Read my blog on your Amazon Kindle
See Our Ranking on Amazon


Current Subscribers


Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

*Click on the TITLE of the article to enlarge it

Two Great Catches- One Boat

Flatties in the Surf

Flatties in the Surf
By Joe Malat

Being able to consistently catch flounder from the surf is not complicated, but anglers who pay attention to details and work with a plan will succeed. Let's have a quick look at the tackle and some of the techniques that will fool flounders in the surf.
Flounder tend to stay in the same general location. Their feeding habits are very different from bluefish or Spanish mackerel, two species that are always on the move, in a hurry to get somewhere.
Flounder also prefer a fairly flat, calm and clear surf. They might be found in the deep water in the middle of a narrow slough, or in the shallow, breaking water at the edges of these deep holes. They are ambush feeders, and will use their flat shape and coloration to blend with the sandy bottom.
Use light tackle, either spinning or conventional rods in the six to seven foot range, mated with reels holding eight to twelve pound test line. The light rods will allow you to effortlessly make several casts while trying to find the flatties, and also feel their tentative bites. I have caught flounder on bucktail lures and leadhead jigs in the surf, but natural baits will catch most of the flatfish. Simplicity is the key to the most productive rigs. Some anglers prefer standard two-hook bottom rigs, set up with small, pre-snelled spinner blade hooks.

Others like the off-the-shelf "flounder rigs" with a large silver spinner blade, and a few beads just in front of the hook at the end of a long leader, coming off a triple swivel. I often use a homemade rig: a small Kahle hook at then end of 18 inches of 20 pound test monofilament leader, tied to a one ounce in-line sinker. Whatever the choice of terminal tackle, a round or flat sinker allows the rig to be cast out, and glide easily across the sandy bottom as it is being retrieved in deliberate, broad sweeps. Sharp-cornered weights, such as pyramids, should be avoided since the corners dig in and bounce across the bottom.

Strips of squid or mullet, cut in pieces from 2 to 4 inches long, or small whole finger mullet and minnows are top baits. The white belly part is excellent. If some big flounders are around, don't be bashful with your baits. A two-pound flatfish will easily inhale a five-inch strip of bait. Cut the strip baits in the form of exaggerated triangles, a half inch wide at one end, tapering to a point at the other, and hook them once through the wide end. When retrieved slowly, the strip should "swim" enticingly, or flutter in the current, and resemble a small swimming mullet or minnow. Keep baits fresh and neat looking. Small fish or crabs might gnaw at the fluttering end, and ragged pieces should be trimmed frequently with a pair of scissors or sharp knife, or replaced when the bait looks worn and washed out.

Flounder will often take a bait very lightly; in fact the rig might stop suddenly during the retrieve. Resist the urge to immediately set the hook. Pause just a second or two, and give Mr. Flatfish a chance to get all of the bait in his mouth, and when he pulls away, set the hook.

Live Bait Lessons

Live Bait Lessons
By Jerry LaBella

You've no doubt experienced the scenario on more than one occasion: It's a picture-perfect day on the water. The first five casts in your favorite fishing spot has produced three nice 3-4 lb. speckled trout. But despite repetitious efforts, your lures fail to produce any further results. The fish have simply stopped hitting just as fast as they started.

This prompts you to wonder whether you spooked the fish, or was that the last of them? Those questions are soon squelched as you noticed the boat next to you pulling in trout as fast as their lines hit the water. Upon careful observation your crew finds they're using live bait. With all eyes fixed on the steady action, and realizing mutiny could break out at any moment, you decide it's best to leave the antagonizing scene.

Although it's an arguable matter whether live bait catches more fish than artificials, it's something to consider when the most successful guides won't leave the dock without it. This is because they realize that live bait attracts more, and bigger, fish, which in turn draws more customers.

As is generally known, specks have an assortment of marine life in their diet. But the age of the fish can dictate its preference, such as younger specks choosing shrimp, and the larger ones choosing bait fish. This, of course is a general rule. An example to the contrary is during spring when large trout infiltrate the coastal waters to waylay shrimp.

Adroit surf and bay anglers have often resorted to live minnows or shrimp to catch trout under three pounds. While on the other hand, live baitfish like croaker, mullet, pinfish and porgies are used to catch the larger, yellow-mouth trout up to 9 pounds in offshore waters.

Among the factors that discourage some anglers from using live bait are the lack of availability, too time consuming to catch and the necessity for an aeration system. While these reasons may seem legitimate, benefits far out weigh the obstacles once you know the facts.

Basically there are four methods to obtain live bait, but obviously purchasing it from a bait shop is the simplest. Most find cocahoe minnows to be more readily available through vendors than live shrimp, at least in southeast Louisiana. And, mostly only where competition for patrons is high are you likely to find live shrimp offered at all.

Out of all baitfish, the cocahoe is most highly prized due to its stamina and effectiveness in catching fish. They can be easily caught with a minnow trap placed in a pond or marsh ditch. To lure the minnows into the trap many baits work well, but crushed crab or a can of dog food with holes punched into it is hard to beat. These minnows can also be caught at night with a long-handled bait net used along roadside ditches or launch areas.

Trawl nets are also used to catch various baits like croaker, pinfish, mullet, porgies and shrimp, but one must limit the trawling time to no more than 10-15 minutes or the bait may drown or become too damaged to keep alive. Often two 10-15 minute drags can yield enough bait for a whole day's trip, if the drags are made around the mouths of canals leading into main bodies of water.

A more convenient an hassle-free method to catch bait is with the use of a cast net. True it does take some practice to master, but once accomplished it can be very productive.

After learning to cast the net, the next thing to learn is where to cast. Along the Louisiana Gulf coast many dams, ditches and weirs leading from estuaries into salt and brackish water abound throughout. These are the places to focus in on for bait, especially during falling tides. Care must be exercised so as not to get snagged on any part of the dam structure or on any debris that might lie below. Casting in unsure areas has been the cause of many a damaged or lost net.

Much bait can also be caught during the night and early morning darkness where lights illuminate the water around camp sites, piers and launches. Sometimes one or two casts is all it takes in these areas to fill the well with a variety of baits.

One thing you want to be sure of is to catch or purchase enough bait for all aboard. Not having enough live bait can be almost as frustrating as not having it at all. It's good to figure about 30-40 baits per angler, per day when going after trout and reds.

After you have obtained the bait by whatever method, you will have to make sure they stay alive and frisky. This is where properly aerated bait well comes to play. Best suited for this are containers constructed without corners so the bait can swim smoothly along without crowding. Likewise, choose an aeration system that employs water circulation from outside and pumps that are not contained in the tank.

These factors are critical in that it will make the difference in how long the bait will survive. The importance of water temperature and freshly circulated outside water can't be overly emphasized. Tanks with built-in pumps naturally generate too much heat which rob the water of its retention to oxygenate, a factor detrimental to the bait. Also, live bait produces waste matter which is discharged into the water. If this is not alleviated through outside circulation the bait will be short lived as well.

Different baits are more susceptible to the variables than others. Porgies, for example, are great for catching all sorts of fish, but they are very delicate and difficult to keep alive. This is where the live bait system previously mentioned is best; and logically with anything that's "best", it's more expensive.

A less expensive alternative is the 12 volt air pump system with aeration ring. It too works very well on delicate baits. This type of system has an air pump that mounts outside the tank with a flexible air hose running to a large aeration ring located at the bottom of the bait well. The only thing you have to periodically do with this system is manually drain off water and add outside water with a bucket to clean out waste matter. This system works on the same principle used for indoor aquariums and is the simplest and best system for the frugal.

Some other factors to keep in mind to preserve the life of your bait are don't mix live shrimp with baitfish unless a separator is installed, don't dump ice in to the tank and always use a dip net.

Mixing live shrimp with bait fish is like putting a cat and dog in the same box, they are natural enemies. What happens is the shrimp will continuously stick the bait fish with their horn in this inescapable confinement as often as they make contact, eventually killing them.

To dump ice into a bait well and or retrieve the bait with your hand can also be an expensive mistake. Many forget that chlorine, human oils and salt, and sun lotions are chemicals that can be very poisonous to aquatic life. If you find a need to cool the water, add sealed containers of ice or frozen gel-packs.

Basically, there are two methods most often used when fishing for specks and reds or any panfish with live bait. The first method is in shallow water along reefs where various type corks are used to suspend the bait below the water. Corks such as weighted or non-weighted popping, clicking or sliding work well depending on what effect you want to achieve.

Clicking corks are particularly useful to simulate the fish-attracting sound of a jumping shrimp. One such cork is the Mansfield Mauler, constructed of a narrow floater with a metal rod with plastic beads on each end.

It was developed in Texas and has become popular throughout the Gulf coast due to its effectiveness. Other cork designs that work well are the plastic versions with internal metal beads for rattling. All are excellent when fishing live bait.

The other two corks, popping and sliding, have two different functions. The popping cork mimics a deep gulping sound of a fish hitting bait on the surface, simultaneously producing a water spray. This water spray gives the effect of fleeing baitfish on the surface.

The sliding cork is probably less popular than all the other corks, yet it is unique in that it allows baits to be suspended in unlimited depths while allowing ease of cast. This cork is designed with a hole through the center and is more of a bulky type floater than the others.

Rigging the sliding cork takes a little more effort than snapping a popping cork to the line. With the sliding cork, in sequence assembly is a must. First slide the plastic bead that comes with the cork up the fishing line followed by the cork. Next slide an egg sinker of appropriate weight (no less than 1 oz.) up the line and tie a no. 5 barrel swivel to the end of the line. After that, make a mono leader of 2 feet and tie one end to the swivel and the other to a hook. To set the depth you want to fish, simply tie a small piece of rubber band around the fishing line at any place above the bead and trim excess ends. After the cast is completed, it will be necessary to feed extra line out from the reel. This will allow the line to pass through the cork only until the rubber band and bead contact the cork, stopping the line at the preset depth.

When fishing larger live bait fish, use a Kahl Horizontal hook in the 2/0 -4/0 size, keeping in mind you want the bait to swim with less weight as possible while not sacrificing hooking efficiency. On smaller baitfish and live shrimp, use a no. 4 treble hook. Line in the 12-20 lb. test is sufficient with the hook tied directly to the line without any other hardware.

Placement of the hook in both shrimp and baitfish is important if you want them to stay alive and swim naturally. On bait fish, place the hook through the upper lip, passing it ahead of its eyes. Don't place the hook behind the eyes or through the eyes as this will kill the bait. In some cases if the baitfish is large, place the hook through its back, below the dorsal fin. On shrimp, place the hook behind the base of its horn.

When fishing offshore waters in deeper ranges, like around oil platforms, a second method is used to get the bait down to the bottom. This method is especially productive when fishing for large trout.

To make this rig tie a hook to an 18 inch piece of 20 lb. mono and on the opposite end tie a no. 5 barrel swivel. Slide an egg sinker up the fishing line, and tie the line to the swivel. Use only enough weight to get the line down. Too much weight or other unnecessary hardware along the line must be avoided or this will hinder the baits movement.

After making the cast, allow enough line to carry the bait down to the bottom. Once contact is made there, reel in line just enough to feel the weight. If after a few minutes no strike occurs, feed a little more line out from the reel so the bait has more room to swim. This will allow the bait more range to move off the bottom, possibly placing it in a more conspicuous area.

Like many professional guides, you too can increase your catch with the use of live bait - don't go fishing without it!

Visit Jerry LaBella at

Party Boat (Deep Sea) Trips

Party Boat (Deep Sea) Trips
By Jim Hammond

Party boat fishing is a style and type of fishing unlike most other fishing. You can do several things on a party boat to make it a trip of a life time or a hanging over the side chumming trip. Here are a few tips to make the trip a very good day.

Keep in mind you are not going out with your buddy next door and if you get sick, he will bring you back to the dock. On one of these boats there are between 30 and 60 other people and you will not be brought back to the dock if you get sick. These boats are usually farther off of the water than your neighbors 26 foot boat and this results in more of a rolly poly motion when at anchor. If you are the slightest bit concerned about getting sea sick, DO NOT wait until you are chumming to take something. By then, it is too late and nothing works to make you stop the chum line. I recommend that all of my clients that want to go to the ocean, take a motion sickness pill before going to bed the night and another when they get up that morning. There are several other remedies for motion sickness, the wrist bands, patches and now some device that looks like a watch, with an adjustment for different amounts of pressure that you can place on the wrist, for varying degrees of prevention. I personally prefer the pill, because I have recommended it for over 20 years and I have only known of a few times that it did not work.

Another thing about getting sea sick is, if you sit in your house in your rocking chair and tell yourself, I am going to get sick, I am going to get sick, over and over, you will eventually be sick. The point that I am trying to get across is, DO NOT think about it. When I leave the dock heading for the ocean and I do not have to drive, I like to take a nap. I lay right down on the deck and sleep on the way out, this is some of the most restful sleep that you will ever get and you are not thinking of being sick.

Now that we have pretty well covered that, lets talk about the fishing part of this trip.

After you have made the run and the captain is getting ready to drop the anchor, you should be getting ready for the catching part of the trip. Yes, catching not fishing. If you are with a good captain, you will be catching. Now, what is it, that you want to catch. Do you want a chance at one or two big fish, such as red snapper or grouper, or do you want to catch a cooler full of smaller fish, like seabass, vermilion snapper or trigger fish?

If you are interested in trying only for the BIGGGG fish, this is how Houston Stephens of Houston's Meat Market does it, and he is the best bottom fisherman that I have ever seen. By the way he is giving away an 18 pound red snapper on Tuesday, May, 1st. The only thing that you have to do to have a chance to win this is to go by and register at his store, located at 12545 N. Main Street. The drawing for this very nice red snapper, that he caught on the Mayport Princess on Sunday will be at 4:00 pm on Tuesday, May 1st.

He starts out by bringing his own tackle, rods, reels, leader, sinkers and hooks. His rod consist of a Shakespeare Big Water Ugly Stik, model BWB 1120 8' long, heavy action. He says "the longer the rod, the more distance you get on the hook set". He then uses a reel that will hold about 200 yards of 80 pound test monofilament. From there, here is his rig: slide an 8 ounce egg sinker on the line then tie on a 200 pound test barrel swivel, then to the swivel tie on, 5 to 6 feet of 100 pound test monofilament leader, then a Daiichi 8/0 D-18 hook. For the bait he prefers a fresh cigar minnow. He starts the hook in the tail and bends it around the fish and hooks it again about one inch forward of the first place the hook went in. Send this to the bottom. The bite is going to feel like a few small taps. Let the fish chew on the bait for a few seconds. When the fish starts to move off with the bait, SET THE HOOK and wind. If you were successful in the previous steps, there will be NO DOUBT that there is a fish on.

Now for the smaller fish such as seabass, vermilion snapper or trigger fish:

Use the same rod as above. I like the Shakespeare Tidewater Bigwater model TW 50 LA reel. This reel has a level wind and is tough enough to get the big boys up from the depths and in to the cooler. I like 50 pound test on the spool, from there I make a dropper loop at the end of the line. I use this to attach a bank style sinker. This way, I can change the weight of the sinker without having to cut my line. Use enough weight to get the rig to the bottom. From the sinker come up about eight inches and tie another dropper loop. Do this about three more times, all bout 6 to 8 inches apart from each other. In the loops put a Daiichii D-18 4/0 or even better a Daiichii D-82 Circle Wide in 3/0. Now for the bait: I prefer a small piece of cut bait, about 1 inch by 1 inch. You are now after smaller fish that have smaller mouths and a big piece of bait will not fit in their mouth. Send the rig down to the bottom and then crank it back up about 2 to 3 feet from the bottom. If you are using the Daiichii circle wide hooks then just hold the rod until you feel about four good bites, then come up with it and you should have a few fish on. If you are using the Daiichii D-18, you will need to set the hook on each bite.

If you follow these instructions, you should come home with plenty of fish and have a darn good time. There are two Party (Deep Sea) boats in the Jacksonville, Florida area, the Mayport Princess and the King Neptune. To book a day with either of these boats you can call 241-4111.
Now for some Inshore action:

The creeks are still fired up with reds. If you can get an early morning low tide, and you can make very long cast, you can catch a few real nice reds on top water. Try the MirrOlure Top Pup, this lure has been working for me. If you prefer to fish the creeks with a jig and shrimp, you should be able to persuade a few reds and trout to eat your bait. The flounder are starting to move in the creeks and river and you know how good they eat. Be sure to save me a few.

For trout, try a jig and shrimp or a jig and minnow. Put your trolling motor down and ease along the edges tossing the edges tossing along the sides and slowly winding back to the boat. This should be productive for some trout and an occasional blue.

The spanish have slowed at the jetties, but there are good numbers in the river around the flats past the Fuller Warren Bridge.

The Jacks are showing up in fair numbers in the creeks and ditch. I like to throw a fly pattern that looks like a minnow. Be sure that you have a stout rod, because some of these bruisers are pushing 8 pounds.

There are starting to be a few kings show up at the outside reefs and the bottom fishing is fantastic. Dennis Young reported two days last week of limits on bottom fish by 10 in the morning.
The Jetties:

There are still good numbers of reds, drum, sheepshead and a pile of 3 to 5 pound sail cats at the jetties. For these fish try a large fresh shrimp on the bottom, fished in about 30 to 50 feet of water. There are also some real nice blues to 10 pounds along the rocks. Try a silver spoon, cast into the rocks and worked back out. Be ready for the strike, as it seems like the fish are swimming 50 miles per hour when they hit.

For charter information you can call me at (904) 757-7550, email me at or check out my website at
Jim Hammond

How to Read the Beach for Surf Fishing

How to Read the Beach for Surf Fishing
By Joe Malat

Rookie surf casters, as they gaze into the churning mix of breaking waves and vast expanse of open ocean are often intimidated. They have no clue about where to cast their baits and lures. “It all looks the same,” I often hear. But it doesn’t. Each section of beach has a combination of obvious and subtle characteristics that may determine the presence of fish. The key to reading the beach is being able to locate sections of beach that are most likely to attract fish.
A slough is a deep trough that runs parallel to the beach, bordered by a sand bar on one side and the beach on the other. The distance from the beach to the bar will determine the width of the slough. Fish travel up and down this trough and look for food such small fish, crabs, and sandworms. On the Outer Banks, under normal conditions, we have approximately a two-foot difference in water depth along the ocean beach between low and high tides, and it's easier to locate a slough at low tide, when the sand bars are easily visible.
When the water depth decreases suddenly in a short distance, such as in the case of a sandbar, the incoming waves will break on top of that bar. In the case of a gently sloping beach, with no outer bar, the waves will gradually spill over, and continue to do so until they eventually break on the beach. This what experienced surf fishers call a flat beach.
Beach sand can also be a tip-off about the contour of the ocean bottom. Very fine, tightly packed sand is often found on a beach with a gradual slope. Coarse sand, or small gravel, is typically found on a steep sloping beach. Sometimes this coarse, large sand is often darker than the fine grain sand, and it's not unusual to find various types of sand over several miles of beach.
The width of a slough may also be critical. On the Outer Banks, big fish such as red drum tend to prefer the wider, deeper sloughs, with some shallow, shoal water at either end. Speckled trout, flounder and sea mullet can be caught in narrow sloughs where the bar may be as close as fifteen to twenty yards off the beach, but the water between the beach and the bar is several feet deep.

Once you locate a promising slough, it's time to take the investigation one step further. Fish may travel this ocean "highway", but they need a way to get on the road. They can do this through a break in the outer bar, easily discovered after watching the waves for several minutes. If there is a break in the bar, a wave will pass over the bar, but will not crest. If the occurrence consistently repeats, that indicates a cut in the bar. Fast moving, rippling, or discolored water may also be seen at these breaks or “outsucks” when the tide is falling. Not only will wandering fish come into the sloughs through these breaks, the fast moving water around these breaks will often form rip currents that send food swirling past the predator fish as they line up in front of the baitfish buffet.

Sloughs are not the only beach formations that attract fish. Currents and winds may scallop out the beach and form points. Frequently, the water is deep on one side of a point, a perfect location for fish to congregate. A well defined point on an open beach may attract fish the same way a piece of structure will hold fish on an otherwise featureless ocean floor. The key is to concentrate your efforts in a location that is just a bit different from the rest of the topography.

Hard structures such as jetties, piers, bridges, or inlets are also locations that encourage fish to stop and congregate. Usually these don't change, but the beaches around them will change regularly. Inlets can be incredibly productive locations to fish the surf. On a falling tide, the small baitfish and other sources of food are swept out of the inlet, providing a natural chum line that will attract fish from miles away.
Beach formations are constantly appearing, moving, rearranging or disappearing, as the winds, currents, and waves change. A perfect speckled trout hole can appear then vanish in a few days, or even migrate up and down the beach during the course of several weeks. Keep that in mind as you scan the surf line, looking for that ideal slough or perfect point.

Winter Technique for Fishing Flounder

Winter Technique for Fishing Flounder
By Jim Hammond

There are several ways to Flounder fish. Here are a couple of styles that have worked for me in past years and will certainly work for me this year. As we all know, flounder like structure, therefore we need to fish that structure to catch them. Structure can be described as anything on the bottom that is not completely flat. I call structure, creek mouths, bridge pilings, oysters, rocks, slight depressions in the bottom and many other changes in the bottom. This also means that we are going to give up some tackle in search of him. This is okay, that is one of the reasons that we all work. Work all week, get paid, buy tackle, go fishing, lose tackle, go back to work to make more money to buy more tackle.
Now that you have worked all week to buy tackle, I hope that I will be able to help you catch something to bring home, so you at least feel that you have some return on your money.
1. Fishing Shallow water in the backwater creeks with the fly rod. This is fairly easy, you do not need sinking line, long leaders or long accurate cast. I start by heading for the backwater creeks on the very first of the outgoing tide. I then anchor the boat close enough to a small creek mouth, that I can work it pretty good. I like to cast as far in the mouth as I can and slowly work the fly back to the boat. Make your strips about 1 to 2 inches each. I do this several times in each mouth covering all of the mouth before I go to the next mouth.
The bite or strike from a flounder is not usually felt as you would feel a red or trout strike. It is almost like your fly is hung on the bottom, or you might feel a slight tap as the fish sucks in the fly. Now is the time to set the hook.
The fly patterns that I am most likely to use can be found by going to, then to fly fishing, then to flies. From their go to Bonefish/Permit. In this selection, I like the following flies for flounder. Bearded Charlie, Belize Bomber, Deepwater Gotcha and the Spawning Gotcha. Go to the category of Snook/Redfish, I like the following; AC's Redfish Hor's Douvre, Kirks Rattle Rouser and the Mud Minnow Slider. Now that you have purchased or tied some flies that resemble some of the previously mentioned flies, you are ready to get catching.
If you have very sharp hooks, a good hook set is about like a six inch brisk strip. After you have hooked Mr. Flounder, the fight is not something to write home about, but they sure do eat good. I like to work a creek mouth for about 15 cast, covering every inch of it, before moving to another mouth. Do not be surprised to catch other fish, such as reds or trout while your fly is being worked in the mouths of these small feeder creeks, as most fish like to use these as ambush points.

Conventional Tackle

Rod and Reel in shallow water. Do exactly the same as above except substitute a Jaw Jacker Jig in 1/8 or 1/4 ounce with a mud minnow, shrimp, mullet or your favorite rubber bait (I like a Sea Striker Shrimp Tail in white, white with a red tip or some sort of root beer color, a Sea Striker curly tail grub will also work, try the same colors, don't forget, Fish Bites also works). Toss it in the mouth and work it back to you very slowly. After you have worked that mouth find another one and do the same. After a few hours of this, you should have enough flat ones for a nice fish fry.
Rod and Reel on deep or fast moving water. I like two styles of presentation for this type of water:
1. Fish finder rig: The line on the spool needs to be 20 pound test PowerPro., From there, slide on an egg sinker from 1/2 ounce to about 2 ounces. Then I slide a bead on the line, this prevents the lead from beating up the knot. Then tie on a Sea Striker barrel swivel and to that a piece of 20 pound test monofilament leader, about 1 to 2 feet long. To the leader tie on a Daichii D-16 Octopus Wide hook, from a # 1 to 2/0 in size.
Now for the bait: Without a doubt, the best flounder bait is a small mullet or mullet strip, but shrimp, mud minnows, Fish Bites or squid will all work fine. If you are using mullet or minnows, hook them from under the jaw and come up through their lips with the hook. For cut bait, I like to run the hook through twice and leave a one to two inch piece hanging out, to flap in the current, like it is swimming. Do the same for the squid.
Now that we are rigged up, it is time to throw our rig in the structure. Look for almost all bridges within several miles of the ocean. Look for rocks, docks, pilings and piers that might provide a current break (eddy), These are where the flounder hang out. Toss your baited rig along this structure, let it hit bottom and slowly work it along the bottom. This is a style of fishing that is better when the bait is worked SLOWWW. Remember, these fish are laying down waiting for something to swim close enough for them to open their big mouth and suck down. These fish are really not designed to chase something down, but rather wait for something to get close, so they can suck it in, that is why we try to fish slow.
Try to work every inch of bottom in the areas that you might think a fish is holding. After you feel that you have worked an area pretty good, then move a little way down and start over. If you are in an area that holds fish, by the end of the day, you should have a few nice fish for dinner.
The float rig: This is the same rig, that I have so many times, employed for trout fishing.
I like to fish bridges and docks with this rig. I will anchor my boat so I can drift out of the back and work the Float Rig in and around the pilings. The bait as with all of the other styles needs to be on the bottom. I like to use a leader about two to three feet long and the lead weight above the leader needs to be about one foot off of the bottom. This allows the bait to drag the bottom. When a flounder grabs your bait, the float will lay away from you and slowly go under, as if it were hung on the bottom. The bite on this style of fishing is going to look as if the rig is hung on the bottom, as it will on occasion. Because the flounder bite and being hung on the bottom look the same, you have to treat each as if there was a fish on. I like to slowly take up the slack and gently set the hook. If you have hooked a flounder, he will be thumping as you wind him to the boat. The bait can be the same as above.
Good Fishing
Capt. Jim Hammond

The Hunt For Big Fish

Written by Merry Beth Ryan  

Florida Sport Fishing A Woman’s Quest for Wicked Wahoo Results in the Fish of a Lifetime

On the first weekend of February 2008, Lena Black, an avid angler from Pompano Beach, Florida, arranged a fishing trip to Chub Cay in the Northern Bahamas. Lena has been a member of the Ladies Let’s Go Fishing organization for six-years, and has been an avid angler for as long as she can remember.

With the peak of wahoo season approaching, Lena was looking forward to whipping a few wicked wahoo into submission. While February is, in fact, prime-time to target these ferocious predators along the bountiful Bahama Bank, little did she know that this trip would lead her to the fish of a lifetime.

It’s no surprise that Lena scheduled her winter wahoo trip to coincide with the hot-bite that occurs just off the coast of the Berry Islands. The Bahamas Wahoo Championship is well aware of the area’s reliable action as well, as Chub Cay annually hosts a leg of this prestigious multi-destination tournament.

Captain Art Kamm of the Reel Deal, a 45-foot Cabo, put Lena on some quality fish during their first day of fishing, however, they were plagued with cutoffs and pulled-hooks. On the second day of Lena’s trip, they decided to go searching for really big wahoo. Lena has caught many of these camouflage-killers in her angling career, but she has never landed a wahoo that could take the title of “Fish of a Lifetime.” That was about to change.

Florida Sport Fishing

The fishing started out slow on day two with the wind clocking around as a cold front was rapidly approaching. All of the other boats wahoo fishing were about to call it a day and head back to the marina, however, Lena and her crew had other plans. Never one to throw in the towel, Lena still had dreams of wrestling a fast and furious wahoo. After all, she was well aware of their speedy-capabilities and she was looking forward to subduing a monster.

As sea conditions continued to deteriorate, Captain Art had no choice but to make the decision to head towards the marina, but with Lena’s persistence, they left their spread deployed and trolled their way home. With the action slow, it was a great time to grab a bite to eat – so she thought. At the precise moment Lena took the first bite of her turkey sandwich, one of the Shimano TLDs screamed to life. Lunch was going to have to wait!

“Fish On!” yelled Captain Art from the bridge. As the line melted off the reel, Lena quickly grabbed the rod and readied herself for the fight. It was too early on to know exactly what type of fish was hoping to peel every last bit of line off the reel, however everyone had their own opinion. “It’s a tuna…It’s a marlin…It’s a wahoo,” shouted Captain Art from the bridge!

The powerful game fish’s spirited first run took 200-yards almost immediately. While Captain Art carefully maneuvered the boat, he realized the fish managed to strike the only offering that wasn’t rigged on a cable leader. Realizing that this fish had some serious horsepower, Lena and Captain Art had to work together and be in sync at all times. With a monofilament leader, the concern was that if this fish was indeed a wahoo, with one wrong move it would be gone in a flash.

Lena was ten-minutes into the fight before the giant fish finally broke the surface, showing everyone on board that the “wahoo express” was about to shift into overdrive! Wahoo are one of the fastest fish in the sea and they have some serious dentures that deserve the utmost respect. Lena was in the zone and she was ready to battle the whopper wahoo she had always dreamed of. This was exactly what she came for.
Florida Sport Fishing
In all of Lena’s angling adventures, she had never been up against such a determined and clever fish. Her trophy wahoo made a second run, dumping another 100-yards of line off the reel. What happened next caused Lena’s heart to jump into her throat. The wahoo made a beeline directly towards the boat creating a big bow of unwanted slack in the line. Captain Art was on point and he skillfully worked the Cabo’s twin diesels to keep just the right amount of tension on the line.

After an exhausting 60-minute tug-o-war, Lena managed to bring the monster ‘hoo to within gaffing range – a solid hour of nail-biting stress where at any moment, the wahoo could have chewed through the monofilament leader. The transom door was opened and the fish was gaffed. Then disaster struck – with two strong headshakes the trophy wahoo worked his way off the gaff and disappeared back into the cobalt-blue-water. One of the crew members quickly took action and wired the fish back into range for a second try with the gaff. This time, the big hook found its mark and Lena let out a huge sigh of relief. The beaten warrior was quickly brought through the transom door and into the cockpit. The giant wahoo was furiously tweaking on the deck and tried to take a quick bite at any nearby ankles. After 15-minutes, the fish finally settled down and lay motionless on the deck.

After 20-minutes of staring at her subdued adversary, Lena was still frozen in astonishment. Weighing in at a remarkable 72-pounds, this wahoo was now her greatest catch of all time. Her arms were weak and her legs were trembling for several minutes as her body was in total exhaustion. When she tried to speak, all Lena could utter was that she had won the fight and what a great feeling it was.

A true woman of the water, Lena will cherish her big wahoo forever and like all enthusiastic anglers, she will surely be back out there trying to catch yet another fish of a lifetime. She left us with her words of wisdom. “Fishing is an amazing sport that is very capable of teaching anglers something new each and every time they venture offshore. The next time you are about to bring in your spread and head for the barn, let your lures drag for another five-minutes. Who knows what might happen. You could hook the fish of a lifetime!”


by: Jason Nabors

We were tied to a production platform about 16.5 miles off the Galveston Tx Jetties. I had my brother's spankin' new $400 Snapper rig dangling off the side of the boat with a bare hook, and a Trigger fish smacks the hook and yanks the rod into the water—75 feet down.
I was upset, to say the least.

About 30 minutes later, I was soaking a Sardine off the corner of that same rig for a snapper, when I hooked into a good 7-pounder. I was working him up when, all of a sudden, these HUGE pockets of bubbles started boiling the water below the boat.

I was yelling "Back off, back off!" I thought I had snagged a valve or ruptured a high pressure methane line or who knows what.

Well, just then a commercial diver/underwater welder surfaces three feet from our boat, holding my brother's Allstar rod and Calcutta 700 reel and says "Did you boys lose a rod?"
Drinks were on me that night, since I didn't have to replace that bad boy.


This story was related to me many years ago down in Laurel Mississippi.
Jerry and his friend Pete gathered up a couple bags of Catalpa worms and headed to the Pascagoula River for a days fishing for bream.

They had their small jon boat anchored in a narrow cut through a bayou. After awhile, a large boat with several rather tipsy fisherman in it roared up to their little boat and stopped - nearly swamping the small jon boat. A beefy faced guy in the boat hollered out "Hey, ya catchin any fish?"

Jerry indicated that they were not catching anything. The red faced guy then asked "Whatcha usin fer bait?" Jerry indicated that they were using catalpa worms. The drunk roared out "No wonder! You're usin' the wrong kind of bait!" The big boat roared off.

A little while later, the big boat came back, this time having to slow down to get past the small jon boat. The guy with the red face who had done all the talking before was in the back of the boat with a Lucky 13 hanging out the end of his nose!

Already starting to howl, Jerry yelled out "Are you catching any fish?" The sheepish drunk didn't answer - just shook his head no, with the lure swaying back and forth from his nose.

Jerry yelled back "No wonder! You are using the wrong kind of bait!!!"


"Life is like a tackle box. Just when you think you have everything you could possibly need in your arsenal of lures, baits, and other assorted odds and ends, you find yourself in a situation where you have to run out and get something else. So it is with life. Just when you think you've seen it all, done it all, and heard it all, something new happens. And afterwards, you store it away in the appropriate compartment, where it may or may not be used again."
~ Bill Cari
"He's not the sharpest hook in the tackle box."
~ Anonymous
"There's a reason they call it fishing and not catching."
~ Anonymous
"Fishing not a matter of life and death - it's much more important than that!"
~ Anonymous
"Even a bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work."
~ Anonymous
"I spend most of my life fishing, the rest I just waste."
~ Anonymous
"Nothing grows faster than a fish from when it bites until it gets away."
~ Anonymous
"The difference between fly fishers and worm dunkers is the quality of their excuses."
~ Anonymous
"Work is for people who don't know how to fish."
~ Anonymous
"Only an extraordinary person would purposely risk being outsmarted by a creature often less than twelve inches long, over and over again."
~ Janna Bialek
"For the supreme test of a fisherman is not how many fish he has caught, not even how he has caught them, but what he has caught when he has caught no fish."
~ John H. Bradley
"If fishing is like religion, then fly-fishing is high church."
~ Tom Brokaw
"There's no taking trout with dry breeches."
~ Miguel de Cervantes
"Three-fourths of the Earth's surface is water, and one-fourth is land. It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn."
~ Chuck Clark
"Fly-fishing may well be considered the most beautiful of all rural sports."
~ Frank Forester
"Creeps and idiots cannot conceal themselves for long on a fishing trip."
~ John Gierach
"A trout is a moment of beauty known only to those who seek it."
~ Arnold Gingrich
"Somebody just back of you while you are fishing is as bad as someone looking over your shoulder while you write a letter to your girl."
~ Ernest Hemingway
"To go fishing is the chance to wash one's soul with pure air, with the rush of the brook, or with the shimmer of sun on blue water. It brings meekness and inspiration from the decency of nature, charity toward tackle-makers, patience toward fish, a mockery of profits and egos, a quieting of hate, a rejoicing that you do not have to decide a darned thing until next week. And it is discipline in the equality of men - for all men are equal before fish."
~ Herbert Hoover
"The gods do not deduct from man's allotted span the hours spent in fishing."
~ Herber Hoover
"Fishing is the chance to wash one's soul with pure air. It brings meekness and inspiration, reduces our egoism, soothes our troubles and shames our wickedness. It is discipline in the equality of men--for all men are equal before fish."
~ Herber Hoover
"There is certainly something in angling that tends to produce a serenity of mind."
~ Washington Irving
"Fly-fishing may be a very pleasant amusement; but angling or float fishing I can only compare to a stick and a string, with a worm at one end and a fool at the other."
~ Samuel Johnson
"The traveler fancies he has seen the country. So he has, the outside of it at least; but the angler only sees the inside. The angler only is brought close, face to face with the flower and bird and insect life of the rich riverbanks, the only part of the landscape where the hand of man has never interfered."
~ Charles Kingsley
"I have many loves and Fly-Fishing is one of them; it brings peace and harmony to my being, which I can then pass on to others."
~ Sue Kreutzer
"If people concentrated on the really important things of life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles."
~ Doug Larson
"To him, all good things - trout as well as eternal salvation- come by grace, and grace comes by art, and art does not come easy."
~ Norman Maclean from the book "A River Runs Through It"
"The Essentials of a Good Fly-Hook: The temper of an angel and penetration of a prophet; fine enough to be invisible and strong enough to kill a bull in a ten-acre field."
~ G.S. Marryat
"The two best times to fish is when it's rainin' and when it ain't."
~ Patrick F. McManus
"Scholars have long known that fishing eventually turns men into philosophers. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to buy decent tackle on a philosopher's salary."
~ Patrick F. McManus
"If fishing is interfering with your business, give up your business."
~ Alfred W. Miller
"I am not against golf, since I cannot but suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering trout."
~ Paul O'Neil
"There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process."
~ Paul O'Neil
"Calling Fly-Fishing a hobby is like calling Brain Surgery a job."
~ Paul Schullery
"Ours is the grandest sport. It is an intriguing battle of wits between an angler and a trout; and in addition to appreciating the tradition and grace of the game, we play it in the magnificent out-of-doors."
~ Ernest G. Schwiebert, Jr.
"Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."
~ Henry David Thoreau
"The best time to go fishing is when you can get away."
~ Robert Traver
"There's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore like an idiot."
~ Steven Wright
"O, sir, doubt not that Angling is an art; is it not an art to deceive a trout with an artificial fly?"
~ Isaak Walton
"And finally, I fish not because I regard fishing as being terribly important, but because I suspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant, and not nearly so much fun."
~ John Volker
"Lo the angler. He riseth in the morning and upsetteth the whole household.
Mighty are his preparations.
He goeth forth with great hope in his heart – and when the day is far spent he returneth, smelling of strong drink, and the truth is not in him. "

~ Anonymous


Quality Time

When I was a young man of 15, My grandpa took me fishing.
Separated by a generation
We watched the Sunrise on the Columbia together, in equal awe.
That man gave me a revelation that day.
He said, "Son, You're doing life wrong. Stay in school, so you can get a good job.
Stick with the right crowd, and live life day by day.
I can see you are sad, but life isn't always this bad."
He taught me how to catch a sturgeon with a strip of shad on my hook.
We sat in that boat on the Columbia for most of that day, and I thought about a lot of things.
I experienced the thrills of fighting the Great White Goddess of the sea, with that old West Wind in my face.
I look back now and realize that all that lower back pain is what kept me sane.
My grandpa is right about many things I now see.
He taught me how to be a man... Just doing the best I can. 


Never ending ripples on the water,
Give evidence of hungry fish.
Finally, casting and retrieving
Into dark water.
Shining, Bright, colors,
Have minnows, frogs, spinner bait.
Its glint fatally attractive.
Bass lunging for a meal,
Setting a treble hook.
Reeling, Reeling, Reeling,
Every Inch a Fight Lost.
My dinner!

Fishing With Dad

Fishin' With Dad
Sometimes after supper
When a burst of sun was still out shining;
My Dad and I would go fishing
In a place far from confining;
Just right behind our rancher home,
Down this narrow gravel lane,
Was where a small, private pond sat,
And some fish we would obtain.

Using garden worms for bait,
With our reels and ultra light’s,
The fish congregating in the shallows
Would always give us bites.

Bluegills, sunnies, and large mouth
Were the kinds we’d always catch;
And you could certainly guarantee,
That we’d come home with quite a batch?

Before heading back up to the house,
I’d hop-up off the tackle box.
To go stroll down along the spongy bank
And find a couple of real flat rocks.

Across the unruffled water I’d wing 'em . . .
And then count the umpteen skips.
Pretty soon, dad would join in with me,
And show me some throwing tips.

Those fishin' days when I was a youngster,
Are long gone with the wind.
And there’s not a thing I would not render,
Just to have them back again.

Redneck Fishing

Two rednecks go on a fishing trip. They rent all the equipment - the reels, the rods, the wading suits, the rowboat, the car, and even a cabin in the woods. I mean they spend a fortune! The first day they go fishing, but they don't catch anything. The same thing happens on the second day, and on the third day. It goes on like this until finally, on the last day of their vacation, one of the men catches a fish. As they're driving home they're really depressed. One guy turns to the other and says, "Do you realize that this one lousy fish we caught cost us fifteen hundred bucks?" The other guy says, "Wow! Then it's a good thing we didn't catch any more!" 


Practically Guaranteed...
by Richard Webster
In anticipation of my 40th birthday, I decided to do something special - book myself a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Florida to catch a trophy tarpon. My wife chose the same day to inform me that we would instead be celebrating the birth of our fourth son on or around my birthday. I told her that "gift" was not particularly original and with three sons already, hardly a once-in-a-lifetime event. She told me to “stuff it,” so I set my sights on the following year and dutifully booked us for some birthing classes instead.

Now, I live in New York and the closest tarpon swims a mere 1,300-miles away. Catching one would take some planning, as I knew I needed the odds in my favor. What I learned was that if there was ever a place to beat the odds, it was the famed Boca Grande Pass. I found an experienced captain who, according to his website, was simply “the best.” With 25-years experience fishing around Boca Grande, tarpon success with him was “practically guaranteed!”

A long year later, with my fishing buddy Darren along for the adventure, and less than two hours after landing in Ft. Myers, I suggested we check out the area by driving to Stump Pass Park to see if anything was biting. The beach adjacent to the parking lot was filled with sunbathers. Now Darren is a great freshwater fisherman but having spent little time near the ocean, he has to be forgiven for what happened next. Within minutes of getting out of our rental car, and with no warning, he began screaming at the top of his lungs like a 13-year old girl at a rock concert. “SHAAAAARK! GET OUT OF THE WATER!” I hushed him up quickly as it was just a friendly porpoise. Rookie mistake. No harm, no foul.

As the cries of hysterical children scrambling to the arms of their frantic parents faded in the distance, we trekked down the beach. Almost immediately, we began to see tarpon rolling offshore. My anticipation for the next day’s charter quickly grew. I called our captain from my cell phone to report my sighting and to confirm a meeting time for the following morning. “No good,” he explained. “The wind is out of the east at 20-knots. Way too rough to fish Boca Grande Pass.”

I was confused because the water in front of me had barely a ripple and the pass was just a short distance away. “We don’t have to fish the pass,” I pleaded. “Looks like there’s plenty of tarpon right here!”
“Nah” he said, “Them fish yer’ seeing don’t bite…Too spooky. Gimme’ a call tomorrow and we’ll see about the following day.” Apparently, no one had informed the tarpon of this fact as I watched pod after pod attack schools of baitfish.

The next day was a carbon copy of the first, sunny and picture perfect. With only one day left to catch my trophy, I remembered our guide’s claim. Catching a trophy tarpon with him was “practically guaranteed!” But when I called the captain, I got the same story. “Tomorrow’s no good. Still too rough to fish the pass.”

Needless to say, I was crushed. All the planning and it wasn’t going to happen. Then he mentioned that the weather was supposed to change for the better in two days and as luck would have it, he was free later in the week. I delayed my return flight for one last shot at angling glory.

Two days later, we launched at 6:00 a.m. sharp under identical conditions to the previous days with sunny skies and calm seas. Nevertheless, all was forgotten as we made our way to the pass. For those unfamiliar with fishing for tarpon in Boca Grande, imagine a crowded parking lot. Now imagine that each car you see is a boat and each boat has three anglers and a captain. To say it was crowded is a gross understatement.
We made our way to the top of the fleet and our fearless leader barked out orders. “Just drop them jigs to the bottom, crank ‘em up a couple of turns and don’t move till I tell ya’.” We did as instructed for the next several hours, and nothing happened. I sulked in silence wondering how my dream had turned into such a nightmare.

“Drop ‘em down.” I watched an overweight woman with no business wearing a bikini come tight to a huge fish. “Reel ‘em up.” Now an elderly man was hooked up. “Drop ‘em down.” Two drunken frat boys in the boat next to us had a double. “Reel ‘em up…Drop ‘em down…Reel ‘em up…Drop ‘em down.” My god!
Time was ticking away. Then with less than an hour left to fish, my rod suddenly doubled over. I was hooked up! Now hooking a tarpon is one thing, but landing one is a different story altogether. Throw in the fact that we were completely surrounded by dozens of boats and I had to remain fast to 100-plus pounds of angry silver with no intentions of coming in quietly. I don’t know how we did it, but we finally made it to open water.

Nothing was going to stop me now! Then Darren blurted, “Hey, check out the dolphin.”

I glanced quickly over my shoulder and shrieked, “SHAAAARK!” I wailed as a giant hammerhead closed in for an easy meal. With some skilled maneuvering, our captain managed to keep his boat between my hooked tarpon and the hungry shark, which fortunately lost interest. The captain estimated her at 120-pounds and as we neared the old phosphate docks in the area, the great fish came to leader where we revived and released her. I stared in awe as she slowly slipped from sight. I will playback the memory of that day over and over, but already I’m planning my next birthday. I’ve always wanted to catch a permit on fly. I know it’s extremely difficult and my chances are slim, but I’ve found a guide on the web who claims with him, success is “practically guaranteed!” –

This is what coulda' happened!

A Division of Say You, Say Me, Inc.