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Fishing Reports

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Sanibel Sojourn: The Fall Phase By Jan Maizler





Sanibel Sojourn


Jan S. Maizler



It was good to get back to my “second home” in Florida, Sanibel Island. I had timed this particular trip with Captain Mark Westra to coincide with the fall baitfish migration. Therefore, a hopefully calm Gulf would offer up mackerel, bluefish, and false albacore in addition to the cooler season-invigorated snook and redfish in the inside waters of San Carlos and Estero bays.

The drive from Miami was short and sweet since the trip began on a fair weather late Sunday. Check-in at Island Inn Sanibel was always a joy and my wife and I unpacked in a lovely Beachview Cottage.

Since the sun was sinking, I quickly got out to the beach to capture a sea and skyscape of the dusk highlighted by a cold front to the north.  We had a fine seafood dinner at the Inn’s Traditions Restaurant and turned in.

Day 1-

I met Captain Mark at the Punta Rassa boat ramp next morning at 7:30 a.m. His vessel was an impressive 22-foot Shearwater powered by a 225 H.P. Yamaha ready for battle loaded with two livewells full of whitebait.  In a half-day spanning San Carlos to Matlacha, we released about 15 snook to 12 pounds, 2 redfish, 1 big bluefish and loads of big jacks.


Day 2-

Our second day of angling featured some line storms preceding a cold front and we spent the next 6 hours fishing and dodging showers. Our first stop was in the open Gulf amidst a huge school of migratory predators consisting of mackerel, bluefish, and big ladyfish.  We took countless gamesters casting topwater plugs and D.O.A. Baitbusters. The rest of the trip was spent back on inside waters where we took another 6 snook . Captain Mark lost a huge snook that blew up on a large whitebait and once hooked made a sizzling run along a mangrove wall and then a quick turn into the depths of the roots.


It was a wonderful trip !


















Captain Mark Westra

Flat Top Charters

Phone- 239-543-5475




Island Inn Sanibel

3111 West Gulf Drive

Sanibel, Florida

















A Passion for Peacocks- Part 2 By Jan Maizler




A Passion for Peacocks- Part 2


Jan Maizler


In the last couple of months, I’ve fished with Hai Truong twice. While the first time in September was excellent, my trip with him last week was superb. We released twelve fish in two hours and left them biting.

Many of the fish were absolute studs and glowing with radiant aggressive color- totally lit-up !  All the fishing took place in urban Miami and truly satisfies my previous burning desire to make an otherwise expensive trip to remote Brazil.

The first five images are from last week.

The next three are from the prior month.




















Hai Truong




Finding Florida’s Freshwater Hot Spots


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.

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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:


Fishing Gear:
Omen Black Casting Rod
Concept A Baitcaster
Lowrance HDS7

Mosaic Fishing Management Area Brochure

FWC Freshwater Data

FWC Fishing License Sales Data

Two Days in Naples, Florida By Jan Maizler





Two Days in Naples




Jan Maizler



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

Phone- 239-262-1414

Phone- 888-800-LEMON

Web Site-


Captain Will Geraghty/ Grand Slam Light Tackle Sport Fishing

550 Port O Call Way

Naples, Florida 34102

Phone- 239-793-0969


Web Site-


Fishing with Zman

I picked up my first pack of Zman soft plastics a little under a year ago, and now it’s almost all I buy.

Anglers are always on the search for the best baits in the industry, and hard-earned money is used to buy these baits with the underlying promise that it will catch you more fish. This company has one specific reason that these baits stand out against competitors, ElaZtech plastic.

ElaZtech has solved a few problems that I have encountered with other plastics . First off, the durability of these baits are amazing. Generally I only go through about 1-2 baits after a full day of fishing, they hardly ever get destroyed by pufferfish and I don’t recall ever losing one while fighting a fish.

Another feature worthy of notice is that some of the products, such as the PogyZ and PaddlerZ, are scented with Pro-cure. Pro-cure is a scented fishing gel that is applied to the outside of baits to attract fish by smell instead of just sight. Many believe this is a key ingredient in getting picky fish to bite, and I can definitely say it hasn’t scared any fish away!

Matching the hatch? Not a problem! although these are not cinematic representations of specific fish like Live Target and Savage gear make, I think they do an excellent job representing a few different baitfish.


If I’m in an area where a lot of pinfish are present, I like to use a Scented PogyZ (which I also use for skipping because they have larger, flatter sides). For most general purposes however, my favorite is a Scented PaddlerZ. Although, if I see fish keying in on finger mullet a DieZel MinnowZ is hard to beat. Another advantage of the DieselZ minnow is a large wedge tail that will cause a bit more disturbance if you’re fishing in darker water.

Some cons about these baits: Although they are very durable, only 5 come in a pack and it comes out to about a dollar a bait. For most that shouldn’t be too much of a problem, unless you are use to throwing out your bait every time you switch colors. Another problem that has occurred to me is throughout the day when exposed directly to Florida’s sun, I’ve had a few baits melt in the package. Since then I’ve changed the way I store them (now in a large tupperware container with other plastics), and I don’t seem to have the problem anymore.

Most importantly- these baits catch fish. I know what my hand is already reaching for when I see a passing redfish. Simply put, these baits are another essential tool in my tackle box, and they have a very distinct advantage to other plastics in the market right now. Don’t believe me? Pick up a pack yourself, I’ve got the feeling you’ll be as hooked as the fish you’re catching!

For more pictures check me out on Instagram @Alanwise333


Tight lines,

-Alan Wise

A Morning in Flamingo, Florida with Captain Benny Blanco by Jan Maizler







A Morning in Flamingo, Florida with Captain Benny Blanco


Jan Maizler


This last Friday I fished with J.P. Broche on a writers outing under the guidance of Captain Benny Blanco on his Hells Bay Professional. Though there were tons of floating grass, we released four tarpon, two tripletail, two snook and two redfish. We lost count of the tarpon we jumped.  Benny really put us on the fish ! Here’s a quick photo recap.






















Captain Benny Blanco






Versa-Bella: Beating the Heat

Fishing in Florida during the summer months can be rewarding, but it is also extremely HOT. I’ve tried several different ways to beat the heat while fishing from my kayak, but nothing has really worked. Recently, I came across this product made by Sport-Brella. It is an umbrella with a universal clamp and multiple swivel points. For me, the clamp easily attaches the umbrella to the Hobie seat and stays completely out of the way when your casting. This is also going to be useful for videographers and photographers alike, providing shade to allow for easier viewing of display screens while out filming on the water. The best part about the Versa-Brella, is the price. It can be found on Amazon for less than $20.

Click this link for specific product info and current pricing: versa-brella






Cutting a Hole in Your Pocket

ICAST 2015 was a lot of fun and I enjoyed seeing many friends from all over the globe that attended. New products were introduced by some innovative companies and one in particular, had me scratching my head. I came across two different companies offering products that do basically the same thing. However, they couldn’t be further apart when it comes to price.

The first was Tauten, Inc. They have two models of line cutters, The Tauten Precision Line Cutter – Pro Elite and  the Limited Edition. The Pro Elite retails for $119 and the Limited Edition for $229.


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The second was, Line Cutterz. They make a double bladed ring that fits on your finger or attaches to any cylindrical object about the same diameter. It retails at select stores for $9.99.


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This is where logic steps in and begs the question: Do I really need to spend $120 on something to cut fishing line?

For years people have used, knives, fingernail clippers, scissors and my favorite; biting through the line. Although, with braided lines this is a thing of the past. Cutting line is not an art form, but rather a necessity. We are not threading needles, but rather tying on leader or tying on your favorite lure. To say that this company has, “jumped the shark” is putting it mildly.

They have their work cut out for them trying to sell the Pro Elite that is nearly 12x’s the cost of a product that does the same thing, meanwhile the Limited Edition is 23x’s the cost of the Line Cutterz Ring.

So what is it that would prompt you to buy the Tauten cutter over the Line Cutterz?  Comment below, I’d like to hear from you.

Epic Miami Peacock Fishing with Hai Truong by Jan Maizler




















Adventures Out of Island Inn Sanibel By Jan Maizler

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Adventures Out of the Island Inn Sanibel




Jan Maizler



While I’ve traveled the better part of the globe in pursuit of piscatorial pleasures, Sanibel Island on Florida’s West Coast has drawn me back decade after decade. My first criterion for angling travel is excellent fishing and Sanibel satisfies that need with some of the best snook fishing in the world. There are also abundant populations of redfish and seatrout year-round plus seasonal tarpon, kingfish, mackerel, and false albacore migrations. Whether in the Sanibel backcountry or the Gulf of Mexico, there is always something ready to pounce on your fly, lure, or bait.


The precious comparative rarity that Sanibel offers is superb fishing along its beaches. If your destination has the Gulf as a backyard- as does the Island Inn- all you need to do is walk from your room across the sand dunes and start casting at the water’s edge.

I have used the Island Inn for years. Its wonderful rooms, amenities, and restaurant sit on a very snookish stretch of shell-blessed beach.


And from late spring until late summer when the gulf is at its calmest, you can expect to see and present a fly or lure to snook after snook crossing right at the water’s edge. This fishing is especially excellent on the incoming tide up through high slack. You can also catch mackerel, seatrout, pompano, redfish and even tarpon right from the beach. There’s a great deal to do all around you when you beach fish. You can gather some fine shells, sit down and have a picnic on blanket and sand, take some pictures, or shed some gear and go for a swim.


My fishing format when I stay at Island Inn includes sightfishing and blind casting the beaches and also fishing with a guide in the abundant backcountry. The guide I use most often is Captain Mike Smith (239-573-FISH). I start my day of beach fishing at dawn by casting to minnow “sprays” and/or diving birds since the sun is not high enough to sight fish. After a couple hours, I’ll enjoy a delicious complementary breakfast at the Inn’s Traditions restaurant. After the repast, I’ll either return to the beach for actual sight fishing with a better-positioned sun or I’ll meet Mike at the Punta Rassa boat ramp. My arrival this time was preceded by a week of southerly winds, leaving a roiled and muddy Gulf.  Sight casting for snook would be impossible for the next two days I had allotted for fishing. Although I could have used rattling plugs with applied attractant and probably caught snook, I turned my attention to writing projects and fishing the flats with Mike.


Day One-


Trips that become stories are most satisfying when they ooze success. We’d be fishing windy conditions and I wanted pictures, so I was quite willing to use the most successful methods- which in this region is “whitebait” (A.K.A. live scaled sardines). The heat of June is not an easy time to get loads of properly sized whitebaits, but Mike had netted a sufficient number of them.


This day was pleasantly more challenging for me since we did not use “chummers”, but instead relied on my spot casting an individual bait –like a lure- to shadowy pockets alongside and under the mangroves. In the five hours that we fished, I released around forty snook to six pounds, lost just as many, and had plenty of missed strikes. In addition, we hooked and released three nice redfish.


Midday thunderstorms started forming. We could see the sheets of rain falling out of the clouds flat, blackened “bellies”. The first flash of lighting touched the water a few miles away, telling us it was time to go. On the way back to the boat ramp, I reflected on the astonishingly large biomass of young snook in the area.


Day Two-


On the second day of fishing, Island Inn’s General Manager Chris Davison joined us. Once we came aboard, Mike pointed his Lake and Bay towards the deep reaches of Pine Island Sound. During the run of about forty minutes, Mike mentioned he wanted for us to have a change of pace.


Today, Mike had loads of whitebait but they were somewhat small. We were able to make good casts with Mike’s Temple Fork Outfitters rods and Daiwa spinning reels filled with light braid. Chris was the first to bend a rod with a nice redfish. The skies above were clear and the sun beamed loads of heat into the morning water. The effect of this was that we’d have to try multiple spots as the fish were not bunched up like on colder days with low water. Chris caught a few more snook while I caught a large redfish, a flounder and two small snook.


We were able to get the photos I needed so we called it a day. Of equal importance was the afternoon of fun I had planned at the Inn.





Island Inn Sanibel

3111 West Gulf Drive, Sanibel, Florida 33957

Phone: 239-472-1561


Captain Mike Smith- Mangrove Island Charters

Phone: 239-573-FISH

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