Fishing Articles

Fishing Articles from Capt Jim Klopfer

This post is the list of fishing articles written by Capt Jim Klopfer. These articles will be broken down into several categories. These include Sarasota fishing articles, Florida fishing articles, freshwater fishing articles, and miscellaneous fishing articles. Simply click on the article title to read the article.

fishing articles

Saltwater fishing articles

Florida Saltwater Fishing in Fall

7 Useful Flounder Fishing Tips

Black Sea Bass Fishing

Snapper Fishing – A Complete Guide

Fishing for Redfish, a Complete Guide

What is the best Saltwater Fishing Reel under $100?

Saltwater Fishing with Shrimp

7 Essential Surf Fishing Lures

Top 14 Chesapeake Bay Game Fish

Inshore Saltwater Fishing, a Complete Guide

What is the Best Pompano Fishing Lure?

Fishing for False Albacore, Pro Tips and Techniques

Best Cobia Fishing Tackle and Lures

Best Speckled Trout Fishing Tackle

Surf Fishing Tackle and Techniques

Best Jerkbait for Saltwater Fishing

11 Valuable Tampa Bay Fishing Tips

Best 6 Topwater Plugs for Saltwater Fishing

Best 7 Saltwater Fishing Spoons

Best Sheepshead Fishing Tackle and Baits

Tarpon Fishing Tackle and Gear, an Angler’s Guide

Best Redfish Fishing Tackle and lures

Best 12 Spotted Sea Trout Fishing Lures

Best Flounder and Fluke Fishing Tackle and Techniques

Best Grouper Fishing Tackle and Lures

Best False Albacore Fishing Tackle and Lures

Best Live Baits for Saltwater Fishing in Florida

Best 7 Fishing Lures for Redfish

Top 9 speckled trout fishing lures

Top 6 Spanish mackerel fishing lures

Jack Crevalle Fishing, a Complete Guide

Light Tackle Bottom Fishing Tips

What is the Best Saltwater Fishing Fly

How to Catch Saltwater Fish with Jigs

Spotted Sea Trout Fishing, Tips to Succeed

Fishing for Redfish and Speckled Trout

Fishing for Bluefish, Tips and Techniques

Top 15 Sheepshead Fishing Tips

Best 6 Saltwater Fishing Lures

Top 6 Spanish mackerel fishing lures

Florida fishing articles

Surf Fishing in Florida

Florida Saltwater Fishing in Summer

Largemouth Bass Fishing in Florida

Best 14 Tampa Bay Fishing Spots

Fishing for Snook, a Complete Guide

Florida Offshore Fishing Tips

Florida Pompano Fishing

Florida Bluefish

Freshwater Fly Fishing in Florida

Fly Fishing in Florida, Gulf Coast Tips

Tarpon Fishing in Florida, an Anglers Guide

Light Tackle Trolling in Saltwater

Jacksonville Florida Fishing Tips

Best Snook Fishing Tackle and Lures

Florida King Mackerel Fishing, Tips and Techniques

Top 21 Florida Saltwater Game Fish

What is the Best Bait for Shark Fishing?

Fishing for Florida Panfish and Crappie

Top 25 Florida Game Fish

Florida Saltwater Fishing in Winter

Fishing for Ladyfish in Florida

Freshwater fishing articles

Top 12 Michigan Game Fish Species

Top 15 Wisconsin Game Fish Species

Streamer Fishing for Trout – Pro Tips!

Trout Fishing Equipment – A Complete Guide

Fly Fishing for Bass

10 Essential Spotted Bass Fishing Lures

Largemouth Bass Fishing _ Tips, Tackle, and Techniques

Top 18 Minnesota Game Fish

Bluegill Fishing- Tips, Tackle, and Techniques

Best 11 Brook Trout Fishing Lures

What is the Best Fishing Bait for Blue Catfish?

What is the Best Fishing Bait for Channel Catfish

What is the best largemouth bass fishing lure?

What is the best crappie fishing lure?

9 Essential Smallmouth Bass Fishing Lures

14 Essential Walleye Trolling Lures

Top 6 Freshwater Fishing Lures

What is the Best Live Bait for Crappie Fishing?

Top 5 Freshwater Fishing Spinners

Best small Spinnerbait for Bass Fishing

Best Brook Trout Fishing tackle

Best Lake Trout Fishing Tackle and Gear

Best Musky Fishing Tackle

Northern Pike Fishing Tips and Tackle

Best Smallmouth Bass Fishing Tackle and lures

Rock Bass Fishing Tips and Tackle

Fishing for Crappie, Bluegill, and Panfish

Walleye Fishing Tackle and lures

Top 13 Freshwater Fishing Plugs

Best 11 topwater plugs for freshwater fishing

Top 11 Freshwater Fishing Spoons

Largemouth Bass Fishing in Creeks

Spinnerbait Fishing Tips and Techniques

Bass Fishing Tackle and Equipment

Best Catfish Fishing Tackle and Gear

Best 13 Brown Trout Fishing Lures

Freshwater Fishing Tackle and Lures, a Beginners Guide

Ice Fishing Tackle and Gear

Top 10 Northern Pike Fishing Lures

Top 11 Musky Fishing Lures

What is the best Northern Pike Fishing Lure

Best 13 Largemouth Bass Fishing Lures for Beginners

Best River Trout Fishing Lure

What is the best live bait for freshwater fishing?

Fly Fishing for Bluegill and Panfish

Fishing with Spinners in Rivers and Streams

Top 13 Rainbow Trout Fishing Lures

What is the best live bait for smallmouth bass?

Best 9 Fishing Lures for Streams and Small Rivers

Ice Fishing for Crappie, a Beginners Guide

Crappie Fishing Tackle and Lures, a Complete Guide

Best 9 fishing lures for bluegill and panfish

How to Catch Catfish, a Comprehensive Guide

Walleye Fishing, a Beginners Guide

Fishing for River Catfish, Tips and Techniques

Smallmouth Bass Fishing for Beginners

Best 7 River Smallmouth Fishing Lures

Fishing Franklin North Carolina

Top 27 Freshwater Game Fish Species

Trout Fishing in Blue Ridge, Georgia

Manitoba and Alberta Fishing

River Fishing Tips and Techniques

Fishing the North Shore of Minnesota

Sarasota fishing articles

Fishing Sarasota Bay, Pro Tips!

Fishing Siesta Key

Sarasota Fishing Calendar

Sarasota Bottom Fishing

Best 11 Sarasota Fishing Reefs

Sarasota Offshore Fishing

Sarasota Redfish

Sarasota Chumming Techniques

River Snook Fishing Charters

Sarasota Bass Fishing

Sarasota Snook Fishing

Sarasota False Albacore

Sarasota Fishing Forecast

Sarasota Crappie Fishing

Sarasota Sheepshead Fishing

Sarasota Mangrove Snapper Fishing

Sarasota Speckled Trout Fishing

Longboat Key Fishing Charters

Sarasota Freshwater Fishing

Best 6 Sarasota Fishing Lures

Fly Fishing Sarasota Rivers

Best Sarasota Fishing Charter

35 Best Sarasota Fishing Spots

Sarasota Jig Fishing

Sarasota Trolling Techniques

Siesta Key Snook Fishing

Best 7 Lido Key Fishing Spots

17 Best Bradenton Fishing Spots

Fishing Charters in Sarasota

Miscellaneous Fishing Articles

Best 5 Fishing Techniques

Fishing for Striped Bass, Tips, Tackle, and Techniques

Top 25 Carolina Game Fish

7 Essential Striped Bass Fishing Lures

What is the Best Striped Bass Fishing Lure?

What is the best fishing knot?

What is the Best Scented Soft Plastic Fishing Lure

Best Striped Bass Fishing Tackle and Lures

Top 12 Texas Game Fish

A Guide to Kayak Fishing for Beginners

Fishing for Striped Bass – Tips, Tackle, and Techniques

Fishing for Striped Bass – Tips, Tackle, and Techniques

This article will thoroughly cover fishing for striped bass. Striped bass, also known as stripers and rockfish are an extremely popular game fish. They are a bit unusual in that they thrive in both freshwater and saltwater environments.

striped bass fishing

Striped bass, Morone saxatilis, are the most popular inshore saltwater game fish in the Northeast. They range from Maine down to South Carolina. Anglers catch them trolling, casting, using live bait, and surf fishing. They have also been transplanted successfully in many large freshwater lakes. There is also a population of striped bass in San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento River. They grow quite large with the world record being a touch over 80 pounds.

Striped bass distribution

In salt water, striped bass are found from the mid Atlantic off of the Carolina coast north into Canada. Striped bass were also introduced into San Francisco Bay. In both of these saltwater environments, striped bass migrate up into freshwater rivers to spawn. On the East Coast, the Chesapeake Bay watershed and Hudson River host the majority of spawning striped bass. On the West Coast, the Sacramento River accomplishes this.

inshore saltwater fishing

Striped bass have been introduced into many freshwater reservoir systems with great success. Most of these impoundments were created in the 1960s and 1970s and created fantastic largemouth bass fisheries. However, over the course of time much of the flooded timber has rotted and bass moved to man-made structure especially docks.

With so much open water available, striped bass and forage such as herring and shad were introduced into these waters. Striped bass flourish in these large lakes as they are mostly open water predators. Dams do restrict spawning in many of these lakes is restricted by dams, therefore striped bass are stocked regularly.

Striped bass habits

Striped bass are open water predators. They are most often found in fairly large schools. Striped bass have a varied diet and are opportunistic feeders. However, they primarily feed on bait fish, particularly herring and shad in freshwater and menhaden (bunker), herring, mackerel, sand eels, and other bait fish in saltwater.

fishing for striped bass

Striped bass are often seen feeding on the surface. Anglers call this “breaking fish” and it is very exciting! Just about any flashy lure will draw a strike when fish are actively feeding like this. Trolling works well when striped bass are suspended below the surface.

Anglers do catch striped bass by casting lures and baits towards shoreline cover, mostly in saltwater situations. They will be found on bars and flats seeking forage. Striped bass can also be caught up in rivers as they migrate to spawn.

Striped bass fishing tackle

Lake Murray striped bass

The best striped bass fishing tackle varies, depending on the size of the fish and the technique being used. Medium spinning tackle works well for casting lures. A medium heavy baitcasting/conventional outfit is a good all-round choice. Heavy conventional tackle is required for trolling. Typical surf fishing gear works fine off the beach.

Anglers can read more about striped bass fishing tackle and lures in this article by Capt Jim

Spinning tackle is very versatile. It is the best choice for anglers casting lighter lures and smaller live baits for average sized striped bass in both fresh and saltwater. A 7′ medium action rod with a 3000-4000 series reel spooled up with 20 lb braided line is an excellent rod and reel combination.

surf fishing for striped bass

Baitcasting tackle certainly has it’s place when fishing for striped bass. It works very well when casting heavier lures and live baits as well as having the power to handle a decent fish. A baitcasting outfit also works great for chunking, bottom fishing, and light tackle trolling. A 7′ to 7 ½’ medium heavy outfit with 30 lb braid works great.

Anglers can shop Amazon for Penn spinning and conventional combos

“Fishing Lido Key is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

Anglers serious about striped bass fishing and seeking larger fish will need some heavy conventional tackle. This is used for trolling mostly, but can also be used to present live or cut bait to large fish. The venerable Penn 4/0 outfit works very well.

surf fishing

Surf fishing for striped bass is very popular for anglers all along the east coast. Standard surf fishing gear works fine and most anglers already have the proper equipment. For those that do not, a 12” medium heavy spinning outfit is a good place to start.

Striped bass fishing techniques

There are several techniques that are productive for anglers fishing for striped bass. These include drifting, trolling, casting lures, and bottom fishing. Some techniques even kind of cross over.

Carolina game fish

Drift fishing

Drifting can be an effective technique to locate and catch striped bass. This is particularly true in cooler water when striped bass are in deeper water, close to the bottom. This works well in saltwater where tidal flow will keep the boat moving. It can be used when freshwater fishing for striped bass as well.

Drift fishing is effective because it keeps the bait in the strike zone for the maximum amount of time while searching for fish. Live and cut bait are often used. However, anglers can vertically present a jig or spoon as well. The best spots to drift are ledges, sunken islands, wrecks and reefs, and near schools of bait.

Trolling for striped bass

Trolling is an extremely effective technique for catching striped bass. It allows anglers to cover a lot of water while presenting multiple baits or lures at various depths. One a particular pattern emerges, anglers can focus in on that bait and depth to catch a lot of fish.

trolling for striped bass

Anglers can troll with both live bait and artificial lures. Slowly trolling a live herring or shad is the predominant method for taking big striped bass in freshwater lakes. Downriggers and sinkers are used to get the baits down to the desired depth. The boat is moved slowly, just enough to keep the lines straight. Channel edges are top spots as are any area where bait fish is plentiful.

Read more about trolling techniques in this article

Most anglers trolling for striped bass in saltwater use artificial lures. They can be trolled faster which helps anglers find the fish more quickly. Spoons, jigs, and plugs are all effective lures to use. Anglers should try to match the lure to the size of the available forage. Local tackle shops are an excellent source of information as to what lures produce in a particular area.

Plugs are great for trolling because no other gear is required, the lip on the plug will get it down in the water column. Spoons and jigs require trolling sinkers, downriggers, wire line, or planers. A trolling sinker followed by 10′ to 20′ of leader and then the lure is perhaps the easiest method. Planers work great as well, once an angler gets used to setting them.

striped bass fishing tips and spots

Umbrella rigs are interesting rigs that are mostly used for striped bass fishing, though smaller versions are used by largemouth bass fishing (known as Alabama rigs). They allow anglers to present several lures at once. The rig mimics a school of bait fish, jigs are most often used. It is a bit cumbersome, but effective.

Fishing for striped bass with lures

Anglers fishing for striped bass can catch them casting lures as well. This is similar to other styles of fishing as anglers work a shoreline or flat while casting lures in search of fish. A lead head jig with a 4” to 6” soft plastic bait works very well. Plugs and spoons will also produce when blind casting. Many striped bass caught by anglers surf fishing do so casting lures.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge striped bass

As mentioned earlier, one of the most exciting striped bass fishing situations occurs when fish are found feeding on the surface. This occurs in both lakes and in saltwater. Bass “trap” the helpless bait against the surface and then feed aggressively. Birds are often a sign that feeding stripers are in the area.

Read about the best striped bass fishing lures in this article

Spoons, plugs, and jigs all work well in this situation. Anglers fly fishing can get in on the action as well. Fish really are not that fussy and will hit most lures that are presented well. The main factor to pay attention to is boat position. It is important to be as patient as possible and work the edges of the fish. Driving through the middle of them will often result in the striped bass going deep. Vertically jigging a spoon works great when this happens.

Fishing for striped bass with bait

Plenty of anglers fishing for striped bass do so using basic bottom fishing techniques. Fishing with live or cut bait on the bottom produces every saltwater species and striped bass are no exception. Bottom fishing with cut and chunk bait work very well for anglers surf fishing for striped bass.

top Tennessee game fish species

Live bait works fine for bottom fishing, especially in saltwater, but cut bait is as productive and easier to use. Cut bait stays on the hook longer as well, which is an issue when crabs and bait-stealers are around. Any fresh caught fish that is legal to use will produce. Oily fish such as mackerel and menhaden are particularly effective.

Live bait is certainly used as well, but more often it is free lined or trolled as opposed to fished right on the bottom. These include herring, shad, menhaden, bloodworms, eels, and more. This technique works very well around bridges at night, some very large fish are caught doing this.

Fishing for striped bass in rivers

Many anglers enjoy fishing for striped bass in rivers. This is usually best in spring as stripers go on a spawning run. In lakes with dame, the fish often are forced to stop and school up at the tailwaters of dams. These can be fantastic fishing spots as fish are ganged up and forage comes through or over the dam.

top 13 Chesapeake Bay game fish

While these are terrific spots, anglers do need to be very careful as currents can be strong. Drifting with bait or lures or casting lures will produce fish. Anglers can often fish these spots from the shoreline, eliminating the need for a boat.

Free flowing rivers will see striped bass migrating very far upriver, to portions where it becomes totally fresh. The major tributaries of the Cheasapeake Bay are important spawning grounds. The Hudson River sees a lot of striped bass as well. On the west coast, the Sacramento River gets a nice push of fish as well.

Drifting through deep holes is productive when fishing for striped bass in rivers. In slower moving rivers, trolling will also produce fish. As it shallows up, bumping a jig along the bottom works quite well.

Inlets are excellent spots to target striped bass. This is especially true for anglers without a boat, as most inlets have jetties which allow anglers access. The best time to fish inlets is generally on the turn of the tide, when the current flow is reduced. It is difficult to fish when the current is running hard through the inlet.

inshore saltwater fishing

Anglers fishing the inlets can choose to use both natural and artificial baits. Those casting poppers and other plugs along with spoons and jigs do quite well when working parallel to the rocks. They will also make opportunistic cast whenever breaking fish pop up. Anglers bottom fishing need to constantly adjust the weight in order to minimize snags. Often times, the best spot to bottom fish is on the backside of the jetty where there is a sandy bottom and a current eddy.

East Coast striped bass

Striped bass spawn in the brackish tributary rivers. Chesapeake Bay is responsible for about 80% of the striped bass spawning activity. The Hudson River in New York is second in that regard. Juvenile striped bass spend the first couple years in the freshwater and brackish rivers before migrating out to the open water. Striped bass can live up to 30 years old.

fishing inlets

Striped bass can be caught using a wide variety of angling techniques. They are caught drift fishing, trolling, sight fishing, chumming, fly fishing, and surf fishing.

Striped bass fishing techniques

Anglers choosing to drift with natural bait will have success use in both live and cut bait. A free lined pogy or menhaden is a deadly bait for a trophy striped bass. Small live eels are used as well, especially in Chesapeake Bay around the bridges. Cut bait such as strips or chunks of fresh fish and squid will also produce. Anglers choosing to drift while using artificial lures will do well with jigs and heavy vertical jigging spoons.

Some anglers choose to anchor and chum a spot, rather than drifting it. This can be an extremely productive technique. The boat is anchored up on a drop off, piece of hard bottom, or other likely spot. Menhaden oil or other chum is dispersed with the tide from the stern. Several rods are rigged and hooked up with chunks of fresh baits such as pogy or menhaden. Any oily fish will work; bluefish and mackerel are fine baits. It is important to use circle hooks in this application to reduce the number of fish that are gut hooked. Many states require this by law.

Top east coast striped bass fishing spots

Striped bass fishing in Maine

Starting in the north, Maine now has reliable fishing for striped bass once again. After several down years, the numbers of fish are back up again. Biologists credit tough regulations along the east coast and plentiful bait fish as the main reasons for the resurgence.

Susquehanna River striped bass

Fish show in the the southern part of the state in May. They will move as far north as Penobscot Bay by late June. Mackerel, either live or in chunks, is a top striper bait. Any fresh cut bait will work at times. Sand worms and blood worms are also effective baits. Poppers, diving plugs, spoons, and jigs are the top choices for anglers who prefer artificial baits.

Striped bass fishing in Massachusetts

Striped bass show up off of Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay in late April and stay until fall. Smaller fish are usually first to show up, followed by the larger specimens. Massachusetts offers anglers fantastic striped bass fishing when conditions are right. Fish will be caught in Buzzards Bay, Cape Cod Bay, and off the area beaches.

Anglers fishing from boats catch striped bass trolling and drifting. However, the most exciting fishing is when schools of fish are “breaking” on the surface. Just about any lure will draw a strike. Surf fishing is extremely popular in this area as well. Cape Cod is famous for surf fishing for stripers and other species.

Striped bass fishing in New York and New Jersey

Long Island sound and the New York and New Jersey beaches offer fantastic striped bass fishing. Fish show up in mid April and stay until Thanksgiving. Anglers can target them by trolling, drifting, casting, and surf fishing. Sight casting to large fish in shallow water is great sport!

spinnerbait fishing techniques

The fall blitzes off of Montauk are legendary. Fish will be seen busting on top throughout the area. Boating can be intense, especially on the weekends. The key to the fishing is the abundance of bait. This attracts the striped bass as they migrate through and they feed heavily, especially in the fall.

The Hudson River is responsible only behind Chesapeake Bay for producing juvenile striped bass. The fishing during the spring run can be epic. The prime time is from mid-April to mid-May. All of the same techniques produce in the river as in the saltwater.

Striped bass fishing the coast

Kirsten Holloway fishes the New Jersey Coast north of Atlantic City. As far as bass fishing on the Great Egg Harbor river goes, she catches fish on a variety of baits depending on the month of the year. In these pictures, the fish were caught in the spring time when the fish enter the river for spawning. At this time, the fish are after bloodworms and herring. Since the use of herring as bait has been outlawed, we have came up with some alternatives.

striped bass spots

Most of these fish were caught as I like to refer to it as “chunkin”. I will use a hi-lo rig to catch a few smaller perch. I will then use the perch as bait and allow the bass to find the chunk, while staying anchored. It has seemed to work very well. If that isn’t working or I am looking to stay busy, I have also caught quite a few bass with a commonly used lure known as the “SP minnow” made by Daiwa.

Striped bass fishing, Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay is responsible for producing 80% of the east coast striped bass. The myriad of tributaries gives spawning fish plenty of places to reproduce. It also offers juvenile fish a place to feed and grow safely. Trolling produces most of the larger fish. Anglers can drift baits and lures as well as cast to fish.

inshore fishing for stripers

Kayla Haile has been fishing the Susquehanna since before she could walk. Her dad would take her fishing there and taught Kayla everything she knows about fishing the river. She currently runs an 1860 G# jet boat. She primarily fishes the Susquehanna below the Cowingo Dam, but knows the Chesapeake Bay as well.

The Chesapeake Is a very diverse fishery. It starts as a river to the north and is almost like an ocean at the mouth. Tributaries hold juvenile fish before they migrate out into the open bay. Mature fish spawn in these rivers and creeks as well.

Striped bass fishing the Susquehanna River

Kayla fishes the lower Susquehanna River below Cowingo Dam. The best fishing is in late spring when the water temperature is around 65°. She likes a 6’7″ medium heavy St. Croix rod, Diawa B&G reel spooled with 30 pound HI-SEAS Grand Slam Braided line.

Tailwater fishing tips

Striped bass are mostly feeding on white perch at this time. Kayla has good success with a white Sassy Shad swim bait on a 3/4 ounce jig head. This bait mimics the white perch that are in the river. Water clarity will affect bait choice. White or pearl is a great all round color. Most of the large striped bass are in shallow water. They put up a great and challenging fight around the rocks and other structure.

Fishing Chesapeake Bay

The entire Chesapeake Bay watershed can be productive. Numerous rivers will hold striped bass in the spring as they spawn. Larger rivers such as the Potomac, Rappahanock, Patuxent, and Choptank are normally best. The mouths of these rivers are good again in the fall. In the warmer months, most of the larger fish will be found in the main channel where the water is deeper.

Virginia river fishing

Breaking fish are plentiful most years in the fall. Many of these are “schoolies” of around 20”, but are fun on light tackle. The late bite at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel at the south end of the bay is legendary. Anglers also catch fish off the surf, especially near the inlets, during the season. Night fishing around the Bay Bridge can be very good.

Striped bass fishing in the Carolinas

Striped bass are plentiful as far down the coast as South Carolina. The Hatteras beaches in North Carolina are famous for surf fishing for striped bass and other species. These isolated barrier islands jut out into the Atlantic Ocean. Anglers come from all over the country to try their hand at surf fishing.

Most anglers surf fishing for striped bass take a two-pronged approach. They keep a 10 foot surf rod rigged up with a popper, plug, spoon, or jig. They they will also have a heavier 14 foot outfit. The heavier rig is baited up with a chunk of bait such as mullet or herring. While waiting for a bite, the lighter rod is used to cast whenever activity is seen.

Massachusetts striped bass

Albermarle Sound and Pamlico Sound are large inshore bays that offer good striped bass fishing as well. Tributaries into the sounds as well as the inshore bays and rivers south to the Georgia state line offer good angling opportunities as well. The same techniques that work up north work well in both North Carolina and South Carolina.

Freshwater striped bass fishing

Striped bass are a huge success story in larger freshwater lake and river systems. As flooded timber has rotted, largemouth bass fishing slowed. Striped bass and herring were introduced, and the stripers flourished! This is particularly true in the Tennessee Valley Authority lakes throughout the Southeast. Dams often prevent spawning, however some sytems are free flowing. While the following article is about Lake Murray, SC, the tactics will work anywhere freshwater striped bass are found.

Lake Murray Striped Bass fishing, Tips and Techniques

This article will focus on catching Lake Murray striped bass. Lake Murray offers excellent fishing for these transplanted game fish, along with bass, catfish, crappie, and other species.

umbrella rig for stripers

Lake Murray is a reservoir in the center of the state of South Carolina. It is 41 miles long and approximately 50,000 acres in size with around 500 miles of shoreline. Lake Murray was impounded in the late 1920s to provide hydroelectric power to the state of South Carolina. South Carolina were an innovator and began stocking striped bass in the late 60’s. Striped bass thrive in this freshwater fishery and are caught using several techniques.

Jacki Gillen is the “Lake Murray correspondent” for the site. She knows the lake well and primarily targets striped bass. Jacki was born in Norfolk, Virginia and grew up in the Lexington area of South Carolina. She spent many summers saltwater fishing with her grandfather in Chesapeake Bay along with freshwater fishing with her father in South Carolina.

Striped bass fishing fever!

It has only been in the last few years that she has found a new love for striped bass fishing with her husband on Lake Murray. Jacki also really enjoys offshore fishing and Charleston, South Carolina and in the Florida Keys. She owns J Hooker Fishing with her husband Jacob. Jacki is on the Striper Sniper pro staff and has great success using their products.

striper fishing Lake Murray

Striped bass are a saltwater game fish that were introduced into freshwater lakes in the early 70’s. Stripers spawn in freshwater and brackish rivers. Biologists were confident that they would do well in large freshwater lakes. They were correct! Striped bass do require fresh, flowing water to spawn. Santee Cooper is the only lake in South Carolina that has this environment. Therefore, Lake Murray striped bass do not reproduce. A million 1” fish are stocked each year.

Lake Murray striped bass forage

Striped bass feed primarily on bait fish. The primary forage species are threadfin shad followed by the gizzard shad. However, most and guides seem to prefer fishing with the blueback herring. These herring were not natural to Lake Murray, but were introduced by fishermen in 1985 and are now an established forage fish. Jacki does fine using herring and gizzard shad. Bait can be caught but Jacki prefers the convenience of picking it up at local bait shops.

The lures that Jacki uses and recommends when fishing for Lake Murray striped bass mimic these shad species in size and color. Bait size changes as they grow. Successful anglers “match the hatch” by keeping up with the size shad that the stripers are feeding on.

Lake Murray striped bass fishing tackle

Anglers need both spinning tackle and conventional tackle when targeting Lake Murray striped bass. Spinning tackle is used to cast to breaking fish (fish that are feeding on the surface) and for vertical jigging. Jacki prefers a 7 foot rod matched with a 3000-5000 series reel. She uses 20-30 lb braided line. No leader is required as the lure is tied directly to the braid.

Trolling requires heavier tackle. The strain of the larger lures and rigs dictates the use of light conventional equipment. Not to mention that there is always a chance to hook a very large fish as well as multiple fish at one time. Jacki uses 7′ rods, Penn 30 series conventional reels, and 50 lb test line on her trolling outfits.

Umbrella rigs are effective on Lake Murray striped bass

Umbrella rigs are very productive when trolling for Lake Murray striped bass. They can be a bit cumbersome and will tangle when multiple fish are hooked. Umbrella rigs are basically larger versions of the “Alabama rigs” that largemouth bass anglers have made popular. They do a great job of imitating a school of shad. Jacki prefers Capt. Mack’s un-rigged nine bait umbrella rigs. She pairs them all with Striper Sniper buck tail jigs, snake worms, and swim shad baits.

winter striped bass fishing

Striper Sniper 3/4 ounce to 1 ounce white buck tail jigs are tied on each arm of the umbrella rig. The leaders are 6 inches long. A Striper Sniper 10” snake worm or 6” swim bait is added to the jig for extra action. White, chartreuse, glitter, lemon lime, blue pearl, and sun drop are the top producing colors. They have recently introduced a new color called American eel which is next on the list to be tested

Lake Murray striped bass seasons

There are two basic seasons when fishing for Lake Murray striped bass; warm water and cool water. The water temperature is critical to striper migrations. Anglers need to be aware of this migration pattern and adjust accordingly. There is no real “calendar” as every year is different when it comes to weather. Here is Jacki’s advice for adapting to the two “seasons”.

Cooler weather striped bass fishing, fall and winter;

“Once the water temperatures begin to drop, the striped bass tend to start heading back towards the rivers and start coming up closer to the surface even schooling at the surface. We use umbrella rigs trolled at 3 MPH closer to the boat. This keeps them at or above 20 feet below the surface.

We also use planer boards with live herring trolled at about .5 – 1 MPH. We set the lines out 20-30 feet behind the planer. A 3 foot flourocarbon leader of 20-30 lb test is used. A # 3/0 hook completes the rig. We will occasionally run a flat line down the middle, quite a ways back.

Nothing beats casting artificial lures to breaking fish! I always keep a spinning outfit rigged with a topwater plug handy. My favorite bait is a Yo-Zuri 1 ounce plug. I use this when the fish are staying up on the surface. I also keep a Striper Sniper jig with a swim bait ready to go. This works well when fish surface quickly then go down. The jig will get down into the water column.”

Warm water striped bass fishing, spring and summer;

”Once the water begins to warm up, the striped bass start to head back to deeper water away from the rivers and towards the Lake Murray Dam. Anglers fishing in summer should always be able to see the dam. If not, you are too far away. We still use the umbrella rigs trolled at 3 MPH. However, we do so further from the boat to keep them in the 35 – 50 foot range, the lower the better.

We have also been able to put our smaller lighter weight rigs and crank baits on downriggers to drop them into the 60 – 80 foot range. Mid-Summer is also tower fishing season. We tie up to the towers at the Dam and drop live and/or cut bait herring typically to around 60 – 80 foot depths. We use a 1 ounce weight and a 3/0 hook.

Night fishing is a great way to escape the heat and catch some fish. Striped bass feed heavily at night, particularly in the summer time. Anglers do need to be more careful when fishing and boating in the dark. Summer storms can be an issue as well.

Additional Lake Murray species

While Jacki primarily concentrates on striped bass, Lake Murray offers excellent angling for other species. Largemouth bass are arguable the most popular species in the Lake. Much has been written about fishing for bass in the lake. Crappie and panfish are plentiful and Lake Murray has an excellent catffish population. Anglers can find more info and some great links about Lake Murray fishing in this link.

Sacramento striped bass fishing

This article will focus on Sacramento striped bass fishing. There are several rivers in the Sacramento, California area that offer anglers excellent fishing opportunities.

Sacramento River striped bass

The Sacramento River is the largest river in California. Stretching over 400 miles from the eastern slopes of the Klamath Mountains to Suisun Bay, it drains an area of about 27,000 square miles, including many major fishing tributaries. The Sacramento River, The Delta, Mokelumne River, Feather River and the American River flow a short drive from Sacramento. They hold several different species including striped bass, salmon, largemouth and spotted bass, shad, catfish, and sturgeon. Anglers can target these species using several different techniques.

Aimee lives in Elk Grove, near Sacramento, and knows these rivers well. She fishes for a lot of species, both salt and freshwater. Her favorite species are Striped Bass and Salmon when fishing fresh water. While the rivers do offer decent bass fishing, Aimee enjoys the challenge, and great fish, of the larger fish.That is the reason that she targets Sacramento striped bass and salmon.

Striped bass fishing tackle

The same tackle can be used when targeting both species. Aimee only uses Phenix rods. Her personal favorite for casting is a 7’11” M1 Phenix rod with an extra fast action. She jigs with a 6’8” foot slow pitch Titan rod. She matches both with a Diawa Lexa reel and 65 lb braided line. When trolling, Aimee goes with a Phenix X-14 that is 7’11” with an extra fast action.

Striper fishing in California

Heavy tackle is required to catch big fish in the current when targeting Sacramento striped bass and salmon. River and fishing conditions change daily. The best bet is to look online to get current river conditions and fishing reports. Aimee’s favorite sites for this are Navionics and Willy Weather.

Sacramento Striped Bass

Striped bass migrate up into these rivers in the spring to spawn. The best time to target them is from March to May in spring and October to December in the fall. As with most river fishing, water levels and flow are very important. Years that have more rain will see an extended season. Conversely, drought conditions will condense the fishing season.

Sacramento striper

When fishing for striped bass, Aimee uses a couple different techniques. She drifts live bait such as blue gill & minnows. This is a very effective technique and is one almost any angler can use to be successful. Mud sucker minnows are purchased at bait shops. Bluegill and shad are caught by anglers. Larger baits will get less bites but will catch bigger fish.

The rig that Aimee uses for drifting for striped bass is a simple drop back bottom rig. A 3 way swivel is tied on the line. Depending on current flow, sinkers from 2 ounces to 4 ounces. The sinker is placed on a 1 foot dropper line. A 4 foot leader of 15 lb to 30 lb test P-Line FlouroClear flourocarbon leader and a 2/0 to 7/0 hook completes the rig. As in most live bait applications, the hook size should be matched to the bait size, not the size of the fish being targeted.

Sacramento striped bass lures

Aimee really enjoys using artificial lures for these California river striped bass. She casts Delta Wood Bombers and ¾ ounce Ra-L-Traps. Silver/chartreuse, red and white, and chrome with a blue back are her top colors. Aimee also likes casting soft plastic swimbaits on a ¼ ounce or ½ ounce jig head.

California striped bass

Often times fish will be seen feeding on shad and other fish on the surface. This is a great time to cast a large topwater plug! Anglers can also blind cast both topwater and diving plugs neat fallen trees, rip-rap, and other structure and cover.

Trolling is another technique that produces striped bass on the California rivers. Her favorite plug is a Yo-zuri in the 5 1/4” size. Holographic Redhead is a great all-round color. Chartreuse woks well if the water is a bit murky. Trolling is relatively easy. Most anglers put the bow of the boat into the current and slowly work the area thoroughly. Fish are usually found in bunches, especially early in the year.

Artificial lure techniques on Sacramento rivers

Jigging is another very productive technique when targeting Sacramento River stripers. Aimee uses Blade-Runner Spoons for her jigging. Not surprisingly, her favorite color is “Aimee Blue”, named after her. You know she is a serious angler when she has baits named after her! 2 ounce to 3 ounce spoons are the preferred size.

The technique when drifting is fairly simple, whether jigging or using live bait. Anglers drop the lure or bait to the bottom and work it as the boat drifts along. Strong currents make it a bit more challenging. Channel edges and drop offs are prime spots, as are eddies when the river is running hard.

Anglers using live bait will need to adjust the depth of the bait as it drifts along. The idea is to keep the bait just above the bottom. Line will need to be let out and reeled in to adjust to the depth. Anglers jigging do the same thing, only the bait is jerked vertically as the boat moves along. The spoon should tick the bottom regularly.

Tennessee striped bass

Striped bass are a huge success story for the Tennessee fish management professionals. Many if not most of the Tennessee lakes were created in the mid-60s and early 70s by the TVA. These lakes had countless acres of flooded timber, offering perfect habitat for largemouth bass. However, over the years this timber rotted and deteriorated. Largemouth bass moved to other structure.

fishing for striped bass

This left an opportunity for an open water fish species and striped bass were the perfect fit. The Tennessee state record of 65 lbs. 6 oz. caught in Cordell Hull reservoir is an excellent example of a thriving striper population

Striped bass are a saltwater species that can tolerate absolute freshwater. They naturally migrate from saltwater into freshwater rivers to spawn. While striped bass and lakes can reproduce, and most lakes they don’t. This is due to the fact that dams inhibit the migration of fish up into the tributary creeks and rivers.

Forage for striped bass

In order to support this new fishery, forage species needed to be introduced as well. Several different species of shad were introduced and have thrived as well. Shad school up in large numbers over underwater structure. These are the same places where striped bass are found.

Anglers targeting striped bass used two primary methods. Live or cut Shad produces the majority of striped bass by Tennessee anglers. Drifting, slow trolling, and bottom fishing with live baits is extremely productive. The biggest hurdle is catching and keeping the baits alive. Cut Shad will produce as well, though it will also attract large catfish.

Anglers casting artificial lures can catch striped bass as well. This is particularly true when they are found feeding on the surface. This is great fun as any spoon, crank baits, jig, or any other lure cast into the fray will normally draw a strike. Anglers vertically jigging deeper channel edges and blind casting shorelines and rip-rap areas near dams will also produce fish. Where allowed, tell water fisheries just below the dams can produce some fantastic striped bass fishing and Tennessee!

The top Tennessee striped bass fishing lakes are Old Hickory Reservoir, Cordell Hull Reservoir, Caney Fork, Melton Hill Reservoir, and Watts bar Reservoir.

Southwest striped bass

The southwest part of the country has excellent striped bass fishing as well, particularly in north Texas and Oklahoma.

Oklahome striped bass

Texas Striped bass lakes and rivers

The major lakes in Texas with healthy populations of stripers include Amistad Reservoir, Lake Texoma, Toledo Bend, Belton Lake, Canyon Lake, Cedar Creek Reservoir, Lake E.V. Spence, Cooper Lake, Hubbard Creek Reservoir, Lake Bridgeport, Lake Brownwood, Lake Buchanan, Lake Conroe, Lake Granbury, Lake Kemp, Lake Lewisville, Lake Livingston, Lake Lyndon B Johnson, Lake Palestine, Lake Ray Hubbard, Lake Somerville, Lake Tawakoni, Lake Travis, Lake Whitney, Lavon Lake, Medina Lake, Pat Mayse Lake, Possom Kingdom Lake, Proctor Lake, Red Bluff Reservoir, Richland Chambers Reservoir, Sam Rayburn Reservoir, and Wright Patman Lake. The Brazos River yielded the Texas state record striped bass.

Oklahoma Striped Bass lakes and rivers

The Oklahoma lakes and rivers that offer good striped bass fishing include Lake Eufaula, Broken Bow Reservoir, Canton Lake, Lake Murray, Waurika Lake, Fort Cobb Reservoir, Fort Gibson Lake, Grand Lake of the Cherokees, Great Salt Plains Lake, Hugo Lake, Kaw Lake, Keystone Lake, Lake Altus-Lugert, Lake Carl Blackwell, Lake Hudson, Lake Texoma, Oologah Lake, Robert S Kerr Reservoir, Skiatook Reservoir, Sooner Lake, Tom Steed Reservoir, and Webber Falls Reservoir. Most tributaries offer good fishing as well.

California striped bass lakes and rivers

The Colorado River used to support a spawning run of striped bass. This was prior to dame being built. Some large fish are still taken there. Productive California lakes include Lake Havasu, Pyramid Lake, Bucks Lake, Lake Mendocino, Los Vaqueros Reservoir, Millerton Lake, New Hogan Lake, San Luis Reservoir, The Delta, Canyon Lake, Castaic Lake, Diamond Valley Lake, Lake Cahuilla, Lake Hemet, Lake Elsinore, Lake Perris, Silverwood Lake and Skinner Reservoir.

Nevada Striped bass lakes

Lake Mead, Lake Lahontan, Washoe Lake, Lake Mohave, and Rye Patch Reservoir are the top Nevada striped bass Lakes.

In conclusion, this article on fishing for striped bass will help anglers be successful when targeting these terrific game fish!

Best 5 Fishing Techniques, Pro tips!

Best 5 Fishing Techniques

This post will list the best 5 fishing techniques. These basic fishing techniques will allow anglers to be successful and just about every situation.

best fishing techniques

The best 5 fishing techniques are:

  • Casting
  • Trolling
  • Bottom fishing
  • Drift fishing
  • Fly fishing

Capt. Jim Klopfer is a fishing guide in Sarasota Florida. He has been doing this since 1991. Capt. Jim is a well-rounded angler who has fished all over the country. He has broken down fishing into these best 5 fishing techniques in an attempt to simplify and help anglers better understand how to catch more fish.

Anglers can see the fishing equipment that Capt Jim uses on his fishing charters.

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smallmouth bass fishing

There are many different baits and lures which can be used. However, they all still fall into the techniques being used as opposed to what’s actually tied onto the end of the line. That is the approach that will be taken in this article.

Best fishing techniques; casting

Casting is the most popular angling technique. This is simply the act of tying on a lure or bait and using the rod and reel to launch the lure or bait a distance away. This can be done from a boat or from shore as well as bridges and piers. Casting has the advantage in that anglers can position their offerings exactly where desired and easily reel it back in and repeat the process.

freshwater fishing tackle

Anglers can cast both natural baits and artificial lures successfully. Artificial lures are cast out and retrieved back in. Live and cut baits are usually allowed to set relatively still and use scent or action to attract fish to the hook.

Casting with lures

Casting and retrieving artificial lures has one huge advantage over anglers fishing with bait; they can cover a lot more water in search of fish. Lures are available in many different variations which allow them to cover the entire water column, from the surface down to the bottom.

fishing for largemouth bass

Lures are usually cast out towards some type of structure that an angler think may hold fish. This includes man-made structure such as docks and natural structure including vegetation, points, drop-offs, and ledges. Fish will strike lures for a variety of reasons other than hunger. These include anger, excitement, competition, and defense.

Bait fishing

Many anglers cast out a live or cut bait in search of fish. This was probably the way man first began to fish, by attaching some live bait to a hook and throwing it into the water. As simple as this is, it still continues to catch fish to this day. It is perhaps the most dependable fishing technique out there and works well for novice anglers.

top 25 Carolina game fish

Live bait can be presented in a variety of manners. Anglers can fish it under a float to suspend the bait at the desired level as well is using the float to indicate a strike. This is often done when casting to shoreline vegetation in fairly shallow water. Bait can also be allowed to swim on it so naturally with nothing but a hook. This is called free lining a bait.

guide to inshore saltwater fishing

Many anglers cast a bait out with the use of a sinker or weight. The weight not only provides the angler the ability to cast the bait out quite a distance, it also takes it down to the bottom were many fish feed. This is especially true with any type of cut bait or commercially prepared baits.

Best fishing techniques; trolling

Trolling is a very effective fishing technique. It basically involves slowly moving the boat forward while pulling multiple lines behind. Technically, trolling can be accomplished by anglers walking a shoreline or seawall, but the vast majority of trolling is done with a boat. The primary advantage is to be able to offer multiple baits at various depths. This aids greatly in finding fish when they are scattered out over a large area or suspended in open water.

top 25 carolina game fish

There are several methods that anglers can use when trolling to get the lures or baits down to the desired depth. The easiest trolling method is to use diving plugs. These are hard bodied lures that resemble bait fish. They have a large lip on the front which determines the depth at which the plug will run. This makes it fairly easy for an angler to work the depth that is desired. These lures have excellent built in action as well.

walleye fishing, a beginners guide

Sinkers are another fairly simple method used by anglers when trolling to control the depth at which there baits will run. Anglers have the choice of using an in-line sinker or a sinker on a drop her off of a three-way swivel. Both work fine, though the in-line sinker is used in open water and the three-way swivel is used when snags are more of a problem.

Trolling techniques

Downrigger’s are expensive and a bit more complicated, but are an excellent tool to use to control depth when trolling. It looks like a small fishing rod with an arm and a real. It uses a wire cable and a heavy ball to get down to the desired depth. There is a clip on the ball that releases when a fish strikes. This technique was developed by anglers in the Great Lakes to catch salmon and trout.

salmon fishing in Great Lakes

Planers are the final method used by anglers when trolling to control depth. These are clever devices that dig down into the water when pulled then trip or release when a fish strikes. They are more common in saltwater fishing that in freshwater fishing and allow anglers to troll quite fast, up to 7 miles an hour or so.

Light tackle trolling in Saltwater

While lures are mostly used, anglers can use live bait with this fishing technique as well. This is a bit of a specialty application used in salt water and in freshwater for striped bass. Anglers control live bait using sinkers or behind a downrigger.

Best fishing techniques; bottom fishing

Bottom fishing is an extremely effective fishing technique. The reality is that more fish relate to bottom structure then do those that swim or suspend in the middle of the water column. Structure on the bottom provides cover and safety as well as forage. Therefore, presenting a lure or live bait on the bottom will be productive and many fishing situations.

mutton snapper

Most bottom fishing is done by anglers using live or cut bait. Since artificial lures are usually on the move, they are not quite as effective when bottom fishing. Conversely, both live bait and cut bait our perfect for bottom fishing. Anglers have several different rigs to choose from, but all are similar in that they use a weight or sinker and a hook or hooks to present a live bait or chunk of cut bait on the bottom.

Most bottom fishing is done on some type of structure. In freshwater fishing, this can include fallen timber, submerged rock piles, sloping points, and channel edges as well as man-made structures such as bridges. Anglers saltwater fishing will bottom fish over natural reefs and ledges, wrecks, artificial reefs, and more.

Manitoba fishing tips

While most bottom fishing is done with live or cut bait, anglers can certainly present artificial lures on the bottom as well. This is most often done with slow-moving soft plastic baits such as plastic worms and to baits. Jigs can also be used. While not strictly considered bottom fishing, these lures are slowly worked or crawled across the bottom in search of fish.

Best fishing techniques; drift fishing

Drift fishing is a very efficient angling technique. It is similar to trolling in that anglers can cover a good amount of area in search of fish while keeping the baits directly in the strike zone. The difference is that instead of using a boat to move the lures or baits, natural elements such as current and wind are used to move the boat over a productive area.

walleye fishing tackle and lures

The two primary components involved in drift fishing are wind and current. In freshwater fishing lakes, when will be the determining factor in most cases, though there are situations where current can be strong. In saltwater fishing, current created by tidal flow are much stronger. Wind is certainly a factor as well.

The basic technique for drift fishing is fairly simple. An angler determines the area that he or she wants to fish, then positions the boat upwind or up tide of the area to be fished. The boat then slowly drifts across that area while lures are presented at the desired depth. Baits are often presented right on the bottom in this situation. Live and cut baits are very effective. Anglers can certainly present live baits or lures anywhere in the water column while drift fishing.

best Sarasota fishing charter

The two top artificial lures used when drift fishing are bucktail jigs and jigging spoons. Both are very effective lures that work well and a drift fishing situation. They put out great action when presented vertically and can be used to work the entire water column. Anglers can even combine the two and use a jig or spoon with a live bait or piece of cut bait attached.

Fly fishing

Fly fishing is the most difficult fishing technique to master. There are a lot of factors involved. Many books have been written on the subject but we will briefly cover fly fishing here.

Sarasota Spanish mackerel fishing

The primary difference between fly fishing and other types of fishing are that with fly fishing the the line is cast out and the fly follows behind. In all other types of fishing, the lure or bait provides the weight. However, fishing flies weight next to nothing it would be impossible to cast using their weight alone.

Flies can be used to work the entire water column from the surface down to the bottom. Anglers have a wide variety of choices and lines and flies that allow them to do so. Floating lines will stay on the surface while anglers can purchase sinking lines that sink at varying rates to match the current fishing conditions.

streamer fishing

The fly itself can mimic either a fly or just about any other type of forage that fish feed on. Many anglers associate fly fishing with trout fishing and streams, but anglers fly fish for just about every species in both fresh and saltwater. Any fish that will take and artificial lure can be caught on a fly.

In conclusion, this article on the best five fishing techniques will hopefully simplify all of the fishing variables and help anglers be more successful out on the water!

7 Useful Flounder Fishing Tips

7 Useful Flounder Fishing Tips

In this post we will feature 7 useful flounder fishing tips. Flounder are a very popular species targeted by anglers all along the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. They put up a nice little scrap, however they are mostly prized for their incredible fillets. While fishing for flounder is not complicated, there are some specialized techniques that will help anglers be more successful.

flounder fishing tips

The 7 useful flounder fishing tips are;

  • present baits or lures right on the bottom for flounder
  • constantly moving baits or lures will produce more flounder
  • jigs are effective flounder fishing lures
  • minnows and shrimp are the top live baits for flounder
  • flounder are structure oriented fish
  • strips of cut bait are very effective flounder baits
  • understand how tides will affect flounder fishing

Best flounder fishing tackle

light tackle bottom fishing

There is no special tackle required for flounder fishing. The same tackle anglers use for inshore saltwater fishing for species such as redfish and striped bass will work fine when chasing flounder as well. A medium spinning outfit and a light conventional outfit will cover just about every flounder fishing situation.

Anglers can read more about flounder and fluke fishing tackle

Spinning tackle works well when casting lighter lures and baits as well as when fishing in fairly shallow water. Lighter sinkers and lures will be used in these waters and spinning tackle will handle this job just fine. A 7 foot medium action spinning rod with a 3000 series reel spooled up with 20 pound braided line is an excellent all round combination.

Read more about the fishing tackle that Capt Jim uses on his charters

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Conventional tackle works well when flounder fishing in deeper water or and stronger currents. The heavier rod and more powerful reel will work better when drifting or fishing with weights in excess of several ounces. It is also better when catching larger flounder around heavy cover. A medium light conventional rod between 6 feet long and 7 feet long with a matching reel and 30 pound braided line will get the job done.

Flounder are caught on the bottom

fishing for flounder with jigs

Flounder spend the vast majority of their time on or very near the bottom. They are a very unusual fish in the flatfish family. Flounder begin their life swimming upright like most normal fish with an eye on each side of its head. As it matures, one eye migrates to the other side and the flounder spends the rest of its life swimming on its side looking up. This makes it perfect for lying in the sand and waiting to ambush unsuspecting prey.

For these reasons, angling techniques that present the lure or bait on the bottom will be the most successful when fishing for flounder. Anglers using live bait can choose from a variety of bottom fishing rigs. Perhaps the most popular when flounder fishing is the sliding sinker rig or Carolina rig. With this rig an egg sinker is placed on the running line followed by a swivel. A leader between 18 inches and 36 inches long then connects the hook to the swivel.

Saltwater fishing with artificial lures

This rig allows the bait to flutter naturally as the sinker bounces along the bottom. Some anglers even at a spinner in front of the hook to add flash and vibration. This works extremely well in shallow water. Anglers fishing in deeper water will often go with a spreader rig or chicken rig. This works well in a vertical presentation, especially in deeper water. Anglers surf fishing for flounder will do well using both rigs.

Moving baits catch more flounder

Since flounder often lie in ambush, waiting on prey, baits that are constantly moving are usually more productive. This includes live baits, cut baits, and artificial lures. A live or cut bait drifting along naturally with the current or slowly trolled by a boat is a very realistic and effective presentation. Flounder will take the bait as it drifts by. Often times, the angler thinks that the bait is snagged when suddenly the snagged comes to life.

flounder fishing tips

Anglers using artificial lures for flounder will take the same approach, whether casting or drifting. Flounder are often found on the shallow flats, and water 23 feet deep and 10 feet deep. A jig is an effective lure to be cast out and bounced along the bottom. In deeper water, a vertical presentation works well.

Jigs are the best flounder fishing lure

The top artificial lore when flounder fishing is unquestionably a jig. The reason for this is that a jig can be presented right on the bottom, which is where flounder’s feed. There are periods when flounder become active in will rise up quite a ways off the bottom to inhale a jig. Anglers are often pleasantly surprised when this occurs as a fish for other species.

saltwater fishing with artificial lures

The most popular jig is a 1 ounce to 2 ounce white buck tail jig. This is an effective lure that will catch flounder, and just about every other species, anywhere and saltwater. In shallow water the jig can be cast out and retrieved along the bottom while in deeper water a vertical presentation works best. Anglers will often sweeten the jig with a strip of squid, or other cut bait.

Soft plastic jigs work well for flounder. A 4 inch paddle tail soft plastic bait on a 1/2 ounce jig head works quite well and water that is fairly shallow. It is easily cast with a spinning rod and anglers can cover a lot of water in search of flounder. Scented soft plastic baits work very well, with the Gulp line of baits being the top choice.

flounder fishing

Live baits are effective for flounder fishing

The two most popular live baits when flounder fishing are minnows and shrimp. Both are extremely effective throughout the range were flounder live. Shrimp are especially popular all along the Gulf Coast and in the southeast part of the United States. Minnows are used for flounder fishing anywhere they are found, as this is a prime forage for them.

Both live minnows and live shrimp are fish in a similar manner. Live minnows are hooked through the lips up from the bottom. Shrimp are hooked under the horn in the head in front of the black spot which is their brain. Both of these methods result in the bait staying alive and looking natural when presented to flounder. Also, both baits are readily available at bait and tackle shops that cater to inshore saltwater anglers. The minnow species will vary depending on geographical location.

bottom fishing

The two best ways to present a live minnow or shrimp is on a Carolina rig or on a jig head. A jig head is handy in that it combines the hook and weight into one tidy little unit. Anglers casting a jig and grub combination can easily remove the grub and place a minnow or shrimp on the hook. It Carolina rig is also an excellent way to present live bait as the leader allows for it to move with the current, resulting in a very natural presentation.

Flounder relate to structure

While flounder can be found on open flats, they almost always prefer to relate to some type of structure. This can be both natural and man-made. The most common natural structure are ledges or areas of rocky or hard bottom. This is true for both flounder inshore and out in the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Often times, flounder will be in the sand right at the edge of the reef or ledge.

Chesapeake Bay fish species

Anglers fishing for flounder on offshore structure can choose to either anchor or drift fish. Anchoring works best on smaller patches of structure while drifting is a good option on larger pieces or in deeper water where anchoring is more troublesome. Even when anchored, it is best to be constantly moving the bait in search of flounder. Artificial reefs are plentiful and some areas and almost all will hold flounder at one time or another.

Much of the structure found in inshore waters will be man-made. This includes boat docks, piers, rip-rap, jetties, and bridges. Structure such as this found in inlets and passes is especially productive as flounder like to lie in wait and let the current bring forage to them. Anglers do need to be careful when the current is strong. The best time to fish is often near the time that the tide switches as the current slackens. Anglers can either anchor close to the structure or drift, depending on conditions.

Cut bait produces flounder

Cut bait is extremely effective for flounder fishing. Just about any type of fish that can be caught and legally used for bait will produce. The white belly section is often the most productive part of the bait fish to use. Anglers can cut the bait fish into chunks, however long slender strips that taper to a point are usually more effective as they undulate naturally in the current.

Fishing for flounder

Anglers can certainly purchase cut bait at bait and tackle shops as well. Squid is a universal cut bait that is readily available, affordable, and productive on just about every saltwater fish that swims. Again, anglers cutting the squid into strips with slowly tapering points are generally the most effective.

Cut bait has several advantages over live bait. It is less expensive generally, and is more convenient as anglers do not have to keep it alive. It is also quite durable it is the top choice in areas where crabs are plentiful and will quickly devour a live bait. Cut bait also stays on the hook longer, which is one reason it is a favorite amongst anglers surf fishing for flounder.

Tides affect flounder movement and locations

It is important to understand how tides affect fish migrations and saltwater, and this is true with flounder fishing as well. In the southeast part of the country around North Florida to the lower Carolinas, tides can range as much is 10 feet. This will drastically affect where flounder will be found given a certain stage of the tide.

flounder fishing tackle

To keep it simple, on the low tide flounder will be found on the deeper edges and in holes. As the tide comes in, fish will move out from these deeper areas and onto the flats to feed. At high tide, the fish will scatter out and may be found anywhere on a flat. As the tide turns to move out, flounder will move with it and often stage in predictable locations. Edges that drop off into deeper water in the mouths of tributary creeks or cuts in a flat are prime spots to catch flounder on an outgoing tide.

In conclusion, this article on seven useful flounder fishing tips will help anglers understand the habits of flounder in the tackle and techniques required to catch more of these delicious saltwater fish!

Black Sea Bass Fishing, Tips, Tackle and techniques

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 fishing

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.

fishing for sea bass

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.

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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.

fishing for sea bass

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

bottom 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.

black sea bass fishing

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.

sea bass fishing

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.

fishing for sea bass

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.

sea bass fishing

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.

fishing for black sea bass

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.

black sea bass

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!

 

Florida Saltwater Fishing in Fall – Pro Tips

Florida Saltwater Fishing in Fall – Pro Tips

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.

Florida saltwater fishing in fall

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.

11 fantastic Tampa Bay fishing tips

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.

fishing for redfish

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.

fishing in Bradenton Florida

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.

Florida saltwater fishing in fall

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.

best shark bait

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.

inshore saltwater fishing

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

Spanish mackerel and false albacore fishing tips

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.

Sarasota fishing report

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.

Anglers can read more about Spanish mackerel fishing lures here.

Spanish mackerel love spoons and plugs

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.

fishing with plugs

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.

Sarasota fishing excursions

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

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.

Spanish mackerel and false albacore fishing tips

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.

Anglers can shop Amazon for Penn Fierce 3000 reels in this link.

Anglers can shop Amazon for Shimano Convergence rods in this link.

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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.

Sarasota fly fishing charters

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.

Spanish mackerel fishing tips

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.

Siesta Key snook fishing

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.

fishing report for Sarasota, Florida

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 fishing tips

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.

Spanish mackerel and false albacore fishing tips

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

fishing in Sarasota

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.

inshore saltwater fishing

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.

Spanish mackerel and false albacore fishing tips

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.

Sarasota fishing videos

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.

Gumping

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!

Surf Fishing in Florida

Surf Fishing in Florida

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

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

Florida surf fishing

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.

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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.

best shark bait

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.

surf fishing spike

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.

Spreader rig

bottom fishing rigs

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.

surf fishing trigs

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.

surf fishing rigs

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.

bluefish

Bottom fishing

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.

fishing from the surf

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.

Sarasota fishing excursions

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 flea

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.

surf fishing bluefish

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.

lues for surf fishing

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.

Read more about the best surf fishing lures

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

saltwater fly fishing

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.

surf fishing

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

  • Whiting

  • Flounder

  • Spanish mackerel

  • Sharks

  • Redfish

  • Snook

  • Trout

  • Sheepshead

  • Bluefish

  • Black drum

Pompano

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.

pompano

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

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.

surf fishing in Florida

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

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.

Florida surf fishing

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

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

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

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

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.

Trout

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

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

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

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!

Florida Saltwater Fishing in Summer – Pro Tips

Florida Saltwater Fishing in Summer – Pro Tips

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.

Top Florida saltwater game fish

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.

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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.

Florida saltwater fishing in summer

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.

guide to inshore saltwater fishing

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.

Best Speckled trout fishing lures

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.

Read this article by Capt Jim on how to catch bait with a cast net

How to catch bait with a cast net

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.

best redfish fishing tackle

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.

Florida saltwater fishing in winter

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.

fishing for speckled trout

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.

saltwater fishing in Florida in summer

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

live bait fishing in Florida

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.

summer fishing in Florida

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

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.

Sarasota fishing guide

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

Spotted sea trout fishing

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

Lido Key redfish

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

mangrove snapper fishing in Florida

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

Spanish mackerel

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!

Snapper Fishing – a Complete Guide!

Snapper fishing – a Complete Guide

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!

red snapper fishing

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

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.

Offshore bottom fishing in Sarasota

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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

bottom 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.

red snapper

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.

mutton snapper

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.

mangrove snapper fishing in Florida

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.

yellowtail snapper fishing

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.

red snapper fishing

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.

snappers

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.

saltwater fishing with shrimp

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

fishing for snapper

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 fishing in Forida

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.

Sarasota mangrove snapper fishing

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

snapper fishing

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.

fishing for red snapper

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.

Yellowtail snapper

fishing for snapper

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

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

lane snapper

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

mutton snapper fishing

 

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

vermillion snapper

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

schoolmaster snapper

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

cubera snapper

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!

 

Fishing for Redfish – a Complete Guide

Fishing for Redfish, a complete Guide

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.

fishing for redfish

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.

Tampa Bay redfish

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.

fishing for redfish

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.

fishing with lures for redfish

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.

Lido Key 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.

Best 6 fishing lures for redfish

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.

top 12 texas game fish

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.

silver minnow

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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.

redfish magic

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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.

bass assassin

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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.

redfish fishing lure

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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.

Read more about the best redfish lures

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

saltwater fishing with shrimp

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.

fishing in Carolina

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.

fishing for edfish and speckled trout

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.

fishing for reedfish and speckled trout

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.

best redfish fishing tackle

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 red drum

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.

Venice, Louisiana

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.

Southeast Texas

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.

Jacksonville, Florida

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

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!