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Port Canaveral’s Giant Jack Crevalle

Port Canaveral’s Giant Jack Crevalle

MaxxBigJackLR

It was one of my most memorable fishing charters. The surface of the Mosquito Lagoon was slick. We’d been on a school of redfish for two hours and gotten one bite, which was missed. I said, “We should go to Port Canaveral.” So we left the reds, pulled the boat out, and drove to Port Canaveral.

The wind had come up by the time we got there, but by the grace of God we found a long string of jack crevalle only a half mile from the south jetty. These weren’t little hockey puck jack crevalle, or even nice, healthy 10 and 12 pounders. These were the big, mean, break-your-back, take-no-prisoners 30 and 35 pound jack crevalle.

We had four ten pound spinning outfits on board. As I tied a one ounce jig onto the line of one I told my angler, “This is like hunting elephants with a spitball shooter.” I threaded a five inch chartreuse jerkbait onto the hook of the jig and handed him the rod.

We idled around briefly until we found the fish again. Mike started casting. In short order he made a good cast and a cooperative jack nailed the jig.

By this time the sea breeze had kicked in. We had to chase the fish into the waves, which were pouring over the bow. I had serious concerns that Mike would be going swimming, so I had him get behind me and use the poling tower as a lean bar. This had the advantage of slowing down the flood coming over the bow. I told him, “If you catch this fish it will be a miracle.”

The guy was a solid angler, and before too long the fish was beneath us. Mike would pull him in close, and the fish would take off again. Mike had to work around the poling tower, and the pushpole, and the motor. The Mitzi was rocking and rolling, waves were still coming in, and the bilge pump was running non-stop. It was true combat fishing, an awesome battle between two equally determined antagonists.

Read the rest of this story here…

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2014. All rights are reserved.



Poppers for Seatrout

Poppers for Seatrout

poppers for seatrout

Lovely when alive, tasty on the table, spotted seatrout are one of Florida’s favorite saltwater fish. The problem is, unless you find a really big one (not easy to do) trout are weaklings at the end of your line. They just don’t get the adrenaline going. But you can make trout fishing more fun by using poppers for seatrout.

There’s the visual aspect of using the plug. You can see the lure, and you can see the fish hit it. There’s the very satisfying “Smack!” sound when a good fish takes it. Believe it or not, the missed strikes are fun, and sometimes a fish will hit it four or five times in a row until the hook finally sticks, or doesn’t.

As in all things in fishing there are a variety of plugs on the market that will work. For most of this type of work I like a popping plug, and the Chug Bug (made by Storm Lures) is probably my favorite. Not only does the “pop” of this lure attract the fish, but it has rattles inside for extra attraction power. It calls the fish to it from quite a distance and there’s something almost magical about its appeal to seatrout. Of course, redfish, snook, tarpon, and crevalle will whack it too. I’ve even caught snapper with them.

poppers for seatrout

Storm’s Chug Bug comes in three sizes. All are effective lures for seatrout.

Another excellent surface lure for seatrout is the DOA Shallow Running Bait Buster. This soft plastic mullet imitation features a single hook, great for when floating grass or other debris makes using a lure with gang hooks impractical. While you don’t get the “bloop!” of a Chug Bug you fish it much the same way.

Seatrout on DOA Bait Buster

The Bait Buster is a great lure for any mullet-eating fish.

During the summertime (coming right up!) your best strategy is to get out early (before sunrise) and find a flat that’s about two feet deep with a bottom that has a mixture of sand and grass. Lots of mullet in the vicinity are a definite plus. Working around the edges of bars or docks is also a very good idea. If you’re in a boat you can drift, use a trolling motor on slow speed, or push the boat with a pushpole. Waders can have good success too, though.

Cast the lure as far as you can, and work it back to you. How fast should you retrieve? How hard should you pop it?

Only the fish can answer this question, and experimentation with your retrieve is the best course of action. When you find what they like best, keep doing it until it stops working.

One time when I had Michael Grant out in my boat we were both tossing Chug Bugs. I was using small, steady pops, reeling at a moderate rate, and was getting the occasional bite. Michael was using great, loud pops, reeling slowly. He was getting bites every second or third cast. Of course I changed my retrieve to imitate was he was doing and my success rate went right up.

So if you want to make trout fishing more entertaining, try to using poppers for seatrout.

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2014. All rights are reserved.



What to DO When the Big Fish Swims Under the Boat

What to DO When the Big Fish Swims Under the Boat

tarpon boatside

OK, today’s lesson deals with what to do when a big fish swims under the boat. For some reason most fishermen want to lift the rod when the big fish makes its dive. I’ve watched too many guys do this. The result is always the same. The line rubs against the hull of the boat, increasing friction and virtually assuring a break-off. Since big fish don’t come along all the time, when the line breaks so does your heart. OOOhhh that hurts.

So, what is the correct response when the big fish makes its dive? You simply thrust the tip end of the rod down into the water. How far down? Far enough down to ensure that the line does not touch the hull or motor of the boat. If the fish is beefy enough to extend its run away from the “wrong” side of the boat, you simply walk the rod around the bow of the boat. As soon as the line clears the hull you can lift the rod out of the water and continue the battle in a more conventional fashion. On a particularly big, nasty fish you may have to perform this maneuver more than once.

We’re assuming here that the boat is small enough to allow you to do this. Honestly, although I would certainly like to I’ve never had the problem occur while on a Hatteras 48 or similar vessel. If any readers can expound on this I would love to hear from you.

So, to sum up what to do when the big fish swims under the boat- rod lift bad, rod thrust into water good. Keep this straight and catch more of those big fish.

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2014. All rights are reserved.

Thanks to Ricky Dee for use of the photo!


When to Use Small Lures

When to Use Small Lures

When to use small lures presents problems to the fisherman.

Small lures don’t cast well. The hooks are weak and prone to failure. You need to use lighter line and leaders. However, sometimes the fish don’t give you a choice. Use smaller lures or don’t get a bite.

Let’s look at four situations where small baits are necessary.

The fish are keying on small baits. In the southeastern saltwaters the bay anchovy, commonly called a glass minnow, is an important baitfish. These baits are small, frequently two inches or less. Certain gamefish species will feed on them selectively, ignoring other, larger baits.Whenever you find gamefish selectively feeding on small baits of any kind you need to “match the hatch.” Failure to do so will lead to frustration.

Haw River Tackle makes a great lure called a Sting Silver which many fish species will accept as a glass minnow imitation. Find them at www.hrtackle.com.

Orlando Saltwater Tarpon Fishing Report

The Sting Silver is the hot tip for tunny. Doesn’t look like much but they do like it!

Cold water– unlike humans, fish are cold blooded. Their metabolism slows as the water temperature drops. Consequently they are much less interested in eating large meals when the water is cold. For this reason winter fishing often requires the use of smaller lures than used during other seasons.

Heavily pressured fish– in areas where fishing pressure is heavy the fish have seen all the commonly used baits over and over again. The fish learn to avoid these commonly used baits. By using small lures the fisherman gains a competitive advantage. The fish haven’t seen a lot of small baits, and the bait itself is not perceived as a threat.

My current favorite for this situation is the DOA CAL Shad. At three inches in length it qualifies as a small bait. You can rig it with a 2/0 hook , which will hold most any fish likely to eat it.

orlando area fishing report

The lure is a DOA CAL Shad.

Some gamefish just like small baits. Tarpon come to mind. One wouldn’t think a 100 pound fish could derive much nutrition from a two or three inch long minnow. But tarpon often key in on small baits even when larger prey is available. I’ve watched tarpon swim through schools of glass minnows with their mouths open, just filtering the baits out of the water. Again, match the hatch or go fishless.

The DOA TerrorEyz is a small lure which is deadly on tarpon (and other fish). Find them at www.doalures.com.

I’m not suggesting that you toss all your large baits overboard. But you should carry a selection of small baits and be prepared to use them when condition require. If you want to catch more fish, know when to use small lures.

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2014. All rights are reserved.



Two Birds to Watch While Fishing

Two Birds to Watch While Fishing

One of the pleasures that fishing so generously provides to its participants is the opportunity to watch some spectacular bird life. Two birds to watch while fishing in central Florida waters include the migratory white pelican, and the resident roseate spoonbill.

White pelicans migrate here to central Florida for the winter, arriving somewhere around Thanksgiving. Summer finds them in the Dakotas and the prairie provinces of Canada, where they nest on isolated islands.

two birds to watch while fishing

Watching them feed I often wonder how they catch enough fish to maintain that large body. Unlike brown pelicans they don’t dive; rather, as they swim they dip their bills into the water to catch their fish. They usually fish in groups, finding it more efficient that way. They actually herd the fish to make them easier to catch. Ease of capture is important, since each bird needs at least three pounds of fish daily. That’s a lot of minnows! Actually, white pelicans can eat fish ranging in size from minnows up to three pounds or so.

White pelicans fly very gracefully. A flock will ride thermals, circling higher and higher for no apparent reason other than the sheer joy of flying. An observant angler will see hundreds of tiny specks elegantly circling together, thousands of feet above the water, an aerial ballet if you will.

Large, pink, spectacular roseate spoonbills do live here all year. If you want to see some, the area around the Merritt Island wildlife refuge is one of the best places in the state to look. They feed while wading in shallow water, sweeping their spatulate (duck-shaped), partly opened bill from side to side. The moment any small aquatic creature touches the inside of the bill—an insect, crustacean, or tiny fish—the bill snaps shut. They need to feed many hours each day to find adequate food. Their dabbling technique only works well when there are lots of small organisms in the water.

two birds to watch while fishing

Watching these and any of the many other types of birds out there can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of any fishing trip- especially when the fishing is slow. It’s good to take a break from chasing fish and observe what else is out there sometimes. The white pelican and the spoonbills are two birds to watch while fishing.

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2014. All rights are reserved.



how to get through a day of fishing without hurting your back

how to get through a day of fishing without hurting your back

guest blog by Peter Miller

Fishing is commonly thought of as the ultimate stress reliever, but it can also lead to back pain or serious back injuries if proper measurements aren’t followed. In fact, according to a Duke University Medical Center study, 69 percent of fishermen suffer from back pain at some point during their fishing career. Heavy lifting, repetitive motions, and long days of standing with the body in the same position often causes stress, tension and muscle fatigue in the back and makes fishermen susceptible to a number of debilitating back injuries.

One fishing enthusiast all too familiar with how fishing can cause back pain is professional angler Peter Miller. Following an injury that herniated two discs and pinched a nerve in his lower back, the three time World Sailfish Champion and host of NBC show “Bass 2 Billfish with Peter Miller” suffered chronic pain that prevented him from fishing at the top of his game. After deciding to have surgery with Tampa-based Laser Spine Institute, the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, Peter was able to return to doing what he loves and has since worked closely with his surgeon, Dr. Stefan Prada, M. D., to develop a list of tips for how to prevent back pain during a day of fishing:

Get really comfortable shoes. Traditionally, fishermen wear flip flops, boat shoes or bare feet. These shoes offer little support and have no cushion to absorb shock. Try wearing shoes that are more traditional for jogging than for fishing.

Stretch. Even 5 minutes worth of stretching before you get on the boat or mid-day can make a tremendous difference. Try touching your toes or the floor and reaching your hands over your head to stretch your back.

Maintain a strong core. A strong core will make you better prepared for the various motions involved when fishing, such as throwing a cast and reeling in a fish. Planks, push-ups, v-sits and leg lifts are all great exercises to develop a strong core.

Take Advil. Anti-inflammatory medications in mild doses will always help. Try taking some anti-inflammatory medications prior to taking the boat out to help prevent inflammation during the day.

Stay active. Don’t be sedentary. The kiss of death is sitting all day on a boat. One great way to help your back muscles stay active, warm and loose while on the boat is the cat-and-dog exercise: position yourself on your hand and knees and alternate between rounding your back by looking down on the ground and arching it by looking up into the sky.

Stay hydrated. Drinking enough water is essential to helping reduce pain. It helps keep the muscles hydrated and helps avoid muscle cramps.

And that’s how to get through a day of fishing without hurting your back.

John Kumiski
www.spottedtail.com



How to Buy Fishing Sunglasses

How to Buy Fishing Sunglasses

fishing sunglasses

These glass lenses have been good to me for a long time.

All fishermen should wear Polarized fishing sunglasses while fishing. They protect your eyes from both the sun and from errant fishhooks. A fishhook through the cornea or a sunburned retina will ruin your day.

Your fishing sunglasses will be wonderful for driving too, something to keep in mind when you’re counting your pennies.

You should wear the best fishing sunglasses you can afford. You only get two eyes and when they’re permanently damaged you’re out of luck. If you don’t need a prescription, the highest quality fishing sunglasses can be purchased at discount houses, such as Sierra Trading Post. If you need a prescription, though, be prepared to part with $200-400. Sorry.

Look for sunglasses that block 99-100 percent of all ultraviolet light. Sunglasses with lenses that wrap around to your temples keep out more light and UV radiation than typical lenses. Keep in mind that most good fishing sunglasses are not labelled “fishing sunglasses.”

Fishing Sunglasses Lens Material

Your first decision once you have decided to spend some money is whether you want glass or polycarbonate lenses. Compared to glass, polycarbonate scratches easily. If you like to keep up with the latest styles, and have new glasses two or three times a year, it makes sense to get polycarbonate lenses. Poly lenses have the highest impact protection. From that point of view they are the best lenses you can get. Polycarbonate lenses require more care than glass; for example, they should not be cleaned with any paper products. They should be cleaned with a microfiber cloth after being wetted with clean water or a lens cleaning solution.

If, however, you dropped $350 for a prescription pair and want them to last as long as possible, you may prefer glass. They will be heavier than the polycarbonate. I have a pair of prescription glass lenses that are on their fourth set of frames. Glass lenses will last for years if you give them a modest amount of care. And this may make purists shudder, but I clean my glass lenses by licking them and then rubbing them clean with a paper towel.

Read the rest of this article here…

 

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2014. All rights are reserved.



A Review of The Old Town Penobscot 174

A Review of The Old Town Penobscot 174

Old Town Penobscot review

We hear and see so much about kayaks and kayak fishing these days. Undeniably, kayaks have certain advantages- they’re small, they’re very portable, and when you’re in a solo kayak there is no compromise. You can do exactly what you want, whenever you want to do it.

Canoes seem to have been left behind in all this. This really is too bad, because canoes have some advantages, too. You can stand up sometimes, to rest your butt and get a better view of the water than if you were sitting. While a bit larger than a kayak, canoes are still very portable. And they have one huge advantage over a kayak when it comes to long trips- they have a much larger load capacity.

Another advantage of the canoe if you’re a shallow water fisherman is that you can stand and pole it. I spent quite a bit of time on the trip described below standing and poling the vessel with a ferruled two-piece 14 foot Moonlighter push pole. It works wonderfully well!

Five of us just made a 160-mile paddle along the full length of Florida’s Indian River Lagoon. Three of the participants were in canoes. Two were in kayaks. Before the trip started I wondered how the kayakers would carry all the gear they needed for a trip of that length.

It didn’t take me long to find out. They kayakers lived on freeze-dried food, ramen noodles, cookies, and cliff bars. The canoeists ate real food- apples and oranges, fresh vegetables, cookies (of course!), and cooked our real food on stoves, double burner Colemans. We shared our food with the kayakers, of course.

My friend Rodney Smith and I were in an Old Town Penobscot 174. We pushed it along with paddles made by Bending Branches. I expected to be lagging behind the other paddlers but was pleasantly surprised to discover we could out-paddle every other boat on the trip with the exception of Mim’s Epic kayak, a superbly designed little vessel built for speed.

old town penobcot review

Mim’s Epic is a fast little boat.

No way could Mim’s Epic carry a load like we had.

The Penobscot was, shall we say, heavily loaded. It’s rated for a 1500 pound capacity. I believe it would handle that load easily. Throughout our trip it paddled and handled like a dream.

Indian River Lagoon Paddle Adventure

We had too much stuff. We made it work.

Old Town builds this boat in a Royalex version and a polypropelene version. To the casual observer they are identical. The Royalex boat weighs 65 pounds, the poly vessel 83. There’s an $800 price difference, though- a hefty $50 a pound.

If frequent portages were a consideration, the extra money would be well spent.

Here in Florida I’d use the difference to get good paddles- the already mentioned Bending Branches. In the stern I used a Sunburst ST. I’ve been paddling a long time and have used a lot of different paddles. This is the best ever. In the bow Rodney used a vintage Bending Branches bent shaft paddle that he likewise said was the best one he had ever used.

old town penobcot review

The Bending Branches Sunburst ST taking a break along the Indian River Lagoon.

Both of us were extremely pleased with both the boat and the paddles. If we were to do it again, we would do it exactly the same way. The boat and the paddles are made for each other.

So ends a review of the Old Town Penobscot 174 and the Bending Branches Sunburst ST.

John Kumiski
www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2014. All rights are reserved.



Selecting Successful Seatrout Flies

Selecting Successful Seatrout Flies

selecting successful seatrout flies

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” -Ecclesiastes 1.9

More fishermen fish for seatrout than any other inshore gamefish along the coasts of the southeastern United States. You would think that reams of information would be available on selecting successful seatrout flies. Not so.

Here in Florida the average seatrout weighs between one and three pounds, so they’re not very big. They’re fairly easy to catch most of the time. They don’t fight very hard. And they’re usually hard to sight fish. So most serious fly fishers look for other species.

Challenging Targets

A seatrout over five or six pounds is a difficult fish to fool. They can be sight fished, best during the winter but also while they’re spawning. They are as spooky as any creature with fins. A seatrout over five pounds that is sight fished and caught on a fly rod is a great trophy.

The smaller ones are fun and will save the day when more appealing species aren’t biting. The larger ones present a formidable target in their own right.

Eyes Bigger Than Stomach?

A seatrout of any size is a glutton. A big seatrout will take a very large bait.

While poling one time I spotted what I thought was a dead fish lying on the bottom. I went over to investigate and was heartbroken to see it was quite a large seatrout, belly up. I poked it gently with the push pole and was surprised to see it wiggle weakly. I said to my fisherman, “It’s not dead! Reach down and pick it up.” He did, and we put it on a Boga Grip. It weighed a whopping nine pounds. Not many fly casters can say they’ve caught a nine pound seatrout with their bare hands!

I started examining the fish. It was pretty beat up. I looked down into its mouth. There was the tail of a one to two pound mullet sticking out of the fish’s throat. If a big seatrout will take a mullet this size they’ll also take a large fly.

Smaller seatrout seem to prefer shrimp. While larger fish will certainly eat them, they usually fill up by eating baitfish, principally by ambush feeding. Mullet, menhaden, pigfish, pinfish, pilchards, etc., all help big seatrout stay fat and healthy. So your best bet with seatrout flies, if you prefer the larger fish, is to stick with baitfish patterns.

Color, Flash, Sound

Bright colors and flash seem to attract the eye of big trout. Red and yellow, red and white, chartreuse and white, all seem to work well. Fluorescent and even luminescent colors are frequently outstanding. But I’ve also had good success with realistic color combinations, and drab colors like black, gray, brown, and grizzly, especially when sight fishing for them.

You can find trout in various depths of water. For shallow water fish (about fifteen inches deep or less), and these are almost always big ones, you need a fly that kisses the water when it touches down. The small “Plop!” of a lead eye spooks them badly in this situation.

For fish in deeper water, noise seems to be a great attractor. Flies that incorporate rattles can be extremely effective. Those luminescent materials can greatly add to the effectiveness of deep water patterns, too.

To read the rest of this article, visit this link…

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2013. All rights are reserved.




Fly Fish Banana River Black Drum

Fly Fish Banana River Black Drum

It’s getting to be that time of year!

Fly Fish Banana River Black Drum

Black drum run big. If you Fly Fish Banana River Black Drum they’ll probably be the largest tailing fish to which you’ll ever cast a fly.

When you’re in the water up to your hips and that broom-sized tail pops up, I don’t care where you’ve been or what you’ve caught. Adrenaline is going to rush. The mouth will dry right up. It’s exciting fishing.

The requisite fly selection for black drum is small. Flies need to sink like an anvil. A black, size 2 Clouser Minnow with a weedguard or a dark crab pattern such as a Merkin are the best choices.

You need a seven- or eight-weight outfit with a floating line, plenty of backing, and a 10 foot leader with a 15 pound tippet, almost impossible to break.

Paddle up into the Banana River Lagoon’s federal manatee refuge (locally called the no motor zone) searching for them. Either a canoe or a kayak will work. Use the boat to find the fish, then wade.

The best weather is a cool, sunny day with a light north or northwest wind. The best time of year runs roughly from Thanksgiving to Easter.

You won’t find them on the shoreline. Look out on the deeper part of the flat, even at or off its edge. Expect that some days you won’t see any.

While tailers are what everyone wants to see, drum don’t always tail. Many times you’ll see cruising fish. They will still take a well presented fly.

Sometimes you find the drum as scattered singles. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a herd. Anytime you find some, be happy about it. Make the best of whatever situation comes along.

How far will you have to paddle? Some days only a few miles gets the job done. Other days you might have to go all the way up to the NASA Causeway, a round trip of more than 10 miles.

To read the rest of this article, visit this link…

Life is short. Go Fishing!

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2013. All rights are reserved.

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