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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.

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The ANGLR Bullseye is the easiest and fastest way to mark waypoints and catches without ever pulling out your phone or tapping around on a graph. Wear, stick, or hang this small, simple, and convenient button anywhere. Click Bullseye and automatically record catch locations, editable way points, conditions and more. At the end of the day you’ll have all the information in as little or as much detail as you need.

ANGLR Experts Are Sharing Fishing Intelligence In a Brand New Way [NEW FEATURE]

So, your new fishing app has finally finished downloading. Your expectations soar as you open it up on your trusty smartphone.

Will this be the app that actually helps you catch more fish?

After exploring the features on your newest fishing app that promised you the world, you get the message…

You know the one.

It’s the discovery that the app is selling its users’ fishing locations for one sinfully low price. As soon as you start saving catches, your spots will also be added into its premium offering.

It’s your confirmation this app that was too good to be true really is too good to be true.

It’s a tragedy because mobile technology is an incredibly powerful tool that has the potential to grow and protect our sport instead of trying to prey on unsuspecting anglers.

It’s a tragedy because a corporation is lining their pockets because of your hard work and not giving you any piece of it.

It’s a tragedy because it puts prime fishing locations on precious and fragile fisheries in the crosshairs of app users who are just looking for instant gratification and are willing to pay for it with no limits or control mechanisms in place.

This story is all too common. As anglers, we believe it’s time to change it.

ANGLR Experts Are Writing a New Story

It’s time to rebuild trust in fishing apps as a tool you can securely use and rely on. It’s time for anglers to be fairly compensated for their valuable fishing intelligence.

We set out to build a fishing app that would act as a positive force in this fight and progress the sport. More specifically, we wanted to build a groundbreaking feature that would help anglers protect and offer intelligence that goes well beyond the simple notion of “spots” while maintaining complete control over their content, spots, data… their intelligence that they are trusting us to secure on our platform.

Relying on the direct guidance of our experts, we were able to build a feature that we hope can help turn the page.

We asked our community what we should call the feature and you helped us name it “Intelligence Packs.

Now, with Intelligence Packs as part of their toolset, our ANGLR Experts are re-writing this story on their terms.

Introducing ANGLR Intelligence Packs [NEW FEATURE]

ANGLR Intelligence Packs are complete breakdowns on specific waterbodies that Experts are offering to anglers through our platform. They are blueprints for finding success. Intelligence Packs contain GPS locations, detailed notes, tips, and other educational intel to help other anglers be successful. And, they’re doing it on their terms; their spots, their limits, their content, their price.

Today, the first chapters have been inked by James Elam (Four-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, two-time Bassmaster Open tournament champion, 2018 Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year Championships champion, and 2019 MLF Bass Pro Tour Competitor) and Gene Jensen (Aka. Flukemaster, creator and manager of one of the most popular fishing channels on YouTube focused on teaching the world to fish).

The first Intelligence Packs to ever be released into the wild:

Enough from us. Let’s hear from these pioneers…

“I can’t physically go fish with every single one of my subscribers on any given lake, but this is as close to having me with them on their boat that they can get.”

– Gene Jensen

“I am constantly approached by anglers who wonder how a professional breaks down a body of water and establishes a plan for game day. ANGLR Intelligence Packs finally provide a way for people like me in the sport who fish for a living to share exactly how this looks while maintaining control over the content and truly help other anglers catch more fish.”

– James Elam

“Information is power, and when it comes to detailed fishing information, nothing comes close to intelligence packs.”

– Dave Lefebre

Why does this matter?

Why? Because there’s nothing better than seeing other people catch a fish. This is why ANGLR Experts do what they do. This is what they live for. This is what it’s all about.

Intelligence Packs are a whole new way to make these magical moments happen more often and scale it in a way that improves and grows the sport instead of damaging it.

With Intelligence Packs, these Experts are transcending the physical limits of mentorship in this great sport. This is a key connection in this industry that has been missing for generations.

Above all, we exist to help anglers constantly improve. We feel this is a meaningful new manifestation of this mission that will truly help our fellow anglers enjoy their sport and share it at a new level. Let us know in the comments what you think!


Important Questions and Honest Answers [Q&A]

At this point, we hope you have some questions. Here’s a few that we’ve already received and answered. We’ll be updating this section as we continue to usher in this new era with the fishing community.

What are ANGLR Intelligence Packs?

Intelligence Packs are exactly what they sound like, a package of intelligence. This intelligence consists of various types of waypoints that are created and organized by trusted and verified Experts within the ANGLR platform. Experts add photos, notes, patterns, baits, tips, tricks, techniques, and other instructions to append to these waypoints. When purchased these “packs” live right inside your ANGLR account where you can toggle them on as you need them for guidance and learning.

Think of packs as virtually guided trips. This is an entirely new way for expert anglers to help others learn tips and tricks that further the enjoyment of being on the water with confidence. They will act like a digital guide next to you the whole time you’re on the water.

How do Intelligence Packs work?

Experts use ANGLR to track their days on the water. They set the prices. They control the volume of packs sold and the duration it is available on ANGLR. We’re giving our Experts a platform to share fishing intelligence with other anglers who want to improve and learn on their home bodies of water or a brand new body of water! You just select the pack you’d like to purchase, log-in or register, and enter payment details.

To locate your purchased pack, you simply log-in to https://my.anglr.tech and click on purchased packs. From there, you can toggle on any packs you have purchased and see them in Map View! You can select any waypoint or catch to open the details and insights related to it.

Isn’t this just a new way to burn spots?

Intelligence Packs are to spot burning what iTunes was to music piracy. The goal is to decrease the abuse of spots and the erosion of their value by providing a marketplace that helps sustain their value. And, it’s not about spots. They contain various types of waypoints that are designed in a way to help anglers approach a body of water and fish a certain pattern. These packs are a controlled product by our Experts on our platform. We work with the Experts and allow them to set quantity limits and their own pricing in a way that responsibly shares this information with a limited audience. This makes sure these spots are preserved and shared on a controlled level. Contrast this with the current scenario where a fishing app takes everyone’s spots and shares them with everybody.

Do I have to use Intelligence Packs to use ANGLR?

Nope.

ANGLR is completely free to:

Plan

Record     

Improve

How else is ANGLR different from other Fishing Apps?

We track your fishing trips from start to finish. 

We automate your logbook. No more manual data entry!

All of your data is private by default.

We help anglers plan, record, and improve with each and every fishing trip. This includes full reports and insights along with an entirely free web application.

Connected devices make recording your trips practically hands-free!

We are anglers helping anglers improve.

Can you guarantee that if I purchase an Intelligence pack I will catch fish?

Even if the Expert was on your boat staring down into the water at a giant largemouth waiting to eat a bait that you drop in the water, then they hand you the perfect rod and reel combo, the perfect bait, and show you the perfect technique to get that fish to bite, there’s still no guarantee that you’d get bit.

That’s why we love this sport so much.

Our Experts hope you understand that all these packs can do is provide you expert advice, data, and insights that they’ve worked hard to learn and package for you to give you the best chance possible.

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!

Kayak Carts 101: Everything You Need To Know about Kayak Carts

So you made it to the lake, now what?

A decade ago when I began the journey into fishing from a kayak, things were not as complicated as they are today.  I’m not even sure if complicated is the correct word, but either way, kayak fishing has grown, and with its growth, a massive industry has developed to support it.  Our kayaks are now built as fishing specific machines, equipped to carry more weight, and every crevice and crease is used to house more gear. With this, the kayaks have become heavier, but more stable in the water, and better equipped to serve as an awesome fishing vessel. With the heavier kayaks, kayak carts have become a necessity.   

Back when I started, kayaks were generally lighter, not as wide, and they had carrying capacities that are not even close to the limits of modern day fishing kayaks. Back then a couple rods, a milk crate loaded with a little tackle, a set of pliers, and you were kayak fishing. When you take a minute and think about how much the sport has grown over the last ten years it’s just crazy… but crazy in a good way.

Kayak Carts Allow For Ease of Transportation

With all of this said, we need a way to get our heavy rigs to the water’s edge from our transport vehicle. Getting the kayak to the parking lot is a whole other article that we will unpack at another time.

There are several ways to accomplish getting the kayak to the water, but one way I have found changed my life.  This is the kayak cart. There are many types sold as well as the DIY versions where the sky is the limit as far as your design and build go.  They can be made as simple, or as complicated as you want them to be. With the weights of some popular fishing kayaks, kayak carts have almost become a necessity. 

Weights of some popular fishing kayaks on the market today:

Wilderness Systems ATAK 140:  95-pounds

Hobie Pro Angler 14:  120.5-pounds

Old Town PDL:  117-pounds

Popular Kayak Cart Models

Popular Kayak Cart Models: The C-Tug by Railblaza

I personally use the C-Tug made by Railblaza.  I have put this cart through its paces and have had only one issue the entire time.  I broke the kickstand on a boat ramp that I had no business dropping the kayak off of, the break was completely my fault.  The cool thing is, all of the parts are replaceable as the unit breaks down for storage and requires no tools for disassembly or assembling.  

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Pictured above is the C-Tug made by Railblaza.  It can be found today on some sites for around $140.00.  The picture above belongs to shop.potomacpaddlesports.com.

All of the C-Tug’s parts are replaceable should you break the cart dropping it off of a boat ramp you have no business dropping it off of.  The cart will fit most kayaks due to its adjustable pads and is corrosion free. There are several different tire choices for the many different terrains we encounter as kayak anglers.  The maximum load weight is 120kg/300-pounds static loading. If you are in the market for a kayak cart you can check out the C-Tug at https://www.c-tug.com.  

Popular Kayak Cart Models: The Boonedox Landing Gear

Another very popular cart, or more like a flight system for a kayak, is the Boonedox Landing Gear.  The landing gear is made by Boonedox in Thomasville, North Carolina.

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The above picture is the property of boonedoxusa.com

The Boonedox Landing gear is made to actually bolt onto the kayak. When you are in the water the legs simply fold up and are out of your way while fishing or just leisurely paddling around. When you make it back to the dock simply fold the legs down and roll your kayak back to your vehicle, house, or wherever you may need to go.  The wheels are always with you so lifting a heavy kayak to place a cart under it is not a factor.

For our heavy fishing kayaks, this has become a very popular option. I have not used one personally, but I have a couple close buddies that swear by the Boonedox Landing Gear.  

The Boonedox Landing gear can be purchased for around the $270.00-$300.00 and comes in some different models that are kayak specific. On the site, if your kayak model does not have a specific landing gear listed, then the general Landing Gear can be purchased and in most cases should work for you. Like the C-Tug cart, there are replacement parts that can be purchased if you were to break something. There are also different tires available for the many different terrains we traverse trying to get to that one magical place that holds the bass of a lifetime. Check the Boonedox Landing Gear out at https://boonedoxusa.com.  

Popular Kayak Cart Models: Hobie’s Kayak Carts

Let’s take a look at Hobie’s kayak Carts. Hobie makes their own carts for their very popular line of kayaks, and generally, have one for whatever Hobie kayak you paddle or peddle. Their carts work by inserting the scupper tube into the scupper holes of the kayak near the rear of the boat, behind the seat. Hobie makes a few different carts.

    • Fold & Stow Plug-in Cart –  This cart weighs in at just over 5-pounds and will break down (no tools) to fit inside a large hatch.  The maximum capacity for this cart is 175-pounds. It comes with a nice carrying bag for storage.
    • Hobie Plug-in Carts – This cart comes with removable wheels and is made out of Stainless Steel.  Your choice of wheels, Standard with a 150-pounds capacity and Heavy-Duty allowing you to carry up to 225-pounds.
    • Trax 2 Plug-in Cart –   This cart is great in the sand because of its pneumatic tires.  The tire pressures can be lowered to assist you in softer sand or soil.  This cart has a 176-pound capacity.
  • Trax 2-30 Plug-in Cart –   This cart is the same as the above listed Trax 2, but with a higher carrying capacity because of the 30cm pneumatic tires.  This allows you to carry up to 242-pounds and is the best Hobie cart for sand duty.

Contact a Hobie dealer near you or check them out online at https://www.hobie.com/accessories/carts/.

Popular Kayak Cart Models: Other Kayak Cart Options

There are also some kayak carts that are made for general duty or purpose.  A simple google search will provide you with several options for a basic cart.  Some of the ones on the market today are:

A Final Option: DIY Kayak Carts

Some PVC and lawn mower wheels can get you well on your way to a DIY cart.  The picture below is a fine example of a DIY cart that someone made for probably a really affordable cost.  It uses the above-mentioned items along with a pool noodle that can be picked up at your local Walmart or General Dollar Store.  The PVC, glue, and wheels can be purchased at Lowes or Home Depot. You will find many instructional videos on YouTube in reference to building a kayak cart.

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The above picture was obtained from gearcloud.net

No matter who you are or how old you are, your back is taking a beating by lifting and moving your kayak around every day.  If you are one of those kayak anglers like myself that doesn’t live on the water, then do yourself a favor now and get a cart.  Some of them are expensive, but the DIY carts will work fine and at least get you started, your back will thank you later.

As always stay safe on the water, take care of each other, promote our sport in a positive light every chance you get, and always have fun.