Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sebastian Inlet Report




We have another wet morning at the inlet. The forecast is calling for rain most of the day today but the conditions are perfect this morning. Winds are blowing out of the South-Southeast at 2 mph, gusting to 5 and the water is calm. It looks like a great morning to throw on a raincoat and get to the beach for some surf fishing. The winds will pick up late this afternoon creating choppier conditions, There is a NOAA advisory for small craft to exercise caution into Friday.

The Black Drum bite continues at the inlet. Anglers fishing with clams and/or dead, stinky shrimp are getting the best results. Sand fleas, crabs and cut bait will also work for the scent feeders. Pompano are starting to show up as are Flounder. Reds, C/R Snook, Blues and Sheepshead round out the mixed bag.

Our first photo today features Giuseppe Leone of Melbourne with his limit of slot Flounder. Giuseppe landed the fish on the south side of the inlet last weekend.
  Photo two features inlet regular Mike Ricciardi with two of three Black Drum he landed that day using clam and shrimp combos.
 Thomas Bell of Indialantic is featured in our third photo. Thomas landed the big C/R Red using a bucktail.
 Photo four is of Randy Clyburn of Orlando. Randy landed one of the only Sheepshead of the morning using sand fleas.
 Our last photo is of a nice Pompano in the 17" range, landed by inlet regular Ike. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

From James Cronk @ Whites Tackle - Ft Pierce / Stuart

                photo courtesy of Jayson Arman That's R-man Land Based Fishing Services                    
The Redfish bite has been outstanding in north Fort Pierce, live shrimp or artificial shrimp and crab imitations have been doing the trick. fish from 20"- 34" have been common. The night time Snook bite has been great on both outgoing and incoming tides. Inlets and bridges have been the hotspots. A 2oz jig in Fort Pierce has been doing the trick and the 1.5 has been working in Stuart. Fish in Fort Pierce and Stuart have been in the 35"- 40"

Sebastian Inlet Report



Winds are blowing out of the Southeast at 5 mph, gusting to 6 and there is a moderate chop on the water. We have a lot of clouds over the inlet this morning with a chance of showers throughout the day today. NOAA is calling for small craft to exercise caution.

Black Drum continue to dominate the bite from the north jetty. Most anglers have been using clams, shrimp or combos of both but crabs, squid or cut fish can also do the trick. A slowly worked lure can attract their attention as well. The Pompano bite has improved with the last cold front. Reds, C/R Snook, Spanish Mackerel, Blues, Margate, Sheepshead, Trout and Flounder round out the catches at the inlet.

Our first photo today features Rich Blum with his catches from Sunday. Rich landed a 22" and a 24" Black Drum and he limited out on good sized Pompano. Rich used clams for bait. 
 Jose Pina of Poinciana is featured in our second photo. Jose landed his 32", 23 lb. Black Drum.
 Our last photo is of Mike Ricciardi?  Mike landed three Black Drum at 27", 23" and 22" and a 14" Pompano all on shrimp and clam combos. 

Reading the Beach "Inside Bowl"

Reading the Beach "The Rip"

Monday, January 25, 2016

Sebastian Inlet Report


Winds are blowing out of the Northwest at 13 mph, gusting to 17 and there is a light chop on the water. Winds are predicted to shift to the Northeast late this afternoon. There are no NOAA advisories this morning. 

Conditions were very rough on Saturday, not a lot of folks were out fishing in the cold. Sunday brought less wind and a little warmer temperature and more people out fishing. The Black Drum bite was very good on Sunday, according to Rich Blum who made a rare weekend appearance yesterday. Rich showed up on the north jetty around 10:00 a.m. and headed toward the tip but didn't get very far when he saw a lot of good sized Pompano coming over the rails. He threw in his line with a piece of clam and got hit immediately by a 24" Black Drum which was followed by four Pompano in quick succession. The action was steady until he left around 2:00 p.m. with his limit of large Pompano and two Drum at 22" and 24". Rich never made it out to the tip but heard they did well also. Thanks for the update Rich! 

Our photos today feature Chris Bishop. Using jigs on MLK, Jr. Day he landed the big C/R Reds in photos one and two. The big Reds were released unharmed right after the photo. 

Pompano Are Chewing Time To Catch Some Sand Fleas

Scouting Around - Sebastian



Yesterday the north jetty was wall to wall with anglers trying their luck which created lots of tangled lines. Novice anglers should take the time to read the fishing etiquette, catch and release. The Redfish bite dropped off yesterday but the Black Drum bite continued. Quite a few good sized fish came over the rails for anglers using clams, live and dead shrimp or combos of both. The schools of bait moved on and apparently the big Reds followed. There were a few smaller Blues landed on plugs and a few Sheepshead and Pompano in ones a twos. 

Our first three photos today are courtesy of Conrado Ramos of Orlando. Conrado and his wife Cherrie fished the north jetty and reported a great Black Drum bite. In photo one, Cherrie holds a 27" Black drum she landed on dead, stinky shrimp. 
 Photo two is of Conrado with a beautiful 35" C/R Snook he landed on live shrimp. The Snook was released unharmed right after the photo. 
 Photo three is of Conrado with a real nice 16" Pompano he landed on live shrimp. 
 Photo four features Jason Blackstone of Indialantic. Jason fished the incoming tide Saturday morning using dead shrimp with a 3/8 oz. egg weight when he landed his 24" Black Drum. Jason reported many Black Drum were landed along with two C/R Snook and a couple of Reds. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

From Capt. Charlie @ Fishing Center - Ft Pierce

It looks like winter has finally found Florida and the Treasure Coast.  Lots of nights in the 40 degree range and days have been cool also.  It's a typical winter pattern, but we who live in Florida are pretty spoiled and whine when it gets below 60 degrees....  Ok, so I am whining a little!  Water temperatures have been in the low to mid sixties lately with the warmer water coming in with the tides.  Our winter fish are arriving in numbers now, so look for some great fishing action this month. 
Sheepshead continue to be one of the best bites out there.  Fish docks, channel edges and bridges for some nice size fish this month.  Live or dead shrimp will keep you busy.  
Black drum have been moving into the area and can be found in the same locations and eating the same bait as the sheepshead.  There are also lots of snapper hanging with these fish.  Both are excellent fish to eat.  Redfish are hanging around docks and mangroves and moving onto the flats with the sunrise.  DOA CAL jerk baits and shad tails are excellent lures for fishing the grass flats, docks and mangroves.  The trout bite has been good on the grass flats with the same CAL lures along with the DOA shrimp.  The inlet has been bringing in jacks, bluefish and mackerel with the incoming tides.  Pompano have moved into the area in pretty good numbers and can be found cruising the flats, beaches and inlet areas.  Small jigs, live shrimp or sand fleas are good choices when fishing for them.  It's an awesome time of year to enjoy the fishing along the Treasure Coast!
 Expect the same weather patterns to continue for a while as winter get a grip on our area.  Plan your fishing with what the weather provides and be safe out there.  Dress in layers to stay warm until the sun can warm things up.  

Sebastian Inlet Report



It's a beautiful morning at the inlet. Winds are blowing out of the Northwest at 2 mph, gusting to 4 and the water is calm. It looks like a great morning to get out and do a little surf fishing. Currently there are no NOAA advisories. The wind is predicted to pick up this afternoon increasing the chop on the water. 

We had an amazing morning on the north jetty yesterday. Huge Reds and large Black Drum were coming over the rails in droves on the outgoing tide. Anglers were using jigs, spoons, buck tails, live shrimp, dead shrimp or combos of both. The clams brought in a couple of nice Pompano in the 14" - 17" range and a couple of big Sheepshead. Although space was tight on the end of the north jetty, anglers worked well together, helping on the nets and getting out of the way when a fish was on. We had a lot of bent rods and all the pulling and tugging are going to have some people aching today. Please remember to get your catch and release species back into the water right after photographing. A quick photo is adequate; we need those breeders to make more fish. Try to lower them back into the water via net, if no net is available release them head first, away from the rocks. 

Our first photo today is of brother and sister team Misty and Andrew Sampson of Palm Bay. Misty hooked up with her huge Red last Friday but due to a shoulder injury could not reel it in, Andrew stepped in and brought it over the rails. The big Red was released unharmed right after the photo. They saw a lot of nice Reds and large Black Drum landed into the night. Nice team work Misty and Andrew!

Photo two features Chad Verbosky of WV with a beautiful Red he landed. The big bull was released unharmed right after the photo. 
Rangelo Soriano sent in our third and fourth photos. Rangelo drove up from Miami to visit his cousin Edisson in Vero Beach this past weekend and the duo made it to the inlet for a little fishing. Rangelo landed the monster Red in photo three along with some other bulls. Photo four is of Rangelo and Edisson with a couple of nice Black Drum, Rangelo's first. 

South River Outfitters’ Kayak Fishing with the Pro’s

2016 is going to be the year you catch more fish. Join us at the 5th annual South River Outfitters’ Kayak Fishing with the Pro’s on February 27 and find out why. At this free event, experts from the kayak fishing community will share their tips and best practices for hooking and landing more fish. From rigging the kayaks to choosing the right lure, these professional anglers will share it all at this event. Learn in one day what would take years to learn on your own.

Scouting Around Palm Beach/Martin County Area

Bluefish, whiting and big croaker are all being caught in the surf along Jensen Beach.
In the Indian River, black drum, sheepshead and snook are all being caught around the bridges. Night time is always best for snook. The west side of the river is still loaded with redfish, especially north of Walton Road.
A few bluefish have been caught from the beaches in Jupiter, and they are also holding at the Jupiter Inlet along with redfish.
Ladyfish, bluefish and Spanish mackerel are all being caught in the Intracoastal Waterway in the Jupiter area, and snook and redfish are biting near the bridges. A few pompano were also reported in the flats, especially near Marker 42.
Bluefish and jacks are the best bet for those fishing in the surf along Palm Beach and Boynton Beach.
Anglers fishing the Intracoastal in central and southern Palm Beach County are catching snook at the bridges at night, along with croaker and a few pompano. Sheepshead are holding near seawalls and pilings.
They’re catching big numbers of bass on Lake Okeechobee right now, and many of them are in the 3- to 6-pound range. Several over 6 pounds were also reported this week.
The water level is over 14 feet, so the entire like is accessible and fishable. Some of the hot spots have been East Wall, Ritta Island, Pelican Bay and Bay bottom.
Live shiners are working better than artificial lures, but you can definitely have plenty of success either way. If you do opt for artificial lures, try pitching them toward reed heads.
report courtesy of Palm Beach Post

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Sebastian Inlet Report


We have a little warmer morning with less wind today. Winds are blowing out of the Northwest at 8 mph, gusting to 12 and there is a light chop on the water. Temperatures should rise into the 60's today but it will still be chilly out on the jetties. There are no NOAA advisories this morning.

Black Drum have been biting consistently for anglers using live or dead shrimp, clams and cut bait. Monster Redfish have been beating up our inlet anglers; we have lots of folks going home exhausted after getting those bulls to the jetty and over the rails. Reds have been hitting live shrimp, bucktails and various lures. Sand fleas are the best bet for Sheepshead but any crustacean will work. Good sized Blues and Pompano, a few Spanish Mackerel, Margate, Jacks and Whiting are present too.

Our first photo today features Vero Beach native Sheryl Davis. Sheryl grew up fishing the inlet and landed her 33" Black Drum on dead shrimp. This big Drum was Sheryl's personal best. 

Our second photo is of Jose Pina of Poinciana. Jose landed his two nice Black Drum using live shrimp. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

From James Cronk @ Whites Tackle - Ft Pierce / Stuart

Inshore the snook fishing has been good around the bridges and in the inlet remember its catch and release for a few more weeks.The reds have been around Harbor Branch with some nice trout mixed in soft baits and live shrimp have produced well.There has been a few reports of some nice flounder around the inlet in Ft. Pierce on the incoming tide.

Sebastian Inlet Report




We have a cool, windy morning at the inlet. Winds are blowing out of the Northwest at 17 mph, gusting to 24 and there is a moderate chop on the water. NOAA is calling for small craft to exercise caution. 

Over the long weekend the Black Drum bite was good according to our readers. Snook are still active as were Reds and good sized Pompano. Big Pompano, Whiting, Spanish Mackerel and Jacks rounded out the mix. 

Our first photo today is of snow bird Rich Blum . Rich hails from upstate NY and loves fishing the inlet. The bite was very good for Blues, Sheepshead, Spanish Mackerel and big bull Reds. Rich poses with one of the few Black Drum of the morning.

Mike Ricciardi is featured in our second photo. Mike fished the jetty and said the outgoing tide was fairly active for anglers throwing lures that were being hit by giant Reds and good sized Blues. Anglers using sand fleas landed 7 - 8 Sheepshead, 4 - 5 Pompano came over the rails and 6 - 8 Black Drum. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

From Todd / Eric @ Juno Bait -Juno Beach


From James Cronk @ Whites Tackle - Ft Pierce / Stuart

The inshore fishing has been good around the sailfish flats with afew pompano and reds around on the incoming tide back to the north around the power plant there has been a few reds and trout in 3 to 5ft of water with soft baits.The snook fishing has been good around the bridges and in the inlets but remember its catch and release still for a few more weeks. 

Sebastian Inlet Report



It's windy, cool and wet at the inlet this morning. Winds are blowing out of the South at 23 mph, gusting to 30 and the water is rough. NOAA is calling for widespread showers and thunderstorms. The wind is predicted to calm down some this weekend but boaters should always check the NOAA forecast prior to leaving the dock.

The messy conditions are keeping a lot of anglers off the jetties this morning but yesterday's outgoing tide created some epic fishing. Anglers were elbow to elbow but cooperating nicely. The Black Drum bite picked up again and many came over the rails, some of the regulars limited out using clams, shrimp or combos. Good sized Sheepshead were thick as well and any type of crustacean will do the trick for the tasty fish. Their diet is what makes them so desirable! Huge bull Reds gave our afternoon anglers plenty of exercise as they were coming over the rails in herds and fishing poles and baits were flying! If you need a net to pull up a catch and release species, please lower it back into the water by net, it is a long drop to the water from the north jetty and we must protect those big breeders. Blues were running yesterday as well but not in the numbers we saw the day before. The early morning hours produced Spanish Mackerel. Gather up you wet weather gear, get out and wet a line this weekend!

Our first two photos today are courtesy of Lu Reboucas of Orlando. Lu and his other "catfish crew" member Mike Sousa fished the north jetty Around 7:00 a.m. on the incoming tide the bite started picking up and at least thirty Black Drum came over the rails on live shrimp. Several bull Reds, four C/R Snook and some Sheepshead were landed as well. Sounds like it was worth waiting it out, way to go guys! Our first photo is of Lu (L) and Mike (R) with a huge 46" Black Drum. This was Lu's personal best to date. 
  Photo two features Mike Sousa with a 26" Black Drum. Nice catch Mike!
  Our third photo today shows the crowd on the north jetty yesterday!

Scouting Around Palm Beach /Martin County Area

     The beach fishing has been pretty slow, as the weather conditions have been anything but ideal. However, there are still some anglers getting out, and they are catching some fish.
     Along Jensen Beach, bluefish and Spanish mackerel are biting in the surf.
    In the Indian River, the redfish action is still red hot around docks on the west side. Good numbers and sizes are being caught. In fact, locals are calling this the best redfish bite in years!
     Snook are still hitting jigs around the bridges at night and on the outgoing tide. Black drum and sheepshead are also being caught.
     Jacks and ladyfish have been caught from the beaches in Jupiter this week, and they’re also being reported in the Intracoastal Waterway and Loxahatchee River, along with the occasional pompano. There are always snook around the bridges at night as well.
     Jacks and bluefish were reported in the surf in Palm Beach the past few days, and Spanish mackerel have also been spotted.
     In the Intracoastal, snook are being caught around the bridges at night throughout central and southern Palm Beach County. Jacks, bluefish and Spanish mackerel are also being hooked around the bridges.
     Mangrove snapper and bluefish are holding near the jetty at the Boynton Beach Inlet.

     The recent cool fronts have had a positive impact on the bass fishing at Lake Okeechobee. Bigger fish were reported this week, and the numbers have also picked up. The outside edge and back in the grass are still the best places to target.
     Artificial lures and live shiners are both working extremely well, with shiners still getting the slight edge.
     East Wall and West Wall have been productive spots this week, especially when the wind lies down.
courtesy of Palm Beach Post

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Sebastian Inlet Report



We have overcast skies this morning. The wind is blowing out of the Northwest at 12 mph and there is a moderate chop on the water. There are no NOAA advisories this morning. 

Black Drum and Sheepshead remain the prevalent species coming over the rails of the north jetty but not in huge numbers. Anglers using sand fleas are nailing some good sized Sheepshead while dead shrimp and clams or combos of both are attracting the Drum. Spoons and bucktails have produced a couple of oversized Reds and big Blues. Occasionally a school of Pompano will come through then disappear. Midsized Flounder in the 4 - 6 lb. range have been coming through and the cooler weather has brought in a few (emphasis on few) up to 8 lbs., some smaller Margate round out the mix. 

Our first photo today features Eric Balcerzak. Eric is a native of Boca Raton who now lives outside of Charlotte, NC. Back for a visit, Eric tried his luck at the inlet and landed the C/R Snook off the south jetty about 6:15 p.m. using a super pogey Rapala. This lure is particularly good on windy days with murky waters although Eric said he threw everything in his tackle box that day! The Snook was released unharmed. 

Photo two is of a large Sheepshead Eric landed while fishing the mangroves earlier in the day. 

From Capt. Charlie @ Fishing Center - Ft Pierce

Well, winter has finally arrived to the Treasure Coast.  You northerners might laugh, but when it dips down into the 50's it is cold here to those of us who live down here.  It has been the usual windy conditions lately, but that is normal for this time of year.  Water temperatures have dropped to as low as 62 degrees some days and that will bring in our winter fish now.  Expect similar weather next week as well.  Look for pompano, bluefish, mackerel and black drum to filter into the river and provide anglers with lots of action.  Let the fun begin!


Now that the water temps have dropped you can find lots of action around the area.  Look for pompano along the beach and in the river.  Spanish mackerel will show up in the inlet on the incoming tides.  Black drum will join the sheepshead around bridges, docks and channel edges.  Look for trout on the grass flats as the sun warms up the water in the shallows.  Redfish will be hanging around docks and mangroves and move onto the grass flats when the sun rises.  There will be bluefish, ladyfish and jacks all over the river to keep you busy as well.  Remember, when the water is cold to slow down your presentation.  Fish will become more lethargic and slower to make a decision to strike your lure or bait.  It's a great time of year to enjoy the fishing...and the cold temperatures!
Dress warm and in layers now that winter has arrived.  There can be a twenty to thirty swing in temperatures some days and the wind will be a factor in keeping warm on the water.  Watch conditions and plan your fishing adventures accordingly.  It's an awesome time of year to fish and also give you many challenges, too.  Have fun and get out fishing soon!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Sebastian Inlet Report


It's a cool, gray morning at the inlet. Winds are blowing out of the West-Northwest at 10 mph, gusting to 12. There is a moderate chop on the water and we have a chance of rain this morning. Currently, there are no NOAA advisories.

The bite has been fair to good. We received an update and today's photos from Mike Ricciardi of Vero Beach who fished the north jetty on Friday morning. Mike reported a slow morning overall. Rain and waves crashing over the jetty kept a lot of people home most of the morning. He fished between 7:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and reported that six or eight Black Drum came over the rails. The same number of Sheepshead in the 12" - 14" range were landed along with a few Black Margate and one Pompano. Luck was with Mike that morning as he landed one 23" and one 26" Black Drum and one of the Sheepshead. 
  Photo one is of Ron Veser with a healthy 28" Black Drum and photo two features Mike with the 23" and 26" Drum. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Tournament Time

Good Baits For Florida Flounder


Sebastian Inlet Report


Break out the parkas and the wet suits, it finally feels like "winter". Winds are blowing out of the Northwest at 10 mph, gusting to 12 and there is a moderate chop on the water. The Northwest wind is pushing a decent size swell, which is good for our surfers but bad for our anglers, the waves are crashing over the jetties, wet weather gear is a good idea this morning. The bumps on the horizon are a good indicator that further south, around Palm Beach the surf should be very good. NOAA is calling for small craft to exercise caution in the Gulf Stream.

Over the weekend the bite was fair to good according to Tommy Turowski at the Sebastian Inlet District. Some good sized Flounder started to show up and several were landed along with big Black Drum, Pompano, Blues, Mackerel, Jacks, Reds, Sheepshead and Tarpon. Some C/R Snook are still hanging around the jetties but in smaller numbers, they have started heading for warmer waters in the river. 

Our photo today is courtesy of Eddie Riveiro. Eddie took the photo of Dustyn Riveiro with a nice C/R Snook he landed, the fish was released unharmed. 

From James Cronk @ Whites Tackle - Ft Pierce / Stuart

Pompano are in. I skipped some up yesterday when running the flats just north of the power plant in fort pierce and I skipped some up last week in stuart when running across the stuart flats. guys using buck tail pompano jigs tipped with clams or shrimp are doing good when drifting the flats. Snook. Reds and Trout are all still on the docks on the west side of the river fish some Jacks in the mix.  Flounder are in the holes if you know were to look using a gold jig tipped with shrimp or using soft baits fished slow on the bottom will get you the bite. for you fly guys fish the grass flats with a 2-4' bait fish fly "Ep tarpon st fly in brown/tan is the fly" in the day time other gold or green back flies have been working good. night time dock light fishing is still"REDHOT" this cold will slow that down the fish will be moving off the lights and into deeper water and will stop feeding on the smaller flies and start keying in on bigger flies i have been casting 6' flies around the long docks and the bridge and with good results. if your going to do this a 9wt is the way to go and Rope up on your tippet bigger fish around structure  can send you home crying if your fish light gear.i am running a  20lb. "RIO" Redfish leader that is 9 foot long i cut it down to 7.5 feet  and add two feet of seaguar 40lb. fluorocarbon. all my flies are fished on a  loop knot so my flies have room to swim.. some flies to use would be…..the bush pig in chartreuse/white or black/white…. the EP 2/0 PILCHARD bait fish fly will get the job done or my SF Bait fish flies ask the guys at the shop to give you a hand on picking out flies… tight lines Cronk

Friday, January 8, 2016

From Whites Tackle - Ft Pierce / Stuart

The inshore bite has been very consistent when it comes to trout and redfish. The "cold front" has enticed the trout and redfish to a state of madness south of south bridge on the west side of the river. North of north bridge the trout and redfish are being found flipping underneath mangroves and fishing the grass flats. The occasional gator trout or bull red will be seen cruising the sand bars. The snook bite has had a slight decline over the past few days. The snook have not yet started to stack up in the inlet, but if the water stays this cooler temperature we should start to see the numbers pick up.

Sebastian Inlet Report


01-08-16 FRIDAY: TGIF! 

We have a soggy morning at the inlet but there are some waterproof anglers out there taking advantage of the calmer waters. Winds have died down and are blowing out of the East-Southeast at 2 mph and gusting to 6. Winds are predicted to increase late this morning and early afternoon before diminishing again late in the day. NOAA is calling for small craft to exercise caution for seas. The weekend doesn't look that great for our boaters but surfers should be waxing up those boards.

Water temperatures have slowly dropped into a good slot for Pompano and this weekend we could see anglers lining the beach trying for the small, tasty fish. Small in size but big on sass, they can challenge even the most experienced angler using light tackle. The other prevalent species for this time of year include Black Drum, Reds, Sheepshead, Flounder and Blues. Spotted Trout have been thick on the flats and anglers have reported more catches than they've seen in many years. 

We received an update and our first photo today from Christian Kitzmiller of Indialantic. Christian fished the north jetty Tuesday night when he landed the big bull Red on a bucktail. Christian released the 47" beast immediately after the photo and it swam away unharmed. He reports a lot of Tarpon were coming over rails as well. 
Photo two features Jose Pina of Poinciana. Jose makes the long drive over on a regular basis to fish the north jetty. The drive over was very productive for Jose as he landed several good sized Black Drum and a slot Red using fresh shrimp. 

From Todd / Eric @ Juno Bait -Juno Beach


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Scouting Around - Sebastian Area


The wind has died down significantly this morning but we still have a lot of dark clouds over the inlet. We have a chance of rain this morning. NOAA has issued an advisory for hazardous seas that will remain in effect through late today. 

The early morning incoming tide brought some good sized Spanish Mackerel to our north jetty anglers according to Tommy Turowski at the Sebastian Inlet Bait and Tackle Shop. The usual cast of characters for this time of year are making appearances including Black Drum, Sheepshead, Margate, a few Pompano and a few decent sized Flounder. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Wade Fishing: Gear, Bait & Tackle

Not long ago we published a story about bumping into a manatee while wade fishing and mistaking it for a bull shark - not a rare event when wading. It turned out that there was nothing to fear but fear itself (and a BIG shadow in the water where we were fishing). Looking back, it was one of our funnier experiences. Shark are not one tiny bit interested in wading anglers, so fear aside, knowing how to wade fish will dramatically improve your chances of catching; you will find more fish, reach fish that a boat could not reach without having an eight foot fan hooked to its rear end, and you will catch more fish than anybody not willing to walk in the water. Wade fish and be the fish. Be the fish and you will catch more of them.

 Wading is something that can range from ankle deep to chest deep - but puts the angler in touch with the fishies in a way that a boat, pier, or simply standing on the shoreline out of the reach can not do. We're amazed at how many experienced and effective anglers have never gotten into the water with the fish. This short article will talk about the ins, outs, and getting wet.

Wading Gear: Boots to Body Armor

When we were kids (there goes that old experience thing) we used to fish with sneakers, white socks, and tight-legged blue jeans. Bell bottoms were for girls and guys with girl hair. We twisted the ends of the straight-legged and socially conservative jean legs and tucked them into our white socks, which in turn went into tight high top sneakers. You did not want to come out of your shoes on an oyster bar.
We did not carry much in the way of tackle. We used the little bait buckets with the snap-open round tops, and put a dozen or three select shrimp in them, tied them on a string to our waist, and walked into the water. We would have a small plastic box with some hooks, a loop of leader material, nail clippers, and some split shots. A pair of nail clippers served as our sole survival tool. A stringer line held our never-released catch, and we drank water before we walked. We knew where to park and never walked all that far, in reality. A mile away waist-deep in water is a real walk. Softer bottoms are worse than hard bottom, but it still takes a lot of effort to walk in the water.
As far as apparel, you have to consider a few different things:

Shoes or waders

You can pick from three different options (four if you count our blue-jean and sneakers, which still work just fine, thank you very much).
Wading boots: Wading boots make a lot of sense, and a lot of us that fish regularly have a pair. They are made of heavy-duty soft plastic and fabric, and are much like hiking boots but better. There are also soft versions which a lot of anglers find more suitable for sandy and grassy flats wading. They are almost like fishing in your bare feet - something we strongly advise you never do. Even beach anglers should consider these felt footies to protect bare (feet) bottoms.
They do not keep your feet dry. That is not what they were made to do. They are made to keep you from slipping on slimy rock and keep you from getting sliced. Despite the relative absence of slimy rock south of about Aripeka (for those of us fishing the gulf coastal waters), slimy rock or slimy concrete are something a wading angler has to consider. Cutting yourself is easy if you are fishing around oyster bars, and although razor-sharp oysters can probably cut a soft wading boot, you still have a better chance of not getting cut if you're wearing them than you do if you're not wearing them.
Good wading boots like these two are hard to beat. If you are serious about wade fishing like we are they are a great investment in comfort and safety. The ones on the top - from Cabela's - are soft and made of felt. Your alternative to felt boots -- which most of us wear - are more like hiking boots and very well suited for rockier and more slippy conditions. Oyster bars come to mind, but if you spend as much or more time on grassy and gravelly flats, the ones on the top are going to work out better for you and you'll be more comfortable. They do not keep you dry, and you're going to fall into the water at one point or another, so even if you're wearing a space suit you're going to get wet wade fishing. Keep your phone in the car and be prepared to shed your pride once in a while. But you will catch more fish - by far - than the people on the docks, decks, or shorelines. Wading is a consistent, powerful and effective method of doing our thing.
Knee/Thigh waders: If you like the scary thought of walking into the water to better access very fishy locales but are not willing to actually let your private parts enter the deep (30"???) darkness, you can use boots meant to go no higher than said privates. Called thigh boots or crotch-pinching torture devices by those of us who have fished very cold mountain streams for rainbow trout while having just wasted perfectly valid coin at a local tackle shop to own a pair, they are perfect for the two things they are designed for: keeping your feet and legs dry and pinching places on your upper thighs really not meant to be pinched.
All you need to do is step into a slightly deeper space on that grass flat, or have to step over a space between two three-ton-pieces of concrete left in the bay in the nineteen twenties and you will get wet. They will still pinch when it happens, mind you, but will let water into your socks and suddenly get very heavy.
Do we sound like we do not recommend them for fishing Florida waters - or any waters, for that matter? We mean it.
Waterboard me, OK? Although we have to figure there are some fishing conditions - a puddle of muddy water comes to mind - where these thigh-pinching wading boots work perfectly, and are worth the pain we know they impart, we don't recommend them.
Waist/Chest waders: Once again referring to fishing cold, fast streams in cold, fast states, chest deep waders will keep you dry, keep you safe from stepping on hard and sharp things, and will make you swear that you will not know if you are standing in the water or the water is standing in you. Which it is. Along with vegetarian meals and spending time at the tofu bar doing Gulf of Mexico fishy management meetings, we are not big fans of sitting or standing inside a big runner sock. We can hear the fourteen worldwide fans of wearing chest waders under our normal warm-water fishing conditions saying "they are NOT MADE OF RUBBER!" as a weak attempt at self defense. And or "They are great man!!"
A hot rubber sock is exactly what we want when we go fishing. In another universe, maybe, where the water averages forty degrees, the fish are called rainbows, and you might hook a salmon or something. Here? Not a good idea. If you feel like white trash wearing sneakers and tough tight blue jeans with the bottom tucked into white socks so the crabbies cannot crawl into your pants (!!!), you should consider boots made from felt and tough tight blue jeans. Fishing is not a fashion show, although we have had a friend say that they didn't like the color of a $50 microfabric sun-protection shirt. Only girls care about fishing fashion, and even our true friendly fishing babes like Debbie Hanson and the active angling women on our forums are more interested in lure color than blouse color.
What's best? Boots and tight jeans.

Tackle for Wade Fishing

We will talk a little bit about the inherent goodness of fly fishing while you are standing in the water, but before we talk about tackle we need to talk about flats caddies. What is a flats caddy? The key comes from the word "Caddy" - the guy or girl who carries golf balls and clubs for a golfer. In a way, that is what a flats caddy is; a non-talking friend who will not bother you while they carry your stuff. They can carry your iPad if you're nuts or have it wrapped or packaged properly, they can carry soda, tackle boxes, bait wells, and more. The coolest ones,we had ever seen were pieced together by forum members - people just like you and me - and were not manufactured on purpose or in volume. There are a definitely a few companies making very cool caddies, and if you love perfection might consider one, but we are still lovers of the homemade variety. You can make them from plastic milk crates, floating tubes designed to keep your children from sinking to the bottom of the pool, and you can make them from a host of plastic and metal things you can either get at Ace Hardware, the liquor store (caddies carry whiskey very efficiently. We know they do) or your garage. You can even get rid of that extra PVC pipe you and your wife are tripping on every year when collecting holiday lighting.
If you are gonna get serious about wade fishing, consider a caddy. This image came from the forums, and is a DIY caddy. There are commercial ones we're gonna see if we can work with a company to get you deals, and if we do we will let you know, but making a homemade fishing tackle shop like this guy did is a fun project that will take an afternoon and give you years of fishy fun.
A lot of time when you wade fish, it is in open, skinny water near structure or in the open. Either way you are very near the fish; you can turn them easier and more effectively unless you're near very deep structure where the advantage of having more leverage if you are higher in the water holds true. That means that you can use anything you want effectively. It is a great place to fish with light tackle, as long as you make sure you do not overplay and thereby over stress the fish. If you go light when you wade, fight harder and try to release the catch gently and as quickly as possible.
We already mentioned long rods - fly rods - when you are wading. Because you can get into the water and easily position yourself with wide-open space behind you, you can deploy a long cast, with plenty of room behind yourself for that most important back cast. There are lots of ways to let a fly line out; do not get us wrong, but in the keys where they catch those huge permit or bonefish, or here on open grass flats fishing for redfish, snook and trout, you can cast the furthest. Get the wind over or behind one of your shoulders and you can throw that weight-forward or torpedo line a long distance. Working those big open grass flats with a fly rod is heavenly.

Spinning Tackle...

Spinning tackle is our go-to tackle, however, they are easier to use, can swap between live and and artificials with a simple re-tie of a knot, and can be used to catch anything. We like slightly longer rods - seven or even seven-six or eight footers - with fast action. That means their bend is closer to the rod's tip and not in the middle or near the rod butt and where your hands are holding the rod. A spinning rod that feels "whippy" like a great flyrod is not great as a wade fishing tool. You cannot set the hook well if the rod is too "soft". They are cool if you need to cast a million miles, but if you are wade fishing, you can walk closer and cast shorter.

Shorter casts are fine if you are quiet. And you can never, ever, ever be as quiet floating on glass, plastic, metal, or even standing on a pier. Think about that. At some very deep core level, it is why wading is so very effective. Silence.

Baits and Lures for Wading

Baits and lures for fishing on the flats is the same as fishing from a pier or fishing from a boat or paddle craft. Live baits work better, but artificials have their own magic and will produce fish when worked right and when worked where the fish are. When we are wading we always favor live shrimp. They are easy to get just about anywhere you're likely to be walking into the water to go fishing, they stay alive while you drive them to the spot, and they will stay alive forever in one of wonderful and timeless yellow floating bait buckets. Heck - we call them shrimp buckets and always have for good reason.
If you are fishing live shrimp, tie your leader directly to the line - no terminal tackle, please. You do not need a swivel or clip. Lose them at the car before you get wet. Also, try fishing them without any weight - what we call free-lining - before you try anything else. If the water is really flowing hard, use a split shot to get the baits further down in the water column (an imaginary tube in the water with stratum - lines - where temperatures change). Change their size and get the bait deeper and deeper till the fish eat it.
Carry bobbers. Weighted popping corks increase casting distance, and the splash does not seem to spook fish for too long. Work them sort of like you would a topwater lure, popping them and waiting a minute in between pops to let the rings settle down. They can sometimes attract fish from far away when you are wade fishing.
As far as lures are concerned, the same rules apply here as they do anywhere else; you can fish topwater, you can fish suspension, or swimming lures, and you can fish with our favorite all around artificial lure: the infamous and ubiquitous jig. You can fish them with anything connected; you can put a live shrimp on them, you can put shrimp tails on them, you can put squid on them, you can put strips of smelly organic fake strip baits on them and many, many more types of bait.

A Last Thought on Walking in the Water with the Fishes...

One last thought: consider chumming. You can break a few dead and frozen shrimp from your last trip and put them in a baggy. Granted, they will stink when you open them, but you are standing alone on the water, so who cares if you and your gear stink? Same thing with squid or any smelly baits. Chop some, crush some, and take some with you. You can throw them by hand, or you can do something we learned from a girl named Emma, who you are going to meet one of these days: she throws chum using a slingshot. She does it fishing for carp on the British Isles, but she can throw chum further than anybody we have ever seen. We have to try it. I would work with any solid chum pieces like shrimp or tiny squares of chopped squid strips.

Stay Safe and Don't Wade Alone

And know one thing: if you start wading, get ready to fall into the water. Your phone, your tackle, your fish, your bait, and without question your pride are very, very likely to fall into the water in ways we're not really hoping for as a result of your reading this piece. But you will fall. You will slip, you will get your foot sucked into a bottomless sink hole, you will feel something alive touch you and panic like a seven year old girl, or you will just fall down for no good reason. Because of the surety that you will get into the water when you least expect it, never - ever - wade fish without a friend along for the walk. It's dangerous. You can slip and cut yourself, you can get bit by a bull shark (not really, but why not get your attention before you sign off?) and you can just have a better time with a fishing friend. But never go alone. You might not get home to fry that delicious 29" speckled trout you have tied to a string to attract that bull shark.