It’s time to get geared up for grouper season! Grouper (especially gag grouper) love to sit in rock piles, so make sure you choose a rod and reel that have a lot of backbone! Also, be sure to follow your local regulations and handle catches with care when you release them.
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.
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.
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.
If you asked people today whether they have enough free time, polls taken show that most individuals don’t believe there’s enough free time. Time poverty is an issue often discussed among economists. The concern that raises for us at Live to Fish is to help you maximize your time on the water. We know the chances are that your fishing trip was planned well in advance. We believe you’ve worked hard and earned it! We sympathize with the fact that you look forward to your time on the water because, well, simply put, so do we.
Thoughts of the sun on your skin, the smell of the water, casting your favorite rod and reel, catching what bites, and otherwise relaxing on the part of our world that makes up the majority of our plant, helped drown out the otherwise unpleasant experiences you endured on land. You’d keep telling yourself, “it will all be worth in it when I’m fishing… when I’m finally out there…” As the date of the excursion came closer, a portion of each evening was spent in preparation. Even if your trip was a total last-minute event that came about, the information below will help.
One of the worst feelings anyone can have is to be hours into your fishing trip and realize you left an essential piece of gear at home. Perhaps one of your marine electronics or one of your boat’s components fails. Leaving you to berate yourself for failing to do the preliminary maintenance work necessary to help ensure your time on the water is as hassle free as possible.
You have to have a line in the water to catch a fish. Time spent tending to other matters is time lost in which you could have otherwise hooked up. We’re here to help you increase the time your line spends in the water, ensure have everything you need, and make the most of the valuable time you’ve been looking forward to. Let the trip be a source of rejuvenation and revitalizing for you. Reading the suggestions below will ensure you stay on track in that regard.
Check through your crankbaits, topwater lures, jigs, and other swimbaits. Make sure all hooks and split rings are in good condition; especially lures with treble hooks. Replace any components that need replacing. Check your tackle storage solutions. Many anglers take advantage of the water tight tackle storage boxes. However, over time, the rubber ring that provides protection from water intrusion can wear out; or come out of alignment with the lid. Make sure this rubber ring is in good condition. If your lures have become tangled during storage, now would be good time to untangle them and store them separately in tackle trays. One of the most frustrating circumstances to deal with is when you see activity on the water, locate your stowaway tray that contains the lure you need, only to open the tackle storage container and find the lure tangled up with three or four others. There’s a saying – “luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.” Do the preparation necessary to maximize on the opportunity.
Take each of your rods out and inspect them separately. Are all your guides secure? Look at the inner ring of each guide. See the photo below to be clear on what I’m referring to when I mention, “inner ring.”
The inner ring in the photo is the gray colored area inside the round shiny metal circular outer portion of the guide. Use your finger to feel around the inside of each guide ring. For the guides that are too small to fit a finger through, you can take a cue tip and run it through the guide. What you’re looking for are any knicks. If you feel a knick, or see a crack, replace that guide before fishing. Replacing the entire guide is actually easier than trying to snap in a new ring. Besides, good luck finding just the inner ring in exactly the correct diameter. If you’re running a cue tip through the guide and some of the cotton catches, then you’ve got a crack or knick in that ring too. Again, the entire guide should be replaced. Fortunately, we offer rod repair services at Live to Fish with a quick turnaround time. Our address is: Live to Fish, 9942 State Road 52, Hudson, Fl 34669. The reason for replacement is that the inner part of your fishing rod guide is the area your line moves through. Your line is your essential, and only, connection to your catch. When you’re fighting a fish, a knick, crack, or other imperfection, can result in your line being aggressively worn, cut, and breaking. Many otherwise unexplainable break offs have occurred as a result of a damaged guide ring. Is the reel seat on your rod secure? When you secure your reel to your rod, you should be able to tighten down the reel seat until you feel confident that your reel is securely affixed to your rod. You don’t want to have flex either way, in any direction. A loose, broken, or otherwise compromised reel seat, is not something you want to discover when you’re fighting a fish you’ve spent time and energy chasing after.
Entire articles have been written on reel maintenance. We’re not going that in depth here. If there are new noises coming from your reel when you turn the handle, you’ve got a problem. If it’s harder to turn the handle without any load on the line than it has been, again, you’ve got a problem. If you feel a wobble when reeling in, you’ve got a problem. These scenarios apply to both baitcasting and spinning reels. Your issue may be one that is very simply to fix. It could simply be that your reel is in need of lubrication. Make a habit of keeping your reels in good working order on a regular basis and you never have to worry about an unwanted surprise at the wrong time. One of the easiest and most beneficial things you can do after every trip is to thoroughly wash your rods and reels down with fresh water. Do not spray your reel with water at high pressure. Even with all the seals of modern reels, you don’t want to be the reason for water intrusion in your reel in an area that should remain dry. Another simple, yet very helpful practice, is to spray your reels down with Ardent Reel Kleen after you’ve washed them down with fresh water.
When was the last time you changed your line? Changing line was more common when everyone used monofilament because braid hadn’t been invented. With the introduction of braided fishing line, people are more reluctant to change their line than in the past. There’s increased cost, some people don’t know how to add monofilament backing first, and there’s the knowledge that braid is stronger. Fortunately, Live to Fish will spool your reel with new braid at a cost per yard that we’ve set as the lowest in the area. You simply drop off your reel at Live to Fish, 9942 State Road 52, Hudson, FL 34669 www.livetofish.com with instructions on what line you would like. Often times, your reel can be re-spooled while you wait. People have lost huge fish and expensive rigs simply because they failed to change their line. Continuing to use your line beyond a period of time that’s safe will greatly increase the risk of a break off. Offshore trolling lures can be quite costly. It’s not impossible to lose a lure that’s worth more than what new line would cost. There are a number of factors to consider when determining how often you should change your braided line: The lower the pound test braid, the more susceptible your line is to wear and tear, and the more often you should change it. If you frequently fish in areas that have heavy amounts of floating seagrass with small barnacles, those barnacles rub up against your line when fishing a fish. It’s not such a concern with 50lb or 60lb test braid, but it can be a concern with 10 or 15 lb test braid. It may sound as if your line contacting floating seaweed when fighting a fish would be something you could safely ignore. We sell a wide range of braided lines in various pound test strengths. However, if you’re fishing a low pound test braid, when your line comes in contact with seaweed upon which small barnacles have grown, it’s like moving you line across a very fine cheese grater or sand paper. If you’re doing a lot of fishing around rocks and oysters, keep an eye out for any parts of your line appearing worn. If it’s been 6 to 12 months, and you fish fairly often, make a habit of changing your line. The easiest way to do this is to set a simple calendar reminder at 6 to 8 month intervals.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the benefits polarized glasses provide when out on the water. Polarized lenses are perfect for boating, fishing, surfing or any time spent on the water. By cutting down on the glare, you’ll be able to see fish you wouldn’t normally be able to see at all. Just keep in mind, when you can see the fish, they can see you. There are a number of manufacturers that churn out some high quality polarized sunglasses. One of the most popular for fishermen are those made by Costa Del Mar. Costa developed the 580 lens. The technology involved in the manufacturing of this lens, particularly the 580G, greatly enhances your time on the water. You’ll feel less eye strain and see more fish. At Live to Fish, we offer a wide range of Costa Del Mar frames and lenses.
Unfortunately, getting out on the water for a fishing trip happens less likely than most of us would want. A fishing trip involving a newcomer or young children can be even less likely. Having a newcomer to the sport of fishing, child or adult, is a valuable opportunity to pass on your passion for fishing. Additionally, it’s an ideal occasion to teach the less experienced fisherman about ethical fishing and boating practices. This article will help ensure trips with people not accustomed to fishing proceed as smoothly as possible. If you think back to where your passion for fishing first developed, you’re likely to recall going out with a fishing enthusiast. That ambassador to the sport of fishing likely contributed to your experience in ensuring it was favorable and unforgettable. Meaningful positive memories are ensured when helping someone with less experience end up with a fish on the line. The newcomer doesn’t necessarily have to be related to you, nor do they have to be a child. Witnessing the pure excitement exhibited by someone who hasn’t fought a fish before results in a rewarding experience for everyone involved. Follow the tips below to ensure that any fishing experience is one in which the chances of everyone enjoying the opportunity are increased.
Don’t Focus on Targeting a Specific Species
At first, the goal is simply to catch fish in general. This tip is especially true when fishing with children. When kids are along, remember that those under 10 years of age have a very short attention span. If they aren’t catching fish, boredom will soon follow. If boredom sets in and isn’t relieved with a fish on the line, it will be all that much harder to convince them to go along with you in the future. For the first few trips, focus on going after whatever species is easiest to catch during that time of year. For the inexperienced fisherman, it’s not about the size of the fish, or the species. Gamefish or not, the newcomer will be happy that a fish goes from swimming freely to being caught. Go through the necessary preparations that you would normally follow before heading out. Such preparations include checking the tidal conditions for your area, among other things. If you don’t know what’s biting, ask a local bait shop employee or contact us.
Don’t Try to Fish in Rough or Extreme Conditions
Though you may cast concerns over wind and waves aside when heading out, someone new to the sport has not yet come to understand the fun and enjoyment that fishing brings. Your motivation to fish through uncomfortable conditions comes about as a result of the fond fishing memories you already have. Regardless of whether fishing from shore or from a boat, keep in mind that the experience is entirely new for your guest. They don’t yet share the same level of commitment and enthusiasm that you share for the sport. Exposing them to rough wind and waves may result in the person being skeptical to try the next time. After a few successful trips, you can better gauge their endurance and willingness to deal with adverse conditions.
Shorten the Duration of Your Trips
Long trips require a similar type of endurance and enthusiasm as is required for fishing through adverse conditions. Save the full day adventure for another time. Preferably after the novice shares your interest in the sport. How long should you plan the fishing trip duration? Three to four hours is plenty of time to take someone out, put them on fish, and bring them back. Before you head out to catch whatever swims, make a note to pack plenty of snacks and drinks as well. You want to focus on maximizing comfort during the first trips. We sell a number of accessories to help make your trip as fun and enjoyable as possible.
Cater Your Tackle to Beginners
If you have children along, work to avoid use of treble hooks. Getting a hook in your hand or elsewhere has probably occurred to you at some point (no pun intended). Safe removal of the hook is difficult and even harder to do in a completely pain free manner. You want the hooks you remove with newcomers to be those stuck in the mouths of fish, not your guest. Fortunately, we offer a wide variety of single barb hooks. You can easily exchange treble hooks with single barb hooks without fear of losing the opportunity to hook up. Also remember that some manufacturers also make their lures with single barb hooks, so these types of lures are a good addition to any tackle box. Since we’re on the topic of lures, here’s another important point to consider – unless you’re simply trolling, lures require specialized knowledge involving how to work the rod and the rate at which to reel in. Each artificial bait is fished differently in order to attract strikes. When fishing with someone new to the sport, their concerns are likely to exist on a much lower level on the totem pole of fishing expertise. More likely than not, they’ll just want to make sure they nail learning how to cast. In this case, use of lures is not advisable and you should try live bait instead.
Focus on Your Guests
If you’ve ever hired a guide to take you out for a day of fishing, recall how much attention that guide provided to you. No, you don’t have to suddenly become as attentive as a professional fishing guide. The idea behind recommending that you keep your focus on your guests is to help them feel more comfortable doing something new. If you happen to hook one, hand the rod off and let them fight the fish. Valuable lessons are learned in how to properly handle a fighting fish, so it’s worth taking the time to pass on any knowledge you might have. Allow your guests the opportunity to take a close look before releasing the fish. An exception to giving you guests the chance to take a closer look would be if you happen to catch a large shark or saltwater catfish. In such instances, the risks likely outweigh the rewards. If you are going to release the fish, follow proper catch and release methods to ensure a safe release of the fish.
Be Patient & Encouraging
If they do something wrong or the fish shakes the hook, be sure to offer quick positive words of support and encouragement. If you follow these tips, the chances of passing on your love of the sport increase. Comment below or contact us if you have any other questions or for any further tips or suggestions.
With the seemingly unbelievable variety of artificial lures available, the idea of limiting the vast selection down to three lure types would seem critically shortsighted; destined to fail in its purpose of providing useful fishing information on account of expressing a far too limited view of a subject. This article is not going to suggest that there are only three specific artificial lures to use. Rather, consistent with the title, there are three top artificial lure types for use when fishing off of Florida’s Gulf Coast. If you have these three types of artificial lures described below, you will be well prepared to fish under any conditions and in any area of the gulf. This article will make suggestions for specific lures that meet the types described, but final specific lure selections will be up to you.
Topwater Lures & Surface Baits
Whether you’re fishing for bass on a lake, or taking to the saltwater fishing arena for redfish, seatrout, snook, amberjack, cobia, or bluefish, a topwater lure is one that can cause these game fish to strike. Arguably, there’s no more exciting way to fish than when using a topwater lure. As the name suggests, this is a lure that remains on top of the water while fished. Game fish come up from underneath the lure to strike. Making a sudden and heart–stopping display of splashes and swirls. The intense strike and resulting splash is much more noticeable and exhilarating during topwater angling techniques when compared to those that mimic subsurface prey. When working topwater lures, the type of lure will determine how to best work your rod and reel together in order to achieve the desired effect. The two main types of topwater lures are known as poppers and chuggers, and walk the dog type stick baits.
Fishing Poppers & Chuggers
The best way to fish a popper or chugger style topwater bait is to cast the lure out, and then jerk the lure back with short swift movements of your rod tip. This action will cause the bait to, “pop,” meaning it will displace water and make an audible sound and splash. As you’re fishing, experiment with different rates of retrieve and how hard, and how often, you’re jerking your rod tip. An good example of a rhythm to emulate is “pop, pop, pause, repeat.” The noisy, splashy effects that poppers exhibit can draw strikes from fish that are not close to where your cast landed, and they can be most effective when fished around shoreline cover. When fishing with poppers, be sure to target overhanging brush, docks, laydowns, and seawalls to draw out those elusive predators hiding in the shadows.
Fishing Walk the Dog Type Stick Baits
Walk the dog type stick baits can also be referred to as “spooks.” The name “spooks,” comes from the tried and true Heddon Zara-Spook topwater lure made by the Heddon lure company. Zara Spooks were first made by Heddon back in 1939, and they continue to be one of the industry standard topwater lures today. Proper lure action for this type of bait is achieved by pointing your rod down towards the water and moving the tip quickly from side-to-side to create a “walk the dog” like action while on the retrieve.
The Bomber Lures Badonk – A Donk is another topwater lure that can be worked in a walk the dog style. These topwater stick bait type lures draw strikes because their surface action emulates that of an injured baitfish, splashing around and frantically trying to escape on the surface. Such distress signals from the splashing lure are the same as ringing the dinner bell for hungry predators. Stick baits are effective any time the bass are chasing minnows, but become especially deadly in the fall, once baitfish have formed massive schools.
Jigging involves fishing with an artificial type of lure that has been popular for years. If you’re looking for a complete history concerning fishing and using jigs, click here. A jig consists of a weighted head attached to a hook. You fish the jig by attaching various kinds of soft baits as the, “trailer,” or, “body of the jig.” A jig is cast out and reeled in while making occasional jerks of the rod tip. Movement of your rod tip results in the jig rising and falling through the water column. This rising and falling motion mimics the movements of an injured baitfish and naturally draws the attention and curiosity of predators. Jigs can be used on both inshore and offshore fish species. Grouper and snapper are known to go for jigs, and so are redfish, seatrout, and snook. Jigs also remain one of the best lures to use when the weather isn’t cooperating. Rough seas and high winds will not impact a jig in the same way as fishing a topwater lure or crankbait.
Common Jigging Mistakes
One of the biggest mistakes anglers make when fishing a jig is reeling it in too fast or working your rod tip too hard. Work it too fast and no fish will be interested enough to take a bite. Jerk your rod tip too hard and you’ll wind up pulling the jig too far out of the strike zone before a fish can take it. Movement of the rod tip within about a 1 to 1.5 foot arc should be sufficient. You can, and should, move the jig up and down even less when the water temperature is below 70º Fahrenheit. Fish are a cold-blooded species and as such, their body temperature remains within a degree or two of the surrounding water, causing lethargic behavior in colder environments. Common gulf coast species like redfish prefer 70º F water and spotted seatrout prefer temperatures between 70º and 75º F.
In addition to fishing the jig properly, the body of the jig must be one that is the proper color and design to attract fish. The best color choices can vary based on the species you’re fishing for, and the environment you’re fishing in. If you’re unsure about whether the body of your jig (the trailer) is one that is known to work given the type of fishing you intend to do, we encourage you to contact us. We will answer any questions you have to help ensure you’re prepared for a successful day on the water.
Crankbaits are fish imitating lures that have evolved into incredibly lifelike patterns and actions over time. The crankbait is arguably the most successful type of artificial fishing lure ever created. Crankbaits are also extremely easy to use, you simply cast the lure out and crank it back to you. The swimming action is made possible by the shape of the lure, the angle of the forward lip, and the design of the body.
Common Crankbait Mistakes
Even though they may be easy to use, you can still make errors with crankbaits if you select one that is designed for a different depth than your chosen fishing environment. For example, some crankbaits are designed to fish the water column at depths of 10’ feet and below. One example of such a lure is the Rapala Countdown Magnum, Size 14 Red Head. If you happen to be fishing this lure in 5’ feet of water or less, retrieval of the line will cause it to drag along the bottom and catch debris. Any time seaweed, or any other type of debris ends up on your lure, you must remove it immediately before your next cast. Think about it – baitfish, the exact type of fish you’re trying hard to imitate, NEVER swim around with seaweed stuck to their bodies. Fishing a lure encumbered by debris will look more than just odd to a game fish and therefore discourage a strike.
Selecting the Right Crankbait for the Job
When considering which crankbait is best, make sure know what depth it’s designed to swim at. Learning at which depth a lure will run and how it will react to different types of cover is the foundation for learning to crank productively. The simplest way to understand the different depths is to look at the bill of each bait. The length of the bill in relation to the size of the bait tells a lot about the depth at which it will run. Generally, a crankbait with a short bill angled slightly down will run shallow, especially if it’s noted as a floated bait. Floating crankbaits typically run shallow and rise back to the surface when they’re not being retrieved by the angler. Should you come across a crankbait exhibiting a larger, flatter bill, you’ve likely found one designed to run deeper than others. When making a purchase, check the specifications on the package for information concerning how deep the crankbait is designed to swim.
Have any questions about the lure types we’ve mentioned in this article? Contact us or post your questions below. We’ll help out in any way that we can.