Category Archives: Fishing Tackle

Rods and reels to live bait

St Croix Victory Rods

VOICES OF VICTORY:
“Among the Tools in Your Toolchest, This Thing is One of the Hammers”
Bass Fishing Ironman, Stephen Browning, on the NEW St. Croix Victory Series
PARK FALLS, Wisc. (February 24, 2021) – Since turning pro in 1996, St. Croix Pro Stephen Browning of Hot Springs, Arkansas has competed in over 250 professional-level tournaments across the United States, qualified for ten Bassmaster Classics, and become a member of the exclusive BASS Million Dollar Winnings Club. Of all the victories he’s earned throughout his 25-year professional career, the current MLF pro says the most significant came in Pine Bluff, Arkansas in 1996.
“Without a doubt, my greatest victory in fishing to-date was winning the BFL All-American,” says Browning. “Trying to get where you need to get in competitive fishing, you have to have a break. Winning that event gave me confidence to compete, but it also gave me the money I needed to go to the next level. Victory to me is when hard work, determination, your passion, and your preparation all come together and you actually win. Even when there’s no competition, it’s that feeling and that little grin you get on your face when you’re driving away from a body of water and you know you won that day; you figured out a little something and you had fun doing it.”
St. Croix’s all-new made-in-the-USA Victory Series rods were conceived and designed to deliver bass anglers more victories on the water – no matter how they’re defined. Featuring technique-specific lengths, powers and actions that yield lightweight performance with extreme sensitivity, durability and balance via an all-new SCIII+ material, eight new Victory rods will be available to anglers at select St. Croix dealers and online beginning March 19. Angler-friendly retail prices for these new, American-crafted Victory rods range from $180 to $200. #stcroixvoicesofvictory
#CROIXGEARLike the rods? You’ll love our lifestyle apparel.
#STCROIXRODS
About St. Croix RodHeadquartered in Park Falls, Wisconsin, St. Croix has been proudly producing the “Best Rods on Earth” for over 70 years. Combining state-of-the-art manufacturing processes with skilled craftsmanship, St. Croix is the only major producer to still build rods entirely from design through manufacturing. The company remains family-owned and operates duplicate manufacturing facilities in Park Falls and Fresnillo, Mexico. With popular trademarked series such as Legend®, Legend Xtreme®, Avid®, Premier®, Imperial®, Triumph® and Mojo, St. Croix is revered by all types of anglers from around the world.

Endangered Sawfish Slowly Return to Tampa Bay

by Tonya Wiley, Havenworth Coastal Conservation

from The Fishing Wire

Smalltooth sawfish — a nearly iconic subject of fishing photos over the last two centuries — may be making a comeback in Tampa Bay. Five have been reported in recent months in locations ranging from Anna Maria north to Honeymoon and in the Manatee River.

“They’re still very rare, but it’s promising that we’re hearing about them more and more often,” notes Adam Brame, who heads sawfish recovery efforts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in St. Petersburg. “A lot of the problems that have killed them in the past — particularly gillnets– aren’t allowed in the bay so we’re hopeful that we’ll see more.”

The fish seen locally have been mostly young adults or larger juveniles, indicating that the bay is not yet supporting a breeding population of smalltooth sawfish, he adds. “We’re asking fishermen who see or inadvertently catch a sawfish to report it, so we can monitor sawfish presence within the Bay.” (More information on how to release an endangered sawfish is available at the end of the article.)

A research project is currently underway to tag sawfish in Tampa Bay, gather information on historical and current catches, collect small samples from historical sawfish rostra (saws) in public and private collections for genetic analysis, and give public presentations about sawfish in the United States.

Their odd appearance and awesome size once made them a prized catch for recreational fishermen.  Their unique elongated, blade-like snouts, studded with teeth on both sides– scientifically known as a rostrum — were often kept as trophies.  Net fishermen, on the other hand, considered them a serious nuisance because of the damage they could cause to their gear.

Two species of sawfish were once found in the U.S.:  the largetooth sawfish, Pristis pristis, and the smalltooth sawfish, Pristis pectinata.  The largetooth sawfish was found throughout the Gulf of Mexico but was more common in western Gulf waters of Texas and Mexico.  The smalltooth sawfish ranged from Texas to New York and was most plentiful in the eastern Gulf waters of Florida, including Tampa Bay.  Both sawfish species were considered “abundant” and “common” in the early 1900s.  Numerous postcards, photographs, and newspaper articles from that era document fishermen hauling countless sawfish to boats, docks, and beaches across the country.

Unfortunately, the largetooth sawfish has not been seen in the U.S. since 1961.  The smalltooth sawfish has fared better and still remains in U.S. waters, though at greatly reduced numbers and geographic range.  Today, the smalltooth sawfish is found predominantly in southwest Florida from Charlotte Harbor to the Keys, including Everglades National Park.  The vast expanse of natural habitat within the park and limited fishing pressure likely served as a refuge for sawfish.

Like many aquatic animals, smalltooth sawfish declined because of overfishing, habitat loss and low reproductive potential. Born live at about two feet long, juvenile sawfish rely on very shallow, coastal and estuarine waters close to shore for safety from predators, such as sharks, during the first years of their lives. They take many years to reach sexual maturity, and produce very few offspring per reproductive cycle, making it difficult for them to maintain their populations.

Due to the dramatic decline of the sawfish populations, the smalltooth sawfish was classified as endangered in 2003, making it the first fully marine fish and first elasmobranch (sharks, skates, and rays) protected by the Endangered Species Act. The largetooth sawfish was listed as endangered in 2011.

Will sawfish in the United States recover?  Unfortunately, the largetooth sawfish is probably locally extinct and gone for good from U.S. waters. Researchers are hopeful that education — particularly on safely releasing sawfish — protection from fishing and minimizing habitat loss will help the smalltooth sawfish return to its natural range.

Tonya Wiley is a fisheries biologist who conducted research on smalltooth sawfish for Mote Marine Laboratory and then established Havenworth Coastal Conservation in Palmetto to protect imperiled marine species through research, outreach and education and is leading the project to study the sawfish of Tampa Bay. She is a member of the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Smalltooth Recovery Implementation team, a multi-institutional panel of experts working to protect the remaining sawfish population in the US and prevent the species from going extinct.  You can follow Havenworth Coastal Conservation on Facebook and Twitter for updates from the field. She also is available for presentations on sawfish to groups and organizations. She can be reached at Tonya@havenworth.org or 941-201-2685.

For information on smalltooth sawfish recovery planning or to report rostrum for genetic sampling, please visit https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/smalltooth-sawfish

Educating fishermen to protect smalltooth sawfish

With sawfish protected under the Endangered Species Act, it’s illegal for anyone to possess one. However, they’re occasionally caught on a hook by a fisherman targeting other species.

Unlike the recommendations for releasing most fish, fishermen should not try to remove the hook, Brame said. Sawfish mouths are located under their sharp-toothed rostrum and removing the hook could cause serious damage to both the fish and the fishermen.

If you catch or see a smalltooth sawfish, take a quick photograph of it, estimate its size, note your location, and share the information.  The details of your sightings or catches help scientists studying the endangered species track recovery progress and target their field surveys.  You can share your information by calling 1-844-4-SAWFISH (1-844-472-9347).

How To Catch April Crappie on Lake Weiss

Crappie fishermen know they are headed to the right lake when they get near Lake Weiss and start seeing signs proclaiming it is the “Crappie Fishing Capital of the World.” Those signs on the roads leading to Centre, Alabama give you an idea of the importance of crappie fishing in the area.

Lake Weiss on the Georgia/Alabama state line is an Alabama Power lake on the Coosa River. Its vast stump filled flats on the river and in major creeks offer crappie perfect habitat. And the state, local businesses and fishing groups work to make it even better.  Weiss and Logan Martin, the next lake downstream, are the only two lakes in Alabama with a ten inch size limit protecting smaller fish.

The upper Coosa River extends into Georgia but to fish the main lake you will need an Alabama fishing license.  If you are coming in from out of state you can get an annual license online starting at $50.25 with a couple of states a little higher.  A seven day trip license is $28.35 unless you are from Florida.  And you can bring the family and get a family seven day fishing license for $28.35 that is good for you and four immediate family members.

Groups like the Lake Weiss Improvement Association, made up of fishermen, businesses, Alabama Power and the state of Alabama work to improve crappie habitat on the lake by putting out brush piles and insuring size and number limits, 30 per fisherman per day, are observed. They also promote crappie fishing on the lake.

Mark Collins grew up near Weiss and got started fishing the lake for crappie when his parents bought a house on the Weiss when he was young.  He has been guiding full time for crappie, stripers and bass on Weiss for 23 years. He has learned the lake well and knows how to catch crappie year round.

Mark also is a member of the Lake Weiss Improvement Association and helps pick the right locations for the group to put out cane brush piles. The Association also puts on a Crappie Rodeo with tagged fish worth a variety of prizes.  The Rodeo is going on right now until the end of April and you can enter and get a badge from most local fishing businesses.

He is the only guide just about anywhere that guarantees “No fish, no pay.” He will even call clients and postpone trips when the crappie are not biting good. As he says, he wants their money, but wants it more than one time. And it works, most of his clients are repeat business, showing his skill and care for the folks he takes fishing.

When he is not on a guide trip Mark is usually on the water checking conditions and trying to find good schools of fish. He is on the water almost every day of the year. That is what it takes to really keep up with the fish and provide good trips for guide clients.

Right now is a good time to troll for crappie, one of the most efficient ways to catch large numbers of quality fish.  Crappie are suspended over the channels of the river and major feeder arms from October through April and you can find schools of them around baitfish in deeper water.  In the winter there are more fish out on the river but now most of them are headed to the spawning areas.

In late March through April the channels in Little River and Cowan and Spring Creeks are some of the best places to troll.  Near the end of April they will be shallow in those areas and others and Mark catches them “shooting docks,” using his rod like a sling shot to propel the jigs under the docks for fish spawning around them and feeding under them.

He will continue to troll, too, but focus on stump beds in more shallow water. Then as the fish move back toward deeper water trolling works until they get on brush piles and stump beds on the river channel, where it is better to sit over them with tight lines almost straight down under the boat.  That works through the summer until they start suspending again in October and trolling picks up again.

On Weiss you are limited to three poles per angler at one time.  Mark does not troll more than ten lines at one time since that many are plenty to catch a lot of crappie and are much less trouble getting tangled and it is easier to manage them. He will take one to four clients at a time in his center console NauticStar boat equipped with a Minkota IPilot trolling motor.

Using B & M rods of six to 14 feet long allows Mark to cover a wide swath of water while trolling. The longer rods are put in rod holders at the front of the boat with shorter rods toward the back. The shortest rods are used to troll straight behind the boat.

A reel with a smooth drag is important when using light line and Mark likes the Dawai spinning reels for his fishing.  They handle the light line well.

Mark keeps it simple when trolling.  He uses one size Jiffy Jig and varies the color based on water color. In clear water he goes with translucent colors but the more stained water he goes to either darker colors or bright colors like yellows and chartreuse.

Jiffy Jigs are made in Valida, Georgia and you can order them for $6 a dozen from their web site: http://www.jiffyjigs.com/. They make a wide variety of colors and sizes to meet any kind of fishing you prefer.

And he uses six pound Ande monofilament line on all his reels. If he wants his jigs to go deeper he adds a split shot to the jig rather than going to lighter line or heavier jigs. Mark says it is much easier to crimp on a split shot or remove it than to retie all his lines with different size jigs.

Monofilament line has some stretch to it, which is important to keep from tearing the hook out of the fish’s mouth. Crappie are called “papermouths” for a reason. And a long limber rods helps with this, too.

Boat speed is critical and with a good depthfinder and GPS you can control it, or do as Mark does and set his IPilot to maintain the right speed.  Mark likes the user friendly Garmin electronics to find fish and bait and to watch his speed. In late March he is trolling about 10 to 14 feet deep in the feeder streams for fish suspended at that depth over deeper water.

When the water hits a consistent 58 to 60 degrees the fish will move to the shallow stump flats, usually in fairly early April.  Then he puts a cork on is line and slowly trolls water four to eight feet deep where they are holding around stumps.  The cork keeps the jig above the stumps.

Keeping your bait above the stumps keeps you from getting hung, but you have to keep your jigs above the fish no matter how deep they are holding.  Crappie will come up to eat a bait, sometimes several feet when they are real aggressive, but won’t go down to hit. That is why it is important to see the fish and what depth they are holding on  your electronics and keep your bait just above them, as close to just above them as possible.

Mark starts trolling at .8 miles per hour then varies it depending on what the fish tell him.  He will vary the speed from that starting point until he starts catching fish, then stays at that speed.  It is hard to keep a constant speed in the wind without a trolling motor that will hold it or constantly watching your GPS.

Often while trolling for crappie you will hook a big striper, catfish or bass. Unlike many guides that instantly break off those fish to keep them from tangling all the other lines, Mark quickly reels in his other lines so his clients can have the fun of fighting a big fish on light line and rods.  And they usually land them. The only exception is when a big gar eats the jig. They will almost always cut the line with their teeth.

Mark says many people plan a multi-day trip to Weiss and go out with him the first day of the trip to find out where and how deep the fish are holding.  That is a good way to get current conditions and information on the lake. 

Be warned you will have a lot of company trolling for crappie.  It is not unusual for over a dozen boats to be trolling a small section of the river or creek. Many folks don’t go looking for fish, they just look for groups of boats and join them. Be considerate of others when trolling.

On his website below Mark has the GPS coordinate for the brush piles put out by the Weiss Lake Improvement Association.  He makes sure they are put in places the fish already use to enhance those places. There are about 17 in Little River and 20 in Spring and Cowan Creeks. Five local high school fishing teams help put out the brush piles and the state of Alabama and Alabama Power help with expenses. They hold fish from late May through the summer.

Mark will show you exactly how he catches crappie year round or stripers and hybrids mostly in June and July by trolling live shad for them.  You can book a trip with him by visiting his website at http://www.markcollinsguideservice.com or call him at 256-779-3387. He charges $300 per day for an eight hour trip for one or two people and $100 each for an additional one or two people, up to four total. A half day trip is @225 for one or two with each additional angler $100 more.

Mark does not clean fish for his clients but there is a cleaning service at Little River Marina and Resort. Mark goes out from there and they are the only full service marina on the lake. They have rooms for out of town fishermen as well as anything you need for fishing.

Bass fishermen will be excited to know the state of Alabama is stocking Florida strain largemouth in the lake.  If you prefer bass fishing Mark can fill you in on current details on them, too.

If you are a crappie fisherman plan a trip to Weiss in the next few weeks.   Hire Mark to show you exactly how to catch crappie.  You can’t go wrong with a trip to Weiss, after all it is the “Crappie Fishing Capital of the World!”

St Croix Victory Rods

St Croix Victory Rods
Bass Fishing: Victory Revealed
St. Croix announces details of its all-new American-made bass-centric rod series
PARK FALLS, Wisc. (February 15, 2021) – Bass anglers experience diverse victories, some of which are shared by all. One such collective win is the injection of millions of new and reactivated anglers into our sport, largely created by last year’s pandemic. Yet another comes in the form of today’s much-anticipated announcement of St. Croix’s all-new Victory Series of bass rods.

Most, however, are much more personal.
Voices of Victory
Retired U.S. Special Forces Green Beret Greg Stube spent most of his adult life in service of our country, fighting – at great personal sacrifice – to defend the unique freedoms all Americans enjoy. Stube says he wouldn’t trade those 23 years. “My greatest victory has been to serve America as a guardian of freedom in the Armed Forces and to return home alive, able to enjoy the fruits of liberty,” he says. “But I can’t say that professional victory weighs more in my mind and in my heart than the personal victory I feel now when I’m fishing. Like many, fishing is my passion, and it’s become even more satisfying and valuable, because it’s a symbol of everything our active and retired service men and women have fought and sacrificed for. At this time in my life, going after big fish, feeling the fight, and then watching them swim away; that’s my victory.”

Victory for Anglers
Regardless of their experience or expertise, every bass angler has goals. For some – like American hero Greg Stube – those goals center on the simple pleasures of hunting, fooling and releasing bass. Others who rely on catching bass to earn a paycheck often have more specific goals. “Our all-new Victory Series recognizes this and exists to help anglers achieve those personal goals and earn their victories, whatever they may be,” says St. Croix CEO, Scott Forristall, who points out that the Victory Series was conceived as a family of high-performance fishing tools that appeal to anglers at all levels. “This is a comprehensive, American-made bass series that delivers new levels of performance in a mid-level price range of $180-$260,” Forristall states. “These exciting new rods are helping us fulfill our promise to anglers by delivering an even greater choice of tools… crafted right here in Park Falls, they combine all our current technologies with a brand new material to give any bass angler distinct advantages on the water at an exceptional price.”
Victory rods – among the lightest and most-durable St. Croix rods ever – are crafted with an all-new material known as SCIII+, a hybrid of St. Croix’s advanced SCIII carbon and exotic SCVI carbon. “In itself, SCIII is an exceptional material for building fishing rods,” says St. Croix Product Manager, Ryan Teach.

“It’s a high-modulus high-strain carbon fiber that produces sensitive and lightweight rods with excellent durability, and can be found in our Avid, latest-generation Mojo Bass, Mojo Musky and other popular St. Croix rod series. SCVI is a super high-modulus high-strain carbon fiber that’s too stiff to be used as a primary material, but can be efficiently combined in selective amounts and strategic locations with other materials – SCIII in this case – to add power while reducing overall weight. At the same time, durability and performance are further enhanced with our ARTTM (Advanced Reinforcing Technology), FRS (Fortified Resin System), TET (Taper Enhancement Technology) and IPC® (Integrated Poly Curve) technologies. These new technique-specific bass rods truly have it all, at a price that’s accessible for a wide variety of anglers. ” 
While lightweight performance and extreme durability are hallmarks across the entirety of this new series, Teach says the construction of each technique-specific model is customized to excel in its intended use. “The exact amount and location of SCVI material is optimized on each rod in the series. Each one is different and unique,” he says. “For the angler, that means each rod has the right power exactly where it’s needed, with a correctly balanced tip that supports the desired technique while minimizing rod torque. And it isn’t just the blanks that are unique,” Teach continues.

”Handles, guide spacing, and even hook-keeper designs are customized and optimized on each of these rods.”

St. Croix Victory Series Features
Super high-modulus hybrid carbon fiber SCIII+ blanks matched with Fortified Resin System (FRS) technology offering maximum power and strength with a significantly reduced blank weightIntegrated Poly Curve® (IPC®) mandrel technologyTaper Enhancement Technology (TET) blank design provides curved patterns for improved action with increased sensitivityFuji® Concept “O” guides with deep press insertsFuji® SK2 reel seat on casting models with comfort centric complimenting componentryFuji® VSS real seat on spinning models with comfort centric complimenting componentryFuji® KDPS reel seat nut on spinning and casting models with thread covering hoodSplit-grip, super-grade cork handles customized per modelFull-grip material combination handle on select modelsModel-specific hook keepers selectively placed per techniqueSingle coat sealer on blank with slow cure finishTwo coats of Flex-Coat slow cure finish on guides15-year transferable warranty backed by St. Croix Superstar ServiceDesigned and handcrafted in Park Falls, U.S.A. for bass anglers worldwide
Eight versatile, one-piece Victory spinning and casting models will be available to anglers next month on or about March 19. An additional 17 Victory models will round out the series later this year.

St. Croix Victory Series Models
Lite-Weight / VTS610MLXF – 6’10” Medium-Light Power, Extra-Fast Action Spinning – $180
Finesse / VTS71MF – 7’1” Medium Power, Fast Action Spinning – $190
Max-Tactical / VTS73MXF – 7’3” Medium Power, Extra-Fast Action Spinning – $200
The Grunt / VTC71MHF – 7’1” Medium-Heavy Power, Fast Action Casting – $190
Power Target Cranker / VTC72MHM – 7’2” Medium-Heavy Power, Moderate Action Casting – $190
Full Contact Finesse / VTC73XHF – 7’3” Extra-Heavy Power, Fast Action Casting – $200
The Marshal / VTC73MHF – 7’3” Medium-Heavy Power, Fast Action Casting – $200
Full Contact / VTC74HF – 7’4” Heavy Power, Fast Action Casting – $200

Whether you’re a tournament angler competing at the highest level, a passionate recreational basser, or anything in between, St. Croix’s all-new Victory Series of high-performance American-made technique-specific bass rods are poised bring you more wins. Whatever that means to you, know that St. Croix will be celebrating all of it right there with you. Because we only win when you do.

Look for all-new St. Croix Victory rods at St. Croix dealers and online beginning March 19.
#StCroixVictoryLike the rods? You’ll love our lifestyle apparel.

Garmin Striker Cast GPS Review


Frank Sargeant, Editor
from the Fishing Wire

Garmin Striker Cast GPS—Castable Sonar For the many anglers around the country who fish from shore, piers or docks, it’s always a bit of a mystery how deep the water is within casting range, what structures are on the bottom, and where the fish are in relation to that structure. Without a sonar/GPS screen to tip you off, you’re fishing blind.

Garmin’s Striker Cast GPS puts fish-finding technology into the hands of these anglers, at a very affordable price. It provides quality sonar and GPS on any smart phone.The whole system is encased in a hard plastic housing about the size of a tennis ball. The unit turns on when it’s immersed in water, and links via Bluetooth to your smart-phone once you download the Striker Cast app. You attach the device to your fishing line, cast it out to the water you want to check and presto, a sonar screen appears on the phone.

The Striker Cast is about the size of a tennis ball. It can transmit to your phone from up to 200 feet away.

The device weighs about 3 ounces, so it’s not something you’re going to throw on your light action spinning rod. And it would be easy to pop your line and lose the Striker if you got a dead-stop backlash on a hard cast. I tied it on with 65 pound test Spider Wire braid on the heavy duty snap swivel, just to be sure—that braid will hoist a couple of concrete blocks, so it’s not going anywhere.
Here, a bass hanging over tree limbs on bottom at 8 feet shows clearly. Note the water temperature and depth digital readout on the upper left.

You don’t really cast the Striker—it’s more like lobbing a tennis ball, unless you put it on a 10-foot surf rod. I used a heavy action Shimano Sienna 7-footer and a 4000 size reel that would whip a kingfish, and it was about right.

Manipulating the rod, reel handle and your smart phone all at once is a challenge unless you have three hands. The way I worked it out was to hold the rod in my right hand, the phone in my left and also lightly hold the reel handle. I then rotated rod and reel to retrieve line—it sounds more difficult than it is once you’ve made a few casts.



As with any sonar, the faster the transducer moves, the more the terrain and fish below are compacted, while the slower things move the more they are stretched out. Thus, a foot-long bass going slow under a fixed transducer can look like a 40-pound pike. However, you quickly learn to adjust. The system automatically sets range and gain, or you can adjust both manually at the tap of a virtual scale.

Bottom shows red/yellow, water blue, fish and structure also red if large, yellow if small or scattered. The screen has digital depth and water temperature readouts on the upper left.

The unit also has a very accurate GPS system which allows you to map the area you are graphing. Walk all the way around your favorite pond, casting every 50 feet or so as you go, and it draws a chart of all the water you can reach, complete with depth profiles. You can name and save this, and you can also share it publicly. (I suspect that’s a function not many serious anglers will use!)

The chart was made by repeated casts with the Striker Cast. The opening at the center was where the author walked around a creek, so there’s no graph of that area.

The transducer is not like your boat floating over a fish, which usually flushes anything shallower than 10 feet in most lakes. Fish are not aware of it, and in fact I had a catfish come up and bump it apparently to see how it tasted. So, you can graph an area with a couple casts, spot fish, tie on a lure that gets to their appropriate depth, and hopefully connect.The Striker Cast would also be very useful for ice fishers—it’s compact, easy to carry, and would give you a quick read of what’s happening at each hole you open.

After saltwater use, you’ll want to rinse the connections thoroughly before hooking it up to the included USB charging wire—corrosion is not your friend. I wished the charging LED was a bit easier to see or had an alternate color when fully charged, but that’s a minor inconvenience. The battery lasts 10 hours with a full charge.

Here’s a useful video that teases out the many functions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEew_HQ90lY.

The Garmin Striker Cast GPS goes for about $180, and it’s sized about right for a stocking stuffer.

Check it out here: https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/665274

Learn Saltwater Fishing in Florida with Virtual Clinics

from The Fishing Wire

Want to learn how to saltwater fish in Florida? Join the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for a series of free Virtual Saltwater Fishing Clinics for beginner anglers age 16 and older to learn how to saltwater fish and help conserve our marine resources for the future.

Discover the importance of fisheries conservation and stewardship through the fun and exciting sport of fishing! You’ll be taught basic fishing skills and knowledge that can be used, shared and built upon for a lifetime of catching Florida memories with those you love.

Fishing clinic sessions will prepare you for a day out on the water to enjoy the amazing variety of saltwater fishing opportunities Florida has to offer. Sessions will include topics on conservation, rods and reels, tackle, baits, rigs, knot tying, habitats, fish handling, best practices and additional resources.

Registration is required and must be completed two days prior to the session date. Participation is limited to 50 anglers per course; anglers who register after the 50-person limit has been reached will be put on a waiting list. Anglers must use Microsoft Teams to participate.

Ready to dive into a course on saltwater fishing? Virtual Saltwater Fishing Clinics are offered as a course that includes seven separate 1-hour sessions held every Tuesday evening from 6:30-7:30 p.m. ET for seven consecutive weeks. Anglers must be able to attend all seven sessions. Each course has the same content, so anglers only need to register for one course. Those who attend a course will receive a free starter tackle box.

Register for a Virtual Saltwater Fishing Clinic seven-week course:Jan. 19 (includes seven sessions)March 9 (includes seven sessions)April 27 (includes seven sessions)

Don’t have enough time to commit to a seven-week course? Participate in our Mini Virtual Saltwater Fishing Clinics instead and you’ll learn about saltwater fishing and conservation in a bite-size format to fit your busy schedule. These 90-minute virtual events will be held once a month on a Thursday evening from 6-7:30 p.m. ET. Each session has the same content, so anglers only need to register for one single session.

Register for a Mini Virtual Saltwater Fishing Clinic session:Jan. 28 (single session)Feb. 25 (single session)March 25 (single session)April 22 (single session)May 13 (single session)June 10 (single session)Can’t carve out time to participate in either format right now? Don’t worry, later this year we’ll post videos of these virtual clinics on our webpage so you can take the course sessions at a time and pace that works best for you.

Have questions? Visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click “Virtual Saltwater Fishing Clinics” under Get Involved or contact Marine@MyFWC.com to learn more.

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Sunline Fluorocarbon Line Review

Product Review

Sunline Fluorocarbon Line

Good

Sunline Fluorocarbon Line comes in 17 different types for different applications. Its entry level line, Super Fluorocarbon, is a good choice for general fishing.  At the top end, Super FC Sniper, is for the tournament fisherman depending on every strike for his living.

Fluorocarbon is a very low visibility line with little stretch. It sinks, so it is not suitable for all lures, for example topwater lures do not work well with it.

A variety of the types of line are for specific situations.  Dostrike FC is designed for fishing bladed jigs. Crank FC is made for fishing crankbaits. Both lines are designed with some stretch for those baits.

The Night line is made to be visible when using a black light at night.  The Super FC Green Sniper has green color in it to help the fisherman see it above the water but is much more visible underwater to fish, too. Flipping Fluorocarbon has colors to be visible to the fisherman and is abrasion resistant.

I started using Sunline Fluorocarbon years ago after doing a Map of the Month article at Lake Lanier with Eric Aldrich.  The first stop, he lowered a drop shot bait to the tip of a blowdown in 30 feet of water. When he set the hook, he sawed the fish back and forth several times in the limbs and landed a three-pound spot.

I said he must be using heavy line for dropshot but he responded it was five pound Sunline. I thought it was a fluke to land that fish, but later in the day he did the same thing in a 35-foot-deep brush pile, sawing back and forth then landing a 3.5-pound spot.

I figured if five-pound Sunline line would do that, I could tow my boat with 12-pound line.

I fish a jig and pig on 14 pound and a shaky head on 12-pound Super FC Sniper or Super Fluorocarbon. It holds its knot as well as any fluorocarbon and I have never been disappointed in it. I think I get more strikes with fluorocarbon than I would with other line when fishing slow moving baits.

Bad

Sunline Fluorocarbon Line is more expensive than many other fluorocarbon lines.

Fluorocarbon line does not stretch like monofilament. When I switched to 12-pound fluorocarbon, I broke my line several times on the hookset until I loosened the drag enough to slip a little on the hookset.

Fluorocarbon is also notorious for knot slippage. With Sunline and any other fluorocarbon, if you do not tie a good knot suitable for fluorocarbon you will lose fish.

Cost

Sunline fluorocarbon line lists for $19.99 to $39.99 for a 165 to 200-yard spool. Bulk spools are available at slightly less per yard for some types of it.

St Croix Rod Sale

Sale is LIVE!

St. Croix rods deliver distinct advantages on the water. This year, give the anglers on your list what they really want… St. Croix pride and handcrafted performance. Whether shopping for others or taking advantage of deep savings to add to your personal rod collection, St. Croix has anglers covered with our special two-week Holiday Sales Event, starting this Friday, December 4th and running through the 20th.

St. Croix’s Holiday Sales Event will run from 7:00 AM CDT on Friday, December 4th through 10:00 PM CDT Sunday, December 20th. Shoppers at www.stcroixrods.com/collections/rod-shopper can take 40% off select retired Avid Salmon & Steelhead and Wild River rods; 40% off select retired Sole fly rods; 30% off retired Mojo Inshore and retired Tidemaster rods; and 25% off retired Mojo Ice, Triumph,  Triumph Salmon & Steelhead, Triumph Surf, Triumph Travel and Reign rods and even some left over combo’s from the Black Friday sales event!
 
Start Shopping

Christmas Gifts for Fishermen

Black Friday has lost much of its hype with so many on-line sales and Black Friday sales in stores seeming to start after Valentine’s Day.  But if you are looking for Christmas gifts for that special fisherman, I have some suggestions – all are things I use every trip.

    If you have a really special fisherman in your life and want to be extravagant, consider a new Skeeter bass boat. You can get a fully rigged 20-foot Skeeter with a 250 Yamaha motor and most of the bells and whistles.  They are on sale for only $69,500 including sales tax.

    Somewhat more reasonable but still expensive, a Garmin Livescope depthfinder will show you in live action everything going on underwater around your boat. It is much like radar, showing fish movements and all cover.  A head unit and transducer will set you back about $2600, on sale.  They are amazing. I love and hate mine, watching fish follow my baits and not hit them, but at least I know I am casting to bass. And I enjoy watching schools of crappie suspended in treetops and how they move.

    I really like St. Croix rods.  Their Avid series medium heavy seven-foot rod is great for light worms and jigs and the medium action handles spinnerbaits, soft swim baits, crankbaits and more.  They run about $180 and the Avid series is mid-range – they have more expensive and cheaper series, too.

    Last year I bought a Lews American Hero rod at Berry’s Sporting Goods for heavy jigs and worms rigs.  I liked it so much I bought a second one, then purchased a combo with rod and reel.  The rods are about $60 and for that price they are great. Although I was skeptical of the reel that came with the combo for only $90 – a $30 reel is usually worth what you pay – so far it has worked great.

    Warm, water proof boots are a necessity this time of year for hunting and fishing.  I could not find any locally so I ordered a pair of Aleader boots for $50 and so far they are warm and comfortable.  I wish they had a removable liner, but the fur lining is nice. 

    I usually wear 10½ EEE boots but I ordered size 12, and they are a little tight.  If you order them get a bigger size than normal or you will probably have to return them.

    I have my favorite lines for different methods. For spinnerbaits, some crankbaits and topwater I like Trilene Mean Green in 12 to 14-pound test, less than $10 for 700 yards. For slow moving baits like jigs, shaky heads and worms that bass get a chance to look at closely, Sunline fluorocarbon is my choice in 10 to 16-pound test.  It runs $25 to $30 for a 200-yard spool, but it is invisible, tough and holds up well for me.

    Crankbaits, jerkbaits and spinnerbaits are good smaller gifts and run less than $10. I really like Rapala DT series crankbaits in a variety of colors and sizes.  The number tells what depth they run, hence the name “Dives To.” A DT 6 runs six feet deep on ten-pound line, a DT 16 runs 16 feet deep.

I caught my biggest bass on a Suddeth Boss Hog crankbait, a nine-pound, seven-ounce largemouth at Jackson in 1991. Suddeth makes a good line of crankbaits in a variety of sizes and colors. They cost around $7 each.

    The Hawg Hunter spinnerbaits work well for me and come in a variety of sizes and colors. And Rapala Jerkbaits work well for the price. There are more expensive jerkbaits, for example the Megabass and Lucky Craft Pointer series are about $15, and they may be worth it.

Professional bass fisherman Aaron Martens listed 25 things he must have in his tacklebox in an article in Bassmaster magazine. JJs Magic was one of them. I never throw a plastic bait that is not first dipped in chartreuse JJs Magic. It is about $7.50 a jar and comes in three colors and clear. The clear is just to add scent without changing color of baits.

    For stocking stuffers, hooks, leads, swivels and other terminal tackle ranges from less than $2 to several dollars.  Sinkers are hard to find right now, Berry’s bins are almost empty of popular sizes, but more will be in soon. And I like VMC, Gamakatsu and Owner hooks in a variety of sizes.

    The best gift of all would be to take family and friends fishing and hunting to make memories for a lifetime. They are both “essential activities” not only during Covid but year-round, every year. And they are priceless.

Costa Helps Vets with their Freedom Series


By Frank Sargeant, Editor
from The Fishing WireLong known for high-quality, on-water eyewear, Costa® Sunglasses recently released the Freedom Series, highlighting the brand’s partnership with Freedom Fighter Outdoors (FFO). If you’ve been needing an excuse to splurge on some admittedly fairly pricey Costa’s, their assistance to FFO might be just what’s necessary.
 
The Freedom Series glasses feature many of the most popular Costa frame styles in patriotic-inspired colors, and support Freedom Fighters Outdoors’ initiative to help get veterans out on the water and participating in recreational outdoor activities.

Costa offers the series in both glass lenses—which are more scratch-resistant and also somewhat clearer than polycarbonate–and the poly lenses, which are lighter and also more shatter-resistant. I personally have always liked glass lenses for the clarity, plus glasses used in a center console tend to get the heck scratched out of them bouncing around on the dash if they have plastic lenses. Costa says their glass lenses are 20% thinner and 22% lighter than average polarized lenses, so it’s pretty much a no-brainer.  The models with glass lenses are somewhat heavier than some other brands just because Costa builds their stuff to last, but they’re not so heavy that you notice the weight on your nose or ears. The hinges, for example, are not only stout stainless steel, but they’re inset inside the durable composite frame. This not only protects them from salt spray and the resulting corrosion but adds reinforcement at the point where most glasses eventually fail. 

The blue mirror lenses are among the best choice for bright sunlight and flats or offshore fishing—minimal color distortion, good fish spotting and the polarization and mirroring greatly cuts glare. If you’re strictly a flats angler, you might like the amber lenses better because they tend to make vegetation and fish “pop” in the shallows, but the blue mirror gives things a light gray cast that seems natural after you wear it a few minutes.

A very useful feature on all Costa glasses is that they provide exact measurements of all their glasses on their website, so you know in advance how they’re going to fit if you buy them via the internet. For example, the Reefton version we checked out has an overall width of 129.2 mm and a bridge width, that is across the nose, of 15 mm.

The lenses are 63.5 mm wide, 42.3 mm tall, the ear pieces 112 mm long. They’re designed for those with large heads. They also make other models that are smaller, better fits for young anglers or for most women.  I like that the ear pieces are curved to grip the contours of the head, but have relatively little drop behind the ears. To me, this design stays on well and is easier to take on and off than those with a pronounced drop in the ear pieces. (I always put CablZ eye glass retainers on my sunglasses before wearing them the first time—saves losing them overboard, plus I always know where they are when they’re not on my head.)

The ear pieces, like the nose piece, are made of a “sticky” composite that helps the glasses stay in place, even when you’re sweaty.

The Freedom Series includes 16 frame styles across the brand’s lifestyle categories. The line ranges in price from $179 to $279, depending on frame and lens combination—pricey, but the company is known for standing behind their stuff.  (I also like that Costa does their bit for fish and fisheries habitat through programs that include producing a collection of frames made from recycled fishing nets as part of its Kick Plastic initiative, as well as partnerships with conservation groups and the shark research organization OCEARCH.) 

For more information on the new frames and the full line of Costa sunglasses, visit https://www.costadelmar.com/en-us/collections/freedom-series.