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Mornings and evenings are cooler and it is an ideal time to go fishing. Winds and hurricanes have traveled on and the fish are awaiting your hook, line and sinker. If you are watching baseball and football, you have a great chance to land your favorite catch before the game starts.
I see a lot of canoes and kayaks in the rivers, with you saving gas and also getting your exercise as you paddle along.
|Jason Eppenstein shows off his 29” gag grouper, which he caught off the Skyway Bridge.|
Our Florida sun shines upon you in the winter as well as the summer, and I hope that you will remember to use a sunscreen for protection from the sun.
The glare from the water can do damage to your vision. From those who are out there each day, tell me that it is best to use a good pair of Polaroid sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Always have a change of clothing aboard in case a high wave wets you down, or if by chance you might be wading in the shallows.
Don’t ever tie a stringer for your fish from your belt. Fish swimming around you will attack your fish and might pull you under water as they try to eat your catch.
Always wear light colored clothes if it is cold or hot. Light colors are cooler in the sun’s rays and also are better to see you if lost in the water.
This also holds true for your vessel, a dark colored boat such as blue or green is difficult to find if lost at sea.
In your tackle box have a flashlight that works, plus a can or two of sardines to use for bait, or if you are hungry, you can eat them. Have enough life jackets aboard for each person, and be sure they wear them.
Know where you going as well as have someone ashore know your destination. Never boat alone; always have someone aboard who can operate your vessel in case of an emergency.
Watch the weather, look for a safe haven and head to shore as quickly as possible. Remember one-third of your gas supply is to go to your destination, one third to take you back to your home base, so watch your gasoline.
Know your waterways -- so often people get lost in the many mangroves. I know of several who were lost and spent the night out there until daybreak. All the mangroves look alike.
Have a cell phone, or radio, and be sure they work. Does your horn work? A whistle may help, or have some flares and know how to use them.
If you are a new boater, take some classes on how to handle your boat. Take along a buddy that knows the waterways.
I read this week about a fish that lives five miles under water and never surfaces. It is named “Snail Fish” and was detected by a remote camera.
Some jellyfish are so small you need a microscope to see them. They are made mostly of water and are transparent with many long tentacles dangling from them.
Jellyfish can sting you with those tentacles and if you see many in the water, don’t swim in that area. If you do, be sure and do the “Jellyfish Shuffle,” as you are told to when stingrays are around.
This brings up the frequently asked question of “Why do octopus squirt ink?” They are slow swimmers and when another fish attacks them, they release a black substance that looks like ink, to confuse the predator so that they can escape to safety.
Wonder how a crab navigates in water? Did you know that his land relative is the spider? Most crabs have a set of legs shaped like paddles that pushes them along in the water.
The bait shops were busy this week. The weather has been great and anglers are paddling their own canoes and some are even taking their boats out, as gas has gone down in some places below $3.
Live bait has been the winner this week. Others were chopping up trash fish for chum. There are those who find chumming the way to make a catch.
The bait shops have all types of bait, even worms for the bass anglers. Some throw their cast net for bait, but this isn’t easy for many. It takes a keen eye to see a school of bait fish cruising by and a quick complete circle throw of your cast net to get them. You will need a good bait well to keep them alive.
A variety of live catches have been taken this week. Anglers have been lucky with some grouper that were schooling around the Skway Bridge. Others tell me they caught a stray gag grouper or two in the ship channels.
Redfish are back in the swim and can be found swimming in schools in the canals at Simmons Park. Pier fishing and dock fishing is good; you save gas and are catching fish.
Snook have been boated around the mouth of the Little Manatee at Shell Point on outgoing tide. Flounder have surfaced from the sandy bottoms and are hungry. Most catches I heard of this week were caught in moving water, either incoming or outgoing tides.
Those fishing the fresh waters have graced their dinner tables with fresh catfish and hush puppies. Others have had fried bass and cheese grits. A cobia or two were reported caught in the Alafia River, with one at the mouth of the bay.
Boaters are returning to the launch pad at Williams Park. I saw a dozen or more there. Simmons Park has a popular launch for all types of boats with a short distance to the bay waters.
Always take a buddy along; release what you can’t eat, and be safe.
-- Aleta Jonie Maschek is a member of Florida Outdoor Press.
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