Coastal Angler Magazine | December 2022 | Panhandle Edition

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TROUT TIPS FOR Wintertime

Trout like cold water, but there’s no denying the slow down that occurs on most wintertime trout fisheries. When water temps fall into the low 40s and below, insect life and other food sources are less prevalent. Trout metabolisms slow and they go into energy-conservation mode. They are content to hover near the bottom out of heavy current and feed only when an easy opportunity arises.

That said, fish still need to eat, and intrepid anglers will find joy in the seclusion of a wintertime trout stream. Here are some tips to raise the odds of a great wintertime trout trip. Dress warmly, wade carefully and savor the taste of the ice you suck from your rod guides.

1) Choose Destinations Wisely: Winter is not the time to explore high-elevation brook trout streams. Instead, float a tailwater, where water temps are consistent year-round, or go to lower elevation streams that are a bit warmer. For a target-rich environment, try out a delayed-harvest fishery. They are stocked heavily through the cooler months.

2) Fish Warm Spells: Two or three days of consistently warmer weather are primetime in terms of winter trout fishing. Everything in the stream, from the trout to the bugs and baitfish they eat, perks up.

By the same logic, the best bite is usually during the warmest part of the day. Sun warms the shallows, bringing out the tiny little midges, black stoneflies and blue-winged olives that are wintertime staples. Even if the action is subsurface, trout will take advantage of easy feeding opportunities.

3) Fish Meticulously: Unless trout are visibly rising, subsurface is the way to go. Turn your attention away from the riffles where rainbows pop dry flies in spring, and look to the deeper, slower runs. Pick them apart with nymph rigs. Keep in mind that most winter food items will be small, but fish a variety of sizes and patterns at the same time and cover every inch of each run vertically and horizontally. The idea is to hit a fish in the nose, and this is best achieved fishing slowly and carefully.

If you want to tempt a giant trout, it’s a good time to dead drift a big streamer with the same meticulous patience. Don’t hesitate to fish a heavy streamer deep under an indicator. Sometimes a big mouthful is enough to convince a lock-jawed bruiser to eat.

4) Fish Safely: Flooding your waders can kill you when it’s frigid. During cold snaps, consider fishing near the truck, where a quick jog can put you in a heated cab if you get wet. If you do go into the backcountry, take a dry-bag with fire-starting equipment, a towel and a change of clothes.

Wherever you fish, wade carefully, avoid stepping on frozen-over rocks, kick any snow off your boots before entering the water and avoid taking chances like wading deep water or heavy flows.

Nick Carter is the author of “Flyfisher’s Guide to North Carolina & Georgia.” Contact him at nsc8957@gmail.com.

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Berkeley County is a wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts, sports buffs, adventure seekers, and water lovers. From exemplary fishing for striped bass, or a trophy largemouth bass, to our hiking trails and water activities, along with scenic outdoors where you can catch a glimpse of white tail deer and gators, Berkeley County has activities to fit all visitors and families. Learn more about Berkeley County at: exploreberkeleycounty.com

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Peacock Bass Luxury

Next stop Manaus, Brazil! It all started when my good friend Capt. Johnny Stabile called.

J: I know what you’re going to say before I even ask.

G: What is it?

J: Do you want to go Peacock fishing in Brazil?

G: When?

J: We would leave 13 days after our Alaska trip.

Of course, my response was, “Ok, sounds great!”

That would give me just enough time to get back from Alaska, fulfill orders for my business, and get things ready to head south. We flew out of Miami, and with a layover in Panama City, Panama met up with several other fishermen on the expedition. After a very long night of traveling, we finally landed in Brazil and hopped on a quick seaplane ride to the Rio Matupiri for six and a half days of non-stop fishing!

We stayed aboard the Amazon Legend with a very accommodating crew of 14. We ate like kings and fished hard. Our typical day of fishing consisted of getting up before the sun for a quick breakfast and loading into skiffs to spend the day zipping around to the guide’s best fishing spots. We threw a variety of lures, mostly topwaters like big choppers and walking baits. Johnny’s favorites of the trip were a Rebel Jumping Minnow and a Borboleta Woodstock 10.5 cm. He wore out the peacock bass on that Jumping Minnow. I threw bucktail jigs, and they produced the largest number of fish, but for Johnny it was all about the BIG’UNS!

Johnny loves to fly fish, so one special thing about fishing in Brazil for him was catching several nice fish on the fly rod with easy-to-tie flies that he made myself. These fish are so much more aggressive than the peacock bass you find in south Florida. For a little perspective, we caught more than 350 peacocks and more than 50 piranha along with several other exotic species. The average peacock was 2 to 3 pounds, and Johnny’s biggest weighed more than 8 pounds. One person in our party caught a big peacock that pulled the scales to nearly 14 pounds.

After a long morning of non-stop action, sometimes we would take a quick lunch break and hide in the shade of a tree for a wonderful shore lunch. The guides packed everything for remote meals on land, where they cooked native fare on an open fire. While they cooked, we relaxed in hammocks with

plenty of cold drinks and the opportunity for a quick nap before lunch was served. Many of the fish we caught contributed to these lunches, and there were also steaks and chicken available with all the fixins. Homemade salsa and native seasonings complimented the meals perfectly. After a relaxing lunch, it was back on the skiff and back in the action!

After afternoons of fishing, we indulged in fivestar dining and the most important part of the trip, air conditioning! The crew made up our rooms, did our laundry and prepared dinner every evening. Specialty cocktails were also provided, if that’s your fancy, but Johnny’s favorite was the freshly squeezed juices. He’s already looking forward to the passion fruit juice when we return next year!

Johnny shot some great video of our trip. Check it out in the December edition of The Angler Video Magazine

If you are interested in a Brazilian fishing adventure, e-mail Johnny at captain@ SFLFishingCharters.com or Gary at gary@purgeright.com.

By Capt. Johnny Stabile and Gary Turner

For as long as I can remember, offshore bottom fishing is what we look forward to during the last half of November and the entire month of December. The week of Christmas has always been considered the apex of the bottom-fishing year.

You can see the move of the big snappers marching offshore on the edge of the colder water. This will pile big snapper and other bottomdwelling species up on certain staging areas, along with a clean water temperature line that also stacks up the kings and wahoo. Keep a light line bait out while you’re bottom fishing. There is no telling what you’ll catch and on what baits.

Of course, I love a pinfish, grass grunts or sailors choice for grouper and snapper baits for more than one reason. 1) They get bites from the target species; and 2) they eliminate most of the trash bites from grunts, pinkies and sea bass.

Yes, I love a live bait on a jig, but don’t ever forget that a big grouper also loves a big chunk of cut bait. We have seen a huge uptick in amberjack and almaco jacks in the past few

years for some reason. This is an excellent bait source! I like to keep one of the first, smaller, amberjacks that come up just for this cut-bait option. The big chunks of cut bait do

of my bottom-fishing strategy. This is also the reason I take a couple boxes of squid on every trip. I start every new post-up on a ledge or live bottom area with everyone firing down whole squid every drop. I don’t care what they are catching. It’s usually grunts, pinkies or seabass, but what is really happening on the bottom is the squid are being ripped to shreds and small pieces are swirling around and creating a chum slick. After several volleys of whole squid, I change it up to live pinfish, grass grunts or other live baits on a jig.

Grouper and big snapper see the live bait as a smaller fish that was grabbed by a crab while feeding on small pieces of squid. It’s a winning technique that has been very successful for me and other Decoy Jig users for years now. It is also new to the fish, tackle-wise.

two things. They get bites and they also create a “chum slick” on the bottom right where you are fishing. When the cut bait gets pecked at, all the small pieces of flesh swirl around as it’s being eaten.

This is one of the most important aspects

The beauty of this cold water line moving farther offshore with every cold front creates opportunity for a variety of species. You never know; keep firing down cut bait and setting the hook on “strange feeling bites,” and you might even catch a big deep-water lobster like the one in the video below.

Check out some awesome bottom fishing videos at https://youtu.be/w1YmT6M0ObQ.

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LIMITED GOLIATH GROUPER HARVEST OPENS MARCH 1

grouper for the table.

e harvest will be very limited and tightly regulated, and permits will be issued by random drawing of applicants who applied during the Oct. 15-30 deadline. e cost to apply was $10 plus fees and permit at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.

Details for this limited, highly regulated harvest include:

• Total recreational harvest of up to 200 goliath per year, with a maximum of 50 from Everglades National Park.

• A goliath harvest permit and tag, issued via a random-draw lottery ($150 for residents, $500 for non-residents, plus fees) are required to participate. Permits and tags are non-transferable and no exemptions apply.

• A limit of one sh per person per open season with permit and tag.

• An open season from March 1 through May 31.

• Hook-and-line as the only allowable gear.

• A slot limit of 24-36 inches total length.

• Post-harvest requirements including proper application of the tag, reporting harvest data and submitting a n clip for genetic analysis.

• Harvest will be permitted in all state waters except those of Martin County south through the Atlantic coast of the Keys, all of the St. Lucie River and its tributaries, and Dry Tortugas National Park.

• Harvest will continue to be prohibited in federal waters.

“ e highly regulated, limited take of goliath grouper is an exciting and unique opportunity to provide access to this resource a er decades of closure, and we believe limited access is sustainable,” said FWC Commissioner Robert Spottswood. “We also look forward to collecting the post-harvest data to help guide future management decisions for this species.”

In October, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission opened the application process for recreational harvest of goliath grouper in Florida state waters. Harvest of the species was banned when the shery collapsed, and the 2023 spring season will be the rst time since 1990 that recreational anglers will have an opportunity to keep a goliath

is opportunity is intended to provide additional access to this shery while balancing the values of various stakeholder groups. Adult goliath grouper will continue to be prohibited from harvest statewide as well as goliath in heavy dive ecotourism areas. is limited harvest is not intended to address shing depredation concerns.

For more information about the goliath grouper harvest permit and details on the permit lottery and eligibility requirements, visit FWC’s Goliath Grouper Harvest Permit webpage.

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’Tis e Season for Gulf Coast Hogfish

With their oddly shaped mouths and a diet made up of crustaceans and mollusks, hog sh were once thought to be a species too di cult to target with rod and reel. All that changed over the last decade or so, as captains gured out how to speci cally target these delicious and beautiful bottom-feeders.

Wintertime is the best time to target hog sh on the Gulf Coast. From late November into March, they congregate on nearshore reefs and ledges to spawn, which makes them a great option in a season when rough weather can prohibit long runs to deep water.

Hog sh are protogynous hermaphrodites, which means they are all born female and change into males as they age. A single male will tend a harem of numerous females, which means nding good hog sh bottom can result in quick limits of ve sh per angler, but few of them will be large mature males. ere is a 14-inch minimum size limit in Florida, and hog sh of 18 or 20 inches are considered very good sh.

is time of year, dozens of hog sh can be found congregating together on reefs, rockpiles, and hardbottom in 50 to 75 feet of water. In most places, this can be found inside of 20 miles o shore. A prominent ledge with lots of growth is prime hog sh habitat. ey like to hover around reefs and use their long snouts to

probe cracks or root in the sand for critters like sand eas, crabs and snails.

Once you nd them, the secret to catching hog sh is pretty simple. Like just about anything else that swims, they are suckers for shrimp. Big live shrimp, fresh dead shrimp and even stinky thawed shrimp are irresistible. Just leave it right on the bottom, where a hog sh is likely to nd it while rummaging around in the sand. e rigs used to catch hog sh are also pretty simple. A knocker rig with a 1- or 2-ounce slip-sinker right up against a 1/0 circle hook will keep that shrimp right on the bottom. A half or 1-ounce circle-hook jig head will do the same thing. Some successful captains swear by hogballs, which are painted weights tethered to a hook by a small chain.

Regardless of the rig, you don’t need to go too light because hog sh aren’t particularly leader shy. A 5000 series reel with a comparable rod and 25-pound braid to a 30-pound leader is enough to haul even the largest hog sh up from depth. e trickiest part of catching hog sh is getting a good hook-set. You’ll want a little bit of slack in the line, which allows them

to pull that shrimp into their snout. Typically, you might feel or see a subtle rst bump, which will be followed by a second bump as they actually take the bait. Allow the sh to pull the line tight before reeling down and swinging the rod to drive the hook home.

For more information, go to coastalanglermag.com.

PhotoS courtesy of Capt. Quinlyn Haddon
By CAM Sta
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A mackerel’s ability to slice through line as if they were wielding a set of Ginsu knives leaves many anglers frustrated a er losing tackle. But if you target these speedsters with the right equipment, they can make for a fun day of action packed shing.

I like light spinning like a GLoomis GLX PR844 with a 2500 Stradic or an 8-weight NRX y rod with a Nautilus NVG 8/9 with Scienti c Angler sinking line. Chances are anything less than 30-lb. mono will be shredded immediately, so it is imperative to use wire leader when mackerel are around. Even then, they are known for hitting the line at the swivel connection from wire to mono, so it’s best to have several rigs ready. Also, make sure your swivels are black and not silver, these guys like shiny things. All that said, a spoon or a small jig rigged on wire will usually last a while.

Best of all, once mackerel move in, they are typically found right in the passes to within a few miles of the beach. I nd the sh o shore tend to be larger, so I like to target them. A 3-pound mack will make a blistering rst run that is reminiscent of a bone sh, and they are much less spooky than bones. e easiest way to nd them is to look for birds working. at’s a tell-tale sign. Reefs and good hard bottoms that hold bait are great places to search, as well. ese types of spots can be trolled or chummed to keep the action close to the boat. A standard chum bag will bring the school well within casting range for both conventional and y shermen. Just throw out something shiny, move it fast and you’ll hook up quickly.

Mackerel get a bad rap as table fare, as they are oily and can be strong tasting. at oiliness makes them perfect for smoking, and that, too, could not be easier. Simply llet the sh, leaving the skin on. Salt them liberally and let them rest in the refrigerator for about an hour. Rinse the salt o and add some Cajun seasoning to the sh and smoke over indirect heat at 250 degrees for about two hours. It is done when it akes easily o the skin. Smoked mackerel tastes great on its own in a salad or rice bowl, and it’s fantastic when made into sh spread.

As the water temperatures drop this time of year, bait sh shows up in force. Pods of bait sh are followed closely by schools Spanish mackerel. is o en-overlooked speedster is viewed as nuisance by some anglers, but mackerel are a blast on light tackle and y rods if you gear up correctly.

If you are looking for some hot action with minimal work, grab some wire and enjoy the return of the mack.

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

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TIPS FROM A PRO

JERKBAITS AND BAITFISH

Ajerkbait is a good idea whenever bait sh are plentiful. A jerkbait’s natural movement, size and resemblance to what the sh are already eating make this bait deadly.

ere are many scenarios I would consider good times to throw a jerkbait. One of the best situations you can encounter is when sh are actively feeding on bait sh and schooling. When bass are doing this, throwing a natural-bait sh-colored, shallowdiving jerkbait is an awesome way to replicate a dying bait sh. It at out gets bit, even when you can’t nd anything else they will touch.

Another awesome way to use a jerkbait is to blind cast in areas where bass are staged up and feeding. If you can identify bait sh already in an area, this makes the scenario even better. A lot of times this pattern sets up along grass lines, rip-rap banks and in pockets close to areas bass use to spawn. Depending on water clarity, I like a naturalcolored jerkbait or one with a little bit of chartreuse. Use a shallow or deep-diving jarkbait to match the depth you’re targeting.

Jerkbaits are also a great option for bass that are suspended with bait. Typically these sh are less pressured because they are harder to nd. You’ll need to spend some time searching with your electronics, but nding

this scenario and knowing how to target the bass can line up as some of the most fun shing you can imagine.

is can happen anywhere, but typically it occurs on points and pockets where sh can ambush the bait easier.

I use forward sonar a er I locate an active area and use the jerkbait to imitate the bait these sh are chasing in the water column. Typically, a shallow-diving jerkbait like a 13 Fishing Loco Special will work absolute wonders if you can get a sh to see it amongst the other bait sh.

Picking colors can get a bit confusing, as there are so many di erent options. I keep this decision as simple as possible and use only two di erent colors… ever. 13 Fishing makes a lot of natural colors as well as colors that stand out in dirty water. My go-to color is Casper Shad; it’s one of the most natural shad patterns you can get. Another color they make that is awesome in stained water is Neon Disco Shad.

With jerkbaits, I like a shorter rod, something between a 6’10” and a 7’. Actionwise, I like a medium-fast, which allows the sh to get the bait when you feel them hit it. e 13 Fishing Omen Black 6’10” MF is absolutely perfect. Reel selection doesn’t need to be too complicated. A 7:0:1 ratio allows you to work the bait and pick up line at the perfect pace. For line, I like 10- to 12-poundtest, and Seaguar Invizx uorocarbon is a very good line for the job.

Tyler Woolcott is a professional tournament angler and guide. Check out his website at www.tylerwoolcott shing.com.

12 FLORIDA DECEMBER 2022 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

Panhandle Pull The

Fishing Forecast

Let’s talk about crabbing here in Northwest Florida.

First, there are two main crabs targeted here for table fair. The Blue Crab and the Stone Crab. Blue Crabs are far more common, but we do have a good population of both. What I love about crabbing is I’m able to fish from the dock, the beach, or my little john boat. So, what will you need? I’ve put together a list of everything you will need for a successful day of crabbing:

• Crab Trap (Blue Crab traps are made of wire and Stone Crab traps are a box with a funnel top)

• Length of polypropylene line (around 6’-15’ depending on your fishing depth).

• Buoy with a painted letter “R” (for recreational)

• Waterproof tag with your unique blue crab/stone crab number. You must have a crabbing endorsement attached to your name. The endorsement is free online.

Zip Ties

• Claw measuring tool (stone crab only)

• Bait

I have found that the late summer through early winter is best for

crabbing and my bait of choice is cut mullet or mackerel. Sometimes I will toss in a pig’s foot if the water is still warm for the staying power. Each fisherman is allowed 5 registered and tagged traps. I like to drop my traps in a line or horseshoe shape with around 200-300’ of distance between them covering different depths. Once I have found I high concentration of crabs I will move my traps closer together for the next soak.

For Blue Crab, I like to fish anywhere from 3’-10’ of water. Sandy bottom, grassy bottom, and even rocky bottom all will have blue crab. A good place to start would be near a dock or sea wall or an old piling. For Stone Crabs, I like to fish near rocky or uneven bottom. They make their home in the crevices and cracks on the bottom. I usually fish in 6’-15’ of water for Stone Crabs.

A typical soak time for the traps is around 2-3 days in the summer/fall or around 4-5 days in the winter.

A helpful hint is once your trap is baited and ready to drop, use a zip tie around the door so that you will have peace of mind that nobody has entered your trap uninvited. Also remember that harvesting egg bearing females is illegal for all species of crab.

There are some great recipes online! My favorites way to cook Blue Crab is steamed with the carapace and guts/gills removed. Season with Everglades Heat and butter and cook for 15 minutes. For Stone Crab claws just a rolling boil for 8 minutes followed by a 10-minute ice bath.

Enjoy your fall crabbing in the panhandle! Some of the best sunsets on the planet are right here in the Choctawhatchee Bay this time of year. A truly spectacular way to cap off a day of crabbing!

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM DECEMBER 2022 THE pANHANdLE 1
Gulf Angler Charters • 850-428-0118 Capt. p reston muller with
Exceptional Quality and Style Angler Pendant Collection JoeytheJewelerUSA JoeytheJeweler22 Check us out on Facebook for more custom items & giveaways! www.JoeytheJewelerUSA.com 201 N Main St, Crestview, FL | (850) 682-1980

The importance of changing sacrificial anodes in your four-stroke outboard is extrememly important. Sacrificial anodes help keep corrosion out of your outboard motor. They are just as important as changing your oil on a regualr basis. The anodes are the first line of defense against saltwater corrosion.

Four strokes tend to get corrosion in cylinder heads due to lack of maintenance including not flashing the motor and changes the anodes. We recommend cleaning or changing the anodes every hundred hours or every oil change. This is one of the most inexpensive things you can do to prolong the life of your motor. Just flushing the motor will not prevent all corrosion from saltwater. The anodes sacrifice themselves to save your motor.

(850) 601-5988 Tip

Cotton Country Marine

2 THE pANHANdLE DECEMBER 2022 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM Experience Boating like Never Before! (850) 601-5988 5091 Booker Lane Jay, FL Call us today! www.cottoncountrymarine.com Our selection of boats are available to view on our website! We are open Monday - Friday: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
The pictures below show the lack of maintenacne on this motor. The anode is completely gone, which causes the corrosion to eat into the cylinder head. This causes water to get into the oil system. 2
importance of Changing Anodes

Emerald Coasting

Fishing Forecast Fishing Forecast

with

Miller Fishing Company • 850-501-5016

• www.millerfishingcharters.com

Inshore in our area has been full on with foaming Bull redfish. We have bene leaving the dock later in the morning so we can catch the best part of the bite which usually is the middle of the day. The bulls have been crushing jigs & poppers while also chasing schools of menhaden. These lures are usually the easiest baits to quickly cast at the fish when they get on top and show themselves! 50lb leader and 2-6oz lures with up to 20 to 50lb braid on light or medium rods & reels make for the best tackle for these guys. Offshore the hot bite has been the white Marlin while trolling the area we know as the Nipple. Light tackle for these guys as well, pulling “imposter “baits otherwise known as “dredges “that look like large schools of bait fish. When the Marlin come up using their bills to knock the baits out of their school and injure them, quickly spinning around and picking them up to chomp them down. We watch the spread (behind the boat) while trolling, as soon as the fish come up to swipe the “dredges “, we toss out a bait rigged with a small cup faced lure and a ballyhoo on a circle hook rigged-up various ways on light conventional tackle such as 20-40lb monofilament. Then, we free spool the reel until we feel the bite, giving the fish free spool for 6-10 seconds or so then slowly upping the drag to hook the fish. Mahi, sailfish, tuna and wahoo are by catches while trolling for these Marlin.

Hello to all the fishing community! December is a great month of fishing!  We are truly lucky to live in an area where the fishing is good all year!  This month is good for inshore fishing for sheepshead, redfish, and white trout.  Sheepshead will be all around the inland waters holding tight to bridges, railroad trussells, and docks in 2–20-foot depths.  They can be caught using the very popular Bird of Prey sheepshead jigs tipped with live fiddler crabs or shrimp.  You can also get them using super light Carolina rigs and size 1 hooks!  There will usually be schooling redfish through the second week of December so keep an eye out for them blowing up in huge schools underneath of feeding birds.  They can be caught on 1-2oz bucktails tipped with a curly tail grub!  Get ready for action when you find them it will be on!  Lots of good fishing can be done around any of the bridges for white trout if the sheepshead are not biting.  Chicken rigs with shrimp, Boston mackerel, or Berkley gulp curly tail grubs work as well!  These fish will eat 10–20-pound line and they get picky.  Be sure to have your drag set correctly in case a giant black drum decides to feast on your presentation!  Another tip when catching white trout, send one down on a bigger rod and see if you can get a bull red to bite!

Offshore this time of year is great for deep dropping!  Big chunks of cut bait paired with electric rod set ups do excellent for different types of grouper and golden tilefish!  If you can get a good weather window, make the long run and give it a shot!

This is another fishing report from your favorite OG!

4 THE pANHANdLE DECEMBER 2022 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM
Capt. matt miller Capt. Brett t ennant with
YOUR HOMETOWN AUTO DEALERSHIP SINCE 1981 petemoore.com 103 New Warrington Road Pensacola, Florida | (850) 456-7000 Personal Watercraft: 850-747-9283 Boat Division : 850-763-0478 Hours: Mon – Fri : 8:30am – 5:30pm o nly a uthorize D In-Stock Tohatsu Sales & Service in Panama City all P ro P Wc re Pair .co M www.USHarbors.com Pensacola, FL - Dec 2022 Date High Low AM ft PM ft AM ft PM ft Rise Set Moon 1 Thu 3:43 1.0 10:31 0.7 1:58 0.1 6:26 4:49 2 Fri 8:30 0.8 1:07 0.3 6:27 4:49 3 Sat 7:57 1.1 4:55 0.2 6:28 4:49 4 Sun 7:57 1.3 5:37 -0.1 6:29 4:49 5 Mon 8:15 1.5 6:17 -0.3 6:29 4:49 6 Tue 8:44 1.5 6:58 -0.5 6:30
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Surf fiShing Smitty with

Fishing Forecast

Well folks, December is here, and just like clockwork, the whiting bite has fired up along the coast. As I mentioned a few months back, the best way to catch these tasty morsels is to downsize your equipment. This month we will explore what has been called by many, and rightly so, the Runt Rod craze. I must give credit where it’s due, and all the credit for this craze goes to my friend, Tony Faggioni, owner and inventor of Fish Gum bait. If you know Tony or have seen his videos on YouTube, the nickname “Mad Scientist” is fitting. Tony is about trying new things to help anglers catch fish, and the Runt Rod helps you catch fish!

First, we must define what constitutes a Runt Rod. A Runt Rod is a super ultra-light rod and reel combo spooled with less than 10-pound test line. When I first heard about fishing the surf with a four-and-a-half to five-foot, super ultra-light rod combo, I thought it would never work. The fish we target are much too strong for a setup like that. Well, I was wrong. I own four of these setups and have even incorporated them into my charters. Some days it’s all I can do to keep two Runt Rods going; they are that effective, but what makes them work so well? They make you target the most overlooked zone, that first ten to fifteen yards from shore. Here are some great Runt Rod combos you can ask Santa for this Christmas. Top on my list would be the Lew’s Lite Speed Ultra-Light Spinning combo; it can’t be beaten. Next, I’d have to go with the KastKing Zephyr Ultra-Light rod. This is the most expensive rod, especially after you factor a reel into the equation. Finally, the Ugly Stik GX2 combo; the only drawback of this combo is that the butt section is a little short for my liking but still a great combo.

Another advantage of using a Runt Rod is that it forces you to downsize your rigs. We have found that a 10-pound fluorocarbon single-drop rig with a size four hook works best. Although, if you like fishing Carolina rigs, that’s an option. You can use a half-ounce egg weight with a ten to twelveinch leader and a size four hook. The key is the bait size; I prefer to use small pieces of shrimp. I cut a whole shrimp into five or six pieces, and it’s the perfect size.

I think the greatest thing about this style of fishing is that it is great for kids and adults. I mean, who doesn’t like to hear screaming drag when reeling in a fish? The other great thing about Runt Rods is that they are inexpensive. Don’t be afraid to try something new. You never know what you may catch. Until next month, may your lines be tight and coolers be full!

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM DECEMBER 2022 THE pANHANdLE 5
Destin (Choctawhatchee Bay, East Pass), FLDec 2022 Date High Low AM ft PM ft AM ft PM ft Rise Set Moon 1 Thu 3:10
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19 Mon 6:40 0.6 4:16 -0.1 6:36 4:50 20 Tue 7:08 0.7 4:58 -0.2 6:36 4:50 21 Wed 7:52 0.7 5:54 -0.2 6:37 4:51 22 Thu 8:47 0.8 7:00 -0.3 6:37 4:51 23 Fri 9:45 0.8 8:11 -0.3 6:38 4:52 24 Sat 10:43 0.8 9:19 -0.3 6:38 4:52 25 Sun 11:38 0.8 10:18 -0.3 6:39 4:53 26 Mon 11:05 -0.3 6:39 4:53 27 Tue 12:28 0.7 11:39 -0.2 6:39 4:54 28 Wed 1:13 0.5 11:53 -0.1 6:40 4:55 29 Thu 1:50 0.3 7:47 0.2 11:33 0.0 6:40 4:55 30 Fri 6:07 0.3 9:58 0.0 6:40 4:56 31 Sat 5:37 0.5 3:46 0.0 6:41 4:57 Veteran Owned & Operated shallowseascharters.com shallowseacharters@gmail.com 850.247.0799 + 706.580.2021 129 Hunter Circle • Port St. Joe, FL • 32456 Capt. Lee Thompson USCG Licensed & Insured Panhandle to do The Canvas Lady A Full-Service Marine Canvas Upholstery Shop 124 Benning Dr. Suite 4 Destin, FL 32541 Julia McPherson (cell & text) 850 - 974 - 6090 JuliaTheCanvasLady@gmail.com It's as easy as emailing your business card! (850) 499-5685 | Capt.Elizabeth@ CoastalAnglerMagazine.com Would you like to showcase your business on Panhandle's To Do?
www.USHarbors.com
0.5 9:58 0.3 1:24 0.0 6:23 4:46
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Smitty's Surf Fishing • www.smittyssurffishing.com FB: @SmittysSurfFishing • IN: @smittys_surf_fishing mike smith

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6 THE pANHANdLE DECEMBER 2022 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM www.USHarbors.com St. Andrew Bay, Channel entrance, FL - Dec 2022 Date High Low AM ft PM ft AM ft PM ft Rise Set Moon 1 Thu 2:04
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9:02 -1.0 6:35 4:50 26 Mon 11:22 1.4 9:49 -0.9 6:35 4:51 27 Tue 10:23 -0.7 6:36 4:51 28 Wed 12:07 1.1 10:37 -0.4 6:36 4:52 29 Thu 12:44 0.7 6:41 0.4 10:17 -0.1 6:36 4:53 30 Fri 5:01 0.6 8:42 0.1 6:37 4:53 31 Sat 4:31 1.0 2:30 -0.1 6:37 4:54 124 Benning Dr. Suite 4 Destin, FL 32541 Anchored in Quality Julia McPherson (cell & text) 850-974-6090 juliathecanvaslady@gmail.com A Full-Service Marine Canvas & Upholstery Shop • Bridge Enclosures • Biminis or T-tops • Upholstery/Cushions • Protective Covers • Sun Fly Shades • Sunbrella Fabrics • Patio Cushions The Canvas Lady — COMPLETE AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR — CUSTOM WHEELS AND TIRES — CUSTOM EXHAUST WORK NATION WARRANTY!WIDE Personal Watercraft: 850-747-9283 Boat Division : 850-763-0478 Hours: Mon – Fri : 8:30am – 5:30pm f ree rigging with most outboard purchases all P ro P Wc re Pair .co M
1.0 8:52 0.7 12:08 0.1 6:20 4:43
10:32 1.7

Fishing…. Hunting….College Football it’s that time of the year and we are pumped! December brings cooler water temperatures that triggering the fish movement on the Forgotten Coast. Redfish, Trout, Sheepshead, and Hybrid Stripers will be the species of the month. Most of us will be found deer hunting the colder early morning hours at sunrise and by mid-morning fishing the inshore & nearshore warming waters. The winter tides will clear up the bay waters firing up the Trout bite on the outgoing. Trout are biting Berkley Gulps under Cajun Thunders in about 3 to 5 ft of water. The larger Gator Trout will be hitting the creek mouths and points with moving water. A great option under the same setup is Live Shrimp that can be caught on the shallow water grass & mud flats with a cast net. If you would like to save time head to a local fishing store, like Fisherman’s Choice and Allen’s Bait Tackle, which have local live bait options. Don’t forget that these same areas hold slot reds that can be caught suspending or fishing a shrimp off the bottom with your traditional knocker rig setup. For all of you sight-fisherman throwing artificial lures, the water temperatures will be much cooler and the bite will be much slower so, slow down your retrieves and concentrate on the lures action. Most importantly aggressive action does not always mean fast, the slower the better with the presentations of both hard & soft baits. The passes and outside shoals will be holding fish on the change of tides. Our baits will range from fresh shrimp, finger mullet, to even cut bait that we will fish the bottom or drift-fish. Please be considerate of other anglers fishing and review local regulations. This includes the handling & releasing of all over slot seatrout and redfish in a healthy manner.

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM DECEMBER 2022 THE pANHANdLE 7 Paul’s Marine service, inc
Forecast Capt. jeremy davidson with Forgotten Fishing Southern Salinity Guide Service •
• Insta:
• FB:
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AndAlusiA MArine’s WintertiMe is MAintenAnce

The shorter days of winter and cold north wind means it’s the perfect time to take care of those pesky maintenance issues that seem to take a back seat to fishing and boat riding during the spring and summer. Electrical issues, that weak house battery, the livewell pump that seems to only work when it wants to, or the leaning post cushion that won’t stay in place are all the types of problems that tend to get put off until another day.

As hard as it can be to trudge out into the cold and dive into these things; wintertime is the perfect season to take care of these pesky items and even take care of routine engine maintenance that may be due.

Tackling these issues now will make your upcoming boating season much more enjoyable and stress free. Not to mention, if you plan to have these problems addressed by a repair facility or dealer their backlog should be much shorter now than in Spring.

With the shorter backlog of work; repair facilities can be more studious about tracing down pesky issues for you or taking preventative maintenance measures that may help keep your warm weather boating season on track.

Don’t let Winter slip away without taking time to sort out the ever present list of issues that plague we boat owners to help ensure your family has a great Spring and Summer on the water!

8 THE pANHANdLE DECEMBER 2022 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM
tiMe
AndAlusiA MArine & PowersPorts inc. (334) 427-1428 1707 River Falls Street, Andalusia, AL 36421 www.andalusiamarine.com Headquarters For All Your Boating needs Certified full line dealer F40LA F50LB F60LB F70LA VF90LA VF115LA Models in stoCk! XP ress • Alweld • s tingr AY • Ver A nd A • Quest www.facebook.com/andalusiamarine
Capt. Josh Anderson
Big or small, we have toys for all this holiday season!

What Did We Name Our Boats in 2022?

With recreational boating season coming to a close across much of the country, BoatUS compiled a list of the top-10 boat names ordered this season through its online boat graphics service. Here are the rankings.

1) Andiamo: Meaning “let’s go/we go /come on” in Italian, Andiamo remains in the No. 1 spot from last year’s list. It’s also a happy refrain heard from the person behind the helm as they put the throttle down and head to open waters.

2) Osprey: is year was the rst time Osprey has made the top10. In a unique twist, Osprey bumped last year’s No. 2 boat name, Social Distancing, completely o the list. ’Nu said, right?

3) Serenity: is No. 3 name is so popular it has made the top 10 seven times since 2010, tying the record with Second Wind. Yep, you guessed it – both are popular with sailboat owners.

4) Encore: Also a newcomer to the top-10 this year, Encore may be the boat name of choice for an entertainer. Or, it could indicate the “next” boat – either satisfying the three-foot-itis or scaling down, or maybe even coming back to boat owning a er a hiatus.

5) Zephyr: Last appearing on the top-10 in 2010, sailors will welcome this reference to a gentle breeze back to the list.

6) Second Wind: Is this boat named for a new chapter in life or achievement? A comeback? A new strength? We’ll never know for sure, but gosh is it perennially popular.

7) Adventure: A boat with this name is usually out of the slip every weekend putting miles of water under the keel.

8) Knot on Call: is boat name serves as a notice that on-the-water time can’t be tampered with. Of unique importance, the owner of this boat can silence their cellphone ring in just under two seconds.

9) Shenanigans: Quit fooling around. Shenanigans are a part of every boating culture.

10) Grace: In its fourth appearance on the top-10 boat names list since 2010, Grace likely holds deep meaning for vessels with beautiful lines or for those that navigate with nesse. is is the one boat in the marina that also makes docking look easy.

For a look at all of the BoatUS Top-10 Boat Names lists over the years, visit BoatUS.com/BoatNames.

14 FLORIDA DECEMBER 2022 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM
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This Isn’t the PANFISH of Your Youth

More o en than not, pan sh were the sh that introduced most anglers to the sport. e term “pan sh” is used to describe any of the commonly found species that usually never grow bigger than the size a frying pan. Most of them are legal to keep, regardless of size.

ese are species known as sun sh, bluegills, red eyes, rock bass, pumpkinseeds and countless other names, o en depending on the region. But this article is about a di erent kind of pan sh, and one that was naturally found only in other countries.

e Mayan cichlid is native to southeastern Mexico and the waters of Central America’s Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua and Guatemala. e rst reported non-indigenous population was recorded here in Florida Bay in 1983. Due to their adaptability and south Florida’s favorable climate and water conditions, they now can be found in great numbers from the canals in Miami to the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, and almost all inland waters between.

Mayan cichlids are a freshwater species, but are known to thrive under a variety of environmental conditions, from a wide range of salinity to low oxygen conditions, and therefore can inhabit most waters in this region.

is oval-shaped sh has spiny anal and dorsal ns, and it ranges in color from olive green to a light brown, with darker vertical bars. During breeding season, their colors become vibrant, and their throats and n edges glow bright red to orange, which earned them the nickname “atomic sun sh” or “orange tiger.” Similar to their cousins the peacock bass and the oscar, they sport a black spot and ring on the tail to confuse predators. e Mayan’s spot is black with a turquoise ring.

Mayan cichlids are a very attractive sporting species that o ers strong ghts on light and y shing tackle. Mayans readily take a variety of natural baits as well as small arti cial lures and ies. e countless canals, lakes and neighborhood ponds of south Florida are full of these amazing little ghters and many other species. I am a y sherman, and Clouser’s Minnow or any small bait sh pattern, along with a Gurgler work well for this aggressive feeder.

I would recommend an out t in the 7/8 weight range, because cichlids share these waters with much larger species. It’s common to catch snook, juvenile tarpon, tilapia and largemouth bass in these locations.

Mayan cichlids are not considered invasive, although they are nonnative. ey have no season or bag limit, and harvest is encouraged. ey have white aky meat with a mild avor and are considered very good table fare.

I will not o er an opinion on just how this species found its way to this region, but I believe they’re here to stay. We might as well sh for them.

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COLD FRONTS BRING BLACK DRUM TO THE INLETS

With the mullet run over and the cold setting in, our target species begin to change. Most of the high-energy sh like jacks and tarpon slow down during winter. So we turn our attention to already slow bottom-feeding sh that aren’t as a ected by cooler water. Black drum are a highly praised bottom-feeder. Not only do they taste delicious, they grow to amazing trophy size.

Black drum are in the drum family with red sh, but they are di erent in appearance and their way of living. Black drum have a high arched back compared to most sh that levels out toward the tail. ese sh are a darkish gray or black with some tones of brown that fade to a lighter belly. Normally, juveniles have four to six vertical bars on their side, similar to sheepshead. e bars fade with age.

Black drum have barbels or whiskers on their lower jaw like cat sh. ese barbels are used to smell mollusks and other prey in the sand, which the drum digs out. ey then use rows of molar-like pharyngeal teeth to crush mussels, crabs and other hard-shelled creatures. ese teeth line the top and bottom of their mouths and can extend to the back of their throat.

Black drum live from Texas all the way up past New Jersey. ey congregate around structures like bridges and docks. However, they also can be found in bays, river mouths, oyster beds and along beaches. Juveniles are mostly found in estuaries.

As these sh begin to spawn in the colder months, they move toward owing inlets. Just like red drum, they participate in mass free-spawning, where they release sperm and eggs while grouped together in owing water. e pre-spawn move to the inlets gives anglers plenty of time to target them in groups.

Jalon Tomlinson enjoys targeting black drum during peak season. He said shing is best during cold fronts on an outgoing tide. He uses a chicken rig with a 3- to 4-ounce pyramid sinker or a Carolina rig with a 3-ounce egg sinker and a 2/0 hook. He recommends a 40-pound leader because powerful sh heavier than 30-pounds are a real possibility. Ideal baits are fresh dead shrimp or old stinky shrimp. However, Tomlinson has also caught them on crabs and sand eas.

Tomlinson catches some monster drum with this technique, but he prefers to keep the 14- to 28-inchers because they’re better to eat. In Florida, there is a daily bag limit of ve per harvester, with a slot size of 14 to 24 inches. One sh is allowed over the 24-inch slot.

e IGFA all-tackle world record black drum weighed an amazing 113 pounds, 1 ounce and was caught out of Lewes, Delaware.

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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SNOOK SEASONS CLOSE

Florida seasons for snook harvest close this month in state and federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic.

e Gulf snook season closure date is Dec. 1, and snook harvest will remain closed through the end of February in Gulf state and adjacent federal waters. e Atlantic snook season is closed Dec. 15 through Jan. 31 in state and adjacent federal waters. Special regulations for di erent zones exist for this species, so be sure to check current regulations online at MyFWC.com.

When snook season re-opens, anglers who wish to harvest a snook must have a snook permit in addition to a recreational shing license. ere is a slot limit of not less than 28 inches or more than 33 inches total length. e daily bag limit is 1 per harvester per day with zero captain and crew for-hire limit.

For more information, go to MyFWC.com.

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM DECEMBER 2022 FLORIDA 19
Photo courtesy of Richard Matteson

LURES

FIGHTING FISH AT LONG DISTANCE

It’s on! You made a very long cast, and within a few cranks a sh grabs your lure and you’re engaged in a ght!

Long distance lures allow you to hook-up with sh other anglers can’t reach, but ghting sh with so much line out presents complications, mostly in the form of environmental elements the angler does not control.

If you’re shing from a at sandy beach on a calm day with no waves, little current and no oating sargassum, then nothing is di erent. Just ght the sh and enjoy it. But when ghting a sh at great distance, elements like current or obstacles such as rocks or weeds become magni ed threats to successfully landing the sh. e more line you have in the water, the less direct in uence you have on the sh. e sh has more freedom to swim sideways or even directly at you. ere’s a greater chance your line will snag an encrusted boulder or load up with oating grass. Ripping currents and wave action are more pronounced during the ght, and sh—especially bigger ones— will use this to pull away.

Here are tactics to better ght sh from long distances.

• Keep the rod tip up and hold it high to keep as much line as possible out of the water or high in the water column. is limits the risk of snags and reduces drag on the line. I sometimes put the rod butt against my shoulder and hold the rod almost vertically to gain as much height as possible.

• When a sh swims or is pushed by waves or current into a snag-prone area, it’s o en counter productive to crank down and pull directly against the sh. Pulling hard works OK on small or mediumsized sh, but with larger sh I like to angle the rod horizontally and

sideways in the direction the sh is going. It’s like judo in that you use the sh’s momentum against it. By pulling the sh sideways, instead of directly against it, it will curve toward you. is is unconventional, but it has saved sh for me a number of times.

• When sh use strong currents during the ght, walk with them. Try to walk the same speed the sh is moving with the current and continue picking up line.

• Use a power-pull to put a lot of pressure on big sh. Keep the rod at a 30 to 45 degree angle from horizontal, and walk backward at constant speed. When I was guiding in Africa for tiger sharks and giant tarpon, this was the best way to bring sh closer to shore.

Legendary angler Patrick Sebile is a world record holder and an award-winning designer of innovative lures and shing gear. Check out his creations at abandofanglers.com.

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PATRICK SEBILE A Band of Anglers pro team member Jim Louro, of Vicki Lynn Sport shing, caught this big striped bass with a long cast from the beach.

Perhaps Florida anglers are getting used to the regulations changes that closed fall harvest of ounder for the rst time last year. With a 45-day closure during the peak of the fall spawning movements, keeping ounder is by design illegal when it’s easiest to catch them. e season closure ran Oct. 15 through Nov. 30, and many Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic states enacted similar closures in the face of several years of falling ounder numbers. So, while you likely didn’t get to enjoy stu ed ounder at the anksgiving feast, you should be able to go catch, or gig, a doormat to serve at Christmas.

Starting Dec. 1, ounder harvest is allowed with a 14-inch minimum size limit and a daily bag limit of ve sh per person. ese regulations apply in state and federal waters o Florida. Legal gear includes spears, gigs, hook and line, seine and cast nets.

For more information, go to MyFWC.com.

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Chipola River Shoalies are on the Comeback

If you’re not familiar with shoal bass, they are a distinct species of black bass that evolved to inhabit the riverine shoals of the Apalachicola River Basin in Florida. ey are considered a Species of Greatest Conservation Need by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission because they are native only to one drainage worldwide, and habitat in that drainage was forever altered by dams.

e Chipola River, which roughly bisects the Panhandle to join the Apalachicola River at Sumatra, Fla., is home to Florida’s only known

reproducing population of shoal bass, and it is potentially the species’ most genetically pure population. Farther north, Georgia’s Chattahoochee and Flint rivers are part of the same drainage. ere, shoal bass are considered an excellent sport sh. ey grow to weights heavier than 9-pounds and o er a unique opportunity for anglers, especially y shers, because they inhabit swi -water shoals and will readily slam arti cial lures, topwaters and ies.

Shoal bass are in trouble in Florida, and FWC is on the case. In 2018, the Chipola River population of shoal bass was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Michael. Impacts from the storm resulted in nearly a 90 percent decline in the population. In May, 2022, biologists with the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management released 3,300 1- to 2-inch genetically pure, hatchery-spawned shoal bass from the Blackwater Fisheries Research and Development Center into the Chipola River.

Recent sampling discovered the released sh have made a signi cant contribution to the existing population. DNA analysis of n clips taken from shoal bass collected during these sampling events con rmed that 65 percent of the yearlings collected were from sh produced and released by Blackwater Hatchery. ese stocked shoal bass had grown to 4 to 6 in the four months since being stocked. Additionally, data suggests these stocked sh may comprise nearly 20 percent of the entire shoal bass population in the river.

“ e shoal bass population in the Chipola River has become a top priority of sheries biologists within the northwest region of Florida since Hurricane Michael,” said Fisheries Biologist Andy Strickland. “Management actions to suspend harvest and successfully stock shoal bass have yielded positive results for this unique black bass species.”

FWC biologists anticipate stocking additional hatchery reared shoal bass in the Chipola River in the spring of 2023 to increase the number of genetically pure sh in the population and eventually restore population numbers to pre-Hurricane Michael levels.

Currently a catch-and-release-only regulation is in e ect for shoal bass on the Chipola River and its tributaries.

To learn more, visit MyFWC/Freshwater.

22 FLORIDA DECEMBER 2022 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

Florida Angler Ties Georgia Pompano Record

In November the Georgia Department of Natural Resources certi ed a sh that tied the state record for Florida pompano. e sh, which weighed 1 pound, 7.68 ounces, was caught by a Florida woman who was at St. Simons Island, Ga. volunteering at a youth shing tournament.

Cathy Sanders, of Palm Coast, Fla., landed her record-tying pomp while surf shing on St. Simons Island on Oct. 9. Her catch tied the previous record holder, Laura Cheek, who landed a 1-pound, 7-ounce pompano on Sea Island in 1982. Sanders’ pompano was 12 inches fork length.

Sanders was volunteering with the Kids Can Fish Foundation’s Running of the Bulls youth tournament when she caught the sh. She was surf shing with a 12-foot Okuma Rockaway rod and Okuma Rockaway 6000 reel. As bait, she used Fishbites EZ Crab (Electric Chicken) with Sinker Guys glass beads and salted shrimp on 20-pound high visibility mono lament. Her terminal rig was a 2/0 circle hook on a double drop rig with 3-ounce Guy Sputnik sinker.

Under the rules of the Georgia Saltwater Game Fish Records Program, Sanders’ catch quali ed as a tie because it weighed more than the current record, but did not exceed the record by more than 4 ounces.

e IGFA all-tackle world record Florida Pompano weighed 8 pounds, 4 ounces. It was caught by Barry Huston in St. Joe Bay, Fla. in 1999.

See Georgia’s saltwater records at CoastalGaDNR.org/SaltwaterRecords.

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The handle is made from genuine natural bone, and features decorative wood spacers and a hand-carved motif of two overlapping feathers— a reminder for you to respect and connect with the natural world.

This fusion of substance and style can garner a high price tag out in the marketplace. In fact, we found full tang, stainless steel blades with bone handles in excess of $2,000. Well, that won’t cut it around here. We have mastered the hunt for the best deal, and in turn pass the spoils on to our customers.

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The question of lure size is o en pondered in the shing world. Di erent circumstance requires a di erent mentality, but one thing is for certain, the sh did not read any articles, attend any seminars or watch that YouTube video. ey eat what they want, when they want, but I have an approach that I nd useful in deciphering the riddle.

As winter approaches, it brings changes to our estuaries: cooler water temps, a change in the type and abundance of forage, less pressure from boaters, and in some areas, much better water clarity. ere are two trains of thought on lure size when it comes to winter shing in the bays. Should I go bigger or smaller? I know anglers who immediately upsize for the entire season, while others downsize for its duration.

Both can be e ective, but here is how I typically tackle early winter shing.

Cooling water temps and increasing frequency of cold fronts put the sh on both spectrums of the feeding attitude. Unlike more stable weather patterns, when sh are less a ected and feed more consistently, these fronts can make them, for a lack of a better term, moody.

Late fall and early winter can be some of the best inshore shing of the year. Schools of

bait ushed from the bays with the dropping tides are followed by hungry specks and reds. In these situations, I like to use a smaller lure. Generally, they feed on shrimp or smaller bait sh, and having a lure of similar size is a good idea. When they are following these schools, I like non-natural colors so the sh have something to key in on when bait is abundant. I like my lure’s color to stand out in the fall feeding frenzy.

Now, for the other end of the mood swing, the inactive period caused by post-frontal conditions. is is another situation when I favor smaller lures in early winter. When the bite is o , smaller o erings entice bites from non-aggressive sh. Using myself as an example, if I am not hungry, the chance of me driving to a restaurant for a steak dinner are slim, but I might grab a few peanuts for a quick bite just because they are on the counter.

e nal reason is clearer water. Some bays I sh will have 1 to 2 feet of clear-green water in the summer, but 6 to 7 feet of air-clear water in winter. ese sh are not accustomed to this transitional clarity. When I can see my lure bouncing in the sand in depths of 7 feet, a much smaller lure will produce more bites.

I hope these tips help you catch more sh this winter, and next month I will explain my transition to larger lures as we press deeper into winter’s grip.

10 NATIONAL DECEMBER 2022 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM
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On a recent trip to Tucson, we spoke with fourth generation turquoise traders who explained that less than five percent of turquoise mined worldwide can be set into jewelry and only about twenty mines in the Southwest supply gem-quality turquoise. Once a thriving industry, many Southwest mines have run dry and are now closed.

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MONSTER SMALLIE IS GREAT LAKES RECORD

Ohio Angler Gregg Gallagher caught a 10.15-pound smallmouth bass on Nov. 3 that once certi ed should be a new Lake Erie record. e 23 ¾-inch sh is also the largest bronzeback ever caught from the Great Lakes.

Gallagher told In-Fisherman his was the result of his son’s extensive time surveying bait and bottom structure. With sonar, they were able to do what some call video-game shing and target individual sh with drop shot rigs. He was shing 8-pound test.

“With an abundance of bait sh and unique bottom composition located a er long days behind the graphs, we dropped down our forward-facing sonar and we were able to individually target these pelagicesque smallmouth,” he told In-Fisherman. “On what turned out to be the most memorable cast of my life, my bait got hit before it even hit the bottom and my rod quickly doubled over. I honestly thought I had hooked into a sheephead and not a smallmouth. We quickly learned we had just caught the smallmouth of a lifetime.”

e monster smallmouth is the only certi ed 10-plus-pounder ever caught from the Great Lakes. It should beat out the Canadian record of 9.84 pounds, which was set 68 years ago. It is also heavier than the Ohio state record, which weighed 9 pounds, 8 ounces and was caught in 1993.

e world record smallmouth bass weighed 11 pounds, 15 ounces. It was caught from Tennessee’s Dale Hollow Lake in 1955.

12 NATIONAL DECEMBER 2022 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM
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5 WINTERTIME FISHERIES

Instead of spending the next few months holed up inside, get yourself a good parka, nd a window of decent weather and go shing. Believe it or not, for some sheries winter o ers some of the best action of the year. Here are a few ideas to help you combat cabin fever.

1) Wintertime Wahoo:

is time of year, wahoo pile up around the Bahamas. Some of the largest sh of the year will show up over the next couple of months.

High-speed trolling is the technique that allows captains to cover lots of water along rocky ledges, color changes, temperature breaks and dropo s. ’Hoos hunt in packs, so multiple hook-ups and double-digit days are possible. is shery requires some forethought and perhaps some exibility. ey bite best around the full and new moons, but you’ll de nitely want to avoid fronts and those wicked north winds.

2) South Florida Sailfsh: From

December

through February

the Atlantic Coast of South Florida becomes one of the best sail sh destinations in the world. Release ags will be ying along the edge of the Gulf Stream from roughly Fort Pierce down through the Keys.

For this bite, you’ll want to sh when the weather’s a little rough. With strong winds from the north, tailing conditions push sail sh high in the water column to feed. ey surf the swells and it’s possible to sight sh for them, which is about as exciting as shing gets.

3) The Outer Banks: In winter, North Carolina’s Outer Banks are the destination for several migrations which bring excellent shing to the island chain from Oregon Inlet down past Ocracoke.

Out of Hatteras, it’s a short ride out to the edge of the Gulf Stream, and this time of year tuna congregate there to feast on a bounty of bait sh. Big blue n tuna 200 pounds and larger are on the prowl, and anglers can also do battle with black n, yellow n and bigeye tunas.

At the same time, big schools of striped bass will be marauding bait sh on the beaches and in the inlets. Surf anglers can encounter them blitzing menhaden by looking for bait and birds. Charter boats do good business this time of year trolling while keeping eyes peeled for stripers herding and crashing bait balls.

4) South Padre Island, Texas: Way down on the Mexican border, South Padre Island is as far south as you can go in Texas. e winters are mild and the shing is good year-round.

When water temps drop, snook pile into the canals and school up. ese schools of sh can be giant, and they are suckers for arti cials. At the same time, the grass ats experience the clearest water of the year. Red sh, big trout and black drum cruise the ats, where anglers can sight sh them in shin-deep water.

5) Delayed Harvest Trout: On the East Coast from Maryland down to Georgia, most states have developed robust delayed harvest trout sheries which keep y shers on the stream through the winter. ese specially regulated sheries are catch-and-release only through the cooler months and most of them have single-hook, arti cial-only regulations.

Most delayed harvest streams are heavily stocked, usually with some largerthan-normal hatchery sh. Since you can’t keep them, they stay in the creeks and rivers all winter long. Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia are some of the states with excellent delayed harvest programs. See the state wildlife agency websites for information.

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM DECEMBER 2022 NATIONAL 13

TROUBLED ATLANTIC STRIPED BASS STOCKS TREND UPWARD

For the rst time in a while, sheries managers are reporting some good news about striped bass populations on the Atlantic Coast. In early November, e Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) accepted an updated 2022 stock assessment that looks good enough that no additional harvest cuts will be needed.

is stock assessment found that rock sh stocks are still over shed but they are not currently experiencing over shing. e female spawning biomass appears to have been on a modest upward trend for at least the last three years, but at an estimated 143 million pounds is still far below the 235-million-pound target for rebuilding.

Total mortality in 2021 from commercial and recreational shing was estimated at 0.14, which is below the mortality threshold of 0.20 as well as below the mortality target of 0.17.

What does this mean for anglers?

Currently, a reduction in catch is not needed, and the rebuilding program is on schedule to declare the striped bass stock rebuilt by 2029.

“ is 2022 assessment was the rst check-in point for progress toward stock rebuilding by 2029,” said Board Chair Marty Gary with the River Fisheries Commission. “It is extremely important shery removals and conduct regular stock assessments to keep evaluating rebuilding progress and stay on track.”

e next stock assessment update is scheduled for 2024, and the Board will review the 2022 removals as soon as the data are available to evaluate whether catch remains at sustainable levels.

The Return of a

For more information, visit www.asmfc.org.

14 NATIONAL DECEMBER 2022 COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM
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