Category Archives: Saltwater Fishing

Everything saltwater fishing

How and Where To Catch November Saltwater Fish At Mobile Bay, with GPS Coordinates

with Captain Lynn Pridgen

     Think you need a huge boat and big motor to enjoy saltwater fishing?  Think again.  Drag your jon boat or bass boat on down to Mobile to catch a bunch of redfish, flounder and sea trout.  This is a great month for putting some of those tasty fish in the freezer.

     The network of rivers and bays around Mobile is huge and complex.  Big open water has small creeks and cuts off it and the rivers split, turn and twist, offering protected areas to fish even in the worst weather.  Multiple boat ramps allow you to put in near a good fishing spot so you don’t have to make long runs and a small open boat is fine if you pay attention to what you are doing.

     If you are a freshwater fisherman you will have to get used to rising and falling water, but you probably have some experience fishing current on rivers or reservoirs. Coastal fish respond the same way, but the current runs two ways every day and falling water can get you into trouble if you don’t watch what you are doing. Many areas are very shallow so don’t run through an area unless you check it out first.

     Sea trout, also called specks, weakfish and speckled trout are some of the best eating fish you can catch. They don’t fight real hard but they are plentiful.   Redfish, also called reds and channel bass, are hard fighters and were made famous with the “blackened redfish” recipe.  Flounder will give you a fight but are better on the plate than at the end of your line.

     Those three species are the targets of most coastal fishermen. In November they are in the rivers and creeks feeding on shrimp that are getting ready to head to the ocean.  They set up on ambush points to feed and you can catch all three species on consecutive casts with the same bait on most spots.  You can also catch sheepshead, white trout, whiting that are called ground mullet locally, freshwater cats and bass on these same places. That is one of the fun things about fishing around Mobile; you never know what you are going to catch.

     Captain Lynn Pridgen grew up in Saraland and his father was with the police department.  They had a house on Mobile Bay where he spent the summer fishing with his father and cousins. He now has a house on the water and he fishes about 100 days a year. Around 40 of those days are taking fishermen out on guided trips.  He also fishes saltwater tournaments in the area.

     In late October through the month of November Captain Lynn keys on shrimp that the fish are eating when he goes after trout, reds and flounder.  He concentrates on trout but enjoys catching all species. Lynn uses a variety of lures and jigs to catch them, and will use live shrimp.

     “Fishing just gets better and better from late October through November and into early December,” Lynn told me.  Right now is the time to head to the cost to take advantage of this fall feeding spree.

     Captain Lynn’s artificials include Mirror Lure topwater baits, DOA shrimp, H&H Coastal jigs and Rat-L-Traps.  Jigs are fished on a tight line or under a popping cork like the Cajun Thunder, or in a tandem rig.  He will fish live shrimp under slip corks or under the popping cork. 

     If the water is clear Lynn likes clear with gold flake jigs and lighter colored baits. If it is stained he goes to baits with chartreuse in them.  He fishes his baits on spinning and casting tackle and likes 10 to 14 pound Big Game line, sticking with 10 pound test most of the time unless fishing heavy cover. 

     Captain Lynn showed me the following places to catch fish and all are good from now until the water gets cold and the shrimp are gone.  Fish these spots and learn what to look for, then you can find many other similar places.

     1. N 30 39.788 – W 88 01.735 – Put in nearby and head to the small island in the mouth of the Mobile River just downstream of the docks on the west side of the river.  Start on the east side point of the island and work to the upstream side, to the ships tied up that the Coast Guard uses for training.

     Ease along looking for jumping shrimp and fish chasing them or fish “tailing” or feeding in the shallows right on the bank. Lynn says this is a good place to sight fish for reds. If you see them working shallow cast a live bait, DOA shrimp or topwater in front of them and work it across the line they are moving along. Cast a topwater bait to any surface activity you see.

     This is a good spot to look for “slicks,” too.  When the fish feed, oil from the shrimp or baitfish will come to the top and form small oil slicks about the size of a dinner plate. If you spot slicks cast to them.

     2.  N 30 39.025 – W 88 01.994 – Starting at the coal docks on the west side of the river you can catch fish all along the river front, fishing docks and cuts on both sides of the river. This is a big area and Lynn says he fishes a lot of tournaments here since it is near the open water and bigger fish tend to be here.  You can work spots all the way up past Magazine Point where the high bridge crosses the river.

     Start just downstream of the coal dock. You will see a line of old pilings running parallel to the shore and they mark the edge of a drop that holds fish.  The water is about two feet deep at the pilings but 18 feet deep just off them.  Keey your boat out in deeper water and cast topwater and jigs under corks to the pilings and work them out. Then cast shrimp up near the pilings under a slip cork and ease them down the dropoff.

     N 30 40.023 – W 88 01.902 – A little ways upstream on the west side you will see a long concrete dock running parallel to the bank.  Lynn likes to work along it, drifting life shrimp or a DOA shrimp under a cork into the shade under the pier.  All three species of fish hold near the pilings in the shade here.

     N 30 40.566 – W 88 02.063 – Further upstream on the east side you will see a big “Atlantic Marine” crane and there is a small point just downstream of it.  Fish around this point and the dock on it with topwater and popping corks, working from the bank out. The water is deep near the dock where it was dredged. Fish with the current to give your bait a natural movement. 

     N 30 40.978 – W 88 02.048 – Go on upstream and you will see an old brick building with broken windows. There is a dock on the point and a cove just downstream of it.  Start at the point and work the dock and bank, the one on the side of the building, going in.  There is lots of rubble on the bottom so fish over it with topwater or a popping cork. If you fish to the bottom you will get hung. Concentrate some casts around the drain pipe outflow.

     N 30 41.251 – W 88 02.096 – Up past the brick building are some vertical tanks right on the bank and there were stacks of pallets on the bank the day we fished. It is across from the cruise ship terminal and a point in front of the tanks is a good spot to fish.  You can work all the way back to the bridge then fish back out. There were some schooling fish here the day we fished.

     All the docks along both sides of the river here can be good. These are some of Captain Lynn’s best ones but you can locate spots of your own here.

     3.  N 30 44.294 – W 88 02.613 – Above the high bridge Chickasaw Creek splits off to the west and there is a railroad bridge across the mouth of it. A good drop off is at the bridge and this is another good place to drift baits under the bridge to catch fish holding there. 

     N 30 44.775 – W 88 02.419 – Upstream of the mouth of the creek on the west side of river outflow pipes create boils where paper mill discharge water is released. Lynn says this is a good place to throw a cast net to get bait and you can often find schooling fish here, too.

     4. N 30 46.260 – W 88 01.395 – Spanish River cuts off to Grand Bay north of the outflow pipe and a power line crosses here. There is a red channel marker off the point and the base of the power line tower is in the water. There is a row of old pilings under water on this point from near the channel marker to the bank so be careful, but get out and work the drop along them.  Topwater and slip corks with live bait work good here.

     This water is more brackish and you are more likely to catch some freshwater species, but reds, specks and flounder feed here.  Lynn says the outgoing tide is best since it pulls bait out of the grass and the game fish can get to it easier.  Drift your bait with the current to make it look more natural.  On an outgoing tide you can anchor near the channel marker and drift your bait down the row of pilings.

     5.  N 30 47.089 – W 88 00.444 – A little ways upstream the river splits around Twelve Mile Island. Take the right fork, not the one with the channel.  Not far from the split you will see some old sunk barges on your right.  There are several that you can’t see, too.  Fish the edges of them with a slip cork or popping cork.  Also try a Rat-L-Trap fished parallel to the edge of the barge.  The water is 12 to 13 feet deep along their deeper sides and fish hold here and feed.

     6. N 30 47.617 – W 87 59.469 – Further upstream on this side you will see the mouth of a small creek joining the river where is makes a bend.  Any creek mouth is good this time of year and this one is no exception.   In fact, this is one of Lynn’s favorite spots.

     There is a flat where the creek dumps into the river and Lynn will anchor on the upstream side of it and drift bait across the flat.  He also keeps a topwater bait ready since he often sees shrimp jumping and fish busting them here.  When you see that action, cast to it as fast as you can.

     7.  N 30 48.433 – W 87 59.537 – The upstream point of Twelve Mile Island where the river splits is a great place to catch fish. Lynn calls it “Budweiser Point” and he catches a lot of fish here.  There is a red channel marker on the point on the river side.

     This is a good place to anchor upstream of the point and drift baits back along both sides of the point with an outgoing tide.  The point forms a drop on either side and fish hold along it feeding on bait moving with the current.  You can fish here for hours as the tide starts to go out. The stronger it gets the better the fishing gets. Lynn says the outgoing tide is best and an incoming tide is OK but it is very hard to catch fish on either slack tide.

     8.  N 30 49.200 – W 87 56.954 – Up the river the Ship Channel cuts off to the left going upstream.  This canal was dug when the ‘Ghost Fleet” was mothballed over in the Tensaw River above Gravine Island.  There is a good drop on the upstream point between the river and the canal and Lynn fishes along the drop and grassline in both directions depending on the tide movement.  This is a spot where trout and reds concentrate when they really move in feeding on shrimp.

     9.  N 30 48.417 – W 87 55.666 – Run through the Ship Channel and stop on the upstream point where it joins the Tensaw River. Across from you is a big beach area on Gravine Island and the water opens up in front of you.  Anchor on the upstream side of the point and drift your bait across it with the current. The point had a good drop off into the channel.

     This big open area is also a great place to find schooling fish. Lynn always watches for birds feeding or shrimp jumping and heads to any activity since that usually means a school of fish feeding.  Ease up to them and you can catch a lot of fish. If you get into the school it will put them down. Topwater baits, popping corks and Rat-L-Traps are all good for schooling fish.

     10.  N 30 48.207 – W 87 55.303 – The river side of Gravine Island is a good area to fish.  Lynn stays out from the bank and works up current with his trolling motor for better boat control. He casts topwater plugs, vibrating plugs, slip corks and popping corks here, depending on what the fish want. Try them all until you hit the right combination.

     11.  N 30 46.164 – W 87 58.530 – On the downstream end of Gravine Island the Raft River cuts off and runs over to Grand Bay.  Lynn says the fish use this river as a highway and it is a good place to drift fish, letting the current carry your boat along while bumping bottom with jigs and live bait.  His favorite area to drift is where the “S” bend straightens out just upstream of the moth of Oak Bayou. 

     Position your boat off the shoreline on top of the drop and let the current take you and your bait along. Raise and lower your rod tip to keep jigs and live bait right on the bottom.   When you start catching fish mark the spot and when they stop hitting crank up, go back upstream to where they started and make another drift through the same area.

     12. N 30 46.205 – W 87 58.502 – The point between Oak Bayou and the Raft River is another good point to fish. There is some wood under water here and a stump just off the point on the river side.  Fish it with all your baits, working from the edge of the grass out.

     13.  N 30 44.678 – W 88 00.063 – Run down the Raft River to where it starts opening up at Grand Bay. There is a string of islands on  the right between the river and bay here and the cuts and points all along here are good places to fish. Set up on them and let your bait drift with the current. Keep hitting different places until you find the fish. When you hit where they are feeding you can fill your limit.

     Find a ramp near one of these spots you want to fish.  Get some live bait or stock up on artificials.  Follow Captain Lynn’s advice and you will catch fish.

     To get a first-hand view of how Captain Lynn fishes, call him at 251-214-5196 or visit his web site at http://www.captlynnsinshoreadventures.com/ to set up a guided trip. He will take you to some good fishing as well as teaching you how to catch all the different saltwater species.

FIND REDFISH FUN ON SHALLOW GRASS FLATS WITH LIVETAREGET AND MUSTAD

from The Fishing Wire

Find Redfish Fun On Shallow Grass Flats With LIVETAREGET and Mustad

Redfish are not a complicated lot; they love to eat, and with seasonal spawning aggregations intensifying their schooling nature, fall presents one of the best times to find these hardy fish in great numbers. Habitat options are many, but from the pristine flats of Florida’s Gulf Coast to the vast expanses of Texas’ Laguna Madre waters, shallow fields of swaying seagrass offer tremendous opportunities. These shallow pastures offer prime grazing opportunities for a fish that’s perfectly designed for nosing through bottom cover to root out meals. During low tide, the fish slip into adjacent depths of channels and cuts, while higher stages find them moving progressively higher onto the flat.

Find the Fish

Singles and small groups of redfish can be surprisingly stealthy, but when you pack several dozen or more reds into a feeding school, it’s hard to miss their rumbling, water-rippling movement. On clear days, over a mottled bottom of sand and grass, the herd will cast an auburn hue in the water, so keep watch for such masses and the waking convoys.

Also, take note of shrimp or baitfish flipping from the water. These forage species are much happier below the surface, so take their acrobatics as a clear sign of predation. Likewise, spotting a glossy sheen on the water’s surface typically indicates a recent feed in which predators left a slick of baitfish oils in their passing. This could be any number of predators, from jacks to mackerel – but on fall grass flats, it’s often redfish.

Mullet Moments

While the sardines, crabs, shrimp and pinfish packing the grass flats won’t go unnoticed by redfish, the vegetarian mullet couldn’t care less? So what’s the connection? It’s pure opportunistic feeding. The less energy a predator expends to intake calories, the more they retain. For redfish, that means mingling with mullet often rewards them with a finfish or crustacean meal that they didn’t have to work for. Mullet schools displace these meals while churning across the shallow grass flats and savvy reds are quick to pick off the freebies. For anglers on the lookout, locating a mullet school, either by spotting their wake or seeing their characteristic leaps, is a great way to connect with opportunistic reds.

Best Baits

Lead head jigs, like the Mustad Inshore Darter in the 1/8- to 3/16-ounce range with paddletails or shrimp bodies are one of the most common redfish baits for targeted casts. For a bottom-hopping look, try the LIVETARGET Fleeing Shrimp. Another highly effective option is a popping or clacking cork with a LIVETARGET Rigged Shrimp below. Chugging the cork creates a commotion that resembles feeding fish, and the vulnerable bait is an easy sell.

For searching, weedless spoons are considered one of the top redfish baits, as they cast like a bullet – even on windy days – and easily traverse a range of shallow habitats from grass to oyster shells. Tip: Spoons are given to spinning on the retrieve, but adding a Mustad Nickel Round Split Ring and a Mustad Barrel Swivel minimizes line twist.

And don’t overlook topwater baits. With their subterminal mouths, reds are definitely built for bottom feeding; however, their inherent feeding aggression won’t allow a surface bait to pass without interception. A little awkward, not always pretty and far less efficient than, say, a speckled trout’s topwater attack, a redfish is a persistent creature and theirs is one of the most aggressive surface assaults you’ll ever see. It’s kind of a surging, crashing bite, but once a red locks onto a topwater target, it’s nearly a guaranteed hook up.

A little tip for greater topwater efficiency over shallow grass: Replace stock treble hooks with Mustad Kaiju Inline Single Hooks. Face the front hook forward and the rear hook backward. You’ll give up the number of hook points, but once a big red gets the bait, that’s a caught fish.

About Mustad

Mustad has led the global hook market since 1877. Mustad’s mission is to create a comprehensive multi-brand company that leads the fishing tackle industry, while focusing on innovation, employee and customer satisfaction, and sustainability. With the addition of TUF-LINE and LIVETARGET, Mustad continues to solidify its position as a complete sports fishing brand family.

CAN YOU CATCH MORE FISH WHEN THE WATER IS SPINNING?

Can You Catch More Fish When the Water Is Spinning?

New study sheds light on how fish use spinning water masses as habitat.

Picture the open ocean in the North Pacific: nothing but blue water as far as you can see, both out to the horizon and below you. The underwater environment may seem as uniform as it looks from above. Yet a new study shows that there are actually hotspots of biological activity which are shaped by small-scale ocean circulations.

Eddies are slow-moving swirls of water, or circular ocean currents, that can be tens to hundreds of miles across. They can rotate clockwise or counter-clockwise. Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center scientists Dr. Phoebe Woodworth-Jefcoats and Dr. Donald Kobayashi contributed to a new study showing that catch rates in Hawaiʻi’s longline fishery are higher in these clockwise eddies than elsewhere in the ocean. The study suggests that these eddies have a higher abundance of prey across the food web—from phytoplankton to fish.

To investigate this relationship, scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of Washington worked with Woodworth-Jefcoats and Kobayashi. They paired 23 years of Hawaiʻi-based longline catch records with satellite data showing the eddies’ locations. Of the 14 species examined, 11 had higher catch rates in clockwise eddies than in counter-clockwise eddies. These species included bigeye tuna, the fishery’s target species, and striped marlin. Striped marlin are both overfished and experiencing overfishing in the western and central Pacific Ocean. Billfish and other tunas were among the species more likely to be caught in anticyclonic eddies than outside them.

This conceptual figure shows how prey abundance inside and outside of eddies may affect predator abundance. Net primary productivity (NPP), or phytoplankton growth at the base of the food web, is greater in anticyclonic eddies than elsewhere. This productivity may attract abundant prey in anticyclonic eddies, in turn attracting predatory fishes to these features. Prey availability differs during daytime and nighttime. During the day, prey escape to deep, dark depths where only deep-diving predators (like bigeye tuna) can catch them. During the night, prey migrate up to the dark surface waters to feast on phytoplankton and other organisms at the base of the food web, making them accessible to a greater number of predators, too. Fish illustrations: Les Gallagher Fishpics® & IMAR-DOP, University of the Azores.

This information benefits fishers and scientists alike. Knowing where different species are likely to congregate helps fishers target their fishing effort, possibly saving them time and fuel. More efficient fishing operations could also improve fisher safety while reducing incidental bycatch, interactions, and fishing gear loss. Understanding how ocean conditions shape fish abundance helps scientists understand dynamic habitats. That’s a term we use to characterize the places where organisms live in the ocean with ever-changing conditions in both space and time. This paper also sheds new light on what influences predator abundance and ecosystem structure in the seemingly featureless open ocean.

Dr. Kobayashi summarizes this research, “The more we study the ocean, the more we find physical features large and small that can have profound impacts on marine life, including the species important to humans and key players in the ecosystem. Eddies are a medium-scale feature that can be easily overlooked because they are challenging to identify on the water or in the data fields, and so very ephemeral in time and space. But, as this study demonstrates, eddies are incredibly important to marine life!”

SLOW-PITCH JIGGING; IT’S MORE THAN A TREND

Rush Maltz, Co-Host of Local Knowledge
from The Fishing Wire

Over the past several years, no technique in the saltwater scene has been talked about as much as slow-pitch jigging. What started as a super-technical way to catch fish in Japan nearly two decades ago has become a phenomenon in America in recent years. It all started in the states, with the epicenter being South Florida, with a handful of anglers using it with great success before word spread. It’s now being used across the country, proving itself as a valuable tool for countless species.

Among the fans of the emerging technique are California’s Ali Hussainy and Florida’s Rush Maltz of the Local Knowledge Fishing Show. They each find success with the method on home waters and when traveling to film their show.

Vertical Jigging versus Slow-Pitch Jigging

Metal lures jigged beneath the surface have been used as long as anglers have been fishing, but the differences between the vertical jigging method, also called “speed jigging,” and the newer arriving slow pitch mainly comes down to how they are fished. Fishing vertically, many anglers drop their jigs to the bottom and quickly retrieve them while ripping their rods up to imitate a fleeing baitfish when speed jigging.

On the other hand, slow-pitch jigging is a way to get the jig to flutter and fall like an injured or dying baitfish. Both methods work, but slow-pitch jigging has gained a foothold in the fishing world because of its uniqueness and effectiveness in catching various predatory fish. Even species on the bottom that are accustomed to their food falling to them are fair game with this technique.

“We do a ton of jigging in Florida,” said Maltz. “The main difference between slow pitch and what I typically do more of, speed jigging, is the tackle used and how you jig. Standard vertical jigging is violent and much faster to get the fish to chase, while slow pitch is much more rhythmic and the jig flutters and falls to the fish.”

Slow-pitch rods are specialized, much lighter and designed to work the jigs and allow them to flutter downward. Vertical jigging requires beefier tackle, according to Maltz. “It’s mainly due to the species, where vertical jigging appeals to hard-fighting fish like jacks, tuna, kings, and bonita,” he said. “You can still catch them slow pitch jigging, but the style of fishing closer to the bottom opens it up to more fish species, including grouper and snapper species.”

While everything about the two jigging methods has opposing styles and gear, Maltz uses the same line for both.

“No matter how you are jigging, having a good quality braided line is very important as it will cut through the water better and give you better control of your jig,” he said. “I use 50 lb Threadlock Hollow Core because of how thin and strong it is. If I’m slow pitch jigging for bottom fish, I like 60 lb Gold Label fluorocarbon. It has the strength to prevent chaffing from the teeth of the bottom fish and because you are fishing the jig slowly, the thinner diameter helps keep your line less visible to the fish.”

Maltz’s co-host, Ali Hussainy agrees on the gear differences between the different jigging methods. “Standard vertical jigging rods are shorter, thicker, and very parabolic,” he said. “Most are between 5 and 6-feet long, a longer rod would break your back fighting big fish. Slow pitch jigging rods are specialized, very thin and a little longer.”

Slow Pitch California Rockfish

Ali Huisanny, Co-Host of Local Knowledge

With the Local Knowledge TV show, Hussainy travels to fishing hotspots chasing the best species in the prime times. Still, fishing for rockfish out of San Diego, California, is one of his favorite pastimes.

“A lot of guys overlook the great rockfish bite and focus on the glory fish like tuna,” he began. “From about Halloween until May, the rockfish bite in California and Baja California is hard to beat and slow pitch jigging is a great way to catch them. With the many different rockfish species we have, it’s so much fun to fish for them and their meat makes the best fish tacos.”

Generally, Hussainy and crew search for water between 125 and 425 feet where rock and sand meet. Hard bottoms and rock patches are critical for the variety of rockfish species in his region. The gear used is part of why he likes to use slow pitch jigging for vermillion and copper snapper, lingcod, and other species.

“You are using light rods, reels, and lines and it’s very effective and they put up a great fight on that gear,” said Hussainy. “We use Penn Fathom reels in the 8 and 10 sizes and the Fathom 400 low profile reel on a Penn Battalion II Slow Pitch rod.”

Hussainy spools the reels up with 50 lb Seaguar Threadlock Hollow Core braided line with a leader of 40 lb Gold Label fluorocarbon, citing the thin diameter of both lines as crucial for the technique.

“You’re most often fishing 225 to 300 feet deep and the thin diameter of those lines cuts through the water much better,” he said. “You get more action on a small jig in relatively deep water. Threadlock is incredibly strong, and so is Gold Label; it’s my go-to combination for the light stuff.”

Speaking of jigs, the Sea Falcon is a popular option for slow pitch fans, along with the Williamson Kensaki and Koika that Hussainy likes, mainly in the 6-to 10-ounce range, varying it depending on the depth and current. Color, according to Hussainy is not as important as getting it in front of fish in many situations.

“We gently lift the rod and let the jig sweep back down with your rod doing the work,” he said. “That makes this technique so deadly; it’s a way to imitate a dying baitfish. You can also wind up four or five cranks and let them fall back down to get them to bite. It’s so much fun and we’re all still learning about the technique, but there are some real gurus with the technique like Benny Ortiz down in Florida who helped pioneer the fishing style in America.”

Slow pitch jigging has taken the fishing world by storm and as more anglers learn how effective it is, anglers who give it a shot will catch more fish with the technique. It’s something that’s still evolving and we’re sure to hear more about it as more anglers use it in our fisheries.

SPEED RESTRICTIONS THREATEN MARINE INDUSTRY

Environmental Extremists Get Law That Will Add SPEED RESTRICTIONS THAT THREATEN MARINE INDUSTRY

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Speed Restrictions Threaten Marine Industry

from The Fishing Wire

New Gretna, New Jersey- A rushed proposed rule to implement 10-knot speed restrictions for boats 35 feet and larger from Massachusetts to Florida could devastate the entire marine industry and cripple America’s outdoor economy.

The National Marine Fisheries Service, an agency within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is proposing amendments to the North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction Rule to reduce the likelihood of vessel strikes. The federal rule would broaden the current 10-knot speed limit to include boats 35 feet and larger (down from 65 feet); expand the zones from discrete calving areas to virtually the entire East Coast as far out as 100 nautical miles; and extend the go-slow mandate for up to seven months a year.

“The proposed rule, as written, would be the most consequential maritime regulation that we have ever seen imposed on the recreational boating and fishing sector,” says John DePersenaire, Director of Government Affairs and Sustainability for Viking Yachts. “It will affect not only boat owners but marinas, tackle shops, charter boat operators – basically all maritime-related businesses on the Atlantic Coast.”

Adds Viking President and CEO Pat Healey: “This would be a devastating regulatory mandate. Right whale vessel strikes have just not been an issue for our industry. This is a classic example of government overreach.”

The proposed rule was published without any engagement with the recreational boating and fishing community. “We had heard talk of a proposal but were never directly contacted in any way,” says DePersenaire. “This is important because the proposed rule imposes excessive and unnecessary negative impacts on our community as a direct response of NOAA single-handedly putting forward regulations without public input. Moreover, the proposed mandate would force thousands of recreational boats to operate at a speed that compromises their maneuverability and overall safety at sea.”

NOAA Fisheries is proposing to modify the boundaries and timing of current vessel speed restrictions (Seasonal Management Areas) along the U.S. East Coast and create proposed Seasonal Speed Zones to reduce the risk of lethal collisions with endangered North Atlantic right whales. Most vessels 35 feet or longer would be required to transit at 10 knots or less within active proposed Seasonal Speed Zones.

The proposal was published on Aug. 1, 2022. Viking immediately requested a 30-day extension to the public comment period. “Viking Yachts is completely sensitive to the status and outlook of the North Atlantic right whale population,” Healey wrote to NOAA. “The health of the ocean and all its life is of paramount importance to our company and boat owners. However, we believe the magnitude of the proposed rule warrants careful consideration to ensure that a practical, enforceable and realistic plan is put forward to address the right whale population.”

A letter from a broad coalition of recreational fishing and boating organizations was also presented to NOAA, who has since extended the public comment period to October 31. “Now that we have the extension, we really need to turn up the volume and make sure our voices are heard,” said Healey. “Everyone needs to rally – yacht clubs, marinas, fishing clubs, charter boat associations. This is a huge deal that not many people know about.”

How to Help

To see a map showing the existing and proposed speed zones, click here.

The primary way to voice your concerns about the amendments to the North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction Rule is via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Click here to comment. You can also provide comments through various boating and fishing groups, such as the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s Boating United group: click here, and through the International Game Fish Association: click here.

All comments will be read and considered, according to NOAA’s Office of Protected Species, which advises participants to supply specific information about how the rule would impact their boating and fishing activities or business. You can also make suggestions for changes to the rule. The purpose in crafting these amendments is to ensure that the North Atlantic right whales are protected and do not go into extinction while placing as little burden on the mariner as possible, according to NOAA.

Given the limited amount of time for the public to weigh in on these rule changes, “it’s critical that you immediately contact your member of Congress and ask that they demand NOAA to put the proposed rule on pause,” says DePersenaire. “The additional time can be used to develop measures that seek balance between the needs of the right whale and our industry. Congress also needs to know that the rule has far-reaching implications beyond our sport. It will disrupt shipping and ports and exacerbate supply-chain issues and inflation.”

The Facts

The facts do not support the sweeping changes being proposed by NOAA. Since 1998 – 24 years – there have been 24 known right whale vessel strikes across 10 states. Of those, eight were attributed to boats from 35 to 65 feet.

“In our 58-year history, with more than 5,000 boats delivered, we have never had a report of our boats having an encounter with a right whale,” says Healey “And we would know because it would cause significant damage that would be repairable only by us.”

“The bottom line is this is far too consequential of an issue for it to be developed and implemented unilaterally with no meaningful input from our industry or the public,” adds DePersenaire. “Many of these impacts could have been eliminated or significantly reduced – while still reducing risks of vessel strikes – by working with fishermen and boaters.”

For an in-depth analysis and more information about the issue, please click here for an American Sportfishing Association (ASA) podcast featuring an interview on the subject with DePersenaire.

About the Viking Yacht Company

Founded by brothers Bill and Bob Healey in 1964 on the banks of the Bass River in New Gretna, New Jersey, Viking has become the leading semi-custom production builder of sportfishing yachts and center consoles in the world, with more than 5,000 boats delivered. The Viking fleet consists of yachts from 38 to 90 feet, and the company in 2019 launched a lineup of premium high-performance center consoles – the Valhalla Boatworks V Series. Princess Yachts America, the U.S. distributor of the British-built yachts, is also part of the Viking portfolio. A vertically integrated company where 90 percent of every boat is built in-house, Viking operates several subsidiaries, including Atlantic Marine Electronics, Palm Beach Towers and the Viking Yacht Service Center. Viking, driven by the mantra “to build a better boat every day,” looks forward to continuing to serve the Viking and Valhalla family with industry-leading products, dealers and customer service.

FOUR WAYS TO TANGLE WITH DOUBLE TOUGH AMBERJACK

from The Fishing Wire

Four Ways To Tangle With Double Tough Amberjack

They may not win any beauty contests and, truth be told, they often live in the shadow of offshore darlings such as black grouper and mangrove snapper; but pound-for-pound, the greater amberjack is one of the toughest fish in saltwater. An often overlooked food fish, AJs offer a high yield of firm, mild filets that turn out well on the grill, the smoker or in the skillet. Common to wrecks, springs and reefs of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, amberjack are not picky fish, but a handful of established techniques will bring these brutes to the boat.

Live Bait Drop: AJs have no teeth, but they have large, powerful jaws with pronounced rubbery lips — basically, they’re designed for grabbing meals with devastating force and gobbling them whole. Suffice it to say, any forage species that suddenly appears on their radar won’t be long for this world.

Common offerings include pinfish, grunts, sand perch and scaled sardines (“pilchards”). Gear up with stout 7- to 7 1/2-foot rods with 4/0 reels, 200-pound braided main line and 4-6 feet of monofilament leader and drop your live bait on a 10/0-12/0 Mustad Offset Circle Hook with a slip sinker sized to the target depth.

Trolling: The good thing about live bait is that many species love it. The bad thing about live bait — same.

Often, anglers find it difficult, if not impossible to thread a livie through the layer of barracuda often holding above the AJs. In such instances, deploy your live baits on downriggers about 50- to 100-yards from the target site and troll them into the strike zone.

This obviously limits the number of baits you can fish at one time, as opposed to straight dropping. However, your success rate will be much higher.

Jigging: There’s truly nothing like the real thing for AJs, but these gluttons will often fall for a heavy bucktail jig, diamond jig, blade jig or a slow pitch jig. While the first three rely on active, often erratic motion, the slow pitch jig is made for mimicking the gliding, fluttering movements of a wounded or dying baitfish. Designed specifically for this technique, Mustad’s G-Series Slow Fall Jigging Rod comes in 6-foot, 6-3 and 6-4 models.

With any jig option, keep it moving until you feel a bite. If the fish misses or shakes your jig loose, immediately resume the action. Amberjack are rarely alone and what one fish drops, another is likely to grab.

Topwaters: Despite their preferred proximity to bottom structure, amberjack won’t hesitate to rise topside to blast a big walking or popping bait. Strikes are simply astounding, but make sure you’re properly equipped to handle a big fish by fitting your bait with the new Mustad JAW LOK treble hooks.

Battle Royale

However you hook your amberjack, expect nothing less than brutality. Trust your tackle to keep you connected and use the gunwale for extra leverage. This is truly a test of wills, so the longer you can hold out, the better your chances of defeating this reef bully.

About

Mustad has led the global hook market since 1877. Mustad’s mission is to create a comprehensive multi-brand company that leads the fishing tackle industry while focusing on innovation, employee and customer satisfaction, and sustainability. With the addition of TUF-Line and LIVETARGET, Mustad continues to solidify its position as a complete sports fishing brand family.

What Is Using Wakebaits To Make Waves for Redfish

MAKING WAVES FOR REDFISH

Making Waves for Redfish

from The Fishing Wire

There are many lures and tactics that will fool a redfish and that’s part of what makes them such a popular target. They’re aggressive, have incredible strength, and hold the hearts of anglers throughout their range − the marshes and coastal environments from North Carolina to Texas. Some of the most popular baits and lures have been catching redfish for years, with spoons, swimbaits, jigs, and live bait being popular choices.

Another exciting and relatively new option is fishing a wake bait, according to a well-known guide and accomplished redfish tournament angler, Capt. Mike Frenette of Venice, Louisiana’s Redfish Lodge of Louisiana.

Capt. Mike Frenette

An Emerging Trend – Wake Baits for Redfish

It’s not a complete secret, but fishing wake baits for redfish is slowly gaining steam. Frenette has seen their power and knows they are ideally suited for redfish when the conditions align.

“Guys are starting to figure it out and it’s becoming a trend in the inshore world,” says Frenette. “The cool thing is that it’s excellent for redfish, but trout and snook will hit them, too. It’s just now becoming known as a good way to catch them, and there are times when it’s the best way to get them to bite.”

He utilizes a Strike King HC KVD 2.5 Wake Bait, a bait with the same square bill crankbait profile that’s extremely popular in the freshwater bass fishing world. The difference is a bill angled to keep the lure bulging the surface and “waking” to entice redfish.

Fishing the Wake Bait

Most of the time, Frenette is sight casting a wake bait. It’s a highly visual technique and the bait’s action is well-suited for cruising redfish.

“It works so well because it has the perfect ‘wiggle, wiggle’ action on the surface and looks like a wounded fish,” he says. “It’s not the best bait for covering water because you fish it slowly, but it’s perfect for casting to fish you can see. They cast exceptionally well and accurately, and I’ll cast them past the fish and work it right towards them. You don’t have to move it very fast to get their attention, and a slow and steady retrieve is all you need.”

The wake bait is the best tool for these fish because it can stay in the proper position longer than other baits, according to Frenette.

“If you cast a jig to these fish, it will fall into the grass,” he says. “A gold spoon is great, but it’s harder to keep it in front of them to get their attention because it will sink if you move it too slowly. It’s much easier to cast a wake bait to the fish and work it right towards the fish. The wake creates a ‘V’ several yards behind the bait as it pushes water. A redfish sees it as food and has to kill it.”

Wake Bait Gear

Many redfish anglers prefer spinning tackle for inshore saltwater species, but Frenette opts for baitcasting gear for his wake bait needs. His rod and reel choice is his signature series 7-foot medium Duckett Fishing Salt Series rod with a Lew’s Custom Inshore SLP reel.

“I feel like I’m much more accurate casting with a baitcast reel and that’s very important when sight casting to redfish,” he says. “The rod I designed has a soft tip, like a topwater rod. Another key when fishing these baits is the hookset; you don’t want to set the hook with these baits. Slowly lean away from the fish and let your line tighten and get the rod load to up.”

For line, Frenette opts for 30 to 50 lb. Seaguar TactX braided line, a strong and excellent casting braid with a “pebble” texture that helps cut through vegetation better. He varies his size based on how much grass is present and bumps up to 50 lb. for the thickest vegetation.

“It’s very strong, casts great and slices through vegetation very well,” he says. “Once you hook the fish, they immediately dive into the grass, which can get very heavy with a big fish. A braid like TactX that cuts through grass better helps you land more of those fish.”

Timing and Finding the Bite

Fishing a wake bait can be done any time of the year, but Frenette says it shines from late summer to January. But, it’s highly dependent on water clarity.

“It can work at all times, but water color is critical,” he says. “The fish are more responsive to it in clear water and for us in Louisiana, it starts to clear up in August and stays that way until January. That’s true no matter where you fish for redfish, and if the water is relatively clear, a wake bait will do well.”

Frenette looks for key areas where redfish congregate to feed when fishing wake baits. High-percentage areas are always his first place to look, but he also focuses on grassy ponds in the marshes as the water cools.

“Some of the best places to start are 100 yards to the left or right of any drain that comes into the marsh where the water is moving,” says Frenette. “They’ll generally be 10 yards from the shoreline, and if they are up there, they’re there to feed.”

He also looks for how the fish act, especially when the tide moves. As redfish search to feed, they get into hunting mode and are prime targets for a wake bait.

“We call it ‘floating,’ and the fish start to swim along the shallow grass,” says Frenette. “They are moving very slowly near the surface and looking to feed. The falling tide usually gets them going, but it can also be slack tide right when it starts to fall. Incoming is generally not as productive and doesn’t get them to move as much as an outgoing tide.”

Fishing a wake bait for redfish is an exciting way to entice surface bites from these aggressive fish. The baits are straightforward to fish and make for an excellent option for sight casting to cruising fish. More and more anglers are learning the power of the slow and bulging action near the surface.

About Seaguar Fishing Lines

As the inventor of fluorocarbon fishing lines in 1971, Seaguar has played a prominent role in the advancement of technologies to improve the performance of lines and leader material for both fresh and saltwater anglers. Seaguar is the only manufacturer of fluorocarbon fishing lines that produces its own resins and controls the manufacturing process from start to finished product. Today, Seaguar is the #1 brand of fluorocarbon lines and offers a full spectrum of premium products including fluorocarbon mainlines and leader material, 8-strand and 16-strand braid fishing lines.

Tracking Sailfish Off the South Carolina Coast

FEATURE
By SCDNR biologist Wally Bubley
(originally published on North Carolina Sea Grant’s blog, Hook, Line & Science)
from The Fishing Wire

Using pop-up satellite tags, scientists can get a much better understanding of billfish movement and migration.

Research Need

Typically, researchers measure the movement of large, offshore pelagic fish using traditional streamer tags, but to get information, the fish must be caught again. This method only provides information on the tagging and recapture locations, but no information about what the fish did in between, including movements up and down the water column.

Ideally, to get the best understanding of how, where, and why a species interacts with its environment — and ultimately where to fish for it — a 3D map would incorporate depth with high-resolution horizontal movement.

What did we study?

We used pop-up satellite tags to track the movement of billfish caught in South Carolina Governor’s Cup tournaments. These tags capture the 3D location while attached, using sunlight and pressure sensors. The tags pop off at pre-programmed times and, once at the surface, transmit information to satellites and ultimately to the researcher.

We then used this information to provide a 3D model of movement.

What did we find?

One species of billfish (sailfish) off the coast of South Carolina moves seasonally and tends to stay closer to shore. But sailfish will venture offshore, too, including as far north as New Jersey and as far south as the northern coast of South America.

The depths through which fish travel change throughout the day and potentially during different types of movements, such as whether the fish are migrating or staying in an area to feed.

Overall, by tracking depth, we can capture a more complete picture of what these fish are doing and how they interact with their environment and with other species, which we might miss otherwise.

Anything else?

The advantage of satellite tags over streamer tags was apparent in one sailfish especially. This fish, tagged off the South Carolina coast, traveled to Turks and Caicos before returning to within 150 miles of where it originally was tagged, before its tag finally surfaced.

If this study had used a typical streamer tag on this fish, the only information we would have gathered is that this fish covered the same amount of area that a garden snail could cover over the same time period. Obviously, we would have assumed that likely something more happened with our fish, but without data to know what. Using the satellite tag, however, revealed the fish was much more active.

So what?

Depth plays an important role in limiting competition for food between sailfish and other species. Knowing these differences is especially important in some commercial fisheries, which can be a major source of mortality.

Understanding sailfish and other billfish movement patterns can allow for management and fishing practices that target only the species of interest, while minimizing interactions with billfish species, in turn making them more available to recreational fishermen.

Reading

Walter J. Bubley, Benjamin Galuardi, Amy W. Dukes, and Wallace E. Jenkins’s “Incorporating depth into habitat use descriptions for sailfish Istiophorus platypterus and habitat overlap with other billfishes in the western North Atlantic,” in Marine Ecology Progress Series, Vol. 638: 137–148 2020, https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13239.

Summary compiled by Walter Bubley
Lead photo by SCDNR

NOAA Fisheries, the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, and the SC Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series provided support for this research.

The text from Hook, Line & Science is available to reprint and republish, but only in its entirety and with this attribution: Hook, Line & Science, courtesy of Scott Baker and Sara Mirabilio, North Carolina Sea Grant. HookLineScience.com

NOAA Fisheries Calls on Anglers to Report Sturgeon Sightings and Catches on Sturgeon Hotline


Wild animals, especially those living underwater, can be hard to find and track. Biologists compile and use public sighting information to learn more about different animal species. Atlantic sturgeon are found along the Canadian and U.S. Atlantic Coast as far south as Florida. Understanding where they go, how they get there and where they spawn (lay their eggs) is important for resource  managers. It helps them to put protections in place for this endangered species. With their built-in “armor,” also known as scutes, sturgeon appear to be indestructible. They actually face a number of threats including:

Unintended catch by fishermen

Dams that block access to spawning areas

Poor water quality

Water withdrawals from rivers

Vessel strikes

NOAA Fisheries monitors a sturgeon hotline, (844) STURG-911, as a way to collect sightings information. Recent reports to the hotline have come from as far away as California and as far north as Maine!  One of the most common reporting locations is New Jersey.

About a week ago, while walking along the shore in Cape May, New Jersey,   a family discovered a sturgeon that had washed ashore. The fish, which was about 2.5 feet long, did not appear to be injured. The family found an odd yellow “streamer” with number 53869 attached to the animal. It turns out that yellow streamer was actually a scientific tag applied by a sturgeon researcher!

Our partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed the tag was issued in North Carolina in 2019. Thousands of miles away, we received another tip via the hotline that a sturgeon was spotted off Marina Bay Beach in Richmond, California. The animal had a large bite on its underside. Based on what we know about the abundance of sturgeon in the San Francisco Bay area, this animal was likely a white sturgeon. Without photo evidence, it’s tough to know for sure.

Regardless, calls like these provide valuable data to NOAA researchers. Closer to home, we’ve had more than a dozen reports so far this year. There were two from North Carolina, one from South Carolina, three from Georgia, and three from Florida. You might wonder, how can scientists learn anything from a dead fish, but depending on the animal, we gain lots of useful information. We can determine if it’s been growing, we can determine where it might have hatched using genetics. We can also get a sense of where and when they are migrating (traveling between locations).

For example, by re-sighting a sturgeon, like the one tagged in North Carolina but found in New Jersey, we are able to compare size. We can tell how much the animal has grown between when it was first caught and when it washed up dead.

Your information helps! If you find a stranded, injured, or dead sturgeon, please take a photo, if you can do so safely. In the Southeast you can report it to (844) STURG-911/(844) 788-7491, or send us an email at NOAA.Sturg911@noaa.gov

In the Northeast please call the NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office at (978) 281-9328.

Provide additional information such as: Where you saw the animal (latitude/longitude)Approximately how big it was

Any weird marks (like a tag) or wounds you notice when you saw it These are also very helpful pieces of information! 

5 Things We Know About Juvenile Tarpon


From Bonefish & Tarpon Trust
from The Fishing Wire

1. They begin their lives looking like a clear worm

Adult tarpon spawn offshore: 80-100 miles in the Gulf of Mexico and 5-10 miles in the Atlantic Ocean. Once eggs fertilize and hatch, tarpon begin their larval stage looking like a transparent flat ribbon. This particular larva, similar to eels, bonefish, and ladyfish, is known as a leptocephalus. Although leptocephali do have the ability to swim, they are mostly drifting with currents to make their way back inshore. A study on the Indian River Lagoon found that tarpon larvae enter the passes at night and make their way into far reaches of the estuary to find calm, tidal backwaters where they metamorphose into juveniles.

2. They can breathe air 

Although we can’t exactly compare juvenile tarpon to Flipper, tarpon have a unique capability of taking oxygen from above the surface instead of relying on dissolved oxygen in the water. Tarpon have a modified swim bladder that has rows of vascularized (i.e. spongy) tissue that can act as an extra set of gills. In contrast, other fish typically have a balloon like swim bladder that can only help with buoyancy during pressure changes. Gulping air is a major benefit to juvenile tarpon who seem to prefer habitats with low dissolved oxygen that exclude other fish that could be competition or predators.

3. They eat anything and everything

Another good strategy for juvenile tarpon in backwater habitats is that they are opportunistic feeders. A study on the east coast of Florida looked at the diets of juvenile tarpon compared with prey availability for seven locations and concluded that tarpon eat everything. The only limiting factor was if the food would fit in their mouth; therefore the larger the juvenile tarpon grew, the more things it could eat. Fish and copepods are the main organisms consumed, but tarpon also eat ants, crabs, shrimp and fly larvae. (Photo: Jeff Harrell)

4. Their growth rates depend on habitat quality

Although the scientific literature is limited on juvenile tarpon studies, there are some that show tarpon in captivity and natural habitats exhibit growth rates of 10-12 inches per year. Likewise, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) found comparable growth rates of juvenile snook (who use similar habitats) in the Tampa Bay estuary. However, BTT studies in southwest Florida and coastal South Carolina of juvenile tarpon in human degraded habitats found average growth rates of 1-2 inches per year. These studies underscore how detrimental coastal development, altered waterflows and nutrient runoff are to our fisheries.

5. About 2/3 of angler reported juvenile tarpon habitats are degraded by humans

 In 2016, BTT started a juvenile tarpon habitat mapping project to find locations of tarpon 12 inches and smaller.  Anglers reported almost 300 locations and were asked to described the site as natural or altered. About 64 percent of reported sites were described as having some level of degradation. Couple this information with our slow growth data in human impacted sites and it’s clear just how important habitat protection and restoration are.

 Click here to learn more about BTT’s habitat restoration efforts. (Photo: SWFWMD)