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.

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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.

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.

 

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

Recover & Recycle Monofilament with Live toFish

Live to Fish has teamed up with the Florida Wildlife Commission to recover and recycle monofilament fishing line. Monofilament line can last hundreds of years before breaking down. Improperly discarded monofilament line causes devastating problems for marine life and the environment in general. Marine mammals, sea turtles, fish, and birds can become injured from entanglements, and some marine life go as far as to ingest the line, often dying as a result. Human divers and swimmers are also at risk.

The Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program (MRRP) is a statewide effort that encourages monofilament recycling through a network of drop-off locations. This network of drop off locations is an efficient way to move large volumes of unwanted monofilament line, it’s free and available to the public at multiple locations including Live to Fish’s retail store in Hudson, Florida.

Please take the extra time to discard your monofilament line, it’s easy and it can make a huge difference in preserving our marine environments for generations to come. Live to Fish will gladly accept your unwanted fishing line and ensure that it gets disposed of properly. In the event that you are unable to find a drop-off location near you, feel free to mail your unwanted fishing line to us. Our store location, hours of operation, and mailing address are listed here.

Fuel Saving Tips When Using Your Boat

No one wants a trip out on the water to be something that results in a significant dent in your wallet.  Although some electric battery powered outboard options exist, they’re far from popular.  Nearly everyone’s outboard engine runs on gasoline with some boaters using diesel engines.  Unless your engine is one of the very few that runs on a battery, using your boat inevitably involves purchasing fuel.  “How much fuel will it burn?” is one of the most frequently asked questions by boaters looking to purchase a new outboard, or a new boat and outboard engine combination together.  The answer to that question is not as simple as providing an answer for fuel consumption in a car.  You may not realize that the amount of fuel your boat consumes is largely determined by factors you have control over.  The manner in which you run your boat; either all out, wide open throttle (WOT), or at a lesser speed, allowing for a more efficient correlation between RPMs and fuel consumption, will make a difference.  The way you load your boat and how much weight you add to your boat are additional major factors.  More than a half-dozen user controlled contributing factors need to be considered when calculating your boat’s fuel consumption.  Most people can easily figure out their car’s fuel consumption by dividing the distance traveled by the number of gallons used.  Calculating the fuel efficient of your boat involves different factors and a different formula.  Ultimately, fuel economy is improved by a combination of tactics that incrementally result in your boat using less fuel.  Below, we’ve listed a few tips to help you save fuel when out on the water.

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Choose the Right Prop

Selecting the right boat propeller is an important factor in maximizing your boat’s performance. Determining the correct size and style of boat prop will keep the engine operating within its recommended rpm range and allow it to apply its maximum horsepower to the water.  You need to be sure you’re selecting the right size propeller.  The size of a boat propeller is determined by referring to both diameter and pitch.  Diameter is twice the distance from the center hub of the propeller to the tip of any blade.  Generally smaller diameter props correspond with smaller, lower horse power engines.  Correspondingly, larger diameter props correspond with larger boats. Pitch is the forward movement of a boat propeller through one complete revolution measured in inches. Lowering prop pitch will increase acceleration and pulling power. A higher pitch prop will make a boat go faster; provided the outboard engine has enough power to keep the rpms in the optimum range. If your boat’s outboard engine doesn’t produce enough power to run a higher pitch prop, your overall performance will suffer.  Moreover, you can cause expensive and sometimes irrevocable engine damage.  Many factors come into play when selecting a propeller.  So numerous are the factors that propeller selection alone is the proper subject of an entirely different article.  There are differences in propellers such a rake, skew, and cup.  Ultimately, the message we here at Live to Fish want to convey is that there is a significant degree of importance associated with choosing the right propeller.  The correct propeller helps ensure maximum engine life and minimize wasted fuel consumption.

Optimum Trim

Utilizing trim tabs and properly using the tilt and trim on your outboard engine, will allow you to reduce the drag created by your boat’s hull as it moves through the water.  Reducing drag allows you to save fuel.  You will never be able to optimize your boat’s fuel efficiency if you don’t optimize your boat’s trim.  A properly trimmed boat has only the minimal amount of hull running through the water.  How do you know if you’ve got the minimum amount of your hull in the water?  Keep trimming out until your propeller begins to cavitate.  Cavitation occurs when the formation of air vapor is drawn into the water your boat is running through by the propeller.  You’ll know it’s occurring when the sound of your engine running changes dramatically.

Hard tops, T-Tops, and Towers

Opening or closing windshields, and raising or lowering canvas enclosures can help improve fuel efficiency.  Canvas enclosed T-tops, hardtops, towers and Bimini tops all create aerodynamic drag, causing the engine to work harder to make the boat go at any given speed.  On certain boats,  having canvas enclosures up can lower a boat’s top end speed by as much as 3 to 5 mph.  It’s important to note that not all T-Tops are the same.  There are some T-Tops that actually increase fuel efficiency by acting as a wing and creating lift.  A t-top’s ability to create lift is highly debated.  Boat manufacturers and t-top manufacturers will swear that their design creates lift and reduces drag.  Lift is produced when the air traveling over the top of a surface produces less pressure than the air traveling beneath the surface.  The problem with claims concerning a t-top’s ability to create lift is that water is close to 1,000 times more dense than air.  Because water is involved in determining lift given the substance your boat’s hull is running in, actual lift would normally not be something your boat would be capable of experiencing; regardless of the design of your t-top.  Another problem with these claims is the speed that air planes travel at versus the speeds most boaters travel at.  Lift could be a factor when the boat is traveling at 70 to 80 mph.  How often you travel at such speeds would be specific to you and your boat design.  The best course of action is to use your boat with any enclosures open to allow for the passage of air.  You can experiment by next closing certain enclosures and determining how much an impact on your fuel efficiency closing that enclosure has.

Back Off, Burn Less

Unless you’re competing in a fishing tournament, trying to make it over an area known to be shallow before the tide drops too much, or simply pushing the throttle to it’s limits in an effort to satisfy that need for speed that lives in most of us, slow down.  You’ll experience significant fuel savings without costing you any real time.

Put Your Boat on a Strict Diet

One of the quickest ways to get more miles per gallon is to reduce the weight you’re carrying.  What’s true for your car is true for your boat.  Most boaters are guilty of carrying too much gear.  A majority of the accumulation of the extra gear occurs slowly throughout the time you own your boat.  One tackle box, one water ski, and perhaps one additional gadget at a time. One of the quickest ways to get more miles per gallon is to remove items you don’t need.  We’re not suggesting that you remove tools, spare parts, or other safety items.  However, you don’t need all the fishing gear if you’re not going to be fishing.  You don’t need water skis or a wake board stowed below if you’re not going to be doing any of either.  If you store twelve packs or more of other types of drinks, just in case, removing those cases before you leave the dock will result in you saving more fuel.

Clean, Smooth, Hull

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Karl Sandstrom, a 21-year veteran with Evinrude, explained, “a clean, smooth bottom is a real efficiency enhancer.” If you keep your boat at a slip or mooring, use a quality bottom paint.  Traditional hard bottom paints are effective at reducing fouling on your hull, but hard bottom paints create a cratered surface after a few years of built-up coats. If you notice such craters on the bottom of your boat, use a scraper, hire a diver to clean the bottom, or have your bottom cleaned with a bead blaster to remove old cratered paint.  Joel Macri, captain of the Pershing Motor Yacht Milagros explained, “we have our bottom cleaned once every month with a diver.”  Once a month may sound extreme, but so is the vessel Captain Macri is piloting.   The Milagros boats twin MTU diesel’s turning out 2,638 HP each, for a total of 5,275 HP, turning twin propellers that are 4.5″ feet each in diameter.Photo of the Pershing Propellers

Maximizing efficiency as to your boat’s hull can be achieved through selecting what are called ablative paints.  Ablative paints are also known as self – polishing bottom paints.  It is a softer paint and allows the coating to wear off at a controlled rate.  A good comparison would be to imagine a bar of soap.  The wearing away of the self-polishing bottom paint allows for new, un-oxidized paint to be exposed. If you normally keep your boat on a trailer, or it comes in and out of the water for any reason, the paint will oxidize within 72 hours. Once placed back in service, the oxidized ablative paint wears away and exposes a new fresh outer coating with active protection. Ablative bottom paint is engineered with more recent and advanced technology than the traditional hard bottom, bottom paints.  It is the preferred bottom paint of most users since it typically lasts longer and continuously exposes a new active outer coating that protects against marine growth.

Calculate Your Boat’s Fuel Consumption:

A formula you’re probably familiar with for calculating how much gas your car uses is one in which you divide the total miles traveled by the total gallons of fuel used.  Once you have the total number of miles, you divide that by gallons to get what is called your average fuel consumption.  For boating, there is a different formula for calculating how much fuel you’re burning.  A different formula is necessary because the conditions a boat must encounter and travel over are different than what a car’s engine has to deal with.  Sea conditions vary more widely than road conditions.  The time it takes to cover a distance with a boat as opposed to car varies more often due to the significance of other factors not found on the road.  As a result, your boat’s fuel consumption is measured in gallons per hour (GPH). You measure fuel efficiency in pounds of fuel used per horsepower developed per hour. Boating lingo associated with fuel consumption will sometimes refer to the fuel consumption calculation as the, “brake – specific fuel consumption.”  In calculating fuel consumption for your boat, it’s important to know that gasoline weighs about 6.1 pounds per gallon and diesel fuel weighs about 7.2 pounds per gallon.  Generally, gasoline engines burn about 0.5 pounds of fuel per hour per horsepower unit.  On average, an in-tune four-stroke gasoline engine will burn about 0.50 pounds of fuel per hour for each unit of horsepower.  A well-maintained diesel engine burns about 0.40 pounds of diesel fuel per hour for each unit of horsepower it produces. These figures don’t take drag of the boat, sea conditions, or efficiency losses through transmissions and bearings into account. However, these figures do provide an excellent relative difference between engines.

Formula To Estimate Maximum Engine Fuel Consumption

GPH = (specific fuel consumption x HP) divided by Fuel Specific Weight

Constants in the formula are the Weight of a Gallon of Gas vs. a Gallon of Diesel

Specific Fuel Consumption:

Gasoline Engine: .50 lb. per HP.

Diesel Engine .40 lb. per HP

Fuel Specific Weight:  Gasoline: 6.1 lb. per gal. Diesel: 7.2 lb per gal.

300-hp Diesel Engine Example:  GPH = (0.4 x 300)/ 7.2 = 120/7.2 = 16.6 GPH

300-hp Gasoline Engine Example: GPH = (0.50 x 300)/ 6.1 = 150/6.1 = 24.5 GPH

Keep in mind that these formulas apply when the engine is making peak horsepower, which usually is near wide-open throttle. Fuel consumption will be decreased at cruising speeds.

Another way is to take the total engine horsepower and divide it by 10 for gas engines or .06 for diesel engines. That formula is simpler to calculate and easier to remember. You don’t even need a pencil and paper. However, it’s not going to be as accurate as the formulas above. The result represents the approximate gallons per hour the engine will burn at wide-open throttle. For example, a 150-horse engine will use about 15 gallons per hour. However, that figure is an average.  It can vary by as much as 10 to 20 percent.

There are marine electronics that can help in determining your boat’s fuel efficiency available from our website, www.livetofish.com One that is used for measuring your boat’s fuel efficiency is the Lowrance Fuel Flow sensor.  If you don’t see something you’d like or need on our website, feel free to contact us at 1-844-934-7446, email at: contactus@livetofish.com or visit our showroom: Live to Fish, 9942 State Road 52, Hudson, FL 34669Building Front

Fishing Reel Drag Significance

 

By Live to Fish Team Member: Josh Stewart

Every fisherman can relate to that moment when a fish makes that first strike.  It’s completely and utterly exhilarating and easily one of the most intensely exciting moments.  The strike is one of the best experiences anyone can have in life, period.  For the fishing enthusiast, simply reading those few sentences likely caused memories of strikes in the past.  Perhaps your pulse rate quickened a bit.  Memories of large snook, trout, or redfish, exploding to the surface to smash your topwater!  Perhaps thinking of the first strike invoked memories of occasions when a live bait was out and your rod suddenly doubled over; the drag screaming.  The level of excitement is one element that brings us back to the water with rod in hand, time and time again. It’s what keeps us throwing cast after cast.  Sometimes late into the night, hoping for that strike.  It’s what gets you out of bed at ungodly hours like 3:30 or 4:00 AM in preparation to be on the water before sunrise.  The passion is what can result in having more fishing gear than some of the tackle shops you go to.  Personally, I just bought a new tackle bag to fit my gear in.  I went from a normal, respectably sized soft tackle box, to a duffel bag large enough to pack a year’s worth of clothes in.  What’s worse?  I think nothing of it.   The desire is what can actually cause thoughts such as, “if I just eat just spaghetti for a week, I’ll be able to afford that reel…,” and not have the least bit of concern over whether you’re thinking is rational.

Once the fish takes your bait, the tug of war begins.  Fighting your fish gives rise to the moment of truth.  You’ll find out whether you tied your knots correctly.  Whether you used heavy enough line and leader.  Whether you chose the right rod.  You’ll also discover quite a lot about a very important component of your fishing reel –  the drag.   The drag is simply a pair of friction plates inside of fishing reels. Drag systems are a mechanical means of applying pressure to to act as a friction brake. Drags supply resistance to your line after hook-up to aid in landing the fish without the line breaking. When you take your rod’s ability to flex, the technique applied, and your drag, and combine them together, it’s possible to land a fish that weighs more than the pound test line you’re using.

If your fish pulls hard enough, your fishing reel’s drag will be engaged.  If the drag is overpowered, your spool will begin to rotate backwards.  By rotating backwards, your spool is turning in the opposite direction it would be if you were reeling in.  Essentially, your reel’s drag system is letting line out.  On a baitcaster, your spool is spinning in the same direction it would be if you were casting.  On a spinning reel, the only time your spool will rotate is when line is pulled off by a fish overpowering your drag.  A degree of resistance to use against a large and strong fish  is a benefit.  If your reel did not have a drag system, or if you cranked your drag down so tightly that you effectively cancelled out your drag system, the most likely result would be a broken line.  The exception would be if you were fishing with a pound test fishing line far above the weight of the fish you caught.  A common practice among bass fisherman is to tighter their reel’s drag down all the way, then yank the bass out of the weeds and other vegetation as quickly as possible.  One way to think of your drag is like a bungee cord.  When you see people jump from great heights strapped to a bungee cord, they don’t suddenly stop when the length of the bungee cord is reached.  There’s a stretch that occurs; resulting in the person bouncing up and down for a while.  Your fishing reel drag is not a bungee cord, but it will let line out when a fish is making a run for it.

What are those, “friction plates,” mentioned above made of?  Today, discs used in a reel’s drag system can be made from a number of different materials.  Fishing reel manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to mix varied materials together in a proprietary blend.  There are also aftermarket drag washers.  Carbon fiber is a popular material.  It’s not uncommon for people to change out their drag washers.  I recently purchased a Shimano Stradic 5000FJ.  The reel was used and did not look like it had received the best treatment.  I unscrewed the drag tension knob on the front of the spinning reel.  I removed the odd shaped retaining pin that holds the drag washers in place.  Turning the spool upside down, I shook the drag washers out.  What didn’t fall out was later removed with a small screw driver.  The reel’s drag system was pretty much shot.  The felt washers that were installed were essentially rotted to nothing.  I purchased carbon fiber drag washers for that model reel.  Replacing drag washers is probably one of the easiest repairs or maintenance duties you can do yourself.  It’s also relatively inexpensive.  Most carbon fiber drag washers can be purchased for less than $10.00.  Pay attention to the sequence in which the metal plates separate each drag washer if you’re going to replace what’s in your reel now.  You’ll also want to determine whether you need to apply drag grease to the washers to ensure it functions properly.  If you have a rather popular spinning reel, there’s likely to be a video on YouTube showing you how to do it.

Drag Washers
Carbon Fishing Reel Drag Washers

Drags used to be made of one of two materials; either felt or cork.  Felt is a fibrous, seemingly resilient material.  Hence, it became a material used in fishing reel drags.  You will still find some reels today using felt or cork, but it’s rare.  Felt is not a particularly good choice as a drag material; especially with what other options exist.  How it used to work as a drag disc material was that it was kept oiled.  The oil prevented the felt washers from burning up inside the drag stack and allowed the system to ‘slip’ under pressure. The problem was, after a period of time, the oil would burn off.  That’s where the problems started.  When a fish runs, a great deal of heat is generated – that’s what a drag system does – develop friction and therefore heat; just like your car’s brakes. When the heat is prolonged with felt washers, it will actually melt the felt; turning it in a plastic dust and leaving you with a drag system that is metal on metal friction.  Not what you want to have happen.  The result would be seized up drag, followed by a lost fish, broken line, possibly a reel that is so badly damaged it’s time for a new one, and most certainly one upset angler.  If you have a reel with felt drag washers, the felt washers should be checked regularly.  They can become compromised because of all the pressure and heat. When compressed, felt drag washers can’t hold the oil they need to keep doing what they do.  If you’ve ever heard the tip, “don’t store your reels with the drag tight,” this is why.  In order to know where to look to determine if you have felt drag washers, unscrew the drag tightening knob at the top of the spool on your spinning reel.   Felt drag washers will appear as shown in the photos below.

dragpieces
Felt Drag System Removed from Reel

Spinning Reel Felt Drag Washers

Fishing reel drags have come a long way over the years.  Thinking back to what fishing must have been like before today’s engineering efforts have paid off in terms of fishing reel drag systems, Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea comes to mind.  Written in 1951 and published in 1952, it was Hemingway’s last full – length work published during his lifetime.  Though the tale is an extreme example of what fishing without a drag would be like, it does provide a basis upon which one can learn to appreciate the systems available now.


If you have questions about what fishing rod, fishing reel, line, leader, or any other gear is right for you, please contact us.  You can contact us through our website or email fishing questions directly to Josh Stewart at josh@buydmi.com.  Perhaps you’re trying to buy fishing gear as a gift.  Someone in your family loves fishing, but you don’t know what to get them because it seems that they either have everything, or you don’t know enough about fishing tackle to make a selection.  No problem!  We’ll walk you through ideas and provide you with some options to consider.  Visit: livetofish.com

Effectively Fish Far and Wide

Inevitably, every fishing trip ends.  What happens in between separates the good trips from the bad.  The memorable moments from the mundane.  One of our goals at Live to Fish is to ensure your fishing experiences that would otherwise be ordinary or dull are a thing of the past.  We’re happy to share our knowledge and resources.  With the benefit of our expertise, you stand a much better chance of creating some of the best  fishing memories you’ll have.  Though we can’t improve relations with your in – laws, we can help ensure you end up with more fish on the end of your line.

 

Common knowledge provides that our planet is mostly covered in water.  For fishing purposes, that means you’ve got a lot of ground… er, I mean water to cover.  For most of us, fishing trips don’t happen every day.  When they do, the duration is limited.  In order to make the most of that limited time, some suggestions are provided for you to consider.

Backwater estuary 2015Your fishing trip plan (float plan) should involve hitting several very specific spots.  Sure, you can just drift a flat and see what hits.  You can also enter an airport and buy a ticket to a location based on nothing other than how soon the next plane is taking off.  The point is, most people invest some degree of pre-planning.  If one of  your proposed spots is particularly expansive, you’re going to want to find out if fish are there as quickly as possible.  Yes, fishing is about relaxing, slowing down, and simply spending time on the water.  An article about finding fish quickly seems inconsistent with establishing the leisurely pace most associate with fishing.   A pace some believe should be the rule, rather than the exception, when on the water.   At Live to Fish, we understand and encourage adopting a laid-back attitude on the water.  We recognize the importance of reconnecting with friends and family.

Backwater creek 2015

Now, with that issue put to rest, who said, “reconnecting,” or, “leisure time,” doesn’t involve putting as many fish in the boat as possible?  No one!  Certainly no one at Live to Fish.  We’re out on the water for comradery.  We’re out there for the opportunity to teach a young son, daughter, or grandchild the benefits of fishing.  In case you’re wondering, as a matter of fact, yes… we have been aboard when the fishing slows down, and inevitably heard someone make the hackneyed, thoughtless remark, “that’s why they call it fishing and not catching.”  Ugh….That’s a pet peeve around here.  Call it what you want.  We leave the dock to catch.

So, the question becomes: what’s the fastest way to explore a large body of water to confirm the presence of fish?

If you’re offshore, high speed trolling is one option.  High speed trolling would be dragging your baits while your boat is going between 14 and 20 knots.  Such speeds result in covering more distance than proceeding at traditional trolling speeds.  Keep in mind that those high speeds are only going to attract certain predators.  Specifically, those predatory game fish willing and capable of attacking a bait moving that fast.  One such predatory gamefish is a wahoo.  Wahoo swim at speeds that exceed 60 mph.  So, trolling at 14, 16 and even 20 knots has become commonplace through using techniques developed by Capt. Ron Schatman, winner of a dozen major Bahamas wahoo tournaments over five years.  High speed trolling is not only limited to targeting certain species, it’s also a method of fishing limited by weather conditions.  No one aboard will be too thrilled about proceeding at 18 knots in windy weather and a sea state consisting of a 6’ foot chop.

If you’re inshore, consider using search baits.  A search bait refers to a type of lure you can work quickly and effectively over a large body of water.  Three of the most effective are: crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and topwater lures.  Certain jerk baits also fall into the search bait category.  When prospecting with search baits, you’ve got a good chance of getting the fish to show themselves.  Once you’ve nailed down a location, you can switch to more finesse style baits. deep-diver-crankbait

To help you paint a mental picture, imagine the following scenario:   You’ve just motored behind a mangrove wall.  This living wall of mangroves is high, thick, and about a half mile long.  A thing of beauty in and of itself, behind the wall exists a superb grass flat.  The mangroves do an excellent job of hiding this gem of a fishing spot.  You found it by accident one day about two years ago.  Since then, you’ve disclosed it to no more than one other fishing buddy.  Though you can’t imagine being the only one that knows about this spot; thus far you’ve never seen another boat here during any of your visits.

You’re careful with your approach.  At just over 100 yards away, you cut your engine.  You cover the remaining distance with your trolling motor.  You don’t dare run your trolling motor at a speed above a 2 or 3.  Particularly wary redfish will spook from the sound of trolling motor being run at high speed.  Perched on the bow with your rod in one hand, you’re panning from left to right; thanking god some optometrist figured out that polarized lenses in sunglasses would benefit fisherman.

It’s been a beautiful morning.  The seas are flat clam.  The run from the dock to this spot was like crossing glass.   The tide has been coming in for the past few hours.  High tide is only about a half hour away.  From experience, you know this spot is most productive right when the tide changes.  There’s something deeply satisfying about knowing you’re in the right place at the right time.  That sensation is what you’re experiencing now.

When the tide shFlatsifts to outgoing, baitfish are flushed from the estuaries that surround this flat.  Snook and Trout await these baitfish.  You watch the ever-changing imagery beneath your boat slowly pass by.   It’s mesmerizing.  The water is crystal clear.  Kind of like floating on air; and only about 4 feet deep.  Rich, thick turtle grass covers the bottom with intermittent patches of white sand.  A small sea turtle just swam off and away from your boat.

Just like a golfer doesn’t play a round of golf with just one club, you don’t go out on the water with just one rod.  Your favorite rod and reel combos are aboard.  Rigged up and ready in your rod holders.

Your mind begins to drift… You want one of those Minn Kota® iPilot trolling motors; or at least one you can steer with a remote control that hangs around your neck.  Barely audible, a sigh escapes as you think about the latest saltwater fishing technology. . . Then you snap out of that ungrateful reverie.  Fortunately, you’re quick to realize you have more to be grateful for than you’re acknowledging.  You laugh to yourself, knowing you’ll never believe you have enough fishing gear.  You continue your approach while remaining as stealthy as possible.

You’re not certain where the fish are.  You just know they’re in the general vicinity.  You unhook your lure from the hook keeper.  It hangs free at the end of the leader, slowly swinging back and forth about two to three feet from your rod tip.  Yep.  You’re ready to start making casts.

The scenario described above is one in which use of a search bait would be beneficial.  Whether you’re making casts from the bow of your boat, or casting from land, the best way to work a lure while using it as a search bait is to, “fan cast,” the area.  This simply means to cast from one side to the other, throwing your lure in a spot slightly farther away from the last place you threw it out each time.   Once you reach the other side, you move and fan cast another area.  When you’re where fish the fish are, using this method will result in your lure meeting up with one of their mouths soon enough.

At Live to Fish, we’re passionate about much more than just the sport of fishing.  We admit to being obsessive over how our business is run.  We want to ensure that each and every customer finds dealing with us to be easy, enjoyable, and productive.  If our showroom in Hudson, Florida is too far, check out our website at www.livetofish.com   You can contact us through the website.  We’ll gladly answer any questions you have.  Should you want an item you don’t see on our webpage, LET US KNOW!  We take pride in being able to find the products our customers want at competitive prices.  Although we can’t guarantee we’ll find anything you may ask, we can guarantee that if anyone can find your product, it’s us.  What do you have to lose?  Looking forward to hearing from you – Live to Fish

Stilt House Photo

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