Coastal Angler Magazine | August 2022 | Northeast Florida Edition

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FOLLOW THE BAIT FOR NEARSHORE WAHOO

T

Tim Barefoot

his is the time of year when water temperatures allow pelagics like wahoo, dolphin and tuna to show up right on the beach… so to speak. I live in North Carolina, and every year there are stud wahoo caught “right on the beach.” Here “right on the beach” is the 20to 25-mile area off the beach. For some folks in Florida, “right on the beach” might be that first sea buoy right out of the inlet. In late summer, we have a monolithic water temperature from the Gulf Stream to the beach in the mid 80s. That allows wahoo to follow huge schools of bait wherever they go. This is what we call the beginning of the end… the end of summer. The cigar minnows and sardines come nearshore, and the wahoo follow them as far in as they are comfortable with the water depth, which is usually not much less than 75 or 80 feet. They will eat whatever they want, including live menhaden or cigs pulled around by king mackerel fishermen. We call it the beginning to the end of summer, but it’s also the beginning of a wonderful time of year for me… fall and winter. The cigs and sardines come in. The pelagics follow them for a month or so

until the water starts to cool in mid September. Then the magic happens. When cooling water runs off the wahoo, the gags show up in numbers. It’s all a very beautiful dance. Let’s enjoy every step along the way. I keep talking about the nearshore activity of the cigs and sardines, but the offshore schools are also getting bigger now, and this draws the attention of everything from pelagics to bottom fish. All the grouper and big snappers shadow these schools wherever they go. This is why it’s so important to “find the bait.” Cigs and sardines are not the only thing I’m looking for offshore. I like to find a big stack of beeliners. Wherever you find a big stack of beeliners, you can bet your bottom dollar there are grouper and big snapper directly under them and wahoo and kings around them. August is also a month to consider spending the night offshore. Yes, there are late afternoon thunderstorms that pop up, but overall weather patterns are consistent, and you can fish for days, back to back. Leave in the early afternoon, get where you are going and get acclimated to the setting sun. Anchor up on a pretty piece of bottom and bait, and turn on the lights. This is a “National Geographic moment.” The minnows and squid come to the light, so you can easily load up the livewell before the daylight bite starts. I will close with this: We lost a fishing pioneer and legend last month with Mark Sosin’s passing. Our thoughts, prayers and celebrations go out to his family. See more from Tim Barefoot at barefootcatsandtackle.com.

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LIVE BAIT AND ARTIFICIAL TACTICS FOR

J

upiter, Fla. is a worldrenowned fishery. In the summertime it’s known for hot inshore snook. Offshore produces an epic sailfish, kingfish, tuna and pelagic bite. There are always fish willing to eat. One of my favorite bites is for springtime blackfin tuna. From March through May, jumbo blackfins migrate down the east coast of Florida. It is not uncommon to catch them anywhere from 20 to 35 pounds. From their deliciousness on the table to their long powerful runs, blackfin tuna are one of my favorite offshore fish to target. They are sure to send you to the tackle shop to get your reels serviced after a productive day of fishing. Blackfin tuna are excellent hunters. Often, they work together to ambush schools of baitfish. They are equipped with massive eyeballs, which are designed for pitch black and low-light conditions. They spend a majority of their time down deep feeding on squid. However, at dawn and dusk, the tunas move higher in the water column to feed near the surface. Be on the lookout for frigates and disturbance on the water’s surface. It’s not uncommon to see them exploding and flying out of the water on a bait ball. I keep an easily accessible casting rod, with a plug or weighted feather jig tied on, for this scenario or in case a school of mahi shows up. Blackfin tuna will often hold to areas with bottom topography like humps, reefs and wrecks. You can find success drifting over areas like these with live bait. Live sardines, pilchards, threadfins and gogs will all work. I prefer live sardines. For me, they have been the most productive bait.

Chumming is important to bring blackfins higher in the water column. Chunk up pilchards and throw a few pieces out at the bow, mid and stern every couple of minutes. The best chum is live chum. Small- to medium-sized pilchards are your best bet. I throat-hook a sardine and send it out on a free line. The bait will swim down on its own, and you should keep some tension on it. I also drop a live bait on a down rod and wait for the bite as I drift along. Blackfins’ excellent eyesight means they can be leader shy, so I often run a 40- to 50-pound fluorocarbon leader, but will go as light as 30 pounds. A triplehook rig for freelining or a single 4/0 or 5/0 circle hook depending By Ryan Izquierdo on the size of the bait is my hook preference. You can also catch them kite fishing, trolling feathers/spoons, with ballyhoo rigs, cedar plugs, planer fishing, vertical jigging and slow-pitch. Second to live bait, slow-pitch jigging is a fun and effective way to catch tunas when the hot mid-day sun pushes them down deep. My go to jig is a Jyg Pro 240 Gram strike jig. I like to jig anywhere from 200 to 350 feet. Send it down to the bottom over active areas and work your rod up high and let the jig flutter back down. You can change the pace and tempo of your jigging until you find what works. Don’t be surprised to get hit as you are burning the jig back to the surface. I hope these tuna tips bring you success and dinner to share with your close friends and family. Keep on fishing! Check out Ryan Izquierdo’s adventures on his YouTube channel: Ryan Iz Fishing.

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FREEDIVER SPEARS WORLD RECORD CUBERA SNAPPER A massive 137-pound Atlantic cubera snapper speared by a Texas freediver in early June was heavier than the existing IGFA all-tackle world record as well as the Texas state record. It will not, however, qualify for either record because of the method used to catch it. Who cares? The diver, Braden Sherron, a student at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, can rest assured that his monster cubera is one of the largest of its species ever caught by any method. It will likely be the new International Underwater Spearfishing Association’s world record. If approved, it will replace a 122.4-pound fish shot in 2006 off the coast of Brazil. According to a Field & Stream story on the catch, Sherron first encountered the giant snapper while freediving a Gulf of Mexico oil rig about 60 miles out of Port Aransas, Texas. He did not take his shot at the time because he was not equipped to handle such a large fish. A week later, on June 3, he returned to the rig with heavier gear, dove to about 55 feet and put a dart into the fish. Luckily, the cubera wrapped the trailing line up in the oil rig, which kept the fish from diving. While the fish fought itself, Sherron returned to the surface to wait 10 minutes before diving down to secure

By CAM Staff

his prize with two more shots. When Sherron brought his fish back to the scales at Fisherman’s Wharf in Port Aransas, it began making the rounds on social media almost immediately. It truly is an enormous fish, which outweighs the existing IGFA record—a 2007 Louisiana fish that weighed 124 pounds, 12 ounces—by more than 10 pounds. Sherron’s fish also outweighs the Texas state rod-and-reel record of 131 pounds. The only larger cubera snapper research was able to turn up was a 151-pound monster that’s listed as an “other methods” catch by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. That fish, caught by handline out of Port Mansfiled in 1984, weighed 151 pounds. The thing is, none of these other anglers were holding their breath when they caught their fish. Sherron’s catch is absolutely one for the record books. “I would equate it to shooting a 200-plusinch whitetail deer on public land,” he told Field & Stream. “It’s one of those things that happens once in a lifetime, and you can’t believe it when it does.” Check out video of Braden Sherron’s spearfishing on his Youtube channel: https://bit.ly/3yKm8EP

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August is the Best Month for

GIANT SNOOK By Emily Rose Hanzlik

A

ugust offers the best chance for anglers to catch a 40-inch-plus snook in Florida waters. With a majority of snook returning from offshore spawning grounds, the big girls will feed up to recover from the rigors of the spawn. Right now is a good time to catch them. Snook are widespread, but their range is limited by temperature intolerance. They are found throughout the Caribbean on the Atlantic and Pacific sides, including most of Florida. Due to their limited cold tolerance, Snook avoid temperatures below 60 degrees. There are 12 species of snook that can be found in just about any body of water within their range. Snook can be caught all year long. In winter they prefer shallow flats and deep holes in bay areas. As water temperatures rise, they move out to offshore structure to spawn. When snook are not spawning, they move inshore and travel upstream. Since snook are euryhaline, meaning they can live in a wide range of salinity, they travel upstream into brackish and freshwater areas. Snook have a special osmoregulation feature that allows them

to control the water content inside their bodies to maintain the same salinity as the outside water. Snook spawning takes place between April and October with peak around June and July. During this time, females and males move into higher salinity locations where they broadcast spawn with the females releasing eggs into the water column and the males fertilizing them. One female snook can release up to 1.5 million eggs each spawn. All of the hatchlings are born as males and transition to females when they reach between 12 and 35 inches in length. They are protandrous hermaphrodites, meaning the males change to females as they age. Some of the best places to locate big girls in large numbers this time of year are at the mouths of inlets, bridges and piers. Heavier tackle is preferred, since you will most likely be fishing heavy structure. Some of the best baits for really big fish include croaker, mojarra, snapper, needlefish and southern sennet. It is best practice, if you do land a big fish, to release the fish safely back into the water using a

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Florida Overhauls Redfish Regs

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By Phil Wolf

f you are in the market for a new flats boat, the 2022 Hydrastepp 18’ might just be the boat you’re looking for. It has all the whistles and bells that a flats boat needs, plus great looks, high-quality construction and performance abound. This new 18-foot flats boat is the result of several years’ trial and improvements. Renowned racing boat designer/ builder Steve Stepp has 50-plus years of experience in the industry. His previous company, Velocity Powerboats, in Sanford, Fla. holds 14 world records, showing that his advanced designs achieve performance and efficiency that most manufacturers cannot match. Hydrastepp Boats are built right here in Central Florida. Check-out their website at www.HYDRASTEPP.com, and take a look at this impressive HP flats-boat. At first glance, you’ll notice this boat’s sleek and clean lines. It has 94” beam, which is extremely wide for an 18’ boat. This makes it very stable when walking around on the wide gunnel. There is a huge storage compartment up front, with a removable tackle storage system and two additional large storage compartments in the rear, both at port and starboard. Two 28-gallon livewells are located in the front and the rear, and a new rod-storage system holds 16 rods. Custom divided sport seats with removable backrests, like you see on offshore racing boats, provide comfort. The console is very sleek and sports

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Fishing Report & Forecast Mayport By Capt. Kirk Waltz

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ummer is finally fully engaged and the fishing has been good. Look for schools of menhaden to be on the areas beaches in the jam just south of the St. John’s river jetties at Mayport. Though it’s been a crap shoot it shows up and it can get your day started with a few easy tosses. Look for single flips up shallow just outside of the swell zone from 6/8ft of water out to 20ft.The bait doesn’t come up on top as much sometimes so ease around with a close eye on your bottom recorder always vigilant to watch for submerged bait marks. Big flips indicate bigger baits and the smaller flips are typically smaller baits. Wait for the flip and then cast your net. This slow methodical approach takes some patience but usually produces good results. A good live well full of frisky baits can ensure you a great day on the water. Try not to overload your live well as it will only die and the remaining bait gets really lethargic. With bait in the tank ease into areas like the Redtops, Southeast Hole, Spoil area, the rip lines adjacent to the inlet and slow troll for kingfish,bonita, sharks, cuda’s, jack crevalle,cobia and tarpon. I like to troll in 46 to 52 feet of water with a 3 to 4 rod spread. If it is slow on the beach ease out into the party grounds and deploy the same method. The local wrecks, reefs, and hardbottom spots should hold all of the same

species with an occasional sailfish thrown in. If it’s slow on the troll drop down those same baits for snapper, seabass, triggerfish, and a few grouper. If they don’t hit the whole ones cut them in half. Check the bait pods later in the day as tarpon will on many occasions ease back into the baits after all the boats leave . A stout Shimano Saragosa 10000 spinning outfit with 50lb PowerPro Braid is my first choice with a 6/0 circle hook. Take a live pogie and pitch into the bait school. I usually wait till I see a fish or two before lobbing one into the bait.If this fails run up behind the shrimp boats and pitch a bait behind the boat. Sharks, tarpon, and jacks will follow the boats for the bycatch. Throw in behind the nets and hang on. Look for the bull reds to make a big push into the river to spawn this month. The first big moon usually starts the migration and pogies, blue crabs and mullet are the best baits. Work the bottom of the low tide on the edges of the river in 35 to 42 feet of water. A stout rod using a 3 swivel rig similar to and offshore bottom rig works well. A 6oz to 10oz sinker usually gets it done. I prefer a whole live pogie or mullet if its available or live blue crab for best results. The big rocks will hold slot to bull reds this month and a live pogie is usually my first choice. With a live pogie I like to pitch a ¼ to 3/8th oz jig on the edge of the rocks on a high falling tide to a slow dead low tide for best results. Remember you can’t catch them on the couch! Get fishing!. 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

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Fishing Report & Forecast Nassau Sound By Capt. Tony Bozzella

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f you night fish this is the month to fish low light conditions. August doldrums can leave afternoons with a tuff bite. It’s important to get out before the afternoon heat & Seabreeze pick up. Most fish lay up at this time. If the tide is low early, I like to get out on some backing or tailing redfish. Usually, mornings are calm & conditions can be good for this. It’s much easier to see a cruising fish when flats are very still. Often, you can get a few good presentations before the day breaks downs with boat traffic, wind, weather, etc. if the tides are high or on incoming water, it may be a better idea to fish lures over structure or popping corks along grass lines. These methods can produce a wide variety of fish. Of course the summer months have more species. As the morning gets away, bull redfish will start lurking the channel edges of the St. John

river. Heavier tackle is best to take these fish on, vs. light tackle that will wear the fish down beyond recoverability. Venting is another way to help these Bulls return to the depths. Often a fish finder rig with a 30/40 lb Fluorocarbon bite tippet or leader paired with a J or circle hook in the 7/0 or 8/0 hook is sufficient. Weight will be determined by tidal movement & depth. I like to use the least amount or terminal tackle & weight I can. Take notice to when the fish feed, often they will continue on that cycle. Blue crab, ladyfish, mullet, pogies & shrimp are all great choices. I like to vary the baits on multiple rods and let the fish dictate what’s best that day. Another fish that will be around is Tarpon. A spinner rigged with a length of fluorocarbon and a live mullet can be a great choice. Also putting a bait in a chum slick has proven hook ups. Tarpon, are not picky eaters, baits mentioned earlier will all take their fair share. However, tarpon can be leader shy, so it’s best to rig your baits on a new piece of fluorocarbon leader, especially if you are swimming live baits on the surface. Until next month, enjoy your fishing.

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

AUGUST 2022

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 5


The “New” Jax Beach Pier By CAM Staff he long awaited of the opening of the Jacksonville beach pier is finally here. To say that I am excited would be a huge understatement. I had my first pier fishing experience at a young age when my best friend Michael invited me up to the old Jacksonville beach pier that was located at 6th avenue south in Jacksonville beach. His dad was the pier manager so we could fish for free anytime we wanted. I remember my first time out there I saw flounder, redfish, speckled trout and black drum all being caught within around a 100 yard span. I was completely fascinated and addicted immediately. Fast forward a few year after that pier was destroyed by Hurricane Floyd and we have the current site of the pier. I call it version 2.0 since this is now its second reopening after it also suffered hurricane damage back in 2016. This leads me to this, nothing has changed with where the fish like to hang along the surf zone. They find structure and they stick to it. If you have never pier fished in Northeast Florida it is one of the few places in our area where you can see a kingfish or tarpon caught while flounder and redfish are also being pulled up. My biggest suggestion for those new to pier fishing is to visit the pier and watch and learn. Observe what rigs and bait people are using. That being said, watch the ones consistently catching the fish. As a kid, I always would watch and study the rigs and bait of those catching the most fish. My favorite rig to use for most of my targeted species is the simple Carolina rig. I use a 2-3 ounce egg sinker with a 8-12 inch leader of 25lb fluorocarbon. I like to use lighter leader elsewhere but the pilings are unforgiving on lighter leader. Depending on what I’m fishing for I use either a #4 wide bend hook or a #2 owner J hook. My favorite baits, live mullet, live sandfleas, live shrimp and ghost shrimp. I use all of these baits behind the surf line and catch redfish,

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black drum, flounder, speckled trout and sheepshead. If you have any specific questions that I have not covered you can find me on YouTube at Brokenreel23 and on Facebook with the same group name. I should also mention that northeast and east winds 8-12 miles an hour are my favorite to pier fish as they clean up the water. South winds dirty the water up which brings in the catfish, sharks and sting rays!!! If you decided to hit the pier in these hot months, early morning and late afternoon are best and as it cools off in the fall the bite tends to last all day at times. Feel free to reach out to me, I like to help out fellow anglers so they don’t leave a fishing trip with an empty cooler. I hope to see you out there walking the planks and pulling up some fish.

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

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he bite has been great all summer long and this month is no different… Get ready to hook into redfish, trout, and flounder inshore as well as tarpon, kings, sharks and more along the beaches. Summer of 2022 has been an extra hot one so, how do you beat the summertime heat when on the water? Well… Get out at first light or wait for the last few hours of daylight, right around dusk. Those are typically the best times to catch the fish feeding this time of year. Just like I’ve said the last couple of months, it’s the summer pattern, and top-water “walk the dog” style plugs as well as “chuggers” will make for some exciting catches, especially during those lower light conditions. One very important ingredient for catching fish this time of year is to look for the bait. Whether it’s finger mullet, shrimp, or pogies, if you find the bait, you’ll find the fish. The bait can be easily located by looking for nervous water (small disruptions on the surface, like a very small boat wake). You can be sure that redfish, trout, and flounder will be hanging around the schools of bait looking for an easy meal. Don’t overlook the banks along the ICW on the lower tide stages this month. A lot of the baitfish will come out

of the creeks and hang along those ICW banks, especially the ones that have oysters scattered on them. Again, the bigger fish will be in close pursuit. If you’re fishing during the heat of the day, try using some cut bait (mullet, ladyfish, crab). The fish will get lazy as it gets hot and that stinky piece of bait might just be enough to entice a fish to est. If you’re fishing inshore during the higher tide stages, try a popping cork. Popping corks are one of my Summer go-to rigs as the noise from the cork can persuade even the pickiest of fish to bite. The pop that the cork creates allow fish to find them in the murky summer water and make for some exciting hookups. You can use a live mud minnow or shrimp under the cork or a scented soft plastic or cut piece of bait. The combo of the pop from the cork and the scent from the bait will get some looks. We’ve had a pretty good start to the tarpon season this year, especially behind some of the shrimp boats. Also look for the silver kings to be feeding early in the morning on the bait pods just off the beach. The pogies have been here one day and gone the next so it make take some time to find them but when you do it will probably be worth the effort. Free line a pogy around the bait pods and hold on. If the tarpon don’t want to play, do some trolling along the beach for some line-screaming kingfish action (there will be plenty of them out there). There will also be plenty of smaller tarpon inshore in the canals and deeper creeks and flats. A back hooked free-lined finger mullet, a free lined select shrimp, or medium sized pogy, will all make for a great tarpon snack. Capt. Tommy Derringer 904-377-3734 • www.InshoreAdventures.net

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AUGUST 2022

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Local Conservation Efforts By Mark Feagle

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s President of the Coastal Conservation Association’s Northeast Florida Chapter, I want you to put November 3, 2022 on your calendar. This date is set for our annual NE Florida Chapter Banquet and will be an amazing event. This year we moved our venue to the Glass Factory downtown and it is going to be a great time. The event will feature a steak dinner, an open bar, the largest live and silent auction we have had and much more. We are looking for everyone to spread the word to help grow our chapter. We have some near future plans to begin some amazing restoration projects here in our local waters. With your help and support we can continue to make our fisheries even better. We have some amazing projects in the works for our area including a new oyster restoration project which we

are finalizing funding for Clean Up Florida Waters. As I write this, we finished our third annual #CleanUpFloridaWaters event. My father-in-law Jeff Fagan (Sanford, FL) and I created this event in 2020 with thegoal of establishing a coordinated effort to clean up the St. Johns River from the headwaters in Sanford, all the way to Mayport. We were successful in removing tons of trash from our headwaters in Orlando and Jacksonville. I want to thank everyone who participated this year as we had our largest turnout ever. The final numbers were not in as of article time but I estimate we removed over 3000 lbs. of trash from our local waters. I want to encourage everyone to continue to do our part and eliminate single use plastics and try and take more trash home than you leave with when boating. Tight Lines! Mark Feagle, Jr.

8 NORTHEAST FLORIDA

AUGUST 2022

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Nassau Sport Fishing Association T

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. Our SKA sanctioned and 39th Annual Kingfish Tournament and Fishing Rodeo will be held on Saturday 6-August.There is a Kingfish Division and an In/Off Shore Division for 8 different species. Every entrant can fish one or both divisions. Truly something for every angler to shoot for will be on the leaderboard. All entry fees are considered as donations to the NSFA. So make your plans, get registered and we will see you there !! Our late spring May/ June results have been finalized. No Cobia were weighed. First place Kingfish honors go to Mitch Fields with a #14.2. First place Pompano goes to Ed Frey with a #1.42. Our summer season is under way with anglers targeting Kingfish, Trout, and Whiting. The website has been updated for all fish weighed so far so you can see how you stand in our Angler of the Year standings. The Nassau Sport Fishing Association has announced its selection of

five seniors from Nassau County high schools to receive a total of $16,000 in scholarships. The recipients for the 2022 NSFA scholarships are Trinity Armstrong and Brooke Parkerson from West Nassau High School, and Maddox Bryant from Fernandina Beach High. Trinity will attend the College of Central Florida and pursue a degree in nursing. Brooke will attend the University of North Florida and major in elementary education. Maddox will attend the University of Florida and pursue a degree in engineering. The recipients of the Merit Scholarships are Mariah Segro from West Nassau High and Barbora Trejbal from Yulee High. Mariah will pursue a degree in social work and Barbora will pursue a business degree at Florida State University. Brad Reese chaired the club’s scholarship committee that also included Marilyn Mrozek and Joe Wise. They made their selections based on academic achievement, extra-curricular activities, community service, financial need, and an essay. These scholarships are made available because of NSFA’s members and annual fundraising events, which include the Fernandina Beach Fishing Rodeo and our food booth at the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival. NSFA meets the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month at Kraft Athletic Club on Amelia Island. Join us on 24-August for our monthly social gathering. If interested in joining, please visit our website at NSFAFISH. NET or stop by one of our meetings. As always, Stay Safe, healthy, and we will see you on the water!

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AUGUST 2022

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 9


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

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he “Fernandina Beach Kingfish & Fishing Rodeo” highlights the month of August and will take place at the historic “Oasis Fernandina Beach Harbor, August 5th, and 6th, 2022. Tournament fishermen will have several opportunities in winning both prizes and cash while competing for a variety of saltwater gamefish. The top prize of $10,000.00 cash will be awarded to the team that weighs in the largest king mackerel. There will also be Lady Angler and Youth Angler prizes for the largest kingfish in each category, plus many more prizes! Please visit www.nsfafish.net. During early August tournament size kingfish will be roaming the beaches of Northeast Florida preying on the large schools of menhaden and mullet. Giant kings weighing over the forty-pound mark will also be found feeding close to working shrimp boats that are discarding their bi-catch into the ocean. Many of Northeast Florida offshore fish havens will also harbor tournament size Kingfish while feeding on Spanish mackerel and huge baitfish pods.

overboard while creating a deep-water chum slick. Tarpon fishermen should attach a large buoy to the anchor line so the anchor can be released when a wide shouldered tarpon spends most of your fishing line from your saltwater fishing reel. Also keep in mind the old saying “Drop the Rod Tip” when the silver king is in the middle of a big jump, should not apply to Northeast Florida tarpon. Once the hook is set, keep the rod tip Up! A big red bass migration begins to take place in late August during the last of the in-coming tide at the St. Mary’s south jetty rocks and during the falling tide, the tip of the St. Mary’s north jetty rocks should be teeming with bull reds weighing to 50-pounds. Fishing on the bottom with cut mullet, or menhaden is key. A variety of inshore game fish including sea trout, redfish, and jacks will be busting topwater plugs during the early morning and late evening hours. Particularly when there is little wind and a flooding tide.

Best baits for big money king mackerel include ribbonfish, blue runners, goggle-eyes, and large menhaden. Good luck! The month of August is also the best month when targeting Amelia Island tarpon. Some of the best tarpon fishing comes at both the Nassau and the St. Mary’s inlets while anchoring up your fishing boat and fishing dead on the bottom with barbed menhaden, mullet, whiting or croaker. If there are good numbers of menhaden holding just past the breaking surf on both Amelia and Cumberland Islands, tarpon fishing can also be excellent along the beaches in the menhaden schools as well. Standard tarpon tackle includes 20-50 pound braided fishing line with a 3-4 foot section of 80-100 pound mono shock leader followed by a 7/0 circle hook. A fish finder sleeve is attached to the main line which allows different size weights to be exchanged. A 100-pound swivel connects the main line to the shock leader. Barb the menhaden from the bottom of the mouth through the top of the head while cutting the tail off which allows the scent to seep out into the water. Chumming is critical while cutting menhaden up into small pieces and slowly tossing

Flounder fishing should be excellent during the last of the falling tide while barbing a bullhead minnow to a ¼ ounce jig head and bouncing this deadly bait slowly along a rough bottom..

10 NORTHEAST FLORIDA

AUGUST 2022

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Fishing Report Pier and Surf By: Noel Kuhn

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his hot August water can make for some hot action in the surf. Whether on the pier or in the surf, set your drag light because tropical water brings bigger than normal fish to our beaches. This time of year brings different species of shark, Tarpon, Permit, Cuda and even Bonefish. I myself have probably lost a big permit because my little 2/0 circle hook was straightened out by a freight train of a fish. When the Mullet run starts late this month you just need to decide what species am I going to target today? Go small with live finger

mullet for Flounder and Trout? Maybe throw big chunks for Tarpon if a Blacktip does not find it first. How about small fresh chunks for Jacks, Blues and Redfish. Maybe even target Tarpon with a live lined mullet. My favorite way to fish the run is with a heavy duty fishfinder or sinker slide rig. I tie mine with 100lb mono. It is a simple as this. Swivel, three feet of mono, bead, snap swivel for the sinker, another bead, another swivel, two feet of mono and a hook. The hook size depends on the mullet size. 5” mullet a 4/0 circle hook. A 10” mullet gets a big 7/0 circle hook. To target just Flounder and Trout with finger mullet, I will reduce the leader down to 20lb mono and use a light 3/0 circle hook. No matter what size hook, what rig and what size mullet you might get surprised. Remember elephants eat peanuts. Recently my friend Mike was dragging a small finger mullet targeting flounder. He was using a light inshore rod-n-reel. He used only 17lb test and #1 hook. This huge Red gave him an epic fight on light tackle. See photo. Remember to keep your live mullet frisky. You can do this by keeping them cool, well aerated and swapping out your water often. I use a round 10 gallon Igloo water cooler. When hooking them, go into the mouth and out through the top of their head. I hope this helps you land a fish of a lifetime. See you on the beach!

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

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AUGUST 2022

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 11


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

IT’S HOT

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ts August folks. Its just plain hot….But there is some good action to be had.. Around this time every year we have a thermocline to some degree. A thermocline is when cold water gets pushed up from the depths up over the over shelf edge. To temps as low as the mid 50s during extreme years. The result is some tough bottom fishing. When this happens look for the larger wrecks and ledges in 100 to 140ft and look for fish marking on your sounder up in the water column. Anchoring and chumming is key. Position your boat up current of the school of fish so that when you let your lines out your bait drifts back to the fish. Mangrove snapper fishing has been good.. Light tackle in the 20 to 30-pound class is the tackle of choice. Use just enough weight to get your bait falling towards the bottom and chum is key. I like to get a large flat of Sardines and cut up in small pieces to chum heavy to try and lure the fish up closer to the surface and sometimes you can even see the schools of Mangrove Snapper near the surface. When that happens use the lightest leader you can. 20lb fluorocarbon and no weight if possible. Vermillion snapper, Triggerfish, Red porgy, and African Pompano have been available as well. Cut squid on the bottom is the way to go for Vermillion and Triggers.. Keep a jig rod ready for the Amberjack, Pompano, and Cobia could show up. On recent trips our anglers have been rewarded with Mangrove, Amberjack, Vermillion, Pompano and Cobia. Muttons are coming on stronger now. It sure seems we are seeing more and more Muttons every year. On the trolling scene King Mackerel fishing has picked up and live bait fisherman have been rewarded with some nice fish. In 21 fathoms

there are areas holding schools of blue runners. Find those schools and you’re in the money. In July we had only a 2 day season for Red Snapper. What a big disappointment. If we the people don’t stand up and be heard it looks like we might not even have a season next year. The feds say we are losing too many Snapper to dead discards. They want to shut it all down folks.. Its imperative we let our elected officials know how we feel. Contact your state and federal representatives: Gov Desantis ,,,Senator Rick Scott: Congressman John Rutherford: https:// rutherford.house.gov/contact Senator Marco Rubio https://www.rubio.senate. gov/public/index. Call them and Email them. We have to start making more noise and let them know how we feel..

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“Let’s Go Fishing” Captain Robert Johnson (904)540-2628 Jodielynncharters.com Jlfishing@bellsouth.net AUGUST 2022

NORTHEAST FLORIDA 13


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Fishing Report Clay County - August By: Chris Davy

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ugust bass fishing is a fickle proposition on the St Johns and Rodman Reservoir. The fish are of course there but, the key is break of dawn and just before dark. No duh Chris, I get it. Early with artificial the usual suspects will be productive, top water walking baits, frogs, and Raplalas. My choices anyway. The big girls will be deep and if you have the electronics to find them, crank baits and heavy jigs deep should work on the drop offs of channels. Any plastics will be productive under docks and working deeper structure for mostly smaller bass. As a guide I always have wild shiners. This time of year trolling them as you work artificial can be very productive. Bait and wait while working plastics. To fish pure shiners we’ve been finding them under matts in deeper water meaning 5-8 feet. Be very aware of your water temps. As most know the cooler the better, I try to find mid 80 degree water. If you are in water over 90 leave or just go home. There will not be enough oxygen in that water to hold quality bass. To sum it up, get gone early and often or go late before dark.

Captain Chris Davy Southern Fried Charters 386-986-7914

14 NORTHEAST FLORIDA

AUGUST 2022

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TIDE CHART - AUGUST

Mayport Degaussing Structure 30.3967° N, 81.3950° W Date Day Time Hgt 01 Mon 05:20 AM 0.36 L 02 Tue 05:58 AM 0.39 L 03 Wed 12:34 AM 4.80 H 04 Thu 01:20 AM 4.67 H 05 Fri 02:10 AM 4.55 H 06 Sat 03:07 AM 4.46 H 07 Sun 04:09 AM 4.43 H 08 Mon 05:12 AM 4.49 H 09 Tue 12:12 AM 0.12 L 10 Wed 01:08 AM -0.18 L 11 Thu 02:02 AM -0.43 L 12 Fri 02:52 AM -0.61 L 13 Sat 03:41 AM -0.67 L 14 Sun 04:29 AM -0.60 L 15 Mon 05:17 AM -0.43 L 16 Tue 12:01 AM 5.26 H 17 Wed 12:50 AM 4.92 H 18 Thu 01:41 AM 4.61 H 19 Fri 02:35 AM 4.37 H 20 Sat 03:33 AM 4.22 H 21 Sun 04:32 AM 4.16 H 22 Mon 05:30 AM 4.19 H 23 Tue 12:13 AM 1.20 L 24 Wed 01:00 AM 1.02 L 25 Thu 01:42 AM 0.82 L 26 Fri 02:21 AM 0.62 L 27 Sat 02:58 AM 0.47 L 28 Sun 03:32 AM 0.39 L 29 Mon 04:06 AM 0.36 L 30 Tue 04:42 AM 0.38 L 31 Wed 05:20 AM 0.45 L

Time 11:38 12:20 06:39 07:26 08:17 09:12 10:11 11:12 06:14 07:12 08:07 09:01 09:53 10:45 11:37 06:06 06:56 07:48 08:41 09:35 10:29 11:22 06:21 07:07 07:50 08:29 09:08 09:46 10:25 11:06 11:50

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

Hgt 4.41 H 4.60 H 0.40 L 0.38 L 0.32 L 0.21 L 0.05 L -0.17 L 4.62 H 4.80 H 4.98 H 5.13 H 5.25 H 5.31 H 5.34 H -0.17 L 0.12 L 0.40 L 0.65 L 0.83 L 0.93 L 0.93 L 4.27 H 4.37 H 4.48 H 4.60 H 4.73 H 4.87 H 5.03 H 5.20 H 5.35 H

Time 05:29 06:18 01:05 01:54 02:49 03:48 04:51 05:53 12:12 01:11 02:06 03:00 03:53 04:46 05:42 12:28 01:20 02:13 03:09 04:07 05:03 05:56 12:13 01:00 01:43 02:24 03:03 03:41 04:22 05:05 05:54

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 0.67 L PM 0.79 L PM 4.82 H PM 5.03 H PM 5.22 H PM 5.40 H PM 5.59 H PM 5.79 H PM -0.43 L PM -0.68 L PM -0.84 L PM -0.85 L PM -0.70 L PM -0.40 L PM -0.01 L PM 5.31 H PM 5.25 H PM 5.16 H PM 5.07 H PM 5.01 H PM 5.01 H PM 5.07 H PM 0.84 L PM 0.71 L PM 0.57 L PM 0.47 L PM 0.43 L PM 0.46 L PM 0.54 L PM 0.66 L PM 0.80 L

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

Time Hgt 11:52 PM 4.92 H 07:12 08:11 09:11 10:12 11:12

PM PM PM PM PM

0.85 0.85 0.76 0.61 0.39

L L L L L

06:52 07:48 08:41 09:32 10:22 11:12

PM PM PM PM PM PM

5.99 6.12 6.17 6.09 5.89 5.60

H H H H H H

06:40 07:39 08:37 09:34 10:29 11:22

PM PM PM PM PM PM

0.40 0.76 1.04 1.23 1.32 1.31

L L L L L L

06:44 07:27 08:08 08:46 09:24 10:03 10:42 11:24

PM PM PM PM PM PM PM PM

5.18 5.30 5.41 5.47 5.47 5.42 5.32 5.20

H H H H H H H H

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Tame the Beast with Okuma’s Silver Slayer T

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here is nothing like the sight of a monster tarpon as it sails through the air trying to shake your hook. Your hands begin to sweat profusely and your triceps suddenly tense up as you buckle down to try and gain control over its wild acrobatics. Will you get that fish back to the boat? That’s the question we all think about at that very moment. Full of excitement, tarpon fishing is a bucket-list item for many fishermen, but it can also be extremely taxing on fishing gear for those who do it. If you’ve ever hooked up to a giant tarpon, 4 you understand that they are big and mean fighting machines. For that very reason, Okuma has worked to perfect a rod that is designed SILVER SLAYER TARPON RODS to allow anglers to - Specifically, designed rod blanks for Tarpon fishing - SeaGuide double locking Alien reel seat - Powerful and responsive 24-ton carbon rod blanks - Tapered cork fore and rear grip with rubber cork inlay go toe-to-toe with Silver Slayer specific models. The four models include a 7’ heavy, 7’ extra-heavy, - UFRII: Ultimate Flex Reinforced rod tip technology - Premium Fuji gimbal for support fighting big fish these beasts of 7’9” heavy and a 7’9” extra-heavy. These rods have the backbone to tarpon rodsby a Limited areLifetime - Fuji K-Concept deep press frames help reduce tangles - Silver Slayer rods are backed warranty - Silky smooth performance from Fuji FazLite guide inserts the salt. We built with powerful and really work your fish to the boat and feature a tapered cork fore and give you responsive 24-ton carbon full-rear grip design with a rubber cork inlay. the Silver SILVER SLAYER TARPON RODS With the brute strength that tarpon possess, Silver Slayer rods rod blanks that feature Okuma’s SLAY-S-701H-FG H MF 7' 0" 15 - 30 lbs 1/2 - 2 oz 12" 1-pcs 7 + Tip A Slayer have all the components to match. Each rod is designed with Fuji UFRII rod tip7"7" technology. What’s SLAY-S-701XH-FG XH MF 7' 0" 20 - 50 lbs 3/4 - 3 oz 12" 1-pcs 7 + Tip A tarpon proprietary blends SLAY-S-791H-FG H MF 7'UFR-II? 9" 15 - 30 lbs This 1/2 - 2 oz 7" 13-1/2"process 1-pcs 7 + Tip AK-Concept deep press frames that help reduce tangles and line SLAY-S-791XH-FG XH MF 7' 9" 20 - 50 lbs 3/4 - 3 oz 7" 13-1/2" 1-pcs 7 + Tip rod! unidirectional fiber over 24-ton carbon in Atwist after all-day casting. Each of these guides holds firmly in place S = Spinning Model the extended tip section of the rod to increase a Fuji Faz-Lite guide insert for silky smooth performance. The rods lifting strength and power by as much as 400 also have a Sea Guide double locking Alien reel seat that keeps your in place. And while fighting percent. This technology provides for the ultimate in spinning reels firmly and comfortably Okuma | Product Catalog 2022 90 strength without sacrificing sensitivity so that you can feel your fish, the Silver Slayer rods all come standard with a premium Fuji gimbal for even the lightest of bites down deep. Learn more at OkumaFishingUSA.com. There are four Silver Slayer tarpon rods that are all spinning- support.


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Legendary Angler Mark Sosin Dies

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he fishing world is mourning the death of Mark Sosin, a legendary fishing writer and television personality who was a long-time columnist for Coastal Angler Magazine. Sosin died on Thursday, June 30 in Boca Raton, Fla. He was 88 years old. Mark Jessurun Sosin was born on July 7, 1933, in Highland Park, New Jersey. He was introduced to fishing at an early age by his father, whose tactics and dedication to conservation were frequent topics in Sosin’s writing. Before making his way into the fishing industry, Sosin graduated from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and earned a master’s in business administration from New York University. He then spent four years in the U.S. Navy and after being discharged worked in several different positions. All the while he fished and dreamed of earning a living from his passion for fishing. Sosin’s long and illustrious career as a writer began in the 1960s, when he began writing magazine articles and books on fishing. Sosin is estimated to have written more than 3,000 magazine articles over his career and more than 20 books on fishing. After moving to Boca Raton with his wife, Susan, in 1979, Sosin launched his TV show, “Mark Sosin’s Saltwater Journal,” in 1983. The program ran for 27 years. Much of Sosin’s work was geared toward education and conservation. His legacy in the fishing industry is that of an educator who helped generations of anglers enter and improve in the sport we all love. Go to www.coastalanglermagazine.com to read Mark Sosin’s columns for Coastal Angler Magazine.

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LURES

LURE APPENDAGES FOR LONGER CASTS

PATRICK SEBILE

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hen it comes to lures designed for longdistance casting, some are built with appendages that truly help reach distances other lures can’t achieve. These appendages might be located inside or outside of the lure. One popular appendage on minnow-style baits is a mass-transfer device. A weight located inside the lure moves to the tail when the lure is held vertically in the casting position, and once it hits the water the weight slides back to its original location for better swimming action. Typically, these lures are best when they use a magnetic mass transfer device. Some billed minnows use a heavy fixed weight in the tail and can achieve longer casts than mass-transfer lures. Either way, one thing is sure: minnows not built for distance do not cast as well as those designed for this purpose. The external shape of a lure also plays a large part in the distance it is capable of reaching. Remember: a floating lure does not perform as well as a sinking or super-long-distance model because of its low density. Denser lures cast better as a rule of thumb, but they might not be best for catching fish because of where they swim in the water column or because they lack seductive action. Appendages can help achieve the best of both worlds by providing

for long casts as well as swimming well at the desired depth. Side wings are an incredible advantage. They add water lift, which helps compensate for a heavier lure and generates great swimming motion. This is how some SK and SLD poppers and pencils can weigh 25 to 100 percent more than similar floating lures and still be able to be used on the surface. The added weight allows for significant increase in casting distance. In the case of a 160mm (6 3/8”) pencil, the floating model weighs 2 ½ ounces, while the sinking model weighs 3 ¼ ounces. This weight increase translates into 50 percent longer casts. On the typical topwater retrieve, the sinking model does everything a floating one can. Actually, the walkthe-dog action is a bit superior, and it’s also possible to fish the heavier pencil like a swimbait with a slow steady retrieve. Those appendages provide great fish-catching action. But there’s a catch. Sinking lures sink. When you need a lure that floats at rest, floating lures with pointy noses cast farther. The physics are simple. Any lure flying through the air generates turbulences in front of the lure, where the line attachment is. This turbulence acts as a suction cup, dragging on the lure and diminishing casting energy. Like on a jet plane, a pointy nose helps limit this effect. Floating lures with pointed noses consistently cast farther than floating lures with similar style and length. Pay attention to these appendages next time you’re buying lures. They will reward you when it comes to distance—and fish caught! Legendary angler Patrick Sebile is a world record holder and an award-winning designer of innovative lures and fishing gear. Check out his creations at abandofanglers.com.

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CCA FLORIDA STAR AWARDS $80K RIG TO FLORIDA ANGLER

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n early July, CCA Florida, the state’s leading organization dedicated to marine fisheries conservation, education and advocacy, named and verified the first Tagged Redfish division winner in the 2022 West Marine CCA Florida STAR competition presented by Yamaha. Jeff Moore, of Punta Gorda, selected a prize package from Pathfinder Boats and Yamaha Outboards valued at more than $80,000. “I still cannot believe I landed a STAR 2022 Tagged Redfish and that it won me a new Pathfinder!” Moore said. “I almost released the fish when I noticed something on its back, which looked like a parasite, so I brought it back over the edge of my ’yak for a better look. You can understand my excitement when I realized it was a STAR tag. I knew I needed a photo on the measuring device to submit my catch through the STAR app and follow the rules to win. I was jazzed that I had registered for STAR. It is like an insurance policy for fishing; don’t fish without it because you could win a boat!” This year, nearly 160 Tagged Redfish were released across Florida’s coastal waters, giving participants more opportunities to win. Remaining

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prizes in the Tagged Redfish Division include a Contender 22 Sport and a Spyder Vapor 19FX, all powered by Yamaha along with $50,000 cash from Alta Equipment Company. Additionally, STAR’s other tagged division, the Tigress Outriggers and Gear Tagged Dolphin Division, will award $10,000 to the first registrant who catches a tagged dolphin. Unlike traditional fishing competitions, CCA Florida STAR focuses on conservation and offers $500,000 in prizes and scholarships during the 101-day event. Recognized as a “catch, photo and release” competition, STAR’s smart phone app eliminates the requirement for anglers to harvest or capture and transport fish. “Not only is STAR about having fun and winning awesome prizes, but it is also dedicated to fishing smarter to help restore, preserve and improve Florida’s marine habitat and water quality,” CCA Florida STAR Director Leiza Fitzgerald said. “Implementing a catch-photo-release competition is just one way to continue fulfilling our organization’s mission and protect our coastal waterways.” STAR is also focused on youth participation, with its Youth Scholarship Division presented by Realtree Fishing, offering $100,000 in scholarships. Youth anglers (ages 6-17) can register for free with a current CCA Florida youth membership ($10) and are eligible for prizes in both tagged divisions. Youth winners in the Tagged Redfish Division will be awarded a new boat with Humminbird Electronics, MinnKota trolling motor, Yamaha 40HP motor and trailer. Additionally, if the first registered angler to catch one of the 20 tagged dolphin (mahi mahi) is a youth, then he or she will win a $10,000 scholarship in the Tigress Outriggers and Gear Tagged Dolphin Division. The STAR competition includes 17 divisions and 12 species and most winners are determined by a random drawing, giving anglers of all ages and skill levels the opportunity to win. Registration is $40 for current CCA Florida members or $75 for non-members. For more information or to register for STAR, visit Facebook, Instagram or ccaflstar.com.

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By Will Schmidt

Your Grouper Grounds

F

inding new spots to fish has been one of the biggest issues facing us since… well, since fishing started. For years inshore fishermen have used satellite views to find points with cuts, oyster bars and other features that can be seen from above in the shallows. The good news is offshore anglers can now take advantage of similar imagery to make finding new spots feel like you’ve got it made in the shade. High-definition relief shading like that in the new Garmin Navionics Vision+ package gives anglers insight into spots they would have never known about unless they just stumbled across them. There are countless examples of offshore spots where I’ve marked and caught fish without knowing that just a few hundred feet away were even better looking spots. It’s hard to know every ridge or well-defined bottom feature, so getting a view of what is down there can be extremely beneficial. Of course, not all

spots that look good hold fish, but it’s a start. Once you find something of interest, spot lock trolling motors make it easy to move and drop baits to see if anyone is home. For larger areas, such as long ridges, sometimes trolling makes a bit more sense to cover more ground. When chasing bottom fish such as grouper, there are a few techniques that work well. Downriggers and planers with jig heads and large paddletail baits work well, but I find deep diving plugs to be even better. There are a host of deep divers out now that provide an accurate depth to which they will dive. The Nomad DTX Minnow is one of my favorites. It is deadly on grouper and does double duty with its high-speed capability for chasing pelagic species as well. I also love the fact that they come rigged with single hooks versus treble hooks. The key is to just graze the sandy bottom next to the rocks to get the groupers’ attention. They have keen sight and will charge out quickly to grab a meal, and the bonus is you start with them already away from the rocks. Just a few hundred feet away The great thing about using highfrom where the author has definition relief shading and trolling marked and caught grouper for grouper is you might have one is a massive ledge that holds even more fish. spot that quickly turns into four or five locations to drop baits in a relatively small area. Sometimes the spots are within a few hundred feet and sometimes farther. Regardless, this technology is a game-changer, and by covering new ground quickly it can make finding new productive spots much easier. Will Schmidt is a seasoned tournament angler who has been writing about fishing from more than two decades.

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them carefully when dog-day temperatures peak. Fish are fighting for their lives with every ounce of their strength on the end of a line. The stress can kill them when water conditions are less than ideal. That, along with blazing hot sun on the back of the neck, is enough reason to strike out in search of a more appealing environment when it gets hot. My 11-year-old son and I recently spent a couple days on the headwaters of North Carolina’s Nantahala River at a place called Standing Indian. Standing Indian Mountain tops out at close to 5,500 feet, and its slopes feed the river with plenty of cold water from numerous headwater branches. This area, upstream of the U.S. Forest Service’s Standing Indian Campground, is off of U.S. 64 west of Franklin, N.C. The Nantahala at Standing Indian bears little resemblance to the big whitewater river it becomes downstream near Bryson City. In its headwaters, there are about six miles of public water that might be 20 feet across in the wide spots. It’s a great little stream for folks who enjoy slinging dry flies on a four-weight fly rod for pretty little rainbow and brown trout. The fishing wasn’t exactly stellar the two days my son and I fished in mid-June. There were thunderstorms each night, so the river was a little high and stained. My son is also new to a lightweight fly rod, and overhanging rhododendron and river birch are hardly easy terrain for a beginner. Still, we managed to catch numerous gorgeous rainbows slinging a dry-dropper rig with a small Pheasant Tail fished beneath a yellow Stimulator. There were little yellow Sally stoneflies in the air, so our selection of dry fly matched the hatch. Good small-stream browns in the 14-inch range come from this stretch of water pretty regularly, but all we caught were rainbows with a couple measuring maybe 10 or 11 inches. That’s a pretty good fish in terms of little By Nick Carter wild trout streams in the Southeast. We considered our mission accomplished returning to a riverside campsite each evening. While my son might not be old enough to appreciate it, the cool mountain rout anglers have two options when it comes to deep summer. They can air and bedding down to the gurgle of the creek were the highlights of the trip. either hit tailwater fisheries, where dam-controlled flows provide stable The air temperature was easily 20 degrees cooler than back home, and I don’t year-round water temperatures, or they can seek out high-elevation know if I’ve ever slept better. headwaters, where both fish and angler find comfort in rhododendron-shaded For information, check out Nick Carter’s book “Flyfisher’s Guide to creeks with water conditions perennially perfect for little wild trout. North Carolina & Georgia.” It’s available on Amazon or by Big fish and big hatches of tailrace trout fishing are certainly appealing. contacting the author at nsc8957@gmail.com. However, anglers should play fish intended for release quickly and handle

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ass are on the move in deep summer. Throwing search baits, especially topwater, is one of the best and most fun ways to find groups of feeding fish. A style of lure that was created a long time ago but still works wonders today is an old-school topwater popper. You can throw this just about anywhere around rocks, grass, wood, docks and in open water to get bites. When the weather gets hot and more people get on the water, getting fish to commit to a surface lure is sometimes almost impossible. What I like to do is put away the bigger topwaters like walking baits or Whopper Ploppers and take out a smaller Pop-Rstyle bait. There are a few reasons this bait gets more bites in the right situations. The first is it’s smaller and quieter. A smaller profile and less noise is sometimes what these finicky fish want. I have seen many situations when throwing a big noisy topwater won’t get a single bite, but throwing a popper in the same area makes fish eat. Another reason popper-style baits are very good is the speed at which you can work them. There are many topwaters that require highspeed retrieves. With a popper, the slower you work it the more it drives them crazy. I vary my retrieve and see what the fish are feeling, but usually I’ll pop the bait subtly a few times and vary the action to make it look like a dying baitfish. Then I’ll let the bait sit for a few seconds before creating another movement. This absolutely drives them crazy. One last reason poppers are deadly is that feathered rear treble hook. When fish are feeding on tiny baitfish or bugs, the feathered treble makes them bite. Sometimes even the small profile of the bait is still too big for them, but they come up and see the feathers and eat those instead. Fishing the right rod and reel with a Pop-R makes a huge difference in landing fish. You want a rod with a good amount of bend because you don’t set the hook. Instead, you just reel into them. I use a 13 Fishing Defy Black 7’ cranking rod. For the reel, you want something that is able to cast a light lure as far as possible. You also need one that will pick up the bait fast for another cast in case a fish misses or you spot surfacing fish. I use a 13 Fishing Concept with an 8:3 gear ratio. I spool it with 30- to 50-lb. Seaguar Smackdown Braid. Next time you get on the water, pick up a popper style lure like a 13 Fishing Poppy McPop Face and see how deadly it can be in the summer months. Tyler Woolcott is a professional tournament angler and guide. Check out his website at www.tylerwoolcottfishing.com.

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