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Brad

Fishing the Pass…My First Boca Battle

It’s been a long time since I posted up on Salty Shores. Sure, I’ve been doing a little fishing here and there, but not as much as I would have liked. Content went up on my site but it was not all fishing related-the Tampa Tattoofest, a review of an e-cig, short stories and the progress of my daughter as an angler, but I definitely slowed down. At least I had some help from Nick.

Life throws us all curve balls, and I swung at way too many this year so far. It could be much worse, and I’m not trying to sit here and complain, rather explain. Sam does like to get the “human” aspect portrayed on Salty Shores, so there it is. I fell off. Now, after finally learning how to deal with life’s trials and tribulations, I think things will be different. Hopefully.

Anyways, not many Boca reports were up this year, at least not on SS. Here is mine…

“The Night Time is the Right Time”

It had been a long week at work and home. No play, as usual. I’m sure most of you can relate. Life of the average angler so to say. What I really needed was to get out of town and do some fishing. Well, this was the weekend. Boca Grande was penciled in the planner.

All the essentials were ready to go, packed in the car on Saturday morning; Coolers, ice, beer, a little water and food, more beer, clothes, and money for beer. Priorities are always important.

Down I-75 was the route, Boca only being a short drive from the house. Usually fishing Boca is not an option for me. Busy weekends are the norm, and there is no choice but to stay in Tampa. Luckily I scored a weekend off to fish with Nathan Austin, Nick and Rainey, Nathans friends Jason, Ingrid and Sean, along with others.

Being only the second time fishing at the renowned pass, deemed the “Tarpon Capitol of the World”, I was pretty stoked. Plus, Nathan knows that pass like the back of his hand. He has been fishing Boca Grande for thirty plus years and received a wealth of knowledge handed down from his father and family, and will be handing this knowledge down to his sons I’m sure. Nathan puts up big numbers with the tarpon and on a very consistent basis. I was lucky to hop aboard his boat for a crab flush.

Now, Nathan does most of his fishing in the evening and at night. There is much less boat traffic and the fish seem to be pretty active because of reduced fishing pressure. Plus it’s just flat out peaceful in the pass at night

Arriving in Boca, everyone hitting the pass met up at our rooms at the beautiful Grove City Motel. After eating and then taking the edge off, we loaded up and headed to our respective launching points. There were two other boats fishing with Nathan and we all planned to stick together for the most part.

On the way...

Nathan and Justin

Sean, Ingrid and crew...

After launching all three boats and getting to the pass, seeing all the orderly (sometimes) chaos was a nice sight. I have only fished Boca once before with little luck, so the anticipation of hooking my first pass tarpon was pretty evident.

The start...

We ready...

Armed with pass crabs we started pulling our drifts with a little action here and there. Some boats were hooking up, most were not; the Sea Chaser hung one fish and Rainey sealed the deal on another before sunset, but there was the whole night ahead of us and nothing but tarpon showing on the sonar. One way or another, a fight would take place with my first Boca tarpon.

Looking for crabs, the flush wasn't too great.

Ready for the leader grab...

Happy fish...

This small storm didn't stop anyone.

Time for the game...

Like stated above, Nathan has an extreme amount of pass fishing experience. He pulls drifts away from the masses of vessels and locates fish far from the others. Nathan tells you what he is doing and why, explains various points in the area to mark, will clarify how the wind and tide affect the drift, and then some. Too much for me to keep up. What I definitely learned is there is more to fishing Boca Grande Pass than just showing up in a boat with a fishing rod. Plus, as Nathan would say, “the night time is the right time”.

Nathan putting on a clinic, this dude can catch tarpon.

Rainey was on fire all weekend...

I guess the clinic works.

The sun set and the boats thinned in the pass. We would get bit or hook up every few drifts, but we weren’t on fire, until “The Drift”. Fish were showing all over the sonar. Everyone with a line in the water got ready, as per instruction from Nathan. Each line was hit hard, either a pulled crab or crush, but Nick was able to get a good hook in his fish and brought the rod to me after a nice jump from the silver king.

Finally! A fight with a Boca tarpon-on conventional, which is not the norm for me. Being stoked, we motored around chasing this fish for a while and the scrap seemed much different than a Tampa tarpon battle. This fish was a rowdy fighter, jumping all over the place and making crazy runs. Finally, after about a short ten minute fight the fish runs right to the bow of the boat, jumps up parallel to the side of the gunnel a foot from me, flings blood over me, Nick, and Rainey, while almost smacking me in the water. The silver king won as the hook was thrown, but all of us laughed and knew we had a cool story to tell of the fight. After a couple more drifts we packed up and left, it was time to head back to the motel, but Nathan and the Sea Chaser put us on the fish.

What a crazy fight, and drift for that matter, a memorable experience. Thanks Nathan!

The crew had a blast; all of us, all night. Fun times; stories, hootin’ and hollerin’, drinking a couple of beers (insert number here), and catching fish. That’s what it’s all about. Enjoying the water and friends. What we have. This trip taught me it’s not all about the glamour of Boca Grande or the nice money shot of the fish, how many you catch, or fishing in general. It’s the camaraderie and plain old fashioned fun.

Arriving back at the hotel, all of us drank beer for hours, just taking it easy and talking, being happy with the night’s efforts, while watching people get pulled over on Placida Road at three in the morning. Good times. At least for us…

By the way, I have Salty Fly pictures I dug up if anyone wants to take a look, and please read my article in GAFF magazine in memory of my buddy Dave Hall. Until next time…

inshoreinsider.com

Tight Lines Outdoor Apparel

Some time ago, I was told by Sam to expect a call from a fellow angler named Brandon Buckingham. Apparently, Brandon was the owner of a fishing/outdoors apparel company called Tight Lines. As it turns out, Brandon wanted to know what Salty Shores thought of the product; basically a review of durability, functionality and overall design. I figured this would be an easy task-it’s only a clothing company, no big deal. Wrong. With more products, comes more pictures, editing, and more to write about. The review was not as easy as I thought, especially getting good pictures, but I pulled it off, as it shows a good majority of his products. With all that aside, we discussed a review and some gear was sent my way a short time after Brandon and I talked.

First a little background is in order. Tight Lines USA is an apparel company started by avid angler Brandon Buckingham, who hails from the Crystal River area. Talking to Brandon, I found out he was twenty four years old and loved to fish; he sought after all species in the area, and was a regular tournament angler. As with many of us though, inshore fishing for trout and redfish was his passion. 

Brandon, friends, and family had been kicking around the idea of having a brand of their own shirts and hats for the beach, fishing tournaments, maybe even wearing out on the town. Ready and hungry to pursue the newly found idea, he discussed the venture with a local screen printer and did some further research into vendors, pricing, designs and what the average fisherman or woman wanted to wear. Brandon’s goal was to put out a quality product that people could afford. On top of all that, a good company name was a tough decision as well.

After careful consideration, Brandon and his crew named the company “Tight Lines”. Not a bad choice in my opinion, as this does not limit the apparel to “inshore only” anglers. Designs do not have to be species oriented. One would be surprised the effect a name has on a business. So with his concept and a good name, in November of 2009, Tight Lines was born.

Tight Lines started with a small amount of shirts, hats, and limited designs, basically to test the market and see what people wanted; more research so to say. By either giving shirts and hats away or selling them for very cheap, he discovered there was a small following beginning to grow in his local area. The people had spoken, and the word was they liked the product. Tight Lines next step was to dig a little deeper into the business with more designs, a quality website, all while showcasing the products at outdoors shows. Networking the product helped increase sales and took him to where he is today. Although this venture is still a part time job for Brandon and the rest of Tight Lines, he is having some fun and making extra money for his angling addiction and tournament fishing.

Speaking with Brandon a few more times to learn more about his product line and background, I was interested in what would be sent from the company. What set his business apart from the many others in the industry? Competition was thick.

Within a few weeks, I received the items and immediately a quick inventory was taken. Being that it was the middle of winter when the products arrived, the package contained a skull cap, two hats (one flex fit and one strap back camo), a buff, hooded sweatshirt, and a couple of long sleeve microfiber shirts. Also included were some board shorts that would be in his spring lineup of products. 

The diversity in his products was laid out right in front of me. Not many companies offered hooded sweatshirts and skull caps. In addition, one of the microfiber shirts was a very bright shade of orange, not a very common color used in any clothing company, and another had a very unique design not seen by me on a microfiber as well-a “dancer” hanging off a fishing pole. My favorite one of them all. The buff was not over the top, nor the hats, just standard gear. The hooded sweatshirt and a black microfiber were fairly standard as well, simply basic company logos. There was the variety I was hoping to see. A major plus was the board shorts. In the summer, board shorts are basically all that’s worn by me, so it was great to see a company producing a good looking product that I had an interest in.

"Skull cap" or ski cap, whatever is your preference.

Gotta stay warm...

After trying on all the gear to make sure it fit, I immediately put it to the test and washed it all, with the exception of the hats of course. Even the buff was washed. It was time to actually see if the gear was worthy of praise, or criticism.

On a clothing review, there isn’t too much that can be said about a hat, skull cap, sweatshirt or buff. I stayed warm in the sweatshirt and cap during the cold nights of winter, and the standard hats looked good while fitting me well. No “hat headache” occurred as some hats give me. That factor is all about the style of hat worn, but the designs were nice as well. Not overwhelming, fairly simple. The flex fit design is great for a hat in my opinion. The buff is pretty simple; basically comfort and coverage was good while on the water and it didn’t stretch badly. Enough said.

Logo on the front, website on the side.

Of course, you have to have some camo...

Another view. I really like this hat.

Tight Lines microfiber shirts were very comfortable (no scratchy feeling), fit well and held up great with no “threading” errors. Most stains came out well with normal washing. There is also a UPF 50 rating on all of the microfiber products. This is a lifesaver when forgetting sunblock and always works well, keeping one from burning up in the Florida sun. Of course, UPF ratings on microfibers are a must, so I already knew that would be a feature. The choice of colors Tight Lines offers varies greatly. Microfiber shirts can be ordered in very bright orange and yellow, or darker colors like black and grey. Opposite ends of the color spectrum. Designs range from the company logo to more intricate designs. The price is very reasonable for a long sleeve micro at only twenty five dollars each. Very tough to beat.

A simple, clean design. Sometimes a shirt just doesn't need the clutter.

Like I said, a very bright orange.

My favorite design so far on the side of a micro.

The board shorts, the most expensive item Tight Lines offers at a massive twenty nine dollars, come in tan and Black, as well as a blue and orange combination. All show the company logo on the front and right side. These shorts are quality made as all the other products reviewed, and the size I was trying fit well. After wearing them in the pool, they dried quickly and looked like new. Again, no itchy feeling from the material, threading issues or staining problems. Board shorts were a very original idea for Tight Lines, at least from a fishing apparel standpoint.

Front Logo...

Side Logo...

Besides the flip flops, you're ready to fish.

After normal usage, the micros, hoodie, shorts, buff and skull cap survived multiple cycles through the washer and dryer. No fading, shrinkage or abnormal wear of any collars, material, or designs was found. Don’t get me wrong; you have to wash them according to manufacturer instructions, but if followed no issues should occur. This includes all microfiber products and the board shorts.

Overall I feel diversity and cost effective pricing is the key to Tight Lines apparel’s success. When I’m looking at a product, especially these days, price and quality are my main deciding factors. In addition, the range of styles and colors always changes as well as designs. The fact that they have seasonal lines works in their favor too. As a bonus, Tight Lines also makes apparel for women, so if you want to keep your significant other happy when ordering, you may want to let her have a peek too.  As with all my other preferred fishing apparel companies, you will see me wearing some Tight Lines gear this year as well. Hopefully while holding up a massive tarpon!

Check out their entire product line and upcoming gear regularly at: http://www.tightlinesusa.com/

A Huge Loss to the Fishing Community

It is with deep regret that I have to deliver this horrible news. Last night, February 2nd, 2011, a great friend of mine, Dave Hall, President of  HallEmInLures  passed away. I have spoken with his father and partner in the business, and I will let the family grieve before any more is said. Dave was a great man and one of the first people I met in the fishing business; we hit it off well. I talked to him the night before his passing, which is very rare; I had been trying for a long time to reach him. The company was growing by leaps and bounds all over the country, he was always very busy. We had even planned to go out for a beverage and dinner after the Tampa Outdoor Expo. I am very upset as are many others, he will be missed dearly.

Here are some pictures I have taken over the years of his lures and of Dave and Fred, his father. I will do a complete article dedicated to Dave and his family business in the very near future.

Dave and Fred at the Tampa Expo

Keychains

Pure art...

Redfish candy...

Proof...

A little more proof...

Dave, you will be missed, I hope the bite is off the hook up there bud…

INSHOREINSIDER.COM

Strike Tech ST30AA

Most know by now I’m a spin angler. Mainly live bait as well. Very seldom do I use artificial baits. So a while back, when I received a reel from Derrick Reece at Strike Tech, I was pretty stoked. You may have seen my write up on the ST30GG model already used; this new reel was the all aluminum model, the ST30AA. Honestly, it took me forever and a day to get this review out and I have to give a big thanks to Derrick for his patience. If I’m putting a review out, truthful feedback must be given and a true beating must be put on the product. Time was an issue, due to not using the product, as tarpon fever took hold of me. In addition live bait fishing is all that’s done during the summer.

This fall, I finally used the reel in freshwater for bass, and just recently, some low tide wade fishing in Tampa Bay.

ST30AA Package

I don’t want to reiterate all the previous information specified on the product in my review of the GG model, but some background information will be helpful if you didn’t see the previous write up.

Strike Tech reels are geared towards the seasoned or novice artificial angler; this distinctive reel is said to help with lure presentations, doing much of the work for you- all that is needed is a cast and retrieve. Their reels look like any other, but Strike Tech has designed a unique two piece spool for the reel, what they call a “Live Action Spool”, or LAS. With the spool being a two piece set up, it acts as a cam to alter the action of the lure you are using while retrieving it. The action of the lure is easily adjusted by turning the top of the spool or rotor by hand, to the level or degree of action the angler wants for the lure being presented. The degree of action is clearly marked on the spool base, all one has to do is set it to the preferred amount and cast it out. While reeling in, every turn of the reel provides five pulses or twitches of the line, increasing noise and vibration, escalating the chances of getting a strike. When the hook is set, the spool automatically centers itself and all the angler is responsible for is reeling in the fish. That is the basic explanation in a nutshell.

Lightly spooled so the settings can be seen...

Of course, I found the basic feature, the LAS of the new ST30AA model to be the same as the GG, but there were differences in other areas. First of all, the reel was lighter due to the aluminum construction, and felt very well balanced. The drag seemed a little enhanced as in terms of efficiency and the retrieve was much smoother than the entry level GG. On the retrieve, I did not notice any wobble when the offset was at max. The reel is very durable and well built, even after I accidentally dunked it slightly in saltwater, the reel works like new. Here is an excerpt for the AA from the Strike Tech website:

“This unique variable action two piece spool allows your lures to mimic the response of a panicking baitfish. Our ultimate high performance reel features a full Aluminum body and side plate for strength, six precision ball bearings. A RES 2 rotor equalizing system combined with the high-performance Carbon Clutch gives you the power to manipulate your lures for the action you require in order to excite the fish… This amazing new offset reel also features bearing infinite anti-reverse for solid hook setting all day long, Titanium E-Plate line roller, air tube positive lock bail and of course the patented Live Action Spool Technology”.

The main lures I used with this model were soft plastics; a Carolina Rig in ponds for bass, and more soft plastics with jig heads on the flats of Tampa Bay. For the last review, with the GG, I used mainly hard plastic baitfish imitations, such as a Mirrolure or equivalent, but no soft plastics in depth. This review that’s all I used. I wanted to make sure this reel was versatile.

With the soft plastics, after I found a good technique between twitching the bait and reeling in, it was obvious the action on the bottom was different. I tend to reel very slowly on the bottom between twitching a soft plastic, and it seemed when the reel was on max setting, an increase in strikes occurred on the reel in, not just the up and down jigging of the lure. This proved true in fresh and salt water. I would have liked to get more pictures of me actually fishing with the product but I was alone during most of the testing.

Not a huge fish but the LAS went right back to zero for the fight.

For both types of fishing I used a medium action IM6 graphite rod with the ST30AA. The reel was spooled with ten pound Power Pro braid and also ten pound Courtland Master Braid, as well as twenty pound fluorocarbon leader. Add to that various sized jig heads and soft plastics as well as bass hooks. I wanted to see if the different braids made any difference and they really did not.

The combo cast well when being put through the paces and I didn’t find the LAS to reset to zero on obstructions, unless hooked into serious cover or major snags. I used the max setting of the spool on most attempts and on a normal sized fish the LAS went to zero every time. On very small fish, the LAS would not zero out all the way, but would come close. When I say smaller fish though, I mean very small, like ten inch trout or bass.

Trying to bring him in before the resident gator gets lunch.

Not too bad...

In my opinion, the lines of Strike Tech reels are most beneficial for beginners. It’s a great tool to learn how an artificial lure should be presented when using a standard reel. The user can see what the lure should look like when in use, and then put the spool to zero and imitate the action. Add to that, the fact that it can be a real confidence builder for the novice angler. Plus, a seasoned angler can buy some of the lower end models for the wife and kids, as an example, or anyone who doesn’t fish arties often and they will be able to mimic the bait just as intended.

Still looks pretty good after getting beat up in the truck and boat. A nice durable reel.

Overall, I like the innovation of these reels and for the versatility you get I think the price is reasonable. I wish more pictures were available of me using it in saltwater, but the majority of the time I was wading alone. Either way, this reel will catch you fish. Visit www.StrikeTech.net for more pricing information as well as specifications, models, videos and pictures.

WWW.INSHOREINSIDER.COM

“Gags Gone Wild”

It’s that time of year again. Fall. The bait flees the cooler waters of the flats and hunkers down at the bridges and markers. The tarpon have left town, with our waters in the mid sixty degree mark, and the redfish are schooling up in the troughs, potholes and back waters of Tampa Bay. Trout are out of season (and of course biting great), and the cold weather gear is being dusted off for those cool early morning boat rides to our favorite fishing destinations.

Fall also means great grouper fishing, especially the Gag grouper in Tampa Bay. With the first credible cold front of the year here and gone, the grouper bite has been on fire in the cooler water, with many lucky anglers filling up their coolers relatively easily. Reports of big grouper are being told on all the fishing forums, newspaper columns, TV shows and early morning weekend radio.

Techniques used have varied from trolling to bottom fishing; in some cases people are even catching them on deepwater docks. All have been producing nice fish.

My favorite way to fish for grouper is in the shipping lanes using live bait down deep on the rock piles. There is no need to run offshore to catch your dinner; we have all we need in Tampa Bay. This may be the thinking of many, as the shipping channels have been very crowded every time my friends and I have been out.

When choosing bait, pinfish, grunts and scaled sardines all work, but the pinfish is king in my book; big ones. With a livewell as full as possible, again, I head for the shipping lanes all over the bay and use the depth finder to look for good structure; depressions, and nice rock piles, while also looking for bait in small to medium sized concentrations (you don’t want to have to compete with too much bait) with larger fish mixed in. If one can find all of these in one shot, a grouper dinner just may on your table soon.

Using stout rods and six series reels, fifty pound braid, fifty pound leader and a 4/0 to 5/0 sized circle hook, the grouper have been brought up from the bottom, when the above pieces to the puzzle can all come together. This year after only being out a couple of times, I have to say the reports are true. The grouper fishing is on fire.

On the last trip out, after waking at five in the morning (sucked!), my buddies Todd, Bill and I were at the Skyway Bridge around six thirty catching bait, then running right to our favorite channel. In less than two hours we had three fish over twenty five inches in the cooler, and had been broken off convincingly by four more. With that came the usual array of grouper just under slot and your juveniles as well.

The best part of the day was when I had found out that Bill had never fished before-ever. He had never told me this. Not just fishing in Florida, never salt or freshwater. Getting that first hit from a nice grouper almost pulled him off the boat (literally), as he didn’t know what to expect. After bringing the fish to the boat the look on his face was priceless.

Another friend Joe had been out in 35 feet of water very recently over a very small rocky depression nearshore in the Gulf waters, not more than five miles out. He had a stellar day limiting out with three people on the boat using dead sardines.

Fishing before the fronts will be getting much tougher soon. Go out and get them; if you are lucky enough to head out with some decent bait, fairly nice conditions and a decent location, that should make for a good day. At the very least, getting yelled at by an angry spouse is less likely if there is fresh grouper on the table.

Comins soon I will have my review up for the Strike Tech Live Action Spool reel and a Fall redfish report.

WWW.INSHOREINSIDER.COM

New Boat Ramps Completed at EG Simmons Park

About a month ago, the new addition to the EG Simmons boat ramp was completed. This is great news for boaters on the South Shore of Tampa Bay. With the lack of ramps in the area, this is huge news for me. I have used the park ramps for years, for a few good reasons. The presence of the park rangers deters crime at the park, as I have had my truck broken into at other South Shore ramps. In addition, Simmons Park is very close to my house, fillet stations are next to the ramp, and there are even boat wash slabs to rinse off your vessel after pulling out of the bay. The addition of the new ramps makes launching the boat much easier; this was experienced a couple of Saturdays ago during the busier parts of the day. The only drawback is the fee implemented last year to enter the park. Many don’t agree with the charge of two dollars per carload and seven dollars to launch a vessel. My only concern is the fact that when entering with a boat, one has to pay the park entry fee of two dollars and five dollars for the ramp. That was never rational to me. In the long run though, it’s worth it. Yearlong passes can also be purchased that will save an avid boater some money on entrance fees.

Also new to EG Simmons park is canoe and kayak rentals. According to the local paper, the rentals will begin this Saturday, November 20th. If I am correct, the price is 25 dollars for rental time of up to four hours. Many shore fishermen will love this, especially to get to the great shallow troughs for negative tide winter redfishing.

Simmons Park is located at 2410 19th Ave. N.W in Ruskin.

I haven’t had much time to do any writing  as of late , the past few months have been crazy. Like Sam told me, “sometimes life gets in the way”. I have updated Inshore Insider with some fresh content and will be posting a review of the Strike Tech AA model spinning reel on Salty Shores shortly.

WWW.INSHOREINSIDER.COM

A Family Affair

The Trip that won’t be forgotten

All photos by Nick Angerosa and Rainey Oelkers

I had been hanging around with Nick at the Marina a little bit recently, drinking some cold ones. Other than having some brews in a great setting, helping him look over his 1989 restored Aquasport was the reason we were there. Beer was not enough to keep us at the marina, especially while getting eaten up by the bugs. Checking to make sure everything was in top shape for the upcoming new moon tarpon fishing was the agenda.

There was a small water leak going into the hull that had Nick perplexed, so the both of us took a look after a trip one night, then checked it out on the rack another night, and took the boat on the water to finally pinpoint the very small leak that has a perfectionist like Nick consumed. There were a few small leaks coming from the huge livewell and it’s plumbing, and a very small leak from a pin sized hole in the bilge area. All was well after the fixes were made by Nick.

All the rods and reels were prepped and rigged, sabiki’s ready, cast nets untangled, dip nets on the boat, camera charged, the boat was washed down and cleaned, sea trial, you name it, Nick did it. Why all the fuss to have every single aspect of a fishing trip perfect?

A short time ago, Nick’s father came down from New York for a quick trip to visit, and of course, get on some Tampa Bay tarpon. I’m going to go out on a whim here and am thinking he looks at situations like this like me; Pressure is involved, and any mistakes can lead to failure. Stress to put anyone on fish, especially tarpon, can be nerve racking.

While at the marina, I heard tales of fishing trips past. Stories of Nick, his father and friends hammering the fish up North. I’m sure he didn’t want to disappoint while his father was down for only a weekend, and that was the case.

So his family got to town, and with rain looming, the situation looked grim. Sixty to seventy percent chances of rain all weekend and rough conditions on the water; not ideal by any means. Regardless, Nick, his dad, and his girlfriend Rainey were out on the water, and luck was on their side.

Nick's dad fighting his first poon.

A little bit of coaching taking place...this would make a great wall picture.

Finally she lays down...

The silver king poses for a classic picture.

Money...

The rain on Saturday did not hit the targeted area and the pressure was off after the crew went two for three on the silver kings with pictures to boot! I wasn’t there but I’m sure Nick’s dad was ecstatic to reel in his first tarpon, as well as Nick, and of course Rainey got another one to the boat, having not lost one all year. Quality time with family is what it’s all about.

Putting the heat on another...

Nick doing the dirty work.

This is an awesome pic, the payoff from hard work.

The rest of the weekend was a washout as the rain took over. Lady luck or karma must have been on their side that day; good karma will do that for one sometimes. Congratulations to Nick and crew!

Check out the latest fishing stories at INSHOREINSIDER.COM

A Day with Foucher

I finally got a chance to take a good friend out fishing, Captain Todd Foucher. We used to fish together on his boats when he would scout for upcoming charters, or just wanted to be on the water, but it had been a long while. Todd got out of the charter business to pursue a more lucrative venture, which has worked out nicely for him, but knowing he didn’t get to fish all that much, this trip was way overdue. The fishing business is a tough business and although Todd was still running a bunch of trips before he stopped, the love for the job was gone. Last time I had talked to Todd, we talked about getting out on some tarpon, so I gave him a call on a Thursday and we made plans to fish the outgoing tide on Saturday.

Arriving at my place at two (right on time as always, pisses me off, I’m usually five minutes late :)), we threw our gear in the boat and headed to the ramp. Dropping the boat in was quick and easy at that time of day, and we were swiftly on our way to catch bait.

The big threadfins were not on the usual markers, so we concentrated on the smaller whitebait and pinfish on the flats, later on the search for pass crabs would start. After chumming up and successfully netting our bait we rode out to the spot where the fish have been chewing.

Upon arrival, we found what we were looking for. Tarpon feeding and lot’s of them. The silver kings were in town and ready to throw down. After setting the anchor in between some fellow anglers, we were in a great position to catch a fish. Tarpon were all around the boat, and sight casting was the key. On my second cast, I must have had the bait right in front of the fish at just the right time; my braided line flew off the spool, after flipping the bail, it was fish on.

We tossed the anchor buoy (an old lifejacket tied to a rope) and the fight was on. With Todd coaching me, I brought the hundred pound class poon to the boat in short order. His coaching was great, learning more about fighting tarpon, and it’s stuck with me. Once a Captain, always a Captain, he has constantly been a wealth of fishing knowledge for myself, and many others. Todd handled it for a picture, let it go and we staged up again.

Todd wrangling in my silver king

Been a while...

With fish rolling all over, we were sure another would be boatside soon, but after a while of no action we were getting bored. The tarpon got real picky and the action died down. Off we went to look for the crab flush.

Shortly after getting to a good location we saw numerous pass crabs and netted them up quickly. With two dozen in the well we started fishing again, drifting crabs for a couple of hours to no avail. Todd started using small whitebait and pinfish again, catching small grouper and mackerel, but no luck on the targeted species. Contemplating leaving, Todd and I decided we would pitch a few more baits then take off.

Todd throws out small whitebait while I continue to drift crabs. Finally, his rod doubles over and we thought he had a huge grouper on. That was fine with me, I wanted some fillets, but after a slender silver king went airborne, we were happy. Todd had hooked a smaller fish, maybe sixty five pounds, and this was just what he wanted.

Todd doing battle with the king.

You see, Todd has put the hammer down on many tarpon; I haven’t. He explained to me throughout the day he would only “jump and dump” a big fish, but fight a smaller fish, so he got what he wanted. After a short five minute fight, Todd had the fish to the side of the boat and I released it. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures, but Nick was next to us in the Aquasport and he got a cool picture of the “Toddfather” fighting the fish. After that hook up, we stayed for a little bit longer with no accomplishment in sight. Calling it a day, we dumped the well, packed up, and headed back to the ramp.

All in all, the fishing was sub par, but the company was good. Todd and I got to spend the day catching up and talking lots of smack. Todd got the fish he wanted, and I boated the fish I wanted. As a plus, fishing with Todd is always a learning experience, and if you can’t take away something from fishing with him, then you’re just not listening. This was a great day, and good to see one of the South Shores top guides on the water again.

Boat picture courtesy of Nick Angerosa, thanks bro!

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