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.

Tarpon Fishing | Sarasota Tarpon Fishing with Captain Jim Klopfer

Written by: Captain Jim Klopfer

Sarasota offers visiting anglers several different fishing opportunities. They can fish the inshore flats for action and variety, target snook in the backwaters, or go offshore for grouper and snapper. However, those seeking the ultimate challenge will try their hand at tarpon fishing.  These fish average 75-pounds and tarpon up to 200-pounds are hooked each season. This is truly big-game fishing! 

This type of fishing is unique. There are plenty of places in the world where anglers can catch fish that weigh over one hundred pounds, however, there are very few opportunities to sight cast to fish that large using relatively light spinning tackle. 

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Tarpon are a beautiful fish that put up a spectacular fight, earning them the name “Silver King”.

Sarasota Tarpon Fishing Seasons

Tarpon show up off of the Sarasota beaches in early May. These are mature fish that migrate up from the Florida Keys as part of their annual spawning migration. Early in the season, tarpon are found in schools, known as “pods”. These schools can have a dozen fish, or two hundred fish. 

By late July, most of these schools have spawned and the pods have broken up. Fish can still be caught out on the beaches, though they do not show as often. Single fish and pairs of fish are more commonly encountered. By August, most of the tarpon have moved on.

Tarpon Fishing Tactics and Techniques

Tarpon fishing is as much hunting as it is fishing. Before a fish can be hooked, it must be found. Fortunately, tarpon have several behaviors which aid in this. They form up in schools and often swim up on the surface. They can be seen milling about, called “daisy chaining” as they swim in circles on the surface. They also are found moving in large schools.

Dawn is the prime time to find one of these schools milling on the surface. The water will be quiet and the fish begin moving at first light. It is important for anglers to be quiet and patient. As the sun climbs high in the sky, fish can be seen in the water, even if they do not show on the surface.

Boat positioning is key to making a good presentation. Anglers need to anticipate the movement of the school and then position the boat in front of them. Once in position, anglers cast live baits in front of them. Small crabs and hand-sized baitfish are the top live baits. Hopefully, a bite ensues. 

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Once hooked, most tarpon leap high out of the water several times.

Tarpon Fishing: Fighting a Giant Tarpon

The sight of a 150-pound fish leaping six feet out of the water, shaking its head angrily is awe inspiring! This often times happens close to the boat, which allows many tarpon to throw the hook on the initial jump. This is called “jumping a tarpon” and is almost as much fun as catching one. The stalk, the bite, and the jump are very exciting.

Once hooked, the best technique is to give the fish slack line when it jumps. This reduces the chance of it becoming unhooked. The tarpon will make long runs and more jumps. The angler should put as much pressure as possible on the fish during the fight so that the tarpon can be released unharmed. It is not fair to fight one for more than an hour or so. Also, it is against the law to lift the fish out of the water. 

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Anglers need to take a few minutes to revive the fish before it is released.

In conclusion, anglers contemplating a Sarasota fishing charter may choose to try for mighty tarpon. It is challenging, but the reward is the fish of a lifetime!

Shark Fishing From Shore with Guide Tyler Barnes

Tyler has been shark fishing for 14-years on the banks of North Carolina. After basically being raised on the shore fishing for whatever would bite, he picked up shark fishing as a bit of an adrenaline rush. When he first started, all he had was a 50-wide reel and a kayak, now it’s an entire setup he lugs to the shoreline.

Cast baits, kayaks, and on an average day he takes about 6 spinning rods (Spinning reels offer better line capacity). 80-Wide 2 speed reels with 1000 yards of line 80-pound braid up to 130-pound braid. Spliced to 100-pound monofilament from that to 400 to 600-pound monofilament which is about the size of weed eater line. He will even run 1200-pound (¼-inch thick monofilament) every once in a while for big tiger sharks. When Tyler rolls up to the shoreline for some shark fishing, he’s got an isle of a tackle shop in tow!

Another thing he never leaves home without? His shoulder harness so that he can be strapped in at the waist to his rod. Some of these sharks will pull so hard that without that harness, you’d lose the rod. Tyler has even had sharks pull him 5-10 yards down the beach during the duration of a fight!

Shark Fishing From Shore – Areas to Focus On

When looking for new locations, Tyler will survey the beaches using Google Earth and ANGLR for imagery. He’s trying to pick out different areas with depth changes. His favorites are areas with a long sandbar that comes back into a big pocket.

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Also, he puts his focus on areas around piers since sharks will be nearby as the bait and smaller fish feed and thrive near the piers.

Water depth is key. In North Carolina, there is a double bar from the currents which keep the sharks in the trenches looking for all of the bait species stuck in those small currents avoiding the deep water. Mullet, croaker, and other pinfish. The first trough is within about 30 yards of the beach, so to get out to that second bar, his average cast is 60-75 yards off the beach. It’s farther than you’d think about fishing upon first glance.

Tyler likes to get his bait out to the “danger zone” on the backside of the second bar, where all of your pelagics like to hunt. Spanish Mackerel, Speckled Trout, King Mackerel, and even Redfish. They will pull up to first trough to feed, but for the most part, the bigger ones stay by second bar.

Shark Fishing From Shore – Seasonality

Shark fishing in North Carolina usually kicks off around the beginning to middle of May depending on water temperature. Usually right around 67-70 degrees is when the majority of your species start to roll in. Dusky’s are the colder weather species which can be caught October through November. Those are also the bigger of the sharks out there ranging from 8-12 foot.

In the spring, The dogfish come first right when the water temperatures get right. From there, the blacktips and sandbar sharks will come right after the dogfish. Bull sharks, lemon sharks, and tiger sharks, begin to roll in towards the end of May.

From then, the shark fishing stays solid until right around the end of September. Then it rolls back to targeting blacktips, sandbars, and dusky’s for the most part.

Shark Fishing From Shore – Gear

Shark Fishing Rods and Reels

Kayak Bait Setup:

130 to 250-pound class rods – 6’6” to 7 foot

Daiwa Tournament sealine 80 wide

Avet 50 wide conventional style

Shimano Tiagra

Penn international 80’s and 130’s

22 to 24 OT Circle Hooks

With the kayak bait setup, Tyler and a buddy take turns paddling the bait offshore to the second bar before dropping it down to let it sit. For bait on these rigs, Tyler runs big stingray chunks or even whole stingrays! His preferred size is about a foot and a half chunk. He will also run a lot of tarpon chunks (25-30 pounds). With a Tarpon, he will cut it into three sections, head, middle, and tail. When using these massive chunks, he seems to get the bigger sharks for the year. He will also use amberjacks, and even grouper heads.

Cast Bait Spinning Rods

6000 or 8000 series spinning reels like the Penn Spinfisher V and Daiwa BG.

He will then use a 50-pound braid spliced to 50 to 60-pound shock leader with monofilament. He prefers Powerpro Braid spliced to a BillFisher or Bullbuster Monofilament.

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Tyler’s favorite gear to shark fish with is his spinning rods.

This allows him to go out on the shore alone and still get the bait out deep where he can expect to get bit. These aren’t your normal spinning rods by any stretch, but when he doesn’t have someone to run the bait in the kayak, these will put in the work for him!

With his spinning rods, he will use bloody chunk baits from pelagics and pinfish. These chunks are normally much smaller than his kayak baits, but still large enough to cover the massive circle hooks he is using.

Shark Fishing Circle Hooks

14-16 OT Mustad Circle Hooks

14-16 OT Owner Circle Hooks

Anyone doing some shark fishing needs to be using a circle hook. You do not want to cause a bad internal laceration once they swallow it. Also, a circle hook will set itself and then there’s no need to really set the hook and reef on them.

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Let the shark set the hook for you, then saddle up and prepare for the battle.

Shark Fishing Line

50-pound Powerpro Braid

50 to 60-pound BillFisher or Bullbuster Monofilament.

Shark Fishing Bait

If you’re looking for the best bait, your best bet is to match your shark bait to the bait in the area for that day and for the season. Tyler’s favorite bait is Spanish Mackerel heads. He also likes chunk baits from pelagics. The next best baits are little pompano or Jack crevalle and pinfish if you can find them big enough.

For his big bait rigs, Tyler runs big stingray chunks or even whole stingrays! His preferred size is about a foot and a half chunk. He will also run a lot of tarpon chunks.

No matter what bait you chose to throw, fresh and bloody is the best recommendation along with matching the bait to your area and seasonality.

Shark Fishing – Tagging for NOAA

Tyler’s been tagging for NOAA for 7 years now. The tagging research is through the APEX predator program. They register where the fish is caught, caught again, where they migrate to, breeding areas, and where they go to have their pups. They also track whether the shark is Male or Female.

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With each catch, Tyler tags the shark and records length and sex.

The farthest place a shark that Tyler has caught and tagged traveled is Florida. It wagged 6-8 months prior to it showing up in Fort Lauderdale. However, some sharks that have been satellite tagged from University of Miami have traveled all the way up to Massachusetts.

Tyler decided to join the tagging program to see if he could catch the same shark again. Since he began shark fishing and tagging, he has caught the same fish he named “Local”, 6 times now. When he originally caught her, she had 23 hooks in her mouth from living around the pier. 2-weeks later he caught her again and she had about 14 hooks in her mouth. He then went quite a while without catching her. Now, the last time he caught her again, he actually caught her by hooking his own rig that he had snapped off earlier that week.

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He caught her hook to hook which is an impressive feat!

To book a shark fishing trip with Tyler, you can email him at Finsonthebeachfishing@gmail.com or visit his Facebook Page

Tautog Fishing | How To Catch Tautog Using Togzilla Jigs

For most of my fishing life I have been obsessed with striped bass. However, in recent years I have really enjoyed branching out and fishing for other species. One species of fish I find super fun to target is the tautog (also called blackfish). Tautog fishing is a blast because they are extremely strong and put up a great fight. They are a challenge to find and hook, plus they are also wonderful to eat.

In my opinion, the simplest way to catch tautog is to use a Togzilla jig. These jigs are specially made to present a crab (one of the tautog’s favorite prey items) right on the bottom amongst the rocks and boulders where tautog call home.

Tautog Fishing: How To Hook Green Crabs Onto Togzilla Jigs

In my home waters off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the most common bait to use when targeting tautog is the green crab.

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These crabs can be easily caught in most estuaries, or purchased at a reasonable price from bait shops.

The first step to hooking a crab onto a Togzilla jig is to snip off the crabs legs using a pair of bait scissors. Once the legs have been removed, use the scissors to snip the body of the crab in half. Then take one half of the crab and peel off the shell. Next, take the point of the hook on the Togzilla jig and thread it through the largest leg socket and out the fleshy meat part of the crab.

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The color of the Togzilla jig probably doesn’t matter much, however the weight of the jig does.

In calm shallow areas without much current. I will use a jig in the 1-ounce to 2.5-ounce range. If you are fishing a deeper area with more current, then you may want to use a jig as heavy as 4-ounces or 5-ounces. Use a weight that keeps your line vertical and straight beneath the boat when fishing.

Tautog Fishing: How To Fish The Jig & Crab

When tautog fishing, you will almost always want to present your bait right along the bottom. Tautog generally hold very close to the bottom and are often found in and around rocks and boulders. When you drop your jig and crab overboard, allow it to head straight for the bottom.

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Once it hits bottom, leave the jig sitting there – do not reel it up off the bottom.

Tautog can be a tricky fish to hook. They will often try crushing the crab with their teeth before swallowing it. It can be challenging for anglers to resist the temptation to immediately set the hook when they feel that initial “bump” on the line. Instead of immediately setting the hook, try waiting a moment to allow the tautog to swallow the bait. Then set the hook a moment after the initial bump, once you know the tautog has taken the crab.

For tautog fishing, I will use 50-pound braided line tied to a 50-pound fluorocarbon leader. This may sound like overkill based on the average size of the fish, however tautog live in rocky environments and are a strong fighting fish. You will want to pull big tautog off the bottom quickly using a fairly tight drag and a rod that has some backbone. If you don’t apply enough pressure early on in the fight, then there is a chance the tautog will cut you off on a rock or get you snagged in the boulders.

Tautog Fishing: How To Find Tautog

In my home waters off Cape Cod, Massachusetts I will generally fish for tautog in the spring during April and May, and again in the fall during October and November. I do not fish for tautog during the summer because I’m occupied with other species like striped bass and bluefin tuna.

During the spring, tautog move into shallow water to spawn. During this time of the year, it is not unusual to find tautog in water depths of 5 to 30-feet. The general protocol is to anchor up in an area where tautog spawn or like to feed (often around underwater rock piles or weed beds).

If I don’t get any bites within 10 or 15 minutes, then I pull anchor and move the boat to the next spot.

I start fishing again for tautog once autumn arrives, during the months of October and November. The only issue is the weather. Cold windy days occur pretty often, especially during November, which can make fishing difficult. Nevertheless, the protocol is almost the same as during the spring – anchor up over underwater rock piles and just keep moving around until you get on the bite.

Tautog Fishing: Final Thoughts

Tautog are a ton of fun to catch and are also delicious to eat! They are a good fish to target during the spring and fall “shoulder seasons”. Another bonus is that you don’t need a big fancy boat to go tautog fishing, and you often do not have to travel far from shore to catch them.

Using a Togzilla jig tipped with a green crab is a surefire method to fooling tautog on a regular basis. In my opinion it is the simplest way to catch tautog of all shapes and sizes.

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Best of luck if you give tautog fishing a try this season! I think you will find it challenging but also a lot of fun.

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!