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.
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.
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
Island Inn Sanibel
3111 West Gulf Drive
A Passion for Peacocks- Part 2
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.
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
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
A Morning in Flamingo, Florida with Captain Benny Blanco
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Hai Truong Fishing
Phone – 786 405 4146
Adventures Out of the Island Inn Sanibel
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.
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.
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
Captain Mike Smith- Mangrove Island Charters
One of the cool things I get to do is testing new lures. With ICAST 2015 coming up I’m starting to see some cool new lures in the press releases.
Savage Gear sent me some cool new saltwater lures hitting the market his season. They sent me a variety of samples they wanted me to try.
Out of the batch, one of the best looking lure is the “Hybrid Shrimp”. The lure comes in a variety of paint scheme.
Like the name it is a combination of hard and soft plastic. The body is hard and the legs are soft durable plastic. It has one treble hook that is held to the body via magnet to make it cast better and swim more realistic.
The lure is a slow head first sinker and the eyelet to tie it on is under the tail. When you do the retrieve, the shrimp comes up to the surface and makes a small popping noise like an escaping shrimp.
The body is weighted towards the head along with one rattle. This combination of weight in the head , 1/2oz weight and its aerodynamic shape makes this the longest casting shrimp I have ever used on the flats.
During my test, the way I used it for best results is to drift a flat. I would make a cast to pot holes and pop the shrimp up, let it sink for a few seconds then do it again. The strike for trout was at the top. The redfish and snook came during the fall for the most part.
I also had a few large misses, I had no idea what it was.
I also worked mullet schools with the same lure action. The ability to cast really far and being able to be near the top to stay weedless makes this lure very useful on the grassy flats. I manage to catch reds, snook and trout on the shrimp on the same lure. No legs were missing after the day’s fishing was done.
On that note, I must say that the soft plastic part of the lure, if mix with other plastic will not keep its shape. It is best to keep this lure separated from other lures.
The Hybrid Shrimp will be announced in July at ICAST 2015 in Orlando.
A lure overview video of the Savage gear hybrid shrimp.