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EMERALD COAST/DESTIN/PENSACOLA EDITION

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VOLUME 23 • ISSUE 273

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F R A N C H I S E

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EDITOR IN CHIEF : Ben Martin • camads@coastalanglermagazine.com VICE PRESIDENT : Tracy Patterson • tracy@coastalanglermagazine.com ART DIRECTOR : Rebecca Snowden • graphics@coastalanglermagazine.com EDITORIAL COORDINATOR : Nick Carter • editorial@coastalanglermagazine.com WEBMASTER : Dmitriy Pislyagin • webmaster@coastalanglermagazine.com ADVERTISING INQUIRIES: Corporate Headquarters info@coastalanglermagazine.com • 888-800-9794

FLORIDA

BIG BEND : Mike McNamara • (850) 510-7919 • captmike@coastalanglermagazine.com BREVARD : David String • (321) 684-5888 • dstring@coastalanglermagazine.com DAYTONA/NEW SMYRNA BEACH : Don Meadows • (321) 436-5895 • donm@coastalanglermagazine.com EMERALD COAST/DESTIN/PENSACOLA : Scott Risher • (850) 428-0996 • srisher@coastalanglermagazine.com FLORIDA KEYS : Cliff Lumpkin • (305) 849-9093 • cliff@coastalanglermagazine.com FORT LAUDERDALE : Gene Dyer • (954) 680-3900 • gene@coastalanglermagazine.com FORT MYERS : Nadeen Welch • (239) 595-8265 • nwelch@coastalanglermagazine.com GREATER MIAMI : Scott Deal • (561) 945-6999 • scott@coastalanglermagazine.com Monica Isaza-Deal • (561) 945-8899 • monica@coastalanglermagazine.com GREATER ORLANDO : Phillip & Giselle Wolf • (407) 790-9515 • phillip@coastalanglermagazine.com LAKELAND & SUMTER : Mary Brasher • (352) 598-4219 • maryf@coastalanglermagazine.com NAPLES : Nadeen Welch • (239) 595-8265 • nwelch@coastalanglermagazine.com NC FLORIDA/NATURE COAST : Cary & Lynn Crutchfield • (352) 372-4237 • crutch@coastalanglermagazine.com NE FLORIDA : Danny Patrick • (904) 742-4696 • danny@coastalanglermagazine.com PANAMA CITY/FORGOTTEN COAST : Randy Cnota • (229) 834-7880 • randyc@coastalanglermagazine.com PALM BEACH COUNTY : Barbara Ryan • (561) 373-8040 • barbara@coastalanglermagazine.com SARASOTA : Phil Prevoir • (239) 257-4684 • pprevoir@coastalanglermagazine.com TAMPA BAY : Chuck Atkins • (239) 464-5153 • chuck@coastalanglermagazine.com TREASURE COAST : Misti & Gary Guertin • (772) 285-6850 • treasurecoast@coastalanglermagazine.com flahama@coastalanglermagazine.com

SOUTHEAST

ATLANTA/SW GEORGIA : Bob & Brenda Rice • (706) 614-8231 • bobr@theanglermagazine.com CHARLESTON : Jane A. Redden • (205) 725-9616 • jane@coastalanglermagazine.com Sam Buckareff • (843) 607-8629 • sam@coastalanglermagazine.com CHARLOTTE/PIEDMONT : Mark & Haley Alberghini • (704) 651-1934 • mark@theanglermagazine.com MYRTLE BEACH : Mike Masiero • (732) 674-3019 • mmasiero@coastalanglermagazine.com TIDEWATER/OUTER BANKS : John Tiger • (757) 707-9654 • john.tiger@coastalanglermagazine.com Laura Seitz • (757) 707-9655 • laura@coastalanglermagazine.com UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA : Gregg Thompson • (864) 542-3112 • gregg@theanglermagazine.com WESTERN NC : Debra & Joe Woody • (828) 775-9663 • woody@theanglermagazine.com WILMINGTON/MOREHEAD : Kenny Ritter • (910) 550-9094 • kenny@coastalanglermagazine.com

NORTHEAST BOSTON : George Regan • (617) 488-2842 • boston@coastalanglermagazine.com LONG ISLAND : Lisa & Michael Danforth • (203) 321-7635 • lisad@coastalanglermagazine.com CONNECTICUT/RHODE ISLAND : Lisa & Michael Danforth • (203) 321-7635 lisad@coastalanglermagazine.com

GULF COAST

GALVESTON/MATAGORDA/UPPER COAST : Chanci & David Mowry • (713) 446-7395 • chancim@coastalanglermagazine.com • davidm@coastalanglermagazine.com MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST : Adam Nelson • (228) 627-5903 • anelson@coastalanglermagazine.com Toby Nelson • (228) 623-1761 • tnelson@coastalanglermagazine.com NEW ORLEANS : Dr. Dave Dunaway • (225) 400-8156 • nola@coastalanglermagazine.com

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GREAT LAKES WEST MICHIGAN : Phil Belsito • (616) 957-1714 • phil@theanglermagazine.com

INTERNATIONAL PUERTO RICO/VIRGIN ISLANDS : Ace Bassue • (407) 285-9453 • ace@coastalanglermagazine.com COSTA RICA : Mike Erickson • (561) 262-2242 • mike@coastalanglermagazine.com

Cover Image Credits: (Clockwise from top left) Sailfish: Alphonse Fishing Co., Wesley Rapson; Bumphead Parrotfish: Alphonse Fishing Co., Andre Henn; Salmon: Scott Norton; Trout: Big Cedar Lodge; Bass: Nick Carter; Roosterfish: Francisco Mejias © 2017. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Disclaimer: Coastal Angler Magazine / The Angler Magazine will not be held liable for injuries incurred while partaking in activities described herein, or for claims made against products or services provided by advertisers.

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FLY FISHING By Nick Carter

F

ly fishing for bonefish and permit might have originated on the flats of the Bahamas and the Florida Keys, but these islands hardly hold a monopoly on the style of fishing. In the Indian Ocean, about 1,000 miles off the east coast of Africa, there is an archipelago that claims the highest density of bonefish in the world on one of its outer island groups. The Alphonse Group is three small islets on the southwestern end of the Seychelles, a nation of 115 islands in gorgeous tropical waters northeast of Madagascar. Within the Alphonse Group, Alphonse Atoll and St. Francois Atoll offer more 10,000 acres of hard, white-sand bonefish flats as well as a lagoon with channels, finger flats and coral heads where fly fishers sight fish in clear water to more than 60 species of fish. There are characters familiar to Atlantic flats—bonefish and permit—and there are also species exotic to North American fly rodders, like milkfish, colorful triggerfish and seven species of trevally. Instead of tarpon, the Seychelles offer up the giant trevally, which can weigh in excess of 120 pounds. And with a 10-minute boat ride out of Alphonse Island, anglers can access reef species and big pelagics like sailfish, wahoo, dorado, dogtooth and yellowfin tuna. Either trolling or teasing them up and casting flies to them, these offshore species offer a delightful break from the flats as well as a dinnertime treat on the island. “The Seychelles has become known as the best giant trevally fishery in the world and has become the benchmark for anglers searching for an outstanding saltwater flats fishing experience,” said Keith RoseInnes, managing director of Alphonse Fishing Company. “The sheer numbers and variety of fish species has amazed the fly fishing world, with anglers from across the globe queuing up to sample this ultimate fishing playground.” St. Francois is most well known for its bonefish, with ridiculous

numbers of 4to 6-pound fish and the occasional 8-pounder in the mix. “On falling tides, it is often the case that huge shoals of bonefish can be targeted when leaving the flats in what has been described as a continuous river of bonefish,” said Rose-Innes. “You hunt them on foot and not from a skiff, as the sand flats are hard and white.” It’s also as close to a sure thing as it gets for anglers seeking the Holy Grail of saltwater fly fishing. Good numbers of Indo-Pacific permit populate the flats, and Rose-Innes said his guides have near-perfected the art of catching them. Along with natural environs conducive to awesome fishing, a strong conservation ethic ensures an incredible angling experience. Alphonse Fishing Company tightly controls the amount and type of fishing pressure its waters see, and the fisheries are completely closed a minimum of three months per year. That’s the fishing side of the conservation effort. Alphonse also protects the unique flora and fauna of the islands, which makes for a sensational overall vacation experience, with comfortable lodging among beautiful tropical forests and beaches. For more information, see www.alphonsefishingco.com.

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Craig Sutton with a Costa Rica yellowfin.

“M

ost people my age buy a house in Costa Rica to retire,” said Craig Sutton, of Nosara Paradise Rentals and FishingNosara. “When I bought my first house in Costa Rica, my life was just starting to get interesting.” Craig first discovered Nosara, Costa Rica on a surfing trip in the late 1990s and immediately fell in love with the people, the culture and the year-round excellent surfing. He purchased a small house near Guiones Beach, bought out his neighbors’ land, and spent the next 15 years building a nature preserve campus of 14 houses plus a pool, common areas and maintenance facilities. One thing was missing from this surfer’s paradise: good fishing. As a native Floridian, Craig’s passion for fishing runs deep. He has been a regular on the kingfish tournament scene for years, with his boat Fishtastic posting top-5 finishes in the several tournaments.

“The problem with fishing in Costa Rica is that fish are so big and so harsh that they will destroy your tackle, plus the costs for fuel is astronomical at $7 a gallon and rising,” said Sutton. “Captains trying to make ends meet would have to choose between new lines, new tackle and a full tank of gas, or putting food on the family table.” After years of struggling to find a captain in Costa Rica who was willing and able to fish aggressively, Sutton realized his only option was to build his own boats and crew them with hand-picked locals. “These guys had the drive and the talent to be great fishermen, they just lacked the tools and the logistical support,” said Sutton. “The team-centered approach allows FishingNosara captains to pursue the fish as aggressively as a professional tournament boat without being distracted by losing lures or running up the gas bill.” FishingNosara launched their first boat, The Wanderer, in 2009 and have added a boat every year since. The results have been astounding. In the 2017 season, the five-boat FishingNosara team ran over 730 trips with over 80 marlin releases and 800 sailfish releases. More importantly, the team inflicted zero billfish fatalities. “Reviving and releasing billfish is a sacred priority to us as conservationists, plus it makes good business sense,” said Sutton. “We have created a market of charter fishermen, which means billfish are worth more money alive and swimming than they are on a scale at the meat market.” As for retirement for Sutton, don’t bet on it anytime soon. Last April he scored a billfish grand slam (blue marlin, striped marlin and sailfish) to win the Ship of Fools Billfish Tournament in Costa Rica. Sutton is looking to up-the-ante again in 2018. Back in the States, a new version of the Fishtastic came online this year. It’s an exact copy of the 32’ Eduardono Harvester currently in Nosara, and Sutton is already amped up for a new challenge. “My goal with the new boat is to snag a tournament winning king mackeral in July then go catch marlin in August… seems like a good way to bring two worlds together.”

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By CAM Staff

M

urrells Inlet, S.C. has always been a fishing town. Long before Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand began drawing tourists to experience the beaches, shopping, golf and nightlife that have made it famous, Murrells Inlet was a fishing village. And it’s no wonder. The inlet itself is an inshore angler’s dream. It’s an enclosed system, one of very few inlets on the east coast free from the influence of the Intracoastal Waterway or coastal rivers.

There’s no dirty water flowing in from upstream, and this system of marshes and backwaters is a completely saltwater environment, with no freshwater pumping in to reduce salinity. The result is excellent fishing and exploration of backwater creeks for speckled trout, redfish and the doormat flounder that Murrells Inlet has gained a reputation for. Another thing the area has a well-earned reputation for is huge red drum, which hang out around the jetties to provide anglers with the bulldog runs only a big bull red can provide. It’s some of the best red fishing on the east coast, with fish in the 20- to 40-pound range arriving in numbers in both spring and fall. For those who don’t mind a short boat ride to fill the cooler,

there are numerous nearshore reefs that can be easily accessed with a half-day trip and a run of less than 5 miles. Mackerel, sharks, black sea bass, reds, flounder, bluefish, spadefish and more make for an exciting outing even for the family, and you’ll come back with a cooler full of delicious fish. Out to 15 or 30 miles, there is also excellent trolling for king and Spanish mackerel, cobia and amberjack, as well as bottom fishing for snappers, groupers and sea bass. But those who want to get serious should look into a full-day trip to the Gulf Stream. From 55 to 70 miles offshore, opportunities for tuna, dolphin, wahoo, marlin and sailfish abound. Trolling the Gulf Stream for big-game species off the lower end of the Grand Strand is tough to beat anywhere. So… it’s easy to see why Murrells Inlet has always been a fishing village, and perhaps the best way to experience it is from a base camp at the Inlet Sports Lodge. Located at the heart of Murrells Inlet, the Inlet Sports Lodge is a comfortable and classy boutique hotel that caters to anglers and golfers with the finest amenities in the area. It’s minutes away from three marinas, works closely with the area’s best charter captains and can accommodate boats up to 25 feet. There’s a fish cleaning room for prep, as well as gas and charcoal grills available in the courtyard to cook your catch. Or, for those who’d rather let someone else do the cooking, the COSTA Coastal Kitchen and Bar on-site offers up fine, fresh Italian and seafood fare. There are also several other restaurants nearby that prepare the kind of delicious right-out-of-the-water dishes that have made Murrells Inlet the “Seafood Capital of South Carolina.” And don’t forget the golf. If days on the water paired with days on the links sounds like the perfect way to relax, the Inlet Sports Lodge has you covered. With golf packages booking a wide variety of the Grand Strand’s famous courses, there’s more golf than you can swing a stick at, including two award-winning courses with the same ownership as the Inlet Sports Lodge. Caledonia Golf & Fish Club and True Blue Plantation are two of the finest courses in the area as well as the nation. For more information on fishing, golfing and the Inlet Sports Lodge at Murrells Inlet, S.C., go to www.inletsportslodge.com/ or call 877-585-9360.

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FLORIDA

By Dianne Poston

T

he South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAC) recently issued a news release stating that they have approved a request to NOAA Fisheries that would allow fishermen access to red snapper in federal waters off the coast of the Carolinas, Georgia and the east coast of Florida. The Council is requesting that NOAA Fisheries allow an interim annual catch limit (recreational and commercial) of 42,510 fish for 2017 via an emergency rule. The annual catch limit would allow for a recreational mini-season with six to 12 days of fishing over a few weekends beginning in late October. The recreational bag limit would be 1 fish per person/day with no minimum size limit. The recreational sector is allocated 71.93 percent of the total catch limit of 42,510 fish for 2017. The Council also approved measures in Amendment 43 to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan with

the intent to have a red snapper season in 2018. If allowed, the recreational fishery would open the second Friday in July (July 13, 2018) and the commercial fishery the second Monday in July (July 9, 2018). SEDAR 41 is 805 pages and contains all the information on how the South Atlantic Council arrives at the numbers of fish that fishermen are allowed to catch. During the last season in 2014, biology tables were set up at the boat ramps to assess the red snapper stock. We fished in this last season and believed that the council was interested in how many older, breeding red snapper were available. We noted that the only fish that were making it to the biology table were the older, large fish and no one brought in the smaller red snapper to be assessed. As a result of this, there was a spike in the number of older fish being included in the council’s data. They assumed that fishermen had been discarding the smaller red snapper, allowing them to become dead discards, to catch the larger snapper. The council believed that the dead discards were greater than the allocated number of red snapper to be caught and therefore closed red snapper harvest for 2015 and 2016. During the 2017 season there will also be biology tables to assess our catch. Please be responsible fishermen and report all your catches, large and small, and also the ones you released. Private recreational fishermen will also have an opportunity to report their catch information as part of a voluntary pilot project using the mobile iAngler tournament app. Dr. Duval, of the SAC, is recommending practices such as moving off areas when you have caught your limit and if you need to release fish to use a descending device. Washington state, Oregon and California recently mandated fish descending devices for all bottom fishing. California reopened rock fish harvest after a study using descending devices showed that mortality was significantly reduced when using a descending device. There are several other states currently looking at mandating fish descending devices. There are many fish descending devices on the market. A good one is the Fish Saver by Roy’s Electric Reels. For more information, go to Fishsaverdevice.com.

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nglers in search of big-game sportfishing have chosen the Palm Beaches since the 1900s. Some of the earliest sportfishing boats were built in the area. With the Gulf Stream waters passing closer to the coast than anywhere in the continental United States, the annual migration of Atlantic sailfish to Palm Beach County sets the stage for Operation Sailfish on Dec. 6-10, hosted by the Sailfish Marina and Resort in Palm Beach Shores, Fla. Operation Sailfish is the first leg of the Quest for the Crest series, where the world’s best sail-fishing teams will compete. Prior to the

start of the competition, there is a special event, “Take a Hero Fishing Day.” Men and women of the United States military are invited to join the fishing teams for a fun day of fishing on Dec. 7. Active duty men and women, veterans and wounded warriors are eligible to participate in this event, created to honor and thank them for their service. The Quest for the Crest four-leg series teams are expected to compete for an estimated purse of $3,000,000 in 2018. The series begins at the historic Sailfish Marina and Resort in December. The Sailfish 400, the second leg will be January in Miami. The largest sailfish tournament in the country is the third leg of the series, known as The Sailfish Challenge, with a three-inlet format; Ft. Lauderdale will be the home base. The series wraps up with the Final Sail in Key West in April. The Sailfish Marina and Resort is the perfect venue for the tournament, with accommodations, the waterfront restaurant, ship’s store, dockage, fuel, heated pool and a weekly sunset celebration featuring live music. Many tournaments enjoy the amenities of the resort throughout the year, including The Big Dog Fat Cat KDW, The Silver Sailfish Derby and Blue Water Babes. A family tradition since 1952, the Sailfish Resort and Marina offers transient and annual docking, a charter fleet, 32 hotel accommodations, Peanut Island shuttle, as well as a snorkel trail and beach just a few blocks away. If you don’t compete in any of the tournaments based at the resort, come make some memories of your own. For more information, visit www.sailfishmarina.com.

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By Terry Gibson • Photo by Pete Markham/flickr.com

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he maritime salvage laws on the books today originated well before the days of Christopher Columbus. Today, salvage laws remain relatively unchanged. Boaters in Florida and across the nation should understand how and when these laws apply to them. Otherwise, you could end up with a shocking bill for even basic assistance on the water. A long-time friend of mine is a charter captain in Sebastian, Fla. He was fishing offshore with clients and noticed a slight crack in the hull, which let water in below decks. With an abundance of caution, he headed back to shore and contacted a popular maritime salvage and towing company to provide assistance. This company rushed a boat to his location and tossed him a pump to help minimize the effects of the leak. The company representative never set foot on my friend’s boat. A couple weeks later, my friend received a shocker of a bill—for $3,800. I recently learned about another individual who received a bill for a salvage claim that was several times that amount. This particular individual was a few hundred yards from shore while traveling to Key West when he saw there was more water in the bilge than normal. He got on the radio and called for a friend to help, but a maritime salvage company met him and helped pump water from the bilge. The company employee was on the boat for less than five minutes. Because the company classified the service as “salvage,” this boat owner received a bill for $30,000 even though he had a membership agreement with this company. I don’t share these stories to make people distrust maritime salvage and towing companies. I personally have a membership with one of these companies, and all the assistance they’ve provided was swift and above board. More than half of Florida boat owners invest in a membership for maritime assistance. Every boater should be aware that when you receive assistance on the water, you could be on the hook for a huge bill–even if you have a membership. Unless you have a pre-arranged contract with a salver that protects you, that individual or company has the right to make what’s called a “salvage claim” against the value of your vessel if it’s in “impending peril.” According to numerous maritime attorneys, the salvage fee amount depends upon factors including but not limited to the value of your vessel, the direness of the situation and the risk the salver took. Dishonest salvers know there’s legal gray area and that most salvage claims are settled in or out of admiralty courts. You can prevent an unexpected bill when you need assistance by negotiating a fixed fee or a set hourly rate. That way everyone is clear on what assistance will be provided and what it will cost. Mechanical and hull-integrity issues happen on the water; that’s the nature of boats. When they do, it’s good to know there are services available to help. To keep these challenging moments from turning into real financial problems, know what’s in store before calling on the help of a maritime salvage and towing company. To learn more about this issue or to share you own story about a salvage experience, visit StopSeaPiracy.com.

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By Costa Rica Pro Staff

Photos by Francisco Mejias

W

orld-class sportfishing and the sexy big-game species get a lot of attention on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, and for good reason. However, the inshore fishing can be just exciting. It is action-packed and diverse, utilizing different techniques to target more than a dozen different species. The main target of inshore anglers in Costa Rica is the hard-hitting and powerful roosterfish. They will smash artificials, and even topwater plugs, but the easiest way to catch them is with live bait. We bridle a live runner, sardine, lookdown or even a skipjack tuna on a 9/0 Trokar circle hook. Slow trolling around rocky structure or along beaches is a surefire way to draw strikes. Once hooked, the average 20-pound rooster is as ferocious as it is beautiful, and these beasts can get a whole lot bigger than average. We very often encounter fish in the jack family, including jack crevalle and different species of trevally in many of the same areas as the roosterfish. These can also be caught on live bait but are even more responsive than roosterfish to topwater baits such as poppers and stick baits. The lures are rigged with one or two in-line hooks from Lazer Sharp. We replace the factory treble hooks, which makes the fight much cleaner, the fish handling safer and does a lot less damage to the fish. These are fast fish, and quick retrieves often get the fish’s attention. Topwater does also work for smaller roosterfish, but the larger ones are harder to lure to the surface. Not so for the snappers, including cubera snapper, which will rise from 100 feet to smash a well-worked popper. This is one of the ultimate challenges in inshore fishing. They dive right back down to the rocks, often leaving the angler with a cut leader. Heavy popping gear, with 80- to 100-lb. line is necessary for the big ones. We have put 44 pounds of drag on big cuberas, and they keep going like there is no drag at all! Jigging is also a popular and fun technique we use a lot. Jacks,

trevally, seabass, snappers, groupers and mackerel are common catches. We look for underwater structure like rocks and drop jigs ranging from 2 to 9 ounces. The jigs are rigged with a pair of the new Eagle Claw Trokar assist hooks. On and close to the bottom, a slow jigging pace interests the snappers, groupers and seabass. As you move higher in the water column, a speed-jig style approach with rapid jerks gets the bite from the pelagics. Bottom fishing is also an option we sometimes use for an even larger variety of fish. Costa Rica does have some big bottom fish like giant grouper, broomtail grouper, cubera snapper and big stingrays. Live or dead bait gets the job done. Snook can be found in and around river mouths and are a fun species to target. Live bait works, but artificials like a small stick baits or jigs are more common and more fun. Wazo jigs with a Mr. Twister tail and a Trokar hook have resulted in many double-digit snook. If you haven’t tried inshore fishing in Costa Rica, take the time to try it. It’s great fun.

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Center sp UNDER THE SEA

will also have a break-away setup instead of a reel so that the rig (and fish) are attached to your float instead of your gun. There are several good companies that make this specialized equipment, such as Wong Spearguns, Riffe, Omer, Sporasub, Rob Allen, Gannet, and more. Retailers include SpearfishingWorld.com, SpearAmerica.com and many local dive ore than a few spearos have shops. spearing a tuna on their bucket Here are some quick tips to make sure list. Some are surprised to hear me your travel is fun, safe and productive: say that spearing a tuna is actually pretty 1. Go with a mentor or guide the first few easy. It’s the before and after activities times. Safe diving requires that you look out that are more challenging, along with the for one another, especially when bluewater planning. hunting. Due to safety considerations, it’s not the 2. Choose a reputable charter that first species one should aspire to. A more specializes in tuna spearfishing, as this likely progression would start with reef requires an experienced captain who can hunting for hogfish and red groupers, then give you good “drops.” on to mutton snappers and black groupers, 3. Use a Sportube to pack your spearguns and then perhaps some bluewater action and use the wetsuits for padding. Tell TSA with mahi and wahoos. you have “fishing equipment” rather than In addition to experience, going after using the word “speargun.” yellowfin tuna will likely require you to 4. Make sure all body parts are clear of travel, and it will also require special rigging the line when shooting a tuna. Tunas will to withstand the increased speed and size Sheri with 179-lb tuna from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. frequently sound and have a strong initial of this awesome prey. These two factors are Photo by Terry Maas. run. key. Traveling to the right place will increase 5. After cinching up the line through a clip on the float, use a second your chances of seeing them, and having the right equipment will ensure speargun for the kill shot. Do not handle a “hot tuna” with your hands. a successful capture. Don’t be disappointed if it takes a few trips to land your first tuna. It Currently, the most active places to spear yellowfin tuna include Louisiana, Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama. In more recent times, may take some effort, but in the end, it’s worth it. It’s hard to think of a spearos have been landing bluefin tuna off the coast of California. The fish that is more beautiful to look at or more delicious to eat. best way to find out which places are productive is through word-ofSheri is a world-record holder, host of Speargun Hunter, and producer mouth and social media. After selecting the right destination, here is what you will need to of The Blue Wild Ocean Adventure Expo in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Follow take in terms of equipment. Instead of the standard speargun with a “Sheri Daye” and “The Blue Wild” on Facebook and Instagram. reel, you will use a specially designed bluewater tuna gun. This will most likely be 60 to 70 inches long, the diameter of the shaft will be thicker, For more Sheri Daye, go to and it will have four to five bands (versus 1 to 2). It will have a slip tip and cable (versus flopper and mono)1 for a more Airline_Ad_CoastalAngler_8-1-14_Layout 8/1/14 1:14sure PM hold Pageon 1 a strong fish. It

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EMERALD COAST / DESTIn / PENSACOLA

COASTAL ANGLER NOVEMBER 2017 | www.coastalanglermag.com/emerald-coast PUBLISHER Scott Risher

GRAPHIC ARTIST Laura Kelly

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Capt. Brandon Barton Capt. Randy Cnota Shane Dennis Capt. Jimmy Fox

Vu from T ucson, AZ with a nic e red gro uper.

Sky Johnston Capt. Sid Little Nicholas Lytle John Oja Capt. Bill Willis Peter Wright, Jr.

e mess Brett with a nic s. pe of SUP-S ck

Capt. Randy “C-note” Cnota with a nice Gulf gag.

Erika Zambello

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aderboard tes the le Jeff upda d. per slot re with an up

Diving pelican s and seagul ls are key to locating C hoctawhatche e Bay bulls.

SEND US YOUR CATCH PHOTOS!

Email your high-quality photos (at least 500KB) along with photo details — species, size, location, who caught it (and how!) — to srisher@coastalanglermagazine.com 10/19/17 11:30 AM


DESTIN offshore/ nearshore FORECAST By Peter Wright , JR. As good as October was for fishing here on the Emerald Coast, I can’t wait to see what November will bring. Fall brings out the best of fishing in our area. In November, most of the tourist have gone home and the locals can get out and fish without the worries of jet skis running right over that school of fish they just found. November is much like October fishing wise. You have cool temps but the water is still warm and there is still a lot of bait in the area that attracts lots of fish. Inshore, nearshore, and offshore bites will continue to be good! The nearshore/beach bite will be good this month, mostly because you can include the flounder in this segment. Flounder will start to stack up on all the inshore wrecks within a few

miles of the pass. Your best bait are finger mullet and bull minnows. I like to use a 20lb fluorocarbon leader with a 1/0 circle hook. Big thing is to keep your leader short, 12-15 inches. Depending on current, use anywhere between a 2-4 ounce lead. Mingos and white snapper will be stacked up on the wrecks as well, so be prepared for those. If we get a good north wind, right along the beach can be awesome for redfish. The redfish will be schooled up in 10-20ft of water. Throw soft plastics, pinfish, or even top water lures to catch them. Best bet is to approach the school of reds with a trolling motor and make long throws. Try not to get right up in the middle of them. If you do that, they’ll stay around and you can have fun for

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hours. The offshore bite will be great this month too. November, for the most part, is a pretty decent weather month, but it will get rough on you. Make sure you plan your days around the weather if possible, not just when you have a day off from work. You’ll want to take advantage of the pretty days. Bottom fishing will continue to be good for grouper, amberjack, triggerfish, snapper, etc. Bait should be relatively easy to find this month, but if it starts to get cold, you can always move into the harbors and bayous and find your bait. It’s worth it to buy a pinfish trap and have it ready for when the bait on the beach starts to scatter. You can also use other types of fish when you are bottom fishing that most people think aren’t worth anything. Start keeping your white snapper, mingos, mullet, bluefish, skipjacks, lizard fish, squirrel fish, etc. You’ll get a lot of bites using these types of baits and sometimes catch bigger fish too. The offshore trolling bite will start to slow down this month but will still be pretty good. There is always a few tuna and bonito

stacked up on the edge which will keep the wahoo around. The yellowfin tuna bite has been good and should continue to get better off of the mouth of the Mississippi around the offshore rigs. November, especially the early part, can be very good for billfish too. White marlin are still around and a few blues. We have caught them all the way out to Thanksgiving. Fall fishing on the Emerald Coast will continue to be good, so don’t miss out!! For more info on fishing or to get setup with

Grouper can still be targeted in November.

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Tide Charts | East Pass (Destin) | Nov/2017 | Florida

http://fl.usharbors.com/monthly-tides/Florida-Panhandle/Destin (C...

Destin/East Pass Tides

US HARBORS

FLORIDA

Destin (Choctawhatchee Bay, East Pass) Tides - Nov/2017

30°24’N 87°13’W

DATE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

Wed

HIGH AM 10:15

Thu

Sun

10:16

Tue

11:54

11:02

Mon Wed Thu

12:49

Fri

1:47

Sun

4:02

Tue

8:55

Sat

Mon

2:49 6:02

Wed

0.7

10:56

0.3

8:33

0.4

9:06 8:29

9:25

Mon

10:26

Wed

11:35

9:00

Fri

9:54

Sun

11:00

Tue

1:33

29

Wed

7:52

30

Thu

Sun

1:17

Tue

6:41

0.8

7:49

0.9

10:17

5:41

0.8

7:42

0.9

9:01 11:29

0.4

0.2

0.4

2:19

0.5

4:12

0.7

5:54

0.7

7:16

0.7

8:44

0.7

10:20

0.6 0.7

5:09 6:35

0.7

7:59

0.7

9:32 11:03 11:40

0.7

9:45

0.2

7:52

0.5

3:54 11:53

7:51

0.5

4:29

8:21

0.0

SET 5:59

7:00

7:02

-0.0

6:03

-0.1

6:04

-0.1

-0.1

6:04

5:56

4:56 4:55

4:54

-0.0

6:07

4:52

0.1

6:09

4:51

0.2

6:10

4:50

0.1

6:12

4:49

-0.0

6:14

4:48

-0.0

6:15

4:48

0.3 0.2

1:54 12:49

0.1

-0.1 0.0 0.2

0.0

6:17

-0.1

6:18

12:10 12:44 12:39

© US Harbors

6:11

6:16

-0.1

0.1

6:09

6:14

-0.1

0.1 0.1

6:08

6:13

-0.0

-0.0

6:06

-0.0

6:19

6:19

4:53

4:52 4:51 4:50 4:49

4:48

210 Harbor blvd. destin, Florida

4:47 4:47 4:47

4:46

6:20

4:46

0.1

6:22

4:46

6:21

Conveniently located behind the Destin Fishing Fleet Marina

4:47

0.0 0.0

Come Fish With The Best!

5:57

4:54

12:32

MOON

5:58

6:05

0.4 0.4

RISE 7:00

7:01

12:32

0.5

ft

0.2

0.1

2:08

0.6

0.5

PM 3:33

1:54

0.5

Sat

12:10

0.7

0.6

ft

0.2

1:21

8:40

Fri

AM 4:35

0.8

Thu

Thu

ft

0.5

0.8

Local Time

1 of 1

9:57 10:37

Sat

Mon

28

PM 10:03 10:10

12:45

27

LOW

Fri

Sat

26

ft

0.4

30°24'N 86°31'W

4:46

6:23

4:46

6:23

4:46

Tidal Data Source: East Pass (Destin) (8729511)

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FLY FORECAST FISHING By ORVIS SANDESTIN WateRFRont • Dining • DRinkS • SuSHi

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We knoW Where the fish are!

As temperatures start dropping outside the fly fishing continues to heat up as we move into November. This month is all about covering water and looking for birds. Big schools of Bull Redfish will be hanging out in the local Passes and just off the beach, many times within reach of shore bound fly fishers. While having a watercraft, whether it is a boat, kayak, or SUP, will increase your odds, braving the conditions to get out on the jetties will put you right in the path of these fish as they make their way into the Gulf for their winter spawn. This time of year is dominated by the 9wt and 10wt as these fish are quite a bit larger than usual. A large arbor reel with a substantial amount of backing and drag strength is key, and a standard floating line will keep you where the fish are feeding. The right leader is also very

important. During these later months the water will become clearer, making fluorocarbon the material of choice due to its abrasion resistance and near invisibility underwater. Most fly fisherman find themselves casting larger flies, as there is not much these reds cannot fit in their mouths. These flies will also have sturdier hooks to handle the force of these big fish. Large profile streamers like the Murdich Minnow and the Mini Teaser popper will be your best friends. Orvis Sandestin Sky Johnston, Fishing Manager Shane Dennis, Fishing Lead

(850) 650-2174 625 Grand Blvd., Sandestin, FL 32550 Email: retail-sandestinstr079@orvis.com www.orvis.com

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Students prepare cordgrass for planting.

Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance:

Grasses in Classes T

he first time I met Brittany Tate, the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) Education Coordinator, she was knee deep in the Choctawhatchee Bay, surrounded by a group of students from the Silver Sands School and AmeriCorps members. We stood at the edge of Ross Marler Park on Okaloosa Island, in the middle of a Grasses and Classes field trip to close out the 2017 school year. The kids had been busy: smooth cordgrass sat planted in clumps along the shoreline, their swaying, emerald-colored stems grounded in the shallow water by burlap

sacks full of soil. Together, the salt marsh grasses create a critical component of a new living shoreline at the park, which protects the coastline from erosion while providing habitat for juvenile fish species, birds and more. Rewind about eight months. In October, the Silver Sands School children watched as a CBA trailer - chock full of young cordgrass plants - arrived at their campus. Throughout the year, each student would participate in raising the plants as part of their weekly lesson plans, in conjunction with CBA

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NOVEMBER 2017

staff and AmeriCorps member presentations on the workings of our estuary. Every so often, the students evenly split the nursery stock, steadily increasing the cordgrass plants under their cultivation. The final field trip – like the one I witnessed in Ross Marler Park - lets the students experience restoration itself. “My favorite aspect of the program is watching the kids get off the school bus at the end of the year screaming words like ‘Choctawhatchee Bay,’ ‘Spartina alterniflora’ (the scientific name for smooth cordgrass) and ‘stormwater runoff ’ with excitement and accuracy,” Tate explains. After they had finished planting, the kids waded into the water with Tate, holding nets. Each girl and boy had the opportunity to search for marine critters, depositing them into a touch tank on the sandy shore. They poked little crabs, watched minnows wriggle from one end of the enclosure to the other, and giggled when tiny shrimp jetted away from their searching fingers. For many, this is the first time they’ve seen these native

By Erika Zambello Choctawhatchee Bay species. In the 2016-2017, the CBA Grasses in Classes program reached over 2200 students in nearly 20 schools. In addition to teaching kids about marine ecology, the program allows them to take an active role in shoreline restoration, directly improving the coastal environment. In so doing, the students become watershed ambassadors, educating their friends and family on the importance of sustainable practices and water stewardship. At another field trip for the Boys and Girls Club in Destin’s Mattie Kelly Park, I heard one participant tell his friends he would bring his family back to the new living shoreline to show them the smooth cordgrass plant he had been responsible for. As CBA and the surrounding schools are ramping up for another year, new students in 3rd and 5th are already excited about planting a brand new living shoreline. To learn more about CBA’s education initiatives, check out basinalliance.org. Erika Zambello zambelle@nwfsc.edu www.basinalliance.org

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10/19/17 11:30 AM


Sandestin Bay FORECAST & Beach By Capt. Sid Little One species here on the Gulf coast that will still be very close by to target throughout the winter is the gulf flounder. As the temps drop, flounder will move out of the bays and bayous and make their migration to the Gulf to spawn in water typically less than 80 feet and as shallow as 10 feet. During the beginning of the flounders’ migration, they push through in great numbers around the passes leading to the Gulf. Flounder can be caught in and around all pieces of structure including dock and bridge pilings, sea walls, jetties and sandy points before they make it out to the Gulf waters. Once they have reached Gulf waters, they settle

in around natural and artificial structures in masses to spawn. They stay throughout the winter until they return to the bays and bayous when the water warms up again in spring. As far as rigging for flounder fishing, your typical trout or redfish tackle will work fine. I tie a Carolina rig, and the size lead you want to use all depends on the depth of water or how strong the current is where you are fishing. Use a 1- to 3-ounce sliding egg sinker above the barrel swivel on the main line to allow the fish to take the bait without feeling the weight. The Penn Slammer 360 loaded with 20- or 30-pound braid on a Penn Guide

Series spinning rod in the 8- to 17-pound class works great. You can always go lighter on the tackle, but remember flounder won’t be the only fish biting. Grouper and Redfish are also common catches while flounder fishing and the braid will help you get them away from the structure and win a few on the light tackle. An array of baits will work to entice flounder to bite. Bull Minnows (killifish) and live shrimp from your local tackle shop will work if you’re not willing to go and catch your own bait. If you are, throw a cast net for finger mullet, small pinfish, and spot minnows. The same natural and artificial structures you will be fishing in the Gulf usually hold small cigar minnows and herring, which can be caught with a No. 4 sabiki rig and send those fresh baits back down. Once your bait reaches the bottom, you want to lift or drag it a foot or two every 30 seconds or so. When you feel the flounder grab your bait, give the

Capt Sid Little and Colin Thomas with some fresh groceries

fish some slack to allow it to get the whole bait in its mouth. Then reel down to set that circle hook into the corner of the flounder’s mouth. Capt. Sid Little

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NOVEMBER 2017

EMERALD COAST / DESTIN / PENSACoLA 7

10/19/17 11:30 AM


By JOHN OJA Hey Dad, can we go spearfishing? Several years ago, as a businessman from the Midwest, I decided to return to my boyhood home. This was an opportunity to have a fresh start. My wife and I, along with our two youngest children, packed our bags, loaded a U-Haul and moved south, saying goodbye to the life we’d known. I was coming home and all I could think about was spending time in the water, with my family. And of course, introducing them to the foods I had grown up enjoying. To many, this would seem like an opportunity to display ones expertise at fishing. Problem was, I was a terrible fisherman. I mean, I was really bad. I’m that guy whose bucket is

a l w ay s empty. You’ve seen him. You’ve probably given him fish cause you felt bad for him. I couldn’t fish worth a darn. So I stopped at the local fish market and about had a heart attack. I couldn’t believe how expensive fresh fish was. I had downsized my life and my income, so fresh fish from the local market wasn’t in the budget. And frozen fish did not sound appealing. I was looking at some gear at the local surf shop when I struck up a conversation with a young man. I mentioned how I loved fresh fish, but was shocked at its price. I told him I was a terrible fisherman, but I loved being in the water. He asked me if I had tried spearfishing. Right before I had

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SPEAR FISHING

FORECAST

Inshore Spearfishing Guide John with a Mangrove.

left the Midwest, I had picked up a speargun at a garage sale thinking I might get a chance to learn to use it. I told him no, but I had a speargun. My son and I met him early, the next morning for our first Spearfishing lesson. I’ll never forget the first time we both shot a fish. I was hooked. We were swimming below the surface, seeing schools of fish, picking the fish we wanted, out of the school and harvesting it. What can I say? It was so cool! To this day I remember when we brought those fish home. The primal look my wife gave me, as I stood there in a black wetsuit saying, “Look

what we’ve brought home for dinner” made me realize I had found my calling! Later that night was awesome! We pan fried those fish, that night, telling stories of all the fish we had encountered. The next day, all I could think about was getting in the water and spearfishing. I knew I had discovered something special. Something, I could put food on the table with. Something that would save me money at the supermarket (at least that’s what I told my wife). And most importantly, something I could do with my teenage son. Something we could have in common and enjoy together. Years later, I still look forward to every time I get in the water. And every time my son asks me, “Hey Dad, can we go spearfishing?” JOHN OJA

Destin Inshore Spearfishing and Benthic Ocean Sports (850) 687-5617 www.destinspearfishing.com www.benthicoceansports.com

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10/19/17 11:30 AM


NAVARRE INSHORE KAYAK FISHING FORECAST

the first half of November and will slowly die off as the month progresses. Understanding the fall migration pattern makes targeting flounder fairly easy both inshore and nearshore. Throughout November, the fish will be staging near the passes, preparing to push offshore and spawn. We prefer to throw soft plastics along the edge of grass flats, docks, and rock walls throughout Santa Rosa sound. Flounder are ambush predators and are always hunting for an easy meal. Your lure should maintain constant contact with the bottom. Fishing in the middle of the water column will greatly reduce your chances. We prefer to throw Matrix Shads in UltraViolet with a 5/16-3/8 OZ jig head while targeting flounder on the grass flats.

By Nicholas Lytle

As temperatures along the their larger brethren and are found Emerald Coast begin to decrease, cruising the shallows throughout the fishing is only getting better. the upper bays and the Santa Rosa Florida. While November is one of the best Sound. They primarily feed on transitioning, speckled trout months for kayak fishing and avid smaller crustaceans and have a feed heavily and are usually anglers from across the country hard time resisting a well-placed found around large schools of arrive in town to take advantage. soft plastic lure. Sight fishing for mullet. November is excellent The inshore waterways are full redfish is an incredible experience for topwater lures like the Jackall of action from redfish, Bonnie and the Rapala bull reds, speckled Skitter V. Speckled Caleb landed this beautiful trout, and flounder. trout can be finicky slot redfish while his father watched. Bull reds school up while transitioning and throughout November switching lures is often in large bodies of water, the key to success. If such as Pensacola Bay, the fish are hesitant to the Santa Rosa Sound, eat, switch over to a and Choctawhatchee jerkbait or twitchbait. Bay. Find them by The Rapala Shadow Rap looking for birds, Nicholas Lytle Shad and MirrOlure Navarre Kayak Fishing boats, and boiling MR17 are both excellent (850) 264-3957 water. Approach choices. www.NavarreKayakFishing.com carefully and always The inshore flounder Facebook: Navarre Kayak Fishing keep an eye out for nick@navarrekayakfishing.com bite| Nov/2017 will be| Florida in full swing Email: Tide Charts | NAVARRE BEACH http://fl.usharbors.com/monthly-tides/Florida-Panhandle/Navarre ... boaters. Schooling bull reds are easily caught using and one of our favorite ways to FLORIDA 1-2 ounce SPRO saltwater jigs catch them from the kayak. The US HARBORS and 6-8 inch curly tail grubs. Cast ability to stand and cast makes Navarre Beach Tides - Nov/2017 30°23’N 86°52’W 30°23'N 86°52'W into the commotion and hold on. sight fishing a breeze. Kayaks Once hooked up, apply as much allow you to approach areas HIGH LOW DATE pressure as possible and end the quickly and quietly. AM ft PM ft AM ft PM ft RISE SET MOON 1 Wed 9:08 1.1 8:47 1.3 2:01 0.9 1:38 0.9 7:01 6:00 fight quickly. After landing the The speckled trout bite is 2 Thu 10:48 1.1 8:23 1.5 3:05 0.7 1:44 1.0 7:02 5:59 fish, snap a quick photo, and take full of action in November. As 3 Fri 8:11 1.6 4:04 0.5 7:03 5:59 the time to revive them properly. water temperatures decline, 4 Sat 8:35 1.8 5:05 0.3 7:03 5:58 5 Sun 8:11 1.9 5:14 0.2 6:04 4:57 Bull reds play a vital role in speckled trout begin moving 6 Mon 8:55 1.9 6:51 0.1 6:05 4:56 ensuring the future of our fishery. towards winter time haunts. 7 Tue 9:42 1.9 8:52 0.0 6:06 4:56 Without them, there won’t be any They will transition from grass 8 Wed 10:31 1.9 10:03 0.0 6:07 4:55 9 Thu 11:22 1.7 11:01 0.1 6:08 4:54 slot fish to keep. flats to protected bayous and 10 Fri 11:46 0.2 6:08 4:54 Slot reds will school up like canals throughout Northwest 11 Sat 12:13 1.5 11:59 0.4 6:09 4:53

Navarre Beach Tides

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Tidal Data Source: NAVARRE BEACH (8729678)

EMERALD COAST / DESTIN / PENSACoLA 9 10/8/17, 1:50 PM

10/19/17 11:30 AM


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In my opinion, fall is the best season for diving the Emerald Coast. Air temperatures cool off a bit but the water stays warm. The ice in the cooler doesn’t melt so fast and you aren’t soaked in sweat by the time you get into your wetsuit. Some of my favorite fall spearfishing spots are the natural limestone reefs south of Destin. Many of the reef species like red snapper, amberjack and triggerfish are not currently open but there are other tasty options on the menu this time of year. Look closely in the limestone crevices to grab a slipper lobster or beneath the overhangs to spear a grouper. Of course, lionfish are always on the menu. I prefer a long pole spear with a 3-pronged “paralyzer” tip and tiny barbs for lionfish. The prongs come out of the fish easier than say a double barbed rock point when putting the fish in an underwater container. Keep some trauma shears handy to cut the spines off back at the dock. And don’t forget to keep a sharp eye for that doormat sized flounder camouflaging itself in the limestone and algae. That paralyzer tip will work very well for flounder too.

Visibility hasn’t been great due to Hurricane Irma mixing things up and dumping nutrient and fertilizer rich runoff into the gulf, but it seems to be improving to 30-40 feet. Suspended algae have been causing some haze on the bottom and mid-water so be careful not to stir the bottom up with fins. Expect the near coastal water surface temps to cool down from the low 80s to low 70s and below as winter approaches. In early fall the thermocline was at about 40’, dropping from the low 80s at 0-40’ to the mid to low 70s on the bottom. An interesting temperature inversion sometimes occurs in the fall as the air cools the surface faster than the bottom leaving a comfortable warmish bottom layer. With a more active hurricane season this year, gulf diving conditions will largely depend on how much Mother Nature wants to churn things up. Capt. Jimmy Fox

Anchor Management Charters & Sea Tow Destin 850.631.2449

anchormanagementdestin@gmail.com FB@AnchorManagementCrew

Amberjack, red snapper, damselfish, triggerfish and grunts schooling south of Destin on “Labor Day Rock,” a limestone reef in 90 feet of water. Note the green algae sitting on bottom.

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NOVEMBER 2017

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10/19/17 11:30 AM


2017 Lionfish Challenge Winners!

Capt. Josh Livingston of Destin.

K

en Ayers Jr. of Panama City took home the recreational Lionfish King award with a total of 1,250 lionfish harvested. Joshua Livingston of Destin became Florida’s first Commercial Champion for his efforts in removing 4,560 pounds of lionfish (poundage equates to about 5,027 fish). A total of 8,901 lionfish were removed by recreational participants, and another 15,800 pounds were removed commercially (poundage equates

Ken Ayers, Jr., of Panama City.

to about 17,420 lionfish) for a grand total of 26,321 lionfish removed from Florida waters as part of the four-month Challenge. The Lionfish Challenge may be over, but there are still plenty of other great programs that

encourage lionfish removal. Check out the new and improved Reef Rangers website (ReefRangers.com) which launched in early September 2017. Get out there and continue to remove lionfish from our reefs!

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NOVEMBER 2017

EMERALD COAST / DESTIN / PENSACoLA 11

10/19/17 11:30 AM


By capt. BRANDON BARTON Fall is here and as the water temperatures drop and the north winds start blowing, most kayak anglers will begin heading inshore since many of the spring and summer pelagic fish have moved on. However, if you can find days where the north wind is not very strong, there can still be some great opportunities to catch a variety of fish nearshore - just off our beaches. Bonita, aka Little Tunny, or most commonly called False Albacore will still be hanging around near shore and within kayak range just off the beach. These fish are great light tackle fighters. They feed in a frenzy and throwing just about any small shiny jig into the school with a

very fast retrieve will get you an explosive hook up. Tsunami glass minnow jigs are some of my go to lures for these fast swimming drag screamers. These schools will move quickly and can be hard to keep up with to get a good cast. The Hobie MirageDrive gives the angler a huge advantage when chasing these schools because your legs do the pedaling keeping your arms free for casting at the fish as you are propelled through the water. Another great fish to target just before winter is the Blackfin Tuna. These fish are cruising around just off shore from our beaches and are often well within kayak range. Trolling smaller deep

flounder move out of the inshore bays and bayous and head to the nearshore wrecks and reefs to spawn. Locating them can be a little tricky but once you find them you can limit out very quickly. Carolina rigging a live finger mullet or bouncing a 2-ounce jig tipped with a frozen cigar minnow or squid diving will usually get the job done. To plugs or even live avoid the out-of-season reef fish cigar minnows can get you a hook while flounder fishing, try to up. They will school up in a frenzy slowly drag the bottom just on

Marty Mood with a nice blackfin tuna 1 mile off the beach.

just like the Bonita and throwing a jig into the school can usually entice one to bite. These fish are excellent table fare and often get into the 15-25lb range. Watch the horizon as you can often locate these fish by seeing them sky straight out of the water. Lastly, let’s not forget the gulf flounder. As winter approaches,

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NOVEMBER 2017

the outside of the reefs or wrecks. I suggest targeting some of the bigger artificial reefs structures first. capt. Brandon Barton Emerald Waters Kayak Charters (850) 512-4239

Email: bbarton13@gmail.com www.EmeraldWatersKayakCharters.com

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10/19/17 11:30 AM

PHOTO CREDIT: Capt. Bill Willis

Pensacola FORECAST near/Offshore Kayak FISHING


PERDIDO KEY FORECAST INSHORE By Capt. Bill Willis Fall fishing is in full swing here in Perdido Key and anglers from all over have come to experience the best red fishing on the Gulf Coast. Every year the cooler temperatures get thousands of bull redfish heading to the deep bays and pass for their annual spawn. At this same time millions of bait fish are leaving the bays heading for deeper water. As these two worlds collide it makes for the best inshore fishing that most will ever see. The average redfish caught this time of year is between 35”- 50”. Tackle and baits used to target these big girls range from fly rods to medium action conventional tackle with live or frozen bait. On most charters, we are outfitted with medium action spinning rods, 20lb braid and 2500 series reels.

My two favorite lures are 1 1/2 ounce Spro jigs and Mirrolure Top Dogs. Drifting in and around the pass with live finger mullet, live shrimp or frozen menhaden can be productive as well. Sight fishing along the beaches this time of year is as good as it gets. If you would like more information on how to catch your trophy stop in and see the friendly staff at Grays Tackle in Perdido Key. Until next time this is Capt. Bill wishing you Tight lines and Screaming drags! Capt. Bill Willis

Lost Bay Guide Service Tide Charts | Pensacola | Nov/2017 | Florida (850) 748-5076 www.lostbayfishing.com “You only live once, but if you do it right once is enough”

http://fl.usharbors.com/monthly-tides/Florida-Panhandle/Pensacola...

Pensacola Tides

US HARBORS

Pensacola Tides - Nov/2017

30°24’N 87°13’W

DATE

Capt. Bill’s son with a big bull red.

1 2

PHOTO CREDIT: Capt. Bill Willis

3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

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FLORIDA

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Tidal Data Source: Pensacola (8729840)

EMERALD COAST / DESTIN / PENSACoLA 13

10/19/17 11:31 AM


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DEER POINT LAKE: For November, I predict cool breezes and chomping bass! The problem we may encounter is that sudden, drastic changes in temperatures will make for a tough bite. Bass (especially Florida strain) are not fond of drastic drops in temperature, but as the lake stabilizes and fish adjust and acclimate, the bite can get going in a big way. Another possible scenario is that the lake might be in its annual draw-down phase, but this may not occur until December. Cold temps and dropping water could really make things tough, but again, after fish get used to conditions, they’re all about eating. November through February is the best time of year to catch really big bass because they are feeding for the spawn and often make bad decisions about lures they might otherwise ignore the rest of the year. During stable conditions, my approach will be crank baits and spinner baits and when the conditions are right, topwater baits. I want to cover lots of water on days like this to increase my odds of hooking up. In tough conditions I will opt

for a finesse approach with a Gambler Giggy Head Jig rigged with a Gambler Sweebo Worm. The unique “standup” characteristics of this presentation are hard for bass to resist. Work this bait along creek edges around timber and grass for best results. I like to use a medium-action rod teamed with 15 lb. test fluorocarbon line.

Gambler Sweebo worm on a Giggy Head jig.

Conditions may be tough this month, but don’t let that stop you; this is the perfect time to get out and hone those finesse fishing skills and enjoy the great weather. Good fishing and God bless. Capt. Randy Cnota C-note Charters Panama City, FL (229) 834-7880

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LAST CAST

Because Someone Took Me Fishing... By Scott Risher

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arly in my childhood I was lucky enough to be included on my first real fishing trip with my older brothers and their friends. If memory serves me right, I was told the reason I was getting to go was because they needed more bait. Fisherman’s humor, I guess. I didn’t get it. Living in south Louisiana at the time, we would drive down to Venice, launch and head down river to fish the nearby oil rigs scattered along the coast. Back in the day, what we called bull croakers were thick around the rigs and were easily caught using cut squid on a bottom rig. As clear as if it had happened yesterday and not some 50 plus years ago, I remember being handed a rod and told that ‘if something pulls on it, pull back!’ It did not take but a few seconds to know what that meant. With all the strength I could muster, I remember cranking up something from the depths of the platform. Bull croaker – probably a two or three-pound fish. It was by far the biggest fish I’d caught and I could not wait to get home to show mom. Well, that never happened. As soon

as it was onboard, my brother grabbed it, unhooked it, then proceeded to stick a much larger hook right through the back of the fish and back overboard went my prize. What the…??? Moments later, his rod doubled over and he was literally dragged against the gunnel, straining to stay inside the boat. All this scared the heck out of me at the time but that quickly turned to amazement when I saw the increasing color below the surface of the water. Moments later the amberjack on the end of the line broke the surface and was quickly gaffed and hurled onboard. Wow!!! Many years have passed since that trip, but because someone took me fishing, a passion for all things outdoors was instilled in me that has never diminished after all this time. Because someone took me fishing I’ve seen a hundred perfect sunrises brighten the sky over the bow of my boat. I know the smell of the marsh and the gulf that can only be experienced by being there. I also know the smell of bait forgotten in an igloo for several hot summer days. I have made lifelong friends that ‘get it’ because they were there when you had those trips of a

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lifetime. I’ve seen how four guys snoozing while trolling baits can in 1.8 seconds be transformed into choreographed chaos when a reel suddenly starts screaming from a strike. I’ve learned that trying to navigate the Mississippi river below Venice, at night, in the fog, is not the best idea. The anchor chains of a ship are big, really big. I know how to get to the double secret, triple probation, honey hole fishing spot. No one else does because they have never been there without being blindfolded on the way in…and out. I know the adrenaline rush that comes from the sight of a red pushing a wake behind my lure as I retrieve it across a shallow marsh pond. I know what it means when they say “you should have been here yesterday”. I know not to say that I just want to catch one fish today. I will always want to catch more than just one fish. I know I can’t own too many rods and reels. I know where every fisherman worth their salt caught those fish – in the water. I know that releasing that gator trout you’ve pursued for years can be just as rewarding as showing it off at the dock. I know the smell and sounds of the camp at 2 a.m. when 3 or 4 other guys are

The amberjack that ate my prize.

sleeping off a long day of fishing – not nice. I know that a monster fish can explode on a top water bait with three laser sharpened treble hooks and somehow avoid getting hooked. How does that happen? I know the difference between a uni, a blood, a polamar, an improved clinch, and a snell. I know what aught means. I know that the bottom can fight like a 12 pound red for at least 6 seconds. Because someone took me fishing I now share these experiences with my son and hope that each trip brings another lesson, another laugh, or another memory. One more...I know that I will always make another cast after someone calls “last cast.”

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Make reel memories. By Ed Killer - This 6-pound pompano was caught with Native Salt Clam bait in Vero Beach, Fla. Photo by Manuel Briceno.

F

all and winter along Treasure Coast beaches offer up some of the finest fishing there is. Surf fishing is fun, fulfilling and best of all, can fill a freezer in a couple of trips. Whiting, pompano, croaker, bluefish and Spanish mackerel are prime targets. While none of these species will ever earn acclaim for their size, they earn high marks at the dinner table. The hours of the incoming tide and beginning of the outgoing tide are the best time to go. Seas don’t have to be flat calm, but there is a threshold where if the shorebreak is too heavy, it might not be worth the effort. Surf fishing is generally a modified form of bottom fishing. If the waves are too large and require too much lead weight to hold bottom, it makes it impractical to fish. Plus, fish move out beyond casting range when the water is too sandy near the beach. Tackle requirements include a long 9- to 12-foot rod. Some anglers prefer spinning reels, however, the professionals keep one or more conventional reels in play, which helps reduce the potential for line being “spun” up by jacks and bluefish. Light line is the norm, too, about 10-pound test, but no more than 15. Most use monofilament with 1/0 or 2/0 hooks in a double-hook rig. Small pieces of bait like clam strips, pieces of shrimp, sand fleas or artificial bait like Fish Bites work well, as many of the targeted species feed using scent. Using a clip swivel, hook on a sinker heavy enough to hold bottom. Sometimes that weight might be 2 ounces; sometimes it might be a Buick. Whiting are nice to catch, and croaker mix into the cooler just as well. Both produce white flaky fillets and can be prepared in any number of ways. Take the skin off the fillet and bread for frying. Or try a whiting Reuben on rye bread with cole slaw and Thousand Island dressing for a true delight. Bluefish are voracious predators that feed in schools reminiscent of toothy piranhas, except larger. They are fun to catch, peeling off line and pulling like a jack crevalle. The Florida state record was caught in Jensen Beach in 1972. It was a whopper of a chopper, weighing 22 pounds. Spanish mackerel are also a fan favorite, and both macks and blues can be caught with topwater plugs, large spoons like Krocodiles and fast-reeled jigs. Bluefish taste fishy. Spanish mackerel are flavorful, but are best day-of fresh, and not great otherwise. But pompano really draw the crowds. In case there is any question, stop by a fish market and check the price per pound, which hovers around $19.99. Pompano have a delicate, rich flavor and elegant texture. Fillet with the skin on, which leaves them perfect for grilling or broiling. Lemon and pepper and a little tartar sauce make for a great reward for taking one’s fishing rod to a Martin County beach. Ed Killer is an outdoors columnist with Treasure Coast Newspapers and the USA Today Network.

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Stuart, located in Martin County, is known as the Sailfish Capital of the World. Sitting on the most biodiverse estuary in the Northern Hemisphere, Martin County is home to 100 artificial reef systems and over 800 species of fish. Its climate, waterways, natural environment and opportunity for diverse catches make it a mecca for fishermen and nautical explorers year-round. An array of unique shops, fine restaurants, great golf courses and quiet beaches make a day ashore fun, too. Inshore, offshore, saltwater or fresh, head out for an adventure and reel in the memories.

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T

he Bassmaster Classic stands out as one of the biggest bass fishing events each year, and this year three pro anglers will don the signature Mud Hole colors on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell for the 2018 Classic in March. Joining the Classic line-up is a huge accomplishment for any angler, so let’s take a look at how Bassmaster Elite pros Brandon Lester and Bradley Roy as well as FLW veteran John Cox were able to capitalize on their opportunities to make the cut. Brandon Lester Captures His Spot Heading into Mille Lacs Lake in Onamia, Minnesota, Bassmaster Elite pro Brandon Lester found himself on the Classic bubble. On

the verge of either making the Classic or watching his bubble burst, Brandon knew it wouldn’t be easy, but welcomed the challenge. After three days of tight competition and a lot of learning on the lake, Lester caught 43 pounds, 1 ounce to finish in the money and leave with a qualifying ticket for his third Bassmaster Classic appearance. Although he was nervous coming off the lake, he later left weigh-in with a huge smile knowing he’ll be fishing Hartwell in March. Bradley Roy’s Big Return Like Brandon, Bassmaster Elite pro Bradley Roy entered the Mille Lacs event with his mind focused on making the Classic cut and his custom MHX Rods dialed in for smallmouth fishing. But after just day two, Roy could rest easy knowing he bagged 36 pounds, 13 ounces, which also gained him enough points to seal a place in the 2018 Classic. Bradley ultimately finished with 52 pounds, 1 ounce of Mille Lacs bass, a nice check to cash, and a ticket to his second straight Bassmaster Classic. Considering this will be his second Classic and he placed seventh in his first appearance, Bradley is incredibly hungry for a strong return. John Cox Fishing Familiar Water When John Cox finished on top of the B.A.S.S. Southern Open at Chickamauga Lake in Dayton, Tenn. with 68 pounds, 3 ounces, his big win came with more than just a check, it also included a spot in the 2018 Bassmaster Classic. After hoisting the Forrest Wood Cup and making a major splash on the FLW Tour, Cox and his custom MHX Rods are crossing over to fish in the Classic. The sight fishing phenom is excited for the opportunity, especially considering this Classic will be held on Lake Hartwell, where he secured a huge Tour win back in 2016. With his spots and some new rod builds in mind, Cox is a dangerous competitor looking to capitalize on his knowledge and experience of Lake Hartwell. To fish the Pro Tour Rods these pro anglers are taking to the Classic, visit www.mudhole.com/pro-kits.

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FISH & FISHING

MARK SOSIN

S

ounds transmitted into the water can either repel or attract fish. The key, of course, is to avoid driving fish away with the wrong kind of sound and, instead, arouse their curiosity or gain their attention with the right kind of sound. Keep in mind that sound travels five times faster in water than it does in air and that fish are extremely sensitive to a wide range of frequencies. You will hardly ever see a fish make a mistake and swim toward an alarming sound. However, the gentle splat of a bait or lure at a respectable distance from the fish will often attract its attention. Although fish don’t have protruding earflaps like those of humans and other mammals, they do have ears buried on either side of the head protected by skin, flesh and bone. In addition to their ears, fish have a second sound-detecting organ known as the lateral line, which is unique in the animal kingdom. Vibrations in the water pass through thousands of openings along the lateral line alerting a fish to their presence. The lateral line works within 20 to 30 feet of the fish. As the fish gets closer to the source of the sound (a baitfish or a lure), it can locate its prey even if it can’t see it. Within 5 feet or so, a fish can accurately strike its prey or a lure without actually seeing it. Sound plays a vital role in the daily activities of fish. Using their ears and lateral line, they can detect any disturbance in the water and react to it, whether

it is food or a predator ready to target them or simply some foreign sound that puts them on the alert. From a fishing standpoint, the key lies in eliminating alarming sounds. You can talk all you want, and the sound will bounce off the surface of the water. If you’re aboard a boat and you scrape a tackle box or bang your feet on the deck, that noise will transmit through the water. On clear shallow flats, it’s easy to see the effect of noise. Drop a lure too close to a bonefish, a 100-pound tarpon or even a large shark, and you can bet it will vacate the area. Even if it doesn’t go far, it’s on the alert and difficult to get to strike. One reason that fishing with live bait proves to be very effective is that its swimming ability is restricted and it sends out signals that it is in trouble. If you can keep the live bait on the surface where it continuously splashes, the results can be even more positive. That’s one reason why kite fishing with live bait proves so effective, particularly if you change baits frequently. Researchers tell us there is little doubt that sound with all its ramifications is a critical factor in the life of a fish, and it is equally important from a fisherman’s standpoint. As an angler, you should be totally aware of the effects of sound on fish and make them work for you both in attracting fish and by avoiding those sounds that would frighten fish or alert them that something is not right.

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O

ne of my favorite places for fishing, boating and enjoying nature is Hontoon Island in the St. Johns River in Volusia County. Accessible only by private boat or the park ferry, the island offers something for everyone, including the fisherman, canoer, hiker or archaeologist. A walk through the park or a stop in the visitor center can tell one about those who inhabited the island hundreds of years ago, for example Native Americans. The parking lot for the park’s ferry, which operates daily from 8 a.m. to right before sunset, is six miles west of Deland off State Road 44. The boat ride takes just a few minutes, but takes one into a world that seems little changed for hundreds of years. The 1,650-acre island has over three miles of hiking trails and cabins for rent for those who want to spend even more time fishing and swimming and exploring the river. One may learn in the museum there how the island once functioned as a center for commercial fishing. As in many places along the river, fish caught near the island and in the river waters offshore include bass, bream, catfish, crappie, perch and sunfish. What I have particularly enjoyed is boating the side streams around Hontoon Island, where one can find a wide variety of fish hiding in the grasses along the edge of the water. Nearby Lake Beresford, which is two miles long and a half-mile wide, is the site of the Stetson University Crew Boathouse, near which one can see boat crews racing along the waterway. South of Hontoon Island is the very popular Blue Spring State Park, which has the largest spring on the St. Johns River and is a designated manatee refuge. The most amazing finds on the island by archaeologists include wooden effigies called totems. They include what early visitors called a large owl totem carved from a log, a smaller carving of a pelican, and one of an otter holding a fish. One can see replicas of the totems on the grounds, whereas the so-called owl totem is at Fort Caroline National Monument Museum near the mouth of the St. Johns River north of Jacksonville and

near Mayport. The replica on Hontoon Island may represent the largest wooden effigy ever found in a North American archaeological site and the only totem of its kind in the eastern United States. All in all, a visit to Hontoon Island can satisfy the angler in the family as well as those interested in one of the jewels of the St. Johns River.

Whenever I walk the really old paths around the island, I can picture how Native Americans lived and fished there. The island still retains much of the charm of a pristine wilderness in the midst of the river that was the lifeblood of those who lived in Central Florida over a thousand years ago. Kevin McCarthy, the award-winning author of “South Florida Waterways” (2013 - available at amazon.com for $7), can be reached at ceyhankevin@gmail.com.

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ello, and welcome to the scuba diving column in Coastal Angler Magazine! Each month we fill you in on what’s happening below the surface here in Palm Beach County. This month we’d like to give you some basics about diving in Palm Beach County and why it’s so spectacular. To begin with, Palm Beach is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the blue waters provided by the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream flows east along the equator turning north as it swings by Florida and up the eastern seaboard. Its clear-blue, warm waters dip closest to the continental United States right here in Palm Beach, and that’s great for us. This current swings in delivering a bounty of underwater creatures in its flowing tropical waters. Everything from small tropical fish to giant whalesharks gather in our local waters, and different creatures show up in abundance at different times of the year. Because the Gulf Stream brings warm water year-round, we dive all year long. Winter water temps average around 72 degrees and summer temps get as high as 84. The cooler winter waters bring big creatures to our area like migratory whales, whalesharks, and many species of shark, including the migratory lemons and spinner sharks. Spring kicks off our sea turtle nesting season with the giant leatherbacks arriving first, followed by loggerheads and then green turtles. By the time summer hits, it’s sea turtle craziness with nests hatching out and frisky adults lounging on the reefs. Fall brings the giant Goliath grouper in by the hundreds to spawn just offshore on our wrecks and artificial reefs. It’s not uncommon to see more than 50 500-pound grouper on one dive here in August and September. And people come from all over the world just to have a chance to dive with our amazing creatures! Palm Beach is home to the third largest barrier reef in the world, stretching from the Florida Keys up through Jupiter and just into Martin County. Because we have thousands of different species on our reefs, no matter what you enjoy seeing, chances are you don’t have to leave the “backyard” in Palm Beach. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy the beautiful Florida waters. As a good friend used to say, “Don’t take Florida for granted... she’s good to ya!”

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lorida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) fisheries biologists certified a new state record jaguar guapote, weighing 2.78 pounds and measuring 16.7 inches long. It was caught by 14-year-old angler Jerry Martin from Miami. Martin was thrilled to catch his jaguar guapote in the Snapper Creek Canal (C-2) with live bait. “When I caught it, I freaked out,” said Martin. “I was excited because I knew it could be a state record.” Martin has never targeted jaguar guapote before. He most often fishes for largemouth bass and peacock bass. “It was an accident to catch the state record jaguar, but now I’m planning to start fishing for more records,” he said. Jaguar guapote are primarily known to exist in the urban canal systems of southeast Florida, ranging as far north as West Palm Beach. The species was first reported in 1992 from a photograph of two specimens caught in a farm pond near Miami Canal. The jaguar guapote was made eligible for state record status in 2012, and this is the first confirmed record for this species. Jaguar guapote is one of 34 nonnative freshwater fish species that have become established in Florida. The FWC strongly encourages anglers to catch, keep and eat nonnative fish (except legally-introduced peacock bass and triploid grass carp), as many nonnative fishes provide excellent table fare. In addition, releasing fish from aquariums or moving them between water systems is illegal and could produce detrimental effects.

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TIPS FROM A PRO

FRESHWATER BRANDON LESTER

B

eing from middle Tennessee, I was introduced to many diverse fisheries in my younger years. This area of the country has long been known for great smallmouth bass fishing, as it should be, but in my opinion it can’t compare to the smallmouth fishing in the Great Lakes region right now. I am certainly not bashing the smallmouth fishing down south, but fishing the Elite Series allows me to see some of the best lakes in the country, and the “good ole days” of smallmouth bass fishing on the Great Lakes is right now. Flowing out of Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River is one of my favorites on our schedule because it fishes similar to the rivers back home. The river has a lot of current, which positions the fish. The water is clear, and you can catch smallmouth from 2 feet deep all the way out to 60 feet. The St. Lawrence is absolutely full of smallmouth, and 30- to 40fish days are just another day on the water. In addition to the fishing, the area is also just an awesome place to spend time. Waddington, N.Y., which is our host city when we go, is in a very rural part of New York with lots of cropland and cattle farms. If you’ve not visited this fishery, I strongly suggest you do. Lake St. Clair is on fire right now. The final Elite Series tournament of the regular season was held there this year, and overall bass weights were absolutely phenomenal. The big smallmouth of the tournament weighed almost 7 pounds. In the past, tournaments on St. Clair were won by guys who ran to Lake Erie or Lake Huron, but not anymore. It seems now that St. Clair is the place to be. The style of fishing is different than most smallmouth destinations. Lake St. Clair is just a big bowl-shaped lake with a shipping channel running through the middle of it. That’s about the only real contour change on the whole lake. The big keys are

looking for clean spots in the grass and finding bait. If that doesn’t fit your style, you can run up the river toward Huron or down the Detroit River toward Erie. Both rivers have plenty of current and plenty of smallmouth. After fishing a tournament on Lake Champlain this year, it is my new favorite lake in the country. The smallmouth fishing is phenomenal, and you can catch big largemouth, too. The smallmouth hang out on offshore shoals, old bridge blow-throughs and rocky structure around the shoreline. If you get tired of catching them, there is an abundance of milfoil, docks and reeds where largemouth bass are willing and ready to bite. Lake Champlain, in my opinion, has the healthiest population of bass of anywhere I have ever fished, and that makes it fun, period. Plattsburg, N.Y. is a great place to visit, as well, with lots of cool sites to see. If you make one of these trips, be sure you’re prepared with the right MHX rods, Mustad hooks and Vicious fishing line. Hit Brandon up on Facebook or Instagram with any questions.

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t’s got the beaches, with fine white sand and the emerald green waters of the gorgeous northern Gulf of Mexico. It’s got the nightlife, the shopping and fine dining, the beautiful golf courses and everything else that draws vacationers from around the world. But what Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island—the heart of northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast—have more of than anything else is fishing. Back in 1956, Florida Gov. Leroy Collins called Destin “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” after catching a big king mackerel on a 15-minute photo-op boat ride during the Destin Fishing Rodeo. More than 60 years later, the historic Destin Fishing Rodeo just wrapped up its 69th annual October-long event, proving once again that this fishing village is just as lucky as ever. Daily weigh-ins at the rodeo give spectators a close look at what the waters off the Emerald Coast have to offer. Excitement builds on the docks in front of the landmark AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar when big tuna, wahoo, king mackerel, dolphin, groupers and snappers come to the scales. And in the Billfish Division, the big sportfishing yachts are out there pulling spreads for sailfish—and marlin that easily eclipse the 500-pound mark. There have been a couple grander blue marlin caught on the northern Gulf Coast over the years and a few more that came very close to tipping the scales past the 1,000-pound mark. Even swordfish show up pretty regularly, meaning there’s a real possibility for a grand slam fishing out of the marinas of Okaloosa County. It’s world-class fishing on the Panhandle, which in recent years has seen the big pelagic species moving closer to shore with changing currents. And what’s more, the action is yearround. There’s a good reason the world’s largest charter fishing fleet is based out of Destin Harbor.

Nearshore

Nearshore, warm and fertile Gulf waters coupled with numerous wrecks and reefs to create some of the most bountiful fishing Florida has to offer. With a short boat ride less than 8 miles off the beach, anglers can bottom fish or troll with family pleasing and cooler-filling consistency for amberjack, numerous snapper and grouper species, cobia, blackfin tuna, king and Spanish mackerel and more.

Offshore

Due south about 25 to 30 miles out, the continental shelf drops and there are multiple renowned hotspots, with some of the best big game fishing in the Gulf. South Florida seems to get most of the bright, hot spotlight when it comes to the big pelagics, but serious anglers out of the Emerald Coast quietly and consistently catch serious fish. Whether it’s a full-day trolling trip or an overnight expedition deep into the Gulf, dolphin, blue marlin, tuna and

wahoo are available to those who mean business when it comes to fishing.

Inshore

Those who would rather explore grass flats and oyster beds in search of trout or tailing redfish will also find that on the Emerald Coast. Inside East Pass and Okaloosa Island, Choctawhatchee Bay spreads out vast and shallow. It’s the perfect place to launch a skiff or a kayak into 130 square miles of inshore action that’s some of the best on the Panhandle.

Spring Cobia

Finally, any discussion of fishing options around the Emerald Coast has to include the cobia run, which is one of the best on the planet. Book your charter now, because in spring—peaking in April—cobia that have migrated north along the Gulf Coast arrive off the beaches bringing some of the most exciting fishing there is. This is sight fishing for one of the ocean’s tastiest and hardest fighting fish, and during this spring run they can arrive with weights in excess of 100 pounds. With a spotter in the tower, you cruise the clear blue-green waters looking for the telltale brown shadows of a pod of cobia doggedly pushing west. With a Airline_CoastalAnglerAd_3-2016_Layout 1 3/18/16 1:07 PM Page 1 smooth approach, the boat moves to intercept, and then it’s up to the angler to make an accurate cast with a live bait or a jig. Anticipation is almost unbearable for a few seconds before the take, and then bedlam breaks loose. Cobia put up the most unpredictable fight in fishing. They are capable of long, drag-burning runs, leaps, rolls and deep dives, but sometimes they save the thrashing until they hit the deck. Either way, catching a big cobia is exciting, and there’s no better grilling fish that swims. So, while the Emerald Coast offers gorgeous beaches and all the activity of a top-notch beach vacation destination, on the water it remains what it was before the Miracle Strip and Harbor Boulevard grew up around it. It’s one of the best fishing destinations in the world in terms of quality, quantity and variety of angling opportunities. For information, go to www.emeraldcoastfl. com. COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM

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Profile for Coastal Angler Magazine

Coastal Angler Magazine - November / Emerald Coast-Destin-Pensacola  

Coastal Angler Magazine and our interior (freshwater) publication, The Angler Magazine, are monthly editions dedicated to fishing, boating,...

Coastal Angler Magazine - November / Emerald Coast-Destin-Pensacola  

Coastal Angler Magazine and our interior (freshwater) publication, The Angler Magazine, are monthly editions dedicated to fishing, boating,...