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Fish Info

Snook Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Friday, 28 June 2013. Posted in Fish Info

Centropomus is the only genus in the order Perciformes of the family Centropomidae and it consists of all twelve species of Snook. Besides being exceptionally tasty, these fish are incredibly popular game fish. In Florida, many anglers focus exclusively on catching these big creatures. Found in subtropical and tropical waters throughout the world; Snook are primarily saltwater fish but they will travel quite far inshore as well. These fish are tough fighters and are challenging to hook and catch. Snook enthusiasts will regale you with tales about these magnificent fish and we strongly recommend experiencing the thrill firsthand.

Snook are an ancient species. Fossils have been dated as far back as the upper Cretaceous period which is as long as fifty five million years ago. They have a typical percoid shape and are distinguished by a lateral line that extends into the tail, two-part dorsal fins and a concave head shape. Their upper bodies are usually dark silver or brown and they have light bellies and yellowish fins. Enormous mouths are capable of swallowing small fish whole. They range in size from 14in to 47in and can weigh as much as 40lbs, if not more.

Usually found around structures such as docks, pilings, bridges, piers and floating debris; large Snook are known for roaming Florida’s beaches during the summer. They will also target baitfish such as bay anchovies on the nearby flats. On hot days, these fish will actively hunt but when it is colder they become sluggish and require less food. Their common diet consists of smaller fish such as mullets, pilchards, menhaden, anchovies, sardines and even shrimp.

Fishing for Snook in Florida is incredibly popular. Unfortunately, there are restrictions on catching them from 15th of December to 31st of January every year. This is because when it gets really cold during winter, these fish become amazingly lethargic. They literally list on their sides and can be picked up with bare hands. Their numbers have been severely decimated when this happens, wreaking havoc with their populations. In the height of summer, there are restrictions as well because anglers catch such large numbers of them. Here are some tips to help you catch Snook in Florida:

Tackle for Snook

Using the right tackle is critically important when catching Snook. They are famous for diving around structure and breaking you off. If fishing from the beach, you can use lighter tackle because there are no obstructions there. Size your hooks to the bait you are using so that they are not obvious to the fish. Use sturdier rods and reels with 17lbs monofilament test line if fishing in places where there are many obstructions. Wire leaders will also help prevent your line being snapped near the fish.

Bait for Snook

These fish will devour almost any bait they come across. We advise taking a variety of baits along with you. Live sardines, pilchards, mullets, grunts, ladyfish, pinfish, pigfish and shrimp work well. You can also cut fresh bait and try them all. Big Snook like big baits and they have big mouths to accommodate them.

Techniques for Snook

As if hooking a Snook were not difficult enough, actually getting them into the boat is an even bigger challenge. These fighters regularly snap line. These steps will help you to be a successful Snook angler in Florida:

  • When fishing for big Snook; heat, water temperature and boat traffic play important roles. At night time, there is less traffic and it is not as hot as during the day. The best time to catch these fish is early morning, late evening and during darkness.
  • Snook respond differently to the tides. In one area they may be biting during the outgoing tide but in another the tide may be coming in. Spend as much time on the water as you can to determine the feeding pattern of the Snook in a particular area. Then remember what you have learnt.
  • Snook regularly break free once hooked. The technique you use once you have the fish on your line is of paramount importance. Keep the line tight at all times. If the fish goes left, pull down right. If it is going right, pull down left. These fish are also jumpers and keeping downward pressure will stop them from landing on your line. If you pull straight up, you put too much pressure on both your leader and the Snook’s mouth; which leads to a sudden break off. Rather keep your rod at a low side angle.

Call today to book your Snook Fishing Charter in Florida and delight in their awesome strength.

Catfish Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Friday, 28 June 2013. Posted in Fish Info

There are many Catfish species in the order Siluriformes occupying freshwater in every continent except Antarctica. There are massive ones and smaller ones. There are long ones, short ones, fat ones and thin ones. Most of them have prominent barbels that resemble a cat’s whiskers and are responsible for their name; but there are a few that do not have whiskers. Found in freshwater lakes, rivers, streams and ponds, Catfish are a prized catch for many anglers. Not only are they tasty, they can grow into extraordinarily enormous fish. The bodies of fresh water in Florida teem with Catfish varieties; the most popular of which are the channel catfish, blue catfish and flathead catfish. These monsters are among the biggest freshwater fish on earth and they are exhilarating to catch.

Catfish live inland or in coastal freshwaters of every country. They are most diverse in tropical waters around the Americas, Africa and Asia. Most of them prefer shallow, running water but some are known to live underground and some even in underwater caves. Although these fish prefer freshwater environments, there are a small number of species that live in saltwater. They have many nicknames in Florida, but these names may refer to another type of Catfish elsewhere.

Catfish have heavy, bony heads and reduced gas bladders that cause them to sink instead of float. Their body shapes vary according to the species but most of them have cylindrical bodies with a flattened head and mouth. This allows them to dig along the bottom for food. They have very large mouths that contain no teeth. They rely on gulping their prey into their mouths instead of cutting or biting into them. Some rarer species have suction mouths that allow them to fasten themselves onto objects. They have a reduced maxilla that supports their barbels, making them unable to protrude their mouths.

Catfish may have up to four pairs of barbels. One can be found by their nasal cavity, another by their mouth and two appear on the chin. These unique characteristics are there for a reason. Along with their chemoreceptors (found along their bodies), their barbels help them to “taste” and “smell” anything they touch; including chemicals in the water. This is how they detect and locate their food. They do not rely on their eyesight for hunting and their eyes are therefore small. Catfish also appear to have advanced hearing.

Scales are lacking in Catfish. Their bodies are naked although some species wear armor plates that vary among them. This is because these fish breathe through their skin and it is why there is a mucus layer over them. Catfish have a powerful, hollow and bony spine on their dorsal and pectoral fins. These can be locked into place as a defensive mechanism; and they can cause severe injury. Some species produce a protein that can be injected via their spine, acting as venom. In certain species, hospitalization may be required if you are stung. In others, fatalities have been recorded. In most catfish though, these stings are not venomous.

Catfish range in size. Some only grow up to 12in while others can measure over two metres. Thailand is home to the largest catfish species, called the giant Mekong Catfish. The largest Flathead Catfish on record weighed 123lbs. Catfish are nocturnal bottom feeders, but they will take bait on the surface too. These awesome fish are highly successful predators and will eat almost anything. Here are some tips to help you catch Catfish in Florida:

Tackle for Catfish

Virtually any type of rod and reel setup will work for catching Catfish. If you are fishing from the banks then a longer rod will allow you to cast further and have better manoeuvrability around cover. If fishing from a boat, you can use a shorter rod. The lighter your tackle and rod, the more you will feel the exhilaration of these strong fish as they fight you. Keep your tackle simple. Use small hooks that are sharp. These fish have thick mouths that blunt hooks will not penetrate. We recommend using 17lbs braided line and medium heavy spinning outfits for the larger Catfish. Attach a light weight about ten inches from your hook to keep your bait near the bottom.

Bait for Catfish

These hungry fish have no problem gulping baits of all varieties. Fresh shrimps, crawdads, chicken livers, bread dough and cut baits such as minnows, bluegills, crappies, shad, herring or anything will be devoured by them. Cheese, hotdogs, bologna, stink baits, night crawlers, worms, grasshoppers, you name it and they will eat it. Live bait works well but cut bait works better because their body fluids can be smelt from vast distances.

Techniques for Catfish

There are so many ways to catch these monster fish. These techniques have been proven successful for catching Catfish; but remember that seasons and where you are fishing are the main considerations. Here are some tips to help you catch Catfish in Florida:

  • Catfish are hungry at dusk and dawn. The best time to go fishing for them is in the morning, as soon as you can see what you are doing. By fishing early, you will increase your chances of catching them tenfold.
  • Use chum to attract them. You can use anything with a strong odor, as well as sour grain. Throw some balls of chum where you plan to fish and you are sure to catch many.
  • Keep your line tight with your weight just at the bottom. Be ready to set the hook the minute a fish bites because they will steal your bait and nibble it right off if you do not do this. We recommend holding your rod and keeping a finger on the line to feel when a fish is biting. You can use alarms and other alerter products but often you are unable to react fast enough.
  • If fishing from the bank, cast as far as you can and let it settle. Reel in a few metres every five minutes or so. This will cover a larger area for locating the fish and will cause the mud to rise and settle again – attracting any Catfish in the area.
  • Look for water that moves at different speeds. Where these two speeds meet is a fantastic place to find these fish. They will not expend unnecessary energy fighting the current. Look for breaks in the current such as rocks, trees or other bottom structure. The current moving over it erodes deep pools. Catfish will often lurk there and dart out to ambush prey swimming past.

Call today to book your Catfish Fishing Charter in Florida and discover the monsters of freshwater.

Bluegill Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Friday, 28 June 2013. Posted in Fish Info

Otherwise known as Bream, Brim or Copper Nose; Bluegill is the freshwater species Lepomis Macrochirus of the Sunfish family Centrarchidae. They are natives of the United States and have been introduced into Europe, South Africa, South America, Oceania and Asia; as well as all over the world. A highly invasive species, they have caused havoc to the environments where they have been introduced and are largely considered pests. These aggressive fish can be caught with a variety of methods and are the perfect introductory fish for youngsters and beginners, as well as fantastic bait for big game fish. In Florida, they can be found in all freshwater habitats and are thrilling to catch. They bite easily, are abundant and put up an immense fight for their size.

On their gill rakers, bright blue edging is clearly visible. This is the defining characteristic of the Bluegill and the reason for their name. In addition to this, there is a dark spot on the base of the dorsal fin and also on the posterior edge of the gills. A dark shade of blue appears on the side of their head and chin and their breast and abdomen is yellow in color (except in breeding males when the breast is bright orange instead).Their deep flattened bodies are laterally compressed and they have ctenoid scales, terminal mouths and their lateral line arches upward in their anterior. Although not always visible, there are between five and nine vertical bars on the side of the body. There are three anal spines on the Bluegill, with between ten and twelve anal fin rays. There are between six and thirteen dorsal fin spines and eleven or twelve dorsal rays. There are also twelve or thirteen pectoral rays. The biggest Bluegill on record weighed 4lbs and 12oz and measured over 16in. They usually range in size from 4in to 12in.

In the shallow waters of Florida’s lakes and ponds, you can find Bluegill in abundance. They also congregate in the slow-moving water of streams and rivers. These fish are prey for many larger species and they prefer to hide where there is an in water plants, weed beds, fallen logs or other protective structures. To avoid fighting for food, adults will move into deeper water during the summer months. Although Bluegills enjoy warmth, they will move deeper if the sun gets too hot. As with other prey fish, schools provide safety in numbers. They prefer swimming in large groups and these schools often consist of other panfish such as crappie and smallmouth bass.

Adult Bluegills feed on aquatic insects and larvae such as those belonging to mayflies, dragonflies and caddisflies; but they will also prey on snails, leeches, smaller fish and even freshwater crayfish and crabs. They will eat practically anything. Night crawlers and wax worms are devoured, as is vegetation when food is scarce. If they can find nothing to eat, they will even dine on their own eggs and juveniles.

These fish are fast and can change direction speedily. Highly adapted to sense changes in water pressure and vibrations, they are tricky to sneak up on. They rely heavily on their sight for foraging food, which is why it is best to catch them in daylight. Their mouths are small, which means they have to take a huge gulp to suck in their prey. Here are some tips to help you catch Bluegills in Florida:

Tackle for Bluegill

Bluegills are small and a 2lb test line will work perfectly unless you are fishing in heavy cover. If that is the case then a 4lb or 6lb line will be better. Use extremely small hooks as their mouths are tiny. An ultra light spinning rod and reel is ideal.

Bait for Bluegill

These aggressive fish will bite on anything. Live bait works best but lures and flies can be used easily as well. Even bare shiny hooks can work because they use their sight for hunting and are attracted to shiny visible objects.

Techniques for Bluegill

These curious fish will put anything in their mouths. Here are some tips on the various ways to catch Bluegill in Florida:

  • Bait such as a small worm on a hook is by far the easiest way to catch these fish. Crickets and mealworms work too. Simply put them on a tiny hook and fish them under a bobber. The bobber will tell you when you have a bite but if the water is clear you should be able to see the fish coming quite clearly.
  • Flies that resemble the insects in the area are highly effective. Drift them above or ahead of the fish and they will likely take it. Slow-moving currents are ideal for fly fishing Bluegills.
  • Lures work fantastically as well. A plastic mini-jig of any color should catch these fish. Fish jigs extremely slowly at the depth the fish are at. Twitch them occasionally to detect any nibbles. Plastic worms and plastic drop shots are known to target the bigger fish, but you will unlikely catch as many.

Call today to book your Bluegill Fishing Charter in Florida and be introduced to the world of fishing.

White Marlin Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Wednesday, 29 May 2013. Posted in Fish Info

White Marlin

From the family Istiophoridae comes the White Marlin (Tetrapturus Albidus). These highly migratory fish prefer subtropical and tropical warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Off the coast of Florida, particularly around Key West and the lower keys,  these inspiring fish can be found in the deep waters of the Gulf Stream and the Gulf of Mexico. White Marlin is easily one of the most exhilarating and thrilling big game fish found anywhere on the planet. Respected as an immensely prized catch, sports anglers consider these phenomenal fish to be icons in the sports fishing world.

White Marlin is an incredibly long fish; with massive upper jaws that have the strength to carry elongated bills. Roughly the size of a large sailfish, these animals are chocolate-brown or dark blue in color – as with their cousins the Blue Marlin, but proportionately lighter. Another distinguishing characteristic is that White Marlins have pectoral, dorsal and anal fins that are noticeably rounder than those of the Blue Marlin. Males are smaller than females, which grow significantly larger. They average between 40lbs and 70lbs in weight, but it is not uncommon to catch some over 100lbs. During the warm season, White Marlin will migrate to higher latitudes and they prefer water that is deep blue, in depths over 330ft. In early summer, they will spawn in very deep waters. This usually occurs when they are in subtropical environments.

Although these fish are rare to find and catch, they are not solitary animals. People tend to think they prefer swimming on their own. In fact, White Marlins generally swim in schools of up to eight individuals. Their common diet consists of crustaceans, squid and smaller pelagic fish such as tuna and mackerel. Frequently caught as a bycatch by longline international fisheries targeting tuna, White Marlin is now considered a threatened species. These fish are tasty, but sports anglers rather release them.

The current world record for White Marlin stands at 181lbs and 14 ounces. Possibly the most aerial of all billfish, every pound of them will fight you insanely. These fish are popular because of their scarcity and awesome power. In Florida, anglers hope consistently for the indescribable encounter with a White Marlin. There are a variety of ways to catch these fantastic creatures, the most common of which are trolling and drifting. Here are some tips for catching a White Marlin off the coast of Florida:

Tackle for White Marlin

A heavy spinning outfit or light ocean trolling one will work for White Marlin. 12lbs, 20lbs or 30lbs test will give the best hook-up ratio and provide the most thrilling sport. A graphite rod and reel combo of superior quality is ideal because it allows you to detect subtle movements and offers little resistance. A 60lbs or 80lbs fluorocarbon leader of a length between 6ft and 10ft is a good idea.

Bait for White Marlin

We find squid and ballyhoo to produce the best results, either live or dead. Having said that, you can also use tuna, mackerel, mullet, anchovies, bonefish, blue runners and herring. Although White Marlins have been caught on artificial lures as well, we strongly recommend using live bait and rigging it as simply as possible.

Techniques for White Marlin

In Florida, we troll for White Marlin. Sometimes we cast live bait and drift for them too. These fish are generally surface feeders, but they will take bait at varying depths. When we troll, we often set our lines at different water levels in order to catch any White Marlins in the area. Here are some tips for catching these awe-inspiring fish:

  • Ideally, you want your bait to be at its most attractive and easy to swallow. For this reason, do not opt for massive baits but keep them within biting size. Rig your bait in a manner that offers little obstructions when it comes to devouring it. If your bait is rigged pinless, then that pin will not stick out the wrong way and prevent your catch from taking the bait. If using ballyhoo (for example), rig some to swim and some to skip. The skipping bait attracts the fish to the swimming bait, which is usually swallowed heartily.
  • With other fish, spreading as much different baits as you can yields great results. Not with White Marlin. Keep it simple, with four baits spread at a maximum. These fish are among the fastest in the world and the less bait they have to choose from, the more likely you will see which ones they are going to bite – and you can snag them efficiently.
  • Teasing White Marlin is a sure way to get them to bite. By using a teaser, such as a dredge, you can get them really excited. A dredge creates a fantastic bait ball that attracts these predators extremely well. You can throw naked baits to them when they come up to eat your teaser, because they will pounce on them very quickly.
  • These fish are fast enough to hit your bait without you even noticing. The trick to catching White Marlin is to beat them to the rod. If you see one approaching, you need to be ready and have your rod in your hand by the time they take the bait. Be alert or miss out.
  • When the fish wants to eat the bait, drop back and allow the bait to fall back naturally. Often, you will miss snagging the fish if it bites down on the bait when there is tension on the line. Instead, it will catch the bait sideways and you will be left only with the head. Give the fish the opportunity to bite properly on the bait by feeding it to them.
  • When one of these fish takes your bait, you line will start screaming. This is incredibly exciting and naturally you will want to pull back quickly. Here is some advice: there is enough line on your reel to let the fish run some (or there should be). White Marlins swim in schools, so take it slowly and watch your other baits in the water. Often anglers miss out on numerous potential catches because they were too busy with the one already hooked.
  • Go to them. White Marlins are found far offshore. Although they occasionally come close to shore, they are seldom (if ever) caught there. Be prepared to travel and spend much time onboard.
  • These fish are released, so start using circle hooks. J-hooks often kill them and circle hooks are much safer, giving them a great chance of survival.
  • Have a few extra baits rigged and ready to be dropped. If there are a number of these fish in your spread, then you need all the chances possible to catch them. With White Marlins so frequently biting off the tail ends of your bait, you will need regular replacements that can be deployed quickly.

Call now to book a White Marlin Fishing Charter in Florida and prepare for the ultimate excitement.

Photo Credit: BlueCloudSpatial - Creative Commons

Triggerfish Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Wednesday, 29 May 2013. Posted in Fish Info

Triggerfish Fishing

Belonging to the family Balistidae, there are roughly forty species of triggerfish inhabiting tropical and subtropical waters around the world. Most of these unique fish prefer shallow waters along the coast and can often be found in the coral reefs so abundant off the coast of Florida, particularly those off. Some, like the Ocean Triggerfish, are pelagic and enjoy deeper waters while several smaller varieties are popular in aquariums across the globe.

With oval-shaped, solidly compressed bodies, triggerfish are often marked by lines and spots of various color. Large heads end in small mouths with incredibly strong jaws that are used to crush shells. At the top of the head are small eyes. There are three spines on the anterior dorsal fin that are retracted into a groove, the first of which is the longest and is very stout. In order to allow slow speed movement, the posterior dorsal fins and ventral fins undulate from side to side. Used to escape predators, triggerfish have a sickle-shaped caudal fin. A single spine is formed by two pelvic fins that are mostly covered by a layer of skin, and are only visible as very short rays. Their gill plates are also covered by tough skin and are not visible, being overlaid with rough scales that form a protective armor for the body. The only visible gill opening can be found above the pectoral fins and is noticeable as a vertical slit. A row of four teeth on either side occupy each jaw, but the upper jaw also contains six plate-like teeth.

Triggerfish can erect their first two dorsal spines as a protection against predators. When erected, the short second spine locks the first anterior spine. This can only be unlocked by pushing the second spine, which is called a ‘trigger spine’ for this reason; and is responsible for their name. You can tell by the triggerfish’s unusual anatomy that their typical diet consists of slow-moving crustaceans that have protective shells and spines; such as sea urchins, molluscs, crustaceans and other types of echinoderms. They are also willing to dine on smaller fish and some even feed on algae, while others eat plankton. These fish have displayed signs of exceptional intelligence and have been proven to have learnt from previous experiences.

Notoriously ill-tempered, triggerfish are known to be rather aggressive by nature – particularly when guarding their nests against intruders. Their powerful teeth have bitten many snorkelers and scuba divers who were not paying attention. Due to the fact that the territory they are protecting extends in a cone from the nest toward the surface, it is advisable to avoid swimming upwards when confronted by an angry triggerfish. Rather move away horizontally, out of their territory.

Known bait stealers, triggerfish will also nibble at your bait instead of swallowing it whole. This frustrates many anglers and is why it is so important to use the correct baits and rig them properly. Our Triggerfish Fishing Charters in Florida will show you exactly how to catch these awesome fish successfully. Here is some information to help you catch a triggerfish in Florida:

Tackle for Triggerfish

A light to medium action spinning reel is ideal, along with a 6in or 8in rod. 1/0 or 2/0 circle hooks are absolutely essential. To get your bait down quickly, you need a heavy sinker that makes it more difficult for the fish to steal your bait while it is on the way down. A sinker will also keep extra tension on the line when you are reeling a triggerfish in.

Bait for Triggerfish

Extremely aggressive and ferocious eaters, triggerfish will eat practically any live or cut bait. In Florida, squid is the most popular bait to use and produces the best results. Your bait needs to be tough and small because these fish will nibble off pieces until you are left with just your hook. Thumbnail sized cubes of squid will work well. Remember to cut fish with tough skins and leave the skin on for added durability. Size the bait to the size of your hook and do not bury the tip and barb in the bait. Rather leave it outside. Triggerfish can also be caught on squid flavored, pink colored fish bites.

Techniques for Triggerfish

Specifically targeting triggerfish can be very tricky. These fish inhabit the same habitats where you find snappers, groupers and multiple other species – and all of them will compete for your bait. Here are some tips to use to overcome this:

  • Locate a group of triggerfish first. Start with rigging larger pieces of bait with larger hooks; as if you were targeting snappers or groupers. Combined with a chum bag, your bait will excite every fish there. After dropping your bait a few times, you will notice if you have lost your bait entirely or if it has been nibbled on and there are small bite marks in evidence. If this is the case, then you are probably being nipped at by triggerfish, which means you have found them. Then you need to replace your larger hooks with smaller ones and decrease the size of your bait, using a heavy sinker to get them down quickly. With small hooks and bait, you will start catching them and these fish are not shy of leaders or tackle.
  • Once your bait hits bottom, immediately begin reeling in slowly and steadily. This will allow enough tension to remain on your line for you to feel the exact moment when the fish starts nipping at your bait. Due to the circle hooks being present, it is imperative that you do not jerk your rod when you feel the bite and cause unnecessary slack in your line. Instead you need to start reeling in very fast. If you reel in quickly and keep the line tight, then you will hook the fish if it has the hook point in its mouth. Triggerfish have soft, thin mouths that are relatively easy to hook, which is why small sharp hooks work so well. Any attempt to hook the fish in another manner besides reeling in fast – such as yanking or jerking the rod – will result in failure. You will be slower in moving the hook and give the fish time to spit it out. You will also move the heavy sinker rapidly, which will certainly knock the hook out of the fish’s mouth on its way up or down. By setting the hook with the reel and not the rod, you will have the best chance of consistent success.
  • Similarly to snapper, triggerfish are usually larger higher up the water column. If you have been fishing the bottom for some time with no success, then you can start fishing higher and fish the line as it goes down. Instead of dropping directly to the bottom, stop it higher and go down in stages. You can stop the first time a few seconds after your bait disappears underwater. In a manner similar to slow-jigging, you can lift your rod up and down slowly about three or four times. Remember to keep constant tension on the line, which is why you have to be very slow with your movements. Start reeling at the slightest feel of a nibble. If you have not had a bite, then slowly drop your bait a little deeper. Repeat this technique until your bait hits the bottom. Once there, reel in for a few seconds and start the process over – this time on the way up. When you get about halfway up and have no fish yet, you probably have had your bait stolen. Reel in and put fresh bait on before trying again. If this happens continually, then you either need to downsize your bait and hooks or try elsewhere.

Call today to book your Triggerfish Fishing Charter in Florida and experience the challenge.

Photo Credit: MyFWC via Flickr - Creative Commons: Some Rights Reserved

Spearfish Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Wednesday, 29 May 2013. Posted in Fish Info

Spearfish are members of the Istiophoridae family of billfish and there are three varieties found in different parts of the world. The Shortbill Spearfish inhabits the Pacific and Indian Oceans. These fish are caught throughout the year off the coast of Kona and are consistently caught in this area. They have been reported in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the southern tip of Africa. The Longbill Spearfish prefers the western Atlantic Ocean and ranges from New Jersey to Venezuela. This includes the Gulf of Mexico and is the spearfish we catch in Florida. They have been recorded in the north-central and south Atlantic as well; including off South Africa. Then there is the Mediterranean Spearfish which is exclusively found in the Mediterranean Sea.

In comparison to other billfish species; Spearfish are slender with more lightweight bodies, shorter bills and their anterior dorsal fin is set higher. The vent is also well distanced from the anal fin, whereas in other billfish it is much closer. The bill is significantly shorter as well. In the Shortbill and Mediterranean Spearfish, the pectoral fins barely reach the curve of the lateral line but in Longbill Spearfish, the pectoral fins extend beyond it. In the first dorsal fin of the Longbill Spearfish, there are between forty-five and fifty-three spines. This is a greater number than any other Atlantic billfish although it closely resembles the white marlin. The Shortbill Spearfish has slightly less spines in their dorsal fin (between forty-seven and fifty), while the Mediterranean Spearfish has only between thirty-nine and forty-six. Arching above the pectoral fins, the lateral line is single. Bright blue pectoral fins contain no spots. There are vertical bars across the body but they are not as prominent as in other billfish species, sometimes being barely visible.

Not as well known as their billfish cousins, Spearfish are pelagic ocean dwellers that are found in very deep waters far offshore. These mysterious fish are available throughout the year but are usually too far out of range for most anglers. Preferring to feed at or near the surface, their common diet consists of squid and smaller fish; such as pilot fish, needlefish, flying fish, tuna and dorada. Spearfish are short-lived. They reach maturity at two years and seldom exceed five years in age. These fish are big. The largest recorded Shortbill Spearfish weighed in at 74lbs and 12oz, while a Longbill Spearfish weighed 94lbs and 12oz and the Mediterranean Spearfish record stands at 90lbs and 13oz.

Prepare to travel very far offshore if you wish to catch an Atlantic Spearfish in Florida. These fish are extremely rare due to low numbers and there are very infrequent catches. This is why they are not considered game fish because finding and catching them is not a reliable sport. Those specifically targeting Spearfish are usually attempting to gain the coveted title of a Royal Grand Slam, which requires an angler to catch all the billfish species on the planet. Most Spearfish are caught by anglers targeting other billfish, particularly marlin. However, these fish are phenomenally exciting when they take your line and worth every second of the awesome fight they give. Here is some information to help you catch a Longbill Spearfish in Florida:

Tackle for Spearfish

You can use lighter tackle than you would for other billfish species. Small bullet lures on a 20lb or 30lb test works fantastically. Scale down in size to make the hook-up easier and discourage nibbling. A monofilament or braid leader, with quality deep saltwater rods and spinning reels is adequate.

Bait for Spearfish

The same bait that you use to catch other billfish is highly effective for Spearfish. Scale it down in size to fit your target though. Live bait, cut bait and lures will all work; and often protecting them with a skirt helps to attract Spearfish. The best bait to use is definitely live bait, particularly small tuna and skipjacks.

Techniques for Spearfish

There are a few techniques that you can use to catch Spearfish. Generally they are the same as with other billfish, but you can use lighter tackle. Usually we troll, but they can be caught while fly fishing too. These fish are really fun to tease. Using bait-and-switch methods is a great way to interact with them and offers an excellent hook-up ratio. Here are some tips to help you catch a Spearfish in Florida:

  • Although Spearfish will attack bigger lures, it is advisable to keep them smaller if you are specifically targeting them. If the lure is too big, you may end up chasing these fish away by attracting their predators. A small 7in lure such as the AP can be used effectively in the stinger position or on a far-back long rigger. These fish are not particular as blue marlins are. If there are many squid in the area, you can use purple, silver or blue lures. Otherwise standard colors will work well; being blue, silver, pink and even bright pink.
  • Spearfish are the slowest in the billfish family. Their tails are not a prominent feature and do not propel them at alarming speeds. When trolling lures, slow down to around eight knots. You will enjoy a great deal more action if you heed this advice.
  • Their prey seeks protection in ledges, shelves and other underwater structure. You can often find Spearfish hunting there.
  • Tease them for the ultimate excitement. It is a great deal of fun to bait-and-switch a Spearfish. The hook-up ratio is very high because these fish are aggressive predators. Have a light 20lb outfit ready with live bait already rigged. Tempt them with a small lure and draw them in with a few jet heads before throwing them the live bait. They take the switch extremely well.
  • In order to get a solid hook-up on a lure, you need to play with a Spearfish. They are notorious nibblers and pacers. They will grab the lure and hold on before spitting it out - and repeat this up to seven times before getting bored and moving on. The trick is to use the lure to get them to turn and swim the other way in order to snag them properly. A good way to do this is to implement a short drop-back. When you see the fish coming, grab the line and pull back about two feet behind the reel. When the fish comes in for it, you can drop the line back. It will stop just as they grab it, forcing them to turn their heads and allowing the hook to come tight. This method relies heavily on good timing.
  • If you are fly fishing, troll enticing teasers and then cast to them. This is the most productive way to catch them on flies.
  • The “shotgun” method works supremely well for lures too. These tail biters are often lost because they usually come in, the rod bends and then they let go. The shotgun method cuts out the rod bend. When you see the fish, take the rod out of the holder and point it at the fish. This relaxes the tension in the line and prevents the bait from being jerked out of their mouths, giving them the time needed to take the bait properly.
  • Using live bait produces the best hook-up ratio and the most overall success. Rig a single circle hook through the mouth of your fish and a treble hook in the tail. The treble hook has two functions. The first being that these fish love to bite off the tail ends of your bait and having a hook there is obviously
    advantageous. The second is that the balance created by the single hook and the treble hook in the correct locations helps the fish to swim naturally in the water.

Call today to book your Spearfish Fishing Charter in Florida and catch these rare and elusive fish.

Pompano Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Wednesday, 29 May 2013. Posted in Fish Info

Marine fish of the Caringidae family, Pompano belong to the Trachinotus genus and there are twenty species falling into this category, including the permit. A prized game fish, Pompano are also an immensely popular delicacy. During the springtime, hordes of anglers congregate along the Gulf coast and anticipate the arrival of these fantastic fish. Found in the western Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Pompano has navy ships and cities named after it.

Pompano have deep bodies and are typically silver in color. These fish have a forked tail which is extremely narrow at the base. The Florida Pompano generally weighs about 3.30lbs and measures around 18in in length. The permit is the biggest of the Pompano family and measures about 35in and exceeds 32lbs in weight.

In Florida, Pompano are highly sought-after and they are exceptionally hard fighters. These delicious game fish are immensely exciting to catch and anglers waste no time targeting them for dinner. Here are some tips to help you catch Pompano in Florida:

Tackle for Pompano

The goal is to be able to cast as far as you can when necessary. To propel baits vast distances, an 8ft graphite rod is best. A 10lb spinning reel must have a smooth drag for the first run. Pompano run hard and fast, so ensure your gear is of superior quality or they will break down the drag. A light 12lb outfit will do a great job. Use either monofilament or braid line and a fluorocarbon leader that is lighter than 15lbs. Keep your hooks small, ideally of 1/0 size.

Bait for Pompano

The best bait to use is a live Sand Flea (otherwise called a Mole Crab). Although these can be bought at most bait and tackle shops in Florida, it is always best to catch your own fresh, live baits. You can dredge them up in the surf with a sand flea rake. As the waves recede, you can see them burrowing into the sand. Avoid putting them in a bucket with sand because their urine will kill them. Rather use an oyster bag with ice and newspapers. Keep them cool and out of the sun. Otherwise, small live shrimp work well, as do fiddler crabs and specialized lures.

Techniques for Pompano

Pompano have an unusual behavior that makes catching them particularly fun. We usually use a teaser such as chum to attract them once located. These are some techniques that you can use to catch these feisty fish:

  • Finding Pompano is the hardest part of catching them. Pompano are unique because they display unusual behavior called “skipping”. They literally skip across the surface of the water when disturbed, and you can use this to your advantage. Run your boat randomly along the shore and when you see a school skipping along the waves, you have found them. Stop, drop your anchor and throw some chum to get them close to your boat. When they begin their feeding frenzy, you can drop your hooked baits in.
  • A small yellow jig with a hooked sand flea or shrimp will also catch Pompano. Jump the jig in short hops to mimic the natural movements of your bait. A sand flea will jump before burying itself in the sand and they have a bright orange egg sack. You can add a small bright orange bead to your leader to emulate this too. Pompano rely on their eyesight for locating prey, so take full advantage of this fact by adding split shot to your leader. The more commotion you cause on the bottom, the more fish you will attract.
  • Often prey can be found just offshore of the last beach trough. This is where you will find plenty of Pompano. By anchoring there and casting into the trough, you will catch many of these feisty fish.
  • Tide and current move shrimp, small crabs and crustaceans into troughs, inlets formed by granite boulders, jetties and other low-lying holes. This is important to remember because these are feeding zones and attract hungry Pompano in large numbers. Cast your lines into these places, because at some stage during the high tide these fish will be feeding there.
  • When the surface water temperature reaches 68 degrees, Pompano season has arrived. In fact, this temperature makes a myriad of fish active.
  • If you really want to have success with catching Pompano, get there early and leave late. The full moon days in April and May are considered prime times and try to plan your trips around them where possible.

Call today to book your Pompano Fishing Charter in Florida and exhilarate in these delightful fish.


Mahi-Mahi Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Wednesday, 29 May 2013. Posted in Fish Info

Mahi Mahi Fishing

Found offshore in temperate, subtropical and tropical waters world-wide, mahi-mahi is one of two members of the Caryphaenidae family; the other being the pompano. Otherwise known as Dorado, these ray-finned fish live near the water’s surface. In Florida, anglers catch many of these beautiful and spectacular fish. They inhabit the waters of the Caribbean Sea, the west coast of North and South America, the Pacific coast of the Gulf of Mexico and Costa Rica, the Atlantic coast of Florida, Hawaii, Southeast Asia and the entire equatorial region.

These magnificent fish are also referred to as “dolphins”. This causes people to confuse them with the widely-known marine animals of the same name. They are not related in any way; their species is the Dorado dolphinfish, while the pompano dolphinfish also falls into this category and they bear no similarities. The word mahi-mahi means very strong in Hawaiian, which is exactly what they are.

Mahi-mahi has very long dorsal fins that extend the length of their compressed bodies. Their caudal fins and anal fins are sharply concave and they are easily identified by their bright colors; which consist of stunning bright greens and blues on their back and sides, as well as gold on their sides. They have blunt-shaped heads and males have noticeably prominent foreheads that sit high and protrude well above the body. The head of the female is rounded and they are smaller than males. These fish experience fast growth and short life spans, averaging about five years of age. Generally they are caught between 15lbs and 30lbs in weight, but can weigh as much as 90lbs.

These fantastic fish are known to change color when out of the water. They will go through several hues before fading to a faint yellow-grey at death. Mahi-mahi feed on crabs, squid, mackerel and various forage fish; but their main diet consists of flying fish. They spawn throughout the year and their young inhabit seaweed. These fish find protection near reef edges in about 120ft of water; hiding among Sargassum weeds, floating wood such as palm trees and fronds, fish buoys and other floating debris - and this is where anglers will find them. Known to reach speeds nearing fifty knots, they are amazingly fast swimmers.

It is known that frigate birds act as sentinels for anglers targeting mahi-mahi. This is because these fish do not venture far from the Sargasso weed lines. Sargassum is floating seaweed that houses complete ecosystems from tiny organisms to medium-sized bait fish. Birds dive for food living in the Sargasso, alerting anglers as to their location. Experienced fishing guides can even tell which species are active there by watching the behavior of these birds.

In the sport fishing world, mahi-mahi are incredibly sought-after. Not only are they immensely delicious, they are phenomenally beautiful and will leap and jump in an incredible acrobatic display. Preferring the company of others, they are found swimming in schools. It is fairly common to have three or four mahi-mahi on your lines at one time, majestically leaping about. They can grow very large and have healthy, abundant populations. Here is some information to help you catch mahi-mahi in Florida:

Tackle for Mahi-Mahi

A conventional medium-weight setup is more than adequate. Keep your tackle light in order to feel the incredible fight these fish offer. A quality saltwater bait-casting rod and reel will work perfectly. 30lb test line with circle hooks is recommended.

Bait for Mahi-Mahi

Live ballyhoo is the most popular bait for these fish. They can be caught on squid, shrimps or any traditional bait fish such as sardines or mackerel. Cut bait works well, as do lures and flies.

Techniques for Mahi-Mahi

We mainly troll for mahi-mahi using live bait. Teasing them is highly recommended and there are a number of ways to do this; from dredges, kites, chum, hookless lures and a net full of live sardines. Bait-and-switch methods are popular too. The goal is to get these hungry fish excited and into a feeding frenzy. Here are some tips on how to catch mahi-mahi in Florida:

  • If you are fly fishing, then making use of teasers is essential. Bait-and-switch techniques are ideal. Find the birds mentioned above to locate big fish and toss live chum into the water. You can also use a hookless lure for the same effect. When the fish are feeding, you can cast a fly into the frenzy.
  • You can troll lures with rubber skirts or plugs such Rapalas. In fact, a wide variety of lures will work in an area concentrated with many mahi-mahis. Poppers are a great deal of fun to use as well. Remember, if you take the time to use teasers and work them into a hungry ball of fish; they will eat whatever you cast to them. Be aware when using heavier lures and avoid them if you can. These fish jump wildly when hooked and you may find heavy lures flying back at you with incredible speed.
  • Troll live baits using a kite. This is a great teaser because the kite keeps the bait near the surface of the water. This makes it appear as if the fish is panicking which is simply irresistible to a mahi-mahi.
  • You can troll cut or live bait behind the boat. If you use a good chum then these fish will eat practically anything, whether it is alive or dead.

Call now to book your Mahi-Mahi Fishing Charter in Florida and delight in the spectacular display of beauty.

Golden Tilefish Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Wednesday, 29 May 2013. Posted in Fish Info

From the family Malacanthidae comes the bottom-dwelling, deep water fish known as the Golden Tilefish. The entire eastern coastline of the United States, including the Gulf of Mexico and south to Venezuela, is home to these truly phenomenal fish.  We find that our fishing charters in Miami tend to be the most succesful at catching these fish, but we certainly see them elsewhere throughout the State. They can be found occupying the soft, sandy, muddy sections of the ocean floor. Anglers travel to Florida for the opportunity to catch some Golden Tilefish. They are incredibly beautiful and unique fish that grow into real monsters of the deep. Their size, color and taste make them very popular among recreational anglers and reeling them in from the depths of the ocean is an enormous challenge indeed.

Golden Tilefish have a noticeable large crest (or adipose flap) on the head that makes them easy to distinguish from other tilefish species. They are an iridescent blue-green on their back with multiple spots of gold and bright yellow. The head is a rosy color while the belly is white and blue features prominently under the eyes. The margin of the anal fin is purple tinged with blue and the pectoral fins are a gorgeous sepia color. These fish grow slowly and live for around forty-five years, reaching lengths of 43in.

Golden Tilefish are very attached to their cone-shaped burrows that range in depth from three to seven feet. They are found in waters between 250ft and 1 500ft deep. They literally bury their heads into their mud homes and only come out to feed. Their common diet consists of other animals living on the ocean floor; crustaceans, snails, clams, worms, sea anemones, sea cucumbers, shrimps, smaller finfish and even small tilefish. They stay within ten feet of the bottom and only feed during daylight hours, usually between 10am and 3pm.

Males are larger than females and these fish prefer to swim in schools. Reproductive maturity occurs when they weigh about 9lbs and measure around 27in in length. From March to September, Golden Tilefish will spawn. Females lay anywhere between two million and eight million eggs, which are left to freely roam the ocean currents. As Golden Tilefish grow, they move into deeper burrows. Schools can be found at various depths depending on their size. The big adults inhabit waters that are 500ft or deeper.

Basically, wherever you find soft mud bottoms in waters from 500ft to 1 500ft, you are going to find Golden Tilefish. The great aspect about these fish is that they do not migrate, move with the currents or disappear with the seasons. They live in the deep canyons and are unaffected by anything occurring near the surface. This means that they are always offshore near the continental shelf. These fish are so delicious and exhilarating to catch that they are becoming an increasingly popular fish to target in Florida. Here is some information to help you catch a Golden Tilefish:

Tackle for Golden Tilefish

Numerous 4/0 to 8/0 circle hooks are necessary. Small plastic glows need to be rigged at or very near the hook to help attract these fish. You will require multiple weights ranging from 3lbs to 5lbs depending on your drift speed. Many lead sinkers or pre-made concrete blocks (molded from coffee cans with eyehooks embedded in the tops of them). Miles of 80lb test braid line or modern super-line (do not use monofilament as it stretches too much and you will not be able to feel if a fish bites, or find the correct soil composition). 30lb or larger high ratio offshore reels of exceptional quality are a pre-requisite. Rods must also be quality and be able to handle at least 30lbs, preferably more. If you are not a pro, the standard is to set everything for 80lbs. If you are jigging, use 12oz to 24oz Butterfly or Williamsons jigs. Remember they must be painted with a glow finish.

Bait for Golden Tilefish

Live bait is the preferred bait to use, although fresh cut bait also works well. Whole squid, sea clams or fish chunks are the most popular. Remember to soak sea clams and squid in salt overnight if they are not alive. This makes them tougher and more durable when the fish nibbles on it. Your bait sinks deep and it can be a real mission to reel them in constantly because it has been eaten off the hook.

Techniques for Golden Tilefish

Catching these awesome creatures means getting your baits into extremely deep waters and keeping them there. This is called deep-dropping and can be tricky if there is a great deal of wind or the current is very strong – among other conditional factors. You also need to be able to feel the surface of the ocean floor to find the ideal mud conditions for these fish. Here are some tips you can use to catch some Golden Tilefish in Florida:

  • It is not difficult to locate Golden Tilefish. Travel to the continental shelf or any deep canyon ledge. Drop your bait and drag it along the ocean floor until you find muddy bottom. You can start dragging your bait when you get to a depth of 300ft. You may catch this fish there but it is likely to be smaller than those found deeper and you will probably catch Gray Tilefish instead. At around 600ft, you will find them slightly bigger and be prone to catching more Ling and Flounder. We much prefer to start dragging at a depth of 700ft. This makes it easier to specifically target the Golden Tilefish and catch them in numbers.
  • It is important to use a braid line when deep-dropping baits. The reason for this is because the line does not stretch, making it easier to feel what is happening with your baits so far below the ocean surface. In order to find Golden Tilefish, you need to feel for soft muddy bottoms by understanding the bottom composition. These awesome fish prefer green mud which is stickier and more like sludge than loose sand. When the floor is sandy or hard, your bait will just drag along. If you feel like your weights are getting stuck and then popping free a few seconds later; the mud conditions are perfect for Golden Tilefish.
  • Be very aware of lobster pots on the ocean floor. Even if you can see the orange buoy warning of them in the distance, with over 1 000ft of line underneath the surface, it is easy to get entangled in them.
  • You should have at least four or five baited hooks rigged to your line. This increases your chances of catching these fish because missed strikes will not mean reeling in every time and re-baiting (which is a mammoth, time-consuming task at such depths).
  • The stronger the current, the heavier your weights need to be to get down to the bottom as straight as possible. We advise using a lead sinker and rigging it to break away if you do not want to crank all that weight. Using either a 6lb or 8lb line or a rubber band, tie your weight to the bottom of your rig. The light line will usually break early in the struggle once the fish has been hooked, and the weight will fall off. A sharp jerk of the rod will free the weight if you need to reel in and there is no fish on your line.
  • Golden Tilefish will never swim upwards to take your bait. This means that once your bait hits the bottom, you need to make sure that it stays there constantly. As you drift into deeper water, be prepared to slack out additional line accordingly. Low winds and low tides make a helpful difference - and manoeuvring your boat will keep it from drifting too quickly and causing your baits to rise from the bottom.
  • If using jigs, it will certainly help if you add a strip of squid to the hooks – even though they will bite without it.
  • Using modern big-water jigging gear to deep-drop your jigs will make retrieving much easier.

Call us to book your Golden Tilefish Fishing Charter in Florida and catch an exceptionally unique fish.

Bonito Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Wednesday, 29 May 2013. Posted in Fish Info

Members of the Sardini tribe in the Scrombridae family, there are seven species of Bonito found in the warm oceanic waters of the world. Also called Bonita, these predatory fish are medium in size and highly sought-after by anglers for either dinner or bait. In Florida, we catch the Atlantic Bonito and they give anglers a sturdy fight indeed, considering their size.

Smaller Bonito prefer to keep close to shore where they can be found hiding in structures such as bridges, piers, rocks, debris and pilings. As they get larger, they will move into offshore islands, coral reefs, wrecks and banks. These fish are not game fish and are usually caught when targeting another species entirely. However, they are exciting to catch and are an essential ingredient for catching larger game fish.

A perfect beginner fish for aspiring anglers and youngsters, Bonito have an extremely oily flesh. This makes them fantastic bait fish for larger predators such as sharks, barracudas, billfish and others. They are usually caught from the shores of Florida, making them a good target for any angler. People rarely travel offshore to catch them. Here is some information to help you catch Bonito in Florida:

Tackle for Bonito

Your tackle will depend on where you are fishing for these fish and their size. 10lb line will be sufficient for keeping smaller ones out of near-shore structures, while up to 15lbs or 20lbs will be wiser offshore where they are bigger. A 7lb quality rod is light enough and will work well.

Bait for Bonito

Live, silvery fish such as sardines and anchovies are readily devoured by Bonitos. Cut bait produces good results, as do lures.

Techniques for Bonito

These feisty fish are pretty easy to catch. Small hooks with bait on them do the trick really nicely, as do shiny and flashy lures. Here are the most common methods to use when catching Bonito in Florida:

  • Lures such as silver Rapala plugs are highly effective. Rig them with shiny spoons and cast into or near them. Not easily scared away, Bonito will happily chase a steady running lure such as a Crystal Minnow. Using an erratic lure such as the Krocadile while retrieving steadily is just as successful.
  • Live and frozen baits produce the best results. You can use a teaser such as chum to entice them to you. They will come close to your boat because they are not shy, then you can drop hooked baits into their midst and enjoy the feeding frenzy.

Call today to book your Bonito Fishing Charter in Florida and prepare to catch many of them.

Bonefish Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Wednesday, 29 May 2013. Posted in Fish Info

Albula Vulpes, or Bonefish, live in tropical and subtropical inshore waters across the globe. They move with the incoming tide to feed on shallow mudflats. As the tide ebbs, they retreat back inshore. Primarily caught for sport, Bonefish are extremely popular and highly sought-after by fly anglers and are among the world’s top game fish on the fly. Florida is known as one of the best places to catch Bonefish world-wide.

Medium in size, these powerful fish typically weigh up to 19lbs and grow into lengths measuring around 35in. The base of their pectoral fins is yellow where their other fins are dusky. Equipped with an airbladder, these awesome fish can improve their tolerance for water that is poor in oxygen and can survive in brackish water. Silver in color, these fish prefer to swim in schools. Only the largest individuals will travel alone. Juveniles are observed swimming in large schools of similar sized fish, while mature fish congregate in pairs or smaller groups. In Hawaii, Bonefish are caught for dinner. However, these fish are generally not eaten anywhere else.

Their common diet consists of small fry, crustaceans, molluscs, shrimp, crabs and worms. Bonefish will follow stingrays in the hope of catching small prey that the rooting rays disturb. They can also be found in ledges where there are currents, in drop-offs and in healthy seagrass beds. These places provide small prey with shelter against strong currents.

Otherwise known as “phantom” or “gray ghost”, it is the opinion of many professional anglers that Bonefish are pound for pound the strongest and fastest saltwater fish on earth. These animals are phenomenally powerful for their relatively small size and will put up an enormous fight. Anglers fish for Bonefish in shallow waters, in depths ranging from 8in to several feet. Here are some tips to use when catching Bonefish in Florida:

Tackle for Bonefish

These fish can be caught comfortably on a light spinning setup with a 6lb test. A quality spinning reel of a small size works extremely well. These fish can run for a long time and quickly peel your line off, particularly with a lighter drag. Ensure you have enough line for even the large ones. If you are fly fishing for them, a 7lb or 8lb fly rod is perfect.

Bait for Bonefish

The most effective baits are live crabs and shrimps. Even flies are designed to resemble them. Small jigs with spinning gear also work for Bonefish.

Techniques for Bonefish

Generally, Bonefish are caught sight fishing; which is hugely exciting. We like to pole our way around shallow mudflats and look for them. When you see one, cast the bait or lure ahead of the direction they are swimming and they may bite. Here are some ways to catch Bonefish:

  • Fly fishing is immensely popular with anglers, particularly when fishing for Bonefish. Use flies that resemble shrimp or small crabs and weight them so that they will sink to the bottom. These fish are bottom feeders, so gently swim your fly along the ocean floor. You can use a small jig with spinning gear. This works better when you tip your jig with shrimp.
  • Live bait is simply the most effective method to use for Bonefish. Casting live crabs or shrimps in front of the fish is extremely tempting to them. They almost always bite, much to the chagrin of fly fishermen standing by.

Call today to book your Bonefish Fishing Charter in Florida and experience serious excitement.


Bluefish Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Wednesday, 29 May 2013. Posted in Fish Info

Bluefish belong to the Saltatrix genus of the Pomatomidae family and are the only extant species in this group. Except for the Northern Pacific Ocean, these fish are found inhabiting all the temperate and subtropical oceans of the world. They occupy most of the continental shelves along the eastern American coastline and can be found in the Gulf Stream and the Gulf of Mexico. However, they do not thrive from the Gulf of Mexico through to northern South America. They prefer to keep relatively close to shore and can be caught above the continental shelf, near rock headlands and in energetic waters near the surf. They will even enter canals, rivers and inlets into brackish water. Occasionally, they will migrate in schools through open water.

The Bluefish has a broad, forked tail and they are fairly proportioned. The first dorsal fin is spiny and is usually folded back into a groove. This is true of the pectoral fins as well. They have a greyish blue-green dorsal section that fades to white on the belly and lower sides. Their teeth are knife-edged and extremely sharp, being of similar size and housed in a single row within each jaw. These fish range greatly in size, from small individuals measuring 7ins to larger ones weighing as much as 40lbs in weight.

With a lifespan of up to nine years, Bluefish are highly migratory fish that reproduce during spring and summer. Fry are zooplanktons that move around with the currents. Adults are powerful and viciously aggressive. They are fast swimmers that congregate in small, loose groups. These fish have voracious appetites and are easily excited into a feeding frenzy - where they will continue to attack long after they have eaten their fill. Their main diet consists of schooling forage fish such as menhaden, jacks, weakfish, grunts, striped anchovies and other sardine-like fish. They will eat their own young and are notoriously cannibalistic. Bluefish can often be seen chasing schools of fish through the surf and into shallow water, where they attack and churn the water heartily. This behavior is known as a “bluefish blitz”. Throughout their life cycle, Bluefish are prey for larger predators. Juveniles are devoured by most ocean predators; including their parents, striped bass, fluke, weakfish, tuna, sharks, rays and dolphins. Mature Bluefish fall victim to sharks, tuna, seals, dolphins, porpoises, billfish and a host of others.

Caution should be taken when handling Bluefish. They have a reputation for biting hands and fingers and can inflict serious injuries. We strongly advise wearing thick gloves and avoid swimming among them when they are feeding. Of course, this notoriety makes them popular among anglers. Off the coast of Florida, we catch Bluefish during the winter months. They have usually disappeared by April and return to our warm waters during October.

Among the world’s premiere saltwater light tackle fish, Bluefish are extremely sought-after game fish. They are tasty, will leap out of the water once hooked, turn their powerful body against you while bearing down and running. Make no mistake; these small to medium-sized fish are fantastically powerful. They are aggressive and will fight you every step of the way - and then some more. Here is some information to help you catch a Bluefish in Florida:

Tackle for Bluefish

Light fishing tackle in the 8lb to 12lb range, pliers, and a wire leader hook combo to avoid your line being bitten off by their sharp teeth.

Bait for Bluefish

Live bait works best, as always. If using artificial bait then a spoon type lure will work. Otherwise we recommend live bait first and then cut bait. A feeding Bluefish is not fussy and will eat almost anything.

Techniques for Bluefish

  • Find them first. They can usually be found feeding near the shore in places where there is a jetty, pier or other structure. Any underwater structure farther offshore should also have some Bluefish hunting around.
  • After you have attached the wire leader hook combo, bait the hook with live bait. Sink the hook under the fish’s backbone and bring it through about halfway down the body.
  • Cast your line and allow the bait to sink only slightly. Reel in your line slowly while stopping to jig it before letting it sink again.
  • Release the bail on your reel and watch that it unravels smoothly through the eyelets of your rod, as it does not have the normal tension that a closed bail does. Doing this will give the Bluefish an opportunity to run easily once it bites.
  • After about ten seconds of allowing the Bluefish a good run, snap the bail shut. This should hook the fish and you should then keep solid pressure on the line. You can do this by keeping your rod tip high and reeling the line in slowly. Maintain line tension until the fish is caught.
  • If you are using a lure, then the procedure is the same. The only difference is that you must not jig. Simply cast, let the lure sink to two or three feet, reel in slowly. Repeat until you catch a fish.
  • Whether using live bait, cut bait or lures; it is always helpful to use a teaser once you have located a school of Bluefish. An irresistible chum is the perfect ingredient. These fish will quickly form a feeding frenzy and then you can catch many of them very successfully. An excited Bluefish will bite anything in its way.

Call today to book your Bluefish Fishing Charter in Florida and fight their exhilarating bad attitude.


Blue Marlin Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Wednesday, 29 May 2013. Posted in Fish Info

Makaira Nigricans, or the Atlantic Blue Marlin, are extremely migratory fish inhabiting the Atlantic Ocean. This is the most tropical of all the billfish and they frequently travel between the Caribbean Islands and Venezuela; as well as from Saint Thomas to the U.S. Virgin Islands and through to West Africa. During summer months, Blue Marlin expands northward and returns to equatorial regions during wintertime. These are pelagic fish that live in deep blue waters very far from land.

Blue Marlin will eat almost anything near the surface. An exceptionally long bill is attached to their upper jaw and it is used efficiently to knife their way through a school of fish. After stunning, injuring or killing their prey in this way, they will return to eat. These fish are the most highly-prized game fish of all because they are enormous and are known to leap and jump vigorously in their attempt to fight you. Stories abound of fishing boats being pulled across vast distances of the ocean by a Blue Marlin. We stress again that these fish are massive. The biggest recorded weight is a female of 1 800lbs, measuring 16.40ft in length. That is gigantic. Females are up to four times larger than males, who rarely exceed 350lbs in weight; whereas females usually weigh over 1 200lbs.

The top of the Blue Marlin is blue-black while the belly is silvery white in color. On either side are around fifteen rows of pale black stripes that have round dots, even thin bars. The membrane of the first dorsal fin is dark blue with no markings or dots. The other fins are usually brownish-black with an occasional hint of dark blue. The first and second anal fins are silvery white at the base. When excited, a Blue Marlin can quickly change color to a bright blue. Usually this occurs when hunting. Thick, bony and elongated scales can have one, two or three posterior points; but having one is most common. Twenty-four vertebrae can be found in both sexes. Eleven are pre-caudal while thirteen are caudal.

Two dorsal fins and two anal fins are present in the Blue Marlin. These are supported by rays, which are bony spines. Between thirty-nine and forty-three rays support the first dorsal fin from front to back, while the second dorsal fin has only six or seven rays. Their first anal fin has anywhere from thirteen to sixteen rays and the in the second anal fin six or seven are present. Both pectoral fins house between nineteen and twenty-two rays, and these fins are exceptionally long and narrow (with the ability to be drawn into the sides of the body). Shorter than the pectoral fins, the pelvic fins have a poorly developed membrane and can be retracted into ventral grooves; as can the first anal fin, the pectoral fins and caudal fins. The reason for these grooves is to create a streamlined body that reduces drag. This is necessary when you consider that a Blue Marlin can swim underwater at speeds nearing 70mph.

Blue Marlins have a long bill that is very stout. The roof of the mouth and both the jaws are covered with small, file-like teeth. A group of canals in the lateral line system can detect water motion and pressure changes. This resembles a net in juveniles, but becomes deeply embedded in the skin of adults. Blue Marlins do not have many predators besides great white sharks, shortfin mako sharks and man. These incredible fish are near the top of the ocean’s food chain. They are exceptional predators that feed on a wide range of pelagic fish. These include mackerel, tuna, and squid. Extremely large prey such as white marlin, bigeye tuna and yellowfin tuna weighing in excess of 100lbs has been devoured by the Blue Marlin.

Around the world, Blue Marlins are an iconic fish. Catching one is considered the pinnacle of any sport angler’s career. These fish are so powerful that the thrill is indescribable and they are giants of the deep. Magnificent jumps and leaps out of the water are an exhilarating sight. Anglers travel to Florida for the opportunity to catch these thrilling fish. They are rare to find and catch, but they can be caught. Here are some tips to help you catch a Blue Marlin in Florida:

Tackle for Blue Marlin

A heavy tackle outfit, fluorocarbon leaders, 80lbs test, a range of circle hooks between 6/0 and 12/0, a skirt and extremely high quality saltwater rods and reels.

Bait for Blue Marlin

Small tuna, skipjacks, ballyhoo, squid, blue runners and mackerel work beautifully for live and cut bait. A number of specifically made marlin lures ranging from small to large that are outfitted with a skirt can also be used.

Techniques for Blue Marlin

There are a variety of ways to catch these elusive fish. Often they depend on weather and sea conditions, the size of those caught in the area, the size of the fish you wish to catch and even the local tradition. We prefer to rig live bait, but natural baits and artificial lures work too. This is how it is done:

  • Artificial lure fishing works for Blue Marlin because they are attracted by the action, splash and bubble trail of a good quality lure. They are aggressive and will respond well to them if presented properly. Keep your trolling speed between seven and nine knots. This rule will allow you to search a wide area during the day, as well as be consistent with a Blue Marlin’s natural prey. Troll four or more lures behind the boat but keep them at varying distances. You can either fish from outriggers or straight from the rod tip.
  • Natural bait fishing has been used by anglers for Blue Marlin since the turn of the decade. Keep it simple and present your bait as natural as possible. If you over-rig the bait then you run the risk of components preventing the fish from swallowing it. Cut fresh bait and put a circle hook inside it. Remember to leave the point of the hook outside of the bait. Rigged ballyhoo and Spanish mackerel are the most popular for Blue Marlin in Florida. We prefer to protect cut bait with a skirt, and occasionally we combine it with a lure.
  • Live bait fishing definitely produces the best Blue Marlin fishing results. This is our method of choice for very good reason. Small tuna, such as skipjacks, work extremely well. You do need to keep an eye on your trolling speed and slow down in order to keep your bait alive. Live bait is even more successful if you can fish along the edge of steep underwater ledges. Once again, keep your bait simple. A circle hook through the mouth and a treble hook through the tail are adequate.

Call now to book your Blue Marlin Fishing Charter in Florida and uncover their mysterious secrets.


Barracuda Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Wednesday, 29 May 2013. Posted in Fish Info

Sphyraena, or Barracuda, is the only genus in the family of Sphyraenidae; and there are many Barracuda species found in tropical and subtropical oceans world-wide. These ray-finned fish are incredibly thrilling to catch because of their strength, size and fearsome appearance. In Florida, these fish are targeted by huge numbers of anglers and they are notoriously ill-tempered – which makes them more sought-after. This saltwater fish has the reputation of stealing bite sized chunks of flesh and even fingers.

Barracudas are mostly dark blue, gray or dark green along their upper bodies. Their bellies are chalky-white and their sides are silver. Some species have irregular black spots or a row of darker cross bars along their sides, so coloration varies between them. It is possible for their fins to be dusky or mildly yellow. Large swim bladders can be found in these massive fish. Some varieties grow into lengths of seven feet and measure an easy 12in in width; such as the Great Barracuda and the European Barracuda.

Small, smooth scales entirely cover extremely elongated bodies that are fairly compressed. Pike-like in appearance, Barracuda have very prominent fang-like teeth that are razor sharp. These teeth are ragged, are of different sizes and they are set into sockets within their massive jaws. Many species have a noticeable under-bite and they all have large, pointed heads. Their gills are covered with small scales and not with spines. Two widely separated dorsal fins consist of an anterior fin with five spines, and a posterior fin that has one spine and nine soft rays (which is similar in size to the anal fin and is situated above it). Extending directly from the head to the base of the tail, the lateral line is very prominent. The dorsal fin is usually retracted in a groove and can be found above the pelvic fins. The caudal fin is slightly forked and the pectoral fins sit low on each side.

Primarily inhabiting oceans, there are some species - such as the Great Barracuda - that live in brackish water. We see them throughout the State of Florida, but Miami, Islamorada and Key West are all popular places to find them. All of them are aggressive opportunistic predators. They rely on short bursts of speeds nearing 43mph to give them the element of surprise over their prey and overtake them. Barracudas are known to tear chunks of flesh from fish as big as themselves, devouring them piece by piece. Their common diet consists of fish of varying sizes and adults are usually solitary. Juveniles and youngsters prefer safety in numbers and can be found in congregations.

Some species of Barracuda are considered dangerous to humans. This is because they are scavengers and are not afraid to attack large predators or follow them for scraps. They sometimes mistake snorkelers and swimmers for this, possibly due to poor visibility. Another problem is that large Barracuda are occasionally surprised in muddy shallows, reacting aggressively as is their nature. Objects that glint or shine entice these fish to go into prey drive. This causes conflict because people love wearing jewellery. It is advised that you cover or remove such items for safety, particularly when swimming near mangrove coastlines. It is definitely not recommended to touch or hand feed these predators. They will bite the hand that feeds them without remorse. Spearfishing should also be avoided around them. Blood attracts them and they may either mistake you for prey or tear chunks off the fish thrashing on the spear.

As mentioned above, some species grow into enormous giants. The Great Barracuda is among them and can be found off the coast of Florida, ranging from North Carolina to Brazil and Bermuda. The smaller ones inhabit near-shore areas and shallow bays, but as they grow they move into offshore wrecks and reefs. These fabulous fish often look like logs in the water when they are lying near the surface. Here are some tips that will help you catch a Barracuda in Florida:

Tackle for Barracuda

A wire leader is supremely important because Barracuda have extremely sharp teeth that often bite through line cleanly. Other than that you do not need specialized gear to catch them. 20lbs to 30lbs test with a medium weight conventional saltwater outfit will work well, as will saltwater spinning gear. A longer rod around 7lbs can be used when fishing with lures. If using bait then a slightly shorter rod is effective. These fish are vicious, so ensure that whatever gear you use is of good quality.

Bait for Barracuda

A variety of plugs, jerkbaits and skirts are ideal if using artificial lures. Live bait always works best however; such as silver fish like mackerel, bonito, pompano, sardines and similar others. Barracuda are attracted by shiny objects that shimmer erratically, so try to emulate that with your baits.

Techniques for Barracuda

Barracuda are curious, territorial fish. This is great news for anglers because they will explore anything new in their area and they usually do so aggressively. If they do not bite your lure the first time though, they are unlikely to try again and you need to either try something different or move to another place. The large ones are solitary fish so it is doubtful there will be another one nearby. Here are some techniques to use when fishing for Barracuda in Florida:

  • Artificial lures are readily bitten, especially if they are moving fast and erratically. Trolling plugs or rubber skirts and casting and retrieving jerkbaits are all effective. Lures must be extremely durable though because they must be able to survive a battering by the fish’s teeth. A 5in to 7in Crystal Minnow or Rapala are shiny, which always attracts Barracuda. Cast, twitch and retrieve along the edges of reefs and wrecks for the best results. You can troll lures, but remember to twitch them regularly instead of straight trolling. Barracuda are known to bite the tail ends of bait, so try to use a lure that has hooks in the rear.
  • Live bait can be used in two ways. They can be trolled behind the boat or cast into potential spots. Barracuda attack prey by repeatedly biting pieces off and coming back for more. If they bite off the tail, do not pull the bait away because they are likely to return. You can rig the bait with a hook through the nose and treble hook in the tail to prevent your bait being decimated. Keep your hooks small though because these fish have fantastic eyesight.

Call today to book your Barracuda Fishing Charter in Florida and meet these fearsome creatures.


Yellowfin Tuna Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Tuesday, 23 April 2013. Posted in Fish Info

Yellowfin Tuna is found in tropical and subtropical oceans around the world and they are members of the Albacares genus of the Thunnus family, and are otherwise known as “ahi”. Yellowfin tuna is particularly prevalent in the western Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern Pacific Ocean. Among the larger tuna species, reaching weights of over 400lbs, Yellowfin Tuna are noticeably smaller than both the Atlantic and Pacific Bluefin Tuna and they are slightly smaller than the Southern Bluefin Tuna and the Bigeye Tuna.

A very dark metallic blue fades to silver on the belly, which has around twenty vertical lines. The second dorsal fin, the anal fin and the various finlets between them and the tail are all a bright yellow. In mature adults, the second dorsal fin and anal fin resemble scythes because they are long and reach almost as far back as the tail. The pectoral fins are longer than those found in the Bluefin Tuna, yet not as long as those of the Albacore Tuna. Yellowfin Tuna are simply gigantic and the biggest recorded fish ever caught weighed an astonishing 427lbs.

Yellowfin Tuna are found offshore, usually swimming between the surface and 330ft of water depth. This keeps them above the thermocline but they are capable of diving deeper, and do infrequently. A tagged individual in the Indian Ocean dove to a depth of 3 810ft, which is considerable. When conditions are suitable, Yellowfin Tuna may approach shore. Many mid-ocean islands such as those in the Caribbean often have concentrations of these fish feeding near the shoreline. When food is abundant and water temperature and clarity are ideal, they may venture inshore of the continental shelf. Known to traverse vast distances during their lifetime, Yellowfin Tuna have no problem crossing oceans.

Similarly sized individuals often travel together in schools, and they even school with other tuna species. Mixed schools of small Yellowfin Tuna and Skipjack Tuna are common. These awesome fish frequently associate themselves with certain species of dolphins, as well as larger marine animals such as whales and whale sharks. They also love drifting debris such as logs and pallets and they can even be found following moving vessels.

Aerodynamic bodies make Yellowfin Tuna incredibly fast underwater, reaching speeds nearing 50mph. Their prey includes other fish such as mackerel, flying fish, anchovies, sardines, lanternfish and smaller tuna such as skipjacks. They will also eat crustaceans and squid with heartiness. Other hunters will prey on young Yellowfin Tuna such as larger tuna, wahoo, shark, billfish and even seabirds. Once fully grown, they are threatened only by the largest and fasters predators in the oceans such as toothed whales, shortfin mako sharks, great white sharks and marlin. Warm-blooded, Yellowfin Tuna are fortunately able to escape most predators. Their warm muscles are an incredible advantage for their phenomenal speed.

Sports fishing enthusiasts consider Yellowfin Tuna among the most prized fish to catch. They are possibly the most frequently caught offshore game fish on earth. There are several reasons to explain their astounding popularity. These fish are often caught weighing anywhere from 100lbs to 300lbs and they are phenomenal fighters. Super fast fish, an angler with a tuna on their line is guaranteed an adrenalin-filled challenge. They catch their prey at alarming speed, and your bait is no exception. Yellowfin Tuna are also undeniably among the tastiest fish in existence, enjoyed in a variety of ways. Lightly seared or in sushi, they are eaten by millions around the world. Here is some information to remember when Yellowfin Tuna fishing in Florida:

Tackle for Yellowfin Tuna

It is a long and challenging process getting your catch into the boat, regardless of what tackle you use. Yellowfin Tuna will turn sideways and swim in large circles when they get near your boat. Scale your tackle to the size of the fish you are targeting. If you are after those in the 15lbs range then light tackle is extremely fun. The larger ones will require heavy tackle and at least 100lbs of braided line. Their eyesight is great, so a fluorocarbon leader will reduce visibility and be more resistant to abrasion. An Accurate Platinum ATD 50 or similar quality is recommended.

Bait for Yellowfin Tuna

Lures, frozen bait and live bait can be used to catch Yellowfin Tuna in Florida. If using lures, then cedar plugs, plastic skirted trolling lures, poppers and tuna feathers are ideal. For live and frozen bait, ballyhoo, skipjacks, mackerel, anchovies, squid and sardines work exceptionally well.

Techniques for Yellowfin Tuna

These fantastic predatory fish frequently feed near the surface, which means that topwater trolling techniques produce the best results. Here are some tips you can employ to catch a Yellowfin Tuna in Florida:

  • Lures can be used effectively. Replacing treble hooks with single or double hooks is a good idea. These fish are less likely to bend or shake them if you do. When you find a school of feeding fish, cast lures into them. Poppers are particularly thrilling to use. Chugger type lures can be retrieved in a pop-pop-pause rhythm. If you skip ranger type lures over the surface during a steady retrieve, you have a good chance of success. A good chum can work to entice any schools in the area.
  • Live bait can be used in a variety of ways. Kite fishing is particularly productive for very large individuals. The kite is flown behind the bite after live bait is attached to a long line that is temporarily suspended from the kite. This line must be rigged to break free from the kite when your Yellowfin Tuna takes the bait, or you will have trouble reeling it in. The flying kite keeps the bait near the surface of the water, making it appear as if the fish is panicking. The sound and sight of your bait fish splashing on the surface usually works when nothing else is. By rigging a three-way swivel and fishing two at once, tuna will get extremely excited. For true giants, slow trolling live skipjacks is the best method to use. Ensure you have tuna tubes on your boat to keep the skipjack alive. If you do not wish to use live bait or if it is unavailable, then “chunking” is a good option. Large chunks of big bait fish can be cut and thrown overboard. Hide a circle hook in one of these chunks and allow it to drift down naturally with the rest of them. A lot of line will need to be let out so that the chunk will drift without any drag. When your Yellowfin Tuna takes it you will feel, hear and know it immediately.

Call today to book your Tuna Fishing Charter in Florida and battle these strong fish.

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