The Angler Magazine | March 2023 | Okeechobee / Lakeland Edition

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Major League Baseball’s JD Martinez has garnered a lot of accolades, including three Silver Sluggers, a Hank Aaron Award and MLB Player of the Year. e man is a vetime All-Star! What some folks might not know about the former Boston Red Sox turned Los Angeles Dodger is he’s also an avid sherman.

Growing up in Miami, he o en escaped to sh the Florida Keys. rough the years, that passion never faded. He now lives in Islamorada and spends the o season shing with Capt. Brandon “ e Bean” Storin.

Capt. Bean grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and has vacationed every year in the Keys since he was 5 years old. He shed with Capt. Jimmy Willcox, who inspired a dream to become a backcountry guide. In 2021, e Bean ful lled his dream.

Together, JD and Capt. Bean have made memories while landing some awesome sh. eir rst trip in the Islamorada backcountry produced JD’s personal-best tripletail. It was JD’s rst time tripletailing, and they were sight-casting buoys. Just like hitting a 95-mph fastball, timing and execution are everything, and JD made the perfect cast when they spotted a stud tripletail. Several runs and exhales later, Bean swooped deep and netted the 20-plus-pound

beast. It was JD’s rst, and it is a personal best that will take some work to beat.

Another epic adventure took place during a sunset black n tuna mission. Capt. Bean knew ns, and they used light spinning tackle to make it more fun. It didn’t take more than a couple minutes for JD to get tight on a monster n. All you could hear was the reel screaming, and the rod was doubled over the whole ght. It was JD’s personal-

full-grown one to boot.

On their most recent adventure, Capt. Bean and JD were bottom shing for mutton snapper when an unexpected bite inhaled a whole ballyhoo. It ended up being an almost record-breaking yellowtail snapper, which at 29 inches was the sh of a lifetime. Gray’s taxidermy commemorated the yellowtail to add to JD’s mount collection, along with the aforementioned tripletail.

JD is a good angler, and he is not the rst Red Sox slugger to nd a shing home on Islamorada. Ted Williams, considered by many to be the greatest hitter of all time, played for the Sox from 1939-1960. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966, and he is also a member of the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame. Williams resided and shed in Islamorada for bone sh and tarpon with legendary Capt. Jimmy Albright. It is said he became as good an angler as any of the guides.

MLB and the Islamorada backcountry have a shared history. Capt. Bean and JD continue adding to the legends to this day.

Follow JD Martinez (@jdmartinez28) and Capt. Bean (@bnmbean) on Instagram. Some of their adventures are featured on YouTube at Bean Sport shing TV.

Noodling for Cat sh...what have I gotten myself into?

is past summer, I wanted to do something exciting and di erent with my friends for my “bachelorette” getaway. I always thought noodling would be a cool experience.

If you’re not familiar with noodling, it’s a technique anglers use to catch cat sh with their hands. In the lead-up to the spawn, cat sh nd holes in the banks where they will eventually lay and guard their eggs. It’s up to the angler to locate either a natural hole or a strategically placed box that a cat sh has decided to call home. e angler then sticks their hand into the hole, triggering the cat sh to chomp down on their hand and forearm. en, it’s a wrestling match to the surface.

e athead cat sh we pursued don’t have teeth, but they do grow large, with some sh reaching well over 50 pounds. It takes all your strength to get them out of their happy place and up to the surface to become sh celebrities.

Because it takes place during the spawn, this style of shing has become almost 100-percent catch-and-release for many noodlers. A er a few photos, sh are released safely to return to their holes and continue spawning duties.

When my two best friends and I le the familiar clear Florida waters for the beautiful state of Alabama, we had the goal to get one of these monster cats to bite... our arms. I’m not going to lie; I was a bit nervous getting on the boat. It was beautiful and peaceful on the river,


but the water is murky like chocolate milk and the banks are muddy. Shoes are highly recommended.

When I entered the water at our rst spot, it kind of hit me: “What have I gotten myself into?” But there was no turning back. Our guide located the wooden box he had planted earlier in the season and instructed me to hold my breath and lie on the bottom while slowly sliding my hand into the hole.

At rst there was nothing. en… WHAM! It was like a toothless gator grabbed me. I had been instructed to grab that sucker by its lower jaw with both hands and not to let go. So that’s what I did. A er a brief struggle, I had a dandy on the surface staring right at me! rough the day, we tried many holes, some empty and some with sh. Each time we stopped, the anticipation and excitement were the same as at the rst hole. It was a great experience, and I plan to go again soon. If you’ve ever thought of going noodling, I highly recommend it, 10/10.

e noodling season runs from midspring through the summer, depending on the location. Get online and nd a local guide for the area you’re interested in. Feel free to contact me with questions on Instagram @ get_outside_with_deidra or my husband, Capt. Jamie rappas @yellow_dawg_ shing.

Deidra and her husband Capt. Jamie rappas are co-publishers of the Volusia County, Fla. edition of Coastal Angler Magazine.

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Today we are going to cruise past the shallow South Texas ats, through the pass, and nd some nearshore rocks loaded with huge legal Texas red snapper! What a di erence a few miles and 68 feet of water can make.

I typically make a handful of trips to the short rigs or rocks o the Texas coast each summer for a change of scenery. On the calm summer days, the mosquito eet (smaller bay boats) breaks the jetties and heads out for kings, cobia and red snapper. ese shallow-water snapper are typically in the 16- to 20-foot range. ey are tasty none the less, but nothing like what you nd close to shore in winter, as I recently observed during my rst winter o shore trip. Recently, we were in between cold fronts and had our rst sunny day in more than a week. Several days of windy, cloudy, cold, rainy days had me longing for some sunny rays. When my brother called and asked if I wanted to join him and his neighbor for some Texas red snapper, I didn’t hesitate to say yes! e photos he sent of the previous trip’s catch were the icing on the cake. e forecast called for 2- to 3-foot seas—which turned out to be less—70degree sunny temps, and wind at 6 knots from the east. is was a one-day window.

When we pulled up to a small set of rocks, there were two other boats there and four rods were doubled over! One of the boats was doing a bag check, and I watched him tossing and counting 15- to 20-pound snapper into the cooler. His count ended at 14, two shy of his limit… and they had two on the line. Keep in mind, at this time my personnel best snapper was about 8 pounds, and everything I was seeing was more than twice that size. e anticipation was high as I waited for the trolling motor to lock in.

Once the trolling motor settled into place, we pinned chunks of squid onto bottom rigs weighted with 8 to 12 ounces of lead and the fun began! It became a bit chaotic with doubles on while trying to coax a 20-pound snapper into an oversized net while still trying to catch one yourself.

It is hard to beat the drag zinging of a king mackerel or the Mack Truck power of a cobia during the calm days of late summer, but I might have to switch my snapper season from summer to winter! When the smallest winter ones are twice the size of your largest summer catch, it’s an easy switch.

Capt. Michael Okruhlik is the inventor of Knockin Tail Lures® and the owner of PHOTO COURTESY OF KNOCKIN TAIL LURES®
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It’s Pompano Time in South Florida!

Pompano have already begun to show up here on South Florida’s east coast, and the bite will only get better as we move deeper into spring.

Temperature drives the movements of these tasty little jacks. ey prefer 70- to 80-degree water temps, they travel in schools and feed on mollusks and crustaceans in inlets and o sandy beaches. ese are some of the reasons pompano are a favorite target of shore-based anglers. Once you nd them, you are in for a world of fun.

Florida pompano, like permit, are in the jack family. ey have a strong resemblance to each other, so it’s important to be able to tell them apart. Size is a dead giveaway when you’re dealing with mature specimens, as pompano rarely grow larger than 6 pounds and permit regularly reach weights of up to 40 pounds. Pompano and juvenile permit, however, have a similar appearance. e most noticeable di erence is a permit’s larger, humped forehead. Pompano also tend to be more yellow throughout their body, while permit only have yellow on their bellies near their anal ns.

Anytime from March into the beginning of September, pompano move o shore to broadcast spawn. Since they already travel in schools, this is spontaneous, and they head back inshore when they are done. Prime time to sh for them here is April and May, and you’ll nd them along sandy beaches as well as around oyster and seagrass beds. Pompano seem to enjoy water with more current,

which has that milky look.

Pompano migrate seasonally to stay in their preferred water temperatures, and they have been found as far north as Massachusetts. ey move north or farther o shore to nd cooler water in deep summer. ey come back south in fall to prepare for the spring mating season. Local movements also happen due to tides and other conditions. ey are either in an area or they are not, and they move to nd waters where they can feed comfortably. A er strong storms, our sandbars tend to change, which will also change where pompano are feeding.

Pompano are very spirited ghters on light tackle. Small jigs in yellow or chartreuse are commonly used with great success. Beach anglers use long surf rods and chicken rigs baited with shrimp, clams, crab knuckles and sand eas. Sand eas are the preferred bait. Many anglers take it a step further by adding a piece of arti cial bait, such as Fishbites, to the natural baits. is is especially e ective when other sh peck o natural bait quickly. It ensures something stays on the hook, as most of these arti cial baits are very durable. ese arti cial baits can also be added to jigs for scent.

Emily Rose Hanzlik holds 56 IGFA world records in various categories. She hails from West Palm Beach, where she has a part time Bow n Guide Service as well as shing classes for Jr. Anglers. Find her on social media @emilyhanzlikoutdoors.

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Let’s talk a bait that works absolutely everywhere. e bladed jig, also called a chatterbait, is one of the most versatile baits you can tie on the end of your line. It’s one of my all-time favorites. From Florida to New York, in any season, this bait catches them.

ere are hundreds of situations that make me want to sling a chatterbait. I always keep one tied on because it’s so versatile. Whether it’s grass, rocks, docks, wood or open water, there isn’t a situation where this bait doesn’t work.

Use a chatterbait as a search bait and cover some water. If there is a hungry bass around and you match your color to the forage they are feeding on, you will get them to bite. Unless the water you are shing is extremely muddy, matching color to the forage species is important. In cold water, where bass are feeding on red and orange craw sh, tie on a bright red or orange bladed jig. If you are in the south and bass are feeding on bluegill or shiners, stick to natural colors like a green pumpkin or some kind of gold and silver. e only time I throw

a bright white or chartreuse chatterbait is in extremely stained water, where I need the bait to stand out. Always match the hatch!

I live in Florida, and our spawning season is earlier than most. By the time you read this, most of our sh will be nished spawning. Farther north, they’ll just be getting started. A chatterbait is deadly when bass are staged up before, during and a er the spawn. e chattering blade drives these sh crazy. It’s a sh call. row it around in a staging area and you will have a very good day on the water.

ere isn’t a wrong way to use it. With the many colors, weights and size options, there is a match for the style of shing you want to do. From northern smallmouths to giant South Florida largemouths, every bass will eat a bladed jig. Like any bait, a chatterbait will perform best when matched with the right gear. I like a medium-heavy, moderate-action rod. You don’t want to set the hook as much as you want to reel into the sh when they eat the bait. Treat it like a bait with treble hooks. e 13 Fishing Omen Black 7’4mhm is absolutely perfect for this application. I pair a 7:5:1 gear ratio Concept A 13 Fishing reel and 15- to 20-pound Seaguar AbrazX. Hope this shing tip nds you well and puts more sh in your boat. Don’t hesitate to contact me on social media with any questions.

It’s 8:17 p.m. Been out on the lake for hours. But there are more fsh in the water. And my LBP batteries are still going strong. Maybe One More Cast . . . the offcial battery of “One More Cast...” Visit Or call us at 727-233-9831
Tyler Woolcott is a professional tournament angler and guide. Check out his website at www.tylerwoolcott
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Triple Threat Throwdown to Ra e O Loaded Fishing Kayak

Florida’s saltwater angler recognition program, Catch a Florida Memory, is sweetening the pot this year by o ering anglers a shot at winning a fully loaded shing kayak.

Rigged out with an accessory package from Yak Attack, this Bona de SS127 series kayak is a shing machine. It will be ra ed o to one lucky member of Catch a Florida Memory’s Triple reat Club a er a season-long event billed as the Triple reat rowdown. Only members of the Triple reat Club who are recognized with a Catch a Florida Memory achievement between now and Sept. 5 will be eligible for the ra e.

Triple Threat Club

Triple reat Club status is awarded to anglers who have quali ed for recognition in all three of the following Catch a Florida Memory programs. Once an angler enters the Triple reat Club, they are a member for life. ey receive a dry- t performance shing shirt and entry into Triple reat Club opportunities like the Triple reat rowdown.

• A Saltwater Grand Slam consists of catching three speci ed species within a 24-

hour time period. ere are nine di erent grand slam categories for di erent saltwater species in di erent habitats.

• Saltwater Reel Big Fish recognition is for anglers who catch one exceptionally large specimen from a list of 30 di erent species with pre-determined qualifying length.

• e Saltwater Fish Life List 10 Fish Club is for anglers who have caught 10 di erent species of saltwater sh from the Catch a Florida Memory Life List of 70 species.

Raffle Eligibility

Eligible anglers must qualify for a recognition between now and Sept. 5, 2023 and be a member of the Triple reat Club at the time of the drawing. Eligible recognitions include a Grand Slam, a Reel Big Fish recognition, or a Life List recognition. Each angler will receive only one entry into the Triple reat rowdown ra e.

For more information and to submit catches, go to catcha

The fght for an unforgettable catch begins here. From elusive bonefsh to massive tarpon and beyond, fy fshing adventures across The Out Islands’ shallow-water fats offer more thrills and tales for even the most experienced anglers. See what could be waiting on the other side of your line. Discover our specials at 300

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This month, for the rst time in more than 30 years, a few Florida anglers will have the opportunity to harvest a goliath grouper. e limited and highly regulated season runs from March 1 through May 31, and you’re out of luck if you don’t already have a state-issued Goliath Grouper Harvest Permit.

Just 200 non-transferable permits were issued by lottery a er the application period back in October 2022. is spring, permit holders will hit the water in search of a very expensive sh sandwich. On top of a $10 fee to enter the lottery, anglers selected for a permit paid $150 for Florida residents and $500 for non-residents for the chance to harvest a single sh.

“No way. Not interested at all,” said one angler from the Florida Keys when asked if they hoped to get a permit. “I guess there’s some novelty in eating a sh that no one is supposed to have tasted for 30 years, and it might make sense if they let you keep a big one, but it’s hardly worth my time to chase a 10-pound grouper.”

e slot limit for the one sh allowed per permit holder is 24 to 36 inches. Fish above or below that slot must be released immediately. Anglers with goliath tags will be intentionally shing for juveniles rather than the enormous 8-foot-long, 800-pound monsters that lurk around shallow, nearshore structure.

is highly regulated and extremely limited harvest seems to be the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) way of testing the waters. Harvest of goliath grouper was completely banned in 1990 a er the population collapsed due to over shing and the loss of mangrove habitat required by juveniles of the species. Since then, the population has rebounded and abundance continues to increase. Removal of just 200 sh from the population, and no more than 50 sh from Everglades National Park, will not hinder rebuilding, according to an FWC presentation on the shery.

Additionally, goliath grouper may not be harvested from federal waters or from the waters of Martin County, including the St. Lucie River and its tributaries, south through the Atlantic coast of Monroe County and Dry Tortugas National Park.

Goliath grouper harvest will also allow FWC to collect important data for a species about which there is plenty to learn. Upon catching their one goliath, tag holders must immediately apply their tag to the lower jawbone of the sh and report their catch online within 24 hours. Even if they don’t catch a sh, tag holders must report that a er the season ends. Some permitted anglers will be required to provide a biological sample of their sh for genetic testing.

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Fishing with a “Poga Gal”

he crappie bite on Lake Istokpoga is better than last year but a little slower than the year before. I predict that Crappie fishing will be even better next year if the Crappie season runs in 3-year cycles. My clients are averaging 20-30 crappies in a 5-hour fishing trip. That's very good, especially considering the cold fronts and temp changes we have had this season. We are looking forward to the weather stabilizing. The specks have been very nice in size, with half of the catches weighing 1lb and an occasional 1.3 or 1.5 pounder. But, of course, we are all still searching for that 2.09 crappie swimming around. Successful techniques for catching crappie include jigging for crappie with a jigging Rod made by" Edgar Rods." You can find an assortment of Edgar Rods at Marine and Tackle Warehouse located south of Sebring. We are fishing the jig, slowly dropping in each little hole and waiting to feel the "Thump. " On my guided fishing trips, we use the

Edgar Rods Florida Speck Special dipping, dabbing, and Long Polling for crappie.

To try the Long Polling technique, use an 11 or 12 ft rod, position your boat in your favorite fishing spot, and dip a minnow with a split shot, an appropriately matched bobber, and a #2 Aberdeen hook

There are many reports of large bass being caught on Lake Istokpoga, with several Trophy sized bass being caught and released back into the lake. The lake is fishing better than it has in the past few years. The water appears clean and clear; the vegetation is nice and green. Giant bass are preparing for spawn and making the possibility of catching a Trophy Bass even more of a reality.

Continue to look for mixed vegetation and adjust your presentation by slowing the bait down and searching locations with spatterdock mixed with reeds or Kissimmee grass, flat lily pads combined with cat tails, eelgrass, and flat lily pads. Our bait of choice this time of year is a black and blue "Big Stick" with a blue-tipped tail made by "Bruiser Baits. Contact Corky or "Poga Gal" Tangie Neff to book your next outdoor adventure, located on beautiful Lake Istokpogs in Sebring, FL 606-584-0144

— “Imma Poga Gal” Tangie Neff. For more information contact Corky & Tangie’s Guided Fishing Tours, Sebring FL

Bass & Seasonal Crappie / Bluegill Tours

“Went out with Corky yesterday morning with 4 friends. It was a great experience. Corky took care of everything for us. Excellent service. Came home with 2 heavy bags of fish fillets that we ate that night.”

“My brother and I had a blast fishing with Corky. The fishing was pretty good, as long as you were moving around. Corky never kept us at a standstill, recognizing each time it was time to move to the next one to avoid a doldrum, we were constantly busy. The boat was clean and ready to fish, the waters were cold and Corky was quick and eager to get us fishing. It was a great way to burn up the afternoon, I’m sure we’ll be fishing with Corky again.”

TGiant bass are preparing for spawn and making the possibility of catching a Trophy Bass even more of a reality.
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Third Place. Clint Remington with a total of 8.68 pounds.
Fifth Jose and Liam Cary with a total of 2.86 pounds. Second Place. Robert Barger and Larry Smith with a total of 9.34 pounds.
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Fourth Place. Mike Bryant and Stephanie Bryant (not pictured) with a total of 5.02 pounds.


Skull Hill Archery started with a heavy interest into Bowfishing. Once Brandon Baughman conquered the waters with a bow his uncle introduced him to hunting. He then learned of tournaments he could compete in and the archery trinity came to a full circle. “They were very humble beginnings. My friends encouraged me a lot with working on their rigs and learning to perfect mine.”

He started in a small corner of his motorcycle shop and grew to the entire storefront. “I was passionate about motorcycles because I got to spend time with my dad. We spent hours together building these choppers.” Learning to be patient and meticulous while working with his dad has made him a bow technician that is heavily sought out in south Florida. Brandon takes his time with his customers and their equipment to help them be at their best. That way when the pressure is on whether they are hunting or shooting targets they can have confidence in their shots. Brandon always says archery is 80 percent mental and 20 percent equipment. His goal with each customer is for them to leave feeling confident in their shot placement.

The shop is always a learning environment. His passion for the sport is why his customers keep coming back. “He will spend half a day with someone just to make sure they have no question left unanswered. Says his wife Cynthia. “He isn’t the only one either. Tom, Shane, and Fred have the same zeal for archery.” Tom

Lockton is the in-house coach. He excels when it comes to coaching kids and beginners. He is a seasoned shooter and has devoted his life to helping others in their archery careers. Shane O’Neal has been a lifelong friend of Brandon. When Doc passed away unexpectedly a year and a half ago Shane stepped in to build arrows. He has brought a lot of expertise to the hunting aspect of the shop. Fred Hill helps out when he finishes his job with the gas company. Not only did he win the Deep South Bow Classic in Georgia but the man can cook!

It's this kind of wisdom that makes this shop stand out from the rest. “I have always wanted this shop to honor God in every way. By being our best and helping others we want to show them the love of Christ. He is the One that gives me the ability to do what I love.” Brandon says.

So if you have ever had an interest in archery come see Brandon and his crew at Skull Hill Archery in Okeechobee. They are there Tuesday to Friday from 10 am-7 pm and Saturdays 1 pm-7 pm. They are dealers for most bow companies and archery accessories. Whether you shoot a crossbow, compound, or traditional they have you covered. They also have 2 ranges to choose from. A 20-yard indoor and a 50-yard 3D course. Every Thursday they host a tournament night. All archers are welcome to come out at 7 pm to test their shooting skills in a laid-back environment. During the year they host other events as well. Follow them on Facebook or their website for the latest news.


are a fully stocked Pro shop for all your archery needs. Including consigned and new bows. • 20 yard indoor range • • 50 yard covered 3D range • • Knowledgable bow techs •
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n cold, rainy, winter days, when most shermen are happy to stay home dreaming of better weather, a few die-hards gear up and get on the water. In the Southeast, bad weather is striper weather, my friend, and just the thought of hooking a 15- or 20-pound striped bass is enough to keep you warm on the inside.

Atlantic striped bass get all the attention up north. Blitzing linesiders are a prize of inshore and nearshore recreational sheries from the Carolinas up through the mid-Atlantic and New England. But they are down here in the south, too, and not just the landlocked stripers stocked in reservoirs by the states. My home base is Jacksonville, Fla., and although red sh and trout are the staple inshore species here, there are striper populations in coastal rivers like the St. Johns, Nassau and St. Marys.

I, however, was lured by reports a little farther north in Georgia, where rivers like the Satilla and Altamaha are producing big-time striper each front that rolls through. Stripers prefer low-light conditions and colder water temps, so overcast, rainy and cold days are the best days.

the rocks in order to navigate over the shallow sand and mud bars of the river. Georgia’s sounds and rivers are littered with piles of ballast rocks, many of which are sh magnets. We shed the point for a good 20 minutes with no

shed several spots with only a sh and speckled trout to keep our attention. We shy-looking downed timber and carefully navigated beneath a low bridge, where nd sh on the outgoing

Georgia On My Mind STRIPERS

He was correct. Jones hooked up with a nice 6-pound hybrid striped bass on his rst cast near the bridge. Hybrids are a hatchery-produced cross between striped bass and white bass. ey are unable to reproduce and are an excellent sport sh with the aggression of white bass and some of the size of a striper. ese hybrids came from the Georgia DNR hatchery at Richmond Hill, Ga.

I was giddy about the cold, foggy drizzle at 6:30 a.m. when I met guide Drew Jones at the Two-Way Fish Camp on the Altamaha near Darien, Ga. Jones runs charters in the area, and he’s caught more than 300 stripers up to 14 pounds for clients this season. ey’ve had some 30- and 40- sh days, and this felt like a perfect striper day!

All I had to do was get in the boat with my gear and a thermos of hot co ee. Jones was waiting for me with his Carolina ski in the water and a livewell full of gorgeous local live shrimp. As we motored o in the mist through creeks and the winding river, he told me a little about the shing.

Stripers are constantly on the move, and they hunt in packs. Jones dri shes live shrimp on oat rigs to locate concentrations of sh. en he switches to arti cial lures. Slow-sinking stick baits and bucktail jigs with so -plastic tails both work great.

Between Brunswick and Darien, Ga., the Altamaha system is a maze of creeks and tributaries. We stopped at the mouth of a creek on the Darien River, not far from downtown Darien. e tide was still coming in but slowing near the end of the high tide. Jones said to cast shrimp out in front a point where the current split to create a back eddy of slower ow. He said this was one of his favorite striper spots. It was an old ballast pile, where sailing ships from the 1800s dumped ballast weight from their hulls a er crossing the ocean from Europe. ey used hundreds, if not thousands, of 10- to 20-pound round rocks to stabilize their ships during the crossing and then dumped

Jones said he catches true stripers and hybrids together, and that sometimes aggressive stripers move in and take over when he’s catching trout. I threw to the same spot Jones caught his sh and immediately hooked and boated a 4-pound hybrid. e bite was on! We saw them busting nger mullet and had one come unbuttoned right at the boat. But then, as is sometimes the case with stripers, it ended as suddenly as it had begun. anchor and went back to the creek mouth where we started. Now the tide was running out swi ly. We caught several trout and a couple more hybrids before we headed back to the docks.

As we ran past downtown Darien, I saw remnants of old buildings from the 1800s and thought of the history. is was a major port during the early rise of the United States. Cotton and rice from slave plantations were shipped out of Darien, and old-growth cypress trees were logged way up the Altamaha. Loggers would cut trees close to the river and then ra them together in units of dozens of massive logs, which were oated down to the coastal sawmills with men riding the ra s.

Darien is a quiet town now, but it was a truly a bustling place then. It is beautiful with old live oaks and Spanish moss, and history bu s will not be disappointed. If you want to change up your shing and explore a special place, give Jones a call. He can hook you up…

Capt. Drew Jones can be contacted at (912) 242-2502.



If you’re a scalloper looking for a way to get involved in making more of the bivalves we all love, FWC has put a call out for “scallop-sitters” in the Florida Panhandle. e Scallop-Sitter program is available for volunteers in St. Joseph Bay, St. Andrew Bay and St. George Sound, and it is intended to increase scallop populations and reintroduce them to suitable areas from which they have disappeared.

Scallop-sitters volunteer to maintain cages with up to 50 bay scallops from June through January. On a monthly basis, volunteers check, count and clean their cages and scallops. Each volunteer will receive a cage, a bucket of scallops, tools to maintain cages, instructional materials and some fun giveaways.

To register as a scallop-sitter, you must meet the following requirements:

• Have no FWC violations on your record

• Live near St. Andrew Bay, St. Joseph Bay or St. George Sound

• Have access to the bay: via private dock, boat, or kayak

• Register through the UF Pace platform before May 25, 2023

• Watch virtual training video following registration and complete the program pre-survey

For more information, go to or email

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If you don’t already troll for grouper or if you’re looking for ways to improve your success rate, here are some things to consider while we wait for the seasons for our most popular species to re-open.

Large-lipped and big-pro le plugs are deadly, but many anglers struggle with getting lures into the strike zone. Many think if they are shing in 30 feet of water they need a plug that dives 30 feet, but that’s not always the case. Maximum dive depths are with everything optimum: speed, amount of line out and rigging.

First, consider your speed. I use Nomad DTX Minnow lures, which are designed to run anywhere

from 20 to 50 feet at speeds of 2 to 12 knots. e plugs will dive deeper at the higher end of that speed range than the lower end. I usually run about 5 knots and can easily get a 40-foot plug down to 30 feet at that speed, but a 30-foot plug would likely be short of the bottom. e amount of line you have out also greatly a ects the depth your plug is running, and this is where many mistakes are made. Slower speeds equal a atter angle of descent, so more line is needed. e idea is to be so close to the bottom that you occasionally bounce o it. Watch your rod tip for signs of the lure bouncing o the bottom. You will likely nd you need more line than you think. Keep dropping back until you start hitting bottom. e downside of this is you will get snagged on the bottom occasionally. When you do, don’t just try to wrench it o the bottom, get back behind the lure and pull it o in the opposite direction. A plus to the DTX Minnow is the single hooks seem to come o the bottom easier than treble hooks.

e nal piece to the puzzle is your rigging. Pulling 8- to 9-inch lures, and handling the sh that smack them, means you need stout tackle. But heavier lines create drag in the water that will impede the lure’s ability to dive. Using braid is a huge plus, as the diameter is much smaller and creates less drag. To further streamline, I use crimps on my leader between my lure and a small (but strong) swivel. It’s a little thing, but knots on heavy leader can be bulky and add to the

Heavy drags as well as keeping the boat in gear helps pull the sh away from cover quickly. Large single hooks aid in keeping you connected as the bigger gaps decrease the possibility of ripping the plugs out of the sh. Trolling is fun way to catch grouper and it’s a great nd new spots, as you can cover a lot of ground.

Will Schmidt is a seasoned tournament angler who has been writing about shing for more than three decades. Check out Nomad Lures at


“The renown of Italy’s jewelry, with its sensual beauty and extraordinary craftsmanship, is founded on the goldsmithing skills passed down through generations.” – The New York Times

Iguess I was a little bored. For the past hour, I’d been on the phone with Daniele, the head of my office in Italy, reviewing our latest purchases of Italian gold, Murano glass and Italian-made shoes and handbags.

“Daniele,” I said, “What is the hottest jewelry in Italy right now?” His reply? Woven gold bracelets studded with jewelry. He texted me some photos and I knew immediately that this was jewelry that Raffinato just had to have.

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2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic Returns to the Tennessee River

The prestigious championship bass tournament—widely known as the “Super Bowl of Bass Fishing”—will be held March 24-26 in downtown Knoxville and on the University of Tennessee Campus.

e Bassmaster Classic pits 55 of the world’s best bass anglers against one another for the title of Bassmaster Classic Champion. e Classic is a catch-and-release event, with bass being returned to the shery under the supervision of the TWRA.

Daily takeo s will be from Volunteer Landing on the Tennessee River in downtown Knoxville each competition day, and weigh-ins will take place in the ompson-Boling Arena on the University of Tennessee campus. e fan-favorite Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo will be held Friday through Sunday, March 24-26 in the Knoxville Convention Center and the adjacent World’s Fair Exhibition Hall.

All activities and venues are free and open to the public. For more information, visit

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Twenty years ago, I wrote an article on the Golden Age of Panama shing. Long have anglers waited for access to the salt and freshwater environments of Colombia.

In 2016, a lengthy peace process was negotiated and a nal agreement for a cease re and cessation of hostilities between the government and militias. In truth, there are still areas of the country to be avoided and cocaine production remains high, but the political and drug-crime environment has improved enough to move Colombia nearer the top of the target list for angling. e country’s upward trajectory with new tourism outstrips its neighbors. e latest three trips we’ve taken to the country have been completely safe.

Fishing the Amazon and Orinoco River basins are “peacock bass trips.” It is a stunning shery, where you routinely encounter fellow anglers from the far side of the world. From there, these trips can be divided into peacocks and “what else.” In Guyana it was giant arapaima. For the last Brazil trip, it was big wolf sh. is venture was to the Guaviare River, massive itself, a tributary to the mighty Orinoco. It is hard to understand the size of these watersheds until you see them yourself. Our quarry here was payara, the vampire sh.

e dichotomy of life in the tropics is the wet and dry seasons. During the time of rain, the rivers swell from their banks into dense rainforest. Sitting in your boat, you listen to peacock bass bust prey far back in cover where no cast can go. e shing season is re ned to those months when the rivers shrink back into their skeletal forms and sh are targeted in remaining aneurysmal pools. But the payara have a need for speed. ey stack up in current and mouths of tributaries where more water ows. ere is something about going a er speed freaks… it presses my buttons.

Alberto “Beto” Mejia is the young progenitor of FISH COLUMBIA. He has developed lodges here, on the Orinoco and on the Paci c coast at Punta Ardita, just inside the Panamanian border. He is a stone-cold payara y sherman. is lodge is more rustic, and you really feel away from it all.

Peacocks and payara take ies very well, both poppers and streamers. For the conventional sherman, it’s a chance to use multiple baits and techniques. Very large topwater prop baits and poppers, big minnows at multiple depths. e Dramatis personae includes numerous others- pacu, sardinata, also the opportunity for multiple species of cat sh, some in the 400-pound range. Uraima falls in Venezuela was a specialized lodge for payara. is is o the list as a destination for various sordid reasons. I have bagged them across the frontiers of South America. Most run 6 to 7 pounds, and a very good one about 15 pounds. e sh on Columbia’s Orinoco run twice that size. I believe this is the best payara lodge on the planet.

For more information, go to www. For more from Riley Love, go to and nd him on social media @rileyloveauthor.


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console or tackle bag. You’ll nd other uses as necessity dictates.

Soft Baits: You’re throwing away money if you sh so plastics and don’t use super glue. Most so plastics are designed for action rather than durability. ey’re disposable, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the most you can out of them.

If you’re shing a paddletail, grub, eel, worm or any so plastic on a jighead, a small drop of super glue will extend the life of that bait inde nitely. Secured to the jig, it will never slide down to the bend of the hook like a loose sock. To a lesser extent, this trick works for bare hooks, as well. Forget multiple sh, a so bait can last multiple trips when it’s glued in place— barring, of course, interactions with toothy sh.

When it comes to sh with teeth, there’s no way to avoid rips and tears in your so plastics. Even toothless sh will beat up a bait with extended use. Super glue repairs slices and gouges in so plastics. e rigidity of the repaired area will a ect the action of the lure, but this can be a trip saver when you’re down to the last in a bag of that one color sh are biting.

Hard Baits: With hard baits, super glue is for on-the-water repairs. If the lip on your crankbait gets loose, a tiny dab of glue will hold it tight and keep your lure swimming true. If the screw eye comes out of your favorite topwater or swimbait, gluing it back will render it stronger than it was to begin with. Super glue extends the life of expensive lures that would otherwise be headed for the trash.


Just like pliers or a good knife, super glue is an essential item in your shing kit. ere are numerous practical uses for this stu in shing, and it’s also a catch-all tool. It’s like liquid duct tape. When you have it, there’s no end to the situations when it comes in handy. Here are a few good reasons you should keep a tube of super glue in your

Knots: e debate is ongoing on whether super gluing knots increases their strength. Most folks who do it are in the “it can’t hurt camp.” However, there are a couple situations when it just makes sense. Coating line-to-line connections that frequently run through the guides smooths the knot and protects it from wear. With braided line, good knots, and the right knots, are crucial. Even so, braided line can cut itself when knots shi and tighten under stress. A drop of super glue keeps knots snug and secure.

Miscellaneous: Super glue can save the day when an eyelet or rod tip comes loose. It’ll also keep you on the water when you cut yourself chunking bait. Glue the wound shut and keep shing. Save the emergency room for later.

For more tips, go to



Virginia angler Jacob Moore was quite surprised when he reeled in this largemouth bass from the James River. Moore was expecting to catch a largemouth—he was targeting them. But he de nitely wasn’t expecting to catch a golden largemouth!

“I was out there practicing for a tournament, catching a bunch of sh,” said Moore, who works as an arborist and participates in local tournaments. “I was on the lower James near Chippokes [State Park]. When I hooked into that one, I thought I had a saltwater sh on at rst, but lo and behold, it was a largemouth! A very di erent largemouth, though. I haven’t seen anything like that before. I’ve seen bass with black spots, but I’d never seen an albino one.”

“Golden largemouth bass are extremely rare and most anglers have never seen them, let alone heard of them before,” said Alex McCrickard, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) Aquatic Education Coordinator. “ e sh is a product of a genetic mutation that alters the skin pigments called xanthism. Yellow pigmentation dominates in xanthism, as you can see in Moore’s golden largemouth.”

Moore measured the sh at 16 ½ inches, took a few photos, then returned it to the water.

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This big Georgia sheepshead tied a two-decade-old state record for the species a er weighing in at 14 pounds, 14.37 ounces.

e angler, Ben Golden III, of Midway, Ga., caught his sh near the Sunbury community outside of Midway on Feb. 3. e catch quali es as a tie with the existing record of 14-pounds, 14-ounces set by Ralph White, of Rincon, Ga., in 2002.

“To be honest, I’ve been telling folks it’s been my goal to catch a state record for 10 or 12 years,” said Golden, who grew up in Midway and has been shing the Georgia coast most of his life. “I’m excited to say that I did it.”

Sheepshead are common around 7 pounds but can easily be found up to 10 pounds. ey reach maturity around 3 to 4 years of age and primarily live inshore, o en near rocky areas, docks, bridges or arti cial reefs, or other areas with barnacles.

Between 2017 and 2021, NOAA Fisheries estimates that Georgia recreational anglers caught an average of 490,197 sheepshead each year, with an average of 262,457 being harvested.

For more information on the Georgia Saltwater Game Fish Records program, visit

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