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Capt. John Kumiski's Fishing Florida's Space Coast
Chapter 4- About Boats; About Wading, Pg. 25
A Primer for Waders
One of the most effective ways to approach game fish, as well as one of the most enjoyable of all the ways to fish, is by getting into the fish's element and wading. The angler has a low profile and keeps the disturbance of the water to a minimum, allowing him to sneak up on feeding fish without spooking them. I have hooked both shallow water redfish and bonefish with literally just the leader out of the fly rod's tip-top. The fish were so close, all I needed to do was dangle the fly in their faces.
For many species of fish, wading will actually be more effective than fishing from a boat. For example, local redfish are eavily pursued by anglers in boats. They have learned that boats are trouble. Getting into casting range from a boat can be tough. A wading angler who keeps quiet can literally get right on top of the fish.
On many days in the winter and spring, strong winds make even the most skilled boat handler want to scream in frustration. Fly fishing in particular is difficult when the boat is moving too fast because of strong winds. Many times it's hard to strip the line fast enough. A wading angler can fish in almost any kind of breeze.
In Space Coast waters during the summer months shorts and some type of protective footwear are all that is needed for comfortable wading. I stepped on a flounder one time while wading barefoot, and although nothing happened as far as injury goes, the incident was all it took to convince me that some sort of shoe really was a good idea. Crabs, oysters, broken bottles, and other hazards to the feet make barefoot wading a stupid thing to do.
The best footwear for wading on flats are neoprene wading boots. These are similar to dive boots, but a stiff plastic sole gives support and protection to the foot. Since they're ankle high, they also keep sand and shells out, and resist the suction effect that soft bottomed areas sometimes dish out. Losing your shoe in bottom ooze in thigh deep water is not fun.
Capt. Andy McLean's Fishing Mate
BEST TIMES TO FISH, Page 17
The very best time to fish is every chance you get...Without a doubt, the two best periods to fish are right after a slack low or high tide with current moving...One of the keys to better fishing in the [Everglades] Park is not only knowing when the tide will be low or high, but how low or high it will fall or rise...Best time to learn the 10.000 Islands is on spring low tide...Wind velocity and direction are also the keys to better fishing...The very best days to fish from March through July, are the two days past the first quarter of the moon...When the moon is in apogee, fish feed better on the light of the moon: when it's in perigee, they feed better during the dark phase...Spring tides (stronger currents with lower lows and higher highs) occur three days before to three days after the new and full moons...Neap tides (weaker currents with higher lows and lower highs) occur three days before to three days after the first and last quarters...Some of the hottest action an angler can experience comes a couple days after the passing of a storm, as soon as the water settles...There may even be a better time to fish-just before a storm hits, but this can`t be recommended because your safely could be threatened...Tide level is the key to where fish will be...I have caught 59% of my fish when the moon was south of the equator.
Jim Hoskins' Fishing The Local Waters
Chapter 3: Fishing the Atlantic from a Boat, Pg. 64
For those who don't have a boat, various types of charters are available that will allow you to catch fish in the Atlantic under the tutelage of experienced captains. There are basically two types of fishing charter boats: party boats and charter boats.
Party boats offer drift fishing exclusively. They typically take from 10 to 50 people on a boat for half day trips (about $35 per person) or full day trips (about $45 per person). Your party can consist of any number from one to a boat full. In either case, make reservations in advance to secure your spot on the boat. The captains of these boats go to many of the popular bottom fishing spots as well as their private spots, which are carefully guarded trade secrets. They usually offer a nice day on the Atlantic and good drift fishing for a fair price.
Charter boats also offer half day or full day trips. These types of charters are more tailored to your individual desires, as your party is the only group on board. They offer trolling (for everything from king mackerel to sail fish) as well as bottom fishing and drift fishing plus more individualized assistance. A typical price for this type of charter is $500 on a full day trip with an additional $45/person beyond six. A typical half day trip will run $250.
McClane's Secrets of Successful Fishing
Surf Fishing, Pg. 266
The surf caster must be both hunter and fisherman. Whatever his quarry, it will be necessary for the angler to search for the most promising locations and then take due notice of signs that indicate the presence of feeding gamefish. Tide, wind, weather, and water conditions must be taken into account.
Upon visiting an unfamiliar beach, the experienced surf-fisherman launches a quiet reconnaissance. If possible, he surveys area during a period of low tide when the location of inshore holes, gullies, and sloughs are easily determined. These will serve later on as the aquatic highways of gamefish when the tide begins flood back in. The points and bars that produce clashing rip specific stages of the tide are worth particular attention, for here the baitfish and other sea creatures will be tumbled, and predators will lie in wait. Inlets or openings that pour water into the sea are potential hot spots, since they discharge hordes of bait as the I ebbs. In such a spot the falling tide may be more productive the fisherman than the flow.
Evidence of feeding fish is often graphic. You may see them breaking the surface, or perhaps they will be betrayed by sudden, swift flurries of harried bait. Terns, herring gulls, and other sea birds gather in over feeding fish. Indeed, a single tern may pinpoint the quarry by pausing in its straightaway flight to dip down and then to swing around in a tight, exploratory circle.
Even at night, the surf easter looks for a "sign." A half dozen flopping baitfish on the beach may mean that predators are feeding close to shore. The slap of a gamester's tail can be distinguished through the hiss and crash of breakers. Some of the popular gamefish betray themselves to the angler who has a sensitive nose. Striped bass smell like thyme, bluefish throw off an aroma of fresh cut melons, and channel bass exude an acrid, chemical scent.
Surf fish often run close to the beach, searching for food right in the wash of the breakers. For that reason it pays to work a lure or bait all the way to the rod. The speed of retrieve may be varied until the ideal pace is rewarded by a strike. Note that retrieves are slowed to a minimum after dark.
In squidding, particularly where the lure is fished through the whitewater of breaking waves, the east should be timed so that the artificial drops right behind an onrushing breaker. Begin the retrieve immediately, and keep the squid swimming in the water behind the tumbling wave, which is relatively clear. Gamefish have a chance to see it there.
Most gamefish prefer to feed in "live water"; that is, where there is some current to stir bait. For that reason, look for action when the tide is rising or falling. The old rule is to fish "two hours before and two hours after the top of the tide." Don't leave it at that, though. A flurry of bait can produce sport at any time, and natural conditions may create ideal fishing at any stage of the tide. Every successful beach fisherman is an opportunist.
Wind is no foe of the surf easter. In fact the angler's chances are always brighter when the surface is disturbed. Some species will feed in tremendously rough water. It rarely gets too turbulent for striped bass. but it can be too calm and bright.
Since gamefish are selective, a change of artificials or of bait may trigger fast action. Sometimes a plug of one color will be scorned, while the same lure that is painted a different hue will draw immediate strikes. Fish feeding on the bottom are likely to ignore a surface-swimming lure but may pounce on a jig bounced along on the sea floor.
Salt Water Fishing II by Mark Sosin and George Poveromo
Chapter 19: Shoreline Strategies, Pg. 93
"Because that's where the money is:" Slick Willie Sutton replied, staring directly into the eyes of the person who just asked him why he robbed banks. Sutton, once one of America's most notorious criminals, merely followed the logical pattern established by predators since the beginning of time. Shorelines represent banks to game fish searching for an easy meal. Schools of smaller critters seek sanctuary in the shallower water and structure that a shoreline offers. That's where the food is and that's where the big boys are going to be.
Specialized tactics and techniques dominate this type of fishing. It's read and react sport. Start by analyzing a shoreline in general and each spot specifically. Experience establishes basic rules. Fish tend to congregate along edges If the bottom changes from rock to sand, grass to mud, or any other type of terrain, look for your quarry to be along that transitional zone. Along a barren stretch, predators tend to cruise more unless there are deeper holes where they can lie in ambush.
Study the visual shoreline above the waterline. Frequently, the same type of structure will continue below the water's surface. Sharply dropping points on land should follow the same pattern under the sea. Fallen trees offer a haven. Sheer cliffs indicate deep water below. Gentle beaches simply ease into the sea.
Mangrove shorelines prove to be a paradise for anglers who work them regularly. Husky predators lie in deeper pockets or prowl back and forth on a flooding tide. Clear water conditions enable you to spot fish either cruising or holding. You can sometimes see them back under the branches If you find places with potholes, figure that fish will utilize them when the water falls. And remember that those heavy denizens often lurk on windward shores when the zephyrs are blowing. The wind drives and holds the bait there while oxygenating the water at the same time.
FISH WITH TIDES AND CURRENTS
Tide and current prove to be critical factors. You already know that fish face into the flow of water. If they are holding, expect to find them using some form of structure to shield them from the water's force. Flood tides generally produce more fish along beachfronts on both coasts. Some species linger near the mouth of a feeder stream at the bottom of the tide, waiting for bait to abandon their sanctuary.
Spring tides that occur around the new and full moons often cause problems for shoreline addicts. The fish are there, but the push of water sends them well back where you can't reach them. This is particularly true in mangrove country when the fish take up station behind the tree line.
Points, pockets, and identifiable features form the heart of any shoreline. The key lies in presenting a bait or lure so that it sweeps past an ambush spot naturally with the tide. Structure such as trees, rocks, dropoffs, holes, creek mouths, converging currents, and so forth are always worth a cast or two.
R. G. Schmidt's Good Luck and Tight Lines!
Chapter 4, Fishing from Bridges and Piers, Pg. 44
The Fish Are at Your Feet
Over the fifty-plus years I've been fishing, I've watched and fished alongside many anglers from various parts of the country, and one particular type of fisherman never ceases to amaze me. This man, woman, or child marches resolutely to the farthest point on a pier and casts just as far as he or she can.
What I don't know is why.
Bridges and piers aren't such good places to fish only because they get you far out over the water. They're good places to fish because they attract fish. So why go to a place that will attract fish, then cast as far from that place as you can? Beats me. Most fish caught from structures are caught within fifty feet of that structure, and usually less. There are various reasons for this, all obvious on examination. Let's look at a few reasons fish like to hang out around structure of any kind.
First, there's the matter of food supply. The pilings or other supports that hold up a bridge or pier quickly become home for various marine organisms such as barnacles, clams and oysters, as well as marine algae, grasses. and other delicious graze. These attract several species that feed on them and an equal number that feed on the feeders. Some feed directly on what's attached to the pilings, others feed on the leavings. Pinfish. for example. haven't the dental equipment needed to crack open a barnacle, but will readily join in on the feast when a sheepshead does so. (See Figure 4-1.)
Fishing Guide to the Upper Keys and Florida Bay; by Martin Smithson
Shallow Water Fishing Techniques, Pg. 34-35
Fishing the Bridges
When the outgoing tide flows from the hay side out to the ocean side, plenty of shrimp, crabs and mullet are carried through the bridges. This makes the bridges a focal point to fish for tarpon, snook, permit, snapper and a variety of other species.
There are two distinct ways to fish bridges in the Keys. either by land or by boat. Both are very effective approaches. There are some guides that like to fish certain bridges on foot, especially at night.
Here are some pointers when fishing from the land side. First of all, pick your tides. The best tides are around a quarter-moon when they are not too strong. On a full or new moon the tides can really rip through the bridge pilings and make fishing difficult. If the winds are also ripping out of the north or west, forget it, the water will be dirty and moving too fast.
The best rig for fishing the bridges, especially for snook, is a 3/8 oz. HOOKUP leadhead jig, combined with a live shrimp. The most important advice here is on how to fish the jig/shrimp combo. You will most likely see many bridge anglers drifting their lines down current, waiting for a strike. You will also notice a lot of people not catching fish using this technique. The most effective method is to cast up current and slowly, slowly, work the jig back, while smoothly pumping the rod to create the jigging effect and keep the lure just off the bottom structure. Let the lure sweep past the base of a piling. The idea is to simulate a natural presentation of bait drifting through the channel. The downside is that you will lose more rigs than the guys with down current stretched lines, but you should experience more explosive strikes.
When you are on foot it is best to fish near the ends of bridges. You will want to work a hooked fish to the side where you can get down to the water's edge to release or retrieve the catch. A large fish being reeled 20 ft. up in the air from the top of a bridge usually ends in disappointment for the angler and the fish.
When night fishing from bridges, avoid shining bright flashlights and lanterns into the water which will certainly scare away the fish and reduce their tendency to bite. Be careful not to disturb someone else's fishing with a flashlight, too.
The most productive bridges in the upper Keys, day or night, seem to be Channel 2, Channel 5, Long Key and Tom's Harbor. Many other bridges are worth checking out, however.
SOUTH SWAMPLANDS, FOREVER GLADES, Pg. 16
TO BASS IN THE Everglades, spillway runoffs provide an endless food supply. Moving water is a natural attraction, but not all anglers realize the advantages of the now. Food washing into a canal, creek or river area is the draw, and the advantages of locating a concentrated group of feeding fish are obvious.
The often fat and healthy specimens are uniformly positioned for grabbing the forage morsels, and then they are generally shallower than at other times. While moving water in the'glades is generally rich in nutrients, it is also usually cooler and more oxygenated. With the abundant food supply, the fish won't have to spend much energy chasing after smaller members of the food chain. The result is Larger fish in such locations. When they have first shot at the supply, why wouldn't they grow faster and bigger.
Salt Water Sportfishing Techniques, by Mark Sosin and George Poveromo
Chapter 8: As the Tide Turns, Pg. 51
TIDES, MOONS, AND TRAVEL
The anticipation of a fishing vacation often clouds common sense, particularly when it involves a trip to a dream location for exotic species. No matter where in the world you pursue gamefish, the same factors affect the fishing as they do back home. Ignore them and you court disappointment and frustration.
The most obvious centers on seasons. Even when a particular species swims in local waters year around, you'll discover that some months are much better than others. People travelling to warm climates assume they are journeying to the land of perpetual summer where the popular species will certainly be abundant anytime. That's not the case. You want to be there when a major run is in progress and that involves timing. Taking a chance on scoring in the off-season doesn't make sense.
Calculate tides carefully. When there are spring tides in New York, you can count on finding spring tides in Hong Kong. These will occur a few days before and a couple of days after the full and new moons. Determining whether the tides will be spring or neap when you arrive at your destination merely solves the first part of the equation. You really want to know the time of the tides as well. If it is important to fish incoming water, for example, you don't want a low tide that occurs at 2:00 p.m. That doesn't leave much time before nightfall to work the incoming.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) publishes annually Tide Tables for East Coast of North and South America. A companion volume covers the west coast. If you can talk directly to the guide or to the resort manager when making reservations, you should be able to get answers to questions on tides. Most folks simply don't ask these vital questions. They're too interested asking how many fish they'll catch each day or what the weather will be. Make certain you know the ideal tide pattern and when it will occur. If you have flexibility in your scheduling, match your itinerary to take advantage of the best possible conditions.
Once you sort out the tides, bring up the topic of moon phase. Find out if the local specialist can recommend the best moon phase or if he will at least issue a caveat about certain ones. Basically, you want to know whether a full moon has a positive or negative effect on the fish. That's the primary question if you only have time for one.
A seasoned charter skipper who has taken sportfishing boats across the seas of the world told us that he tries to avoid starting a journey during the period leading up to the full moon. According to his observations, storms and rough seas frequently sweep through an area on this moon phase. Given a choice, he will leave port two or three days after the full moon and claims the sailing is much smoother.
No matter where you fish or the species you seek, studying the tides, tidal currents, and moon phases should become an ongoing process. These factors hold the key to finding fish on both the inshore and the offshore grounds. Your quarry responds to tides and uses them to its advantage. You should, too.
Fishing the Flats by Mark Sosin and Lefty Kreh
Chapter 5: Finding Fish, Pg. 51-52
NO MATTER HOW GOOD AN ANGLER ONE MAY BE IN northern waters, conditions and techniques are so radically different on the tropical flats that, without a guide, failure is likely. Exploring on your own offers an exciting challenge and a fun way to fish, but it really should not be attempted until you see first-hand how a professional goes about it.
The overall budget of the trip should include the cost of a guide, at least on the first day and possibly the second. He can show you very quickly how to spot fish and the signs for which you should look. You will also get an idea of how he works a flat and the importance of tidal stages. Note how he tends to hang in an area for a while even though he doesn't see fish immediately. Experience tells him the fish are there and he seeks them out. If he is wrong, he moves on to the next spot or changes locations depending on what the tide is doing. If it's windy, he knows where to find a lee.
The majority oF guides recognize that you are seeking information and most will help you. You can check this out before you hire a particular skipper by asking for references or by putting the question directly to him. Be certain he is experienced in the type of fishing you want to do. It does not make sense to book a guide for fly fishing when he prefers spinning. While you have him on the phone, ask about the species that are available during the time of year you plan to fish. IF he levels with you, you won't be disappointed.
The goal, of course, is to find fish on your own. You can wade for bonefish, but permit and tarpon frequent flats that are too deep to walk on. If you are going to wade, the best advice is to stop in a couple of tackle shops and ask the people where they would recommend you fish and the stage of the tide that is best for each area. They will gladly share this information with you.
Newcomers to wading insist on trying to cover a great amount of terrain in the shortest possible time. A better approach is to move slowly and look for the signals that spell fish. You may see tails, wakes, cross ripples, nervous water, or something else that attracts your attention. Above all, you must see the fish and when you are wading, you lose the advantage of height. Therefore the fish are often much closer to you when you spot them. That is a perfect reason to move slowly and quietly.
Never wade without shoes. The spiny sea urchin makes a home on the flats and, if you step on one, will inflict a painful wound. At the same time, rays sometimes bury themselves in the bottom. Step on one and the barbed tail may cause a problem. Waders must learn to shuffle their feet so that they move a ray out in front of them instead of stepping on it.
Fish use the tide to their advantage if they climb on a flat with rising water, they will work higher and higher as the tide continues to flood. When the tide is falling, they drop back with the receding water. That means you must look in both shallow and deep water, tracing a zigzag pattern until you find the fish. We once recommended a flat to someone who wanted to catch bonefish. Not only was he unable to spot fish, but he worked the wrong part of the flat, remaining deep while the fish were shallow. He later told us disappointedly that he had not seen a fish. Another angler on the same flat noted that he had seen several hundred fish.
Wading offers an economical approach to bonefishing. It also harbors an extra measure of sport, because you stalk the fish on foot. Besides, it affords the perfect opportunity to really study a flat and observe the intricacies of life on it.
CATCH FISH NOW! on Florida's East Coast by Mike Babbidge
CHAPTER 5: POMPANO BEACH TO BISCAYNE BAY, Pg. 105
Talk about packing lots of potential for high horsepower action into a relatively short stretch ofcoastline. Well, that's clearly what has happened in the 65 miles between Pompano Beach and the far end of Biscayne Bay. In this relatively short distance, there's 35 miles of very fishy surf and 30 miles of bay and ocean flats and channels with some barrier islands scattered in. There are also five ocean piers, one world-famous cut, one port, and two inlets. This is all topped off with extensive artificial reef programs, lots of inshore and offshore natural structure, and the always munificent Gulf Stream. It almost sounds too good to be true but it isn't. Let's take a closer look.
Backcountry Fly Fishing in Salt Water by Doug Swisher & Carl Richards
Chapter 9, Snook and Tarpon Water for All Seasons, pg 190
There are little-known, neglected areas that are terrific for tarpon up to fifty pounds and very large snook. In these spots, neither weather nor tides seem to matter much; certainly they are not the over riding factors we usually experience in backcountry fly fishing. These specific waters are a secret closely guarded by those who have found them. To acquire your own secret spot for all seasons, you will have to do some exploring, and once you have discovered one of these special pieces of water you will also guard the location as closely as the others "in the know."
Your first step will be to acquire a map of the area showing as much detail as possible. The very best are aerial photographic maps with a scale of 1:24,000. These are available from the United States Geological Survey of the Department of The Interior. Local county government offices may also have them. Once you have the map, you start searching for a body of water with specific features. You are looking for a pond, lake, canal, river, or creek which is close to some sort of salt water and has a connection, however slight, to that salt water. This connection can even be invisible (and often is), such as an underground drainage pipe or a low-lying area only flooded occasionally.
The water you are looking for need not be salt water; it can be brackish or totally fresh. It should be deep (although some shallower water can be productive), ideally fifteen to thirty feet. This means it has probably been dredged. This is very important, as the dredging not only produces deeper water but opens up the underground aquifer that produces a flow of 72° water year-round. The temperature is modified by the springs. It stays cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Tarpon and snook love this condition. You might think areas as described above would be rare, and in Cape Cod, they may be. In Florida, though, it is difficult to build anything near the coast without dredging fill from somewhere. Houses on canals along rivers and streams need fill for their lots. Small local airports need fill to build up their runways. Overpasses and interchanges on major highways need tons of fill and they usually get it close by. Even the roadbeds themselves need fill for building and repair. Golf courses built in the area are notorious for holding tarpon in their lakes and ponds and it's not because tarpon like golf balls to feed on. All of this dredging creates thousands of ideal habitats for snook and tarpon, and with a good map it becomes easy to pick likely spots to explore. It will appear impossible for the gamefish to get to some spots, yet they do. Not all will produce explosive fishing, but many will.
Catch Snook! by Capt. Fred Everson
Finding Snook pg.29
Finding snook is not necessarily the hardest part of snook fishing. Snook live in water where you can often see them, especially from a shallow draft boat equipped with a tower or platform. But seeing snook and catching snook is hardly the same thing. The fish you can't see hook easier than those you do.
Good snook fishermen have "an eye for cover." They can look at a stretch of mangrove shoreline and surmise which parts of it hold snook that might be feeding, even without seeing fish tearing about. This is not an instinctive thing; it is a carefully cultivated sense of what makes snook gravitate to a particular spot - like moving water and certain types of cover.
Any time you see snook busting through a school of bait in shallow water, you need to examine that spot closely. Look at enough of these spots and certain similarities are going to turn up again and again. There is probably something that enhances the flow of current, there is deeper water nearby, there are good places for snook to hide, and there is bait dimpling the surface.
Snook are not lazy, they are efficient. A snook makes his living by not having to chase after a meal. He sets up shop where the bait will come close so that he has only to open his mouth to eat. At best, a snook will lunge three feet at a bait if <the> it is particularly seductive, or the snook is really hungry. That's why it takes so many casts to catch every fish. (You can order directly at The "Catch Snook!" Book by Capt. Fred Everson )
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