Coastal Angler Magazine | February 2022 | Northeast Florida Edition

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NORTHEAST FLORIDA EDITION

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LOCAL CATCH PHOTOS

GRASS FLAT

GATOR TROUT

CURRENT INTEL FROM AREA CAPTAINS PHOTO CREDIT: PAUL MACINNIS IG: @RSOCFISHING

VOLUME 27 • ISSUE 323

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

FEBRUARY 2022

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ost folks associate the word “gators” with big scaly reptiles or a college mascot. Mention gators to a cadre of hardcore inshore anglers and you are likely to elicit fond memories of 30-plus-inch silver flanks speckled with black spots and gaping yellow mouths sporting a wicked pair of canine teeth. I’m talking about seatrout, big trophy trout that prompt some of us to wake up at 4 a.m. so we can be on the water throwing topwater plugs at first light. Big trout don’t act like their smaller brethren, and the techniques that hammer schoolies won’t work on bigger fish. Most gator trout are caught on shallow grass flats 1 ½ to 3 feet deep. Look for flats with dense grass mixed with a few sandy potholes that big trout use to ambush prey. The flat should also have a healthy supply of bait like mullet or pinfish, and it should be close to deeper water, so a wary old trout has a short escape route. During the hottest days of summer, big trout retreat to deeper water off the edge of a flat or seek out shade under mangroves or docks. During the coldest nights of winter, gator trout move into deep channels, canals and dredge holes where they can be targeted with sinking plugs and shrimp imitations worked slowly along the bottom. Seatrout see well in low light, unlike their prey items, like mullet. So, big trout feed best during low light. It is best to

By Paul MacInnis

SLING LURES for Grass Flat Gator Trout

fish early mornings, late evenings, on overcast days and at night. It may seem counter intuitive, but more trophy trout are caught on artificials than bait. Big trout are loners. Lures allow you to cover a lot of water, increasing your odds of intercepting bigger fish. About 80 percent of an adult seatrout’s diet is fish. With that in mind, large mullet-imitating lures are a good choice. The classic gator trout lure is a topwater “walk-the-dog” bait like the venerable Zara Spook. Of course, big swimbaits and shallowrunning plugs also work, along with soft plastic shrimp. A seatrout doesn’t grow to trophy size by being stupid. Big trout are wary and will evacuate a flat at the slightest indication of danger. Hull slaps and pressure waves from a drifting boat put wise old trout on high alert. It’s best to ditch the skiff and either wade or fish from a minimally invasive vessel like a kayak. It also helps to make long casts to get your lure in front of a fish before it detects your presence. Catching a true gator seatrout is not easy, and even when you do everything right there is still an element of luck involved. When you finally catch that trophy fish, handle with care and release her gently. A mature female seatrout can release over a million eggs during a spawn. Let her go to release her big-fish DNA into the gene pool.

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The Experts in Custom Rod Building Have Much to Share

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ud Hole Custom Tackle is the world’s largest supplier of rod building and tackle crafting goods and instruction. The heart of Mud Hole is its people, who strive for excellence and truly care about what they do. From leadership to customer service, and from product development to the warehouse floor, Mud Hole is comprised of passionate anglers and rod builders who use their own products every day and are eager to bring custom rod building to anglers everywhere. Established in the 1970s as a custom rod shop in New Jersey, and named after the famed Mud Hole trench at the outflow of the Hudson River, Mud Hole has truly humble, “tackle-shop” origins. Things really picked up in 1999, when the headquarters moved to Oviedo, Florida and the Internet made it easier to connect across the globe. Promoting the many benefits of custombuilt fishing equipment, Mud Hole Custom Tackle thrived and brought custom rod building to the masses. As interest in rod building grew and the industry flourished, Mud Hole dedicated itself to providing accessible DIY rod building instruction and resources to anyone who wanted to learn. Today, the Mud Hole YouTube channel hosts almost 500 videos with over 10 million views, and is followed by over 31,000 subscribers. From Rod Building

101 instructional videos to product reviews to Rod Recipes to Mud Hole TV episodes—where the team builds custom rods and puts them to the test against the most popular target species—Mud Hole provides the highest quality, most entertaining rod building content available. In addition to recorded video content, Mud Hole also hosts a live, streamed rod building show, Mud Hole Live, where hosts and guests share rod building techniques with an interactive, online audience. Who knew that custom rod building would hit the big time! Beyond making quality rod building content easily accessible to DIY audiences, Mud Hole also offers custom rod building classes with professional instructors. The workshops take place in the Mud Hole Education Center in Oviedo, Florida, in local markets across the U.S., and even online, in the comfort of your own home. A variety of topical classes are offered, from beginner workshops to application-specific builds, such as surf, fly, redfish and mahi rods. All classes include every component, supply, and all of the personal interaction needed to build high quality, custom fishing rods. Mud Hole also collaborates with schools and youth organizations like the Boy Scouts of America and 4-H to bring rod building to students through

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WHAT A TRIGGERS THE BITE? PHOTO COURTESY OF KNOCKIN TAIL LURES

By Capt. Michael Okruhlik

ction, color, profile, style, which is more important when fishing artificials inshore? I investigate this question more than the average fisherman does on each trip, because I manufacture lures. To prove my point, how many of you switch tactics or lures when the bite is hot? I do! Years ago, I would not change a thing while the bite was on. If I lost the last soft plastic of a particular color, I would dig through every compartment to find one more identical to what was working. I might even rig it upside-down or sideways to get that last soft plastic to stay on the hook for a few more bites. Designing and fine-tuning lures has driven me to fish differently and explore more frequently, even when the fish are biting. On a recent trip, I was trying a new design, even though I was more confident in one of my original designs for this scenario in these conditions. The bite was strong, I switched between two lures about every three fish just to see if there was a preference. I started with the new design in a green-back, clear-belly color and caught a fish on the first cast! I was feeling confident, since it was a new lure and a new color, but it took dozens of casts to catch a few more fish. I switched to my original design in a pearl color. Once again, fish on the first cast! It didn’t take long to land a few more, and I decided to switch back to the new design, only this time in the same pearl color. My intent was to see if color was what the fish were keying on. Although I caught fish on both lures, the original produced considerably more fish per cast. I kept switching to gain knowledge and validate my findings. Both lures were the same color and 5 inches long with very similar body size. The actions, however, were completely different. One was a paddle tail, while the other was a soft jerk- or twitch-bait style. The fish on this day undoubtedly preferred the erratic side-to-side action of the twitch bait. Although I attempted to work the swimbait more erratically, the paddle tail did not have the quick side-to-side action that triggered the strike. Both lures were rigged on the same weighted swimbait hook, and I used the same rod. In this scenario, the action and lure style were the keys to triggering the bite. Even if you’re catching fish, it is a good idea to change things up from time to time. The day before, in the same area, I caught an equal number of fish on both the abovementioned lures. Capt. Michael Okruhlik is the inventor of Knockin Tail Lures, Controlled Descent Lures, and the owner of www.MyCoastOutdoors.com.

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without taking up deck space. The new Outfitter ZX fishing version is still in design, but the regular Outfitter ZX can be transformed into a fishing machine with just a couple tweaks. A Humminbird Helix GPS fishfinder is standard on the Outfitter. With fishing chairs on the forward deck area, anglers have ample space to cast and catch. The shallow draft design of the pontoons allows the boat to maneuver in shallower conditions, taking anglers where the fish might be. Add the optional aerated live well, and fish can be kept alive. Stow some lawn chairs, extra ice chest and a grill on board and nose up to a nice sandy beach. It’s picnic time. Add a tent and sleeping bags, and the Outfitter ZX becomes an overnight on-the-beach hotel. The Outfitter ZX tritoon footprint starts at as a trailerable 8 1/2 feet wide and 20 feet long. For more floorspace and increased passenger capacity, there’s also an 8 ½-foot-wide and 24-foot-long deck model, which is also trailerable. Now the fun part starts, completing the layout for individual tastes and desires. Regardless of how you use your Outfitter ZX, you will look great on the water and you and your boat mates will have a whale of a time. Ask your favorite marina to offer the Outfitter ZX for your next rental. StyleCraft Boats are made in the USA in Alachua, Fla., and are available factory direct only. Follow StyleCraft Boats on Facebook and Instagram.

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I DO NOT FEEL THE NEED FOR SPEED (SOMETIMES)

fish) on as light tackle as possible. I like to slow it down, and use the correct tackle for the job, while getting baits down in the strike zone. While drifting or trolling, I like to use a jig when I need to get my baits down deeper where the mid-day fish are hanging out. A 4-ounce Squid Decoy Jig is a good option because it drifts and trolls well and can be fished with or without bait. Tipped with cigar minnow or sardine, Tim Barefoot the jig looks like a squid that has caught supper, and everything eats squid. his is a play off the famous line from the movie This is a wahoo bait that can be fished with fluorocarbon instead Top Gun, but it has a clear meaning when it comes to fishing for palegics. Are there times when I want to high-speed troll of wire or cable, simply because almost all wahoo strikes on squid are to locate areas with fish? YES. Are there times when I want to troll 6-7 knots to catch numbers of good fish when they are on or near the surface feeding? YES. With all that said, are there times to slow down and get baits down to where the fish are in the water column? YES, Definitely! intended to cut the back half the These times are typically squid off before consumption. after 10 or 10:30 a.m., when Predatory fish know that they the sun is high in the sky, and can easily eliminate a squid’s on, or around a full moon. The only defenses… tentacles and a first reason is obvious. Fish don’t biting beak. have Maui Jims, so they adjust A stinger hook in the the amount of light they need/ head of a live or frozen cigar want with water depth. This is minnow or sardine will do especially true with wahoo and the work. There is only one tuna. And the full moon thing… major problem with this setup. they stay up all night eating with Don’t let it get too close to the “big light” on. the bottom, or you’ll have a Have you ever noticed how the bite dies down after 10 or 11 in the morning? Have you ever noticed grouper or big snapper bite. I think we just got ’em on a technicality. If the days around a full moon are typically slow? These are not just a you are “trolling for wahoo” and let the bait get too close to the bottom coincidence. Granted, the planner rod (aka “the meat stick”) is the one and catch a grouper, oh well, I wasn’t using circle hooks. Just sayin’. that produces in the middle of the day, and at daylight for that matter, See more from Tim Barefoot at barefootcatsandtackle.com. and around the full moon, but I much prefer to catch these fish (any

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I DO NOT FEEL THE NEED FOR SPEED (SOMETIMES)

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Tim Barefoot

his is a play off the famous line from the movie Top Gun, but it has a clear meaning when it comes to fishing for palegics. Are there times when I want to highspeed troll to locate areas with fish? YES. Are there times when I want to troll 6-7 knots to catch numbers of good fish when they are on or near the surface feeding? YES. With all that said, are there times to slow down and get baits down to where the fish are in the water column? YES, Definitely! These times are typically after 10 or 10:30 a.m., when the sun is high in the sky, and on, or around a full moon. The first reason is obvious. Fish don’t have Maui Jims, so they adjust the amount of light they need/want with water depth. This is especially true with wahoo and tuna. And the full moon thing… they stay up all night eating with the “big light” on.

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n the cigar ill do y one setup. ose to have a lity. If ottom in’.

Have you ever noticed how the bite dies down after 10 or 11 in the morning? Have you ever noticed the days around a full moon are typically slow? These are not just a coincidence. Granted, the planner rod (aka “the meat stick”) is the one that produces in the middle of the day, and at daylight for that matter, and around the full moon, but I much prefer to catch these fish (any fish) on as light tackle as possible. I like to slow it down, and use the correct tackle for the job, while getting baits down in the strike zone.

While drifting or trolling, I like to use a jig when I need to get my baits down deeper where the mid-day fish are hanging out. A 4-ounce Squid Decoy Jig is a good option because it drifts and trolls well and can be fished with or without bait. Tipped with cigar minnow or sardine, the jig looks like a squid that has caught supper, and everything eats squid. This is a wahoo bait that can be fished with fluorocarbon instead of wire or cable, simply because almost all wahoo strikes on squid are intended to cut the back half the squid off before consumption. Predatory fish know that they can easily eliminate a squid’s only defenses… tentacles and a biting beak. A stinger hook in the head of a live or frozen cigar minnow or sardine will do the work. There is only one major problem with this setup. Don’t let it get too close to the bottom, or you’ll have a grouper or big snapper bite. I think we just got ’em on a technicality. If you are “trolling for wahoo” and let the bait get too close to the bottom and catch a grouper, oh well, I wasn’t using circle hooks. Just sayin’. See more from Tim Barefoot at barefootcatsandtackle.com.

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PHOTO BY JAMES MARTINS

an empty pail and hold it vertically on the surface of a pool, pond or tub of water, and you can easily recreate this for yourself. Apply force to the pail, straight downward, until its rim is just under the surface. Water rushes in to fill the pail until it has reached full capacity. If there are objects on the surface or suspended in the water, they will accompany the inrush of water. What you have done is introduced a void into the water. This empty space must be filled if water is to adhere to its own principles. Essentially, a vacuum effect occurs in which both water and the objects it contains are pulled into the void. Fish generate a similar vacuum via the expansion of their mouths, and anything within range of that vacuum will be drawn inside. This form of attack is concentrated in the fish’s head, requiring little or no forward motion of the body. If the fish wants to swallow what it has trapped in its jaws, it will expel the water through its gill slits in a rapid jet. Between a closed mouth and the fish’s gill rakers, solid objects are trapped inside, where they can be directed down the fish’s throat. If the fish should decide it doesn’t want to swallow what it has in its mouth, it will simply open its jaws and let the water float out along with whatever else was inside. It is much like a terrestrial animal opening its mouth and drawing in a big breath of air. Any airborne particulate matter will be taken in with the breath. If something noxious is taken in—smoke, for example—it can be ejected by exhaling or coughing. The difference between fish and terrestrial animals is the comparative enormity of most fish mouths and the great density of water compared to air. While a vacuum may be of little benefit to land animals, it is extremely useful to fish. Most fish, therefore, employ this technique to some degree in their feeding. For the sake of efficiency and the surer capture of prey, predatory fish are likely to use this method in conjunction with a more traditional attack featuring forward motion of the body. When employed together, these techniques allow the fish to draw its prey closer and seize it with the most By John Saporito security. When swallowing prey whole, they will turn it in their mouth so that espite different designs among the many species, there is a it can be taken headfirst—scales, fins and other parts folding tight against the commonality in fish when it comes to the capture of prey, a special body to facilitate an easier passage down the throat. procedure making use of the physical properties of the water they John Saporito is a lifelong fisherman, writer, and student of the seas. live in. Visit him online at johnsaporito.com. When a fish suddenly opens its mouth underwater, a void is created. Take

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2022 JOSFC El Cheapo Sheepshead Tournament Cam Staff

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tanding on the deck of your boat slowly lifting and lowering your rod tip in a rock you feel resistance on the other end. You set the hook and the fight is on. Five minutes later you are giving all your buddies high fives and glaring down at an 11.5-pound sheepshead. You haven’t made it to weigh-in yet but you’ll soon learn you have just won the 2022 JOSFC El Cheapo Sheepshead tournament! While all this may seem like a little bit of an exaggeration we have seen this scenario happen year after year with the largest fish of 2021 coming from a kayak. The 2022 JOSFC El Cheapo Sheepshead Tournament presented by Atlantic Coast Marine will be held on March 5, 2022. It’s extremely exciting to be a North East Florida fishing tournament for the past 21 years. While we have seen and made many changes over that period of time one thing that hasn’t changed is the excitement of tournament day. Even the spectators that did not participate stand by to see the fish come into the scales especially the monsters the Junior anglers are bringing in to be weighed. Of course, our tournament wouldn’t be what it is today if it wasn’t for a few guys with an idea that went from 30 or so boats into hundreds of participants and thousands of spectators. The JOSFC El Cheapo is the largest sheepshead tournament around. This year is a little special to us. We have a new tournament director, we are allowed to resume a little normalcy after restrictions from covid in the past tournament, and we have ramped up the prizes and raffles. Our amazing sponsors and donors have outdone themselves this year. Atlantic Coast Marine was able to help us get an awesome 1st place prize boat, it will be a Cast & Blast 17cc paired with a Yamaha outboard and a float-on trailer. Hagan Coastal Outfitter is not only judging our kids T-shirt design contest they are putting up an Old

Town Sportsman Autopilot 136 kayak for 1st place in the kayak division. Without them and the many other sponsors like Academy Sports and Outdoors, Anchor Apparel company, Strike-Zone Fishing, Fishing Nosara, and many more we would not be able to put this together and make this tournament happen. A few dates to keep track of: -Kids t-shirt design contest due by 2/19/2022 -Early entry ends 2/20/2022 for the chance to win a Big Green Egg smoker/grill -Captains Meeting 3/4/2022 -Tournament Day 3/5/2022 We are excited about this year’s tournament and look forward to seeing you all at the weigh-in. www.jaxfish.com

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JOSFC - February News Lee Bowman

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month into the new year and we are planning one of the best NE Florida tournaments for 2022. We are especially excited because the 2022 El Cheapo Sheepshead Tournament has been announced for March 5th, 2022 and registration is open. If you register early you are eligible to win a Big Green Egg Smoker/ grill. The earlier you enter the better your odds. We have a new tournament director this year that I know has been working his backside off to put on one of the best tournaments in our area. Thankfully we have an amazing community that supports the local fisherman and backs us up on such a fun family friendly event. Fishing has been great. Sheepshead that elusive striped bandit that steals your fiddler crabs and shrimp. Sheepshead can be found on nearly every rock pile and almost every dock and piling in our area. We have been lucky that the local bait shops have had fiddler crabs in stock but if you

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find yourself in a bind and can’t get any don’t rule out small shrimp and even sand fleas. Offshore the wahoo have taken off. Some beautiful fish have made it back to the docks and the highspeed guys are crushing them. I’m not seeing many low-speed guys fishing but don’t rule it out if that is what you are set up for. Sometimes you can get a little fishing tunnel vision and miss out on a great opportunity by sticking to the same routine. The bottom species are staying fired up and I wouldn’t expect that to change. Pick your days that aren’t too windy and get out there. Last month we had a booth at the boat show. We enjoyed meeting our new members and seeing everyone out there. We had our fun tournament scheduled which was the Zebco 202 tournament. February 3rd- Annual Cook-Off- Club Meeting

Chili

February 17th - Club Meeting


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Fishing Report & Forecast Nassau Sound

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ven though February is a cold month and often you are dealing with cool weather wind and other elements, back country fishing can still be hot. I am targeting redfish at this time of year. I also get black drum & Sheephead in the mix. Usually the water is at its coldest time of the year. However, as you heard me mention before, microorganisms die off, less boat traffic, rain & runoff, makes for clear water conditions. The backcountr y of any areas in North Florida can be holding numbers of redfish. Look for them in areas like the slightly deeper parts of the mud flats. Remember, it is a hunt, be quiet, do not vary your speeds on the troll, no moving around the boat making unecessary

waves and motion. Just because you may not see tails or fish, doesn’t mean they are not there. Make long casts to your target. If you are a bait fisherman, dead sticking is the method I like. Fish are lethargic in cold weather, place the bait in the exact location and stay intune with the bait, & don’t move it. Your first cast is most important, When they find it, it’s usually a hook up. The last hours of the outgoing tide, & first hour of the incoming can be best. I like feisty mud minnows for the reds, however, if I’m fishing an area that may hold black drum or Sheephead I will use shrimp and continue to dead stick the bait. If you see a school on the flat and they are very shallow, you may need to pole in on them. Once they know your there, redfish can get hard to catch. Mid day low tides with high sun is best for fish activity and sight fishing. Also blind fishing current rips off oyster bars with a 1/4 oz TBS jig can be another good method. Most oyster bars with tidal flow have an area that forms a slightly deeper trough around it. Cast your bait on the upcurrent side, and stay intune with the bait. If the tide moves it, adjust your slack, so you feel the bite!!

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Capt. Tony Bozzella / TBS JIGS www.tonybozzella.com 904 651 0182

FEBRUARY 2022

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 7


Fishing Report & Forecast Mayport By Capt. Kirk Waltz

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ere we are already in February. Bang! one minute I am writing about low 70’s water temps and the next we are back to our normal range. It’s been an interesting few months of particularly warm weather. Look for this somewhat cooler water to fire the sheepshead off just a little more. Decent numbers were around the rocks/Jetties, docks, and oyster bars last month and that should actually improve. Jigs, Carolina rigs, and float rigs can be fished in these areas with some great success using fiddler crabs, live shrimp, cut blue crab and even clams. I like the high outgoing tides best and seek to find clear clean water for the best results. One of my favorite things to do is fish the center of creeks in the deep channels (7ft and deeper) with a Carolina rig using a ¼ piece of blue crab. Toss it out and let it soak. It’s particularly effective in creeks with a lot of oyster bars and very little boat traffic. Big bruiser sheepshead cruise these creeks in the center of the channels looking for food. Dead

stick a few lines out and just watch for tell tale sheepshead bites. Try it and see if you can bag a few 10lb fish. The rocks will get better this month and hold good numbers of reds, trout, sheepshead, bluefish, ringtails, and black drum. Try to fish all depths from the edges (10ft) all the way to the bottom of the deep holes in 60 plus feet of water. Try all the aforementioned rigs with the baits I just mentioned and see how successful you can be. Just last month fishing with my client, John Rau, we caught and released seven 15-20lb black drum in 45ft of water using a ¼ fresh cut blue crab for bait. The creeks both north and south of the St. John’s River off the ICW will see good numbers of trout and reds starting to really bunch up. I really like to cast a small jig tipped with a live shrimp doing this and work all the deep bends and oyster bars. Remember as the temps decrease the fish get a little lethargic so work slowly and be patient. The offshore stuff should be good this month when the weather windows allow us to venture offshore. Good numbers of red snapper, sea bass, ringtails, and some grouper will be on the local party grounds. Cut squid, cigars, and sardines work well soaked on the bottom. Be sure to check the regs to see what’s in season. Remember you can’t catch ‘em from the couch. Capt Kirk Waltz can be reached at www.Enterprisefishingcharters. com or heard every Sat morning on the Outdoors Show from 7-10am on 92.5fm and 1010am giving out fishing forecasts, tips, and weather conditions with fellow hosts Capt. Kevin Faver and Jeff Lageman. For a charter he can be reached at 904.626.1128

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Pan seared Venison backstrap Kacie Olsen Try it

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the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Allow the wine to bubble for 2-4 minutes to slightly reduce, then add the beef broth, balsamic vinegar, and elderberry syrup. Simmer the sauce to thicken; it’s ready when you can quickly run a spoon across the sauce and the opening holds for a moment. Take the sauce off the heat and allow to cool for a couple minutes before whisking butter into the sauce. Serve the sauce poured over venison steaks

4 venison steaks Kosher salt, to taste Freshly cracked pepper, to taste Olive oil 2 tablespoons of minced shallot ¼ cup of dry red wine ¼ cup of low-sodium beef broth 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar 3 tablespoons of elderberry syrup* 1 tablespoon of butter Serves: 4 Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes Cooking: Take venison steaks out of the refrigerator 1 hour prior to cooking. Remove all silver skin, pat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper to taste. Coat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat, and when it begins to slightly smoke, place the steaks into the pan (pat steaks dry again if necessary) and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side for medium rare. Remove steaks from the pan and keep warm tented in foil. Lower heat to medium and add more oil if necessary to the same pan. Add the minced shallot and sauté for a few minutes until softened, but not browned. Next, deglaze the pan with red wine, scraping

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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Trolling for Speckled Trout

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Cool Water and Mild Weather Trigger Speckled Trout Bite! By Danny Patrick

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ate winter is my favorite time of year to troll for Speckled Seatrout, and for good reason! When the water temperature drops into the lower 60s, the trout bite turns on, and the action is fast and furious! Late fall and early winter in Northeast Florida this year brought colder than normal weather conditions and dropped the water temperatures significantly. As a result, trolling action in the creeks off the Intracoastal Waterways kicked into high gear. My strategies and tactics for limiting out on slot-sized Speckled Trout in February are simple and easy to follow. Most of the larger creeks off the intercostal waterway (north and south of the St Johns River) from St Augustine to Nassau Sound are my targeted areas. Also, the Arlington area of the St Johns River and Mill Cove are excellent places to troll for trout. The ideal water depth for optimum success is from 4 to 12 feet. Most any size boat will do but for the best set-up and results, the wider the boat the better. My good friend and Speckled Trout trolling expert, Henry Taylor, has a 19 ft. Carolina Skiff with a 90 hp primary motor and a small 3 hp “kicker” trolling motor attached to a steering rod so he can troll without the use of his primary motor. This allows Henry to maneuver his skiff with the steering wheel. It is much easier without having to use a tiller handle to steer the 3 hp kicker motor. This technique gives Henry a stealth advantage as it is much quieter and more effective. To optimize your chances of hooking up while trolling, simple set up 3 rod holders on each side of boat (for a total of 6 rods) staggered each rod at different angles with outrigger clips mounted on the stern of the boat at both corners. The rod holders on each stern corner are straight up angled back slightly and put in outrigger clips. The other 3 rod holders are evenly spaced apart and angled slightly more than the other 3 rods. Henry and I easily troll with 6 lines very effectively. Multiple hook ups are common and many times we’ve had 3 and 4 fish on at once. We troll almost exclusively 1/8 and 1/4 oz jig heads with different color and swimming plastic tails. The key to our success is determining what color swimming plastics to use depending on cloud cover and the brightness of the sun. On cloudy overcast days the best color seems to be a darker color. Purple, dark green and brown can be very effective. On bright days, the white and bright colors work better. Paddle tails and twister tails work great. Small spinning reels with braid or mono line work equally as well but I prefer braid and use about a 3 ft section of 15lb fluorocarbon leader. The best tide for trolling is middle incoming. Generally, the fish bite well up until the current stops running. Based on my experience, outgoing tide is not as good. The current seems to run harder on outgoing tide and is tougher to troll. Another key technique is to troll with the tide; not against the tide. I rarely troll against the tide unless it is moving very slow on the last of the incoming tide. You will have to experiment on how much line to let out while trolling for Trout. The key is your jig needs to be close to the bottom. I let my line out until I’m dragging bottom then reel some line in until the lure is just off the bottom but bounces the bottom occasionally. If you do not get hung up occasionally you are not trolling properly. That’s why I bring a good supply of jigs and tails. If the water is shallower, I like the lighter jigs 1/8 oz. The deeper the creek, the heavier the jig (with a ¼ oz. maximum.) Most any of the many brands of jig heads will work great. When it comes to moon phases, choosing the right phase can really make a difference in your success. Between the new and full moons are the best phases but that does not mean you cannot catch fish during other times of the moon phases. I just get more excited when I’m fishing on a growing (waxing) moon for any kind of fishing. With the proper boat set up and all things we’ve mentioned, it is not uncommon to catch 50 trout in 3 hours of trolling (and sometimes even larger numbers!) On 10 NORTHEAST FLORIDA

FEBRUARY 2022

many trips, I have caught well over 100 trout in just 4 hours of trolling (but please follow the Florida inshore saltwater fishing regulations to ensure the propagation of the species. Currently in Northeast Florida, the daily bag limit for Spotted (Speckled) Seatrout is 5 per person per day. The minimum size is 15 inches, and the maximum size is 19 inches. (May not possess more than one over 19 inches per vessel.) Many of the trout are undersized so using a measure stick is a must. Please be careful and release the smaller ones as many will be 14 1/2”. Hope you have a spectacular trolling experience. What a great way to introduce kids to fishing! With the right set-up for trolling, its easy, relaxing and you don’t even need live bait. My favorite!

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-Danny Patrick


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Fishing Report & Forecast St. Augustine Offshore By Capt. Robert Johnson

The Bad and the Good

baits rigged with wire in the spread. Planners or down riggers work well for Wahoo. Remember if you get a bite do not be in a hurry to leave. Ive spent all day and in a small area. Where there is one there usually are more. On the bottom the Vermillion snapper, Red Porgy and Triggerfish and other tasty fish such as Mutton snapper and Mangrove snapper are for the taking. If trolling is slow early Ive been able to make some drifts and produce plenty of good tasting bottom dwellers for dinner. If your after Mutton snapper. Anchoring is key. Muttons seem to like the sandy bottoms better than the hard coral rocky bottom. So I try not to anchor right dead on the ledge or reef. Use a long 50lb leader 20 ft is best. Dead sardines or a chunk of cut bait works well. Back Inshore in the 80 to 100 ft range the Seabass should be eating anything that hits the bottom. Drifting is a great way to find some larger ones. Ive been catching some of the larger Seabass on jigs. 3 to 6 oz lead heads rigged with a white curly tail works great. Seabass are fantastic tableware with their white meat . Be sure to check the weather and go have fun. February can be some of the best fishing all year.

The bad news is Grouper season is closed until May 1rst. Red Snapper season is closed until who knows when. Hunting season is over and no more football. Its February folks.. The good news is, Its February folks. iIs time for Wahoo and Tuna. Check all your gear and make sure your boat is in tip top shape because its time for the long runs. The big ledge in 180 ft deep is a great starting point. Look for water temps above 68 degrees, bait and you should find fish. Blackfin Tuna will be in full feed mode from 150 ft to past the shelf ledge. For Tuna, Cedar plugs and small Ballyhoo on 100 lb mono leader is your best bet. Wahoo can be with the tuna so I pull a couple of 14 NORTHEAST FLORIDA

“Let’s Go Fishing” Captain Robert Johnson (904)540-2628 Jodielynncharters.com Jlfishing@bellsouth.net

FEBRUARY 2022

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T 2

Fishing Report & Forecast Flagler/Palm Coast By Captain Shane Stover

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ell it’s the first of the year and I hope your new years resolution has something to do with spending more time in the outdoors. Grab those new polarized sunglasses you got for Christmas and hit the flats as the reds are schooled up and eating good! Red fishing on the flats isn’t an early morning ritual like in the summer; waiting for the sun to rise and warm the waters is your best bet. A low mid morning incoming tide is a perfect scenario as the sun heats the oyster beds and once the tide floods schools of redfish will sit on these hot spots

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for warmer water. Approach the school with stealth as not to alert the school of your presence before getting into casting distance. Paddle tails or flies are my choices for catching redfish. Once the school is on the move bomb a Sebile Stick Shadd out in front of the school twitch a few times and hook up! Creek fishing for Seatrout is about as sure as it gets this time of year. Jigging for Trout in creek holes with a 1/4 or 1/8 ounce Jig and a bass assasin (paddle tail) will get the attention of every schoolie in the hole. Most Trout will be on the small side but if numbers is your game, creek hole fishing is the place. Small Reds also occupy the same creek holes and can be caught with live shrimp; small split shot and a Daiichi 82Z 1/0 circle hook. Fly fisherman get great opportunities on landing the elusive Sheaphead on fly this month. Sheaphead can be found on the most oyster-laden flats during low incoming tides, these striped bandits will be foraging for oyster crabs so a crab pattern is the best fly for the job. If fly fishing isn’t your thing, live bait fishing with fiddler crabs and a fish finder rig vertically fished around bridges, docks and rocks will put the bend in the rod..

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NORTHEAST FLORIDA 15


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ACGFA - February

Fis By Te

By Will Niemann

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GFA did not hold it’s January meeting over concerns regarding the virus. Our chili cookoff will move to February. Results from our January Wahoo tournament will be announced next month. Our February in-club tournament is for Redfish, Trout and Flounder: the Inshore Slam! Mark your calendars for our Annual Free Kids Fishing Clinic on March 19th 2022. • All Kids 12 and Under • Registration 9:00 am - 10:00 am • St. Augustine Marina, 245 Vilano Rd., St. Augustine, FL 32084 • Fishing Clinic - Raffle - Lunch • First 200 kids will get a Rod/Reel, Combo Lunch and goodie bag. Take advantage of all the opportunities our family-friendly club offers and join up today. We’d love to see you at our next meeting! The next ACGFA club meeting will be held on February 15, 2022 at the St. Augustine Shrine Club located at 250 Brainard Dr. in St. Augustine. Social hour begins at 6pm, with dinner at 6:30 pm followed by the meeting at 7pm.

New members and guests are always welcome at ACGFA! Our club was founded in 1958 and our mission is to promote responsible and safe fishing in our area; to be a leading force in improving fishing grounds and facilities, and to continue to promote conservation of our local waters. We are a family oriented group who enjoy fishing and good fellowship. Dues are $65 per year per family, we meet on the third Tuesday of every month, usually at the St. Augustine Shrine Club. We have a social gathering starting at 6:00 pm which typically includes dinner and our meeting starts at 7:00. For the kids, our Young Anglers Club is an active and fun part of our meetings. Local speakers share their expertise on some aspect of fishing, boating, water safety, and the environment every month. We also have in-club tournaments on a monthly basis, and boat of the year competitions for both inshore and offshore anglers. We also have Women’s, Junior, and Men’s Angler of the Year contests. For more information find us at www.acgfa.com.

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FEBRUARY 2022

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

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mall ponds and lakes located in our small corner of Northeast Florida will showcase trophy bass fishing during the entire month of February. A full moon will arrive on February 16th where largemouth bass will be locating a sandy bottom in the shallows where they will build their nest and lay their eggs. Casting a topwater plug like the Gold and Black #11 floating Rapala is a deadly fishing tactic for catching spawning bass. Allow the floating plug to rest on the surface over the bed, then twitch slightly in provoking a big bass strike. Casting a six-inch plastic worm in the black/grape color pattern also works well.

where they will locate just offshore from their future shallow water spawning waters. Casting surface plugs including the Storm “Chug Bug” in the chrome and blue color pattern and the Heddon “Zara Spook” in the frog pattern to produce amazing surface strikes! Unweighted plastic worms in the black and purple color patterns also work well when worked in five feet of water and less when trophy size bass are in a spawning mode. Wahoo fishing during the month of February is excellent at N.E. Florida’s Continental Shelf where water depths drop off sharply from 150-feet of water to over 1,000-feet of water in less than a mile. High speed trolling at 15-18 knots allows blue water fishermen to cover a lot of water and at the same time, attract the speedy strike of the wahoo. A successful wahoo trolling spread involves five lures, one set at 50feet, one at 100-feet, one at 150-feet, one at 200-feet and one at 250-feet. The two short lures, 50 and 100-feet are trolled from one side of the boat 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 high speed trolling spread are two “Jet Heads”, a C& H “Mr. Big”, a C & H “American Express” and a “Wahoo Whacker”. Reel drags are adjusted to 20-pounds. Some of the more productive lure skirt colors include black & green, black & green, blue & white, pink & white, and purple & black. Spare skirts should be stored as the strike of a fast swimming, sharped tooth wahoo often results in a destroyed plastic skirt. Nassau Sound and St. Mary’s inlet fishermen will be targeting black drum and excellent eating whiting while fishing dead on the bottom with ultra-fresh local shrimp. Black drum weighing to 100-pounds prefer larger and combination baits including shrimp, clam, and a quarter blue crab. Tides are critical with the last of the in-coming and the first of the out-going tides producing the best action. Also, if a flood tide arrives during the afternoon when water temperatures are warmest, look for the best black drum and whiting fishing action. Black drum fishing is also excellent just off from Amelia Island’s “Main Beach” where there is a slightly deeper slough and hard bottom. Drum fishing is also excellent while night fishing as well. Spotted sea trout will be running in Cumberland and Nassau Sound as well in area tidal rivers. Excellent seatrout fishing should also be at hand during the month of February, particularly during the last of flood tide and also when the tide first begins to fall. Look for ambush points including points, oyster bars, the deep sides of boat docks and jetty rocks to harbor the best sea trout action. The 52 m Mirror Lure in the chartreuse color pattern works well, while large live shrimp fished under a small float is hard to beat. Redfish will be schooling on warm afternoon mud flats in the backwaters of Amelia Island. Look for the last of the falling and the first of the incoming tides to produce the best redfish action. Plastic scented shrimp worked on a 1/8th. ounce jig head is key when hooking into a nice school of redfish. However always bring along cut bait, live shrimp, bullhead minnows and live finger mullet just in case. Sheepshead will be biting while fishing with a fiddler crab close to barnacle crusted dock pilings and jetty rocks. Flounder fishing will be picking up as well while fishing slowly along the bottom with a barbed mud minnow, or finger mullet..

Largemouth bass will typically begin spawning in the local freshwater tidal rivers during the full moon in March. However, all depends on the weather and water temperatures. Cold fronts will send spawning bass off their beds and back out to open water. Be sure and have a camera close at hand to take photos, then release your catch! Schooling largemouth bass will also be active during warm spells

For more information and charters, call Amelia Angler Outfitters (904) 261-2870, or visit www.ameliaangler.com

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FEBRUARY 2022

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 17



Stripers - Overlooked but not forgotten. By CAM Staff

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inter is prime time for linesides in Northeast Florida. Yes we have Stripers in northeast fl. Its mostly a fall and winter fishery and the lower St. Johns River in the Northeast part of the state from Jacksonville to Lake George, and the Nassau and St Marys River are good as well. Striped bass fishing can be excellent for anglers who know the ins and outs of these sometimes fickle and highly mobile fish. Generally, the best conditions for Northeast fl striped bass action are cold, blustery, overcast days when your hands are a little too cold to grasp a rod butt well, and you need to curl your toes inside your shoes to keep your feet warm. It’s the kind of Florida weather that spells disaster for most other types of fishing, but stripers love it that way. Trouble is, however, on the Northeast fl waters the best fishing conditions often make some of the top striper spots unreachable via boat. This is one reason daybreak, dusk and night fishing are popular with anglers in the know. Since wind is usually down, stripers feed just fine, and the best areas for catching linesides can be worked well by boaters.

Experts say stripers stay in the rivers of northeast fl and feeder creeks and spring holes during summer and don’t move out to the main river until water temperature drops. Late October and early November are when stripers start to move and feed well in the rivers, gennerally the good fishing runs through March, . My best action has been from Oct thru Feb. When the fall migration of shrimp are moving out of the rivers towards the ocean. Many of the stripers stomachs,I’ve caught were full of shrimp. The same thing with Menhaden. I remember one year in Oct on the St Marys river up around the I 95 bridge. There were massive schools of Menhaden all over the surface and the stripers were ripping them up. The average size are about 4 to 7 lbs but fish to 15 lbs and larger are not uncommon. I have seen a 20lber come from under the buckman bridge. Ive heard of even larger stripers being shocked in the St johns and Nassau rivers by Marine biologist. Much of the fishing is centered around deep water of the numerous bridges that span the rivers, such as Jacksonville’s downtown, Main Street, Acosta and CSX Railroad, Fuller-Warren (I-95) and Buckman (I-295) bridges, and the Florida 16 or Shands Bridge near Green Cove Springs. In the Nassau and St Marys Rivers the best action is around the I 95 bridges and also some of the creek mouths that dump into the main rivers. Action can be fast on the first of the falling tide in those creek mouths. Learning which points are best for linesides is a matter of trial and error experience. But, generally, the best points have strong current and deep water of at least 8 feet nearby. Some of the most productive pilings are within a cast of 20 ft of water or more. A three to four year old striper in our area is about 6 or 7 pounds, according to biologists, and some years several hundred thousand stripers are shocked to put a estimated count on the their population. Experts say the fingerling survival is excellent here and they offer a great fishing resource where they are a native species, so stocking fingerling linesides makes sense. Today there are comparatively few striper anglers working the region. This is because it’s so darn cold during the best fishing that sometimes you must wear a snowmobile suit to be comfortable running the rivers. Also, many even good fishermen have little understanding how, where or when to catch the river’s abundant stripers. Trolling deep-going plugs around bridge abutments and points of land having pilings in deep water is an excellent striper tactic, especially for anglers new to the river lineside game. Shad-like plugs with large lips, like the Rapala “Shad Rap” are excellent. Natural-looking lures with gray, or off-white hues, score well. Such plugs also can be effectively cast around bridge abutments and points with pilings near deep water. Lipless crankbaits like the “Rat-LTrap” also tally a lot of linesides. Jigs and large plastic worms imitating eels can tempt stripers as well. I like the run-and-gun casting technique with crankbaits, or trolling them around bridge pilings and points. Keep in mind these fish are highly migratory and move often. Great fishing may be available this week around the Shands Bridge in Green Cove Springs. But next month the best action may be a complete different area like farther down-river around the I-295 bridge or off dock points farther north, or back south. Thus the key in catching northeast fl stripers is to stay mobile. Keep moving and exploring new spots and areas until fish are found. Even then, don’t bank on linesides staying anywhere for long. So keep moving and casting..

Nate Johnson with a couple of Nassau River Stripers COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

FEBRUARY 2022

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 19


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

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t’s my favorite time of the year! Sight-fishing time! This month typically gets chilly and that means clearer water. The colder it gets, the clearer the water will be (The colder water will kill off the algae that makes our waters so murky much of the year). So far, we’ve once again had a warmer than average winter but I’m holding out hope for a few good cold snaps. Don’t get me wrong I don’t like being cold, but I’ll throw on a couple extra layers if it means the water clears up. Another plus from the cooler weather is just about all our inshore gamefish will school up. Clear water, schooled up redfish and trout, and not many boats on the water, does it get any better? Slot-sized (and some over-slot) redfish will be schooled up this month. Finding the larger schools of fish can be tough at times but if you know where to start it can make things much easier. I like to look for areas on the flats that have just enough water for the reds to swim in. If the flat dries up, you’ll want to look on the edges or any nearby troughs. You can bet that if a large flat just about dries up at low tide, all the fish that live there will be in

the spots holding just enough water for them to swim in. Those shallow areas will warm up on sunny days creating an ideal place for the redfish to hang out and warm up a bit. If you find the redfish at low tide you might want to wait for the tide to come back in and follow the fish back up onto the flat to see where they like to go. You can be a real flats fishing “ninja” once you pattern wintertime schooled-up reds. My go-to lure for wintertime sight fishing is the Saltwater Assassin Elite Shiner paddle tail. I like to pair it up with either a 1/8oz Saltwater Assassin jighead or weedless hook. I really like the Elite shiner is because of its small, thin profile. It doesn’t make much splash when entering the water and that’s important to stay lightweight if possible because sometimes with clearer water comes spookier fish. Using a light setup will allow you to make less splash when the lure enters the water, thus allowing you to cast closer to the fish without spooking him. If you are casting to a school of fish, lead them by as much as you can. If your bait or lure lands too close to just one fish you may spook the whole school. We’ll also be targeting black drum, sheepshead, and trout. If you find a nice warm spot up on the flats this time of year you may just run into some big, laid-up trout. The smaller schooling trout will be thick in the deeper creek holes. The drum and sheepshead can be found in the same creek holes, especially on the lower tide stages. If you’re targeting the trout, use a rig that allows you to fish in the middle of the water column. If you’re looking to get the drum and sheepies, go to the bottom with fiddler crabs or shrimp. Capt. Tommy Derringer 904-377-3734 • www.InshoreAdventures.net

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FEBRUARY 2022

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FLAGLER SPORTFISHING CLUB NEFMA - February

T

By Chris Christian

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he Flagler Sportfishing Club will have its monthly meeting on February 1st at the VFW in Palm Coast. The meeting will be featuring the “Sinker Guy”, Chip Brundage. Chip will be teaching us how to Surf Fish. We encourage the public to come and join in on our monthly meetings as we are always looking to grow our club. So if you want to learn more about fishing come on out. Its very educational. The next Club Tournament is the Black and Red Tournament on February 19th with Black Drum and Redfish as the targeted fish. The Tournament weigh-in will at Herschel King Park. Guests are always welcome to fish with a member and enjoy the fun. Upcoming Events: Monthly Club Meeting – 1st Tuesday of every month at the VFW, Palm Coast Fishing Groups - https: // flaglersportfishing.com/ fishing-

groups-signup/ Join the Flagler Sportfishing Club www.flaglersportfishing.com Join now and get 3 free months. flaglersportfishing.com/become-anew-member/ . Contact: Chris Christian @ chris@flaglersportfishing.com YouTube: Also, check out our new YouTube Channel for Fishing Quick Tips – search Flagler Sportfishing Club and subscribe

he 5th annual Don Combs Wahoo Roundup wrapped up at the end of January, it stared off slow, but when this article published the leader was 87.7 pounds and several good fish were posted to the NEFMA App. To see the results download the app and follow all the action. You can also renew your membership, register for tournaments and get club updates from the app. We’re heading into the best part of the year for Bill fishing in Northeast Florida with peak season usually in April or May, but we also typically have the strongest winds of the year in February and March so getting to the fish can be challenging. Pick your days and be prepared for anything. The most reliable species in February and March could be the Wahoo or the tuna on the inside of the ledge but Marlin and sailfish in gulfstream should also be around. The new year restarts the NEFMA boat of the year competiton, check the website for current rules and updates. The biggest news of the year

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is the 50th Annual Bluewater Tournament on May 11th to 14th. We’ve joined the Sportfishing Championship which is expected to bring significant attention including TV coverage and expanded media from www. sportfishingchampionship.com. The Sportfishing championship is a new series that puts eleven tournaments together to crown the Fishing Team of The Year. The Bluewater is the third event in the series and the first one on the east coast. Membership and sponsorship renewals are now open for the 2022 season. We’re blessed to have so many terrific sponsors, members, and partners and 2022 is setting up to be a fantastic year. See the Northeast Florida Marlin Association website www. nefma.com for information about tournaments, memberships and sponsorships and download the NEFMA APP from Reel Time Apps to follow the tournaments and the feeds.

FEBRUARY 2022

-Paul Raudenbush, President

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 21


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Fishing Report St. Johns River By: Richard Hamilton

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ts Speck Time!!! Let's start this month with the best known biter for this time frame, the Speck. These slab-sided beauties will or should be wide open. The later part of January was the beginning, starting at the full moon this past 18th and now each week should get better and better. But as you might know February is the ugliest weather we have here in north fla. So if we get some mild days and low wind conditions look for the bit to be hot leading up to the full moon in February. Strong cold fronts can stall or stop the spawn until the water warms up. Places to try will be the lakes, Orange lake, Santa fe, and Rodman, the creeks in the River. Such as Deep, Six Mile, Trout and Governor's being the easiest to fish because of much less boat traffic. And the less boating activity, the better the fishing experience. Lures and baits: Minnows are the top live bait. Lure-wise: Road Runners, Maribou jigs. Tube jigs, curl tail jigs. You want to start deep if it's cold and slowly work your way shallower. Once you locate them, stop and fish the heck out of the area. So good luck with this one. Its also the beginning of the Largemouth spawn. Best spawning occurring usually south in the Springs areas. And 22 NORTHEAST FLORIDA

FEBRUARY 2022

moving north as the water warms. Ive caught my largest Bass in February trolling large wild shiners out in open water several yards away from the bank or weedlines as the Largemouths will be gathering in a staging area in deeper water waiting on the water to warm enough for the male bass to go into the shallows to start fanning and claiming bedding locations. So if you are seeing smaller bass in the shallows , Its a sure sign that the spawn is getting close. The big females are about to join the males in shallow water to spawn. Also, as the month progresses, you'll want to start working Shiners around the local spawning flats and in the mouths of creeks and in canals. Local wild shiners are the best if you can find them if not farm raised shiners will work also. Hybrids and Stripers are around the Shands and the Buckman. Work the pilings with grubs, lipless cranks and minnow imitations, such as Rapala's. Also shiners, either free swimming or under a float. With these, you want to work with the moving tide and allow your bait to work towards and past the pilings. Reds are active but stubborn. You'll probably catch some fishing with crabs or bait shrimp on the bottoms. All you need is an area to go to, like the piers, and you're good to go. Til next time, keep your line wet and your lure movin'.--Richard.

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TIDE CHART - February

Mayport Degaussing Structure 30.3967° N, 81.3950° W Date

Day Time

Hgt

Time

Hgt

Time

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

Hgt

Time

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

Hgt

01 Tue 01:42 AM -1.39 L

08:14 AM 5.61 H

02:21 PM -1.11 L

08:31 PM 4.78 H

02 Wed 02:32 AM -1.41 L

09:03 AM 5.52 H

03:07 PM -1.10 L

09:19 PM 4.84 H

03 Thu 03:22 AM -1.24 L

09:50 AM 5.30 H

03:53 PM -0.97 L

10:07 PM 4.84 H

04 Fri 04:11 AM -0.92 L

10:35 AM 4.99 H

04:38 PM -0.74 L

10:54 PM 4.78 H

05 Sat 05:03 AM -0.50 L

11:21 AM 4.64 H

05:24 PM -0.45 L

11:41 PM 4.67 H

06 Sun 05:56 AM -0.07 L

12:07 PM 4.27 H

06:12 PM -0.13 L

07 Mon 12:29 AM 4.53 H

06:51 AM 0.32 L

12:55 PM 3.94 H

07:02 PM 0.17 L

08 Tue 01:20 AM 4.36 H

07:48 AM 0.62 L

01:49 PM 3.68 H

07:55 PM 0.42 L

09 Wed 02:16 AM 4.21 H

08:46 AM 0.81 L

02:49 PM 3.51 H

08:51 PM 0.59 L

10 Thu 03:18 AM 4.12 H

09:44 AM 0.87 L

03:54 PM 3.47 H

09:48 PM 0.62 L

11 Fri 04:20 AM 4.14 H

10:40 AM 0.80 L

04:53 PM 3.54 H

10:45 PM 0.53 L

12 Sat 05:16 AM 4.24 H

11:33 AM 0.63 L

05:45 PM 3.67 H

11:37 PM 0.32 L

13 Sun 06:05 AM 4.41 H

12:20 PM 0.39 L

06:29 PM 3.82 H

14 Mon 12:24 AM 0.07 L

06:49 AM 4.60 H

01:01 PM 0.13 L

07:10 PM 3.99 H

15 Tue 01:07 AM -0.19 L

07:29 AM 4.77 H

01:39 PM -0.10 L

07:48 PM 4.15 H

16 Wed 01:46 AM -0.38 L

08:07 AM 4.89 H

02:14 PM -0.29 L

08:25 PM 4.32 H

17 Thu 02:24 AM -0.50 L

08:45 AM 4.95 H

02:49 PM -0.41 L

09:03 PM 4.50 H

18 Fri 03:02 AM -0.53 L

09:24 AM 4.93 H

03:23 PM -0.46 L

09:42 PM 4.67 H

19 Sat 03:42 AM -0.48 L

10:03 AM 4.85 H

04:00 PM -0.45 L

10:23 PM 4.81 H

20 Sun 04:26 AM -0.36 L

10:45 AM 4.71 H

04:41 PM -0.37 L

11:07 PM 4.91 H

21 Mon 05:15 AM -0.21 L

11:30 AM 4.54 H

05:26 PM -0.25 L

11:54 PM 4.95 H

22 Tue 06:11 AM -0.05 L

12:20 PM 4.34 H

06:19 PM -0.12 L

23 Wed 12:48 AM 4.92 H

07:12 AM 0.09 L

01:17 PM 4.14 H

07:19 PM -0.01 L

24 Thu 01:50 AM 4.86 H

08:18 AM 0.15 L

02:21 PM 4.00 H

08:24 PM 0.01 L

25 Fri 02:59 AM 4.84 H

09:24 AM 0.12 L

03:31 PM 3.98 H

09:33 PM -0.10 L

26 Sat 04:11 AM 4.91 H

10:29 AM -0.03 L

04:40 PM 4.11 H

10:39 PM -0.34 L

27 Sun 05:18 AM 5.07 H

11:30 AM -0.27 L

05:41 PM 4.33 H

11:42 PM -0.65 L

28 Mon 06:16 AM 5.25 H

12:25 PM -0.55 L

06:36 PM 4.59 H

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By Capt. Quinlyn Haddon

Fishing the bay side may not even be a second choice this month, with the abundance of cobia, snapper, mackerel and the other usual suspects that frequent our shallow-water wrecks. However, if the weather allows, fishing the Atlantic side is advisable. Snapper and amberjack are a viable option, while being near an excellent pelagic fishery. Wahoo and king mackerel will be cruising the reef, along with sailfish, tuna and the occasional mahi. Mahi may be few and far between in February, but they will likely be much larger than summer schoolies. On the reef, incredible tailing conditions occur this time of year, which pushes migrating species to the surface. Once in a lifetime sightings can be had, but the most notable species affected by this anomaly is sailfish. On days like these, we target sailfish by cruising waves along the reef and looking for fish swimming on the surface. Sailfish appear black in the water, and on sunny days you can see them several waves ahead, leaving ample time to set up a pitch bait for sight casting. In the beginning of winter, when sailfish season begins on the reef, ballyhoo are extremely abundant, and the challenge is to get the fish to choose your bait out of the rest. This time of year, when bait is more scarce, your bug-eyed, red-nosed bait might actually have a chance at coming across as appealing to these hungry travelers. Tailing conditions in Marathon are caused by an east wind that opposes the current of the Gulf Stream. Migrating fish are traveling against the current, and heavy wind creates waves that push in the direction they are going. By swimming on the surface, to the point where their tails even breach, they use the force of the wind to surf the waves. It gives them a little break. It is a breathtaking experience to see these fish with such clarity, as if they are in a rolling aquarium. For obvious reasons, this type of fishing requires some heart to brave the he coldest month of the year may shut off a lot of fisheries around waves, and possibly some Dramamine. If you are prone to seasickness, take the country, but the Florida Keys thrive throughout the month of Dramamine the night before. This allows time for it to get into your system February. and eliminates the uncomfortable drowsiness that occurs from taking it the While the Keys are not immune to seasonal cold fronts, the temperatures morning of your trip. remain significantly higher than the rest of the country and provide the Capt. Quinlyn Haddon, of Blue Magic Charters, can be reached at versatility of being able to duck onto the bay side if waters on the Atlantic (504) 920-6342. Check out her social media: @captainquinlyn. side get too sporty.

SIGHT FISHING

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TYLER WOOLCOTT

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n the South, bass are making their transition to prepare for the spawn. This time of year can present an awesome opportunity, with large groups of fish ready to feed before they head to the shallows to do their business. One of the best ways to catch bass is to locate a large group of feeding fish with electronics and put them in the boat. This time of year is my favorite time to do it. Bass group up, stage on certain things in a little bit deeper water near spawning areas and feed heavily. This scenario presents some very fun fishing days! The first thing you need is a fish finding unit with side-scan capabilities and a little bit of patience. Finding the perfect spot sometimes isn’t easy, but when you do find it, it can be extremely rewarding. The first step is to identify a general area in a lake where bass will eventually go to spawn. After that, you want to look for a transition area with structure that bass will stage on and feed before they

JUNE 20202022 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM FEBRUARY COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

move up to spawn. For most of the country, a transition area can be anything from deeper water with structure, points, or even deep banks leading near the spawning grounds. Here in Florida, we look for submerged grass clumps or edges, brushpiles, and even shell bars in a bit deeper water near spawning areas. This habitat provides bass with an ambush point to feed heavily and an easy route to spawning grounds when they are ready. Side scan is very helpful in for finding these things, as you can see the bottom 150 feet or more on each side of your boat at idle speeds. This allows you to cover a ton of water and eliminate a lot of the guesswork. With some trial and error, you can actually see fish with this technology as well! I know this technology is expensive and takes some time to learn and understand. However, if you can get your hands on it and learn how to us it, your understanding of where these fish move, live, and feed will grow exponentially. The best way to learn is to get out on the water and find that special area for yourself. Content and video on the Internet helps if you get stuck in a technological bind or aren’t quite sure what you are seeing on your screen. You can always reach out to me on social media with questions. I’d love to help in any way I can. Tyler Woolcott is a professional tournament angler and guide. Check out his website at www.tylerwoolcottfishing.com.

TIPS FROM A PRO

TIPS FROM A PRO

UTILIZING ELECTRONICS TO FIND GROUPS OF PRE-SPAWN BASS


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SEAWALL EROSION CONTROL I TYLER WOOLCOTT

n the South, bass are making their transition to prepare for the spawn. This time of year can present an awesome opportunity, with large groups of fish ready to feed before they head to the shallows to do their business. One of the best ways to catch bass is to locate a large group of feeding fish with electronics and put them in the boat. This time of year is my favorite time to do it. Bass group up, stage on certain things in a little bit deeper water near spawning areas and feed heavily. This scenario presents some very fun fishing days! The first thing you need is a fish finding unit with side-scan capabilities and a little bit of patience. Finding the perfect spot sometimes isn’t easy, but when you do find it, it can be extremely rewarding. SAFE FOR THE The first step is to identify a general area in a lake where bass ENVIRONMENT will eventually go to spawn. After that, you want to look for a transition area with structure that bass will stage on and feed before Our Polyurethane they move up to spawn. For most Fills voids of the country, a transition area can Seals cracks Strengthens soilsbe anything from deeper water with structure, points, or even deep banks leading near the spawning grounds. Here in Florida, we look for submerged grass clumps or edges, brushpiles, and even shell bars in a bit deeper water near spawning areas. This habitat Free Estimates Competitive Pricing provides bass with anofambush Free 2nd Opinions Serving All Floridapoint to feed heavily and an easy route to spawning grounds when they are ready. Side scan is very helpful in for finding these things, as you can see the bottom 150 feet or more on each side of your boat at idle speeds. This allows you to cover a ton of water and eliminate a lot of the guesswork. With some trial and error, you can actually see fish with this technology as well! I know this technology is expensive and takes some time to learn and understand. However, if you can get your hands on it and learn how to us it, your understanding of where these fish move, live, and feed will grow exponentially. The best way to learn is to get out on the water and find that special area for yourself. Content and video on the Internet helps if you get stuck in a technological bind or aren’t quite sure what you are seeing on your screen. You can always reach out to me on social media with questions. I’d love to help in any way I can.

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By Richard Matteson

Cool Water, Hot Surf Fishing

F

ebruary is one of the coolest months for surf fishing, and it’s one of the best for cool-water fish. Mackerel, jack, bluefish and ladyfish are coolwater fish that are very active this month. February is also one of the best months for table fare like large pompano, whiting and croaker. The schooling predator fish mentioned above are active chasing bait in the morning around daybreak and in the evening. They are shallow in the morning around the first breakers and running the trough, a deep cut along the shoreline under the closest breakers. Any shiny, fast-moving lure will produce strikes. I prefer small crocodile-style spoons (1-ounce) in the morning, a shallow-running crankbait, if there are no weeds, or small jigs (4-inch pearl white with a 3/8-ounce chartreuse jig head). Schooling mackerel and bluefish will cut your line, so use a heavy 40-pound mono or fluoro leader tied onto braid. Whether it’s early morning or not, you need to find bait to be successful. Look for birds feeding. On any beach, there will usually be some schools of bait. They might be 100 yards away or a half a mile. Walk the beach and look for dark spots in the water and small splashes on top. Although birds will be feeding on large schools of bait, they may not see smaller schools. Make long search casts past the bait and use a fast, steady retrieve to pull the lure through the bait. The action can be fast and furious as long as you are around bait and feeding fish. All the cool-water predator fish will take live bait and cut bait. Greenies and live shrimp work as well as cut ladyfish and frozen shrimp. If it gets cold, try beach fishing with waders. Numbers of pompano have been reported along many of the beach accesses in the Treasure Coast area, including Bathtub Beach and Middle Cove up to the Ft. Pierce Inlet. February is one of the best months for large 3- to 5-pound pompano. Pompano beach fishing is an art in itself and requires longer fishing rods as well as triple rigs baited with sand fleas or FishBites (red or pink). One of the easiest ways to catch pompano is to fish the lagoon bridges (Jensen Beach Causeway/Stuart Bridge if you are in Martin county) with pompano jigs (pink) on moving tides. The whiting bite has been very good this winter with small pieces of frozen shrimp. Cast just past the shoreline breakers. When fishing live or cut bait on the beach, make sure you reel in pompano or whiting fast or your fish might be shark bait. The best table-fare beaches have deeper water. The best times are when high tide is moving in or out. The weeds have been much better on the beach and the water is clear. Richard Matteson is a long-time contributor to Coastal Angler Magazine who reports from the Stuart Rod and Reel Club. Contact him at (336) 414-3440.

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CATCH SMALLMOUTHS IN THE MOUNTAINS OF NORTH CAROLINA

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By Capt. James McManus

ere in the western North Carolina mountains, we get a lot of visitors. Snowbirds are what we call people who come here from up north to enjoy our milder climate. One snowbird most fishermen cherish is the smallmouth bass. We are at the southern end of their natural range, and almost all of our watersheds contain some. Smallies have characteristics that endear them to anglers. They are aggressive, eat year-round, grow to respectable size and when hooked spend as much time out of the water as in.

You can find these beauties in most of our sizeable rivers. River fish seem to be more active in summer. I think it’s linked to terrestrial food items being more available. Floating area rivers like the Tuckasegee, Little Tennessee, Hiwassee and French Broad will keep you in fish regardless of your preferred method. For fly guys, any minnow or crawdad imitation will draw strikes, and in warmer weather nymphs and hoppers get their attention. Poppers and sliders can be lots of fun, just remember river smallies tend to be smaller than their lake buds. I spend more time chasing lake fish. There is less competition from other anglers, and average size is much better. Winter and early spring are the best seasons, in my opinion, only because the females are chock-full of eggs. It is when we catch our largest fish of the year. Many methods produce, and I throw a lot of jigs and jerkbaits. Lake fish have a variety of forage, so anything resembling threadfin shad, blueback herring or crawdads fits their menu. Dropshot, Shaky head and wacky-rigged worms all catch fish. Average depth for smallies year-round is 45 feet, or so. However, our clear mountain lakes allow them to identify prey up on the surface. Don’t shy from throwing topwater just because you mark fish deep. Especially when they are feeding up pre- and postspawn, you’ll find smallmouths on rock or gravel, where they love to eat little lobsters. They also suspend in open water to chase shad, but this is more of a warm-water behavior. On Lake Fontana, my home lake, we troll a good bit, and it’s not unusual to find them suspended at 45 feet over 200 feet of water. I should note that while we still have good smallmouth fishing, invasive spotted bass have forced their way into smallie enclaves. For this reason, we never kill a smallmouth. If you like to eat fish, take all the spotted bass you want; they are better eating anyway. Smallies and spots use the same spawning areas and hybridize. While not good genetically, it produces a fish that has that hybrid vigor, hence the name “meanmouth.” Markings and coloration make the smallmouth one of the prettiest of all fish. We should try hard to preserve them so our kids have the thrill of fighting one of the gamest fish around. Captain James McManus owns 153 charters out of Sylva, N.C. Call him at (828) 421-8125. James fishing McManus/Instagram.

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C-HAWK & MITZI SKIFF: DEPENDABLE SIMPLICITY

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here’s a certain type of boater who values simplicity and functionality over flashiness. Most anglers fall into this category. A simple boat comes with less hassle, allowing you to spend more time on the water. Two brands that fit right into this niche for dependability and easy boating are C-Hawk and Mitzi Skiff. Across the product lines for both boats, a no-nonsense reputation has developed a considerable following among people who would rather fish than look at their boats. No trailer queens here! “We build a keep-it-simple-stupid boat. If you want something you can soft scrub at the end of the day and put it away, you’re my guy,” said Brad Grubbs, the owner and manufacturer of C-Hawk and Mitzi Skiff. “We set out to make boats that are affordable to operate and affordable to own, and the philosophy has worked.” C-Hawk, which has been around since the mid-1970s, offers lines of 16’ to 29’ center consoles and 22’ to 29’ sport cabins that were originallyw developed for commercial applications. C-Hawks remain widely used commercially, and many recreational boaters also see the value in a vessel

H that’s built to take a beating. “Really, we just took a commercial-duty boat and put a little lipstick on it,” Grubbs said. “The boat is as tough as it ever was. It’s been the same boat for nearly 50 years.” Mitzi Skiffs were designed for a specific purpose, yet the same philosophy applies. When the first Mitzi was designed in the mid-1990s, the concept was simple. There was nothing on the market with the shallow draft, clean layout and quiet maneuverability needed for fly fishing the flats. Those ideas propel the company today. Almost 30 years later, Mitzi’s line of 15’, 16’ and 17’ skiffs achieve those purposes exceptionally well, and they are inexpensive to own and operate. With the original design and continuing innovation, Mitzi Skiffs are flats boats other boat builders imitate. C-Hawk and Mitzi Skiff boats are available exclusively through select dealers. Contact your local dealer to find out how they can be rigged out to fit your style of fishing.

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PARKIT360: THE ULTIMATE TRAILER PARKING SOLUTION S

ave yourself the parking headaches—oneshot your boat or trailer into position every time with one of Parkit360’s Electric Trailer Dollies. Parkit360 units are powerful and easy to use. Even large trailered boats, campers and cargo trailers are infinitely more maneuverable, especially in tight spaces, with a Parkit360 Trailer Dolly. The Force and Transformer models are compatible with almost every trailer right out of the box thanks to their ball-mounted Stablelock technology. Just freewheel the dolly to the trailer, connect to the hitch and steer your trailer into place. With weight capacities ranging from 5,000 to 15,000 pounds, these portable powerhouses can handle the most difficult parking challenges with ease. Parkit360 makes compact dollies that make parking easy, even on difficult surfaces. With planetary gearing, all Force and Transformer models include 6.5” tires, standard, which provide excellent traction on a wide range of surfaces like firm grass, packed gravel, asphalt and up to a 6 percent incline. Unlike a driver who relies on mirrors and backup cameras, the user faces the trailer, giving them complete visibility and control while parking. See exactly where the trailer is at all times and steer within inches of any obstacle if needed. You can park in ways that are impossible with a truck and have the flexibility to move around the trailer at any time to check its position or for obstacles that might damage your precious cargo. The dolly’s compact design also allows the user to park hitch-end forward as a serious theft deterrent, something that is pretty much impossible to do with a vehicle. All models include Intelligent Speed Control, a great feature for those looking to move through open areas quickly, and more precisely in tight spaces. The high and low speed

B option starts and stops the motor gradually to prevent potential damage from sudden movements, something that makes these trailer dollies stand out above the competition. Switch speeds any time during parking and get things done faster than ever before! Have a unique trailer hitch on your boat trailer? Easily move any ball mounted, fifth wheel or gooseneck trailer up to 15,000 pounds with our standard adapters, or try the Telescopic Hitch Adapter. It’s a non-invasive, alternative connection point that bolts around your existing trailer frame. Want a Dolly that’s ready to park, right

out of the box? Most models include a 12V U1 Interstate Battery with all required cables and hardware. With existing features like the Built-in Battery Charger, Electric/Surge Brake Controller and a full 2 Year Warranty, Parkit360 has truly made parking simple for every trailer. Parkit360 has been in business for more than 10 years and has shipped more than 15,000 trailer dollies to customers all over the world. Move your trailer with ease, and get in and out of storage faster than ever!

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For more information, visit Parkit360.ca

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• 20"


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44 million year old honey gold Baltic amber gives you a glimpse into the fascinating world of prehistoric times

Get the complete set for only $249 plus Free Shipping with call-in only!*

Prehistoric Perfection B

44 million year old Baltic amber priced at just $99

oth in love and in gemstones, it can take a long time to achieve perfection. Just as your relationship has matured and strengthened over the years, so has Baltic amber. This natural gemstone is a scientific phenomenon that contains fossilized plant and animal life that date back over 40 million years. In fact, most of the life-forms found in Baltic amber are now extinct. Thankfully, the fine art of a great deal B. is alive and well at Stauer. The amber pieces you see here feature ample carats of amber from the icy Baltic region, famous for containing the world’s finest amber deposits. And, adding to the prehistoric mystique is the fact that no two stones are identical–– each piece captured something different as it formed, just as every love story is unique. C. Now, there are necklaces with generous gems of amber going for nearly $15,000. We think that’s barbaric. Which is why we made certain you can bring home 160 total carats of the world’s oldest natural gem for only $99. “People have been making amber jewelry for over 10,000 years, which could make it the first gem material ever used.” — The International Gem Society (IGS)

PRAISE FOR STAUER Satisfaction guaranteed or AMBER JEWELRY your money back. Revel in the  unique beauty of Cherry Amber “When it arrived I was for 30 days If it fails to delight, blown away by it’s beauty and uniqueness.” send it back for a full refund of – J. R., Port Angeles, WA the item price. Limited Reserves. Baltic amber at these prices won’t stick around. Call today before this great deal becomes extinct.

Cherry Amber Collection A. Necklace (160 ctw) ..................... $499† $99 + S&P Save $400 B. Ring (8 ctw) ................................. $399† $129 + S&P Save $270 C. Earrings (15 ctw) ......................... $399† $149 + S&P Save $250 Necklace, Ring & Earrings Set $1297 $299 + S&P Save $998 *Call and ask how to get the set for only $249 with free shipping

You must use the insider offer code to get our special price.

1-800-333-2045

Your Insider Offer Code: CAC193-02 † Special price only for customers using the offer code versus the price on Stauer.com without your offer code.

Stauer

®

14101 Southcross Drive W., Ste 155, Dept. CAC193-02, Burnsville, Minnesota 55337 www.stauer.com

Rating of A+

• 20" Necklace • 160 carats total weight tumbled Baltic amber • Ring set in yellow gold-finished .925 sterling silver • Ring: whole sizes 5-10

Stauer… Afford the Extraordinary.®


AndAlusiA MArine & powersports inc.

Headquarters For All your Boating needs Xpress •

1707 River Falls Street, Andalusia, AL 36421

Alweld •

(334) 427-1428

stingrAy • VerAndA • Quest

All kinds of parts and accessories in stock and ready for delivery! Innertubes • Ski’s • Wakeboards Ropes • Life jackets Solas and Michigan Wheel Props

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• Humminbird • Garmin • Lowrance • Minnkota - authorized sales and service center • Rhodan • Certified Full Line Yamaha Dealer

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WHEN FISHING SHALLOWS, YOU NEED A REEL WITH A REPUTATION THAT RUNS DEEP.

Packed with more fish stopping features than ever before, the PENN ® Slammer ® IV takes a tradition of excellence to a whole new level. An 8+1 sealed stainless steel bearing system with Hydrophobic Line Roller Bearing makes the reel as smooth as it is tough. The Slammer IV drag system was upgraded to provide wider range. And the reel body and spool are now even more perfectly sealed. Just like the fate of the fish. PENN. LET THE BATTLE BEGIN.

© 2021

Pure Fishing, Inc.

PENN ® Slammer ® IV


FOR REEL

GOOD FISHING Visit Upcountry South Carolina Stop by the South Carolina Lakes booth at the Bassmaster Classic Expo, March 4-6, 2022 at the Greenville Convention Center.

Perfectly Seasoned FishUpcountrySC.com

864-233-2690

Lake Hartwell, host of the 2008, 2015, 2018, and 2022 Academy Sports & Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk


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