Aboard The Hard MerchandiseBy Astrid DeGruchy
icked Tuna is a show my ancé, Capt. Brandon Storin, and I like to watch. As an avid angler betrothed to a charter captain, I think it’s pretty cool to watch these guys reel in giants, but it’s even cooler to do it Brandon and I wanted this experience, so we went on a charter with the legendary crew of the “Hard Merchandise.” Docked in Gloucester, Mass., the boat is very spacious with a heated cabin, full head and all the latest electronics. Capt. Joe Marciano and his Mate, Jay, are exactly as they are from the show, and their skillsets for catching
During our time with them, conditions were a bit rough. It called for us leaving the docks earlier than anyone else, and while riding out, you could really see how meticulous they are in each part of the rigging and set up. During the boat ride, conversation was great, with plenty of laughs to go around. Before we knew it, we were at the tuna grounds.
In the midst of catching and soaking baits and waiting for the bite, the crew made us fresh breakfast and it was amazing. We had bacon and scrambled eggs with lobster.
e experience is very much like what you would expect from watching the show. ere’s lots of refreshing baits and waiting for a bite. When they mark sh on the sonar, the enthusiasm from the crew is amazing, just like on television. Capt. Joe and Jay jump up, yelling “WE’RE MARKING!” Adrenaline starts pumping with anticipation as you hope everything is lined up perfect enough to get a bite.
Fortunately, we did get tight, and I have never seen a sh take such a wild and ferocious run… several times. I was up to battle this sh with coaching from Capt. Joe and Jay. ere is nesse needed to ght a giant like this, and a cra in staying tight and knowing when to let him run. Every second spent reeling elevated the hope that we might land this big tuna. Yet there was also anxiety. If you’ve watched the show, you know that losing one of these monsters is a very real possibility.
We battled the sh for a while. Gaining where I could, adrenaline kept me pumping while the crew maneuvered the boat. e communication is constant as everyone works together.
Finally, I saw this huge beast start surfacing. Capt. Joe moved in with the harpoon, ready to take the shot. Everything happened so quickly! e beast surfaced, and Capt. Joe drilled it with a perfect gill shot. It wasn’t over yet, but it was just a matter of time. A er the sh made one last run, taking a bunch of rope, we hauled it back in and roped its tail. At that point, I knew I had landed my top bucket-list sh.
It was an amazing experience, and it felt like we were literally in an episode of Wicked Tuna. What you see from the show is what you get in person. ere is no script; nothing is fake. ere is only grit, talent and hope, and these guys have all that.
e Hard Merchandise team recently launched Angelica Seafoods, where one can order fresh blue n, lobster, scallops, oysters and more to be delivered to your door. If you plan a trip to Boston and want to catch a sh of a lifetime, book a charter with the Hard Merchandise.
For more information on the Hard Merchandise, visit www.angelica sheries.com/fv-hardmerchandise.
IG: @catching_astrid @bnmbean @hardmerchjoe @melodyredwing @hardmerchandisejay.
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INFLUENCER, YOUTUBER AND BASS ANGLER
That’s quite a headline for a 17-year-old high school student from Clewiston, Fla. who loves bass shing.
I spoke with Hilary while she was in Palatka, Fla. preparing to sh the Florida Bass Nation tournaments on the St. Johns River, and her enthusiasm and passion for the sport of bass shing were impressive.
Last year, at 16, she nished h at the State Championship of the Florida Bass Nation with a total weight heavier than 19 pounds. She’s hoping to do even better this year.
I asked her if she could remember when she rst started shing, and she laughed as she guessed that she was “probably only 2 years old.” A er all, she does come from a pretty well-known family of professional bass shermen.
Her grandfather, the legendary Roland Martin, is one of the greatest bass shermen of all time. Her father, Scott, won the 2011 Forest Wood Cup Championship, and also has 45 top-ten nishes and eight tour victories in the FLW and hosts the Scott Martin Challenge.
But things are di erent today than they wereBy Don Norton
Iin the past. Today, social media is the key to reaching your audience, and Hilary has done an incredible job on both YouTube, with over 100,000 subscribers, and Instagram with 103,000 followers.
Most of her videos are bass shing, although she’s had some very interesting saltwater shing videos, as well.
Hilary said she started taking bass shing seriously when she was 15 years old, and at 16, joined the Florida Bass Nation Series.
She has her own bass boat, a 20’ Skeeter FXR, with a 250hp Yamaha, but she also shes out of her dad’s boat from time to time, because, “it’s got all the goodies,” she laughed.
Her biggest bass, a whopping 9.1-pounder was caught ipping a black/blue Sweet Beaver along the edges of cattails on Lake Okeechobee when she was only 14 years old. She hopes to break that personal best soon.
Her shing arsenal includes a Favorite Phantom Series shing rod, a Shimano Curado reel and braided or uorocarbon line, along with her favorite bait, a Zoom Speed Worm.
“I was shing out of a kayak and I saw this
far away, so I threw my Speed Worm just past the mark,” she recounted. “I started a fast retrieve when a big bass came up and just exploded on it. at sh drug me around for what seemed like forever before I nally landed it. It weighed just over ve pounds. e cover picture of me holding a bass was taken the day a er.”
Listening to her tell that story, her excitement, enthusiasm and passion for bass shing became even more obvious.
If you haven’t seen one of her videos on YouTube ( eReelHilarySue), I’d strongly recommend you check them out. ey’re fun to watch, and you might just learn something. She’s a natural.
What an incredible future this beautiful, talented young lady has in store. I think she’ll be one of the biggest names in professional bass shing in the years to come.
Don Norton is co-publisher of the Okeechobee edition of e Angler Magazine.
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GULF RED SNAPPER HARVEST Open for Two Weekends in November
shing the Gulf of Mexico out of Florida have two weekends remaining in November to harvest red snapper. is special fall season announced by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) opened a total of ve weekends for snapper harvest in October and November. e remaining dates are Nov. 11-13 and Nov. 25-27.
e fall red snapper season is open for recreational anglers and for-hire operations in the Gulf of Mexico. During this season, private recreational anglers may harvest red snapper in Gulf state and federal waters. However, state for-hire operations are limited to shing for red snapper in Gulf state waters only. Gulf state waters extend to 9 miles o shore, where federal waters begin.
e bag limit during the fall season is the same as the regular summerseason bag limit. Anglers may keep two red snapper per person, within the 10-per-person daily aggregate snapper bag limit. e minimum size limit is 16 inches tail length. Charter captains and guides may not keep a limit on top of those retained by their anglers. A descending device or venting tool is required to be rigged and ready for use while shing for reef sh in Gulf federal waters. FWC will continue to monitor harvest relative to Florida’s available quota.
ese additional days were made possible by the State Reef Fish Survey, which was developed to provide better data for management of red snapper and other reef sh. It has allowed FWC the unprecedented opportunity to manage Gulf red snapper in state and federal waters.
All anglers shing from private recreational vessels are required to sign up as a State Reef Fish Angler if they target red snapper or other reef sh in state and federal waters, even if they are exempt from shing license requirements. Sign up for no cost at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com or by visiting any location where you can purchase a Florida shing license.
State Reef Fish Anglers may receive a questionnaire in the mail regarding their reef sh trips as part of Florida’s State Reef Fish Survey. If you receive a survey, please respond whether you shed this season or not or whether you’ve submitted data via other methods.
For more information, see the Florida red snapper regulations at MyFWC.com.
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$1 MILLION PURSE GUARANTEED atJimmyJohnson’s“QuestfortheRing”ChampionshipFishingWeek
Brought to you by Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla., the 12th Annual Jimmy Johnson’s “Quest for the Ring” Championship Fishing Week will take over South Florida March 7-11, 2023, additionally hosted by Visit Lauderdale, with tournament headquarters based at Seminole Hard Rock in Broward.
e annual four-day tournament includes the 2-day Quest for the Ring Catch & Release Championship and the National Sport sh Championship Weighted Tournament, which takes place as a separate tournament during the event week. Hosted by Contender Boats, powered by Yamaha and fueled by Papa’s Pilar Rum, the 2-Day Catch & Release Championship features the World’s RICHEST guaranteed purse of $1 million, in partnership with Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla, making it the longest-running guaranteed purse in history.
Jimmy Johnson’s “Quest for the Ring” Championship Fishing Week is “all about the ring!” according to Coach Johnson. Each year teams vie for their champion rings and entrance into the highly coveted Ring of Honor, an elite group of champions who have taken home the top prize at this exciting competition in the Catch & Release Championship. Each year, overall champions receive Jimmy’s famed National Championship Ring. Renowned for the best parties, which are
Palm Beach’s TEAM LUNATICO won the 2022 Championship, taking home $321,500 and entrance into Coach’s coveted RING OF HONOR on a 42’ Invincible owned by Lance Converse.
back at Hard Rock, the highest guaranteed purse and the ultimate week of shing, tournament highlights include celebrity charity days and highly competitive tournament showdowns. Registration will end with the captain’s meeting on Tuesday, March 7, if spots are still available.
“ e best wasn’t the Super Bowl, the best was not University of Miami, the best is right now!” said Coach Johnson. “ ese teams are part of THE BEST. We continue to grow each year, and I am thrilled to have our partners at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood join us as we
showcase the thrilling challenge of sport shing and to move our hosting of our event to such a beautiful destination in Broward County. We look forward to seeing everyone in March!”
Contender Boats is the o cial center console boat sponsor and a presenting sponsor of the tournament along with the o cial outboard sponsor, Yamaha, and o cial spirits partner, Papa’s Pilar. Additional Hosting sponsors include Oakley Prizm, Michelob Ultra, GED Lawyers, Visit Lauderdale, Garmin, Celebrity Cruises, Hines Securities, Titos Vodka, Atlantic Radio Telephone, and Cadillac. Miami Retail Partner is Crook and Crook and Broward Retail Partner is Big Dog Tackle. e o cial tournament artist and apparel provider is Connected by Water. Additional event sponsors can be found on the event website. e tournament is produced by Fish Hard Events.
Boat Entry information and the full schedule of events can be found at www.jj shweek.com. Registration starts at $5,000 for the Quest for the Ring Bill sh Tournament and $2,500 for the Sport sh Weighted Championship. Register on the tournament website or by contact the tournament o ce at info@jj shweek.com or (305) 255-3500 for more information.
Follow @JJFishWeek on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for up to date tournament information.
The Peacock Bass in Florida From The Amazon to Your Backyard:By Rex Hannon
There’s an eruption during your retrieve that’s immediately followed by one of the most vicious strikes you’ve ever encountered. e unknown assailant pulls drag, digging deeper only to reverse course and perform one of the most acrobatic aerial shows you’ve ever witnessed. Your rst thought is a monster largemouth, but that idea vanishes when you see the color scheme and the large bump on the sh’s forehead. A er a trying and equipment-testing battle, before you lies an unmistakable dream about or watch on television shows recorded in exotic locations. It’s a butter y peacock bass.
Peacock bass are native to South America, where they are most commonly found in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins. Because of their appearance and name, there’s a common misconception that they are members of the bass family. Actually, they are cichlids.
Peacock bass were introduced to South Florida by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in 1984. ey are nonnative, but they are considered noninvasive. ree stocks of sh were imported from Brazil, Guyana and Peru. A er spawning at the FWC Non Native Research Lab and being tested for disease and parasites by both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Auburn University, they were released to combat exotic invasive snakeheads, clown knife sh and oscars.
Peacock Bass have a body similar to largemouth bass, but the color scheme is noticeably di younger examples are generally golden/green with three black bars that fade as the sh matures. is also usually a prominent black spot with a yellow/ gold halo on the tail. Peacock bass are fast growing, pushing an inch a month from one year to 18 months. A 19-inch sh can weigh 5 pounds. While the Florida state record butter
undocumented catches of 12 pounds and e IGFA all-tackle world record is 12.6 pounds and was caught in Venezuela. y peacock bass are intolerant of cold water and high salinity. ere have been reports of sh north of Palm Beach County, but they cannot survive temperatures below 60 degrees or salinity above 18 parts per million. is species is commonly found in canals, lakes and ponds, and prefers to feed and spawn in shallow water with vegetation.
Live bait is the easiest way to catch these amazing sh, and they will also strike arti cial lures and ies. Butter y peacock bass prefer feeding during daylight hours, when they use their great speed to pursue
y peacock bass are edible, but the FWC recommends catch and release due to the valuable service they provide in keeping invasive species in e pursuit of this species is also an economic boon to the state. It is estimated that anglers spend more than $8 million a year chasing peacock bass in y peacock bass are another example of shing opportunities.
The Art of Sustainability
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ACTION AND HOOK SETS WITH LONG-DISTANCE LURES
In this series on long-distance lures, we’ve covered just about everything about the cast and equipment. Now that you’ve made that super-long cast—beating other anglers’ distance by 50 feet, or maybe 50 yards—you are presenting your lure to sh that others can’t reach.
What’s next the next step? is is where we enter the heart of the action, where things get fun and exciting. First thing rst, start working your lure.
e long distance between your rod tip and the lure means more line is on the water. You will have less control of the lure’s action, and the delay between when the sh strikes and when you feel it will be longer. e hook set is also a ected. Waves, wind and current all amplify this lag.
e type of lure will determine how you should alter your retrieve to achieve the proper action. Darters, heavy spoons, billed minnows, bottleneck swimplugs and jointed swimbaits are all designed to provide their own action, and they will start swimming when you begin your retrieve.
Lures that require more angler interaction
will require you to adapt your retrieve to compensate for the extra distance and diminished control. A popper
hand what I am trying to impart. You’ll need practice to adjust the way you work a lure at distance, and by paying attention to the way di erent lures react, you will learn to sh them more e ectively.
might require harder pulls to pop. A stick bait or pencil might need a slower cadence and sharper rod twitches to achieve the desired action.
ese details might seem insigni cant as you read this, but go give it a try on the water, preferably in calm conditions. At the end of a super-long cast, you’ll experience rst-
Now, with the current ripping and wave action pulling the line and lure side to side, there’s no way to avoid losing some control over the quality of a lure’s action. e good thing is, sh in such conditions are usually less picky and more aggressive. Still, the better the action you provide to your lure, the better your results will be. en suddenly, the bite happens! A long belly of line in uenced by current and waves increases the delay between your hook set and the moment it translates to the lure. Also, some energy will be lost. Use a wide, sweeping rod movement to set the hook when the lure is far away. is generates a long pull that provides the most energy possible to drive the hook into a sh’s mouth. Also, sh a tight drag when you’re casting for distance. I’ve seen many anglers miss sh when the drag gives line on the hook set. Be ready to adjust the drag lighter based on the power of the sh once you have it hooked.
Legendary angler Patrick Sebile is a world record holder and an award-winning designer of innovative lures and shing gear. Check out his creations at abandofanglers.com.
Fishing Report & Forecast MayportBy Capt. Kirk Waltz
Ithinkwe all anticipated a more profound change in the weather for October but, it turned out to be a true Indian Summer month for us in NE Florida. The bull reds bit good and I think will continue unless we get some really cold weather to have a severe impact on the water temp. Look for these big redfish from the Mayport Rocks all the way up the river to areas past the Dames Point Bridge and beyond. I recently caught bull reds a good ways past the west entrance to Mill Cove. Large ledge drops in the river channel will hold these big fish and they can be caught on both the incoming tides as well as the outgoing tides. I try to locate portions of the river channel from 30 to 45ft deep that typically don’t have screaming water running by. A trained eye helps in locating these bodies of moving water and can improve your catch rate though some folks swear by the ripping water I however, find it to be a detriment in catching them. Try using a 3 way swivel rig with anywhere from 6 oz to 12oz of lead and a piece of cut mullet, cut ladyfish, or fresh blue crab producing the better strikes. Big live baits like mullet or pogies can be perfect if you can net some. A stout rod is imperative with coupled with 50lb PowerPro braided line is by far the best way to haul them in. I have found the Shimano Jigging Rod rods with a Shimano Sarogosa 6000 work great.
Look for schools of sheepshead to move into the lower St. John’s River this month around the docks, oyster bars, and rocks. I saw a good shift in the numbers at the end of last month and feel this trend will continue thru into November. Fiddlers and small shrimp on light jigs are my go to rigs but, the old sliding egg sinker with a short leader can be just as effective. The 1st of the high outgoing tides at the big rocks as well as the dead low are my best tides. Look for clean water if it’s available as this seems to be the water they prefer to feed in with just a slight amount of current. Also the slot redfish should be more available at the big rocks
this month with the water temperatures dropping. Trout will also be an added bonus this month too around the stones. Clear water and a live shrimp will be your best bet on either a light jig or the old standby float rig. I love the high outgoing clear tides for this and find early morning before the boats move in the best time to find them.
The bite up the river on the ICW north of sisters to south On the ICW should get better and better with the cooler weather. Reds, sheepshead, flounder, trout, and black drum will begin to really settle into their winter pattern and can be best caught on the low outgoing tides. Shrimp, mud minnows, and even artificials will account for good catches. Try a Berkley Gulp minnow or shrimp in root beer/new penny colors or a small Sebile floating jerk minnow in silver or blue. Small finger sized baits have worked well for me in the past.
On the Offshore grounds look for Red Snapper, Grouper, and Sea Bass to move in closer with the cooler water and be readily available. Try any of the local party ground numbers for the best success. Cut cigar minnows, sardines, and squid are great baits. Try placing them on the bottom for better success rates. Make sure you check the regs with all of the aforementioned species to ensure legal compliance. Remember have fun, go fishing, and get off the couch because you are not gonna catch them there!.
For more fishing tips listen to the Outdoorshow radio program on 1010am or 92.5fm every Saturday from 7am to 10am. He can be reached at 904.241.7560 or 904.626.1128 or go to www. enterprisefishingcharters.com
Palm Cove Marina Phone, 904-330-0433 14603 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville, FL
The month of November provides a variety of fishing action both in the many tidal rivers that feed both the Nassau and St. Mary’s rivers, both fishy inlets, and nearby offshore fish havens as well.
Offshore fishing is excellent at Schultz’s “Fish Market”, located only a few miles off from the southern portion of Amelia Island and holds a variety of excellent eating bottom species. Include gag grouper, black sea bass, flounder, trigger fish and more. FA, FC, and TW fish havens also harbor excellent bottom fishing as well. Best bottom fishing baits include cigar minnows, cut mullet, or fresh local squid.
Large black and red drum will be running at both of Amelia Island’s inlets including the Nassau and Cumberland Sounds. Fishing on the bottom with blue crab, large fresh shrimp, or live finger mullet during the in-coming tide and the first hour of the falling tide is key while fishing dead on the bottom.
Flounder will is excellent while casting a ¼ ounce led head jig paired with a live finger mullet, cut mullet strip, or live bullhead minnow.
Retrieve these popular bait and jig combinations slowly along the bottom. When a strike occurs, slowly lower your rod tip, and set the hook!
A local favorite flounder drop includes the shrimp boat docks located just north of the Fernandina Harbor Marina.
Keep in mind the Atlantic Coast flounder season is closed from October 15th through November 30th.
Sea trout and redfish will offer excellent inshore action during the last few hours of the in-coming tide while casting a slow sinking minnow type lure in the chrome and green back color pattern. My Personal favorite is the #11 count down Rapala. Obviously seasoned back country fishermen are imitating the big run of mullet with their mullet type imitations. The Mirr-O-Lure 19MR is an all-time favorite luring vicious strikes with its slow sinking, twitching action.
Striped bass fishermen navigating further up the Nassau River while fishing close to the I-95 Bridge will find stripers running to twentypounds. The mouth of Thomas’s Creek also holds good numbers of Striped bass as well.
Best lures for stripers include a slow sinking minnow type plug in the blue back and silver color pattern, white “Swim Baits”, also include a ½ ounce white spinner with a silver #5 willow leaf blade.
Largemouth bass will be on a big feed before the cold waters of winter arrive in Lofton and Boggy Creeks. Casting a white spinner bait with a gold blade is key when targeting big mouth bass that could possibly push the ten-pound mark.!
For more fishing information, please visit www.ameliaangler.com, or call 904-261-2870.
The next couple of months bring in some big holidays, but in Northeast Florida fisherman are more concerned with bringing in big flounder and redfish. It seems like every year right around Thanksgiving the big “doormat” sized flounder start to show themselves inshore. When the water gets in the 68-72 degree range the big flounder will really start to chew at the inlets. The bull reds will also still be at the area inlets and in the deeper parts of the ICW and St. Johns River. As we get into December the sheepshead bite will turn on as well. It’s one of the most comfortable times of the year to be on the water. The air temps are cooling down but the fishing is still on fire.
When fishing for the big fall flounder, target the rocks at the area inlets or any structure near deep water. I prefer to fish the lower tide stage as it tends to group up the bait and gets the flounder fired up. Use a fish-finder rig with about a foot of leader and enough weight to get to the bottom. My favorite bait for big flounder is a fairly large mullet (10”+). Don’t be afraid to go big with the bait… In this case big bait does equal big fish. Don’t forget to let the flounder have the bait for a good while before setting the hook. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a mullet come up with the back
half of his body scale-less from where the flounder was holding on just short of the hook.
As the water cools down the redfish will start to group up on the flats and in the creeks. Cooler water temps also mean better water clarity which in turn means it’s almost time for sight-fishing in our area…. my absolute favorite way to fish for redfish! Schooling reds and redfish in general will tend to hang in warmer areas this time of year. Dark oyster-laden and darker mud bottom will warm up on sunny days and hold redfish as well as other inshore species. You will also find reds schooled up in creek holes on the low tide stages. We get some really good negative low tides this time of year and when that happens you can bet the fish will be hunkered down in those holes. On the opposite side of that we do have some flood tides this month but as the water cools the redfish seem to be less likely to get up in the flooded grass… but it can be worth a look.
Black drum and sheepshead will be turning on over the next few months. The drum can be found just about anywhere there is structure and deeper water. The creek holes at low tide are a great spot to find them. Sheepshead will be in that mix as well but the hardcore “sheep herders” will be fishing along bridge pilings, inlet rocks and just about any kind of riprap around. The baits of choice for both species will be shrimp, clams, and just about any type of crab, with fiddlers topping the list for the sheepshead. Just remember with sheepshead you’ll need to use cat like reflexes with you hook sets. Some people even say you need to set the hook before they bite!
3210 U.S. Highway 17 S., Orange Park 5000-60 U.S. Highway 17, Fleming Island 7099 Collins Road, Jacksonville 686 Blanding Blvd., Orange Park 10980 U.S. Highway 1 N., Jacksonville 4511 San Juan Ave., Jacksonville 450 Park Street, Jacksonville 10970 U.S. Highway 1 N., Ponte Vedra Beach 2350 State Road 16, St Augustine 1900 Mizell Road, (SR312), St Augustine 1605 Race Track Road, Jacksonville
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Ethanol-free gasoline is available at these GATE locations. 9540 San Jose Blvd., Jacksonville 570 Busch Drive, Jacksonville 4100 Heckscher Drive, Jacksonville 200, Yulee son St., Jacksonville wn Center Parkway, Jacksonville 0 Baymeadows Road, Jacksonville Center Drive, Jacksonville tic Blvd., Jacksonville Ponte Vedra Beach 01 Monument Road, Jacksonville McCormick Road, Jacksonville ate Road 56, Wesley Chapel County Road 136, White Springs Valley Road, Ponte Vedra Pavilion Drive, St Johns
Date Day Time Hgt Time Hgt Time Hgt
Approximate Correction Times
for Other regional Locations
Landing: H: +2:57 L: +2:44
Beach: H: -:29 L: -:20
Augustine Beach: H: -:07 L: -:15
A City Dock: H: -:04 L: +:09
01 Tue 02:22 AM 5.06 H 08:29 AM 0.84 L 03:00 PM 5.84 H 09:21 PM 0.89 L
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Mon 12:41 AM 0.11 L 07:07 AM 6.06 H 01:20 PM 0.24 L 07:31 PM 5.32 H
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Wed 02:04 AM 0.14 L 08:31 AM 6.00 H 02:46 PM 0.37 L 08:56 PM 4.99 H
Thu 02:45 AM 0.31 L 09:12 AM 5.85 H 03:27 PM 0.58 L 09:38 PM 4.82 H
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Thu 01:34 AM -0.38 L 08:07 AM 6.33 H 02:21 PM -0.24 L 08:29 PM 5.25 H
Fri 02:21 AM -0.46 L 08:56 AM 6.36 H 03:10 PM -0.25 L 09:19 PM 5.22 H
Sat 03:11 AM -0.41 L 9:48 AM 6.29 H 04:02 PM -0.14 L 10:11 PM 5.16 H
Sun 04:04 AM -0.24 L 10:42 AM 6.15 H 04:57 PM 0.04 L 11:06 PM 5.07 H
Mon 05:03 AM 0.00
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Wed 01:05 AM 4.94
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CATCH-AND-RELEASE FLOUNDER TACTICSBy Capt. Michael Okruhlik
time… ounder time! e fall migration typically reaches its peak in November along the Gulf Coast and more ounder are sure to reach their spawning grounds in this Gulf this year. Louisiana has joined Texas and Florida with their closed season during the peak of the run. However, the fact that you can’t keep any atties during this time doesn’t mean you can’t catch them.
Flounder will be migrating into the Gulf, so the obvious ambush areas will be around passes that lead to open water. e ounder will position themselves in di erent areas based on the tide level and current strength. In addition to using their burying-in-the-sand ambush technique, they also like to utilize structure in a couple of ways.
First, any object that protrudes above the bottom is a great ambush point. is o ers a current break for forage sh to gather directly above a buried ounder, which makes for an easy meal. Objects such as bulkheads are also great ambush points. Flounder like to position themselves against the solid barrier. I think this can be for two separate reasons depending on what other factors are at play. As mentioned above, it could be a current break, especially if the bulkhead has a corrugated shape. When a ounder settles against a bulkhead, its prey has fewer directions to ee, allowing the ounder greater odds of capturing it. When targeting ounder, never pass up a bulkhead.
Second, ounder can be caught on a variety of lures and live bait if you keep it in contact with the bottom to increase your odds for a strike. On the live-bait options, a frisky mullet will produce larger ounder, so if you want to increase your opportunity of landing a trophy, this is the way to go. I prefer to sh with lures and lean heavily on the paddletail style. Twitching these hard along the bottom sends a pulsating sound and vibration that really grabs their attention. Jerk-style so plastics and bucktails can also be e ective worked in the same manner.
If I had to pick a tide to maximize time on the water, I would choose a medium- ow outgoing. Although there are no set rules that sh always follow, ounder feed more on their way out to the Gulf and utilize the current to ease their journey. During the incoming tide, they bury themselves rather than ght the current.
Don’t let the closed season discourage you from targeting ounder during this migration. It will have its advantages. Going forward, we will undoubtedly have a larger ounder population, but the instant grati cation will be a lot less tra c in our favorite ounder spot! I will use the closed season to target a new personal best this season, and so should you.
Okruhlik is the inventor of Knockin Tail Lures®, Controlled Descent Lures™, and the owner of www.MyCoastOutdoors.com.
Tourney Time In South Florida
Winter in south Florida brings an awesome collision of ballyhoo and sail sh that makes for some of the best shing of the year. It’s also the time of year for some of the richest and most fun tournaments. If you’re interested, right now is the time to register. Here’s a list of some good events:
Nov. 30 – Dec. 4, 2022 Dust ’Em O Sail sh Warmup
Fort Lauderdale • www.dustemo sail sh.com
December 1-4, 2022 Pirate’s Cove Sail sh Classic
Pirate’s Cove Resort & Marina, Port Salerno www.piratescovesail shclassic.com
Dec. 2-4, 2022 Islamorada Sail sh Tournament
1st Event of the Florida Keys Gold Cup Sail sh Championship Whale Harbor, Islamorada www.islamoradasail shtournament.com
Dec. 7-10, 2022 Stuart Light Tackle Sail sh Tournament Stuart • stuartsail shclub.com
Dec. 16-18, 2022 Islamorada Junior Sail sh Tournament Islamorada • email@example.com
Jan. 5-7, 2023 86th Annual Silver Sail sh Derby Sail sh Marina, Singer Island westpalmbeach shingclub.org
Jan. 6-7, 2023 Fish for Holly Sail sh Tournament Islamorada • shforholly.com
Jan. 11-15, 2023 Operation Sail sh
Leg One of the Quest for the Crest Sail sh Series Sail sh Resort & Marina, Palm Beach www.bluewatermovements.com
Jan. 17-21 Buccaneer Cup Sail sh Release Tournament
Buccaneer Marina Resort, Riviera Beach buccaneercup.com
Jan. 18, 2023 Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sail sh Tournament
2nd Event of the Florida Keys Gold Cup Sail sh Championship Cheeca Lodge, Islamorada www.islamoradasail shtournament.com
Jan. 21-22, 2023
Islamorada Fishing Club Sail sh Tournament
3rd Event of the Florida Keys Gold Cup Sail sh Championship Whale Harbor, Islamorada www.islamoradasail shtournament.com
February 22-26, 2023 Sail sh Challenge
Leg Two of the Quest for the Crest Sail sh Series
Three checkpoints: Miami, Pompano Beach, West Palm www.bluewatermovements.com
April 12-15, 2023 Final Sail
Leg Three of the Quest for the Crest Sail sh Series Miami Beach • www.bluewatermovements.com
Target SeatroutIn Fall ’s Cooling Waters
Florida region you’re shing.By Emily Rose Hanzlik
during the colder months, where they gather together. Due to them being more condensed during the colder months, it makes them easier to catch.
While smaller seatrout school up and are most e ectively caught with live bait, larger individuals are more solitary. Mature individuals and breeding females longer than 20 or even 25 inches might pair up with another large sh, but they are rarely found schooling.
As the colder months arrive in Florida, the spotted seatrout bite will begin to pick up. ese gorgeously speckled sh are a nearly year-round target for anglers in Florida, and their meat is so and aky with a mild avor.
Seatrout typically lurk in shallow murky waters of estuaries. Usually, these areas consist of seagrass and oyster beds that are hot spots for juvenile prey. While being able to hunt on smaller prey like shrimp, crabs, and bait sh, trout also are able to escape larger predators like sharks, big snook and jacks. Most trout move into deeper bay waters
Seatrout in Florida are having a hard time. eir numbers have dwindled on the east and west coasts because of red tides, the disappearance of sea grass and other factors. ey were once a great option for lling coolers for a sh fry, but limits have been tightened to protect overall populations as well as breeding-sized females. ere is a slot limit in Florida, which allows anglers to keep only sh measuring 15 to 19 inches. ere is an allowance for one sh longer than 19 inches per vessel, per day—or one sh longer than 19 inches per person, if shing from shore. e bag limit ranges from two per person to ve per person, depending on which
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ere are many ways to catch trout. e most e ective way to catch numbers is to nd a school and sh live shrimp under a cork cork. Live bait such as pilchards, mojarras, pin sh and nger mullet used with a oat also work well. If you’re an arti cial-lure person, you can have a blast casting topwater plugs. Using this method allows you to cover a lot more area in search of larger sh.
If you’re targeting huge gator trout, use live baits in the 6- to 10-inch range. Gator trout have a ferocious appetite and would much rather grab one large meal than chase around a bunch of small ones. Silver mullet, as well as pin sh, snappers and grunts in that size range work best. You’ll want to target structure, as larger trout are ambush predators. Spoil islands, docks, oyster bars and rock jetties are prime places to nd a gator trout like the IGFA all-tackle world record, which weighed 17 pounds, 7 ounces and was caught out of Ft. Pierce, Fla.
Emily Rose Hanzlik holds 56 IGFA world records in various categories. She hails from West Palm Beach, where she has a part time Bow n Guide Service as well as shing classes for Jr. Anglers. Find her on Social Media @emilyhanzlikoutdoors.
REGISTRATION OPEN FOR NE FLORIDA WAHOO SHOOTOUT
as “the world’s largest wahoo tournament,” the Northeast Florida Wahoo Shootout Presented by Yellow n will run from February 4-March 26, 2023 and allows anglers to select three days to sh within this 50-day window.
It’s a very cool format, because all wahoo anglers know just how ckle the bite can be when it comes to timing the moon phases and weather systems. Captains are required to notify tournament o cials the night before they plan to sh, and the heaviest three- sh aggregate wins the tournament. Each boat will be allowed to weigh two wahoo per declared shing day. If more than three sh are weighed for a boat through the course of the tournament, the lower weights are dropped. All eligible sh must be weighed at Strike Zone Fishing in Jacksonville or Melbourne.
e rst-place prize is a 21’ Yellow n Bay Boat with a 200 HP Yamaha 4-stroke and an AmeraTrail Trailer, all valued at $95,000. Second place wins a Kubota RTV valued at $16,000. e tournament pays cash through 10th place.
Registration for the Northeast Florida Wahoo Shootout is open now through Feb. 3. Early entry is $550 through Dec. 31. General entry is $600 through Jan. 26. Late entry is $750 until registration closes.
For more information, go to www.wahooshootout.com.
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Like fishing, hunting is for early risers — those who find contentment and peace in getting out into nature early. But that’s not all you’ll find in wild Florida. From the Panhandle to the Everglades, we have some of the most accessible and affordable public hunting lands in the country. Six million bountiful and beautiful acres are closer than you think. So if you’re already an early riser, rise to the exciting challenge of hunting today.
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JUNGLE JEOPARDYBy Ryan Izquierdo
In September, I embarked on one of the craziest adventures I’ve ever experienced to sh for crazy exotic species on the Rio Guaviare deep in Columbia’s Mapiri Jungle.
Just getting there was an adventure. We spent two days ying from Miami to Bogata and then to San Jose, Colombia, which was a buzzing little town where we picked up last minute supplies, ate a breakfast of pirahana head soup and got wrist bands tied by an elderly women and her pet spider monkey, Kiki.
At the port, we loaded gear in a small shaded boat powered by a Yamaha 200 2-stroke, with a spare lower unit tied on top. I was accompanied by my cameraman Adrian, from Poland, good friends Jake, Derek, Karl, and our jungle guide Diego, from Chile.
We set out downstream and rode for hours, passing through two army checkpoints, before we reached our halfway point at 118 miles. We stopped for lunch and to refuel at an isolated jungle town only accessible by boat. As we creeped up muddy stone steps, we were shocked to see a small town with convenience stores, restaurants, a playground, a basketball court, and happy people everywhere. It was a cool window into a di erent reality.
A er playing soccer with the local kids and a delicious fried sh lunch, we headed farther downstream. When darkness arrived, the jungle came alive and our driver did not feel comfortable navigating the rapids at night. So we stopped and Diego traded goods with an indigenous man for permission to sleep at his house. Some opted to sleep in the boat. e mosquitoes, hornets and massive cockroaches made it tough to sleep. A er long hours, the sun nally rose, and we headed another 45 minutes downriver to base camp, where we discovered we were in for even more travel.
We packed lighter for three days of shing and camping at a sacred waterfall inhabited by one of the jungle tribes. It was another 2.5 hours downstream to a small creek that would lead us up to a second camp. We shed our way up the creek.
On my rst cast, a 15-pound sardinata exploded on my popper boatside. Imagine a huge pilchard but with sharp teeth and hyper-aggressive topwater strikes. Fully grown, Sardinata can weigh 25 pounds. is one threw the hooks, and shing only got crazier from there.
I was throwing a 9-inch Countdown Rapala in Firetiger at the tree line and retrieving it to the boat. Almost every cast we hooked massive payara. is sh is similar to a tarpon, with silver scales, acrobatic leaps and a bony mouth that made hook sets di cult. Payara have long fangs on their lower jaw capable of slicing thick-scaled sh and shing line with ease. ey are without a doubt the most challenging, unique and aggressive jungle predators I’ve ever targeted. I managed to catch quite a few on y and spin tackle.
Another unique species was a matrinxa, a silver-scaled delicacy. ey are omnivorous and sit below trees to eat dropping fruits and nuts. ey also hit lures with insane power. ese sh were extremely hard ghting and very tasty. ey have teeth like human molars for cracking hard nuts.
Red bellied pacu are another ferocious species we caught. ey have a similar ambush style and diet to the matrinxa. ey are equally aggressive and display gorgeous hues of purple and black
Iwith a blood orange/red underbelly. Black and red bellied pirahana were in no shortage, either. A er three days of shing by the waterfall, we headed back to base camp for new species.
Heavy rains raised water levels, which busted our hopes to catch big peacock bass. But it opened a new door: catching monster cat sh.
I caught several new species of large cat sh. One of the most unique was a ripsaw cat sh. ey have so lips and a long face, similar to carp. ey also have a sharp chainsaw blade for a lateral line, earning them the nickname “Caiman Killer.” I caught small tiger shovelnose cat sh, as well as red tail cat sh. Red tail cat sh are one of the strongest ghting cat sh I’ve ever encountered. It took three days of break-o s before I was able to muscle one up. It weighed 40 pounds.
Fishing the jungle is tough, and it is not for everyone. is trip scarred me with bug bites from head to toe, and I su ered many bee and hornet stings. It is not comfortable in any sense, but it is good for the mind. ere’s no cell phone reception; you are stripped of everything. e only thing that matters is the present moment. For me, it is the biggest adrenaline rush to travel into the unknown and learn about new shing and culture.
Check out Ryan Izquierdo’s YouTube Channel, “Ryan Iz Fishing” for a series called “Jungle Jeopardy.” E-mail him at Ryanizquierdoyt@ gmail.com with questions or to nd out how you can go on one of these trips.
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OPTIONS ABOUNDBy Gary Turner
more to Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula than world-famous salmon runs. e saltwater shing is also phenomenal, with species like halibut, salmon shark, ounder, yelloweye rock sh and ling cod being primary targets.
When you run out of Seward to Resurrection Bay, you might see some of the Deadliest Catch boats, and you might see multiple species of whale. We saw a lot of humpbacks this past summer. At more than 900 feet deep, with glaciers around the rim, the bay is awe-inspiring. ere are several good charter operations. Some make long runs for big halibut, while some o er shing that’s a little more local. Check with J Dock Fishing Co. in Seward for the latest shing information and charters. If you’re more of a DIY angler, Miller’s Landing in Seward o ers lodging and charters, and they also rent boats and shing equipment. If you want this option, book early. I have mine booked for next year, already.
Homer is the Halibut Capital of the World,
and it’s another great Kenai destination. We went with some friends and got on some good Halibut! I’m new to the electric reels we used. You had to time the hook-set just right. It took several bites to gure it out, but we caught sh once we got the hang of it. I pulled one a good way o the bottom before it decided it wasn’t coming in and broke a 150-pound-mono leader! We caught several good keepers and turned the smaller ones loose. ere are plenty of charters in Homer. North Country Charters is a great one that o ers halibut and salmon trips. ey will put you on some big halibut. My largest weighed 99 pounds, but North Country catches sh that are much larger.
If you want a long-run charter, check out Casino Charters. If you want to catch sh from the beach, check out Family Shore Fishing. ey set you up with a guide, shing rods and bait at Lands End, which juts out into the bay. Fishing low tide on the shelf, you can catch cod, ounder and halibut. We lled a cart with cod
and ounder in less than two hours shing from shore. en we went back another day without a guide and wore them out again!
Fishing in Alaska is just like anywhere else, once you learn what works, you can do it over and over. ere are lots of di erent kinds of shing there, but once you learn where and how to catch them, you can do it yourself.
On this past summer’s trip, as we were headed to the airport to go home, we drove along Cook Inlet and spotted a school of beluga whales swimming the shoreline. You never know what you’ll see in Alaska. Some things are just so amazing!
I’m currently pulling together next summer’s trip to Kenai, and I’m making a short guide of things traveling anglers might want to know. Feel free to shoot me an email with questions.
For more information, contact Gary Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LOST FIN-NOR SETUP RETURNED AFTER 50 YEARS
About 50 years ago, Ralph Vodicka lost one of his favorite rod and reel combos when his boat capsized in North Carolina’s unpredictable Oregon Inlet. Recently, Vodicka was reunited with his 9-foot rod equipped with a Fin-Nor 4 spinning reel, and it still works!
Here is a brief recount of the amazing story reported by Summer Stevens in e Coastland Times.
In fair weather in the early 1970s, Vodicka and three buddies attempted to return through Oregon Inlet a er shing o Hatteras National Seashore in a 17-foot 1966 Boston Whaler. e outgoing tide colliding with incoming rollers created rough conditions, even for a large trawler the anglers watched navigating the inlet. Vodicka was faced with a decision. ey could either wait for the tide change, which would force them to make their run in the dark. Or they could go for it.
“Waiting it out would put us in the middle of the night,” Vodicka remembered. “We decided that the best choice was to race on in while we could see. I told everyone, ‘Hold on, don’t move. We’ll ride on the back of one of the breaking waves. Even if it takes a little water, it’ll be ok.’”
In the middle of the inlet, as they were taking on water, a line caught in the prop and it stopped turning. e boat was at the mercy of the tide and waves, and an 8-foot breaker ipped it end over end. e story of the exciting rescue is reported in detail in e Coastland Times. It involves the captain of an old 25-foot boat and his grandson risking great peril to time the waves and rescue each of the anglers one at a time. Vodicka’s badly damaged Whaler was later recovered, and he lost a bunch of shing gear, including the rod and reel that began this story.
e details are lost to time, but apparently the Fin-Nor reel and the rod were hauled up in a commercial angler’s net. e unique set-up ended up doing decades of duty as a showpiece on the wall in Dennis Dudley’s Elizabeth City, North Carolina home.
Vodicka,” and Dudley tried to locate the Fin-Nor’s owner when he received the rod in the mid-1970s. Dudley’s phone book searches came up empty, and the search was forgotten… until recently.
Dudley, 78, remembered the mystery of the reel’s owner while going through his possessions. A quick Google search turned up Vodicka, who is 89 and living in Raleigh, N.C. e men met to eat lunch, and Vodicka was reunited with the beautiful rod and reel he lost half a century ago.
Amazingly, the antique Fin-Nor is already back in action. Instead of hanging it on the wall, Vodicka had it serviced and used it on the Neuse River over Labor Day weekend.
The Return of a
e reel was equipped with a custom plate engraved with “Ralph E.
“It worked. It worked ne,” he said. “It’s amazing that a er 50 years you get your favorite rod and reel back.”
To read the whole story, go to www.thecoastlandtimes.com.
TOURNAMENT CHEATERS BUSTED
Everyone hates a cheater, which is why it’s no surprise that tempers ared when two cheaters were caught red-handed at a Lake Erie Walleye Tour (LEWT) event on Oct. 1. e event was the tour championship for the series, and the Team of the Year would also be crowned a er weigh-ins. Team Crankin’ Hogs brought to the scales a ve- sh limit that weighed more than 33-pounds. It It would have secured Jake Runyan and Chase Cominsky well over $20,000 for the championship win and for Team of the Year honors. ey overplayed their dirty hand.
Tournament Director Jason Fischer suspected something was amiss when the sh hit the scales. Fischer later told CNN that the sh looked like they should have weighed 4 pounds each, but the total weight indicated they were much heavier. He handled the sh and felt something hard inside one of them.
In a now-viral YouTube Video, Fischer guts the sh as the cheaters stand by silently. “We have weights in the sh!” Fischer announced, and that’s when the shouting started as other anglers hurled obscenities at Runyan and Cominsky.
All-told, there were 8 pounds worth of lead weights, llets from other walleye and a pair of pliers inside Team Crankin’ Hogs’ sh. ey were immediately disquali ed and banned from the tournament series. Both men were later indicted by an Ohio grand jury on charges of cheating and attempted grand the .
It will be interesting to see if the team’s other tournament wins are called into question. ey have won numerous events over the last couple of years, including the 2021 LEWT Championship.
For more information, go to lakeeriewalleyetrail.com.
You raise the ﬂags of the ﬁsh just caught to show you weren’t skunked.
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Berkeley County is a wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts, sports bu s, adventure seekers, and water lovers. From exemplary ﬁshing for striped bass, or a trophy largemouth bass, to our hiking trails and water activities, along with scenic outdoors where you can catch a glimpse of white tail deer and gators, Berkeley County has activities to ﬁt all visitors and families.
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functionality has long been the
After many years, mastering and honing the construction, design, and look. We bring you a durable rubber strap that will withstand everything the elements throw at it. Three precision sub-dials featuring a split second, minute, and second, as well as being water-resistant to 3ATM’s. This watch is the epitome of style and sporty design.
Your journey is at an end you can rest in the knowledge that this superb-looking timepiece will stand out on the wrist. High-quality materials and design will endure the ravages of time both in terms of remaining fashionable and stylish yet durable enough to be worn every day whether at work, rest, or play.
When we rst introduced this outstanding looking timepiece we sold out within days especially considering the very special lowcost o er of only $99 plus S&H. To avoid disappointment hurry and order today using the toll-free number below and quoting the promo code or by visiting our online store and entering the code before checkout.