Pursuit of Atlantic Sailfish

Most articles on our blog are informative. The goal of such articles is to help our readers gain more understanding about fishing, boating, and the equipment available. This article is a break from that tradition. What you’ll read below is a true story about a recent fishing trip to Stuart, FL; the sailfish capital of the world.

This was not your average fishing trip.  In fact, if the entire trip could be reduced into one word, that word would certainly be an antonym for average.

Imagine having more disposable income than you knew what to do with.  I don’t have to ask you to imagine enjoying fishing.  That’s kind of a given if you’re reading this.  You earned your wealth through the sale of a business you’d worked hard to build.  One started out of your garage.  Here you are now, a bit older and grayer than before, but well before that point in life when your physical state beings to fail you.  You’re young enough to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

What follows is a glimpse into what that life would be like.

Many of us dream of being able to go fishing anytime we want, anywhere we want.  Well, all that takes are two things: time and money.  Some of us dream of having that boat…that expedition Yacht.  It would be big and stout enough, with a 4,000 plus nautical mile range, capable of tackling the world’s oceans. We’d surely plot one course after another.  Venturing back onto land for quick flights to visit family and friends for holidays or other special events.  Yes, we’d be able to keep in touch with everyone.  We’d have our own internet and cable just as if we were on land.  The only exceptions may come in the form of a temporary lost or weak signal due to our position in relation to the necessary satellites.  Besides brief visits to our land loving family and friends, ours would be life involving visits to the most exclusive, highly coveted, tropical locales; known for being the best locations in the world for whatever species we woke up and decided to pursue.   Even for those for which money is not an issue, time on their yacht’s engines and the wear and tear of the trip is a concern.  In those cases, yacht transport ships become an option.  How much does it cost to ship a 60′ Viking from Stuart, FL to…say Costa Rica?  As of December 2017, approximately $48,000.00.  One way.

Yacht Transport Ship

Now, back to the trip that actually did happen.  This fishing expedition involved flying to Stuart, FL on a privately owned plane, staying at one of the most well appointed marina’s along Florida’s Treasure Coast, and fishing aboard a 60′ foot Viking meticulously maintained by a dedicated captain and crew.

There are a number of truly beautiful things about private air travel.  When does your flight leave? When you get there. Baggage check? Nope. Security line? Nada. Flying with a knife? A firearm? Good for you!

I couldn’t tell you what airport we landed at in Stuart, FL. I can tell you the 236 mile trip takes up to 3 and half hours by car.  Our flight consumed less than 50 minutes. Truthfully, I could’ve cared less about where we landed. I was on this trip to catch fish. Not learn about Florida’s private airports.  That doesn’t mean you can’t be impressed by the logistical improvements. FYI, flying privately… it never gets old. Never.

It was a smooth landing. Thermals aren’t really an issue during a winter evening. The fuselage door opened. Stairs lowered. A gentleman stood smiling. His hand out to assist with luggage. I learned he was the Captain.

Standing a hair over six feet, he had a youthful, gregarious way about him. A crew cut revealed blond hair. A color I’ll wager came about through years under the sun. Clear blue eyes, an honest face, and an affable demeanor. All the qualities you want in a Captain. None you don’t. His actions revealed a truly genuine interest in ensuring every detail of our trip was taken care of. Every contingency planned for. Every system on the Yacht he commanded, electrical or mechanical, running perfectly.

Of course, one never knows how skilled a Captain is until the vessel leaves the dock. On the water, there’s no such thing as perception being reality. You can’t possibly “fake it till you make it.” You make it. If not, the cost is often much higher than mere loss of reputation.

Luggage stowed, we piled into a large extended cab pickup truck. The Captain parked conveniently a few feet from the plane. So much for walking down a cramped airline aisle made for runway models with full blown anorexia, piling into a trolley, managing not fall down an escalator, or feeling like a sardine in an airport. All just so you can navigate your way to either curbside pick up, or baggage claim.

A 10-minute ride took us to Pirate’s Cove Marina. More importantly, we arrived to board the vessel Aluminator. The remarkable 60’ Viking Sportfishing yacht. She sparkled though the sun had set long ago.  Even the moon was absent from the night sky.

As if the vessel alone wasn’t impressive enough, a brand new, custom built 16 ft Dragonfly Boatworks, LLC Emerger model flats boat rested on the expansive bow.

Located in Vero Beach, FL, I learned that the iconic recording artist Jimmy Buffett owns a large share of Dragonfly Boatworks.  Given the apparent build quality, I’ll comfortably speculate that Buffet’s involvement is more financial than hands on. I’ll also comfortably speculate that Dragonfly Boatworks has a drug free workplace policy. A potential hurdle of sorts for that certain “son of a sailor.”

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Stern livewell aboard the 16′ Emerger Flats Boat.

 

 

 

 

 

Now, back to the Viking. I challenge the most jaded yachtsman to pass by this vessel without stealing a glance; if not a prolonged, jaw dropped, stare.  You enter the main saloon is possible by passing through an automatic, push button, sliding door.  The door closes automatically about 10 seconds after you pass through.  Once through, the interior provides no shortage of eye candy.

In Pirate movies, there’s almost always a scene involving a pile of gold, precious gems, and assorted treasures. Usually revealed in some deep dark cave, after much bloodshed and hardship. I didn’t see a pile of gold doubloons, but I doubt my reaction would have been the least bit different. My eyes absorbed what was both an exceptional feat of marine engineering and a true-life representation of the finest in interior yacht design. Counter tops. Granite. Couches and furniture – where do you find leather that soft? Precious hardwoods gleamed throughout. I wondered how many coats of varnish it takes to create such a glamorous sparkle? Nevermind. I don’t want to know.

My first impression of the Captain proved true. A walk through the Aluminator’s spacious kitchen, well-appointed stateroom, spacious master cabin, and twin guest bedroom, revealed food and drink stocked in an over abundance of supply and variety. You couldn’t have found a speck of dust or dirt if you crawled on your hands and knees with an ultra bright headlamp and magnifying glass.  The same could be said for how well kept the engine room was.

The trip to the area where trolling for sailfish consumed about 20 to 30 minutes. Cruising speed was in excess of 30 mph. Trolling speed varied between 6 and 7 knots. We came prepared; trolling 4 hooks, 2 teasers, and two dredges. The hooks were attached to rods equipped with the to hell and back reliable Shimano TLD 25s and 30s. (LThe teasers were controlled by massive electric reels. A control box for the electronic reels could also be found on the second level helm station. Located in the ceiling above the Captain provided him with quick, uncluttered access.

In addition to the Captain was a first mate. This guy ran the show in the stern. He watched every line, every rod, and every school of baitfish; simultaneously.  It was as if he had a fish eye lens for vision. The first mate had a powerful build, dark hair cut short, and a full-grown beard. His attire, from head to toe, spoke volumes. A well-worn trucker’s hat, quintessential Costa Del Mar sunglasses with blue 580G lenses, and the ever popular white rubber boots.  Despite a heavy Scandinavian type build, his reflexes were on par with an Olympic ping pong player.  I’d put him up against the best the Chinese have, any day.

First Mate on deck

Teaser Rig With Mullet secured off one of the Outriggers
A teaser rig consisting of a recently caught mullet hung from an outrigger protruding from each side of the Viking Sportfishing boat.

As soon as one of the rods showed the tell tale bend of a sailfish, the first mate yanked the rod from the rocket launcher, yell to the Captain, and jerk back on the rod to keep the sailfish interested.  Those of us aboard to fish took turns in an organized rotation whenever a fish was caught.  Despite being in the sailfish capital of the world, a bent rod wasn’t a guarantee of catching a sailfish.

Live to Fish Shirt worn while fighting a sailfish
Live to Fish Shirt worn while fighting a sailfish

Each rod had 200 yards of 40 lb test monofilament on.  At http://www.livetofish.com, we sell 104 different kinds of 40 lb test line alone.  Overall, we offer 1,789 options for fishing line and leader material.

Reeling in the 200 yards of line was no easy task.  Though the Captain would back down on the fish, the drag was set to no more than 8 pounds.  This light drag was necessary to avoid a break off.  200 yards of line out, with a game fish on the end, creates a significant amount of stress on the line.  What ensued was an extended period of fast paced reeling to recover all the line and prevent slack in the line.  You wouldn’t know whether you had a sailfish, or a Bonito, until the fish was close enough to the boat.

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There were a fair number of Bonito caught.  They’re a smaller relative of the tuna.  When caught, these fish quickly found their way down into one of the ice filled coffin boxes.  They would be used as bait or perhaps to feed a hungry crew member.

We were after sailfish.  To this end, the Captain did not disappoint.  We fished for two days with sailfish being caught each day.  The second day saw three sailfish caught.  Hence, three sailfish flags were raised before returned to our slip.

Atlantic Sailfish Caught by Live to Fish team member
Atlantic Sailfish Caught by Live to Fish team member

The sailfish is indeed an impressive species.  It’s known as the fastest fish in the Ocean; exceeding speeds of 68 MPH.  They are carnivores.  Hence, our bait selection of mullet and rigged ballyhoo.  At Live to Fish, we sell both artificial and frozen ballyhoo.

We’d fish until about 3:00 PM.  With the days starting at 6:00 AM, there were no objections to heading in at this time.  When fishing for the entire day, the question of lunch usually presents itself.  What to bring is most often determined by what’s easiest to transport.  Ready made sandwiches top the list due to the fact that they don’t require any preparation.  Lunch on this trip consisted of sandwiches, but they were far from the ready made versions.  Fresh deli meats of more types and varieties I can recall filled one of the numerous refrigerated food drawers in the beautiful galley.  Fresh deli breads, different types of mustard, and other toppings were all available.

With the setup as it was, all you had to do was sit back on one of the overly comfortable seating areas, waiting for the first mate to shout, “fish on!”  Though everyone agreed that this type of fishing in ultimate luxury is something anyone could get used to, there’s something about inshore fishing that will always be more appealing to me.  Me and Dad on previous flats boat

Winter Fishing Tips

How different is Florida fishing in the winter compared to fishing in the Spring or Summer?  All things considered, more aspects are alike than different.  However, knowing the differences and how to best adjust your tactics can easily make the difference between coming home empty handed, or coming back with your limit.   A few of the biggest differences is that inshore fish change their locations and feeding habits during the winter.  What may be one of your best spots in the summer months can be empty during the winter.  A bait or lure that was one of your favorite for warmer water temps may be entirely ineffective during the winter.  As for the similarities, you still go out and cast your rod in hopes of landing the biggest fish.  You’re likely to use many of the same knots, same rods, and same reels.  You may wear more layers of clothing, but you’ll still appreciate your polarized sunglasses. There are certain species that are more easily caught during the winter than summer.  One of the most popular offshore examples is the sailfish.  They’re the fastest fish in the ocean, capable of speeds up to 68 miles per hour. Their large size and spirited fight make them a favorite among those seeking a trophy fish.  Stay tuned for an article we have coming up from a sailfishing trip I’ll take this upcoming weekend out of Stuart, Florida.  For pursuing sailfish, your gear would be different than what you would use for catching those winter redfish or trout.

Sailfish

As explained above, what changes most are the tactics and the locations. Otherwise, the battle of you versus the fish remains the same.  It’s more or less common knowledge that the earth is farther from the sun during colder winter months.  The increased distance from the sun causes colder temperatures on land, and correspondingly, colder water temperatures.  The colder water temperatures are what create the need for different tactics and different locations.

NEGATIVE TIDES

During winter, we experience the lowest tides of the year.  The lowest tides come about as a result of the pull of the new and full moon phases.  The ultra low tides are referred to as “negative tides,” negative lows,” or “moon tides.”  These referential names come from having a water level that’s lower than the mean low water mark upon which the relevant charts reflect.  You’ll see all the water disappear from a flat that might have been deep enough to support boat traffic no less than 12 hours earlier.  Seagrass blades lay flat, exposed to the air, while seagulls take advantage of shrimp left high and dry. The negative tides can be a good opportunity to gain a better understanding of the topography associated with your favorite spots.

WHERE TO LOOK

Just because the water up and disappeared from the flat, doesn’t mean your chances of landing anything did too.  Be on the lookout for random troughs, trenches, ditches and depressions.  In other words, look for those deep spots among the otherwise shallow flat.  Especially deep pockets directly next to the flat itself and associated sand bars.  The randomly placed deep water areas form a shallow water winter habitat.  When the negative tides occur, fish occupy these deeper areas.  These deeper areas hold comfortable depths to sustain larger game fish throughout the duration of the negative low tide.  If the deep pocket has a dark bottom, so much the better. Dark colors absorb heat from the sun. The result can be a hole with a sustaining amount of water and a warm bottom to make the space more comfortable.  Temporarily entrapped, some fish will even bite on a slack tide. However, focus on the last half of the outgoing tide and the first of the incoming tide.  Those times tend to be the most dependable.  Hungry game fish await the return of the high tide in these random troughs and potholes, and along the edges of a grassflat.  Casting a Berkley Gulp Bait, like the jerk shad, 3″ shrimp, or mullet , or a live shrimp affixed to a bait hook, into one of these deeper areas, and slowly working the bait, or letting the live shrimp drift across to the edge, is enough to entice a bite.  Flats with large numbers of wading birds such as herons, egrets, wood storks, and roseate spoonbills feeding along the shallow perimeters are indicative of a good spot.  These flats clearly hold an abundance of crustaceans and baitfish. Adjacent deep water is very likely to hold snook, trout and redfish.

Brandgard Sunset

You’ll find similar opportunities at the mouths of coastal arteries. Especially where water is forced under a bridge into a backwater canal area.

Dock light seen from this bridge while fishing during the winter.
Underwater dock light to target during winter fishing.

In the photo below, the docks and boats up on lifts are just past a small bridge.  All the fish that enter this canal area, and all the baitfish that ride the tides in and out of the are, have to use one of a few bridges to make their entrance and exit.  If you can find such bridges around the area you generally Fish, check out the ground structure on a particularly low tide.  More of the sea floor will be exposed.  If you see rocks or an oyster bed near that bridge entrance, the spot is worth trying during a high tide.   Because fish tend to be more lethargic in the winter with the lower water temperatures, focus on baits that either remain affixed to the bottom, or that you can bump slowly along the bottom; with emphasis on the word “slowly.”

MEANS OF APPROACH

If you generally fish from a boat, be prepared to get out of your boat and walk the flats during the winter. When sandbars, or simple lack of water impede your progress, anchor or stake out your boat.  Then proceed on foot.  If access depth allows, tether the boat to your waist towing it along behind you. Doing so will prevent unexpected lengthy returns if you happen to walk farther than you expected.

COLD WATER FISHING CHALLENGES

No doubt, extreme low tides yield opportunities. Yet, there’s always a balance maintained when fishing.  Meaning, though there may be plenty of fish, catching them will be as much of a challenge as catching them during any other time of the year.  The information in this article will help give you an edge; but its actually getting out there and doing it that will teach you the know how you need to be successful.  One thing to keep in mind is the risk that an increase in the water clarity presents.  Winter’s colder water turns gin clear. The clarity occurs because the bacteria that would live in warmer temperatures dies off. Years ago, I remember a guide describing the winter water clarity to me.  He said, “I feel like I’m floating on air…”  Clear water means high visibility – both for you and the fish.

Sarah Dock 2

REMEMBER THIS RULE:  If you can see a fish, he can see you.  In fact, chances are he’s already seen you.  Whether you can put that fish in the boat comes down to a degree of tolerance between you and that fish.  You’re already invading an area as familiar to him as your living room.  How hungry and likely he’ll be to bite is now more of a question than it would’ve been if you’d remained out of sight and avoided making any sounds.  Remember to keep your distance and keep quiet.  Keeping quiet is easier done when you’re walking on the exposed floor of flat than when you’re in a boat.  There are no hatches to close too quickly and loudly.  No deck to drop your rod, smartphone, water bottle, etc., on.  You may have seen flats boats with their decks covered in a type of foam padding. Not only does this enhance your comfort when walking on deck, it also helps to conceal your presence by decreasing the sounds a heavy step makes on the deck.  To make the most of fishing these conditions, you’d do well to use a long rod with braided line to achieve maximum casting distance.  Spinning rods that are 7’6″ and above, rated for 8-17lb test line, and have a fast to extra fast action, work well to make long casts to hungry fish. Long casts are particularly important in the winter because of the increased water clarity. You may also find yourself contending with higher winds during the winter.  The longer rod can add more momentum to your cast; thereby giving you an advantage when you need to cast into the wind.

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WHAT TO FISH WITH

Jigs in the 1/16- to 1/8-ounce range offer great versatility for experimenting with different body shapes and colors. Grub or shad tails work well, as do soft plastic jerkbaits. Darker colors are typically best for mimicking crustaceans, but a pearl, chartreuse or gold body may do the trick on a bright day. For a weedless presentation – often essential in thick grass – rig soft plastics Texas style on 3/0 to 5/0 worm hooks. Hooks with weighted shanks or pinch weights will increase your casting distance when the fish are nervous.

When searching broad areas, a weedless gold or silver spoon is tough to beat – especially on windy days. In a creek’s tidal eddies, slow-sinking plugs resemble disoriented baitfish and topwater lures are generally productive at daybreak or during cloudy conditions. Mullet expand the surface opportunity because slam species become so accustomed to the noise of the school that they’ll tolerate a splashy surface lure. Smaller mullet sometimes end up on the menu, so expect ferocious strikes.

WHAT TO BRING

 

If you know your fishing trip will involve wading, wear wading boots; or a pair of sneakers that fit securely on your feet.  Whatever you wear, you want to be able to tie it securely around your feet.  Otherwise, the seemingly amazing amount of pressure that starts when you step into a mud flat will suck your shoes right off your feet.  Commit to a handful of lures.  If you’re inclined to fish live bait, you can tie a bait bucket to your waist and let that drift behind you.  As for your terminal tackle, limit yourself to one small tray or resealable plastic bag.  You can carry either a small tray or the resealable plastic bag in a Live to Fish dry bag, chest pack, or stuffed inside a shirt pocket.  The advantage of going with the dry bag is that you can clip it to your belt and let it float along side you; without any worry over whether the contents will get wet.  One rod is usually sufficient.  If you can manage carrying two rods, you’ll have another with a different bait option ready.  Carrying a second rod is usually best accomplished through using a wading belt.  You want to look for a wading belt that has loops along the back edge for holding a spare rod. I’ve heard of some do it yourselfers fashioning their own wading belts from using lumbar support belts.  Because you’re wading through the water, your reel is likely to become submerged at one point or another.  You can avoid any damage to the reel by thoroughly rinsing it in fresh water immediately after use.  Your best bet is to not only rinse it, but use a reel best suited to the saltwater environment.  The Penn Slammer III is one such spinning reel made to survive the harsh saltwater environment.  Some other spinning reels are the Shimano Sustain FI series and the Daiwa Saltist.  These spinning reels tend to be more expensive with others, but the old saying “You get what you pay for,” is indeed true.

If you have any questions about any aspect of fishing or boating, please don’t hesitate to contact us.  You can visit us online at www.livetofish.com call us at 844-934-7446, or visit our showroom at: Live to Fish, 9942 State Road 52, Hudson, FL 34669.  In addition to selling fishing and boating equipment, we offer a wide variety of marine electronics and perform installations and warranty repair / service on SIMRAD, Lowrance, and B&G electronics.

Who’s the Best in Marine Electronics?

HDS CarbonIn years past, Garmin was one of the more popular marine electronic brands. Well, times are a’ changin’, and for good reason. Ever heard the saying that someone became, “too big for their britches?” That would apply to what Garmin has evolved into. Garmin has it’s hand in nearly every cookie jar possible. Automotive, Sports & Fitness, Outdoor Recreation, Marine, and Aviation. They started back in 1989 in Lenexa, Kansas. Now, they’re headquarters are in Canton of Schaffhausen, Switzerland.

Simrad radarAlternatively, let’s take a look at Navico, Inc.  Navico, Inc., owns SIMRAD, SIMRAD Yachting, Lowrance, and B&G.  These brands have been the go to marine electronics brand for powerboats and sportfishing since 1946. That’s 43 years of experience over Garmin. Guess what? No fitness watches, no automotive GPS, Outdoor Recreation, etc. SIMRAD is owned by Navico, Inc. Navico owns B&G, Eagle, MX Marine, Lowrance, Navman, Northstar, and the SIMRAD brands. They’re all manufactured and distributed under the Navico umbrella.

AGGRESSIVE PRODUCT LAUNCH SCHEDULE:

Did you know that on average, Navico launches a new product EVERY 20 DAYS? They’ve maintained an unprecedented product launch schedule. Yet, the majority of their revenue comes from products launched during the previous 2 years; a testament to the quality of their products and dedication to product innovation.

Hook 7

Live to Fish, 9942 State Road 52, Hudson, FL 34669, 844-934-7446 www.livwtofish.com #livetofishsports is excited about choosing to become an authorized dealer, installer, and warranty repair center for the Navico brands. We can handle installations of marine electronics and marine audio systems at our facility. In fact, a number of jobs have already been successfully completed. Our 13,100 square feet of covered space is a nice thing to have in this regard.

Depending on the circumstances involving the vessel, we will also travel to where your boat is located. We’ll review what you have on board marine audio and/or marine navigation/electronic wise, and provide a quote. As a new venture for Live to Fish, we’ve taken significant measures to ensure we have only the best individuals working to ensure complete customer satisfaction. Word of mouth remains one of the most powerful forms of advertising. We haven’t lost sight of that fact, and never will.IMG_2571

Live to Fish Eastern Side of Showroom

G Loomis NRX Rods – the best of the best

In addition to numerous other brands and various models made by those respective brands, Live to Fish, www.livetofish.com carries the NRX line of G Loomis fishing rods. These rods are available in our showroom at, Live to Fish, 9942 State Road 52, Hudson, FL 34669 as well through contacting us by calling 844-934-7446. A, “contact us,” link is available on our website too. The NRX line of rods provides anglers with what is simply the most revolutionary, lightweight, sensitive rods G Loomis has ever created. These rods occupy the rarefied position of being the best of the best. The latest G. Loomis NRX series of rods are manufactured with the absolute top of the line materials and components; utilized at every level of the construction process. Unless you’ve fished with one before, or simply held one, I guarantee you’ve never felt rods like these before in your life.

NRX
The NRX construction method is completely unique in rod manufacturing – allowing G Loomis to make the NRX series at least 15% lighter than similar GLX rods, up to 20% stronger, and more impact resistant. Through employing stiffer, lighter, and high density carbon, inextricably intertwined with Nano Silica resin systems, the NRX rods are indeed lighter. However, the extreme light is not achieved at the cost of being more durable, and providing you with extreme sensitivity. What would otherwise be an imperceptible bite feels like a definitive thump. You can easily feel the difference between your lure dragging across a grass bed or ridges, even at 60 to 70 feet out.

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All NRX rods also feature G Loomis’ unique Hybrid Guide System. The hybrid guide system combines strategic placement of both Fuji titanium-framed SIC and REC Recoil black ion-coated, nickel-titanium Guides, all the way from the stripper to the tip. The stiffer Fuji Guides, closest to the reel seat, offer an increased transfer of sensitivity, while also moving weight back to butt section; thereby increasing the overall balance of the rod and reel. REC Guides are nothing short of amazing. I can speak from personal experience in that regard. Recoil guides are on my NRX 9wt PRO 1 fly rod. They’re known to be the, “indestructible,” guides; and have earned that name for good reasons. REC guides are at the extreme end of being lightweight.

NRX
An exclusive, proprietary Skeletonized Reel Seat also keeps the angler’s finger truly in contact with the blank, while providing a sturdy, ergonomic base for the reel.
like all G Loomis rods, the NRX line is manufactured in the USA. Check us out through visiting in person, or contacting us through www.livetofish.com

THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR MANGROVE HABITATS

No, this isn’t going to be an article containing one or more rather mundane, so called, “fishing tips,” that pretty much everyone who’s ever held a rod, already knows about.  No, what you’ll read won’t sing praises to some new rod or reel.  Live to Fish has more products available than you could ever use, even if you fished every single day for the rest of your life.  Yet, we’re not going to discuss what we have in stock below.  You can come to our new, custom designed showroom, to see what we have at Live to Fish, 9942 State Road 52, Hudson, FL 34669 or visit us online at www.livetofish.com  What this article is about is something more important than the products we sell.  It’s about preserving the resources that allow us to catch the fish that we end up dreaming about later that night.  The fish we take numerous photos of; and which photos end up on social media and shared with friends.  It’s about being stewards of conservation in an effort to ensure that the quality of fishing we have today, doesn’t decline anymore than it already has.  What good does talking about a reel’s advanced drag system do if there’s no fish to test it on?

When it comes to the destruction of natural habitat, we’re our own worst enemies.  Human activity has had the greatest impact on the mangrove ecoregion in Florida. The Lake Worth Lagoon lost 87% of its mangroves in the second half of the 20th century.  Tampa Bay lost over 44% of its wetlands, including mangroves and salt marshes, during the 20th century. Heading to Florida’s East Coast, three-quarters of the mangrove wetlands along the Indian River Lagoon were impounded for mosquito control during the 20th century. As of 2001, natural water flow was being restored to some of the wetlands.

Human activity has impacted the mangrove ecoregion in Florida. While the coverage of mangroves at the end of the 20th century is estimated to have decreased only 5% from a century earlier, some localities have seen severe reductions. Ongoing and planned coastal development in Florida, Belize, the Bahamas, Mexico, and other locations, pose serious threats to mangroves.  The loss of mangrove habitat has a direct negative impact on our fisheries.

Me driving canoe

What this article contains is information about the importance of the habitat mangroves provide for our fisheries. You’ll come away with an understanding of how and why mangroves are many species, including some of our favorites; Tarpon and Snook.  Most people know that fish are often found in and around mangroves, but few know what a critical role they play in our marine ecosystem.  Mangrove forests are home to a large variety of fish, crab, shrimp, and mollusk species. Mangrove forests create fisheries that become an essential source of food for thousands of coastal communities around the world. The forests also serve as nurseries for many fish species, including coral reef fish.

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Most people are unaware that Tarpon, Megalops Atlanticus, is currently considered a species under threat by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.  Juvenile tarpon depend on mangroves as nursery habitat.  Obviously, if we lose the habitat, the loss of the fishery will follow.  Juvenile tarpon use mangrove wetland habitats that are typically low in oxygen.  The low oxygen reduces the number of predatory fish that would otherwise post a threat to the species.  Mangroves also help provide protection to juvenile tarpon from bird predators. Most juvenile tarpon mangrove habitats have the following characteristics:  a mixture of depths – primarily shallow with deeper pools for the fish to congregate in when water levels decrease; tidal exchange through narrow, shallow, passages that inhibit access by larger predatory fish; freshwater inflow; and generally calm waters.  As Tarpon grow, they widen their use of protected habitats inside lagoons, creeks, canals, sloughs, and coastal bays.  Tarpon happen to share the same nursery habitats as Snook.  By helping to preserve environment for Tarpon, you’re helping Snook too.

Canoe Caught Snook

Tarpon aren’t just one of the most sought-after game fish for their beauty, the challenge in landing them, and their phenomenal aerial shows that often take place after they’re hooked.  They’re also one of the most vital species to numerous Florida economies.

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Next time you’re out on the water, take a moment to appreciate the mangrove shorelines, their inherent natural beauty, and the narrow rivers you see flowing in and out.  Now you can look upon them knowing that you’re looking at the place where some of the largest, and most valuable, sportfish begin their lives.

 

Lew’s Mach Crush Baitcaster from Live to Fish

Mach Crush 2
Lew’s Mach Crush Baitcasting Reel

Lew’s Mach Crush baitcast reels are available from Live to Fish.  You can find them in our brand new showroom and on our website, www.livetofish.com  Whether you’re looking for a right or left handed version of the Lew’s Mach Crush Speed Spool SLP Baitcasting Reel, our price remains a competitive $159.95.   A great deal for a great reel made by one of the top manufacturers in the industry.  The Mach Crush features Lew’s proprietary SLP Super Low Profile compact Speed Spool design, housed in a durable graphite frame with graphite sideplates.  The use of composite materials contributes to the reel’s low 7.3 oz. weight.  Whenever I hear that a reel is, “competitively priced,” or has, “good value,” personally, I get suspicious.  I become suspicious of the reel’s true inherent quality.  It’s just my opinion, but I’d rather pay more for quality fishing gear, take care of it, and know I can rely on it.  I like knowing it will hold it’s value as well as it’s own when a fish is on the line.  There are few reels that don’t break the bank but still offer the quality found in the Lew’s Mach Crush.  I would certainly be the first to point out any such flaws if the truth were otherwise.  The Lew’s Mach Crush performs just as well, if not better, than reels costing over $100.00 more.  The impressive performance comes from a premium 10-bearing system composed of double-shielded stainless-steel bearings.  The significance of the bearings being double shielded lies in the corrosion resistance and overall reel longevity.   Another factor contributing the reel’s capabilities is what Lew’s refers to as their “ZeroReverse,” anti-reverse.  A reel can look great on the outside, but contain substandard components inside.  Fortunately, that’s not the case with Lew’s Mach Crush.  If Lew’s made reels with sub par internal gears, they would never have been around as long as they have.  The main gear and crankshaft are strong solid brass. The 95mm bowed aluminum handle features another unique Lew’s invention: Winn Dri-Tac knobs.  These knobs ensure a no-slip grip in all conditions. Finally, the reel’s drag is Lew’s proven 20-pound rugged carbon drag system.

  • Strong and lightweight, Super Low Profile (SLP) graphite frame and sideplates
  • Machined and double anodized aluminum U-shape 32mm spool
  • High strength solid brass main gear and crank shaft
  • Premium 10-bearing system with double-shielded stainless-steel ball bearings and Zero Reverse® one-way clutch bearing
  • Externally-adjustable Multi-Setting Brake (MSB) dual cast control system utilizing both an external click-dial for setting the magnetic brake, plus 4 individually disengageable disk-mounted internal brake shoes that operate on centrifugal force
  • Double-anodized aluminum spool tension adjustment with audible click
  • Rugged carbon fiber drag system, provides up to 20 lbs. drag power
  • Anodized bowed aluminum 95mm handle with oversized Winn® Dri-Tac handle knobs
  • Anodized aluminum bowed drag star with audible click adjustment
  • Quick release sideplate lock lever
  • Zirconia line guide
  • External lube port

 HISTORY OF THE LEW’S COMPANY:

Lew Childre was said to be a man ahead of time.  Affable and outgoing, Lew easily made friends.  He had a way of expressing himself that compelled people to listen.  His passion for fishing flourished on the Gulf Coast of Alabama.  Lew married Vivian; who went by the nickname, “Bebe.”  Life wasn’t easy for Lew and his family, as they encountered numerous trials and tribulations during their early years of marriage.  Their difficulties were not lessened by the fact that they were working to raise two young sons named Craig and Casey. Lew first attempted to start a business selling shrimp as bait to fishermen.  That evolved into what became a small tackle shop.  Lew’s interest in making fishing poles is said to have come about during a time spent in his tackle shop.  Lew was retrieving a bamboo pole for a customer.  He was disappointed with the inconsistency from one pole to the next. This discrepancy led to a moment of reflection.  A moment that triggered his insatiable desire to build better fishing products than anyone else.

Lew, Bebe, Craig and Casey were beginning to realize their lifelong dreams were coming true when a nightmare hit. Lew, a pilot with his own sea plane and countless hours accumulated from flying to favorite fishing spots across the south, was killed in a crash on July 26, 1977. His two passengers survived; his son Casey and Lew’s grandson; Casey’s son.  Fortunately, by 1977, Lew’s commitment to quality was deeply embedded in every member of his company. Bebe, Craig and Casey forged forward with the same faith and knowledge that Lew had instilled in them for product development from design to final marketing.

40 Years of Innovation:

Over the 40-year-period, ranging from 1949 to 1989, the family-run business made many major contributions that would change forever the face of recreational sport fishing.  It was in 1989 that the Childre family licensed their name to Browning.  Beyond the speed stick and speed spool, additional introductions they were involved in included single-foot guide frames, aluminum oxide guides, unique spinning rod handles, Speed Sticker® worm hooks, Magic Carpet trolling motor, non-roller straddle-mounted trolling guides, Fuji FPS reel seat, V-shaped casting spool, SIC (silicon carbide) guide rings, Speed Spin® spinning reels, Speed Lock® reel seat/foregrip, telescopic graphite Speed Sticks, Fuji “V” frame guides, luminous tip downrigger rod, Hardloy guide rings, graphite Tennessee spinning handle, fused solid tip graphite rods, Boron Speed Sticks, graphite Bream Buster, Zirconia pawls, small body/large spool spinning reels, “Power Up” drag system and “Soft Trigger” handle system

Today, the Lew’s brand and its many well-known trademarks are under the ownership of Peak Rock Capital and longtime Childre family friend Lynn Reeves. Reeves has made the promise and commitment to return the Lew’s name to its place of prominence in the industry, keying on the same principles by which Lew Childre originally founded the company … building innovative products that are lighter, faster and stronger.

 

How to Properly Texas Rig

The Texas rig is arguably the most popular soft plastic rig used today. It can be used in freshwater as well as saltwater applications with many different kinds of soft plastics. I researched the inventor of the Texas Rig and finding a consensus is difficult. About the only thing we know for sure is that it was invented in Texas. Some say it was a guide down there that came up with the idea although his name was not saved for posterity. It’s too bad because that person would have definitely gone down in history as a fishing legend.

Being weedless, the Texas rig allows you to fish a soft plastic bait in and around weeds, brush and other types of cover while being able to stay virtually free of getting hung up. While it was first used primarily with worms it is now used with countless soft plastic baits in many different applications. You can fish a worm slowly along the bottom. You can pitch and flip a creature bait around cover, or burn a soft swimbait like a Gambler EZ through the Kissimmee grass in lakes in Florida. In saltwater, you can use the Texas Rig to fish a fluke or artificial shrimp. It is truly one of the most versatile rigs you can throw and even though it is decades old, there are still many anglers that don’t know how to rig it correctly.  In this video, we show you how to properly Texas rig a worm but remember that you can use this same rig with different baits. Give it a try the next time you are hitting the lake or skinny waters of the Gulf of Mexico and let us know how it fares for you. If you’re interested in purchasing the Trapper Tackle hooks mentioned in this video, click here.

By: Founder of Freshwaternation.com and Live to Fish Team Member: Dan Doyle

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