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

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NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST EDITION

FREE

DRUM BEAT

LONG DISTANCE LURES

LOCAL REPORTS

GROUPER TIME!

@CAMTAMagazine

OF THE WORKING MAN

PHOTO COURTESY OF LAURA CHERIE IG: @LAURALOVES2FISH

VOLUME 27 • ISSUE 326

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The Workingman’s Drum By CAM Staff

Young angler Hayes Grinnell did battle with this big black drum while fishing the Texas coast with Slinging Mullet Guide Service and Get Em Guide Service.

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n some circles, black drum don’t get the respect they deserve. Maybe it’s their appearance? With weird chin barbells and a humped head, they hug the bottom, looking like the hunchbacked cousins of the sleeker redfish inshore anglers adore. Or maybe it’s their reluctance to take a lure? Black drum feed primarily by scent, and while you might catch one slinging a spoon, targeting them requires bait, which is more effort than plug and paddletail aficionados are willing to put forth. However, for anglers who aren’t too prissy to get their hands dirty, black drum have a whole lot to offer. They are the workingman’s drum, found nearshore and inshore throughout the Gulf of Mexico and up the Atlantic seaboard to New England. Black drum pull hard, with powerful bulldogging runs regardless of size. And they grow quite large, reaching weights well over 100 pounds. On top of that, they provide consistent action in a wide range of areas where they can be caught. Shore-bound anglers can target them from docks, bridges, jetties and piers, where drum hunt crustaceans around structure. Surf anglers often connect with them on quartered blue crabs cast outside the breakers. From a boat, passes and inlets are prime feeding grounds as is nearshore structure. Shallow-water anglers find younger specimens way up in the estuaries tailing like redfish for fiddler crabs in tidal creeks.

Their movements are seasonal, but as long as you’ve got bait, you can pursue black drum pretty much anywhere you choose. Like most fish, they bite best on a moving tide, when your bait’s scent disperses over a wide area. They’ll eat halved blue crabs, whole fiddler crabs or mud crabs with backs cracked to let a little scent out, and also live or dead shrimp or fresh cut bait. On the northern end of their range, anglers add clams, mussels and blood worms to the array of baits a drum will eat. As long as your bait is on the bottom and smelling like food, it’s likely to draw the attention of a drum. Rigging and gear are pretty simple. A classic Carolina rig with just enough weight to keep the bait on bottom will get the job done in most situations. Up in the creeks, where you’ll be doing more casting and maybe even sight fishing, baits can be fished on a jighead or even a simple hook with a split shot. Tackle in the 20-pound class is a good starting point, and it’s wise to beef up to pull big drum off structure. They do get big. The IGFA world record, caught in 1975 off Delaware, weighed 113 pounds, 1 ounce. Fish in the 40- to 50-pound range are regular catches across the drum’s range. Those big fish aren’t good to eat, though. The meat is often full of worms by the time fish reach weights heavier than about 15 pounds. Smaller drum are excellent table fare. For more information, go to coastalanglermag.com.

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IT’S GROUPER TIME AGAIN! By Capt. Quinlyn Haddon

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ay is finally here, opening grouper season for fishermen on the Atlantic Coast. For the past several months of the season closure, charter captains in the Florida Keys have been boasting incredible throw-back grouper catches. The reopening of this species enriches each fishing trip with an extra opportunity for a great fighting fish, which is also excellent tablefare. Grouper fishing can easily be peppered into a day of fishing by dropping a bottom rig down while yellowtail fishing, trolling lures or stopping offshore to deep-drop for snowy grouper while on the mahi hunt. While the fishery in the Keys may not be famous for its bottom fishing, there is no reason it shouldn’t be. Red, black and gag grouper are plentiful and close to land. Snowy grouper aren’t too far either, and can be reasonably reliable to target. Snowy grouper are found within 1,000 feet, and can be targeted with electric or hand-crank set ups. Electric reels are advisable when mahi season is in full swing, as to make quick work of the one-per-boat limit of snowy grouper. The trek offshore for a single fish might seem like a waste of time, but there is a little more to it. Snowy grouper can get quite large and yield impressively sized, excellent tasting fillets. There

are also the welcomed bycatches of rosies, barrelfish and tilefish while deep dropping in these areas. Furthermore, there should be ample opportunities for mahi fishing on the way to and from the spot. Another reason the electric reel is preferable is an 8-pound weight should be used to keep your bait on the bottom in the heavy current. Keep your weight as close to the bottom as you can and utilize a chicken rig, with multiple hooks along the leader, baited with just about anything. Continuously recheck the bottom to make sure it hasn’t gotten away from you, and bring a spare weight or two, as it isn’t overly difficult to lose one while fishing this way. Targeting red, black and gag grouper on the reef can be a little different than typical grouper fishing on the west coast of Florida. Heavy weights can easily get snagged on the rocky bottom in the heavy current, potentially making inexperience quite expensive in terms of lost tackle. There are also plenty of smaller reef fish waiting to pick apart your bait. Over-baiting can be a good tactic, but the most reliable way to bypass these conditions, is to simply freeline a live bait on a jighead. After breaking client’s hearts by releasing trophy grouper throughout the closed season, we are thrilled to be able to add these tasty critters to the icebox yet again. Right now is an excellent time to visit the Florida Keys and enjoy our full fishery. Capt. Quinlyn Haddon guides with Blue Magic Charters out of Marathon, Fla.


LURES

CASTING FAR: THE DYNAMICS OF LONG DISTANCE LURES

PATRICK SEBILE

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’ve enjoyed fishing from the shore since I was a teen angler, and one thing that became obvious to me very quickly was there are numerous situations when casts are a tad bit short to reach targeted fish in specific situations. This is a constant truism when fishing from the bank, the beach, a pier or jetty, but it also applies to boat anglers. Quick, long casts are often required for fastmoving fish like tuna. Long casts are also useful when it’s necessary to keep the boat away from reefs, boulders and breakers for safety or to avoid spooking fish. Long ago, I began making sure to always have lures in my possession that

were especially efficient for reaching out long distances. These lures sometimes trade realistic swimming action for distance, yet there are also a few that find a balance between great range and great action. When you read the packaging of a saltwater lure, and especially a surffishing lure, it often mentions how good the lure is for longdistance casts— or how good it is supposed to be. The problem is, there is no scale. There is no quantifiable reference for comparing lures that honestly presents the real numbers of yards any given lure will deliver. Marketing promises do not

always translate into real performance. To make things more complex, there is theoretical and real distance. A lure that casts great on a parking lot with no breeze can turn into a disaster when casting into an onshore breeze at night, which are conditions many serious fishermen face in the surf. There’s no magic, and what makes some lures reach farther distances than others is a mix between their concept, their balance and, to a certain extent, the gear used to throw them when the goal is to reach a little bit farther than other anglers. This conversation is all about the physics that translates to longer casting distance for better fishing results. The key points that will help you pick the proper lures to do the job are shape, buoyancy, the position of weight on the lure, the total weight and sometimes extra appendages, such as side wings that really help a lure fly as far as possible. These elements are just a primer to a discussion on lures designed for distance. Next month, I plan to go in-depth on ways you can select lures that will truly help you cast super-long distances to reach fish other lures cannot. Arming yourself with a longcasting arsenal gives you an edge in catching fish, simply because you’ll be able put a lure in front of them.

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Legendary angler Patrick Sebile is a world record holder and an award-winning designer of innovative lures and fishing gear. Check out his creations at abandofanglers.com.

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Shiner Fishing for Giant Florida

LARGEMOUTHS

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ass tournament anglers get excited about 20-pound five-fish limits, and a 30-pound tournament sack is a lifetime achievement for most. It takes a little bit more to impress hawg hunter Sean Rush. Rush makes a living guiding clients to trophy largemouth bass, mostly on Rodman Reservoir in north Florida. The best five fish haul his boat has seen weighed 61 pounds, 9 ounces. Think about that. That’s a more than 12-pound average. Rush said it was the best fishing day he’s ever witnessed, with two fish well over 13 pounds and the smallest of the five weighing a measly 11 pounds, 1 ounce. Most bass anglers across the country spend a lifetime seeking out a single 10-pound-plus largemouth. Rush’s anglers did five lifetime’s worth of trophy catching in a single day on April 26 of 2021. “And we probably lost between three and six fish that were that big or bigger,” Rush added after rattling off the astounding statistics. “Those guys were from New Jersey. They had never done any Florida shiner fishing before. I told them it was all downhill from there.” The downhill slide, however, is not too steep. Even a decent day using Rush’s techniques on Rodman produces results that would impress just about anyone. When it comes to catching big largemouths, he’s got several advantages over your average angler. Location is a big factor. Rodman is a 9,500acre giant bass factory. It is a 15-mile long stump field with a deep river channel running down the middle of it and the matted vegetation Florida

By Nick Carter

fisheries are known for. In more than three decades guiding, Rush said his clients have boated close to 1,000 bass better than 10 pounds. He landed 73 10-plus-pounders last year alone and has overseen the landing of eight fish on FWC’s TrophyCatch Hall of Fame list, which is for fish heavier than 13 pounds. He does 95 percent of his trips on Rodman. “If fishing is good, we commonly catch 30 to 60 fish a day,” he said. “The average size at Rodman is pretty solid. Usually we’ll have fish in the 8- to 10-pound class on the top end of that range.” Tactics are everything when it comes to catching fish like that. Live bait provides a huge advantage over the lures tournament anglers must fish. Rush fishes exclusively with live, wildcaught shiners, which he keeps lively in a huge bait tank on his custom-built, 22-foot Prodigy Razor. The tournament guys can keep their fiberglass glitter rockets. Rush’s sturdy aluminum boat is rigged out for the style of fishing he does, and it’s powered by a 150 hp Mercury with a power-assisted hand tiller. The tackle is also sturdy. Rush pairs heavy duty Daiwa 300 Lexa baitcasting reels with super heavy 7 ½- and 8-foot rods he said are essentially musky rods. He fishes straight 20-pound Berkley Big Game in green, which is thin enough for low visibility and strong enough to get the job done. He hooks his shiners through the tail above the anal fin with 3/0, 4/0 or 5/0 Eagle Claw 84s, which

are standard J hooks with a slight offset. In a typical spread, his anglers will work shiners under bobbers set 3 to 5 feet deep, and he’ll throw out one or two shiners on freelines to swim up under the vegetation. For big fish, he prefers shiners 7 to 9 inches long. Rush’s big-fish reputation has gotten around, so he stays booked 300-plus days a year. His favorite time of year is fall, before the December through February spawn. “It’s prespawn, the fishing pressure is lower and the fish are feeding up that time of year,” he said. “The fish are also big then. They look like gorillas.” Late spring and summer are also good, once fish settle back into normal patterns after the spawn. Most of the year he targets them around floating mats of vegetation and deep river bends. The exception is during the spawn, when bass push up on the flats. Rush does not bed fish, though. He’ll set up on mats near known spawning flats and try to catch big females staging. One more thing: don’t call Rush if you want to eat bass or have a trophy mounted. Rodman is managed under regular Florida regulations— which allow five fish, with one fish longer than 16 inches—but Rush’s trips are catch-and-release. “I’m up front and honest about it on the phone,” he said. “If they even talk like they want to keep one, I just won’t take them.” Contact Capt. Sean Rush and Trophy Bass Expeditions of Central Florida through the website at www.floridatrophybass.com.


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Monster Blue Cat Smashes Mississippi Record By CAM Staff

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he Mississippi River near Natchez, Miss. has a history of producing giant blue cats. The most recent monster catfish, caught on April 7, weighed 131 pounds and absolutely crushed the existing state rod-and-reel state record. Eugene Cronley, of Brandon, Mississippi, had just set up in a 90-foot-deep hole downstream of Natchez. About five minutes after making his first cast, the big fish took the cut skipjack he was using as bait, according to a report in the Mississippi Clarion Ledger. “He hit the rod and started pulling drag,”

Cronley told the Clarion Ledger. “We had to untie the boat and float down the river. “I couldn’t move him. I’d pull on him and take in a foot of line and he’d pull and take 10 feet. I just sat there like I was hung up.” After a 40-minute fight on 30-pound line, the angler’s exhaustion made hauling the fish into the boat a chore. Cronley has caught 50-pound fish from the area before, and he didn’t

realize exactly how big this fish was until he put eyes on it. Then, it was time to start looking for a certified scale with the capacity to weigh such an enormous fish. Cronley’s fish waited on ice for three days before he was able to get a certified weight. Fish lose weight when they are out of the water. The Clarion Ledger reported that the fish had an initial weight of 138 pounds on uncertified scales. Even out of the water for three days, Cronley’s blue cat shattered the previous rod-and-reel state record of 95 pounds, caught from the Mississippi near Natchez in 2009. In 1997, a 101-pound Mississippi trophy record blue catfish was caught in the same stretch of river. The IGFA all-tackle world record for blue catfish is 143 pounds. It was caught from Kerr Lake, Buggs Island, Virginia in 2011. Cronley’s catch, if certified by IGFA, would possibly be a new 30-pound line class record. The 30-pound line class record stands at 111 pounds. It was caught in 1996 from Wheeler Reservoir in Alabama. For more Mississippi fishing records, visit mdwfp.com.

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Permit Monitoring Funded for Western Dry Rocks

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PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVE POWELL

ast year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), initiated an annual total fishing closure from April through July at a popular fishing location off Key West known as Western Dry Rocks. Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) recently announced a $600,000 investment to monitor the effectiveness of the closure in protecting spawning permit. Western Dry Rocks is an area of reef and rock about 10 miles southwest of Key West that hosts large spawning aggregations of permit and various snapper and grouper species each year. Its proximity to Key West and the dependable nature of the fishery make it a popular spot for bountiful half-day trips. The intent of the closure, which bans fishing in a 1 square-mile area from April through July for seven years, is to protect populations of several species

by allowing them to spawn unmolested by anglers. Permit, yellowtail snapper, mutton snapper and gray snapper are all known to aggregate at Western Dry Rocks from April through July. These spawning aggregations, along with the swirling currents that sweep past Western Dry Rocks are thought to play a role in the distribution of fish eggs and larvae throughout the Florida Keys and up the Atlantic coast of southern Florida. BTT’s investment will fund a monitoring program for three years. “We can’t overstate the importance of this analysis for fisheries management and how appreciative we are to our partners at Bonefish & Tarpon Trust,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto. “Working together on this important research initiative helps to ensure Florida’s status as the Fishing Capital of the World.” FWC is requiring updates on regulation effectiveness at three, five and seven years, with a sunset clause at seven years if the closure is not meeting expectations. BTT scientists expect the spawning-season closure will have positive impacts on the behavior of permit at Western Dry Rocks, resulting in more relaxed schooling behaviors and enabling spawning fish to remain at the site longer. BTT will work with collaborators from previous permit research projects to test these predictions by comparing data collected at Western Dry Rocks (WDR) with data from other known permit spawning locations where fishing is allowed. “The monitoring will build on datasets that measured depredation, spawning permit aggregation characteristics, and permit spawning migrations at key spawning sites prior to the closure,” said Dr. Ross Boucek, BTT Florida Keys Initiative Manager. “By studying permit at WDR and comparing the WDR data to information gathered at other permit spawning sites that aren’t protected, we’ll be able to assess the effectiveness of a spawning season closure at WDR as a management tool.” The monitoring program will utilize acoustic telemetry, sonar technology and laser-mount underwater cameras to monitor permit spawning behaviors, estimate permit abundance and estimate permit size. The program will also employ methods previously used at WDR to determine rates of depredation at spawning locations that are still fished. For more information, visit myFWC.com.

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF FWC TROPHYCATCH

PINK-TAGGED BASS OFFER BIG MONEY

T

here’s a whole lot of gift-card money out there for the lucky anglers who catch one of 10 pink-tagged largemouth bass that were distributed around Florida waters this spring. To celebrate the tenth season of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) TrophyCatch program, biologists stocked 10 trophysized largemouth bass with bright pink tags into 10 different freshwater fisheries. Each angler who catches and documents a pink-tagged bass will score a $5,000 gift card to Bass Pro Shops, $1,000 to shop at AFTCO, and secure a chance to win an additional $10,000. “Our freshwater biologists tagged 10 huge bass across the state – just about everyone is within a day-trip’s distance to fish for one of these tagged bass from a boat, kayak or even the bank. Now comes the fun part for anglers!” said TrophyCatch Director KP Clements. “Get out there and catch one! Tag, you’re it!” FWC’s TrophyCatch program is a valuable tool for freshwater fisheries research and management. It provides reward incentives to encourage anglers to catch, release and report trophy-sized (weighing 8 pounds or more) largemouth bass in Florida. The program develops public-private partnerships to protect trophy bass, promote fishing and support fisheries conservation programs. TrophyCatch anglers with approved bass receive rewards from program partners while FWC biologists learn more about producing and sustaining the best trophy bass fishery in the world. Here’s a list of the waters where pink-tagged bass are swimming: • Newnans Lake, Alachua County • Lake George, Putnam/Volusia counties • Lake Talquin, Gadsden/Leon counties • Lake Walk-in-Water, Polk County • Tenoroc Fish Management Area, Polk County • Lake Trafford, Collier County • Lake Istokpoga, Highlands County • Lake Griffin, Lake/Orange counties • Lake Rousseau, Levy/Citrus counties • Johns Lake, Orange County For more information, visit www.trophycatchflorida.com.

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R

ecently, federal fisheries managers approved cuts to cobia harvest in federal waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. At the May 4 meeting of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, FWC staff will recommend regulations for state waters that are consistent with the new federal regulations. The proposed rule would: • Increase the minimum size limit from 33 to 36 inches fork length in all state waters. • Reduce the commercial bag limit from two to one fish per harvester, per day for Atlantic state waters. • Reduce the recreational and commercial vessel limit from six to two fish per vessel, per day for Atlantic State waters. These regulations changes were spurred by a recent stock assessment that shows cobia are undergoing overfishing. According to the proposal, a substantial portion of Florida’s cobia harvest comes from state waters. Staff is recommending the commission adopt these new regulations without further hearing. For more information, go to MyFWC.com.

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Summer-Long Statewide Fishing Competition Launches May 28 F or the first time in the history of Florida STAR, CCA Florida, will launch the annual STAR competition presented by Yamaha with a Title sponsor. CCA Florida STAR is proud to announce West Marine as the Title sponsor of the 2022 competition. West Marine began its support of the STAR competition in 2016 and each year has stepped up to a greater level of sponsorship. For 2022, West Marine has chosen to title the competition in order to increase awareness of the company’s commitment to the conservation of our fisheries resources for future viability which is so important to the future of its business. The West Marine CCA Florida STAR competition kicks off on May 28, the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. The 101-day, summerlong event invites anglers and non-anglers to participate and win their share of prizes valued at almost $500,000, including boats, motors, scholarships and more. Launched in 2015, STAR focuses on conservation with its technology-based, catch-photo-release format. STAR’s dedicated smartphone app promotes the proper handling of species and allows participants to upload competition photos, eliminating the requirement to harvest or capture and transport fish. CCA Florida also uses data collected from the app to educate the public on the importance of protecting Florida’s marine resources. This

10 FLORIDA

MAY 2022

important data is also available to other conservation organizations and universities for use in their studies on conservation, habitat and stock assessments. “In the past seven years, it’s been amazing to see STAR participants support conservation by embracing the catch-photo format and picking up garbage during the annual competition” CCA Florida STAR Director Leiza Fitzgerald said. “Even more exciting is the participation of over 7,000 registrants annually and awarding more than $2.1 million in prizes, with $700,000 specifically awarded in youth scholarships.” The 2022 STAR competition is comprised of 17 divisions targeting 12 inshore and offshore species plus the cleanup of trash. STAR’s signature Tagged Redfish Division offers winners the choice of a Contender Boats 22 Sport, Pathfinder Boats 2200 TRS or Spyder Boats FX19 Vapor, all powered by Yamaha Outboards. For the first two youth anglers who win this division, prizes include two tiller boats powered with Yamaha Outboards, trailers, Minn Kota trolling motors and Humminbird electronics. 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

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

tagged fish. There is one tagged fish that is worth $50,000 cash. This special tag is sponsored by Alta Equipment Company. For offshore anglers, the Tigress Outriggers and Gear Tagged Dolphin Division offers one winner a $10,000 cash prize. The first STAR registrant and CCA Florida member who catches one of the tagged dolphin will win. These dolphin will be tagged and released in the coastal waters of Florida for STAR by the Dolphin Research program implemented by the Beyond Our Shores foundation. STAR is a family-friendly competition, and CCA Florida youth members (ages 6 to 17) can participate for free. Kids are encouraged to submit entries in the Youth Scholarship Division presented by Realtree Fishing for an opportunity to win one of 12 scholarships totaling $100,000. Other divisions include 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. Registration is open throughout the competition, but anglers who register before May 28 will be entered in the Engel Early Bird Drawings for weekly prizes. To register for STAR 2022 or receive additional information on divisions, prizes and more, visit ccaflstar.com or Facebook.

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COASTAL ANGLER North Central Florida/Nature Coast

MAY 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

W

MAY

elcome May! I love May, the month of my birth, and also my grandson’s, Spencer, my grandmother’s name (Mae) and the last month of moderate temps, before the South begins to bake in the heat of summer. I love days of no heat/ no air, and my open French doors. My beloved Suwannee is still fairly high, but I’m not predicting a flood in the near future, unless S. GA/N. FL gets a lot more rain in May. See page 2 for this month’s recipe, Teriyaki Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers. As with most of my recipes, this one is also quick and easy. This dish is great for company because all the prep can be done ahead. The teriyaki sauce is really good, and will be wonderful with chicken also. Mother’s Day is May 8th this year. How about a guided fishing trip for Mom with one of our experienced guides? Our guides love to hear from you. Please thank them for taking their time to write our forecasts and share their expertise. Also thank our distribution locations and advertisers. It takes a lot of cooperation to bring you the world’s greatest FREE fishing magazine. Firstborn grandson, Stephen (FCA2) left for Rota, Spain last month, aboard the USS Paul Ignatius, a destroyer, formerly based at Mayport. He has about 3 ½ years left of his enlistment, and he and Anna are now engaged. Thank you John, for the two gorgeous photos on this page. You can see more of John on page 15. 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 Captain Jason Clark Capt. Katie Jo Davis Captain 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


TERIYAKI SHRIMP AND PINEAPPLE SKEWERS (SERVES 2)

F

M

F

the sp lock m

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

1Su

2M

3Tu

4W

5Th

6F 7Sa

8Su

3:17 AM 8:53 AM 2:33 PM 9:34 PM 3:56 AM 9:23 AM 3:00 PM 10:08 PM 4:36 AM 9:54 AM 3:28 PM 10:43 PM 5:17 AM 10:26 AM 3:59 PM 11:19 PM 5:59 AM 11:01 AM 4:33 PM 11:58 PM 6:45 AM 11:41 AM 5:15 PM 12:43 AM 7:36 AM 12:31 PM 6:06 PM 1:36 AM 8:36 AM 1:36 PM 7:12 PM

3.4 1.2 3.9 -0.3 3.3 1.4 3.9 -0.3 3.2 1.5 3.9 -0.2 3.1 1.6 3.9 -0.1 3.0 1.7 3.8 0.1 2.8 1.8 3.6 0.3 2.8 1.9 3.4 0.5 2.7 1.9 3.2

HERNANDO BEACH

MAY 2022

9M

Time Height

2:41 AM 9:40 AM 2:59 PM 8:38 PM 10Tu 3:49 AM 10:34 AM 4:17 PM 10:08 PM 11W 4:50 AM 11:16 AM 5:20 PM 11:23 PM 12Th 5:42 AM 11:53 AM 6:15 PM 13F 12:26 AM 6:30 AM 12:27 PM 7:05 PM 14Sa 1:24 AM 7:15 AM 1:01 PM 7:53 PM 15Su 2:18 AM 7:57 AM 1:35 PM 8:39 PM 16M 3:11 AM 8:38 AM 2:11 PM 9:26 PM

0.6 2.8 1.8 3.1 0.7 3.0 1.5 3.1 0.8 3.2 1.1 3.3 0.8 3.4 0.7 3.4 0.9 3.6 0.2 3.6 1.0 3.9 -0.2 3.6 1.2 4.1 -0.6 3.6 1.4 4.3 -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

17Tu

18W

19Th

20F 21Sa

22Su

23M

24Tu

4:05 AM 9:19 AM 2:49 PM 10:14 PM 5:01 AM 10:02 AM 3:31 PM 11:05 PM 5:59 AM 10:48 AM 4:18 PM 11:58 PM 6:55 AM 11:41 AM 5:14 PM 12:54 AM 7:52 AM 12:42 PM 6:19 PM 1:54 AM 8:49 AM 1:54 PM 7:37 PM 2:59 AM 9:44 AM 3:17 PM 9:12 PM 4:03 AM 10:32 AM 4:36 PM 10:43 PM

3.5 1.6 4.4 -0.8 3.3 1.8 4.4 -0.7 3.1 1.9 4.3 -0.5 3.0 1.9 4.1 -0.2 2.9 1.9 3.8 0.2 2.9 1.8 3.4 0.6 3.0 1.5 3.2 0.9 3.2 1.2 3.1

Time Height

25W 4:59 AM 11:12 AM 5:40 PM 11:55 PM 26Th 5:46 AM 11:49 AM 6:35 PM 27F 12:55 AM 6:28 AM 12:23 PM 7:22 PM 28Sa 1:46 AM 7:08 AM 12:55 PM 8:03 PM 29Su 2:30 AM 7:45 AM 1:26 PM 8:41 PM 30M 3:10 AM 8:20 AM 1:57 PM 9:16 PM 31Tu 3:50 AM 8:55 AM 2:27 PM 9:50 PM

1.1 3.4 0.7 3.2 1.2 3.6 0.3 3.2 1.4 3.8 0.0 3.3 1.5 3.9 -0.2 3.3 1.6 4.0 -0.3 3.2 1.7 4.0 -0.3 3.2 1.8 4.0 -0.2

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

MAY 2022

INGREDIENTS

• 2/3 cup water Soak four 12-inch bamboo • ¼ cup less sodium soy skewers in water at least 30 sauce min. to prevent burning. • ¼ cup packed lt. brown Stir together water, soy COOKING DIRECTIONS sugar sauce, brown sugar, honey, • 2 tsp. grated fresh garlic garlic, and ginger in small • 2 tsp. grated fresh saucepan. Bring to a boil ginger over medium-high heat. • 20 jumbo shrimp Reduce heat and simmer until • About 2 cups cubed sauce is reduced and slightly pineapple (3/4 in. thickened. cubes) Preheat grill to med-high, • 2 Tbsp. minced Parsley or turn on broiler in your • 1 Tbsp. toasted Sesame oven. Seeds Thread five shrimp on each skewer, with chunk of pineapple between each shrimp. Grill or broil 3 to 4 minutes each side or until shrimp are opaque and cooked through. Brush shrimp and pineapple with sauce and grill or broil one more minute. Sprinkle with parsley and sesame seeds, and serve with remaining sauce. This sauce is yummy. I plan to use what I have left over to add to chicken or shrimp fried rice.

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

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

By

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FLORIDA WATERWAYS Mayday and Other Nautical Terms

F

or this May issue, I want to begin with “Mayday.” Having boated French canals on three different occasions in the springtime, I learned the hard way that lock masters take the day off on May 1 to celebrate Labor Day – European style. Boaters planning to go through any of the many canals on French waterways need to take that into By Kevin McCarthy consideration in their plans. The term “mayday” as an international radio word for distress, goes back to the fact that the pronunciation of “s” as in “S.O.S.” is sometimes hard to distinguish on the telephone. Therefore, mariners have adopted “mayday” from the French “m’aidez” (“help me”) in its place. S.O.S., by the way, is Morse code, not an abbreviation for something like “save our souls” or “save our ship,” but as a distress signal in an emergency situation on a ship. The signal consists of a sequence of three dots, three dashes, and three dots. The letters might be more effective for those stranded on a beach. The signal was chosen because it is very distinctive and easy to transmit by a wounded radioman or by a neophyte with just a smattering of Morse code knowledge. “Marooned” refers to stranded on a rock or desolate place or even put ashore and left to one’s fate. It comes from an old Spanish word for one living in a wild, isolated forest. A marooned sailor might describe his predicament as “being in a fine kettle of fish” or “mess.” A kettle is a large saucepan or bucket for boiling water or poaching fish. It’s like a cauldron. The word “pretty” is used ironically here. Another phrase for having a messy problem is to “open a can of worms.” Fishermen know that a tin can full of squishy, crawly worms can be hard to

SOS on a beach

Mayday

handle. While worms are great for bait, a bunch of them together in a small can will often cause problems and Marooned on a rock present fishermen with more problems than they bargained for. Before we had plastic or Styrofoam containers, bait shops sold earthworms to fishermen in metal cans with lids. A good example when the “good ole days” were not so good. Finally, another negative phrase from maritime use is “in the doldrums” for depressed or dull and listless. The maritime doldrums are an area north of the equator in which sailing ships used to become becalmed. A technical term for the doldrums is the “intertropical convergence zone,” an area that circles the Earth near the equator where the trade winds from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres come together and cause sailing vessels much trouble. Let’s hope that the pandemic dissipates and gets us out of the doldrums.

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

MAY 2022

A kettle of fish

Open a can of worms

The doldrums near the equator

Kevin McCarthy, the author of North Florida Waterways (2013 - available at amazon.com), can be reached at ceyhankevin@gmail.com. NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST 3


KATIE JO’S NATURE COAST ADVENTURES

M

ay is an incredible time to fish along Florida's Nature Coast! The weather is heating up and so are the fish! I absolutely love fishing this time of the year, and it is great fishing from here until the end of the year! We are truly blessed to live on the Nature Coast, a location that provides us fishermen wonderful fishery year after year. With snook season coming to an end, I begin targeting black drum, redfish, flounder and cobia. I target the larger black drum, who gives an incredible fight while enjoying a small blue crab as their snack. I use a 3/0 circle hook, hooked under the paddle leg of the crab. I allow the crab to sit on the bottom while these large fish graze along the bottom, and ultimately eat the bait. Then hang on! I look for jumping mullet for the redfish. They enjoy swimming in the same general areas of the mullet, along the tidal highways near rock ledges and sand bars. The tidal highways are generally the deeper cuts just off the ledge or bar, that appear darker than the rest of the area around the bar. This highway is utilized by bigger fish

and mullet, which creates the deeper cuts. You will also see this highway along mangrove islands. As the water temperature warms, the fish will move closer to the shadow areas where they can hide. Flounder are targeted in the same areas as redfish and black drum, and live on the sandy bottoms, while lying on the bottom of the tidal highways. A medium mud minnow or a large shrimp on a 1/8-ounce jig head are baits they cannot resist. Cobia are beginning to come in along the grass flats, structure and tall rock piles. Having a live pinfish freeling on a larger rod and reel, generally ensures that you'll get the fish in the boat. A Hogy Eel plastic on the rod and reel, is another option to have handy, should you see one of these awesome fish swim by the baits. Another great place to look for cobia are along the weed lines that move in during the incoming tide. Captain Katie Jo Davis www.fishcrystalriverflorida.com 772-882-8932 KD OUTDOORS FISHING CHARTERS

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

MAY 2022

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM


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COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

MAY 2022

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 everybody, I'm writing this on one of those rare days when there is no wind. I know that's hard to believe, but it's true. This month (April) has been an incredibly windy and it shows in our water. All this north wind, paired with a flooded river, has pushed a lot of fresh water down on us, making the water incredibly murky. Don't worry though there's still plenty of fish to be caught. (You just might not see them till they're in your boat or on the shoreline.) Really, the only two things I change up with dirty water is bait color and rate of retrieve. I will switch to a bait that matches the water and I slide down my retrieve just a hair. I'm not saying that's the only thing to do, but it works for me. Well y'all until next month, stay safe out there.

Capt. Jason Clark In The Slot Fishing Charters 352-639-3209 www.intheslotfishing.com

FLORIDA SUWANNEE RIVER WATERFRONT

FOR SALE

352-542-0356 43 acres (+or-) 1100 feet (+or-) on Suwannee River in Lafayette County at US 27, across river from Branford. Heavily wooded, perfect for residence, camp ground or hunting lodge. Elec. and well. 6 NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST

MAY 2022

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM


Clark harters 9-3209 ng.com

SUWANNEE

It was a fun family day of fishing with the Stelter family from Elberton Georgia, pictured are brothers & sisters, Lana, Wyatt and Seeley.

T

his has been another crazy spring season with unusual weather patterns, and extra windy conditions! In my area, we used to consider the first part of May to be the beginning of the summer fishing season. For the last few years, we have seen a definite shift, and now it's later in the month, maybe even into June. The good news is, that when the winds have laid down a little bit, the trout and sheepshead fishing has been pretty hot! You will find the speckled trout on the outside bars, reefs and flats. With the river pretty high right now, the fish have moved away from it. While the quantity of trout we have been catching has been okay, the size has been fantastic! On many days, we are releasing multiple fish over 19 inches! Best baits have been the FishBites, Butt Kicker Paddle Tail and Fight'n Shrimp in the Haymaker, White Knuckle and Hammer Fist colors, fished either under a popping cork with ⅛ oz FFC Lures jig head, or jigged along the bottom using a ¼ oz jig head. The redfishing had been pretty good, closer to the river, but with the recent rains and with a rising river, they have also moved away from the river. Granted, there are almost always a few of what we refer to as resident reds. They will have the deep dark red and bronze colors they get from the tannins in the waters of the Lower Suwannee River. These tannins, come from decaying vegetation in the swamps of the headwaters and tributaries that make up the Suwannee River. This is the time of the year that we will normally have a migration of redfish from offshore into the near shore waters, and coastal creeks along this part of the Gulf. So far that has not happened. Best bait for the redfish? Since the fish have been scattered, I prefer to use a search bait like a ⅝ or ¾ ounce gold

Brice Hudson from Lake City Florida, reeled in this really large black drum, aka "Big Ugly"!

spoon. You can cover a lot of water with this bait, and you can present it in many ways. From slow rolling and bumping along the bottom, to ripping along the brake in a current line! It catches fish! So far, the annual spring spawning run of sheepshead has been pretty good, when the wind has laid down enough to venture out there. You can target them on the offshore artificial reefs and rock piles. Best baits are shrimp and fiddler crabs. The month of May is looking like it could be the best month of the year so far. The winds of April should lay down, allowing more options for a day of fun and adventure on the Lower Suwannee River Estuary! 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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his year is seeming to fly by, and we are already in the windy month of May. The month of May here on the Nature Coast, usually means two things for me, and that’s the kickoff of summer and the beginning of the cobia run! That’s right, it’s time to dust off those 5-6000 baitrunners and break your pinfish traps back out and get ready to have some seriously fun fishing. It’s time to head out on the grass flats and spend a day to locate the bait you need, and the location you need to set your pinfish traps for the next two to three months. While there are many ways, tips and tricks to catch the best bait, my experience has been, to simply set a good galvanized trap with a handful of threadfin herring tossed in the trap. It tends to yield the most consistent best baits (pinfish, grunts, eels) and less trash fish. Cobia really show a positive reaction to chum and the folks at Captains Cove have the Tournament Green Label chum that works wonders on cobia, grouper and snapper. It is predominantly ground down menhaden with added menhaden oil, and the oil creates a nice slick to bring in those cobia. Setup near a local wreck reef or rockpile of your choosing, and fish a big hand-sized grunt or pinfish. Suspended it just off the bottom or freelined into that chum slick, has 8 NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST

MAY 2022

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TALES FROM THE TUPPERWARE NAVY

HOMOSASSA

W

M

ay fishing in Homosassa is full of great opportunities. From snook, trout, redfish, snapper, grunts, and cobia, there is so much going on in May in the Nature Coast.! Water temps are warming, and fish are hungry! Look for trout to start moving to the near shore rocks in the 6-to-8foot ranges. I like jigging with the watermelon red flake MirrOLure Little Johns on a DOA 1/8th ounce jig head around rocky bottoms. Around those rock piles, you will find a plethora of fish willing to eat a shrimp rigged on that same jig head. Grunts, mackerel, snapper and blue fish will keep the rods bent. While you are offshore, keep a lookout for cobia. They should be in this time of the year. Live pin fish on a heavier rod will work well for a cobia swimming at the surface! Inshore will still be holding some trout. Look for the yellow bottom areas on the incoming tides. Redfish will be on the outside points. I like using free-lined live pin fish this time of the year. Snook will also eat pin fish as well. For the artificial guys, nose hooked DOA CAL will produce solid snook and trout bites. For the fly anglers, I like to pole the St. Martin Keys this time of the year on the last hour of the outgoing tide. Once the water gets low enough, you will find tailing red fish on the middle of the flat up to 100 plus yards from any shoreline. These fish are super spooky, so stealth and patience is key. I like to throw really small shrimp pattern flys.

Near shore rock piles will produce great action on the long rods. I like to tie clouser flys on long shanked J hooks for the rocks. The longshanked hooks limit the break-offs on mackerel. Use shrimp or a chum block to get them fired up, and then its game on! May 14th from 10 am to 5 pm is the Florida Cracker Mullet Toss. This is a community event and fundraiser at the Homosassa Civic Club. Kids activities, food trucks, local artist and vendors, live music, and the famous mullet toss! Visit www.naturecoaster.com for more info. May 21st is the 2nd annual Ladies Fishing Tournament out of Florida Cracker Riverside Resort. For more info visit www.floridacrackerfishing. com. — Stump Capt. Jonathan Hamilton 352-403-2073 www.captainjhamilton.com

elcome back yak fans, and welcome to May, when spring is in the air and young men’s fancies turn to love, and mine turns to Ozello. (Yeah, I'm so old now I'd rather fish than… well, you know.) If Ozello isn't on your bucket list as a kayak angler, you need to rewrite your list. This is one of those special places for many of my one-tank trip articles, and where I’ve marveled at nature’s beauty, and caught plenty of big fish at the same time! I've guided many charters there, but the real story is in Ozello, Diane, lets me know about not only a good supply of reds and trout, but also grouper in the potholes out in the flats. If that’s not worth the trip, then take up a new hobby! Ozello is located between Homosassa Springs and Crystal River, and is a kayak angler’s dream come true! Launch sites start from at first bridge on the Ozello Trail just off US Hwy 19, all the way to the end at Pirate’s Point, and these waters are simply teaming with fish! April was when I picked up my largest red on a top water lure (my favorite Zara Spook, Jr. in bone); a beautiful 35-inch female, that hit the lure so hard, the entire rear hook assembly was ripped completely off the lure! The land of "OZ", which lies within the Crystal River State Preserve, can be very productive for reds, trout and snook. After that, a little further down Ozello Trail, is John Brown Rd. On the left side, there's a public boat ramp, and then down at the end is a small fishing pier on the St Martin’s River. I haven't fished the inside of this area, but the outside can be a lot of fun. Then a little past the Island outpost (more about that later) you come to Estuary on the left. You go to the end left again, and then left again, and you have a pay to launch place on Fish Creek. My old buddies (and I stress old, dirt calls them sir) Rich and Henry told me about this spot. They have done well there. On the outside, follow the markers toward

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MAY 2022

the islands. I've always said that Henry is a hellava fisherman, and some day, he'll teach Rich how to fish! From there you go on all the way down to the causeway, where you can put in at Pecks Old Port Cove Restaurant, a great place to eat, known for their blue crabs, grouper and ambiance. It's worth the trip even if you don't fish. From Pecks and the causeway, you can go to the inside, or the outside, and do well. The outside takes you toward Bear Island and some great fishing spots. Now, let’s talk about my friends Diane and John at The Island Outpost ,home of John's world famous BBQ , ice cold beer, tiki bar, and friendly downhome people. They close on Monday and Tuesday and have a free fish fry on the first Sunday each month. Bring a covered dish if you can, or fresh fish is always welcome. If you stop in, tell them I said, “Hi”, and sit down for a visit. Load up the kayak; get in the car, and go! You can spend a year up there and never hit all the great fishing spots this place offers. I rate it up there with Mosquito Lagoon on the east coast, and the Everglades, and it’s right in your own back yard. HELLO! Start the car!! Well that's it for this month I got a fish fry to go to! Bruce Butler, of Indian Bay Outfitters, is a premier Hernando County fishing guide with full and half-day charters available. Kayaks, tackle and gear are provided. Just bring your lucky hat and a good attitude, and be ready to see some pristine shoreline and experience great fishing. Bruce Butler | "Stumbling Gypsy" (352) 428-5347

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ow, so far April has been a w-i-n-d fest, blowing away my money with cancelled or rescheduled trips.... The water temps in the Gulf were up to 75 degrees today (April 13th) so I expect to wear the trout out over the last two weeks left in April and that will only be a small prelude to the fish we will catch in May. May will bring pre-spawn female trout, some of the largest of the year traditionally, and they will be in 3 to 4 feet of water, easily accessible to the general population of anglers who will be here to enjoy our fishery. Live bait, cut bait, synthetic bait, and almost any artificial bails you wish to throw at them will all work. If you don’t know how to fish for speckled trout in Keaton give me, or any of our full-time guides here in Keaton a call or text, and we will show you the ropes. My charters will mostly be concentrating on live pinfish rigged

H

ello everybody. What a crazy April it was. I hope everyone had a good one, and got through the hopefully last cold fronts until fall. Now, for your May fishing report. Water temps are definitely on the rise again, and bringing in droves of bait. I’m starting to catch and see a lot of the pelagics that I predicted would begin to show up. Now is the time to get on the water, before things get too unbearable. As the temperature climbs, your redfish and trout should begin to pull away from the shore a little further than where they have been. You can still catch these fish the same way. If your running corks, just lengthen your leaders to get a little deeper. This is also the time of the year that you will find me throwing some pretty big artificial baits, especially first thing in the morning. Big baits do bring big fish, but remember, elephants eat peanuts too. I wanted to take a minute to talk about being courteous to others while fishing and on the water. If you see someone fishing an area that you planned to fish, maybe take that moment to learn something new instead of pulling right on top of them and ruining the spot. I see SO many people drive over fish every day, and I do believe that it affects them in some way or another. I’m also a firm believer in idling into a spot that I intend to fish for the same reason, or even fish your way in. If you start doing these things more often, I can almost guarantee that your catch rate will increase. Just be responsible and

Shane Walters of Tallahassee with a fine 27 plus inch redfish caught and released in early April

respectful of others Hope everybody stays safe out there and don’t forget to put on that sunscreen and stay hydrated. If you want to catch some fish, give us a call until next time, and keep it reel native. Captain Brent Woodard Reel Native Fishing Charters ReelNativeFishing.com 352-284-5514

12 NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA/NATURE COAST

MAY 2022

up under Back Bay Thunders, but I will have plenty of soft plastic (by Assassin) ready to go as well. Expect the floating grass to show up by the end of May as water temps reach 80 degrees. This will hamper the topwater gurus, but won’t bother the Cajun and jig combos as badly. Redfish will please those throwing Weedless Gold and Copper Intruder spoons by Precision Tackle. I like the 1/2-ounce size for longer casts and staying down near the bottom with your presentations. Cobia should also show up ready to bust up some trout tackle for those not expecting nor respecting the ling’s power and speed. Mackerel will also be present in number in May and will surprise those same folks. 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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el yo these d "strang felt like hot day from h right b swings and see more e upsides mornin and the action! night b to your worth i Ok, area th course) change a decen already amoun is litera toward in the N referre everyth top, die growth The these "t started our lak well. H looks s perfect etc. Pr potenti too den Well, th for the which unexpl So h the qua lily pad


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ello again, Forest Fishers. I trust you're all enjoying the weather these days. It certainly has been a bit "strange", compared to years past. April felt like living in a desert half the time, hot days and cold nights. Heck, we went from high 80s, down to low 40s, and right back up again! Harsh temperature swings can make the fishing a bit tricky, and seem to be happening more and more each year. However, there are upsides to them. Like when those chilly morning temps are just about to rise, and then "click", nonstop hooked-up action! NoTE: Have your gear ready the night before (rods rigged, etc.) and get to your "honey hole" early. Trust me, it's worth it! Ok, so I've checked all over each area thoroughly (fishing them, of course), and there's one thing that has changed everywhere. If you've fished a decent amount this year, then you already know. There's a substantial amount of underwater vegetation that is literally just gone. The reason is, towards the end of last year, lakes here in the National Forest started a process referred to as "turning over". Basically, everything on the bottom floats to the top, dies off, and ("long story short") the growth cycle starts over. The good news though, concerning these "turn overs", is they actually started before winter; and since then, our lake bottoms have grown back really well. Honestly, everywhere I checked, looks super healthy, and now has the perfect amount of hydrilla, coon-tail, etc. Previously, so many areas had potential, but the vegetation was just too dense for fish populations to grow. Well, there's plenty of clean, open water for them now; including passageways, which gave us access to new and unexplored areas. So how has all this change affected the quality of fishing right now? Well, lily pad fields/patches are all in the same

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spots. So at first glance, most anglers would think everything's exactly the same. I can assure you though, things have definitely changed. Let me put it this way. Over 50% of the spots I'm finding bass, sunfish, and MINNOWS (!!!); spots you couldn't force me to fish at last year! So all those spots you're used to avoiding, might be worth a quick check now and then. As usual, message me if you have any questions or would like to book an adventure, but most importantly, "Tight Lines" everyone! John Freeze Kayak Fishing and Nature Tours OurNationalForrest@gmail.com 352-216-5798

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t the May 4 meeting of the Florida Wildlife Resources Commission, staff plans to propose several changes that will alter the way redfish are managed statewide. This initial presentation is a first step that seeks to obtain approval to publish the proposed rule changes and begin public workshops for stakeholder engagement. Here are the proposed rule changes: • Modify the redfish management regions • Prohibit captain and crew from retaining a bag limit during for-hire trips • Reduce the off-the-water transport limit from 6 to 4 fish per person • Increase the bag limit for the Big Bend region from 1 to 2 fish per person • Reduce the 8-fish vessel limit in each of the proposed management regions: » Panhandle, Big Bend, Northeast: 4 fish » Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay, Charlotte Harbor, Southwest, Southeast: 2 fish • Only allow catch-and-release fishing for redfish in the Indian River Lagoon region Along with altering bag limits, these rule changes would allow FWC to utilize smaller regional units and annual reviews to evaluate redfish fisheries using six metrics: habitat, harmful

Figure 1. Proposed redfish management regions.

algal blooms, escapement, relative abundance, fishing effort and stakeholder feedback. A summary of the proposed changes reads: “Anglers primarily target redfish inshore, so an angler’s redfish fishing experience is closely linked to local environmental conditions as well as local fishing effort. Given this link and stakeholder feedback in support of a new management approach, the FWC is using a new approach that incorporates a holistic review of ecological and human factors. Applying the new approach, staff

evaluated the nine proposed management regions (at left) and prepared the first Annual Reviews.” Jumping out ahead of the proposal, CCA Florida has issued a call to its members to oppose the increase in bag limits from one fish to two in the new, smaller Big Bend region, which would stretch from Wakulla County to Pasco County. The current region covers this area, but also includes Escambia County. CCA Florida commended FWC for its other management redfish management efforts. These rule changes will be introduced at the May 4 FWC meeting beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center in Gainesville. The meeting is open to the public. For more information, see the “Commission Meetings” link at MyFWC.com.

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LIONFISH REMOVAL EVENTS MAY 8-15 M ay is Lionfish month in Florida. In a continuing effort to raise awareness and combat this invasive pest that populates Florida reefs, there’s a host of activities centered around Destin this month. The 2022 Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival will be held May 14-15 at HarborWalk Willage in Destin. The two-day festival includes lionfish tastings, fillet demonstrations, conservation and art booths, an interactive Kids’ Zone and more. For more information on the festival, go to FWCReefRangers.com. The Emerald Coast Open, the largest lionfish tournament in the world, will be held in conjunction with the Lionfish Festival. With big cash prizes as well as tens of thousands of dollars in gear prizes, divers will compete for most, largest and smallest lionfish. There will also be raffles for gear. Pre-tournament runs through May 12. The tournament will be held May 13-14. Final weigh ins will be held at AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar in Destin at 11 a.m. on May 15. Registration is $100 at emeraldcoastopen.com. May 8-14 also brings on Emerald Coast Open Restaurant Week, when the chefs of Destin-Fort Walton Beach’s featured 18 FLORIDA

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restaurants will highlight lionfish in unique and delicious dishes. Here’s the daily line-up of featured restaurants: DEWEY DESTIN’S - MAY 8 CRAB TRAP DESTIN - MAY 9 HARBOR DOCKS - MAY 10 LA PAZ - MAY 11 BROTULAS - MAY 12 AJ’S SEAFOOD & OYSTER BAR - MAY 14

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PHOTO COURTESY OF CAPT. CEFUS MCRAE

f you catch a Florida cobia, scientists want to know. FWC is researching reproduction and movement of cobia in Florida waters, and anglers are being asked to help by reporting their cobia catches through September. Cobia along Florida’s coasts have been fitted with conventional dart tags and surgically implanted with acoustic transmitters. Data collected by acoustic receivers along the coasts allows researchers to track cobia movements and learn more about the spawning migrations of the Gulf and Atlantic stocks. Scientists are also working with the public to sample the reproductive organs of harvested cobia. This data will allow scientists to determine if and where cobia are spawning along Florida’s coasts. If you catch a cobia from now until September, call (561) 882-5975 to arrange for a biologist to meet you and get a $50 reward. Fish must be kept whole or filleted with the carcass and organs intact on ice. If you catch a tagged cobia: • For the purpose of this study, harvest of tagged cobia is discouraged. • Photograph the tag. • Record the tag number, fork length, date and general location of catch. • Release the fish in good condition with tags still intact.Call (561) 8825975 to report the cobia and get a reward and shirt. Releasing tagged cobia will allow researchers to continue gathering valuable data. If you harvest a tagged cobia: • Report all information listed above for tagged cobia. • Return both the internal acoustic transmitter and plastic dart tags to: Attn: Jim Whittington Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Tequesta Field Laboratory 19100 SE Federal Hwy. Tequesta, FL 33469 The internal acoustic transmitter can be found implanted just inside the body cavity on the underside of the fish. This will provide valuable information to researchers. E-mail questions to Joy.Young@MyFWC.com or Jim.Whittington@MyFWC.com.

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n Illinois angler broke the Missouri state record for paddlefish in March. He snagged a 140-pound, 10-ounce paddlefish at Lake of the Ozarks. It beat out the previous record— set in 2015 at Table Rock Lake—by just one ounce. Record-breaking angler Jim Dain, of Pittsfield, Ill., was on a family fishing trip and almost decided not to take the boat out because of shifting weather conditions the day he caught his monster fish. “The forecast was calling for storms, and then it changed to no rain, so we went out, but it just kept getting colder,” Dain said. “We weren’t having much luck, but decided to fish for another hour. So we took another turn, and that’s when the drag on the reel started. It felt like a tree was on the line!” Paddlefish are an interesting target for anglers because they are filter feeders and will not take lures or baited hooks. The most popular method for catching them is to troll large, un-baited treble hooks to cover water and hopefully snag one. “We got 16 one-gallon bags of meat out of this catch,” laughed Dain. “We’ve fried it, grilled it and made paddlefish tacos the other night. We’ll be having paddlefish for a while!” Missouri’s paddlefish seasons run March 15-April 30 on its major paddlefish snagging waters: Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake, Truman Lake and their tributaries. There is a minimum length limit of 32 inches. The paddlefish season for the Mississippi River is March 15 through May 15 with a fall season of Sept. 15 through Dec. 15. For more information, see the Missouri DNR website at dnr.mo.gov.

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FLEXIBLE LIMIT

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OAA Fisheries has proposed establishment of a flexible retention limit for shortfin mako sharks with a default limit of zero in commercial and recreational highly migratory fisheries. This measure follows a 2021 approval to ban mako shark harvest in the North Atlantic in 2022 and 2023 in a decision handed down by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). ICCAT’s juridiction is over highly migratory species, like sharks, which cross international boundaries. NOAA’s flexible retention limit would fulfill ICCAT’s recommendation, while allowing flexibility if conditions change. During the fishing year, NOAA Fisheries could increase the shortfin mako shark retention limit from the default, or subsequently decrease the retention limit, for the commercial fishery, the recreational fishery, or both, based on regulatory criteria and retention allowed by ICCAT. Strict conservation measures have been on the table for mako sharks since 2017, when a stock assessment indicated the species was being overfished. Annual take from both sides of the Atlantic ranged between 3,600 and 4,675 tons, mostly caught with commercial gear. ICCAT warned that catches must be kept below 1,000 tons to rebuild the population. Off the U.S. east coast, Atlantic shortfin mako sharks are found from New England to Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to Texas, and in the Caribbean Sea. For more details or to comment on the proposal, see www.fisheries.noaa.gov.

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t’s tarpon time, and as big fish flood the channels, bays, flats, beaches and passes up the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, every angler with a monster silver king on the bucket list hopes to get a piece of the biggest show on water. Most of the time, all they’ll get is the aerial show. Whether it’s a thrown hook from a head-shaking leap, a sharp gill plate that cuts the line, or a big hammerhead that makes the line go slack, hooking a big tarpon is a lot easier than putting hands on one. Studies have shown less than 40 percent of hooked tarpon make it boatside to have their photo taken. Here are a few tips to help you turn a hook-up into a great release photo.

TARPON FIGHTING TIPS By CAM Staff

1) Bow to the King:

If you have any interest in tarpon at all, you’ve heard this one already, but let’s just get it out of the way for those who don’t know. When a tarpon jumps, stop reeling, drop your rod tip and point it at the fish. When the fish is doing all its head shaking and tailwalking, a slack line doesn’t provide as much leverage to throw the hook. When the fish lands, lift the rod tip back to about 45 degrees and reel quickly to take up the slack.

2) Predict the Jump: Watch the fish’s behavior and you can often predict when it will go airborne. A hard run usually culminates with a big jump. Also, when you see the line angling up, it means the fish is headed to the surface. Pay attention and you won’t be caught off guard.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CAPT. JEFF MAGGIO

3) Go Hard on Them: Tarpon are big and powerful. If you don’t break their spirit quickly, they just might break yours. Use heavy tackle and do everything you can to get them in quickly. Use an anchor buoy to quickly unhook and chase fish down. This allows you to gain line and maintain the upper hand. By adjusting the drag, you can let the fish tire itself out more quickly. Start with the drag lower in the early stages of the fight, when the fish is still making long powerful runs that can break the line. As it begins to tire from running and jumping, start ramping up the drag pressure and continue pumping and reeling. If you’re good enough, palming the reel allows you to manually control drag pressure without committing to a higher setting. This can save you if a fish has a sudden second wind. Keep the heat on a big fish from start to finish. If it runs to the right, swing your rod to the left and vice versa. By keeping constant pressure against the direction the fish is trying to go, it is sometimes possible to convince them to give up.

4) Don’t Feed the Sharks: Sharks always seem to show up when there’s tarpon fishing going on, and it’s a pity so many big tarpon end up getting sharked on the end of a line. When sharks show up, ethical anglers pull lines up and move. Reeling in half a fish is worse than reeling in no fish at all. If a big shark shows up during the fight, clamp down on the drag and try to break the line. For more, go to coastalanglermag.com.


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Tim Barefoot

s you should know by now if you read my articles or subscribe to my YouTube channel, I like to fish for everything with fins. From offshore in 300plus feet of water to creeks, there is one thing that makes us more effective now than we were years ago: electronics! When I was very young, we went to the very first mark off the beach and loaded up on sea bass, gray trout (weakfish), flounder and whatever else would bite a crude chicken rig with cut mullet. Those days are gone. Now, we have evolved to using the most advanced electronics available to locate and stay on fish. We’ve got side imaging and live imaging technology, which is not (almost) cheating, to… screw it… It’s cheating, and I’m doing it. I love a gag grouper like Peter loved the Lord, and I also like to fish for bass as well as drum, trout and snook. Electronics like side scan make me dangerous. They are the difference between being close to a good place on a ledge or wreck versus being ON THE SPOT. It’s now possible to see whether you’re close to a stack of baitfish or on it. The stack of bait is the key to catching instead of just soaking baits. Look for the giant stack of bait, because that is what holds

predators, bottom fish below and pelagics above. For example: The video link at the end of this article as well as the blue photo on this page are a prime example of electronics telling us what’s below us and how deep. The marks near the bottom are African pompano and other bottom fish. The marks in the 100-foot range are blackfin tuna. The other photo is of crappie in a creek. I was watching them in real time using Garmin LiveScope. Regardless if you’re fishing in 300 or 15 feet of water, having the correct electronics will make a huge difference. We rely on our fishing instincts to catch fish. I’m a believer in the “cleanest” terminal tackle being the most effective tackle. The most important thing of all, though, is to position your boat on top of fish. For this, proper electronics have become essential. Check out barefootcatsandtackle.com, and watch this video https://youtu.be/qGzW6QFZHKE on using electronics offshore.

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MAY 2022

NATIONAL 19


Making Memories M

ay is a great month to take or introduce a child to the sport of fishing. The summer crowds haven’t arrived, the weather is tolerable, and there should be a nice breeze to keep it comfortable. If your child is already catching more than you, this is a great time to teach them some new techniques or how to use a new lure. Jetties, piers or docks are great locations to target this month, and sheepshead can be an entertaining target for the beginner. They can be corporative, and a nice trophy for a child. At times, they can be easy to catch and will provide a solid fight for the saltiest of anglers. Sheepshead love structure. Focus your attention on the most barnacle-encrusted structure you can find. At times you can hear them munching on those barnacles! If it is legal in the area you are fishing, scraping barnacles off the structure is a great way to chum for sheepshead and really gets them fired up. Small live or fresh dead shrimp are great, readily available bait. Small jacks, croaker, pinfish and whitting are also good options to give young anglers a strong tug and a good time. Once again, live and dead shrimp are a good choice to lure in these aggressive feeders. Beach fronts, jetties and structure are good areas to target them. If your child is up for a challenge and wants to learn something new, like my 11-year-old, May

By Capt. Michael Okruhlik

is a good month to explore. With optimal water temperatures that keep fish aggressive, May is ideal. My son and I were in our favorite local tackle shop one day, and he picked up a custom painted lure and showed it to me. The owner, Mike, had painted these and they are renowned for catching big trout. My son had never fished one, but wanted to learn and catch a big one! For a few weeks, every time my son walked into the lure room and saw the Corky hanging on the rack, he would say, “Dad let’s go fishing.” He wanted to use the lure from Mr. Mike and catch a big trout. When we finally had a chance to hit the water, conditions were not ideal. We went to learn how to work the lure, if nothing else. My son did accomplish catching his first fish on a Corky. Even though it was not the big trout he planned on, it gave us a good laugh and memories that will last forever. This photo shows his first fish on that style of lure… the first of many I am certain. Go grow up little pinfish. Hopefully the next time we meet you are in the belly of a big trout! Take a kid fishing, leave the electronics at home, and everyone will have fun learning something from each other!

The Return of a

PHOTO COURTESY OF KNOCKIN TAIL LURES

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conversations. Satellite phones are an option but are cost prohibitive for most of us. Luckily, the satellite network has created a new choice with two-way texting devices like the Garmin inReach Mini, which I find offers a great mix of features, affordability, size and peace of mind. All these devices require a subscription plan, but most are affordable and allow you to pause them during off seasons. There are several manufacturers and options on the market, and they have many different features. Some have built-in keypads for easy composition of messages, but that makes the size larger. Most will pair with your cell phone, making it simple to create and send messages. They all also have SOS buttons that send a distress message along with your location to a communication center. Like EPIRBs and PLBs, they will continually transmit your location to By Will Schmidt search and rescue, helping them to find you quickly. Unlike the others, you are notified when your SOS is received. You can also communicate the nature of your emergency and answer vital questions from rescuers via text. The small size and waterproof rating means you can clip these devices to a life vest and continue sending and receiving information should you need to abandon ship. Furthermore, you can send non-emergency messages to check in with others. The inReach Mini allows you to create three preset messages that can be quickly sent and have unlimited sends on each of their data plans. This is a great feature for sending useful updates and non-emergency messages such as: “Just checking in, everything is fine.” Or “Everything is ok, but we are running late.” Other features many of these devices offer are waypoint navigation, tracking and weather reports. If navigation features are of primary importance to you, a larger device with a bigger screen might suit you better. Since mine is a backup navigation device, the connection to my phone is sufficient. I can even pair my inReach with my chart plotters to quickly send and read messages while underway. Whether you travel offshore, into the backwoods or to a remote island ith technology helping us get farther away from shore, it is lodge, if you want the ability to summon help or just check in at home when imperative that we have a reliable way to communicate with others. off the grid, these satellite devices offer great usability in an affordable easyIt’s not unheard of for people to take a bay boat 40 miles offshore to-use option. where VHF might not be heard. While Emergency Position Indicating Will Schmidt is a seasoned tournament angler who has been writing Radio Beacons (EPIRB) and Personal Locator Beacons (PLB) are a great about fishing from more than two decades. way to request assistance in an emergency, they lack the ability for two-way

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IT MIGHT JUST BE CRAZY ENOUGH TO WORK! Berkley played a pretty good gag for April fools that likely sent a group of very specialized anglers to the store looking for a product that doesn’t exist. The company, which produces scented and flavored artificial baits, announced the release of the Berkley PowerBait Noodling Glove. “Infused with PowerBait, this glove is designed to give noodlers a way to successfully wrangle catfish and give the fish a flavor so good, they’ll never let go,” read the press release. Berkley went on to tell sportsmen the following: Originally designed to withstand the fight of giant catfish, the team at Berkley Labs quickly discovered that the PowerBait Noodling Glove can be effective on more than just catfish. Extensive field testing proved that the PowerBait Noodling Glove increased angler catch rates for bass, trout and other species. The team even tested the glove with local hunters and found it’s just as effective in luring white-tailed deer as it is in luring catfish. There is nothing that can’t be caught using the PowerBait Noodling Glove. The Berkley PowerBait Noodling Glove may also get its time to shine on the bass tournament trails this year thanks to Berkley Pro Angler John Cox. Cox says, “The way I fish is very similar to noodlers; they go down the bank and look for holes. Well, I go down the bank looking for a 5 or 6 pounder either on a bed or chasing bluegill. So, when I heard about noodlers using the Berkley PowerBait Noodling Glove, I thought ‘Hey, this might work really well for me.’ Noodling is definitely not for just catfishing anymore. That was a pretty good one, Berkley.

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