Here you’ll find articles related to saltwater fishing. We cover everything from inshore to offshore species and locations. Hear from expert guides and captains about their most productive ways to put fish in the boat.

How to Catch Striped Bass From Shore at Night With Ryan Collins

Striped bass are resilient creatures which can inhabit waters as deep as 500-feet, or as shallow as 1-foot. Where I fish in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, it is not unusual to find schools of stripers miles offshore one day, and then the next day find them feeding well within casting range of the beach.This makes figuring out how to catch striped bass a challenge for many anglers.

Striped bass can be caught from shore using a wide array of different fishing equipment, tackle, lures, and bait. Stripers can be caught using topwater poppers, swimbaits, jigs, metal spoons, live and dead bait, plus an assortment of different flies.

Yet for me, and a multitude of other striped bass obsessed anglers, the apex of striper fishing is targeting striped bass at night from shore.

The odds of encountering stripers in shallow water increase dramatically during hours of darkness,. The chance for good fishing, plus the solitude of fishing the beach at night, can be peaceful, challenging, fun and very addictive.

How to Catch Striped Bass: Where To Fish At Night

Where I fish for stripers on Cape Cod, there is more than 200-miles of coastline to choose from. It is very important to narrow down the search based on where stripers gather at particular times of the year and under certain conditions. It is also very helpful to have a network of anglers to share information with, or a logbook like ANGLR to allow you to pick apart patterns which striped bass definitely fall into.

In general, the best places to find striped bass usually contain a reliable source of food. Areas with structure such as weed beds, troughs, boulder fields and places with a swift current are good locations to target.

How To Catch Striped Bass

The best spots have a combination of two or more of those items.

For example, if you locate a boulder field with a swift current and a reliable food source, then you have hit a striper hot spot home run.

I split my surfcasting time 80/20 with eighty percent of my efforts based off of my historical knowledge of where I know striped bass will be, and the other twenty percent invested into locating new hot spots and exploring new areas I have never fished before or only fished lightly. Talking with experienced anglers who are willing to share information has also been incredibly helpful.

How to Catch Striped Bass: The Best Lures for Shore Fishing at Night

I rarely use topwater poppers when fishing from shore at night. If I want to focus on the upper part of the water column, then I will usually opt for a Danny Plug, as long as the current is not too swift since Danny Plugs are primarily a calm water lure. Other productive night time topwater lures include soft plastics such as a 9-inch white Fish-Snax retrieved slowly with some twitches across or just beneath the surface.

Over the past couple of years I have caught the majority of my striped bass at night from shore by casting and slowly retrieve swimming lures such as the black purple colored Daiwa SP Minnow or yellow and black Bombers. I prefer slow sinking or floating swimming plugs and very rarely use fast sinking swimming plugs.

The only time I personally fish at night with jigs is when fishing an inlet with a swift current.

Unless I am fishing a spot like the Cape Cod Canal, my jigs will be in the 1-ounce or 2-ounce range and will be all white or all black. I like to add a red pork rind to the jig to add a little bit more flutter and action.

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Live eels also work exceptionally well at inlets, but they can also be cast from the beach with great success.

How to Catch Striped Bass: How Tides can Affect Stripers at Night

Eighty percent of the beaches I fish in Cape Cod are at their best from 3 hours before until 3 hours after high tide. The other twenty percent of places I fish from shore fish better 3 hours before low tide until 3 hours after low tide.

Eighty percent of the time when fishing from shore, I am looking for opportunities where deep water is located next to the shoreline. This is why I prefer the higher stage of the tide, because it brings deep water in close to the beach.

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Oftentimes, especially at night, stripers will swim just a few yards off the beach in the deep water which the higher stages of the tide provide.

The spots that fish better during the lower stages of the tide are often inlets, large expansive sand flats, or select spots amongst boulder fields. I really like the last part of the outgoing and the first part of the incoming tide at nearly every inlet on Cape Cod. The expansive shallow water sand flats of Cape Cod Bay are also often at their best during the lower stages of the tide. Most boulder fields fish better during the higher stage of the tide, but there are select spots where I find fish during low water.

How to Catch Striped Bass: How Weather can Affect Striper Fishing from Shore at Night

Inclement weather will often help increase your odds of catching stripers from the beach during the day. However when fishing at night, I find that inclement weather will often make fishing more difficult for me. This is especially true either early or late in the season when the weather is cold and the nights are long.

When fishing at night, I would ideally choose to have a brisk, but not overpowering onshore breeze. I believe striped bass bite better and are easier to fool when there is some wave action. The only drawback is that in many areas, an onshore wind can also blow seaweed up against the shoreline, which is a nuisance for fishing.

How to Catch Striped Bass at Night: Takeaways

If you are serious about targeting striped bass from shore, then nighttime is most definitely the right time. Stripers often feed harder after sunset, and are more inclined to venture into shallow water under the cover of darkness.

If you are already having success with small striped bass during the day, then try returning to those same spots during the same tides, but at nighttime. You may be surprised to find that the quantity and quality of the fish increases after dark.

Fishing the beach at night can also be a tranquil and very enjoyable experience, even if you don’t catch a single fish! Just being out there all alone on a quiet, deserted stretch of shoreline, under the light of the stars and the moon, will make it a night to remember.

Snook Fishing Tactics: How to Target and Catch Snook

Down in Central Florida, about an hour north of Tampa, we met up with James Sauer, ANGLR Expert, to get some insight into snook fishing tactics. Besides taking a short break to pursue teenage dreams, Sauer has been a fisherman his whole life, and an avid one at that for the past 15 years.

What Is It About Snook Fishing That Draws Anglers In?

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Snook are extremely smart fish, and they’ll fight like nobody’s business. They’re just pure power! When you get a snook on the line, they’ll grab that bait and sit there for a second before running the opposite direction. They jump out of the water with a powerful headshake, making them a really exciting catch.

Snook Fishing: Where to Look

Snook are around our area all year long. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) keeps a close eye on these fish placing two closed seasons on them each year. While you can’t always take them home, snook can be caught no matter what the fickle Florida weather has to bring.

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Depending on the water temperature, snook generally stay in the same area most of the year. Many of my areas are spring-fed salt water with natural springs that pump in fresh water. So when it’s extremely hot, they’ll push back into the spring areas to remain in about 72℉ water. The same thing happens when the water turns much colder. They’ll push back towards the springs where there’s a more consistent water temperature.

They seem to like fast moving current, be it in spring water, or open water.

Before I head out, I usually have a pretty good idea of where I’ll go. I look at online maps and mark spots in the ANGLR web app, then look at the tide frames. You want to look for corners; points where there is lots of fast-moving current.

They’ll sit on the backside waiting to ambush the point where baitfish swim past.

You’ll usually find snook as deep as 10-15 feet, or shallower. I’ve caught snook fishing in as much as 20 feet and in as little as eight. It really depends on the area, and how much baitfish there are. It’s pretty straightforward. If you find a spot where a little creek comes out into a bigger body of water and there’s a hard current, they’ll be waiting in that corner for baitfish to come by. They’re opportunistic feeders, so if they see one come by on that corner, they’re going to be attacking it.

Also, if you’re snook fishing at night, the residential canals and docks usually have green lights in some spots. Snook will hide just outside the green light and wait for baitfish to come into the light, then they’ll swing in and grab a couple before swimming back out again. I’ve caught some of my biggest snook off of a dock under a green light at night.

Gearing Up For Snook Fishing

Snook like to feed on bait fish like pinfish, whitebait, greenbacks, or pilchards. They’ll also eat shrimp.

I only use artificial baits when I go snook fishing. I just don’t usually throw live bait, just as a personal preference. Many anglers will use live pinfish, whitebait, or greenback. You can put it underneath a torque-based reel or depending on how deep the water is, you can free-line it on 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook and let it float through the current so there’s more of a natural presentation as it’s floating by.

I like the walk-the-dog style topwater as well. That’s my go-to for snook. I prefer those with a red head and white body or just pure white. If I’m using soft plastic, I’ll use a white-colored fluke. If they’re in the deeper 15- to 20-foot water, I’ll use flarehock or bucktail jigs and get them off the bottom.

I mainly use spinning rods and reels, but some like to use baitcasters like they use in freshwater. I use a 7’-7’6” rod from medium to medium heavy and 2,500 to 4,000 size reel. I prefer 15-20 pound braid. Depending on the area, my leader will be 20-30 pound fluorocarbon or monofilament.

Snook Fishing: Landing a Snook

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You’ll feel a solid thump as soon as they take the bait. Then, one of two things will happen: they’ll either take it, and sit there for a second, or take it and immediately take off. The minute they takes off, just give them drag. Usually the mid-sized snook (in the 24-30-inch range) will come up and start jumping like a freshwater bass almost immediately. Some will even come completely out of the water. The bigger ones or a heavy breeder female can’t get their whole body out of the water, so will just come up and head-shake.

They act just like a bass, so they’re often referred to as salt-water bass. Many of the same tactics you use on largemouth bass will work when snook fishing as well.

One thing that you definitely want to remember is to not let any slack get in your line when fighting snook or when they jump. Their gill plates are razor sharp and will break you off with no problem. When the line gets wrapped around their gills, it frays until the line is cut and they’ll break off and swim away. Always keep the line tight when reeling them in. That’s one of the reasons they’re targeted so much: because they’re such a challenge to catch. You really have to know what you’re doing, or you’ll get broken off 9 out of 10 times.

That being said, don’t ever grab one by the gills, or you’ll filet your hand faster than you can imagine. You lip a snook like you do a bass.

They can sometimes tire out easily because they use all of their energy in the fight. By the time you get them to the boat, they’ll be pretty much worn out, so you can lip them to get them up into your boat.

When you’re ready to release them, it’s imperative that you wait until they’re ready. They’ll suck on your thumb for a little while until they’re ready to leave, just holding onto your finger. Slowly rock them back and forth until they’re ready to go. When they are, they’ll kick off on their own.

Cobia Fishing Offshore & Along the Coast of Florida

It’s almost that time of year again, when the manta rays are making their way back through the Florida waters. Right along with them, you’ll find the huge Cobia tagging along for the ride. This time of year, cobia fishing reaches its peak!

ANGLR Expert, Josh Baker tells us all about the Cobia runs in Florida and why they’re such a popular time to head out.

Cobia Fishing: Chasing Them Down  

Everyone loves the thrill of catching these fish. They’re fun to find and even more fun on the end of your line. They’re a brown capped fish with a white belly. Cobia are a real goofy-looking fish. They have flat heads with eyes on both sides of the head. They resemble the remora sucker fish that follows along with sharks and whales and collects their remnants.

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While their habits resemble remora, anglers must remember, these are some pretty big fish!

The state record is currently just over 130-pounds, caught near Destin, FL. The last one I caught was around 65-pounds.

They’re coveted, not just for their spunk on the hook, but for their flavor, as well. They are a delicious fish that eats very well, as it’s a firmer, thicker filet almost like a steak.

The Cobia come through Florida twice a year: on their way down from as far north as Massachusetts in the fall, and then back up from the Gulf of Mexico in the spring.

How to Sight Fish When Cobia Fishing

There are a few different ways to fish for Cobia. With the runs we have here in Florida, people are looking to find them inshore. They’ll go sight fishing for Cobia, running along the beach lines looking for giant manta rays and the Cobia that will be following. Many of them swim with the manta rays that run along the beaches inland. The Cobia tag along because they feed off of what the manta rays pick up. As the rays swim in the 10- to 25-foot waters, their wing movements kick up sand. With it, comes the bait.

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The Cobia will tail along behind and get the scraps.

When that massive run happens, that’s when you’ll see a lot of people sight fishing for them. There’ll be tons of boats just off the beach watching for the manta rays. It’s like a game of hide and seek for fun, so the thrill of the chase is all apart of it.

These fish are already looking for food, so you want to throw anything that will draw their attention and pull them off of the manta ray. Pitch baiting with live eels and threadfins is usually the way to go, but a lot of people also have really good luck with brightly colored bucktail jigs. They’re a real inquisitive fish, so they’ll usually come over to check the bait out and see what it is.

Cobia Fishing: Finding Them In the Summer

At other times, you can find them offshore around the metal shipwrecks. They tend to draw a lot of Cobia. I’m not sure what, specifically, it is about the metal they prefer over other structures, but they do seem to like their metal wrecks. I catch most of my Cobia in the summer this way.  When we fish on a wreck, we look for fish markings on the depth finder to be above the wreck by about eight to ten feet. They won’t hang out right on top of the wreck, so anything that you’re seeing around that range is probably going to be Cobia.

Over on the Tampa Bay side, it’s a little more shallow. Cobia are usually found inshore around the buoys and pilings. You’ll see many guys over there catching them around channel markers.

Offshore, you should be looking to use anything like live crabs, small bait fish, and frozen threadfins or grunts.

Gearing Up For Cobia Fishing

You should be rigged with 40-50-pound braided line on a heavier class spinning rod with anywhere from a 50-80-pound leader. You can catch them on lighter tackle, too. You just have to fight them a bit longer, making the lighter tackle more fun. Let them run a bit more by using a 30-pound braid with 15-30-pound leader and turning your drag way down so you’re not testing your equipment.

Cobia Fishing: Prepare for a Hard Fight

Once on the end of the line, Cobia are a hard-fighting bulldog of a fish. They’re not known for jumping, but they’ll put up a good fight. They’ll go on long runs, pulling a lot of drag. That constant tug and the sound of it is fun for new and younger anglers. You usually don’t have to worry about them wrapping themselves around structure, as they tend to stay higher up in the water column and just put up a nice fight. Once they get near the boat, you’ll have to worry about the props and things, because they just keep running around.

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Usually the first sight of the boat causes them to take off and run again, which is what helps to keep things interesting.

A typical fight will last anywhere from 10-14 minutes, depending on how big the fish and what he’s got left in the tank for you. Your heavier tackle can bring him in more quickly, but you wind up with a little less of an exciting time.

Be very careful bringing Cobia on board. It’s once they’re on the boat that they really can be dangerous. You don’t want to bring one up on the boat when he’s too ‘green’, or you’ll really have a tough time of it. They’re like a giant, tough muscle. Once they hit the deck they thrash around with the power of an angry linebacker, beating the daylights out of the boat. They’ve been known to snap rod holders and break legs. Fight them a bit to tire them out so they’re not so ‘green’ before gaffing them up onto the boat.

Either way you go about cobia fishing, you’re bound to have a great time and go home to a delicious meal.

Fishing for Sharks and Tagging Sharks with Guide Tyler Barnes

Fishing for sharks is something that may be on your bucket list if you have a taste for a good fight and an interesting time. ANGLR Expert Tyler Barnes is a guide based out of Emerald Island, North Carolina near Swansboro. He’s been there his whole life, growing up in the backwaters.

What was once a thriving fishing community has settled into small town USA. Barnes grew up in a commercial fishing household, so fishing was just a way of life. His Dad’s always been a commercial gillnet fisherman, going after flounder, redfish, trout, and roe mullet. They also went after shrimp in the summertime. He’s been shark fishing for 12-15 years.

We talked to him right after the January lunar eclipse, when he was out enjoying the spectacular view while doing what he loves.

While full moons are a real draw, “there are mixed feelings about what an eclipse actually does and doesn’t do,” says Barnes.

Fishing for Sharks: Monitoring Their Movements

We’ve started to pinpoint what time of the year certain species of sharks should be here. I have buddies that fish for grouper offshore, so I get reports on what’s going on in the weeks prior to them coming inshore. When they’re starting to catch sandbar sharks in 600 feet of water, I know we’re within three weeks of sandbar season here on the beach. Sand tigers or ragged tooths come in about that time as well. Those are most of the ones that you typically see in aquariums. Those are the first species we start to see here.

February and into April is when our season really starts to kick off, depending upon the weather, but April is when I really start to get the itch.

The sharks travel through the months up and down the coast, returning around the same time of year. I’ve had multiple sharks that I caught in North Carolina that had been in Florida three to four months earlier. They were healthy as can be and had new mating scars that they didn’t have on their way down there. That’s one thing that the authorities really pay attention to: how many scars they have on them. It shows the mature females and males. We take pictures of the significant scars to document.

Fishing for Sharks: Recording Their Movements

Everything I do, I write down. I have fishing logs that go back years. That’s why the ANGLR App has become so special to me. I don’t have to worry about writing anything down anymore. It’s been a substantial help to me, especially this time of the year when I’m starting to speckled trout fish and having to pinpoint where I am. In the summertime, it’s been really cool to see where all my sharks have come from.

I meet my charters at 7:30 pm because you can’t shark fish during the day; there’s too many people and they don’t realize that they’re swimming with them! Once my tagging really starts to kick in, I stay fishing the same pier. Once they’re there, they’re a resident for three to four months. They’ll come and go offshore, but they don’t go far.

We often see the same ones over and over. The sharks are frequently hooked by pier anglers that decide they don’t want to tangle with them, so they break the line off. “Local” is one that I’ve caught about four times within about a six month period. Then I caught her again a year later with hooks from a long-lining vessels still attached. The last time I caught her, I actually caught her hook to hook.

Fishing for Sharks: Tagging Sharks through NOAA

When catching a shark, first, you need to land it. Once it’s landed, the first thing we do is get a measurement from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail, then we sex it. The male will have what is called a clasper. The tags come from the NOAA through their Apex Predator Program.

They’re applied just below the top fin in the side of their back, about ¼-inch in and are not harmful to the fish. A piece of monofilament with a small capsule hangs out with their number. It holds a scroll, three in each capsule. It includes a 1-800 number to call-in with the information.

Fishing for Sharks: Having the Right Gear

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Most of what I do is on 13-foot medium heavies and extra heavy rods rated for six to eight ounces casting weight. I’m currently using Penn Spinfisher VI 8,000 to 10,000 series reels. I also use Daiwa BG 8,000’s with 50-75-pound braided lines that go to a rig made with 400-pound leader. My cast baits use a 16/0 hook.  My current rig is a 13’-6” rod using a Daiwa Ballistic that was custom-built for me in Hatteras, North Carolina for what I do.

Those are my cast bait style rods; what the charter clients see.

Those are meant for 8 to 10-ounce chunks of fish: fish heads, backbone sections, anything bloody and fishy. The bigger fish we catch, upwards of 12-feet, are on 80 wide reels. They’re rods rated for 250-300 pounds; basically a tuna rod. It’s the exact same setup I use for bluefin tuna fishing in the fall.

Fishing for Sharks: Selecting the Right Bait

We kayak the baits out, using everything from pieces of tarpon to bigger fish heads: amber jacks and spanish mackerel.

The bait of choice I stock up on in the summertime is stingray. Any stingray I get comes home and goes in my freezer. We’ll use anything from a five-pound chunk, as big as a dinner plate, all the way up to 40- and 50-pound chunks. We use a 21/0 hook that looks like a butcher’s hook.

I take the 80-wide reel sitting on the beach in a rod holder and have someone take the bait 300 to 500 yards offshore in a kayak. They drop it in because there’s no way to cast that big of a bait to the zone where the big fish are. I’ve caught some big sharks that were pretty close to the beach, but most of the bigger ones are farther out.

I’ve seen everything from a six-foot tiger shark, seven-foot bulls, and even 12-foot duskys. They are an endangered species we get here that migrate amazing distances. They frequent Australia, staying out in the shipping channels where it’s really cold. But they migrate with the tuna so they go the South Africa route, all the way to the Bahamas, and the dusky’s follow. They say some of them travel all the way across the world, and some stay a couple hundred miles offshore here and come back every winter. They’re the meanest of the mean that we get here. They’re a tank, clocking in around 300-400 pounds.

Fishing for Sharks: Preparing for Battle

You put a fighting belt on, put a harness around your shoulders and you hang on!  The circle hook does the work. It finds the corner of the mouth and grabs it. When you set pressure on it, it will pull itself into place. When they take off you just pretty much watch the reel, sounding like a chainsaw sitting on idle while he’s pulling out drag like a blue marlin would. You start applying more and more drag and when you get to the point where your line is completely tight, take a couple of steps backwards and let it lay into itself to finish that stretch and let it pop itself in.

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You let that circle hook do its job.

I’ve had fights last 5 minutes, and I’ve had fights last 2 hours. Every time you get him close to the beach and he gets his head in the sand, and there he goes again. They’re fighting for their life at that point and survival instincts kick in. You get line when you can get line. Let them do their thing.

Once you let them start to relax a little bit and they’re not peeling off drag, then you keep solid tension and keep getting as much line as you can. I’ve seen some take 700 yards like it’s nothing. I’ve seen 80-wide reels start to smoke from the fish pulling the drag out that fast. I’ve had blisters on my hand from it being so hot. Sometimes we have to take bottles of water and dump them over the reel to keep them cooled down. Otherwise, it’ll start melting your line from the inside out, and line starts to fuse together.

Nothing’s worse than hooking a big fish and getting to the bottom of your spool and it being completely melted. Pop! It’s gone.

Fishing for Sharks: Everyone Has Their Fair Share of Mishaps

I got a bloody nose from a rod this year while out with one of my charters. I use weights that are almost like a five-prong grappling anchor with a heavy setter. If they’re left out there too long, they’ll get buried in the sand. If there’s a weak point anywhere in your tackle, they’ll break. My full 200# self was laid back into a rod trying to get one to come out. When the line broke, it drilled me so hard, my hat and GoPro were literally 10 feet behind me. I laid there on my back, all I could do was laugh. Turns out, it had split the center of my nose!

What you’ll learn with fishing for sharks is that there is never a dull moment when sharks are involved!

Inshore Kayak Fishing for Redfish in North Carolina

Think you’d like to try your hand at inshore fishing, but not quite sure how to get started? ANGLR’s turned to yet another ANGLR Expert, Steve Moore, to give the low down on exactly how you can get started inshore kayak fishing for redfish or red drum.

He lets you know what you need to get by, and what you can’t live without. He’ll be sure not to lead you astray, too. He writes the “Kayak Hacks” column for Southern Kayak Fishing Magazine and hosts the popular YouTube channel Kayak Hacks Fishing.

Steve has put together the most comprehensive guide to hunting down redfish from a kayak you can find.

Inshore Kayak Fishing: Introduction

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Moore’s intro sums it all up well: Get educated. It doesn’t matter how avid an angler you are, if you’re entering a new area and have no knowledge, that’s how you’re going to get it! Get yourself to local club meetings, go out with experts that can show you the ropes, and listen to other fishermen.

How to Catch Redfish: Two Revelations

Moore reveals two gems that he discovered about inshore kayak fishing for red drum, and why he’s so gung-ho to share his knowledge and experience with you.

Inshore Kayak Fishing: Where to Catch Redfish

You know they’re there, but where? What strategy should you use to locate the perfect spot to pounce? Moore shows you how to systematically analyze the water before you even head out. He walks you through, step by step, exactly where to target for redfish and at what point. How often have you been into a school of fish, only to have things suddenly dry up with no warning? You know they’ve moved with the tide, but how can you predict when? Moore explains how to pair your experience with the ANGLR App to figure it out.

Inshore Kayak Fishing Gear

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This isn’t what you think. Moore doesn’t just throw a ton of brand names and specs at you, telling you exactly what kayak you ought to buy. He goes deep into the more important aspects of kayak fishing – like safety!

There are risks associated with kayak fishing, especially on inland waters, and there are things you need to know that, believe it or not, are more important than just where to find the fish. He takes you through it all before he even gets into the good stuff.

You don’t need a fancy, expensive kayak to keep up, so Moore clues you in on some common modifications you can make to your own kayak so that you’re ready to head out for a successful day with efficiency, and in comfort.

Redfish Inshore Kayak Fishing Lures, Baits & Tackle

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If you’ve had some experience kayaking, this may be the section you’ve been chomping at the bit for. He teaches you how to consider what red drum are eating in your area. Moore walks you through the entire selection process, from start to finish. So, by the time you’re done, you’ve got a first-rate set-up and you’re ready to nab them.

Top Redfish Inshore Kayak Fishing Tips

These are the little-hidden gems that expert anglers and newbies, alike, look for. Moore shares with you tips that he’s picked up over the years from both his successes and his mistakes. By the time you’re done, you’ll feel like you’ve been there, done that!

Now put it all together with your ANGLR App and Bullseye, so you can track where you found them! That way, you’ll know exactly were to return to and when!

Cape Cod Giant Bluefin Tuna Fishing with Guide Ryan Collins

I am blessed to have grown up just a few miles from where giant bluefin tuna fishing is prime. There are plenty weighing in upwards of 1,000 pounds roaming the sea. As a young kid I would walk the beach in pursuit of striped bass, while simultaneously watching tuna boats just a few miles offshore. Sometimes I would even see these giant fish go airborne while chasing bait, which just added to the allure of someday hooking into one.

During my early twenties I finally acquired the boat and the gear necessary to wrestle with a giant tuna. The only ingredient missing was the expertise. Successfully catching a giant bluefin tuna is all in the details and the rigging. Needless to say I had a lot to learn about giant bluefin tuna fishing.

Compared to the top tuna captains in my region I am still a novice.

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However over the past several years I’ve hooked and landed several giant bluefin of up to 780 pounds.

The rest of this article will outline the gear, tips and advice I feel is important for anyone looking to catch one of these massive fish.

Cape Cod Areas to go Giant Bluefin Tuna Fishing

There are many places off Cape Cod where you will have a chance of catching a giant bluefin tuna. Honestly, the only places that don’t hold bluefin are Buzzard’s Bay, Vineyard Sound and Nantucket Sound. The rest of the water surrounding the Cape can contain tunas at one point or another.

Popular hot spots for giant bluefins include Stellwagen Bank, Cape Cod Bay, Wood End, Peaked Hill Bar, the Shipping Lanes, Crab Ledge, the Regal Sword and George’s Bank. The fish move around extensively so it’s imperative to have a good network of captains and friends whom you can call upon to help locate the fish.

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Giant bluefin tuna typically arrive during June and remain in Cape waters sometimes until Christmas.

The best months for giant tuna are probably September, October and November but the weather on Cape Cod during the fall can be extremely windy and unpredictable.

The Best Baits And Techniques For Giant Bluefin Tuna

The vast majority of giant tunas off Cape Cod are caught using some sort of live bait. Tunas will eat a wide variety of different live baits including cod, bluefish, mackerel, herring and whiting to name but a few.

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These baits are typically fished beneath a balloon, from a kite, or rigged on a down line and fished directly beneath the boat.

Trolling for giants is not as popular as live bait fishing but it does work when conditions are right. Spreader bars are probably the most popular lures to troll, but trolling rigged ballyhoo can also be very effective, especially when tunas are feeding on halfbeaks.

Over the past decade, with the advancement in spinning reel technology, there have been many giant bluefin tunas caught on spinning gear by anglers casting lures such as the Halfbeak Espada from Strategic Angler. However, I really do not recommend targeting giant bluefin tuna using spinning gear. Tunas of more than 250 pounds are so strong that attempting to catch them using spinning gear is extremely taxing on the body and can take hours to land a fish.

The Best Equipment and Tackle for Giant Bluefin Tuna Fishing

As mentioned above the most popular and most effective technique right now for catching giant bluefin tuna on Cape Cod is with live bait and size 80 or 130 class rod and reel setups. Shimano, Alutecnos and Penn all have 80 and 130 class reels that are capable of landing giants. Long tuna rods such as those from Thrasher with bent butts are placed in swivel rod holders in the gunnel of the boat.

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The rod remains in the swivel rod holder for the entire fight.

Here is a typical setup for loading the reels with line. Reels are loaded with at least 500 yards of 200 pound braid. On top of the braid is a 200 yard section of monofilament topshot which is usually 220 pound test. The topshot is then connected to a fluorocarbon leader of typically 200 pound test, however the best poundage and length of leader varies depending on who you ask.

Other must-have items for giant tuna fishing include a harpoon with line and ball, gaff, swivel rod holders, weights, elastic bands, balloons, clothespins, crimps and a crimp tool, chaff gear, black magic markers and 20+ ounce bank sinkers. Circle hooks have become very popular with my favorite being those made by Eagle Claw Trokar. Of course the boat must have the proper general category or charter/headboat permit from NMFS and must abide by all Coast Guard regulations and contain all the appropriate coast guard safety gear.

The Key to Giant Bluefin Tuna Fishing Success

The final and most important ingredient for giant bluefin tuna fishing success is patience. It is not uncommon to go days without catching a fish. However if you are persistent, that rare bite from a 500+ pound monster tuna will eventually happen, and when it does the adrenaline rush and entire experience is nothing like anything else in the fishing world.

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Cape Cod in particular is blessed with a robust and healthy giant bluefin tuna fishery.

Each year thousands of giants migrate into Cape Cod’s waters to feed on its abundant bait sources, and each year dozens upon dozens of anglers get the opportunity to hook and battle a giant tuna – which are what I feel are the strongest and hardest fighting fish in the sea.

Good luck if you decide to give tuna fishing a shot. Pay attention to the weather and make sure to have the proper permit and safety gear onboard at all times. Be safe and as always, tight lines!

 

Flounder Fishing: Tips for Finding and Catching Flounder

The flounder’s odd habit of laying sideways on the bottom of the ocean floor disguised as the rest of the sand, rocks, and flotsam is surprisingly misleading.

This fish is not lazy, but highly ingenious. It takes no prisoners as it snatches up any innocent little fish or shrimp… which is what makes Flounder fishing so much fun!

Flounder Fishing: Where to Find and Catch Flounder

You can find these masters of disguise in the coastal waters of the Atlantic from Maine all the way down to Texas and over in the Pacific, as well.

They can be spotted from shallow reefs to the deepest trenches.

These doormats are flat, with both eyes on the same side of their head. That lets them watch above for prey as they lie flat on the ocean floor. They especially like to hang out on the bottom of river coastal areas. They like to stay near drop-offs where they can ambush their prey. Look for them under ledges or other structures in areas where the depth changes.

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If you’re fishing over crystal clear water and sandy bottoms, you’ll be able to see flounder tracks in the sand below. As they move to ambush their prey, they leave tracks because of the speed at which they take off. They also like to move to more productive ledges as the tide is shifting so they can ambush the bait fish as they move overhead.

You can also find flounder tracks by wading in the shallow mud and sand flats at low tide. There’ll usually be the most tracks in the bays which hold the most bait when the tide drops. As the tide recedes, flounder laying buried in the bottom pull out, leaving their body imprints. Find those tracks during low tide, and you’ll know right where to look once the tide comes back in.

When it’s running too fast, it can become turbid. Flounder feed more by sight than smell, and they can see better when the water is clear.

You’ll have more luck when they can see your bait, so concentrate on areas where the bottom isn’t super silted.

You can fish for them year round, but your catches will typically be smaller in the winter or spring and may not be large enough to keep. They’re easiest to catch in the fall when they’re moving farther out into the ocean.

Tackle for Flounder Fishing

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Medium action, bass-size tackle works great when flounder fishing. Most people prefer spinning tackle, but if you can learn to use a baitcasting reel, you’ll be doing yourself a favor, since you can maximize your precision with just a touch of your thumb so you can hit the points and ledges spot-on.

It’s helpful to use a dropper rig with a rounded weight and a hook tied to the leader above it to avoid break-offs around structure.

A wide variety of lures and set-ups can be used, but many experts agree the soft plastics of Berkley Gulp! is one of the best when used with spinnerbaits. They’ll take most lures, but really home in on live bait. They’ll rarely pass up live croakers, finger mullet, pinfish or menhaden. They’ll take shrimp sometimes, but not as well. Hook larger baits for bigger flounder through the lips, and smaller baits through the eyes.

Landing a Flounder

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Bounce your lure or jig head along the bottom to catch their attention. Strikes will usually occur as the lure falls.

Flounder don’t always take bait or lures right away, but they’ll follow it during the retrieve. They’ll settle on the bottom right underneath your boat, so don’t forget to periodically work a jig directly underneath.

Flounder typically travel in groups, so usually once you catch one, you’ll find more. Stay put, making a note of how far into a rising or lowering tide you were.

Flippin’ is a technique that most bass anglers are used to, but you can use it to target flounder in hard-to-reach spots inshore, too. The technique is the same. Ray Thomas, a dedicated flounder fisherman explains:

“I prefer a seven-foot spinning outfit for this work, and use it almost like a fly rod at close range. I pull through the rod guides with my left hand as I’m raising the lure and line from the water with the rod. I’ll flip the lure out, then jig it around the boat, because I anchor near good flounder structure such as pilings, bulkheads, and jetties. These places are full of barnacles, and it’s easy to get cut off. But if you keep your casts short by flippin’ you can work these hot spots quickly without getting hung up.”

Most states have pretty strict guidelines on the number and size of the fish you can keep, so make sure to check with your local fish and game office before heading out, but there’s definitely fun to be had all year long, in a variety of different locations and depths!

Mahi Mahi Fishing: How to Find and Catch the Dolphinfish

One of the more unique fish swimming around the oceans depths is the dolphinfish. With the bulbous forehead reminiscent of a dolphin or porpoise, it’s no surprise the name fits. Mahi Mahi Fishing can be one of the most exciting ways to spend a day on the water!

What’s not to like about them? Also known as Dorado or Mahi-mahi, these almost-cartoony characters are some of the world’s most popular gamefish.

Introducing the Dolphinfish

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The Dolphinfish, or Coryphaena hippurus, are decent-sized fish that are brilliantly-colored and fun to catch, as they fight hard and love to put on some aerial acrobatics when hooked. They also taste absolutely delicious – especially blackened.

Sadly enough, pictures just don’t do them justice, as they fade almost immediately once brought up. By the time you make it into the dock, they’re almost certainly already a dull gray color. In the water, they have the ability to change the intensity of their colors depending on their mood and are considered to be one of the most strikingly-colored fish in the ocean with bright hues ranging from yellows, greens, to blues. Their underbellies are generally lighter in color, while their backs vary from darker green to hues of deep blue. They may be splattered with dots of blue and green, and have been spotted in bright turquoise and even purple.

The males are called bulls, and the females cows, with the, well, bullhead of the males being more enlarged and pronounced. Their lifespan is only a matter of five or six years, so what they lack in longevity, they make up for with vim and vigor. They can grow to three to five pounds within the first six months of their life. Within a year, they can reach three feet and weigh in at 20 pounds.

They can grow to over 80 pounds, in part because they always seem to be hungry and eat aggressively right from birth.

Good breeders, they reproduce often to maintain their numbers, and mating can begin when the fish are as small as eight inches. Small fish will school together around floating debris or sargassum beds, but larger fish are loners, and are sometimes found swimming in male-female pairs.

Dorado are strong and fast swimmers, covering wide ranges in search for food. They can reach speeds of 50 mph in short bursts.

Where to Look When Mahi Mahi Fishing

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These guys roam the open tropic and temperate ocean waters all over the planet. Seas that range from high 60’s to mid 80’s are preferred. You can find them anywhere you find Marlin and Wahoo. Since small baitfish gather in large weed patches and flotsam, Dolphinfish are often closeby. The smaller ones will school under the weed beds and ambush the bait, but the larger fish will usually stay on the outskirts of the beds, since they can quickly strike from a distance with a great burst of speed.

Mahi Mahi Fishing… A Pound for Pound Fight

The name Mahi-mahi comes from Hawaii, meaning “strong-strong.” They employ a variety of fighting techniques. Short, blistering runs can end with a deep dive, then the fish stubbornly turning on its side and refusing to come up. They’ve been known to scream a reel in one direction, only to turn around and make a beeline in the complete opposite direction.

They can dazzle you with aerial displays and tailwalking.

They’ll even jump right on into the boat with you in some scenarios. But the fun doesn’t stop once they get in the boat. Their powerful, thrashing tails can really play havoc in the boat.

Mahi Mahi Fishing: Tackle & Rigging

You’ll want to grab a rod and reel combination well-suited for 30 pound fused line. Your rod should be around 7’ long with a rapid to extra-fast action with the ability to handle lure weights up to one ounce.

Fix the line with a three-foot length of 30 to 50-pound fluorocarbon leader and a 50 pound barrel swivel. Tie a 4/0 -7/0 circle hook to the leader, about three to four feet of 30 to 60 pound monofilament or fluorocarbon, and attach your primary line.

Most of the larger sized Dolphinfish are caught on trolling lures meant for Marlin or Sailfish like rubber skirts, or the feathers meant for Tuna. Many are also caught on trolled ballyhoo. They’ll also fall for Rapalas too. When they’re fired up, they’ll eat just about anything, though you have to watch yourself with heavier lures.

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These fish jump wildly when hooked, and there’s a good chance the lure could come flying back at you at high speed.

Though their mouths are relatively small, it’s amazing how much they can actually engulf, including large baits. They mostly eat fish, so traditional baitfish like sardines and Pacific Mackerel work well. The larger the fish, the larger the bait they’ll grab. Cut bait like shrimp and ballyhoo works well, too, but cut false albacore will drive them wild.

Here are a few other rigging ideas that work well with Dorado.

A Few Extra Mahi Mahi Fishing Tips

Throw some bait chunks into the water to get the fish into a frenzy, then bait your hook with the same bait, and drift it back with the chunks. You can also use some spinning rods rigged with bucktails or a top water plug.

Once you’ve landed one, keep the hooked fish in the water until you hook another. Similar to their feeding behavior, they’ll become frenzied with another fish nearby lit up.

One trip out, and you’ll get why these are some of the most highly sought after fish. Not only do they offer a good fight, but make for a delicious dinner at the end of the day.

Black Grouper Fishing in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico

Like most grouper species, Mycteroperca bonaci, or black grouper, really doesn’t disappoint the hard core angler. Even the small ones, at 20-30 pounds can put up a physically draining fight, being known for their short, high torque runs. That makes them an especially fun catch . . . . when you’re prepared for it!

These giants of the deep have been known to go over 120 pounds, though they’re commonly caught over 50 pounds. That’s quite substantial, considering they’re some of the hardest fighting bottomfish in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

Black Grouper in Their Atlantic Home

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Many species of grouper consider the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico home, and the black grouper is no exception. These guys tend to hang out around offshore wrecks, ledges, reefs, and other structure. If you’re looking for larger ones, you’ll want to head for areas not frequented by other anglers, leaving the fish unpressured with a chance to grow.

They’re found on the bottom, but they don’t tend to be very finicky as to what depth to call home.

They can be found as deep as 300 feet, or as shallow as 30 feet. They tend to prefer the deeper waters during the warmer summer months, but they can be found pretty shallow in the winter and spring. They spawn in March and April over a reef bottom between 30-120 feet of water.

Common Bait Choices for Black Grouper

Blue runners, cigar minnows, or any small grunts make good live bait choices. If you’re drift fishing, frisky live fish like blue runners or other small jacks work best. If you’re looking to land a really big one, live speedo mackerel tend to work best.

Placing the bait on the hook is critical, as you don’t want to hook your bait too deep. Baits with tough skin should be hooked lightly. Try to have most of the gap of the hook exposed. This will allow the hook to penetrate when the black grouper decides to take the bait!

Gearing Up For Black Grouper

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These guys really pack a lot of punch, so anglers left unprepared will find themselves short a leader… or four. You’ll want to grab a shorter heavy action, stout rod rated for 50 to 80-pound test. Pair it with a high speed reel. Your best bet is to spool it with 80-pound braided line. 

Larger circle hooks work well for these guys since they’re less likely to snag bottom.

Make sure that your hooks are large and heavy, as they can often straighten out or break during the runs from these heavy fish.

Most of the black grouper fishing on the reef is done with a carolina rig and a 4’-8’ leader.

Dead bait fishing gets a little trickier, employing the use of a hi-lo dropper rig with a 230-pound barrel swivel and a four-foot section of 100-pound fluorocarbon leader, with three dropper loops tied at 16-inch intervals and a 16 to 32-ounce bank sinker looped on at the end by an overhand knot. The dropper loops should be fixed with size 8/0 to 10/0 Octopus hooks and chunk baits consisting of anything from chunks of squid, grunts, mackerel, herring, or any other chunk from fish you may catch. Obviously, there’s more than one way to rig up, but this method seems to get the job done!

Landing the Black Grouper

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Your heavier line, coupled with tight drag are instrumental in making sure you can muscle these fighters away from the structure. When you find one of these giants, you’re likely going to only get one chance at him. Unlike many other grouper, the black grouper isn’t likely to hit the bait again for some time once it’s bit.

You’ll need to pay close attention and have lightning fast reflexes. Once they strike, they make a fast, mad dash back to the nearest hole, often before you even get a chance to react.

That means your reaction time needs to be spot-on. Suspend the bait about a leader length off the bottom with your rod in a holder. Always have the drag engaged. Do not, under any circumstances, leave it in a free spool or on a clicker. Approximately every 15-20 minutes, pick up the rod and very slowly drop the bait and sinker all the way to the bottom, keeping the sinker absolutely motionless.

Once you feel that “tick,” do not hesitate at all. Give a couple of quick cranks to turn his head up and prevent him from dogging back down into the structure. Then slowly and steadily reel him up through the water column and into your boat. The hook will usually set itself.

Your job will be made easier if you’re drifting instead of at anchor. The drift of the boat adds to the power of your tackle and may give you just enough momentum to hep drag the fish far enough from his hole that he can’t get back.

If he does happen to get rocked up, you’ll never muscle him out. Just set your pole down and wait for five minutes or so. You’ll either sense that he’s left his hole, forgetting about you, or you can try to gently reel him in. Otherwise, consider your leader and the fish lost.

With so many different types of grouper out there, homing in on a certain species can be tough, so when you’re bottom fishing for these beasts, be prepared for other reef dwellers to pull back as well! These fish are a blast to catch, so don’t miss out on an opportunity to do so!

How to Catch Roosterfish from Shore

I’d like to preface this article by saying I don’t consider myself an expert when it comes to catching roosterfish. After all I grew up fishing on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where the nearest roosterfish is about 2,000 miles away. My success with catching roosterfish from shore has simply been a combination of fishing amazing locations in Costa Rica, some good luck, great timing and hundreds upon hundreds of casts.

It all started in 2015 when my wife, Lauren, booked us a month at a random AirBnB jungle cabina on the beach along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. At the time we had no idea that this cabina was located directly in front of prime territory for jack Crevalle, cubera Snapper and the most prized fish of all – the roosterfish.

What occurred during that trip was so memorable that we’d go on to book a total of nine weeks over the course of two years at that cabina – with another 5 weeks planned for the winter of 2019.

Catching giant roosterfish from shore has been the apex of my surfcasting career, and I’m excited to share with you how I like to target these amazing fish.

Best Locations for Roosterfish

For me, roosterfish fishing has been similar to fishing for giant bluefin tuna, in the sense that it can take great patience and many hours to get a bite. Where I surf cast in Costa Rica the roosterfish roam miles of shoreline, following schools of baitfish such as Sardines and Mullet. My best success with roosterfish has occurred when Sardines and Mullet were plentiful in the surf.

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During my first stay along the west coast of Costa Rica in 2015, mullet appeared in the surf every day for about a week straight after the full moon.

It was during that one week that I caught three giant roosterfish with the largest being in the 70-80 pound range. The other three weeks I caught plenty of jacks and mackerel, but there were no roosterfish, and very few mullet.

In December of 2017, I learned a shortcut to roosterfish success. Targeting inlets and rocky points became more reliable than trying to hunt down roosters along the open beach. Sardines, mullet and other baitfish would congregate at inlets and around the rocks. Armed with this new knowledge, this coming January when I return to Costa Rica, you can bet I will be investing the majority of my fishing time around inlets and rocky points.

Best Lures And Baits For Roosterfish

Throughout my time spent fishing in Costa Rica, I have met several local fishermen who primarily use live sardines and mullet when targeting roosterfish.

I would have to admit that live bait seems to be the most effective.

However all my success with roosterfish has been with topwater artificial swimming lures and poppers. Oddly enough, where I fish in Costa Rica I have not encountered situations where roosterfish follow the lure without biting (which is apparently common in many spots). Conveniently the roosters have readily attacked artificial lures right in the surf.

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The two lures I like best for roosterfish are the 6.5 inch slow sinking transparent Canal Magic Swimmer, and the 2 ounce ghost white Tactical Angler Bomb Popper. The retrieve for both of these lures is very simple.

For the Magic Swimmer all you need to do is cast the swimmer out and reel it straight back in at a moderate to quick speed. For the Bomb Popper, simply cast it out and retrieve at a medium speed, while pumping the rod, which will throw a lot of white water into the air. Roosters will absolutely hammer both of these lures when retrieved in this manner.

The Best Rods, Reels and Tackle For Catching Roosterfish From Shore

I am somewhat limited with rod selection because I have to bring all my gear on flights, boats and taxis. Therefore my best rod for roosterfish has been the 8’6″ Tsunami Travel rod which breaks down into three pieces for easy travel.

When paired with a Van Staal VR175 spinning reel, this rod/reel combination can easily handle any roosterfish I have come across so far. The VR175 has a fully sealed drag, which is important because I often have to dive beneath waves and fully submerge the reel in saltwater and sand.

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The VR series of reels from Van Staal will work flawlessly even when submitted to these harsh angling conditions.

I have also caught roosterfish using the Van Staal 150 class reels. When fishing a 150 class Van Staal I pair the reel with either a 7’ 3-piece Offshore Angler Ocean Master or St. Croix Tidemaster Inshore 7’6” 3-piece travel rod. The smaller setups can absolutely handle big roosterfish, plus the lighter setups make catching smaller species like sierra mackerel and jack crevalle more fun. In addition the smaller setup can be fished from a boat.

For line, I will use 30 pound moss green Power Pro braid when fishing sandy beaches, and 50 pound moss green Power Pro braid when fishing around rocks. For leader I will use 30 pound Seaguar blue label fluorocarbon when fishing sandy beaches, and 50 pound Seaguar blue label when fishing around rocks.

I connect the leader to the braid using a slim beauty knot, and I will use a 175 pound Tactical Angler clip to make switching lures quick and easy.

In Conclusion

Roosterfish are incredibly beautiful, strong and elusive creatures. Catching one is not easy and will most likely require a lot of time and patience. However the hunt is definitely worth it.

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Once hooked roosterfish will go on drag sizzling runs, and often launch themselves straight clear out of the water.

I tell people that the fight of a rooster is like combining the powerful tail beats of a giant striped bass, with the scorching runs of a bluefin tuna, and on occasion, the acrobatics of a tarpon.

When landing a roosterfish be extremely cautious because these fish are all muscle and it can be very easy for them to beat their tail or shake their head, resulting in a hook in your hand. Use pliers and try to keep the fish wet and in the water for a quick and successful release.

Best of luck if you decide to give catching roosterfish from shore a try. Roosters are not an easy fish to find and fool, however the time and energy is absolutely worth it.