalk in the park

Some of the many birds in the waterways

ranger leads nature walks from time to time. The number of birds and butterflies was astounding. Kevin McCarthy, the author of North Florida Waterways (2013 - available at amazon.com), can be reached at ceyhankevin@gmail.com.

A juvenile common gallinule in the park

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

JULY 2022

NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST 3


KATIE JO’S NATURE COAST ADVENTURES

S

ummertime fishing is some of my favorite fishing! The kids are out of school, and lots of people are headed to the Nature Coast for vacation, which means, I have the opportunity to take families with kids on fishing trips! And what better time of the year than when I catch an average of 12 different species each trip. I especially enjoy seeing my client's kids from the previous year, and how much the kids have grown! Some great fish to target this time of the year to keep the kids entertained, are trout, redfish,

flounder, mangrove snapper and huge black drum. The warmer waters may even produce a permit, or even a tarpon on the end of the line. Another enjoyable experience in July is scalloping! The Crystal River area had the best year of scallops last year within the last 3 years, and I am certainly hoping for another just like it. Tight lines and great times! Captain Katie Jo Davis www.fishcrystalriverflorida.com 772-882-8932 KD OUTDOORS FISHING CHARTERS

4 NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST

JULY 2022

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM


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JULY 2022

NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST 5


CEDAR KEY

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ey everyone. It's that time of year were the stars align, and the redfish show up in full force. Let me tell you; they have not disappointed. They are everywhere, and I mean everywhere! We've been keeping it simple with set-ups as far as redfishing goes. A popping cork, a 1/8 jig, and a live shrimp. A lot of fishing has been pretty shallow, so I don't use any more than a 2-foot leader for those set-ups. As far as location goes, if you like fishing the keys, you won’t be disappointed. Use a spoon from time to time and you may even find those Cedar Key snook. If the keys aren't your thing, then you are also in luck, because the mouths of several creeks are holding some great reds as well. Get on out here, and get in on the action! Until next month, stay safe out there. Capt. Jason Clark In The Slot Fishing Charters 352-639-3209 www.intheslotfishing.com

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6 NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST

JULY 2022

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SUWANNEE

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Curtis McLeod from Gainesville, Florida, landed this beautiful 26.75 inch Bronze Bruiser, while fishing the Lower Suwannee River Estuary. This fish loved the pink FishBites E-Z Crab!

t's the middle of the year, even though the spring and early summer days were cooler than normal, the summertime HEAT is here now! Good news is that scallop season opens June 15th, from the Suwannee River, North to the Fenholloway River. If you are looking to scallop out of the Lower Suwannee River, you will have to run North "until you find clear water". If it's a good year, when you pass the Horseshoe Beach channel, the water will be clear; if not keep going North, towards Pepperfish Key As anglers, the midday heat can be really tough in July and August! This heat also affects the fish, and just like you, they look for relief. The most common form of relief for the fish is deeper water. As the water depth increases, the temperature decreases. If you have ever dove down, even a few feet, you have felt this change. So in the summer, the edges of the grass flats and oyster bars, that have deep water adjacent to them, are great places to fish, especially if you are there with a low tide during the middle of the day! This time of the year, I love to fish on a good high tide, about an hour after sunrise, or right at sunrise. This is the time of the day when the water temps are the coolest and the fish are the most active! (Well, most of the time!) Throw in a light breeze for a little ripple on the water, and you have perfect conditions for top water fishing! Let's face it, who doesn't love a topwater bite and/or blow-up! I like to throw several size plugs, and each has a different sounding rattle. I really like the MirrOlure, Top Dog and Top Pup for the lower frequency sound and MirrOlure, She Dog and She Pup as my high frequency baits. I also use the Rapala, Skitter Series topwater plugs. When fishing in the evenings, once again I prefer to fish a high tide, but

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this time, about an hour before sunset. I use the same baits and techniques as fishing in the morning. For the more experienced anglers, the bite after the sun goes down can be awesome, especially when all the conditions align! July is also the month when the sharks are here around the Lower Suwannee River Estuary. While many of the sharks are 2 to 4 feet, there are the 8 to 10 foot plus ones, swimming around out there! While sharks are not a common target species, they are a very fun fish to catch! Look for some pictures in the next couple of months, as I will be catching sharks this summer. While most will be "catch n release" the blacktip and bonnethead are very tasty when handled properly, from the hook to the plate! Until next time be safe and Catchemup! Captain Tony Johns | 352-221-2510 www.lowersuwanneriverfishing.com Instagram: captaintonyjohns Facebook: Lower Suwannee River Fishing Adventures or Captain Tony Johns

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Tyler with a 38-inch redfish on an artificial.

appy July everyone! I’m afraid that we have a hot one in store for us, and I’m here to help ensure the fishing is somewhat hot for you as well. The air and the water temperatures play a key role in a fish’s feeding and activities throughout the course of a day. Also, factor in the moon phases and tides, and the month of July is a true struggle for most people. While most people tend to stay home and beat the heat, or head waaay offshore in search of those few offshore fish you are allowed to keep, I still prefer the inshore fishing. Our inshore fishing here in Yankeetown is really good this time of year, if you’re willing to pattern the fish, and go often enough to follow their migrations throughout the heat of these months. We are very blessed here to have thousands of nearshore rocks, available for us to access for gag grouper and cobia, and other fun species. This time of year, never leave the sight of land or spend a thousand bucks at the gas station either! If you’ll notice, early mornings are always the coolest water temperatures. I like to focus on those gag grouper right at daybreak into about 9 to 10 am. As the water temperature rises, these fish will become lethargic, just like we do in the heat. Big live baits such as pinfish, pigfish or croakers, always have a high success rate for me. If you just want to fish for them all day, switch up to frozen bait later in the day, because they have lost their willingness to chase a big live bait. As always, let the fish dictate your decision and let the response you receive from them make your plans. Don’t force it! We still have a few cobia hanging around, so keep that in mind when searching for grouper. It’s not always a shark who followed your bait, or jumped out of the water after eating your bait. Keep a big net handy, as the size will be 36 inches at the fork, and that’s a tough fish to get your eyes

Bill, Andy and Austin with some big grouper caught in 15 feet of water.

John with a big over-slot snook on a Captain’s Cove mudminnow!

adjusted to seeing, and making that decision to gaff it or net it. I choose the net every time! Inshore, the redfish will be cruising the oyster bars and grass points on the outside and beginning to school up. A big hunk of cut mullet or lady fish soaked on these bars, always produce well this time of year. The bigger trout will remain in the deeper, 8 to 15 feet of water, and won’t move in until September or November in numbers, so a heavy jig and a little John or a tail hooked pinfish or shrimp will do the trick on those guys. Tight lines everyone, and good luck out there!

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KEATON BEACH

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Friday’s catch for the Jackson clan

rout fishing has been great of late, with charters June 3rd and 4th with a combined catch of 32 trout, and threw back 15 trout over 19 inches, for the two days. This group was the Jackson group from Opp, Alabama. We caught reds the next week for the Cook Party from Woodstock, Ga. with seven caught three, kept on one day then 14 caught and four kept the next. We are catching all our fish on live pinfish under Back Bay Thunders in 3.5 to 5.5 ft. of water. The W-I-N-D (or the lack thereof) is the determining factor for success

and how deep our catch is coming from. These trends are unlikely to change, as we have had water temps up to 88.5 over the last two weeks (Today is June 14th.) We caught a limit of ten trout today, in under two hours. Reds are eating live pinfish and today ate live shrimp under the Back Bays. Meanwhile, Let's Go Fishing! Pat McGriff dba One More Cast guide service for 30 years! www.onemorecast.net onemorecast@gtcom.net cell: 850.838.7541

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His brother, Will Jackson with a trout caught the hard way--in the tail.

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NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST 11


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ummer is here! That means 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 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 gettting better each month. Trout will be offshore in 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, I like to hit the outside points for redfish. Gold spoons work well, but free lined pin fish will keep the rods bent. Look for jumping mullet on the outside points

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ello Everybody. I hope everybody had good days in June. We definitely did, and had some great fish catches on our end. Trout have been working deeper and deeper by the day. If you get out there first thing early in the morning or last thing late in the afternoon, you can find them held up on the shallow spots, but for the most part, you’re going to continue to find them in deeper cuts, edges of sand bar, and edges of channels. Just make your popping cork leader a little longer than what you usually do, or just get rid of it and run a straight jig head. Redfish can also be found a little deeper than usual. They are definitely starting to stick to everything on the outside of where you usually find them. Bait shops are starting to lose their live shrimp. I suggest using cut mullet, cut lady fish or mud minnows, to get us through until August when the shrimp come back in We are also seeing several scallops, but they are very small. If you’re anything like me, I would rather pick through to find the good ones or simply just wait several weeks, and they will get big fairly quick. This is why I always think scalloping season is way too long. I can think back of when I was a kid, and scallop season was pretty short, but we always got our fill and size was never a thing. Hope everybody has a good start to the summer and a good July 4th. God bless America and until next time, keep it reel native.

during the last two hours of the incoming tide. If you are looking 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. Also, scallop season brings a lot of boat traffic to our water ways. Be patient and be kind. If we could all slow down and be patient, we could prevent a lot of unnecessary accidents. We are all on the water to have a good time and enjoy this special fishery. I hate to see when there is a incident on the water, that involved someone just being in hurry… July 4th- 4th of July Celebration in Crystal River July 13th- Full Moon July 28th - New Moon Be safe and tight lines! Capt. Jonathan Hamilton 352-403-2073 www.captainjhamilton.com

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12 NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST

JULY 2022

orest Fishers, how is the summer heat been treating you? More importantly, how has it affected your fishing excursions? I hope it hasn't deterred you from getting on the water. I'll share some tips to beat the heat, and as good as the bite's been lately, I'd suggest writing these down. There's no reason to suffer or get burned. If you know the tricks, summertime fishing can be some of the best all year. First off, one of the great things about summer, is the benefit of night fishing! Over the last few years, casting for bass under the stars, has risen to the top of my "favorites" list, largely because, my four biggest bass were all caught in the dark. Each fish weighed well over ten pounds, and were all caught using the same lure! Potential "Trophy Catches" aside, fishing at night is a peaceful and refreshing change. It's like a whole new world to explore, and it's also the best time to target other prized species, such as catfish, and even crappy. (Yep, nighttime summer crappy!) For those of you who don't have the opportunity to fish after sunset, here are some basic tips to fight that daytime heat. Shade is your best friend during the summer, and luckily we have lakes everywhere with extremely tall tree-lines, which are close to the water’s edge. Use Google Maps, on Satellite mode, when you're looking for new shady water; you can fish no matter what time of day it is. There is also a ton of great fishing lakes that get no shade at all. For those areas, you'll want to keep an eye on the weather

forecast. Overcast days are like gold during the summer. Those are the days you can fish anywhere, all day long. You also have the option to bounce from one area to the next, until you find the "honey hole". Lastly, no matter how hot it gets, or how tough the bite is, you can always count on sunrise and sunset for a quick one hour session, filled with nonstop action. I mentioned the success I've had recently with nighttime bass fishing, and we all know anglers can be secretive, especially when it comes to secret spots, secret lures, and techniques, etc. However, in the spirit of "fellowship amongst anglers", I'll let you in on my "secret discovery". The key to my success was a simple, soft-plastic lure known as a "Senko" (Stickbait), in "Junebug" color. However, the method I used, and still use today, is not so simple. Target only the best looking areas, let the lure sink to the bottom, and (this is the hard part) do absolutely nothing—for a very long time! Being patient, and keeping that lure in it's spot, is key! Give it a shot; and I'll go into detail more next month. Now you know how awesome summertime fishing is, and also how easy it is to beat the heat. Get on out there! The fish are thick, the lakes are healthy, and all that's missing is you! As always, call/text/e-mail with any questions, or to book a stress-free adventure. Tight lines 'till next month ya'll. John Freeze Kayak Fishing and Nature Tours OurNationalForrest@gmail.com 352-216-5798

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uring the dog days of Summer, my best success has always been at daybreak. Literally, as soon as you can see to put bait on the hook, it is go-time. I suggest getting to the beach about 5:30 AM, so that you have time to get on the sand and get everything set up. That way you will have time to take advantage of the bite by 6:00 AM. The bite usually wanes by nine or ten. As a bonus, you are off the beach to miss the blazing midday sun. With the water temperature now in the mid 80s, most of the pompano are now in North Carolina. However, there will still be a few caught throughout the Summer. You will still need to soak some live sand fleas in the surf for the big summertime surprise, PERMIT! That is right. Every Summer, a few fortunate surf anglers will score a nice permit in the ten-to-thirtypound range. You do not need to change your pompano, but you do need to keep a loose drag while in the sand spike. When these big bruisers hit, you may think you have hooked a big or Jack Crevalle, but just be patient, and keep the drag loose. Just like my friend Tony Younan, who landed this 26 lb. 33-inch stud at Little Talbot Island. He was using a clam on a 1/0 circle hook. He was hoping for a couple of pompano for dinner. He got one heck of a fight. He could not drag him over the shallow sand bar, so had to wade out and grab this beast. Great job Tony! For an equally elusive Summertime challenge, try targeting SNOOK! The surf is filled with three of their favorite meals. They are very small whiting, spots and croakers. I start my challenge by using a pompano rig tied with tiny #4 circle hooks, tipped with a very small piece of shrimp. After

catching a couple of baits, I toss them back out, just past the first drop off in the trough. I use 40 lb. mono leader and a 3/0 circle hook fish finder rig, anchored by just enough lead to hold it in place. Once again loosen the drag while your rig is in the sand spike. The first run is amazing! Meanwhile at the Flagler Beach pier, the manager Buzz, reports some good action. Whiting, bluefish, pompano, and black drum round out most of the action. Last month, a good number of kings came over the rail, and one tarpon was landed on the beach. This month should be even better for screaming drags! I cannot wait to announce the reopening of the Jacksonville Beach pier! Soon, I hope! Noel Kuhn 43 years of surf fishing experience, surf fishing guide and long distance casting coach. Founding member of Florida Surf Casters club. 904-945-0660 www.TheSurfAngler.com

t’s time to beach it! The pogies (menhaden) are along the beaches, getting hammered by all kinds of big fish right now. Tarpon, kingfish, huge jacks, and sharks are a few of the lunker sized fish waiting for you out there! A great all-around rig to catch just about all those fish is to peg a live pogy on a medium to large circle hook, and cast just around the edges of the pods. You may or may not want to weight the bait down a bit, depending on current and wind conditions. 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 sun gets higher in the sky. This is also tarpon season here in NE Florida. The tarpon will be feeding along the beach early and late on the pogies, and will also be hanging out behind the shrimp boats. When the shrimpers dump their bycatch, it can be an all-out feeding frenzy of all kinds of fish with tarpon being the prize. Just drift along with the bycatch and wait until you see what you want to catch. I’ll rig a bait, live or dead, on a 7/0 circle hook tied to 60 lb. fluorocarbon leader, and just toss that in front of the tarpon, as they eat down the line of floating bycatch. There were some monstersized tarpon hanging around last month, and I would expect more for July. Inshore, the best bite will be early (from about 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.). Things tend to get a little too hot during the day and the fish will sit lower in the water column. 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 Skitterwalk or Top-Dog. Once the sun gets up a bit, you’ll want to change to

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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. A live mud minnow or shrimp on a jighead will also work well when fishing deeper. The water will be at its murkiest over the next couple of months, and there are a few ways to get a fish’s attention, even on the “dirtiest” of days. A couple old faithful rigs are the popping cork and the gold spoon. I like to rig a popping cork with about one foot of leader under it, with a scented soft plastic or live bait. This is many NE Florida anglers’ go-to rig for high tide summer fishing for redfish, trout, and flounder. The popping noise will attract fish from a good distance. The gold spoon is also great this time of year, as it puts off a lot of vibration that allows fish to find it even in the murkiest of waters. Somewhat of a more recent phenomenon, is the spinner bait in saltwater. It has all the thump (and then some) of the spoon, but allows you to rig a scented soft plastic on it for double dose of fish catching, genius… Tight Lines, Capt. Tommy Derringer www.InshoreAdventures.net 904-377-3734

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Don Hawley Invitational Produces

119 TARPON RELEASES

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he 48th Annual Don Hawley Invitational Fly Fishing Tarpon Tournament, one of the “Big Three” tarpon fly tournaments, pulled in a total of 119 releases for the week. Angler L. Mark Weeks, of Tokyo, Japan and Nampa, Idaho, and his guide, Capt. Andy Thompson, won the Grand Championship with 18 releases. Aside from two afternoons of dodging storms, the tournament lucked out and had a great week after some major tropical winds threatened the area days beforehand. The best fishing took place on the first and last days of tournament, which saw 36 and 30 fish, respectively. Afternoon lightning lowered the releases to 14 on Day 2, then 18 fish on Day 3, and 21 releases on Day 4. Ocean tarpon fishing proved more difficult than backcountry during the week. Locating fish is one of the biggest talents that guides bring to the team. The Don Hawley attracts some of the best fly anglers from around the world. It was the first tarpon tournament to stop the killing of tarpon in 1987. Anglers receive 1,000 points for each fish measuring 4 feet or longer caught and released on 12-lb. tippet, in accordance with International Game Fish Association rules. The Grand Champion title is awarded to the angler and guide with the most fish caught and released during the fiveday competition. In addition to other awards, Grand Champion names are added to the Perpetual Trophy, which showcases all past champion anglers and guides. The trophy resides at Florida Keys Outfitters in Islamorada, Fla. This year was the second time Weeks and Thompson had their names added to the trophy. “Five days feels like a lifetime in these tournaments, particularly when you’re getting chased off the water by thunderstorms and are neck-and-neck with several of the best teams to the bitter end,” said Weeks. “Lucky for us, Andy knows how to find fish and is a wonderful coach when it comes to catching them.” Coming in second place was angler Evan Carruthers, of Maple Plain, Minn., and his guide, Capt. Greg Dini with 16 releases. Third place was won by Angler Rich Garcia, of Islamorada, and his guide, Luis Cortes with 15 releases. Scott Christian and his guide, Chad Huff, earned the High Point Day award with a whopping eight releases on the first day. The Annual Don Hawley Invitational Tarpon Fly Fishing Tournament began in 1974. Proceeds benefit the Guides Trust Foundation, which assists Florida Keys Guides in times of hardship and provides scholarships to Florida Keys students interested in the marine sciences. Next year’s tournament will take place June 5-9. For more information, visit www.guidestrustfoundation.org.

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JULY 2022

FLORIDA 17


Bay Scallop Season Is Here! Y (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 15-24. This region includes all state waters south of the Hernando – Pasco county line and north of the Anclote Key SEASONS St. Joseph Bay and Gulf County: Aug. 16- Lighthouse in northern Pinellas County, and Sept. 24. This region includes all state waters from includes all waters of the Anclote River. BAG LIMITS the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County to the Daily vessel limits do not allow individuals to westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County. The area marked with FWC buoys south of retain more than the per-person limit. There is no Black’s Island is a Bay Scallop Restoration Area and size limit on bay scallops. Fenholloway through Suwannee River Zone: no scalloping or anchoring are allowed. • June 15-30: Daily bag limit per person is 1 Franklin County through NW Taylor County (including Carrabelle, Lanark, St. Marks): July gallon in-shell or 1 cup shucked. Daily vessel limit 1-Sept. 24. This region includes all state waters is 5 gallons in-shell or 2 pints shucked. • July 1-Labor Day: Daily bag limit per person from the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County to Rock Island near the mouth of is 2 gallons in-shell or 1 pint shucked. Daily vessel limit is 10 gallons in-shell or ½ gallon shucked. the Fenholloway River in Taylor County. All Other Zones: Fenholloway through Suwannee Rivers Daily bag limit per person is 2 gallons in-shell Zone (including Keaton Beach, Steinhatchee): June 15-Labor Day. This region includes all state or 1 pint shucked. Daily vessel limit is 10 gallons waters east of Rock Island near the mouth of the in-shell or ½ gallon shucked. Fenholloway River in Taylor County and north of OTHER INFO Alligator Pass day beacon #4 near the mouth of • Legal methods of harvest include by hand or the Suwannee River in Levy County. This area has with a landing or dip net. Recreational harvesters a lowered bag limit June 15-30. See bag limits for are required to have a Florida saltwater fishing more. license unless they are 1) exempt from needing a Levy, Citrus, Hernando Counties Zone license or 2) have a no-cost shoreline fishing license ou’d be hard pressed to find better Florida family fun than kicking around in the shallows to pick up scallops. Bay scallop seasons open across most of Florida’s west coast this month, so grab your mask, fins and snorkel, load up the kids and hit the water. Here’s what you need to know to get in on the action.

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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.

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FLORIDA ANGLER LANDS 100TH IGFA WORLD RECORD

NNUAL A H T re Coast N TE asu e Tr

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r. Jan Forszpaniak, a retired Florida surgeon, caught and released a 67-centimeter (more than 26-inch) asp from Italy’s Po River in February. The fish, a type of carp, was caught on fly tackle and set a new IGFA all-tackle length fly world record for the species. With that fish, Forszpaniak tallied his 100th IGFA world record. It’s the second time he’s broken his own record for the species. Forszpaniak is an IGFA representative who, since retiring in 2018, travels the world to fish and seek out records. He is an avid saltwater fly fisherman who has visited many of the world’s top fly fishing destinations, including Russia, South Africa, Zambia, New Guinea, Gilbert’s Archipelago, Christmas Island, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Turks and Caicos, according to an Outdoor Life article. “I am very proud, privileged, and honored to represent IGFA as a lifetime member, ambassador, and international representative,” he told Outdoor Life. “I understand the importance of IGFA conservation efforts. “Whichever country I visit, I always spread the IGFA message and encourage people to join.” According to the IGFA database, some of Forszpaniak’s more notable records include the all-tackle length fly record for Pacific bonefish at 73 centimeters (almost 29 inches) as well as the 16-pound tippet record for Pacific bonefish for a fish that weighed 13 pounds. Both were caught at New Caledonia. He also holds the all-tackle length record for giant trevally for a 126 centimeter (nearly 50-inch) fish he caught in the Cook Islands. For more information, go to igfa.org.

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FLORIDA 21


Donate A Boat or Car Today!

Angler Catches Pink-Tagged Bass and $6,000

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n May 22, Florida angler Dale Dew caught the first of 10 pink-tagged largemouth bass released by FWC into lakes across the state this year. As a part of the TrophyCatch 10Tag Celebration, Dew received a $5,000 gift card to Bass Pro Shops and $1,000 to shop at AFTCO. The catch also qualifies Dew for a chance at an additional $10,000, which will be awarded at a ceremony this fall. FWC biologists tagged this specific bass in February on Lake Griffin. Dew caught the fish near the same spot it was tagged, using a plastic worm. He successfully submitted his catch according to TrophyCatch rules. Dew is originally from Antiqua and he and his family now live in central Florida. While he was not originally going fishing for the pink tag, he saw a sign about the promotion that day. “It was the first time we heard about it, and we were like, ‘Whoa what’s this? We aren’t going to catch it. We’re two guys who can’t fish!’” said Dew, the first lucky angler to catch a pink-tagged largemouth bass. “We don’t have all the nice equipment or a nice bass boat but we got lucky and caught it! So, it could be any ordinary person who catches it. You never know, it’s crazy.” Nine more pink-tagged bass are swimming in other waterbodies across the state: Newnans Lake; Lake George; Lake Talquin; Lake Walk-in-Water; Tenoroc Fish Management Area; Lake Trafford; Lake Istokpoga; Lake Rousseau; and Johns Lake. Anglers 22 FLORIDA

JULY 2022

have until the end of September to fish for these special, prized fish. To celebrate Season 10 of the TrophyCatch program, biologists with the FWC tagged and released 10 largemouth bass with bright pink tags in 10 different locations across the state. Anglers should check the TrophyCatch website for rules and updates. The TrophyCatch program rewards anglers who provide documentation of their catch and release of largemouth bass weighing 8 pounds or heavier in Florida. To be eligible for prizes, anglers are required to submit photos or videos of their catch to TrophyCatch.com, showing the entire fish and its weight on a scale, before releasing it back into the water. Participants are also automatically entered in a free boat drawing just for registering. FWC biologists use TrophyCatch data for bass research to make informed decisions about the management of Florida bass fisheries and to promote the catch and release of trophy bass. The associated TrophyCare program promotes best handling practices for trophy bass to ensure that each TrophyCatch bass is released alive. For more information, go to trophycatchflorida.com.

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CATCH HARD-FIGHTING

JACKS

On Top or On Bottom

PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID JUNQUERA (IG: DAVID_ROCCA_)

are widespread in the Atlantic. They inhabit the western Atlantic from Nova Scotia to Uruguay and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Juvenile jack crevalle live inshore, where they prefer moving water of upstream currents. They thrive in a wide range of salinity and are often found in brackish waters and sometimes freshwater canals. Adults, on the other hand, usually move out of the estuaries and occupy currents, reefs and other nearshore and offshore structure, generally within the bounds of the continental shelf. Large individuals can absolutely be caught in shallow inshore areas, but deep-water jacks are usually larger. The largest IGFA-recorded jack crevalle weighed 66 pounds, 2 ounces and was caught out of Angola off the western coast of Africa. When food, such as mullet, is abundant, jacks get excited and will chase prey right up on the sand, against seawalls or into a boat. In open water, they herd baitfish into a mass before plowing through it from all sides. I target monster jacks from the beach or an inlet. Fishing with live bait on the bottom is the easiest method. I drop baits in the deep trough, just on the backside of a sandbar. Baits in the 10- to 12-inch range work best for bigger fish, and I prefer using whatever baitfish is around. My favorite for jacks is needlefish. If you’re looking for more of a challenge as well as heart-stopping explosions, try fishing topwater plugs. David Junquera is a dedicated plugchucker from West Palm Beach. Using topwater lures, he has landed 23 jack crevalle heavier than 40 pounds. His heaviest to-date weighed 46.3 pounds. Junquera said time of day, winds, tides, migrations and location of bait are all crucial factors for successfully targeting jacks with topwater plugs. Anglers should get out and explore to determine the best patterns for the areas they fish. At a minimum, Junquera recommends a 6500-size spinning reel with By Emily Rose Hanzlik 50-pound braid and an 80-pound leader. Junquera prefers to throw lures that outh Florida boasts some of the best surf fishing in the world. High are 6.5 to 8 inches long. The faster you work the plug, the more strikes you’ll profile species are regular catches from the beaches of the sunshine state’s earn, he said. A whip retrieve is ideal. southern Atlantic coast. The jack crevalle is one of my favorites. It is a Emily Rose Hanzlik holds 51 IGFA world records in various categories. fierce, stubborn and dynamic gamefish that can be caught bottom fishing with She hails from West Palm Beach, where she has a part time Bowfin live bait or by casting plugs. Whichever method you choose, you’re sure to Guide Service as well as fishing classes for Jr. Anglers. Find her have a battle on your hands once you hook up. on Social Media @emilyhanzlikoutdoors. Shore-based fishing for jack crevalle is not limited to Florida. These fish

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14 NATIONAL

JULY 2022

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LESTER WINS ELITE TOURNEY WITH SNEAKY PATTERN AT PICKWICK By TAM Staff

O

ver the years, Brandon Lester has become known as one of the most consistent anglers in tournament bass fishing. Yet, in nine seasons on tour, an Elite Series win has eluded him… until now. The Tennessee pro and former The Angler Magazine columnist won his first Elite Series tournament on Lake Pickwick in early June. He did it in spectacular fashion, weighing a four-day total of 20 bass for 86 pounds, 1 ounce. He beat out the next closest competitor by almost 6 pounds. Pickwick is a long 43,000-acre Tennessee River impoundment that runs north from Alabama into Tennessee along the Alabama/Mississippi border. It is renowned for excellent largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing, and in summer dam-driven river currents combine with the lake’s many offshore humps and ledges to produce some pretty consistent patterns. Threadfin and gizzard shad make up the majority of the forage base, so big flutter spoons, large deep-diving crankbaits and swimbaits are summertime staples. Lester said he knows the Pickwick ledge bite well and that doing something just a little different from everyone else put him on a sneaky pattern with some less-pressured fish. “It was shellbed, and where the current rolled up on that bar, from 8 feet to 4 feet, there was a hard spot,” he said. “The fish were sitting up on that spot. It was small, maybe three times the size of my boat. It was a typical Tennessee River feeding spot, right off the main river. There was a ton of bait in there — gizzard shad, threadfin shad. It was the perfect combination.” Most of Lester’s fish came on a Strike King 4.0 crankbait in chartreuse shad. He also fished a Berkley MaxScent Magnum Hit Worm in plum apple

Neko rigged with a 1/8-ounce nail weight. His sacks topped 20 pounds each day of the tournament, and the morning bite was key for him. A 6-pound, 13-ounce largemouth caught with a football jig anchored his sack on Day 3, and he entered Championship Sunday with a 3.5-pound lead. On Sunday, he poured on the gas, catching 22 pounds, 14 ounces, which earned him the VMC Monster Bag of the tournament. In the morning, he caught 17 pounds within the first half hour of fishing. He culled a few fish and then shut the door on the competition with 6-pounder caught at about 1 p.m. from a main-river ledge that dropped from 14 to 21 feet. He caught that fish on a Scrounger head with a 5-inch Castaic Jerky J, which is a bait that hadn’t produced all week. “This is unreal,” he said. “That Open win, I was super proud of it. It’s a stacked field in the Opens. But an Elite Series win is next level. I guess it’s between an Opens win and a Classic win. That’s the only thing that can top it. These are the greatest bass fishermen in the world.” The $100,000 first-place prize at Pickwick pushed Lester’s career Bassmaster earnings past $1 million. For more information, visit www.bassmaster.com.

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JULY 2022

NATIONAL 15


Enter To Win!

SOUTH

2 DAYS

ATLANTIC GETS

FOR SNAPPER

DF2.5 PORTABLE OUTBOARD

R

PHOTO COURTESY OF ecreational SHOW ME THE FISH CHARTERS harvest of red snapper in federal waters of the South Atlantic will be two days long this year. The July 8-9 season opens at 12:01 a.m., local time, on July 8, 2022, and closes at 12:01 a.m., local time, on July 10, 2022. The season is for Atlantic waters off North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The recreational bag limit is one red snapper per person per day. Captain and crew on for-hire vessels may retain the recreational bag limit. There are no minimum or maximum size limits. Allowable gear includes vertical hook-and-line, including hand line and bandit gear, and spearfishing gear without rebreathers. When fishing for or possessing snapper/grouper species in federal waters of the South Atlantic, the following regulations apply: • Use of a dehooking tool is required. • The use of non-stainless steel hooks is required when using hookand-line gear with natural baits. In waters North of 28-degrees N. latitude, the use of non-offset, non-stainless steel circle hooks is required when fishing for snapper grouper species using hook-and-line gear with natural baits. • A descending device is 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 information, go to safmc.net.

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JULY 2022

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ICAST 2022 ROLLS INTO ORLANDO JULY 19-22

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t first glance, this fish might look like a deformed dolphinfish (mahi-mahi), but it’s not. It’s a pompano dolphinfish, and it’s a new North Carolina state record and a potential world record. Charles Kenneth Noonan, of Sumter, S.C., caught the 11-pound, 5.4-ounce fish at an abandoned raft, about 42 miles off Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina on June 8. Noonan said he is applying to the IGFA for certification of the fish as the all-tackle world record. The current certified world record pompano dolphinfish weighed 8-pounds, 8-ounces, and was caught off Maryland in 2008. Noonan’s fish measured 30.5 inches fork length and had a 17.25-inch girth. He was fishing with Capt. Tyler Hailey and First Mate Bailey Auten of Salt Fever Guide Service in Ocean Isle Beach. They were aboard the Glory Daze, a 37-foot Freeman Boatworks Catamaran.

CAST, the world’s largest sportfishing trade show, will spread out across the expansive floor of the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. July 19-22, showcasing the latest innovations in gear, tackle, accessories and apparel. From Super Tuesday on July 19 to the final bell on Friday, July 22, it’s almost a full week of events that have become a cornerstone of the sportfishing industry. From seminars and “learning lunches” to a show floor jam packed with quality exhibitors displaying the products that will drive the industry in the coming year, ICAST is the place to make valuable connections and stay on top of the trends in fishing. Many companies choose to roll out their latest innovations at ICAST each year, and the New Product Showcase is a chance for them to shine a spotlight on their latest and greatest. These new products are the hottest new lures, tackle, clothing, electronics and gear that anglers will be purchasing in the coming year. ICAST is the one-stop shop for retailers and manufacturers to connect in-person and make valuable business relationships. Orlando’s world-class dining, lodging and entertainment will be bustling with the movers-and-shakers and the up-and-comers of the industry, as the sportfishing world convenes to determine what drives the next year in fishing.

For more information North Carolina state records fish, visit ncwildlife.org.

For more information, go to www.ICASTfishing.org.

TEEN ANGLER CATCHES PENDING WORLD RECORD

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JULY 2022

NATIONAL 17


SLOW DOWN AND COVER THE ENTIRE WATER COLUMN

Tim Barefoot

I

’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: wahoo and tuna don’t wear Maui Jims. They use depth to regulate the amount of sunlight they are exposed to. So, while normal trolling at 6 to 8 knots and high-speed trolling at 15 to 20 knots are good things at first light and up to 10:30 or 11 a.m., it’s time to slow down once the sun gets directly overhead. I slow it to a crawl and even fish some baits down deep under a sliding cork on the drift. Spreading baits across the water column is the best way to continue that morning bite when the midday doldrums arrive. Darker colored baits like red-and-black or purple-andblack work well when fish are looking up to feed. The dark silhouettes of darker colored baits show up well against the bright surface. Yet, it doesn’t make sense to continue trying to convince fish to come to the surface to eat a bait 50 or 75 feet above them. When pelagics drop down in the water column, it’s better to put a bait right in the

“strike zone” where they are. There are several baits that provide a natural presentation down deep, but a big

beautiful squid checks all the boxes on this one. Squid rise to the surface at night and descend to the depths as the sun gets higher… just like the fish. This is the natural choice, as you are trying to match the hatch, so to speak. There is nothing in all the seven oceans of the

SUMMERTIME FISHING...

LET’S GO!

world that is more common than the squid. Squid could, and should be called the “rice of the oceans.” Frozen squid are readily available for bait, and everything in the ocean eats them. I have the ultimate example of this as one day we were on anchor grouper fishing when a couple of nice dolphin swam under the boat 20 to 30 feet below. I could tell they were nice ones and started throwing out cigar minnows and sardines to get them fired up. They didn’t want any part of the free minnows. So, I pulled out a whole frozen squid and hooked it up on light tackle and threw it out about 50 feet. I just let it start sinking. After all the minnows they let go by and sink out of sight, the biggest one of the pair saw that sinking squid and inhaled it! It just goes to show, they will eat a squid when all else fails. The other good news is a squid is so easy to rig to swim perfectly. Whether you are fishing a natural frozen squid, a live one or an artificial one, just slow down a little to allow the bait to get down to the level where the fish are staged during the middle of the day for some serious bites. See more from Tim Barefoot at barefootctasandtackle.com.

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NATIONAL 19


COLUMBIA

BANS SPORTFISHING By CAM Staff

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olumbia recently banned sportfishing. That should serve as an eye opener even for anglers who have never considered travelling to fish. A potential destination fishery, with rivers famous for exotic species like peacock bass and a coastline that boasts excellent fisheries for roosterfish, tuna, marlin, sailfish and cubera snapper, has decided that catch-and-release fishing is cruelty to animals and has deemed the practice unconstitutional. With an 8-1 vote in favor, the ruling came down from the Columbia Congressional

20 NATIONAL

JULY 2022

Court in May with a plan to begin enforcement next year. The court, which is roughly equivalent to the U.S. Supreme Court, decided that while commercial, artisanal and subsistence fishing remain constitutional, catching fish and returning them to the water should be banned. If you catch a fish, you must kill it in order for the catch to be legal. It’s enough to scramble the brains of anglers and conservationists. Anyone who has paid a lick of attention has watched the rise of catch-and-release lead to the rebound of coastal and inland fisheries around the world. At presstime, Columbians were voting to elect their president, with Gustavo Petro, an extreme leftwing candidate by U.S. standards, leading in a runoff election against Rodolfo Hernandez, a businessman and former city mayor running on an anticorruption platform. Columbian attorneys are already contesting the sportfishing ban, but if Petro wins the election there’s a good chance parts of the ruling will be enacted. Columbian lawyer Luis Guillermo Valez Cabrera lambasted the ruling in op-ed for the website La Republica, saying the ruling “may be the stupidest decision a constitutional court has made in recent history. It’s really laughable.” “What the court wants to tell us is that, since we do not know if the fish can suffer, to protect the environment, we must prohibit sportfishing,” Cabrera wrote. “The possible impact on the environment is due to commercial fishing and artisanal fishing, practices that were not constitutionally prohibited. Think of the meshes, the dynamite and the dragnets that kill anything, sentient or not.” While this court’s ruling might be easy to write off as nonsense from a nation more well-known for corruption and cocaine than anything else, it’s a reminder that hunters and anglers must remain vigilant. Germany banned catch-and-release fishing in the 1990s, and the animal rights movement has successfully restricted hunting in many places around the globe, including in Columbia. As with most political debates, money is the key. Politicians who’ve never held a fishing rod need to realize that fish in the water can be far more valuable economically than they are served up at restaurants. Just ask Costa Rica, which boasts of a recreational fishery that generates hundreds of millions of dollars annually. For more information, see the July issue of The Angler Video Magazine at VidMag.com.

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EPA MOVES TO PROTECT THE WORLD’S LARGEST SOCKEYE RUN

P

ebble Mine, a proposed mining development in the headwaters feeding Bristol Bay, Alaska, is in the news again. The latest development in this two-decade struggle is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to veto the project under authority of the Clean Water Act. It is a next step toward establishing lasting protections for the largest remaining salmon fishery in the world. The Pebble deposit is an enormous accumulation of gold, copper and molybdenum in the headwaters of the Kvichak and Nushgak rivers, which feed Bristol Bay and the Bering Sea about 300 miles southwest of Anchorage. In 2001, the first steps toward mining the deposit began, and ever since it has been a source of controversy as mining rights have changed hands through several multi-national corporations and actual development of a massive

open-pit mine has been tied up in red tape. At stake is one of the few remaining truly pristine areas on the planet. Back in 2005, my wife and I spent a glorious week with Alaska Sportman’s Lodge fishing the Kvichak, Nushgak and several other rivers in the Bristol Bay drainage. It was a once-in-a-lifetime type experience in the most beautiful and unspoiled place I’ve ever been. The fishing was phenomenal and featured 40-plus-pound king salmon, a sockeye salmon run so thick you could have walked across their backs, 30-inch rainbow trout in their native waters, as well as grayling and Dolly Varden in places where anglers share water with brown bears, moose and bald eagles. Getting there is difficult and expensive, but the experience is highly recommended for anyone interested in arguably the best fly fishing destination in the world. But there’s more to it than a recreational fishery so good it will spoil you. Bristol Bay is also the most important salmon fishery on earth. It provides half of the world’s wild sockeye salmon. If your local grocery store carries “wildcaught sockeye salmon,” there’s a good chance it was caught by Bristol Bay’s commercial anglers. According to Bristol Bay Defense Fund, the unspoiled natural resources of the region support a $2.2 billion economy that employs tens of thousands of people in commercial fishing, hunting, sportfishing, outdoor recreation and tourism. Earlier this year, Alaska Department of Fish and Game projected 2022 will be the second record-breaking year in a row for Bristol Bay’s sockeye salmon run. The estimate calls for 73.4 million fish to swim up area rivers to spawn. This annual run supports an amazing ecosystem that has for time immemorial thrived on the transfer of nutrients far inland from the ocean. And while proponents of the Pebble Mine likely speak the truth in their assertion that a mine would bring added wealth and jobs to the region, it would come at the potential expense of a natural phenomenon that perpetually and sustainably supports humans as well as the native flora and fauna. EPA’s public comment period on the proposed veto is open until July 5. To get involved, go to www.epa.gov/bristolbay.

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JULY 2022

NATIONAL 21


THE GULF’S PHOTO COURTESY OF KNOCKIN TAIL LURES

BOUNTIES

W

hen the surf is on, it can be some of the best and easiest fishing around. For those in the know, we keep a keen eye on the beachfront starting in May and when the conditions are right, we make sure not to miss it! During July, the shrimp migration hits the beachfront and many hungry predators are following on their tails. Trout in the 5- to 8-pound range are not uncommon while trout shorter than 20 inches are found in large schools. There are many productive tactics that can land you a hefty stringer of these speckled beauties from live shrimp and finfish to an array of artificial lures. I prefer the latter, and here are some of my favorites. Topwater! There is no beating a topwater eruption as the sun is peeking over the horizon. I use a wide range of plug sizes and let the size of the seas determine what I throw. I like a larger heavier lure when the surf is rough. When it is flat, a small or large can be effective. Switching out the standard trebles to single circle hooks is a good approach to lessen the chance of injuring yourself. Bouncing around in the surf trying to land a stout surf trout can lead to an accidental hook in you. Singles also save time unhooking, which leads to more time fishing and catching. Slow-sinking hard baits with rattles also make it into my box when heading into the suds. I like to cast these lures out and let them sink for a few seconds. Most of them have a relatively slow sink rate, so I give them a little time to get lower in the water column. A series of fast twitches followed by a pause usually draws their attention. Many solid trout have fallen for the old faithful ¾- to 1-ounce silver spoon. The presentation is as simple as it gets. Cast and reel; that’s it. This inexpensive lure is an attention getter for sure and casts like a bullet. I typically start my day before sunrise. During the course of my wade, I will hit all structure from a foot deep to eight feet deep. I give equal attention to the depth of the guts to the top of the bars. I see a lot of fishermen go straight out to the second or third gut and stay there the entire time. You will miss many opportunities if you choose to do this. The fish are not always in that gut. At times, I only catch them on top of the bar. Start early, broaden your target area, be safe and catch fish! Surf ’s Down!

The Return of a FROM THE BEACH By Capt. Michael Okruhlik

Capt. Michael Okruhlik is the inventor of Knockin Tail Lures, Controlled Descent Lures and the owner of www.MyCoastOutdoors.com.

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ripletail have long been a prized target for anglers in the Southern Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, and they are gaining popularity farther north. A big 16-pound, 12-ounce tripletail caught from Chesapeake Bay last summer was recently certified as a Virginia state record. A press release from Virginia’s Marine Resources Commission suggested the rise in popularity of sight fishing for cobia is also pushing tripletail into the spotlight. Richard H. Stuart Jr., of King George, Va., and his father, Richard Sr., were sight fishing for cobia in southern Chesapeake Bay last July 23 when they spotted a flash in the water and decided to pursue it. On approach, they identified the fish as a tripletail on the surface. Richard Jr. convinced it to eat on the second cast of a 2-ounce cobia jig. Tripletail are not a new arrival to Chesapeake Bay, but with the rise in the popularity of sight fishing for cobia, encounters are increasing. Along the Atlantic Coast tripletail have been collected as far north as Massachusetts but are rarely found north of the Chesapeake Bay. Their flesh has been compared to other mild-tasting white-fleshed fish like snapper and grouper. The IGFA all-tackle world record for tripletail was caught off Zululand, South Africa in 1989. It weighed 42 pounds, 5 ounces. For more information, go to mrc.virginia.gov. COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

JULY 2022

NATIONAL 23


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