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NORTHEAST FLORIDA EDITION

FREE F REE RE E @CAMTAMagazine

SUP

INSHORE TACTICS

TRANSITION TO SPRING

A FISHING KAYAK!

PHOTO CREDIT: PATRICK “TUPAT” EICHSTAEDTO IG: @THEREALTUPAT / YOUTUBE: TUPAT'S FISHING ADVENTURES

VOLUME 26 • ISSUE 313

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM

F R A N C H I S E

O P P O R T U N I T I E S

A V A I L A B L E

W O R L D W I D E

APRIL 2021


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I T B Y N H T A O S A A


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FISHING FROM A PADDLEBOARD:

TUPAT’S TIPS By Nick Carter

THINK AHEAD: Unless your board is staked out or tied off, it is going to move. It blows with the wind and drifts with the tide. Even small fish will tow a board during a fight. Tupat constantly considers these factors and comes up with a plan before making a cast. Sometimes, finding wind-shade in the lee of landscape is necessary to fish. Other times, the wind or tide can be used to set up drifts. When you do hook up, you must adapt to the situation. “It’s spur of the moment to decide what you have to do to land the fish.” Tupat said. “You have to use your common sense.” If you’re in open water, it’s possible to play a fish out. The board serves as a secondary drag system in this situation. In shallow water and tight confines, it sometimes makes sense to step off the board and battle a fish on foot. In other situations, it can be necessary to hold the rod in one hand and paddle with the other to find a more advantageous place to land large fish.

F TUPAT.

Check out Tupat’s Hawaiian Poke Sauce at www. tupats.com, his Youtube fishing show Tupat’s Fishing Adventures and his Instagram feeds @therealtupat and @tupatshawaiian.

URTESY O

board that will float your weight. From there: “You’ve got to develop a core balance and become one with the motions of paddling and fishing and how the board reacts to your movements,” said Tupat. He fishes an 11-foot-long, 36-inch-wide, 5-inch-thick Pau Hana Big EZ Angler. He said it’s stable, yet maneuverable, and called it the ultimate fishing board. Rigging is a matter of preference, but generally “less is more on a paddleboard,” said Tupat. A cooler placed on the middle of the board is a seat and fishbox. Aft of that, a milk crate with zip-tied sections of PVC pipe serves as a rod holder and carry-all. Tupat keeps a softsided, rectangular wet/dry bag in front of him on the deck. This is where he keeps tackle, tools and anything he’ll need quick access to. “I’ve tried attachments and all that crap, and all it’s done is get in my way,” he said. “I need it to be as simple as possible to put me in the best position to catch fish.” STEALTH: The ability to sneak up on fish in shallow water is the primary advantage of a paddleboard. A paddle or any other gear banging on the deck alerts fish to your presence. Tupat said knowing where your paddle is and having a secure place to put it quickly is imperative. You should have a plan for your paddle. Tupat sets his on that soft-sided wet/dry bag, where it is secure and will not bang on the deck.

PHOTOS CO

P

atrick “Tupat” Eichstaedt has been mucking around in backwater creeks as long as he can remember. He grew up just north of Florida’s famous Mosquito Lagoon, in Bethune Beach, where the Indian River is a labyrinth of saltwater creeks and channels that snake between mangrove islands. Tupat is a surfer, angler and an entrepreneur, and recently life brought him home to Bethune Beach, where his passion for fishing from a standup paddleboard (SUP) re-ignited in a big way. “The things a board allows me to see and do is incomparable to being in a boat,” he said. “It puts me as close to Mother Nature and the fish as I can get. I can get to places you wouldn’t dream of in a boat, and the stealth lets me observe fish at a much deeper level.” Casting from an SUP for big snook, trout and redfish is not, however, something you just pick up and go do well. It’s a melding of sports, and Tupat’s surfing background gifted him with an awareness of how a board handles in the water. Anyone can spend the day SUP fishing and catch some fish. Getting good at it requires time on the water to learn the intricacies of the sport. Here are some tips from Tupat: SETUP: Fishing from an SUP requires confidence in the board and competence on it. Before you hit the water, it’s wise to research and find a stable


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IGFA Tweaks Electric Reel Rules W ith the skyrocketing popularity of daytime swordfishing and following on the heels of some spectacularly large swordfish caught in the last few years, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) has tweaked its rules on electric reels. Effective immediately, anglers will be allowed limited use of power-driven reels and remain eligible for IGFA records. According to an IGFA press release, new language in its rules clarify accepted and nonaccepted uses of electric reels. New rules do not allow for fighting fish with the aid electric reels. Of note is a requirement that power accessories must be removable and may not be attached to a reel during deployment of baits or at any time during fishing, except to retrieve baits all the way to the boat. This function is almost necessary in daytime swordfishing, which requires anglers to commonly drop and retrieve baits deeper, sometimes much deeper than 1,000 feet. The old and new language read as follows: IGFA International Angling Rules: Section E. Reel PREVIOUS RULE: 2. Power-driven reels of any kind are prohibited. This includes motor, hydraulic, or electrically driven reels, and any device that gives the angler an unfair advantage in fighting the fish.

NEW RULE: 2. Power- driven reels are acceptable under the following situation and configuration. a) Reels that have power accessories (e.g., electric drill attachments, motors or other power accessories specifically designed for a reel) that can be physically removed from the reel may be used strictly for the purpose of retrieving a deployed bait or lure at depth all the way to the boat. b) Power accessories may only be used to retrieve a bait or lure completely to the boat and are not permitted for adjusting the position of a bait or lure in the water column. Once a power accessory is attached to the reel, the bait or lure may no longer be legally used to catch a fish and the bait or lure must be retrieved all the way to the boat for manual redeployment before it may be legally used to hook or catch a fish. Power accessories may not be attached to the reel during the deployment of a bait or lure. c) Power accessories must be physically removed from the reel before the act of hooking and/or fighting a fish. Any fish that strikes a bait or lure being fished with a reel with power accessories still attached—whether or not under electric operation—will not be eligible for record consideration. d) Electric reels that do not have removable electronic components that allow them to be completely manually driven are prohibited.

“Changes to the IGFA’s International Angling Rules are always something we handle with the utmost care,” said IGFA President Jason Schratwieser. “This rule in particular has been a point of contention for years, and we are pleased to announce this new language that we strongly feel adapts IGFA rules to the technology of our time, while not jeopardizing the core principles of IGFA ethics.” For more information, see igfa.org.

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Coastal_Angler_April2021.indd 1

APRIL 2021

NATIONAL 9

2/25/21 12:17 PM


By TAM Staff

LIFE ON THE TRAIL WITH

T

KRISTINE FISCHER

hose familiar with kayak bass tournaments have likely heard the name Kristine Fischer. She’s a driven angler from Weeping Water, Nebraska, who dropped out of the rat race a few years ago to hit the road and fish kayak tournaments. Since 2017, she’s proven she’s a lot more than just a breath of fresh air in a male-dominated sport. Fischer has amassed a strong resume from top national tournament trails like KBF, Hobie B.O.S. and B.A.S.S. In 81 tournaments, she’s tallied five firstplace victories and fished her way to top-10 finishes 27 times. Along the way, she’s picked up major sponsors like Tincup Whiskey, Hobie Fishing, Z-Man, PLANO, Hobie Eyewear, AFTCO, Omnia, CalCoast Fishing, Dakota Lithium batteries and Torqeedo. These sponsorships allow her to make a living as a professional kayak angler. And while she doesn’t deny her blonde hair and big smile have helped, the 33-year-old said it also drives her to build on her reputation as one of the fiercest competitors on the circuit. Here’s a little Q&A with Kristine Fischer:

Q: What led you to become a professional kayak angler? KF: My biggest fear has always been leading a life that lacked purpose and didn’t allow me to grow as a person. I’ve always craved adventure in some capacity and fully believe in the importance of submersing yourself in the wilderness as often as possible. To me, routines and having everything planned out can become mundane and almost robs us of spontaneity and ability to live in the moment. Being a full-time angler was a natural fit, given my love for fishing and my competitive nature. 10 NATIONAL

APRIL 2021

I mean, the family camping trips etched on your mind are the ones when gale-force winds destroyed the camp and raccoons stole the last bag of marshmallows. Life is what you make of it, whether it is on the road or at the end of a cul-de-sac. It’s all about your disposition.

Q: What’s the lifestyle on the road? KF: The Internet has a funny way of romanticizing road life. In reality, it’s hardly romantic. Replace sunsets wrapped in fuzzy blankets and barefoot nights by the fire with lights strung in the trees and drone shots of the RV rolling down a picturesque Route 66 with flat tires. Living on the road is 10-second cold showers, eating cans of gas-station beef ravioli with your fingers and praying you get to the next gas station before the truck runs out of fuel. It’s wrapping up a tournament in the Carolinas, knowing you’ve got one day to make it to west Texas. It’s utter chaos. Something always seems to go wrong at the most inconvenient time. It’s little sleep, a gas-station diet and pushing yourself to the limits in every capacity. Despite all that, there’s something about the road that lights my soul. I’ve always found the most joy in those moments of chaos. The best memories are made when everything goes south.

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Q: Tell us about being a successful woman in a male-dominated industry. KF: Successful women in fishing are a rarity, and therefore it’s much easier to get noticed. That fact has never sat well with me. I’m the type of person who needs to know I’m absolutely earning opportunities and that they aren’t coming to me simply because I’m a female with a big smile and blonde hair. I wanted to be recognized as a talented angler who is capable of winning any tournament on any given day. I set my sights on that. The sport is inundated with people who pose as anglers to take advantage of the industry. I’ve had to work to overcome negative stereotypes associated with women in the sport. Over the years, it’s gotten easier. The ability to record my tournaments has helped prove that I’m the “real deal.” Q: What are your goals for the 2021 season and into the future? KF: I’m gunning for AOY in the Hobie series, and I want to make “The TEN” for KBF. Future goals: qualifying for the Bassmaster Elites certainly has lingered on my mind. It’s a lofty goal, but I always appreciate a good challenge. Keep up with Kristine Fischer and her life on the tournament trail at her YouTube channel and through Facebook @kristinefischerfishing and Instagram @midwestfishergal.


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Limited to the first 1800 responders to this ad only! Blue Topaz Dolphin Collection A. Pendant (2 1/2 ctw) .....................$395 † $79 + S&P Save $316 18" Sterling Silver Rope Chain ................... $59 B. Earrings (2 3/5 ctw)......................$395 † $99 + S&P Save $296 C. Ring (2 1/4 ctw) ............................$395 † $99 + S&P Save $296

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he International Rod Building Challenge pits some of the world’s very best custom rod builders and designers against each other in a competition that considers creativity, craftsmanship and functionality. The 2021 Challenge, hosted by American Tackle Company, featured many entries from throughout the United States, Germany, Indonesia, Canada and Portugal. For the competition, rod builders were presented a mystery American Tackle Mark Crouse took first place in the Bushido blank to build their 2021 International Rod Building creation; everything else Challenge for his stunning was left up to the builder custom spinning rod. for creativity, design and craftsmanship. Each builder showcased their version of a highly ornate yet functional fishing rod in hopes of capturing the coveted 2021 title. The entries submitted featured both spinning and casting rod configurations including one spinning/fly convertable design. The judging panel was comprised of 10 noted fishing and rod-building professionals with extensive diversity of experience in rod manufacturing and custom rod building, as well as noted anglers and editors of wellcirculated fishing media. Each judge scored to a list of criteria ranging from design, theme, functionality and craftsmanship in 11 categories. Judges spent hours carefully grading the top-10 rods for the final results. In the end, Mark Crouse was declared the winner, taking first place in one of the tightest races this competition has ever seen. Mark’s entry in the 2021 challenge featured custom-created acrylic grips, a custom fabricated/machined highly polished aluminum reel seat/ handle trim, custom-fabricated extendable rear handle grip and impressive ultra-smooth epoxy finish over finely detailed thread work. His entry was designed into a spinning rod configuration utilizing the titanium version MicroWave Guide Line Control System for better balancing and enhanced performance. Mark is no stranger to winning rod-building competitions. He has been a true craftsman in rod building for many decades. His rod beat out Wade Christensen and Mark Blabaum, who earned second and third in the competition respectively. To view more of the entries, visit www.coastalanglermag.com/rod-build. For more information, go to www.americantackle.us.

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Seasonal Closure Implemented at Western Dry Rocks

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n a move widely supported by conservation groups, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a total fishing closure in a 1-square-mile area at Western Dry Rocks from April through July for the next seven years. 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 charter captains and private anglers in search of bountiful half-day trips. The intent of the closure is to protect populations of several important recreational species by allowing them to spawn unmolested by anglers. Fisheries managers had been considering a two-month, May-June, annual closure prior to the February FWC meeting, after which the four-month closure was announced. Permit, yellowtail snapper, mutton snapper and gray snapper are all known to aggregate at Western Dry Rocks from April through July. Other species, such as black, Nassau and gag groupers, aggregate at Western Dry Rocks during the cooler months, and they are already protected by seasonal bag limits. These spawning aggregations, along with the

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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. Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) has conducted tagging studies, which show permit from throughout the Lower Keys attend the annual aggregation at Western Dry Rocks. BTT is one of the organizations that pushed for the longer closure. They were joined in support of the April through July prohibition by American Sportfishing Association, Coastal Conservation Association, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, International Game Fish Association, Lower Keys Guides Association, Wild Oceans and Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. Doubtless there are private anglers and fishing guides who are upset by the move. FWC data shows angler effort absolutely centers on known aggregation areas. It’s worth noting that permit harvest is already closed throughout the Keys from April through July. BTT, however, has studies that show up to 39 percent of permit hooked at Western Dry Rocks were eaten by sharks before they made it to the boat. “Looking at this from a conservation standpoint, staff has done a really good job of

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threading the needle,” said FWC Commissioner Robert Spottswood. “For some, it may be too short of a season and, for others, too long, but this seasonal closure is an investment in continued healthy and robust fisheries in the Keys and south Florida.” Starting April 1, 2021, all fishing is prohibited from April through July in a 1-square-mile area near Western Dry Rocks. The Commission adopted a 7-year sunset provision, which ensures FWC can revisit the closure. This closure area is bounded by:

• • • •

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By Capt. Quinlyn Haddon

Are Back! S

ome of the best eating fish in the ocean are back on the menu, and they’re here to stay throughout the summer. Blackfin tuna have already moved back in on the Gulf Coast in the Tampa area, and they should start becoming a regular visitor on offshore and nearshore trips. We might not have as many blackfin as they do down in the Keys, but what we do have are of the jumbo variety. They produce some respectable-sized steaks. While blackfin aren’t overly common in this area, they are also not impossible to target. You might also find yourself catching them as bycatch while fishing wrecks with live bait. If you happen to hook one up by accident, keep chumming to keep the school on you, and keep sending out lines rigged the same way as the one that was already hit. Do not be afraid to have multiple hookups going at a time. Sometimes the bite will come in hot and leave just as quickly. Catch as many as you can while they are eating. While dropping over hard bottom offshore, always make sure to have at least one flat line set up out the back. Utilizing light mono and a small hook, cast a live bait behind the boat. Greenbacks, cigar minnows, small grunts and pinfish all work well. Occasionally open the bail to send out a little more line, so the bait has an opportunity to swim more naturally, faster, and get further down in the water column. This is especially effective at enticing a bite when the bait is acting nervous. Make sure your drag is set very loose, and don’t do anything fancy until the fish eats the bait and begins pulling drag. If anything, when you’re fishing larger baits, you can open the bail and let the fish really eat before coming tight. You should be burning a chum block, but also make sure to occasionally toss out a few live baits as chummers, especially when one of your flat-line baits seems to be getting nervous. As we move into summer, this exact same method will catch wahoo and sailfish, without you having to change any of your rigs or bait. Alternatively, you might stumble across diving birds above a disturbance on the water. Keep your eyes peeled for the telltale flying football shapes, indicative of tuna. Sometimes it might just be a school

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of bonita, but often tuna and bonita will run with each other, so don’t get discouraged too quickly. Make sure to have a plan and discuss it with your crew in case you do happen to run over a school while heading offshore. Whether you have a rod with a popper on it for casting, a trolling rod rigged and ready or a rod set up for a pitch bait, make sure everyone else knows what the game plan is so you don’t miss out. Blackfin often surface briefly, and you have to be ready to capitalize on it before they dive back down. Happy hunting, and don’t forget to treat your tuna fillets like steak. Cut them on a clean table and pat the meat dry if necessary, but never rinse it with freshwater. Capt. Quinlyn Haddon fishes out of St. Petersburg, Fla. Call her at 504-920-6342 and check her out on Instagram @CaptainQuinlyn.

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MUD HOLE AND CCA BAG OYSTERS FOR INDIAN RIVER LAGOON

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n February, volunteers from Mud Hole Custom Tackle, the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) Florida and several other organizations bagged more than 15,000 pounds of recycled oyster shells to create oyster habitats in the Indian River Lagoon. Mud Hole provided 25 volunteers for the Marine Discovery Center’s Shuck and Share initiative at New Smyrna Beach. “Conserving our ecosystems and fisheries is extremely important to Mud Hole Custom Tackle,” said Scott Gimbert, Mud Hole Vice President and avid angler. “We are excited to work with CCA on a variety of restoration initiatives—and with our headquarters in Oviedo, Florida, this one hits close to home.” Mud Hole supports a number of community programs to protect natural resources and bring angling and rod-building knowledge to youth through the education system. For the Shuck and Share initiative, volunteers from every Mud Hole department jumped in and got dirty assembling 515 oyster gabions from oyster shells donated by Central Florida restaurants. “Having the Mud Hole Team here at the Marine Discovery Center was a huge help,” said Brian Gorski, CCA Florida’s Executive Director. “We have a great partnership and share a devotion to the environment, and today was a great example of how we can all work together to protect our natural resources and our fisheries.” Along with supporting the Shuck and Share program, CCA and Mud Hole partner on a number of other initiatives, including Release the East—an Indian River Lagoon redfish restocking program—and CCA’s annual banquet and silent auction. For more information, visit www.mudhole.com.

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Fishing Report & Forecast Mayport By Capt. Kirk Waltz

O

ur weather in March was anything but stellar. Cold fronts piled up one on another coupled with some days of heavy winds made fishing a little tough. I hope with the penning of this article that it’s finally settled down. That in mind the fishing at the big rocks should be getting off to a bang. Redfish, trout, sheepshead, ringtails, and black drum should be moving in good numbers at the big stones. Warming weather should bring in the early schools of bait and will incite greater numbers than we experienced last month. I look for the lower tides for reds, drum, and sheepshead. Also look for jacks and Spanish to begin to show. Try to locate slower moving water with clarity being the key. Fish, like most people whom avoid smoke, prefer the clearer water to breathe and locate food. Try live shrimp, fiddlers, cut mullet, and cut blue crab for the best results. I like to pitch small jigs against the rocks with shrimp or fiddlers and switch to mullet or crabs in deep water 30-43ft to locate the fish. A lot of times the oversized reds and black drum will locate on the edge of the channel adjacent to the rocks. Try to remember that a bulk of these fish will be oversized. Release the big ones back so they can make babies. Always bring a venting tool so the large fish can be released unharmed. A light tackle rod about 7ft split butt coupled with a 3500Spinner is perfect for the light tackle stuff and a Spinner in a 5500 on a 7ft jigging rod is a great bottom rod. Try the braid by PowerPro for outstanding results in 15 -30lb. I really like its casting and non-bird nesting characteristics, good stuff! The Mayport basin west into the ICW should be holding great numbers of trout, sheepshead, reds, drum feeding on the edges. Outflow areas down from creek mouths are excellent ambush points. Small jigs tipped with shrimp or mud minnows can be deadly on the very last of the falling tides. Sisters Creek, Hannah Mills, Sherman’s Creek, Garden 4 NORTHEAST FLORIDA

APRIL 2021

etc. are great spots to check too! Don’t over look docks and bridges in these spots too. The Wonderwood Bridge is a great spot to fish with some effort. This is also a great time of the year to throw your favorite top water lure. The offshore scene last month was great when you could dive out to the party grounds from RL to the PV grounds. Black Sea bass and red snapper were in great numbers and I see that trend just getting better as the water warms ever so slightly. Remember red snapper are closed so release them unharmed. Cut squid, cut cigar minnows, and big live shrimp will produce some great action. In March I found the better fishing was in 70-80ft of water. This time of the year kicks off our migration of bait and predators. Look for Jacks and Spanish to show first with cobia in close approximation. I love to find those first pogie pods and catch a net full then return a livey on a Carolina rig back to the middle of the pod. Bull reds, Jacks, sharks and cobia could be lurking close by. Check the local Party ground wrecks and reefs for bait this month too. Some sardines and cigar minnows will show if the water warms up nicely. A number 6 sabiki rig should put a few in the live well for bottom fishing or pitching should you see something. This month should kick the fishing off to a bang so get out! Capt. Kirk Waltz can be reached at 904.626.1128 or 904.241.7560 for charters or for more info go to www.Enterprisefishingcharters. com He also can be heard on The Outdoors Show with Capt. Kevin Faver and Jeff Lageman on 1010am or 92.5fm from 7am to 10am every Saturday giving out fishing reports, tides, and weather. Go to www. outdoorsshow.com

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JOSFC - April Lee Bowman

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ast month was a busy one for us around the clubhouse and I think it’s time we all get a little break and do some fishing and relaxing. The El Cheapo was once again a successful and fun tournament even though the weather could

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the results from the tournament categories on our website or our Facebook page.      In the meantime, we have some meetings scheduled and events planned so look out for them and come to a meeting. Spring is here and the weather should be getting warmer and more conducive for offshore fishing days and club meetings. We also had our clubhouse clean-up last month and we were able to check off quite a few projects on our “to-do list”. We hope to see you at the next meeting.

have cooperated a little better. We had some major changes and had to work around new guidelines set by the city but we already have plans to make next year bigger and better. Club members worked like crazy, we had some great sponsors and everyone that fished were all amazing We hope to see you all again next year. You can get all of

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FLAGLER SPORTFISHING CLUB By Chris Christian

T

he Flagler Sportfishing Club will be having its monthly meeting at the VFW on Tuesday, April 6th; The meeting will feature

Upcoming Events: Monthly Club Meeting – April 6, VFW 25th Annual Spring Classic – April 24th – Bings Landing. Register for the Spring Classic here: https://flaglersportfishing. com/classic/

WE ARE GROWING 2021 is going to be a new and exciting year. Mark Feagle and Cheryl Knoy have joined forces at Watson Realty Corp., Orange Park, and created The West Bank Group. Our expansion comes with the vision to better service our customers and our community with the legendary quality service you deserve and have come to expect from Watson Realty Corp. Purchase or sell a home with The West Bank Group and we will contribute $400 towards your closing costs or give you a FREE fishing trip with our preferred captains. If you need real estate services in the Orange Park area, give either Cheryl or Mark a call today! Mark Feagle | 904.607.1139 Cheryl Knoy | 812.343.9072 MFeagle.WatsonRealtyCorp.com | CKnoy.WatsonRealtyCorp.com MFeagle@WatsonRealtyCorp.com | CKnoy@WatsonRealtyCorp.com

Join the Flagler Sportfishing Club www.flaglersportfishing.com Tournament Angler Carlos Garcia, sponsored by Boaters Exchange and Maverick Boat Works. Carlos will be talking about preparing for Tournaments to Win. The 25th Annual Spring Classic is April 24th with the Captains Meeting on April 23rd. Captain’s meeting is at the VFW and the Official Weigh-in is at Bings Landing next to Captains BBQ from 3-4.30pm.

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Wahoo Junkies - High Speed Trolling Part IV By Captain Tim Altman

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his month we have had some great posts in the Wahoo Junkies Facebook Group with lots of pictures from and stories from Northeast Florida. This is my favorite time of year for fishing. Why do I love Wahoo Fishing so much? Because here in Northeast Florida it is not easy. It’s not as easy as just motoring down the beach looking for bait, catching that bait in a cast net and then running nearshore on a beautiful summer day looking for your targeted species. Nope, rewarding Wahoo fishing usually takes place in the winter & spring months on small breaks in the weather patterns that will allow you to fish. The run to the fishing grounds is a minimum of 55 miles and the best bites are often at sunrise or sunset. This means it’s often a 55-75mile transit in the dark which becomes even more challenging. If you find that beautiful calm day with light winds in the winter and spring months those days will often have fog so thick it will reduce visibility to less than 100 yards. To have any semblance of safety your boat should be outfitted to handle nighttime & low visibility arrivals and departures from your chosen inlets. It also should be capable of handling seas of 4-6ft routinely. The gear and tackle required you can’t buy from Walmart, it is extremely expensive and highly specialized. This is why I love it, it isn’t easy and the stakes are pretty high in risk & expense vs. reward. It’s not for everybody, but when you bring in your first trophy class 70lb+ Wahoo over the side…it becomes addictive, so addictive you will find a way to make it happen. Our wives become “Wahoo Widows” left talking to each other at tournament functions while we are constantly talking with our buddies about new lures and finding the latest Wahoo Hotspot or “Number”. Our cellphones become our Wahoo Lifeline, our screen minutes triple with texts and videos from each other’s latest adventures. Our eyes strain to see the slow-motion replays of other folks’ videos to determine what color pattern lure they were using….it is intense to say the least. So “Wahoo Junkie Nation” here’s the news of the last month:

The boat “Open for Bidness” caught a 113lb Wahoo while Tuna Fishing on a Cedar Plug with a 100lb monofilament leader. Well other than the size of the fish, this scenario is special because Wahoo teeth are like razors and it will cut though that monofilament line like butter… which is exactly what happened when the fish came to the boat just before the gaff man when to stick the fish. By pure luck/chance that the fish just laid on its side just long enough for the quick thinking and fast reacting gaff man to gaff the fish! What a great story! The only downside to this story is that the boat and crew were not entered into the Northeast Florida Wahoo Shootout. Had they been in the tournament they would be the odds-on favorite to win the “largest fish” prize of a Kubota Sidekick side-by-side worth over $15,000. In the Northeast Florida Wahoo Shootout Tournament, the Turn 3/ Sofishticated team with Captains Casey Smith and Geoff Stam are in the lead currently with an amazing 232.56lb 3-fish aggregate. Their lead isn’t safe because Captain Billy Mulliniks and the crew of the “Crushing Time” is snapping at their heels with a 210.02lb 3-fish aggregate with a chance to improve their score with one day left to fish. Captain Billy needs a 58lb fish to improve his aggregate to best Captains Casey & Geoff. On a personal note, Casey Smith is one of my best friends and one of the finest Wahoo Fisherman in Southeastern US and most importantly he is a great guy. He is a pioneer in the High-Speed Wahoo fishery and my co-host on most all of the Wahoo Junkies Livestreams. His Co-Captain Geoff Stam is one of the best Kingfish Fisherman in Northeast Florida and another great guy. They fish together because they are good friends and a great combination. On the other hand, you won’t find a nicer & kinder man than Captain Billy Mulliniks. He also is a good friend and he truly has a knack for catching big Wahoo. So, if the leaderboard isn’t upended over the next 2 weeks and one of these fine gentlemen represents the Northeast Florida Wahoo Shootout as our Champion, we will be well represented. By the time this article comes out the tournament will have been decided. Currently Captain Dan Parker and the Crew of the “Big Sexy” are in 2nd place “largest fish” with a 99.70lb fish and if it stands will win the Kubota Sidekick. So, congratulations to the winner of the Northeast Florida Wahoo Shootout whomever you are, as you will take home a 21ft Yellowfin Bay Boat with a 200HP Yamaha 4 Stroke Motor and an Ameratrail Boat Trailer…a prize package worth over $85,000! Where can you watch the Northeast Florida Wahoo Shootout Weighins and purchase all of your Wahoo tackle and rigging? Strike Zone Fishing Jacksonville. Strike Zone owner Dave Workman Jr. has the largest selection of Shimano Reels in Northeast Florida and has a huge selection of High-Speed Trolling specific tackle and rigging. Ask for Archie or Dalton to get expert advice on all your Wahoo specific needs. My name is Tim Altman and I am a full-blown Wahoo Junkie…it has been 3 days since I last fed my addiction. Please feel free to email me with any questions and/or suggestions. I love to talk Wahoo and I’m always up for learning new tricks! Visit www.wahoojunkies.com for Wahoo Junkies gear! Until next month, please stay safe on the water and remember that great things happen when you take a kid fishing. Captain Tim Altman HooDoo Sportfishing Charters www.saltwaterchallenge.com tim@saltwaterchallenge.com

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APRIL 2021

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Jacksonville Spring Boat Show Press Release

J

ACKSONVILLE, Florida (March 4, 2021) – The Jacksonville Marine Association will host its first-ever Jacksonville Spring Boat Show at Metropolitan Park and Marina on April 16, 17, and 18, 2021. The Boat Show will offer three days of water-related fun, family-friendly activities, and educational seminars—as well as once-a-year deals on hundreds of boats and thousands of accessories. Boat Show attendees will be among the first to see and board brand-new models of all types of watercraft, including fishing boats, cruisers, ski boats, pontoons, inflatables, personal watercraft, and more. The Boat Show is sponsored by VyStar Credit Union. Jacksonville Boat Show highlights include:

Hours and Admission: Metropolitan Park & Marina is located at 1410 Gator Bowl Boulevard, Jacksonville, FL 32202. Boat Show hours are 11am to 9pm Friday, April 16; 10am to 7pm Saturday, April 17; and 10am to 5pm Sunday, April 18. Admission is $15 for adults; $5 for children 12 and under; and $12 for seniors, military, and first responders with ID. Food is purchased from the vendors and is not included with admission. For more information, visit www.boatjax.com Parking • Seminar presentations by Capt. Rick Murphy and Brie Gabrielle from Spectator parking is available for $10 in Lot J of TIAA Bank Field. Florida Insider Fishing Report on topics including throwing a cast net, fighting a fish, and dissecting a water column. Seminar series is Due to COVID-19 restrictions, payment may be made by credit/debit card only. sponsored by Fishbites Trading Post. • A wide range of food trucks offering diverse dining, snacks, and About the Jacksonville Marine Association ~ The purpose of the beverages. Jacksonville Marine Association is to foster and promote safe boating • Live music on Saturday and Sunday. • Kids’ fishing clinics on Saturday and Sunday from 11am – 2pm. The in the Northeast Florida Area; to aid and assist in the proposal and first 150 kids to complete the clinic each day will receive a rod and reel adoption of suitable laws and regulations relating to boats and safe boating; to promote social activities and education between its members combo courtesy of Barracuda Batteries by Continental. “We’re very excited to make a splash with the Boat Show and to and exchange ideas on promotions and sales of their products and welcome attendees to one of the most fun and diverse watercraft events services, and to aid, assist, and conduct displays of boats, equipment, of the spring,” said Erin Johnson, Jacksonville Marine Association and allied products and services. To become a member or learn more, Administrative Director. “There truly is something for everyone at the visit www.boatjax.com Boat Show—whether you’re a serious fisherman, a weekend cruiser, an adventure-seeker, or a nature-lover. Food, music, educational seminars, and boats! We think life really is better with a boat, and the Jacksonville Spring Boat Show celebrates every aspect of life on the water.”

10 NORTHEAST FLORIDA

APRIL 2021

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Fishing Report Pier and Surf By: Noel Kuhn

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he Pompano are here! The Pompano are here! I have been shouting these words for years now! My two favorite times of the year are the Pompano run and the Mullet run! Our waters have finally warmed after a long cold spell. The Pompano have returned from their winter vacation in south Florida. It is now our turn to hit the beaches and collect our silver nuggets! The tackle is fairly simple. The basic double dropper rig is all you need. The jewelry on these rigs can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make it. By jewelry I am referring to beads and floats. When I first started catching Pompano back in the 70’s I used no jewelry. Just 30lb mono, a j- hook, and a piece of shrimp. That combo still works

today but you can fine tune it. My baits of choice now are live sand fleas, live clams and Fishbites. My rig adornments are a white float on the top hook and a tangerine orange translucent bead on the bottom hook. 90% of the time I use a 2/0 Eagle Claw L197 circle hook. Where to cast the bait is just as important as the info in the last paragraph. Pompano like to run the edges of the bars and run outs. When the conditions are right they also love to feed on top of the bars. Here in Northeast Florida we can have as much as six feet of tide change. If the tide is outgoing and the bite stops it may because you have run out of catchable water. The Pomps may have moved to a more desirable location for feeding. That makes it time for you to move also. Look for something different like a deeper trough, a more pronounced run out, a bar where the waves have just started to break or a second bar farther out. I just have to say that last month was crazy good when it came to Whiting. It has been several years since we had a Whiting run like that. Almost all fish were good keeper size above 12” up to 18”. April should be no different with a good mixed bag of big Whiting and Pompano!

Noel Kuhn Surf fishing guide and long distance casting coach. 904-945-0660 www.TheSurfAngler.com

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APRIL 2021

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 11


Fishing Report & Forecast Fernandina / Amelia Island By Terry D. Lacoss

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f you are looking to bend a fishing rod, April is one of the better months to enjoy not only fast fishing action, but for hooking into big fish as well. Wahoo fishing continues to showcase blue water trolling with these colorful game fish hitting the scales over the one-hundredpound mark. High speed trolling with lures is key with a constant 16.5 knot trolling speed which is critical in trolling lures in a straight line. Although when seas permit, trolling speeds are bumped up to 18.5 knots.

The high-speed trolling spread involves five lures set at 50-feet, 100-feet, 150-feet, 200-feet and 250-feet. The two short lures, 50 and 100-feet are trolled from one side and the two 150 and 200-feet lures are trolled from the remaining side of the boat. The long 250-foot lure is trolled in the middle of the spread as a “Shot Gun” lure. Included in the spread are three C& H “Mr. Big” lures, and C & H “American Express” Reel drags are adjusted to 20-pounds. The two short lures are rigged with 64-oz. trolling weights, while the three long lures are rigged with 32-oz. trolling weights. Terminal 12 NORTHEAST FLORIDA

APRIL 2021

tackle begins with a 300-lb. stainless ball bearing snap swivel attached to the tag end of 130-lb. hollow core braid fishing line. Next a 24-foot section of 300-lb. monofilament leader is run from the snap swivel to the trolling weight. A 6-foot section of 275-lb. wire cable is then rigged from the trolling weight to the lure. A 1-foot section of 900-lb cable with 3- rigging beads is then rigged from the leader cable through the lure and to a pair of 10/0 Mustad style 7691 stainless steel hooks. The hooks are also wrapped to the wire cable with 3-M electrical tape so that the lure trolls perfectly straight at high speeds. 3-M electrical tape comes in multiple colors as well to match the lure color, is stretchable and is better has a better adhesive. Some of the more productive lure skirt colors include black & green, black & green, blue & white, pink & white and purple & black. Spare skirts should be on hand and replaced when damaged by the sharp teeth of the wahoo. Black drum fishing is also excellent during the month of April while fishing dead on the bottom with a whole or piece of blue crab. Begin preparing the blue crab for drum baits by removing the hard shell from the crab, then remove the claws. Take a knife and cut the remaining crab into four pieces. Take a 6/0 red circle hook and barb the crab right through the shell and fish the bait dead on the bottom. When drum fishing in deep water or sloughs, fish chunks of blue crab with a “Fish Finder” setup. First slide the appropriate size egg sinker onto your terminal fishing line, then attach a small plastic bead onto your fishing line as well. Next, a fifty-pound barrel swivel is then tied to the tag end of your terminal fishing line, using a Palomar knot. Finally, a three-foot section of fifty-pound fluorocarbon shock leader is tied to the remaining end of the barrel swivel and to the eye of the circle hook, using a polymer knot. Fish the chunk of blue crab dead on the bottom and either place the rod in a rod holder or hold the fishing rod. I prefer to hold the fishing rod, making sure the crab bait is dead on the bottom to detect the drum’s strike. In many cases when fishing many of Northeast Florida deep inlets and bays both black drum and red drum will school in the same waters. Some of the best drum action comes where shallow bars drop off into deep holes, or at the very end of jetty rocks. Keep in mind that some of the best drum fishing with blue crabs comes during the change of the tides. Some of the best areas when targeting black drum include the very ends of the St. Mary’s rock jetties and a deep slough located just off from “Main Beach”. Backwater fishing is excellent during the month of April for a variety of inshore game fish including redfish, sea trout, flounder and more. Drifting a live shrimp, or small finger mullet under a float is key. Look for the deep sides of oyster bars, sandbars, and boat docks to hold all the above-mentioned species. Tides are also critical with the last of the falling and the last of the in-coming tides providing the best inshore fishing action. Largemouth bass and a few stripers will be running in the upper reaches of Lofton Creek, Boggy Creek, Thomas’ Creek, and the St. Mary’s River. Casting a #11 silver and black Rapala works well for all the above-mentioned species.. For more information and charters, call Amelia Angler Outfitters (904) 261-2870, or visit www.ameliaangler.com.

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West Bank Seminar Series Is Back By Mark Feagle

Fishing… As I write this article, Florida is still open for business and now the seminars are back in business as well. I have missed having all the people together talking fishing and having fun. On April 21 beginning at 6pm we have Rick Ryals a well-known and respected offshore captain. Captain Rick is the host of the Florida Sportsman Radio and Co-Host of Florida Sportsman Best Boat. When it comes to offshore fishing Rick has caught just about every species out there. Rick will be speaking on the topics of Sailfish and Mahi-Mahi with specific ways to make your trips out of NE Florida more successful.

With the annual migration about to begin, now is a perfect time to get the best tips and tricks to make your trip worth wile. You can get your ticket on Eventbrite.com and we will have a local food truck on site for dinner. The event will be held at 57 Heaven in Orange Park. Conservation… As President of the Coastal Conservation Association’s Jacksonville Chapter, we have set the date for the first Water Way Clean Up Event of 2021. The event is scheduled for May, 8, 2021 and at Jim King Boat Ramp. We will be looking for volunteers and sponsors to make this clean-up event special. As we all know our river is littered with debris everywhere and we can do our part as fisherman to make sure our waters stay as clean as possible. This event will be a lot of fun and will have a lot of great prizes and giveaways. Also, our annual CCA BBQ event will be held on 6/25/2021 at the Florida Tackle and Gun Club. This event will be our first since the pandemic and we are very excited to have everyone back together. As always there will be cool door prizes, silent auction items and some really cool live auction items. This event is being held outdoors and is going to be great time. Real Estate… In addition to hosting the seminar series and volunteering for the CCA, I am also a full-time REALTOR® in Jacksonville. You should know that our local real estate market is on fire right now! We are in desperate need of homes to sell in order to meet the current buyerdemand. If you have thought of upgrading or moving away, I would love to talk to you. Home prices are on the rise, and with mortgage interest rates in the mid 2% range, there is no better time than now. Call me any time: 904-607-1139. I look forward to seeing everyone at the seminars again. Until then – Tight Lines!

YOUR LOWE BOATS AND MERCURY OUTBOARD HEADQUARTERS BELOW DEALER PRICES ON MERCURY OUTBOARDS!!

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APRIL 2021

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 15


Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament By CAM staff

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t’s not every day that you can fish for a Grand Prize of a boat motor and trailer package worth over $160,000. But you can this year in the Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament. That’s right, enter the tournament, catch the largest kingfish and take home that brand new 25 foot Contender center console boat, Yamaha twin 150 hp outboard motors and Majic Tilt Trailer combo with a Custom Marine T Top . But that’s just the top prize. There are actually over forty other prizes that you can win if you aren’t lucky enough to catch that big one. Ten places each in the Large fish, Aggregate, Single Engine and Ladies categories. With prizes like $12,000 cash for the Aggregate winner

and a brand new Yamaha 150 hp outboard motor for the Single Engine winner. Cash prizes in the remaining places down to tenth place in each. Tournament days are July 15th and 16th. Captains meeting on the 14th with awards on the 17th. What’s that you say, you’re going fishing on the 16th for Red Snapper? Well we even have cash prize money for that too. Catch the largest Red Snapper on the 16th and win $2,000. Five total places for Red Snapper in all. Throw in a Junior Angler Tournament on the 13th and you’ve got a full week of fishing to do. Are you up for it ? By the way you don’t have to fish the General tournament anymore to be able to fish the Junior Angler Tournament. And you don’t have to have a boat to fish your Jrs on that day either because we will have a separate Dock Tournament going on at the same time for Jrs that can’t make it offshore. (Our favorite two tournaments) And here’s a bonus. Now through the end of the April Boat Show the entry fee for the General Tournament is just $295. So you save a hundred bucks. Use it for some of those cash paying calcuttas. For more information on dates , times , rules , or any other info go to kingfishtournament.com. As for me , well I keep having this dream of catching a 53 pounder. Maybe this is the year. See you out there. The Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament is a Jacksonville Marine Charities tournament.

2021 GREATER JACKSONVILLE KINGFISH TOURNAMENT July 12-17, 2021

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16 NORTHEAST FLORIDA

APRIL 2021

www.kingfishtournament.com

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Kill, catch and cook with Kacie By Kacie Olsen

• In a small bowl combine the panko, shredded coconut, vegetable oil and Note: This baked Mahi recipe is easy enough for any weeknight but the remaining 1/4 teaspoon coconut cilantro sauce makes it special enough for guests. of salt. Sprinkle 1/4 of the 4 Servings | Prep: 10 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes crumbs down the middle of each fillet and then use Ingredients: your fingers to flatten and Baking Spray spread it, coating the top 4 Mahi fillets cleaned (1.5 lbs) of each fillet. Bake until ½ cup Stonyfield Greek Yogurt (or your choice) well browned and cooked ¼ cup Coconut Milk through, 10-12 minutes. ½ tsp. Salt, divided • Meanwhile, to the ¼ cup chopped cilantro remaining bowl of yogurt 1 tsp lime juice sauce add the cilantro and ¼ cup panko bread crumbs lime juice. Stir. ¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut • Serve the fish with the 2 tsp vegetable oil cold yogurt sauce on the side. Directions:

Crispy coconut baked mahi

• Preheat oven to 450F. Spray a large baking pan with baking spray (or you can grease it with 1 teaspoon of olive oil or vegetable oil). Arrange the fish fillets on the pan. • In a small bowl combine the yogurt, coconut milk and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Measure 4 tablespoons of this sauce into a separate small bowl. Brush the 4 tablespoons of sauce onto the tops of the fish fillets. To the remaining bowl of sauce add the cilantro and lime juice. Cover and refrigerate.

Kacie Olsen is a 3rd generation Florida native raised in Stuart, Florida, the sailfish capital of the world. A strong passion for the outdoors lead her to pursue wild game and offshore fishing. Regardless of the season, Kacie enjoys traveling across the US and aiding in conservation while creating lifelong memories with likeminded folks.

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APRIL 2021

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 17


Fishing Report St. Johns River By: Richard Hamilton

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ell, now this is the start of a great fishing year. First up is the Speckled Perch.  They should be winding down or finished with their spawn.  Remember not all fish spawn at once, you you've still got a shot at the very tasty beauties.  Grab a bucket of minnows, some speck jigs and hook, floats and split shot and you'll have all the based covered.  So go! Next will be the War Mouth.  These scrappy beauties will be hanging in the pods, waiting for you to dab a glob of worms at them.  These scrappers taste great and fight like there's no tomorrow.  Go get to it, if you're so inclined. Now on to up and comer.  Large Mouth Bassa These babies will be in the

creek mouths or are spawning flats and up canals, doing their thing. Look for the beds if you're so inclined.  But if you want some excitement, just go after them, fishing in your general are, and if you want, some excitement, grab a couple dozen shiners and then relax and let the bait do all the work.  Either way, enjoy yourself. Mullet have started slowly, but will pick up as the month goes on. So grab your usual baits, chum and equipment and go to it. Redfish are around and will eat crabs, shrimp and finger mullet.  But a smallish shiner will work, so check it out, if at all possible. Catfish are eating whatever they can from night crawlers to bait shrimp.  All you need do is go. Stripers will be very active around the bridges this month.  You can swim shiners or fish bait shrimp on the bottom.  You can also throw lipless crank baits or large minnow imitations, like big Rebel minnows, but fish all possibilities, just go. And before we close, we are saddened to tell you, we will no longer be owning and running this business.  After 50 years of this, I accepted an offer on the property.  The new owners will take over on April 16.  So to all of you valued customers and friends I made over the last 50, we would like to say "Thank You".  And God bless.   Keep your line wet and your lure movin.'--Richard. R & J Tackle 501 S Orange Ave, Green Cove Springs (904)284-5081

18 NORTHEAST FLORIDA

APRIL 2021

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Fishing Report & Forecast St. Augustine Inshore By Capt. Tommy Derringer

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hat an awesome time of year for fishing and for just being on the water in Northeast Florida. The weather is about as nice as it gets... The inshore fish (redfish, trout, flounder, drum, bluefish, ladyfish, jacks, etc.) will be on the feed with the influx of baitfish (finger mullet and pogies). With warming air and water temps the nearshore fishing should be firing up as well with huge jacks, cobia, and maybe even a tripletail or two. Inshore the redfish will be crushing the finger mullet and that means a top-water plug, especially at first and last light, will be the go-to lure of choice. Look for large concentrations of mullet and toss your plugs around them. There’s sure to be a redfish lurking around looking for an easy snack. Once the sun gets higher in the sky I like to switch to a search bait this time of year. Some of my favorites are spoons, twitchbaits, and one of my favorites, the spinner bait. My clients and I have caught a ton of big redfish on the Saltwater Assassin line of spinners. Of course a popping cork with a shrimp or mud minnow will catch its fair share of reds this month as well. April has always been a great “gator” trout month for me. A top-water plug will account for some of the bigger trout catches this month. The outgoing tide along the ICW banks should be loaded with trout, especially if the

baitfish are around. Once the day heats up a bit I like to fish a 1/4-ounce Saltwater Assassin jighead paired with a soft plastic like the Saltwater Assassin Lil Boss for the trout. Use a twitch, twitch, pause method and most of the time they’ll hit it on the pause. A free-lined live shrimp with a small pinch weight a few inches above it is a great was to catch some trout too. This has always been a great month for black drum. The “smaller” 2-8lb drum will be schooling up in some of the deeper creek holes and right along the ICW on the lower tide stages. A live or dead shrimp, fiddler crab, or even a sand flea will be the go-to baits for the black drum this month. I like to use a fishfinder rig with a smaller circle hook. The drum tend to nibble before they take the bait so having that circle hook and waiting until they really swim off will up your catch percentage. The inlets will come alive with all kinds of fast hitting fish this month. Look for jacks, blues, ladyfish, and spanish macs to be on the feed around all the area inlets. Crankbaits, spoons, and just about anything that’s moving fast through the water will catch these fish. Nearshore, depending on water temps, the cobia will be along the beaches following the manta rays. The magic water temp seems to be somewhere between the high 60’s and low 70’s. Pick a calm sunny day and have your shot at some of the most fun sight-fishing Northeast Florida has to offer. Also be sure to bring a few live shrimp when hitting the beach as there may be a few tripletail hanging around as well. Be sure to check out my daily fishing reports online at www.InshoreAdevntures. net. Capt. Tommy Derringer 904-377-3734 • www.InshoreAdventures.net

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20 NORTHEAST FLORIDA

APRIL 2021

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By Terry Newsome

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ehind every great company, you will find great leadership; and FREE SUNSHEILDS, (a successful outdoor apparel company located in St. Augustine, FL.) is no exception! I have interviewed countless successful entrepreneurs over the years, but rarely do I have the privilege of meeting a business owner as impressive as Brad Brynteson; and for good reason! Brad is one of the Founders of Free Sunshields and I can tell you without hesitation that he is truly a servant leader that is driven by his purpose and is dedicated to making a REAL difference in the lives of others! For Brad, Free Sunshields is more than just a custom neck gaiter outdoor apparel company for health-conscious customers, career builders (and business owners who want to promote their corporate brand.) Brad’s purpose-driven company represents a “freedom lifestyle” that empowers his customers and clients to safely enjoy the great outdoors! “Free Sunshields, ‘free’ corporate messaging represents a lifestyle that we hold true as a company and want to be able to pass on to our family, friends and customers,” Brad proudly explains, “and we love the outdoors and the freedom we feel when we are experiencing it. Our mission is to share this sense freedom through the products that we sell, so that our customers, brand ambassadors and corporate business clients can enjoy the outdoors and share the experience for themselves. We believe our products should be functional for outdoor activity, high quality, long lasting, and priced fairly. Albeit, the price may not be free, but we are confident that a potential customer will be hard- pressed to find a better sunshield neck gaiter product with a better price point in the marketplace!” During my interview with Brad, he always referenced the mission of his company and the very foundation upon which the company was conceived. “As one of the founders, my story began more than 3 decades ago,  growing up in the Florida sunshine. Boating, fishing, surfing, and hunting were just a few of many outdoor activities that brought adventure and freedom to  my  life,” Brad fondly remembers, “and my passion to combine work and play led to the creation of Free Sunshields, an outdoor lifestyle brand. As a small, family owned business, we have taken the biz on the road to live-work-play with our family aboard a 36’ Albin Trawler cruising the Florida coast. We are ocean explorers eager to pass-on the love we have for the water and sunshine to our children, showing them how to live from a place of passion, freedom and respect for the outdoors and encouraging the adventurous spirit inside them.” As an avid coastal angler, myself, I am also extremely passionate about the outdoors! However, I am also acutely aware of how important is to have the appropriate outdoor equipment and functional outdoor apparel when embarking on an outdoor adventure! The sun (especially in the state of Florida) is powerfully intense and gives off rays of light that can be harmful to us. These rays are known as ultraviolet (UV) rays. Overexposure to UV rays can damage skin cells with long-term effects and potentially make skin age faster than normal; (called “early aging.”) That’s why protecting your skin with Free Sunshields neck (and face) gaiters is SO important! The company’s website (www.freesunshields.com) is impressive with important and informative information. The website user navigation is simple and easy to use for customers, brand ambassadors and business clients. The website explains that “Free Sunshields are multi-functional headwear pieces that can be worn as a face shield, head band, scarf or various other ways. No matter what outdoor sport or hobby, they take the ‘red’ out of redneck and the ‘burn’ out of sunburn.” On a personal note, I also was inspired when I read that the company (in 2020) was making sunshield face masks available to all first responders for FREE (to be worn over or under a medical grade face mask.) As I did my research for this article, I saw many accolades and

countless positive reviews about Free Sunshields neck gaiters. “We are dedicated to delivering a great customer experience through the quality and value of our products,” Brad proudly explains, “and we love working with our customers and brand ambassadors to help spread the word about our awesome neck gaiters that we offer at incredibly low

prices. We believe that word of mouth marketing is the best kind and we make it a priority to pay back those who help promote our small growing company. To qualify, an official Brand Ambassadors must be passionate about the outdoors and be VERY active on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube or Twitter. We absolutely love to read all of the inspiring comments on social media and we are truly grateful for the ongoing support of our brand and mission.” CUSTOM NECK GAITERS FOR BUSINESSES With over 5,000 happy customers and neck gaiter clients including Chevrolet, Cargill, Northrop Grumman, The Hartford, Ford, ROCKSTAR Energy Drinks and REALTREE (just to name a few,) Free Sunshields is a time-tested promotional opportunity for local, national and international companies and corporations to harness the power

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APRIL 2021

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 21


of brand awareness that can increase sales and retail pull-through. “If you are looking for custom neck gaiters featuring your company’s logo or artwork, our talented and professional creative marketing team can provide customized neck gaiters for a very reasonable price,” Brad explains, “and there is no MOQ and there is no set-up or design fee. Neck gaiters make a great promotional item that can be given away at events or sold directly to loyal fans. We gladly accept wholesale applications from resellers who are looking to sell our stock neck gaiter designs in their retail or online stores. We can also provide custom buff designs, (but a wholesale account is not required if you only want to purchase custom neck gaiters.) Free Sunshields neck gaiters are a viable and smart low-cost option to higher-priced promotional logo T-Shirts or promotional brand items (like logo key-chains or trinkets with low perceived value.) From small family-owned local businesses to major international corporations, our low-cost, high-impact customized logo neck gaiters are perfect to give away to Fishing Tournament attendees, Outdoor-themed Trade Show attendees or corporate sponsored events to increase brand awareness. Our clients include Governments entities (Police Departments, Fire/Rescue, US Air Force, etc.)” Another impressive aspect of Brad’s proven business model is that Free Sunshields neck gaiters are not just for the hunting and fishing community. In fact, anyone who works (or plays) in the outdoors can help protect themselves from overexposure to potentially harmful UV rays including those who work “outside” in construction, demolition, landscaping, roofing and other occupations. “My family and I truly want to make a real difference in the lives of others,” Brad passionately reveals, “and our mission is to provide our valued clientele with unique, superior quality outdoor apparel that delivers functionality with purpose! From the beachside to the mountain top, we want men, women and children to pursue their

outdoor hobbies (and careers) with passion and to enjoy a profound outdoor lifestyle of freedom.” My inspiring interview with Brad Brynteson is one that I will always remember. I just placed my first (and certainly not the last) product order with www.freesunshields.com and I can tell you with absolute certainty that Brad will continue to touch many lives in our community and beyond! He will have a profound impact on the “outdoor world” for many decades in the future through the multiple purpose-driven businesses that he owns right here in Northeast Florida. As always, on behalf of the readers of Coastal Angler Magazine, we wish Brad and his family all the best! With over 25 years of corporate experience as a writer, director and producer, Terry Newsome has personally filmed and produced over 100 outdoor television shows and instructional fishing videos internationally. He is an avid coastal angler and is a former co-owner of Pine Island Fish Camp on the Intracoastal Waterway just north of St. Augustine, Florida. tim@saltwaterchallenge.com

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Fishing Report & Forecast Flagler Inshore By Captain Chris Herrera

F

irst light, outgoing tide and add schools of mullet, this formula makes for a successful morning outing for trout. Tie on your favorite topwater plug and get to casting, gator trout will be lurking around the bait pods along the ICW.. Working topwater and sinking plugs like a Sebile stick shad parallel to dropoffs and around creek mouths will guarantee success! Don’t over look deeper creek holes as “Gator Trout” can be taking residence. Redfish will also be patrolling the shell banks of the ICW working the bait pods during low tides. Shallow flats that are holding mullet will have redfish shadowing mullet pods looking to eat all the shrimp

and crabs the mullet kick up. A Fish Bites Extreme watermelon red flake color jerkbait on a Slayer 4/0 Penetrator 3/16oz. hook is great search bait for flats fishing. Oyster bed hopping and casting to spartina grass edges will also produce strikes as long as the mullet are around. If redfish are busting mullet switch to mullet imitators like my new favorite lure the Sebile stick shad in hollow mullet. Live bait fisherman should soak live mullet or shrimp around oyster bars on high tide using Daiichi 1/0-3/0 circle hooks. Flounder should be chewing steady in the flats, creeks and inlet on outgoing tide being my favorite. Live finger mullet with a 000 split shot or using a Fish Bite Extreme Paddle and Slayer inc. jighead slowly bounced across the bottom will produce flatties. Jig fisherman will target deeper dropoffs with mud minnows or finger mullet. Doormats around the inlets will fall for 5-7 inch mullet on a fish finder rig. I prefer to use Daiichi D18Z J-hooks as I miss a lot of flounder on circle hooks. Big Blue fish should continue to chew around Matanzas Inlet, they will bite just about any lure that resembles a mullet, first light is best for numbers. Ladyfish will be stacking up outgoing tides busting baitfish in the bigger creeks that will keep the kids occupied. Light jigs and paddle tails or live shrimp will get slammed by lady fish on every cast once you find them. Capt. Chris Herrera Serving Flagler Beach, Palm Coast, St. Augustine www.palmcoastfishing.com 386-503-6338

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The Northeast Florida Marlin Association

A

pril is our favorite month of the year at the Northeast Florida Marlin Association because it’s finally Billfish season. Plus, the spring winds usually begin to subside allowing more beautiful warm and sunny days to get offshore and go fishing. February and March were Wahoo season and dozens of 50# plus fish were caught in the Northeast Florida tournaments. Wahoo should remain in the area through April and well into May before the water warms and they’re replaced by the big schools of Dolphin/Dorado in the summer. In between those gamefish schools we should see increasing catches of Sailfish and Marlin in our region. Several of the NEFMA club boats, including the Chunda, Four Reel and Reel Pleasures have already logged in billfish on our new NEFMA App, so the competition for Boat of The Year is expected to be stiff. April is also the month for Northeast Florida’s oldest

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and most prestigious billfish tournament, the Northeast Florida Marlin Association’s Bluewater Tournament which celebrates its 49th year in St Augustine. The Bluewater provides prizes and trophies in several categories for billfish and gamefish and it’s open to members and non-member boats 24’ and larger with proper safety equipment. The three-day tournament starts on April 21st with the Captains meeting, kickoff party and raffle and then crews may fish two of the following three days. Several options for tournament within a tournament will be available at the meeting and trophies and prizes will be delivered Saturday April 24th at the awards party. the App, so you don’t miss a thing. Tight lines. -Paul Raudenbush, President  Northeast Florida Marlin Association 

APRIL 2021

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 23


TIDE CHART - APRIL

Mayport Degaussing Structure 30.3967° N, 81.3950° W Date Day Time 01 Thu 05:51 AM -0.76 L 02 Fri 12:27 AM 5.69 H 03 Sat 01:24 AM 5.43 H 04 Sun 02:27 AM 5.15 H 05 Mon 03:36 AM 4.94 H 06 Tue 04:45 AM 4.83 H 07 Wed 05:48 AM 4.81 H 08 Thu 12:17 AM 0.20 L 09 Fri 01:10 AM 0.05 L 10 Sat 01:57 AM -0.08 L 11 Sun 02:40 AM -0.16 L 12 Mon 03:19 AM -0.16 L 13 Tue 03:57 AM -0.08 L 14 Wed 04:35 AM 0.08 L 15 Thu 05:13 AM 0.30 L 16 Fri 05:53 AM 0.54 L 17 Sat 12:13 AM 4.84 H 18 Sun 12:57 AM 4.74 H 19 Mon 01:46 AM 4.67 H 20 Tue 02:42 AM 4.63 H 21 Wed 03:43 AM 4.65 H 22 Thu 04:45 AM 4.75 H 23 Fri 05:43 AM 4.89 H 24 Sat 12:23 AM -0.07 L 25 Sun 01:17 AM -0.51 L 26 Mon 02:08 AM -0.86 L 27 Tue 02:58 AM -1.09 L 28 Wed 03:49 AM -1.14 L 29 Thu 04:40 AM -1.01 L 30 Fri 05:35 AM -0.75 L

Hgt 12:03 06:49 07:51 08:54 09:56 10:56 11:52 06:43 07:30 08:13 08:54 09:32 10:10 10:48 11:26 12:05 06:36 07:24 08:17 09:11 10:06 10:59 11:50 06:37 07:28 08:18 09:09 10:00 10:52 11:46

Time PM 4.89 H AM -0.43 L AM -0.12 L AM 0.13 L AM 0.28 L AM 0.30 L AM 0.23 L AM 4.81 H AM 4.80 H AM 4.76 H AM 4.68 H AM 4.56 H AM 4.42 H AM 4.26 H AM 4.11 H PM 3.98 H AM 0.78 L AM 0.95 L AM 1.03 L AM 0.99 L AM 0.80 L AM 0.48 L AM 0.07 L AM 5.05 H AM 5.17 H AM 5.22 H AM 5.20 H AM 5.11 H AM 4.96 H AM 4.79 H

Hgt 05:56 12:58 01:57 03:02 04:11 05:17 06:15 12:43 01:28 02:08 02:46 03:22 03:57 04:32 05:08 05:47 12:46 01:31 02:21 03:19 04:19 05:18 06:13 12:40 01:28 02:15 03:02 03:50 04:42 05:37

Approximate Correction Times Palm Valley ICW: H: +2:20 L: +2:00 +/- for Other regional Locations JAX Beach: H: -:29 L: -:20 Bings Landing: H: +2:57 L: +2:44

Time Hgt PM -0.55 L PM 4.65 H PM 4.44 H PM 4.31 H PM 4.29 H PM 4.39 H PM 4.57 H PM 0.08 L PM -0.08 L PM -0.21 L PM -0.24 L PM -0.17 L PM 0.01 L PM 0.26 L PM 0.54 L PM 0.80 L PM 3.89 H PM 3.85 H PM 3.87 H PM 3.98 H PM 4.21 H PM 4.56 H PM 4.99 H PM -0.37 L PM -0.76 L PM -1.03 L PM -1.13 L PM -1.05 L PM -0.82 L PM -0.48 L

St. Augustine Beach: H: -:07 L: -:15 St. A City Dock: H: -:04 L: +:09

Time

Hgt

06:55 08:00 09:07 10:13 11:17

PM PM PM PM PM

-0.20 L 0.10 L 0.29 L 0.36 L 0.32 L

07:06 07:50 08:30 09:08 09:43 10:19 10:55 11:32

PM PM PM PM PM PM PM PM

4.76 4.94 5.06 5.13 5.14 5.11 5.03 4.94

H H H H H H H H

06:31 07:23 08:22 09:24 10:26 11:26

PM PM PM PM PM PM

1.01 1.12 1.11 0.98 0.72 0.36

L L L L L L

07:04 07:54 08:43 09:32 10:23 11:16

PM PM PM PM PM PM

5.44 5.83 6.11 6.25 6.22 6.06

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Author Sarah Walls practices donning and doffing deco bottles near the ocean floor.

about diving: the exploration of the unknown. Not only by diving deeper, but by delving further into my abilities, I could face novel challenges again, master new skills and refine old ones I’d become complacent with. During my first confined-water session, I felt like a brand-new student: awkward, buoyant and overwhelmed by all the procedures to remember. We spent hours throughout the course running through drills until I no longer felt like a newborn diver, but proficient in my new abilities. I’d optimized my reaction time in emergency situations, like controlling a free-flowing regulator; perfected procedures of staging and donning deco bottles; and fine-tuned my buoyancy until my depth at decompression stops fluctuated by no more than a foot and a half. Tec diving isn’t for everyone. However, many of my hesitations to try technical diving were overcome by taking other courses. Before my tec course, I completed PADI Deep and Nitrox specialties. These prepared me for increased pressure and effects of narcosis at deeper depths and taught me about diving with higher oxygen contents. I also completed Sidemount and Self-Reliant courses that taught me how to dive with multiple tanks and regulators and explained the importance of redundancy and self-sufficiency, which both play a huge role in tec diving. Tec diving is obstacle-ridden and humbling, but can reignite a fading passion. It can leave you with a sense of accomplishment and a refined set of diving skills. It grants access to depths beyond recreational limits, where lesser-known shipwrecks and deep reefs lie, waiting to be explored. There will always be risks, but with proper training and preparation, you might also find the answer to your own question.

Why Try Technical Diving?

T

he first time I read about technical diving, I thought I’d never try it. I combed through a tec-diving manual and found claims stating that even if everything is done correctly, there is still considerable risk for accidents and death. These claims stuck to my mind like crusted barnacles. Who would try technical diving if it is so inherently dangerous? Fast forward a year and four months, and I found myself as the answer to my own question. I sat in a classroom with my manual and equipment splayed across a desk, ready for my Tec 40 course to start. I wondered what happened over the last 16 months to change my mind. I’d been working as a scuba instructor and increased my number of dives from just over 100 to well over 1,000. Diving became part of my everyday life. Breathing compressed air through a regulator became as normal as taking a breath on the surface. I was still madly in love with diving, but submerging had become second nature and no longer felt like an exciting challenge. Tec diving made me a student again. It reminded me of something I love

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LIFE IS A BEACH

3/8-ounce chartreuse jig with a 4-inch pearl white D.O.A. Shad Tail. Run the jig hook through the paddletail’s head and out through its belly where D.O.A. is printed. The idea is to rig the soft plastic as straight as you can. This allows longer casts because the lure won’t twist in the air. The two most important factors to consider in catching snook from the beach are time of day and location. Snook prefer to feed at night. On the By Richard L. Matteson beach, baitfish run the trough during the low-light periods at dawn and dusk. So, the best time to snook fish is 10 minutes before daybreak and the last 90 minutes before dark. This is when snook feed in the carved out area behind the closest breakers. Remember, snook are less than 20 yards offshore when they’re feeding in the trough. Casting out as far as you can means only the last part of your retrieve will be in the snook zone. Either make many short casts or cast almost parallel to the surf line. This keeps your bait in the strike zone most of the time. Snook will scoot under the breakers from the trough and grab your jig in 6 inches of wash. No water is too shallow for them, and from the back of the trough to the wash is where the snook point of attack is. When a snook hits, be prepared. They are extremely fast and strong, so expect them to pull out 15 or 20 feet of line. If you use 10-pound braid, like I do, make sure your drag is set loose or they’ll break you off on the initial run. The three main ways you lose snook are with a break-off on the first run, when their gill plates and rough mouths weaken the line, and when they jump and throw the hook. Start with the drag loose; you can tighten it during the fight. Use a 30- or 40-pound fluorocarbon leader, and keep your rod tip low during the fight. This discourages jumping. When you’re ready to beach your fish, wait for an incoming wave and walk the fish through the wash so it’s beached when the wave goes out. In Atlantic waters, anglers may keep one snook a day between 28 and 32 inches until the season closes June 1-Aug. 31. In Gulf of Mexico waters, the slot limit is 28 to 33 inches and the season is closed May 1-Aug. 31. armer days are here again, along with the time change, which Snook fishing is catch-and-release only in all Florida waters from the Hernando/Pasco county line through Gordon Pass in Collier County. allows more time for fishing! Snook are cruising the beaches and moving into the Richard Matteson writes for Stuart Rod and Reel Club. shallows of the Indian River Lagoon. My goal is to catch a snook a day—I Call him at (336) 414-3440. don’t always do it – but it’s my goal as a surf caster. My favorite lure is a

Snook

IN THE SURF

W

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Final Sail Returns To Miami April 7-11

T

he Final leg of the Quest For The Crest Sailfish Series returns to the docks of Miami Beach Marina April 7-11. The third leg of the series was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, so this year’s finale will award coveted burgundy jackets to two teams. A kick off party will be held at the Doubletree by Hilton Grand Hotel, Biscayne Bay on Wednesday, April 7 from 7-10 p.m. Competition days will be Friday and Saturday, April 9-10. The awards ceremony will be held Saturday night from 7-11 p.m. The Quest For The Crest Series was halted last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and no winner was crowned, which ups the ante for Final Sail 2021, as there will be two jackets on the line. The 2020 Quest For The Crest winner will be determined by combining the scores from last year’s series with team’s points from Final Sail this year. Bar South is looking to win their second burgundy jacket. The team won their first jacket in 2015 with 97 points. They are poised to claim their second jacket with a 6 point lead over Jichi in the 2020 series with Shell Yeah just 8 points behind in third place.

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2021 Sailfish Series Leaders 1. Native Son - 52 points 2. Showtime - 51 points 3. Team HMY - 46 points 4. Fish On - 46 points The bite was red hot for Captain Art Sapp and his crew on Native Son during February’s Sailfish Challenge. A last minute double sent them over the top and secured their first place finish in the Quest’s second leg with a total of 13 sails and a hefty paycheck for $255,340. Native Son has their eyes on their first burgundy jacket and certainly won’t go down without a fight. Not far behind them are three standout teams from Operation Sailfish, Showtime, Team HMY and Fish On. Showtime is looking to win their second jacket. They won in 2019, while Team HMY and Fish On are in contention for their first ever burgundy jacket. In addition to the sailfish accolades, there are two major meatfish titles up for grabs at Final Sail. The Quest Sailfish Series offers a meatfish title to the top overall meatfish team in the series. Team Blue Moon/Chop it Up holds a strong lead from the 2020 series and there are a number of boats in close contention for the 2021 title. Similar to the jacket, the meatfish points scored at the upcoming Final Sail event will count towards the 2020 series as well as the 2021 series. For more on Quest for The Crest and Final Sail, check out www.bluewatermovements.com or www.finalsail.com. 18 FLORIDA

APRIL 2021

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Monster Gulf Warsaw Caught On Film By CAM Staff

I

n January, a group of anglers filming for the online show BlacktipH Fishing launched on a chilly day from the west coast of Florida on a 3-year-old mission to land a giant warsaw grouper on camera. After a four-hour run out of Fort Myers, it took just five minutes on the initial drop for them to hook into a 300-pounder. Hand-cranking that fish from deeper than 400 feet of water was a grueling feat of fishing and an epic culmination to their quest. It was a third deep-water attempt for BlacktipH host Joshua Jorgenson and Capt. Jason Boyll. Like goliath grouper, warsaw grouper grow huge. The all-tackle world record warsaw weighed more than 436 pounds. Unlike goliaths, which frequent nearshore structure, large warsaws prefer extreme depths. Deep-water structure and a peak bite in winter combine to make truly huge warsaw grouper difficult to catch. During their first warsaw trip in 2019, the crew didn’t get a bite during a full day of fishing 100 miles out of Sarasota, Fla. They dropped in depths below 1,000 feet to spring holes on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. In January of 2020, Jorgenson and Boyll tried again. This time they left the docks at 2 a.m. to travel 150 nautical miles offshore. “After hours of fishing, we finally got a bite,” Jorgenson wrote. “The fish was hooked, and I started cranking the handle. I brought the fish up around 150

feet from the bottom. Jason and I both thought it was a smaller fish. Then, all of a sudden, this fish got angry and started peeling the line off the reel. It was literally unstoppable! Seconds later, this massive fish swam into some bottom structure and snapped the line.” Losing that fish haunted Jorgenson until this year, on Jan. 22, when he, Boyll and Gord Daniher took Daniher’s 42-foot boat 140 miles off Fort Myers to a structure known as Pulley Ridge. Pulley Ridge is a 60-mile-long reef system well known to Gulf anglers. They dropped banded rudderfish as bait in water deeper than 400 feet. “Within five minutes of fishing, Jason got a bite on his reel,” Jorgenson wrote. “He started reeling and the line got very tight! A giant warsaw had taken the bait! Jason started cranking as hard as possible to prevent the monster from breaking us off on the bottom. After an incredibly intense 10-minute battle, Jason managed to bring the fish 150 feet off the bottom before being completely exhausted!” At that point, Jorgenson took the reel and cranked the fish to the surface. The total fight time lasted 15 to 20 minutes, and the whole crew was needed to bring the fish into the boat. Back at the docks, it took a tractor to COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

pull the fish out of the boat and weigh it. The scale read 294 pounds. The fish’s live weight was likely heavier than 300 pounds. The grouper was 7 feet long. Check out BlacktipH at blacktiph.com. APRIL 2021

FLORIDA 19


FWC SEEKS INPUT ON SNOOK, REDFISH, TROUT

T

he Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is gathering public input on the future management of snook, redfish and spotted seatrout in the area of southwest Florida where they are currently catchand-release only. Beginning in August 2018, FWC made a series of temporary regulation changes to help conserve snook, redfish and spotted seatrout that were negatively impacted by a prolonged red tide that occurred in late 2017 through early 2019. Ultimately, these popular inshore species were made catch-and-release only in all waters from Pasco County through Gordon Pass in Collier County through May 31, 2021. Long-term monitoring data indicate snook, redfish and spotted seatrout were resilient and did not experience long-term negative effects from the 2017-2019 red tide. However, anglers and charter captains have expressed concerns that these fisheries had declined prior to red tide and that the red tide affected habitat that is essential to these species. FWC staff will continue gathering public input both online at MyFWC. com/SaltwaterComments and through public workshops, which will be scheduled in the future. To learn more about future workshops, visit MyFWC. com/Marine and click on “Rulemaking” and “Upcoming Public Workshops.” FWC will revisit this topic at the May 12-13 meeting. Additionally, staff will provide updates to commissioners after stock assessments for snook and redfish throughout Florida are complete later in 2021. These stock assessments, along with stakeholder input, will help staff and the commission evaluate whether any long-term management changes are needed. Learn more about regulations for these species by visiting MyFWC.com/Marine and clicking on “Recreational Regulations.”

20 FLORIDA

APRIL 2021

BAHAMAS CUSTOMS GOES ELECTRONIC

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ith a new online system for customs declarations, boaters entering The Bahamas can expect a more streamlined process for clearing Customs at the various ports of entry to The Bahamas. The Bahamas Customs & Excise Department recently launched its electronic submission portal for cruising permit applications on the Click2Clear platform. The Cruising Permit Module is expected to dramatically improve the Customs processing time for boaters. Boaters can now complete and submit declaration forms and make payment in advance of arrival. “This is all a part of our digital transformation agenda. It addresses a longstanding pain point for boaters who have been clamoring for a fully digital process. It also minimizes the opportunity for revenue leakage,” said Minister Kwasi Thompson, Minister of State for Finance. To supplement the work being done by the Customs Department, the Ministry of Finance is also working with other government agencies, including the Port Department and Fisheries, along with private sector service providers to develop additional payment and licensing solutions. These will similarly cover fees associated with the boating and fishing industry, including yacht charter fees. The delivery of other payment and licensing solutions by authorized digital solution providers in the private sector is soon to be announced. To get started, register with The Bahamas Customs & Excise Department at www.bahamascustoms.gov.bs and see videos on the process on Youtube.

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beaches and less tourist traffic than Playa Del Carmen or Cancun to the north. The resort island Cozumel sits in the Caribbean Sea to the east, but Xpu Ha is quieter. There are a few hotels and restaurants in the area, but nowhere near the bustle of the Yucatan’s larger cities. I enjoy fly fishing the clear shallows of the Mayan Riviera and had never encountered another angler in prior visits to Xpu Ha. Just imagine our surprise when, on our first full day there, as we were making the morning walk to our chosen location, there in the distance was the unmistakable silhouette of a person with a fly rod. We had to meet him. After some introductions, Alex informed us this was his first visit to the area. He was from Dublin, Ireland and was stranded in Paradise because of the pandemic. I invited Alex to join us. We were headed to a reef known to hold triggerfish and an occasional permit. He jumped at the offer. Alex said his goal for this trip was to check permit off his bucket list. It’s a species he’d been chasing for several years. Over the next few hours, we waded and Alex had several opportunities at tailing triggers on the shallow reef. He got a few follows that day, but no hook-ups. He managed to cross triggerfish off his list the following morning. When Jordan had to return to the states, Alex and I made plans to fish farther south at Sian Ka’an. South of Tulum, Sian Ka’an is a large nature preserve of coastal wetlands and inland jungle. Our goal was to target By Rex Hannon bonefish, with high hopes for an elusive permit. The winds were relentless and the partly cloudy skies made spotting fish a challenge. An hour into our stalk, at 50 yards, we saw the tell-tale shadow of a good fish. Alex said it looked like a nice bone. I said, “No, permit!” Alex’s first cast fell short. No a big deal. It was better than a long cast that would have spooked the fish. After reloading and taking a few breaths, Alex’s next cast was a quartering shot, 2 feet ahead and 5 feet past the fish. Perfect! Alex stripped twice. The permit noticed the fly, but began to turn away. I knew we were still in the game and told Alex to stop. When the fish turned back to the fly, I said, “strip!” But it was too late… the permit had pounced, n January, my buddy, Jordan May, and I were fishing the Mayan Riviera and with a perfect strip-set the game was on! Within 10 minutes of keeping constant pressure, “Alex the Irishman” Coast near Xpu Ha, Mexico. It’s a beautiful and productive location I fought his first permit to the net. It’s a fish both of us will remember the visit as often as possible. Xpu Ha is one of those best-kept secrets on the Yucatan, with gorgeous rest of our lives.

22 FLORIDA

APRIL 2021

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hile tarpon are a year-round target for anglers in the Florida Keys, there is no better time than right now if a big silver king is on your bucket list. A typical tarpon season in the Keys ramps up in March and continues into the summer most years. The best months are April and May, at the peak of the spring migration, when large fish are both prevalent and vulnerable to the tactics of anglers. This time of year, catches average in the 80-pound range and anglers encounter fish 200 pounds and larger. There’s nowhere in the world that offers a better opportunity to sight fish clear-water flats for giant tarpon. In their thousands, migrating tarpon push into the backcountry, skirting the edges of flats and channels. Year after year, they follow predictable travel routes, which makes fishing for them a lot like deer hunting. If you know where they’re likely to be, you can stake the boat in ambush and wait for them to roll through. A local guide who stays on top of the movements is worth his weight in gold when it comes to encountering giant tarpon. Notice we said “encountering giant tarpon,” not “catching giant tarpon.” Getting shots at these giant fish is highly likely, convincing them to eat and then fighting them to the boat is not. With a fly, enticing a big tarpon takes skill and luck. First-timers are better off fishing live bait. A crab fished under a float in the passes and around bridges can lead to multiple hookups in a day. Fish funnel through the passes and are consolidated in bridge channels, where they are likely to bump into your bait. What follows are powerful runs and repeated jumps. The slightest mistake on the part of the angler will result in a thrown hook or broken line. Even experienced anglers are left with a slack line more often than not. Anglers who win the battle are responsible for reviving and releasing an animal that could be up to 50 years old. Tarpon grow slowly. It takes them seven to 13 years to reach sexual maturity. It is imperative for the future of the fishery to give each fish caught the highest possibility of survival. All Florida tarpon longer than 40 inches must be released, with an exception for anglers holding a state tarpon tag for the purpose of achieving a state or world record. Large tarpon should remain in the water at all times, which means unhooking and photographing them quickly, with an effort to keep the head and gills in the water as much as possible. Tarpon will often fight to exhaustion, so reviving them greatly increases their chance of survival. Hold them horizontally in the water with their mouth open, moving them forward to push water over their gills. Do this until they swim off on their own. For more information, go to myfwc.com.

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Yamaha's New 252 FSH Sport and 255 FSH Sport E The Most Capable and Versatile Center Console Boats in Their Class

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ew for 2021 is the exciting 25-foot Yamaha 252 FSH Sport and 255 FSH Sport E center console boats that are the most capable and versatile boats in their class. These larger models of Yamaha’s popular FSH Series are designed with the size, power, and fuel range for serious offshore adventures. The 252 FSH Sport features twin, Yamaha 1.8L High Output engines. These normally-aspirated engines are powerful, reliable, and virtually maintenance-free. Acceleration is instant, bow rise is minimal, and more deck space is available for fishing and fun. For buyers who want the most performance available, and the premium features that come with Yamaha's E-Series drive-by-wire features, the 255 FSH Sport E gets twin 1.8L supercharged Yamaha SVHO® marine engines for a combined 500-horsepower. Zero to 30 mph acceleration is a blistering five seconds with a top speed of 55 mph. In addition, the 255 FSH Sport E feature push-button start, dual throttle lever syncing, and more. Both models come with 111-gallon fuel tanks, the highest capacity fuel tanks Yamaha offers in a jet boat. Paired with Yamaha's fuelefficient engines, there is plenty of cruising range for boaters who want to explore beyond the harbor surf break.

Under the water line is an all-new deep-V hull design that responds immediately to steering input at all speeds and comes on plane instantly. The bow seating area is wide and long, providing ample space for taller passengers to stretch out. And of course, there is plenty of storage available under the hinged bow seats, stainless steel beverage holders in all the right places, and an expansive anchor and bow ladder locker for easy access. Moving into the spacious cockpit interior, there is a transparent live well located portside and a large storage pod topped with padded marine mat adjacent on the starboard side. There is a comfortable bench seat in the front of the center console that lifts up to reveal an extra deep, large storage area that can also serve as a changing room or a head compartment thanks to the curtain enclosure that is standard on all models. Both models are fitted with finished fiberglass hard tops with LED lighting and integrated audio speakers. Completing the tower are five rocket launcher rod holders mounted to the T-Top frame, and there are eight additional rod holders located under the port and starboard gunnels.

The helm is thoughtfully designed with a glass windshield, stainless steel sports steering wheel, locking glove box, and 12-inch Simrad® marine electronics. Also included is Yamaha's Connext® 3.0 helm control system with a 7-inch touchscreen that controls the entertainment and vital system functions of the boat, a mobile phone holder, and USB/AUX ports. Behind the helm is beam width bench seating, a starboard side live bait well, and a low walkthrough transom for easy access to Yamaha's signature stern lounge area. This is the place to be when hanging out at your favorite cove, and a great open access place to cast from. Completing the stern area are stainless steel beverage holders, high-quality padded flooring, a stainless-steel tow eye, and a telescopic reboarding ladder. They also feature underwater lights. From bow to stern, there is nothing cookiecutter about Yamaha's new 25-foot center console boats. From their striking good looks to industry-first innovations, Yamaha's 252/255 FSH Series models let you do it all on the water, in style and with peace of mind. Learn more at YamahaBoats.com


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GILL FISHING OVERTON SHIRT

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hen the heat of summer arrives, Gill Fishing’s Overton shirt will keep you dry, cool and clean thanks to its lightweight, breathable fabric treated with Gill’s exclusive XPEL water and stain resistance technology. New for Spring 2021, the Overton is capable of repelling water, blood, and other filth you may encounter while fishing. Gill loaded the Overton with smart fishing features, including dual chest pockets, concealed, snag-proof press stud fasteners, a micro-fiber panel to wipe sunglasses, a self-fabric strip to hang sunglasses or a small tool, and roll-up sleeves with a retainer loop and button. Gill has been trusted on the water for more than 40 years, and they’ve delivered yet another dependable piece for hardcore anglers. The Overton’s stylish design makes its just as capable off the water, providing anglers a shirt they can wear anywhere. It’s available in two colors, white and blue check, and sizes XS through 4XL. www.gillfishing.com COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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EZ ANCHOR: Must-Have Solution for Fiberglass Boat Builders is the Charter Captain’s Best-Kept Secret

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s charter captains, the time-consuming task of dropping and retrieving anchors not only becomes tedious, it cuts into valuable manpower, time and profits. Capt. Phillip Ridge, a Florida native, couldn’t settle for a typical windlass to anchor his fleet. “I have had [an E-Z Anchor Puller] unit on the bow of three different boats,” the founder of Blue Runner Charters said. “I was one of the very first captains in the area to install them... [they are] the best by far.” Charter fishermen across the United States have depended on the speed of E-Z Anchor Puller’s drum anchor winch for more than 30 years. Now, the value of owning an E-Z Anchor Puller for commercial fishing is recognized as the windlass upgrade customers want on their boats straight from the factory. Among the first fiberglass boat builders to embrace these true, freefall winches for center consoles is SeaVee, which had already been a familiar, customer-driven installer of the Classic series. Shurhold CEO Barry Berhoff, who personally installed the Rebel EZ-4 on his 40’ SeaVee, gave praise to the quality of the “strong, marinegrade piece of equipment” in a Youtube testimonial. Following in SeaVee’s footsteps, Georgia boat builder Carolina Skiff began factory-installing the Rebel EZ-4 on their Sea Chaser 35’ HFC Center Console after a company representative praised the brand from personal experience. “It works so great on our 35, I decided I needed to have one on my own personal boat.” Ed Johnston, Manufacturing Representative for Carolina Skiff, said of his E-Z Anchor Puller drum anchor winch. Sea Pro Boats recently debuted the 320 Deep-V series at the Miami

International Boat Show in 2020 with the Rebel EZ-4 as the factoryinstallation. The Rebel series appeals to boat owners and boat builders who need a versatile, no-jam solution that can hold ½” nylon rope or ¼” dyneema. What further sets Rebel anchor winches apart from the competition is its true, free-fall capabilities. Unlike other anchoring solutions, which manufacture “free-fall” mechanisms for emergency use only, E-Z Anchor Puller units are created to free-fall for regular, everyday use. Activating free-fall is simple. Press the “down” button for a quick 2-second push, the drum winch disengages the clutch plate and releases it to free-spool as fast as gravity allows. To quickly and neatly retract the line back onto the spool, press the “power up” side. Other notable fiberglass boat brands with E-Z Anchor Puller installations include Albemarle, Insetta Boatworks and Southport, with a plethora of customer and E-Z Anchor Puller authorized installers fitting Patriot EZ-3 and Rebel EZ-4 and EZ-5 units below deck.

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DEXTER BRAKERITE AND DISC BRAKES

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exter’s BrakeRite electronic/hydraulic actuator features rapid response for improved braking distance, an electronic proportional pressure valve for consistent braking, dual fill caps for easy maintenance, and is compatible with most in-cab electronic brake controllers. BrakeRite offers two models to easily match your disc or drum brake application. The BrakeRite Plug & Play model simplifies field installation by offering a plug-in wiring harness; whereas, the standard BrakeRite EHB model has a hard-wire configuration. Both models feature a large reservoir designed for single, tandem and triple axle applications. Dexter knows corrosion resistance is important on all types of marine trailers in freshwater and saltwater environments. Dexter disc brakes are designed using brass fittings, stainless steel guide bolts and sleeves, and stainless steel pistons. Rotors are offered in GAL-DEX premium marine coating and stainless steel. When combined with Dexter’s Eliminator axles with removable spindles or Dexter’s Versa~Flex adjustable arm axles, they provide a proven record of performance and reliability, superior braking, in-cab control and www.dexteraxle.com corrosion resistance.

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Th Ridge, but no variati Th in the Di he wo stonefl Aft issue. W up wit “It trying He los I mean held.”


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n Feb. 28, veteran Georgia trout guide Joe DiPietro caught a 32-inchlong brown trout that weighed 18 pounds, 2.4 ounces. It absolutely crushed the 9-year-old Toccoa River record of 12-pounds, 3.4 ounces. The fish was a long time coming. DiPietro has guided and fished this Blue Ridge, Ga. tailrace for more than two decades. He’s seen and caught monsters, but nothing close to the beast that picked up one of his own Pat’s Rubber Leg’s variations during a guides’ day off with his fishing buddy Colby White. The fish was not a stranger. Georgia WRD staff have reported a huge brown in the area that feasts on catchable-sized trout as they are stocked in the river. DiPietro, however, was not specifically targeting the fish. If he had been, he would have geared up. He was fishing a 10-foot, 5-weight rod. The size 6 stonefly anchoring his two-nymph rig was secured with 2-pound-test tippet. After the first couple runs, DiPietro knew light line was going to be an issue. White pulled anchor on the driftboat and rowed like a madman to keep up with the fish, which carried them several holes upstream. “It’s the biggest trout I’ve ever seen in my life,” DiPietro said. “Colby fell in trying to net him. I just threw Colby the net and told him to go get that fish. He lost a shoe, flooded his waders and went up to his neck in 42-degree water. I mean… the line was wrapped around his head. It really is amazing the tippet held.” For more on trout fishing Georgia’s Toccoa River, visit www.blueridgetroutfishing.com.

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Profile for Coastal Angler Magazine

Coastal Angler Magazine | April 2021 | Northeast Florida Edition  

Coastal Angler Magazine and our interior (freshwater) publication, The Angler Magazine, are monthly editions dedicated to fishing, boating,...

Coastal Angler Magazine | April 2021 | Northeast Florida Edition  

Coastal Angler Magazine and our interior (freshwater) publication, The Angler Magazine, are monthly editions dedicated to fishing, boating,...

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