Port Canaveral’s Giant Jack Crevalle

Port Canaveral’s Giant Jack Crevalle


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

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

Another Orlando Area Fishing Report

Another Orlando Area Fishing Report

Blog Posts This Week- The Peruke Fly

orlando area fishing report

Last Saturday I accompanied my bride to the Home and Garden Show. It was not very good, BUT, there was a booth (the proprietor was not there) that had fish art made from stainless steel, very cool stuff. The artist’s name is Armando Hevia, his website is metalfish66.com. Check it out.

Didn’t fish Monday. Went for a walk on the Florida Trail. it was lovely. However I got about 15 chigger bites and a single tick, not lovely at all. Pulled the tick off on Friday, when I found it. Think I’ll stay out of the woods until October or so.

Tammy Tuesday got rained out. It poured.

Wednesday I went bass fishing on the Econ, something I’d never really done before. I was such a dumass. It was good, once I figured it out.

I had this demented idea I was going to catch the biggest bass of my life so I brought a five-weight and threw a big bunny eelworm for two hours. I got exactly one bite from a twelve inch bass. I finally lost the fly on some submerged lumber.

orlando area fishing report

The eelworm bass.

I switched to a hideously ugly foam frog I tied, and the bites just kept coming. I don’t know what a redbelly is thinking when it hits a three inch long frog but I got a couple that managed to impale themselves on the stinger hook. And I got about ten bass to three pounds or so, not great but definitely entertaining. The strikes are just awesome!

orlando area fishing report

If anyone out there knows what this guy was thinking I would love to hear from you.

orlando area fishing report

This is more like what I wanted.

Thursday son Alex was supposed to go fishing with me but he wouldn’t get up (after 9 am, I wasn’t trying to smoke him or anything) so I went back to the Econ. I got 20 or so fish, a few redbellies and the rest bass. The biggest was maybe three pounds, but again, quite fun with surface flies, which was all I tried.

orlando area fishing report

These fish will smack some ugly flies…

Friday Dr. George Yarko joined me for some R&R on the Indian River Lagoon. He hadn’t been out for months! We found a school of redfish almost immediately, and got five on DOA CAL shad before they gave us the shake, nice fish, 24 inches or so.

orlando area fishing report

Then a few trout fell to the Deadly Combo. Then we went back to the place where the reds had been caught hoping to find them again. George got five blind casting the CAL Shad, unbelievable. As the east wind pushed us toward the edge of the manatee zone I tossed a Chug Bug, got a couple strikes, and got a nice trout of three pounds or so.

orlando area fishing report

So ended our day, and my week.

A couple weeks ago I showed a photo of the result of jousting against a pushpole with a fly rod. I got the new rod today- sixty bucks! Ouch.

And check out the link below between fly fishing and sex. Great stuff!

And that is this week’s Orlando Area fishing report.

Life is great and I love my work!

Life is short. Go Fishing!

John Kumiski

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

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

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

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

Lunkerhunt Swim Bentos Bait

Lunkerhunt Swim Bentos Bait

Whether a fish you cast to bites or not generally depends more on how you present the bait than what it is. That having been said, a confidence factor definitely affects how that bait gets fished.

I just got three packages of confidence in a box FedEx delivered.

Lunkerhunt makes fishing lures. They’re based in Toronto. What could they know about saltwater lures? A glance at the picture below shows that clearly they understand what fish will bite and what fishermen will buy. Their baits are gorgeous.

lunkerhunt swim bentos

Their website says, “Designed to perfection, the Lunkerhunt Swim Bento™ is one of the most realistic baitfish imitators on the market. The Swim Bento™ features a lively keeled tail, holographic core, and biologically correct detailing. All of these elements are incorporated into a soft yet durable body construction that enables the Swim Bento™ to come to life with the slightest movement.”

These baits have not made it off my desk yet but there can be no doubt that they will catch any kind of inshore saltwater fish Florida fishermen are interested in.

You can see how to rig them properly here and here. These rigging instruction will work for any kind of jerk bait, too.

I usually fish these types of baits slowly, with gentle twitches of the rod tip to give the bait a dying minnow type of action. Of course, every situation is different, so individual interpretation comes into play.

The Lunkerhunt website shows all their other baits (they specialize in baits for bass and pike) and also tells you where you can get some Swim Bentos of your own. There are also a bunch of videos there if you like that sort of thing.

What are you waiting for? Go get some Swim Bentos!

John Kumiski

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

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

The First Annual Spotted Tail Christmas Giving Guide

The First Annual Spotted Tail Christmas Giving Guide


My idea of Christmas shopping is googling what I want and then paying for it with a credit card or paypal.  So The First Annual Spotted Tail Christmas Giving Guide will have lots of links.

A fishing trip with Capt. John Kumiski makes a spectacular gift, and yes, we supply gift certificates. Or you may prefer a gift certificate to one of our popular fishing seminars.

For the well-read fisherman, books by Capt. John Kumiski are a thoughtful gift that will keep on giving. They are on sale until Christmas, too. I will even sign them!

For the fisherman with a camera, a lens cleaning kit is very useful. For dSLRs a sensor cleaning kit will make all those ugly spots go away.

For the fisherman without a camera, the Nikon AW-100 is waterproof to 30 feet and makes excellent images for a point-and-shoot. It also has video capabilities.

What paddling fisherman couldn’t use a nicer paddle? Bending Branches makes some of the nicest paddles around.

If the fisherman on your list likes to eat fish, he may have to clean one once in a while. A nice filet knife and the best way to keep it sharp will be useful for a long time. A Kevlar glove makes fish cleaning chores much safer.

Going to a tackle store and buying a bunch of stuff for your fisherman is not a good idea. Going into his tackle box, writing down the names of several items he has in there, and buying some of those on-line is an excellent idea.

Accessories make the fisherman. All fisherman need pliers, nippers, and clamps. Dr. Slick makes the nicest ones available.

A dehooker is an always-useful tool for the fisherman, too.

Any outdoorsman needs a way to carry water. The Vapur flexible one-liter Element bottle folds up once empty.

Christmas happens during the winter. Your fisherman might need to stay warm and dry. Raingear from Simms is always in excellent taste. They make a complete line of clothing for the fisherman, too, not just rainwear.

Glacier Gloves, made from neoprene, keep the hands going even when it’s cold and wet.

Many outdoorsmen find coffee an indispensible part of their morning. Stanley’s vacuum bottle carries the goods better than anything else.

Outdoorsmen also need sun protection.

The Tilley Hat is the finest headgear I have ever used and it looks good besides.

The Buff is all the rage with flats fishers nowadays, with good reason. Who needs skin cancer?

And for those skin areas not under cover of the Tilley or the Buff, Smartshield sunblock is my favorite- non-greasy, non-pasty, and extremely effective.

So with a wide range of prices, every outdoorsman on your list will find something useful in the First Annual Spotted Tail Christmas Giving Guide.

Have the merriest of Christmases!

John Kumiski

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

How to Pack for a Florida Canoe Trip- The Tackle Box

How to Pack for a Florida Canoe Trip- The Tackle Box

The path of the Indian River Lagoon Paddle Adventure takes it the length of the most biologically diverse estuary in North America, the Indian River Lagoon system. This blog discusses How to Pack for a Florida Canoe Trip- The Tackle Box. The Fly Box will be covered in a separate blog.

We will find many species of fish. I want to keep track of how many different kinds we can catch. Redfish, snook, seatrout, snapper, moonfish, jacks, it’s a long list. Since it’s a paddle trip, you don’t have room to bring a ton of tackle. I hope the list below is an exercise in minimalism.

The spin rod I’m bringing will be a two piece, 6.5 foot light action rod with a Shimano Spheros 3000. On the reel will be Power Pro 10 or 15 pound braid. Most of the time there will be a section of twenty pound fluorocarbon on the business end.

A small box of lures is joining me. In the box are the following:

-three 1/8th ounce weedless jigheads and 10 matching soft plastic tails;

-three shallow running DOA Bait Busters;

-one dozen three inch DOA Shrimp, assorted colors;

-two Chug Bugs with single hooks;

-two five-inch Rebel jointed swimming plugs (couldn’t find a link for these) with single hooks*;

-two 1/4 ounce Johnson Minnows;

-about one dozen DOA CAL jigheads, 1/16th to 1/4 ounce;

-a 12-pack of Woodies Rattlers plastic worm rattles;

-a bag of 00 size split shots and a few DOA pinch weights.

*We drag a Rebel behind the boat as we paddle. If you stop paddling the plug floats instead of snagging on the bottom. I don’t know how it will work in the lagoon but it used to work well in the Everglades.

In a one gallon Ziplock bag are:

-one package each of 3/0 and 5/0 Daiichi D65Z hooks for jerk baits;

-a package  of 5/0 Daiichi D84Z circle hooks just in case;

-a quart-size Ziplock with a handful of DOA CAL 5.5 inch jerkbaits;

-a quart-size Ziplock with a handful of DOA CAL AirHeads and the DOA  longneck hook designed for these baits;

-a quart-size Ziplock with a handful of DOA CAL  three inch shad tails;

-a quart-size Ziplock with a handful of DOA CAL four-inch jekbaits.

And we simply MUST accessorize, dahlink:

-a Dr. Slick line nipper on a cord around my neck;

-a pair of Dr. Slick bullet head pliers in a holster on my belt;

-an orange grabby glove (couldn’t find a link for these) for lipping tarpon;

-one each Seaguar fluorocarbon leader wheels in 20 and 30 pound test.

That’s my tackle kit, and I’m sticking to it.

And that is the end of Packing for a Florida Canoe Trip- The Tackle Box blog.

As always please share any questions, comments, and suggestions.

John Kumiski

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

Related articles

Redfish- Presenting the Fly

This is an excerpt from the book, Redfish on the Fly, by Capt. John Kumiski 

Redfish- Presenting the Fly

Redfish- Presenting the Fly
It was a redfish fisher’s dream, a school of at least 500 fish, swimming fast, up on top, crashing bait all around us, one of the finest sights in all of angling, and one that one doesn’t see very often in the Mosquito Lagoon. Rob Ricks was trembling with excitement. He had caught exactly one redfish on fly in his life, and badly wanted another. It was practically certain that the deed would now be done.

“Cast out in front of them, and just make it look alive,” I told him. Rob was a weak caster. When he got the fly in the water, not very far away, there was so much slack in the line that the cast was useless.

“Try it again,” I said. “Lead them, put it where they’re going and let them swim into it.” Rob tried again with the same result. And again, and again, and again. Finally the fish disappeared. We’d caught exactly none.

The moral to this story? Your casting must be second nature in order to take advantage of opportunities, especially once in a lifetime opportunities like this one was. But it’s a great segue into this section’s premise- after locating the fish, how you present the fly to them is the single most important variable in getting one to bite, much more important than what’s at the end of your leader.

The Strike Zone
When I was younger and just getting into saltwater fly fishing, I was fortunate to get a copy of the finest instructional fishing video ever made, the late Billy Pate’s Fly Fishing for Tarpon (which I recommend highly). In this video Billy explains the concept of strike zones as it relates to tarpon fishing. We’re going to revisit this concept and then relate it to presenting the fly to redfish- cruising fish, laid-up fish, and tailers.

The strike zone is an area around the fish where, if the fly is properly presented, you have a reasonable chance that the fish will take it. This area is roughly shaped like a half a football, extending with the wide part at the mouth of the fish to the apex out in front of it. Since their mouths point down, redfish prefer to feed down, but they show little hesitation in coming up for a fly unless they are heavily fished or have been disturbed by boat traffic.

Understand that the strike zone changes in size constantly though, going from non-existent to huge and back again, and occasionally even goes behind the fish. Over the years I’ve seen a few fish do about faces to take a fly. It’s rare, but it does happen. Our assumption here is that in order to get a bite, the fly must be in the strike zone.

Hopefully it’s obvious that the longer the fly is in that strike zone, the more likely the fish is to take it. This brings us to presentation angles.

Read the rest of the article here, or  buy the book!

John Kumiski

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