Goliath Grouper have moved to center stage for many Florida anglers, divers, and conservationists. Photo: underwaterjournal.comThere seems to be little argument about whether conservation measures put in place to protect the Goliath grouper have been a success. But a debate is waging about whether they have been successful enough to reopen the fishery to even a small limited harvest.

Those who want to reopen Goliath grouper to fishing argue the fish has become so plentiful that anglers can’t reel up smaller fish without them being snatched off their lines by the giant beasts, which can weigh in excess of 500 pounds.


Also, Goliath groupers are consuming large numbers of spiny lobster, a major cash crop, supporters of opening the fishery say. They are calling for a small limited harvest.

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What to fish and how.

While giving a saltwater fly-fishing seminar at a fly shop in northeastern Pennsylvania this summer, I was asked this question, and it is one of the most frequently-asked questions I hear. Dave Keck, the store's owner, who I fished with for smallmouth bass on the Susquehanna River, five minutes from where we were in Berwick, Pa., was close to me and I asked Saltwater flies are varied and impressionistic, but matching a hatch is still important.him to get out his fly box. Some flies did not have stainless steel hooks, but the flies we selected were all effective patterns to use in the Tampa Bay area where I do most of my fishing. This applies to most areas of Florida as well. Minnow imitations were most prevalent with hook size appropriate for snook, redfish and speckled trout, which are the most predominant quarry most of the year. Colors were also consistent with patterns that either "match the hatch" of local baitfish, or even imitate shrimp or small crabs. If you believe, as I do, that presentation is more important than color and size, his fly box would give you a good start if you ventured south for a few days of R&R with your fly rod.

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By filing an Amicus Brief, SGF entered the net ban law suit on behalf of FWC as a "friend of the court."First District Court of Appeals Strikes Down Gill Net Use upon Appeal

The appellate court’s decision overturns ruling that gill nets ban was unfair; reinstates ban which was passed in 1995 and challenged almost universally since

 

TALLAHASSEE (July 7, 2014) – Calling the ruling “erroneous” and saying trial court judge Jackie Fulford did not follow precedent, Florida’s First District Court of Appeals once again upheld the net ban amendment.

 

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Courtesy of Fly and Light Tackle Angler

Hull shape determines hull slap; therefore it needs to be a factor in determining your boat purchase.Guidelines to follow before buying your flats boat.

In the rush to compete in the skinny water marketplace, some companies built boats too large, or too heavy, or too wide, or too noisy, or from a skinny water standpoint, an unworkable combination of some of the above. Another important genre of boats emerged from the larger designs, vessels that we now call "bay boats." And important improvements have since been made to true flats skiffs. If you're in the market for a boat that fishes skinny water really well, here are some things to keep in mind in your search for a flats skiff.

Stealth Is Job One

The shallower the water, the quieter that boat has to be. The slightest hull slap can send an edgy bonefish, redfish, striper, tarpon, permit or seatrout packing. If you can hear any noise from water making contact with the hull, you can bet that every fish in the vicinity registered it as a loud noise and/or vibration. Sound is amplified and travels faster under water. And since most gamefish experience a lot more fishing (and unrelated boating) pressure today than ever, it's easy to understand why they're getting a bit high strung.

So don't be surprised if any hull or cockpit boat noise makes fish in the shallows wary enough to stay just out of practical casting range (How do they know this?) or to simply not bite even if they don't flee. Also keep in mind that "shallow" is a term relative to the size of the fish. A 6-foot tarpon in three feet of water is every bit on edge as a bonefish in 12 inches.

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Registration is free, and you can win prizes just by participating. In an effort to bring more anglers into the data collection fold, the Snook & Gamefish Foundation is hosting a series of free 'virtual’ tournaments. Anglers across the country – and globe – are able to participate and potentially earn prizes just for participating.

YOU can participate in the next FREE events, which are scheduled for July 4-6. There will be both a fresh water tournament and an inshore tournament.

 

Designed to manage current tournaments as well as host new events that can focus on specific research needs, iAngler-Tournament has already successfully managed a tournament from the legendary Redbone series in the Florida Keys, and SGF hosted their own events throughout the month of June.

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Was the apparent increase of shark-on-tarpon attacks in spring 2014 an anomaly, or the new norm? Be it geography, demographics or a narrow gene pool, Key West, Fla. is known for unusual occurrences. Spring 2014 is no exception.

Around the island, the migrations of many aquatic species are in full swing, and none more eagerly awaited than the million member march of tarpon moving north, up from the Caribbean.

Two distinct species--Atlantic and Gulf--stimulated by rising water temperatures and the call to procreate, cross the straits of Florida in football-field-size schools. These silver-sided beasts, some in excess of two hundred pounds are historically greeted by large, hungry sharks.

The traveling tarpon’s first port of call are the channels, harbors and grass flats of the Florida Keys. From Key Largo to the Marquesas, world-class anglers also await the fish’s arrival armed with thousand-dollar fly rods alongside shrimp-tinted tourists on the fishing trip of their dreams.

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Hart Stilwill loved tarpon. The concept of careful fish handling was unstudied 'back in the day,' but it is clear that he came to understand the need to protect gamefish. Glory of the Silver King, The Golden Age of Tarpon Fishing by Hart Stilwell, edited by Brandon D. Shuler, Ph.D

Tarpon capture an angler’s spirit like no other fish, and this edited collection of Stilwell’s essays in Glory of the Silver King (Texas A&M Press, 2011) impeccably captures a storied lifetime of angling.

Shuler’s introduction gives us more than just a hint of the literary power Stilwell held over his readers. The journey which leads to the publication of this book is worth the price of admission by itself. Shuler brings us to the fire at a fish camp where he first heard about the unpublished manuscripts and knew he had to get his eyes on them. The research that went into compiling and organizing the essays is clearly the trabajo de amor for Shuler.

Stillwell has a direct style of prose. His prologue blackens the dark greys and erases the lighter shades right away – “I tell a fishing story.” While that is certainly true, the magic of his stories is that it might not really matter that it is fishing. In this case, you get the idea that it would be just as fun to read if it were about engineering, or (god forbid) playing golf, so long as Stilwell’s hand is pushing the pen. As you read through chapter after chapter you come to realize that while Stilwell writes with a style that reads very easy, he does indeed color and shade his stories with sensational detail.

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 By MIKE HODGE
 

Tarpon on a fly is challenging and rewarding. Image from www.flyfishfortarpon.comSummer is almost here and the arrival of Florida’s suffocating heat means one thing if you’re a dedicated sight-fisherman.

Tarpon.

In a few weeks, many Florida flats will welcome the popular game fish.  And fly fishermen will be waiting. Some will struggle, muddling along with the hope that enough shots will yield a Kodak moment. Others --- albeit a small fraction of the long rod elitists --- will catch and land fish regularly.
The difference, quite often, comes down to casting. The better you can cast, the more fish you’ll catch. Period.
Below are a few tips to consider while preparing to dance with the Silver King.
 

Practice makes perfect.

Saltwater fly fishing is a skill, yet many anglers treat it as a hobby. They fish, but they don’t practice and if they practice, they don’t put in enough time to truly hone their craft.
“You have to practice,” Peter Kutzer, an Orvis casting instructor, said. “You don’t see golfers going out on courses without practicing and taking practice swings. They go to the driving range. They chip and putt to help with their short game. You have to practice your fly-casting game as well. Chasing tarpon is not a poor man’s sport. It’s tough. You’re going to be a lot more successful if you spend some time practicing.”
 

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A familiar sight: Capt. Danny Barrow with his favorite fish. Danny has insightful ideas about his local fishery, from prey to predator.Rock star species? Iconic fish? All of the above? Praise the snook however you will. There’s no denying that the common snook (Centropomus undecimalis) is one of the most important species to attract anglers to the Fishing Capital of the World.

I’ve been obsessed with snook fishing since I was a kid growing up in West Palm Beach, Florida. My clients all want to catch them, so I’m lucky to make a living specializing in fishing for the species that I’ve grown so much to love. And we’re all lucky that the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) does a careful job of managing the species. Still, a couple of things have me really worried about the future of our snook. Those worries boil down to bait.

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Snook are prowling the beaches and can be fooled by those willing to log in the hours needed to learn the tricks, as demonstrated by angler Veronica Lane Ostarly. Photo: Andy TaskerNearly everyone agrees beach snook fishing on Florida’s West Coast has been slow the past few years. Few dispute that. Why is a matter of debate. Is it the weather? Is it the freeze of 2010, which clobbered nearly a third of the snook population? Or is it some unknown variable? Is it a combination of factors?

Perhaps the answer depends on...

“Location, location, location,” said Ron Taylor, a biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “Snook use the entire habitat. You may find snook today at John’s Pass. Those 10 snook may not be there tomorrow. They’re continuously moving.

“I’ve been doing this 34 years. Every day, there’s questions we don’t have answers for. To expect an answer why there are not snook on Caladesi Island on the 17th of July, that’s crazy. I will say this: There are areas that have certain characteristics that you can predict that snook will be there. Not today. Not tomorrow, but sometime during that season.”

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