Monday, June 29, 2009

Saltwater Fishing Fort Lauderdale Florida

Okay it has been way to long since the last time that I have made a post on saltwater fishing Florida, most of that reason has been due to me not being able to fish. But luckily I had got a chance to go on vacation recently and whenever I get a chance to go on vacation you can bet your ass that I am going to be going fishing, this time in a place I have never been before, Fort Lauderdale, oh ya!

So this was just a little fishing trip, we werent all geared up nor did we have the time to go out 30 miles to go after some big wahoo or mahi, but we did have the time to go out offshore about 10 miles, which is still great for catching dolphin, but your chances of landing a big bull dolphin are pretty rare, and by big I mean 25 pounds and up. Since we were saltwater fishing Fort Lauderdale, we decided that we would be going after schoolies, that would be the most likely way to fill up the cooler with some edible fish. I am really not that much into swordfishing, but if I was then this would be a great place to do so as you only need to go about 15 miles offshore before you can start trolling for them, as swordfish like it deep. But the thing about swordfishing is to have a different line at several depths of water, this way it increases the chance of a swordfish biting, its just not my cup of tea, so I will stick with dolphin fishing until I get a wild hair up my ass one of these days.

Now this is how you catch mahi mahi in Fort Lauderdale when you are anywhere from 5-15 miles offshore, this also applies to other parts of Florida also, such as the Keys and from the central east coast of Florida down. If you are in the west coast of Florida, saltwater fishing the Gulf of Mexico, then you will have to go further offshore to get dolphin.

There are certain things that you should be looking for, and these are birds, not just any birds, birds that are feeding on fish, particulary frigate birds. The birds know where the bait fish are, and where there are bait fish there are usually dolphin, or tuna. Another thing you should be looking for are weedlines, the bigger the better. If you happen to find a big tree branch in the water, there are more than likely dolphin under it. If you happen to find a board in the water, then it is like finding a treasure chest as you will probably be able to reel up 10 or more fish if you know what you are doing.

So we were about 8 miles offshore salterfishing Fort Lauderdale for dolphin, we were in a 36 foot boat and we had 2 outriggers with lines on them, and four other lines out for trolling. For the bait we used ballyhoo, with a couple of colorful dolphin lures to attach the ballyhoo to. We were trolling around 8 knots, and we had lines in the water by 8:00 a.m., not a bad start, the earlier the better. We were trolling for about 30 minutes when I spotted a palm tree branch in the water, we trolled past it and sure enough we got hooked up with a dolphin. Now this was no monster dolphin at all, so I reeled the fish up to the boat and put it in the rod holder while the others got spinning rods in the water with small chunks of ballyhoo on the hook, no weights. When you leave the small mahi mahi in the water the school of dolphin will usually follow, this is where it can get fun, as if you are lucky enough you will be reelin in fish left and right.

We managed to catch two that round, but there was another round that was coming up just a couple of ours, and many beers later that is. The second time we hooked up by trolling we were on a huge weedline, and we hooked up again with a dolphin that was a little on the short side, but he just so happened to draw the whole school with him. We were able to land 5 altogether this round.






Not the biggest dolphin in the world but good enough for me, being that we barely cleared 10 miles offshore. We would have landed more if it were not for the storm that came and broke up the weed line, and rocked the boat so much that it was a little hard to keep a hold of your beer. As soon as we got back to shore the rain and wind stopped, but it was about 3 o'clock anyway, it was a good enough day of saltwater fishing Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for me. We wound up going to the Keys the next day where we faired out much better, but we also went 25 miles offshore, I will be posting that on my other fishing blog though davespates.com if you are interested in some more saltwater fishing Florida stories.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Saltwater Fishing Tampa Bay

So the family decided to come down this weekend, and my uncle and my cousin just happened to bring down a pontoon boat so that we could do some saltwater fishing in Tampa Bay. It has been awhile since I have casted away on the flats of Tampa Bay but it only took more than half of a day until we started to get the fish biting and in the boat.

We were staying at a hotel on Saint Petersburg beach, and we rallied the troops and were heading to the Fort Desoto boating ramp. The cool thing about the boating ramp in Fort Desoto is that you could probably put 40 boats in the water at once, the place is huge and the trailer parking is fairly cheap.

So we pulled up to the ramp, it was me, my uncle, and my 2 cousins along with their kids, so we had 6 total, made sure that we had plenty of saltwater fishing rods, and a cooler full of beer, along with 4 tackle boxes filled to the brim with fishing tackle. We has stopped at the bait bucket bait and tackle shop before we got to the ramp, which I should have stated and we bought 10 dozen shrimp. So without further ado we got the used pontoon boat in the water and was ready for a great day saltwater fishing Tampa Bay.





We got the boat in the water and the truck and trailer parked, and started to head out to the flats to do some flats fishing. The first thing that we wanted to do was to try and get some more bait, so I stood on the bow of the pontoon boat with my cast net in hand looking for some bait. I got a few hundred greenbacks with a couple of casts and then missed a couple of nice sheepshead which would have been nice to land.

We started out fishing the flats of Tampa Bay, and early in the morning we did not have that much luck as I think it was due to the tide being low. So after about 2 hours of flats fishing we were only able to pull in one decent size trout and a couple of pinfish, which we stuck in the pontoon boats live well to use as some bait for the skyway bridge.





So after 2 hours of flats fishing failure we decided that we will try and fish under the skyway bridge, which can be very productive some days. The bad thing is that this would not be the day to catch anything at the bridge, as the water was very rough and it was also hard to hold the anchor. We did however run into a school of mackerel, you can see the birds that were having fun with them.






We winded up catching about 15 mackerel using top water jigs, the only problem is that they were all to small, maybe the big ones don’t come out until the water warms in Tampa Bay I am not certain. So again our day of saltwater fishing Tampa Bay was not going real well, but we had plenty of time, and plenty of bait to use up before we had to head in.

So we made our way back over towards the Bradenton side and we fished a couple of docks and a canal, in hope of getting some snook or some redfish. Sad to say that the only thing that we were catching was a nice buzz from all of the beers being consumed, but we kept hitting up different spots. The tide was starting to come in and then we decided that we would just drift the flats and try and get some trout, there was four of us with lines in the water so we could cover a lot of ground this way and we would be sure to catch some.

I had been using a popper and live shrimp, my cousin had switched to the jig and good thing that he did, as he landed another trout. After I seen him catch a couple off that jig I switched up to it too, and on the tip of the jig used a big gulp artificial bait, which I now believe will out fish live bait in some situations.









Before you know it we were reeling in speckled trout left and right, it got to the point we were hooking up almost every cast. These were not small trout at all either, well the majority of them were not anyway. So finally after 2 hours of flats fishing Tampa Bay we got our bucket full of trout and we had reached our daily bag limit.








We could have continued to catch fish but the women kept calling wondering when we would be coming back, so we decided to pack it up and head back to the ramps. As the Fort Desoto boat ramp is not the place to pull in if you are over your bag limit or have fish that are under their size limit, you will get caught.

We put the pontoon boat on the trailer and called it a day, headed back to the hotel and wondered where we were going to clean all of the trout. Well why not just be a little redneck and clean them in the parking lot of the hotel, all in all I would say that it was an excellent day flats fishing Tampa Bay.





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Monday, February 9, 2009

Bonefishing Florida

Let us talk about bonefishing Florida, why not, as they are the hardest fighting saltwater fish that there are to some degree. As example, a 10 pound bonefish will give you a better fight than any other saltwater fish that is out there weighing at 10 pounds. So basically, pound for pound bonefish are the hardest fighting fish there are, and they love to hang around Florida. When a bonefish hits, it will make a long run, they can easily pull a hundred yards off of the fishing reel in the matter of seconds, so you will need a drag system to catch them. We will get into a little more on bonefishing Florida and the kind of tackle and bait you will need to successfully catch them, but let’s learn a little bit more about them first shall we?

They are edible, but most anglers just release them back into the water and catch them just for the sport of fishing because they are so fun to hook up with. Most people avoid trying to eat bonefish because of the amount of bones that are in there body, hence there name. I mean they do not even serve bonefish on the menu at the Bonefish Grill!

Okay, so they are very picky about what kind of water temperature they like to be in, and this will range mostly from 72-80 degrees. So if you are bonefishing Florida you will want to look for them in the south part of Florida, although they can be found in some cases in the northern part of Florida most anglers will not try particularly to catch them on purpose. The all time record for the biggest bonefish that has been caught weighs in at 19 pounds. They are typically a flats fish, and if you are serious about bonefishing Florida then you would try places like the Biscayne Bay or the Florida Keys, there are many other places they can be found, basically all of south Florida but these have been known to be some hot spots.

So when you are bonefishing Florida we will go over some of the equipment you will need, first off you will need a good flats boat since that is where they are found most often. If you do not have a flats boat or access to one and really want to catch some bonefish then you should look into getting a charter captain that will take you out for bonefish, they can be found all around Florida.

Another essential item that you will need, which is just as important as a fishing rod and reel is some Polarized sunglasses. You will need to spot these fish swimming the flats and without Polarized sunglasses it will be more difficult to spot them. Once you spot them you just cast away at them, trying not to land directly on them and spook them away.

As for the kind of fishing tackle you will need when bonefishing Florida, is you definitely need a reel that holds at least 200 yards of line, monofilament would be my choice when fishing for bonefish. I would use a medium sized fishing rod, and a spinning reel. The pound test of line I would keep at about 10 pound test, give or take a couple of pounds with a 30 pound test leader at about a foot and a half. My bait of choice when bone fishing Florida would be live shrimp, hook them through the head and pinch the tail off to give off a little more scent to fish and let them know that there is some bait in the water. A size 1 or 2 hook will get the job done, and have a couple of split shots about 12 inches on the leader line to make sure that you can get a good cast off. You do not want to much weight on the line as it could spook the bone fish when you cast up right next to it.

You can also catch bonefish on a fly rod, and it is practiced by many anglers, but I will not be going over how to do that because it is like a science with the set up you will need and I have not had much experience fly fishing for bonefish. If you do like to keep them and eat them, there is a daily 1 bag limit per person, and with a minimum size of 18”, there is no closed season when bonefishing Florida.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Grouper Fishing In Florida

The famous grouper fish, they are tough fish that can be found all around Florida, from inshore to offshore there are plenty. They are great to eat, in many restaurants you will see them on the menu, the most popular is the grouper sandwich. If you are a bottom fisherman than you know that is where mostly all of the big grouper are. Grouper fishing in Florida is very popular, they can be found around rocks, ship wrecks, any type of obstruction, very similar to the snapper fish family. There are many types of grouper fish out there, I will go over the well known types of grouper that records are kept for.

Gag Grouper – The biggest one ever caught is 80 pounds, they can be found all around Florida in 30 feet of water or more.

Black Grouper – The all tackle record for these are 114 pounds, they can be found in the same places as the gag grouper can be found.

Red Hind – These are a smaller type of grouper, the biggest one caught is only 6 pounds, and they can also be found in deep waters from 70 feet and deeper, you can find them in all parts of Florida except the Northern gulf coast of Florida.

Nassau Grouper – The record for the Nassau grouper is 38 pounds, and they can be found in shallow waters that are under 100 foot deep all around Florida.

Yellowfin Grouper – Yellow fin grouper can be found in southern Florida all year round, the biggest catch is at 41 pounds.

Jewfish – these are the monsters of the bottom fish, you will have to be in pretty deep waters to nail one of these. The all tackle record for the jewfish is 680 pounds.

Grouper can be found just about everywhere in Florida, as I said they love obstructions, and they can be fished for to about 60 miles out. If you have a fish finder then this will greatly increase your chances of catching some grouper. Once you locate the fishing hole, shipwreck, or reef where you think there might be some grouper, put some frozen chum in the water. You must first anchor the boat though of course. This will get the grouper out of there hole and moving around looking for some food. You will want to use some heavy tackle when bottom fishing for grouper, it will mainly depend on how deep the water is you are in. For instance, if you are fishing for grouper in 200 feet of water, you might want to use and electric fishing reel, it could get very tiring reeling up a bunch of heavy grouper at this depth manually. Grouper are not the pickiest eaters, there are many types of bait you can use for them whether it be frozen or live. Bluerunners, pinfish, small snapper, bonito, ladyfish, ballyhoo, shrimp, all make great bait for catching grouper fish. Make sure that you have enough weight on the leader to make it to the bottom where the grouper are, be patient and wait until you feel a strong continuous tug on the line, then you must set the hook hard. If you do not set the hook in time, the fish will get you caught up in either his hole, or break off the line in some rocks. When you have one hooked, lift the rod up high, then lower the rod while reeling in, repeat this process until you have landed the grouper fish.

There is no closed season for grouper with the exception of jewfish and Nassau grouper. The daily bag limit per boat for grouper is 5, and they must be a minimum size of 20 inches, there is no maximum size regulation for them.

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