Friday, April 10, 2009

90 Year Old Woman Wants Free Fishing

I recently read a post on the field and stream website that was a rather neat and enjoyable story. It was about 90 year old Irene Long and her move to make fishing free for people 90 years or older. Irene took her case to the Minnesota Senate Committee and proposed the idea of letting people over 90 fish without a license. The YouTube video of Irene Long appealing to the court is funny to watch. The poor lady sits there and just tells them a bunch of her personal fishing stories, not much of a case, but interesting none the less.

If the fact that she is 90 and fishing isn't enough for you, the story only gets better. Irene and 5 of her other elder female friends go fishing with the mailman from their apartment complex. He takes them out fishing and they repay him with homemade fudge. Although, it sounds like a joke, Irene has caught a number of large fish on these trips and she has the pictures to prove it (she shows all these pictures to the Senate Committee).

Last year in Minnesota there were 967 people over 90 who bought fishing licenses. If Irene gets her way that would have the state losing out on $16000 of fishing licenses. In the state of Florida, having a fresh and saltwater license for the year will cost you $25.50. That means if you start buying fishing licenses at the age of 20 and fish tell you are 90 that will put your total amount of money spent on just fishing licenses at a whopping $1785!

So I ask you the question: Should grandmas fish for free?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Shrimping Conclusion

If you were able to read my last post you will understand my Title: Shrimping Conclusion. If not here is a small summary of my last post: Last week my father posed the idea of hitting up the waters of Tampa Bay to go shrimping on Saturday night. We have never been shrimping before and even worse we really have no idea of how to do it. I was not happy about the trip because I figured it to be a waste of a night, and more than likely turn almost comical due to the hilarious attempts of us to catch shrimp. This post, as promised, tells you how the "adventure" went.

With Saturday evening approaching I was still not too excited about our shrimping adventure that was about to happen. We loaded the truck with all of our "equipment" which ranged from bug killer to spot lights that were so powerful they could be seen from the moon. Upon heading down to our place on the Bay, we couldn't help but notice the strong wind that was blowing us all over the road. We were hoping that maybe by nightfall the wind would lay down, and leave us with a beautiful evening to go shrimping.

Upon arriving to our place the gusts of wind had only intensified, and they continued to increase the rest of the night. It didn't take too much thought to realize that tonight was not going to be the night to hit the water in search of shrimp. It's always important when going out on the water to look at the weather report, but if you don't get a chance just use good judgement. The water is not going anywhere, so if you don't feel safe going out, don't go! Push your plans back for another weekend so you can be sure to have fun and be safe!

Although we did not get to go shrimping we still managed to have a good night. We fired up the grill and I headed down to Publix and bought 2 lbs. of frozen shrimp, and in a way we still went shrimping that night. Just not exactly the way we had planned.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

You Can Call Me A Rookie....

When it comes to being on the water I like to think of myself as a jack of all trades. Although I have no expertise in one paticular field of water activites, I have gotten my feet wet in almost all of them. I like to think that saltwater fishing is my most knowledgable water sport, closely followed by freshwater fishing. Along with fishing I am an occasional skier and an avid knee boarder. These are the more traditional activites that come to mind when you think of things to do on the water. My list of activities does not stop there. I am also a certified diver and love to go both spear fishing and lobstering with diving tanks. Take those tanks off and I enjoy scalloping in shallow water with a snorkel. I guess you can say I have done it all, that was what I thought too, but not so fast.

Last week while enjoying a fishing filled spring break, my father came to me with an idea that i had never heard before: to go shrimping. Supposedly, this time of year the waters of Tampa Bay become infested with shrimp, and apparantly they are rather easy to catch. The reason for the bolding of words is to express to you the feelings I felt when my father told me his wonderful idea of going shrimping. He made it sounds as easy as going through the drive through and ordering a whopper. You would have to know my father to know that he sets big goals and makes them sound extremely attainable, but the truth is they never turn out right.

So here is his "master" plan: We are going to head out on the boat around 7 p.m. Saturday night, head over to some grassy spot in Tampa Bay he said seems like a good place for shrimp to hide, wait tell the sun goes down, and begin shrimping. According to my father shrimp are nocturnal and for optimal success we must be out there at night. I guess this is his reasoning for buying 4 huge spotlights for our shrimping adventures. When looked at from above I am sure that our boat will be so bright it will look like the moon fell into the ocean. So with these lights we are going to shine them into the grass, hopefully see shrimp and dip them up with our nets.

Now do you see where the skepticism is coming from? Let's just say I do not have much confidence in this trip, but I'm going for it anyways. I'm sure there will be a follow up post on Sunday with a comical story describing our adventure. If this post made you hungry for some shrimp, because it made me hungry, here is a link to some good shrimp recipes. So now that you have heard my soon to be a comical adventure, do you have any crazy family adventures of your own?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A New Piece of Equipment

This past week I have find myself living the day dream I have been dozing off to for the past few months. No work, no school, spring break is here! I headed out to our river house last Thursday and have been enjoying every day of my spring break down here on the water. The first day I took the boat out I noticed I had a rather large problem: my lowrance fish finder was not functioning right. Although these little "box looking" things on the console of a boat might not look like a big deal, they can save a trip if you know how to use one.

With a Lowrance fish finder not operating I had no choice, but to head in and call the fishing trip a day. I fiddled around with the fuses, hoping that it was only a blown fuse that had caused the problem. The proved to be no help, as did checking the charge of the battery. Everything was fine and dandy,except for the Lowrance itself. Our boat is a 2007 model and it is rather frustrating to have techinical problems like this, but as my grandfather says: "boats are nothing more than a pit in the water that you toss money into".

We headed down to T.A. Mahoneys, the best fishing store in the county, and began to look at new fishfinders. We wound up getting the new HummingBird 788CI Combo fishfinder to install on our boat. It is best to purchase your equipment from a place like T.A.'s because they will also install it for you free of charge.

After hearing my story of the new fishfinder, you might wonder what is the importance of a fishfinder, why don't you just use your eyes to find the fish. In boating today, the term "fish finder" means so much more than just finding the fish. Fishfinders today not only tell you were fish are, but also let you know water depth so you don't run aground, give you a map of the coast that you are on, and most importantly give you your gps positions.

The Tampa Bay waters are filled with many sandbars and low spots, so having a fish finder that give you the depth is a must when boating in Tampa Bay. Along with knowing the depth it is also crucial to know your location. This is where the GPS these fishfinders have becomes crucial. We are all aware of the tradgic events that happened only weeks ago to the four men at sea. This event alone should let you know the importance of a good GPS. So when it comes down to it, the actual fish finder is the least important thing on a fishfinder. It is all the other little tools that make this gadget a must have when boating or fishing.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Sheephead Adventure

This week started out just like any other monotonous week, checking my schedule for upcoming test, seeing the days of the week I work, and of course checking to see when I could go fishing. I had originally planned to hit up the waters of Tampa Bay this weekend with a friend of mine, but after looking at the calendar my plans quickly changed. Noticing that on Saturday night, tonight, we "spring forward" also known as losing an hour of sleep, I soon realized that my fishing would have to be in the beginning of this week. It's tough enough getting up early to go fishing, add on losing an hour of sleep and you can forget it as far as I am concerned.

After finishing my last class Tuesday afternoon I picked up my younger brother and we headed straight to a spot I know in the Davis Island area. My reasoning for traveling to this area was to catch some bait for my fishing adventure the next morning. Once at my location I parked my truck along the side of the road and jumped down the sea wall to wear the water met the shoreline.

We began to lift small rocks hoping to find an array of crabs hiding underneath. It is imperative that you were closed to shoes and jeans during this process. Between the sharp rocks and rushing water you will want to have both your legs and feet with some kind of protection over them. If you talk to my brother he will inform you that you need to wear gloves so the crabs don't pinch you as well. My brother and I had a ball walking the shoreline and catching approximately 50 crabs in around 30 minutes.

We now had all the crabs we would need and we were ready for our fishing adventure the next day. Our targeted species was the small saltwater fish known as the sheepshead. The idea to fish for this species came to me when I was reading the edition of Florida Sportsman and found the bite was hot for sheepshead right now.

We headed out Wednesday morning in my 22 ft. Blazer Bay boat to our "sheepshead hot spot" in Tampa Bay and we crossed our fingers for a good day. We placed our small crabs onto tiny hooks ( you must use small hooks because sheepshead have particularly small mouths) and pitched them into the swift current of the Tampa Bay waters. We were fishing over the top of an old sunken railroad. Sheepshead like to hang out around a lot of structure so when fishing for these fish try and find the structure. It didn't take long for our first hook up and we continued to reel these fish in for hours.

Sheepshead fishing does not take a great amount of skill to succeed. All ages of people can enjoy a day of sheepshead fishing and the younger children will especially like catching the crabs for bait. The fish are generally in the 3 to 6 lb range, but the state record which was caught in 2008 weighed in at 16lbs 6 oz. These fish also make for a great dinner. With all of these intangibles sheephead fishing is the way to go!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Horrible Event at Sea

Last Saturday, Marquis Cooper, William Bleakley, Corey Smith, and Nick Schuyler set out on Cooper's 21 ft. Evergaldes fishing boat to embark on an offshore fishing excursion. Both Cooper and Smith were NFL players, while Schuyler was a former football player for the University of South Florida. A fifth man Clay Eavenson was invited on the trip, but he declined the offer. Two days prior to their trip on Saturday, Clay had been out with Cooper and urged him to buy a emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB). This device is specifically geared towards helping distressed boats. It sends out a GPS coordinate of a distressed vessel, so that the rescue crews have a better chance of located a stranded boater. Despite the idea Clay had suggested, Cooper failed to purchase this piece of equipment before his trip.

The men left the Clear Water pass early Saturday morning heading out to what was at one point a calm sea. Heavy winds began to pick up as the day pushed on, enlarging the waves to a height of 7 ft. The high wind and rough seas were too much for the 21 ft. boat to handle and it capsized. According to Schuyler, the boat was anchored when it turned over.

After the boat capsized it is presumed that all four men were wearing life vest and clinging to the capsized boat. The grave danger that the men were in was the water tempature they were facing. With it only being early spring the normally warm waters of the Gulf are still quite cold. Besides being capsized and lost at sea, the groups biggest concern had to be hypothermia. It was reported that two to four hours after the boat capsized one of the NFL players took his life vest off and was taken out to sea. He was shortly followed by the other NFL player, leaving only Schuyler and Bleakley clinging to the boat.

The two hung on to the capsized vessel until the moring, but then Bleakley tried to swim and get help when he thought he saw a light in the distance. He was reported by Schuyler of having taken his life vest off before he attempted the swim. "I think he was delusional to think he could swim someplace," the Times quoted Bob Bleakley, his father, as saying.

Schuyler was remarkably rescued Monday after being stranded in the Gulf waters since Saturday. Many doctors and physicians say that he is lucky to be alive. The search continued for the other 3 missing men, but there was little luck. The search was called off Tuesday evening after many intense hours were put in. Friends and family have still not given up hope. They have rented many charter boats and private planes and are scanning the Gulf waters to find their loved ones.

This is an extremely sad story to hear about. Whether you have been offshore fishing in the Tampa Bay area or never even been on a boat, you heart must go out to these men and their families. It is horrible to have a tradgic event like this happen because it effects so many people. We must learn boating safety from this and keep our thoughts out to the families of the men that are still missing.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Local Outdoor Expo

With the long work week about to faid off into the horizon it is time to look for some exciting weekend plans. Whether you are looking for something to do for yourself, wanting to get the kids out of the house, or just going out with the guys, the Florida State Fairgrounds is hosting quite an event. Starting today, Friday Feb. 29th, and running through Sunday, the Florida State Fairgrounds will be hosting the Tampa Tribune Outdoor Expo and Boat Show. This event is coined Florida's largest outdoor expo of the year. This year marks the 17th year of the expo and it is expected to be one of the best years for the event. The event is hosted by longtime Florida Sportsman editor and Tampa Tribune outdoors editor Frank Sargeant.

The event is also known as the "Frank Sargeant Show", being that he is the host of the event. The Expo has 140,000 sq. feet of space that will be transformed into an outdoorsman's dream. The Expo will have over 150 vendors which will be showing/selling anything from outdoors sportswear, up and coming clothes lines, outdoor gear, fishing gear, hunting gear, outdoor paintings, cooking equipment, and anything else outdoors you could imagine. Along with these vendors will be many boat reps. from local marinas showing off their new 2009 line of boats.

Besides the boats and vendors the Outdoor Expo also reaches out to the family. The Fairgrounds has many small ponds and they use these ponds as a fishing derby for the youngsters. Last year a 5lb bass and 8 lb catfish were caught during these fishing derbys. Along with fishing derbys there will also be many professional fisherman there giving seminars loaded with helpful hints.

With a vast aray of things to do, the Outdoor Expo is the place to be this weekend. Whether you are an avid outdoors man or just someone looking to get out of the house this weekend, this is the place to be. Gates opened today,Friday the 29th, at 1 pm. and entrance is free today. Saturday's hours are from 10 am to 7 pm with an $8 entrance fee and Sunday's hours are 11 am to 5 pm with an $8 entrance fee. Children 12 and under are free every day of the event. So if you have any free time stop by the Florida State Fairgrounds and enjoy a fun day of outdoor entertainment.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We Have a Winner

As Sunday evening drew to a conclusion, so did the Superbowl of bass fishing. With all the fish caught and the way ins finally over there was nothing left to do Sunday night, but crown Skeet Reese the 2009 Bass Master Classic Tournament Champion. This is the biggest accomplishment of his young fishing career and it is certain to send his career into another level.

The Classic was held on the Red River, a river in Shreveport-Bossier City, La., and was a three day fishing event. The classic allows each angler to catch an unlimited amount of bass, but only keep the 5 largest. After each day the five fish the angler catches will be weighed and judging by the weights anglers will be ranked. Keep in mind that all of these fish are kept alive during this process, thus preserving the lives of the fish caught during the classic. After the first two days the field is cut from 51 anglers to 25. During these three days Skeet Reese led nearly the whole way. Winning this Classic gave Skeet a hefty $500,000 check, and many sponsorships are sure to follow.

Another notable finish in the Classic is "bass fishing's personality", Mike Iaconelli. Mike is well renowned around fishing for his crazy personality. He is known for break dancing in his boat after catching big fish, screaming at the top of his lungs for no reason at all, and just being an all around prankster. The New Jersey born fisherman finished second in the classic falling short of Reese by a pound and some change.

By beating out Iaconelli and 49 other anglers, Reese cemented himself into the historic name of anglers to win a Classic. You have to tip your hat to him for the kind of week he put up on the water. It was an eventful and intense classic. Congratulations Skeet Reese!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Anyone Interested?

Tonight is the night, it is the World Series of fishing, it is the Bass Master Classic. This is by far the biggest tournament of the year, winning this event will send anglers into levels of stardom they could only imagine. This four day event comes to a conclusion tonight, and the final way ins will be on ESPN 2 at 10 p.m.

Just thought I would let you know so now you could watch some professional fishing and get a taste of the sporting part of fishing.

A Scare and A Success

If you read any of my last post you will recall my "jaws" like alligator story. It was quite an adventure and definitely a story for the grandchildren one day. I took that near death experience and turned it into an educational blog so people could learn from my stupidity. Despite all the alligator madness, the trip was quite a success, but I failed to blog about that. We enjoyed a wonderful day of fishing and escaped a near alligator attack, you can't beat that.

With the colder weather about to part our great state for the year, bass fisherman prepare for an exciting time of fishing. Many knowledgeable fisherman proclaim that this is the best time of the year to fish for those big bass. The bass are going through their spawn during this time and this causes the larger female bass to push up towards shore. With these bass in shallow water it makes it particularly easy to see them and cast at them. However, you must be aware that if you can see the fish, more than likely they can see you. Therefore, you must be as stealthy as possible in your approach, and that big one will be all yours.

We began fishing assuming that the bass were in the spawn, and therefore on their beds. Figuring this, we positioned our boat around 15 yards from the bank, and I threw my favorite lure the tequila sunrise worm. We putted around the shoreline for around 3 hours. We had minimal luck. I caught 4 bass, none of any size, and my buddy caught 2. Although we were catching fish and having a good time, we were not satisfied.

While trolling along the bank, we noticed something particularly unusual. In this lake there seemed to be many sandbars in the middle of the lake. It is rather common to find sandbars in the saltwater, but in freshwater it is a rarity to find such things. We pulled up onto a sandbar and looked down, what we saw was unbelievable. Right on the edge of the sandbar the water just dropped off, like the bottom fell out. It is a fisherman's dream to find such a drop off. It is always a blessing to find a drop off, because the water temperature will vary at the drop off, bait will be swimming in the shallow water, and the bigger fish can hide in the deep water and ambush this bait. For all these reasons, drop offs are hot spots for fish.

We tied on a pair of rapala crank baits and backed away from the sandbars. We casted our lure on top of the sandbar and then reeled it into the deeper water. It didn't take long for our first hook up. I hooked into a nice bass. After a struggle I got the 7lb 2 oz. bass to the boat. We caught a few other bass using the same technique. These fish varied in size from 3 to 4 lbs. but fishing the sandbars was quite a success.

This is the time of year to get out and catch big bass. Your number of fish caught my go down a little bit, but the size will definitely go up. Be open minded and ready to change your game plan, because during this time of year the bass can be rather picky. But just keep in mind the big one is only one bite away!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Don't Feed the Alligators!!!!!!!

It's your first trip to the zoo with the whole family, you pack up the mini van and head off for a fun day. Without a doubt one of the most exciting things at the zoo is the alligator feeding times. Watching a goofy looking trainer sling bloody pieces of meat the size of small children towards a crowd of hungry alligators is always an excitement to watch. There is just something about watching the strong jaws of the gators rip apart their food like it is a sheet of paper. Take away the steel fence, the trainer, and the meat the alligators are receiving, leaving just you and the gator. Sound fun now?

If you have been around any body of water in the great state of Florida, more than like you have seen an alligator. These large predators can easily get up to 14 feet in length and over 1000 lbs. Despite their large size, these animals can find the smallest bit of water and make it home. So no matter where you live in Florida, chances are you are going to have to learn to live with the alligators.

Living with these creatures can be easier than you would think, as long as you keep your distance. The idea of staying out of the way of gators is easy for most people, but not such an easy task for the freshwater fisherman. Whether walking the bank, using a small canoe or Jon boat, or trolling around with an expensive bass boat the Florida freshwater fisherman has to be aware of the alligator. Being an avid freshwater fisherman I too must be aware of the dangers of alligators, but just this week I tested my luck and definitely learned my lesson.

With nothing to do Monday morning, a buddy and I headed out for a day of fishing. Like our previous trips we loaded our small Jon boat in the truck and headed off. It was a beautiful day and we couldn't have asked for better conditions. We trolled through the lake and it didn't take long before we spotted our first gator. He was around 5 ft long and was slowing cruising through the lake like he owned it. We paid him no attention and continued on casting our lures into the water.

As the day drug on we still spotted that same gator many times. We were both rather unfamiliar with the lake so we assumed that this might be the only gator in the lake. We continued to work the lake over for fish and this trolling method led us into a horseshoe shaped bend in the lake. Upon the outer edge of the horseshoe we spotted two small alligators. These two baby gators were between 1 and 1.5 ft.

We talked it over and thought it would be fun after fishing the horseshoe to come back and see if we could touch one of the small gators. We hadn't trolled on for more than 25 feet before we saw it: on the bank was at least a 10ft alligator just sitting there! We assumed it must have been the mother of the two smaller gators we had once thought of trying to touch. We were a mere 15 ft from the shore of this massive mother gator.

We were going to keep putting along until I noticed something. A huge bass was right in front of this gator on the shore line. Much to my buddies dismay, I told him I was going to cast at the bass, even though it was right on the shore line, probably a foot or two away from the sunbathing gator. I cocked my pole back and slung out my best effort of a cast, but did I ever miss the mark. My fishing worm got caught in a tree right next to the gator. Being the idiot I am, I kind of chuckled and said would you look at that.

I gave a few stealthy tugs to try and get my bait from the tree, but no such luck. I then yanked back, upon my yank bank the whole tree shook. This jolted the gator from the bank, a splash of nearly 5f t erupted, and awake like the one from the movie jaws was heading straight at our boat. I froze and my bud dypressed down on the trolling motor to reverse us. The gator was on us in no time at all and swim right under the boat. We both nearly peed our pants during this 10 second ordeal.

There is nothing scarier than having a 10ft alligator charge at you from the shoreline when you are in a 10ft boat. My buddy proceeded to call me a jackass the rest of the day, and asked what I was thinking. I told him I figured if anything the alligator would have retreated to the shoreline, he than said "those things have been around since the dinosaurs, you think your 7.5 inch plastic worm is gonna scare them?"

The moral of the story is to stay clear of the alligators. Whether you are an avid fisherman or just someone who lives near the water, remember when you are on the water you are on their territory. Stick clear and play by their rules!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Specs again!

When I woke up this morning I wasn't slipping and sliding across my yard trying to get to my truck, I wasn't praying my heat would come on, and I wasn't hoping that my fingers wouldn't lose feeling, but I was burning up, turning my air to max a/c, and thinking about how dang hot it has gotten so quick. Although alot of things have changed since that post one thing remains the same: It is a post about me going out and catching alot of specs. With my girlfriend occupied Friday night I did'nt hesitate to take advantage of the free fishing time! I called up my buddy and we hit up the same exact spec hole we had been to in my previous post.

Okay! So say whatever you want. I know my earlier post said: The Colder the Better, talking about going out and catching specs. Well maybe, just maybe, that post wasn't entirely true. I went out this Friday evening, fishing the same exact way, to be precise everything was exactly the same. Everything that is, except the weather. The air temperature was at least an easy 35 degree warmer. Much like last time we rolled through the lake and just tore the fish up. Which got me thinking was the fishing really better in the cold? I tried to gain some more information on spec fishing and i visited this site: I came to the realization that maybe colder wasn't better.

The last time I went spec fishing it was cold. The last time I hooked a minnow through the eye, it was cold. The last time i waited to catch the allusive spec, it was cold. The last time I caught a spec, it was cold. When i went out this Friday, and absolutely tore the specs up, it was hot!

So I know what your thinking. The author of this blog is just like every other nut that goes fishing: a habitual liar who finds telling the truth about a fishing adventure to be a near death experience. That's not me, I honestly thought: colder was better! But if you do believe that all fisherman are liars you are not alone. In the book, "Till Fish Do Us Part", Beatrice cook makes a comical, but yet harsh comparison of fisherman, all the while exposing their need to lie:

All fishermen are liars; it's an occupational disease with them like housemaid's knee or editor's ulcer

Bill Dance Blooper

A blog I often follow is written by the professional bass fisherman Bill Dance. Bill Dance started his career bouncing from lake to lake every weekend doing a variety of fishing tournaments. He began to become a big figure in the fishing world with his non-stop winning on the tournament waters. The only thing that was bigger than his list of wins was his personality. Between a lengthy resume of fishing experience and an outgoing personality it was only a matter of time before this fisherman went big time.

He became more than just a professional angler when he was given his own show: Bill Dance Outdoors. It aired on the early weekend mornings and believe me there weren't too many of those episodes I missed. Bill is most famously known for his Tennessee ball cap. He has never filmed a show without wearing this cap! In recent months, I have been following his blog and I find it quite enjoyable. If you would like to view his site or read his blog just click on the link provided:

If fishing is not your interest, or you are not interested in reading a blog by Bill Dance, hold on one second. Upon browsing YouTube today, I found something that made me laugh historically. You don't have to be a fan of fishing to enjoy this blooper video, and it is provided by none other than Bill Dance. So if your in for a good laugh visit:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lost at Sea

Call it fate, destiny, or just plain bad luck, but no matter how hard you plan things, sometimes they just never work out quite right. The same is true with a well planned out fishing trip. You can have every tiny detail planned out, but when you hit those unpredictable waters it can all go into disarray. This post is in response to my last post labeled "Getting Ready". As you will see, even though I had the "getting ready" part down pat, the trip still did not go anywhere near planned!

As you recall, I had made all the food, gotten all the poles ready, checked the boat, and was merely just waiting on my buddies to arrive to start a "wonderful" day of fishing. My friends finally arrived and off we went. The trip was still rolling along smoothly as we pulled into the boat ramp. We launched the boat and excitement ran through us as we were preparing for the long ride to the snapper hole.

I flipped in a new cd I had burned, and we cranked up the volume on the boat and began cruising out to the coordinates for the snapper hole. I estimated the ride to be around 29 miles and with the way the water was rolling I figured the trip to be about a 30 to 35 minute ride. After riding for more than an hour I realized that my calculations where way off.

I fiddled around with my gps to come to the realization that we were 42 miles off shore, and still 2 miles away from our destination. I bit the bullet and pushed the throttle down to get us to our new 44 miles out fishing hole. As we began to approach the coordinates on the gps, my worst fears came to life: I looked on the horizon and saw five boats not too far away. Sure enough, 44 miles offshore and in the same exact dang spot that I wanted to fish were five other boats. With all the water to fish, what are the odds of that?

I consulted with my friends on what to do, and we decided it best to just simply turn around and head back in to some familiar spots we had. Not only did we burn alot of unnecessary fuel, but we were all extremely upset at the fact that we couldn't fish these new spots. We toiled around the waters most of the day without much luck. We tried to stay optimistic and keep in mind that this day of fishing beat a day of school or work. I became extremely pessimistic, and then one of my buddies quoted his favorite fishing quote by Chuck Clark, a fishing writer:
Three-fourths of the Earth's surface is water, and one-fourth is land. It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn.

This quote by Chuck Clark pretty much summed up our trip. It was not the extravagant trip we had imagined. We did not pull up to shore with blisters on our hands from reeling in so many fish, but none the less it was a good time on the water. So when you say you have a bad fishing trip do you mean that: you went out and spent all day in the blazing hot sun and left red as a lobster, all the while not catching a single thing, or do you mean that you got to spend all day on the water without a worry in the world, all the while escaping the horrible confines of work or school. So looking back, although I say it was a bad day of fishing, it was still a good day in general.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Getting Ready!!!

I woke up this morning to the horrid noise of my screeching alarm. I swung blindly a few times to try and shut it off as quickly as possible. Before I could even began to wake up I felt the coldness that filled my room sink in. I grabbed my covers and pulled them close to my face, and closed my eyes as if to say " who cares about getting up early it's too cold, and I have no school or work today". Suddenly, it hit me! I'm going fishing today, that's why I had an alarm set.

With no work, no school, and no worries in my life today, I decided to invite a few buddies of mine to go on an offshore "adventure" with me. Much to my surprise, all three of my buddies are going to be able to make the trip. With the weather in the low 30s this morning I decided to hold off on getting out to the water early. I guess I am going against the whole cliche: the early bird gets the worm. In my eyes I see it as: the most skilled bird gets the worm. That is at least what I am hoping for today.

Even though I didn't wake up at the crack up dawn, there was still much work to be done this morning in preparation for our trip. When going offshore fishing it is IMPERATIVE that you have everything ready before you even leave the house. I woke up and began using my "Martha Stewart" skills in the kitchen by making an array of sandwiches. With an appetite like mine, food is a necessity on an all day trip. I then filled a cooler loaded down with a variety of drinks. It's key to not only have an abundance of snacks and food, but also a healthy choice of drinks to choice from.

After finishing all the "culinary duties" necessary for our trip, I headed to the garage to take care of some technical issues. I grabbed 9 of my best poles and went to work on them. It is important every time before you go out fishing to check your line, and even possibly replace it each trip. I relined a few poles, tied a few new hooks, added some weight to a few, added some oil to a few (adding oil to your reel makes the reeling much smoother), and did a few other minor fixes to the poles. When going out fishing it is always best to rig your poles up before you hit the water. By doing this you get to spend more time trying to catch your fish.

The last thing I did, and also the most important thing I did was check the boat. I checked to make sure the running lights were working. If these lights are not working you run a risk of getting a ticket from Hillsborough county's finest. I also checked to make sure I had 4 life vest and a throw cushion. One life vest per person and one through cushion is required by Florida Wildlife. I also checked to see how much gas I had, and to make sure I had the boat registration. With the boat in order, my poles ready, and food in the fridge my preparation is complete! Now all I am doing is waiting for my slow friends to arrive so we can leave!

We are targeting red snapper today on our trip. These fish can get quite large, and put up a massive fight. I am rather excited, and pretty confident that we will "tear" them up today! We are planning to head approximately 29 miles off shore. The spot we are planning to fish was given to me by a family friend, and he swears that it is loaded with fish. I personally have never tried out this location, but today is the day. Wish me luck, and I will be sure to write back tomorrow on how it went.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tequila Sunrise

When one thinks of the word tequila, they often think of long nights, extreme partying, and many regrettable decisions, or quite often one probably does not remember too much when the word tequila comes in mind. On the other hand, the word sunrise brings about a particularly different array of emotions. The act of slapping an annoying alarm off, a horrible morning class, or bad traffic are thoughts synonymous with sunrise. When these two words are juxtapose together it is no easy task to find the connection. Not so fast though.... I present to you the bass catching machine the Tequila Sunrise:

This bait is not only a personal favorite of mine, but also a highly reguarded fish catching bait by many anglers world wide. When the idea came to me to do a blog solely dedicated to a certain bait I was a little bum founded at first, but after little consideration it was a simple task to chose a bait. I just looked in my tackle box and all I saw looking back where those flimsy tequila sunrise worms.

For those of you unfamiliar with this bait let me set the story with a little back drop. When bass fishing (in freshwater) many anglers resort to a technique of fishing that is as old as the water itself: worm fishing. Personally this is my favorite type of bass fishing, for it not only produces a productive quantity of fish, but the quality of the fish is unparalleled. The worm of my choice is the tequila sunrise, it is given this name for its distinct color pattern. In the murky waters of the Tampa Bay area, this bait really has a "glow" about it as it flutters up and down along the bottom.

You can find this color worm at any local bait and tackle store, but I prefer to buy mine from just the simple place we all know and love: Walmart. The tequila sunrise worm is made by a variety of manufacturers, but I prefer to stick with the Culpert brand. Although they are a little pricier, $3.97 a pack, I find that the extra spare change is worth the quality. I like to fish with the standard size of 7.5 inch worm, but I will fish with the 4 inch worm occasionally. The reasoning for down sizing like this would be due to the fact that you maybe fishing at a heavily fished area. In this case you want to present a smaller bait to the fish, to thus enhance your chances of landing fish.

Bass fishing is starting to heat up, and now you know what to throw at these fresh water monsters. So next time you think of tequila, don't only think of a hangover, but also think of the sunrise. Because with that tequila sunrise worm you might just catch a monster like I have!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Spec Fishing: The Colder the Better!

While slipping and sliding across my nearly frozen front yard this morning, the thought crossed my mind that this can't be Florida. I hunkered down in my truck and prayed that the heat would kick on before the feeling in my fingers vanished. With the temperature plummeting like a star from the sky, one may wonder what about the fishing? Is it even worth it to sit out in the cold throwing a line, to what must be freezing fish? They surely aren't going to bite anything in these conditions. Wrong!

If hailing from the Northern states one will be familiar with the term "crappie", but around here we call them "specs". When a cold front arrives, so do these powerful little fish. With the temperatures in the low 40s, a buddy of mine joined me on a fishing trip just yesterday to try and catch a few of the allusive specs. We bundled up in many layers (which is the way to go when fishing) and loaded our ten foot jon boat into a truck bed. We hit up a local lake (any lake, pond, reservoir, or river will do) and began our fishing.

We had purchased 1/4 lb. of small minnows from a bait and tackle store leaving us with a bill of $9.67, after we purchased the smallest hooks we could find. Hooking the minnow through the eyes ( they stay alive that way, and hey, maybe they can't see the mouth of the fish too!) and placing a small cork on my line, I began to pitch my minnow in towards the shoreline. This process went on for an estimated hour and a half with only a few measly bites. Much to my dismay the minnows seemed not only to be a waste of money, but also a waste of time.

Deciding this method was not our best way to catch fish, we decided to troll across the middle of the lake to reach the other side, and hope for better luck. While trolling, I threw out a 1/16 ounce pink jig head with a white tail, just for kicks and giggles. To my amazement my pole nearly doubled over within the first minute my bait was in the water. After a short fight, I had boated our first spec of the evening.

Having found the pattern we continued to troll through the middle of the lake with these jigs, and the fish may as well have jumped in the boat. Spec after spec bit our pink jigs, and it made for an exciting evening of fishing. So when going out spec fishing be sure to keep trying new things, and hop on those specs soon, for these weather fronts are the prime time to catch them!

Specs are quite the fish to catch, and can make for an exciting day. I give the degree of difficulty a two stars out of 5, so the youngsters would easily be able to have a ball catching these fish. They are also extremely good table fair. I give them a strong 3 out of 5 stars for their edibility. The world record spec weighed in at a whopping 4 lbs 14 ounces. The regulations that are put on specs are, 25 per person per day. So enjoy a fun day of fishing with the family, and remember if you think it's too cold, when it comes to spec fishing: the colder the better!

Getting Hooked

Whether it be floating around aimlessly in a small boat in a foreign lake, bobbing up in down like a cork in the massive ocean, or even wandering aimlessly down some shore line with a rod in your hand, fishing in general is no easy task. For those of us who spend many hours out on the water chasing these allusive creatures we call fish, many of our trips go from extravagant fishing adventures to mere boating tails. The aspirations of catching fish are nearly as old as the world we walk upon. Fishing has been not only a necessity of life for many years, but also a desired skill by many inhabitants in the days before us. It has much evolved since it's beginning, and has turned to a much more recreational activity, some prefer to call it a "sport". Whatever terminology one may use, or for whatever reason one may fish, all anglers hit the water with one main goal: TO CATCH FISH!!!

When asked about fishing, Samuel Johnson, an English poet, uttered the simple phrase:
"A fishing pole is a stick with a hook at one end and a fool on the other."
This quote fits myself sufficiently well. Born and raised in the beautiful waters of Key West, Florida, fishing has been away of life. The first pole I received was covered in snoopy photos, and I practically slept with the thing. Much like my snoopy pole has evolved into a more tactical pole, my fishing skills have also evolved.
The waters of the Florida Keys began to be as familiar as my back hand. This luxury all came crashing down on me, like a wave crashing upon shore at day break. The fisherman's dream I lived in the Keys was gone..... We moved to the Tampa Bay area. I wasted no time in wetting some lines in the Tampa Bay waters. For it is the first rule of fishing: without much time and effort one will nearly have to wish on the mere chance of luck to have that big one bite your line.
I have been fishing these waters of the Tampa area (both salt and fresh) for many years now, and have grown accustomed to the change. Between my previous experience and the experience I am still gaining ( due to my fishing nearly daily) this blog will be useful tool for those fisherman who do not have the time to spend looking for the fish. It is tough to enjoy a "great" day of fishing when you only get to go once every two weeks. So between my hot spot tips, fishing updates, helpful hints, weather updates, fish recipes, rules and regulations, and even the occasional tidbit of history, it is certain that not you, but also the fish you are after will be getting hooked!