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Have fun catching fish in hot weather.

On: Wed, Aug 6, 2008 at 10:22AM | By: Captain Van Hubbard


We do have hot weather this time of the year but you can enjoy some hot fishing with out heat stroke. Early mornings are the most predictable cooler times. AM is usually safer because of evening thunderstorms. Overcast days are also productive opportunities. Rainy days are usually our most fruitful catching. So the trick is to work with whatever Mother Nature offers rather than plan to go on hot days. Night time fishing is great if you are familiar with the waters you are fishing. Things are different at night. Pier fishing is great and the Skyway piers are a perfect spot to learn and enjoy fishing. Boating and wade fishing require that you know the areas you are fishing. Safety is literally life and death. If you are not sure of your self just take your time and develop your skills.

Night fishing around the lights is great but there are only so many lights to fish and lots of anglers wanting to be there. You can work other areas but it requires a keen awareness. You can really learn much faster in the dark because your senses are much sharper. Just use your head and exercise caution. Many of us are so tuned into live baits that we ignore artificial lures. You can catch plenty of fish on lures; they do require some time and effort to develop the techniques that produce strikes. Most of us over work lures. Just use minimum rod action to mimic wounded baitfish. Experiment with your choice of lure by observing its action while it’s close. Just let out a yard or so of line and play with the lure. Don’t laugh before you try this; it really helps you see/visualize what your presentation looks like to fish. Crippled baitfish hope inches not yards! Soft plastics are easy and safer for you and fish. Hard plastics are great fish produces but you need to be careful of those treble hooks. They can hook you as easy as a fish. Color can make a difference but there are plenty of basics like; red and white, or chartreuse, etc… Take some time and visit local tackle shops and develop a relationship with the staff at your favorite. They talk to fisherman every day, all day, and know what’s hot and where the fish are biting.

Experienced local guides are you very best value to learn about fish, boats and fishing. They are experts or would not stay in business. If you think they are expensive just buy a boat and learn how to spend money. Our best customers know how much time, energy and money they save fishing with us. Just price a rental rig and factor in the extra expenses you are responsible for like; fuel, oil, bait, gear, license, and any damage you may cause. Then add our experience and local knowledge, good guides are a bargain. Most of us guide so we can stay on the water not for the money, it just pays the bills. You would be surprised at how little we end up with after all the bills are paid; especially now with $4 gas.


Catch More! Hire a Guide or Charter Boat

On: Wed, Jul 30, 2008 at 10:57AM | By: Florida Marine Times


Planning your family vacation for next year? Mark a day on the calendar to go fishing and boating. Fishing can be fun for the whole family. If you're planning — or just dreaming of — a fishing trip, here’s a tip that may make your adventure even more successful. Hiring a fishing guide or charter boat is one of the best ways to help ensure that your family will have a great day on the water. These professionals can help you find and catch the fish. To help you line up a charter boat or fishing guide, takemefishing.org offers several helpful tips: Do your research. Start with an online search. Takemefishing.org has a helpful search tool for finding guides and charters by locality. Set a budget. Depending on where you're going fishing and for how long, prices will vary. Generally, fishing guides take out two to three people and prices can range from $150 to $500 per day. Fishing charters let you rent the boat and crew for the day at prices ranging from $500 to $1200 per day, for up to six people (sometimes more) at a time. “Headboats” take out 20 to 60 people at a time and charge $30 to $75 per person. Don’t forget about tipping. The mate and crew of a fishing charter depend on tips. A standard tip is 10 to 20 percent of the fee, depending on the quality of the service. Captains usually own the boat and tipping is not expected, but is appreciated for exceptional service. Ask questions before you book. Once you’ve identified a guide or charter, ask:

  •  Have they worked with kids?
  • Will they clean the catch? Is there an extra fee?
  • In the event of bad weather, is the deposit refundable? 
  • Is a fishing license required?
  • Is there a bathroom ("head") on board? 
  • Is the boat in compliance with Coast Guard and state safety regulations? Be sure to let them know the kind of fishing you're interested in. For example, do you want to catch a lot of fish or go for size over quantity? The more they know about what you're looking for, the better your experience will be. Bring the essentials. Most charter boats and guides will provide everything you need to enjoy a day out on the water — equipment, ice, bait and tackle. But there are a few things you’ll want to be sure to bring: 
  • Camera 
  • Sunscreen 
  • Sunglasses and hat 
  • Weather-appropriate clothing 
  • Lunch or snacks 
  • A cooler (if you’re planning to take your catch home) Positive attitude Hiring a fishing guide or charter boat can get you to where the fish are biting.

    Your family and friends can have the best experience possible while increasing the likelihood that they'll want to go fishing with you again. For more fishing and boating tips, visit takemefishing.org.

Switch up Baits - Fishing report with Captain Tips

On: Wed, Jul 30, 2008 at 10:29AM | By: Captain Terry Frankford


Fishing Report 07/29/2008 – Capt. Terry Frankford Among the species caught aboard the Reelin & Chillin trout, redfish, mangrove snapper, and spanish mackerel topped the list. Many additional species have been caught such as lizard fish, juvenile goliath grouper, needle fish and ladyfish to name a few species interesting to visitor's and the kids.

Enjoy a few fish tails aboard the Reelin & Chillin: Russ and Susie Bolton headed out for a late afternoon trip - four to eight pm. We beat the heat and after a little work found some great action. The last spot I went was near a pass with good moving tidle waters flowing over a large grass flat. We fished the edge of the grass flat where it met with a drop off into a deeper area of sand with a little grass. I believe what happen was the current swept unwary bait such as shrimp and small crabs into this deeper area. There was also small white bait at the edge of the drop off. Starting with shrimp we picked up a few small species, not much to write home about. Russ then used a small pinfish, about the size of a half dollar. To make a long story short on these pinfish we put one nice trout, two nice redfish, and five mangrove snapper to fifteen inches in the box. All this action was in the last forty-five minutes of the trip. We did run out of the couple dozen pins - went back to shrimp, and ended up catching smaller fish again. I have caught plenty of good fish using shrimp, however pins beat them out this trip for sure - not a bad idea to change up on baits every now and then. It may not have been the backwater flats vision that many angler's want when fishing Florida, however a seawall with old torn down docks, vacant lots, and hotels in the distance did produce some great action. Dan Giordano with sons Chris, and Mikey flipped shrimp around the structure and had a blast. Several species were caught, but the big fish stories were Dan's cuda that was close to twenty-four inches - what a battle on ten pound test line near structure using a mono leader - can't believe he landed it. The second and most exciting was a nine pound black drum. This fish took Dan back into the piles twice before it reached the landing net. I really thought a couple times he just wasn't going to stop it, however he persisted, and won. 


Recreational Boating Guide - Top Reasons to Rent or Buy A Boat

On: Tue, Jul 29, 2008 at 1:35PM | By: Florida Marine Times


With so many opportunities for boating fun available today, there’s no reason why anyone can’t take advantage of the benefits that recreational boating has to offer. Read our personal list of Top Reasons for Boating below: • Boating Improves Quality of Life It’s a proven fact that recreational boating goes a long ways towards improving your quality of life. The minute you start to move forward on a boat, you’ll notice how easy it is to leave your troubles behind. Recreational boating fun provides a constructive outlet for entertainment that reduces stress and provides enriching opportunities for self discovery, whether it’s learning how to water ski or simply enjoying the warm glow of an evening sunset. • Boating is an Affordable Recreation Alternative Are you under the impression that recreational boating is too expensive for your current budget? Think again. Many boats can be financed for under $200 a month. Dedicated boating lenders will work with you to help you save money and get you the best financing package available. For help determining if you can afford to buy a boat, including boat loan basics, an NMBA Member Directory, a boat loan calculator, and more, please visit our section on Buying a Boat. • Water Access is Closer than you Think Did you know that about ninety percent of Americans live less than an hour from a navigable body of water? This means that water access is a lot closer and more convenient than you might think. To find a recreation boating marinas near you, please visit our boat marinas and ramps page.

  • Boating Fun Helps you Bond with Friends and Family Forty percent of all households, in a 2005 study by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, listed relaxing with family and friends as their favorite boating activity (followed by fishing, cruising, and waterskiing). In other words, to many people the best part about boating doesn’t revolve around the latest waterskiing tricks or the number of fish caught- the best part of boating is simply the opportunities it provides for boating fun with friends and family. Recreational boating is quality time spent away from the television set and the video games, creating an atmosphere that brings people together and creates fond memories to last a lifetime.
  • Boating Helps Reduce Stress We can’t stress the statistics enough - numerous studies have shown that a little bit of boating fun each day can go a long way towards reducing stress. In fact, a 2005 National Marina Manufacturers Association survey of over 1,000 American households listed boating in the top-three of all stress-relieving activities.
  • Boating is Convenient As we pointed out above, since over ninety percent of Americans live less than an hour's drive from an accessible body of water, you can be enjoying the fresh air and water in no time. n fact, the convenience of boating makes it possible to hop on your boat for a mini-vacation whenever you feel like it, as an alternative to other family recreation activities which can quickly add up to become even more expensive and time-consuming.

 

BASIC BOAT CARE AND MAINTENANCE

On: Tue, Jul 29, 2008 at 1:21PM | By: Florida Marine Times


Taking care of your boat – regardless of the type and material – is important to maintaining the value of your boat and keeping it safe and hassle-free. The folks from takemefishing.org have compiled the following tips for keeping your boat in perfect condition: DAILY · If you don’t use protective anti-fouling paint (to repel barnacles in salt water), make sure that you remove your boat from the water every few days. This will prevent build up of algae and barnacles. Scrub and wash the boat while it is wet and before putting it back in the water.

  • If you use your boat in salt water, give it a freshwater rinse after each day of fishing. Use plenty of soap and water and rinse thoroughly. · If using an electric motor, charge the battery immediately upon returning from your fishing trip. If you use a battery to start your main engine, check the battery frequently and charge as required. REGULARLY (WEEKLY/MONTHLY) · When cleaning your boat, check for any loose fittings, cracks, loose rivets or other parts that need care, special attention or replacement. Fix these immediately, or get the boat to a qualified marina for a detailed check up.
  • If you don’t like to spend time washing your boat, remove all fishing tackle, seat cushions, electronics and other accessories, then run the boat through a high-pressure car wash or one of the do-it-yourself washing bays. Because of the fittings on boat trailers and some boats, avoid using brush-style car washes.
  • Use special metal cleaners and scrubbers to maintain easily-corroded chrome, aluminum or stainless steel fittings. This is especially important around salt water.
  • When washing your boat, consider using bio-degradable detergents and soaps which are less harmful to the environment. ANNUALLY
  • If you have a wood boat, check it carefully each spring or fall for possible damage or rot. Be particularly vigilant in corners, under decks that might stay moist, along the waterline, and the back of the boat (transom). If you can remove your boat from the water, place it on blocks or turn it over for wintering.
  • Scrub all boats at least once a year, more often if used in salt water. You can use a regular brush for aluminum boats, but check with your marina or boat supply retailer for special gentle soaps and tools for scrubbing gelcoat or fiberglass without damage.
  • Use special fiberglass boat polish to maintain the finish of your fiberglass boat and preserve its value.
  • Aluminum boats require little care, but many are assembled with rivets. Make sure that you check all rivets to prevent leaks. With the boat in water, use a permanent felt tip marker or chalk to mark those rivets or areas that leak. Boat shops can fix this or you can drill out and re-rivet (use only boat rivets) or seal by hammering on one side while a friend holds a steel stop on the other side of the rivet. STORAGE SUGGESTIONS
  • Fiberglass boats will “chalk” in time if left in the sun. If possible, store them in a garage, car port or cover them with a breathable tarp.
  • When storing your boat, open all hatches to vent the boat and prevent moisture which can cause rot, rust or corrosion. Pull the plug to drain water. To make sure that you replace the plug before using the boat, attach it to the boat key ring, or someplace where you can’t miss it.
  • Do not store boats under trees. Falling leaves will stain a boat (particularly fiberglass). Tree sap and bird droppings are also tough to remove.

Launch Ramp Etiquette

On: Tue, Jul 29, 2008 at 11:15AM | By: Florida Marine Times


Some Quick Tips To Make Your Boat Launching Experience More Enjoyable For Everyone

Some of the best summer entertainment you'll ever encounter can be found on a Saturday morning at your local boat launch. This is where you'll see the experienced and inexperi-enced, the timid and bold, the best and the worst of everything trailerable boating has to offer. If you're new to trailerable boating, do yourself a favor and practice boat launching and retrieving ahead of time. Take your wife or your fishing buddy down to the local launch ramp one weeknight evening when no one's around and practice the entire procedure until you're confident that you have it right. Watch others and make mental notes of their mistakes, and don't be afraid to ask advice when you think you need it. Most of all, however, arrive at the ramp ready to launch without the kind of mindless delays that drive the other guy nuts.

There's usually a waiting line at the launch ramp on a sunny weekend morning, and everyone is eager to get out on the water. The ability to get your boat launched quickly and effi-ciently is the mark of an experienced boater. Pre-Launch checks Good launch etiquette requires doing pre-launch duties in an area where you won't block other boats from being launched or retrieved. When you arrive at the pre-launch area, go through a quick checklist that includes making sure the battery is charged, the trailer wiring is disconnected, and the tie-down straps are removed. If you have an inboard gas engine, run the engine compartment blower for a few minutes to clear the bilge of poten-tially explosive gas fumes. Have dock lines and fenders ready and the drain plug in place. Make certain you have all your per-sonal gear—life jackets, food, cooler, etc.—loaded, stowed, and ready to go. Loosen, but don't remove, the bow strap giving it a foot or so of slack. And don't for-get to take the dog for a walk and remind kids to make any necessary potty stops.

At the ramp For many boaters, backing the trailer down the launch ramp is the most stressful part of the day. Before getting out to see how you're doing, apply the emergency brake and put the vehicle in park. (Setting the emergency brake first is easier on the transmission.) Back the boat far enough into the water to start the engine, but not so far that it floats off the trailer. Lower the motor or out-drive and allow the engine to warm up. Finally, discon-nect the winch hook from the bow eye and back the trailer far enough into the water to float the boat and drive it off the trailer. Launch and leave Once you're launched and in the water, move the boat off to another dock or loading area away from the launch site. You will make no friends by leisurely hang-ing around the courtesy dock while others are trying to launch their boats around you. Retrieving your boat When it's time to come in, don't pull right up to the ramp's loading dock oblivious to other craft idling near-by awaiting their turn.

When it's your turn to come in, drop someone off to get the trailer and promptly maneuver the boat into position when the trailer is ready to retrieve it. Nudge the boat's bow into the center of the trailer before winching or powering it onto the trailer. Clear the ramp area as soon as the bow is resting on the bow stop, the winch hook is secured, and the engine or outdrive is raised. Don't forget to secure the boat before you pull away from the ramp! Do not linger on the ramp talking with others, unloading coolers, taking pictures, or securing your rig for the road. Clear the ramp quick-ly and your courtesy will be appreciated by the next guy. Hitting the Road Before leaving the launch area, check to ensure that the trailer wiring is connected and the brake lights and turn signals are working. Lower your VHF antenna, and be sure the trailer jack is raised and locked and the drain plug is removed. Check once more to be sure the hull is snug with the bow stop and secured with the tie-downs.


ON-THE-WATER BOAT TROUBLES? SAAVY BOATERS KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TOWING AND SALVAGE

On: Tue, Jul 29, 2008 at 11:12AM | By: BoatUS


On-the-water breakdowns, running aground or other mishaps can ruin a day of boating or fishing fun. But when the towboat arrives on the scene, do you know if the service is a "tow" or a "salvage" job? If you're ever in doubt, the safest bet is to ask the towboat crew. That's because there could be a big difference in the cost of each service, and it also determines who pays the bill, says Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatU.S.). While there is sometimes a fine line between the towing and salvage, there are a few clear indicators that point to each. "Salvage requires the existence of 'peril' to the distressed vessel or persons aboard, or peril to the rescue boat and its crew, or the marine environment," said Vice President of BoatU.S. Towing Services Jerry Cardarelli. Historically and legally, salvage is any voluntary and successful rescue of a boat, its cargo, and/or passengers from peril at sea.

Today that definition includes the successful avoidance of damage to a legally protected marine environment. Vessels hard aground, on rocks, taking on water or sunk are salvage, as are collisions, fires, breakaways or other types of immediate danger. Salvage also comes into play when specialized equipment such as pumps, air bags, or divers are called for - even if the boat is at the dock. All TowBoatU.S. and Vessel Assist companies are committed to informing the owner of a boat - before beginning any work - if the procedure will be declared salvage. If the owner is not on board or the conditions are so perilous and the rescue of the boat requires immediate action, they'll be notified as soon as possible after saving the boat. "On the other hand, when there is very little or no peril or damage to the vessel - you have a towing situation," said Cardarelli. "A typical example is when you run out of gas or have a dead battery, and have subsequently dropped anchor to await for assistance. Waters are calm, you're no threat to navigation, your crew and boat are fine and there's no peril to those on the response boat." Of all of the thousands of requests for assistance made each year by boaters to BoatU.S. 24-hour Dispatch Centers, 98% are for routine towing services.

When it comes to soft ungroundings, BoatU.S. members enjoy a special agreement with the TowBoatU.S. and Vessel Assist on-the-water towing fleets which ensures that if there is little peril and no damage to the BoatU.S. member's disabled boat, and only one towboat is needed to remove the softly grounded vessel from a shoal, it's a simple towing job. Other commercial towing companies may or may not honor this agreement. The Costs Nationwide, towing and soft ungrounding costs average about $600 and $800 respectively. These are either paid by an annual towing service plan or out-of-pocket by the boater. Salvage cases are usually covered by insurance - or out-of-pocket if self-insured - and are much more expensive than a tow.


Boating Myths

On: Fri, Jul 18, 2008 at 4:52PM | By: Florida Marine Times


Everyone knows that boating is fun, but some people who are interested in taking it up, hold back because of myths that they’ve heard about boating. In fact, boating is easy, flexible and affordable, so I’m going to discuss a few of those myths and separate fact from fiction.

MYTH: Boating is expensive. It’s not. In fact, it probably costs less to buy and operate a boat than you think. Following are a few examples: o$10,000 to $18,000 is the average price for a 17 to 19-foot outboard-powered family runabout o$6,000 to $9,500 for the average aluminum fishing boat with outboard motor or cottage sailboat Most boats with a selling price above $5,000 can be financed. Many banks, financial institutions and credit unions provide financing for boats. Local boat retailers also provide customized boat loan programs through arrangements with boat manufacturers or local banks. Finally, check boating magazines for financiers’ advertisements. Interest rates have continued to be affordable.

MYTH: Boating takes up time I can’t afford. It’s true like never before - everyone is so... busy. But boating is totally flexible - your family can use a boat as much or as little as you wish. Your boat is ready to go whenever you are. That means you can mesh your boating fun with your busy schedule. Try that with a ball game, soccer league or tee-off time at a golf club. Spending time with your family on a boat really is quality time. Activities on the water can include fishing, water-skiing, tubing, and much more. Sharing the fun with friends makes it even better!

MYTH: There’s too much involved in maintaining a boat. If you have a modern boat, there is very little maintenance required. All it takes is filling it up with gas - just as you do with a car - and some preventative maintenance your dealer will do at a minimal cost. Before a boat is stored for the winter it requires an oil change and cleaning - that’s it! Boating is a great activity, particularly for the family.

MYTH: Kids think boating is boring. Boating is anything but boring. With boating you can take part in a whole list of exciting activities, including water-skiing, fishing, island hopping, lakeside picnicking, swimming, and tubing. Exploring Canada’s beautiful waterways and geography is perfect by boat. Besides, it’s a great way to spend quality time with the members of your family. Take your family and friends out for an adventure they’ll remember.

MYTH: Towing and hauling a boat is a hassle. If you have a trailer for your boat, you simply have to back the trailer into the water and let the boat float right in! It’s as easy as that. If you don’t have one, your dealer will fit a proper boat trailer to your boat. You can pull most boats and trailers with an ordinary family vehicle.

MYTH: Boat rentals are expensive. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Rentals are very reasonable. On top of this, many launch ramps run by local municipalities are free, and there are certainly many to choose from. And once you’re out on the water, the sun, fresh air and smiles are free.

MYTH: Driving a boat is complicated. If you know how to drive a car, driving a boat is just as simple. You steer a boat in the direction you wish to go, with an automotive-style wheel. Rather than a gas pedal to determine the speed at which you ride, a boat’s speed is controlled by a easy-to-operate lever control. Just like driving on the road, safe boat operation requires you to be alert, careful and responsible, and to learn certain rules (see the Safety section of DiscoverBoating.com)


Fishing for spots

On: Fri, Jul 18, 2008 at 4:21PM | By: Merry Beth Ryan


I am not talking about spots as in locations to fish. The spots I am referring to are trout and redfish. This time of the year there is some very good fishing for both of these spotted fish. Both species are open to harvest with restrictions. Before keeping any fish make sure you understand the individual restrictions that are set on each fish. Trout have to be a minimum of 15 inches and no more than 20 inches, keeping four per person per day with only 1 fish over 20 inches. Redfish have to be a minimum of 18 inches to a maximum of 27 inches with a daily bag limit of one per day. Both trout and redfish are very good eating as well. The boat traffic this month may even be less than usual with it being winter which brings cooler weather as well as cooler water temps. Look for trout in areas that have a good tide flow. The darker the bottom the warmer the water. Darker bottom areas collect heat where sandy bottoms will reflect the heat. If you spot pinfish shining below that would be a good place to start targeting trout.

The cool water temps keep the fish concentrated in one particular area a lot of the time. The cooler water temperature push the pinfish off the flats. With the water temperatures cooler this time of the year allow the sun to warm the water up before heading out to target trout and redfish . Most fish are somewhat lethargic when the water is cooler. Trout fishing can be great fun to catch. Once you locate the trout there usually is great action which is a must when fishing with children. Be very careful when releasing trout. They are not as hearty as a red or a snook. Use a hook extractor, you will be extending the life of each and every fish you release by using this simple device. Trout have very soft mouths and pulling too hard when a trout strikes your bait will result in a thrown hook. There is no need to set the hook with the same authority as anglers do with tarpon or snook. Simply reel the line tight and gently guide the fish back to the boat. Both artificials as well as live baits work well when targeting specks as well as redfish. Usually where there are mullet there will be redfish.

The reds will feed on the critters the mullet disturb as they move across the flats in their schools. A lot of times reds will frequent areas where there is structure. Structures hold crabs , shrimp and baitfish. Mangrove roots, piers , docks, and bridges are all good areas to look for ” Mr. Redfish”. On low tides redfish will stage in deeper area waiting for the tide to push in. As it does they will move up to the flats, spread out and feed. Finding fish in these staged areas before they can move will provide you with some hot action before they all scatter out. Redfish are faily tolerable to lower water temperatures but it still takes them a while to move and turn on into feeding mode. This time of the year you can encounter redfish feeding in water that is just out of tailing depth. Redfish will be seen grubbing on the bottom just below the surface. Some are literally standing on their heads feeding. Redfish are in the drum family of fish they are bottom dwellers. They are not striking fish , they do not have the ability to look at what they are eating a lot of the times.


Since we have cooler weather let’s make the most of our winter fishing

On: Fri, Jul 18, 2008 at 4:13PM | By: Captain Van Hubbard


Weather patterns control most of our fishing this time of the year. We have enjoyed unusually warm conditions up till now, but current indications suggest a return to seasonal temps. This is actually good news if you adapt and know how to take advantage of the cooler temps. Cooler temps concentrate fish and push pinfish off the flats. It’s a time that everything slows down as the water cools. You can usually discover a safe sheltered spot inshore even on windy days without risking your safety to go fishing. Watch the forecast and put together a safe game plan for your next fishing excursion. It’s dead of winter most places in the good ole US of A and we are so spoiled down here by the warmth we are blessed with. Many anglers choose to stay off the water because of the wind and colder air temps. This is just one more benefit for those of us that are flexible and can adapt to current conditions. We still have plenty of fish and they still have to eat. With cooler waters our fish are not as aggressive so we need to take our time locating and presenting our offerings to lethargic fish.

I encourage clients to reel lures as slow as they can and then cut that in half. Cold fish are not going to chase anything and an energetic lure is totally not natural in cold water. Even live baits require much more patience now. We had whitebait around frequently so far but it will not be as effective now as it was in warmer water. On very cold days we even do better with dead baits than live ones. Freshly dead minnows and shrimp emit more scent dead than alive. Just let your chunk rest still on the bottom in fishy areas until the scent calls in your fish. Small pieces can be used as chum to attract passing fish. Cold weather concentrates fish in several ways. Fish are cold blooded and go deeper to avoid sudden temperature drops. It simply takes longer for the cold to penetrate and cool deeper waters. Look for waters protected from cold north winds. Large buildings offer additional protection from harsh north winds. Darker bottoms collect heat and bright sand reflects.

Use temperature gauges now and look frequently to key in on slightly warmer areas. Hot water runoffs are sure things on cold days. Many fronts arrive on big moons, both full and new, also strong northeast winds after fronts pass blow water out of both Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor causing even lower tides. Use these times to learn area bottom contours for future trips and note that fish have less spots to hide in. Note the flow of waters and fish on flood and ebb tides in these flats areas. If you are close to a pass you can see exactly how flats water and gulf water intermingle along edges by observing the distantly different colors present. Knowledge like this can help you locate eddies and holes that hold fish. Fish and water flows will follow these paths and patterns every day; valuable useful info on future trips. So now you can see that cold fronts can be a great opportunity to learn and you could stumble into the “mother lode” of holed up fish. Sheepshead are available and abundant now. I know they are difficult to clean but they have a liberal bag limit and taste great. We just have to work for something this good.