The Saltwater Magazine for Gulf Coast Fishing!



SUMMER 2009 Preview


Cover: Port Isabel artist and fly fisherman Larry Haines with a surf caught tarpon that can be added to a slam April-October. Photo by Danno Wise.



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STROLLIN' for BIG GAME by Danno Wise
Big game from jetties, bay and beach
Inevitably, the start of summer conjures images of blue water and big game fish. Unfortunately, for many anglers these images remain nothing more than daydreams. Most of these unfulfilled visions belong to non-boating anglers who believe they need 24 feet of fiberglass and a couple hundred horses to propel them into the big game playing field. However, the truth is, a pair of good shoes and a decent amount of stamina is enough to get fishermen in the mix along several areas of the Gulf Coast. And, summer is the perfect time to go strollin' for big game.
Some points along the shores of the Gulf, such as Deep South Texas and the Florida Panhandle, are notorious for seeing blue water species visit during the summer season. However, the fact is every stretch of sand surrounding the Gulf of Mexico sees fish over 4 feet long close to shore. The species may vary, but the bottom line is anyone within reach of a Gulf Coast beach is capable of tangling with 'the fish of a lifetime.'...
BIG TROUT by Al Rogers
Setting a New Standard in Venice
There was a time not long ago when anglers on the Gulf Coast rarely mentioned the numbers offish they caught. The waters in south Louisiana in the 1960s and '70s literally teemed with speckled trout and the measuring stick for those days was not the numbers of fish one caught, but rather the number of ice chests one filled.

A "take no prisoners" attitude prevailed and the word conservation had not yet made it into our collective vocabulary. Even the concept of conservation was an abstract notion, held perhaps by environmentalists and radical liberals.

But change surfaced in the early 1980s when studies indicated our Gulf fishery was indeed a mortal entity. Stocks were diminishing and we began to realize it was time to change our angling habits and practices. New size and creel limits were imposed on the commercial and recreational industries and a handful of high profile anglers founded a new sport. They began to exclusively target trophy trout...


PUMPED ON POMPANO by Capt. Fred Everson
How to locate and catch pompano on purpose
I can still recall my first hook up with pompano. I was casting a small jig trying to catch some ladyfish in front of the power plant on Tampa Bay to use as bait for the tarpon that were rolling around the boat. Something struck the jig and took off on a strong run. My first thought was big jack crevalle, but there was something different about it. The fish didn't circle the boat like a jack, and when I finally reeled it in close enough to see it I was amazed to find a 14 inch pompano on the line. What I initially thought to be a 10-pound jack was this diminutive little fish. Talk about an outsized fight from a small fish. A few casts later I caught another one, and it was the same thing - lots of fight from a little fish.

Pompano and permit are closely related and so difficult to tell apart that the limit for both species is the same. Currently it's 11 to 20 inches, measured to the fork of the tail with one fish over 20 inches allowed in the bag of six. Besides their excellent fighting qualities, pompano and permit are both highly regarded food fish. So much so that the commercial take of pompano in Florida is huge, and brings a live weight price that rivals and often exceeds grouper...

WICKED WEATHER by Joseph Carro
Tips on how not to become a boating statistic

Lightning, torrential rain and rough seas can turn a pleasurable outing into a life-threatening ordeal in a heartbeat. Yet unwary boaters are too often taken by surprise, largely because they don't realize just how fast a storm can come up or the danger it presents.

According to the most recent Coast Guard accident data, nearly three percent of all recreational boating accidents are directly related to severe weather conditions that can quickly overwhelm smaller craft. Some thunderstorms, for example, create microbursts - intense downdrafts over an area a half-mile to three miles wide capable of producing wind gusts from 60 mph to more than 100 mph. Microbursts can capsize a small boat or blow a passenger overboard.

Gulf Coast Closeup - by Vernon Summerlin

"There is a tide in the affairs of men,

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyage of their life

Is bound in the shallows and in miseries."

So says Shakespeare in Julius Caesar but what does this have to do with fishing the saltwater lakes along Florida's panhandle?

Plenty! When these dune lakes flood redfish, speckled trout and other species are washed in and left behind when the waters retreat. Don't miss the flood or shortly afterwards or you will experience the miseries of being too late to catch them.

Panhandle anglers keep their eyes open for the storms and high tides that stock these saltwater lakes, and then seize the day for good fishing. It is much like a put-and-take situation because their reproduction ranges from little to zilch.

Most abundant in these lakes are pinfish, croakers and mullet. Redfish, speckle trout, ladyfish, black drum and whiting are the more sought after species. Which species get trapped in these lakes depends on the season. Pompano occasionally become trapped in the spring with ladyfish but the more common game fish to become landlocked are redfish, flounder and trout...

This issue in OUR DEPARTMENTS...
Paddling Out - Oysters Anyone? - by Jeff Herman
Rod & Reel'n Offshore - Wire Leaders 102 - by Patrick Lemire
Equipment Notebook - Install a Signal Horn - by David Ayers
The Bay Naturalist - Meet the Drummettes (and one super seafood soup recipe!) - by John Hook
The Fly Guy - Offshore Trout - by Pete Cooper, Jr.
Tackle Time - MirrOlure - 50 Years of Flash - by Colby Sorrells
Bait Hook - High Tech/Low Tech - by Jim Martin
From the Publisher...
Besides all these great articles and departments, Gulf Coast Fisherman is the only source for the Wells Daily Fishing Forecast. Each issue carries three months of the Wells Daily Fishing Forecast - with Monthly Fishing Calendars. Also, don't forget about the Advance Planning Calendars in each issue that takes you out three months past the current issue. This will provide what you need to intelligently plan your fishing trips - hours, weeks, and up to six months in advance!
Top saltwater guides and fishermen use the Wells Daily Fishing Forecast - shouldn't you be using it ,too?...
"The fisherman that knows what the currents are doing has the advantage - over fish and fishermen!"
And remember - "Fish feed everyday, somewhere " - Harold Wells
Gary Ralston