Fishing the Offshore World Championship with Capt Ryan Harrington
Family Fishing with Cherlyn and Lewis Arnold
Marlin in the DR with Bo George , Tony Ludovico
About Snook with Skye Burkhardt
The Gale Force Twins
and More at Flfishmag.com
On The Cover - Nicole Spenc From Nicole 's Fishing Bed & Breakfast
In This Issue
Nicole Spenc Page 3
Nicole's Fishing Bed and Breakfast
Fishing The Offshore
World Championship pg11
Family Fishing with Lewis and
Cherlyn Arnold Pg 21
Going out for Dinner
Stephanie Lynn pg 24
About Snook pg 48
Sometimes less is more Pg 59
Readers Features pg 87
We at Floriida Fishermen Magazine are all abourt success stories, Watching the progress of Captains Amanda and Emily Gale, David Sivley starting a Charter Business from nothing in Key West, Capt Nick Stanczyk's Swordfish mastery , Skye Burkhardt's relentless fishing adventures, the success and retirement of my friend Jorge Pinero , Charlie Rogers and Melanie Housh and the Growth of "Against the Grain Charters " , our awesome family fishing addition of Lewis and Cherlyn Arnold and in this Issue we help celebrate the success of Nicole Spenc
I started the original Florida Fisherman in 2013 or 14 I believe, it started as just posting fishing reports and pictures of people fishing. I was warned by all of the old-timers not to use the pictures of the girls fishing as they were just models holding fish that other people caught. Nicole spenc was one of those people . Now I am not one to listen to many people when it comes to my vision of this Magazine because i try to look to where this sport needs to go as to where it is and has always been, That being said . Not only can Nicole fish she can clean the fish cook the fish and now has a fishing bed and breakfast not bad for someone they told me not to even bother posting her pictures. I'm sure glad I didn't listen this time. Proud to know you Nicole !! Your work ethic is second to none .
Managing Editor / FFM
Avid Angler & Owner of
"Nicole's Fishing Bed & Breakfast"
Meet Nicole Spenc
When did you start fishing?
Since before I was even born. My dad would take my mom when she was 8 months pregnant with me!
Where is your favorite place to fish?
So far I love Venice, Louisiana, but the places I get to visit and fish are amazing, too.
What is your most distinguishable catch so far?
I think swordfish are pretty awesome, especially if they come up fast and don’t realize they are hooked. Really pretty colors coming from so deep down.
What is your dream fish?
Salmon in Alaska would be awesome!
What is your favorite thing about fishing?
I love wearing my favorite bikinis and being on the boat in the beautiful sunshine .
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to start fishing?
If you want to get involved do it and don’t hold back the world presents endless opportunities. I want to inspire more woman to get into the outdoors.
Nicole's Fishing Bed & Breakfast
Join me for an unforgeable experience at my Bed & Breakfast in Venice, Louisiana!
I’m partnered up with 12 different houseboats where I come in and do all the home cooked meals. I cook everything from gumbos, crawfish étouffée, jambalaya and fresh catches.
All you need to do is BYOB and I will handle the rest. I will even connect you with some of the top captains in the area so you don’t have to make tons of phone calls! #onestopshop
My prices are $200 a person per night with a 4 person min. This includes your bed, breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks and snacks! If I have time, I even go fishing with my clients as well!
Give me a call or click here to book your stay today!
Coming to fish the oil rigs out of Venice Louisiana this place is perfect Stay!
Nicole's Fishing Bed & Breakfast is partnered up with 6 different house boats located at Venice Marina & Cypress Cove Marina. Price is $200 per person per night including your bed, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Drinks & snacks. 4 people min in order to make this operation work. Drinks include water, gatorade and Soda you provide your own alcohol. Nicole will be preparing all of your meals and will be coming and going from the property. We Don't have a local grocery Store this allows you to just sit back and enjoy your stay, not having to worry about finding food to cook or eating the same meals everyday at the marina. I cook everything from Chix and Sausage Gumbos, Seafood Jambalaya, Seafood Baked Potatoes, Fresh Shrimp Alfredo, crawfish Étouffée. I love cooking Cajun meals for my clients so they get the whole experience of Louisiana ! I also go fishing with clients at request. if I know in advance and can get everything prepared before your arrival. Venice Louisiana is the Fishing Capital of the World, come stay at my one stop shop for a Fishing / Hunting Trip of a lifetime.
Book your trip
Make A Reservation
Tap or click here
Fishing The Offshore World Championship with Capt Ryan Harrington
2019 Offshore World Championship
Quepos Costa Rica
Last year we had a successful billfish tournament season placing in multiple tournaments throughout Florida. This earned us an invitation to fish the Offshore World Chanpionship in Quepos, Costa Rica. I was fortunate to qualify and fish the 2017 Championship, although back then it was a tough bite, I was still excited to head back and represent Team Keep em Tight and the Unites States against over 40 teams from 22 countries around the world. What makes this tournament prestigious is that teams must win a qualifying tournament to qualify. With so many quality teams from all around the world, there is certainly team camaraderie and pride on the line.
The bite in Costa Rica has been on fire and I was eagerly watching every tournament in the prior weeks, often times streaming into the love feeds and having my heart race listen to teams releasing upwards of 30 sailfish per day. We headed down there excited about the potential big numbers and multiple hookups. Costa Rica did not disappoint. the format is set where each team blind draws to fish with 4 different boats for 4 days totalling billfish points and fun fish weighable fish.
Day 1 starts with an incredible boat parade out of Marina Pez Vela. Teams are draped with country flags, pride and morning friendly competitive jabbing. We made about a 45 minute run and ended up in an area with 14 other boats. The action exceeded our expections and within the 1st hour we already had sailfish release, saw about 2 dozen free jumpers and every boat around us hooked up. We lost a couple doubles as the action heated up but ended up with 5 sails and 2 nice Dorado around 30 points. The team from Oregon Tuna Classic fished the same area and tore it up with 15 sails and a blue marlin for a dominate lead.
the 2nd day we fished with Geaux Fly out of Los Suenos. The boat weighed to the 10'sand we felt good. We headed to a different area. it the it was just as hot. Started out with a quick sailfish release and followed up minutes later with a perfectly executed double. We were getting in a groove when the shotgun went off, I quickly dumped the naked ballyhoo and fed the aggressive billfish. Line was quickly dumping off the 20 series conventional reel and I knew this was a bigger fish. Once we finally saw the aerial jumps we knew it was a marlin. Lines were cleared and the cockpit was soon flooded as the Captain backed down hard. Adrenaline waa flowing so I decided against a belt or chair opting for a quick release (an option I regretted with bruises in the morning) but worth every minute. Once we leadered the fish I could hear the excitement within the crew it was the biggest striped marlin they have seen down there in over 10 years. There was no time to celebrate as we were in the middle of a hot bite. We lost another blue marlin about 30 minutes later that would have given us the daily but ended up in 3rd for Day 2.
Days 3 and 4 saw a slower bite for everyone but we still managed multiple sails and stayed one of the most consistent fun fish teams weighing in multiple Dorado around 30 lbs.
The 4 day total was 636 billfish landed (608 sails, 25 blue marlin, 2 striped marlin and 1 black marlin). We ended up with a respectable 3,193 points. The team from Oregon had the hit state on Day 1 and held onto a slim lead bringing the title back to the US.
Overall it was an amazing tournament, one we aim to qualify for again this year. We have a full tournament schedule around Florida, Bahamas, Louisiana, Mississippi, the Keys and potentially Cuba. Its marlin tourney season and we are primed up for a great year! Tight Lines!
Capt. Ryan Harrington
USCG Licensed Captain
Reel Estate Sportfishing, LLC
Snook are my favorite inshore fish to catch hands down. Why you ask, first of all I feel pretty darn lucky if I even get the fish to the boat. The thump gets my heart all startled. And the fight is just phenomenal. Even the little snook can make a nice commotion. The slot and overslots, they are in a league of their own. Those long runs and jumps really get us excited. We usually target snook on the flats this time of year which happens to be one of our favorite places to catch them.
Family Fishing with Lewis and
The thrill of catching snook on the flats using light tackle and fighting them out from and around structure is exhilarating. We use soft plastic baits or topwater. My favorite to use personally is a soft plastic shad tail, I usually work the bottom and jig it off the bottom. Lewis enjoys using top water, watching the wake come up and follow behind the lure then you get that hit, it is just amazing! And the bonus is catching a keeper during snook season, the Arnold's enjoy eating snook!
" Going Out For Dinner "
Stephanie Lynn on the Treasure Coast
My version of "going out for dinner"
I was out with some friends grabbing dinner and drinks on a Wednesday night when I got a call from my friend and local dive buddy Ryan Suits. He said "Steph, we are going out for a 2hr dinner spearing mission at sunrise tomorrow. I'll meet you at the dock at 5:45am". He knows I am always up for a spontaneous local dive mission whenever I am home and of course I said yes. I hung up with Ryan and immediately headed to pack my gear and get a couple hours of sleep.
Florida Fishermen Magazine
photo credit to John Dornellas @ibreathwater
The next morning I met Ryan and one of his friends, John Dornellas, at the dock before sunrise. The wind had been blowing the entire week and that day was no exception. The swell was a choppy 3-5' and continued to grow as we headed a couple miles off shore in Ryan's little single engine panga. Ryan kept on the course at full speed knowing we only had 2 hrs of dive time before all of us had to rush back to reality and resume our normal adult responsibilities/jobs.
We got to the spot, said a quick prayer, and Ryan and John jumped in for the first drift. We were in about 70ft depth with about 30ft of visibility which, along with the surface swell, made safetying from surface challenging. John made the first dive and within a little over a minute resurfaced with a nice African Pompano . The day was off to an amazing start!
John jumped on the boat and took over the captain position as I loaded my 110cm Rob Allen Roller speargun attached to a float line and 15L float at the end. I jumped in with Ryan and we did a couple drifts. Each drop we saw barracudas and bait fish but nothing we wanted to eat for dinner. We decided to reset a bit up current from our mark and try the drift again. I dove down to about 50ft depth and waited. I started making some grunting noises hoping to create some commotion and attract some tasty fish.
The grunting worked. I saw a school of nice sized African Pompano make their way towards me. At first the little ones got close and the bigger ones hung back but as I waited patiently, wiggling my fingers at them, the bigger ones gained confidence and decided to make a pass within shooting range. I lined up on a big one that was close to me and made a holding shot. He took off but I was able to fight him from the surface as Ryan helped keep a curious bull shark from stealing our meal. At this point it was only 7am and we already had dinner on the boat!
I took back over as captain and Ryan and John made a couples more drifts to see if Ryan could get an opportunity at a fish. After another hour, nothing was showing up so we decided to call it and head back in. On the ride in we shared fish stories and celebrated a safe and successful hunt. We accomplished what we set out to do... local dinner spearing mission complete... and all before the work day had begun! That's what I call "going out for dinner".
Tortuga Custom Rods
Where Custom means Custom
Tortuga Rods a father and son team with a passion for fishing. We've carried that passion over to building custom fishing rods.
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Gale Force Twins "Trophies on the Water "
What a difference a year makes! This time last year we were working for the fishing legend and tournament director, Captain Skip Smith. For 8 weeks, we flew back and forth to the Abacos to work for Skip’s Tournaments and The Custom Shootout - all of them being marlin tournaments. We worked behind the scenes with the occasional opportunity to ride along on one of the sport yachts in the tournament. However, our time consisted mostly of working the radio, tracking live results, registration, awards ceremonies and the set up and break down of each event. We also got to know many of the amazing captains and their crew.
This year, we were invited to fish in the second leg of Skip’s Abaco Diamond series, The Shootout. We were honored to represent Cabana, a 63’ Spencer with Captain Eddie Wheeler. The Cabana’s home is in Ocean City, MD, but they regularly travel and fish in tournaments all over the map. We arrived in the Bahamas early with the intentions of pre-fishing on the Reel Life, a 62’ Viking out of Miami with Captain AJ Sepe. We have fished with AJ and his crew before, and it worked out that they were going to be there early as well. We teamed up and spent 3 days fishing before the official start of The Shootout.
At the start of the tournament we took our place on the Cabana with Captain Eddie and his team, Topher and Jose. The Cabana is a well-known and respected boat and it's no secret that the Gale Force Twins are rather competitive. We went into this tournament with the intentions of winning. We have won our fair share of trophies and medals competing in track and field, however, winning a trophy on the water has been a goal of both of ours.
visit their website
Congrats To The Twins .. Nice Work
OUR FIRST TROPHY!
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Tortuga Custom Rods
Where Custom means Custom
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It is starting to get hot, and so is the bite!!!! This week takes us to 2 totally different bodies of water in central Florida during a classic bass fishing tournament.
Rick Southerland - Freshwater editor at Florida Fishermen Magazine
Freshwater Fishing with
First stop was Duval Island located just north of Floral City. Duval Island is a river lake. Covered with cypress trees and grass, Duval Island looked amazing!!! We started out fishing a small grass island with top water poppers and Glo Pro Flukes. We managed to catch a couple small ones, but being in a tournament we knew we had to search for a bigger bite. We tried points, hydrilla mats, Cypress Trees, and lily pads with very little success. While passing a cove, we noticed birds and some top water activity. Bingo!!! Anytime you see the combination of birds and top water activity, you better stop and try. We were glad we did!!!
First cast with the Storm Rattling Chug Bug and fish On!!! While I was getting my fish out of the net, my co-Angler hooked-up using a Zoom Fluke in baby bass color!! Two fish two casts!!! We stayed in that spot for most of the day. Just trolling around the cove that we noticed was full of bream beds with bream on them!! That was the answer. At weigh-in, we were in second place!!! On a two-day event they take the total weight of both days and combine them. Being in second, we knew that we had a shot!!
The final day!!! What it all comes down too. We were currently sitting in second place. Only 10 ounces out of first!!! Day 2 takes us to Lake Panasoffkee. Lake Panasoffkee is a shallow lake located by the town of Coleman in Central Florida. It has a natural river flowing through it and is filled with hydrilla and lily pads. To start of the day I was using the Chug Bug and my co-Angler was using a fluke. We tried the hydrilla. No bites. We tried boat docks. No bites. We tried points. Again, no bites. So we drove until we noticed birds.
Chug Bug Lure
Rick Southerland - Freshwater editor FFM
There’s not a fish finder in the world that is better than birds in shallow water. The birds were on a peninsula with scattered lily pads. Within a couple casts, fish On!!! A nice 5 1/2 lber. I noticed there was scattered hydrilla slightly under the surface with bream beds mixed with it. That’s the ticket!!! We probably caught over 40 fish!!! Just fishing around the bream beds with a top water popper and a fluke. We weighed in a total of 23.5 lbs for a second place finish!!! So look for the birds, then look in the water for bream beds. They are spawning, and the bass are feeding!!!! Get out in the outdoors...Southerland Outdoors
Fishing with Rick Southerland -headings
Skye Burkhardt - Inshore Editor at Florida Fishermen Magazine
Checkout "Inshore Adventures with Skye "
About Snook with Skye Burkhardt
At some point throughout their lifestyle, Snook will inhabit almost every type of inshore and nearshore habitat. One day you may sight cast Snook in clear water and another pulling monster Snook from pilings under bridges in the night hours. You can spend a lifetime chasing Snook.
The Common Snook is everything BUT common! Throughout the tropical hemisphere there are over 10 species of Snook. The largest on the East Coast reaching lengths of over 4ft! These fish lives start in the passes and inlets. Large female Snook release up to a million eggs every time they spawn. This requires the female to feed voraciously, which is great for us anglers fishing the beaches and inlets! Snook are a non migratory fish, a west coast Snook may not leave their estuary system, but throughout their years may use the entire system., from freshwater to saltwater passes. Along their way Snook spend time in various places such as deep river channels, mangroves, shorelines, grassy flats, oyster bars, passes and inlets.
Snook have a unique profile with a long lateral line that starts from the gill plates and ends at the fork in their tail. There eyes are located on top of their heads, which is great for ambushing bait as they pass above.
Reading The Water
Knowing how to read the water is important for a successful fishing trip.
When out in the flats, looking for distinct color changes giving various water depths, drop-offs and transition zones, these are places that hold fish. Watching for signs such as, strong currents wrapping around structure during that last our of a tide change. Pelicans, birds flying, diving or grouped up in an area is a good sign bait fish are present letting you know fish are most likely there! Finding Oyster bars especially during a low tide where wind is pushing up against oysters, that is creating what we call an artificial current, this gives an ambush point, pushing all the bait up to. Learning how to read the waters will help you to learn where the fish are at
Baits and Lures
Everyone has their preference, I am a spinning reel angler. I find when using a spinning reel it is best for casting in tight spots and getting that perfect cast under bridges. When targeting Snook, top waters, suspenders, diving spoons, plugs and jigs will all work, when presented properly. A basic paddle tail jig is my go to and I believe every angler should have them in their tackle box, there is something about a jig Snook just cant seem to resist them!
Of course now depending on the size of your bait will determine the size and style of the hook you use. When using a live bait I typically use a 3/O 4/O circle hook, I fish as small as jumbo shrimp and finger sized mullet. When trying to decide which line is best, there is such a large variety out there making it difficult to choose. Working and knowing how to play your fish is key to a successful landing, It all depends on the angler. I use light tackle from 10lb braid tied with a double uni-knot or FG knot to a 20lb liter. I find braid is much smaller then mono and spool my reels with Power Pro. Because of Snooks sharp gill plates and ruff mouths, I always add a foot extra of liter to keep my line fresh when changing baits or hooks while on my Snook fishing mission!
With long runs and frequent jumps Snook will make your heart race and beat a bit faster, I know mine does! Every Snook landed is a trophy in my eyes, because no matter the size, I put in the same hard work and time.
One thing I have learned fishing for Snook, Snook love structure! Whether it is natural or man made, soft as mangroves or hard as wood pilings, if it is disrupting the flow you are bound to see a Snook angler there! There are so many reasons Snook are a number one target for us anglers here in Central Florida, they truly are a challenge and not an easy catch. Which makes it that much more rewarding bring that Snook to your boat.
*Fun facts about Snook
*Throughout the tropical western hemisphere there are over 10 species of Snook
*Snook have a lateral line that starts fron Their gill plate and runs to the fork in their tail
*Snooks eyes are on the top of theirs heads, making it wasy to ambush their prey
*Wether it is manmade or artifical Snook love Structure
*Snook have razor sharp gill plates and sandpaper mouths
*Snook began their lives in passes and inlets
*Large female Snook lay upto one million eggs everytime they spawn
See more of Skye on Instagram
Only a short flight of 2:34 minutes from Ft. Lauderdale, the Get Salty with TH2O crew landed in Santo Domingo, Republic of Dominica and drove the remainder of the way to the beautiful resort of Casa de Campo, where we were greeted by the legendary Captain, Tim Richardson and his senior Deckhand and also Captain, Garrett Penley of Tradition Charters.
Captain Tim is an old salt like me and knows these waters like the back of his hand. He eats, sleeps, and lives for the opportunity of catching these fish. We met early that night to discuss the logistics of the show and he explained this unique style of Blue Marling fishing, where “Less” … is more.
Sometimes in Blue Marlin Fishing,
Less is more
by Capt Bo George
Seas were expected to be 3 to 4 at 20 knots, but we all know how that usually works out, they turned out to be 5 to 7 with occasional 10’s with about a 5 to 6 second, but that was the least of our problems. The Blue Marlin season in Casa de Campo had been slow due to water temperatures being to low and we were warned prior to coming, but we knew we had the right crew, and if anyone could put us on the fish… It was going to be this Captain and Senior Deck Hand.
Typically, these Marlin are looking for a water temperature of about 81 degrees, which had not arrived in the DR until the day we arrived. Unfortunately for us, the season was quickly coming to an end. The Marlin, sensing the temperature, were already moving off the FADS and immediately were going to warmer waters to breed.
These Marlin are juvenile, and they are full of piss and testosterone, they are migrating to the waters where they mate and ensure the survivability of the species. During their migration and time around the DR, they use the Fishing Aggregate Devices or better known as “FADS” to feed.
Don’t know what a FAD is? Let me explain, FADS in its simplest definition, are man made floating peace’s of Styrofoam attached to several thousand of feet of rope and anchored to the bottom of the sea floor. Once in position, palm leaves, seagrasses etc. are attached to create a haven for small bait fish, which we all know brings in bigger baitfish fish to feed, which brings in the Blue Marlin to feed on them. It’s the cycle of life in its most natural form… Except FADS are man made and created for a much bigger purpose than insuring everyone in the food chain gets a snack or two while migrating.
by Capt Bo George
Sometimes in Blue Marlin Fishing,
Less is more
In preparing the reels for the trip, I asked Tim what line test he wanted me to spool the reels with, and without a skipping a beat, he said 30 lb braid with a high vis. 40 lb. mono top shot….
Wait a minute, Stop!! Say that again... You want me to do what?
Yep!! You heard me right, Blue Marlin on 30 lb test…
Now granted, these Blue Marlin are juvenile fish migrating in through the Dominican and typically are only 150 to 225 pounds, but somehow, I still felt like I was bringing a knife to a gun fight.
So, how did we do it, you ask?
Well… It all starts with the equipment, our reel of choice was the light weight, Maxel OMS 16S, single speed, lever drag conventional reel with a 5.8:1 drag ratio and a 20 to 50 lb. test capacity, paired with the 6’6 Ocean Max Gold Series rods, made with Nano technology carbon blanks and rated at 30 to 50 pounds.
As I said earlier, we spooled them with Diawa PE braided line rated at 30 lbs. secured to 40 lbs. of high visibility monofilament line using an FG Knot or an Alberto Knot.
In my opinion, the Alberto knot is almost as strong as the FG knot and much faster to tie, we decided to use two different knots for the simple purpose of seeing if one would fail or perform better than the other.
Results of test?... No difference that we could tell, except for simplicity of the Alberto knot (Be looking for our Get Salty video on tying the Alberto).
From this point – We protected our line with a 24-foot wind on leader of 100 lb. mono attached with a Tsunami, stainless steel ball bearing and snap swivels, and finally finished up with a Mustad 8/0 in-line circle hook, baited to a rigged Ballyhoo with a custom skirt made by SeaUsmile lures. All baits were trolled at a variable of distances and depths.
I can’t remember how many FADS we passed and circled, we were marking fish everywhere, they would even come up to the teasers but for some reason we just couldn’t get them to eat.
We had asked if Bimini Bay Outfitters (our show sponsor) if they would like one of their pro staff members to join us, so they sent Amanda Gilbert along for the fight. Being the gentleman that I am, I insisted if we get the bite, she would have the honors of first strike.
As the waves pounded and the heat seared the salt spray to our skin, we patiently waited. The radio was silent, no one was reporting the bite and Captain Tim’s patients was wearing thin…. Where are the fish? What was going on? This is the same Captain that has brought more than 10 of these Blue Marlin to the boat in a single day.
Sometimes in Blue Marlin Fishing,
Less is more
by Capt Bo George
I asked Tim if this was Typical and his answer was an immediate- No! So, what was different? Believe it or not, it was the matter of 1 or 2 degrees in water temperature. If anyone ever tells you that fish are purely opportunistic feeders, then they’ve just told you the biggest lie you will ever hear in your fishing life, and you need to find someone else for the information you are seeking. In fact, it’s not only temperature, it’s the moon cycle and I got to see proof of it firsthand.
As we continued the troll, Captain Garrett Penley (who is also the Senior Deckhand) and I were talking and he said the moon was coming to its high point and if they didn’t feed then, it wasn’t going to happen. Then just like clockwork, when the moon was straight up, and the words “FISH ON” was yelled and the battle with a Blue Marlin finally began.
Once we knew we had a good hookset, the Captain immediately began the backdown to relax the fish and slack the line to keep him from diving. When fish – and that’s any fish, feels tension in any direction, it will immediately go in the opposite direction. This is where the magic begins. You see, we don’t muscle the fish in. We catch him with the boat. Engines screaming, the boat backing down and waves crashing over her stern and everyone getting soaked, the damn boat sounds like it’s about to come apart. Your adrenaline is pumping, and you want to fight, snatch and drag the fish, but you can’t!...
You must use finesse. Amanda was reeling in the slack as the boat backed down on it and the fish was coming to the boat and staying on the surface as planned.
Sometimes in Blue Marlin Fishing,
Less is more by Capt Bo George
After almost a good 30 to 40 minutes and several great jumps the fish began to wear, and the battle started to come to an end. Amanda had done a great job fighting the fish and our reward was soon to be had. As Garret began to hand wind the Marlin in the rest of the way, we had finally realized we won the battle.Dropping the boat back into forward gear and moving water slowly over the fish to revive it from the fight, the hook was removed and our underwater photographer, the world renown Tony Ludovico dives in to the water capture the famous transom shot, in which every Charter Captain wants for their “That a boy wall”.
Captain Tim Richardson had performed flawlessly to create this moment, and now his transom shot had become a reality, but I received a reward myself, a lesson in fishing that I thought was unrealistic, had become a reality.
It changed the way I looked at battling big fish. So now I think…. Maybe less is more?As we prepared to release the Marlin, Amanda and I thought it would be a great idea to get Tony to Photograph her releasing the Marling under water, and that’s exactly what happened. What an amazing opportunity and Photo.
I’m not going to lie; I was eager to get my chance to do the same, but it just wasn’t in the cards. The following days the weather continued to decline, and my window vanished for my opportunity to land a monster on fishing line that is thinner than sowing thread.
Sure… We landed a few Dolphin later the next day and of course I made my famous Black-N-Butter Mahi dish later that night. As good as the meal was, it wouldn’t had been as good as landing my own Marlin, but you know what they say….
There’s always next year, so until then…. I will wait!
It was the end of the season in the CDC for the crew of Chaser and Tradition Charters, as for ourselves it ended with a Marlin. I’ll take the win, especially when the odds were against us.
Since then, Captain Tim has moved over to Punta Cana, and I am very proud to announce that he is leading the pack in 1st place for White Marlin releases. He is a man of the sea and part his wisdom in this unique style of fishing is that to be respected. He is a master, to include Garrett Penley in the search the that one trophy fish we all want to claim.
Captain Tim & Captain Garrett …. I’ll See ya next year mates, and that Blue Marly will be mine!
Until then, I’m Captain Bo…. I’ll see ya out there!
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Special thanks for the support of Bimini Bay Outfitters, Tsunami, Maxel, Salt Life Optics, SeaUsmile Lures, Brads Blue Water Gaffs, TB Metal Art.
A Special Thank you to World Renowned Photographer Tony Ludovico for his continued work on conservation and for sharing his gift with the World .and Thanks for being a friend . click this link to order fine art by Tony
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Tony Ludovico Galleries and Gear
Yet again snook are dominating the inshore catches right now around the passes and beaches. However, tarpon season is in full swing and those big silver kings are definitely here in droves now. We have started selling pass crabs at Hubbard’s Marina and daily we have lines of captains, private boat anglers and shore fisherman stopping by for more pass crab tarpon candy sharing stories of the monster tarpon they have been chasing and landing. Along with the snook and tarpon the occasional redfish is being landed, lots of speckled trout, sprinkle in some mackerel and whiting and that has been our week this week. Flounder are being slow to kick off this year but were hoping they start popping off here soon. Lots of white bait in the passes right now and they are fairly decent sized holding lots of jack crevalle, ladyfish, some mackerel and the occasional gamefish like snook or tarpon working the schools with the plentiful birds. Especially in the early morning’s right inside, right in the middle or just outside the pass a huge school of bait with lots of birds is easily spotted and there’s always lots of predatory fish action on them below the surface. For tarpon, the tides have been a little lame lately so the Egmont key area and Clearwater pass area have been the hotbeds for tarpon that call those deep passes home. They love to flush out with the outbound tides chasing the crabs, ladyfish and mullet and big whitebait. However, many tarpon are also caught at night on those same outbound tides.
The water is pretty hot right now so they will take some big dead baits off the bottom of the deeper passes too like cut ladyfish, mullet or any fish carcass really. Will McClure, our 39 hour first mast, hooked one this week in one of the boat slips using a grey snapper or white grunt carcass on the bottom targeting monster snook. The hotter the water becomes the lazier the big and smart predators get and they opportunistically feed on any easy meal sitting on the bottom. For snook, most of the big ones are still most actively feeding at night around the passes and structure of the passes on bigger tackle like big artificial or bigger live baits with heavy gear like 60lb test leader or even up to 80lb fluorocarbon. They seem to hold the bridges, docks, jetties and rocks and ambush passing bait being pushed by the tide, so when working artificials its important to present that bait with the tide not against it so those fish are able to ambush your lure the same way they would with the live fish being pushed out with the tides. Smaller snook in the 25-35 inch range are very active during the day too along with at night, but the big boys over 35 wait until its dark and cooler to feed it seems lately.
During the day the beaches and deeper parts of the passes are best but they are very spooky during the day requiring much lighter tackle like 15-20lb test making it harder to land these hard fighting and smart fish. Speckled trout love the DOA shrimp lure, or live shrimp or smaller live greenbacks along the edges of the shallow grass flats along the drop offs or the deeper grass flat beds. Were also seeing them fairly often along the jetties hunting the sandy drop offs along the passes. Also, they love those glass minnow and white bait schools in the early morning time but they are harder to get to eat when there’s so much bait action and other more aggressive fish like ladyfish, mackerel and jacks around. Whiting hang on the beaches just beyond the second sandbar hunting the bottom for live shrimp or even dead shrimp weighted to bottom with lighter tackle 15-20lb test and lighter more natural weight presentations.
The bite this week has dropped off a bit compared to last week, the solunar’s were weaker and the moon phases were not as conducive to great fishing. However, Tuesday’s 10 hour all day did pretty well regardless of the adverse variables that took a greater toll closer to shore. The 35-50 foot of water areas that we fish on our 5 hour half days were tough this past week overall with a very picky slower bite while the deeper 60-100 foot areas we were fishing on our half day private fishing charters and the ten hour all days did much better. Water clarity has fallen a bit as the near shore waters continue to warm up but it’s still impressively clear around 30-50 foot of water but it’s not the top to bottom visibility we had for the past 2-4 weeks or so. A few good things the warmer waters did was it seems to have turned on the red grouper bite a bit more for us they seem to be getting better and better in the deepest near shore waters plus we are starting to see the return of the mahi mahi to our local waters for the summer time season. Every year starting late may until around the end of September we occasionally run into the mahi mahi or dolphin fish around the 60 foot of water areas or deeper. They do venture shallower occasionally but around 60-70foot seems to be the area where they become more common. As you get deeper the probability of running into them becomes higher and the chances you will find a big one become better and better
Near Shore continued
Also, the snapper bite is picking up too since nearly all our Gulf of Mexico snapper species spawn around may through September we see a big increase in prolific and more aggressive lane snapper, vermillion snapper, mangrove snapper and occasionally yellowtail snapper in the near shore waters. This past week aboard the ten hour all day the lane snapper bite continues to impress, with the vermillions mixed in and we did get some very nice mangrove snapper too. Mangroves are the smartest and quickest biting fish and they are definitely pickier at what they will chew. Live shrimp, greenbacks, small pinfish and the threadfin plug seem to be their preferred baits of choice. However, my favorite mangrove snapper special is always and will always be the threadfin plug bait on a double snell rig with the fish finder rig. This means egg sinker on the mainline, swivel, and then 4-5ft leader with two hooks double snelled at the end of the leader. For the plug, I cut the head and the tail off a threadfin herring and then trim the belly cavity of the bait to make a very hydrodynamic and enticing plug of straight threadfin meat with an open belly cavity expelling lots of great scent and oils
Near Shore continued
For near shore fishing inside of 100 foot of water I would opt to use 4ot hooks inside of 60-70 foot and 5ot hooks from 60-70 foot up to 100 foot. Leader strength around 20-30lb test in shallower and 30-40lb test out deeper. The lead size depends on my mainline but I typically am using 1-3oz leads as I opt for the most sensitive and natural presentation possible as those super smart mangroves will not feed if that bait isn’t presented naturally, holding bottom perfectly, and that leader is nice and straight. Then as soon as you feel the slightest bump, you have to use your high gear ratio reel to start cranking as fast as you possibly can and if you don’t feel them hooked up STOP and drop it right back down to bottom to wait another 30-60 seconds before lifting up slowly to see if you can still feel the ‘weight’ of your bait dragging through the water before reeling up your leader to check your bait as often when you miss the fish the first time they will come right back to try again giving you a second or third shot at that fish before they can steal the plug off your double snell rig. This method will catch you a large variety of snapper species and occasionally even some grouper species too!
The bite offshore this week has been good for the red grouper, mangroves, yellowtail and more! We didn’t get to get out there as much as we would like as many of our long range trips this week didn’t go out as we took a short break and reprieve gearing up for the chaos that will ensue with the opening of gag grouper and red snapper season this Saturday. However, we did have a 39 hour trip out there this past weekend that brought home a very nice bounty of mangrove snapper, a few red grouper, some nice vermillion, a few lanes, bunches of porgies and even a kingfish or three! However, all eyes are focused on the opening day of gag grouper this Saturday and that season will extend until December 31st of this year. While red snapper opens June first and closes August 2nd at 12:01am making August first the last day to get em before midnight. This 62 day red snapper season is for federally permitted for hire charter boats and party boats like all the boats we have here at Hubbard’s Marina. While the FWC’s private recreational red snapper season starts June 11th and runs until July 12th at 12:01am making July 11th the last day to get them before midnight
Super important to distinguish your season before heading out for red snapper, but they make it easy. If you are on a personal boat like your buddies boat or your own boat follow the FWC private rec red snapper, but if you’re on a charter boat or party boat anywhere in the gulf with the federal reef fish permits (orange sticker on the side of the boat for proof) that means your following the federal for hire season. Red snapper fishing is lots of fun and it’s super easy because they eat just about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING from live pinfish, to threadfin plugs, to live pigfish, live squirrelfish, live lizardfish, just about most any live bait really, plus a myriad of vertical jigs and even bottom jigs, and then strip baits too. My favorite bait that I hold close to the vest for big red snapper has to be the bonita strips. You take a bonita and fillet it out like you were going to eat it, then take the fillet and lay it skin side down on the cutting table and cut it into long strips running the length of the fish. You need a sharp knife since the skin can be tricky to cut through easily, but the very low strips that were around the belly cavity is by far the premium cuts of strips as they are a bit tougher and the meat isn’t as thick making it easy to hook and I feel it’s a bit more oily too. However, all the strips are great smelly, oily, stinking red snapper crack they just can’t resist
Hook the bitter end of one of the strips (sink the hook through the skin is most important) and send that strip to bottom and most of the time before you even hit the bottom it will get sucked up by the biggest baddest red snapper in the water column. Keep in mind the biggest and baddest fish are always at the top and bottom of the schools of fish. You can use your depth finder to find the approximate depth of the school too! I like to drop the strips down more slowly by putting more pressure on the spool with my thumb allowing the descent to be slower and controlled preventing that long strip from tangling with my mainline and giving that big boy a chance to slam my bait and sink my hook into my trophy red snapper! Red snapper can be found starting around 80-90 foot of water but are most common beyond 120 foot of water and We like to target them around 150-200 foot of water up to 300 foot of water. During the warm summer gag grouper are found best in the deeper waters around 200-250 foot of water so If I was running a fun trip for my family out there for gags and red snapper I would be fishing around that 200-250ft area for monster red snapper and some big deep-water summertime gag groupers.
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Upcoming up at Hubbard’s Marina
Red snapper season is opening up June 1st at 12:01am here at Hubbard’s Marina! It will not end on our boats until just after midnight August 1st meaning that is the last day to bring them home! The BEST options are the long range private fishing charters or the 12 hour extreme trip or the 39 hour long range overnight trip! We do have two 44 hours for them but both have been sold out awhile. If you want to hop on one of these trips BOOK NOW spots are filling fast and June is nearly full, still some room in July but it will not last long! Call us at (727)393-1947 or book online at -> https://HubbardsMarina.com
Capt. Dylan Hubbard
Florida Fishermen Magazine sponsored by
Tsunami Tackle, Backcountry with Patrick Rhea
with Bri Andrassy
Tammy - Pt St lucie
Ian - Grand Cayman
Katie Jo Davis - Yankeetown
Walter Rosa - Panama
Luke - Cape Canaveral
Happy Payne - Tn
Michael - Perry Fl
Josh Gooding , Idaho
Rob Mariano , Ponce Inlet
Jenny Schmitt - Power Plus Marine
Jake Bastien - Shop FishHeads
Rob Serres , Texas
Jeff - Boca Grande
Kate - Yankeetown
Brandon - Sebastian Inlet
McKinsey - Merritt Island
Chuck - Prince Edward Island
Sara - Jacksonville
Christina - Naples
Paul - English Channel, UK
Welcome New Member - JM Floyd
Savannah , Ga . Catch her at Florida Fishermen Magazine
Weeeeeeeeeeeds and more weeeeeeeds. Absolute joke out there shagging weeeeds. It’s making it almost impossible to troll the reefs. If you can manage to keep a bait clean you will do well with the reef. Captain Tyler recommends checking your baits every 3-4 seconds and keeping bait in sight for maximum cleanliness. That is the key to successful fishing at the moment. He highly recommends bottom fishing at the moment. Grouper and jacks are killing it. The bigger the live bait the better you will be! Plus the giant baits will keep the red snapper to 15/20lbers at least.
Cobia...... please don’t call for a cobia trip. Lol. The 7 day season came and went as did the Maui season.
Sharks and goliaths. Are firing. Nearshore in 15-20 foot depths. Live blues or cut up bones. Good luck this week. Chris-
Capt. Chris Cameron
Photo - Stephanie Lynn - Underwater Editor Flfishmag.com
Congrats to Donald Deleon
Contagious Charters with Captain Brian Cone and mate Daniel Atilles
Catch U Later