Coastal Angler Magazine | October 2021 | North Central Florida/Nature Coast Edition

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NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST EDITION

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STREAMERS FOR

FALL TROPHY

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By Jacob Milholland

ctober is a special month in the mountains. Autumn colors and cooler weather signal it’s time to head back to trout water. Hunting a trophy brown trout is what fall is all about. These fish can be caught nymphing a big stonefly or drifting an October caddis, but the old adage, “big bait, big fish,” holds true. Streamer fishing is a surefire way to try and target these old brutes. Streamers are flies that imitate forage such as baitfish, crawfish, sculpin, other trout or even mice. While the common way to fish a streamer is to enact action by “stripping” or pulling the fly line, streamers can be dead drifted, jigged or swung. There is no wrong way to fish streamers, but the goal is to make the fly look like the real thing. Equipment: We fish heavier rods, tippets and leaders, as we are targeting larger fish. The flies are more wind resistant or heavily weighted, and the strikes can be more aggressive. Think 5 to 8 weights and 8 to 20-pound fluorocarbon tippet/leader. A misconception of streamer fishing is that it must be done from a boat on a large river. While a boat is nice for covering ground, wading anglers can adapt these tactics to any size body of water. If you have the option to fish from a boat, multiple rods with different rate-of-fall (ROF) sinking fly lines should be in your arsenal to probe different depths: floating, intermediate (falls at one foot per second), and ROF-6 (falls at six inches per second). Fly Selection: Ask anyone what they throw, and you’ll get a different answer. It’s hard to go wrong with Woolly Bugger variations—like Sparkle Minnows or Bow River Buggers—any Kelly Galloup pattern or Clouser minnows to start out. Pick staple colors that allow you to adjust to conditions: white, black, bold (yellow or chartreuse) and flashy. Big fish drop their guard in nasty weather, and these can result in the best days on the water. Tactics: Brown trout ambush their prey, so look for places adjacent to current where fish can sit without expending too much energy. Covering water is paramount to success with a streamer. Likely holding water can produce results immediately, so don’t spend too much time in one spot. You are hunting the largest fish willing to eat the fly, not trying to force inactive fish to feed. Vary your retrieve; sometimes jigging or dead drifting can be better than a strip, or slower or faster retrieves may get a fish to react. Mental fortitude is just as important as the where and how. You can go hours or even days without seeing a fish follow the fly, but the magic of streamer fishing lies in the take of the fly and the caliber of fish. Jacob Milholland fishes with Cohutta Fishing Company in Blue Ridge, Ga. Check them out at www.cohuttafishingco.com or call (706) 946-3044.

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By Capt. Quinlyn Haddon

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t seems even the most remote waterways are becoming more crowded every year. More boats can lead to some extremely dangerous situations when boaters exhibit a lack of respect for the water, and it’s pretty easy to identify those who should not be allowed to operate a boat. But there are also people who create frustrating situations, particularly while fishing, who might just be unaware of certain etiquette. It is unique to the Southeastern United States to have access to such vastly diverse fisheries within a relatively small area. It is fortunate boat owners can easily travel to a new and different fishery and bring their own vessel with them. However, just as you don’t have to travel far before the fishery changes, the same applies to local fishing etiquette. Some of the unspoken rules will apply no matter where you are, but it is generally a good idea to check in with local knowledge and identify the local vhf channel before launching your boat somewhere new. While nobody owns the water, commercial and charter fishing captains generally operate with respect for each other to make sharing the fishery feasible and pleasant. When pleasure boaters don’t understand or don’t respect local etiquette, it disrupts fishing enough to affect the people who are trying to make a living on the water. As a general rule, try to stay away from other boats as much as possible. If you have to maneuver around or fish near another boat, be respectful of the type of fishing they are doing. If a vessel is anchored, they will generally be fishing off the back of the boat, often running a chum slick, which means you should avoid driving behind them. If a boat is anchored

offshore, in an area that you are unfamiliar with, they are probably fishing coordinates that took them years of hard work to acquire. You should absolutely not anchor near them,

nor should you drive next to them to mark their location. If you are offshore hunting for fish that appear under flocks of diving birds, look for a flock that isn’t currently being worked by another fisherman. These birds are moving around over fish that are traveling, and moving in can cause the boat that got to the birds first to be cut off from the school of fish. The ocean is vast and birds are plentiful, look for birds on your own, not just an easy-to-spot boat under birds. Overcrowded fishing areas, that don’t operate under anchor, follow certain traffic patterns. These patterned drifts or trolls should be observed and followed just like any roadway. The Marathon Humps, for example, should be trolled east to west, and west to east. Fishing oil rigs in the northern Gulf of Mexico can be made extremely difficult by poor etiquette, as locations are limited and can be made even more limited due to weather. Places like this rely heavily on unspoken rules of the road, and respect. These areas are primarily fished in two different ways: live bait and chum drifts. Charter boats take the time to catch live bait before making it out there, which can be time consuming and difficult. If there are fish on the surface, and someone nearby starts a chum drift, this pushes the surface fish down deep, where the fish will no longer be eating the hard-earned live bait. This is horrible etiquette that rewards lazy and ignorant fishermen. If you show up to a rig without live bait and see other boats using it, with fish clearly on the surface, you should probably just troll lures until other people start a chum drift. Learn and respect the local etiquette anywhere you get your boat wet. There’s no reason we can’t all catch fish, be safe and have fun doing it.

Capt. Quinlyn Haddon fishes with Blue Magic Charters in Marathon, Florida Keys. Check her out at CaptainQuinlyn.com, @captainquinlyn or call (504) 920-6342.

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WHEN TEMPS COOL DOWN, THE GROUPER BITE HEATS UP

I

’m going to date myself here, but what is about to happen will come as no surprise to me. This is time of year I live for. You see, I’ve been watching this beautiful cycle happen with grouper for almost four decades now. As soon as the mullet run slows, and the vast schools of cigar minnows (cigs) and sardines drift inshore, so do the larger (male) gag grouper. This generally occurs around the middle of October. The scamp bite will be hard and fast during this same time in deeper water. I started my grouper fishing career with heavy electric and hydraulic commercial reels and eventually switched over to Elec-Tra-Mates and Precision Auto Reels, but now I’ve gone full circle to lighter (heavyduty) level-wind reels with braided line and ultra stealth terminal tackle to stay ahead of the mental evolution of grouper and large snapper. You see, back in the day when there were so many grouper, it was a competitive atmosphere on the bottom. The first bait to the bottom used to catch the biggest red snapper or gag, even using monofilament leader, but

Tim Barefoot

sardines are by far the best choice for instant bites, but the problem with them is everything down there gives them a whack. Fishing a bait that eliminates everything but large black sea bass, large snapper and grouper helps weed through the smaller fish to find the big male grouper you’re looking for. Live pinfish, sailors

now it’s just not that way. I haven’t cleaned hundreds of grouper… I’ve cleaned thousands of them before selling them, and I’m always curious about what they were eating. One common denominator in gags and red grouper, but not as many scamp grouper, are the small red crabs that are obviously plentiful on live bottom.

This is what prompted me to experiment with crab jigs. I made my first batch of Crab Decoy Jigs over a decade ago and quickly realized they out-fish any other bottom rig I’ve ever used. I tie them in with red braided line and a short piece of fluorocarbon leader tied in a loop knot. Then I sweeten the pot with a live bait. Bait selection is important. Live cigs and

choice grunts, grass grunts and tomtate grunts all work. I like to fish big stacks of beeliners, and that makes beeliners one of my alltime favorite baits. I fish them live or butterflied on a Crab Decoy Jig. The older, wiser males are growing increasingly tackle shy, so shed all the useless terminal tackle and scale down to “clean” heavyduty tackle that can fool ole big boy into biting. For video with detailed instructions on fishing Tim Barefoot’s rigs and proof that they work, visit his website at barefootcatsandtackle.com.

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ANGLERS SET NEW FLORIDA SALTWATER FISHING RECORDS Scamp

I

t was a monster summer for three anglers who Record on April 7 while fishing at Santa Rosa each landed a Florida Saltwater All-tackle Beach. Sidney’s 2.8-pound catch beat out the previous record of 2.4 pounds. If you feel like Fishing Record. you’re having déjà vu, don’t worry, you’re not Scamp alone. That previous record of 2.4 pounds was set A new Florida Saltwater Fishing Record for earlier this year by angler Joseph Peckham. scamp was set by Mark John Gibner during a Schoolmaster fishing expedition near John’s Pass Marina in Pinellas County on June 11. His 29.6-pound scamp Anthony Mastitski filled the vacant beat the previous record of 28.38 pounds set by schoolmaster category, which was opened Jan. 1, Braden Douglas Pursell in April 2002. 2019. Mastitski’s 2.07-pound schoolmaster was “I think that for the first 20 feet or so, the caught in Broward County on July 27. fish didn’t know that it was hooked,” said Gibner. Claim Your Record “When it did, it started to dig. At first, as he was Want to claim your own state record? There pulling drag, I had to palm my reel to slow him are currently no records listed for white grunt or down. But after a short back and forth, I finally got blueline tilefish in the all-tackle category. There the upper hand and was able to land him with lots are also numerous fly-fishing tackle categories of enthusiasm from my friends.” with vacant records, giving anglers an opportunity Whiting (Gulf kingfish) to hold the record for these species. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Capt. Sidney Little caught the latest Gulf kingfish (whiting) Florida Saltwater Fishing Commission (FWC) maintains state records in 2 FLORIDA

OCTOBER 2021

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all-tackle and fly fishing categories for 81 species caught in Florida state waters and adjacent federal waters. Saltwater record holders receive a certificate of accomplishment, prize pack, recognition in various publications, and a custom ink fish print to memorialize their catch courtesy of Fish Print Shop. To qualify for a record, the catch must be weighed on land with a certified scale, and photographs must be submitted clearly showing the weight displayed on the scale, the scale’s certification, the rod and reel used to make the catch, the angler with their catch, and various views of the fish for identification purposes. The angler’s signature on a completed application form must be witnessed by a notary. For more information and to view current records, visit CatchaFloridaMemory.com and click “Records,” contact AnglerRecognition@ MyFWC.com or call 850-487-0554.



EIGHT MONTHS OF THE KEY WEST FISHING TOURNEY

A

look at the results from the eight-month-long Key West Fishing Tournament is a pretty good glimpse at what’s been going on in one of the world’s best fishing destinations over the last year. The 2021 tournament drew 312 participating anglers who entered 753 releases and 262 weighed catches. A South Dakota woman was named the women’s master angler after scoring multiple divisional wins and tournament records in the long-running challenge. Katelynn Wells, of Miller, S.D., took top honors for overall releases with 59, including six dolphin, as well as tallying 14 division-leading catches including a 28-pound amberjack, a 12-pound barracuda on plug and a 17-pound red snapper on 30-pound-test line that set a divisional record. She also scored three “heaviest fish” wins and two fish that set tournament weight records: a 2.8-pound ladyfish on plug and a 4.8-pound seatrout on 12-pound line. Wells fished on Off the Rock with Capt. Brad Nowicki and on Live Action Sportfishing with Capt. Ryan Carter, both of Key West. The men’s master angler was Rob Ripka, of Pulaski, New York. His achievements included catching two division-leading fish on 12-pound line: a 12-pound bonito and a 4-pound yellowtail snapper—as well as a divisionleading 31.6-pound kingfish. Fishing on Bait Stealer with Capt. Dale Bittner, of Key West, he also set a “heaviest fish” record for catching a 6-pound yellowtail on 30-pound line. Ten-year-old Julia Bernstein, of Miami, fishing in the peewee division, eclipsed her competitors to earn the peewee master angler award for achievements including a remarkable 104 releases. Her catches included a 23.8-pound Jack Crevalle on 30-pound line that earned a tournament weight record, a 24.8-pound barracuda on 20-pound line that earned divisional “heaviest fish” honors, four other “heaviest fish” winners and three division leaders. The young Bernstein fished with Bittner on Bait

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bl Stealer and also on a private boat. Capt. Bill Wickers III, of the Linda D V, earned overall guide honors in the general division, tallying 14 winners and a division-topping 36 releases including three marlin. Capt. Brice Barr of the Double Down was named top guide in the light general division, guiding his anglers to a divisional best of 66 releases—64 of them sailfish. Capt. Tim Carlile of the Outcast earned the overall guide achievement award in the flats division. He also guided his anglers to the most flats releases with 213, including 86 tarpon. Celebrating the diverse variety of fish found in Florida Keys waters, the Key West Fishing Tournament provides recognition and awards to anglers posting the heaviest catch in each of 33 species and the most releases of fish in seven other species. The 2022 challenge begins Dec. 1, 2021 and continues until July 31, 2022. For a complete list of winners and catches, visit keywestfishingtournament.com.

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USE THE WIND TO FIND FISH

By John Saporito

T

he wind is a great mover of bait, and a mover of bait is a mover of fish. Among the myriad factors that contribute to gamefish location, wind ranks somewhere near the top. Short-term winds influence the whereabouts of baitfish schools in many ways, which in turn influences the location of the gamefish that feed on them. Fish are highly sensitive to water temperature. Even a change of a degree or two can motivate them to seek out water of a more desired temperature. In the northern hemisphere, a cold northerly wind may lower water temperatures enough to force baitfish to move toward areas of more stable temperature, such as deeper water. Conversely, a southerly wind may raise water temperatures beyond a certain bait species’ comfort range, causing them to seek out areas with cooler water. Many migratory baitfish begin their seasonal journeys based on temperature changes initiated by short-term wind events, such as storms. They respond by relocating to areas that better suit their specific needs. When a localized or short-term wind pattern changes the water temperature, you can bet the baitfish will take notice and act accordingly.

6 FLORIDA

OCTOBER 2021

Baitfish of all sizes are always on the lookout for an easy meal. Just like the predators that hunt them, baitfish prefer to feed with the lowest possible expenditure of energy. Suspension feeders, such as many members of the herring family, look for big blows to stir up detritus, plankton and other small organisms and organic matter that they can eat. The wind also creates surface currents, which push plankton and other miniscule prey items. Any significant wind has the potential to concentrate, stir up, or otherwise move the food baitfish feed on. The wind also has the power to enhance or diminish tidal action. A wind moving in the same direction as a tidal current will accelerate the water’s movement, overpowering and transporting both baitfish and their prey. A wind-against-current scenario may form a natural corral that concentrates and traps baitfish in a temporary location. In bays and other inshore waterways, a strong offshore wind can combine with a low tide to render certain areas uninhabitable to baitfish due shallowness. A strong onshore wind, in conjunction with a high tide, can pile up water in areas that before were dry, allowing baitfish to enter feeding grounds that were previously inaccessible.

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PHOTO BY CAPT. TIM CUTTING.

It’s important to know where there is deep, stable water for baitfish to take shelter in when the temperature suddenly rises or drops. Also look for “dead ends” in the areas you fish, such as coves and points of land, which act as barriers that trap and hold bait when the wind is howling. If you find baitfish, odds are good that the gamefish are nearby. John Saporito is a lifelong fisherman and student of the seas. Visit him online at guerillaangling.com.


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GIANT SWORDFISH IS A CANAVERAL RECORD By CAM Staff

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n the early morning hours of Saturday, Sept. 11, three anglers fishing out of Cape Canaveral, Fla., idled the “High Maintenance” into Sunrise Marina towing a swordfish that’s being called a Port Canaveral record. The broadbill bottomed out a set of 500-pound scales after being dead for more than 16 hours, so it’s safe to say it outweighed the unofficial and long-standing port record of 365 pounds. One of the anglers, Steven Sharpe, estimated its weight to be 550 pounds, based on measurements. Records aside, it was a huge fish. Sharpe, his long-time fishing buddy, Jeff Thummel, and George Birkhead, who was on his first swordfish trip, were drifting in 1,500-foot depths about 40 miles out of Port Canaveral. On their first set, they had bite that came unbuttoned. They re-baited with a whole ladyfish and dropped it down to about 1,400 feet. The big fish came tight at about 10:30 a.m. and then rocketed toward the surface. Sharpe said they had no idea of the size of the fish through most of a 5 ½-hour fight.

Their Lindgren-Pitman S2-1200 electric reel and Handler custom rod battled the fish as it surfaced and dove numerous times and dragged the boat 25 miles from where the fish was initially hooked. “About every hour, he’d show,” Sharpe said. “We didn’t realize how big he was until we got him to the boat. “We harpooned it, hauled it in and gaffed it. When we gaffed it, all hell broke loose.” The big fish beat itself against the boat until it finally expired and the crew got a tail rope on it at about 4 p.m. Only then was there a moment for celebration and cigars. They pulled a tape on the fish and got a short length of 101 inches from the fork of the tail to the tip of the lower jaw. Then the hard work began. “There were three people on board, and we couldn’t get that fish in the boat,” Sharpe said. “We tried everything and ended up having to idle it all the way home. We didn’t get to port until about 1 a.m.” They had to wait until 8 a.m. Saturday morning to get the fish up on scales.

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COASTAL ANGLER North Central Florida/Nature Coast

OCTOBER 2021 EDITION

Find Your Outdoors Here!

Cary & Lynn Crutchfield

North Central Florida Nature Coast Staff

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

Cary Crutchfield

F

OCTOBER

all is my favorite time of the year, but in October 2017, I shared with you my heartbreak for the hurricane victims and destruction in Texas, Florida and of course, Puerto Rico. October 2018, I shared my heartbreak for the hurricane victims and destruction in North and South Carolina. October 2019, I shared my heartbreak for the hurricane victims and destruction in the Bahamas. October 2020, I shared my heart break for the 200,000 plus Covid 19 deaths in the US, and for the fire victims and destruction in California, Oregon and Washington. Now, October 2021, I am sharing my heart break for the 600,000 plus Covid deaths in the U.S. My heart breaks for the deaths and destruction from Hurricane Ida and Nicholas. Do I believe in Climate Change? You can bet your life that I do! Pray for no more hurricanes this year - and pray for the unvaccinated. If you are not vaccinated, please discuss the pros and cons of the vaccine with your trusted medical advisor, a real person, not the internet. The vaccine saves lives, and fewer sick people, will lead to the return of a healthy economy. I don’t want to share heartbreak again in October 2022. See page 2 for this month’s recipe, Shrimp and Wild Rice Skillet, an encore presentation from 2017. It is too good to run just once. For seven years, Capt. Dan Clymer has brought us everything that we needed to know about fishing in the waters off Homosassa. Capt. Dan has decided to take a break and suggested Capt. Jonathan Hamilton, aka Capt. Stump (I’m sure there is a good story there!) to take over for him. See the HOMOSASSA forecast on page 13 this month. Give Capt. Stump a call or send him an email and welcome him to our family of NCF/NC writers. While you are at it, contact all our writers to let them know how much they are appreciated. As always, please, please, please thank our advertising partners. Without them, this FREE magazine would not exist. Let them know that they are appreciated. Also, thank the business who provided space for us to distribute this FREE magazine. Thank you to John Freeze for this gorgeous sunset (or sunrise?) photo. Stay Smart. Stay well. Wear your mask. Get your vaccine and Stay alive! 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

WEB DESIGN Kristi Williams

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Dr. Kevin McCarthy Bruce Butler John Freeze Noel Kuhn Capt. Jason Clark Capt. Katie Jo Davis Capt. Andrew Fagan Capt. Jonathan Hamilton Capt. Tony Johns Capt. Pat McGriff Capt. Brent Woodard

CONTACT INFORMATION

crutch@coastalanglermagazine.com 352-542-0356 www.CoastalAnglerMag.com/NC-Florida

INSIDE THIS ISSUE Tide Charts Local Fishing Forecasts Monthly Recipe

Photo by: Suwannee River Water Management District


SHRIMP AND WILD RICE SKILLET (SERVES 4)

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is uno undev But d popul

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

Lynn Crutchfield, Co-Publisher Coastal Angler Magazine of North Central Florida

TIDES • North Central Florida Time Height

1F 2Sa

3Su

4M

5Tu

6W

7Th

8F

3:51 AM 9:38 AM 5:13 PM 12:02 AM 5:09 AM 11:01 AM 6:12 PM 12:46 AM 6:11 AM 12:08 PM 7:02 PM 1:21 AM 7:04 AM 1:05 PM 7:45 PM 1:51 AM 7:51 AM 1:57 PM 8:25 PM 2:20 AM 8:35 AM 2:45 PM 9:02 PM 2:49 AM 9:18 AM 3:34 PM 9:38 PM 3:19 AM 10:03 AM 4:24 PM 10:15 PM

2.3 3.6 0.9 3.1 2.1 3.7 0.7 3.3 1.7 3.9 0.6 3.5 1.3 4.1 0.5 3.7 0.9 4.3 0.6 3.8 0.5 4.3 0.7 4.0 0.2 4.3 1.0 4.2 -0.1 4.1 1.2

HERNANDO BEACH

OCTOBER 2021

9Sa

Time Height

3:51 AM 10:49 AM 5:16 PM 10:52 PM 10Su 4:26 AM 11:38 AM 6:12 PM 11:31 PM 11M 5:07 AM 12:31 PM 7:13 PM 12Tu 12:14 AM 5:54 AM 1:32 PM 8:26 PM 13W 1:08 AM 6:52 AM 2:46 PM 9:56 PM 14Th 2:26 AM 8:10 AM 4:12 PM 11:11 PM 15F 4:01 AM 9:55 AM 5:27 PM 16Sa 12:02 AM 5:24 AM 11:27 AM 6:25 PM

4.3 -0.2 3.8 1.5 4.4 -0.2 3.5 1.8 4.4 0.0 3.2 2.0 4.2 0.2 2.9 2.2 4.0 0.5 2.9 2.2 3.7 0.7 2.9 2.1 3.5 0.8 3.1 1.7 3.6 0.8

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 12:41 AM 6:28 AM 12:36 PM 7:11 PM 18M 1:13 AM 7:19 AM 1:30 PM 7:47 PM 19Tu 1:42 AM 8:02 AM 2:15 PM 8:19 PM 20W 2:08 AM 8:40 AM 2:54 PM 8:48 PM 21Th 2:32 AM 9:14 AM 3:31 PM 9:17 PM 22F 2:57 AM 9:47 AM 4:07 PM 9:45 PM 23Sa 3:21 AM 10:20 AM 4:45 PM 10:14 PM

3.3 1.3 3.7 0.9 3.5 0.8 3.8 0.9 3.7 0.5 3.8 1.0 3.8 0.3 3.8 1.2 3.9 0.1 3.7 1.3 4.0 0.0 3.6 1.4 4.0 0.0 3.5 1.6

Time Height

24Su 3:48 AM 10:53 AM 5:23 PM 10:44 PM 25M 4:17 AM 11:28 AM 6:04 PM 11:16 PM 26Tu 4:50 AM 12:06 PM 6:49 PM 11:54 PM 27W 5:30 AM 12:52 PM 7:43 PM 28Th 12:42 AM 6:20 AM 1:50 PM 8:51 PM 29F 1:51 AM 7:28 AM 3:05 PM 10:06 PM 30Sa 3:22 AM 9:03 AM 4:20 PM 11:04 PM 31Su 4:43 AM 10:36 AM 5:24 PM 11:49 PM

4.0 0.1 3.4 1.7 4.0 0.1 3.2 1.8 3.9 0.3 3.0 1.9 3.8 0.4 2.9 2.0 3.6 0.6 2.8 2.0 3.4 0.8 2.9 2.0 3.2 0.8 3.0 1.6 3.3 0.8 3.2

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

OCTOBER 2021

COOKING DIRECTIONS Into large bowl, pour 4 cups water, add salt and brown sugar. Stir to combine. Add shrimp. Cook white or brown rice in broth or water and cook wild rice in water. When rice is cooked, drain shrimp and pat dry with paper towels. Heat oil in large skillet. Add shrimp and cook 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Remove shrimp from skillet and keep warm. Add butter and green onion to skillet and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add spinach and cook, (turning several times) until wilted. Add bacon and rice. Add salt and pepper to taste and gently combine. Spoon onto plates, and top with cooked shrimp and shaved Parmesan. Serve with lemon wedges.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

INGREDIENTS ½ cup wild rice ½ cup white or brown rice 1 cup chicken broth or water 1 cup plus 4 cups water 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar 2 tablespoons salt 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons butter 4 green onions chopped 2 cloves garlic minced 2 bags fresh spinach 4 slices cooked bacon salt and pepper Parmesan shaved ½ lemon (Optional)

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

By

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FLORIDA WATERWAYS Ghost Forests Are Haunting Florida’s Big Bend

F

ishing and scalloping along Florida’s Big Bend are popular attractions to the region, which is unofficially known as the longest undeveloped coastline in the country. But despite its remote location and sparse population, the forest that lies at the edge of the marsh throughout this 150-mile stretch of coastline is dying rapidly, leaving behind what’s known as “ghost forests” – the fallen By Matt McCarthy remains of once-thriving woodland ecosystems. Landscape photographer Benjamin Dimmitt grew up in Clearwater and began capturing the natural beauty of the Nature Coast in the 1980s. Then, in the last decade, he began noticing significant changes to the Sabal Palms and hardwoods that make up the bulk of the forest there. Trees had lost their canopies, many were toppled over, and the thick woodlands he grew up with had thinned to a scant remnant of their former glory. He contacted the University of South Florida College of Marine Science seeking an explanation for the apparent loss of forest. By analyzing the loss of forest as captured in satellite images of the small region surrounding the Chassahowitzka River near Homosassa, the author of this article (Matt McCarthy) and colleagues showed that there was virtually no change in forest health from the 1980s to 2003, but that around 2010 the trees began dying in swaths large enough to be seen from space. Our research group concluded that accelerating sea-level rise, combined with saltwater intrusion beneath the ground, was killing trees along the marsh-forest boundary. We expanded the study area to the entire

region from Panacea in the Panhandle to Weeki Wachee north of Tampa Bay, and found that it is losing an average of about 4 square miles of forest per year! Many Floridians have seen the effects firsthand, or in the news of rising sea-levels in places like Miami’s routinely flooded roads, but the effects are happening throughout the state. In spite of the remote and undeveloped nature of the Big Bend, it is experiencing those effects Aerial photographs from 2007 (top) and 2019 (bottom) showing forest faster than many other loss along the Fenholloway River. areas, probably because it is low-lying and has no seawalls or renourished beaches to mask the effects of an ocean, intent on reclaiming the oncesubmerged state. For the people who Map of the Big Bend area. live there, and the businesses that rely on fishing-tourism dollars, the impending risk is real and coming faster than expected.

Aerial photographs from 2006 (top) and 2017 (bottom) showing forest loss along Chassahowitzka River tributaries.

Aerial photographs from 2008 (top) and 2019 (bottom) showing forest loss near Cedar Key. Image 4 has landscape photos showing change in forest for the same location in 1988 (top) and 2014 (bottom) at Crawford Creek (copyright © Benjamin Dimmitt).

Matt McCarthy is a research scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee. He can be reached at mjm8@mail.usf.edu.

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

Crawford Creek Downstream Landscape photos showing change in forest for the same location in 1986 (top) and 2020 (bottom) (copyright © Benjamin Dimmitt). OCTOBER 2021

NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST 3


KATIE JO’S NATURE COAST ADVENTURES

T

he mornings are beginning to cool down a bit here along Florida's Nature Coast, but the fishing is still hot! Snook, redfish and black drum are big and hungry! Inshore gag grouper are another popular fish this time of the year! That's right, the larger gags begin moving back into the shallower water rocks as the water temperatures begin to drop, as we move into our fall fishing. Snook are being caught on a DOA glow 5.5 jerk bait with a 1/16-ounce jig head. Redfish can't resist a 3 to 4-inch mud minnow on the bottom on a 1/16-ounce jig head as well. I like to use some dead shrimp to chum up the black drum as they cannot resist the smell. Then I use a large live shrimp on a 1/8-ounce jighead across the bottom. For gag grouper, both cut bait on a 6/0 circle hook and a free lined pinfish are great options for these fish. I like to chum these fish, by throwing a few handfuls are dead shrimp out towards the rock. This time of the year is some of the best fishing along the Nature

W

Coast, so be sure to book your trip and get in on the action! Capt. Katie Jo Davis www.fishcrystalriverflorida.com 772-882-8932

ENGLISH.BRAD@YAHOO.COM 24304 NW 182ND AVE. HIGH SPRINGS, FL 32643 4 NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST

OCTOBER 2021

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TALES FROM THE TUPPERWARE NAVY

CENTRAL FLORIDA INLAND

H

W

elcome Back Yak fans, to add to your fund of useless information, as close as I can guess, this is the 120th time I've opened a story with that greeting! What I'm getting at is, this story marks the beginning of my 13th year with the Coastal Angler Magazine. Where did the time go? I was the first kayak guy to write for them, and look at us now. Without a doubt, kayak fishing is the fastest growing segment of both fresh and saltwater fishing. Well what can I say, back in 1980 when I first took up kayak fishing, I thought I was onto something, and boy, was I right! As a sport, we really came a long way! Anyway, let's talk fishing. First, the bad news catfish are everywhere. Artificials are the way to go, unless you just want to catch something, but of course that still leaves you with getting that slimy barbed thing off your hook! But as they say, to each their own. Enough of that; let's talk about species we actually want to catch. The snook bite on the Nature Coast has been good, though not stellar! It's not that they're not there, it's that they seem to be in an early-morning pattern, so if you're not on the water before the sun comes up, they ain't biting. For those Intrepid Souls who hit the water early, you will be rewarded. The topwater bite on, of course my trusty Zara Spook Jr in Bone, has brought on some major explosions during the magic hour at dawn. The redfish bite, at least on my last trip, was challenging. I was fishing after a storm, so that could change. It's not that I couldn't find

ello again Forest Anglers. I have to admit, I'm kind of at a loss for words this month. Everywhere we look, things have gotten so hectic these days; each morning feels like there's a whole new puzzle to solve. them, I somehow kept paddling Whether it's figuring out how to on top of them. You know, big explosion, boat rocks, fish gone! Not manage our day to day lives in this all got away though and this time of new world, or catching up on the year they look like pumpkins, super latest News Updates and Weather Reports. Personally, I need a dang bright orange, pretty cool! Coming up next, a precautionary break. With bass feeding like crazy right now, and this being the best tale. On that same trip, my buddy, whose name I will not mention but month for huge panfish; tomorrow (rain or shine) I'm gettin' out there! he's fished with me a long time. Now since I've decided to go Decades of experience, and then he fishing tomorrow; obviously, I'd like did this! The bite was slow (we're to know what the weather's going nearly at high tide) and he broke to be like. So, like many anglers, I'll the cardinal rule laying a rod right watch the news and see what our local across his knee. He went to retie forecaster thinks. Another option we another line, and to paraphrase have now are Weather Apps. Apps Forrest Gump, “and just like that”, are nice, because they give you hour his rod was gone! There's always been Murphy's Law for Fishing; it's to hour advice, any time, any place. that the unattended rod will get the Plus, you can always keep an eye on the radar, which is my favorite part. bite! Having a good idea of the weather So, paddling over between his ahead is one of the biggest advantages curses, I discovered that he lost a an angler can have. However, storm wild green carrot stix, and a Daiwa systems this season have been more certate reel were nowhere to be disorganized and erratic than ever. found. In that high brown water, you couldn't see squat! To avoid his several hundreddollar mistake, Never Leave Your Rod unattended! You might want to write that on the back of your hand. There is a bright spot for the story; the next day he went out and found it. It's nice fishing area where you don't see more than one or two people all day. This has gone on long enough; next month I hope to have a cobia story. It's about that time. Tight lines, Bruce Bruce Butler | "Stumbling Gypsy" (352) 428-5347 Bruce@IndianBayOutfitters.com Web: www.IndianBayOutfitters.com

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

They're constantly changing track and popping up out of nowhere. Personally, I always "keep an eye on the sky", and lately my 24 hour predictions seem to be more accurate than most local forecasters. That doesn't mean I plan on tuning them out, especially during hurricane season! The more info, the better. Tip- Watching clouds move and change shape, or feeling how quickly the temperature drops at sunset, will give a better idea of what's to come. Lastly, with everything going on in the world right now, I just want to remind everyone how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful area, with good-hearted people who help each other when someone's in need. It's truly special out here, and I'm proud to be part of this community. John Freeze Kayak Fishing and Nature Tours OurNationalForrest@gmail.com 352-216-5798

OCTOBER 2021

NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST 5


CEDAR KEY

420 Dock Street Cedar Key, FL 32625 352-543-5142 steamerscedarkey.com info@steamerscedarkey.com Like us on Facebook! We will cook your catch. We serve fresh local Cedar Key oysters and clams. Try our delicious Gator. We get it directly from the Gator Man himself.

Happy Hour Monday-Friday 3pm-7pm 2-4-1 Wells 1/2 Price Wine $2.50 Bud Light, Miller Lite, Yuengling

H

ey everyone, I hope y'all are having a great end of summer. I know we are! My boys and I have our tree stands up, and ready for some deer, and hopefully by time you read this, they both have their first deer. Now if hunting isn't your cup of tea, let's talk fishing. Specially, red fishing!! Right now, cedar key has a do-no-wrong feeling about it. These reds are hungry and many!! Right now, we are having days were your first stop is your only stop, and MAN, that's a great feeling. Capt. Jesus Lopez and I are catching them on everything, and I'm sure I could even throw the kitchen sink at them too! So c'mon out to Cedar Key with your bait of choice. Go to your favorite redfish spots, and enjoy the day!

Capt. Jason Clark In The Slot Fishing Charters 352-639-3209 www.intheslotfishing.com Check out our new Popping Cork line at. www.intheslotfishing.com/williamwade-tackle.html

SIGNS BANNERS Copies Fax

Forms Letterhead We also offer apparel and promotional items. Envelopes Business Cards Brochures Newsletters & More Invitations Come see us at our new location between Wedding & Graduation McDonalds and NAPA - 1517 North Young Blvd. 6 NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST

OCTOBER 2021

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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Clark harters 9-3209 ng.com g Cork ine at. lliame.html

HORSESHOE BEACH

I

t seems fall is in the air, and coming in hot, definitely my favorite time of the year. With the cool air, comes a hotter bite, and October can be one of the best months on the water. Trout bite is still picking up with your hit or miss days. Tactics are the same as far as depth and rigging; the only thing that’s changed is the bait. With the cooler weather the shrimp have become available at the shops again. If you’re planning to fish for six hours or so, I would get at least 150. There is a lot of bigger bait on the flats that like to peck at the shrimp. If you happen to catch one of these little pinfish, just put him on the hook and use him. Same is to be said for the redfish. We are using popping corks with shrimp and also cut mullet on the bottom. I will also add, if you go to cast net mullet and can only get finger-sized, use them as well. You can use the same rigging, just change your hook from a jig head

to whatever circle or bait hook you prefer. There is plenty of bait to be found. October is usually the start of some lower tides as well, so please be mindful of that. I’ve seen two boats stranded just this month. I hope everyone has a good October and a safe Halloween; it seems the year is flying by. Everybody, please stay healthy and be safe. Until next time, keep it Reel Native. Captain Brent Woodard Reel Native Fishing Charters ReelNativeFishing.com 352-284-5514

FLORIDA SUWANNEE RIVER WATERFRONT

FOR SALE

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

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352-542-0356

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OCTOBER 2021

NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST 7


8 NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST

OCTOBER 2021

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SUWANNEE

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Kay and Stacey (mother and daughter). We had a good day even though the fish didn't really cooperate.

ne of the main questions I am asked, “When is the best time to come fishing?” or “What is the best season around Suwannee?” If I were to pick out a “best” 30-day period or two, it would include part of the month of October! If you are an inshore angler here along the coastal area of the Lower Suwannee River, it’s hard to beat that part of the year between mid-October and Thanksgiving! The cooler to cold temps, will have the fish bunching up, feeding more often and for longer periods, as they fatten up winter. If you are an angler who targets redfish, this time i of the year is great for you! It doesn’t matter if you prefer fishing with real bait or artificial bait, the redfish will be hungry, and most times not very picky about what you offer them! For me, when the water temp is above 65 degrees, I prefer to fish with an artificial bait. Depending on the conditions and location, I might fish a gold spoon, spinner bait, plug or jig and soft bait. Many days, it will be a combination of all of them! This year I have changed the brand of scented lures that I am using. After around 14 years of using Gulp, I am now using FishBites Fight Club soft plastic scented lures. I have fished both for over six months side by side, and I have found the FishBites Fight Club Lures to be much tougher, and they last longer. I have to say, FishBites Fight Club lures are the better choice. Ask your local tackle shop for them or you can order online, www.fishbites.com. The month of October is also a great month for trout fishing! The trout will be schooling up and chasing bait on the grass flats, inshore reefs, oyster bars, grassy shorelines, and of course tidal creeks, so pretty much everywhere! Look for feeding birds, especially the smaller birds. Also, look for action on the surface of the water. The schools of trout will be mixed with

Debby, with another beautiful bronze Lower Suwannee Redfish.

Autumn is in the air! Sunset Lone Cabbage Reef, East Pass Lower Suwannee River.

schools of Spanish mackerel, jacks and ladyfish. These schools of fish are eating machines, and when they get on a school of bait, the show is on! Many times, you will find the bigger trout under and on the outside edges of the feeding school of fish. This is also the month that the pelagic species come through our area on their way South. Inshore it will be smaller Spanish mackerel, cobia and tarpon that you will find. Offshore you will find king mackerel, larger Spanish mackerel, bonito and cobia. Also, look for the gag grouper bite to improve in shallower water as the temps drop. 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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10 NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST

OCTOBER 2021

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INGLIS/YANKEETOWN

Available in 17', 20', 22' and 24'

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O

ctober is the beginning of Fall here on the Nature Coast, and that usually brings cooler water temps and outstanding fishing. Inshore, this year’s snook season has been fair, with many slot fish (if you know where to look). The outside points, rockpiles, and oyster bars continue to hold a lot of snook and redfish this time of the year. As water temperatures drop, I would recommend that you start to fish a little closer to shore, as most of these fish begin to stage up at the creek mouths and in the river in preparation for winter. One of my favorite lures this time of year is a nose hooked 5 inch DOA CAL jerkshad on a 3/0 Gorilla Light hook. This combination gives plenty of action, and even though the hook is mostly exposed, it is very versatile and weedless. Nearshore, the mangrove snapper remain on all of the near shore rockpiles and ledges. The grouper bite in shallow water will start to pick up. Trolling will produce the

best from October through season’s end in December. I love to bottom fish, so now is the time to put out those pinfish traps and bait them up for the next big Grouper trip. As always, if you need any help with equipment, tackle, or tactics give Captain’s Cove a call. Looking forward to a great month. Tight lines guys and gals! Andrew Fagan Ebb Tide Guide Service @capt_redfishdrew

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OCTOBER 2021

NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST 11


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i, H known genera fishing blessed and we been lu in Hom special it be fly who ar of the H a curre Guides friends take ov Dan is huge h place. Th Octo to be o still be in the a migrat treated these fi quick p into th to float the out for jum catch th on a 1/ plugs c throwi

12 NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST

OCTOBER 2021

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H

i, my name is Capt. Jonathan Hamilton, although I’m better known as Stump. I am a seventh generation Floridian, who grew up fishing the waters of Homosassa. I am a blessed, man married to my best friend, and we have two amazing children. I’ve been lucky enough to be a guide here in Homosassa for the past eleven years, specializing in in-shore fishing, whether it be fly or spin. Also, I am one of the few who are still carrying on the tradition of the Homosassa Shore Lunch! I’m a current member of the Homosassa Guides Association. One of my good friends Capt. Dan Clymer asked me to take over this fishing report for him. Dan is such an inspiration to me. It’s a huge honor that he asked me to take his place. Thanks Bud! October is such an exciting month to be on the Nature Coast! We should still be seeing decent redfish schools in the area. Remember, these are migrating mature fish and should be treated with care and respect. Most of these fish will be over-sized, so get a quick picture and quickly get them back into the water. Look for these schools to float in with incoming tides around the outside points or keys. Also, look for jumping mullet. My favorite way to catch these fish this time of the year is on a 1/4-ounce gold spoon. Top-water plugs can be a lot of fun as well. If your throwing bait, shrimp rigged on a 1/16th

ounce DOA jig head, or a free-lined pin fish can produce. Fly fishing for redfish this month can be super successful as well. You need to be there when these fish are floating in and throw shrimp pattern flies or gurglers. Fall trout fishing is one of my favorites. Look for yellow bottom with rock grass from Trout Key Bay, outside St. Martin Keys, and all the way down to Chassahowitzka. These fish are coming from offshore this time of the year, and they like noise! Fish will respond well to a DOA popping cork followed with 20 to 24 inches of fluorocarbon to a 1/16-ounce jig head, rigged with a Mirror Lure little John in glow or watermelon red flake. The secret to fishing the cork rig is to give it time in the pause, two to three seconds at least. The jig needs to fall down to their zone. Fish for snook on the outside points with good water flow. DOA 5.5 CAL in glow nose hooked with a 3/0 J hook will get the job done. As the water cools down, these fish will move to the east. Near shore rocks will be producing plenty of groceries for your dinner table. Expect to catch plenty of decent sized mangrove snapper, grunts and mackerel. Shrimp on a jig head will keep the rods bent; great fun for the kids! Grouper will also be moving into the 10 to 15-foot range. Casting or trolling plugs will produce some nice fish. Live pin fish or cut threadfins will also make them bite. October 23rd will be the 2nd annual Florida Cracker Invitational tournament out of the Florida Cracker Riverside Resort. Check out www. floridacrackerfishing.com for more info. October 27th is my monthly flytying-night at the Florida Cracker tap room in Brooksville. Again, thanks for having me and I’m really looking forward to talking fishing with all of you. Capt. Stump 352-403-2073 www.captainjhamilton.com

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Granddaughter Secelia having “Fun in the Flood”, singing Suwannee River, at Lynn and Cary’s Suwannee River home. OCTOBER 2021

NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST 13


14 NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST

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KEATON BEACH

SURF & PIER

T

O

ctober is finally here, and you know what that means! POMPANO are back in town! They spent the long hot summer up in the Carolinas. You see, they prefer the water temp to be between 65 and 75. This summer our water temp got into the upper 80’s, so October and November are prime times for catching these tasty gold nuggets. These two months are also the best two months for catching big redfish in the surf. Let’s start with redfish. For bait choice, let’s match the hatch. As long as there are mullet in the surf, then that is what you should use. When the mullet move out, then it is time to switch to blue crab. My go-t o rig is very simple. It is a fish finder/ sinker slider tied out of 80 lb. mono. The size hook depends if you are casting a cut chunk of mullet, live whole mullet or blue crab chunks. I use from a 2/0 to an 8/0 circle hook. My leader is only 18 inches long. Do not concern yourself with 80 lb. leader being too big. I have caught surf redfish using 100 lb. mono! I have also landed huge reds on 480 lb. steel cable while shark fishing with half of a 13-inch whiting. Surf redfish are not picky.

Pompano on the other hand are very picky. When I head to the beach, I like to have several kinds of bait ready to go. Matching the hatch is again crucial. If you were in a mountain trout stream, if might be a dry fly. Offshore, it may be a live blue runner. For pompano its sand fleas, clams, crabs, Fishbites and shrimp. Fresh and live is always the best. The rigging is very simple, or as complicated as you want to make it. For me, it is simply a double dropper rig. My twist is a rig that a friend of mine developed 10 years ago. It is called the Fishing Mortician Rig. I use a white float on the top, and an orange bead on the bottom, which again matches the hatch. I will leave you with the secret to be a better surf angler. Just put a good bait in front of a hungry fish! Now get out and enjoy this best time of year. See you on the beach! 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

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Billy Pillow of Perry, Fl. with a 23-inch Sow trout caught September 6, 2021

rout fishing was grand this week, as we limited out for three straight days, taking two hours 40 minutes the first day, one hour and 30 minutes the next, and four hours the third day. We also released some monster reds with a 29-inch fish, a 33-inch red and lost a 36 inch plus, bull at the boat. We caught all our fish lately on live pinfish rigged up on 30 lb. test TrikFish clear mono leaders under Back Bay Thunders with ten-pound test TrikFish Game Green monofilament on Shimano Stradic 4000 reels matched with STAR Seagis SK817FT76 rods. Our trout were in 4.0 rising to 4.5 feet of water in the first half of the incoming tide. I would expect this trend to continue in October as well, as artificial baits beginning to shine as we lose our floating grass to the east breezes, associated with some fall fronts in mid to late October. Shrimp, which are now out to 8 to 10-foot depths will begin moving in to 4 to 6 feet, and this will improve the grub-n-jig fishing in October. I would bounce Assassin’s Sea Shads in Cantaloupe, Pink Ghost, Limetreuse /glow and and 5-inch shads in Pink Ghost, Limetreuse Ghost and the NEW Northern Minnow. Expect to catch trout and reds on

Father and son “Double” for Larry and Hunter Stone of Waleska, Ga. September 10, 2021 OCTOBER 2021

Bridgett Mann of Ocala, with a fine trout taken September 11, 2021

topwater, such as She Dogs, Top Dog Jrs. and Zara Super Spooks, if the grass is gone. Lipped hard jerkbaits such as Bite-a-Bait fighters, Bomber Long A’s. and SmithWick Rogues will also take a slew of trout this month. Two to three feet is ideal for these hard jerkbaits. Tip: Keep an Assassin 5-inch shad (soft jerkbait) rigged, and at the ready for a follow-up bait, to fish which swingand-miss your lipped baits. Alewife, Pink or Limetreuse would be my color choice here. If reds are your ticket, October will shine, as big schools of reds will move through our Big Bend area in late October. Have Flats Intruder HEX Spoons in Gold and Copper I the 1/2 oz. size ready when you spook these schools, while running or when they ambush your baits during a trout drift. If you are searching for reds, tie on a Thunder-Spin jig spinner with a Texas Roach, Copperhead, or Chicken-on-a-chain Sea shad for your tail color choice. 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

NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST 15


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HOT SURF FISHING

T

he weather is starting to cool, and days are shorter. Sunrise is a 7 a.m., and it’s getting dark around 7:15 p.m. At the end of October, daylight savings time will begin. Fishing on the beach has been improving, and October is an excellent beach-fishing month. Snook and tarpon have been cruising near the trough, and my friend Larry recently hooked a tarpon that was so big it straightened out the treble hooks on his Krocodile spoon. Snook are being caught on live bait (greenies or croakers) but are also hitting jigs and crankbaits. In October, you may harvest one snook between 28 and 32 inches, except in the catchand-release areas on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The weeds (sargassum) are much better, and the wind has not been that bad. In general, tides are higher and the trough is deep. Croakers and whiting are hitting small jigs tipped with shrimp, and they can also be caught on small jigs. Cast, let the jig hit bottom, and then jerk it near the top of the water and let it sit. The fish are trying to pick it off the sand. Numbers of small jacks have been reported, with an average size of 2 pounds. I usually use 3/8-ounce DOA chartreuse jig with a 4-inch pearl Shad Tail. I’ve had good luck for jacks, ladyfish and snook when there is bait present. Look for birds, and then walk the shoreline looking for bait. Most of the fishing action is in the trough during high incoming or outgoing tides. The best time to fish is morning and evening. I’ve had more luck this year fishing slower and keeping the lure down near the bottom. On low tide, the fish are not in the trough; look for deeper shorelines. I’ve been fishing the bridges in the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie around dusk and at night. There’s some hot night fishing on topwater for snook where overhead lights hit the water. I use Zara Spooks (gold) and Rapala Skitterwalks (trout) and have been getting some great action on preslot snook. If you fish from the bridge, you’ll need a long-handled net. Try fishing around the lights on Jensen Beach Causeway or the 10-cent bridge in Stuart. Crabs are swimming along with the current near the top of the water. Predator fish are looking to the top to grab them. Both bridges are excellent snook spots, and you might just catch a big trout. Richard Matteson is a longtime contributor to Coastal Angler Magazine who writes for Stuart Rod and Reel Club. Contact him at (336) 414-3440.

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PRESSURE IER

W

By Ryan Izquierdo

hen I was 12 years old, I moved to Palm Beach County, and I didn’t know anyone. I found a great way to spend my time when I discovered the Juno Beach Pier. From the first moment I walked out on that beachfront pier, my addiction for pier fishing was born. I have become a better fisherman and a better person because of it. What I find most exciting about pier fishing is the diversity it offers. Seasonal changes bring different species to catch and a variety of techniques to catch them. Bait & Lures: Organization is key. There is usually a limit on how many rods you’re allowed to bring on the pier. I bring a light spinning rod to catch bait, a conventional rod for casting live baits on bottom and a long surf rod to cast lures and freeline live baits. I always have Sabiki rigs. Usually you can find pods of pilchards, sardines, cigar minnows or other baitfish at piers. I use a size 3 Sabiki and a 1-ounce weight. Cast into the school and jig slowly. You will have a bucket of live bait in no time. From tarpon and snapper to snook, pretty much every species will eat a live pilchard. I keep a little bit of everything in my tackle bag to match the conditions: leader from 20 to 80 pounds, pyramid and egg weights, swivels and 1/0 to 6/0 J and circle hooks. Mullet Run: The changing of seasons initiates the mullet run. Millions of baitfish push south along Florida’s east coast. It’s not hard to spot or hear. Mullet are being attacked from every direction by hungry tarpon, snook,

16 FLORIDA

OCTOBER 2021

jacks, Spanish and king mackerel, bluefish and sharks. I recommend buying or cast netting mullet on the beach or in the river. Make sure to have a livewell or bucket and bubbler to keep the bait alive. Hook mullet through the lips or under the dorsal fin. Live-line them around the outside edges of bait schools with 60- to 100-pound leader, a 6/0 to 8/0 circle hook, and nothing smaller than a 5000size reel loaded with 30- to 50-pound braid. I recommend a drop net to help land and release your catch safely. Artificial Lures: I love to throw artificial lures at piers. I find the most success when the wind is blowing and the conditions are rough with white wash in the surf. Large 2- to 4-ounce plugs, swimbaits, Flair Hawks, bucktails and topwater plugs are some of my favorites. If I’m throwing lures, I won’t use anything less than 60-pound leader. Throw lures at first light and sundown because it can be tough hooking up in the middle of the day. Try and match the hatch with whatever live bait is around. Throw lures similar in size and color to what’s actually in the water. For more pier fishing tips from Ryan Izquierdo, check out the videos posted on his YouTube channel: Ryan Iz Fishing.

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king harks. ng or n the Make ell or keep

gh the al fin. d the chools eader, k, and 500030- to mmend d and . I love res at uccess ng and ounce of my

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OCTOBER 2021

FLORIDA 17


21

From Yam just

STONE CRAB HARVEST OPENS OCTOBER 15TH

S

tone crab season opens Oct. 15 and runs through May 1. Remember that regulations changes were made last year that changed requirements for traps as well as the minimum length for legally harvestable claws. The minimum harvestable claw length is 2 7/8 inches. Trapping is the most efficient method of collecting the legal limit of 1-gallon of stone crab claws per-person, per-day. There is a 2-gallon possession limit per vessel, regardless of how many harvesters are on the boat. Requirements for stone crab traps are also very specific, so be sure to check the current regulations at myfwc.com before dropping them. Legal traps can be purchased at most bait and tackle stores. Recreational harvesters are allowed up to five traps. Although it’s not nearly as easy as pulling traps, diving and snorkeling for stone crabs is more adventurous and a lot of fun. In many areas, you can find spiny lobsters and stone crabs on the same reefs or rock piles. Whether diving or trapping, it is illegal to harvest claws from eggbearing females. Although it is permitted to take both claws if they are of legal length, most people choose to take just one. This leaves the crab with something to feed and defend itself with, which also allows it to re-grow its missing claw more quickly. For more information, go to myfwc.com.

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ith students across the country returning to school, Mud Hole Custom Tackle stepped up in its efforts to bring custom fishing rod building and tackle crafting to the youth of America. As the industry’s number one supplier of tools, supplies, components and education content, Mud Hole is uniquely positioned to engage kids and create an educational experience through rod building. “We’ve been working closely with teachers and school organizations throughout the United States for over a decade, teaching students valuable life skills, and in many cases, providing an avenue to earn required academic credits in their science and agriculture programs,” said Brook Oliva, Vice President of Operations at Mud Hole. “Rod building is the core of our business, and we are always excited to bring this craft to kids. Whether they pursue rod building as a pathway to a career in the hunting and fishing industry, or if they simply gain a lifelong passion, Mud Hole is happy to play a small part in their development.” Mud Hole works very closely with educators as well as youth groups and clubs, including Boy Scouts of America and 4-H, to provide discounted pricing for all the equipment and supplies needed to bring rod building and tackle crafting to the classroom. Mud Hole also provides personal online instruction to the teachers, sharing the skills needed to transfer rod building 24 FLORIDA

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expertise to their students. Since its inception over 13 years ago, the Mud Hole Education Program has reached more than 650 institutions and over 30,000 students across America and in Canada and Australia, with hands on activities that promote classroom engagement. “It’s an honor for me to work directly with the teachers who bring this important skill set to students across the country,” said Anthony Youmans, Mud Hole’s Education Program Director. “I lead online rod building workshops each month dedicated to teachers, and I attend state-level teacher conventions throughout the year. We have even set up a Mud Hole Education Program Facebook group as a platform for educators to share their experiences and techniques with each other. It’s an amazing community, and I am so proud to support it.” In 2021, Mud Hole has stepped up efforts to reach new students with new classroom-focused education kits and enhanced price discounts, and adding new online resources to assist teachers through their curriculum— by all with the goal of supporting education. For more information about Mud Hole’s Education Program, contact Anthony Youmans directly at 866-790-7637, ext. 135.

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DRAG: SET IT AND FORGET IT

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By Will Schmidt

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cringe every time I see it, whether it’s a seasoned pro or newbie. A fish makes a blistering run; the angler reaches down to tighten the drag only to part ways with the fish due to too much pressure. There are a variety of reasons why tightening the drag during a fight is a bad idea. First, as the diameter of the spool gets smaller with less line, the drag already actually increases. The spool is spinning at the same rate, but less line is coming off. Physics, who knew? Also, the drag of the line itself in the water adds more strain—the more line, the more pressure. Finally, even if the line doesn’t break, the chances of pulling or straightening the hook increases with the additional load. Worst of all, losing a fish due to applying too much pressure is one of the easiest things to avoid. Set your drag and forget it. Old-school tactics still hold true today when it comes to setting a drag. Set it to 20 to 30 percent of line test strength. For example, if you’re using 10-pound test, you want your drag to be set between 2 and 3 pounds, 4 to 6 pounds for 20-pound test. To do this, you need a scale and a friend to hold it. An inexpensive spring scale will do the trick. Attach the line to the scale and pull against it. When the drag starts slipping, read the scale and that’s your drag setting. There’s some debate as to whether you should pull straight or with a bend in the rod. I use a bend, and it has never failed me. I generally set my drags at 25 percent of the test strength of the line, but there are certain situations that call for going higher and lower. If you are grouper fishing or chasing big snook near structure, you need to be able to turn the fish by applying maximum pressure. In this case, setting your drag more toward 30 percent of the test strength would be advisable. Because this rule was devised before the advent of braid, the type of line should also be

considered. The stretch of mono gives you a bit of forgiveness at the strike and during jumps. When setting the drag for braid, lighter or closer to 20 or 25 percent would be sensible. Many seasoned anglers, myself included, will add extra pressure to turn a wayward fish by thumbing or palming the spool. This can be useful, but it takes practice to get that touch, and all who do it will at some point apply too much pressure. Sometimes it’s a case of turn the fish or lose it, so your only option is to apply more pressure. However, in general, your best bet is to set it and forget it. Will Schmidt is a seasoned tournament angler who has been writing about fishing for more than two decades.

Gulf Cobia Study Underway

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exas researchers are conducting some pretty cool research with Gulf of Mexico cobia in order to better understand the migratory patterns of this highly mobile species. Each spring and fall, you’ll see tower-bearing cobia boats cruising Gulf Coast beaches sight fishing for cobia as they migrate along the coast from Texas to the west coast of Florida and back again. Research has shown that brownies over-winter off the coast of Mississippi and Alabama as well as off South Florida, where there is mixing of Gulf and Atlantic cobia stocks. Researchers with the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation are tagging Texas cobia with pop-up satellite archival transmitting tags (PSATs) to better understand the species. Many Texas anglers have reported declining cobia landings in recent years. Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and federal agencies have funded additional assessments of Texas’ cobia populations. Areas of interest are post-release survival, habitat use patterns and seasonal movements. Evaluating whether or not cobia stocks mix between U.S. and Mexican waters is of particular interest. It could have Gulf-wide management implications if the stock overlap between the U.S. Gulf and Mexican waters is high. To learn more about the program, and how to claim your reward if you catch a tagged one, check out this video: https://bit.ly/LoneStarLing.

10 NATIONAL

OCTOBER 2021

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INSPECT AND MAINTAIN YOUR BOAT’S HYDRAULIC STEERING E

By the Experts at Dometic Marine

xperienced boaters know regular inspection, preventative maintenance and fixing small problems before they become large ones are keys to trouble-free time on the water. Many boaters, however, tend to overlook hydraulic steering systems. This isn’t surprising, given these systems’ reliability and durability. Owners of outboardpowered boats expect smooth, easy steering control and rarely think about steering-system components until they wear out or need repair. According to Brian Dudra, vice president/ general manager for Dometic Marine, boaters can ensure trouble-free steering and extend the life of components through simple inspections and maintenance. “While each of our hydraulic systems are designed for the harsh marine environment, like any critical control system, it requires periodic checks and maintenance,” Dudra explained. “As per your owner’s manual and product labels, hydraulic steering systems should be inspected prior to every use for fluid level, steering response, leaks or worn/ binding components.” In addition, most systems require a small amount of maintenance from a qualified dealer every six months. Here’s how to inspect and care for your hydraulic steering system. Check the Helm: Starting with the steering helm, make sure the steering cylinder and helm hydraulic hose connections are tight. Dudra recommends greasing the helm shaft when installing the steering wheel to facilitate easier future removal. Check hydraulic fluid level inside the helm by unscrewing the fill plug and looking inside. The level should be 1/8- to ¼-inch below the lowest thread in the fill port. If lower than this, fill the helm to the proper level, but avoid over-filling. Check steering response when turning the wheel. It should respond within a quarter turn. If not, the system might need fluid or there might be air in the system, which requires purging. For tilt-and-lock steering helms, make sure the plastic covers are secured. Inspect Hoses & Fittings: When inspecting hoses, run your hand down them to feel for cuts, chafing or cracks. If you discover wear, have a qualified service shop replace suspect hoses. Also, ensure hose fittings are tight. Feel for hydraulic fluid leaks or weeps by running a finger around the fitting. If you find a leak, tighten the fitting. If that fails, have a qualified service shop address the issue.

Check Steering Cylinder & Glands:

Most outboard-powered boats use front-mounted hydraulic steering cylinders. The cylinder should be periodically inspected with focus on the cylinder hose connections and glands on each end of the cylinder to ensure there are no leaks. 12 NATIONAL

OCTOBER 2021

Inspect the glands, which contain seals, on the ends of the steering cylinder by running your finger around the edges. If you discover fluid weeping, it’s time to replace the gland with authentic SeaStar parts. Check the steering cylinder’s shaft and support rod. Inspect the cylinder shaft for salt buildup, corrosion and nicks that might damage the cylinder. Major damage might require replacement of the entire cylinder. Apply a thin film of grease to the visible portions of the support rod. Remove and inspect the rod annually. The support rod and outboard tilt tube must be cleaned of old grease and debris prior to re-applying quality marine grease before re-installing.

Fix Leaks: If the hose fittings are weeping fluid, the hoses might require replacement. The same applies to the glands. SeaStar offers a gland replacement kit and O-ring seals for the bleeders and other fittings. If you follow the provided instructions carefully, fixing leaks is relatively easy for competent DIY boaters. You can also turn the job over to a qualified marine shop. To ensure the steering is secure and tight, check all assembly nuts for proper tightness,

including the adjusting nut on the starboard side of the support rod. Purge Air: Air in the hydraulic steering system causes sloppy unresponsive steering and noisy operation. It can make your boat unsafe. Air finds its way into the hydraulic system through leaks or when replacing key components. It must be purged through a process called “bleeding.” Your owner’s manual explains bleeding. If you lack confidence, tools or manpower to do it yourself, ask a qualified marine shop to handle this.

Check for Water Intrusion. Make sure water hasn’t entered the system. Water can cause damage and internal corrosion. “This is a subjective examination, but can be performed by taking a syringe and sampling the fluid in the helm reservoir,” Dudra advised. “If the fluid looks like ‘chocolate milk,’ then the fluid is likely contaminated with water.” If this occurs, the entire system must be inspected for leaks. Once these are fixed, the system should be flushed with clean oil to remove any contaminated oil. To learn more about marine steering and components from the industry leader, visit www.dometic.com.

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Together. Carrying what matters most. 14 NATIONAL

OCTOBER 2021

By Rex Hannon

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itting in the Cancun International Airport, I couldn’t help but reflect on the past 15 days on Mexico’s beautiful Caribbean coast. In August, I traveled to the little fishing village Xcalak to compete in the Silver Scales International Fly Fishing Tournament. Xcalak is a quaint little village very near the border of Belize in southern Quintana Roo. It doesn’t make it on most tourist lists. In fact, a large 9:54 AM percentage of Mexican citizens have probably never heard of the place. If it wasn’t for Xcalak’s world-class flats fishery, even fewer would know of it. The Silver Scales International Fly Fishing Tournament is an annual gathering of some of the finest saltwater fly fishers on the planet. The tournament focuses on the “grand slam” of permit, bonefish and tarpon. Combine that with a snook, and you have the “super slam.” Points are assigned for each fish, and there’s an added bonus for anglers who catch a slam. The grand slam is all three species in a 24-hour period, or in this case the day’s allotted fishing hours. Xcalak is an amazing fishery. If your bucket list includes the pursuit of this elusive challenge, there is no better place on the planet. Sighting schools of bonefish is commonplace, but the real prize is the abundance of “black-tailed devils” known as permit. Just because there are great numbers of these highly sought after game fish, they are by no mean easy. It’s much more fishing than catching. Fifteen teams and 30 total anglers fished three days in 2021, and the results were impressive. There were seven grand slams caught and two super slams. Total catch included 27 bonefish, three snook, 13 tarpon and 22 permit. Like I stated earlier, the Silver Scales draws some very talented anglers from around the globe. Brothers Javier and Mauricio Osorio, of Escamas Plateadas dedicated months to ensure the gathering was a success. The success our team “Fly Fish Costa Maya” is due to the passion and dedication of my friend Will Robins and the hard work and intimate knowledge of our guide Moises Cordova. The tournament is a grueling three days of hot sun, little sleep and nothing short of physical torture. It was one of the best times of my life. Preparation, hard work and endurance paid off in a respectable fourth-place finish. But, our success in fishing the tournament was nowhere near the highlight of this trip. Just knowing there are special places and people like this warms the heart and makes you want to return. I was anxious to board the plane for home and see my beautiful wife, but— with God’s blessing—I know I’ll return to this place soon.

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FISH A LIPLESS CRANK

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TYLER WOOLCOTT

he weather is cooling, and bass are feeding heavily before the spawn. This time of year, baitfish is prevalent in waters across the country, and there is one lure that puts fish in the boat just about everywhere. This bait is a lipless crankbait. A lipless crank can play a huge role in getting baitfish-feeding bass to bite. I use it all over the country. Sometimes it’s as easy as casting it out and retrieving it steadily. But sometimes it’s a bit more complicated. Inside the lure, there are rattles. Sizes vary from ¼-ounce up to an ounce, and it is best to match the size of baitfish bass are feeding on. There are different types of rattles inside different lures. Two I like are a multi-rattle and a one-knock. Multi-rattles make a lot of noise. I throw this style when fish are very active and feeding heavily. The noise draws their attention from real baitfish and gets them to react and eat your bait. I like the one-knocker version and its slower, deeper-pitch knock when fish are feeding on baitfish, but not very actively. Fish tend to scatter out when they aren’t actively feeding, and that deeper pitch can sometimes trigger them to bite. There are many ways to retrieve a lipless crankbait. A steady retrieve can sometimes be the trick, especially if you see bass

feeding. But my absolute favorite way to fish a lipless crank is to yo-yo it. This is a varied retrieve with the reel handle, with an occasional pull and pause with the rod to let the bait flutter up and fall back down. This technique is deadly. When you pull the bait up fast, it makes a loud rattle. Then, when you let it flutter down, it looks like an injured baitfish, and bass can’t resist it. In the fall, bass also feed on crayfish in some parts of the country. A lipless crank can be a massive player in this scenario. When crayfish flee, their tails smack against their bodies and make a clacking noise similar to a rattle. When deciding colors, I match the color of the lure to the color of the baitfish present. 13 Fishing makes an awesome lure called the Magic Man that comes in both multirattle and one-knocker versions. When matching baitfish, I use chromes, whites and sometimes chartreuse. When mimicking crayfish, I use reds and oranges.

Trap Fishing Gear I’ve done a ton of experimenting with setups for lipless cranks, and I’ve got it down to a science. When dealing with treble hooks, you want a rod with a decent amount of backbone and a bit of bend to let the fish get the hooks. I use a 13 Fishing Omen Black 7’4MH Moderate action rod. I pair this with a 7:1 Concept A 13 Fishing reel spooled with 15-pound Seaguar Abrazx line. Tyler Woolcott is a professional tournament angler and guide. Check out his website at www.tylerwoolcottfishing.com.

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

OCTOBER 2021

NATIONAL 15


PHOTO COURTESY OF KNOCKIN TAIL LURES

TIPS FOR CATCH-AND-RELEASE FLOUNDER

A MONSTER CANADIAN STURGEON

W

hite Sturgeon can live longer than 100 years, so it’s likely this monster fish has been swimming between the northern Pacific and British Columbia’s Fraser River for the better part of a century. According to the Vancouver Sun, it took a group of Canadian anglers about 25 minutes to land this huge sturgeon in August. It stretched the tape to 11-feet, 6-inches and had a girth of 55 inches. An estimate based on those measurements puts the weight of the fish near 900 pounds. That would make it a Canadian provincial record for the species, according to the Sun. The anglers were fishing the Fraser River east of Vancouver. National Hockey League great Pete Peeters and his buddy Jake Driedger took turns on the rod. White sturgeon are widely protected, which makes them a difficult species in terms of records. In British Columbia, catch-and-release fishing for sturgeon is allowed, but fish longer than 5 feet must remain in the water before release. These protections as well their size makes it nearly impossible to get a certified weight on angler catches. The IGFA all-tackle world record white sturgeon was caught in 1983 and weighed just 468 pounds. There have been several reported but uncertified catches heavier than 1,000 pounds, including a 12-foot, 4-incher caught in 2012 from the Fraser River. It was estimated at 1,100 pounds. However, it’s likely the all-tackle record is permanent because it’s no longer possible to weigh white sturgeon. For more on fishing opportunities in British Columbia, see www.gofishbc.com.

16 NATIONAL

OCTOBER 2021

By Capt. Michael Okruhlik

s the weather changes, so do the fishing patterns. This year, along with the seasonal changes, we also have some regulation changes to keep in mind. Here in Texas and also in Florida there are new closed seasons for flounder in 2021. From Nov. 1-Dec. 14, Texas flounder will be catch and release only. In Florida, the recreational season will be closed Oct. 15-Nov. 30. These closures are part of regulations-tightening trend for Gulf and Atlantic states after a federal study showed southern flounder numbers at historically low levels. I’m happy to report we’re still catching flounder, but be sure to check for updates to your state’s seasons and bag limits before applying the following tips. I enjoy the precise approach to successfully and consistently catch flounder. Although I won’t be able to harvest any during the closed period, I’ll still land some saddle blankets for photos before release. I’ll also modify my tactics to improve my hook-up ratio, which will also increase the odds of flounder survival during this spawning season. While targeting flounder, I generally pause after I feel the initial strike. I do this for a few reasons. Flounder hold their prey in locked jaws for a period of time in order to kill the bait and reposition it before swallowing. I don’t get as many hook-ups when setting the hook on the first thump of a flounder strike. In preparation for the closed season, I’ve practiced downsizing lures. A shorter and smaller profile significantly increased my first-strike hookup ratio. A lure that has proven very effective is the new 3.25-inch Knockin Tail Lure. It has a small profile, which allows for a wider gap between the plastic and the hook tip. With the boney jaw of a flounder, ample hook exposure increases penetration. This lure also has a built-in tail rattle and a ton of action. When targeting flounder, I start each day with a new jighead, and I might even replace it during the day depending on the bottom structure in the area. A sharp hook is crucial to consistently piercing a flounder’s jaw, which is where most of the hooks will be if you’re not waiting for the second or third bite, which is what I do if I plan to retain my catch. I also recommend a jighead with a strong solid hook with little to no flex. My final tip for targeting flounder is to use bright colors. Any color can work, but I catch more flounder on bright patterns. Some of my favorites are, white/limetruese, chartreuse with glitter and a bright green/bright red combo. I hope these tips give you the edge during this year’s flounder runs. Don’t forget to take a kid fishing. Flounder can be an easy target for young anglers, even on lures. Capt. Michael Okruhlik is the inventor of Knockin Tail Lures, Controlled Descent Lures and the owner of www.MyCoastOutdoors.com.

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