Coastal Angler Magazine | April 2024 | Northeast Florida Edition

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Whether your vessel options are limited or you just want to spice up your inshore fshing experience, fshing from a kayak should not be overlooked as a possibility. When done correctly, it is some of the most exciting fshing. It can also be modifed for the extreme, or an entirely leisure day on the water.

Kayaking is how I fell in love with fshing. Of all the diferent ways I have gone about it, I have enjoyed them all. From packing a lunch and fshing my way to an island for a picnic and a swim, to drifing backcountry mangroves other vessels cannot access, to cruising dock lights at night, or deploying in

1,300 feet of water seeking yellowfn tuna of of the oil rigs, kayak fshing is versatile with endless possibilities.

Tis type of fshing can be dangerous, and its especially important to know your limitations and be overly prepared. Currents and wind change quickly and afect your return trip. Make sure to check tides and weather before venturing or drifing too far. Paddling against the current while battling the extreme heat can put you in a bad situation very quickly. Make sure to have a small anchor onboard as well. Obviously, this will come in handy for fshing, and it can also provide an opportunity to rest if exhaustion is getting the best of you.

Decking out your rig for fshing is an art form, and there are many ways to go about it. Prioritize having a cooler attached to the back over all else. You do not want to get dehydrated out there. Aferall, you are the motor of the vessel, and should be well maintained just like any other motor.

Afx everything to your kayak with the expectation of getting fipped. Of course, do everything to keep yourself from that situation, but things happen. Use dry-storage bags, and clip everything to the kayak itself. Most kayaks are designed to make this a straightforward process.

Fishing artifcials will simplify your set up, but sometimes afer all the paddling, its nice to relax and toss out some live bait. A bait bucket on a rope with shrimp, that can be tossed out between paddles, should be all you need. For more extreme fshing, modify a PVC pipe with holes drilled into it to hold live baitfsh.

Use common sense and check local regulations. Protect yourself from the sun during the day, be properly lit at night, and stay out of high-trafc boating areas and channels. You are also required to carry a PFD and a sound producing device, such as a whistle.

Once you have hit the full safety checklist, go out there and experience the possibilities that kayak fshing has to ofer. Fishing from a kayak will intensify the tug even with smaller fsh you hook up to, so hang on and enjoy the aquatic sleigh ride.

Capt. Quinlyn Haddon guides with Sweet E’Nuf Charters out of Marathon, Fla. See, @captainquinlyn or call (504) 920-6342.

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Hybrid striped bass are the Franken-fsh of anglers’ dreams. Also known as wipers, sunshine bass and other names, they are hatchery-produced crossbreeds of white bass and striped bass. Tey are stocked into reservoirs across the country for angler enjoyment.

Central Georgia’s Lake Oconee is a hybrid hot spot. Georgia stocks hundreds of thousands of hybrids in the lake, and conventional anglers get afer them with live baits, jigging spoons, bucktails and trolling lures.

Capt. Wayne Moore, of Oconee on the Fly guide service, is probably the only guy you’ll see on Oconee waving a fy rod from his center console. While he admits conventional tactics are more efective, there are three situations when fy fshing is both productive and a boatload of fun.

Oconee is a 19,000-acre impoundment about an hour and a half drive east of Atlanta. Te lake backs up behind a pump-back dam that creates currents that are key to a good hybrid bite. Moore said there is ofen a good afernoon bite when the dam kicks on and hybrids move onto main-lake points to chase threadfn shad. Afer locating bait and fsh with electronics, Moore goes to work on them with 8-weight fy rods and intermediate sinktip lines. He fshes a cadence of fve short strips and a pause with a 2-inch long white/chartreuse Clouser on a 5-foot leader of 12- to 15-pound


When the bite is hot, a good angler might boat 8 to 10 fsh, and 4- to 6-pound hybrids are not uncommon. “A 6-pound hybrid is going to fght like a 10-pound striper,” Moore said.

A fy rod is also fun for the mid-lake morning bite. When the water starts moving, hybrids herd shad to the surface and blow up on them in a frenzy. Te action only lasts an hour, but the bite is consistent for two or three weeks during the May shad spawn.

With thousands of newly hatched shad in the water, Cowen’s Somethin’ Else, and Cowen’s Coyote are Moore’s go-to fies. Henry Cowen is a legendary angler and fy tier who developed patterns specifcally for striped bass in Georgia waters. His fies work just as well on hybrids.

Night fshing under the lights is another situation when Moore would rather use a fy rod.

“We don’t have a lot of lit docks here, but the

ones that are lit will be covered with fsh,” he said. Casts must be precise, and the fghts are technical, so Moore reserves night trips for experienced fy fshers.

“You better have that 15-pound leader. A 6-pound hybrid will give you a run for your money,” he said. “Tey’ll run you right back under that dock.”

With the May schooling bite approaching, it’s worth making plans to visit Oconee now…or try these tactics on your local hybrid reservoir.

Contact Wayne Moore at (404) 317-9556 or and check out Oconee on the Fly at

Cast Lures in a Mitzi Tournament


May 10th & 11th, 2024

Online Registration:

Captain’s Meeting

The Island Fish Co.

Friday May 10th - 6pm to 7pm

Lines In: Saturday, May 11 - 7:30am

Lines Out: Saturday, May 11 - 3:30pm


Curly’s Cofee

Saturday, May 11th - 3:30pm to 6pm

Awards Banquet

Marathon Yacht Club

Saturday, May 11th - 7pm

Sunday Honor Our Moms

Always in our Hearts JB!

18th Annual Mother’s Day Dolphin Tournament

An Angler TournamentAngler Entry Fee is a Donation


Ladies, Junior (16 and under), Weekend Warrior and Pro Prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in all categories

Contact Chris Todd Young at 305-797-5779

Presented by

FISH FOR A CAUSE to benefit
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Trophy bass fshing in Alachua County was already good. With recently approved regulations intended to grow trophy bass, many anglers and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are hoping it will get even better.

Orange Lake and Lochloosa Lake will both be managed under new regulations, which prohibit killing or possessing any black bass that is 20 inches or longer. Also, the new rules require the use of non-ofset circle hooks when fshing with natural baits longer than 3 inches in length. Te regulations are designed to allow trophy bass to remain in the lakes to grow larger and to minimize injury to fsh caught with natural baits. Bass ofen swallow live baits prior to the hook set, and circle hooks are designed so they are more likely than other hook styles to hook fsh in the lip, rather than in the gullet.

“Florida bass need to have the right genetics and waterbody conditions to grow for a long time,” said FWC Commissioner Gary Lester. “Orange Lake is unique, like in its fuctuations in water levels, that makes ideal conditions for bass to reach record sizes.”

Indeed, Orange Lake has established itself as one of the top trophy bass lakes in the state. It produces numerous 10-plus-pound largemouth bass every year, as documented by the Florida TrophyCatch program. Already in 2024, anglers have caught, released and reported eight 10-pluspounders to the program, and this fgure doesn’t include all the fsh caught by anglers who don’t participate in TrophyCatch. Te largest Orange Lake bass this year, so far, was a monster 13-pound, 4-ounce fsh caught by Luke Bolling on Feb. 15.

Lochloosa is not as much of a trophy bass factory as its sister lake, but it does pump out several 8- to 11-pounders for the Trophy Catch program each year. Both lakes are in Alachua County southwest of Gainesville.

Tese regulations changes support FWC’s eforts to grow larger trophy

bass across the state and allow bass in these lakes to reach their maximum growth potential.

For more information, visit
12-year-old Luke Bolling caught this 13-plus-pound Orange Lake bass in February.


In my years of fshing the Indian River Lagoon, some of my best fshing has been wading.

Tere’s nothing like being in the water with the fsh. It provides advantages you don’t have in a boat. Wading is the most silent and efective way to fsh shallow water. Tere are lots of places you can access the lagoon, and all of them have fsh.

WADERS : You need a pair of chest waders because of the changing water quality, and you can get a good pair for less than $100. Waders protect you from underwater obstacles as well as cold or dirty water. In Florida, neoprene waders are too hot for most of the year. I prefer vinyl waders. If it’s cold, you can wear jogging pants under them.

Waders come with boots attached or sof shoe, which require rubber boots to wear over them. Make sure you don’t get the boot size too small. Wading boots can be very uncomfortable if they are too tight. Wear socks and get a larger boot.

GEAR: I recommend a good spinning reel with a 9- or 10-foot rod for longer casting. I use braided line because it’s strong and the smaller diameter of the line is better for casting. I use 6to 10-pound braid most of the time with 2-foot fuorocarbon leader. I use a 25-pound leader but have used 20- to 40-pound leaders in diferent situations. Carry extra leaders and lures in case your line breaks.

My main lures are search lures for making lots of casts and covering wide areas of water quickly. My favorite lure is a ¼-ounce jig with a sof-plastic body. I use D.O.A. jigs with a chartreuse head rigged with a pearl white paddletail (D.O.A. Shad Tail). It swims but is not erratic, and it’s easy for fsh to locate by sight and vibration. Te other search lures I use are shallow-running crankbaits (Yo-Zuri Inshore in pearl white), topwater lures (Skitterwalk/Zara Spook or Chug Plug), and spoons (Johnson silver or gold). Te jig covers shallow and deep water and can be skipped under piers and mangroves.

WIND: Too much wind, and it’s too hard to fsh. Not enough wind, and the fsh are hard to catch. It’s easier to fsh with the wind at your back because you can cast farther. To get the right wind, you can fsh either the east side or the west side of the lagoon. Most of the time there is an easterly wind. If it’s too windy, fsh around the Stuart bridges, which almost completely block the wind.

LOCATIONS: I wade the southern Indian River Lagoon from Sebastian to Jupiter, mostly between Fort Pierce and Stuart. Here are my favorite spots:

West Side—Walton Road (intersection with Indian River Rd) and Walton Scrub; Midway Road and Old Fort Park in Fort Pierce; and both Stuart Bridges.

April Fishing Forecast:

There’s still a pompano bite on the beaches and in the lagoon. Jig from the bridges or wade while fan casting with jigs. Look for birds and bait to fnd bluefsh, jacks and ladyfsh. Snook will still be deep, but on warm days they will run the beach from the inlets and be around the deeper piers in the lagoon. Redfsh are around the deeper piers.

East Side—Bear Point then Blind Creek in Fort Pierce; North and South Herman’s Bay in St. Lucie; and both Stuart Bridges.

Richard L. Matteson is a long-time contributor to Coastal Angler Magazine who reports for the Stuart Rod and Reel Club.

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Fishing Report & Forecast Mayport

The weather of March should hold a reminder to us as an example on how quick it can change. That being said I believe the cooler days of March helped our fishery out on a positive note. Look for the jetties at Mayport to hold good numbers of reds, trout, sheepshead, black drum, and ringtails. High clean water should be what you look for to find the fish. On the high outgoing tides trout will be found by casting float rigs on the edges of the rocks with live shrimp. Try to vary the depth based on the areas you fish. Try to have one angler fishing tight to the rocks on a shallow rig and another fishing deep to see where they are. The water temps are still in the 60’s and they will be balled up in tight schools. I prefer a light tackle Inshore 7ft with a Shimano 4000 Stradic. If you haven’t tried this reel out you should. Work in varying depths but look for clean water both inside the rocks and out.

The reds will be hunting for food on the high fall so go deep. Pitch a ¼ to a ½ oz jig ten feet out from the rocks up current using a jumbo live shrimp. Many of the fish will be oversized so you might have to throw a few back. Sheeps will also be in the same zone so don’t be surprised if you bang a few of these too!

If you’re targeting sheepshead this is the time of year this is when the final push of big spawners will be around. A fiddler, ¼ piece of blue crab, clam, or small shrimp work well. A Carolina rig/egg

sinker rig is effective or small ¼ to ½ oz jigs are good methods too!

The big giant black drum will be around too this month and can usually be caught on the high top of the flood tide on the tips of both rock piles. A ¼ to ½ of a fresh blue crab is the most effective though I have caught many on a peeled jumbo fresh dead shrimp. Typically we are fishing in 36-46ft of water and sometime deeper. Be patient on its not always a huge bite that you see. They have a slow mealy kinda of bite that at times looks like a small fish is pecking on the bait and it’s a huge 60lber. Remember these are our spawners and don’t make good table fair so I really suggest you put them back. Make sure you have a venting tool handy to release the air from the distended bladders=. This way they can swim back down.

The offshore party grounds should still be holding good numbers of snapper, sea bass, ringtails, sheepshead, and some trigger fish. Check the regs for the legal limits as our snapper are still closed.

The beach fishing should start to pick up so begin to look for pogie pods to show if it’s a particularly warm month. Pogies mean big predators like bull reds, triple tail, sharks, Spanish, and cobia. The pogies, though at times scattered, have been around all winter and warming seas will make them school tighter.

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.


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Fishing Report Pier and Surf

The Pompano are here! The Pompano are here! Thanks to El Nino ,we had a mild winter and the big Pompano showed up in mid March. Twenty inchers up to five pounds are being caught right now. So GO! Along with them, we have experienced a great winter of big Whiting and even bigger Bluefish. They are the biggest I have ever seen and I have been fishing these beaches for 47 years. Ten to 15 pounders are being caught every week!

If you want to land your personal best Bluefish, then cut bait is your best bet. What ever you catch in the surf cut it up and throw it right back out. You can use any unregulated species such as Whiting, Ladyfish, Spots, Croakers or Palometa. The big Blues will also slam top water lures and

Gotcha plugs.

There have also been nice slot Redfish, Black Drum and even Sheepshead in the first trough. All of these are being caught on Pompano rigs tipped with various baits. You can never go wrong with fresh shrimp, live Sand Fleas, live clams or Blue Crab knuckles. On my last outing, we also caught a lot of fish on Fishbites clam flavor.

I am pleased to announce the Florida Surf Casters 20th Annual Surf Fishing Tournament. It will be held May 4th. The weigh in will be held at Strike Zone Fishing in Jacksonville. There are adults and kids divisions. For all the details and to register, please visit Springtime is a great time to get out and enjoy our beaches. It is also a great opportunity to score your personal best Whiting, Bluefish and Pompano. See you on the beach!

Noel Kuhn

Surf fishing guide and long distance casting coach. 904-945-0660


Fishing Report & Forecast St. Augustine Inshore

Whatan absolute amazing time of year for fishing and for just being on the water in Northeast Florida. The weather (hopefully) is about as nice as it gets... The inshore fish (redfish, trout, flounder, drum, bluefish, ladyfish, jacks, etc.) will be on the feed with the influx of baitfish (finger mullet and pogies). With warming air and water temps the nearshore fishing should be firing up as well with huge jacks, cobia, and maybe even a tripletail or two and even a tarpon if things heat up fast enough.

favorites, the good old paddle tail. The Elite Shiner made by Saltwater Assassin is the perfect subsurface lure for this time of year as it mimics the bait fish perfectly. Of course, a popping cork with a shrimp or mud minnow will catch its fair share of reds this month as well.

April has always been a great “gator” trout month for me. A topwater plug will account for some of the bigger trout catches this month. The outgoing tide along the ICW banks should be loaded with trout, especially if the baitfish are around. Once the day heats up a bit, I like to fish a Saltwater Assassin jighead paired with one of their soft plastic paddle tails for the trout. Use a twitch, twitch, pause method and most of the time they’ll hit it on the pause. A free-lined live shrimp with a small pinch weight a few inches above it is a great was to catch some trout too.

Inshore the redfish will be chasing the finger mullet and that means a top-water plug, especially at first and last light, will be the go-to lure of choice. Look for large concentrations of mullet or other baitfish and toss your top-water plugs around them. My go-to top-water plug for the last year has been the Berkley J-Walker... it just does that side to side “walk the dog” action so well the redfish can’t refuse it! When the sun gets higher in the sky I like to switch to a search bait this time of year. Some of my favorites are spoons, twitch baits, and one of my

The inlets will come alive with all kinds of fast hitting fish this month. Look for jacks, blues, ladyfish, and spanish macs to be on the feed around all the area inlets. Crankbaits, spoons, and just about anything that’s moving fast through the water will catch these fish.

Nearshore the cobia will be along the beaches following the manta rays. The magic water temp seems to be somewhere between the high 60’s and low 70’s. Pick a calm sunny day and have your shot at some of the most fun sight-fishing Northeast Florida has to offer. Also be sure to bring a few live shrimp when hitting the beach as there may be a few tripletail hanging around as well.s.

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Fishing Report & Forecast Sisters Creek


April can be a very diverse month with some redfish in the backcountry shallows, as well as pelagic fish (fish that live off the ocean floor) returning with the mullet and pogies to north

Florida with the warmer water. You pretty much can fish backpacking low tide reds and as high tide comes in, you can still fish for other species. The standard shallow water methods for redfish in the backcountry will still be holding good. Usually, after April, many of the backcountry reds, start to thin out in the backcountry. This is a very good month for big trout (Gatorstrout over 5 lbs) I like to fish for them on the last of the incoming tide. Trout like clean cooler incoming water. I try

Florida with the warmer water. You pretty much can fish backpacking low tide reds and as high tide comes in, you can still fish for other species. The standard shallow water methods for redfish in the backcountry will still be holding good. Usually, after April, many of the backcountry reds, start to thin out in the backcountry. This is a very good month for big trout (Gatorstrout over 5 lbs) I like to fish for them on the last of the incoming tide. Trout like clean cooler incoming water. I try

to hit points that are being divided by tide or current. Eddies, that are formed by the current going around structure can be holding fish. As well as this month being a good speckled sea trout, Jack Crevales, Spanish, mackerel, bluefish and ladyfish will start to be in the mix. As you are fishing for more of the quality species redfish, and trout, it is not uncommon to catch the other species. Topwaters, with a “walk the dog” method of retrieving can produce some big quality fish. Topwater plugs have a tendency to produce the bigger fish. Lipped divers in the mullet and pogie patterns will produce very well also. In the past April, my logs have shown catches of all the species mentioned earlier, so it can make for a fun filled action packed day. I talk a lot about lure fishing because it keeps people active, however, the traditional popping corks and slip floats will take their fair share of fish also. Weedless spoons through the flooded grass and grass edges will also be another good way to pick up a Redfish. Keep in mind as we come into the warmer months low light conditions will prevail.!

Capt. Tony Bozzella / TBS JIGS 904 651 0182
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Historic Coast Outfitters

Press Release


there is an unimaginable treasure closer than you think, and the treasure of exceptional Inshore Fishing for the mighty Redifish, Trout, Flounder, or even the elusive Tarpon,is right here in Northeast Florida. There is a new concept when it comes to the Outdoorsman and a fishing experience second to none, created by the fishermen themselves at “Historic Coast Outfitters”.

“Historic Coast Outfitters” can guide your mystic adventures through the shallow waters that grace our Intracoastal Waterways and along the First Coast’s most spectacular shorelines. Our Professional fishing guides possess all the tools and knowledge necessary to navigate your experience. You will encounter the crawling Redfish searching for crabs in 6 inches of water in our low tide creeks and flood tide scenarios. Depending on the season, you may have several opportunities to witness the explosions

of hunting Silver King (Tarpon) busting baits along the shorelines of our beaches. Our guides can assist you with Fly Fishing, Spin, Live Bait, or Artificial Lures. Whatever your needs, we have you covered.

The Team at “Historic Coast Outfitters” provide unparalleled daily guided Inshore Fishing trips for one or two Anglers or an All inclusive 3 day adventure for two to eight Anglers including lodging, two days of fishing, meals, and a tour of St Augustine’s finest beer, wine, and food establishments. These group events allow for afternoon gatherings to talk about the days catch and to do a little bragging about the “big one” that got away. After all, this is what camaraderie and fine outdoors is all about. Locally, there is an abundance of food, arts and crafts, gift shops, bars, haunted tours, and special eateries that line the old cobblestone streets of St Augustine, so there is plenty to do when you have a couple hours free or if you decide to stick around for an extra day or two.

We pride ourselves in Conservation and want to ensure that our love for this type of fishing is carried forward for future generations to enjoy. We have guests from all over the country, and with many different levels of fishing experience. Please join us at to view a few videos showcasing our jewel here in Northeast Florida. You will have the opportunity to see what we have to offer and to book your next adventure.



Crispy coconut baked mahi

Note: This baked Mahi recipe is easy enough for any weeknight but the coconut cilantro sauce makes it special enough for guests.

4 Servings | Prep: 10 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes


Baking Spray

4 Mahi fillets cleaned (1.5 lbs)

½ cup Stonyfield Greek Yogurt (or your choice)

¼ cup Coconut Milk

½ tsp. Salt, divided

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 tsp lime juice

¼ cup panko bread crumbs

¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut

2 tsp vegetable oil


• Preheat oven to 450F. Spray a large baking pan with baking spray (or you can grease it with 1 teaspoon of olive oil or vegetable oil). Arrange the fish fillets on the pan.

•In a small bowl combine the yogurt, coconut milk and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Measure 4 tablespoons of this sauce into a separate small bowl. Brush the 4 tablespoons of sauce onto the tops of the fish fillets. To the remaining bowl of sauce add the cilantro and lime juice. Cover and refrigerate.

•In a small bowl combine the panko, shredded coconut, vegetable oil and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Sprinkle 1/4 of the crumbs down the middle of each fillet and then use your fingers to flatten and spread it, coating the top of each fillet. Bake until well browned and cooked through, 10-12 minutes.

•Meanwhile, to the remaining bowl of yogurt sauce add the cilantro and lime juice. Stir.

•Serve the fish with the cold yogurt sauce on the side.

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.


Fishing Report & Forecast Fernandina / Amelia Island

Black drum fishing is extremely popular during the entire month of April, particularly just a few days prior, and right on the full moon. The very best black drum fishing action will come just a few days prior and right on the full moon, which arrives on April 23rd. On the day of the full moon flood tides will arrive at 9:17 am and at 9:41 pm.

With this in mind, the ocean side of south jetty rocks, just off from the very tip, will produce excellent action during the morning incoming tide. Be sure and watch your fish finder closely for the massive schools of black drum. When located, anchor your fishing boat just up tide of the school of black drum while fishing dead on the bottom with crab, conch, fresh large shrimp, or a combination of all three. Thirty to fifty-pound spinning gear is recommended with the spinning reel filled with fifty pound, hi-vis yellow braided fishing line. A six-ounce egg weight is threaded on to the fishing line followed with a large plastic bead and fifty-pound barrel swivel. Next, a two-foot length of fiftypound fluorocarbon leader is attached to the remaining side of the barrel swivel. Finally, a 7/0 kahle hook is attached to the business end of shock leader using a “Uni” knot. The Hi-Vis fishing line helps drum fishermen stay clear of other fishermen in the same boat fighting fish.

Black drum have massive crushers located in the back of their mouth

and once taking a barbed drum bait, the bait is moved to the back of the mouth where a timely hook set is a must.

Robert Haddock is currently running the “Fernandina Beach Black Dru” fishing tournament. For updates and information, go to face book, “Nassau County Black Drum Tournament”. Also be prepared to catch oversized red drum while bottom fishing for black drum during the entire month of April.

Seatrout weighing over five pounds will literally be exploding on a variety of top water plugs including the popular “Chug Bug” and “Zara Spook” in the chrome and chartreuse color patterns. Best action comes where a large shell bottom holds schools of mullet, which are a top forage fish for seatrout.

Drifting live shrimp under a “Popping” cork in these same waters is also an excellent fishing tactic for Spring “Gator” trout.

Best tide for both numbers and large sea trout, is the last few hours of the flooding tide and the first hour of the falling tide when water clarity is best. When targeting sea trout with both live bait and plugs, expect to encounter large schools of redfish as well. Which is an amazing fishing experience!

Beach fishing is excellent during the month of April as well, particularly at the footsteps of Historic Fort Clinch and the very southern tip of Amelia Island. Fishing with a two-hook leader with a four one pyramid weight is key. The best baits include ultra fresh local shrimp, or sand fleas. Expect to catch whiting, bluefish, pompano, and more.

Offshore fishing heats up at many of the nearshore live bottoms, rock ledges, and wrecks for cobia, black sea bass, kingfish, grouper and more. Best action comes by jigging up live cigar minnows with a “BaitCatcher” and fishing the live minnows just off from the bottom. Be sure and have a twenty-pound class spinning rod handy with a two-ounce bright colored bucktail jig when cobia swim right up to your fishing boat!

Finally, giant wahoo will be crushing high speed lures where water depths drop off sharply at the edge of the Gulf Stream.

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

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Serving Up More.

St. Augustine Offshore

April Fools Fishing

Its Mahi Time….. we just need the weather to cooperate. Weather is the issue this time of year. The cold fronts are gone but strong winds will still ruin many trips. April is the month for the long run so calm seas are helpful if not necessary. Mahi should be pushing north and should be here. Reports are Wahoo and Tuna are still around, and the occasional Sailfish and Blue Marlin will be encountered by anglers making the 50+ mile run to the east. Look for water temperature over 72 degrees and bait and you will be in business. Rigged Ballyhoo/bait combos will take the majority of fish. Just about any color combination will work

with blue and white, red and black, green and yellow being the most common. If Wahoo are your target, wire leaders are a must but Mahi and Tuna are much easier to hook on monofilament. For wire rigs I use number 10 wire, on the monofilament rigs 125 pound. Hook size should match your bait and lure size I usually use medium ballyhoo on a number 8 or 9 mustad 3412c.

Wahoo tournaments the last few years have taught us some interesting things like slow trolling live bait for the largest wahoo. Some incredible catches of big wahoo have been made recently by anglers using live large blue runners and small bonita that are jigged up from the offshore reefs.Basically mimicking the slow troll kingfish method. 120 to 150 ft depths are the norm. Find the bait on your fish finder and find the Wahoo.

On the bottom vermillion snapper will be open and will be everywhere from 100ft on out to the shelf edge. Triggerfish and Red porgy will be plentiful as well and can be caught on squid on the shelf if the trolling fish don’t cooperate. The Manta rays will be migrating north and will be accompanied by some fat Cobia. Jigs tipped with rubber eels or live bait will fool them. Last year also produced some spectacular Triple tail action so a dozen live shrimp in the well is a good idea. This is sight fishing for both species so calm seas and clear skies are a must.

Whatever species you target if the winds cooperate, the fish will be there.

Captain Robert Johnson


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For centuries, knife makers have tried to solve the problem of “edge dulling” by focusing on improving the rate of wear by making the blade as hard as possible so it wears more slowly and stays sharp as long as possible. The problem with this approach is that the blade edge will become dull and the harder the blade, the harder it is to sharpen, and the more brittle the edge.

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Relentless™ Knives feature a 100% aerospace grade titanium blade. Titanium is extremely lightweight, which means less wrist fatigue while filleting, and extraordinarily strong. But, most important, titanium is extremely resistant to corrosion and degradation. In other words, a Relentless™ Knife will never rust. This is an ideal attribute for a fillet knife, especially for the saltwater angler.

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Nassau Sport Fishing Association

The 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.

The winter season of our Fish of the Season has concluded. Although weather during January and February make fishing a bit difficult, our anglers were till able to take advantage of some good days and bring some fish to the scales and 25 fish were weighed for our contest resulting with wins for Larry Hubbard with a 1.39# whiting, Tandy Morton with a 7.3# Sheepshead, and Marvin Leniger with a 3.28# trout. Congratulations to all our anglers who weighed fish and scored points toward the 2024 NSFA Anger of the year award, Spring season is underway. This season anglers will be hunting for Black Drum, Whiting, and

Pompano. With the weather beginning to cooperate, this is a great time to get out and enjoy some of the great fishing we have here in our backyard. So some larger whiting are in the surf now but the pompano have not showed up yet due to cold water conditions. And rumors indicate the sand fleas are already in the surf. The big drum are biting with some keepers mixed in so this should be a good bet in many of the waters we fish.

The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival is also right around the corner. NSFA will once again be manning the festival at our food booth. This is one of our 2 major fund raisers for the year to support our ongoing educational activities and scholarships. Stop by the booth and say hello.

NSFA meets on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month at Kraft Athletic Club on Amelia Island. Join us on 24 April for our monthly social gathering. If interested in joining, please visit our website at NSFAFISH.NET

16 NORTHEAST FLORIDA APRIL 2024 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM Date Day Time Hgt TimeHgt Time Hgt Time Hgt 01 Mon 01:43 AM 4.79 H 08:11 AM 0.77 L 02:11 PM 3.94 H 08:09 PM 0.70 L 02 Tue 02:45 AM 4.76 H 09:13 AM 0.72 L 03:15 PM 4.03 H 09:19 PM 0.57 L 03 Wed 03:53 AM 4.81 H 10:15 AM 0.52 L 04:22 PM 4.24 H 10:29 PM 0.32 L 04 Thu 05:01 AM 4.94 H 11:15 AM 0.19 L 05:27 PM 4.58 H 11:34 PM -0.04 L 05 Fri 06:02 AM 5.11 H 12:10 PM -0.23 L 06:26 PM 5.02 H 06 Sat 12:35 AM -0.45 L 06:58 AM 5.26 H 01:01 PM -0.64 L 07:20 PM 5.46 H 07 Sun 01:32 AM -0.82 L 07:50 AM 5.33 H 01:50 PM -0.97 L 08:11 PM 5.83 H 08 Mon 02:25 AM -1.08 L 08:41 AM 5.30 H 02:36 PM -1.16 L 09:00 PM 6.06 H 09 Tue 03:15 AM -1.18 L 09:30 AM 5.17 H 03:22 PM -1.16 L 09:48 PM 6.13 H 10 Wed 04:05 AM -1.08 L 10:19 AM 4.97 H 04:09 PM -0.97 L 10:37 PM 6.03 H 11 Thu 04:56 AM -0.81 L 11:09 AM 4.73 H 04:57 PM -0.64 L 11:27 PM 5.78 H 12 Fri 05:48 AM -0.43 L 12:00 PM 4.49 H 05:50 PM -0.24 L 13 Sat 12:18 AM 5.45 H 06:43 AM -0.01 L 12:53 PM 4.28 H 06:48 PM 0.17 L 14 Sun 01:12 AM 5.09 H 07:41 AM 0.38 L 01:49 PM 4.12 H 07:50 PM 0.52 L 15 Mon 02:11 AM 4.76 H 08:40 AM 0.66 L 02:51 PM 4.04 H 08:54 PM 0.76 L 16 Tue 03:13 AM 4.53 H 09:37 AM 0.80 L 03:56 PM 4.06 H 09:57 PM 0.88 L 17 Wed 04:17 AM 4.40 H 10:32 AM 0.82 L 04:59 PM 4.17 H 10:56 PM 0.89 L 18 Thu 05:15 AM 4.37 H 11:23 AM 0.73 L 05:53 PM 4.36 H 11:51 PM 0.81 L 19 Fri 06:06 AM 4.39 H 12:09 PM 0.56 L 06:40 PM 4.56 H 20 Sat 12:42 AM 0.65 L 06:51 AM 4.42 H 12:52 PM 0.38 L 07:20 PM 4.76 H 21 Sun 01:27 AM 0.45 L 07:33 AM 4.43 H 01:30 PM 0.22 L 07:57 PM 4.94 H 22 Mon 02:08 AM 0.26 L 08:12 AM 4.41 H 02:06 PM 0.12 L 08:32 PM 5.08 H 23 Tue 02:47 AM 0.11 L 08:50 AM 4.36 H 02:40 PM 0.10 L 09:06 PM 5.17 H 24 Wed 03:24 AM 0.04 L 09:28 AM 4.28 H 03:13 PM 0.13 L 09:42 PM 5.22 H 25 Thu 04:00 AM 0.06 L 10:07 AM 4.21 H 03:46 PM 0.22 L 10:20 PM 5.22 H 26 Fri 04:38 AM 0.14 L 10:46 AM 4.14 H 04:23 PM 0.33 L 11:00 PM 5.20 H 27 Sat 05:19 AM 0.28 L 11:28 AM 4.10 H 05:04 PM 0.45 L 11:45 PM 5.15 H 28 Sun 06:05 AM 0.43 L 12:13 PM 4.09 H 05:53 PM 0.56 L 29 Mon 12:34 AM 5.10 H 06:58 AM 0.53 L 01:03 PM 4.12 H 06:51 PM 0.64 L 30 Tue 01:28 AM 5.04 H 07:55 AM 0.54 L 01:58 PM 4.20 H 07:57 PM 0.64 L Approximate Correction Times +/- for Other regional Locations Palm Valley ICW: H: +2:20 L: +2:00 JAX Beach: H: -:29 L: -:20 St. Augustine Beach: H: -:07 L: -:15 St. A City Dock: H: -:04 L: +:09 Bings Landing: H: +2:57 L: +2:44 TIDE CHART - April Mayport Degaussing Structure 30.3967° N, 81.3950° W YOUR LOCAL AUTHORIZED REPOWER DEALER FOR SUZUKI ENGINES / O.E. PARTS SALES ADVANCE MARINE of JACKSONVILLE 9451 Craven Road Jacksonville, FL 32257 • (904) 730-3332
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The second season of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Triple Treat Trowdown runs from March 1 to Sept. 29, and Triple Treat Club members have a chance to win an awesome fshing kayak bundle valued at more than $4,500.


Te Trowdown is a part of FWC’s Catch a Florida Memory, which is intended to enhance and increase participation in saltwater fshing. Te Triple Treat Club is for anglers who have achieved all three of Catch a Florida Memory’s recognition programs: Saltwater Grand Slam, Saltwater Reel Big Fish and Saltwater Life List 10 Fish Club. Anglers who reach Triple Treat Club status will be entered into a drawing for the kayak bundle afer the Trowdown season ends on Sept. 29. Anglers who are already in the Triple Treat Club will receive a drawing entry for each new recognition they earn during the challenge period.

“Building of of last year’s successful season, we are excited to announce Season 2 of Catch a Florida Memory’s Triple Treat Trowdown with an even bigger prize from our generous sponsors,” said Jessica McCawley, director of Marine Fisheries Management. “We encourage anglers to get out on the water, make Florida memories and help conserve fsheries by targeting a diversity of species.”

One lucky angler will be randomly drawn to win a top-of-the-line kayak fshing bundle valued at over $4,500. Tis bundle includes a Bonafde P127 kayak, a premium Mustad fshing gear bundle and kayak safety kit. Te award is made possible by Bonafde, Mustad and Russ Vorhis Insurance AgencyState Farm.

Find out how to qualify for the drawing at

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While working for his father’s transformer company, Deltona Transformers, in the 80s, Mike Prelec Sr. identifed an opportunity to provide a smarter battery charging solution to the bass fshing industry. Subsequently, Mike Sr. and the engineers at Deltran designed and built the global brand Deltran BatteryTender®, a leader in battery chargers and accessories.

Fast forward 40 years, and Mike Sr. parlayed his experience with electronics to test and scrutinize a new generation of high-quality, fast-charging lithium batteries. Mike established a central Florida test lab and began ordering samples from several overseas manufacturers. Even the platinumtier manufacturers provided varying quality in components, cells, boards and overall inconsistent construction. Several years later, with a select group of top-tier vendors, Florida Lithium was launched to provide bestin-class deep cycle-dual purpose (800 cranking amps) LifePO4 batteries that meet or exceed all Mercury requirements for lithium batteries. Today, Florida Lithium’s product line ranges from 12V, 36V and 48V batteries, providing versatile options for cranking, house electronics, or trolling motor applications. Teir DeLand warehouse is available for pickups Monday through Friday (by appointment only), and they ofer shipping nationwide. Florida Lithium also provides batteries and accessories to marine dealers, boat builders and marine service/repair shops throughout the Southeast.

Tere is no doubt you can fnd cheap lithium batteries on Amazon or other marketplaces, but when push comes to shove, some of those poorly constructed batteries will fail, leaving you with a very expensive paperweight and the inability to get anyone (stateside) on the phone. Florida Lithium’s customer support team actually speaks English, and in the event you reach their voicemail, a member of the team will respond in a timely manner.

Florida Lithium is proud to provide Florida-based customer service and technical support, coupled with a no-nonsense fx, repair or replace warranty. Lead-acid batteries are quickly becoming a thing of the past. If you are looking for a powerful, lightweight and reliable battery upgrade, Florida Lithium has you covered. Teir team is made up of Florida-based boaters and fsherman, and they understand what’s required to maximize your on-the-water experience.

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Jimmy Johnson Dishes on quEst foR tHE RINg

Jimmy Johnson’s Quest for the Ring Championship Fishing Week is an annual South Florida event that is renowned for a guaranteed milliondollar-plus purse. It’s the largest guaranteed prize for fshing in the world, so far as we are aware. Te “real prize” is the chance for one team to win diamond-studded Super Bowl-caliber rings that rival any awarded by the NFL.

Te event’s namesake is, of course, legendary Hall of Fame football coach Jimmy Johnson, who is now a fxture in the South Florida fshing community. I had a chance to sit down with Coach to pick his brain about the tournament.

Johnson grew up on the Gulf Coast of Texas and loved saltwater from the get-go. “Daddy had a little14 foot wooden boat in Galveston,” he recalled. Johnson fshed as a child and developed a passion during his time as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

“I liked to get out in the boat early and fsh by myself,” he said. “I found fshing to be so peaceful as opposed to the stress of coaching pro football. I just love it. I have caught and released fve blue marlin by myself… but my favorite fsh is the wahoo because they just scream. I’ll fast troll with lures or slow troll with a ballyhoo and a cigar weight.”

Coach Johnson’s tournament started as a local Florida Keys event.

“Well, it started as a small tournament in the Keys centered around my restaurant, Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill,” he said. “Since bringing on the crew at Fish Hard Events, it has become the enormous experience it is today.”

Jimmy Johnson’s Quest for the Ring Championship Fishing Week, or JJFISHWEEK, includes the main event, the two-day Catch & Release ‘Quest for the Ring’ Championship, featuring a $1 million guaranteed purse; JJ’s National Sportfsh Tournament, for the meat fsh afcionados; and the inviteonly Hard Rock Invitational.

Tis year’s JJFISHWEEK concluded March 9 with an awards ceremony at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla. Coveted championship rings were awarded to Owner Sandra MacMillan, Capt. John Louis Dudas and Team Sandman, aboard a 63-foot Spencer, which earned them a cool $300,000. Tis marks Sandman’s third championship, having clinched the title in 2018 and 2020.

Obviously, the money and fshing are big-time, but Johnson likes how the event engages the fshing community and gives back. Tis year’s event raised more than $100,000 for the CI Foundation, which will be gifed to its charitable benefciaries.

“I love the people that it brings together,” he said. “We also have a number of charities that we support. My son has the Tranquil Shores Foundation, which is a drug and alcohol abuse center. He’s got a foundation for people who can’t aford treatment.”

Te next stop for Jimmy Johnson’s Quest for the Ring is an inaugural Atlantic City, New Jersey tournament July 14-20. Next year’s Florida event is slated for March 4-8, 2025. For more information

Scott Goodman is Co-publisher of Coastal Angler Magazine/Miami.

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As the seasons change, so should your fshing locations and tactics. In my quest to target larger trout and reds, I modify my approach slightly versus what I have been doing for the past three or four months. However, depending on the weather, spring can be a tricky time to fnd solid and repeatable patterns. With the water temperature swings, the fsh begin to move from winter to spring areas. But a slight cold front will send them right back to their winter patterns, and it will keep you on your toes.

Te frst major transition is from mud to a frmer sand bottom. In my area, the prominent structure will still be grass, but the base sediment will change. If your area structure is shell or rocks, you will still want to fnd harder sand. According to biologists, the primary reason for this is the winter forage, primarily mullet, fnd their food source in the mud during the colder months. We all know fsh follow the bait, and that is why we target trout and reds on sofer bottoms in the winter. As the water warms, the next generation of perch shrimp and other species hatch and will be found in structure with a frm bottom. In my area, that will be grass.

Now that we know where to fsh, let’s cover the how. In spring, staying tight to the cover is important. It is imperative for juvenile forage to stay in tight schools and intermingled in the structure for survival. Keeping your lure near the grass, shell, or wherever you are fshing will be critical to success. I target the borders where sand and grass meet. Each area will vary depending on if it is predominantly sand or grass. If it is mostly grass, I concentrate my eforts casting into the grass and working my lure into the sand, paying attention to the edge and giving the fsh time to fnd my lure at that intersection. On the other hand, if it is mostly sand, I will target the grass patches and once again the edge.

Spring allows us to utilize a wide range of lures. Sof plastics danced along the bottom or topwaters skated across the surface can both be efective, depending on the mood of the fsh. Tis will be determined by water temp and the passing of late-season cool fronts.

Whatever lure you decide to use, concentrate on the edges of the available cover to increase your odds of having a productive day. As always, take a kid fshing; you just might learn something.

Capt. Michael Okruhlik is the inventor of Knockin Tail Lures®, and the owner of

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Spring is one of my favorite times of year for many species on the inshore menu, including red drum, snook and trout. I usually fsh at night for several reasons including my “day job,” which keeps me occupied for a vast majority of daylight hours. I guess I could become a weekend warrior, but I’ve noticed the best weather typically doesn’t occur on weekends. Tere’s an old saying that goes something like this: “You know what happens afer two days of really crappy weather?”


All joking aside, I believe the best bite for older, wiser, heavily pressured fsh is at night. Tey’re a little more at ease afer the sun goes down and the boat trafc lets up. Tis is when the big girls let their guard down and come back into shallower water to feed. Wherever you fnd shrimp and small mullet along the edges is a good place to take advantage of aggressively feeding redfsh, trout or snook afer dark. Te patterns are similar for all of them.

Just before dark is a good time to get situated to the rising or falling tide and the water clarity, which might be afected by

frequent rains this time of year. Get used to your surroundings and how fast the current is running. Keep the lights low, and allow your night vision to kick in as darkness settles.

Music on the boat is fun, but this is a situation when you’ll want to be quiet. Don’t play the radio loud or stomp around on the deck. Close your coolers and hatches quietly. Try not to talk are laugh too loud. Sound travels extremely well in the water, and when the rest of the world is quiet, the noise you make is even more startling to the fsh.

I don’t even use “spot lock” on the trolling motor at night in shallow water. I think fsh have learned to associate the sound of trolling motors with the presence of a boats and humans… just saying. Make your own choice here.

Color selection is a very important at night. Dark colors, especially with shrimp lures, work better at night, especially when there is a bright moon. It might sound crazy, but dark colors are silhouetted by the moonlight and are easier for fsh to see. Dark brown, purple and black can be extremely hot on nights with a full or nearly full moon.

I’m partial to shrimp imitations, and a lot of times I’ll suspend one under a glowin-the-dark cork for night fshing. Tat cork carries it along perfectly with the current and you can keep your eyes on where your bait is, which is one of the difculties of fshing at night.

If you’re like me and have a job that keeps you occupied during the day, consider fshing the second shif. You might be pleasantly surprised.

See more from Tim Barefoot at

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Cobia are robust, daring, and always up for a challenge. You know you’re in for some fun when you spot them cruising near the surface, sometimes in pairs or groups, hounding baitfsh like a wolfpack or drawn in by curiosity at the action around your boat. If you’re geared up and ready for them, a little fnesse will have you luring them in like a pro.

Location is key. When fshing for cobia in the backcountry here in the Florida Keys, we look for them to be around structures, wrecks and foating debris, ofen roaming the same areas in groups. Tey’re not pickiest eaters. Pitch a live bait out in front of them, and they’ll usually eat it, and we’ve also had great success with a Savage Gear RTF 3D Shrimp.

Te action when using these Savage Gear shrimps is a hard jerking lif, then letting your shrimp fall, mimicking a shrimp’s natural actions. For the battle, the optimal gear is at least a 4500 reel, but you really don’t need more than a 6500, and we always trust our Penn Authority and pair it with a medium/medium-light Carnage III Rod for maximum control and power.

Te most important thing to remember when hooking a cobia is to be ready, as it’s very common to spot “following” cobia. Tey ofen travel together and like to investigate what your hooked cobia is doing and eating. Tese “followers” can lead to an epic double header, but only if you have enough rods rigged and ready on the boat and hands to cast them.

Cobia are known for powerful runs, ofen scoping up and switching directions in a split second. Keep calm, adjust your drag, and let them exhaust themselves. Stay alert as you reel in your cobia, as they are known for sudden maneuvers, and will sometimes dart under the boat in a heartbeat. And the fght doesn’t end even afer you’ve gafed a cobia. Exercise caution when you bring them over the rail and onto the deck because they ofen cause havoc on the boat. It’s best to tire them out completely during the fght to minimize potential damage.

Since regulations frequently change with cobia, staying informed is important. One keeper cobia can feed a lot of people. Teir meat is known for its steak-like texture and delicate favor, perfect for a mouthwatering sear with butter and seasoning.

For the best shot at spotting a cobia, consider booking a full-day charter. Tis helps your chances to see one, and the timing should be pretty solid for in the upcoming weeks.

Book a charter at and follow their cobia adventures at “Bean Sportfshing TV” on YouTube.

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Along with blooms on the trees and frogspawn in the ponds, the annual rites of spring include an uptick in anglers reporting heavyweight catches.

A spate of recent record catches marks the transition to longer days, warmer weather and spring-spawning species putting on weight. In Indiana, an angler caught a monster 8-pound, 4-ounce smallmouth bass that crushed the existing state record by a pound. In Kentucky and Georgia, two anglers boated big yellow perch. Te Kentucky perch set a new state record, while the Georgia fsh earned the angler a tie for the heaviest perch ever caught in the Peach State.

In Indiana, angler Rex Remington caught his big pre-spawn smallie on March 3 at Monroe Reservoir. Te fsh was weighed on certifed scales in the presence of Indiana DNR ofcials before being released. Te new record was adopted a couple weeks later and is listed at 8 pounds, 4 ounces, beating a record that had stood since 1992. Te all-tackle world record smallmouth weighed 11 pounds, 15 ounces. It was caught from Dale Hollow Lake, Tennessee in 1955.

Smaller, but no-less-impressive, Lynn Bumgardner caught his 1.58-pound Kentuckyrecord yellow perch at Lake Barkley on March 2. It beat the existing 1.44-pound record caught in 2010. He was trolling grubs for crappie and knew

he had a heavy fsh when it hit, but he didn’t realize it was a potential record perch until it surfaced. Te fsh was 14.25 inches long.

Tey must grow perch bigger in Georgia. On Feb. 18, Emerson Mulhall caught a huge 16-inchlong, 2-pound, 9-ounce yellow perch that tied the existing state record set in 2013. Mulhall, who usually bass fshes at north Georgia’s Lake Burton was initially confused, because the fsh he’d hooked didn’t fght like a bass. When he realized it was a perch, his father convinced him to get of the lake and go get it weighed on certifed scales.

Te all-tackle world record yellow perch is reported by IGFA to have weighed 4 pounds, 3 ounces. Tat fsh was caught in New Jersey in 1865.

For more record fsh, go to




In some parts of the country, the bass spawn is already coming to an end like it is down here in Florida. In others the post-spawn might not start up for another couple months. Regardless of your phase, this post-spawn fshing tip should help you dial in your fshery when the time is right for you.

One thing is the same for every fshery and every species of bass afer they spawn, they are hungry! Tis can create some awesome and fun fshing opportunities. Post-spawn bass have provided some of my best days on the water.

Typically, afer the largemouth bass spawn, there are other fsh that begin their spawn. I’m not a scientist, but I’m sure this has a lot to do with the specifc timing of why bass do their thing when they do. In most areas of the southern United States, bluegill and ofentimes shad start to spawn very shortly afer the bass fnish up. Afer a long couple weeks or months protecting eggs in the shallows, bass use every advantage they can to feed when these baitfsh group up, and this can make for some fun fshing.

Smallmouth bass and spotted bass in the post-spawn phase are very similar to largemouths when it comes to taking

advantage of bait schools. I have seen them group up and attack shad, perch and alewife schools and any other bait that is readily available. Typically, I do a lot of my searching for these things with my electronics and forward-facing sonar, which is a very helpful tool for learning fsh activity and seeing what’s going on under the surface of the water.

Most of the time you don’t necessarily need electronics. You can use clues visible to the naked eye to help you fnd this “feed” that is going on. Birds feeding on the water is an awesome sign of a feeding frenzy, and it’s one thing I always look for. Also, always keep your eyes peeled for fsh blowing up on the surface or shad fickering under the surface. Sometimes the very smallest clue can lead you to much larger picture. Birds standing on specifc banks, the sound of bluegill popping around vegetation, anything that clues you in to bait in the area usually means the bass aren’t very far away.

Hopefully this tip will help you when the fsh in your area get into the post-spawn feed. Find the bait, and you will fnd the bass!

I try to imitate the prevalent baitfsh with whatever kind of lure I’m throwing. For bluegill eaters, I will throw a frog or a swimjig in bluegill colors. For shad eaters, I will throw white or silver topwaters and crankbaits.

Always match the hatch if possible. Good luck out there this season, and tight lines!

Tyler Woolcott is a professional tournament angler and guide. Check out his website at

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With gag grouper closed until late summer for many of us, it is time to be out looking for red grouper to fll our tacos this spring and summer. Fortunately, they are aggressive eaters if you’re willing to make the extra efort to go to their feeding grounds. In general, to get to decentsized reds, you’ll need to head a bit farther out, with the best fshing being found in 80 feet or deeper, especially as the water warms. You are still looking for the same type of environment; Swiss cheese bottom, ledges and artifcial reefs can all hold good numbers of quality fsh.

Te tactics are the same and simple. Tey will eat dead or live bait in most cases. Tat said, I found a combination of the two to be the best bet. I like to start with “stinky bait.” Dropping some frozen squid or menhaden is a great way to get the bite going. Once the bite starts, which is usually quickly if they are around, I like to switch to palm-size live pinfsh to entice the bigger fsh. While dead bait and jigs will certainly get you keepers, the larger fsh are quicker to hit a live bait.

Rigs are simple. Circle hooks must be used with natural bait and 5/0 to 7/0 hooks will do the trick. I prefer to use about 2 feet of leader, then a swivel and my weight, and a knocker rig will also work. A minimum of 50-pound fuorocarbon leader is recommended, as they will run for a hole in the rocks once hooked. Keep a close eye on your leaders, as they tend to get chafed when the fshing is good.

Even though red grouper are typically smaller than gags, I still use my goto big grouper set up, as at these depths you could get a big gag or other sea monster. Fortunately, new lighter combos like the Accurate BV600 reel and 70H rod make a full day of fshing more fun and less fatiguing. Tese two-speed reels have a patented twin drag that will stop the hardiest of fsh, and with that winching power you can use a lighter more parabolic rods to handle the biggest of bottom fsh. Line is important too. Te lack of stretch in braid is a must for landing big grouper. A minimum of 65-pound test, and a metered braid like the Nomad Panderra 8x is great for knowing how close you are to the bottom. Moreover, these rods are sensitive enough to do double duty as trolling rods for kings, sails and mahi.

While they might not be quite as big as some of their cousins, red grouper are great table fare, and it is hard to turn down a grouper taco, no matter what variety it is.

Will Schmidt is a seasoned tournament angler who has been writing about fshing from more than two decades.

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