Coastal Angler Magazine | March 2022 | Northeast Florida Edition

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LOCAL PHOTOS & FORECASTS VOLUME 27 • ISSUE 324

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CLEANING OUR OCEANS FOR A BETTER

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SUZUKI’S CLEAN OCEAN PROJECT If you’re going to claim to be “The Ultimate Outboard Motor,” you’d better do more than just build great engines. This is why, for the past 10 years, Suzuki has been committed to cleaning up the marine environment through voluntary “Clean Up The World” activities around the globe. Through the recently launched CLEAN OCEAN PROJECT, Suzuki Marine is committed to reducing the use of plastics in packaging materials to its consumers which has led to eliminating 2.3 tons of plastic waste annually. Suzuki is continually finding ways to reduce plastic waste while educating and informing the boating industry about this critical issue. This is only the beginning and Suzuki is pledging itself to the important cause of protecting our planet’s waters, coastal environments, and marine ecosystems for future generations to enjoy.

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S R E V I L E D H C A E PALM B

I

t was a good winter in the Atlantic off south Florida’s Palm Beach County. Capt. Austin Rowe said that bodes well for the spring season, when a convergence of several different bites typically makes for some of the best action of the year. “March, April and May are by far my favorite time of year around here,” he said in mid-February. “We’re already starting to see some blackfin tunas right now, which is kind of uncommon. It was a crazy-good winter for mahi, and it was a good for sailfish, as well. I’ve got my fingers crossed that the fish stick around for spring, and we can really put a hurting on them.” Rowe is a young captain who grew up fishing here, where the Gulf Stream sweeps warm nutrient-rich waters northward just a few miles offshore. He captains “Angler Management,” a 34’ Legend center console with twin 300s. With a crew of up to six clients, it is a perfect ride for making the short runs out of Singer Island’s Sailfish Marina quickly and comfortably.

By Nick Carter

“One of the really beautiful things about fishing around here is you don’t have to go very far to get to the fish,” he said. “A full tank of gas lasts a long time.” Most spring mornings start for clients with a run of just 3 or 4 miles out of the inlet with tanks pre-loaded with live threadfin herring and/or goggle eyes. Kite fishing is the preferred method in this part of the world, and that’s exactly what Rowe does when conditions are right. “I’m looking at water color, temperature and moving water. I’m also looking for bait,” Rowe said. “I’m a big fan of charts, and I study them religiously looking for eddies and things, but keeping your eyes open is the biggest thing when you’re out there. If you see live water, with birds diving, it’s probably time to pick up and go see what’s happening over there.” With kites—or drifting with flatlines when conditions call for them—you’re targeting anything that will eat live baits at the surface. That can produce some pretty exciting mixed bags.

“We see a lot of blackfin tunas. There should still be some sailfish around. The kingfish start to show up pretty thick this time of year, and there are also mahi,” Rowe said. “And don’t forget wahoo. Wahoo can get really good around the full moon in March.” If all else fails, or if his clients just want some more meat, the reef is just a couple miles from the kite-fishing grounds, and it’s usually no problem to load up a cooler full of snappers in short order. Big African Pompano also make regular appearances on the reef. Rowe said that by the end of the day, if his anglers aren’t too worn out, he’ll stop in the inlet and let them test their strength against some hard-pulling jack crevalle. You can pack a whole lot of fishing into a full day when you don’t have to run far to find fish. Check out Austin Rowe and Absolute Action Sportfishing Charters at absoluteactionfishing.com.

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MARCH 2022

NATIONAL 7


ventilation, you’ll conquer every battle, every day. GILLZ took its Pro Series UV Hoodie to the next level. They went one step further and provided anglers with a built-in mesh mask to go along with the 3-piece hood construction. Now, you’re able to keep your gear organized in one place for when that unexpected pull on the reel turns into a clash of strength. Brand new to this collection is the Pro Series Board Shorts. Made of recycled quickdry polyester, the 9-inch inseam gives you the freedom to move without worry, and the secure cellphone hip pocket keeps your devices safe from any damage. This time, Gillz introduces anglers to a new design feature: a no-sew fabrication. This means no chafing or irritation as you charge headfirst against the waves. The Contenders Series, delivers an amazing fit and feel for each and every angler. With the Contender Series Long-sleeve or Hoodie, you’re guaranteed to have 360-degree cooling and 170 GSM interlocking polyester that gives you perfect performance every single time. Moreover, you’re given an extended range of motion that allows every angler to move freely. When facing the unpredictable outdoors, GILLZ Gear and the new Spring 2022 who want Collection will give you the power to perform to face the at your best, no matter where you and Mother elements head-on. With our GILLZTEC proprietary fabric, Nature meet. With prices starting at $39.99, there’s 4-way stretch, and the ability to modify with something for every angler from the Atlantic to the shoulder shape, the Pro Series Long-Sleeves and Pacific and every waterway in between! Hoodies fit every angler to perfection. Plus, when Check out the Gillz Spring 2022 Collection you add on UPF 50+, ultra cooling, a single seam at gillz-gear.com. underarm mesh gusset, and complete 360-degree

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MONSTER BASS ON

JURASSIC LAKE

I

t piques my interest when “Jurassic” appears in a nickname. So is the case with Jurassic Lake, a 10,000-acre reservoir in Fellsmere, Florida, officially known has Headwaters Lake. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) had a goal to turn Headwaters into a worldclass trophy bass fishery. By all accounts, they succeeded. Just a little over 10 years ago, this bassfishing mecca was farmlands, cattle pastures and orange groves. The St. Johns River Water Management District purchased the lands from Sun-Ag to build a reservoir intended to provide a water supply for surrounding communities and flood control for the St. Johns River. The FWC saw an opportunity and invested $1.35 million in bass fishing “enhancements.” Prior to the reservoir’s flooding in 2015, the FWC constructed fish habitat in the form of winding channels, dredge holes, flats, islands and more, with the goal of providing the optimum combination of structure, depth and spawning habitat. The FWC planted 15,000 bald cypress and red maple trees on the numerous islands, and they stocked over a million bass, bream and crappie. If there is a downside to Headwaters, it’s that there is so much awesome, fishy-looking habitat that it can be a little over whelming trying to figure out where to fish. Since August 2020, when the Headwaters Lake boat ramp opened, 103 trophy bass (bass eight pounds or larger) have been registered into FWC’s Trophy Catch program from Headwaters. Who knows how many other giants were caught that were never entered into Trophy Catch? The biggest registered catch is a 13-pound, 1-ounce monster caught by kayak angler Mary Kelly on January 24, 2022. Those are pretty impressive results for a reservoir that is not even seven years old. Jim Fallon, the Godfather of Headwaters,

10 NATIONAL

MARCH 2022

By Paul MacInnis

has probably fished these waters more than anybody. “I love this lake because of the design of the habitats, the natural beauty and all the great fishing,” said Fallon. You’ll find Fallon on the reservoir three to five times a week. He’s been fishing there since 2018, before the boat ramp opened, when he’d drag a kayak into the reservoir from the bank. Fallon says a competent bass angler should catch 15 to 40 bass on an average day with a decent shot at a trophy fish every trip. Fallon has caught almost 50 bass over eight pounds from Headwaters, including 13 in the double digits, all on artificial baits. The address for the Headwaters Lake boat ramp is 16245 Fellsmere Grade Road, Fellsmere, Fla. Headwaters is an hour and a half drive from Orlando, making it a great diversion on a central Florida vacation. The nearby city of Palm Bay has convenient hotels, many with bass boat friendly parking lots. An internet search will bring up several Headwaters guides who can put you on a bass of a lifetime. For more information, visit MyFWC.com.

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APPROACHING THE

TRANSITION

A

By Capt. Michael Okruhlik

s I type this article in early February, the temperature is 38 and the forecasted lows across the Texas coast will dip into the mid to upper twenties for a few nights. This should place larger seatrout into full-blown winter mode, which is a great thing. It might not be so cold where you fish, but similar patterns should exist wherever there are big trout. Predicting movements and habits is always easier when the seasons are typical. This tells me where I should start in early March versus where I should fish later in the month. In early March, I look for shallow areas with irregular soft mud and grass bottoms. I particularly like these areas adjacent to deeper water, as the night temps will still cool flats to less favorable temps for large trout. The term “deeper” will be different for each area. So, as you plan your trip, you should focus on deeper pockets in relation to the overall area. Early in the month, I will stick to a larger profile lure

like a 5-inch paddletail. The trout will still be feeding on mature mullet, and the 5-inch swimbait is a great imitation. These lures are versatile, and they are ideal due to the finicky nature of trout during the transition from winter to spring. A slow roll can be deadly when trout move onto a flat to warm and feed. Depending on the conditions, a slow roll just under the surface that creates a slight ripple can trigger an aggressive strike. If the bait is down, I will slow roll the lure in the mid to lower water portion of the water column. The versatility of these lures also allows them to be jigged and twitched; however, I prefer to do that in a little deeper water. As the water temps rise later in the month, fish become more difficult to pattern. Although high temps warm the water faster, persistent cool fronts still chill the waters, and the wind shifts can wreak havoc on the pattern. It keeps fish and anglers confused. During this part of the season, I tend to move often, not devoting too much time to a location or pattern. Changing things up often until you find them is more effective than banging it out in a spot like I would do in early March. Lures to choose from are wide open here. Small and large soft plastics in the twitch or paddletail style can all be effective. Topwaters and slow sinking hard baits can also produce. Keep moving and changing lure styles, sizes, colors and action until you find the bite. Don’t forget to take a kid fishing. You will be surprised what they can teach you when they put the electronics down. Capt. Michael Okruhlik is the inventor of Knockin Tail Lures, Controlled Descent Lures, and the owner of www.MyCoastOutdoors.com.

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GULF COUNCIL MULLING LIMIT CUTS for Kings, AJs and Gags

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he Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council met virtually in January to make decisions that will affect Gulf anglers. The council is the regional authority charged with managing fisheries in federal waters of the Gulf. Here’s a brief overview of what was decided.

R

Vermilion Snapper After hearing a summary of public comments and recommendations from its Reef Fish Advisory Panel, the Gulf Council took final action to South Atlantic Council is expected to take final action in March meeting. increase the vermilion snapper overfishing limit, acceptable biological The Gulf Council is expected to take final action in April. catch, and annual catch limit. The most recent stock assessment determined Greater Amberjack the stock is not overfished nor experiencing overfishing. This change will The most recent assessment shows that greater amberjack is both increase the total annual catch limit, but it will not change the daily catch overfished and experiencing overfishing, and that recent average recruitment limit of 10 fish. is lower than it has ever been. The Council’s Scientific and Statistical King Mackerel Committee recommended new overfishing limit and acceptable biological A recent update stock assessment for king mackerel determined that catch recommendations for greater amberjack. These recommendations king mackerel is not overfished or experiencing overfishing. However, the require a significant decrease in harvest. spawning stock biomass was found to be below the biomass necessary to Gag Grouper achieve maximum sustainable yield. The most recent gag grouper stock assessment determined that the stock The Gulf Council must work with the South Atlantic Council on actions for this highly migratory fish, and both are still considering options. They is overfished and experiencing overfishing. Additionally, the assessment have both removed alternatives that would reduce the recreational and identified there is a low proportion of males in the gag grouper population commercial minimum size limit for Atlantic king mackerel and will retain (less than 2%), which impacts the stock’s ability to reproduce. The Council is obligated to end overfishing and develop a rebuilding plan the 24-inch minimum size limit. Also, they both opted to allow for the retention of cut-off/damaged Atlantic migratory group king mackerel caught for gag grouper, and initiated the development of a plan amendment to revise under the recreational bag limit that comply with minimum size limits. The catch limits, accountability measures, and other management measures. • STEEL BUILDING • SALE • PRE-ENGINEERED BUILDINGS • SAVE • STEEL BUILDING • SALE • CARPORTS • SAVE • CALL NOW • SPECIALS • SALE • STEEL BUILDING • SALE •

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Catch High Season For Marlin in the Bahamas

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f a big blue marlin is on your bucket list, there’s no better time to visit The Bahamas than over the next few months, when high season for billfish brings giant pelagics to the deep blue waters off the islands. Bahamian waters are the birthplace of big-game sportfishing. Back in the 1930s, the world was introduced to adventure like no other when anglers like Ernest Hemingway and Michael Lerner did battle with giant marlin and big bluefin tuna off Bimini. The fishing is still ridiculously good. Marlin season in the Bahamas begins in March or April, when the white marlin arrive, and by June or July things get into full swing when big blue marlin show up. They come in numbers to feed off the islands, and PHOTO COURTESY OF The Out Islands Bahamas throughout summer it is not unusual to have days with multiple bites on the same trip. In recent years, far-flung destinations like Africa and Australia might have come to the forefront as the best places to tie into granders (blue marlin that weigh in excess of 1,000 pounds). Yet, The Bahamas remain one of, if not the best place, in the world to actually catch blue marlin. It’s worth noting that the Out Islands of The Bahamas are a quick and easy trip for anglers in the eastern U.S. White and blue marlin are the marquee species when trolling off The Bahamas, and there’s also a good chance other highly sought after gamefish will crash into the spread. When the outrigger snaps, you might be reeling in wahoo, tuna or mahi for dinner. Check out all the action the Out Islands of The Bahamas have to offer at www.myoutislands.com.

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Largemouth Bass: Florida’s Gift to the World

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lorida is the land of sunshine and hurricanes. If you stopped random people on the street in any other location in the world and asked them what first comes to mind about Florida, most would offer something about places like Daytona Beach, Disney World or the beaches of Miami. Florida is also the second largest producer of beef in the U.S., and of course Florida oranges and Indian River grapefruit. If that person you stopped fishes, they would likely talk about the Florida Keys, tarpon, or any of the other sought-after saltwater fish. But, for the freshwater angler, Lake Okeechobee largemouth bass are what dreams are made of. “Lake O” needs no introduction for those familiar with the bass fishing world. Black bass in Florida have a long and storied history. Bass anglers across the country can thank Florida and those early fishery managers who had the foresight to protect largemouth bass. The early years of the 20th century saw bass population depleted due to their importance as a food source and no regulations. As a result, the 1926 Black Bass Act was passed to restrict interstate commerce of bass and allowed states to designate them as a gamefish. These restrictions and future

By Rex Hannon

regulations limited commercial harvest and sale and increased their value as a sport fish. By mid-century, large reservoirs across the U.S. were built to accommodate the growing need for electric power. These were prime locations for bass stocking and management programs. Today, largemouth bass have been successfully exported worldwide. The economic impact is impressive; bass fishing is a $60 billion industry. Today’s Florida offers the best bass fishing on the planet. Lake Okeechobee is considered the pinnacle here, but trophy fish can be found in the countless lakes, ponds and canals that are readily available to any angler almost everywhere in the state. There is no need to travel to exotic locations or plan a vacation around fishing for monster largemouths. With a little research and some scouting, you can find them in your hometown, and often in your own neighborhood. Florida largemouth bass are a hardy species, and you can target them in a wide range of habitat and water qualities. I have caught largemouths and snook in the same canals and ponds. This speaks to the adaptability of both species. There has never been a better time to be an angler. Anglers today have access to many species

that in the past would have required a trip to far away and exotic locations. Native Florida bass have not only become a sought-after species for sport, they are an economic generator for future generations. There are anglers worldwide who dream of fishing Florida for a trophy bass of a lifetime. Whether you’re an avid angler or just someone who wets a line when time permits, today’s Florida offers something for everyone.

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JOSFC - March News Lee Bowman

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aiting out some of these nasty winter weather days is rough for us that want to get offshore right now. Luckily warmer weather and hopefully less wind will be coming soon. February had us laid up almost every weekend. Even though you may not be able to get out this is a great time to make sure your boat and gear are in good condition and ready to go when the seas are laid down. I have seen a few people over the last couple of months get towed in from offshore due to some maintenance issues. As far as how fishing is going for a lot of February it didn’t. We did have some good days but not enough to keep us happy. I’m still seeing some wahoo coming in on the days that we are able to get out. I also know of one marlin that was caught out of Mayport. Right now many of our club members as well as many that fish our area are focusing on Sheepshead. If you decide to hit some of the offshore spots don’t be afraid to move

around a little or even get slightly off the wreck. I prefer to fish a Carolina rig with an egg sinker or a dropper rig. Fiddler crabs were around but have disappeared over the last month. Shrimp, sand fleas (if you can find them) and crab knuckles can still catch plenty of fish though. Outside of the usual bottom species, there has been some hefty cobia pulled off some of the offshore wrecks and ledges. We feed you at our meetings so don’t miss it. Clubhouse doors open at about 6 pm and dinner gets started at 7 pm. 4870 Ocean St Jacksonville, FL 32233 March Club Tournament- NonLive Tournament March 3rd- Club Meeting Bucket Stuffing March 4th- El Cheapo Captains Meeting March 5th- The JOSFC El Cheapo Sheepshead Tournament March 17- Club Meeting

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ACGFA - March By Will Niemann

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he ACGFA Board of of Directors held an open forum at our February meeting to present goals for the year and gather insights and suggestions from Club members with regard to upcoming speakers and subjects, raffle prizes, etc. Our January Wahoo tournament was won by Team “ONETIME”. with a 61.10lb fish. Congratulations to Captain Joe Shurgart and crew. Our February inclub tournament is for Redfish, Trout and Flounder. Winner announced next issue. Congratulations to our February Inshore Angler of the Month Cody Burgdorf and Offshore Angler of the Month Deedo Nelson. Congratulations also go out to Club member Captain Jordan Johnson for winning the 2021 Gamefish Angler of the Year of the Northeast Florida Marlin Association. Mark your calendars for our Annual Free Kids Fishing Clinic on March 19th 2022. The public is welcome to attend our Ancient city game fish association club monthly meetings at St Augustine Shrine Club, 250 Brained Dr St Augustine, Fl on the third Tuesday of each month. Social starts at 6 pm with

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dinner and the general meeting at 7 pm.We also have kids club for your little ones while we conduct the meeting so bring the whole family. We are looking for new members and are here to help our members learn more about fishing. We will be having quest speakers to teach new fishing techniques and strategies on occasions so check out our website and stay tuned for updates on guest speakers and club tournaments. www.acgfa.com


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Fishing Report & Forecast Nassau Sound By Capt. Tony Bozzella

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arch is a transitional month where water starts to heat up with warmer weather. Often towards the end of the month, I’ve seen Jack Crevalle, Spanish Mackerel, & other species start to show up in our North Florida. Also a good time to try for a gator trout. There are options, fishing around area inlets. I like to start using diving

lipped plugs & top waters around structure & grass line points. Clean rising or start or the fall has been good to my clients over the years. Moving water & bait in these area can produce. I like to fish a chosen area covering the targeted zone with good casts that land at the back of target so you work your lure through the whole spot. Many anglers land the lure in the target, often spooking fish, in addition, it takes a couple feet for a lipped diving plug to reach its desired depth. If working a top water lure cast out when the lure hits the water, let it sit a couple seconds, if conditions allow. We’ve had violet strikes in the past. The backcountry will still be holding redfish. I have found redfish still schooling this month, especially if it stays colder. Jig & shrimp or mud minnow combos work well. Use the lightest TBS Jig you, I use 1/4 oz mostly. Fishing the shallows around oysters & outgoing tide proves best. Don’t work the bait, use a method called dead sticking. You cast to your target & just stay “ in-tune” with the bait. If the bait rolled with the tide, keep up with slack etc. Some Backcountry shallows will still have clean water, with low wind, & high sun, sight fishing can still have a place. Usually, past years as the bait returns & takes up residence, our waters start to murk up. March can be a fun month!! Get out & enjoy the great outdoors!!

Capt. Tony Bozzella / TBS JIGS www.tonybozzella.com 904 651 0182 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

MARCH 2022

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 7


Fishing Report & Forecast Mayport By Capt. Kirk Waltz

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he weather continues to be a major factor in the fishing this month. Sharp temperature fluctuations to the cold side have proven to slow things down a bit inshore. The most effective days to fish with the optimum results are the warm weather window days. Try to fish late morning into early afternoon when the sun is at its warmest. Reds, trout, black drum, and sheepshead will be the predominate species. The high outgoing to dead low tides seem to be the best. The jetties will hold trout on the high outgoing and the reds will stage on the dead low. Fish slowly and methodically using live shrimp, fiddlers, cut blue crab, and mud minnows for best results. A typical 1/4oz jig on a light spin rod is effective, the old standard float rig works, and one of my favorite old reliable rigs, the egg sinker/leader combo. Try to remember the water is cold and so are the fish. The bite will be subtle and light. This doesn’t mean it’s a small fish so be mindful when you go to set the hook.

Be methodical and work both the inside and outside of the jetties. The ringtail porgies and sheepshead should really fire off this month. Both species will eagerly eat a shrimp or fiddler and are dynamite fighters on light tackle. The tips of the rocks usually are my favorite areas to search first. The Mayport Basin area from White Shell rocks to the Navy base is a great area to catch good sized trout this time of the year. High clean water is best right as the river begins to flow out. Live shrimp on a float rig or a 1/4oz jig with a white or new penny 3in swimming Gulp bait seem to be my go to bait. Also, look for the big black drum to push into the rocks in large numbers. A quarter piece of blue crab soaked at the ends of the jetties in 38-42ft of water to be most effective. Remember these are the breeding stock so let the big ones go. The local party grounds right off the beach will hold good numbers of sea bass, ringtails, some triggers, and lots of red snapper. Cut squid, cigars, live shrimp, and even mud minnows are great baits to use. I fished offshore a few times last month and had a blast catching what I could eat and keep releasing the rest back. Please be sure to check the regs for what you can and cannot keep. Remember you can’t catch them from the couch. To book a charter for 3 or 50ppl Capt. Kirk can be reached by calling 904.241.7560 or 904.626.1128 or go to www.Enterprisefishingcharters. com .Capt. Kirk can be heard each and every Saturday morning on the Outdoors Show on 1010am or 92.5fmfrom 7am to 10am.

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Wahoo steaks with ginger and Lime Kacie Olsen Ingredients 1 tsp sesame oil 80 ml olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced 4 cm piece ginger, minced Juice 2 limes 1 tbsp honey Pinch of salt 4 120g wahoo or cod cutlets (vertically cut fish with bone in centre) ½ bunch spring onions, very finely sliced 2 sprigs coriander, stems and leaves finely chopped Cooking: 1. Add the oils, garlic and ginger to a small saucepan and cook over a very low heat for 3 minutes (the aim is to just warm the oil up to blood temperature). Remove from the heat. Add the lime juice and honey and a pinch of salt. 2. Heat a grill pan over a high heat (you could also cook the fish on a barbecue). 3. Drizzle a little of the flavoured oil over the fish, coating both sides, and season with salt and pepper. Sear the fish for 2 minutes on one side and then turn over and sear for a further two minutes. Remove fish and place on a platter. Add the spring onions and coriander to the oil and then drizzle over the fish

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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Effective Turkey Hunting Tactics By Danny Patrick

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ow is the time to pull out your box calls and get your slate calls sanded and ready! Spring Turkey season is upon us, and the action is heating up! And don’t forget those mouth calls! Oh yeah! You might want to practice your techniques a bit also. I practice all the calls and owl calls too. I love an early spring morning in the woods. Just at first light when you hear the woods began to wake up. Birds and squirrels become active, and the owls start calling. That’s when you must be alert and listen carefully because the Gobblers will be gobbling when they hear a hoot owl call. Typically, I will use an owl call at first light to locate a roosting Tom if I’m in the woods by myself. Hopefully, when I do hear a bearded Tom gobble in a nearby tree, I’m close enough to just take up a strategic position, usually sitting with my back to a large tree with a little cover around me for concealment. I will also grab a fallen tree limb or two and put in front of me to enhance my stealth position. There are several tactics that work well in certain conditions. Double-teaming is one of my favorite ways to lure in a Tom. The hunter out front never calls and is the most likely to get the best shot but the caller, who is the farthest away from the Tom, should be careful and keep his eyes peeled because some Toms are cagey and have been known to circle in behind the caller, coming in quietly. Sometimes Toms will answer the calls but will not come all the way in to shooting range. Success can still be had though on a wary “hung-up” Tom, but you must resist the urge to move closer to the Tom. It’s never a sure thing but moving away from the Tom about 50 yards and calling again can be just the key in making the Tom think his girlfriend is leaving the area which creates a sense of urgency and immediate action of pursuit. Then, move again another 50 yards if the Tom still will not come closer to you. It’s worked successfully several times for me. The key is having no real barriers between you and the Tom, like a creek or a thicket. Toms sometimes have trouble being enticed to cross a creek or a thicket or even a road. Turkeys have such keen eyesight and have impacted the success of many hunters before even knowing they are close. That’s why I like using a portable blind when possible. Being in a blind hides your movement which is very important. I have used a lightweight doghouse blind that is simple to set up and turkeys typically do not see you even if they are very close. But there are down sides to using a blind. You need a chair, backpack, and gun. This will be an additional load for you to carry when

walking through the woods. If you already know where the gobblers like to roast and feed in the mornings or you have located an area where hens feed in the morning, go set a blind up the day before your hunt so 10 NORTHEAST FLORIDA

MARCH 2022

you can just go to your spot just before first light the morning you are hunting. If there is no action after about 30 to 40 minutes of daylight, you can just go to the run and gun method. Many times, I hear a gobbler at daybreak but he did not come my way. I can just walk along the edge of a creek bottom or angle parallel towards the Tom and stop every 100 yards or so and hit my call again to see if I get a response. I will typically find a place to sit down and try to call him to me. If nothing happens in 30 minutes, I’ll just keep moving and calling until I hear a Tom answer. Then set up and start trying to seduce him to head my way. Some hunters are very good on certain calls and techniques. I’m not that good with a mouth call but can usually get it done with a slate call. Trouble happens for me when a Tom gets too close, so its better to have a mouth call ready because you will have to move your hands to work a slate or box call. There is no doubt that a weary Tom will bust you easily when he sees the least bit of movement. Most hunters call too much and to loud. If I have a hot bird that is gobbling his head off, I will sometimes call a little more but very lightly. Yelping some, but I like to “put and purr” when a Tom is closing in. More aggressive calling can trigger success when a Tom hangs up and won’t come in. Mimicking a “hen to hen” dispute calling sequence can work sometimes on a wary Tom. Make your calls sound like two different hens having a dispute over feeding area. Knowing when to get more aggressive is key. When a Tom is in the area but is not coming in, sometimes you must change it up by being more aggressive. Based on my experience, sometimes a Tom will appear without gobbling at all. It’s not as fun listening to a fired-up Tom gobbling along but on occasions the Tom will just appear. I try to time my calls by yelping about every 15 minutes. If you are not hearing any gobbles, just be sure to remember “putting and purring” are the hens happy calls as they are usually feeding and interacting with other hens. Having multiple hens in the area is a very good thing. Decoys can be good to have around as well. I take at least one hen decoy with me most of my Turkey hunts. Simply use a plastic fold-up hen that can be unfolded and set up in just seconds works surprisingly well. I like the fact that when a Tom comes into range, he is focused on the decoy instead of me. Bottom line is to get out there and enjoy the great outdoors and the cool spring mornings! What better way to satisfy your “spring fever” than to have some fun and excitement chasing Toms! If you are lucky enough to work a gobbling Tom and he will not come into range, do something different. Change it up! Modify your calling strategy, change the setup, move away, move around, and reposition! Make a bold move, because often, you’ve got nothing to lose. Be safe and enjoy!.

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

I Identify as Spring One of the reasons I live in Florida is, I hate cold. Very ready for winter to be over and March to usher in milder temperatures with less cold fronts. Spring also brings in really great Bluewater fishing.

In addition to Wahoo and Blackfin Tuna, I expect to see some early season Mahi. Best start is on the shelf edge for Tuna and Wahoo that love to hold on structure. Mid-morning I start looking to the east anticipating an edge that, hopefully, will be holding Mahi / Dorado / Dolphin - whatever name you prefer! These tasty, hard fighting fish are the highlight of spring fishing. Fortunately, for fisherman, this species is not very picky. If you find them, they will eat - Ballyhoo rigged naked or with a same skirt on monofilament will increase your hookups. We always pull something deep in the water column rigged on wire for any Wahoo that might still be around. A staple of the charter fleet is an Islander Hawaiian Eye in front of medium ballyhoo. If bottom fishing is your thing, there are plenty of species that are open and available. Vermillion Snapper, Gray Triggerfish, Mutton Snapper, and many other species will all be willing and ready to bite. It’s a great time to go fishing. Not hot. Not cold. Just right. Here’s to an early spring and warmer days.

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

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MARCH 2022

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 11


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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 12 NORTHEAST FLORIDA

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

MARCH 2022

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MARCH 2022

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 13


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

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e’re coming up on some of the best fishing of the year! The weather is just about as good as it gets as well over the next couple of months. With air temps averaging in the 70’s and water temps on the rise you can be sure of one thing in Northeast Florida… the fishing is going off! Flats will still have clear water (If it stays cool enough), finger mullet will be invading the ICW, and just about all our inshore game fish will be hungry and waiting to give you the thrill of your life. Redfish will continue to school on the flats and in the creeks during the spring. If the water doesn’t warm up too quickly, we can expect to have clear, sight-fishable conditions, which is my favorite way to catch them! A calm sunny day in March is every Northeast Florida angler’s dream come true. These types of conditions make for great sight-fishing opportunities and will also have the reds up on the flats looking for a meal. My favorite sight-fishing setup for the reds is the Saltwater Assassin Elite Shiner paddle tail rigged on either a ¼ or 1/8-ounce jighead or weedless hook. It seems to have the right amount of action to get the redfish’s attention and it’s small enough that it doesn’t make a big splash when it hits the water. One thing I’m constantly reminding my clients to do when we see a laid-up redfish (school or single) is cast well past the fish and then reel the lure to him. By doing this you’ll have less chance of spooking him and have a second or two to decide which

side of the fish you want your lure to swim by. As the water starts to get murky as it warms up, I will switch up my lure to something a little bigger/noisier like the “Lil Boss” paddle tail from Saltwater Assassin or a top-water plug if we’re fishing lower-light conditions. Speaking of top-water plugs... the trout bite will also be heating up over the next couple of months. March and April have always been the months where we catch the biggest trout of the year on my boat. Topwater and suspending plugs will be the go-to lures for big trout. A live finger mullet is also hard to beat. Look for deep drops adjacent to flats and creeks on a dropping tide. These areas will have a ton of baitfish funneling off them and the trout will stage up waiting to chow down. If the plugs aren’t working for you a live shrimp under a cork or mud minnow pegged to a jighead can work wonders for finicky trout. Can’t get off work earlier enough to get on the water? Well, the night fishing for trout around the docks can be all time during the spring. Just look for the brightest dock light and make sure the water is moving and you’re sure to find some hungry fish. Cobia is another fish that comes to mind as things start to warm up a bit. The last couple of years were lackluster but hopefully this year we’ll see more manta rays and more fish. When the water temp gets in the upper 60’s that’s a good time to start thinking about getting off the beach to take a look. I know everybody loves to eat cobia but maybe consider letting a few of those bigguns go so the population can come back... I think everybody can agree that we miss the great cobia fishing we had not too long ago.. Capt. Tommy Derringer 904-377-3734 • www.InshoreAdventures.net

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MARCH 2022

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

T

he full moon in March arrives on March 16th giving area fishermen a wide variety of angling opportunities. Largemouth bass will be still spawning in some of the deeper freshwater rivers including the St. Mary’s and upper reaches of the Nassau River. Look for shallow sloughs in the river to hold the best trophy bass action while casting surface plugs and dark colored plastic worms. Lofton Creek is a narrow deep freshwater tidal creek that annual gives up good numbers of largemouth bass weighing to ten pounds during the month of March. An excellent boat ramp located at SR-200 offers quick access to the upper reaches of Lofton Creek and some of the best bass fishing.

any indication of a drum bite avoids jerking the drum bait away from the feeding drum. Once a drum has picked up the crab, slowly reel in the slack fishing line, feel if the drum is still there and set the hook hard and hang on. Beach fishing produces good catches of whiting during the first of the out-going tide while fishing with ultra-fresh shrimp rigged to a double hook bottom fishing rig. Beach fishermen can also expect to catch excellent eating pompano while fishing with small pieces of blue crab, or fresh sand fleas. Consistently one of the better areas to surf fish from includes the beach just adjacent to the St. Mary’s south jetty rocks, just off from

Saltwater fishermen will be targeting black drum weighing to 100-pounds during the full moon in March as well. Black drum begin their annual spawn when water temperatures heat up from 6063 degrees. Some of the best black drum fishing action often comes during a flooding tide late in the afternoon and evening when water temperatures are warmest. . Add to the mix if there is an in-coming tide and a full, or new moon at sunset, all of these factors add up to ideal black drum fishing conditions. Look for excellent black drum fishing this spring to come from Nassau Sound, just off from “Main Beach” and St. Mary’s inlets. Inlet drum typically stage at the very tip of jetty rocks where there is a deep slough and sandbar. Spawning drum will also migrate up into the inlets where deep holes offer excellent drum fishing action during the flooding tide as well. Drum fishing is also very productive along the beaches of Northeast Florida where there is a slight depression and a hard shell bottom, particularly during an in-coming tide and at sundown. Blue crabs continue to be the best black drum bait when the hard shell is removed and the crab is cut in half. Barb the piece of crab with a 7/0 kahle hook right through the body and leg, then add a peeled fresh shrimp, or clam. Most drum fishermen prefer fifty-pound tackle with a Five-foot section of 100-pound shock leader. A 6-8 ounce egg sinker is threaded onto the fishing line to hold the drum baits dead on the bottom. Placing the drum rod in the rod holder and watching the rod tip for

“Main Beach” and the very southern portion of Amelia Island. Offshore fishermen will be looking for excellent eating and fighting cobia at FB, FA and HH fish havens. Drifting over a wreck or lime rock ledge while free lining live menhaden, mullet or grunts is key. If this doesn’t work, anchor just up current of the structure and fish with live baits right on the bottom. Big game trolling at Amelia Island’s Continental Shelf produces wahoo, dolphin and the occasional sailfish, or blue marlin during the month of March. Best fishing tactic is to speed troll from 14 – 16 knots with high speed plastics until you find an area that is producing striking fish. Giant sea trout will taking a 52-M Mirr-o-lure fished close to large concentrations of oyster beds, or a the deep sides of boat docks during the first of the falling tide. Finally flounder fishing is excellent at the footsteps of historic Fort Clinch during all of the falling tide. Fish right on the bottom and in between the jetty rocks with live fingerling mullet.

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MARCH 2022

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 15


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

W

hat a great month to hit the water! With seasonally clean water, typical for this time of year, combined with temperatures on the rise, fishing should be at its best this month for a variety of species. Redfish will still be schooled up to start the month off until the air starts to warm up later in March. During midday low tide, fish with

soft plastics or scented bait in skinny water and that should get you hooked up. Another option is to use live shrimp or mullet making long casts around oyster bars and grass lines, which should produce some hungry redfish as the water warms up this month. Also look for the Trout and Black Drum bite to pick up with the rising temperatures. Deep holes and shell bars off the ICW around the Matanzas area will be where to find these species. A #3 circle hook with a split shot or a 1/8 ounce jig head will work well for targeting these fish. Shrimp or a live mullet will be the bait of choice for these guys as well. Bluefish will start showing up around the Matanzas inlet area the last hour of an outgoing tide which will group these fish up and make for some fun fishing. Live bait, such as, live mullet, or artificial baits like a paddle tail are sure to drive the Bluefish crazy. Make sure to use some wire for these fish and watch out for those teeth!.

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FLAGLER SPORTFISHING CLUB By Chris Christian

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he Flagler Sportfishing Club will have its monthly meeting on March 1st at the VFW in Palm Coast. On March 5th, we will be having our New Members Clinic at the VFW. This is a day of introduction of various types of Fishing. New and Old members are welcome to attend. The next Club Tournament is the Count the Spots (Redfish) Tournament on March 26th. The tournament weigh-in will be at Herschel King Park. Guests are always welcome to fish with a member and enjoy the fun. Members are encouraged to bring a friend to join the club to the meeting. Upcoming Events: Monthly Club Meeting – 1st Tuesday of every month at the VFW, Palm Coast Redfish Rodeo Fishing Classic – Scheduled for April 21-23rd https://flaglersportfishing.com/ tournament-home/

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MARCH 2022

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 17


Shake-Off the Winter Fishing Blues and Experience March Magic for Big Trout and Redfish!

by Frank Greg arly spring in Northeast Florida can make for some long and challenging inshore saltwater fishing days. The average temperature (including morning water temps) can both be in the 50’s. I have found over many years of searching for the right early spring artificial bait selection, that it might just be tucked away in the bottom of your old dusty tackle box. (You know the ones, those old tried and true lures such as a red and white sinking Mirrolure or a lipped diving bait that will suspend in 2 to 5 feet of water.) On one of those early March days, on an outgoing tide, Richard Mumford and I decided to fish the oyster bars in several creeks close to east and west Chicopit Bay. The oyster bars we looked for were those with deep water drops and shallow water banks that had been warmed by a nice early morning sun. We tied on our favorite lures using a small loop knot to 20# fluorocarbon leaders, fishing with T Allen 7’ medium light rods and Daiwa Ballistic 2000 reels, spooled with 10# braid. On one of my first casts with a sinking Mirrolure, very close to one of those deep-water bars, a nice 24 inch Redfish hammered the lure and several casts later a 19- inch Speckled Trout came to the landing net! The fish were cold and hungry, and our theory was right on; those fish were hanging as close as they could to get the warmth from the oysters and maybe catch a baitfish for breakfast. We began moving from one oyster bar to another, throwing sinking baits such as the TTR26 Mirrolure, the Catch 2000 Mirrolure (in chartreuse) and the Rapala XRCDO5 X Rap (suspending baits) in gold. Using bright color lures that day was the secret to our success. After a few hours of relocating and plenty of action, we had come to

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the end of our slowmoving outgoing tide. In just three hours of fishing, we caught and released four Trout and five Redfish to 32 inches. The crowning jewel of the day came as we were making our way back to the dock! Spoken like the true fisherman he is, Richard said; “lets me make one last cast!” As fate would have it, his cast was perfect, and as soon as the bait sank to the bottom, he twitched it slightly, at that moment his line went tight and the fight was on! Several minutes later, a nice 32’’ Redfish came alongside the boat as we carefully and gently prepared to release the feisty Redfish to fight another day. Remember, just because March comes in like a lion, don’t let that discourage you! Shake off those winter blues and dig into the corners of that old tackle box, tie on that trusty (and sometimes rusty) sinking bait and cast it at your favorite oyster bar! Simply give it a twitch and you might be pleasantly surprised how quickly you turned your winter fishing blues into early spring MARCH MAGIC!

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Nassau Sport Fishing Association

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he Nassau Sport Fishing Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to develop and promote saltwater fishing in the Nassau County area while adhering to state, federal and local regulations, to encourage compliance with rules of water safety by club members and the general public, and to promote youth related community activities. Preparations are already underway for our 2 main 2022 fundraising events. NSFA will be participating in the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival on 6-8 MAy. Find our food tent on the waterfront as we raise funds to support our local school youth scholarships. Our SKA sanctioned and 39th Annual Kingfish Tournament and Fishing Rodeo has been approved by the City of Fernandina Beach as one of only 5 city sponsored events in 2022. The tournament will be held on Saturday 6-August. . If you or your company are interested in becoming a sponsor for this event, please contact us at Info@nsfafish.

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net. Our early bird registration page will be up shortly if you plan to fish this event with us. Our Fish of the Season contest is already underway with this Jan/ Feb season targeting Sheepshead, Trout, and Whiting. As of this writing, Trout and Whiting have been weighed but no sheepshead have made it to our weigh stations. Watch this space next month, when we award the winter season winners. With waters beginning to warm, our Mar/Apr season targets Black Drum, Pompano, and Whiting. We also have an annual prize for the angler who weighs the most variety of our targetted species this year. Now, they don’t all have to be the largest to qualify for a prize. So weigh them in. NSFA meets 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month at Kraft Athletic Club on Amelia Island. Join us on 24-March for our monthly social gathering. If interested in joining, please visit our website at NSFAFISH.NET or stop by one of our meetings. -See you on the water!

MARCH 2022

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 21


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arch is the month for the biggest Pompano of the year. The only other month that rivals it is November. Why? They tolerate the cold water better. In March they are headed north. They have wintered in south Florida all the way down to West Palm Beach. Those of us that love to chase them in January and February usually fish between Melbourne and Jupiter. However, now we are gladly await their return. When our surf temperature reaches 63 degrees and stays there for a few days its game on! They will first show up in Flagler Beach and then onto Crescent 22 NORTHEAST FLORIDA

MARCH 2022

Beach. That is where I caught my first 6lb Pomp! I call these first to arrive the scouts. These scouts are always bigger fish and rarely need to be measured to see if they are 11 inches to the fork. In these chilly waters live sand fleas are hard to come by. Therefore my go to baits are live clams and Blue Crab knuckles. Both of these are proven baits when it comes to matching the hatch. They are Donax clams, Calico or Spotted crabs and sand fleas. These baits are equally effective on Whiting, Redfish, and Black Drum. The big Whiting have been on fire in February since they tolerate water temperature much colder than Pompano can. The best catches have been coming from Marineland south to Ormond Beach. Fresh dead shrimp have been producing whiting up to 20” and two pounds! Double dropper Pompano rigs and fish finder/sinker slider rigs have both proven effective. Small hooks and small pieces of shrimp will fill your cooler quicker. These warmer spring days will not last forever so get out and enjoy some sand between your toes..

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

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NEFMA - March

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arch can be a challenging month for offshore anglers in Northeast Florida, it’s often cold and usually windy. But the fish don’t care about wind and the gulfstream currents keep them warm, so they are probably out there, just waiting for you. Small changes in the currents and eddies could bring the sailfish, abundant in South Florida, right up to our shores. Your challenge is to get out there and find them. Many of our members have already found fish and started their run for the Boat of the Year championship where trophies and bragging rights demonstrate their skills and efforts. We’ve changed the points system this year to level the field by allowing only 12 fishing days to count towards the competition so it’s not too late to register, there are at least 12 good fishing days available between today and the end of the year. In addition to the Boat of the Year the competition for Tournament Series Champion is open with the biggest tournament coming up in May. We’ve joined the

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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. -Paul Raudenbush, President Northeast Florida Marlin Association

MARCH 2022

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 23


TIDE CHART - March

Mayport Degaussing Structure 30.3967° N, 81.3950° W Date Day Time Hgt 01 Tue 12:38 AM -0.94 L 02 Wed 01:30 AM -1.13 L 03 Thu 02:18 AM -1.15 L 04 Fri 03:05 AM -1.01 L 05 Sat 03:50 AM -0.73 L 06 Sun 04:37 AM -0.36 L 07 Mon 05:25 AM 0.04 L 08 Tue 06:15 AM 0.42 L 09 Wed 12:36 AM 4.48 H 10 Thu 01:28 AM 4.29 H 11 Fri 02:28 AM 4.15 H 12 Sat 03:33 AM 4.14 H 13 Sun 05:34 AM 4.24 H 14 Mon 12:04 AM 0.61 L 15 Tue 12:53 AM 0.30 L 16 Wed 01:38 AM -0.02 L 17 Thu 02:19 AM -0.31 L 18 Fri 03:00 AM -0.52 L 19 Sat 03:41 AM -0.63 L 20 Sun 04:24 AM -0.63 L 21 Mon 05:10 AM -0.53 L 22 Tue 06:01 AM -0.35 L 23 Wed 12:36 AM 5.38 H 24 Thu 01:32 AM 5.24 H 25 Fri 02:36 AM 5.07 H 26 Sat 03:46 AM 4.97 H 27 Sun 04:58 AM 4.97 H 28 Mon 06:03 AM 5.04 H 29 Tue 12:31 AM -0.27 L 30 Wed 01:26 AM -0.50 L 31 Thu 02:16 AM -0.66 L

Time 07:09 07:57 08:43 09:26 10:09 10:51 11:34 12:19 07:08 08:03 09:01 09:58 11:51 06:27 07:13 07:55 08:36 09:16 09:57 10:40 11:25 12:13 06:57 07:59 09:04 10:09 11:12 12:10 06:59 07:50 08:36

AM AM AM AM AM AM AM PM AM AM AM AM AM AM AM AM AM AM AM AM AM PM AM AM AM AM AM PM AM AM AM

Hgt 5.35 H 5.35 H 5.23 H 5.02 H 4.74 H 4.44 H 4.15 H 3.90 H 0.74 L 0.96 L 1.06 L 1.03 L 0.86 L 4.43 H 4.64 H 4.82 H 4.95 H 5.00 H 4.99 H 4.91 H 4.78 H 4.62 H -0.13 L 0.07 L 0.20 L 0.22 L 0.12 L -0.07 L 5.12 H 5.14 H 5.07 H

Time 01:14 01:59 02:41 03:23 04:04 04:46 05:30 06:19 01:09 02:05 03:09 04:12 06:06 12:40 01:22 02:01 02:38 03:14 03:51 04:31 05:15 06:04 01:06 02:04 03:10 04:20 05:28 06:28 01:02 01:49 02:32

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 PM -0.80 L PM -0.95 L PM -0.96 L PM -0.84 L PM -0.60 L PM -0.27 L PM 0.10 L PM 0.46 L PM 3.71 H PM 3.58 H PM 3.55 H PM 3.63 H PM 3.80 H PM 0.60 L PM 0.27 L PM -0.06 L PM -0.34 L PM -0.54 L PM -0.62 L PM -0.59 L PM -0.45 L PM -0.24 L PM 4.45 H PM 4.29 H PM 4.20 H PM 4.22 H PM 4.39 H PM 4.64 H PM -0.31 L PM -0.52 L PM -0.65 L

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

Time 07:26 08:13 08:58 09:42 10:24 11:07 11:50

Hgt PM 4.83 PM 5.00 PM 5.10 PM 5.11 PM 5.03 PM 4.89 PM 4.70

H H H H H H H

07:13 08:11 09:11 10:09

PM PM PM PM

0.75 0.93 0.96 0.85

L L L L

06:53 07:35 08:15 08:54 09:34 10:16 10:59 11:46

PM PM PM PM PM PM PM PM

4.04 4.32 4.61 4.89 5.15 5.34 5.45 5.46

H H H H H H H H

07:01 08:05 09:14 10:23 11:29

PM PM PM PM PM

-0.02 L 0.16 L 0.22 L 0.16 L -0.02 L

07:21 PM 4.91 H 08:08 PM 5.15 H 08:53 PM 5.31 H

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THE NEW POMPANO BEACH FISHER FAMILY PIER

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’d heard good things, so on a recent Sunday morning I drove to Pompano to see all the work the city has done to improve the pier and the surrounding area. I was pleasantly surprised by how tasteful and inviting the results are so far. Originally constructed in the early 1960s, the newly titled Fisher Family Pier now sports an up-to-date entrance comfortably showcased between two attractive oceanfront restaurants. The whole waterfront area has been rebranded as the Pompano Beach Fishing Village. There’s a new visitor center and a six-story parking garage a short walk away on Pier Street (NE 2nd Avenue). Streetscape improvements along

By James P. Goss

Pompano Beach Boulevard include a bricked boardwalk, contemporary streetlights, and other eye-catching design elements. The centerpiece continues to be the pier, revamped to resemble a fish: a pompano, of course. At the pier’s eastern end, the rounded shape of the fish’s head features a mouth and an eye gazing southeast. In addition to new wood decking and railings, there are fish prep areas and built-in metal fishing rod holders. Blue sail awnings fly overhead. Artists’ renderings of tropical fish— kingfish, bluefin tuna, false albacore, pinfish, bottlenose dolphin, hammerhead sharks—pop up between the railings. As I wandered the pier, a fisherman adjusting

his lure told me, “I usually get here around seven in the morning and leave around nine. I got here late today. If I catch anything, I’ll be lucky.” As all anglers know, good fishing depends on a variety of fickle factors in addition to the time of day… or night. These include weather (cold fronts, prevailing winds), tides and currents, species’ particular habits and migration patterns. Clear or murky water plays a role, as do reef features and ocean floor contours. Ocean health depends on a delicate balance: an adequate supply of nutrients, minimal pollution and species diversity—including the presence of apex predators like sharks. Another angler had a line in near a small school of needlefish. Hoping to attract Spanish mackerel, he used a Got-Cha lure. He confided, “They like clear water when the air temperature is a little bit chilly.” Over the many years he’s fished the Pompano pier, he’s caught a lot of snapper and hooked three types of sharks: blacktip, reef and nurse. But he hasn’t seen too many pompano around lately. “They don’t like a city named after them,” he joked. In a more serious tone, he wondered about the effects of all the recent construction. To help address this type of environmental concern, contractors added structures to the ocean floor to augment the existing reef. Still, the fisherman said many popular South Florida fishing spots, including the Pompano Beach pier, are getting “fished out.” The challenge of maintaining adequate stocks of fish is an ongoing concern the world over. Along with millions of dollars spent on physical upgrades to the pier itself, habitat work will hopefully ensure the fish keep showing up.

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THE

’HOOS

ARE STILL OUT THERE By CAM Staff

16 FLORIDA

MARCH 2022

W

ahoo are a favorite fish of any angler who has ever been hooked up to one. They are incredibly fast, sleek and powerful. The initial blistering run is enough to hook anyone. With line pouring off the reel, instinct begs you to stanch the flow. Just hold on. The fight is predictable. After that run, the fish will most likely turn back to the boat, shaking its head to throw the hook. Then it’s a sprint to pick up line. In the boat, the beauty of the fish will amaze you. Perfectly camouflaged in blue water, a wahoo’s silvery belly gives way to a dark blue back with undulating cobalt blue bars falling vertically down its sides. If you can look past that weird toothy beak, it is a gorgeous fish. Photos never do it justice, as the color fades as soon as you take them from the water. What doesn’t fade is the excitement this species brings to the table. They are mackerel, but they don’t taste like it. Wahoo meat is snow white, firm and has a mild taste sometimes compared to albacore. It’s a tremendous sportfish that travels in loose schools and sometimes feeds in packs. Find one and you’ll likely find several hanging and feeding near blue water structure. They move and feed with the bait, migrating to stay in the water temps they prefer, 70 degrees and higher. Wahoo are notoriously unpredictable. They are streaky feeders, and might not eat unless time of day, tides and moon phases align just right. Late winter is the best time to catch them off northeast Florida, when they will be feeding on the ledges with a bite that sometimes lasts into April. Expect decent numbers of fish from 35 to 60 pounds, and every year a few fish show up heavier than 80 pounds. Down in South Florida, wahoo can be found on the edge of the Gulf Stream, with peak fishing occurring late spring through summer. During that same time period, anglers in the Keys will be targeting smaller wahoo, averaging 25 pounds, on floating debris. But arguably the best wahoo fishing in this part of the world is the Bahamas. Here there is a shot at triple-digit fish, and good numbers of fish in the 40-pound range are the norm. Winter is best from the northern Bahamas around the Abacos and farther south, around the San Salvador humps. In the Gulf, wahoo season is also in winter, but winter brings with it foul weather. Early spring is a favorite time of many captains because the fish are still around and you can actually get to them. They’ll be hunting in packs and following baitfish. There’s a good chance at some 30- to 50-pounders this time of year, and 80- or 90-pound fish are not unheard of.

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FLORIDA 17


OKEECHOBEE SHORTCUT CLOSED FOR REPAIRS

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oaters making the trip between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico via the shortcut through Lake Okeechobee will be forced to take the long way around for the next couple months. The St. Lucie Lock and Dam was closed and dewatered for maintenance Jan. 4. The “Okeechobee shortcut” is expected to re-open by April. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District also announced temporary closure of some recreational facilities at the St. Lucie Lock and Dam. The St. Lucie Visitor Center, lock observation decks and the St. Lucie North Recreation Area will be closed until the project is complete. The St. Lucie South Campground will remain open. “The safety of our employees, volunteers and visitors remains our top priority. Equipment and materials are currently being staged at the St. Lucie Lock and Dam in preparation for the upcoming dewatering operation and lock repairs,” said Tammy Cleveland, deputy chief of the South Florida Operations. “We know that the St. Lucie Lock and Dam is a very popular recreational area for the local community and visitors. This the first major maintenance to be performed on this lock in 26 years, and we apologize for any inconvenience during this temporary closure.” According to Ed Killer, with Treasure Coast Newspapers, closure of the Okeechobee shortcut creates a roughly 320-mile detour around Florida’s southern tip for mariners travelling between the Atlantic and the Gulf. Last year, more than 3,000 boats passed through the St. Lucie Lock. For more information, visit: www.saj.usace.army.mil/VisitorCenters/.

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To Introduce You to Spring in the Keys

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he transition into spring can be unpredictable, as it brings dramatic changes to the fishery and obeys no written calendar. Migration, water temperatures and spawning create unique variables this time of year. As the exchange of targeted species swings from winter to spring, each day can be an opportunity to pioneer the new season. The fishery can change overnight in the coming weeks, and you never know when you will stumble across an abundance of fish that haven’t been seen in months. The Florida Keys, this month, will see more permit, cobia and pompano, while also welcoming the start of our world-class tarpon fishery. During the seasonal transition, there will be an overlap, when iconic spring species, such as permit and tarpon, will be chewing along with the sailfish that favor the shallow reefs in winter. Permit harvest season closes in the Keys at the end of March. Although the permit is respected as a game fish, and socially encouraged to be released, it does yield fillets of decent size and of excellent tablefare. Targeting permit can be a little more of a challenge than your average “send-out-the-shrimp” fishing. Whether you are sight casting to a school of them or floating a crab over a wreck, their bite is a

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little bit different than most fish. For a drag-screaming, hard-fighting fish, such as the mighty permit, one might expect them to crush the bait with force. However, permit can suck a hook clean, like a ninja cowfish, without drawing much attention. Learning their bite, especially when freelining in heavy current, can take a bit of practice, but it is absolutely worth the investment. Targeting this species offers a little extra for the angler who has it all. They definitely aren’t top of the beginner’s list, but they absolutely should be top of the bucket list. Crabs are king for permit fishing. Hook a crab on the edge of its shell, avoiding any interference with its back two legs, the swimmerets, so that it can move naturally in the water. Sight casting can be productive with a crab on a jighead, but if you just want to soak a crab over a wreck while fishing for other species, skip the jighead and affix a float up the leader. Put the float as far up the leader as you can stand to have it for casting, and I mean the standing-on-the-bow, swinging-the-momentum-like-you’re-fly fishing kind of casting. Combat different current scenarios by adding split-shot to the leader.

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No matter what time of year, the Florida Keys always have an incredible fishery. Each day can produce once-in-a-lifetime sightings of epic species. It is worth noting that regardless of weather, season, time of day, bananas on the boat, or a small zombie apocalypse, the snapper are always snapping! Quinlyn Haddon captains boats with Blue Magic Charters, in Marathon, Florida. Call her at (504) 920-6342 and check her out on social media @captainquinlyn.

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eeding great e ideal nsition deadly m and a slow ates a strike. in the lumn. hem to to do

The U.S. Mint Just Struck Morgan Silver Dollars for the First Time in 100 Years!

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t’s been more than 100 years since the last Morgan Silver Dollar was struck for circulation. With a well-earned reputation as the coin that helped build the Wild West, preferred by cowboys, ranchers, outlaws as the “hard currency” they wanted in their saddle bags, the Morgan is one of the most revered, most-collected vintage U.S. Silver Dollars ever. Struck in 90% silver from 1878 to 1904, then again in 1921, these silver dollars came to be known by the name of their designer, George T. Morgan. They were also nicknamed “cartwheels” because of their large weight and size.

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary with Legal Tender Morgans

Honoring the 100th anniversary of the last year the Morgan Silver Dollar was minted, the U.S. Mint struck five different versions in 2021, paying tribute to each of the mints that struck the coin. The coins here honor the historic New Orleans Mint, a U.S. Mint branch from 1838–1861 and again from 1879–1909. These coins, featuring an “O” privy mark, a small differentiating mark, were struck in Philadelphia since the New Orleans Mint no longer exists. These beautiful coins are differO PRIVY MARK ent than the originals for two reasons. First,

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MARCH IS THE TURN-AROUND MONTH

The early part of the month will feature very cold water temps around the inlets and river mouths, and keep the trout, drum (redfish) and flounder a little on the sluggish side, but that doesn’t seem to bother the shad, rock and cats. As a matter of fact, it kicks them into overdrive. It’s not water temperature so much as it is the length of daylight in the beginning of the month, but water temps do come into play by the end Tim Barefoot of March. The end of March will see the big spawning female speckled trout his has been a winter for the books, with cold temps, constant wind and sometimes too much rain keeping us arriving at the inlets and river mouths, and the drum bite will be on from the offshore grounds weekend after weekend. In light of fire. This is the time of year when you stand to catch an egg-filled gator trout, but for goodness sakes, take some this, let’s talk about some of the things that brought a lot of good photos and dimensions/weight us to the dance, the anadromous fish that are coming home and let her go do her spawn. This can be in the month of March. the time of year for some great topwater/ If you live on the East Coast, white and hickory shad, popping cork trout and drum bites. striped bass and sturgeon are coming back to the place There are bites, then there are topwater they were born to spawn. March is traditionally a very bites. It’s exciting fishing to say the least. windy month, so on the days we can’t get offshore, there is March will also produce tuna, a safe haven up in the river for some entertainment. Truly, dolphin and wahoo when you can get some of the best to them. The wind will keep us inside memories I have a lot during March, but whenever the were made up seas lay down enough to get offshore, the river. While go for it. This can be the time to catch a not the best stud wahoo and numbers of tuna. Find table fare, white a temperature break and/or the bait, and and hickory you’ll find the wahoo and tuna. They are shad are right on the move and chewing. up there at I don’t care what the wind is doing, I the top of the can always find somewhere to get a bite entertainment and grin in this turn-around month we list. Other fish call March. that have always been at the top See more from Capt. Tim Barefoot of my favorite spring entertainment list are striped bass (rock) and blue at barefootcatsandtackle.com catfish. They come back to the upper reaches of the river to spawn in and rigandjig.com. large numbers.

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PHOTO BY SEIGO SAITO/B.A.S.S.

At Hartwell, Stage is Set for 2022 Bassmaster Classic By TAM Staff

F

or months the field has been set for the big show. From March 4-6, some of the world’s top professional bass anglers will fish South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell, vying for a championship in the 2022 Bassmaster Classic. Upstate South Carolina will play host to the field of 55 professional anglers as well as hordes of fans, who will attend daily weigh-ins at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville and morning takeoffs at Green Pond Landing & Event Center, near Anderson. The annual Bassmaster

Classic Outdoors Expo will take place each day at the Greenville Convention Center. As for the fishing, Hartwell is familiar to the anglers. The 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk will mark the fourth time the tournament has been held on the 56,000-acre reservoir. The fishery is renowned for excellent spotted and largemouth bass fishing. Early March is typically a transition period on upstate lakes, when bass begin moving up in preparation for the spawn. Weather will have

SPRINGTIME FISHING...

www.

everything to do with how successful anglers will fish. The two normal patterns that set up that time of year are either a deeper bite on ditches and points in 30 to 60 feet of water, or a shallower bite when bass move up into the 5- to 20-foot range to stage next to the spawning flats. The prespawn bite can provide excellent numbers of fish as well as some solid size, which could potentially produce fast action and heavy sacks for Classic competitors. Lake Hartwell’s bass eat a lot of blueback herring, and Hartwell tournaments are responsible for the rise of the underspin as popular bass lure. If the fish are deep, it’s likely underspins, shaky heads and football jigs will see a lot of time in the water. If fish are shallow, jerkbaits, jigs and red crankbaits are Hartwell staples. Each of the three previous Classics have provided action-packed finishes. In 2008, Texas pro Alton Jones Sr. went into the final day with little more than a pound lead, but managed to hold off the rest of the field and claim his only Classic trophy. In 2015, when temperatures dipped as low as 9 degrees, hometown favorite Casey Ashley, of South Carolina, came from behind on the final day to win his only title. Then in 2018, young Alabama pro Jordan Lee jumped from sixth place on the final day to win his second-straight Classic. Fans turned out in droves for all three visits, creating an electric atmosphere for the weigh-ins and packing the Expo all three days. For information on fishing Upcountry South Carolina, visit FishUpcountrySC.com.

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BERN NOTICE O

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rom humble beginnings in a home office five years ago, GaugeSaver has flourished on word-of-mouth and happy customers. The company has found great, hardworking friends to help the business grow, and a year ago expanded into a commercial property at 5049 Hwy 17-S in Green Cove Springs, Fla. They fixed up a 1,500-square-foot building for a main office and technician space, and recently constructed a 2,500-square-foot rigging shop. The plan is to grow into this space and offer electronic installs, repairs, etc. Happy customers are the key to GaugeSaver’s growth. Eric Clayton and his wife Tammy believe in their service so much that they both left 25-plus-year IT careers to grow the brand. They now do more than just gauge restorations. They remanufacture replacement parts for Yamaha, Mercury and Suzuki gauges. They restore LCDs for many devices and most major manufacturers including Garmin, Raymarine, Furuno, Simrad, iCOM, Volvo, Honda, Humminbird, SeaDoo, Kawasaki, and more. They can restore almost anything that has an LCD. This includes VHFS, Chartplotters, AutoPilots, Jet Skis and Side-By-Sides. GaugeSaver can even replace LCD assemblies with aftermarket or OEM parts to keep electronics out of landfills. GaugeSaver was founded to extend the lifespan of electronics and save people money. Every week they are learning new ways to do so. They offer Dealer Discounts for friends in the industry. Check out Gaugesaver.com (or drop by and meet the shop dog, Jeb) to see if WWW.GAUGESAVER.COM GaugeSaver can save you money!

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DEXTER SURGE ACTUATORS

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exter’s complete line of surge actuators are highly engineered, easy to use, and go through rigorous testing to ensure that you get to your destination safely. Available in capacities from 6,600 lbs. to 20,000 lbs. in both disc brake and drum brake varieties, Dexter surge actuators provide smooth and powerful operation. All you need to do is replace the trailer’s standard tongue coupler with a surge actuator and add hydraulic brake end units. The “surge” or “push” of the trailer toward the tow vehicle during deceleration automatically synchronizes the trailer brakes with the tow vehicle brakes. As the trailer pushes against the tow vehicle, the actuator compresses and applies force to its master cylinder, which supplies hydraulic pressure to the trailer’s brakes. As a trusted leader in the Marine Industry, Dexter also outfitted its surge actuators with corrosion-resistant rollers and bushings to create smoother movements and added longevity. Tow with WWW.DEXTERAXLE.COM confidence – Demand Dexter!

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Dexter’s Vault® and Vortex® marine axle lubrication systems are rigorously engineered to keep the water out and your bearings lubricated. Also, there is no annual maintenance required. Confidently backed by our industry-leading 6-year/100,000-mile warranty. Spend your time on the water, not working on your trailer. Demand Dexter Vault & Vortex hubs for your boat trailer.

Photo Courtesy of AmeraTrail COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

MARCH 2022

NATIONAL 21


WILD SALMON THREATENED BY INTERBREEDING WITH FARMED FISH

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nterbreeding between farmed salmon and wild populations in Norway is changing the lifecycle of wild salmon, according to a report from the website Phys.org. Researchers with the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and Rådgivende Biologer studied scale growth patterns in thousands of salmon taken from rivers in Norway from 2010 to 2017. They looked at the impact of escaped farmed salmon breeding with wild salmon by collecting scales from 6,900 adult wild Atlantic salmon in 105 Norwegian rivers. The researchers conducted genetic tests on the scales to learn the genetic history of the fish. The researchers found that both farmed salmon and wild salmon with farmed ancestry mature and age at a faster rate and return to rivers earlier to spawn. It was hypothesized this accelerated maturation process puts salmon at a higher risk of predation because they venture into saltwater earlier, when they are less likely to evade capture by sharks and halibut. Prior studies have indicated that salmon with farmed ancestry are less afraid of predators. The study suggests interbreeding of farmed and wild salmon will result in reductions in wild populations, which has already been observed in some areas. To read the entire report, see phys.org

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22 NATIONAL

MARCH 2022

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM


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Hi-tech rods perform like skittish show dogs. This one just puts fish in the boat. Built durable to handle the salt, the Ugly Stik® Bigwater is as mean as it gets. TM

© 2021 Pure Fishing, Inc.


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