Episode One: Homosassa Fishing with Southern Slam Outfitters
LTF teammates Dan & Jake recently took a backwater fishing trip into an inshore fisherman’s paradise with Capt. Carey Gibson of Southern Slam Outfitters in Homosassa, FL. Watch as they reel in catches, mingle with the locals, check out Capt. Carey’s island accommodations, and soak in all that the Nature Coast has to offer!
Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great fishing-related videos, and for more information about Southern Slam Outfitters, give Capt. Carey a call at 352-361-0731 or visit his website or Facebook page.
Snook season is here on the West Coast of Florida! It is time to get out there and make sure that you are geared up to catch the old linesider. Check out our latest video on the best gear for snook, and make sure to follow your local regulations and handle with care when you release them.
If you’re new to the sport of inshore saltwater fishing, you may not be aware of the importance of using a leader. A leader is a separate piece of line you attach to your main fishing line. The importance of a leader is found in simply considering how much more difficult it is for a fish to break a 30 or 40 pound test leader than it is your 10 or 15 pound test fishing line. A fishing line’s strength is called the “test,” and it’s measured in “pounds.” Hence, the term “pound test.” In addition to a leader having an obvious increase in numbers concerning the pound test, the best leader material will provide more abrasion resistance than your fishing line. When pursuing inshore saltwater gamefish such as snook, a leader will often make the difference between landing the snook or having a lost fish. The inside of a snook’s lips are rough; like sandpaper. Same with redfish. It makes sense for snook and redfish to have tough mouths. One of the creatures each feeds on is blue crabs. They need to be able to crush the crab’s shell in order to consume the crab without injury. If you never considered what functions the mouth and jaws of these fish must accomplish in order to ensure their survival, being aware will help you understand the importance of a leader. At the end of your leader is your lure or hook with bait. As far as your fishing line is concerned, the leader is the last section of line between you and the fish. Making that last link as strong as you can, while not overdoing it, will lead to you landing more fish than losing them during the fight.
With few exceptions, your main fishing line will be composed of either braid or monofilament. Your leader will be composed of either fluorocarbon or monofilament; with fluorocarbon being preferable. Basically, the only material you don’t see used as a leader for inshore saltwater fishing is braided line. The reason for braid’s omission as a leader material is due to the fact that braid is highly visible to fish. It’s often in a solid dark color. Even when it’s white, it’s still very apparent. Being highly visible is a factor you’re looking to avoid when selecting a leader material. You don’t want fish to see your line. You certainly don’t want them to see anything attached to your lure or hook. Just as you won’t catch anything if seaweed ends up on your presentation, no bait fish swims around with line coming out of it’s body and pointing towards the surface. Snook and trout have exceptional eyesight. Redfish can see well enough but tend to find their prey through their sense of smell. Regardless, you stand to catch more fish by avoiding the appearance of a link between you and what you’re using to catch fish.
Aesthetically, fluorocarbon looks the same as monofilament. Aside from appearance, the similarities between fluorocarbon and monofilament are few. The differences between the two are many. One noteworthy difference is what is referred to as “line stretch,” or the ability of a fishing line to “give.” Monofilament stretches. Fluorocarbon does not. In fact, fluorocarbon is helpful for instantaneous, solid hook sets. Another difference involves what’s referred to as “line memory.” Line memory is best exemplified by picturing fishing line pulled off a fishing reel spool, and that fishing line remaining in a tightly coiled shape. Remaining tightly coiled would be evidence of line memory. Monofilament has far more line memory than fluorocarbon.
Fluorocarbon is beneficial for use as a leader material because of how difficult it is for fish to see underwater. The near invisibility comes from having a refractive index that is approximately equal to that of water. The refractive index determines how much light is bent, or refracted, when entering a material. Given the nearly equivalent refractive index with water, light passes through fluorocarbon fishing line almost as easily as passes through water. Hence, it’s invisibility. For reference, water has a refractive index of 1.333. Fluorocarbon’s refractive index is 1.42. With only a .087 difference, the two are very close on the refractive scale.
At Live to Fish, we carry a wide variety of fishing line and leader materials. If you need to replace your fishing line, or your leader is frayed and worn, we keep both fishing line and leader material in stock. We can also re-spool your reel at our store. Our showroom is located at: Live to Fish, 9942 State Road 52, Hudson, FL 34669. You can also purchase what you need from our website, www.livetofish.com We’re available to answer your questions and help ensure you purchase the products that are most likely to lead to your success on the water. Feel free to contact us at 844-934-7448 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Live to Fish Showroom, 9942 State Road 52, Hudson, FL 34669
Live to Fish Showroom, 9942 State Road 52, Hudson, FL 34669
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.
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.
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.
You’ll find similar opportunities at the mouths of coastal arteries. Especially where water is forced under a bridge into a backwater canal area.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.