Monthly Archives: September 2018

Catch and Release Fishing

To Keep or To Release?
From the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife
from the Fishing Wire

Releasing Trout

If you’re fishing in a catch-and-release-only water body, the decision has been made for you; all fish must be released promptly. But otherwise, you can decide which legally harvestable fish to keep for consumption, which to release, and how to conduct either activity. Many fishing regulations are designed to improve fish growth and size quality, and they are only successful if fish are harvested by anglers. A lack of harvest can cause fish to stunt and not grow. Either way, it’s your job to bring a humane approach to the table. If you decide to release your catch, the following tips will help result in a successful release.

How to safely catch and release

By carefully following these simple instructions, you can release your fish unharmed. If you enjoyed catching your fish, so will the next angler!

Time is of the essence. Play and release the fish as quickly and carefully as possible. An exhausted fish may be too weak to recover. Do not overplay your fish.
Keep the fish in the water. Minimize or eliminate the time your fish is out of the water. As little as 30 seconds of air exposure can cause delayed mortality of released trout, and in the winter months the fish may be subject to a quick freeze.

Wet your hands when handling the fish. Dry hands can remove the layer of slime that protects the fish from fungi, bacteria, and parasites.

Photograph responsibly. Photo sessions can be stressful for a fish. Prepare for the photo with your fish safely under the water surface, and only lift the fish out of the water for 5 second intervals or less. Try to get the shot (within reason), but return your fish to the water for a rest between attempts.

Be gentle. Keep your fingers away from the gills, don’t squeeze the fish, and never drag a fish onto the bank.

Choose the right landing net. Rubber nets are easier on fish than traditional twine nets.

Safely remove the hook with small pliers or a similar tool. If the hook is deeply embedded or in a sensitive area such as the gills or stomach, cut the leader close to the snout. Make an effort to use regular steel (bronzed) hooks to promote early disintegration. Avoid the use of stainless hooks. One way to release your fish quickly is to use barbless hooks. If barbed hooks are all you have, you can bend the barbs over or simply file them off.

Neutralize the pressure. The air bladders of togue (lake trout) often expand after being pulled up rapidly from deep water. If a togue’s belly appears expanded, release it from the hook first, then gently press your thumb along the stomach near the paired belly fins and move it forward a few times to release the air before releasing the fish.

Revive the fish. Hold the fish underwater in a swimming position until it can swim away (note: do not use this method if surface water temperatures are unusually warm).
Follow these simple basics and most of the fish you put back into the water will be there for you to try to catch next time.

Tying Good Knots

Good Knots are Key to Great Catches
By Ben Secrest, Accurate Fishing
from The Fishing Wire

Yellowfin Tuna

The right knots help land fish of a lifetime. This 256 lb. yellowfin is the perfect example for Team Accurate.

The attention to detail in daily life helps all of us moving forward to succeed in obstacles we face everyday. The whole adventure of fishing is based on some details that once summed up can lead to successfully landing or losing the fish of a lifetime.

One extremely important part of everyday fishing is being able to tie knots that will withstand the test of a gamefish during the heat of a lengthy battle. We wanted to show you some basic knots that will help you during your fishing adventures no matter if its at the lake, inshore along the coast or targeting larger gamefish offshore. Many of the knots are common in all fishing circles from super light line to heavy duty offshore fishing–they are proven. Here are some of the well known knots that you should become familiar with for your time on the water.

Clinch Knot

Clinch Knot is used to tie a hook, swivel, or lure onto your line. This clinch has been a staple knot among salt and freshwater anglers for years. This knot will work on monofilament or braided lines. When tying the knot make sure you cinch it tight using water or saliva to avoid any friction on the line. Tie the knot correctly and make sure you cinch it down by pulling securely on the running line. Once cinched then trim tag end.

Parlomor Knot

Palomar knot Palomar has been a very popular knot among fishermen for securing their line to a hook. Its a very easy knot to tie and extremely strong. This knot works very well with monofilament and braid. There are variations of this knot out there and all work well if tied properly. Again lubricating the mono line helps reduce friction and it is extremely important to cinch the knot and trim tag end after.


UniKnot is well proven in all circles as easy to tie and can be used with heavier test line. This knot has been a main stay of lots of anglers including myself. I use it to tie on hooks, lures, swivels, and pretty much anything that requires a sound knot. When using lighter line I double the line through the eye of the hook and then tie a uniknot which gives you more strength at the eye of the hook. The thing about a unknot is when it cinches down right it’s square on the hook. Very solid.

Loop Knot

Loop knot is a popular knot among the artificial plug fishermen where a loop on the lure will elicit more action in the lure during certain retrieves. These knots are good but the thing to remember if you are going to fight gamefish for any length of time is that the loose line of the loop on the eye of the bait will wear overtime and often break. Catch a couple fish and check it for any frays to make sure you are solid.

Surgeon Knot

Surgeons Knot is a double line knot for anglers looking for double the strength of their line or knots. It is also used to attach double line leaders. People use the bimini knot or the surgeons loop to attach leaders loop to loop. Very important to cinch it square or it will wear on itself.

Double Uniknot

Double Uniknot is one of the easy knots to tie and extremely reliable from two pound test to 100 lb. Its easy to tie and has a higher breaking strength versus others. This knot is used to tie leader onto your main line or to join two lines. It is a little bulkier going through the guides but is a proven performer for fishermen around the globe.

Albright Knot

Improved Albright Knot is another knot for connecting two lines, running line to leader, that works perfect with mono, floro, or braid. This is a strong knot and very compact so it travels through the guides easier. We have used this knot for years for tying 30lb mono and to 100 to 150 lb leader material for casting rigs for stripe marlin here on the west coast. Fairly easy knot to tie once you practice it but like any knot make sure it is cinched prior to trimming any tag lines. The braid to floro leader works like magic. Remember with braid take more wraps so the knot lays right.

Pena Knot

Tony Pena Knot works very well with mono to mono but it is the strongest of the knots we use for braid to mono/floro connections for poppers, surface lures, and baits for larger tunas. It is a very basic knot and probably the strongest we have used for leader to braid connection. With smaller lines we tie a 2 to 3 turn uni-knot for the overhand knot then ten up and ten back with the braid then through the loop. These knots push against each other when cinching and square up nicely. The knot goes through the guides well and is very easy to cast with minimal hang up in the guides. We have tied this knot exclusively for the last few years for our popper rigs with conventional gig with 65 or 80 lb braid to 100 or 130 lb floro leader. Very strong, dependable knot when tied correctly and fully cinched. Proven with the west coast tuna guys.

All these knots have good ratings among anglers. Whatever you have the most confidence in tie. I have been tying the same knots for years and I have changed a couple knots along the way. Key to any knot is tie it correctly and most important thing is lubricate your line, cinch your knot, then trim tag end. Never trim the tag end until you cinch your knot. The knot is the very base to be successful catching fish. To be good at anything, you need to practice what is involved. Its the same with tying knots. While watching TV practice your knots. Get them right and they will help you produce that fish of a lifetime

Team Accurate
By Ben Secrest|

Fly Fishing the Smokies

Tips on Fly Fishing the Smokies
By Byron Begley
Little River Outfitters
from The Fishing Wire

Trout Stream

I started fishing in the Smokies in the 1960’s but I used a spinning rod. I fly fished at the time but I didn’t know how to flyfish in moving water. In the early 1980’s I started traveling to Townsend to fly fish. At the time I lived in Nashville, Tennessee. I had been to Yellowstone and other states to fish and had some success but fly fishing in the Smokies was different and I felt it was much harder. Finally, after several trips here I started to catch a few trout. I moved to Townsend in the early 90’s, married my wife Paula and we bought Little River Outfitters. By hanging around with people like Walter Babb, Brian Courtney and Jack Gregory I learned how this is done and I sometimes forget how hard it was at first to catch trout on a fly here in the Smokies.

Trout that live in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are wild. They were born in these streams. Their parents and grandparents were born in these streams. The National Park Service ceased stocking trout in the early 1970’s. An occasional stocked trout may venture into the park from surrounding stocked streams but for the most part, these fish are wild.

The following tips are for those of you who find yourself in the same situation I was in or it’s for those who have forgotten some of the subtle tricks to succeed. If you can catch trout on a fly here in the Smokies, you can catch them anywhere.

1. If the trout sees you or your shadow he probably can’t be caught. These trout are wild and survived because they are wary. I think a wary fish is that way because of a genetic trait that is passed on by the trout’s parents. If a trout is not wary, it will be eaten by a bird, otter, a larger trout or another predator and will not reach sexual maturity. So, in other words, an un-wary fish does not pass on un-wary traits. The gene pool that is left is made up of trout who are all scared to death of everything, including you. I noticed years ago that these mountain fly fishermen who knew what they were doing all dressed alike. They wore dark clothing (usually green) and many wore camoflage clothing. That seemed odd to me because I never saw anyone wearing camo in the Orvis Catalog. I also noticed a lot of anglers fly fishing on their knees, not standing up in the middle of the stream. I saw them hiding behind rocks and trees and sometimes almost crawling to move up to the next run. I believe that if a trout here in the Smokies sees anything unusual their immediate reaction is to run through the pool or riffle and alert every other trout in their view that something is wrong.

2. If your fly doesn’t move at the same rate as the current it’s in you probably won’t catch a trout. Think about this: A trout usually stays in a small area all day watching things flow past them in the current. It may be sticks, leaves, nymphs, adult aquatic insects, cigarette butts and little bits of everything you can imagine. These things all have one thing in common. They are moving at the same rate of speed as the current. Now, here comes your Parachute Adams but the current next to the current your fish is in is faster and your line and leader are in that current. It will pull your fly, either faster or slower than the current it is in. That is called drag. These trout who are all scared to death of anything unusual are probably not going to eat your Parachute Adams. There are exceptions to this. They may think your fly is a caddis that is jumping around laying eggs or some other movement made by insects. But don’t count on that. Make your fly drift with the speed of the current and you will catch more trout. You are going to get drag all day on many casts but the longer your fly can drift with the current the better your chances are of connecting with a trout. Sometimes in certain spots where you know there is a trout you can be successful if you get a good drift for only a foot or so. So how do you get a good drift?

A. Make short casts. Stay hidden of course and don’t spook the fish but short casts have a much better chance of offering a drag free drift. The reason is, the more line you have on the water the more conflicting currents are there to grab your line and drag your fly. Most trout are caught here in the Smokies by making 15′ to 20′ casts. Many are caught make casts shorter than that.

B. Keep as much fly line off the water or even keep it all off the water. You can make a short cast and lift your rod as the fly floats back toward you keeping the line off the water. You can make casts across a current and by keeping your rod high hold the line and some of the leader off the water allowing your fly to drift in the current it is in. If you look across the creek you will see several different current speeds. Some are slow because they have been in contact with a large boulder. Some are slow because they are moving over a shallow gravel bar. Some are fast because there has been no interuption in their flow for a while. Some are slow because there is a backup in a small pool. These currents are varied throughout the stream. Your job is to keep your fly moving in the current that it’s in at that speed for as long as you can.

C. Mend your line. As you fly is moving down it’s current and you see that it is about to drag because your fly line is in a faster or slower current you can move your line or mend it by moving it into another current or throwing it upstream to give your fly a chance to drift naturally for a few more seconds. This can all be done without moving the fly. This takes practice and the ability to mend you line well makes you a much better fly fisherman.

3. If the trout sees your fly line or leader you probably won’t catch the trout. Don’t cast your fly line over a good looking spot. If you think you see a place where a trout should be don’t let your fly line float over that spot. In fact, don’t let your fly line go over that spot while false casting in the air. Get your fly and leader in that spot first. If after a couple of casts you don’t get a strike, cast further to another promising spot. If you make long casts you might be spooking trout that you would otherwise catch if you were sneaky and could make a short cast to them. If you see a lot of good holding spots for trout start casting to the closer ones first. If you don’t connect, cast to the spots you see that are further away. Move a little closer if you can, stay low, hide behind a boulder and just let them see your fly and tippet.

4. If you are wading where the fish are and casting where they are not, you probably won’t catch a trout. Before you wade into a stream look at the water and think about it first. Where would the trout be? How can I get a drift to them? Where can I hide from them? Maybe I don’t have to wade at all. That would be better. All of these decisions can cause success or failure. In any riffle, run or pool there are good spots for fish to hide and there are places where no wild trout would venture. Remember, these guys are afraid of everything. Try to wade as little as possible. Of course you need to wade from one side of the stream to the other every once in a while. But the less time you spend in the water the more trout you will catch. You will also need to learn to cast side arm to your right side and your left side. It takes practice for a right handed caster to make a side arm cast over your left side but that’s something you’ll need to learn to do. That way you can spend more time on one side of the stream without moving over to the other side and spooking the trout you are trying to catch.

5. If the water temperature is too cold or too warm you probably won’t catch a trout. Trout love temperatures in the 50 degree to 60 degree range. If the temperature is 40 degrees they don’t feed as much because their metabolism slows down. The same is true if the water reaches say, 70 degrees. Also, the warmer the water is the lower the disolved oxygen content is. When the water warms and the oxygen is low the trout become sluggish or even die. So, what can you do about the water temperature? Well, nothing. But you can move to an area where the water is more trout tolerant. In the winter or early spring the water is warmer in the lower elevation streams. The air temperature is colder high in the mountains and warmer in the valleys. If you are fishing at Elkmont and the water is 40 degrees and you aren’t catching anything, move to the West Prong, Lower East Prong or the Middle Prong where the water is warmer. You can also fish the sunny spots where the water is somewhat warmer. During the cold months you will probably have better luck in the middle of the day when the water is warmer. It’s all different in the summer. The water is cooler in the mornings and evenings. During midday when the water warms the trout will turn off. So fish early and late. You can also fish in the higher elevation streams during the warm months or find a stream that has a lot of springs feeding them. A good example is Abrams Creek in Cades Cove. There are some large springs there that keep the stream cooler than some other streams in the area.

6. Which fly you use is not nearly as important as the above five reasons for success or failure. In the spring our first mayfly hatches are Quill Gordons and Blue Quills. Blue Wing Olives are usually hatching at that time also. Because the trout are not used to feeding on the surface as much during the winter they begin to look up when these flies start hatching. Having a fly that looks somewhat like these insects can be important. During a large hatch the trout can become selective and concentrate their efforts on that source of food. As we move further into Spring there is a more diverse selection of insects to feed on. The colors of the mayflies become lighter. Hendricksons and March Browns hatch, then later we get the very light mayflies – Light Cahills. In the summer we get a lot of small yellow stoneflies. We call them Yellow Sallies. Terrestrial insects such as ants, beetles and inchworms become a reliable source of food for trout in the summer. You should have a selection of dry flies and nymphs that are available to the trout at the time of year you are fishing in the Smokies. You can always check our fishing report to find out the latest hatches and recommended flies.

7. If another angler has been wading in the area where you are fishing the trout will be harder to catch for a while. There are over 700 miles of fishable trout streams in this National Park. When trout are spooked by an angler they won’t feed for a while. Some people think it takes a few minutes to get over an unusual encounter and some people think it takes hours. If you see wet footprints where you are fishing and you aren’t catching or getting strikes maybe you should move to another spot. Also, as a courtesy to anglers, if you see one in the stream don’t drop in up stream from him or her. Go up a few hundred yards and get in. Most anglers start at a spot and work their way up stream and you will probably do the same. Some anglers walk along the trail and drop in at places that look good, fish for a few minutes then get out and find another.

8. Don’t stand in the same spot and fish. In some places I’ve fished and Pennsylvania comes to mind you can stand in the same spot and fish for hours. Here, it’s different. After you have made a few casts in an area move upstream. These trout will see your line, leader and maybe you and they won’t eat after that. Keep moving and you will have better success.

For more on fishing trout in the Smokies, including daily fishing reports, visit

Ducks, Unlimited and Conservation

Many folks say the cardinal is the most beautiful bird in our area, but I wonder if they have ever seen a wood duck up close. A cardinal is pretty with solid red body and black mask, and its crest makes it distinctive.

But a wood duck has many colors. Its shiny green head, rusty orange breast, tan wings with blue highlights, white breast and white highlights on chest and head make it a complex riot of hues.

Bluebirds are pretty, too, with males having blue backs and rusty orange breast during mating season, but mallards rival them with shinny green heads, muddy

brown breasts and blue wing highlights.

Few people see ducks of any kind unless they live on a lake or pond. They don’t come to back yard feeders. You have to go to their habitat to see them. Fortunately, thanks to Ducks, Unlimited, there is a lot more habitat for them than in the fairly recent past.

Founded in 1937, Ducks, Unlimited is a group of like-minded hunters and other conservationists who work to insure the future of ducks. Their work preserving and increasing habitat for waterfowl no only benefits ducks, it helps all wildlife. They are truly conservationists in what they do.

On the Ducks, Unlimited web site,, their motto says “Filling the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.“ That goal means more ducks to shoot, but also means more birds of all kinds, including cardinals and bluebirds, due to their work.

Habitat for waterfowl includes wetlands, ponds, food for waterfowl and suitable nesting areas. Those are all good for ducks, but also good for all other wildlife. If food for waterfowl is available, it is also available for everything from songbirds to deer. And if good cover for nesting is increased it also increase places for all kinds of wildlife to live and reproduce.

If you like bald eagles and want them to increase, join Ducks, Unlimited. Anything good for ducks is good for eagles, and eagles hunt and eat ducks, just like many Ducks, Unlimited members. Ducks are food for many species of predators other then people so increasing the food supply helps them, too.

That is a big reason for the need for more duck habitat. If no hunter ever shot another duck, but habitat was not preserved and increased, waterfowl populations would decrease due to lack of habitat, and predators would take more and more of the smaller and smaller population of waterfowl.

Wetland conservation helps people, too, by improving the health of our environment. Water is stored and purified in them, they help moderate flooding and slow down soil erosion. Conserving wetlands is important to all life.

Many people do not know how money is raised for wildlife conservation in the US. In 1937 the Pittman-Robertson Act was passed by congress and signed by President Roosevelt. It charges 11 percent on all firearms and hunting supplies. All that money is earmarked for conservation and sent to the states to use for that purpose. The Dingle-Johnson Act does the same thing for fisheries with a tax on fishing supplies.

But Ducks, Unlimited raises money to supplement those funds. And Ducks, Unlimited is efficient. Many fund-raising organizations spend much of their money on administration and things other than their stated goal. Ducks, Unlimited spends only three percent on administration and 14 percent on fundraising efforts. Eighty three percent of all funds raised goes directly to conservation. That is an admirable ratio.

It might seem strange that hunters wanting to shoot ducks work so hard to protect the environment but not to anyone that hunts. Hunters know our sport depends on a good environment, and we see nature up close and personal. We know nature needs our efforts to make sure it is not destroyed and work to conserve it. Many non-hunters realize the work that is needed also join and work with Ducks, Unlimited.

Each year Ducks, Unlimited holds more than 4000 fund raising events nationwide. Most of these efforts are banquets where people have fun as well as raise money for conservation. There are many events here in Georgia each year and they are listed on the Ducks, Unlimited web site at

Since 1985 Ducks, Unlimited has worked with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to conserve more than 27,000 acres of wetlands here in our state. That is good for wildlife and people right here. Without Ducks, Unlimited, there would be many fewer acres conserved in Georgia.

Although 2.1 million dollars was raised here in Georgia last year, Ducks, Unlimited members and supporters supply more than money. When volunteers are needed to work on projects they give their time and equipment, with no pay, to make sure the work is done. Much of wetland conservation work is hard labor moving dirt and other materials to build small dams and water control structures. Members help with those projects.

Businesses also help by donating money and items for auctions. There are a variety of ways businesses and corporations help, through product licensing, sponsorships, comprehensive partnerships, philanthropy and directly supporting specific conservation projects.

Ducks, Unlimited also reaches out to young people with special youth memberships and events. There are more than 45,000 Greenwing members who love the outdoors and care about conservation. There are high school chapters and Ducks, Unlimited provides college scholarships.

If you are a hunter, or if you just love the outdoors and want to conserve it for the future, join Ducks, Unlimited and attend one of their events near you. You will have fun as well as insuring the future of our outdoors.

Till next time – Gone fishing!

What Are Smalltooth Sawfish?

Smalltooth Sawfish: On the Road to Recovery
from The Fishing Wire

Sign about smalltooth sawfish

A billboard in Florida City educates visitors to the Florida Keys about endangered sawfish. Credit: Mike Barnette

By Tonya Wiley, Havenworth Coastal Conservation
from The Fishing Wire

The U.S. Smalltooth Sawfish Recovery Team recently released a video which looks at smalltooth sawfish recovery in the United States, 15 years after its listing under the Endangered Species Act. To watch the video visit

The video is themed around the “road” to recovery and starts with an aerial drive down US 1 into Florida City where Keys visitors are now welcomed by a billboard promoting sawfish conservation. The billboard highlights three key concepts of sawfish conservation: respect, release, and report.

Viewers are given a brief description of smalltooth sawfish biology, the habitats where they live, and why the population decreased to the point that it needs protection under the Endangered Species Act. The video then introduces the smalltooth sawfish recovery implementation team developed by NOAA Fisheries to aid in recovering this species.

“Our Smalltooth Sawfish Recovery Implementation Team is comprised of a number of partners from both federal and state government, non-government organizations, universities, and the fishing industry. Each year we get together to review what we’ve learned through our research in the previous year and set goals for the upcoming year,” states team member Tonya Wiley of Havenworth Coastal Conservation.

Gregg Poulakis of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spoke about the progress of the team since its inception, stating, “when the recovery team came into existence shortly after the species was listed under the Endangered Species Act, we knew very little about the species. Basically, any question that we asked, or anyone would ask, about the biology or ecology of the species didn’t have an answer, so we had a lot of priorities initially, and over the last 15 years we’ve learned a lot.”

The video progresses by briefly discussing current research on this endangered species before introducing team member and professional charter captain, Charlie Phillips of Hope Fishing Adventures. Charlie explains why he volunteered to become part of the team, “I’m an Everglades National Park permitted captain myself, and the sawfish is the heart of the Everglades. I mean it embodies the area that I fish, so having an opportunity for people to interact correctly with that endangered species is very important and trying to share that with as many people as I can…is why I’m here.” Charlie’s account as a recreational angler segues into the safe release guidance that the team has developed and continues to promote. Should an angler catch a sawfish, our guidance is to leave the sawfish in the water, cut the line as close to the hook as possible, release the sawfish quickly, and report to us the information about the encounter.

The video details what a recovered population of smalltooth sawfish in the U.S. might look like. While there is some uncertainty, John Carlson of NOAA Fisheries’ Southeast Fisheries Science Center states, “… sawfish historically were found in areas from North Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico so what we should see as the population recovers, is that abundance trends are increasing as well as seeing individuals in some of those historic areas.”

Juvenile smallthooth sawfish

A juvenile smalltooth sawfish swims in the shallows of Everglades National Park. Credit: Andrea Kroetz

With the evidence to date, the team thinks endangered smalltooth sawfish are on the path to recovery. “Based on the species current status and its life history characteristics, the smalltooth sawfish population is not likely to fully recover for at least 40 to 50 years,” concludes Adam Brame, the Sawfish Recovery Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries. “We are seeing signs of progress, however, and due to these modest improvements, we’re cautiously optimistic that the smalltooth sawfish is indeed on the road to recovery.”

Please check out the video and share it with others to foster support for this endangered species. To watch the video visit And, as always, to report a smalltooth sawfish encounter call 1-844-4SAWFISH or email

For more information:

Facebook: U.S. Sawfish Recovery
Twitter: @SawfishRecovery

Tonya Wiley, President

Tax-deductible donations to help us continue our mission to promote the sustainable use and conservation of marine resources through research, outreach, and education can be made at

800 Pound Marlin

Hand-to-Hand Combat Puts 800 Pound Marlin in the Boat
from The Fishing Wire

800 Pound Marlin

Team Silver-Rod-O poses with its potential IGFA line-class world record blue marlin.

Destin, FL – Trackers of trophy blue marlin call it “wiring,” wrapping lengths of wire or monofilament leader round and round your hands in hopes of finally bringing the big fish aboard. You’re just praying the furious bluewater giant doesn’t dismember your digits, or worse, pull you overboard with a single thrash of its weaponized skull.

Consider for a moment the primeval power of an 800-pound pelagic sportfish, amped up and attached to a hook on one end and your hands on the other. Imagine what can happen when a fish that big decides to sprint 50-miles an hour, and the potential for destruction to your hands—or your life. Now realize that the only thing protecting you is the right pair of gloves.

Some say luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity—an apt description of actually landing a giant blue marlin. For Gary and Sherrell Carter and their expert crew, locating, battling, wiring and finally boating a record-class marlin only happens when a thousand different possibilities fall perfectly in to place. Give or take a few tense moments, that’s exactly what unfolded on Monday, August 13, off the coast of Madeira Island, Portugal.

The Carters, a husband-and-wife team who began chasing dreams of colossal marlin in 2000, had just about wrapped their 35th day on the water when a silver-blue leviathan emerged behind their boat, the Silver-Rod-O. “In the nine long days leading up to August 13, we had only seen a single blue marlin,” recalls Gary Carter, holder of numerous IGFA line-class records. “It was 4:20pm and we were about to call it a day when all of a sudden a big fish came up in hot pursuit of our right long teaser.”

Special ‘wiring gloves’ protect hands from wraps of heavy leader while also freeing fingertips for essential tasks with tackle.
For the Carters and the four other members of the Silver-Rod-O team, the game is to pull a large, hookless, squid-like teaser behind the boat in hopes of enticing a blue marlin to the surface. That day, when Yoan Alcala, the Venezuelan captain of the Silver-Rod-O, spotted and called out the astonishing size of the pursuing fish, the crew flew into immediate action. The Carters quickly decided Gary would wield the “bait-and-switch” rod, rigged with 20-pound test and a squid. “Andy continued teasing the fish toward the boat, I made the pitch and when the bait intersected the track of the marlin, Andy quickly jerked the teaser away and the marlin pilled on the hooked squid. We were in the battle.

“The fish stayed within 300 yards of the boat throughout the fight—actually fairly close— giving us several really nice jumps. One hour and ten minutes in, the blue made a mistake and Andy Dow, our great wire man from Australia, was able to get a solid grip on the leader with his Fish Monkey Wiring Gloves. With only a 15-foot leader to work with, in order to do this properly, you have to be right on top of the fish. You need the exact perfect angle, and Andy pulled it off impeccably; got a great wrap and then another. At that point, Yefry Garcia made an excellent gaff shot followed by Brad Batterton with another.”

Back at the harbor, Carter and crew watched as the certified scale rolled to 366.0 kg (807 pounds). This now-pending IGFA World Record, if approved, will eclipse the current IGFA 20-pound test record Atlantic blue marlin by a substantial margin. (The current record, according to Carter— an IGFA trustee and active member of The Billfish Foundation— sits at 714-pounds, a fish caught off the Ivory Coast of West Africa in 1990.) After filing all necessary paperwork, photography and a line sample, Carter says IGFA certification typically requires a minimum of 90 days.

Interestingly, all the way back in May 1999, Carter achieved his first the Royal Slam, catching all nine billfish species in less than a year. Additionally, the IGFA recognized the Silver-Rod-O with an Outstanding Achievement Award; it was the first time all of the Atlantic and Pacific species of marlin were caught by one angler from the same vessel. In addition to the 807-pound blue, the angling couple has broken records with fish on 16, 12, 8, 6, 4, and even 2-pound test.

Reflecting on his recent catch and all that unfolded those 35 days at sea, Carter quickly praises his team. “This is a team accomplishment, not an individual one. Nearly every member of my crew is highly skilled and focused on the task—even after countless hours on the water. Most all of us rely on Fish Monkey gloves to perform our assigned task. Both my gaff men—Yefry Garcia and Brad Batterton—don a pair of Fish Monkey Crusher gloves for protection from the sun, the fish and the elements. We do the same while fighting fish.

Fish Monkey’s Crusher has proven itself as an exceptionally versatile fishing glove, endowed with UPF 50 sun protection and Kevlar-reinforcements that prevent cuts from leader, wire and fish.
“The wiring gloves Andy wears have a special Kevlar fabric, which keeps line from cutting and puncturing the skin. Underneath, layers of hard and soft EVA padding keep heavy leader material from crushing down. And the fabric itself offers minimal friction, so leader can slip off the glove quickly and easily—an absolute key to successful wiring. The gloves also have exposed fingertips for dexterity and handling rods and tackle.”

In quantifying the role of Fish Monkey Wiring Gloves, Carter gives credit to another legendary marlin man. “My friend Tim Mossberg, founder of Fish Monkey Gloves, worked closely with Captain Charles Perry—the most accomplished wire man in the history of the sport—to develop these specialized gloves. They’re simply the best and only ones we’ll use when a big fish is on the line.”

For more information, visit or call (888) 659-8864.

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The Fish Monkey Story

No one is sure where the Fish Monkey first appeared. Some said it was in the mountainous jungles of Guatemala near the old Mayan ruins at Tikal, or at the foot of the volcano they call Fuego. Others said it was on the beaches of Isla Mujeres, Mexico’s famed Isle of Women. Still others reported seeing the mysterious creature in other places around the world: Hawaii, Australia, Costa Rica.

But all the reports had one thing in common: wherever there was good fishing, the Fish Monkey was there as well. It was reported to have a phenomenal grip, stronger and more secure than any human could ever have. No matter how slick or slimy, the Fish Monkey could handle the situation with ease.

With those legends in mind, the founders of Fish Monkey Performance Gloves set about to replicate that world-famous grip. Fish Monkey is the world’s premier manufacturer of gloves designed specifically for the water. Whether you’re on the deck of a sport-fishing boat wiring a thousand-pound blue marlin off Bermuda, casting jigs and poppers to giant trevally in the Pacific or poling a flats skiff in less than a foot of water off the Bahamas, Fish Monkey has a glove that’s designed just to fit your needs. Extremely durable, with padding in just the right places, and a fit like a second skin. Protection from sharp teeth and the sun. And all with that legendary Fish Monkey grip.

So when you demand the very best protection for your hands, reach for Fish Monkey Performance Gloves. Become part of the legend.

Shooting Doves

Dove season opens at noon today. That brings back many great memories of my youth, and a very bad one after I moved to Griffin.

Daddy was the shop and agriculture teacher at Dearing High School in the early 1950s and his degree in agriculture meant he had a lot of skills useful to local farmers. We often spent Saturdays “cutting” boar shoats for them, as well as other jobs. For these services he was invited to many dove shoots.

I started going to dove shoots with him when I was about five, acting as his retriever. We seldom missed a Saturday during season. I prided myself on finding even the most difficult doves, no matter how thick the briars and brush. And I loved the camaraderie of the men at the shoot. But I longed for the day I could actually shoot at doves.

I got a single shot .410 when I was ten, but daddy made me hunt for squirrels with it, learning safety skills, for a couple of years before I could join the men on a dove field. And even then, I went only to family shoots with just a few folks on the field for a couple of years.

I was not a good shot. Darting, diving doves are much harder to hit than a squirrel on a limb. In my first shoot I was sure I had hit one, but Uncle Adron had also shot at it. He was deadly with his “Sweet 16” but he graciously let me claim it.

My best day with that .410 was on a big field with many shooters that kept the birds flying. I killed five that day and shot only a box of shells doing it. But what stands out in my mind even more from that day was trying to cross a fence to get a bird. I did not notice the top strand of barbed wire was electric. But that is another story.

Daddy had two shotguns, both 12-gauge semiautomatics. The short barreled one was for quail and the long barreled one was for doves. And we shot quail with #9 shot and doves with #8 shot. I learned to shoot both by using them for squirrels, just like the .410, but they were overkill for tree rats.

I had real good luck using it, killing my limit most shoots when I could use the long barreled 12 gauge. It throws out a lot more shot than the .410 and has more powder for a better pattern. I went to many shoots with my uncles and used it when daddy could not go.

I still have both those shotguns, I just wish I could use them more!

My bad experience was in 1972, my first fall in Griffin. I wanted to shoot doves and found a pay shoot out near Senoia. A week before the shoot I went out to pay my fee and look at the field. I should have been suspicious since it looked like a hay field, but birds were on it.

That Saturday I got in a blind on a fence row. There were not many birds, but I killed two the first hour or so. Then two men in green uniforms drove up, got out and started going to shooters on the opposite side of the field. I thought about easing into the nearby woods but was sure I was doing nothing wrong, I had my license and my gun was plugged.

As they walked up to me I saw they were federal game wardens. When asked, I gave them my license and they put it in a stack of others one of them was carrying. They then told me to come to the farmer’s house.

There they told us the field was baited and showed us photos taken from an airplane, plainly showing strips of wheat put out on the field. They informed us we would all have to go to court. After they left with our licenses the farmer assured us there was no problem, he knew the judge, and we would not be fined. He also provided cases of beer to ease our minds and calms us down.

A few weeks later I got a federal court summons and my license. It said come to court in Atlanta or pay a $75 fine. I paid it rather than go to court since I knew I was guilty. That was a lot of money back then, three times what I had paid for a day of shooting. I also heard the farmer was fined $1000!

That is the only time in my life I have ever gotten a fine for breaking game and fish laws. I am always careful to follow the law but that was a costly mistake. And I never went to another pay shoot.

Help Snook and Reds in Florida’s Red Tide Areas

How Anglers Can Help Snook and Reds in Florida’s Red Tide Areas
By Brett Fitzgerald, Snook and Gamefish Association
from the Fishing Wire

(Hint: log more, log now – it’s never been more important!)

Red tide map of Florida

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has temporarily mandated that snook and red drum are ‘catch and release only’ in the areas most impacted by the 2018 red tide bloom. The closure runs from the northernmost point of Anna Maria Island in Manatee County, and runs along the coast down through Collier County to Gordon Pass.

The change of status to “catch and release only” is set to expire at midnight on Oct. 12, which will allow commissioners time to hear an update the next FWC Commission meeting, (September 26-27 in Havana/Tallahassee).

An executive order has not been used to shut down the harvest of any “fin-fishery” to harvest in Florida since the historic 2010 cold-kill, which had massive impacts on the snook population. (Scallop seasons have been closed or delayed due to red tide in the past, most recently in 2016 and 2017.)

Similar to the situation in 2010, FWC felt compelled to take action to protect these fisheries without the benefit of hard supporting science. In circumstances such as these, it is understandable that the decision was difficult, but made with the best intentions. “We have no idea how much these fisheries have been impacted,” said Jim Estes, Deputy Director of Marine Fisheries Management. “We did see issues with recruitment after the 2005 red tide bloom for certain species,” Estes added. This, combined with other factors such as interviews with stakeholders throughout Florida, prompted the temporary change of fishery status.

Back in 2010, snook anglers were called to action – FWC and their research arm the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) worked with the Snook Foundation to develop a self-reporting system called the Angler Action Program, which led to the development of the iAngler smart phone app. “The information gathered by iAngler was very helpful after the 2010 cold event, and it played a significant role as the snook fishery recovered,” noted Dr. Luiz Barbieri, Program Administrator, Marine Fisheries Research at FWRI.

Once again, we are asking anglers to contribute valuable information through Angler Action. “I encourage anglers to report their catch in iAngler,” Jim Estes said. He has been a direct point of contact between FWC and Angler Action, and says this information can only help them understand the health of the fishery.

Over the next week, we at SGF/Angler Action will be working directly with FWC and FWRI staff to ensure that recreational anglers are dialed in. “Right now, our focus here is to help FWC get a handle on what is really going on with fish populations throughout Florida,” said SGF Chairman Mike Readling. “iAngler continues to be the best way anglers can communicate what they are catching – and not catching,” pointing out that ‘zero-catch’ trips are extremely valuable.

“We want to remind all anglers that using iAngler doesn’t mean that you must handle fish any more than a typical release,” Readling points out. Anglers do not need to include a photo with their report. While length information is very important, anglers can leave that box blank too.

For now, we ask that you stay tuned. Understand that the rule change means you CAN fish in the areas within the map above, you just must release any and all redfish and snook. If you are fishing anywhere in the state, these are our two asks of you: Log your trip in iAngler, and emphasize best-release practices.

Angler Action’s Best Practices for Catch & Release Fishing
Access to fisheries is an important part of conservation in America, and for many of us that access includes ‘catch and release’ fishing. In such cases, we want every fish we let go to survive so they can continue to thrive and contribute to the future of their species.

With that in mind, here’s a refresher on some pointers that will significantly increase the chance of survival of those fish you let to. If you wish to have something added to this list, let us know!

Fish Handling

Try to keep the fish in the water at all times.
Minimize handling, since this can remove protective slime from the fish.
If you handle a fish, use clean, wet hands.
If you do remove the fish from the water, support the fish beneath the head and belly.
Minimize exposure to air, maximum 15 seconds.
Avoid using mechanical lip-gripping devices on active fish, since this can cause jaw injury.
If a fish’s weight is desired, attach a cradle to the scale to support the fish’s weight.
Keep fingers away from the gills, damaged gills make it harder for the fish to breathe.

Use barbless hooks, since this reduces the amount of handling needed to remove the hook.
When fishing with bait, use circle hooks.
If a hook is deep within the throat, cut the line as close to the hook as possible.
This causes less damage than removing a deeply-set hook; most fish are able to reject the hook or the hook dissolves over time.
Fight Time

Keep the fight short, but not too short.
Long fight times result in an exhausted fish, which is more vulnerable to predators.
A fish reeled in too quickly may thrash about, increasing it’s chances of injury.
Use tackle that matches the fish and conditions.
If a fish looses equilibrium (it rolls over or goes nose down on the bottom), retrieve it until it can swim upright, then shorten the fight time on future fish.
When retrieving a fish, be sure that water passes over the gills from front to back.
Move the fish forward or hold it upright in the water allowing it to pump water through it’s gills.
High water temperatures may negatively impact survival after release for many species. In warmer water, reduce fight and handling time.

Since predators can decrease survival of fish after release, when predators become abundant and appear to become attracted to your fishing activity, consider moving to another fishing location.
If you have caught a fish and potential predators are near, consider using a circulating live-well to hold your fish for a short time to allow releasing it some distance away from them, unless that fish is not legal to possess.

Count Your Catch

Use or the iAngler phone app to record your catch info while fishing or soon after. (Remember to record all sizes and 0 catch as well).
If you are fishing in areas where the fish population is stressed, remember that you don’t need to photograph each fish in iAngler.
If you are unable to obtain an accurate length without excessive handling, it is better to leave that box empty. However, provided lengths are immensely helpful when using this data to better understand the health of a given fishery.

West Point Club Tournament

Sunday, August 26. 14 member, guests and youth fished our August tournament at West Point. After 8.5 hours of casting, we brought in 26 keeper bass weighing about 39 pounds. There were only 6 keeper largemouth 14 or more inches long, the rest were spots. Two members had five-fish limits and there were four zeroes.

Kwong Yu won with five weighing 9.17 pounds and had big fish with a 4.05 pound largemouth. Raymond
English placed second with five at 8.19 pounds, Jay Gerson placed third with three weighing 5.01 pounds and Chris Davies was fourth with tree at 3.71. Jackson Terry won the youth division.

I had a very frustrating day, catching a keeper largemouth on a shaky head about 7:30, then a spot on the same bait at about noon. I got my third fish, a keeper spot, on a drop shot a few minutes later. Those three gave me fifth place,.02 pounds out of fourth and getting a check!

Mullet Run

Southeast Florida’s Amazing Mullet Run
By Frank Sargeant, Editor
from The Fishing Wire

Hutchinson Island on Florida’s southeast coast is a bit of a secret spot in a state where there are hardly any secret spots left. This 23-mile-long spit of sand and sea has so far evaded the high-rise madness to the south, while still providing enough of the comforts of civilization to make it a great vacation spot.

With Fort Pierce Inlet at one end, St. Lucie Inlet at the other, it’s surrounded by water, with the blue-green Atlantic and all its gamefish on one side, the shallow Indian River Lagoon on the other.

And while the south end of the lagoon has had its woes due to algae blooms and sea grass die-offs in recent years, the waters along the beach still provide top quality angling as well as white sand beaches that are not nearly so crowded as those in many other parts of Florida these days. In fact, there are stretches where, even on weekends, you may have a mile or two solely to yourself, especially if you’re a sunrise surfcaster as I tend to be.

Mullet Run Madness

Prime time to go is coming up, with the mullet run usually getting underway along the beaches in late August and continuing until Halloween. When the mullet flow past in their annual migration toward South Florida, just about everything that swims in the ocean here shows up right on the beach to feed on them.

Finger mullet make great bait

The finger mullet show up first in the fall run along Florida’s east coast, followed later by much larger baits–both sizes are great for gamefish that swarm along the beaches to feed on them. (Frank Sargeant Photo)It’s common to see 100-pound tarpon, 40-pound kingfish and 20-pound snook all feeding right on the surface within casting distance of the shoreline–sometimes the water literally boils there are so many thousands of baitfish being harassed by the gamefish. The fleeing bait occasionally jumps right out on the beach, particularly when a horde of bluefish or jack crevalle gets in on the chase.

The fishing is dead simple when the run is on–you cast a large weighted treble into the balls of mullet, give it a snatch and hook a couple, haul them ashore, drop one into a bucket of sea water and put the other on a 4/0 to 6/0 extra-strong live bait hook, either hooked through the nose or behind the anal fin, and put it back out into the melee. The bite is often instantaneous–a wounded bait is immediately picked out by the prowling gamefish. (If you can handle a castnet, you can usually net several dozen on a short throw as they swarm in the surf.)

If you’re a devout plug flinger, you can also catch plenty on big topwater plugs worked with a fast zig-zag motion, and also with large, 8-inch swimmer-type soft plastics on a 1/2 to 3/4 ounce jig head with heavy duty hook in the 3/0 size or larger. (Don’t use freshwater jigheads for this–the hooks are likely to get straightened.) The DOA Swimmin’ Mullet and the DOA BFL in 8-inch size are killers for this–they’re made right in the area specifically for this fishing. The LIVETARGET Finger Mullet wakebait is also a good choice.

You need stout spinning gear to handle the fish here–40-pound braid is the minimum, 65 better. Medium-heavy action spinning rods 8 feet or longer and 5000-sized reels can handle most of what you’re likely to stick, though if you want snook and only snook you can downsize the tackle a bit–expect to get spooled by a tarpon on any given cast, though. If you’re looking for a king mackerel to put on the grill, a foot of number 6 wire ahead of the hook is a must to prevent cutoffs.

Surf casting often gets the job done, but there are many days when the fish are too far off the sand to reach–that’s when a kayak launched off the beach can put you in the action. Or, if you have a powerboat, you can run out St. Lucie Inlet and quickly be on top of the fish either north or south. In calm weather with moderate swell, the inlet is a pussy cat and even a 16-foot flats rig can get you to the fish. When wind and tide oppose, however, it can get very gnarly very quickly–keep an eye on the weather and the tide chart anytime you go outside the pass in a small rig.

The inlet itself is a prime spot for snook to ambush the bait–cast around the rocks and jetties, particularly on outgoing tides early and late. (The snook season is open Sept. 1 to Dec. 15 here, but the slot is 28-32 inches–many you will catch will be over that size during the run.)

Other than Fishing, What?

If mom and the kids are more into swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing than fishing, Bathtub Reef Beach is the place to go. A near-shore reef protects a clear water lagoon, taming the surf and fears of sharks for those new to ocean swimming and snorkeling. The beach has adequate parking except on weekends. There’s a bathhouse with showers to wash off salt and sand. On the inland side of the park, there’s a fishing pier on the Indian River. It’s located off the south end of A1A–Google 1585 SE MacArthur Boulevard in Stuart.

There are also numerous beach front parks north on A1A, and these are frequently super spots to fish, with little competition–you not only get a shot at the mullet run madness by hopping from one to the next along the entire 23-mile stretch, but can also find pompano, whiting and sometimes Spanish and blues in the cooler months.

Where to Hang Your Hat

Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort and Marina is my favorite spot to stay here because it has a marina on the lagoon as well as a great stretch of beach for surfcasting. It’s just across the A1A bridge from the swank village of Sewall’s Point. It sprawls over 200 manicured acres including an 18-hole golf course and lots of tennis courts, which I don’t use, with winding lagoons loaded with mullet and sometimes snook and baby tarpon, which I do use as often as possible. (A number 5 flyrod and a white bucktail catches these little guys when they’re active.)

It’s an easy walk to the beach from anywhere on the property, but there are also regular trams to get you where you want to go. The 77-slip marina can handle anything up to 50 footers, and it’s in a protected location where your flats skiff will be happy in the water overnight. It’s about a 3-mile run down to the inlet. The resort restaurants are great, though pricey; get resort details here.

If you can’t bring your own boat, there are numerous good light-tackle charter guys working in this area–Captain Mike Holliday is one of the best, and an expert in timing the mullet run to perfection. He stays busy when the run is on–book early. (You may recognize the name–Mike is also a regular writer for Florida Sportsman Magazine.)