The Rod-Runner Pro is a rod caddy, that allows you to safely and easily carry up to 5 rods in 1 hand. You will see I tried a couple of different ways of securing the Rod Runner in the truck bed. Any type of bungee or paracord would suffice. If your interested in picking one up for yourself or learning more about the other models or options available, here is a link: Rod-Runner
Since moving to Florida in 2013, I could count on one hand the number of times I fished freshwater in the “Sunshine State” before learning about the waters holding trophy fish, just a little further inshore from where I live. I was doing some research to see what freshwater action there was around me, and that’s when it happened… that’s when I discovered Polk County. I had not idea what I just discovered!
For years, I have heard Florida referred to as, “The Fishing Capital of the World” and with all the saltwater fishing I do, I totally understand why. According to the 2014-15 Fishing License Revenue Data, Florida brings in over 10 million dollars of revenue from the sale of freshwater fishing licenses. That is just FRESHWATER! It doesn’t include the additional 32 million dollars spent on the sale of saltwater fishing licenses. With just over 573K freshwater licenses sold, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) estimates that 74,000 people fish the waters of Polk County every year. That is a staggering number and one that points to Polk County truly being a fishing destination. One contributing factor to that number is the 554 natural freshwater fishing lakes.
So after taking in all this new information, I had to see for myself what Polk County had to offer. One of the key finds for me was the Mosaic Fish Management Area. After years of mining phosphate in central Florida, Mosaic has partnered with FWC to help reclaim land and water resources offering great fishing to the public. Their numerous lakes are managed with very impressive catch rates. However, to gain access to these waters is not about just driving up and casting a line.
To enter the Mosaic Fish Management Area, you must first go to the Check Station and check-in. (These waters are only available to the public, Friday through Monday from 6 am to 2 pm.) You must register and give the custodian your fishing license in exchange for a Daily Fishing Permit that will allow you on-site. It is important to note, these lakes have a quota of daily fishing permits allowed and issued on a 1st come 1st served basis, which are specific to the lake you are requesting to fish. Should you decide to change locations, you must return to the Check Station for a new permit.
After learning about this fishing hot spot, I grabbed my gear and was off. With the abundance of plant life in the water I was prepared to sling some frogs across the lily pads along the edges from my kayak, along with some other weedless lures. On this day, I was using a new 13Fishing 7’ 3” Omen Black Casting Rod with a new 13Fishing Concept A baitcaster, spooled with 40lb. braided line. I went with the heavy line due to the vegetation and possibility of a monster bass. Once on site I was greeted at the Check Station and proceeded to get my permit. With only four days of fishing available, I suggest you get there early to ensure you get a permit and on the water for the bite at first light.
As I made my way to the lake, I couldn’t help but notice all the other bodies of water and land that was set aside by Mosaic for wildlife that is off-limits to people. Mosaic has taken a strong stance on its conservation efforts and the future of the Mosaic FMA is dependent on anglers making sure they only fish the designated areas.
As soon as I launched, I started marking fish on my Lowrance. The bottom was stacked with fish and I decided to go with a chartreuse spinner bait. It worked like a charm and I was hooked up to a 15″ Bass. It put up a good fight, but was no match for this 13Fishing setup as it “tail danced” across the surface of the water. I should mention this reel has an 8.1:1 ratio, hauling in 32” of line with each crank and 22lbs. of drag. As this was my first time fishing this setup, I was impressed to say the least. The reel matched the performance of the rod perfectly. At 7’ 3” it was a perfect length for guiding the fish around the front of my kayak while staying seated.
As I moved around the lake and watching the screen on my fish finder, it was obvious the FMA had worked hard to provide the fish a great habitat. While my focus was on Large Mouth Bass, I saw plenty of other species and bait as well. Going back and fishing in the winter months is definitely on my list, as the Crappie action in these lakes is reported to be phenomenal as well.
Whether looking to change things up from your saltwater fishing adventures or just find some new freshwater locations, Polk County has a lot to offer. Check out the links to the locations and products mentioned above:
Whether you are fishing ponds in your neighborhood or at your local pier, portable fish finders are giving the average angler a chance to see what is beneath the surface where they only had to guess before. After seeing a few different models at iCAST this year, I decided to try the FishHunter Portable Fish Finder to see for myself how this new piece of technology works.
The FishHunter is made to Military Grade spec and fits in the palm of your hand. It can be cast, thrown or even trolled. Weighing in at just over 4oz. it is small enough to fit in a cargo pocket with ease.
When this unit arrived, it needed to be charged for approximately 3hrs. and while it was charging I downloaded the FishHunter Pro App for my smartphone. The app is very easy to use and even offers features to log your catch. Once the unit was charged, I attached it to the line on one of my heavier rods so I could cast it int the pond. (It takes water to activate and turn on the unit and using bluetooth it will work with your smart-device.) The FishHunter landed with a rather large splash and as it was settling down, I opened the app and paired it with my smartphone. After logging in and selecting my preferences, I started getting data. This particular unit, just gives data looking straight down. However, they have a new unit that will be available soon which will have a directional 3D sonar.
You have two choices of view: Fish View (Above) OR Raw Data (Below)
I will be updating this post with new photos and comments as I try it out in different scenarios. Please be sure to post any questions or leave a suggestion in the comments on any specific tests you’d like to see.
Product Information Link: FishHunter 3.0
Two Days in Naples
I’ve just returned from Naples, Florida during a weather period featuring the year’s first cold front in addition to some very challenging intermittent rain and thunderstorms. But the two pillars of the journey -The Lemon Tree Inn and my guide Captain Will Geraghty provided a solid experience in both lodgings and fishing. I shall certainly return for another delightful adventure. Have a look !
Lemon Tree Inn
250 9th Street South
Naples, Florida 34102
Web Site- www.lemontreeinn.com
Captain Will Geraghty/ Grand Slam Light Tackle Sport Fishing
550 Port O Call Way
Naples, Florida 34102
Web Site- www.naplessportfishing.com
Recently, I have receive some questions regarding the type of gear I use while out on the water. Below are the items I use and description as to where they fit in. I don’t always take every one of them out on the water together, but sometimes it’s a must to get the right shot.
Canon T4i with the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Art Lens:
This is my go to set-up for important hi-resolution shots. I just recently picked up the lens and have been very impressed with it. With a lot of my fishing taking place early morning and late at night this lens and it’s f/1.8 aperture is excellent for that. Another feature I like is the internal focusing mechanism, which helps to keep out moisture, salt and sand. This set up also has a non-rotating front ring, which means you can “set and forget” your circular polarizing filter
when out on the water.
For taking shots a night, I use the Canon EX-RT Speedlite. It provide additional autofocus assist beam, that assists with a faster focus response in low light situations. For those times you are not shooting at night, always make sure to use your lens hood when shooting with this and other telephoto lenses on the water during the day. You don’t want to ruin the perfect shot with a lens flare.
Link: Sigma 18-35mm Art Lens
Nikon COOLPIX AW130
For days when I know that I will be dealing with inclement conditions, this is a great camera to use. It is waterproof, shoots great photos and video, both above and below the water’s surface. I have had other point and shoot cameras in the past, and this one makes shooting on the water even more enjoyable. One of the other features I appreciate about this camera, is its Wi-Fi feature. As soon as I take a photo, I can upload it to my phone, edit and then email it or post it to social media. This is great for being on or off the water. It allows me to share photos instantly with friends and family around the globe right from the boat. In the background is the silicone jacket. It provides extra grip and protection.
Link: Nikon AW130
Sony HDR-AS100V Action Cam
Currently, I have two of these and have been extremely impressed with them. I use these on the kayak, one mounted in the front and one mounted on a boom behind and above my head. They are easily linked to a smartphone or can be controlled with a remote. Using one to shoot stills while the other is shooting video, is a great set-up. Many have ask why the Sony over the GoPro and the answer is simple, money. I was able to buy 2 of these for what I would have paid for just 1 GoPro. Plus, the Sony Action Cam has a “Splash Proof” case which allows it to be used outside of it’s waterproof housing when mounted on the kayak or boat. The Action Cam also has a built-in SteadyShot image stabilization. This makes it nice when using the camera on a bike ride or with a drone. The Action Cam also has a lot of after market accessories that make it possible to use it with any GoPro mounting system. When you are looking to do some underwater video, Sony makes a dive housing with a flat lens, to sharpen the image and allow for use down to 60m (197ft).
Link: Sony HDR-AS-100V
Like every photographer, I always like to take the best photographs or videos possible. However, sometimes it just simply doesn’t make sense to take all this gear. For those instances, I just use my iPhone6. It shoots HD video, photos and even 240fps slow-motion. Feel free to take a look at the links above to see more of the technical details on the products mentioned and please leave comments or questions below and I will get back to you.