Fishing for Black Sea Bass – Tips, Tackle, and Techniques
Black sea bass are a popular and fairly abundant bottom species caught by anglers. They are a beautiful fish that puts up a nice little scrap on light tackle. However, they are mostly prized for their incredible snow-white and tasty fillets! Black sea bass are a staple of charter boat captains from Maine to Texas.
Black sea bass, Centropristis striata, is in the family Serranidae, which includes grouper. They are a bottom dwelling species. Black sea bass relate to structure and are usually found quite close to ledges, wrecks, reefs, and other man made structure. Most sea bass are caught by anglers fishing with natural bait. However, artificial lures such as jigs and spoons are productive as well.
Black sea bass behavior
Black sea bass grow relatively slowly. They live around 8 to10 years and can grow as large as 10 pounds. However, the vast majority of fish caught are between 1 pound and 4 pounds. They range from new England south along the Atlantic coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. Black sea bass prefer cool water and make a seasonal migration. Anglers will find them offshore and in the southern states in the cooler months and in the coastal waters of the North Atlantic in the summer time.
Black sea bass are opportunistic feeders. They have quite the varied diet and will eat just about any type of bait fish, crustacean, and other marine animals such as worms. They are quite aggressive as well. These trades combine to make them fairly easy for anglers to catch, once a school is located. Bottom fishing with live or cut bait or bouncing spoons are jigs off the bottom will be productive.
Black sea bass fishing tackle
Capt Jim has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles and reports can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.
Anglers fishing for black sea bass do not need any special tackle or equipment. In fact, most saltwater anglers already own outfits that are more than adequate for the job. Black sea bass relate to structure and are caught by anglers using basic bottom fishing tackle and techniques. The tackle required will basically depend on the size of the fish that are available as well as the water depth and current that the angler is fishing in.
A medium spinning outfit is fine for chasing sea bass inshore and in relatively shallow water. In fact, it is preferred in many applications were anglers want to anchor a distance away from a piece of structure and cast to it. Spinning tackle is the best choice in this situation. A 7 foot medium action rod with a 3000 series reel spooled up with 20 pound braided line is an excellent all round combination.
Light or medium light conventional or bait casting tackle is an excellent choice when fishing and slightly deeper water, around heavy structure, and strong currents, and for larger black sea bass. Conventional outfits provide more power than a spinning reel. This makes them a better choice when heavier sinkers are required as well as when fishing around heavy structure or for larger fish.
Black sea bass fishing rigs
Anglers will do well to keep it simple when it comes to rigs for black sea bass fishing. A couple of rigs will get the job done in the vast majority of applications. In fact, the basic chicken rig, also known as a spreader rig or high low rig, is really the only rig that most anglers pursuing sea bass will need. Again, these are not complicated fish that are aggressive and school near the bottom.
Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.
While the chicken rig will suffice in many sea bass fishing situations, the second rig an angler can add to the arsenal is the sliding sinker rig or Carolina rig. Anglers can go to this when black sea bass are especially finicky. This rig allows the fish to pick up the bait and move off with it without feeling the weight of the sinker.
Anglers have a couple different choices when it comes to hooks for black sea bass fishing. Many anglers have switched over to circle hooks as they age greatly and releasing a fish with less damage. Most fish hooked with a circle hook will be done so in the mouth as opposed to the hook being swallowed. In fact, circle hooks are now required for Florida and much of the Gulf of Mexico.
Standard “J” hooks are still quite popular with many anglers. This is especially true for those who like to set the hook, which does not work well when using circle hooks. It is important for anglers to match the size of the hook to the bait being used in the size of the fish being pursued. In most instances, a #1/0 standard hook or #3/0 circle hook is a good all-around hook and less the fish are running especially large.
Bottom fishing tips
While bottom fishing is pretty straightforward, there are a few tips that will help anglers be more successful when bottom fishing for sea bass as well as other species.
Anglers should use the minimum amount of weight required to reach and hold the bottom. It is fine if the bait bounces and moves a little bit. This can actually increase the effectiveness of the presentation. The weight needed to accomplish this will change constantly with tidal flow as well as depth. This is one reason the chicken rig is so popular, it allows for easy sinker changes.
Many anglers set the hook when bottom fishing. While this works with “J” hooks, it will not with circle hooks. In fact, Capt Jim advises his clients, no matter which style hook is used, to simply come tight and reel while slowly lifting the rod tip. Also, it is best to wait out the little nibbles. Eventually, the fish will take it and the angler will feel a steady pull. This is the time to reel quickly and come tight on the fish.
Top black sea bass fishing baits
The list of baits that will fool black sea bass is quite long. In fact, the list of baits they will not eat is much shorter than the list of baits that they will eat. Squid is a universal cut bait that is available at every saltwater bait and tackle shop. Sea bass will readily devour a nice strip or chunk of squid.
Other available cut baits or frozen baits will depend on the geographical area. In the Gulf of Mexico as well as the southern Atlantic coast, shrimp work very well for sea bass and just about every other saltwater species. They can be used both live and a fresh dead or frozen. They do not stay on the hook as well as some cut baits, but are extremely effective.
Various clams and the crabs also make excellent black sea bass fishing baits, depending on the region. These are available both at bait shops as well as being caught or a tainted by the angler. Anglers can also catch a fresh fish and then cut it up for bait as well. The baits can be cut into long strips or chunks. Fresh cut fish works very well when currents are strong or when crabs become a nuisance. Anglers must check local regulations to make sure they are in compliance.
Fishing with artificial lures for black sea bass
The aggressive nature of black sea bass makes them a natural for anglers who prefer to use artificial lures. Since these fish are almost always found on or near the bottom, lures that are presented in this part of the strike zone are most effective. The two most popular lures for sea bass fishing are jigs and jigging spoons. Both of these lures are made to fish right on the bottom where sea bass feed.
Jigs can be used in a vertical presentation when fishing for sea bass over structure in deeper water. Often times, a strip of squid or cut bait is added to sweeten the lure. A white buck tail jig is tough to be in this application. Black sea bass can often be found on flats and water between 5 feet deep and 10 feet deep. Anglers drifting with the wind and current will do well casting jigs out in front of the boat. A 1/4 ounce to 1/2 ounce lead head jig with a 3 inch soft plastic grub body is an excellent combination.
Heavy jigging spoons are excellent artificial lures to use for black sea bass when they are schooled up over structure in fairly deep water. These spoons are compact yet dense and heavy allowing them to sink quickly through the water column. Once at the bottom, the angler jerks the rod tip sharply and allows the spoon to fall on a semi-tight line. This is a highly productive technique for sea bass and many other wreck and reef species.
Top black sea bass fishing spots
Black sea bass will almost always be found relating to some type of structure. The structure will vary depending on the geographical location that an angler is fishing. Many black sea bass are an unintentional, but most welcome, catch of anglers fishing for other species such as grouper, snapper, flounder, and tautog. Basically, the same types of bottom structure that produce for these and other species will hold sea bass as well.
Fishing for black sea bass offshore
In the offshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean, natural ledges, artificial reefs, and wrecks are the top sea bass fishing spots. Many of the spots are published in the numbers are available at bait and tackle shops as well as online directories. However, the best spots are often smaller “private” spots that get much less fishing pressure.
Anglers fishing these offshore spots can either anchor or drift. Generally speaking, anchoring works best on a smaller piece of structure while drifting is more productive in a larger area such as a patch of hard bottom or coral. Either way, anglers can bottom fish with bait on a two hook chicken rig or bounce a lure off of the structure.
Modern GPS trolling motors have revolutionized the bottom fishing and allow anglers with larger bait boats pin point boat positioning. This is a huge advantage that allows anglers to thoroughly cover a piece of structure while keeping the bait in the strike zone the entire time.
Fishing for black sea bass inshore
Anglers fishing for black sea bass inshore will often times be fishing man-made structure. Bridges are sea bass magnets! The same bridges that fluke and flounder anglers love will produce sea bass as well. Docks and piers are also structures that will hold fish. Finally, rocks, rip-rap, jetties, and areas of rocky bottom are prime spots to try.
The best approach in the shallower inshore waters is usually to anchor a cast away up current of the structure to be fished. Feeding fish almost always face into the current so it is best for anglers to present baits back to the fish in this manner. This is one situation where the sliding sinker rig works well.
Black sea bass will also be found on the open flats, particularly in areas of submerged vegetation and oyster or shall bottom. Sea bass feed heavily on crustaceans of all types, in these areas will certainly hold them. On larger areas, the best approach is to drift the area while casting a jig or bouncing a bait along the bottom. If a very productive area is located, anglers can re-drift that area or anchor up and thoroughly fish it.
In conclusion, this article on black sea bass fishing will help anglers catch more of these tasty and hard fighting saltwater pan fish!
This article will cover Florida saltwater fishing in fall. While the changes can be subtle, fall does arrive in the sunshine state. Successful anglers will understand how these changes trigger fish migrations and habits.
Fishing can be fantastic in Florida in the fall season. The days begin to shorten, which means less sunlight. The angle of the sun changes as well. These two factors combine to result in a drop in water temperature, which triggers migrations of both bait fish and game fish.
Fall is an excellent time to go fishing through most of North America, in Florida is no exception. Again, the changes are subtle, but they are there. Each of the fishing situations will be covered in detail in the manners in which fish migrations and habits change this time of year.
Fall flats fishing in Florida
Game fish on the flats certainly respond positively in the fall. Flats that can have water temperature as high as the low 90s will now be much more comfortable, from the upper 60s to mid 70s. Bait fish and other forage such as crustaceans will be more plentiful. Game fish will be feeding heavily in preparation of winter coming.
Snook, perhaps the premier inshore game fish in Florida, will move from their summer haunts and scatter out onto the flats and backwater areas. Snook spend most of the summer in the deeper passes and inlets as well is out on the beaches. As fall arrives, they move inshore to the bays to feed.
Snook are ambush predators. They will set up and feeding stations were current will bring them there prey. These include boat docks, oyster bars, points, bridges, and depth changes on the flats. These are all likely spots to find a feeding fish. Anglers casting artificial lures cover a lot of water while anglers fishing with live bait concentrate their efforts in a smaller spot.
Redfish will be scattered out on the shallow grass flats. The larger schools of late summer have for the most part broken up, though and early fall anglers will still encounter schools of redfish, some of them quite large. A low incoming tide is preferred when chasing redfish on the shallow grass flats. Title creeks will hold more fish as water temperature drops. Oyster bars are always an excellent spots to look for redfish, and fall is no exception.
Fishing the deep flats in Florida in fall
Speckled trout respond well to the cooling water temperatures. In the heat of summer, trout will seek out the deeper hole As the water cools, they will move out of these areas and scatter out on the flats. Trout are often found in deeper than snook and redfish, preferring flats between 4 feet deep and 8 feet deep over submerged grass.
The same flats will hold a wide variety of other game fish species. These include Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, flounder, snapper, cobia, sharks, jacks, ladyfish, and more. Anglers fishing the inshore waters and searching for action and variety will find that drifting the grass flats and casting artificial lures or live baits to be a very productive technique.
Inlets and passes are also excellent spots when Florida saltwater fishing in fall. Structure in these areas such as docks, piers, jetties, riprap, and ledges will hold bottom fish such as sheepshead, drum, mangrove snapper, grouper, and flounder. Live or cut bait fished on the bottom is generally the most productive technique. Slack tides are often the best time to employ this technique, especially on the East Coast were tides are very strong, making anchoring and fishing difficult.
Fishing can be fantastic off of Florida beaches in the fall
Perhaps the best and most exciting fall saltwater fishing in Florida occurs just off of area beaches, on both coasts. Cooling water temperatures bring in hordes of baitfish. On the West Coast of Florida, these include cigar minnows, scaled sardines, blue runners, and threadfin herring. This in turn brings in king in Spanish mackerel, false albacore, cobia, and sharks.
On the East Coast, the mullet run is famous. Schools of finger mullet will migrate down the coast. These look like black balls and the water. Just about every Florida game fish species is right on their heels, including tarpon, Jack revile, king in Spanish mackerel, bluefish, snook, sharks, cobia, and more. The stray sailfish may even venture and quite close to shore when this occurs.
Anglers chasing fish “out on the beach” as it is called, are hoping to find breaking fish. These are game fish species that are feeding voraciously on the surface. Basically, they trap the forage against the surface of the water, where they cannot escape. The bait gets caught between the fish feeding below and the birds feeding above. On a calm day, this is very easy to see from a long way off. Once fish are spotted, anglers can cast lures or baits into them in a strike is practically guaranteed.
On days when the fish are not seen feeding on the surface, anglers can search for the schools of bait, and then fish around the edges. A free lined live bait is tough to beat in this situation. When the bait is not readily seen, this occurs often when it is rough, trolling with plugs and spoons can be an excellent way to locate fish.
Fishing for Spanish mackerel and false albacore
This section of the blog post will provide Spanish mackerel and false albacore fishing tips. They exemplify fall fishing in Florida. Spanish mackerel are a terrific and in my opinion underrated game fish. They are widely distributed along the East Coast of the United States as well as the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. They are very fast fish, feed aggressively, and are excellent table fare when eaten fresh. False albacore are my favorite fish to target on fly. They fight incredibly hard for their size. Both are similar in habits, but with enough differences to be covered separately.
Spanish mackerel and false albacore are both pelagic species. This means that they spend most of their time in the middle of the water column. They do not relate to bottom structure, other than the fact that that same structure attracts bait. Spanish mackerel and false albacore also make a seasonal migration up the coast in the spring, then back down in the fall. They spend their winters in the tropical moderate climates. Both species feed primarily on bait fish. They are taken by anglers using live bait and artificial lures such as spoons, jigs, and plugs.
Capt Jim has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles and reports can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.
Here in Sarasota, Florida where I run fishing charters, our prime times for Spanish mackerel and false albacore are spring and fall. However, if we experience a very moderate winter or a cooler than average summer they can be caught all year long. Spanish mackerel are a fish that pleases every angler, whether they fish from shore, in the bays, or out in the inshore Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. False albacore can be a bit more difficult, but are well worth the effort!
Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.
Fishing for Spanish mackerel
Where are Spanish mackerel found?
Areas that have distinct inshore waters offer anglers the advantage of catching mackerel both inshore and in the open Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean. The variety of both techniques and locations that will produce Spanish mackerel are factors in their popularity.
Spanish mackerel can be taken using a variety of baits and techniques. I personally enjoy catching them using artificial lures and fly fishing. Mackerel hit so hard and make such long runs that it is really quite exciting to catch them while casting artificial lures on light tackle.
The most productive artificial lures are spoons, jigs, and plugs. Live shrimp and bait fish catch plenty of fish as well. Anglers can fish from the surf, jetty, or pier. They can also fish bays, passes, in the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean from a boat.
Spanish mackerel fishing with artificial lures
The lead head jig plastic grub combination produces a lot of fish in Florida and beyond. These lures are very versatile, cast well, are cost-effective, most importantly catch a lot of fish! They are really quite simple, consisting of a hook with the weight near the eye. This is called the jig or jig head. These can come dressed with hair of some sort either natural or synthetic. Or, anglers can slide some type of plastic body onto the hook.
Spanish mackerel most often respond to a fast retrieve. Therefore, jigs with a shad tail body work best when targeting them. The shad tail grub has a terrific motion when retrieved through the water either slowly or more quickly. Anglers cast the lure out, allow it to sink, then retrieve it back in at a fairly brisk pace with sharp hops.
Silver spoons are another very effective lure when targeting Spanish mackerel. Their main advantage is that they cast a long way. A 1/2 ounce silver spoon is a very good all-around size when targeting Spanish mackerel. The lure can be cast out and retrieved back steadily or by using an erratic motion. It is important to use either a snap swivel at the lure or a swivel between the leader and the running line to prevent line twist.
Plugs are another very effective lure for catching Spanish mackerel. However, they do have a couple disadvantages. They are bit more costly, which can be an issue when the toothy Spanish mackerel start cutting lures off with their teeth. Also, dealing with trouble hooks and a thrashing Spanish mackerel can be dangerous. Careful anglers will find them worth the trouble, especially when trolling.
Spanish mackerel prefer clear water. They mostly feed by sight. Anglers should therefore target Spanish mackerel in clear water using light colored lures. Lighter colors tend to be more effective in light clear water. White, silver, and olive have all been productive patterns for clients on my fishing charters.
Spanish mackerel fishing using live bait
Live bait certainly accounts for many Spanish mackerel landed by anglers. Live shrimp are the most effective and widely used live bait for anglers targeting Spanish mackerel in the United States. Just about every bait shop along the Gulf Coast and eastern seaboard up to the mid Atlantic carry live shrimp.
Shrimp are very easy to use. Anglers simply hook the shrimp under the horn just above the brain and cast it out into the water. Anglers fishing from the surf or jetties as well as piers may need to add a sinker for casting weight. A hook with a long shank will help reduce cutoffs from mackerel. A #1/0 is a good all-around hook size.
Whenever possible, the best approach is just allow the shrimp to be hooked on with little or no weight. This is called free lining and it works very well. Sometimes a small split shot will be required. This is the best approach when fishing with live shrimp from a drifting boat or when anchored over and artificial reefs.
Using live bait fish to catch Spanish mackerel
Live bait fish are extremely effective for anglers targeting Spanish mackerel. However, catching in using them is a bit more involved. Most anglers using live bait fish will catch them themselves. A cast net, the ability to throw it, in a large bait well with a good recirculating pump are required.
Chumming with live bait fish is one of the most productive fishing methods and saltwater. Anglers will need quite a bit of live bait for this. Once the well is loaded up with frisky live baits, the boat is anchored in a likely position. This can be over in open grass flat, along an edge or drop off, near a bridge or other structure, or over a piece of hard bottom or artificial reef.
Once positioned, the technique is very simple. A handful of live baits is tossed out behind the boat. Anglers may choose to squeeze the baits, crippling them. The action of these baits swimming around helpless on the top of the water will draw game fish to the back of the boat in short order. It is then just a matter of tossing out a hooked bait fish into the fray.
Tackle and rigging used when fishing for Spanish mackerel
The tackle and rigging used for both live bait fishing and casting artificial lures is the same. A 6 1/2 to 7 foot medium action rod with a 3000 series spinning reel is a great all around the combination. I actually prefer monofilament line when targeting Spanish mackerel. I feel that the stretch can actually be beneficial. The speedy mackerel are less apt to pull a hook with monofilament line.
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Anglers will need a leader of some sort when targeting Spanish mackerel. While some choose to use a wire leader, I stick with a heavier fluorocarbon leader. I feel that the risk of getting cut off versus the extra number of bites is worth using the fluorocarbon leader.
Anglers can attach the leader to the running line by using a small number 10 black swivel. It is important to not use a shiny swivel as this will attract mackerel, resulting in them severing the line at the swivel. The leader may be attached to the running line using a leader to leader not such as the Double Uni-knot. Finally, the hook her lure is attached to the terminal end of the leader.
Fly fisherman will do well targeting Spanish mackerel by using a7wt outfit with an intermediate sink tip line. A 9 foot tapered leader with a 24 inch piece of 30 pound bite tippet completes the rig. Just about any white bait fish pattern will produce, with the Clouser Minnow and D.T. Special being the most popular choices.
Fishing techniques for Spanish mackerel
As mentioned above, there are multiple techniques which will produce Spanish mackerel. Casting, drifting, trolling, and fly fishing will all put Spanish mackerel in the boat. As with all fishing, current conditions will dictate the best place to fish in the technique to employ.
Drifting open water while either casting artificial lures or flies or free lining a live bait out behind the boat is simple and very effective. On the West Coast of Florida and along the entire Gulf Coast this method works well both on the deeper grass flats and 4 foot to 10 feet of water as well as the open Gulf of Mexico. Anglers will do well to keep their eyes peeled for signs of fish such as birds working and fish feeding on the surface.
Drifting can work very well in the passes and inlets also. Anglers simply set up a drift allowing the boat to cover a productive area. Both lures and live bait work well. Anglers on the East Coast will have to choose times when the title flow is moderate. It is just too difficult to fish this way when the tide is very swift.
Beach, Pier, and Jetty fishing for Spanish mackerel
Anglers without a boat most certainly catch their share of Spanish mackerel. Piers, jetties, and beaches can all be productive areas, especially in the spring and fall. The keys to fishing these areas are clear water and the abundance of bait fish. Anglers and countering these conditions when the water temperature is in the low to mid 70s have an excellent chance of successfully targeting Spanish mackerel.
The same methods that work while fishing from a boat are productive foreshore bound anglers. Lures can be cast out and retrieved while live bait can be allowed to naturally attract mackerel. It is important to try to make the presentation as natural as possible and use as little weight as is required. As with boat fishing, keeping a sharp eye out for signs of activity will lead to a productive outing.
Trolling for Spanish mackerel is very productive
Trolling is an incredibly productive technique for Spanish mackerel. It is also quite simple. Anglers tie on a lure such as a spoon or plug, and let it out behind the boat a good distance. Then, the boat is simply driven around a bit above idle speed. When a Spanish mackerel takes the lore, there is little doubt. This is a very easy and relaxing way to fish and is productive both inshore, in the passes and out in the inshore Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean.
Spoons and plugs are the two best lures to employee when trolling. The jig will tend to roll and spin at those higher speeds while the plug and spoon will track naturally with a great wobbling action. Once a productive area is located, anglers can troll back and forth through that area maximizing the action. Spanish mackerel are terrific eating, but do not freeze well. Limits are liberal, but please just keep a couple for dinner. Here are the current Florida Spanish mackerel fishing regulations.
False albacore fishing tips and techniques
This article will share some great false albacore fishing tips. False albacore are found along the entire coast line from Texas to New England. They are a terrific sport fish and not considered good eating by most anglers.
False albacore are a pelagic species. That means they spend most of their time in the middle to upper part of the water column. Unlike most fish species, false albacore habits are basically the same everywhere they are found. To put it simply, they swim around the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico terrorizing helpless forage. While that might sound simple, there are nuances to catching these fish.
False albacore are almost always found in schools. These schools can be located very close to the beach or many miles offshore. In most instances, anglers prefer to target them by sight fishing. Anglers scan the horizon searching for signs of feeding fish. Bird activity is always a great indicator. False albacore are also called “little tunny”. They are very similar in habits to other members of the tuna family.
False albacore fishing tackle
Just as in every other fishing situation, proper tackle is required. Spinning tackle is best when sight fishing for false albacore. These fish feed on small bait fish at times, particularly glass minnows. Therefore, small lures are often required to fool the fish. Light tackle is required to cast these small lures to the fish.
A 7 foot medium action spinning rod with a 3000 series reel is a good all-around outfit. Anglers can spools the real with 20 pound braided line or 10 pound monofilament line. Rated line will allow anglers to cast a bit further. I still prefer monofilament line for this type of fishing. I feel that the stretch and the line is actually a benefit when targeting these fast, hard fighting fish.
A shock leader is required for most saltwater fishing, and this is true for our ladies false albacore fishing as well. Under normal conditions, when the water is clear, 20 pound test fluorocarbon leaders are a good choice. False albacore don’t generally bite through the leader.
However, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and other toothy predators are often mixed in with the false albacore. This may require bumping up the leader to something a bit stronger. False albacore can be fussy, though. Anglers will have to weigh the pros and cons of getting cut off more often versus getting more bites.
Top false albacore fishing lures
My favorite lure when targeting false albacore is the #8 Rapala X-Rap slash bait in white and olive. These lures very closely imitate the small bait fish that the fish feed on. It has a great tight wiggling action that the fish love. They also will fool other species such as striped bass, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and more. They are very productive when trolled as well.
Jigs and spoons are also very effective lures for our ladies false albacore fishing. These lures work particularly well when the fish surface quickly and then dive back down into the water column. Jigs and spoons both sink rapidly, getting down to where the fish are. A 1/2 ounce silver spoon and one quarter ounce jig head with a 3 inch to 4 inch Shad tail body and silver, Pearl, or gold are both great baits.
False albacore fishing techniques
While having the proper tackle is important, the number one requirement when sight fishing for false albacore is patience. False albacore are very fast and often times move around a lot. There are days when the fish will come up in a huge bunch and stay on top. This is the optimum situation as it gives anglers plenty of time to get on the fish. However, this is the exception more than the rule.
Most days the fish will only surface for short period of time, sometimes only a few seconds. It is easy to get excited and run all over the place chasing fish. However, this rarely works and will often times only succeed in spooking the false albacore. The best approach is to try to determine the speed and direction that they are moving and get in front of them. Weekend fishing pressure can be high. Anglers need to be patient and courteous of others when the bite is on.
False albacore fishing tips; patience is a virtue
Chasing false albacore on the surface is a bit like hunting. There definitely is stalking involved in strategy that must be employed. And, like hunting, one good shot is better than 10 poor ones. There will be days when it just doesn’t happen. That is part of the challenge and also part of the fun. But, on most days, patient anglers will achieve success.
One issue that I run into as a guide when false albacore fishing is that things happen very fast. Anglers need to be quick; cast need to be fired out quickly and accurately. False albacore change directions constantly. Successful anglers will cast out ahead of the fish and begin their retrieve immediately. As with all fishing, vary the retrieve and the lures until a productive pattern emerges. In most instances, the fish like a very fast and erratic presentation.
Fly fishing for false albacore
This is a situation that is tailor-made for fly anglers! False albacore are tremendous sport and a hooked fish will dump the real, putting a fly angler into the backing in short order. The technique is basically the same as when spin fishing, the boat is placed 40 feet or so upwind of feeding fish. A nine weight outfit with a floating or intermediate sink tip line, 9 foot leader, and small white minnow imitation will get the job done.
False albacore can certainly be caught on days when they are not showing on the surface. Ideally, I enjoy casting to breaking fish. However, I enjoy catching fish more and will do what needs to be done to get a hook up. While false albacore don’t necessarily relate to structure, bait fish will. This results in false albacore being caught over artificial reefs, wrecks, and natural ledges.
When targeting false albacore in these situations, I like to have some type of chum. Live bait fish such as pilchards can be used to chum the fish up and this is a deadly technique. In cooler weather when live bait is not available, frozen sardines, glass minnows, and commercially prepared chum will bring the fish up behind the boat. Free lining a chunk of bait with no weight so that it appears to be naturally sinking is usually the best approach.
Trolling for false albacore
Anglers targeting false albacore also catch fish trolling. The same general trolling techniques that produce king mackerel and Spanish mackerel will also catch false albacore. Light conventional tackle is best for this application. Anglers usually choose to troll a combination of planers and diving plugs.
My personal trolling spread would go as follows. An outfit with a number one planer, 20 feet of 30 pound fluorocarbon leader and a small spoon would go out first. I counted back 20 seconds. Next, and outfit with a number two planer, 20 feet of 50 pound fluorocarbon leader and a medium-size trolling spoon would be deployed. I count that line back out 15 seconds.
A pair of diving plugs finishes out the spread, one very far back in one right in the prop wash. These lures are used with a 6 foot long 50 pound fluorocarbon leader. The plug on the long line should be back further than the number one planer. This bread will allow anglers to cover the water column thoroughly while still making turns. It will also catch king mackerel, tuna, stripers, bluefish, mackerel, and other species.
When all else fails, find a shrimp boat! I fished out of Harkers Island, North Carolina one fall. The locals call this “Gumping”, in reference to Forrest Gump, the movie. As shrimpers clean out their nets, they dump the by catch over the side. This results in a chum slick that attracts false albacore, sharks, tuna, and other species. In fact, many anglers targeting blackfin and yellowfin tuna actually get annoyed by the “pesky”false albacore.
Very few anglers that I know keep false albacore to eat. Most are released to please other anglers. The procedure for releasing these fish is a bit different than other species. Time spent out of the water should be reduced to an absolute minimum. When releasing the fish, it should be shoved briskly headfirst into the water. This will get the water moving through it’s gills and hopefully it swims away.
In conclusion, I hope this article on Florida saltwater fishing in fall will get you excited to get out there and catch a bunch of fish!
Essential Trout Fishing Equipment – A Complete Guide
This post will cover the essential trout fishing equipment. Like all hobbies, trout fishing requires some specialized gear and equipment. All of the items will be covered in detail.For the most part, equipment and tackle the main three trout species, brook trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout will be discussed.
The list of essential trout fishing equipment is:
Fishing rod and reel
Waders and staffs
Fly boxes and tackle boxes
Flies and lures
Forceps, pliers, and nippers
Hats and sunglasses
For the purposes of this article on trout fishing equipment, we will confine the discussion to wading and fishing from small boats. Most of the trout caught fishing this way are not huge, a few pounds or so. Most really large trout are caught by anglers trolling in large bodies of water. That is a bit of a specialized technique, best covered in a separate article.
Fishing rod and reel for trout
The fishing rod and reel are obviously very important pieces of trout fishing equipment. The two most often used types are spinning outfits and fly fishing outfits. Anglers can also use light baitcasting or spincasting rods and reels, but these are much less used to casting in streams and lakes.
While there is no one outfit that will cover every trout fishing situation, anglers can narrow it down depending on their situations. Most trout caught are a few pounds or less. Therefore, a 6′ light action spinning rod with a 1000 series reel spooled up with 4 pound test line will cover most trout fishing situations.
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A trout fishing rod and reel like this is very versatile. It is fine for casting light lures and baits in streams, ponds, and makes. It will let smaller fish put up a nice battle while still handling a decent fish. Anglers can also troll light lures with this, though bumping up to 6 or 8 pound test line might be in order. Obviously, in situations where large trout are present, the tackle should be a bit heavier.
Fly rod and reel
Many anglers associate fly fishing and trout. This type of fishing was basically created for fishing for trout. Fly rods and reels are definitely important parts of trout fishing equipment.
Fly rods, reels, and lines are designated by “weight”, expressed such as “4 wt”. This makes it very easy to match the components, which is very important. A 4 wt outfit is great for fishing creeks and small streams. A 5 wt combination is better for larger streams and rivers as well as fishing in lakes. In most cases, a floating line is the best option.
Buying a fly rod and reel can be overwhelming, but it need not be. Many manufacturers offer kits that have everything needed at a modest price. Trout fishing really does not require long casts, it is more about technique and presentation.
Waders and wading staffs
Waders are extremely important pieces of trout fishing equipment. Anglers who fish for trout will often find themselves in the water. Waders should be insulated, as the water that trout prefer is usually cold. There are a couple of different options for anglers to choose from. Waders can be purchased as one unit with the boot attached or separately, with the waders going on and then the boots going over the stocking foot waders.
Wading staffs are excellent pieces of trout fishing equipment that will certainly add to the safety of the sport. At one point or another, every angler wading slips and falls on the slick rocks. A wading staff adds a third point of contact, making wading much safer. Most staffs have a lanyard of some type so that it stays out of the way while fishing.
Fly fishing vests are optional pieces of trout fishing equipment. This is mostly due to the fact that modern waders have clever little spaces to stow and keep tackle and other gear handy. However, vests are still quite handy. Anglers most often use them over waders. They are also an excellent option when “wet wading” without waders.
A landing net is a crucial piece of trout fishing equipment. Trout are active and slippery and are often hooked on tiny hooks. A landing net will help ensure the catch while also making it easier to release the fish. Modern nets have rubber coatings that do not remove the important slime off of the trout. Most also resist being snagged. They come with a lanyard and are often placed over the angler’s shoulder.
No matter what type of fishing an angler engages in, he or she will need some type of tackle management system. Fly anglers have fly boxes to keep their flies organized as well as places to keep leaders. The same goes for anglers spin fishing, they will need to store lures and other terminal tackle.
The type of tackle store required will depend on the type of fishing an angler prefers. Those who wade are are constantly on the move will want to pare down the gear and keep things simple. Anglers fishing from a boat or the shore of a lake can obviously make different choices. Small soft tackle boxes work well in this application.
Flies and lures
The list of flies used by anglers fishing for trout is extensive and will certainly not be tackled here. Suffice it to say that anglers will need a decent selection of fies to cover the current conditions. Local fly shops are the best source of both information and product in this regard.
Anglers spin fishing for trout have it a bit easier. There are a handful of lures that will catch trout almost anywhere. A basic lure selection includes a 1/16 ounce Rooster tail spinners, small Kastmaster spoons, size 04 Rapala Floating Minnow plugs, and small jigs.
Pliers, forceps, and nippers to cut line are other pieces of trout fishing equipment that anglers will need. Fortunately, these are not expensive nor do they take up much room. Forceps are best for fly anglers to release trout. Anglers can clamp them in a handy spot. Spin fishers will usually fare better with small pliers. Simple nail clippers work great for trimming knots and cutting line.
Hats and sunglasses may seem like an afterthought, but they are very important when fishing for trout and most other species. It is important to be able to see ledges and other underwater factors that may hold fish, as well as actually spotting fish themselves. Hats will help keep the sun and glare off of an angler’s face, and even neck, depending on the hat. Sunglasses will help anglers see as well as protecting the eye from an errant fly or hook.
Creels are an older piece of trout fishing equipment that are not used as often as they used to be. They are designed for anglers walking streams to keep a fish or two cool and fresh. Many anglers practice catch and release these days. Also, coolers and ice have replaced creels and even stringers for those who want to keep a few fish to eat.
The topic of this article will be surf fishing in Florida. There are 1350 miles of Florida coastline, and much of it is accessible to anglers. This offers both visiting and residential anglers the opportunity to enjoy some great fishing without the hassles of a boat.
Surf fishing in Florida is the act of casting lures or natural baits from the beach out into the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico. The vast majority of the Florida coastline consists of barrier islands and beaches. This results in anglers having access to great fishing for a wide variety of species.
While surf fishing in Florida is relatively uncomplicated, there are still many factors and techniques that will affect how successful an angler will be. In this article, tackle, rigs, techniques, conditions, and species will be covered.
Florida surf fishing tackle
Anglers surf fishing in Florida can use the same inshore equipment used for other species, if the conditions allow. Unlike surf fishing in the northeast, the surf is often quite mild. This allows anglers to cast lures and baits with fairly light tackle. A 7′ medium action spinning rod with a 3000 series reel spooled up with 10 lb monofilament or 20 pound braided line is an excellent combo.
Serious anglers surf fishing in Florida will need a dedicated surf fishing rig. Fortunately, a quality outfit can be purchased at a very modest cost. These longer rods are designed to make long casts as well as keeping the line up over the crashing waves. A 10′ to 12′ rod is a good place to start for novice surf anglers, while some prefer longer rods, up to 15”. Most use braided line to make longer casts.
These two rod and reel combinations will cover all of the fishing situations an angler surf fishing in Florida will encounter, short of big sharks or large tarpon. Many anglers use the strategy of using the big surf rod to cast bait out a long way then using the lighter spinning outfit to cast lures in closer to the beach while waiting for a bite on the other rod.
Other surf fishing gear
There are a few other specialty pieces of equipment that surf fishing anglers will need. Sand spikes are essential! These are PCV tubes that are pointed at one end that are shoved into the sand. They allow anglers a place to keep their rods and reels up off the sand. One of the challenges of surf fishing is dealing with sand getting into the equipment.
Some surf fishing anglers also opt to use a cart. These clever little devices can be personally tailored to the equipment an angler uses and the type of fishing that he or she does. They can be extremely convenient especially if the gear has to be hauled a little distance from the vehicle.
Surf fishing rigs
While some anglers surf fishing in Florida get quite fancy with their rigs, there really are just a couple of rigs that are needed to be successful. The basic bottom rigs that have been around a long time still work fine today. Anglers casting lures and live baits using light weights can use the same inshore rigging consisting of a 2′ piece of 30 lb shock leader attached to the running line using a swivel or line to line knot.
One of the easiest and most effective rigs used by anglers surf fishing in Florida is the spreader rig. It is also known as a high/low rig or chicken rig. This rig allows anglers to present multiple baits (usually two) and multiple depths. The bottom hook is right on the bottom and the second hook suspends just a bit above.
Anglers have several options when using this rig. Hooks can be tied right on the running line or leader, then a sinker is attached. Commercially made rigs are available at every shop that caters to anglers surf fishing as well. Hook size will vary depending on the species being targeted. #2 or #4 hooks are good for most smaller species such as whiting and pompano. A pyramid sinker is used as the anglers want the rig anchored, not drifting with the current.
Fish finder rig
The fish finder rig is a staple among anglers surf fishing in Florida. It is a variation of the Carolina rig used by anglers freshwater fishing. The running line passes through a clever device, then a swivel is tied on. The swivel stop the sinker from sliding. A clip on the device allows for a quick sinker change as conditions change. Pyramid sinkers are normally used, though bank sinkers can be used as well. Anglers can omit the fish finder device and simply use a sliding egg sinker as well.
A leader is attached to the other end of the swivel. Leader lengths vary, but 2′ to 4′ lengths are most often used. A hook it then tied on. This hook should match the bait being used and fish being pursued. Often times, a larger cut bait is used with this rig to target larger fish. Some anglers prefer a circle hook to increase hook ups and help prevent fish mortality. A small float can be used near the hook to raise the bait up off the bottom a bit of desired. This is usually done if sharks and rays or skates become a nuisance.
Florida surf fishing techniques
Anglers surf fishing in Florida can you several different techniques in order to be successful. The most commonly used and most productive technique is to bottom fish with bait, either live, fresh dead, frozen, or commercially available. Anglers can also cast lures such as jigs, spoons, and plugs in search of feeding fish. Fly fishing can also be quite productive when conditions are optimum.
As previously mentioned, bottom fishing is the most widely used and productive technique used by anglers surf fishing in Florida. It is fairly simple and uncomplicated, however there are nuances and adjustments in technique that will result in a better catch. Anglers who experiment with different rigs, baits, and locations will usually experience a higher rate of success. However, there is nothing wrong with taking a an easy and relaxing approach and enjoying a day out on the beach.
Many anglers who bottom fish when surf fishing will use multiple rods with different rigs and baits in order to find what the fish want that day. The heavy rod is most often set up with a fish finder rig and a larger chunk or strip of cut bait. This rod is generally looking for the bigger fish such as a large red drum, bluefish, or shark.
Another rig can be set up with a spreader rig and slightly smaller hooks. This is the perfect rig for catching pompano, whiting, small bluefish, silver trout, sheepshead, and other species. This one-two approach works quite well. If anglers do not have any interesting catching a shark or other large fish, several rods can be rigged up with the spreader rig and fished at different distances from the beach as well.
Best bottom fishing baits in Florida
Angler surf fishing in Florida also have quite a variety of choices when it comes to bait. Perhaps the best all round bait used either live or frozen shrimp. They are widely available at every Florida bait shop and will catch every species that swims. The only real downside is that strength is not stay on the hook as well as some other bait.
Cut bait is very popular ineffective and stays on the hook quite well. Anglers can purchase bait fish either frozen or fresh at the local tackle shop along with squid. Most anglers use a light rig to catch their own bait fresh and then use it as cut bait. Generally speaking, the fresher the bait the better. Anglers do need to be aware of local regulations to make sure they are in compliance.
Live bait fish can certainly be used by anglers in Florida surf fishing as well. Serious anglers will use a cast net and catch their own live bait than keep them alive in an error rates it bucket. Herring, sardines, pin fish, grunts, and really any other little fish caught in the surf will work. Live bait fish will generally catch larger fish but are not as good on whiting and pompano. A fish finder rig works best to let the bait fish swim around naturally on the bottom.
Sand fleas are a very popular bait among angler surf fishing in Florida. Their true name is “mole crab” but everyone calls them sand fleas. They are a small crustacean about the size of a thumb nail. Anglers can catch these in the surf using a special device called a sand flea rake. Some bait shops sell them live and frozen. Serious anglers chasing pompano consider them the most effective bait for that species.
Commercially available baits have become popular of late. “Fish bites” in particular are very popular among angler surf fishing all over the East Coast of the United States. They are productive, stay on the hook well, and are convenient. There is no need to deal with messy bait or deal with the hassles of live bait.
Surf fishing with artificial lures
Anglers can certainly be successful casting artificial lures off of the Florida beaches as well. This is best done during periods of light surf for several reasons. It is difficult maintaining tension on the line in contact with the lure and a heavy surf. Also, a rough surf will result in churned up waters where it will be difficult for game fish to see the lure. However, when the surface calm in the water is clear, artificial lures can outproduce natural bait.
Most of the fish caught by anglers casting artificial lures will be done so fairly close to the beach, often times in the first trough. This first trench between the beach in the first sandbar is a natural feeding station for game fish as a variety of live bait fish and crustaceans will be found there.
Top artificial lures for surf fishing in Florida
The top lures used by anglers surf fishing include jigs, spoons, and plugs. The same basic artificial baits that produce for anglers fishing inshore for other species do find out on the beach as well. A white buck tail jig or a jig with a soft plastic body is very effective when conditions are calm. The best technique is to cast the jig out allowed to fall to the bottom and then retrieve it back in using short quick hops. Anglers can tip the jig with a small piece of shrimp to increase productivity.
Silver spoons are excellent surf fishing lures as well. There are an excellent choice when the surf is a bit rougher or on windy days, as they are heavier and cast quite well. It is also easier to stay in contact with a heavier lure on these days. In most situations, a fairly aggressive and erratic retrieve works best.
Plugs can be productive when fished off the beach as well. Top water plugs are an excellent choice early and late in the day or when fish are seen feeding on the surface. Shallow diving or subsurface plugs along with lipless crank baits are a good choice to cover a lot of water fairly quickly. In most cases, plugs and spoons will catch the more aggressive species such as bluefish, ladyfish, mackerel, jacks, and trout.
Fly fishing off of Florida beaches
Fly fishing off of the Florida beaches is great sport! This type of fishing does require for calm surface conditions as well as clear water in order to be successful. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, jacks, and other species can be caught by anglers casting a fly from the beach. Sight fishing for snook can be fantastic as well.
A 7 wt to 9 wt saltwater fly fishing outfit with an intermediate sink tip line is the best all round choice when fly fishing in the surf. An 8 foot to 9 foot tapered leader with a 30 pound bite tippet completes the rig. Fly choice is pretty simple, most anglers go for a weighted fly such as a Clouser Minnow or Crystal Minnow to get down in the water column a bit.
Surf conditions have a huge impact
The most challenging aspect that anglers surf fishing in Florida face is dealing with ever changing conditions. Often times, conditions will dictate the fishing, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. There will be times when anglers drive to the beach and realize that they just will not be able to fish or have success if they try.
The three main conditions that affect surf fishing are weeds, wind, and wave height and water visibility. Wave height and water visibility are tied together, as highways will result in startup in dirty water. Wind is tied into that as well. Weeds and grass are another element that angler surf fishing in Florida will have to deal with.
There will be times when the water close to the surf will become very thick with grass and other weeds. This can make fishing difficult, if not impossible. Anglers will constantly have to clean the weeds off their bait and line, and it can just be frustrating as well is unproductive. When this condition occurs, anglers will just have to try another spot or even move to the bay side to fish.
Waves and rough and dirty water are conditions every angler surf fishing in Florida will have to deal with at some time. This is particularly true on the East Coast where the wave action is generally higher. There are some adjustments anglers can make. Fishing with larger pieces of cut bait may often be the best choice. These baits will stay on the hook longer and fish can find them easier.
Longer rods which get the line up over the crashing waves may help as well along with getting the bait out further from the beach and into cleaner water. Sometimes fish will move in very close to the shore on a rough surf, particularly black drum. The surf will stir up crabs and other crustaceans which they like to feed on. Fishing with artificial lures and a rough surf is generally difficult and unproductive.
Florida surf fishing species
One of the aspects of surf fishing in Florida, and saltwater fishing in general, is that anglers never know what they will catch. Most spots offer the chance to catch a variety of species from hand sized fish to giant swing several hundred pounds. While just about every species that swims in Florida can be caught from the surf, several of the top species will be listed below.
Top Florida surf fishing species
Pompano are without a doubt one of the top, if not the top, species targeted by anglers fishing off of Florida beaches. While they certainly put up a respectable fight, the reason for their popularity as is much how they are prized on a dinner plate. Pompano are fantastic eating, perhaps the best that there is.
One look at a pompano’s mouth will let anglers know how it feeds. Pompano cruise along the bottom vacuuming up crabs and other crustaceans. Therefore, the best baits for them are live and fresh dead shrimp, sand fleas, and commercially available baits. Pompano do have a small mouth so a #4 or cell hook works quite well.
They can be found anywhere in the surf from right on the beach to as far out as an angler can cast. Anglers fishing for them on the East Coast of Florida will often have to make very long cast out over the breaking waves. Pompano are most plentiful in the cooler months. On the West Coast of Florida, they are often found quite close to shore and can be caught by anglers bouncing a jig off the bottom. They are seldom caught on live bait fish or cut bait.
Whiting are another very popular species that are caught in the surf. They are popular all up and down the East Coast, being known by the term surf mullet in the Outer Banks area and king fish off of Virginia and Maryland beaches. Whiting are similar to pompano when it comes to the shape of their mouth and therefore feeding habits. They have an inferior mouth, which means their nose protrudes past their mouth and they mostly feed on the bottom.
Whiting are mostly caught by anglers using shrimp for bait, though they will hit cut bait and shrimp-tipped jig’s as well. Smaller hooks work well, just as with pompano. Though not large, they put up a respectable tussle for a fish of their size and are excellent eating. Whiting do school up, and once located a bunch of fish can be caught in short order.
Flounder are another species that are prized by anglers surf fishing in Florida. They are bottom feeders as well and therefore the baits and techniques used to catch other species will produce flounder as well. Anglers specifically targeting them usually use a fish finder rig with a long slender strip of cut bait or squid. Live minnows can be very effective as well.
Flounder will certainly hit shrimp, sand fleas, and prepared baits as well. At times, especially on the West Coast of Florida, anglers will catch them bouncing a jig on the bottom. Flounder will often move and quite close to shore, especially when conditions are calm. Flounder are fantastic eating with a very mild white fillet. Anglers will often use a piece of the white underside as cut bait once the first flounder is caught.
Spanish mackerel are a beautiful and hard fighting game fish that are available to surf casters along the entire Florida coast line. They are usually present in the spring and the fall when the water temperatures are moderate. Spanish mackerel are usually found in large schools in the action can be chaotic when a feeding school moves along the beach.
While Spanish mackerel can certainly be taken on live or cut bait, they are most fun to catch when targeted using artificial lures or even flies. There are aggressive nature makes them a natural for being caught on lures. Anything that is erratic and flashy will fool them, Silver spoons are a great choice in most situations. Spanish mackerel are very good to eat when prepared fresh, they do not freeze well.
Sharks are the largest species targeted by anglers surf fishing in Florida. They are fairly plentiful and widespread there are multiple shark species that anglers can catch. The vast majority are caught on purpose by anglers fishing with cut bait on the bottom. Sharks are usually not fussy, just about any chunk of meat will draw a strike. Serious anglers seeking large sharks will have someone paddle out in a kayak with their bait using heavy conventional tackle. Note; large sharks can be dangerous and some beaches prohibit fishing for them.
Redfish, also known as red drum, are a commonly targeted and popular game fish that are caught off of the Florida beaches. These are one of the larger fish species that anglers will catch from shore. This is particularly true and Northeast Florida near Jacksonville, where large bull redfish are frequently encountered. However, fish of any size may be caught from the Florida beaches all along the coast to Pensacola.
Redfish are caught using a variety of techniques. On the East Coast of Florida, anglers use heavier tackle and larger chunk or live baits. This is due to boat the size of the fish and the conditions of the surf. On the West Coast of Florida and around to the Panhandle, anglers often catch them with artificial lures right in the first trough close to shore. Bottom fishing works as well. Redfish are very good to eat, however anglers need to stay up-to-date on the current Florida fishing regulations.
Snook are a prized species for anglers surf fishing in Florida. While a fish may take a live or cut bait meant for other species, most snook are caught by anglers purposely fishing for them. Snook will move out onto the beaches in late spring and summer as part of their spawning ritual. Anglers will walk the beach searching for fish which will be cruising right in the surf line close to shore. This is a great opportunity to sight fish for a large terrific game fish using fairly light tackle!
Often times the beaches closest to passes and inlets are the best spots to look for snook as most of the fish will have migrated out from the inshore bays and waters. They can be spooky in the shallow, clear water, so smaller lures and subtle presentations work best. A frisky live scaled sardine, pin fish, or finger mullet can be extremely productive. Snook are temperature sensitive and most of the fish will be found from the middle of the state south.
There are a couple of species of trout that anglers surf fishing in Florida may encounter. These are spotted sea trout, also known as speckled trout, and silver trout. They are similar in appearance though a bit different in habit. Silver trout, also knows as “sand trout” or “white trout” usually show up in the cooler months and are often found in larger schools. They are aggressive and will take shrimp, fish bites, jigs, and small pieces of cut bait. Once located, the action can be fast and furious. They are not as large as speckled trout, but put up a great fight and are very good to eat. They do not have the spots that speckled trout do.
Speckled trout are found off of the Florida beaches year-round. Most anglers fishing in Florida are familiar with this very popular and plentiful species. They do not like dirty water and walled not be found in the surf when it is stirred up. Speckled trout are more common on the beaches of the West Coast and Panhandle of Florida. Live shrimp and a jig with a soft plastic body are the top baits. Speckled trout are fantastic eating!
Sheepshead are a hard fighting and great eating member of the porgy family. They are a favorite among anglers fishing from shore throughout the state of Florida. Sheepshead dined primarily on crustaceans and will rarely be caught on cut bait or artificial lures. Shrimp, sand fleas, and fiddler crabs are the top baits.
Sheepshead love structure and can often be found around jetties, rocks, and piers. However, they will be found cruising the surf at times in search of sand fleas and other crustaceans. Normally, this will occur in the first trough quite close to shore, especially on the West Coast. Sheepshead often bite very lightly and a sensitive touch is required in order to hook them. They are notorious for being excellent bait stealers.
Bluefish are a top species for anglers surf fishing in the Northeast part of the United States. They are a very hard fighting and aggressive game fish. Some Florida anglers consider them a nuisance as their teeth are sharp and they will cut off baits and lures intended for other species.
Most bluefish caught in Florida are done so in the cooler months, from October to April. They do not like the warm water and they most certainly do not like stirred up water. Artificial lures are great choice as it appeals to their aggressive nature. There is a mixed opinion as to the eating quality of bluefish, some anglers find them to be strong. Smaller bluefish are definitely the best eating and should be prepared that day.
Black drum are a bit of a mix between their cousins the redfish and a sheepshead. They are similar in appearance to sheepshead, though a bit more elongated with a differently shaped dorsal fin. Like the sheepshead, black drum feed primarily on crustaceans, crabs in particular. While plenty of black drum are caught by anglers using shrimp, either live or dead, though specifically targeting black drum will usually use half a blue crab. They grow quite large, the Florida State record black drum is almost 100 pounds!
In conclusion, this article on surf fishing in Florida will help anglers be more successful when fishing off of the Sunshine State beaches!
This article will thoroughly cover fly fishing for bass. Both largemouth bass and smallmouth bass will be discussed. While trout may get most of the attention from fly fishing anglers in freshwater, bass are quite popular as well. In most cases, bass are much more convenient as there are widely distributed throughout North America.
While both largemouth and smallmouth bass are similar, there are enough differences to cover them separately in some cases. The tackle needed and techniques required to catch them are quite similar. However, the habits and locations are very different in most instances.
Largemouth bass prefer shallow water with a lot of cover. Aquatic grass and other vegetation is prime cover anywhere a largemouth bass is found. Man made cover such as boat docks, piers, bridges, and rip rap will attract them as well.
Smallmouth bass on the otherhand have one very strong preference; rocks! Smallmouth bass love rocks and they are very often found around this type of structure. Perhaps their affinity for crayfish is the reason for this. Smallmouth bass also prefer water that is cooler and clearer and are often found deeper as well.
Fly fishing for bass; tackle requirements
Tackle requirements for fly fishing for bass are a little bit different, depending on the species. Largemouth bass grow larger and the flies used are larger. Therefore, slightly heavier tackle is required along with different lines. Smallmouth bass are smaller, especially those found in streams and rivers in lighter fly tackle is a better choice for them. However, an angler can choose an outfit right in the middle to cover both species.
Fly rods, reels, and lines are sold in “weight “ designations. This appears on the tackle like this “wt”. This makes it very easy to match the tackle components together. An 8 wt outfit is a good all-around outfit for largemouth bass. A 4 wt outfit works well when stream fishing for smaller smallmouth and largemouth bass. If an angler needs one outfit that will cover both applications, a 7 wt outfit would work well.
Anglers will also need fly lines, leaders, and of course flies to pursue bass with the long rod. Once again, there is some crossover when it comes to the tackle, though when specifically targeting one species or the other, specific tackle will be better suited to get the job done.
Best fly fishing rod, reel, and line for largemouth bass
Largemouth bass grow larger than smallmouth bass overall. They also tend to be found around heavier cover such as boat docks and thick vegetation. The flies, especially poppers, are also larger and more wind resistant. Finally, largemouth bass are normally found in shallow water. For all of these reasons, the best largemouth bass fly rod, reel, and line combination is an 8 wt outfit with a floating weight forward line.
There are special lines that are specifically designed for casting large bass flies. These are called weight forward or even bass bug taper lines. This means that they are heavier near the end of the fly line to facilitate casting these wind resistant flies. Since largemouth bass for the most part will be pursued by anglers fly fishing in fairly shallow water, a floating line is the best choice.
Best fly fishing rod, reel, and line for smallmouth bass
Anglers fly fishing for smallmouth bass have a bit more of a choice to make. Most anglers pursuing smallmouth bass on fly do so in streams and rivers. The size of the body of water along with the size of the fish being targeted will affect the choice. Anglers fishing for bass that average a pound or so in smaller streams will do fine with a 4 wt outfit and a floating line. This same outfit is an excellent all round rig for trout and bluegill fishing as well, if that is a consideration.
Anglers fly fishing for larger smallmouth bass in big rivers or lakes will need to step it up a notch as well as go to a sinking line. A 6 wt outfit with an intermediate sink tip or full sinking line will be a better choice in this application. Anglers who are serious will probably want to purchase an extra spool set up with a different line. This makes it easy for anglers to go from a floating line to a sinking line or an intermediate sinking line to a full sinking line as needed, depending on fishing situations.
Best bass fishing flies
There are endless fly patterns that anglers fly fishing for bass can choose from. In fact, the choice can be overwhelming. However, the bass are often less selective than the anglers. There are a handful of fly patterns that will cover just about every situation and angler will encounter for both largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. Anglers should also check local fly shops to see what works in that particular area.
Poppers and deer hair bugs
Poppers and are flies that float on the surface. They can be made of Styrofoam, cork, or any material that floats. Some are even made from deer hair. Most have rubber legs and usually tales that undulate on the surface seductively when twitched. Most also have a concave mouth that produces a “pop” when twitched sharply, thus the name. Poppers work very well for both largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. Larger poppers are usually used on largemouth bass while smaller versions work well on smallmouth bass.
The Wooly Bugger is a terrific all round fly that will fool just about every species in freshwater. Tiny versions work very well on trout and panfish. Larger versions are very effective on both species of bass. Darker colors such as black, brown, and olive are most popular. It is thought that these flies realistically imitate crawfish and other forage that bass find on or near the bottom. A #4 size is excellent for smallmouth bass while anglers may go up several more sizes for largemouth bass.
The Clouser Minnow was designed by legendary smallmouth bass angler Bob clouds or on the Susquehanna River. It is a tremendous fly that has crossed over and is arguably the most popular saltwater fly. It can be tied in a variety of manners to imitate crawfish and helper mites as well as bait fish depending on the weight of the eyes used and the color of the material. It is an excellent all round fly for both species.
The Lefty’s Deceiver was created by legendary fly angler Lefty Kreh. It is an unweighted streamer pattern that can be tied to mimic any type of bait fish. It has splayed feathers and puts out a lot of action in the water. Many anglers who are fishing for largemouth bass will tie a weed guard to help reduce hangups.
The Muddler Minnow is a classic streamer that mimics a variety of aquatic insects and crustaceans. It is usually fished slowly on the bottom. It is a very effective fly for smallmouth bass in rivers.
Leaders for fly fishing
A leader is used between the fly line in the fly. Fly line is thick and easy to see and know bass would take a fly if it was tied directly to the fly line. Leader length and strength will vary depending on the application. Leaders are tapered, which means they are thick at the fly line and then taper down to the fly end. This helps the fly “turn over” and extend out the length of the fly line and leader, instead of collapsing on the surface in a ball.
Anglers fly fishing for largemouth bass can use a slightly shorter leader in most instances. A 6 foot leader is usually plenty, especially when fishing around weeds and other cover. Also, shorter leaders are preferred when casting large poppers and deer hair bugs. It is difficult to get a long leader to turn over with these very wind resistant flaws. Leaders testing around 10 pound test are usually fine. Many manufacturers offer a tapered leader specifically designed for largemouth bass fishing.
Anglers fly fishing for smallmouth bass will generally use a longer, thinner leader. This is mainly due to the fact that they are fishing in water that is quite a bit clearer and open of obstructions and cover. Also, the flies are quite a bit smaller. A 9 foot 4X leader tapers down to a 6 pound test tippet. This will be fine for the vast majority of smallmouth bass fishing, unless the water is very clear or when targeting especially large fish.
Fly fishing for bass; techniques
The techniques used when fly fishing for bass apply to both largemouth bass and smallmouth lot bass to some degree. Therefore, they will both be covered in one section. Keep in mind, largemouth bass are predominantly found in ponds and lakes and slow-moving rivers. Smallmouth bass are found in many streams and small rivers as well as large, deep, clear lakes.
Fly fishing for bass in rivers
Many anglers associate fly fishing with rivers, and for good reason. Fly fishing really came about for trout fishing in streams. Most anglers who do fly fish for bass probably are fishing for smallmouth bass in streams and rivers. Largemouth bass can certainly be caught in rivers, especially those with less current. Largemouth bass do not like to fight the current the way smallmouth bass will.
There are a couple of advantages to fly fishing for bass in rivers. The primary advantage is that fish are much easier to find. Lakes can be huge and bass may be anywhere. In rivers, fish will usually be found in certain locations, making them easier to find. Also, in many cases, no boat is required. Finally, rivers offer protection from the wind on breezy days.
Shoreline cover will hold bass in rivers. Any fallen tree limb or any other obstruction that breaks the current can be a likely ambush spot. Anglers can cast poppers and surface flies if the current is not too strong. Clouser Minnow patterns and other streamers work best if current is present.
Deeper holes between fast moving runs are prime spots to hold bass in rivers. Boulders and rock ledges will only enhance these spots. Bass are not like trout and will usually not hold in the fast water. Deeper holes will have crayfish that bass love to feed on. A Clouser on a sink tip line is a great choice for fishing these spots.
Smallmouth bass will stage in the slack water behind large rocks and boulders in a stream or river. This is a classic fish-holding spot! The eddy will allow the bass to ambush prey while not expending a lot of energy. A popper tossed into the slack water may draw a strike as will a Woolly Bugger or Clouser drifted past.
One thing river bass anglers do have to deal with is the ever-changing conditions. Water level, flow, and clarity are all components that will affect the fishing. Anglers should always put safety first and not wade or fish rivers that are running high and fast. Fishing is usually poor at this time anyway. Most anglers prefer the water to be a bit low and clear. This will concentrate the fish and they will be easier to catch. It is also much safer to fish as well.
Fly fishing for bass in lakes
Most anglers fly fishing for bass in lakes and ponds, both largemouth or smallmouth, do so working the shoreline shallow flats particular will be found very shoreline around: trees timber, boat docks, and all types of submerged and surface vegetation. Smallmouth bass can be found there as well though that is not the prime habitat for them.
Most anglers fly fishing for bass along the shoreline in lakes start off with some type of surface fly. Poppers and deer hair bugs are great fun to fish and produce some exciting strikes. It also eliminates the need to deal with the fly getting hung up and submerged vegetation. The popper or bug is cast out close to the cover and allowed to settle. With the rod tip help low the angler pulls on the fly line with the stripping hand, causing the bug or popper to pop sharply on the surface. This is repeated several times than the fly picked up and recast to another spot.
One of the main obstacles anglers have to overcome when fishing for bass and lakes is the fact that the angler has to impart all of the action and movement to the fly. This is especially true for trout anglers who are used to fishing and streams with a lot of current. In ponds and lakes, the angler needs to make the fly look real in order to induce a take.
This fact means that anglers have to change their technique just a bit when fishing for bass and lakes and ponds. It is always best to keep the rod tip low, near the surface of the water when retrieving the fly. The angler should impart all of the action to the fly using the stripping hand in the fly line, not the rod tip. This is true of both surface and subsurface flaws.
When a strike occurs, the angler should use a “strip set”. This means that just as with retrieving the fly, the hook is set using the stripping hand. When a bass takes the fly, the angler keeps the rod tip low and pulls sharply with the stripping hand removing any slack and getting the point of the hook started in the fishes mouth. Then, a second or two later the rod tip is lifted smoothly up. This method will result in more bass hooked.
If the bass will not take a surface fly, it is time to switch and use a fly that works a bit deeper. Wooly debuggers, cleansers, and deceivers are all good choices. Largemouth bass tend to prefer a substantial meal, so larger flies are a better choice when that is the target species. Anglers should fish the fly just as they were the lure, close to, around, and through shoreline cover. An intermediate sink tip line is best in this application.
While fly fishing is not designed to be done in deep water, there will be times when anglers fly fishing for bass in lakes will need to move out a bit deeper. This is especially true for smallmouth bass, which will often school up over submerged rock piles, channel edges, and sloping gravel points. A sinking line with a fairly heavy Clouser Minnow or Woolly Bugger is the best option in this situation. Anglers need to be patient and give the line plenty of time to sink to get down to where the fish are.
In conclusion, this article on fly fishing for bass will hopefully encourage anglers to give fly fishing a try!
This is Capt. Jim’s list of the 10 essential spotted bass fishing lures. Spotted bass are a fairly aggressive freshwater species. They are similar in appearance to largemouth bass, yet they share more characteristics with smallmouth bass. Spotted bass prefer cool clear water and they usually relate to rocks and offshore structure as opposed to vegetation. While they will certainly take live bait, most anglers choose to pursue them using artificial lures.
The 10 essential spotted bass fishing lures are:
Berkley tube baits
Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait
Strike King KVD Finesse spinnerbait
Rebel Pop-R topwater plug
Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap
Bass Assassin Die Dapper
Strike King Bitsy Bug jig
Mister Twister curly tail grub and jig
Yamamoto Senko worm
Artificial lures have several advantages over live bait when it comes to fishing for spotted bass and other species. Lures allow anglers to cover much more water than they can using live bait, since the lures are always in motion. The most extreme example of this would be trolling, where anglers put out multiple lines and cover a lotto water in a relatively short amount of time.
Lures will also elicit strikes from spotted bass that are not hungry. Many novice anglers make the mistake in thinking that bass only strike because they are feeding, but this is not the case. Spotted bass will strike out of reflex, excitement, fear, aggravation, and for other reasons.
Wounded prey, especially bait fish, put out flash and vibration. A minnow that is healthy swims in a relatively quiet and unobtrusive manner. A wounded minnow does not. This is the reason that most lures have some type of combination of wobble, flash, and vibration. These elements mimic a wounded bait fish or fleeing crayfish, which hopefully triggers a bite from a spotted bass.
Best tackle for fishing lures for spotted bass
Anglers can use both spinning tackle and baitcasting tackle when casting lures for spotted bass. One is no better than the other, though each has advantages in certain circumstances. It really just is a matter of angler choice.
A 6 1/2 foot to 7 foot medium light spinning rod with a 2000 series reel spooled up with 8 lb line is an excellent all around combination for spotted bass fishing. Spinning tackle is better suited for casting very light lures such as soft plastic baits and small spinners and spoons. This rig is also heavy enough to cast larger plugs as well as handling a big spotted bass once it is hooked.
Light bait casting gear certainly has its place when spotted bass fishing as well. Again, a 7 foot medium action rod with matching reel and 12 lb line works well. Baitcasting outfits are better for casting plugs and other heavier lures, as it gives anglers excellent distance control while handling the slack that inherently comes with fishing a plug. It does become a bit more difficult when casting lures that weigh 1/8 ounce or less. These two combinations will cover every situation a spotted bass angler will encounter.
There are many different spotted bass fishing lures that are effective and will catch fish. Most are basically scaled down versions of largemouth bass fishing lures. The list is practically endless. The purpose of this post is to narrow that list down to a handful of lures that will simplify the spotted bass anglers tackle box yet still cover every situation he or she may encounter. Therefore, here is Capt. Jim’s list of the 10 essential spotted bass fishing lures.
Berkley tube lures
The Berkeley line of tube baits is the first of the 10 essential spotted bass fishing lures. If many spotted bass anglers had to fish with one bait for the rest of their lives, chances are they would choose a tube bait. These are very versatile lures that can be used to mimic every type of forage that a spotted bass feeds on.
Tube baits are most often fished right off of the bottom. They almost certainly mimic a fleeing crayfish with its many undulating tentacles. Darker and natural colors are mostly used in this application. The bait can be used on a jig head while some anglers fish it on a drop shot rig as well.
Tube baits can be used to imitate bait fish as well. The angler simply does not let it fall as far through the water column. The tube bait can be fished on a jig head in open water or on a weedless swim bait hook when fishing around vegetation. White is a terrific color in this situation.
Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait jerkbait
Jerkbaits are second on the list of 10 essential spotted bass fishing lures. Jerk baits are hard body plugs that are long and slender. When jerked sharply, they twitch and flash erratically, imitating a wounded bait fish. That is how the lure got its name. Capt. Jim’s favorite jerk bait is the Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait. It comes in several different sizes and many different color patterns to suit any fishing situation.
The X-Rap comes in shallow diving and deep diving models to cover the entire water column. They work very well around any type of shallow water cover as well as deeper structure including channel edges and sloping points. It is best used in fairly open water as the treble hooks will hang up on grass and other vegetation.
It is important when fishing this bait that after jerking it, the angler put some slack in the line and allow the lure to hang there in the water column motionless. This is when most strikes occur. One technique used by experienced anglers is to jerk the rod tip sharply then point the rod tip right at the bait. This will ensure that there is slack in the line, giving the lure its proper action. These are extremely productive lures for trolling as well.
Strike KIng KVD Finesse spinnerbait
Spinnerbaits are very productive spotted bass fishing lures. Capt. Jim’s favorite spinner bait for spotted bass fishing in third on the list of 10 essential spotted bass fishing lures is the Strike King KVD finesse spinnerbait. Like most spotted bass lures, it is a scaled-down version of larger baits used for other species. This bait is made from quality components and comes in a variety of blade and skirt combinations.
Spinnerbaits are excellent lures for novice anglers as they have so much built in action. In most cases, the best retrieve is a simple slow and steady one. The design of the lure makes it fairly weedless, it will bump over rocks and fallen timber and run through vegetation, as long as it is not too dense or mossy. Spinnerbaits do not look like anything natural in the water, however they put out a lot a flash and vibration.
Spinnerbaits are also very versatile. They can be used to fish the entire water column from just below the surface down to the bottom. “Slow rolling” a spinner bait (which means retrieving it at a slow speed on or just off the bottom) is an extremely effective technique. The large single hook also makes releasing the fish safely fairly easy.
Rebel Pop R
Spotted bass love poppers! The Rebel Pop-R is fourth on the list of 10 essential spotted bass fishing lures. Spotted bass will at times be seen feeding on the surface as they have trapped of school of bait fish on top. When this occurs, a popper is an excellent lure choice. The Rebel Pop-R cast fairly well and has a large concave face which puts out a large popping sound and disturbance when twitched sharply.
Poppers can also be used effectively when fish are not seen feeding on the surface. They work best during periods of low light such as early and late in the day along with cloudy conditions. When the water is clear, spotted bass will rise up quite a distance off the bottom to take a top water bait
Spoons have been around a long time. They have fallen off a bit of late and popularity, though that is a mistake. A spoon is basically a curved piece of metal with a hook in. They are dense and cast a long way, put out flash and vibration, and are very versatile. Capt. Jim’s favorite spoon for spotted bass fishing is the venerable Krocodile spoon. It has been around for decades and still catches fish to this day.
Spoons can be fished in a variety of manners. Most common method is to cast it out and retrieve it back in. Anglers should vary the retrieve between a steady one in an erratic retrieve with twitches and pauses. Spoons are available in a wide variety of sizes and finishes. Anglers should match the size and finish of the spoon to the locally available forage. A 1/2 ounce silver spoon is an excellent all round bait.
Spoons can also be used in a vertical presentation, and this includes ice fishing. The spoon is simply lowered down to the desired depth, either all the way to the bottom or in the middle of the water column, and then jigged using subtle motions with the rod tip. In most cases, less is more; too aggressive a motion will spook the fish. Finally, spoons work very well when trolled and will catch plenty of trout in waters that share them with spotted bass.
Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap
The Bill Lewis Rat-LTrap is a lipless crank bait. Most crank baits have a plastic lip which determines how deep the Lord dives any action that it has. Lipless baits do not have this feature. Therefore, they can be worked anywhere in the water column simply by changing the time with which it is allowed to sink. These baits work very well for fish that school in open water such as spotted bass.
These are excellent lures to use for novice anglers as I have a ton of built in action. Basically, all the angler has to do is cast it out, allow it to sink to the desired depth, then reel it back in steadily. The lure puts out a ton of vibration and flash as well as its signature rattle. This bait can actually be presented vertically as well, jig just as an angler would with a spoon over submerged structure and cover. Chrome with a blue back is the top finish.
Bass assassin swim bait
Seventh on the list of the 10 essential spotted bass fishing lures is the Bass Assassin line of swim baits. A swim bait is basically a soft plastic version of a plug which has a paddle tail that gives it its action and vibration. Bass Assassin offers anglers the choice of the Sea Shad or Die Dapper, both are similar in shape and size. These are versatile lures which can be fish in a variety of manners.
In most cases, anglers fishing for spotted bass and other species with swim baits will either use a jig head or a swim bait hook. Jig heads work well when fishing in open water and swim bait hooks are a better choice when fished around cover as it can be rigged weedless. Color choices are endless and angler should choose a lure that matches the locally available forage.
Strike King Bitsy Bug jig
Jigs are very effective spotted bass fishing lures, especially around flooded timber. They can be bounced off the bottom to imitate crayfish or swim through the water column to mimic a bait fish. As with most of the lures on this list, the smaller or more finesse presentations work best. The Strike King Bitsy Bug Jigis next on the list of 10 essential spotted bass fishing lures.
Bass jigs are a bit different in design from jigs meant for other species in a couple of ways. They generally have a uniquely designed head, a thick rubber skirt, and a stout weed guard. Many anglers add some type of soft plastic trailer to add both bulk and vibration. The Bitsy Bug Jig is simply a smaller version of this that works very well on spotted bass. Dark, natural colors are usually best.
Mister Twister curly tail grub and jig
Mister Twister revolutionized fishing in the late 70s when it came out with its line of curly tail grubs. The action that these simple little baits put out is amazing. These are versatile lures that are available in a myriad of different colors and several different sizes. The 3 inch model is an excellent all round size, though anglers can go up or down in size to match the conditions.
This lure is almost always fished on a jig head. The water depth and current along with the size of the grub being use will determine the size of the jig head required. A 1/8 ounce black a jig head will cover a wide variety of fishing situations. Darker colors such as motor oil and green pumpkin work well for imitating crayfish. Chartreuse and white are excellent colors to imitate bait fish when worked in the middle parts of the water column.
Yamamoto Senko finesse worm
Last, but certainly not least, on the list of the 10 essential spotted bass fishing lures is the Yamamoto Senko. This is a very simple bait that does not look like much, but it is an extremely effective fishing lure for just about every freshwater species, including smallmouth bass. The 4 inch model works best in most situations, though anglers can go up to the 5 inch version when needed.
Many anglers consider this a finesse bait. That means that it works best very subtle, and even little or no action. The slight undulations of the lure will be enough to attract a fish. Natural colors seem to work best, with green pumpkin being the most popular color by far. Surprisingly, black can be very effective as well, especially in clear water.
The Senko can be rigged in a variety of manners. It can be rigged Texas style and worked on the bottom. It can be hooked through the middle and fished it wacky style. Perhaps the most effective spotted bass presentation is on a drop shot rig. This is especially true when spotted bass are schooled up in deeper water over structure such as points, channel edges, and submerged islands. The Seiko can be fished on a Carolina rig as well.
In conclusion, this article on the 10 essential spotted bass fishing lures will help anglers simplify their tackle selection while still having everything needed to cover any fishing situation!
This topic of this post is Florida saltwater fishing in summer. Despite the heat, fishing is fantastic in summer in the Sunshine State. However anglers do need to adapt and change tactics a bit.
Saltwater fishing in Florida in summer is all about taking advantages of the low light periods of the day. Early morning is generally best as the water will be at it’s lowest temperature for the day. The afternoons can be good, especially if a shower cools off the water on the flats. Finally, dedicated anglers do well fishing at night.
Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.
Abundant bait is the key to summer fishing success
The reason for the terrific summer fishing in Florida is simple; bait, and a lot of it! The shallow inshore waters and beaches are thick with small bait fish. These vary by region, but include scaled sardines, Spanish sardines, threadfin herring, mullet, and glass minnows.
In the inshore waters on the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean, larger bait fish are abundant as well. These include larger threadfin herring, menhaden or pogies, cigar minnows, ballyhoo, blue runner, and more. This abundance of bait, both inshore and out on the beaches, is the reason for the terrific summer fishing in Florida.
Fishing with artificial lures in summer
Anglers use the bait schools to catch fish, even if they do not use the bait itself. Predator species will relate to the schools of bait. Often times, fish can be seen “crashing” the bait, particularly early in the morning before boat traffic increases. The old saying, “find the groceries, find the fish” really applies.
Shallow bars and grass flat edges are prime spots to try, particularly on the high tide. The bait will usually stack up on the up-tide side of the edge or bar. Diving birds are a sure sign that bait is present. Anglers casting spoons, jigs, and shallow diving plugs will produce a variety of fish. Topwater plugs are effective and great fun to fish!
Capt Jim has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles and reports can do so HERE on the PRODUCTS page.
Fish will also be found on the deeper grass flats as well. This is particularly true when the water temperature creeps up after a few days without cooling afternoon rains. Submerged grass in 8′ to 10′ of water may be the most productive spots. A 1/4 ounce lead head jig with a plastic grub body is an excellent search lure to use to locate fish. Spoons, plugs, and free lined live baits will work as well.
Chumming with live bait is very productive in the summer
While fishing with artificial lures certainly produces for anglers Florida saltwater fishing in summer, many opt to take advantage of the free and productive bait. This requires a cast net and the ability to throw it. Net sizes vary and should be matched to the bait in the area. Large rounded live bait wells and a high-capacity pump will keep the bait frisky all day.
There are a couple of different approaches to catching bait that anglers can use. Before the sun comes up when it is still dark, on cloudy days, or if it is breezy, chumming the bait fish in works best. Yes, anglers chum for the chum! The boat is anchored in a likely spot up tide of a nice grass flat in a foot or two of water. Anglers can use commercial fish food, commercial chum bait, or homemade recipes such as mackerel and wheat bread to lure the fish up behind the boat where they can be captured.
Anglers can also simply look for the bait itself. When conditions are right, which means a flat surface in clear water, the schools of bait fish can be easy to see dimpling on the surface or flashing in the water. When the bait is thick and this happens, it is easy to load the well and a cast or two of the net. Some anglers do this right out on the beaches, where they don’t have to deal with grass in the net.
Once the well is loaded, anglers use this bait as both chum and as fishing bait. The boat is anchored up tide of a likely spot and then a handful or two of live bait fish is tossed out behind the boat. If game fish are around, it won’t take them long to home in on the free bait. Hooked baits are then cast out, and I hookup is sure to ensue. This technique can be used inshore, in the passes and inlets, and offshore over ledges, wrecks, and reefs.
Live shrimp can certainly be used as well. However, there are a couple of drawbacks. Shrimp sometimes get very small that time of year. Also, nuisance fish such as pinfish can become quite irritating as the nibble the legs off of the bait. Finally, shrimp are costly versus the abundant free bait there for the catching.
Best times to saltwater fish in Florida in summer
Mornings are usually the best time to go saltwater fishing in Florida in the summer. The water will be at its coolest point all day. Also, the waters will be undisturbed from boats or other activity, making fish a bit more active and easier to catch. A good approach is to start off at first light casting lures and then when that bite slows switching over to live bait. Days that are cloudy or have some wind will result in the artificial lure bite lasting a bit longer. Conversely, a bright sunny day with no wind can be tough to full fish on lures.
Bait can be easier to catch an hour or two into the morning as well. Sunlight on the water will get the plankton to bloom and will get the bait fish up and moving around. They are much easier to see this time of day dimpling on the surface. As the sun climbs higher, the bait fish can be skittish and more difficult to sneak up on. Many anglers, fishing guides and charter boat captains in particular, prefer to load up the bait well in the morning and be done with.
Fishing in the middle of the day in the summer in Florida can be very tough. The morning the bite is over and it is hot. This is not a bad time to go in for a few hours and cool off and take a nap. There are some situations, such as tarpon fishing, where fishing can be good in the middle of the day. Anglers do need to be careful of the heat and drink plenty of liquids.
Afternoons can offer excellent summertime fishing
Late afternoons can offer good fishing as well, depending on the conditions. Many parts of Florida get afternoon thunderstorms, and anglers need to be wary of those. However, the storms will cool the surface temp off quickly, especially on the shallow flats. Perhaps the best the bite for anglers fishing in the afternoon in the summer time in Florida is to fish the passes and inlets on a hard outgoing tide. This can be very productive for snook, tarpon, and other species.
Night fishing can be quite productive in the summer time. For the most part, anglers are fishing around lighted docks and bridges. These structures offer structure and a break from the current while the lights attract shrimp and bait fish. It sets up a man-made, but natural feeding situation. Also, anglers will have the water to themselves and what is generally the coolest part of the day.
Anglers fishing at night around the lighted bridge fenders and docks can use both artificial lures and live bait. Live shrimp and bait fish are free lined in the current to offer a natural presentation. Lures are also cast up current and then worked through the area. In most cases, the shadowy area where the light fades into dark is the prime ambush spots. Inlets and passes can be productive as well, though anglers need to be very careful in the dark.
Tarpon and snook are top Florida summer species
There are two species in particular or saltwater fishing in Florida in the summer is especially productive. These are snook and tarpon, the two premier inshore game fish in the state. Passes and inlets are deep, full of structure, and have strong current flows. This is a recipe for a fishing hotspot!
Summer snook fishing in Florida
Snook will stack up in the passes and inlets in the southern half of the state of Florida. As mentioned above, the afternoon outgoing tides in at night are often the best times to fish. Anglers can use artificial lures, especially heavy jigs, but this situation is really tailored to using live bait. Using heavy tackle, anglers anchor up near the rock jetties or other structure and bottom fish with a large live bait fish. Pin fish, grunts, croakers, threadfin herring, Spanish sardines, and mullet are all popular baits.
Snook will also be found out on the area beaches. This offers anglers a very unique fishing opportunity, where they can sight cast to large fish without the need of a boat. Anglers simply walk the beach and look for fish in the water. Once spotted, a live bait, artificial lure or fly can be presented to the fish. Since in most cases there is very little structure but instead open water, fairly light tackle can be used.
Tarpon fishing in Florida hits its peak from May through July. It starts in late March or early April in the Florida Keys. Tarpon then migrate up both coasts through the entire state. Anglers can sit a couple hundred yards offshore and be on the lookout for schools of tarpon rolling on the surface. Once spotted, the boat is moved into position and baits presented to the fish.
Tarpon will also school up heavily in the passes and inlets. There is no better example of this in Boca Grande Pass on the West Coast of Florida. It is a legendary tarpon fishing spot in May and June. By early July most of the larger schools have broken up and anglers can search out smaller bunches of fish or even singles and doubles. As with snook, the afternoon outgoing tides are often best to fish for tarpon in the passes and inlets.
More Florida summer fish species
There are certainly other species which provide great action for anglers saltwater fishing in the summer time in Florida. These include redfish, speckled trout, mangrove snapper, Spanish mackerel, and more.
Speckled trout fishing can be excellent in the summer time. This is actually one of the best times of year to catch a large speckled trout. Anglers can use a variety of tactics to have success. A live shrimp or bait fish under a popping cork is a time proven technique when drifting the grass flats. Jigs will produce numbers of fish, but larger plugs will produce better sized fish. Chumming with live bait is extremely effective.
Redfish are another species that are plentiful in Florida in the summer time. Most anglers target them on the shallow grass flats throughout the state. Oyster bars are very productive spots as well. By late summer, redfish will have begun to school up in large numbers in preparation for their spawning run. Sight fishing for them on the shallow flats is great sport. A weedless gold spoon is an excellent lure which will allow anglers to cover a lot of water as well as making long casts to spooky fish. Redfish will also be caught under docks and in the passes and inlets.
Mangrove snapper are another very popular species targeted by anglers Florida saltwater fishing in summer. These abundant little saltwater panfish put up a terrific fight for their size and are fantastic eating. They can be found on the grass flats particularly around drop-offs in the deeper holes. Just about any piece of structure, especially those in the passes and inlets, have the potential to hold some snapper. While they will occasionally take artificial lures, live bait is definitely the best approach when chasing these fish.
Spanish mackerel are often thought of as a spring and fall species. However, in certain parts of the state they can be quite plentiful in the summer time as well. They will normally not be seen feeding on the surface in the inshore Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean as they are in the spring and fall. However, they will relate to structure close to shore. Anglers will also find them on the deeper grass flats in the inshore bays as well is in the passes and inlets. Chumming with live bait is extremely effective, but anglers can also have success use and frozen blocks of chum as well.
In conclusion, this article on Florida saltwater fishing in summer will help anglers have more success during the hottest time of the year!
The topic of this article will be largemouth bass fishing in Florida. Florida has earned the nickname “the sport fishing capital of the world” for good reason. Anglers have a wide variety of options in both freshwater and saltwater. However, it would not be difficult to make the argument that the largemouth bass is the most sought-after fish species in the state.
Florida is the perfect environment for largemouth bass. The state is quite flat, which means that the majority of lakes are shallow with little relief on the bottom. Vegetation is usually abundant. These shallow, weedy lakes are very fertile. Forage species such as panfish, shiners, minnows, and shad feed and hide in this weed growth. This in turn attracts predator fish such as largemouth bass.
Special thanks to Stephanie for the pictures and technical assistance. Stephanie Hucheson is a successful tournament angler, basing out of Debary, Florida. She is sponsored by Gillz gear, Lowrance, Cal Coast fishing, Coolbaits and Woo Tungsten.
Florida largemouth bass habits and migrations
Largemouth bass spawn in Florida in the winter. In the southern part of the state, it starts in late December. In the Florida Panhandle and northern portion of the state, the spawning process starts a bit later, usually in late February. Normally, lakes are fairly low as this is the dry season. The result is that many anglers sight fish for trophy largemouth bass on the beds this time of year.
After the spawn, bass move off of the beds scatter about to feed. This can be an excellent time to catch them as it is not too warm yet and the bass have not eaten much in the last month or so. As it warms up, largemouth bass move into their summer patterns. Where available, bass will seek out deeper water in lakes that offer that. In shallow water, largemouth bass be found tight to cover such as boat docks and under the thickest mats of vegetation.
As fall arrives and the water temperature cools off, largemouth bass will disburse and feed fairly heavily. Once again, this is an excellent time to pursue them. Shad in particular become a top forage, especially in the back ends of coves and creeks. As the end of the year approaches, fish will begin their pre-spawn and spawning habits and up cycle starts all over again.
Florida bass fishing tackle
Anglers fishing for largemouth bass in Florida can be confused by the tackle options. Many serious and tournament bass anglers actually have a rod and reel for each specific technique; spinner bait fishing, worm fishing, plug fishing, etc. However, a couple of different outfits will really cover just about every bass fishing situation and angler will encounter.
Spinning rods used to be a rarity among anglers bass fishing in Florida, and all over the country. However, that has changed of late. One look at a bass fishing tournament on television will relay how popular spinning tackle is these days. This is mainly due to the advent of finesse fishing, in which spinning tackle is a better choice.
There are many options when it comes to choosing a good spinning rod and reel combination for bass fishing. While there is no one perfect outfit, a 7 foot medium action rod paired with a 3000 series reel and spooled up with 20 pound braided line is an excellent all round combination. This rod will allow anglers to cast fairly light lures and still have the muscle to handle a decent largemouth bass when hooked around cover.
Conventional, or bait casting, tackle still certainly has its place when fishing for largemouth bass. It is still the best choice for casting heavier plugs as well is for pitching and flipping soft plastic baits in and around heavy cover. A medium heavy bait asting rod that a 7 1/2 feet long with a matching reel and 40 pound to 50 pound braided line is a good all-around combination.
Florida largemouth bass fishing techniques
There are many different techniques that anglers fishing in Florida for largemouth bass can use successfully. There the same basic tactics used by bass anglers throughout the country. These include fishing with plugs, soft plastic baits, weedless spoons, jigs, spinner baits, chatterbaits, and frogs.
Plugs are very effective largemouth bass fishing lures. For the most part, they are designed to mimic a wounded bait fish. Some are long and slender, these are known as jerk baits. Others have a more round design and are most often called crank baits. For the most part, plugs that float on the surface and dive down a couple feet work best in the shallow Florida waters.
They are most effective in open water as they will hang up quickly on weeds and other vegetation. However, anglers can certainly use deep diving crank baits around the channel edges and submerged points in deeper lakes. Lipless crankbaits are very effective in areas where vegetation is not too dense.
Topwater plugs are quite effective and are very exciting to fish. As the name implies, top water plugs spend their entire time on the surface. Some have built-in fish attracting attributes like a concave face or a propeller, which creates a commotion on the surface of the water. Others are more subtle and a different action is used. They are mostly fish around submerged structure and weed line edges, particularly early, late, and on overcast days.
Soft plastic baits literally revolutionized bass fishing in the late 60s. The early models were quite stiff and not very enticing. That has certainly changed! Anglers can purchase soft plastic worms, creature baits, swim baits, crayfish, and more. While there are many different types of baits, they are fished relatively similar, especially in Florida.
Rigging soft plastic baits
Probably the most used combination is a plastic worm rigged Texas style. With this rig a conical sinker slides onto the line followed by a special worm hook. The worm is in threaded on to the hook spun around and the hook buried in the worm. This results in a very natural presentation which is virtually weedless. This allows a plastic worm to be fished and just about the thickest cover imaginable. Just about any soft plastic bait that is long enough can be rigged in this fashion. Anglers can also omit the weight and swim the worm through and around vegetation.
Another rig that is quite popular, though it looks a bit silly, is the wacky rig. With this rig the hook is simply inserted through the center of the worm. It is cast out and as it falls through the water column, it undulates very seductively. Most strikes occur as the worm falls in the bass picks it up and runs off with. This technique is easy for novice anglers to use as strikes are easy to detect.
The Carolina rig is not used quite as often by anglers bass fishing in Florida, as it is most effective in deeper water. It consists of a sliding egg sinker followed by a swivel. The swivel stops the sinker and allows for a leader to be tied on. A leader between 18 inches and 4 feet long is then attached to the swivel followed by a hook at the other end. A floating worm is Texas rigged to complete the rig. This is extremely effective when crawled over deeper submerge structure such as channel edges and deep points.
A drop shot is another very effective rig when fishing plastic worms and other soft plastic baits. It consists of a sinker at the bottom with a small light wire hook tide 18 inches or so above. When bounced on the bottom, this rig suspends the offering just above the bottom where suspended bass often feed. This works well in the shallow Florida waters as well as around deeper structure. This technique is often used with small finesse baits and works well when bass are finicky.
Finally, there are swim baits. These are soft plastic baits that generally look like bait fish. They have a bulky body and some type of tail, usually a paddle tail, that gives it great action. Anglers fish some quite large baits in search of trophy fish, however the 4 inch to 6 inch models usually work best. They can be fished on a swim bait hook or on a jig head.
More largemouth bass fishing lures
Weedless spoons are not as popular for bass anglers as they used to be, but this is perhaps a mistake. A weedless spoon is an excellent lure to use in patches of lily pads and dollar pads. It puts out both flash and vibration, is easy to cast, and the hookup ratio is good. Many anglers add some type of soft plastic trailer to add bulk and action.
Jigs are extremely effective largemouth bass fishing lures, particularly in the cooler months. They tend to catch larger fish, for whatever reason. While similar to jigs used in other freshwater and saltwater applications, there are some differences. Bass fishing jigs are usually bulky and have undulating rubber legs.
Most bass jigs also have a stout weed guard as they are fished around heavy structure. Many anglers add a soft plastic trailer to the jig to increase the action and the bulk. These are extremely effective lures when pitched around and through heavy vegetation. “Punching” a heavy jig through a matter vegetation and allowing it to fall produces some very large fish!
Spinnerbaits are another very effective bass fishing lure. They are an excellent choice for novice anglers as they have a lot of built in action, cast well, are relatively weedless, and the bite is easy to detect. A spinnerbait is basically a combination of a spinner and a jig in one unit. They work very well around weed edges and submerged and fallen trees. They will hang up in very heavy vegetation. A variation of a spinner bait is called a buzz bait and runs completely on the surface.
Frog fishing has become extremely popular in the last few years. It is a very exciting way to fish and works quite well in the shallow, weedy Florida lakes. The lure is plastic and weedless and is simply cast over top of matted weeds or other vegetation and worked along the surface. Fish will explode up out of the vegetation to take one. Fairly heavy tackle is usually required to get the fish out of the vegetation.
Chatterbaits are fairly recent to the bass fishing scene. They are also called bladed jigs. It is basically a jig with a blade at the front that adds vibration and flash. It is a shallow water bait that works very well in vegetation. It is a good search bait that allows anglers to cover a lot of water in a relatively short amount of time.
Using live bait for largemouth bass in Florida
The discussion of live bait fishing for largemouth bass in Florida begins and ends with shiners. Other live bait can be used, but shiners are by far the most popular and effective. Wild golden shiners in particular are extremely productive, especially on larger fish. Guides who specialize in trophy bass almost all use shiners exclusively. They are expensive and can be difficult to obtain. Shiners are fished under floats using heavy casting tackle, usually around vegetation.
Top 10 Florida largemouth bass fishing spots
stick marsh Farm 13
Tenerok and Mosaic management areas
Lake George and the St Johns River
Lake Istokpoga is located in Sebring, Florida. It is highly regarded as both a trophy Lake and four numbers. This nearly 27,000 acre Lake is the fifth largest in the state of Florida. It is fed by Josephine Creek and Arbuckle Creek. It is a typical shallow bass lake with a variety of aquatic vegetation. Access is good with plenty of lodging in the Sebring area.
Lake Okeechobee had some down years but is now back again as water levels have stabilized. This huge body of water is the largest lake in the state of Florida and one of the largest in the United States. It is quite shallow with acres and acres of submerged and visible grass and other vegetation. The best spot for both access and accommodations is at Roland Martin’s resort in Clewiston at the south end of the lake.
The St. Johns Water Management Area, is better known to most anglers as the Farm 13 Stick Marsh. It covers 6,500 acres and is located in northwest Indian River County. It is shallow, with water depths averaging from 4 to 8 feet deep This can be a very dangerous place to navigate due to underwater obstructions. Anglers need to put safety first! It is catch and release and the fishing is terrific! Cover and vegetation are abundant. There is a concrete two lane boat ramp, air boat launch site, restroom and paved parking lot. Vero Beach is the closest town. Anglers need to purchase gas and supplies there, nothing is available at the lake.
Rodman Reservoir is located south of Palatka, Florida. Ir is a 9,500-acre lake that was formed in 1968 by a dam across the Ocklawaha River. It is nearly 20 miles long with many square miles of flooded timber in varying depths along with abundant vegetation. It does have some deeper areas due to the flooded river channel. It is fairly remote with several ramps at the north end and another at the south end of the lake.
Lake Tohopekaliga, or Lake Toho for short. Is the gem of the Kissimmee chain of Lakes. Recent draw downs and environmental enhancements have resulted in this like making a huge comeback. During the spawn, it takes a huge stringer of bass to win a competitive tournament. The lake offers both numbers and trophies. It is not quite as accessible as some lakes, and this may be one of the reasons that it is so productive. Launching and accommodations are found in the town of Kissimmee, at the north end of the lake.
The Harris Chain of Lakes are located 40 minutes northwest of Orlando. The interconnected lakes of the Harris Chain cover approximately 50,000 acres of water and together make up the second largest lake in the State of Florida. These lakes are extremely fertile and anglers will find a variety of conditions in each lake. The lakes are shallow with the familiar tannin stained waters. Leesburg and Tavares are the spots to launch and stay.
Lake Kissimmee is the southernmost of the lakes in the Kissimmee chain. Despite being only 40 miles south of Orlando, it is fairly remote with limited access. The best spots to launch are at the State Park as well as at the south end of the lake where there are several ramps. This is a very fertile lake with abundant varieties of aquatic vegetation.
Lake Talquin is located 20 miles west of Tallahassee. It has 8,800 acres and is probably beest known for crappie fishing. Lake Talquin is fairly deep for a Florida lake, averaging 15 feet and with a maximum depth of 40 feet. There are 7 public boat ramps on the Leon County side of the lake of of highway 20. There are 3 public boat ramps on the Gladson County side. Six fish camps surround the lake.
Tenerok and Mosaic Management areas
The Tenotok and Mosaic management areas are reclaimed strip pits. They are located close together in Polk County, Lakeland, Florida. After mining operations ceased, it was required that the lakes were reclaimed and returned back to as natural a state as possible. The difference is that many of the lakes in this system are deeper than the average Florida lakes due to the mining operations. The days that anglers can fish and the number of anglers are limited and many of them are idle speed only.
Lake George and the St. Johns River
This 310 mile long river and lake system flows from Jacksonville through almost the entire state. It includes several lakes, including Lake George, which is the second largest lake in Florida at 46,000 acres. It is a very diverse system, with quite deep water in spots, by Florida standards. Lily pads are plentiful, along with other vegetation, flooded timber, drop offs, and river channels. Access is very good all along it’s length.
In conclusion, this article on largemouth bass fishing in Florida will help anglers catch more fish, hopefully a trophy bass!
Many saltwater anglers and joy snapper fishing. There are quite a few different snapper species, most of them living in fairly warm water. All of them are terrific eating!
Snapper are a family of perciform fish, Lutjanidae. Snapper are a structure oriented fish that are almost always found around some type of cover, either man-made or natural. Most snapper are found in a very salty, marine environment. A few of the inshore snapper species can tolerate slightly brackish water. Snapper are found in subtropical and tropical waters.
There are many different snapper species, over 100 in fact. For the purposes of this article, the snapper species covered will be limited to those available to anglers sport fishing in the United States and the Caribbean. Since most snapper species have similar habits, generic snapper fishing tips will be covered first, followed by each individual snapper species.
Snapper fishing tackle
Snapper fishing tackle runs the gamut. The tackle used to catch snapper really depends on the species being targeted and the depth of the water being fished. Anglers fishing inshore waters and shallow waters close to shore will do fine with the same light spinning tackle used for other inshore species. A 7 foot medium action rod with a 3000 series reel is a good all-around combination.
Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.
Anglers fishing for larger snapper or in deeper water will do best with conventional gear. Since casting is usually not required, conventional gear becomes more appropriate. Conventional reels offer anglers more power as the line does not turn 90° when coming on the spool as with spinning tackle. Conventional reels are basically a winch.
Again, the tackle should be matched to the size of the fish being sought and the water being fished. Anglers fishing natural ledges for fish and the 5 to 10 pound range will do fine with a 30 series conventional outfit. However, those fishing for larger snapper species around heavy cover such as oil rigs or artificial reefs will need to bump it up to 40 series tackle.
Snapper fishing rigs
There are several different rigs that anglers use when snapper fishing. The most commonly used rig is the sliding sinker rig, also known as a Carolina rig. A sinker, usually an egg sinker, is threaded onto the running line. A swivel is then tied onto the end. The swivel stops the sinker from sliding while adding a device to attach the leader. A leader is then tied onto the other end of the swivel followed by a hook.
Capt Jim has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. Anglers who are interested in purchasing the equipment that he uses and writes about in his articles and reports can do so on the PRODUCTS page.
This rig is popular and effective for several reasons. It allows a snapper or other bottom fish to pick the bait up and move off a bit without feeling the weight of the sinker. Also, depending on the length of the leader, it allows the bait to move about in the current naturally. In shallow water leaders are often 3 to 5 feet long. When fishing very deep water, anglers will often go to a leader as long as 50 feet.
A knocker rig is a variation of the Carolina rig that is mostly used in fairly shallow water. It is very simple and if the hook is snagged and lost, a new rig is easily tied. It simply consists of an egg sinker with the line threaded through it followed by a hook. The sinker rest right on the eye of the hook. This rig keeps the bait right on the bottom where snapper often feed. The sinker can also be used when the hook snags by jerking the rod tip sharply and letting the sinker slide down and knock the hook loose. That is how the rig got its name.
More snapper fishing rigs
The high low rig or chicken rig is a very simple bottom fishing rig that has been around a long time. It is effective for anglers snapper fishing as well as for just about any other type of bottom fish. It consists of a weight at the bottom followed by hooks tied onto the main line at various intervals. Two hooks are most often used, one located near the bottom and the other a foot or two above.
This rig works very well when drifting. A bank sinker is most often used which will usually bounce over rocks and other obstructions. It also presents multiple baits at multiple levels, increasing the odds of catching a fish. Anglers can buy pre-rigged versions with wire arms or simply tie their own.
Another simple and easy way to present a live or cut bait and snapper fishing is to use a jig head or buck tail jig. A jig head is basically a hook with lead molded near the eye. The result is a device has the hook and weight all in one tidy little unit. This works well on a variety of other bottom species.
The final rig is a simple free line rig. This is used when snapper, often times yellowtail or mangrove snapper, rise up off the bottom in the chum slick. Anglers can tie the hook right to the running line or use a section of leader. The bait is hooked on and floated back in the chum where it drifts naturally with the chum. A split shot or two can be added if needed.
Leaders for snapper fishing
Snapper have keen eyesight and are often found in quite clear water in Florida and the Caribbean. For these reasons, leaders can be crucial to success. Anglers will often have a leader which tests lighter than the main running line. For example, a light conventional rig spooled up with 30 pound line may require the angler going down to 10 pound or 12 pound fluorocarbon leader in order to get a bite.
It is best to start out with a normal strength leader then go lighter if required. There is no reason to use a lighter leader than necessary, especially when fishing around structure. The result will be more fish lost. Anglers fishing between 30 feet deep and 80 feet deep will do fine with a leader that is 3 feet long to 5 feet long. When fishing deeper water, longer leaders are often used. However, this can become cumbersome as once the sinker reaches the rod tip, the snapper will have to be hand lined in the rest of the way.
Hooks for snapper fishing
Hooks are pretty much a matter of personal choice. Many anglers have gone to circle hooks as they reduce fish mortality. Once anglers learn to just reel and slowly lift the rod tip as opposed to setting the hook, there hookup ratio will be as good as when using “J” hooks. Some bodies of water require the use of circle hooks, including the Gulf of Mexico.
Anglers often make the mistake of using too large a hook when snapper fishing. As mentioned above, they have keen eyesight and their mouth is not overly large in proportion to their body. A #1 short shank light wire “J” hook or #2/0 circle hook is a good all-around choice when fishing for snapper up to a few pounds. Anglers can go up in size from their as needed to match the conditions.
Best baits for snapper fishing
Snapper will occasionally take artificial lures. However, the vast majority of anglers snapper fishing use live or cut bait. Live bait is generally preferred when fishing shallow inshore waters, particularly for mangrove snapper. Live shrimp are a top bait anywhere that snapper are found. Small live bait fish such as hearing, sardines, inch pin fish are also very effective baits.
Live bait certainly produce offshore as well. For the most part, anglers fishing and deep water use live bait fish. Shrimp can be a bit more difficult to use as the smaller bottom fish will pick it to pieces. Just about any bait fish that is found in the local waters will work fine as bait. Small pin fish are easily caught inshore and are hardy baits for snapper fishing.
Many anglers snapper fishing use cut bait. This is a simple as cutting a strip or chunk of a fish in using it for bait. Fresh caught bait fish are usually better than frozen. Anglers can fillet the fish and cut it into strips which offers a realistic presentation. However, strip baits are not as durable. Anglers can cut through the body of a bait fish and hook it under the dorsal fin. Using a “plug” in this manner works well and the bait stays on the hook longer. Squid, octopus, and other marine animals can be used as cut bait as well.
Mangrove snapper, also known as “gray snapper”, “mangs”, “black snapper (in the northern Gulf) and grovers”, are the most abundant of the snapper species found in the United States. There also by far the most plentiful available to anglers fishing inshore waters. Mangrove snapper can be found around any type of man-made structure such as bridges, piers, docks, rip-rap, jetties, and artificial reefs. They will also be found on the open grass flats, along mangrove shorelines, and all-natural ledges.
Anglers targeting mangrove snapper in the inshore waters do so using several techniques. Anchoring and bottom fishing with live or cut bait around bridges and other man-made structures is probably the most popular and productive method. A Carolina rig or knocker rig is the best choice. Snapper are nocturnal so this type of fishing works well at night.
Mangrove snapper can also be caught on the open flats. They will often relate to submerged grass as this is where the forage is found. Chumming can be extremely productive in this situation, using either live or frozen chum. Live bait chumming is an effective technique where anglers use handfuls of live bait fish, usually scaled sardines, to get the fish excited and up behind the boat. A frozen block of chum can be used as well. A free line rig works best in this application.
Mangrove snapper are certainly found offshore as well. In fact, this is were anglers will encounter the largest of the species. Oil rigs produce some very large snapper off of the Louisiana coast. Artificial reefs and natural ledges along with wrecks are prime spots when offshore fishing for snapper. Live or cut baits can be used.
Anglers usually anchor over smaller isolated ledges and reefs while drifting the larger pieces of cover. The same goes for anglers fishing in deep water, drifting is usually best. However, modern GPS trolling motors have revolutionized bottom fishing. Many use these sophisticated electric motors to keep the boat precisely positioned in a spot. It also allows them to jag slightly to cover a another little piece of the structure.
Red snapper, also known as “American reds” are an extremely popular snapper species. They are a beautiful fish which taste great and grow quite large. The world record is 50 pounds! Red snapper are seldom found inshore and are usually caught in water 100 feet or deeper, though they will move shallower than that at times.
Locating red snapper is usually the most difficult part. Once found, it is usually not difficult to get them to bite. A chicken rig with two pieces of cut bait will usually produce red snapper and it is an easy rig to fish. Cut bait is generally productive, though there are times when anglers will have to go to live bait. Red snapper are not notoriously leader shy.
Red snapper are usually found in fairly large schools. This makes them easy to mark with bottom machines over structure. They also seem to prefer the larger ledges and breaks. Red snapper are highly regulated with short fishing seasons. Anglers need to be aware of the harvest regulations, equipment regulations, and in some cases release regulations.
Yellow tail snapper are a staple fish for charter boat captains in the Florida Keys. They are a beautiful fish that fight hard and taste great. They are quite abundant and also fairly reliable on many of the patch reefs and other shallow water structures off of Florida. This makes them very popular among recreational and charter boat anglers. They are not large, 4 pounds is a nice fish. Large yellowtail snapper are called “flags”.
Most anglers who are serious about yellowtail snapper fishing use chum. They respond very well to this and will come up off of the bottom to feed. Anglers can buy frozen blocks of chum while some serious yellowtail snapper experts makes up their own using sand and other components.
Yellowtail snapper can be line shy and difficult to catch at times. The best approach is to usually free line a small cut bait back in the chum slick. Spinning tackle works very well for this. Anglers will manually pull line off of the spool to ensure a natural drift of the bait. They are caught by bottom fishing as well, especially from drifting boats.
Lane snapper are a small member of the snapper family. They may be the best of all of them on a dinner plate. They are caught by anglers bottom fishing over natural ledges, coral reefs, and hard bottom areas. They are found from North Carolina south and in the Gulf of Mexico. Lane snapper are caught fairly shallow, though they do not come inshore very often in decent numbers.
Lane snapper are fairly easy to catch, relatively speaking. A simple chicken rig with shrimp or cut bait works fine. They are fairly aggressive and certainly less finicky than other members of the snapper clan. In fact, they are seldom targeted but are happily encountered when fishing for other bottom dwelling species.
Mutton snapper are another snapper species that lives in deeper waters for the most part. Juvenile mutton snapper can be caught inshore and in passes and inlets. They can be fussy at times and will hit live and cut bait. Drifting wrecke and reefs is usually productive.
Larger mutton snapper tend to be more solitary; they do not school as other snapper species do. They grow fairly large, with the world record being 34 pounds. Mutton snapper range pretty far north, up to New England, but most are caught in the Florida Keys and Caribbean.
Vermillion snapper, also known as “beeliners” are a smaller snapper species. They are fairly widely distributed, being found in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic from North Carolina south. They school up in large numbers and once located, a bunch can be caught. They are small, but beautiful, put up a nice tussle and are fantastic eating. They will hit just about any cut bait.
Schoolmaster snapper are a smaller species that are not as numerous as some of the other snapper species. That are normally found in South Florida and the Caribbean. They are usually found in fairly shallow water over coral reefs. Schoolmaster snapper average a foot or so and like all snappers, fight hard and taste great.
Cubera snapper are the largest of the snapper species, reaching weights exceeding 100 pounds. They are found from Florida south, usually in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean. Cubera snapper can also be caught in some rivers in Central America. They will hit artificial lures and are caught by anglers trolling. Serious anglers use heavy tackle and large live baits. A whole lobster will catch a trophy cubera snapper!
In conclusion, this article on snapper fishing will help anglers identify, but more importantly, catch more of these tasty saltwater bottom fish!
This comprehensive article will thoroughly cover fishing for redfish. Redfish are a very popular inshore saltwater game fish. They vary in size from a foot long to over 90 pounds.
Redfish, Sciaenops ocellatus,also known as red drum, puppy drum, and channel bass are found along the entire coast line from Texas to the mid Atlantic states. They inhabit the coastal waters and are found in tidal creeks, shallow flats, inlets and passes, and out on the surf. They are one of the most distinguishable species due to the big black spot on their tail.
Redfish have an inferior mouth. This means that the nose of the fish protrudes out in front of the mouth. This gives anglers a clue as to its feeding habits. Redfish are built to route along the bottom for crustaceans and other forage. Their hard, pointy nose aids in this endeavor. However, redfish are opportunistic feeders and most certainly feed on bait fish heavily as well.
Life cycle of redfish
Like all fish species, it is important to understand the habits and seasonal migrations of redfish in order to be successful. Juvenile redfish spend most of their time in bays, tidal creeks, and backwater areas. Shrimp and other crustaceans make up the majority of their diet in these early years.
Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.
Redfish reach maturity at around 4 to 5 years of age. They will school up in large numbers and move out of the bays and out into the nearshore waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico to spawn. This occurs in late summer and early fall throughout their range. Upon completion of spawning, most redfish will move back into the inshore bays. However, some will remain in the open waters as well.
Best redfish fishing tackle
While redfish can grow very large, the vast majority of redfish caught by anglers way between two and 10 pounds. The same inshore tackle that is used for speckled trout, school striped bass and bluefish, and flounder will work fine when fishing for redfish in most situations. Both spinning and bait casting tackle does a great job, it is just a matter of angler preference.
A 7 foot spinning rod with a medium action and paired with a 3000 to 4000 series reel is an excellent all round combination. It will allow anglers to cast lighter lures where required as well is fishing heavier baits and handling a large redfish should one be hooked. The reel can be spooled up with 10 to 15 pound monofilament or braided line.
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Bait casting, or conventional tackle is quite popular for anglers fishing for redfish as well. This is particularly true along the Gulf Coast where anglers encounter larger redfish in the inshore waters. It is an excellent choice when casting heavier lures or rigs. Again, a 7 foot medium action rod with a matching reel and 20 pound braided line works well.
Redfish habits and behavior
Redfish thrive in a wide variety of environments. This is one of the keys to their success as a species. Redfish are found in brackish waters, though they do prefer a bit more salinity than some other species. There are situations in Louisiana and other marsh environments where redfish and largemouth bass can actually be caught in the same locations.
Many anglers associate redfish with shallow water flats, and for good reason. Redfish are built to feed on crustaceans. Shallow flats that consist of a mix of sand, grass, and oyster bars are prime environments for this forage. Naturally, redfish will be attracted to it. Minnows, finger mullet, pin fish, glass minnows, anchovies, and other bait fish will also inhabit these areas.
Man-made structure will attract redfish as well. Docks, bridges, piers, , seawalls, and rip-rap will all attract and hold redfish. This is especially true in passes and inlets were current flow will create natural ambush feeding stations. These structures provide a break from the current as well as cover that attracts forage. All of these factors combined to make this type of man-made structure a good place to catch redfish.
Redfish are prized by anglers who enjoy surf fishing as well. While redfish can be taken from the beach anywhere along its range, this technique is particularly effective in the mid Atlantic states from South Carolina to Delaware.
Also, schools of large mature redfish are often encountered in the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico, particularly from Texas to the Florida Panhandle. These fish can be found right in on the beach as well as several miles offshore. They often relate to underwater structure such as artificial reefs and natural ledges.
Fishing for redfish; techniques
There are several different situations where redfish will be found. Each of these require specific tactics and techniques in order to be successful. Therefore, each will be covered in separate sections. They include; fishing the shallow flats, fishing structure, and surf fishing.
Fishing for redfish on the shallow flats
Most of the redfish caught by anglers are probably done so on the shallow grass flats and backwater creeks throughout their range. As mentioned above, this is prime habitat for the way a redfish is built and the manner in which it feeds. However, fish that feed in less than a foot of water can often times be very spooky and difficult to catch. Also, understanding tides and how it affects fish movements and behavior are crucial to success.
Tides is probably the most important factor affecting redfish on the shallow flats. To complicate matters, tides vary greatly depending on the part of the country an angler is fishing. Along the Gulf Coast, the water only changes 2 to 3 feet at most. However, in North Florida and South Georgia, tides can be as much as 10 feet. Experience is the best teacher and learning how these tides affect redfish in each geographical area.
To further complicate matters, the height of the tides changes due to a variety of factors. Tidal flow is caused by the gravitational pull of the moon. As the moon phases change, so do these current strengths. The highest and lowest tides are on the full moon and new moon. Conversely, the tides are weaker with less movement on the quarter moons.
Strong winds will also have an effect on water flow and height. In most instances, a north or northeast wind will result in less water or a lower tide while a strong south wind or southwest wind will do the opposite and flood the bays. A very low tide with a strong northeast wind can result in their being very little water. On the other hand, the combination of a high tide and a strong southwest wind will have the opposite effect.
How tides affect redfish movements
Understanding how redfish move with different stages of the tide is very important in order to locate and catch them. On low tides, fish will stage in deeper areas. There simply is not enough water on the flats for them to get up and feed. Deeper holes and flats may hold a lot of redfish and one small area. This is true also of troughs and depressions. Often times, redfish stage near flats in water that is just slightly deeper.
As the tide begins to flood or rise, redfish will move up onto the flat with it. Many anglers believe this is the best time to catch redfish as they are hungry and active and just beginning to feed. As the maximum high tide approaches, the flats will be flooded with water and redfish will scatter out. While they are still feeding, they can be difficult to locate.
As the tide peaks and begins to ebb out, redfish will reverse their movements and start easing towards deeper water again. This can be a difficult time to catch them. The fish have been feeding for several hours and they do not want to get stranded on the flat with no water. Fish that are spooked during this time will usually vacate the flat and not return. As the water reaches low tide, the cycle repeats itself.
Fishing for redfish with artificial lures
Most anglers chasing redfish in shallow water do so using artificial lures. There are couple reasons for this. Lures allow anglers to cover a lot of water in search of fish. Also, several lures are particularly effective for fishing through grass in shallow water. These include weedless spoons, spinner baits, and soft plastic lures.
Perhaps the most effective weedless spoon is the Johnson Silver Minnow. It began its life as a lure used to fish for largemouth bass near lily pads and other vegetation. Redfish anglers quickly learned that it works quite well on their species. The spoon casts a long way and emits both flash and vibration. It rides with the hook up and has a weed guard, making it fairly weedless.
Spinnerbaits are another freshwater lure that work well for redfish. They also cast a long way and combine the flash and vibration of a spoon with the bulk and action action of a jig. The Strike King Redfish Magic spinnerbait is a prime example. They are an excellent search bait that allows anglers to cover a lot of water and are also quite weedless. Most spinner baits used for redfish have a grub body on the jig head as opposed to a rubber skirt which is most often used in freshwater fishing.
Soft plastic baits are extremely effective on the shallow grass flats as well. They are a better choice when thoroughly covering an area once fish are located as the bait is worked much more slowly than spoons or spinnerbaits. The selections are endless and each geographical area has baits and color patterns that are productive. Local bait shops and tackle stores are excellent sources of information. These baits can be rigged it weedless on swim bait hooks or fished on an open hook with a jig head.
Another popular technique that works very well for anglers fishing for redfish is to use a noisy float in conjunction with a soft plastic lure. These floats, called popping corks by some, are large noisy floats that have a concave top or have rattles. A leader between 18 inches and 36 inches long connects the float with a jig and grub. Some anglers use a plastic shrimp. Live shrimp is used under the same floats quite effectively as well.
When twitched sharply, the float puts out a loud popping sound which simulates feeding game fish and attracts redfish to the rig. This “pop” also causes the jig to jerk up and then flutter down seductively. So basically, the float attracts the fish and then once it is drawn to the sound it sees the jig and eats it. This works extremely well stirred up water where redfish cannot see and the sound really aids in bringing them to the bait.
Fishing for redfish with live bait
While many anglers target redfish using lures, live bait is also extremely effective. The top live bait by far is a shrimp. Redfish, and every other saltwater game fish, happily devour shrimp whenever possible. Live shrimp are also easy to obtain and are available at just about every coastal bait shop. They are fairly easy to keep alive. Crabs are also used as bait in some locations.
Live bait fish will fool redfish as well. The type of bait fish used really depends on the area being fished and the forage that is available. Pinfish and grunts are very popular throughout much of their range. Croakers are the top spot and some areas. Finger mullet, sardines, pogies, and other bait fish are used as well. In some situations, especially surf fishing, the bait is used as fresh cut bait instead of presented live.
Live bait can be presented in a couple different ways. Where applicable, free lining a live bait works very well. This is simply hooking the shrimp or bait fish on the hook with no other weight included. This allows the bait to move about in a very natural and lifelike manner. Anglers often fish live bait under a popping cork. This is a noisy float used to suspend the bait at a desired level. It also attracts redfish and gives a visual reference when a strike occurs.
Top areas to find redfish
Anglers can both site fish and blind fish when searching for redfish on the shallow flats. Often times one angler fishes from the bow while another pulls the boat from a platform at the stern. Anglers can cast to likely looking spots or wait until a fish is spotted. Top spots include oyster bars, potholes, cuts and the shoreline or bars, and expanses of grass flats.
Redfish will also drop off of the very shallow flats and roam about in water between 2 feet deep and 6 feet deep to feed. In these situations, sight fishing really is not an option. The best choice is to drift an area and blind cast with lures or live bait in search of fish. Diving birds are an excellent sign of fish activity as are bait fish that are seen on the surface. Some days it can just be a matter of moving around until the fish are located.
Structure holds redfish
Fishing for redfish around structure is very similar to structure fishing for other species. Live or cut bait is most often used, though anglers can certainly fish with artificial lures as well. Casting lures works well when fishing a row of docks or drifting along the edge of a seawall or jetty. A jig head with a soft plastic grub is the best lure for this situation.
Anglers fishing with live or cut bait generally do best by anchoring up tide of the structure that is being fished. This allows anglers to present their bait back with the tide in a very natural manner. When fishing in passes and inlets, heavyweight can often be required. Anglers will constantly need to adjust the weight based on the tidal flow. This is particularly true on the East Coast inlets where current is quite strong. In many cases, the best time to fish these areas is during the periods of less water movement when the tide is changing.
Ledges are an example of natural structure that will definitely attract and hold redfish. These often occur in inlets and passes as well as other channels. Anchoring right on the edge of the ledge or drop off in presenting the bait can be extremely effective. Anglers in North Florida and Georgia catch some very large redfish using this technique. Cut bait such as crab or cut mullet is often used.
Surf fishing for redfish
Surf fishing for redfish is very popular all throughout the range. Along the Gulf Coast, the same techniques that work on the flats generally produce redfish off of the beach since the waves and surf are much smaller than in the Atlantic Ocean. A jig with a soft plastic grub body is an excellent choice, as are spoons. A live shrimp fished under a float or free lined will produce redfish as well. When the surf is a bit rougher, bottom fishing with a chunk of fresh cut bait is the best option.
Surf fishing for redfish really becomes popular in the mid Atlantic states, with the Outer Banks in North Carolina being “surf fishing central”. These anglers are serious about their surf fishing and have special rods and reels and other gear, including specialized vehicles for running out on the sand. Due to the rough surf and churned up water, most anglers opt for cut bait in this application. However, redfish can certainly be caught by anglers casting artificial lures when conditions are right.
Tides are important when anglers are surf fishing for redfish as well. High tide is generally preferred as it will often move fish into the first trough, closest to shore. On lower tide stages, making extra long casts out beyond the bar can be important. Also, locating cuts in the bars will produce redfish as they will use these to navigate out to deeper water.
Top spots for catching redfish
There are several areas of the country that are particularly productive when it comes to fishing for redfish. Each of these spots will be outlined with a short description of the area.
There can be little doubt that Venice, Louisiana is the redfish capital of the world. Redfish are abundant here and they grow very large. This is mostly due to the incredible amount of forage including shrimp, mullet, and other forage that is a result of the Mississippi Delta system. Also, it is a large area with perfect habitat for redfish. A boat is required for this area and most anglers opt for a guide as it is easy to get lost in the myriad of channels and islands.
The southeast coast line of Texas offers anglers fantastic fishing for redfish as well. This is a more traditional area of barrier islands with shallow bays between the islands and the mainland. The best fishing starts at Port O’Connor and goes south to South Padre Island. Laguna Mondrian particularly is legendary for its redfish and speckled trout fishing. Baffin Bay and Corpus Christi Bay are also quite productive. Anglers use special shallow draft boats to get around these bays and often get out and wade once they get to the productive areas.
Anglers can also do well in this area without a boat. Bridges, docks, seawalls, and fishing piers can all be productive spots for redfish. This area also offers anglers a lot of access to park their vehicle and wade out in search of fish. Finally, surf fishing can be productive along the entire coast line as well.
Northeast Gulf of Mexico
The Northeast corner of the Gulf of Mexico in the Stein hatchet, Florida area offers anglers fine redfish action as well. This is a fairly undeveloped and laid-back area that anglers will find a nice change of pace from some other more hectic spots. There are miles and miles of shallow flats in the Gulf of Mexico as well as title creeks and rivers that produce redfish. A boat is required and it is a tricky area when it comes to navigation as the bottom can be quite rocky.
Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor, Florida
Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor on the West Coast of Florida also hold good numbers of redfish. However, unlike some other areas, these fish get a lot of pressure and are difficult to catch comparatively speaking. Charter boat captains and guides often use live bait to chum the redfish up in a mood to feed. They are getting more difficult to catch on artificial lures. There are many public boat ramps and anglers without boats can access redfish by wading and fishing from docks, piers, bridges, and in the surf.
Northeast Florida and southern Georgia offer anglers some fantastic fishing for redfish. This area is very well-known for catching large redfish in the inlets while bottom fishing with crab and other cut bait. This requires fairly stout tackle and a good knowledge of tides. Average sized redfish are plentiful in the back bays and countless title creeks and rivers. This area sees extreme tides, sometimes as much is 10 feet. These tides will result in redfish locations changing constantly.
Charleston and Savannah
The sounds and many rivers and creeks in this area offer perfect habitat for redfish. This area of the country does not get as much attention as some other spots, but offers world-class fishing for redfish when conditions are right. Anglers with boats can explore the creeks and rivers much better and cast lures or shrimp in search of fish. However, there are plenty of spots open to the public that will produce as well.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
Anglers looking to go surf fishing for redfish had for one spot; the Outer Banks in North Carolina. This is a very unique spot that is actually the easternmost point of the United States. The barrier islands of North Carolina jut out into the Atlantic Ocean further than any other spots in the country. Experienced anglers use very long surf rods, known as Hatteras heavers, to toss their offerings a long distance and to keep the line up over the crashing waves. Specialized four-wheel-drive vehicles are used to chase the fish up and down the beach. This is a specialized form of fishing that takes patience and experience, but is very rewarding. The inshore bays offer excellent fishing for smaller redfish as well.
Chesapeake Bay has experienced an increase in redfish numbers over the last decade or so. Fish of all sizes from smaller puppy drum to the larger cows are caught throughout the Bay. Bottom fishing with heavy tackle and large cut baits in the main shipping channel edges produces the larger redfish. Average sized reds are found in the many title rivers and tributaries of Chesapeake Bay. Surf fishing is also productive at Assateague Island and Chincoteague Island.
In conclusion, this article on fishing for redfish will help anglers catch more of these inshore saltwater game fish!