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Monthly Archives: August 2009

Wet Test: 2009 Maverick HPX-V 18

During one of my days down in the Keys.  Charlie Johnson of Maverick Boat Co. contacted me and we arranged a short wet test for the new 18 HPX-V.  Tony and I met Charlie at the ramp and we proceeded to head out into the midst of brewing thunderstorms to test the capabilites of the 18 HPX-V in real life less then favorable conditions.  Upon stepping onto the boat, my first impressions were “Wow, this boat is stable”.  The 18 isn’t nearly as tippy as the 17 HPX-V given that the 18 is 6 inches wider, making it much more stable.  There was a considerable amount of deck room… the boat had a big boat feel while claiming the capabilities of a poling skiff.  The creature comforts were great and I especially liked the deeper cockpit and large storage compartments.  I wasn’t too fond of the new console but I can see where some would like it.  That would be a personal preference though, but I would probably have a tournament console from a 17HPX-V installed on there.  Maverick can cator to your custom needs as far as rigging the boat.  The 18 HPX-V we tested today had a Yamaha F150 outboard on it… a true powerhouse motor on this skiff I was going to be poling. I had heard claims of how great this larger HPX poles and of it’s shallow water capabilites even with a 150 horse motor… I was skeptical at first.

We motored out of the channel and I eased on the throttle.  150 horses planted into the water and sent us moving at a good clip into downtown Islamorada.  We ran around the basins from one area to another and the 18 handled all chop from big cruising yachts to T-strom wind brewed whitecaps without any problem.. we stayed dry and comfortable in less then favorable conditions.  It is tough to find another technical skiff/boat with this type of ride quality… the 18 combined a soft dry ride with big water capability while retaining it’s ability to be poled on the flats.  We hit the ocean side and I was able to hold the 18 into the current, pole up-wind, pole through rollers, and all conditions simulating what one would encounter during an average day of tarpon fishing on the ocean.  After the tarpon test was passed, it was time to make a move to some shallower flats.  We popped back in the backcountry and I was poling on a bonefish flat in no time.  We heard the pushpole and flyrods buzzing so it was time to pole off and I was able to pole teh 18 off of this flat with barely anymore effort then I would with my 17HPX.  The 18 also spun real well and the main difference between this boat and the 17 while poled is the speed at which you will be able to pole it.  You can probably pole the 17 a little faster, given its lighter weight and less displacement.  I now do beleive though that the 18HPX-V will for fact float shallower then the 17 HPX-V.  I can’t wait to see what an F115 will do on this boat draftwise.  Even with a F150 on the ass end, the boat was able to get as shallow as my 17 HPX-V with a F90. 

Fun factor…
One of the best parts about having a big motor on a poling skiff was after being chased off of a bonefish flat we decided to move far away from the storms and without second thought, we were on the next flat many miles away in no time.  The absolute best part was after poling off of a flat near another poling skiff running, we chased down that skiff, sneaking behind them, pinning the throttle, and blowing right by leaving a WTF impression on their faces.  The 18 HPX-V claims over 60mph with the F150… I was able to get it up to the upper 50s without hessitation and though I knew I could squeeze more out of it even with 3 passangers, gas, and gear, I was personally hesistant to attempt to break the 60mph my first time on this skiff.

With a fairly shallow draft, big boat feel while retaining it’s technical skiff capabilities; the new 18 HPX-V is in a class all on it’s own.  In fact, the last time I was this impressed with a boat was my first time on a 17 HPX-V…and I end up buying one 3 months after that.

Mission Fishin’ weighted live bait circle hooks

Mission Fishin' weighted live bait hooks

First off, “Thanks Sammy” for adding me to this distinguished list of Anglers. If Brad is an “Angler in Training”, I would suppose I am maybe a “Guy with a hook in skinny water” and with some of the others…. well I wonder if I even “angle”.

I was sent a number of Mission Fishin’ weighted live bait hooks to try out. Having been a Mission Fishin’ fan from way back, it was like Christmas morning to me. The MF standard jigheads are the only ones I have in my tackle box and the same is true for the weedless jigs. Hands down, they are the best! The weedless hooks from MF, with the wire “screw” to secure a soft plastic, is my first choice when using weedless applications.

I enjoy tossing artificials, but I just love live bait. There is something just so funny about a shrimp doing the “I’m about to get et dance”, which to me much akin to Wile E. Coyote. Also my thoughts are that if a fish hits my line, I would like to offer a reward of a tastey morsel as opposed to a mouthful of plastic. Call me tenderhearted. Another reason I like live bait is many times, as of late, the conditions dictated it – too much grass, warm water temps, etc..

The hooks came is 3 different weights and whereas they were not labeled I would assume they were 1/16, 1/32 and 1/64 ounces. The additional lead was added just before the curve in the circle hook. The hooks are 1.5 inches in length and a gap of .75 inches. The hooks appear to be 2/0. One final attribute was the hooks had a slight offset to assist in the standard corner of the mouth hookup.

My testing of the hooks proved to be a bit aggrivating as I found the catfish loved them also. The first time I used them I did not have live bait with me and tried to use them on a Gulp. This application was not what they were designed for. I found it difficult to thread it properly inline as one may use the other hooks. Although you could certainly hook a Gulp crab with ease or just hook a Glup shrimp as you might a live one.

I finally got on some respectable fish and they worked like a charm. The first fish was a respectable snook under a dock. I had tail hooked the shrimp and it was just too enticing for that snook. I would assume that much would be the case when working a mangrove line for snook, or for that matter, anything as I was able to also catch a small Mangrove snapper. The extra weight assisted in getting just that extra distance you sometimes need with enough weight to get the bait down, and sometimes back where the fish are.

The final test involved my favorite fishing, sight fishing for reds on open flats. The distance I got was pleasing and there was not an alarming entrance splash. The reds gave my final hook a workover but all were hooked in the lip even when I used a ladyfish chunk. I also found the hook beneficial when using a live pinfish. I would assume that the same would be the case for other baitfish.

I could see this hook be very effective when fishing for bonefish or permit with live shrimp on the flats as that you are able to get some distance (thanks to the additional weight) without any alarming entrance splash.

All in all, I was very pleased with the hook and look forward to when they are available at our local tackle stores. One change is requested, Hal, could you make them less catfish friendly.

TARPON 101-Getting Started

One brief moment is all it takes to go from hero to zero. Exhilaration to major frustration. Fish on, to grabbing a bait. Calm atmosphere to total chaos. The only fishing in Tampa Bay that can cause this madness is fishing for tarpon, aka, the “silver king”.

This year is the first year for me chasing after the tarpon. Every summer, I always wondered why everyone was staked out at the Skyway Bridge or Egmont Key, sitting and waiting. The congregation of fisherman looking for tarpon cleared the flats up for me to fish, which was fine with me. My stance was always, “well I don’t have heavy gear”, or “I don’t know the tactics and etiquette”. The same excuses were used every year. Stories were always heard of anglers having “poon fever”, spending weeks pursuing these fish with every minute of spare time. The declaration of “once you get a poon you will be hooked” was quite frequently heard. Come on, what was all the fuss about? My routine was always prowling the mangroves in search of redfish or fishing the shipping channel for snapper and grouper. This year would be different.

In May, my brother in law was due to come down for his yearly vacation with my sister. Normally we would plan a couple of charters, mainly to minimize the pressure of putting him on fish in a limited period of time. The charters would more often than not be inshore redfish, snook and trout. Slam charters. This year he suggested a tarpon trip along with our normal inshore fishing.

At first, hesitation set in. Basically I told him to find a buddy or two to go, and that my money was tight. Six hundred dollars for what!? That’s a hefty price to pay for a days fishing. Eventually after friends of his cancelled out, it was inevitable for me to come along. Twist my arm huh? It didn’t hurt that all of our other charters were cancelled because of the weather, I did have a little money; a tarpon trip it was.

We were lucky enough to charter a trip with Jim Lemke, www.lighttackleadventures.com, on very short notice. Word was that he was pretty knowledgeable, and an accomplished tarpon fisherman. If nothing else I was confident he would put me and my brother on a few fish. A major weather system had just passed and the day of fishing was difficult. Two fish were hooked. My brothers was brought to the boat and mine, after a forty five minute battle, was lost to a pretty hefty shark, “the man in the grey suit” had won.

After combating a fish for that long, and honestly, becoming flat wore out with no picture to show for it, I was pretty discouraged. Looking at the positives, we started thinking that the story of my first tarpon brawl was pretty cool. After that, this summer my mission would be to catch as many tarpon as possible. Now having the fever that I swore wouldn’t affect me, the cure has yet to be found.

During the charter, numerous questions were asked, and quite a few things about fishing for these massive beasts were well received. The money spent on the charter was money well spent. Tarpon fishing is not a mystery anymore. There were no more excuses not to be out on the bay pursuing the silver king. So what was taken away from all the information received, and how can I help the greenhorn tarpon fisherman? Well, writing an article for the rookie is a good start. By no means am I any kind of authority, but this article can at least get you started in your quest for a good battle with the king.

The first thing on my mind was learning etiquette. Being out there with the experienced tarpon fisherman was intimidating to me. The last thing I wanted to do was ruin others fishing out on the water, all because of a lack of familiarity on my behalf. Basically, common courtesy and common sense always prevails. When fishing, watch what the majority of others are doing (there will always be a few out there not to watch…). If all the boats are pulling a drift, do the same and watch the pattern. Don’t anchor up in the way. Wait your turn, pull your drift and maneuver your boat back to the start of the drift the way others do. Keep the boat off plane and out of the drift vicinity as to not spook the fish, shutting down the bite. When fishing a bridge, again mimic what the other boats have done. One can easily see how the masses of boats out there are positioned and it’s pretty easy to catch on. When a fellow fisherman is hooked up, have the courtesy to try to get out of the way or at least reel in your lines. Basically, be observant.

Next, paying close attention to the gear and knots used was important to me. Surprisingly, the gear that was needed was quite simple.  For some reason I thought there was much more to reeling in a fish that big. A medium heavy to heavy rod with a six series reel is all that is needed. Take your pick of brand. Money is usually tight for me so finding a great barely used set up was all I could do. A custom seven foot heavy rod with an Okuma avenger sixty five series reel was my new toy. With the reel, the drag needs to be pretty smooth as the fish can strip the spool in a matter of seconds. If you go cheap, it’s comprehendible that a big poon could actually make a reel could make a reel fail from the drag washers burning up. Make sure the setup is sizeable. When using a smaller combo the fish will take much longer to land and the survival rate will become worse for our prized gamefish, either from the fight or an opportunistic shark. As far as line is concerned, a braid from fifty to sixty five pound test is a good start. Fluorocarbon leader is also a must. Talking to various fishermen, some use as low as forty pound test, some up to eighty. I prefer sixty. A break off is too likely with forty, and more hookups will be had with sixty rather than eighty pound test. I would rather hook up more and lose a fish here and there than less strikes and opportunities with eighty. Again, it’s all a matter of preference. With the hook, a 5/0 hook is as low as you want to go. Medium wire is suitable. My preference is a 6/0 or 7/0 medium strength circle hook. Tarpon have huge solid mouths and they are very strong fish. Use too light of a hook and a bend is inevitable, leading to possible stomping on the boat, cursing, or watery eyes. As far as knots go, for me they are still a work in progress. Numerous sites on the web can help; www.netknots.com is one found that has been very helpful. For the line to leader knot I have been experimenting with a bimini twist and a slim beauty combo, and to attach the leader to the hook an improved clinch knot has been my “go to” knot. Ask around, see what will work best for you and practice. It’s hard enough to hook up with a poon, having a knot fail is devastating. Lastly, an anchor ball or object to keep your anchor line afloat is a necessity. These tarpon will take a long time to land and will have you chasing them all over the water. The anchor has got to go at times.

What tides are best? The summer new and full moon tides are very high, and when outgoing, many refer to them as “hill tides”. These hill tides flush pass crabs out of the bay and tarpon will snatch them up in a heartbeat. These tides are ideal. This is the “prime time” for me to focus on. Being on the water as often as possible is preferred, but better results will be had on these fast moving outgoing tides. You will have a better chance at catching crabs and a tarpon. Not being too picky, any tide will be fished by me, I just want a shot at another fight. Being a student tarpon fisherman, I really couldn’t tell you what winds will be best and how to fish each tide properly in your area.  That’s something I’m still trying to figure out. The beach fisherman want an east wind to sight fish and keep the seas calm, but for any other conditions the fishing is trial and error on my boat. In different areas wind combined with tide movement can cause different conditions depending on where you’re fishing.

Let’s talk about bait. Bait is pretty easy. Of course, normally it has to be fairly big. A nice sized threadfin is a good start. A heavy net thrown around some markers or a sabiki rig can get you some threadfins easily. Big scaled sardines or pinfish can catch a silver king as well. All these are good baits, but if there are pass crabs around from a hill tide flush, net those up as quickly as possible. You want to match the hatch of the bait out there. A dip net is all that is needed to scoop up these crabs. Carefully bust off the claws so the crab doesn’t pinch the leader or your finger! Hook them through the side corner of the outer shell and your good to go. Some artificial enthusiasts use plugs and jigs, but being a novice, my plan has been to stick with live offerings.

So you have bait, tackle and are on the water. Where and when do you go? The shipping channels, bridges and beaches are all good spots depending on time of year and tidal movement. What has been determined by many is that these fish migrate north into  our area in May, hang around in June and then hit the deeper water to spawn after June’s full moon. Apparently, the fish seem to be strong in numbers during May and June in the Egmont area, beaches and passes, as well as the mouth of Tampa Bay. After the spawn, tarpon come back to the bay and seem to mill around in smaller packs, feeding on baitfish in preparation to migrate back south on the yearly journey. Hopefully they will stay around through September, but it’s obvious they have thinned out. Again, still learning, my preference has been sticking to the bay bridges and the channels, as that is where my adventure started, and the lack of experience on my end gives me a lack of confidence fishing for tarpon in other spot; that’s something to focus on next season. Another reason I stick to the bay is the fact that my boat can’t handle a rough trip in the open water. Eddies formed by bridge pilings are a great spot to try; they are a great for tarpon to ambush bait, as well as ledges of channels. Try numerous spots and anchor up. Look for rolling fish and try to be patient and quiet. A noisy boat motor will shut down fish in a hurry. Chasing the king down with a trolling motor can also prove to be very frustrating as the fish are constantly staying out of reach. Being patient and waiting for the fish to come along is very tough for me, but the reward is worth it. Throw your bait out uptide and drift it with the current as naturally as possible, with an open bail. When the line is peeling off your spool flip the bail and let the circle hook do the work. The fight is on. At times, it’s a good idea to throw out a bait and position the rod in the rod holder while drifting other baits, hopefully increasing your chances on getting a strike.  

If you are lucky enough to get a fish to eat, it’s time for the fight. The reel will start singing the sweet song you have been waiting to hear. Next, hold on and try to stay calm. Throw the anchor ball out and chase after the fish. Of course, it helps to have someone else driving the boat, and my rule of thumb is when when fishing deep water, always bring an accomplice. Safety first. Face the fish, keeping tension on the line at all times. When the poon jumps, and it usually will, crouch down. “Bowing to the king” as it’s called, is essential. This is done in order to keep tension off the line and leader, and the likelihood of the fish landing on the leader and breaking off is lesser. As best as possible, keep the fish from coming to the surface and grabbing some air. This seems to rejuvenate them and the fight is back on. Fighting a tarpon is hard work. The battle can last thirty minutes up to an hour or more. Be prepared for frustration; numerous battles are lost. It’s pretty common to lose a fish to a spit hook, broken leader, or in my case a shark. Recently, I was rewarded with a nice hundred pound class tarpon after a thirty minute battle. This was not easy. High winds, rain and schedule conflicts have made my fishing as of late tough. The tarpon are still out there at the moment, but not in huge numbers like in May and June. So far I have boated one and jumped seven. The seven jumped all spit the hook, so learning to adapt my tackle and techniques to better my results was the key. There is nothing like the thrill of hooking the fish, but the failure of a spit hook is very discouraging and frustrating. If you’re like me, failure will bring you back to redeem yourself, and give you nightmares of “the one that got away”.

I hope this has made tarpon fishing a little less complicated for you beginner fisherman out there. Not nearly have all the bases been covered, but this will be a good start. In my case, these fish seem to teach me something new every time they are hooked. Next year will be more productive, but I still have time to teach another one a thing or two this year!

Brad

Fishing on a Budget-The Cost of a Passion

10 years of my life were spent as a mechanic for Dodge. Being a mechanic is similar to being a fisherman. You need to have the tools to do the job right, and tools cost what? Money. A huge tool box, air tools, sockets, wrenches, electrical tools, compression testers, specialty tools; the list goes on and on to the tune of about 30k. Snap On and equivalent tools aren’t cheap. Now that I’m not in that line of work anymore, the past few years have been spent spending spare money (if there is such a thing nowadays) on fishing equipment. More tools to do the job right. It’s a perfect analogy. Of course, I haven’t spent as much money on fishing gear as on my tool set, but money was being made with those tools. Fishing is hard work too, so we can call it a job right? Just like a mechanic has to put time in, learn the cars intricacies, and have the right tools to be successful, the same goes for fishing. You need time on the water and the right tools to do well. Tackle, rods, reels, storage, livewell and bilge pumps, navigation and anchor lights, a trolling motor, bimini top reupholster, and parts for routine maintenance are only some of the things I have spent money on over the years. For my preferred methods of fishing all these “tools” are needed. Hopefully most of you can relate to what I am saying. Fishing is an expensive sport; we will not call it a hobby because if you are like me, it is way more than that. It’s a passion.

My arsenal of equipment was pretty small, wishing I had what others did. Over the years my gear has been built into a nice collection. This took time, just like building a great toolset. Of course bills come first, with all the other day to day expenses; my daughter’s sports and all her up to date clothes and gadgets, the wife’s shopping for the house, you get the idea. With spare money that I won’t feel guilty about spending, deals and new items are sought after. These don’t have to be the latest and greatest products on the market, but good quality equipment is still purchased.

How can the average weekend warrior gear up without breaking the bank, and still keep the better half happy? Maybe yours isn’t, but my boat is uncomfortable to sleep in, and when I screw up the dogs have it better than me. Well, on a budget, it’s tough to acquire a lot of gear. That’s all I have for you. Wise words huh? Everyone’s situation is different, but at least you can learn what was done to maximize my dollar and not deplete my bank account. It would be tough to go into exact detail on all the tackle, rods, reels, line, leader and accessories bought and used, so we will be discussing how most are acquired and the basics of what is in use.

First of all, patience is the key. I couldn’t just go out and buy all this gear at once. That’s a no brainer. Like which was stated before, it has already taken a few years, and of course, it won’t stop here. Gear wears out. Tackle such as hooks, leader, line and lures rust or get lost to break offs and the mangroves. As a start, my tactic was to slowly accumulate new rod and reel setups; for me this was most important. In between, making sure to buy small amounts of all the necessary tackle will allow you to fish with ease, not wishing you had this or that when out on the water.

What are you fishing for and where? When considering what to purchase I think about what is being fished for. The species and areas fished should be a primary consideration. Will the target be inshore fish like snook, reds and trout? How about shallow water grouper, snapper and reef fish? Tarpon?  Dock fishing and bridges? Offshore fishing? Are you a wade fisherman, pier fisherman, on a kayak, or do you fish primarily out of a boat? Knowing this helps narrow down options and a list can be made of the most important supplies you will need. Usually for me, my fishing is inshore only, but targeting all the above species, requires a diverse arsenal.

How much money is in your budget for fishing? Any time out around town, deals will be sought. Quick trips to all of the local sporting goods stores are the first stops. Dicks, Sports Authority, Wal-Mart, and so on. Normally I am only searching for good deals on lures, leader, line and assorted tackle at these retailers. Every once in a while a good deal can be found on a decent rod and reel combo, but they can be few and far between. Wally World seems to be the best for my tackle needs, or at least everything besides lures. Hooks, leader, swivels, weights, floats, nets, fillet knives-all the small stuff that’s necessary. Rarely seen are arties on sale at the mega giant retailer, but at least they are competitive in pricing. I’m sure that not only I feel this way, as the shelves are not always stocked.

For various braided and monofilament lines, as well as quality lures, good deals can be found at the above mentioned chain stores as well. Looking at the weekly ads for Dick’s Sporting Goods and Sports Authority every week, there is usually some kind of sale, and the same products revolve around every couple of months. Soft plastics like Gulp!, D.O.A, and hard baits like Mirrodines are sometimes buy one get one free; we’ve all seen it. Every once in a while Power Pro is on sale for twenty five percent off. Every bit of savings helps. Once in a blue moon a quality rod and reel combo is on sale but not enough to make me jump for joy.

Don’t get me wrong; I like to frequent the local tackle shops as well. Supporting small local businesses is a priority. It’s not easy being a small business owner. Looking around at numerous local stores, some are smaller and more inexpensive than others. There are tackle shops I won’t even set foot in; it seems the overhead must be high as prices are too. After a good bit of searching my area I found a small tackle shop that fits my needs. It’s not too far from the house and the deals are great. Fisherman’s Headquarters in Bradenton is a great place to buy supplies and tackle. There are many “off brand” products like de-hookers, gloves, knives and other gear that are cheap and don’t need to be name brand. I won’t sit here and talk about everything in the store but if when looking for reasonably priced specialty gear or a quality rod and reel I’m heading there. The pricing is very good depending on what is being sought. A local, reasonable tackle shop can be easily found.

When looking for mid grade products, the main rods preferred are Andes models, Okuma Guide Selects, Calico Jack, Redbone and even the old favorite, the Ugly Stick. These all are fairly sensitive, have many different lengths, ratings, and some have IM8 graphite blanks with Fuji guides. At times there are even offers to receive a free tackle bag by mail after purchase. Talk about killing two birds with one stone! As for reels, Okuma, Shimano and Penn are reliable and inexpensive. My favorite reels are the Okuma Epixor series, but also used are Shimano Sahara and Sedona’s, and Penn products. A Daiwa Capricorn reel on a St.Croix rod is a favorite set up of mine as well. It is easy to put together a great combo under one hundred and fifty dollars, spooled with braided line.  Recently put together was an Okuma Epixor and Calico Jack combo for sixty five dollars, just by looking for bargains! Practice casting and handling the setup before you buy it. You’ll find something nice that will do the job. It’s not necessary to go broke. Buying very high dollar rods and reels is not something that’s necessary. Quality is not overlooked, I just cant see paying for a three hundred dollar set up that will eventually be dropped, dunked, and snapped in half when driving the boat into the garage (hey, I’m only human, coming home late as usual).

Used gear. I don’t buy used lures or tackle, and will assume most of you don’t either. Many have found great deals on more expensive fishing supplies, rods and reels on internet sites, and classifieds in local papers. Craigslist is good for a bunch of stuff. I recently got a great deal on a brand new custom made tarpon combo and one for grouper as well. Both were freshly spooled and were not stolen, knowing that for a fact. The gentleman that sold them to me had his name made into the rods; both were custom built at a local rod builder. Granted, he didn’t tell me about the name before I saw the setups, but it’s almost unnoticeable. Always try your best to make sure you scope out the sellers product to make sure what your buying is not stolen. I won’t buy things that others have worked hard to obtain just like me. Sometimes it can be a pain to deal on Craigslist; just be careful. Local papers often have garage sales listed with gear mentioned in the ad, or there may be equipment in the classified section. It doesn’t take much time to scan the papers. You would be surprised at what is out there that people don’t use. Usually one has to weed through different sales; it can be worth it though, and if you have company like the family, they will stay entertained looking at other peoples junk. When frequenting Ebay and buying used, you need to see the product. I don’t use the site anymore after a few bad deals. Some good bargains have been found on waders and new products, but those deals were few and far between. Flea markets can also be good for a nice buy. We have a few good ones in the Tampa bay area, so it can’t hurt to look. Finally, a fishing forum is usually an old standby. If you pay attention, a great deal can be snatched up, or a good trade can be made. Don’t hesitate to give all these options a try.

For boating equipment I really don’t know what to tell you. We have all heard the saying, “a boat is a hole in the water you throw money into” and so forth. That’s pretty much true. Don’t try to skimp on boat parts. You get what you paid for. I don’t want to be stranded in the bay with a bum water pump or out at night with a bad anchor light. It has been found that most minor parts seem to be fairly evenly priced at most local vendors anyways, unless a great sale can be found at a West Marine or similar chain store. Usually when a part is needed it’s not on sale anyways. The parts bought, like bilge and livewell pumps, lighting, gear oil, water pumps and thermostats are necessary, so what do you do? If anyone knows of some better sources for boat accessories and parts let me know.

This wasn’t an article that was intended to go over all types of gear used, the reasoning of use, or specifications of the products. That is another article all together, and I am no expert. This was merely an article written from experience. With the economy in shambles, it’s more important now more than ever to maximize the dollar without skimping on quality. Hopefully this will help all of the anglers that are just starting out fishing Florida’s waters. After years of hard work and searching for deals, leaving the store when I really wanted something but knew I could find it cheaper, and working on cars to come up with side money, I finally have a collection I am satisfied with. A collection that will handle tarpon, grouper, inshore reef fish, all species on the flats, pier fishing and dock light fishing. You bet I have the tackle to go with it too!  Of course more is sought after, but with the exception of the basics, this year is taken care of……..unless a sweat deal is found!