Coastal Angler Magazine | July 2024 | St. Augustine Edition

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Trout don’t grow huge on a diet of insects alone, so Budkey fshes 2- to 3-inch-long bait lures to take advantage of the carnivorous tendencies of big fsh. Tese fsh have good eyesight, so he fshes 4-pound-test and said light line can be the diference between catching dozens of fsh or nothing at all.

Now… battling 10-pound trout in current with light line is tricky, to say the least.

“You really have to wear them out. you all the way down the creek and back up it, jumping and thrashing,” Budkey said. “If you try to muscle them, they’ll break you o


Part-time guide Stephen Budkey catches a lot of outsized trout fshing the streams of western Pennsylvania. Much of his success with giant 6- to 15-pound rainbows and browns has to do with location, but he also uses some interesting tactics that specifcally appeal to large fsh.

Te setting is on Lake Erie tributaries. Tese streams vary in size, but generally Pennsylvania is known for smaller fows. Te key to their productivity is the lake. Lake Erie feeder streams experience steelhead runs a lot like the rivers of the Pacifc Northwest. Fish grow large gorging on baitfsh in open water before pushing into tributaries in early fall to spawn. Te lakerun rainbow trout in this migration are called steelheads, and there are bruiser brown trout that run up out of the lake, as well. Budkey also has access to a stretch of privately managed tailwater, which is an obvious target-rich environment for very large trout. Regardless of where he’s fshing, he uses tactics and gear that might seem odd to

trout anglers in other regions.

If you’re a snooty fy fsher, set your tweed hat aside for a minute. Tis might not convince you to pick up a spinning rod, but Budkey has an undeniable knack for catching giant trout, and you might just learn or adapt something from his style of fshing.

Reading water in western Pennsylvania is the same as it is anywhere. Trout like the cold, welloxygenated water of broken water and rifes. When targeting large trout, Budkey said he looks for the deepest runs or waterfall holes in the creek he’s fshing.

“I’m talking about creeks that are sometimes just the width of your car, and these fsh will just stack up in there,” he said. “And when they stack up, they really stack up. It’s wild.”

Budkey said clients who are decent anglers can have 25-fsh days that include trout that might weigh 6 to 10 pounds. Most of these trout were originally stocked by the state, but there is some reproduction, and holdover fsh that have been in

To even the odds, Budkey fshes a 10-footlong noodle rod, which is extremely absorb shock during the fght and protect that light line. Another important factor is a big net for landing fsh, and it doesn’t hurt to have someone else to serve as net-man. Sometimes it’s not possible to bring big fsh to hand, and a net man can wade out to get them.

When trout are aggressive, they are super aggressive, Budkey said. He likes a good-old foating Rapala when the trout are actively chasing and fshes a 2-inch F05 or a 2.75-inch F07 tied on with a loop knot. He just throws it into the current, gives it a jerk to get it wobbling and lets it sit there until a fsh crashes it.

If fsh want something on or near the bottom, Budkey fshes jigs. Trout Magnet jigheads in 1/32 and 1/64 ounce—the lightest you can get away with—paired with Gulp! sof plastics are deadly. Trout are suckers for these scented plastics, and he likes the 2.5- and 3-inch minnows as well as Killer Crawlers and Pinched Crawlers.

Te technique with the jigs is slow. Budkey said he just wiggles the rod tip to give the lure some action.

“It’s almost like I don’t want to move the jig toward me very much, at all. I just want it to sit there and wiggle,” he said. “It’s like shaking a donut in someone’s face at the gym. Tey can’t handle it. Tey’ll run out and grab it.”

Afer the take, it’s time to start worrying about how to battle that fsh to the net on super-light line. Budkey said that is the most fun part of trout fshing, and he loves nothing more than showing other people how to experience it.

See some of Budkey’s tactics on YouTube @FishFightsPA.

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In mid-June, NOAA Fisheries announced a one-day recreational season for red snapper in the South Atlantic. Although there was widespread grumbling and gnashing of teeth by recreational anglers, it did not come as a surprise to pretty much anyone.

First the season: Red snapper harvest will be open for recreational anglers in the South Atlantic, from North Carolina through Florida, on July 12. Te limit is one fsh per angler.

Te date is subject to change in case a small craf weather advisory is projected. Any change in the date of the recreational season will be announced in the Federal Register, Fishery Bulletin, and an announcement via NOAA Weather Radio.

Now the reasoning: In 2008, NOAA’s stock assessment indicated red snapper in the South Atlantic were in bad shape and devastatingly overfshed. Over the last 16 years, NOAA has essentially shut down recreational fshing for the species, and catch limits for commercial fshing have been kept very low. Not surprisingly, it worked! Populations rebounded to the point where data indicates red snapper are now more plentiful in the South Atlantic than at any time since such data existed. What’s more, the fshery continues to improve ahead of the projected recovery timeline.

Tis year, instead of allowing greater access to the fshery, NOAA decided to tighten already draconian restrictions. Te overall quota for red snapper was cut by 25 percent for 2024. As the fshery has improved, recreational anglers have gone from a ridiculously short fve-day season in 2019 to an absurd one day of fshing in 2024.

According to NOAA Fisheries, the red snapper fshery is in a “recovery trap.” Abundant red snapper have led to increased incidental catches by anglers, and NOAA extrapolates that data into a formula for catch-and-release mortality. Basically, they’re telling us that there are so many red snapper that anglers are killing too many of them by catching and releasing them.

Te result is tighter regulations in an infexible system, where highly questionable data is used to shut down access to a public resource. We’re not even going into numerous occasions in recent years when NOAA has been forced to admit its data is shockingly fawed.

According to the American Sportfshing Association, work is underway to improve data collection for the South Atlantic red snapper fshery.

In the meantime, try not to get in a boat wreck during the one-day mad dash to catch your one red snapper from the Atlantic. Or you can just trailer your boat to the Gulf of Mexico, where the states fnally managed to bludgeon some sense into federal fsheries managers a few years ago.

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Welcome to the best day of the week—the day before your next fshing trip! If you’re going ofshore tomorrow, it’s time to make a game plan, and a look at current Sea Surface Temperature (SST) charts is the frst step. With knowledge of accurate surface temps, chlorophyll imagery and other environmental factors, you can home in on areas that are likely to hold baitfsh and feeding predators.

to consider when targeting gamefsh. It provides shelter and feeding opportunities for all marine life. While you can stumble upon fsh just about anywhere in the ocean, you’ll locate more on and around structure.

Large underwater structure defects current and pushes nutrient-rich water toward the surface, creating areas where bait concentrates and holds. Also remember that weed lines are a key form of structure on the edges of the Gulf Stream.

A reasonably priced satellite service is a small price to pay when compared to rising fuel prices and time spent running in search of gamefsh. Here are a few of the factors SST charts can help you decipher and improve the odds of fnding fsh.

Color Breaks: Te boundary areas between blue and green water, ofen referred to as color breaks, will typically stack up bait and hold above-average numbers of gamefsh.

Chlorophyll is the beginning of the food chain for marine life. Find it and you have a good chance at locating bait and fsh. Temperature and chlorophyll breaks ofen correspond with color changes. So, once you’ve reviewed the images and located the general area of a color break, this becomes an area of interest.

Structure & Current: Structure is critical

If you can fnd a color change that corresponds with structure, this is where you want to begin fshing. If everything lines up, there’s a good chance upon arrival that you’ll see marine life including birds, porpoise, fying fsh and other bait. Tis doesn’t mean you won’t catch fsh in of-colored water, but there’s a much better chance you’ll fnd concentrations of bait in or around the edges of areas where green and blue water interact.

Tides from inlets also play a role in water clarity, creating rips and weed-line formation. Bait will concentrate along the edge, especially where this water pushes up against the waters of the Gulf Stream. Look for these demarcation lines on incoming and outgoing tides.

Learn to read these vital signs both on and of the water using charts. If you can consistently

fnd areas that hold bait, you’ll always have a shot at your quarry. You will have become a top predator!

Mark Ambert, IG @marksgonefshing_™


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The electric reel is a game changer for highspeed jigging. Electric provides some distinct advantages in comparison to hours spent manually cranking jigs at high speed through the water column.

With this style of jigging, I’m talking about working heavy jigs for big fsh on deep structure. Te key to catching fsh is fnding areas that consistently hold bait. Look for reefs, hills, and larger wrecks in deep water that hold baitfsh. Tis is where you’ll fnd feeding fsh.

Check your sonar screen frequently and look for “scratches” or fsh feeding in the water column. We usually assign one person to call out depth changes along with depth of marked fsh. Tuna can be found from 250 feet up to the surface. Highspeed cruisers like wahoo and kingfsh prefer the upper 50 feet of water, while amberjack will be close to structure. Jigging and adjusting depth to target fsh is more efcient under electric power, and the most difcult part of the electric game is picking the right equipment that works together.

Simplicity, along with reasonable size and weight, are key considerations for long days targeting big game fsh. I landed on the Piscifun Kraken X electric reel, and it has become indispensable in my arsenal.

Te Kraken is moderately priced and uses the same proven Japanese motor technology as many of its competitors. Te 33 pounds of max-drag were put to the test unexpectedly in the reel’s frst trip during a battle with the ultimate slugger—a 40-pound-class amberjack. Tey’re not called “reef donkeys” for nothing! Tis reel made short work of that AJ without heating up or momentarily shutting down, which is a common issue for overtaxed electric reels. I fsh a lef-handed model when high-speed jigging, and the Piscifun PB5000 battery pack provides all-day power and complete

mobility around the boat.

Te Kraken mates perfectly with the Goofsh Monster Deep PE4-7. It’s a 7-foot rod that handles a maximum jig weight of 700g. It can deadlif 44 pounds, and has held up to some signifcant adversaries without being too heavy.

I spool all my reels with FINS braid. I use the 45/6, which has 45-lb. breaking strength and the diameter of 6-lb. monoflament. Tis matches the reel specifcations while adding line capacity. Te thin diameter also cuts through the water with little resistance, which is critical for vertical jigging.

On the business end, I use jigs in the 180-to320g range but can go as heavy as 700g if needed to reach bottom. I use a 50-lb. wind-on leader from Sufx. My go-to jigs are from Williamson, under the Rapala family of lures. Rapala also owns VMC,

so these lures are equipped with high-quality hardware. I use Koika, Kensaki, Vortex, Abyss and Benthos jigs.

With these in your arsenal, you can cover any situation and depth. Make sure to purchase glowin-the-dark options along with high visibility and natural colors. Purchase your favorites in multiple size ranges from light to heavy, and you’re set!

With an electric reel, you can easily alternate jigging retrieves from a slow yo-yo motion, which mimics a wounded baitfsh, to a full-on high-speed assault, which triggers the bite refex. Experiment with diferent techniques and settle on the one that works best on any given day.

Make sure the drag is set like any other star drag reel with the ability to pay out line when a big fsh slams your ofering. Once hooked up, use the electric motor to apply constant pressure. I fnd this is more efective for wearing a fsh down than manually pumping the rod while reeling.

Most of all, experiment with your new rig. It will open a world of new options and make your days much more enjoyable. I alternate between the powered setup and a quality spinning rod setup specifcally for jigging.

I personally have over 400 hours of hardcore jigging on this combination without a single point of failure. Now get one on the water and enjoy your new-found passion!

Mark Ambert, IG @marksgonefshing_™

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Blackfin Schools are Still Here!

Just in case you missed the frst few runs of blackfn tuna that made it to south Florida, they’re still around, and this month I’d like to share some information and tips about targeting this amazing eating fsh.

Blackfn are very easy to distinguish from other tuna species. Like all tuna species, they are football shaped with smooth scales. Unlike yellowfn, blackfn do not have elongated dorsal or anal fns. Tey have a black stripe running along the top of their back. Most blackfn caught around here weigh between 5 and 10 pounds and measure in the 20- to 30-inch range.

Tese tuna are found from Massachusetts down into Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico. Within these regions they will almost always be found in schools. Tese schools can be found in a variety of water depths which varies due to current and water conditions as well as the presence of baitfsh. However, they will typically not venture past 200 feet.

Since blackfns are highly migratory fsh and are constantly moving, they can’t exactly be targeted of reefs and other structures, like some other species. However, they do feed primarily on baitfsh and hunt prey like grunts, threadfns, blue runners or even pinfsh, and many times structure is what consolidates these baitfsh. Tuna schools can ofen be found wherever the bait schools are, and they tend to stick around for a while as they clear out all the baitfsh in an area. Tere are occasions when they will also eat squid or shrimp that foats past them.

Of Florida, blackfns spawn from April to September. When they spawn, the schools of blackfn move farther ofshore and participate in broadcast spawning. Te purpose of moving ofshore is to make sure that the eggs stay adrif in the Gulf Stream and don’t get pushed inshore. However, since the eggs and young tuna spend a majority of their life ofshore, this creates opportunities for predators such as mahi-mahi, skipjack tuna, sailfsh, birds, and of course sharks.

Tere are many ways to target blackfn tuna. I like to drif fsh for them with whatever bait is prevalent and available, whether it’s blue runners, sardines or threadfns. A typical spread for drifing might include two weighted downlines—one for the middle of the water column and one deeper— and a couple of freelines, one on each corner. Kites are another great way to present baits on the surface. With a spread like this, you’ll cover the water column from top to bottom and have a good chance of putting baits in a school of hungry blackfns. If you don’t love live bait, slow-pitch jigging around reefs is also an option. Either way, you never know what else you’ll catch while fshing for tuna.

Remember, fshing is called fshing and not catching for a reason. Try and try again until you succeed! Te IGFA all-tackle world record blackfn tuna weighed 49 lbs., 6-ozs. It was caught of Marathon, Florida back in 2006.

Emily Rose Hanzlik has caught more than 60 IGFA world records in various categories. Find her on

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Every fsherman has a story of the “one that got away.” In my case, the “one that got away” story is of an ongoing battle that became personal.

One fall morning in central eastern Florida, I was fshing under a dock with a Zara Spook. During my retrieve, an explosion broke the water in a way I had never seen in 35 years of fshing. I stood in shock as line peeled of my 4000-size Penn Battle II combo. When the fsh jumped, I saw it was in the mid-40-inch range, and as is frequently the case with big snook, she played with me for a while before bolting into the pilings to break me of. Tis monster would have been my personal-best.

A few weeks passed before I returned to the same dock. Tis time I went armed with a paddletail. Maybe 15 casts in, she bit. I could tell right away it was the same fsh because of the way it fought and because it hit in the exact same location. Speaking of the same, she did the same thing and broke me of in the pilings.

Would you believe me if I told you it happened again? Well, you better, because it happened six more times! Afer the fourth break-of, as I was walking along the shore, I found the Spook I lost the frst time I hooked the fsh.

I told you it became personal. Over the next

four months, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. fve or six days a week to fsh the same spot.

I ended up having a total of seven hook-ups and break-ofs with that fsh before I went back to the drawing board.

I geared up to a Penn Battle II 5000 rigged with 30-pound braid and a 50-pound mono leader. I changed lures to a Zman MinnowZ pinned to a ¼-ounce DOA red long-shank jighead. My logic was the long shank would give space between the hook point and the leader, which kept getting frayed by the fsh’s teeth or sliced by the gill plate.

On the morning of Aug. 11, on the third cast of the day at the same spot, my lure just stopped. As I came tight, I saw the head of a snook. As it got closer, it kept getting bigger, and when I gave my rod a hard tug, the fsh didn’t even fght. It swam straight to the shoreline. I knew right away it was THE ONE! I worked quickly to measure and photograph

the fsh so I could release it safely. It was 44 inches, without the tail squeezed.

We all have stories of the ones that got away. How many can say they’ve had the same fsh get away seven times, only to land it eight months later in the same spot?

Got a great fshing story? Write it up and send it with a few photos to We might just share it with the world.



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Capt. Tommy Derringer St. Augustine-Inshore

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For advertising inquiries, Call Capt. Eric at 904-829-7571 or e-mail

Dear Readers,

We can’t thank you enough for your support and readership as we launched our first St. Augustine Edition of Coastal Angler last month! Your reception of our June magazine went over and above what we had anticipated. Please continue to send in your photos for us to feature on our brag board, advertisements, and editorial articles so we can share them with our readers.

We have decided to extend our Grand Opening advertising specials for a short period of time to help you grow your business. If you would like us to add your business to our monthly delivery route or any other assistance you may need, please contact us:

Capt. Eric Diesl - 904-829-7571

Gina Diesl - 904-540-2311

You will find our St. Augustine edition in print for free at over 200 fine local retailers every month as well as the online e-magazine and video magazine.

Until next month,  we wish you tight lines and warm breezes.


Fishing Report & Forecast St. Augustine Inshore

It’s summertime so… get to the beach! Right now, along our beaches, just outside the surf, there are millions of pogies (menhaden) getting chased, thrashed, and eaten by one of many predatory fish that roam our waters this time of year. The pogies as of report time are a little scarce but they should show up in better numbers as we head further into the summer months. Tarpon, kingfish, huge jacks and sharks are just some of the monster sea creatures waiting for you to hook into! A great all-around rig to catch just about all those fish is to rig a live pogy on a medium to large circle hook (5/0-10/0) and cast just around the edges of the pods. You may or may not want to weight the bait down a bit depending on current and wind conditions. Getting an early start will also increase your chances of hooking up along the beach as the feeding frenzy tends to taper off as the sun gets higher in the sky. By now tarpon should be thick along the beach gorging themselves on the pogies, but another fun way to catch the silver king in our region is to hunt them behind the shrimp boats. Summer brings the shrimp boats within a mile or so of the beach. Look for the boats that have birds hanging around, as those are the ones getting ready to or just recently dumped their by-catch overboard. Approach the shrimp boats from behind and be

very aware of any rigging they may have in the water. It’s as simple as going slow and looking at what’s feeding in the by-catch. Net a few of the floating fish and use them for bait. When you see a tarpon gulping down by-catch just toss your bait in the chum line and hold on. If you don’t see any tarpon you’re sure to see a ton of big sharks and they will definitely put a bend in the rod.

Inshore, the best bite will be early (from about 6 a.m.-10 a.m.). Things tend to get a little too hot during the day and the fish will sit lower in the water column. At first light a top-water really can’t be beat this time of year as redfish and trout will be willing to give serious chase and devour a top-water plug like the Berkley J-walker 120. Once the sun gets up a bit you’ll want to change to something sub-surface like the Saltwater Assassin Elite Shiner Paddle Tail. I like to rig them on a 1/8 oz. or ¼ oz. jighead to help keep the bait down where the fish will be. A live mud minnow or shrimp pegged to a jighead will also work well when fishing deeper.

The water will be at its murkiest over the next couple of months and there are a few ways to get a fish’s attention even on the “dirtiest” of days. A couple old faithful rigs are the popping cork and the gold spoon. I like to rig a popping cork with about 1’ of leader under it with a scented soft plastic or live bait. This is many NE Florida anglers’ go-to rig for high tide summer fishing for redfish, trout, and flounder. The popping noise will attract fish from a good distance. The gold spoon is also great this time of year as it puts off a lot of vibration that allows fish to find it even in the murkiest of waters.

Capt. Tommy Derringer 904-377-3734 •

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Fishing Report & Forecast St. Augustine Offshore

Tips & Tales: July

July is the beginning of hot temps and calm seas. It’s a great time to fish. Bottom fishing is king during the summer. Mangrove Snapper peaks around the full moon, while other species like Vermillion and Mutton will be in full swing as well. As of writing this article, NOAA fisheries has NOT announced IF we will have a RED SNAPPER season. As frustrating as it is, unless the public voices/(SCREAMS) to let their elected officials know that this is NO LONGER acceptable, we will

Fishing Report Pier and Surf


surf water temperature is 85 and rising! I do not ever remember the water getting this hot, this early. I sincerely hope that the hurricanes leave Florida unscathed. The mullet run is slated to start next month. In the past years, hurricanes have squashed our mullet run surf fishing. Hopefully not this year , fingers crossed.

During this dog days of summer, I like to get to the beach no later than 5:30 AM. If it is not a cloudy morning, you can see to bait and cast by 5:45. Why, because the best bite is from daybreak, not sunrise, till 9:00AM. The other good bites usually happen three hours before dark. If you want to avoid all the heat, night fishing can also be very productive. I also like to fish the full moon during the summer. The best early moonrises will be July17th-22nd.

What can you expect to catch during this hot summer? All the usual suspects. Whiting, Pompano, Redfish, Black Drum, Bluefish, Trout, Ladyfish and on and on. Plus this time of year, we will have a legitimate shot at tropical species like Tarpon, Snook, Permit and Bonefish. Do not be

continue to be telling tales of yesterday’s Red Snapper, et al. We must confront NOAA fisheries with: THEY CANNOT pick and choose the science they want to use while ignoring the fact that stock levels are at an all-time high. Enough. So, what CAN we keep. Gag Grouper are closed and Red Snapper is a huge question mark, BUT, available species are Red Grouper & Scamp Grouper, Vermillion, Mutton, Mangrove, Lane Snapper, Amber Jack, Gray Triggerfish, and Cobia to name a few. With the water warm everywhere, anywhere from 80 to 160’ will be the best tip I can give you for July fishing offshore. If trolling is your passion, there’s plenty of King Mackeral from the beach out to 21 Fathoms. Find the bait, and you will find the fish. Enjoy the calm seas and stay hydrated.

Captain Robert Johnson


shocked. Just be prepared. I have caught all of these species in the surf, here in northeast Florida. A friend of mine, Tony Younan, caught TWO big Permit one summer not too long ago. One of them was a 23pounder. He caught it on a very small bait and small hook while fishing for Pompano. He thought he had a Jack Cravelle or a shark. So, set your drags light and you may land an unexpected trophy.

Early mornings with a calm surf and clean water can be a very good time to throw artificials. My favorites are top water and suspending hard baits. They can be deadly on Seatrout in knee deep water. They are there feeding on very small Pompano and Whiting. My favorite strategy is to wade out to knee deep and fan cast in all directions. That includes casting parallel to the beach in only knee deep water. If you want to go home with a tasty Flounder, switch to a jig and curly tail and retrieve slowly through the trough. Also fan casting. If no luck just move down the beach ten yards and start over. The Flounder are also there munching on Pomps and Whiting.

If you want to hear the drag scream, catch a small Whiting and pitch it back out on your big rig. Put your sand spike deep and set your drag light. It you see the American flag stop by and say hello. Tight lines. Noel Kuhn Surf fishing guide and long distance casting coach. 904-945-0660

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Fishing Report & Forecast Mayport

The summer is finally here and the fishing has continued to be good. Temps this month will soar so adjustments to fishing can be the difference between bringing a few fish home or nothing. Launch early and late to capitalize on cooler temps both for you and the fish for success.

Beach fishing will be in full swing this month with kings, jacks, little tunny, sharks, tarpon, and cudas patrolling the beach for food. Pop out the inlet and grab a net of pogies for some trolling action. Look both north and south of the inlet for a good supply of bait to catch. Some days you might get it right out of the jam but be prepared to run as far north as the Nassau Sound Inlet to find it. Birds are the key to locate it so look hard. If pogies aren’t available you got to get creative and find some

jigging bait like sardines, cigars or scad. Try the spots close in at first like the SE hole, Redtops, the rip color lines, and the chum hole first. If this proves futile, ease out to the near shore spots like 9 mile, Jax Wreck, and MR and troll. Kings , sails, cobia, sharks, and cudas will be caught on the troll on these spots all summer. If the troll is slow drop a few on the bottom for snapper, sea bass, triggers, and grouper.

The Inlet will be a great bet for sharks, tarpon, and reds this month. Use pogies on jigs pitching them along the edges at the high outgoing clean water for good results. Anchor down on the outside edges of the rocks and pin a few live ones on the bottom on the low outgoing tides for sharks and tarpon. Make sure you have some stout tackle. I prefer a Shimano Sarugosa 6000 with 30-40lb PowerPro barid for best results with a 7ft Shimano rod to match. Early morning bites for speckled trout at high tides on the rocks can be good too. At first light on a clear high tide throw a small top water plug along the edges. It’s a great way to catch some really big trout this time of the year.

Inshore at the ICW crossing in the St. Johns River you will begin to see larger than normal numbers of big bull reds as we near August. Mullet, ladyfish, pogies cut up and hooked on bottom rigs in big chunks can be successful. The bottom of the low tide seems to be the best times here. Remember you can’t catch them from the couch so get out early!.

For more fishing tips listen to the Outdoorshow radio program on 1010am or 92.5fm every Saturday from 7am to 10am. He can be reached at 904.241.7560 or 904.626.1128 or go to www.

Fishing Report & Forecast Sisters Creek


can be a hot month with water temps high and fish moving to cooler waters. More of your action will result in the early morning and evenings. I like to fish from 5:30 - 6:00 am to about 10:00-10:30. Most of the better bites will come in that time. Especially if you are a lure fisherman. Fishing docks lights at night can very productive with a DOA shrimp or soft plastic. You want your bait to sink slow. Best to throw around the edges of the shadows. However, you can still catch a good fish in the afternoon sun, it slows down a lot. For you die hard anglers,It can definitely happen, and it’s happened more than once, but, it’s a good idea to find some incoming cooler water and fish deeper as the sun climbs. Also a great time to take advantage of the calm still summer mornings with a top water plug. Some good ones include Rapala skitterwalks, Mirro Lure Top Dogs, and super spooks.  All these lures worked with a “walk the dog” action can produce vicious strikes from Redfish, Trout, and all the species that feed on swimming bait. The reason fish hit these style baits in low light is it is easier for fish to look up with no sun blinding them and they can focus on the bait. Harsh sun rays beating down on you is the same thing fish feel. When you move to shade, they will move to deeper water or seek out the cooler temperatures. Moving water will help as well. Most of your traditional methods of fishing will stay the same, but, time of day is important. If your tide is low in the early morning, I would look for backing fish in the shallows, and if the tide is high, I would fish grass lines and over structures and ledges. If you have moving water, bait, and early or evening times, you are in a good situation for success. Beach / jetty fisherman should have a good month with many of the conditions be recognized in these areas. Lady fish, Jacks, blues and mangrove snappers are not

as effected by the sunshine as much as other species. So if you want to bend a rod, these species are fairly reliable. Tarpon will be lurking in specific areas, such as deeper holes in creeks, jetties, inlets, areas along the beach, river and areas holding bait. Tarpon are funny, they may come back to a place you found them last year or they can hold up in a totally new area? You have to look and pay attention when out on your trip. If you find them, entice them with a live mullet on a Fluorocarbon leader. Use the lightest you can get away with for more strikes. Flounder are still showing more and more and will peak in Oct. A standard  fish finder rig, in structure and moving current along grass lines with bait are good areas. A finger mullet / mud minnow tipped TBS Black Nickel jig working the same type areas is another good bet. Cast out and maintain a tight and “intune” line. Let the bait stay for awhile and slowly retrieve the bait. When you get that “thump” give a couple seconds and come tight and set the hook. Maintain constant pressure and get the net, Flounder come off the hook often!  Docks in the Mayport are always a big fish producer. I totally believe in Fluorocarbon, so I would rig my fish finder rig with it.  Remember to resuscitate your fish. Often, those bull reds are extremely exhausted after a brutal battle and they need that. Get out and experience some of North Florida’s fishing and enjoy this great place!!

Capt. Tony Bozzella / TBS JIGS

904 651 0182


JULY 2024

PM 1.20 L 14 SUN 02:45 AM 3.99 H 08:59 AM 0.67 L 03:28 PM 4.53 H 09:52 PM 1.19 L 15 MON 03:36 AM 3.86 H 09:43 AM 0.66 L 04:19 PM 4.67 H 10:43 PM 1.09 L

16 TUE 04:30 AM 3.79 H 10:30 AM 0.58 L 05:10 PM 4.83 H 11:34 PM 0.91 L 17 WED 05:25 AM 3.81 H 11:20 AM 0.41 L 06:02 PM 5.02 H

18 THU 12:24 AM 0.66 L 06:17 AM 3.91 H 12:11 PM 0.17 L 06:52 PM 5.22 H

19 FRI 01:12 AM 0.37 L 07:08 AM 4.06 H 01:02 PM -0.11 L 07:41 PM 5.42 H

20 SAT 01:59 AM 0.07 L 07:57 AM 4.24 H 01:51 PM -0.36 L 08:29 PM 5.59 H 21 SUN 02:45 AM -0.21 L 08:46 AM 4.43 H 02:40 PM -0.52 L 09:17 PM 5.70 H 22 MON 03:30 AM -0.42 L 09:37 AM 4.62 H 03:30 PM -0.57 L 10:06 PM 5.73 H

TUE 04:17 AM -0.56 L 10:28 AM 4.80 H 04:22 PM -0.48 L 10:55 PM 5.67 H 24 WED 05:05 AM -0.61 L 11:21 AM 4.98 H 05:17 PM -0.30 L 11:45 PM 5.51 H 25 THU 05:56 AM -0.58 L 12:14 PM 5.14 H 06:18 PM -0.08 L 26 FRI 12:37 AM 5.27 H 06:48 AM -0.49 L

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01 MON 04:52 AM 4.34 H 10:49 AM -0.40 L 05:25 PM 5.46 H 11:46 PM 0.04 L 02 TUE 05:52 AM 4.22 H 11:44 AM -0.43 L 06:21 PM 5.55 H 03 WED 12:43 AM -0.09 L 06:49 AM 4.17 H 12:38 PM -0.48 L 07:15 PM 5.58 H 04 THU 01:36 AM -0.20 L 07:42 AM 4.16 H 01:30 PM -0.52 L 08:05 PM 5.55 H 05 FRI 02:25 AM -0.26 L 08:32 AM 4.15 H 02:20 PM -0.52 L 08:54 PM 5.46 H 06 SAT 03:11 AM -0.25 L 09:20 AM 4.14 H 03:08 PM -0.43 L 09:40 PM 5.32 H 07 SUN 03:56 AM -0.19 L 10:06 AM 4.12 H 03:55 PM -0.24 L 10:25 PM 5.16 H 08 MON 04:39 AM -0.07 L 10:52 AM 4.11 H 04:41 PM 0.04 L 11:08 PM 4.97 H 09 TUE 05:23 AM 0.07 L 11:38 AM 4.12 H 05:30 PM 0.36 L 11:50 PM 4.78 H 10 WED 06:07 AM 0.23 L 12:23 PM 4.15 H 06:20 PM 0.68 L 11 THU 12:32 AM 4.57 H 06:50 AM 0.38 L 01:08 PM
12 FR 01:14 AM 4.37
01:53 PM 4.30 H 08:07 PM 1.12 L 13 SAT 01:58
4.21 H
AM 4.17 H
AM 0.61 L
PM 4.41 H
04:35 AM 4.29 H 10:31 AM -0.03 L 05:09 PM 5.43 H 11:30 PM 0.43 L 31 WED 05:37 AM 4.23 H 11:28 AM -0.01 L 06:08 PM 5.44 H DAY TIME HEIGHT ST. AUGUSTINE, CITY DOCK TIME OFFSET High -4 min / Low +9 min HEIGHT OFFSET High *0.75 ft / Low *0.89 ft PALM VALLEY, ICWW TIME OFFSET High +120 min / Low +109 min HEIGHT OFFSET High *0.79 ft / Low *0.75 ft SMITH CREEK, FLAGLER BEACH TIME OFFSET High +273 min / Low +300 min HEIGHT OFFSET High *0.15 ft / Low *0.3 ft FORT MATANZAS, ICWW TIME OFFSET High +3 min / Low +49 min HEIGHT OFFSET High *0.65 ft / Low *0.95 ft Jax Beach, 8720030 LET US SELL YOUR BOAT! WWW.JAXBOATING.COM SINCE 2001 • 904-249-6225
PM 5.28 H 07:21 PM 0.13 L
SAT 01:31 AM 4.99 H
AM -0.36 L 02:06 PM 5.36 H 08:25 PM 0.29 L
SUN 02:29 AM 4.70 H 08:38 AM -0.22 L 03:06 PM 5.40 H 09:28 PM 0.39 L
MON 03:31 AM 4.45 H 09:34 AM -0.10 L 04:07 PM 5.42 H 10:30 PM 0.44 L 30 TUE

Fishing Report & Forecast Fernandina / Amelia Island

Watertemperatures are the warmest of the year, bringing some of the best fishing action early in the morning and late in the evening as the sunsets. Amelia Island is blessed with several small lakes, ponds and both fresh and salty creeks where a variety of game fish become active during the middle of the summer. Even during the hottest month of the year.

If you are targeting the ever-popular largemouth bass in shallow lakes and ponds, look for the best action to come where both shore and deepwater structures proved shade. Bridges offer plenty of both shade and ambush points where bridge the shady sides of bridge pilings are key. Working a small crank bait, or plastic worm slowly under a shady bridge may well produce several freshwater bass encounters.

Fallen trees that lay far out into a creek, pond, or lake also offer lots of shade, cooler water temperatures and an excellent ambush for better than average size Florida largemouth bass. If you are an early riser, bass will be schooling in the deeper portions of the water where baitfish are schooling. Casting a ¾ ounce rattle trap in the chrome and blue color pattern will produce multiple strikes. Surface plugs including the Storm “Chug Bug” also work well and often attract the largest bass strike of the morning.

and property owners have access to some of Florida’s very best fishing waters!

Just a few casts away from the Omni Resort, beach fishermen are presently enjoying some of the best surf fishing action in several years. Beach fishermen are targeting the high tide early and late in the day with topwater “Chug Bugs” and catching a limit of sizeable seatrout!

Baiting a double hook setup with a four-ounce weight with a small piece of “Fish Bite” or “Berkley Gulp” sand fleas will catch excellent eating pompano and whiting. Some of this best fishing action is coming during the last of the falling tide.

If you are a non or Florida resident, you will need to purchase a Florida fishing license when fishing from shore. Go to www.myfwc. com for all the Florida fishing regulations and to purchase a fishing license as well.

Offshore fishing during the month of July produces excellent king mackerel action while slow trolling live baits including menhaden, mullet, and cigar minnows. Also expect action from barracuda, Spanish mackerel, cobia, and the occasional sailfish.

If you are fishing in private waters, as there are several private developments on and just off from Amelia Island, be sure to ask permission and practice catch and release. OmniAmelia Island Planation is blessed with both fresh and salty lagoons and lakes where shore fishermen will have the opportunity to encounter a variety of game fish. Include largemouth bass, snook, tarpon, and the very popular redfish! This is also a private resort where guests

Bottom fishing with live cigar minnows, fresh local squid, or small chunks of cut baits will produce grouper, red snapper, sea bass and more. Be sure and check with the latest fishing regulations as red snapper season is scheduled to open July 12-13, 2024. Again, visit www.

Beach and inlet fishermen will be hooking into tarpon, red drum, sharks, cobia, and kingfish while fishing both on the bottom and on the surface with live menhaden, also called “Pogies”. Some of the best action during past summers has come right at the mouth of the St. Mary’s inlet and just off from the beaches and the Omni-Amelia Island Resort.

Look for some of the best red fishing in the backwater to come during a flooding tide when redfish will be tailing on flooded spartina marshes. Casting a crab pattern fly with eight weight fly gear, or casting a Berkely Gulp new penny colored shrimp rigged to a 1/8th ounce chartreuse colored led head jig offers excellent redfish action during the month of July.

Sea trout will be active during all tidal phases while drifting alive shrimp, or live finger mullet under a float where water depths drop off sharply from nearby structure including docks and oysterbars.

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

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Fishing in the Everglades is always a blast, and sight-casting tripletails is one of the coolest challenges out there.

Tese fsh are unique with their three-tail look and tendency to hang out near foating debris. If you want to catch them, using live shrimp and spotting them is a great way to do it. Idle around and look for foating seaweed, as tripletails like to hang around that to camoufage.

Use polarized sunglasses to cut the glare and make it easier to spot them. Move slowly through these areas, keeping your eyes peeled, but fair warning— it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Once you see a tripletail, don’t rush in. Tey can be skittish, and sudden

moves or loud noises can scare them of. Drif toward them with the wind or current to avoid using your engine.

Tripletails love live shrimp, so get the liveliest, healthiest shrimp you can fnd. Hook them through the tail or behind the horn on their head so they stay active and attractive. Cast your shrimp past the tripletail and slowly bring it back toward them. Let the current make it look natural.

If the fsh is near the surface, just freeline it. If they’re deeper or the current is strong, add a little weight to keep the shrimp down. Sometimes it takes a while to fnd and approach tripletails, so don’t rush it.

Use light to medium tackle, 15- to 20-pound good since tripletails have sharp gill plates. Early morning or late a is usually best, since tripletails are more active and easier to spot then. should be around for the next couple of months of the summer.

Catching tripletail is truly a fun challenge that mixes the thrill of the hunt with the excitement of the catch. Whether you’re a fshing pro or just starting, targeting tripletails in the Everglades is an adventure you won’t forget.

If you are interested on getting on some Tripletail, book a charter with Bean Sportfshing, www.beansport

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During the 2023-2024 bonefsh spawning season, researchers with the Bonefsh & Tarpon Trust documented, for the frst time, bonefsh prespawning aggregation sites in Florida. Te frst was discovered in the Upper Florida Keys and the second is a suspected site found near Key West. Tese discoveries are a hopeful sign of continued recovery for the species afer a decades-long decline.

“Finding these nearshore areas where bonefsh school by the thousands before migrating ofshore to spawn in deep water is essential for their conservation,” said Jim McDufe, BTT President and CE0. “As our science team continues to identify these sites, we will work with our state and federal partners to ensure that they are protected, ensuring a healthy future for one of Florida’s most iconic fsh species.”

Over the course of the 2023-2024 bonefsh spawning season, which spans from October to April, BTT Florida Keys Initiative Director Dr. Ross Boucek and his team tagged 44 bonefsh with acoustic transmitters with the help of Florida Keys fshing guides. BTT scientists also deployed 37 acoustic receivers on the reef tract, which allow them to monitor bonefsh spawning movements.

“We documented seven spawning events during the 2023-2024 spawning season,” said Dr. Boucek. “Four bonefsh tagged with archival depth measuring tags spawned during these events; three of the four fsh recorded maximum depths of 332 feet, 310 feet, 302 feet. Te fourth fsh recorded a maximum depth of 180 feet on its frst possible spawning or false spawning attempt. Te recorded spawning depth of approximately 300 feet is consistent between the Upper Key spawning site and the suspected spawning site near Key West, and with recorded spawning events in Te Bahamas.”

During full and new moon cycles from fall through early spring, bonefsh

migrate 70 miles or more from their home ranges to nearshore pre-spawning aggregation sites, where they prepare to spawn by gulping air to fll their swim bladders. At night, they swim ofshore and dive hundreds of feet before surging back up to the surface. It is believed the sudden change in pressure as they ascend makes their swim bladders expand, causing them to release their eggs and sperm. Afer fertilization takes place, the eggs hatch in about 24 hours, and the larvae drif in ocean currents for between 41 and 71 days before settling in shallow sand- or mud-bottom bays, where they develop into juvenile bonefsh.

“Our long-term goals are to conserve the reproductive cycle of our growing bonefsh in the Florida Keys,” said Dr. Boucek. “We still need to know where spawning occurs across the Keys, what threats like habitat loss those spawning fsh might face, where their larvae go, and the habitats the juveniles need to ensure that our new population of bonefsh can reach their full potential.”

For more information, go to

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Regulations change and so do reporting and license requirements. Here are some things FWC wants you to remember before you head out on the water.

1. Get a License and Reef Fish Angler Designation

In addition to a fshing license, you’ll need a State Reef Fish Angler designation if you plan to target any of the following reef species: mutton snapper, yellowtail snapper, hogfsh, red snapper, vermillion snapper, gag grouper, red grouper, black grouper, greater amberjack, lesser amberjack, banded rudderfsh, almaco jack and gray triggerfsh.

Te State Reef Fish Angler designation is free and required for all anglers fshing from private recreational vessels for reef fsh. Tis includes anglers who are exempt from a regular fshing license. Tis free-of-charge designation is used to help fsheries managers improve recreational data of reef fsh, which helps improve the management of our fsheries.

Get your license and State Reef Fish Angler designation online at, in person at a license agent or tax collector’s ofce or by calling toll-free 888-FISH-FLORIDA (888-347-4356).

2. Know the Regulations

Know the regulations for the species you are targeting, as well as those you might catch incidentally, before you drop a line. When you reel in a fsh, you will know whether or not you can throw it in the fsh box.

Tere are also specifc reef fsh gear rules, such as using non-stainless steel circle hooks, a dehooking device and a descending device or venting tool. Check regulations in the area you plan to fshing by visiting MyFWC. com/ReefFishGear.

3. Have the Correct Release Gear

Quick and proper use of a descending device or venting tool can help fsh get back down to depth and improve their chance of survival. Such a tool must be onboard when you are targeting reef fsh, and you should know how to properly use it to alleviate barotrauma in fsh hauled from the depths.

Venting tools are sharpened, hollow instruments designed to release expanded gases in the swim bladder of fsh experiencing barotrauma. Knives, ice picks and hooks are not legal venting tools and ofen cause more harm to the fsh than good.

To learn more about barotrauma and how to use descending devices or venting tools, visit or check out BestPractices, where you could be eligible to receive free descending device gear.

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For the past two years, I’ve had the pleasure of taking Coastal Conservation Association’s Leiza Fitzgerald out on the water to assist in tagging dolphinfsh for the CCA STAR competition. As if going fshing wasn’t enough of a prize, recreational anglers can sign up for this competition, with a donation to a good cause, and participate in this fshing side quest for all sorts of epic prizes.

Tagging trips with Leiza are some of my favorite mahi trips. She is more excited about catching throw-backs than anything we put in the box. Each undersized mahi, and most of the keepers, are handled with care and released with some fancy new jewelry.

With her tagging gun locked and loaded and a towel to lay over the fsh’s eyes to calm them, Leiza carefully and quickly turns peanuts into prizes, and sends them on their way.

CCA Florida STAR presented by Yamaha is a summer-long event that invites anglers and non-anglers to participate and win prizes valued at almost $500,000, including boats, motors, scholarships and more. Te competition is currently live, and registration is open until Sept. 2.

“In the past nine years, it’s been amazing to see STAR participants support conservation and embrace the catch-photo format,” Fitzgerald

said. “Awarding nearly $4 million in prizes, with $900,000 specifcally awarded in youth scholarships to the thousands of statewide STAR registrants is exciting, but even more exciting is the awareness STAR has created for the conservation of our marine fsheries.”

Te 2024 STAR competition is comprised of eight divisions targeting inshore and ofshore species along with trash cleanup. Wherever your home waters are, there is a way to get involved.

Te most notable of the STAR competitions is for tagged redfsh. Te best opportunity to catch this year’s tagged redfsh will be in Citrus and Charlotte counties, STAR’s 2024 Destination Counties, which each have eight tagged redfsh in their coastal waters.

Six years ago, STAR initiated a tagged fsh division for ofshore anglers, the Tigress Outriggers and Gear Tagged Dolphin Division. Tis division ofers one winner a $10,000 cash prize or scholarship. Te frst STAR registrant who catches a STAR tagged dolphin wins.

Te tagged dolphinfsh were caught and released of the Florida Keys. Tese fsh will migrate up the east and west coasts, providing anglers a shot at recapturing one. Tere have only been two tagged dolphin recaptured in six years, and neither angler was registered in the competition. You have to be in it to win it!

Make sure to report any tagged fsh you catch, whether you are registered or not. Take photos, measurements, tag numbers and information, and note the location of recapture. You do not need to remove the tag if you are releasing the fsh.

Fish are very mysterious, and there is so much we don’t know about them. Te more data we collect, the better conservation we can provide.

Capt. Quinlyn Haddon; Sweet E’nuf Charters, Marathon, Florida Keys; @captainquinlyn;; (504) 920-6342.

- $80 Entry (includes one year CCA membership)

- $40 Entry for current CCA members

- FREE for Youth

- Over 100 Days of Fishing

- $500,000 in Prizes & Scholarships

- Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day

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Fishing during the hot stale days of summer is ofen thought to be the toughest and slowest fshing there is. I am here to help with that.

Not only are the next few months an amazing time to catch fsh, they can also be the easiest time to pin-point patterns for big bass. Spawning bluegills are the key. Bass will set up around bluegill beds and feed heavily on an easy meal of bluegills that congregate in the shallows to spawn.

Whether you are an experienced tournament fsherman or someone who just gets out every once in a while to stretch a line, this pattern is easily found if you know what to look and listen for.

You heard me right, listen! Tere are many ways to locate bluegill beds, and my favorite way is to use my ears. When you get around bluegills feeding in grass or lily pads, you will hear distinct little popping sounds of small fsh sucking prey from the surface. When you hear this, you know you are in a productive area, and the big bass should be close by.

Another way to locate these areas is to use your eyes in shallow water. Bluegill fan


out an area on the bottom just like a bass when they spawn, but they do it in big groups and create a pattern on sand and hard bottom that looks like the surface of the moon.

If the water is even a little clear, you should be able to spot a bunch of odd craters and divots on the bottom even from a distance. Tis is typically in very shallow water, and bass use this shallow water to their advantage. Spawning bream make easy pickings.

If all else fails, or in murky water, I fnd these beds with my electronics. I idle around with side scan in 2 to 5 feet of water to locate crater patterns on my units and mark them with waypoints to come back and fsh later. Tis is a good way to locate beds that are less pressured, because they are harder for other anglers to fnd.

Tere are a few diferent baits I use to catch bass around these beds. Te most important thing is to stay as far away from these areas as you can, while still being able to get a cast into them. Be stealthy because shallow-water bass are skittish.

I like a bluegill-colored popping frog and also a bluegill-colored swim jig with a trailer to match. I’ll also throw a weightless wacky-rigged Senko and will put a little nail weight in the Senko when fshing deeper beds. A lightweight Carolina-rigged Trick Worm or a shallow-diving squarebill crankbait are two other good options. Hopefully this summertime bass tip helps you have a fun and productive day on your waters!

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



When we inshore anglers gather around the dock, you can count on one or more of these being the topic of conversation: trout, redfsh, founder or snook. Seldom is it the sheepshead. Although they are not a species frequently targeted with lures, they can provide an aggressive bite and a worthy fght. Keeping them out of the structure they love is the real challenge.

depending on the current, were all it took to place his shrimp in the strike zone. Te strike zone is typically as close to the structure as possible. If you notice the sheepshead swimming around, they always have their noses to the structure.

Te sheepshead is a fsh that my son had never caught until a few weeks ago. We took a trip to South Texas to view our second of four Starship launches at the SpaceX facility. Afer the excitement and rumble of the launch, we picked up some live shrimp, and he was soon rumbling with many sheepshead.

We set our sights on the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway, as it has a nearly unlimited amount of structure ideal for attracting sheepshead. Using the anchor mode on our trolling motor made it easy to stay close to the bridge pilings where the sheepshead were congregated. My son especially liked targeting them because we were under the causeway and in the shade, as opposed to being out on the open fats where we typically fsh.

A small sharp hook and a split-shot or two,

I fnd that keeping your bait small helps attract the bite. It is benefcial to keep a tight line, as the bites can be very light. One tactic that served my son well was to walk toward the back of the boat and away from the structure once a fsh was hooked. Tis assisted in pulling it away from the structure. Trying to manhandle the fsh out on light tackle would certainly have led to some break-ofs.

Stay vigilant in checking your line for frays afer several casts and defnitely afer each fsh. Keeping a sharp hook will also help in landing more fsh because of their boney, teeth-flled mouths. Tis turned out to be an extra memorable fshing trip. We witnessed another historic space launch, and his catch landed him in second place for the Texas CCA Star Tournament with his sheepshead.

Tis is why I always say, take a kid fshing! Tey might win a college scholarship.

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



Amonster blackfn tuna caught during Te Miami Dolphins Fins Weekend tournament is an unofcial world record. Te 50.1-pound blackfn was certifed by an IGFA biologist, and it outweighs the existing IGFA all-tackle world record by a little less than three-quarters of a pound.

Angler Robert (Bob) Kowalski landed the huge blackfn aboard the 34’ Express Sportfsher Miss Britt, which was captained by Gareth Haddam and chartered by Pete Sinnick and his family. In addition to being a potential new world record, the fsh won the largest tuna division at the tournament and earned the team a $30,000 payout.

Te existing IGFA all-tackle world record blackfn tuna weighed 49 pounds, 6 ounces. It was caught in 2006 of Marathon, Florida Keys by Capt. Mathew Pullen. Fins Weekend is an annual fundraiser hosted by the Miami Dolphins. It is a two-day tournament with proceeds going to support the Baptist Health Orthopedic Institute Youth Athletic Outreach Program. For more information, go to

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When it comes to growing giant largemouth bass, Texas has fgured some things out. Since 1986, the state’s Toyota ShareLunker program has conducted a breeding program using huge largemouths caught and donated alive by anglers. Tese donated bass, called Legacy Class, must be heavier than 13 pounds. Tey spawn in a facility before being released, along

with their ofspring, to spread big-fsh genetics across the state.

Te results of the program are apparent in the giant Texas bass caught each year. Many of them go right back into the breeding program, and the spring of 2024 was the fourth ShareLunker season in a row that the program has deemed exceptional.

Tis spring, anglers contributed 19 Legacy Class, 13-plus-pound bass from seven diferent Texas lakes. O.H. Ivie in west Texas is the best big-bass fshery in the country right now. It produced 12 bass heavier than 13 pounds this season, continuing a hot streak that goes back to the 2021.

Highlights from the 2024 Toyota ShareLunker collection season:

• Angler Kyle Hall’s 15.82-pounder was the 37th heaviest all-time Texas largemouth bass.

• Angler Kyle Hall has recorded a Legacy Lunker in three consecutive seasons.

• Six out-of-state anglers etched their name into the program’s record book. Te anglers hailed from Kansas, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma and Washington.

• Angler Larry R. Walker reeled in two Legacy Class Lunkers in 2024. State biologists did genetic analysis of this year’s Legacy Lunkers and made some incredible discoveries:

• ShareLunker 666, reeled in by Larry R. Walker from O.H. Ivie, was a recapture of ShareLunker 646 originally caught by Mechelda Criswell in 2023.

• A 13.2-pound fsh from Lake Athens was the ofspring of ShareLunker 552, which was caught by Randall E. Claybourne in 2014 at Lake Fork. Tis is the frst time a Legacy Class descendant from this family tree was discovered in the program.

• Of the 19 Legacy Class ShareLunkers, 13 had secondary relationships to either previous Legacy Class fsh or other ShareLunkers from which anglers submitted scale samples for genetic analyses.

• In the last fve years, the program has achieved an excellent overall fsh survival success rate of 94 percent.

The Return of a

Tat’s a lot of big-fsh genetics going back into Texas fsheries.

For more information, go to

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With more than 60,000 surface acres and 1,300 miles of shoreline, Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees is one of the largest outdoor destinations in Oklahoma. Located on the Grand River, the lake is hugely popular with boaters, fishermen, campers and anyone else who loves spending time in the great outdoors. Anglers are sure to have a blast searching for largemouth bass, white bass, crappie, channel catfish, bluegill and the rare paddlefish on Grand Lake waters. And Grand Lake’s shores are lined with so many unique attractions, shops, restaurants, state parks and casinos that seeing everything in one trip is next to impossible. There’s truly something for everyone to love in the Grand Lake Area!

Discover all the fun things to see and do in the Grand Lake Area as well as places to stay, places to eat, festivals and more at


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