A few years ago, I bought my first swimbait and later on, my first 12 in worm for fishing. However, I didn’t have the correct gear to throw such big baits. This year I’ve gotten back into throwing big baits to include swimbaits, glidebaits, big worms, big jigs, well you get the point. I use social media to gain a lot of information when I starting something new. However, the sources of information are lacking and some social media groups are not for beginners. I’ve decided to start a few “Projects” to document how I start something new.
So what is the “Project”? It’s just that a project on how I’m starting something new and documenting how I’m getting started. You can learn along the way with me or go back and see how I got started. I’m also going to build a Facebook group specifically for talking about getting started in something new. This Facebook group will cater to those people getting started and I will keep it from getting extremely negative like some groups.
My first two “Projects” are kind of related. So I will be launching “Project” Swimbait Mayhem and “Project” Big Bait Mayhem. So why two different ones, swimbaits are in their own world while you use the same gear to throw other big baits as well. To me, I think they are different so I will keep them separated. I will only have one Facebook Group and two separate blog section for each.
Social media has taken over this world and opened communications that good and bad and also extended communication to those you wouldn’t normally talk with. Most would associate social media with a younger generation. However, all generation are jumping on social media to share and brag about fishing adventures. Instantaneously a person can reach out to hundred, even thousands of people to share information about their latest catch. Today with social media you don’t have to wait a week, month or seasons just to get a report about the latest fishing. In the past, a person would go fishing with a plan in mind and ultimately get to the fishing location and have no luck. Now, that same person can reach back out to those same hundred or thousand people and get instant advice on how to fish that exact location or how to change things up. Social media has definitely made an impact on the fishing world, whether perceived by some as good or bad. Social media is forever part of the fishing world.
In the coming weeks, I’ll continue my posts about finding fishing information. Check back in to gain the amazing insight to becoming more productive at locating fishing locations.
This article series is dedicated to a fishing friend that helped inspire finding people and fishing information on the internet, Burton “Burt” W. Phelps (June 15, 1942 ~ February 8, 2010). I met Burt in a strange way. Most would think I ran into him through some fishing event, while fishing, bait shop or fishing group. I found Burt on craigslist, YES Craigslist! He had posted an ad in the boating section looking for a fishing partner
. He said he had everything including the fishing information. He just needed someone to drive him that had a boat. I took a chance and emailed Burt and invited him to go with me on the Chesapeake Bay. Little did I know, Burt and I would have quit the adventures that summer. Once out on the water, I quickly realized (me being new to the area) we had no clue how to fish the Chesapeake Bay with light tackle. Through the summer we developed a relationship that will never be forgotten. If I had the information back then that I can find on social media and on the internet today we would have saved so much time and probably been more successful. I was fortunate to have my first summer in Mar
yland to fish with Burt. Sadly that following winter, Burt passed away.
As an Active Duty military member, I’ve had the opportunity to travel throughout the Western Hemisphere and live on both coasts of the United States . I would consider myself a multi-species angler who just likes to be outside fishing. Along with growing up in rural Iowa, I’ve experienced some great fishing. One of the hardest things about moving around after leaving home was finding new fishing spots. At home, you know people and can rely on word of mouth to when and where the fish are hitting. In the world of fishing “local” knowledge is KING, and if you don’t have it, well I’m hoping that my Internet and Social Media article series will help you build it.
I’m not saying you will catch more fishing, but you will spend less time searching for where to fish. The time saved in the search will mean more time fishing and eventually becoming a seasoned angler with the “local” knowledge.
After leaving home and starting training in Northern California, I began trying to learn to fish on the West Coast. I quickly learned that the techniques from back home would not work in California, nor the ocean. Before the social media and smart-phones, I used bait shop to gather info on fishing hot spots. This first bit of info from the bait shop helped me land my first ever saltwater fish from an ocean. I 13in greenling caught on basically a bottom rig with anchovies and a bass rod.
Back then, I didn’t have a phone that did much but call and text. I didn’t even own a computer and internet wasn’t really a concern like it is today. I did, however, have this handy gadget called a Garmin GPS, that I stuck to my windshield. Because California wasn’t flat and open like Iowa, I used the GPS to find potential locations to fishing locations. I would routinely sit in my car and scan for areas of water that had roads leading up to or near water. I was always on the lookout for small waters like ponds and streams.
Pick a spot on the GPS and drive to it, and potentially fish if it seemed worth a shot. Back then, I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of time that went into checking out all the spots I would find on the GPS. Some would lead to dead ends, others to private property. Eventually, I would always find my way to a new spot. Once you found the spot, it could take some time to figure out if fishing was worthwhile or not. Today I don’t use the Garmin GPS, but I do use Google and Bing maps from my phone or laptop. Doing the research at home saves a tremendous amount of time. Now I can pick the spots I want to drive too.
I would also pick up local fishing guides, which you could find at local tackle shops or retail stores. These guides, usually developed by a local fisherman with local knowledge were great starting points for finding popular spots. In the description, it usually talked about species and techniques used throughout the year. Another form of information were state or region specific fishing magazines and the ones specifically were great sources of info. I couldn’t always remember the information and sometimes the info was just a little too late. So instead of recycling the books and magazines, I would stash them away and make reference to them the following year.
My favorite technique of “dropping in”. “Dropping in” basically means I drive around looking for water access for fishing and I stop and say “HI” and talk to every person I see fishing. People would always share how the fishing was and what they were using and how. After some small talk, I would gather more info and new spots and venture on. I still use this technique today and especially in today’s digital world, just stopping by and saying “HI” goes a long way.
Back in 2005, I met Pete and his son while driving up the American River in California. Dropped in to fish next to him to talk, and the conversation led to an exchange of phone numbers and an invite for Salmon fishing in the next few weeks. Two weeks later Pete called and gave me a location near Sacramento and what fishing tackle to bring. I showed up that Saturday morning to catch my first Salmon, along with a limit and personal best!
Taking all the old techniques to develop the knowledge needed to save time and money, so more time is spent fishing is now replaced with technology and mobility offered through today;s applications on computers and smart-phones. All of these new advances can lead to more time on the water. Everything that took time out driving endlessly can now be accomplished in a matter of hours from home. Downtime at home, during the night or even the off-season, can now be spent researching and preparing for the next year, season, day or trip. Having your homework done beforehand means you can get to the business of catching fish vice searching just for a spot to fish and trying to figure out how to fish the spot.
Now, the internet and social media offer so much information you can develop a plan for the spots you find on the various maps. Just like I discussed, once you find a spot, then you had to figure out if the spot was productive or not and how to fish it. Today you can find the spot and use social media to discover if the spot is worthwhile. Information from the internet and social media will also help with the time of year, day, weather, tides, and techniques to help you catch more fish and have more time available to fish.
THE GOAL: a dot on the map with picture, season, species, bait and presentation.
The goal of these articles is to complete the following steps in order to start developing local knowledge. This guide will also help you will keeping the information handy and usable for future fishing adventures. The more information you can find to fill out the checklist below the better. Sometimes you make find out information a little too late. Keeping track of it this way will help you get ahead of the fishing curve the next year when the weather and seasons are the same again.
Stayed tuned and I will begin posting all this valuable information on how to take advantage of social media and the internet!
Have you ever thought about the one rod and reel that you use the most and couldn’t live without?
So in my quest to become more productive while on the water and make the most of my precious time, I like to keep things simple. I’ve made more of an effort to fish smaller bodies of water and try to explore when time just doesn’t allow me to get the boat out, or I want to take my girls fishing. I always find myself dragging multiple rods for myself along with the important Barbie Rod and toys! Even trekking through the woods to get to a small body of water can be precarious with a couple of rods. I also through my Deeper Smart Portable Fish Finder and Water Wolf HD Underwater Camera while fishing, so I have to make sure the rods I bring can handle chucking those things into the water. A rod that can handle a heavy lure or camera to a small beetle spin.
So, I’m not a professional fisherman and being a professional is not in my sights currently. My goal is to show you what I used and why I picked a certain product. I’m not specifically endorsing and I’m also not working for any of the companies mentioned in the article. The target setup is a rod, reel, and line choice that compliments all my requirements, but it may not be 100% ideal and that is okay by me.
The rod is a Tsunami AirWave 7.5ft Surf Rod that I picked up from Bass Pro about a year ago, and boy to I love this thing! It is the one rod that is always with me when fishing. The other specs to the rod include a slim rubber grip that helps support the 10-20lb line class that is rated for 1.5-2oz. lures. When I was picking out the rod I need something that could handle flipping, pitching, catfishing, surf fishing, light saltwater. Heck, I’ve used this for crappie and bluegill when I fishing with my daughter. It has also become the workhorse of “The National Angler”. It is the rod I use for testing all my lures and my Water Wolf HD camera, and can’t forget the Deeper Smart Fish Finder.
Luckily for me, I already had a reel in my stash that fit my needs for this solo fishing rod application. What I’m using is the Okuma Trios High-Speed Spinning Reel. The number one choice for this reel for this application and buying was for the speed. The reel is 6.2:1 that picks up 34 inches of line per turn. My personal thinking is; I can always slow down but speeding up can be hard. Pitching, flipping, and top water are my number one choices for the high speed. The reel also comes in at a moderate 10oz. and a great drag set up. The one thing that had me sold on this reel was the high speed and man can this thing pick up fishing line in a hurry.
Well, I’m not actually using just one type of line for this reel. The main line I’m using is 50lb test Tuf-line XP in green. Wait, I did say I was using more than one type of line. Some applications like my Deeper, Water Work, and Flipping I’ll tie braid directly. When the conditions require, say monofilament for topwater or fluorocarbon for clear water, I can easily tie a certain amount of leader directly to the braid.
I’m curious, after reading this what would you select as your choice for just one rod and reel to do it all?
On my first day in the Keys and after a long drive, I settled into my hotel and checked out the bar, and the bartender just happened to be a local fisherman as well. Steve was great with the info and told me a few places to check out and what bait to take. The reassuring part was the fact that the areas I had already discovered online and the baits to use, well those were already recommended earlier in the day.
The next day after work I set out to check the first few spots on Key West! I started out on White Street Fishing Pier. I spoke with a few locals that were fishing with squid of course and decided to break out the travel rods. On the pier, the popular technique, was the squid for smaller fish near the pier, then cast the smaller fish farther out for something better. I chose to ignore this and throw lures and jigs all to watch a few fish strike and follow my baits.
I moved on to fish a few more spots working towards the airport. Heading towards the airport the spots I chose were; the corner of Bertha St & S Roosevelt Blvd, the third rock jetty on Smathers Beach (all were recommended), and the corner near the airport where S Roosevelt heads north just past the Best Western. It was at this corner I had my first strike from a small barracuda. I also spoke with a local, who again recommended squid, hum…shocker!
My final day, I took the some of the advice and bought bait, well not squid but shrimp from a pretty cool tackle shop and bar. Key West Bait and Tackle is a pretty cool little hangout, not only to get bait but talk with some locals as well. I got the shrimp and headed to Fort Zachary Taylor and fished the rock jetty next to the beach.
I set up on the rocks and decided to try my lures again just in case. Well just in case nothing decided to strike. I tied on a small jig with the shrimp and proceeded to feed the local population of very small fish with my shrimp. Those little….kept stealing my shrimp…… I decided to pull out the Berkley Gulp shrimp that I brought with me and put a very small piece on. If you leave the jig in place just barely moving it with the Gulp, you will catch smaller fish near the rocks by the shore. I did catch a small bait fish and threw it out on my bigger rod and proceeded to try to catch more bait.
I did manage one decent fish to the shore but I have no clue what it was. It did put up a good fight, which most saltwater fish seem to do.
Within minutes, I had something pulling line off my reel. Something so BIG, it literally took all my line….:( I spooled back up, but could hook any smaller fish with the power bait so I put on a couple of shrimp and chucked it back out in the deeper water. Again, within minutes the line began to scream until……wait for it…….snap. No more line….. At this point, I didn’t have any heavy sinker left and just used the rest of the shrimp to find the local population living amongst the rocks. In the end, I had a good time and got some well-needed sun. Just wished I would have listed better. Maybe next time in Key West!
Recommendations for shore fishing the Keys and Key West.
The best bait to use to avoid the bait stealer is squid and Berkley Gulp. Any shiny for barracuda! Small jigs with bait to catch more bait. Then send the smaller bait or the bait you bought farther out to deep water to catch something else. I’m very confident that this info will bring you luck in the Keys, that I on my next trip I promise to follow my own advice and use this info and let everyone know how it works.
I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Key West for a work trip and a last minute one at that. So with Key West travel and booking things late, all meant I had to drive from Miami to Key West. It is a 3 plus hour drive depending on traffic, so why not take advantage of the trip to check out the shore fishing on the way down and opportunities to fish from the shore. Now, I’m not going after any trophy fish or highly targeted species, just looking for something to catch after work for some entertainment. Some people might get caught up in the Key West nightlife and the happenings on Duval St. However, I chose to spend my extra time scouting the local fishing scene.
So I should frame this post as what not to do because obviously you will find out I didn’t take the advice of multiple people I talked to. I least I can say I tried something different. Shore fishing the Florida Keys is really simple and try to listen to the advice, that I chose to ignore and you will find success fishing the Keys!
I started the drive down with at stop at the Islamorada World Wide Sportsman or more fondly know as Bass Pro. I was lacking a heavy duty travel rod and the local Bass Pro in Baltimore did not have what I wanted. There I picked up a new Tsunami travel boat rod, and what I great investment that was (review to come!) While there I also took the time to check out the area. This is a great stop to find motivation to fish the shallows of the Keys. The docks surrounding the Bass Pro are covered in HUGE 5-6ft Tarpon, which is lazily cruising around knowing that they are being left alone! That site alone had me all amped up to go fishing.
As I got back to the drive to Key West I made a few stops at various bridges and keys to check things out and see what the locals were catching. It seemed most people were having luck with various grouper, snapper, and barracuda near all the bridges. On the drive down the most notable bridges that seemed to be producing and popular with the locals; Indian Key @ Indian Key Channel, Lower Matecumbe Key @ Channel Two, the bridge between Long Key and Duck Key. If you want to throw a fly a decent place I scoped out was at Bahia Honda State Park. The front side of the island around the beaches and near the bridge, with the right wind, looked so promising for a fly rod. However, the wind was not cooperating with me that day so I moved on. The ranger at the park did tell me when the wind is right, so is the fishing! This is where I ended my day and headed to the hotel as the sun was setting.
Recommendations for shore fishing the Keys.
Honestly, if you can find a bridge or a spot on the side of the road to fish, you are going to catch “something”! The reoccurring fishing theme for the various bridges was fresh bait, shrimp or squid. I high recommend two rods. One set up with a small jig head and bait it with squid to catch smaller fish. Then throw out the smaller fish on circle hooks to catch something bigger!!! The best bait to use to avoid the bait stealer is squid and Berkley Gulp. Any shiny baits or lures for barracuda! Small jigs with bait to catch more bait. Then send the smaller bait or the bait you bought farther out to deep water to catch something else. I’m very confident that this info will bring you luck in the Keys, that I on my next trip I promise to follow my own advice and use this info and let everyone know how it works.
While this is a not a complete list of places, it is a start to discover shore fishing the Florida Keys!
Joe, The National Angler
Today started out at a brisk 28 degrees in Maryland. My friend launched his new boat on the Patapsco River near Baltimore Maryland, to begin the break-in process. After some scouting on the fish finder and seeing some activity, we began throwing rattle traps in the hopes for large Maryland striped bass.
Working areas of with current and eddies did not show any results. We worked around a few bridges in the hope for a crappie bite also, but no success. Marks on the fish finder remained constant and so did our intent on figuring out what lurked below the boat. Finally, something jumped just yards from the boat. “Wait was that a striped bass”, no clue. A few casts later my friend hooked up with something very large and lethargic in the 45-degree water. After a minute of fighting the fish with his medium light rod, buckling over, the hook came free.
Moments later, I hooked into a fish and quickly lost whatever was on the end. A few cast later, I hooked into something large and the drag began to scream. Every time I got the fish near the surface it would bolt away, stripping line from my reel. It made a few attempts under the boat and I was able to fight it back every time. The arc in my medium light rod was insane, as I held onto the main part of the rod with my hand to horse this beast of something from the river. This fish was not coming to the boat, without a fight.
15min went by and my hopes of large Maryland striped bass fell apart. However, I was excited to see my personal best carp on the end of the line. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have a tape measure or scale to measure or weigh the fish. The fish was returned to the water to fight another day!
I never understood the allure of fishing for carp. Well, until you catch a carp like this one, you wouldn’t have a clue. I think this just opened me up, to finding trophy carp in the future!