The Rod-Runner Pro is a rod caddy, that allows you to safely and easily carry up to 5 rods in 1 hand. You will see I tried a couple of different ways of securing the Rod Runner in the truck bed. Any type of bungee or paracord would suffice. If your interested in picking one up for yourself or learning more about the other models or options available, here is a link: Rod-Runner
Since moving to Florida in 2013, I could count on one hand the number of times I fished freshwater in the “Sunshine State” before learning about the waters holding trophy fish, just a little further inshore from where I live. I was doing some research to see what freshwater action there was around me, and that’s when it happened… that’s when I discovered Polk County. I had not idea what I just discovered!
For years, I have heard Florida referred to as, “The Fishing Capital of the World” and with all the saltwater fishing I do, I totally understand why. According to the 2014-15 Fishing License Revenue Data, Florida brings in over 10 million dollars of revenue from the sale of freshwater fishing licenses. That is just FRESHWATER! It doesn’t include the additional 32 million dollars spent on the sale of saltwater fishing licenses. With just over 573K freshwater licenses sold, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) estimates that 74,000 people fish the waters of Polk County every year. That is a staggering number and one that points to Polk County truly being a fishing destination. One contributing factor to that number is the 554 natural freshwater fishing lakes.
So after taking in all this new information, I had to see for myself what Polk County had to offer. One of the key finds for me was the Mosaic Fish Management Area. After years of mining phosphate in central Florida, Mosaic has partnered with FWC to help reclaim land and water resources offering great fishing to the public. Their numerous lakes are managed with very impressive catch rates. However, to gain access to these waters is not about just driving up and casting a line.
To enter the Mosaic Fish Management Area, you must first go to the Check Station and check-in. (These waters are only available to the public, Friday through Monday from 6 am to 2 pm.) You must register and give the custodian your fishing license in exchange for a Daily Fishing Permit that will allow you on-site. It is important to note, these lakes have a quota of daily fishing permits allowed and issued on a 1st come 1st served basis, which are specific to the lake you are requesting to fish. Should you decide to change locations, you must return to the Check Station for a new permit.
After learning about this fishing hot spot, I grabbed my gear and was off. With the abundance of plant life in the water I was prepared to sling some frogs across the lily pads along the edges from my kayak, along with some other weedless lures. On this day, I was using a new 13Fishing 7’ 3” Omen Black Casting Rod with a new 13Fishing Concept A baitcaster, spooled with 40lb. braided line. I went with the heavy line due to the vegetation and possibility of a monster bass. Once on site I was greeted at the Check Station and proceeded to get my permit. With only four days of fishing available, I suggest you get there early to ensure you get a permit and on the water for the bite at first light.
As I made my way to the lake, I couldn’t help but notice all the other bodies of water and land that was set aside by Mosaic for wildlife that is off-limits to people. Mosaic has taken a strong stance on its conservation efforts and the future of the Mosaic FMA is dependent on anglers making sure they only fish the designated areas.
As soon as I launched, I started marking fish on my Lowrance. The bottom was stacked with fish and I decided to go with a chartreuse spinner bait. It worked like a charm and I was hooked up to a 15″ Bass. It put up a good fight, but was no match for this 13Fishing setup as it “tail danced” across the surface of the water. I should mention this reel has an 8.1:1 ratio, hauling in 32” of line with each crank and 22lbs. of drag. As this was my first time fishing this setup, I was impressed to say the least. The reel matched the performance of the rod perfectly. At 7’ 3” it was a perfect length for guiding the fish around the front of my kayak while staying seated.
As I moved around the lake and watching the screen on my fish finder, it was obvious the FMA had worked hard to provide the fish a great habitat. While my focus was on Large Mouth Bass, I saw plenty of other species and bait as well. Going back and fishing in the winter months is definitely on my list, as the Crappie action in these lakes is reported to be phenomenal as well.
Whether looking to change things up from your saltwater fishing adventures or just find some new freshwater locations, Polk County has a lot to offer. Check out the links to the locations and products mentioned above:
Whether you are fishing ponds in your neighborhood or at your local pier, portable fish finders are giving the average angler a chance to see what is beneath the surface where they only had to guess before. After seeing a few different models at iCAST this year, I decided to try the FishHunter Portable Fish Finder to see for myself how this new piece of technology works.
The FishHunter is made to Military Grade spec and fits in the palm of your hand. It can be cast, thrown or even trolled. Weighing in at just over 4oz. it is small enough to fit in a cargo pocket with ease.
When this unit arrived, it needed to be charged for approximately 3hrs. and while it was charging I downloaded the FishHunter Pro App for my smartphone. The app is very easy to use and even offers features to log your catch. Once the unit was charged, I attached it to the line on one of my heavier rods so I could cast it int the pond. (It takes water to activate and turn on the unit and using bluetooth it will work with your smart-device.) The FishHunter landed with a rather large splash and as it was settling down, I opened the app and paired it with my smartphone. After logging in and selecting my preferences, I started getting data. This particular unit, just gives data looking straight down. However, they have a new unit that will be available soon which will have a directional 3D sonar.
You have two choices of view: Fish View (Above) OR Raw Data (Below)
I will be updating this post with new photos and comments as I try it out in different scenarios. Please be sure to post any questions or leave a suggestion in the comments on any specific tests you’d like to see.
Product Information Link: FishHunter 3.0
Two Days in Naples
I’ve just returned from Naples, Florida during a weather period featuring the year’s first cold front in addition to some very challenging intermittent rain and thunderstorms. But the two pillars of the journey -The Lemon Tree Inn and my guide Captain Will Geraghty provided a solid experience in both lodgings and fishing. I shall certainly return for another delightful adventure. Have a look !
Lemon Tree Inn
250 9th Street South
Naples, Florida 34102
Web Site- www.lemontreeinn.com
Captain Will Geraghty/ Grand Slam Light Tackle Sport Fishing
550 Port O Call Way
Naples, Florida 34102
Web Site- www.naplessportfishing.com
Shot this video on how to mount the Power-Pole on the L2Fish SUP. LIVE Watersports, located in Clearwater, FL makes these SUPs here in FL and with their collaboration with YakAttack, have made mounting accessories extremely easy. Click here for more information on the YakAttack BlackPak and other rigging accessories.
With the release of the new battery pack for the Micro, you don’t have to worry about the extra battery and running cables. Check out: www.Power-Pole.com
The fishing in Louisiana is only good in two spots, offshore and inshore. If you like you catch, instead of fishing, you need to check Louisiana once.
Here is clip I shot of the lodge while I was there last week.
Though the lodge only has guides to do inshore, the offshore is amazing there.
Besides catching bull reds all day you can catch Tunas as close in as 5 miles from the mouth of the river along with cobia, triple tail, kings .. .etc etc. If you drive, bring a cooler.
Great tip on how to remove the flex in the GearTrac on the L2Fish paddle board when using a “boom type” camera mount or to give a rod holder more support.
Click on this link to get the part you need: Mighty Mount
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
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