Category Archives: Ocean

FLA.

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Boca Grande, home of tournament Reds, Snook and Tarpon. A controversial battle ground for the snag factor in tournament tarpon fishing, home to millionaires and celebrities, golf carts and banyan trees.

Our guide was tireless for two days, putting us under mangroves, along sand bars and into the open ocean.. I caught a snook on my first cast of the morning, on a brand new Enrico Puglisi white bait fish imitation, and shortly after was casting my first twelve weight at rolling tarpon. It was like casting the push pole, but I got the hang of it. The tarpon never cared. On they rolled…..

We got a good look at some huge manatee, came alongside a 10 foot hammerhead shark, and witnessed the beauty of a colossal eagle ray cruising the shallows. We waded, and cast from the boat. We fished through rain storms and under baking sun. We didn’t catch many fish, but we enjoyed every minute of it.

It was late in the day when I caught the redfish that won my the top spot trophy for the fly division. While the fishing had been slow for every boat, ours hauled int he biggest red, and thus stood sunburned and slightly drunk beside the Gulf on a pool deck, surrounded by the revelers at the post tournament cocktail hour that included dinner, an auction, and and incredible sunset. I caught the Red on a small clouser that I retired when I returned home – pinning it to the corner of the frame that houses the award – a hand-drawn cruising red by a local artist. I’m proud of it…..

057Camera 360

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Filed under Boca Grande, Flats, Florida, Guided Fishing, Ocean, On the road, Redfish, Skiff, Snook, Tarpon, Travel

No Bunker = No Bass.

Anyone paying attention to those things that have a negative impact on the environment, and more specifically, the ocean, will not need to be bought up to speed on the overfishing of Menhaden, or Bunker. It has been the topic of bestselling books, and, nobody needs another depressing diatribe by a fly angler on the decline of the fish. (Though, said fisherman cannot be blamed for their frustration.)

Nor should we all remain quiet. So, let’s keep it simple. No Bunker, Menhaden, etc, ….no Striped Bass. (among other species.) Omega Protein insists its half-billion pound Menhaden harvest is not making a dent in the resource. Make sense to you?

“The most important fish in the sea” has been put through more than 50 years of overfishing. The stock is at a record low.  Who is suffering from the loss of menhaden?  You are.
 
Omega Protein has been doing everything it can to prevent the implementation of a total allowable catch and a rebuilding effort. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, they maintain that menhaden are merely suffering from poor recruitment – their half billion pound harvest has nothing to do with it: Don’t let them get away with it!

Visit Menhaden Defenders, make your voice heard.

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Filed under Bunker, Conservation, Nonsense, Ocean

Beyond Fishing – Cape Henlopen

The New Year has not allowed for foolishness thus far. The wind has been up every day, or at least it feels that way, and the real cold is here now, too. The kind of cold that can make you downright angry between your car and the grocery store.

I did get down to my favorite secluded kayak dock on Trap Pond last week, and again to the brackish canal that cuts a demarcation between the towns of Dewey and Rehoboth just the other day; a trip that was made memorable by my casting into a steadily falling snow, but an absence of fish.  It was picturesque, beautiful. But it was also frigid and uneventful. The absence of fishing, even for a short amount of time, leaves room and time for other things. I layered up and took a walk through nearby Cape Henlopen State Park.

A bustling tourist beach all summer long, crammed with fisherman, swimmers, cyclists and hikers, the park remains ghostly quiet in the winter. The preserved remains of WWII era infrastructure is still here from when this land was in military hands. Observations towers, bunkers and mothballed artillery can be found amongst the sand dunes and in space made for trailside attractions, and they all add to the haunting ambience of the park in winter. Yet, it remains a comforting place. You can stand there within three hours of four major cities, atop a sand dune, and see nothing but trees in one direction, and open ocean in the other. It comes as no surprise that such a place becomes a haven for the remaining visible wildlife of winter.

The park also has a long fishing pier. I used to come here on occasion and go fishing at night. Something I think I’m less likely to do now, but still recall fondly. The comraderie between the hardy fisherman on this pier long after dark on a cold night is a thing of legend, and having experienced in first-hand more than once, I can safely say that most of it is true. On this day, however, there were no fisherman to be found at dusk, but the pier is still as good a place in the state to watch a spectacular winter sunset.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Ocean, Places, Scenery, Seasons, Winter

On Salt.

Fishing Fenwick Beach last Friday.

The Beach at Fenwick Island.

Long before I ever picked up a fly rod, I was, and continue to be, a beach fisherman.  I spend most of my time with a fly rod now, in salt and fresh water, but I still like to dust off my old spinning gear and go out in search of bluefish, striped bass, and the smaller fish, spot, croaker and kings. I did just that on Friday, and I struck out without a catch, but that’s probably because I used one lure, didn’t try very hard and only stayed a short time, most of which was spent taking pictures. One can say a lot or a little about fishing the beach, but I imagine that most will agree it’s among the most beautiful places to stand a wave a stick.

A guest post over at The Functioning Fishaholics, written by Josh Mann of Something’s Fishy, attempts to take some of the mystery and intimidation out of surf fishing by correctly pointing out the path of least resistance for the newcomer: Simple bait rigs and smaller fish. Josh writes of catching spot and croaker from piers and beaches, and I’m happy to find a fisherman who enjoys that, because more often than not, I hear fisherman talk about catching these fish as if it wasn’t worth the bother. One guy in a bait shop, upon hearing me recount my morning spent catching croaker and spot so frequently that I never put the rod in it’s sand spike, actually looked at me, shook his head, and said “Well, I guess that’s cool if you like catching bait”.

I feel bad for that guy. He’s missing all the fun, and it’s a pretty safe bet he doesn’t like fishing very much anymore. But he’s not alone. There are many like him, all casting 4oz sinkers and bleeding meat into the deep and then staring at the rod tip for hours. When they catch skates and small sharks, they curse them for not being a trophy bluefish or striper. Josh points out that this should be part of the fun; never knowing whats on the end of the line, but knowing the possibilities are not limited to the two or three species you know are there.  It strikes me as a sort of arrogance; throwing bait into a pond the size of the Atlantic and then being upset that what bit it wasn’t what you wanted to bite it. It would be like sticking your hand into a sack of M&M’s and being pissed off because you came out with a yellow one.

When I purchased my first surf rod, I just assumed I needed a behemoth 11 foot rod like everyone else, and so I have one. It’s in my garage, collecting dust. I hardly ever use it. I think it made three

My 11-foot surf rod.

Homemade Bucktail lures.

trips to the surf this year. These rods work fine further south where there is an outer sand bar and bait casters need to get the bait into it’s vicinity, but on my local beaches, where there is no outer bar and the waves break right onto the beach, it’s simply overkill. This makes complete sense to me, but I still almost never see anyone else using anything less than ten feet of surf rod. Then, most people on the beach wind up and cast so hard and far that you’d think they were told that, in order to catch a fish, you have to get the bait beyond the three mile limit and into international waters. The truth is, the fish are usually hanging out just beyond the breakers, where the food is being kicked up and swirled around and funneled to waiting fish. On my beaches, that means they are very close to the beach. It does not compute, at first, that the fish are actually swimming in the smae places you do when you go swimming.

Time on the water and the catching lots of fish taught me exactly what I’d need to fish my beach. My surf equipment today consists of three rods. Two are identical 7-1/2′ medium/heavy action surf rods, the third an 8′ heavy action surf rod capable of throwing up to 4oz of lure or sinker. On a brief outing like the most recent, I’ll take one of my identical rods, tie on a Hopkins lure, and walk the beach, as Josh describes, looking for breaking bluefish to cast to. If I’m spending considerably more time, I’ll take all three rods. One will be rigged with the Hopkins. It’s twin will be rigged with a top-and-bottom rig with floating hooks. I’ll tip these hooks with an artificial bloodworm called Fishbites, and cast just beyond the breakers. This rod and bait will catch all kinds of fish. using this system I’ve reeled in striped bass, bluefish, kingfish, croaker and spot, just to name a few. It’s a system I’ve tested again and again against many others, and it works very well.

My rig of choice for the surf.

The eight foot rod will hold one of two things, depending on the day, and my mood. I’ll either construct a fish-finder rig tipped with some form of cut bait like bunker, herring or mullet; or I will use it’s strong backbone to cast heavier lures, such as a 3oz bucktail, a simple, yet very effective lure I love so much I learned to paint, and tie them myself, which ultimately led me to the conclusion that I’d like to tie flies, and learn to fly fish.

With this simple setup I have all my bases covered. While bait rods rest in sand spikes, I can watch them from nearby as I cast a lure into the sea. I can catch

My beach rods, and the ever-present Hopkins lure.

little fish and big fish, and it’s actually easier to pack, transport, and fish these three rods than it is to use a lone eleven or twelve foot rod. Most importantly, while the big rod guys are not catching fish because nothing the size of compact car swam by and ate an entire bunker fish bait, I’m catching fish frequently, because I’m willing, and happy, to go after smaller fish. Theres a a lesson to be learned there, I think.

Thanks to Josh and the Fishaholics for a good read and the sound advice to the novice. I’m glad to see a fellow surf fisherman that appreciates the little fish, and knows they helped him land those big stripers he catches today. For more, check out Josh’s blog for the beginning surf fisherman.

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Filed under Bluefish, Fiberglass Rods, Fishing, Fishy Water, Gear, Ocean, Places, Rods, Saltwater, Scenery, Striped Bass, Surf Fishing

Bunker.

Richmond Times Dispatch.

MidCurrent.

Contact your ASMFC representative.

Hat tip for the links: Fishing Jones.

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Filed under Bunker, Conservation, Ocean, Saltwater