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By Staff Writer Steve Waters




Boat ramps from Clewiston to Okeechobee will be crowded with duck hunters this weekend. Bass were biting live shiners pretty well, but those using lures were struggling to catch quality fish. Among the areas with decent numbers of small bass were Kings Bar, Tin House Cove, the East Wall and Coot Bay. The lake level was 12.5 feet.

FRESHWATER/ EVERGLADES Some largemouth bass up to 4 pounds were biting soft-plastic topwater lures on the flats at Everglades Holiday Park, but watch out for duck hunters. Lots of small fish were biting in the canals along Alligator Alley around mile marker 41. Some good-size bass have been caught on the flats at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

FLORIDA BAY/10,000 ISLANDS Capt. Brian Sanders said to look for snook, redfish and tarpon around the river mouths along the Gulf coast. Schools of Spanish mackerel and pompano were roaming just off the outside islands. If seas are calm, look for some permit and cobia around Gulf wrecks. Anglers fishing Florida Bay were catching mangrove snapper around the islands and snook around creek mouths.

GOLD COAST OFFSHORE Fishing Headquarters in Fort Lauderdale reported catching yellowtail snapper at night. A few sailfish were caught during the day. Capt. Skip Dana of the Helen S and Fish City Pride drift boats of Pompano Beach said anglers were catching lots of yellowtail snapper and some mutton snapper. Fish City Pride had 12 keeper muttons Thursday morning in 40 feet north of Hillsboro Inlet, plus a bunch of yellowtails and a few kingfish. Night trips featured lane and vermilion snapper. Spanish mackerel have been thick at Peck’s Lake, north of Hobe Sound.

PIERS Juno Beach Pier had lots of Spanish mackerel and bluefish at night, jacks, a few pompano and ladyfish. Fishing at Deerfield Beach Pier has been up and down, with mackerel, kingfish and blue runners biting a few days ago and only mackerel biting Thursday.

THE KEYS Richard Stanczyk of Bud N’ Mary’s Marina in Islamorada said the fishing changes with the wind direction. “One minute the sailfish were biting like crazy, then the wind shifted, the water got dirty and the bottom fishing turned on [Thursday]. They were catching yellowtail and some mutton snapper. Our party boat limited out on snapper and came in early. It’s going to be good bottom fishing for the next few days,” Stanczyk said, adding that patch reefs in 12-15 feet had keeper yellowtails along with some legal muttons and grouper. A few sailfish were still biting and he expected that bite to pick up when the wind clocks around to the east. The Sea King party boat of Marathon, which has an 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. trip for $35 on Thanksgiving Day, had yellowtails, kingfish and a few black grouper.

CALENDAR Today: Night Owls bass tournament, 7 p.m.-2 a.m., Alligator Alley out of the southwest boat ramp at the Miami Canal rest area. Entry fee $70 per team. Call Luke Campbell at 954-707-8303. Today-Saturday: Southern Kingfish Association National Championship, Fort Pierce. Visit Today-Sunday: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission workshop for women 18 and older, Everglades Youth Conservation Camp in northwest Palm Beach County. Cost $150. Visit or call 561-625-5122. Saturday: Weekly Fisherman presented by Boat Owners Warehouse, 7-9 a.m., WQAM (560-AM). Saturday: West Palm Beach Fishing Club awards barbecue and auction, F.O.P. Lodge No. 50, 885 62nd Drive North, West Palm Beach. Tickets $25 adults, $10 kids under 15 ($30 and $15 at the door). Call 561-832-6780 or visit Tuesday: West Palm Beach Fishing Club offshore meeting, 7 p.m., 201 Fifth St., West Palm Beach. George Poveromo of Salt Water Sportsman magazine discusses productive dolphin tactics from winter through spring. Call 561-832-6780 or visit Nov. 25: Islamorada Fishing Club Junior Derby for anglers 16 and under. Entry fee $40 per angler. Call 305-664-3864 or send e-mail to Nov. 30-Dec. 3: Islamorada Sailfish Tournament. Entry fee $550 for the first angler, $450 each additional angler, $200 for juniors. Visit or call 305-852-2102.


Fervor builds as hunters prepare for opening morning. Duck season is almost here, much to the relief of hardcore South Florida waterfowlers. The 60-day season opens Saturday and runs for nine days, then closes for two weeks before reopening Dec. 9. Aside from a fiveday early teal season in September, it has been a tough 91⁄2 months since the end of last season. “It’s been a long offseason,” said Jorge Gutierrez Jr. of Miami, who frequently hunts the Everglades and the stormwater treatment areas. “Even after hunting in Argentina in June, you still look forward to going to the ’Glades.” Gutierrez is a civil trial lawyer, so spending a morning in a duck blind is a nice change of pace from being in a courtroom. His wife can easily see the difference. “My wife is looking forward to the season more than I am,” Gutierrez said with a laugh. “She loves when I go hunting because it puts me in a good mood. It’s a great stress reliever.” Keith Martin of Fort Lauderdale likes the social aspects of duck hunting. He usually hunts Lake Okeechobee out of Moore Haven, and he always has plenty of company. “For deer hunting and stuff, you’re sitting alone and being quiet,” Martin said. “I look forward to getting my buddies together, getting all the gear ready and the anticipation of the birds coming down. And I love the action, seeing them cup [their wings] and come into the decoys. And I love grilling them up. “But it’s mainly the camaraderie and just the fact that there’s only a short period of time that you’re able to do it during the year. Me and my friends are so hyped up and ready, it makes for a fun time.” Martin also is active in conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, which protects and enhances wetlands, and United Waterfowlers Florida, which works with state agencies to protect waterfowl habitat in Florida and provide public access to that habitat. Seeing ducks flying around

DRAKES AT DAWN: Keith Martin scans the sky for ducks as the sun rises over a marsh at Lake Okeechobee. “I look forward to getting my buddies together, getting all the gear ready and the anticipation of the birds coming down,” he said. Staff file photo/Steve Waters

DUCK DETAILS Season: The 2006-07 duck season is Saturday through Nov. 26 and Dec. 9-Jan. 28. The Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days for children under 16 are Feb. 3-4. What’s new: Canvasbacks can be taken for the entire 60-day season. The season on light geese (Ross and snow geese, including blue geese) is open statewide. Bag limit: Six ducks per hunter per day. The daily limit shall consist of no more than one black duck; one mottled duck (Florida mallard); one fulvous whistling duck; one pintail; one canvasback; two redheads; two wood ducks; two scaup (bluebills); four scoters; and four mallards (no more than two hens). All other species of duck (except harlequin ducks) may be taken up to the sixduck daily limit.

Saturday morning means those efforts are paying off. “It’s rewarding to me to see a good bunch of birds come back year after year,” Martin said. “And I just really enjoy getting out in nature and seeing the ducks and all the

Possession limit: Two days’ bag limit. Shooting hours: 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. Outlook: Surveys done by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found few ducks in the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes. Lake Okeechobee has low water and ducks are concentrated in the marshes on the west side of the lake. STA 5 and STA 3/4 have teal, ring-necked ducks and mottled ducks. STA 1 West has ducks, but in an area that is closed to hunting. Small flocks of ducks were scattered throughout the Everglades. Information: Call the FWC South regional office at 561-625-5122 or visit

other birds and seeing the sun come up over the marsh.” For Capt. Brian Sanders of Davie, who guides anglers to snook, redfish, permit and cobia out of Chokoloskee Island (954-802-0868), duck season gives

him the option of guiding duck hunters or just hunting with friends. “It gives me a break from fishing all year and it gives me an opportunity to get outdoors,” said Sanders, who grew up hunting ducks at Lake Okeechobee with his father, his uncles and close family friends.” Mike Menke of Davie said he looks forward to duck season all year. For him, the best part is spending time in the marsh with Jessie, his chocolate Lab, and a group of longtime friends. “We’ve been hunting together since we were in eighth grade,” said Menke, 21. Now that they all have to work and some have moved out of South Florida they don’t see each other as often, but they make it a point to hunt ducks together. Jessie looks forward to hunting ducks as much as her master. “I had her out when I was scouting and she was real excited,” Menke said. “I’ve got a hunting closet where I keep all my stuff, and when I go in there she’s ready to hunt. She knows it.” Steve Waters can be reached at or 954-356-4648.

Big swordfish a birthday surprise Gary Margolin had a surprise party this past Sunday that he and his guests will never forget. His fishing buddy Paul Aldrich took him on a swordfishing trip with Drew Kettelhut for his 56th birthday. Margolin was excited because the first time Aldrich and Kettelhut had fished together they caught a 225-pound swordfish. “I was just really hoping that we caught something,” Margolin said, “but I wasn’t totally certain I wanted to catch one as big as Paul’s fish.” Surprise! Margolin, Aldrich and Kettelhut caught a 530-pound swordfish that took them three hours to land using a bent-butt 80-pound standup outfit. “It was about as exciting as life gets,” Margolin said. “It was a wonderful birthday present.” The fish, which had a broken sword, was 121⁄2 feet long with a girth of just over 60 inches. It ranks as one of the biggest swordfish caught in South Florida on hook and line and weighed on a scale in many, many years. “I can only hope that I can someday top that catch,” said Kettelhut, of Lighthouse Point. “I’ve been swordfishing for like 10 years, and in the last month I’ve caught the 530, one that was almost 380 pounds and one that was almost 320.” Aldrich, of Northampton, N.H., had hooked up with Kettelhut last year through Tom Greene of Custom Rod & Reel in Lighthouse Point. When he contacted Kettelhut this time about fishing Saturday night, there was a slight problem: Kettelhut had promised his wife, Tracey, who is 33 weeks pregnant, that he would fish only one night a week and he had already gone on Friday. Kettelhut also had promised to take Tracey out to dinner Saturday night, which he did, and she graciously said he could fish Sunday night with Aldrich and Margolin. The three men went out of Hillsboro Inlet in Aldrich’s 32-foot Boston Whaler and set up in 1,600 feet off Hollywood. They had just put out their fourth bait when something ate a squid down 125 feet at 6 p.m. Kettelhut, who pulled the rod out of the rodholder and told Margolin to put on a harness, said it

BIG HAUL: Drew Kettelhut, with the 530-pound swordfish, has caught two others over 300 pounds in the past month. Photo/Chris Payne felt like the line was hooked to a bathtub. “Like a bathtub full of cement,” Margolin said. “We had no idea what was on the other end. I was

working as hard as I could.” Margolin, who lives in Worcester, Mass., and primarily fishes for striped bass, bluefish, flounder and fluke out of Cape Cod, fought the swordfish for about 45 minutes. Exhausted, he gave the fishing rod to Kettelhut. Then Aldrich took over, then Margolin, then Kettelhut, who finally got the fish to the boat. “By the time we got it to the boat, we were all exhausted,” Aldrich said. So was the swordfish. That’s when they realized just how big a fish they’d caught. “Drew was so excited,” Margolin said. “He was calm through the whole thing, and right when the fish got alongside the boat, he just exploded. I was so happy for him.” After Kettelhut gaffed the fish, all three tried to lift it into the boat, but they couldn’t. So Kettelhut called Capt. Ed Kimmen, who was fishing nearby, and Kimmen pulled in his lines and came over. One of Kimmen’s mates jumped in the boat and the men ran a rope tied to the swordfish to the T-top on the boat. Like a block and tackle, Aldrich and Margolin pulled on the rope as Kettelhut and the mate lifted the fish into the boat, a process that took nearly 15 minutes. Then they headed to Lighthouse Point Marina, arriving by 10 p.m. “Drew initially was, ‘Oh my God, that thing’s going to be 350, 400 pounds.’ I’m thinking no way,” Aldrich said. “As we got closer to home and Drew talked to some of his buddies on his cell phone, he was saying 400-500 pounds. When we got to the marina, there were some guys waiting for us there, and when they saw the fish they started going crazy.” Getting the fish out of the boat and onto the scale was another challenge, but at least they had plenty of help. When the scale registered 530 pounds, everyone was ecstatic. The following day brought even more work, as the men steaked up the swordfish, vacuum-packed it and filled a 23-cubic-foot freezer. “We’re looking forward to many, many nights of eating swordfish with family and friends,” Margolin said, “and telling stories about it.”


2006 duck season advance  


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