Learning To Fish Florida

So I’m a Floridian now. And I like to fish. But fishing here is very different from fishing in The People’s Republic Of Kalifornia. First off, there’s a few dozens of more fish species. Second, almost all of them are different. (California did have the Florida Bass imported as did most States).

Then there’s all that Warm Ocean Beach, and warm lakes. This has big consequences, as does the strong predation from all those big semi-tropical fish. Especially for Catfish. In California, the water (at least in the north where we have water) is all quite cold. One thing I’ve learned is that cold water fish taste better; for catfish a whole lot better. Before moving here, I went out on a boat in the gulf. Caught some catfish (that are ‘unlimited catch’ in Florida) and was happy to try to eat them. Why? Because catfish in California are very tasty. Especially Channel Cats that live in cold moving rivers. Boy was I surprised. These things tasted like moldy mud.

Plus, they were “hard head” catfish. California Cats have a sort of shovel shaped short head, then a longer meaty body. These things were about 1/2 skull bones and just enough tail to move them around. The “hard head”, IMHO, is likely due to selective pressure from predators leading to a more armored fish. So, OK, first thing I learned about Florida Fishing: Do NOT fish for catfish and especially do not try to eat them (doubly so if the water is warm at all, which is always is). Anyone more experienced can provide nuance to this if I’ve missed some edge case where catfish are edible here…

Well, I grew up almost entirely bank fishing for catfish, lake or stream trout, and perch / bluegill type fish. I have caught a couple of big bass and a couple of Pacific Salmon, but those were not the bulk of my experience. THE most common bait were worms and chicken innards (liver, heart). Often fished “on the bottom” for cats or about 5 feet down under a bobber for bluegill. Trout were with salmon eggs by various means of floating it in a mountain creek.

So first off, there are no mountain creeks in Florida. Second, anything with a bank tends to be overgrown with all sorts of plants and reeds, or privately owned (with a few places that are public for putting in your bass boat, or where there’s a bit of cleared bank on a lake). I’m sure there are miles of Public Bank somewhere but I’ve not found it (yet…). Then, fishing with chicken parts seems to be a bit alien here (probably due to the local catfish being entirely crap tasting…). However… shrimp seem to be used for just about anything.

OK, next learning: Need to learn what the local bait preferences might be. Watching some U-Tubers has shown something called “fishbites” (an artificial colored patch) added to shrimp is used a lot in shore fishing, and inland near shore waterways (rivers & canals). They also used a lot of small live or chunked local small fish caught with a net. “Pin fish” and mullet among others. So I’ve bought a net. Now I need to learn how to use it ;-) BTW, I believe nets are illegal for fresh water use in California. In any case, I’ve never seen one in use there. Here? Go for it…

This looked like the easiest way to do it, so I’m saving this video link to practice tossing mine in the back yard ;-)

Looking through the State Regulations, it is a minefield of ways to go wrong. Mostly due to there being a dozen fish that all look more or less the same to me, but with different rules. A “Pompano” vs a “Permit” that looks almost the same to me but can be bigger. Several snapper like things, often with different rules. (“Redfish” offshore?). Then there’s a special endorsement for “reef fish” that don’t always stay on the reef… So, OK, need to learn who’s a what… BUT, the good news, is that many of the “protected” species (like “snook”, whatever they are…) are not that common. Pompano is more likely to be caught, along with “Sheepshead” that I think I can recognize, and “whiting” that has a more down pointing mouth than the other things that look a lot like it (I think… hope?…) So I just might be able to catch some stuff I recognize and could keep.

Oh, and there’s something called a “circle hook” that isn’t a circle that you must use some times in some places, so the J hooks I have a bucket of are off limits (some times, some places…). They also like a lot of “slot limits” on the rarer bigger fish. So IF you have a special Snook Licences and you in just the limited time window they are allowed, you can keep one if it is between 28 inches and 32 inches (on one of the coasts, the other coast has a different range…). I’m pretty sure I can tell what is a snook (long sloping nose and jaw behind eye) and just not keep anything that looks vaguely like that…. I hope…

So next up is a trip through the tackle box and fishing store to load up on “circle hooks”… and at the same time get a bunch of bigger hooks as everything here seems big. LOW end of “keepers” is around 11 to 12 inches for many of them. That’s a lot bigger than a bluegill… that is considered a bait fish here, it seems…

So that’s about where I am now. I have too small a set of gear as my salt water heavy poles are still in storage in California (to be picked up “soon” I hope). So I have my travel collapsible pole with me. Sturdy enough for things in the surf. Plus some hand lines. I need to redo the lures and hooks section, and I’ve added some weights in the 1 to 3 ounce range (that I never needed in California…) I think I can make the end tackle suitable for surf fishing here. We’ll find out.

That ought to be enough for the first round of “saltwater fishing”. I do need to find out how to fish the local lakes and canals without being arrested for trespass, or needing a machete and shovel to carve a new fishing spot from the lakeside jungle… /sarc;

I didn’t do much saltwater fishing in California. Just some from a way overfished pier and one big party boat (where I caught 2 very nice salmon and spent a while upchucking over the railing – first time I’d ever been seasick and a bit of a surprise as I lived on my sailboat for a couple of years… I think it was the low frequency rumble of the engines mixed with a persistent slow rolling in the swells…) I kept thinking I ought to try beach fishing, but never got around to it as most of the beaches are overcrowded with folks and there’s a general hostility toward catching animals to eat… (At least, anywhere inside a 2 hour drive from Silly Con Valley)

Which means there’s a new big hurdle of learning how to fish in the surf. Yes, I have a boat, but it is a sail boat. Not going into near shore waters in a sail boat. It is OK for offshore, though. My one attempt in the bay had “nothing happen”. Most likely because I was using California Habits: Chicken Innards Parts hanging under a bobber. We also were just fooling around and did it about High Noon when fish are less active. And, of course, being a sail boat, we were in deeper water out near / in the channel away from any “structure”. What can I say, I just really really wanted to dunk some bait and do something that looked like fishing ;-) Most of the day was just sailing the boat around. But back at surf fishing: It looks like what I’m likely to start with. My light gear is heavy enough, I mostly need to get the bait right and learn “where”. I’ve bought a pole holder for the sand too.

This video looked like a pretty decent intro. I’ve also looked up some public beaches that are close enough to try. I figure in a few weeks I’ll have given it a go somewhere. I understand there’s a lot of newly cleared beachfront down near Fort Meyers ;-)

Now the Really Good News is that I’m happy with anything over about 5 inches long, being used to small bluegill from overfished places. That means anything in the keeper range of 1 foot and up is going to be a Big Thrill. The bad news is that I’ve now got to learn how to identify all those various things I might catch and know what’s a keeper and what’s a prison sentence. (One video had some kids catch a “Goliath Gouper” – that is entirely illegal outside strict times, sizes and places – that was about 1 foot long. Since these go up to several hundred pounds, it was clearly a “baby”. They did toss it back, but…) OK, I’ve got to worry about catching a foot long something in a river inlet that is normally a several hundred pounds offshore? With size limits in multiple feet and hundreds of pounds? So it isn’t enough to just know what the fresh water or surf fish look like. Got it.

I’m tempted to get a small trailer-able boat for putting in lakes and rivers. But that’s going to be a ways in the future. Maybe next spring or summer. First I’ve got to get good at the surf and whatever bank fishing I can find.

Any pointers, links to sites, and places to go to start out would be highly appreciated. While I’m about 20 minutes from Disney World, it’s also a fast run to Tampa (or places north or south of it off of the I-4 corridor on more rural roads) AND I’m making drives over to Melbourne down toward Miami fairly often on runs to the boat (on the ICW / Atlantic side). So either coast and places anywhere in between are in my range.

Yup, I’ve FINALLY gotten moved in enough that I can start to explore the recreational opportunities ;-)

FWIW: I’m not really a “catch & release” kind of guy into tormenting an animal for “sport” and not for utility. I fish because I like to eat fish. If it was just for the “excitement” of it, I could bottom fish horrible catfish all day long. I have no desire to catch a 4 foot “monster”, of a species that must be released, just for the experience. I’m OK with that if it happens (and it is fun) where some fish is not legal to keep; but would not set out with that as the goal. I’d rather catch a couple of 1 foot “keepers” and then get to explore their culinary differences and best preparation. I did grow up in a restaurant family of short order cooks, after all… ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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16 Responses to Learning To Fish Florida

  1. John Hultquist says:

    As a non-resident of FL, I have only a “fish fry” experience – 35 years ago – somewhere between West Palm and Fort Lauderdale. It was likely in the Boca Raton area. The web says there are dozens of these places. It may have been an outbuilding associated with a church. The food was plentiful and good.
    An earlier time about 50 years ago, we were on the Gulf coast and took a day trip from the Clearwater area and caught Grouper and had a dozen Bottlenose dolphin escort the charter.
    I can’t help with the fishing but do try the local fish-fry outing.

  2. Jess says:

    In Texas, mullet isn’t considered good to eat. In Florida, I saw many restaurants advertising the fish. I didn’t try it, but they’re easily caught with a cast net, if that’s a legal way to fish.

    Atlantic croaker is a tasty fish, and since it doesn’t get real large, can be caught with freshwater tackle. I’ve had it a few different ways, but prefer it grilled on foil. They have a tendency to school, so if they’re running, it doesn’t take long to fill a stringer.

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    @John H:

    I guess I need to find out about “local fish fry” events too ;-)

    @Jess:

    From what I’ve seen in videos, Mullet is caught in cast nets a lot and largely used for bait to catch something bigger or more interesting. I’m not sure exactly what a mullet looks like, but figure I’ll learn 8-)

    Frankly, IF it actually does taste good, I’d try mullet. I’m glad to eat anything that moves and isn’t bad tasting or harmful to you. Heck, I’ve had escargot, despite my despising snails… Had them at a high end French restaurant. FWIW, seemed like butter and garlic coated pencil erasers to me… a bit chewy… But taste was OK. I’d eat ’em again. Had carp a couple of times too. Lots of Y bones make them a bother, but taste was OK. Frogs, if fresh, are very nice…

    Though I’m likely to do a web search on mullet rather than just try one cold myself. Until then,, I’m thinking of them as “bait”. That also seems to be how some folks in Tampa felt about Spanish Mackerel. A couple of years ago I was near a bridge, fishing, and there were a bunch of “Spanish” around the rocks. Locals seemed to think them not worth catching. So I’ll figure them as “bait” until I learn otherwise.

    I figure maybe sometime this weekend I’ll find a place to try just tossing my net and seeing what it finds. Then try to sort Bait from Tossers from Keepers from WT? Is It?

    Maybe.

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    Well that was a bit of a surprise…

    Looking up Mackerel and Mullet shows both of them to be commonly eaten all over the world.

    Mackerel is prone to a particular kind of spoilage that can be toxic, so is to be prepared and eaten the same day caught (or very rapidly frozen…). Folks in the UK, especially, tend to stay away from it; but in other countries it is considered the best fish to eat. It’s a relative of Tuna, so there’s that.

    Mullet is also eaten all over the world, but specifics were a bit sparse in the Wiki.

    I guess I’ll need to do a bit more study on this, as if they ARE in fact decent tasting and OK to eat without offensive character, well, I’m willing to ice things as soon as caught and then prep them the same day…

    One is left wondering if they have a lot of worms in them, or pin bones, or are an oily off tasting fish, or… I have trouble with the idea that swarms of these things are all over the place and ffolks choose not to eat them; if they are in fact tasty and good.

    Heck, folks eat sardines. Dinky little nothings…

    I get the feeling I’m missing something. Maybe it is that folks would rather have a 5 pound Sheepshead or a big pompano so they use these things as bait just because there are so many of them?

  5. H.R. says:

    @E.M. re mullet in Florida vs Texas.

    In Texas, mullet is bait, though that may have changed in recent years. In Florida, you’ll find smoked mullet fish spread as an appetizer on many menus. Smoked mullet is definitely a “thing” here in Florida. Deeee-lish!

    Spanish mackerel school and when they swim by, they will aggressively hit anything shiny. They are a ‘love it or loathe it’ fish. They are on the oily side which puts some people off.

    Redfish are good. The species was almost wiped out when Blackened Redfish became the big thing. The slot limits helped with the recovery and also, the slot limits offer the best eating size while protecting the young’uns to get bigger and protecting the larger breeder fish. Ask around at bait shops where the Reds hang out.

    Pinfish are baitfish and they are good eating. They are an almost exact analogue to bluegill. The problem with pinfish is that there is a bazillion of them that are too small to fuss with and that’s what’s mostly around, so… bait. They only get up to a max of about a pound, and those are few and far between. That said, if you run into a school of the larger ones of 7 or 8 or 9 inches (fairly rare those 9-inchers), go ahead and keep some for eating. Pretend they are bluegill, and you know everything you need to know about prep, cooking, and eating.

    I did a little fishing tonight and caught North of a dozen pinfish, the largest being a little over 5 inches, one sand perch, a saltwater cat, and a spotted trout not quite legal size.

    As for places to fish, you might want to try the Sunshine Skyway pishing pier. The South pier is the longest fishing pier anywhere and you drive on the pier to whatever spot you want to fish (shallower or deeper). You park, unload, and fish. No toting gear out on a long pier. There’s a North pier that’s a bit shorter. You pay about $10 I think it is now to fish and it’s good for 24 hours fishing on either pier. You can move between piers without paying the Sunshine Skyway bridge toll, which you will have to pay once to get to either fishing pier. Check out some videos of fishing the Skyway pier.

    You are in luck with the sailboat. Do some reef fishing when your heavy gear gets here from California. Reef fish are generally the best eating fish. You get snapper, grouper, grunts (so-so eating, not bad), and black sea bass, which are excellent. There are quite a few other good-eating species as well.

    Get a map of the natural and artificial reefs in your new stomping grounds. Sail out, anchor, then drop a baited hook. I’d recommend a minimum of 60# test line and 5/0 hooks. You’ll need 4 to 6-ounce weights to get your bait down quickly and keep it down. A lot of people use a 30# leader for the hook so if they get hung up in the reef, they can break off the 30# leader and lose only a hook and a couple of feet of line. The ‘near shore’ reefs are usually in 30′ to 60′ feet of water, so it’s not like you need a sea anchor or anything to stay on the reef. You can also do a slow drift across the reefs.

    Oh, for surf fishing, the most likely catches will be whiting (excellent!) and Pompano (theeee best!) along with some stingrays and sharks. Stingrays are good eating up to about a 2′ wingspan. Larger is tougher and less tasty. Look up videos on preparing and cooking stingrays. Stingrays are a blast to catch. It’s like reeling in a kite through water. A small little 2 or 3-pound stingray will have you thinking you’ve hooked Moby Dick. An 80# stingray will occupy you for an hour or two or three.

    I’m still learning Florida fishing. There is just so much variety in species and habitat and the various techniques needed to catch your targeted fish… and then you catch something totally unexpected anyhow.

  6. Ossqss says:

    Ok, let’s start by segregating Fresh vs. Salt water. Totally different all the way around from tackle to baits used.

    First, get a license.

    Second, always fish near moving tidal water (passes/cuts) in salt and know fishing is very different from East to West coasts. Very different.

    Third, don’t wade fish in fresh water in Florida. Just don’t do it.

    Live bait always works best in both.

    I don’t really think I have the time/patience to type the best practices learned after 35 years here but will be happy to talk you though some lessons learned.

    My neighbor has been an inshore charter captain for decades on the West coast. I can hook you up if you like. We took A Watts out a few years ago and did very well. Just ask him.

    Out>

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    @H.R.:

    Oh, Blackend Redfish! Now I know what it is… So “fads” in cooking reflect in what folks want to catch. Then there’s that whole thing of “not fished out” like inland California waters are… so folks can be picky and have a “targeted fish”…

    Sidebar: In California, many of the inland rivers, lakes, and reservoirs have been heavily fished. Often to the point where catching ANYTHING is a “good day”. There are some that are frequently stocked so you can catch something that was raised on a fish farm and released the week (or day…) before; and some folks even plan their fishing trip to coincide with the stocking day. Ocean fishing is better, but again there’s a hoard of boats going out from the couple of major ports. (Note all my experience is North Cal from Monterey to the Cascades. No idea what So. Cal is like, but with 2 x or 3x or maybe even 4 x the population, fishing pressure must be intense). Then there’s the fact that much of the ocean shore is rocky cliffs with rocks below. Makes fishing hard… So your choices are often “lots of rocks”, or “climb down a cliff to lots of rocks”, or “beach covered in blankets & bimbos (of both sexes)”, or paying someone a minor fortune to go out on a giant boat packed shoulder to shoulder with fishermen. Part of why I only went once. So here, I’m overwhelmed with the variety, choices, and open beaches.

    Glad to have the confirmation that mullet and Spanish Mackerel are edible. I’ll have to just try each and see what I think. I rather like other “Oily” fish (tuna, salmon) so there’s that. But the taste will tell.

    Slot Limits: I need to make some kind of queue card with a “differential diagnosis” chart for telling which fish I’ve got… then the listed seasons & limits. At least to start out. Just yesterday I found out that the “key” to Pompano vs Permit is where the top and bottom fins align (with secondary size and fin length and then details). Slot limits measured in a yard are a bit exotic to me, being from the land of 6 inch keepers ;-)

    Where does one get a fishing map of reefs? Or do I just use the bottom charts for the boat?

    As I’m a lazy fisherman, I tend to use #40, #50, and #80 test kevlar braid for the bulk of my line. Like “Spyderwire”. Incredibly thin for the strength. Then put a mono leader on the end of it (of any composition, flurocarbon, nylon, etc.). I guess I’m still thinking California as I’ve mostly wedged sinkers between rocks and lost them, not the hooks. But whatever it gets stuck on, I like to get my whole line back minus leader. So does visible braid spook fish here? Do I need to swap out to flurocarbon or is a long leader good enough?

    I’ll likely start out with beach or that Skyway pier. Work up to reefs. (No. Cal. doesn’t have reefs. Just rocks and a rapid dropoff to depth – except for some sand / mud bars way outside the Golden Gate. Inside the bay is sometimes good, though.) So I’ll need to figure out how to find and fish reefs sometime… One problem of the sail boat is that it takes a few hours to motor out to the Atlantic and cross the inter-coastal waterway. I will likely try the ICW before reefs… OTOH, when we’re outside the ICW sailing I can always have a lure dragging ;-)

    @OSSQSS:

    When you say East & West coasts are totally different: I assume that’s E & W coasts of Florida? Not Florida vs California…

    I noticed in the regulations they have different rules for some (most?) fish. I’ve been in the Gulf fishing and caught a couple of things (where I learned hardhead cats taste bad…) I also noticed we had to run forever to get to deeper water – a big mud flat was my impression. This in a long 20s to short 30s powerboat. It was also where I saw the foot long or so Spanish Mackerel near a fishing pier near Tampa and had folks saying not to bother…

    I’m likely going to mostly try surf / shore / pier fishing on the Gulf side, and then a mix of surf and the boat on the Atlantic side, along with some of the brackish water bay where the boat is docked, and after that: the ICW if we can figure out a way to anchor that isn’t too shallow for a 4 foot keel…

    And yes, both fresh (as it is closest to me and I can do it in a single day or even part of a day) and salt. We’ll see how I do with each. Part of the “overwhelmed” feeling comes from just how much choice there is that way.

    As to license: Being over 65, and a resident, I don’t need one as I’m exempt. Tried to get one and was told they stopped handing them out and just check your driver license now. There is a requirement to get some kind of “endorsement” for one species ( I think it was snook? Need to see the regs again…) but that’s just an on-line sign up for free. Initially I plan to only keep what I can correctly recognize as legal without endorsements or such. IF I manage to hook a Goliath or Snook of some size, a photo of me releasing it will be good enough ;-)

    As to wading in fresh water: I have no desire to meet any gators up close and personal. Heck, my buddy teases me as I was unwilling to even reach down to lift a fish via a close held line. Waiting to get my hand net here before I’d do that. I tried to explain that fishing Lake Louisa (IIRC…) there was a “Lunch Call” from any splashing fish on a line and a gator who would magically appear near the fishing platform. Reaching down and waving a hand over the water to grab the line seemed to me to be an invitation to “catch that bird” to any gator… Wading in it? No way… I was happy to lift the fish via the pole and several feet of line… maybe I am being a coward about gators, but then again, I’m not being called “Lefty”… 8-{)

    Live bait: OK, so a visit to bait shops near the fishing spot. I’ve seen shrimp as a favorite in the videos, and then some small crabs. I’m hoping to learn to use the cast net for pinfish and similar. (Though I’ll likely put a frozen shrimp on first as I work out the net thing ;-)

    I’m not looking for the encyclopedia of local fishing, just enough to not be too stupid about it (like my first attempt with chicken livers…). Though if sometimes folks wanted to have a fishing meet-up, that might be fun. 35 years worth? I’m looking for more like 6 months worth ;-0 or maybe the first week worth 8-0

    I may try the Charter Captain thing. Though not “soon”. For now I’m strictly “got a day to run out and try it” as I’m still setting up the house AND I still have to do 2 or 3 runs to California to fetch “stuff”… (FINALLY think the ML is going to work right. Rear Light Lens was installed without a gasket and was dribbling water on the Hind Brain {SAM} killing it in the rain. Now fixed and tested with hose outside and me on my belly inside watching… so I can now do what I expected to be doing last April…)

    Oh, and in one video a guy uses what looks like a big rectangular sieve on a handle to get sand fleas. Just put it in the water edge in the sand as a wave ran out over the sand, then the sand and water run out again and he had a dozen or so sand fleas for bait. Is that a common thing? A good idea? Or just click bait for the video?

    I’m also thinking I’m not getting a “Beach Cart” until proven I need one. Going to start with one or 2 poles (as that’s what I have here now…) light rigged and carry a small cooler with some ice & bait (hopefully to become fish on ice…) and my gear in a backpack (plus one folding chair…) . Only once (if?) I start catching enough stuff to care about the weight, move up to things like beach carts, big coolers, 3 rods with holders, etc. etc. I have a couple of 3 oz weights and will start with them. Once it’s clear that I need bigger (or once I’ve lost the 3 oz…) I’ll get some heavier.

    Does that sound like a reasonable starting point?

  8. jim2 says:

    Don’t know about the East coast edible fish, but Gulf Coast flounder, fried, it to die for.

  9. Terry Jackson says:

    Check the F&G site. Some states have a lot of consumer info and publications, especially species ID and key features. Most are not into keeping folks in the dark about subtle differences in species ID, the writing tickets. They may also have maps, and need to clearly identify any reef or other area covered by regulation. An office visit to the appropriate area office may be productive. Most of the folks are happy to educate.

  10. H.R. says:

    @E.M. – Yeah, we need to do a meet up on the Skyway pier sometime. I’m going to go sometime this month, but it’s already a smidge late in the season. January and February are a crapshoot as many species head out of Tampa Bay or into the backwaters and canals. Finally, FINALLY, we are staying long enough that I will be here when the water warms and the fish will be moving back into the bay. That’s good pier fishing time starting around April and getting better into May and June.

    Ossqss is right about the Atlantic side and the Gulf side of Florida being different. Many of the species are the same and then there are a few that are not caught on one or the other coast. But the timing of the types of fish are different, and as you noticed, the Gulf side has a much shallower shelf, which favors some species over others.

    Terry Jackson has it right about contacting the DNR – true for any State, really – for information on fish IDs, size and bag limits.

    Last year, snook were closed where we stay, yet about 20 miles North they were legal to keep. The bag limit was reduced from other months, but hey! They were legal to keep. Pick up a 2023 rules and regulations free at any Walmart.

    Oh, those small live crabs are really good for sheepshead. I’m talking Tampa Bay area now, but sheepshead are more cold tolerant and remain abundant and catchable during the Winter months when I am down. The 2 to 4 pound fish are very good eating. When they get larger, some up to 40 pounds, they are full of worms and other nasties.

    Redfish are in the back bays and canals in the winter, but I don’t go after them as I like surf fishing. That’s just hanging out on the beach with a line in to see what comes along.

    Pompano are some of the best eating and they love the sand fleas. So do a lot of other fish. I have a sand flea rake, but I have not had room to haul it down for the past couple of years. Pompano prefer warmer waters, so they move up and down the coasts with the seasons. One Winter, we stayed in Naples farther South, and Pompano ran in a couple of times. I’ve never caught and have never seen Pompano in the Winter months as far North (ha! North…) as Tampa Bay. Since you are year ’round, you can go out for them during the warm months.

    Ossqss is right about getting a private charter. They are much cheaper here on the Gulf than on the Atlantic side and the Tampa Bay area, where his Captain buddy guides, is really reasonable. I’m not sure of the rates this year, but last year was about $600 for 6 or so hours. That’s the rate for the boat and depending on the boat size, is good for up to 2 or 4 anglers. If you go on a 4-person boat with a few friends, the cost works out to a couple of hundred bucks apiece. It’s a great deal for quality fishing. And the longer the trip, the cheaper the rates.

    Braid with a mono leader is great! For surf fishing, you can cast farther, nd the water doesn’t move your line and bait around as much as the heavier monofilament lines. Plus, with zero line- stretch, you hook more fish and get feel more of what’s going on. But you use braid, so you know what I’m talking about.

    Oh, about Spanish Mackerel… some people are like “Oh boy! The Spanish Mackerel are in!” Others are like “Oh crap! The Spanish Mackerel are in. I think you may wind up in the former group.

  11. H.R. says:

    Do a search on “Florida fishing reef maps”.

    Here’s a good one, but you might find others that will be more useful, E.M.

    https://anglershookup.com/florida-artificial-reefs-interactive-map/


    Might I suggest a Chiefio’s Blog Sunshine Skyway Pier Fishing Contest and Dodgy Proceedings gala?

    No one needs to buy a license as the pier fee covers that. I have a few extra rods and the bait shop on each pier has rods for rent. I have no idea if the rental rods are decent or just totally suck.

    If you decide to go after Goliath Groupers (Volkswagens with gills), you’ll need at least a 16/0 hook and 400# test line. The rod and reel are best described as a small winch and crane. Bait is usually a wing from a 4 or 5-pound stingray.

  12. Phil Salmon says:

    I have family connections with Cornwall England and we always eat mackerel that we catch – mostly feathering from a boat. Not aware of any mackerel issues but haven’t fished them for a few years. They’re my Belorussian wife’s favourite fish.

  13. Graeme No.3 says:

    THERE ARE ABOUT 16 SPECIES OF MULLETS IN AUSTRALIA. Sea Mullet is the largest, found around the coasts of Australia but fished mostly in QLD, NSW and WA using net methods. Diamondscale is the highest priced of the mullets, it is found only in the North of the country, which is also where most of the product is sold. In the southern states Yelloweye Mullet is more common at market, it is found from Newcastle (NSW) to Kalbari (WA) with the fishery strongest from April to December.
    Yelloweye Mullet from the Lakes and Coorong district in SA is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. It has also been assessed as sustainable by the Australian Conservation Foundation’s ‘Sustainable Australian Seafood Assessment Program’. It may be sold as ‘Coorong Yelloweye Mullet’ or ‘Coorong Mullet’. MULLET ARE SHORT LIVED, FAST GROWING FISH WITH ROBUST STOCKS. They are caught by localised fisheries using target specific netting methods. Hence, both their biology and the fisheries that target them are inherently pretty sustainable.
    PREPARATION AND COOKING
    MULLET HAS A STRONG, DISTINCT TASTE AND MOIST OILY FLESH.
    IT CAN BE GRILLED OR PAN FRIED, WITH THE SKIN CRISPING BEAUTIFULLY.
    IT IS ALSO WELL SUITED TO MARINATING, SERVING ESCABECHE STYLE, OR BAKING.
    If you want a milder tasting fillet you can skin it and trim off the excess fat. Mullet and mullet roe are both excellent when smoked.
    Season the skin side of the fillets. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a sturdy frying pan set over a moderate heat.
    Cook the fillets, skin facing down, for 3-4 minutes until the skin is crisp and golden. Flip the fillets over, add a dash more olive oil and a teaspoon of butter and cook for another two minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon before removing from the heat.
    Serve with the salad and a wedge of lemon. Add a small knob of butter to the top of the fish when you serve and let it melt.

    The RED MULLETS or surmullets are two species of goatfish, Mullus barbatus and Mullus surmuletus, found in the Mediterranean Sea, east North Atlantic Ocean, and the Black Sea. Both “red mullet” and “surmullet” can also refer to the Mullidae in general. They are both favored delicacies in the Mediterranean, and in antiquity were “one of the most famous and valued fish”. They are very similar, and cooked in the same ways. M. surmuletus is perhaps somewhat more prized. The ancient Romans reared them in ponds where they were attended and caressed by their owners, and taught to come to be fed at the sound of the voice or bell of the keeper.

  14. KarenL says:

    I have in my Basque food cookbook a recipe for pastel de pesca (fish loaf, or mousse) which calls for lionfish. This is an invasive that is supposedly taking over Florida waters. As an invasive, it’s probably classified like feral hogs are in Texas: no season, no limit, and thank you for putting a dent in the mob. I made the pastel de pesca with “rockfish” and it was very good. Later on we made it with crawfish and it was superb. I recommend the exploration to you. (Also it’s lo carb, it’s just the fish, the seasoning vegs, heavy cream, and eggs.)

  15. H.R. says:

    Woo-hoo! Mrs. H.R. bought me a Sabiki rod.

    Other than a tuna rod and reel and Marlin gear, I have pretty much one or two each of the rods needed for various species and fishing conditions. But I didn’t have a Sabiki rod because it is just too specialized, and I am tight with a penny. (Her family in Scotland would have made me an honorary member of the clan, but I was too tight with money to allow in. Made them look like spendthrifts. 😉)


    Whoa Nelly! I just looked it up and she didn’t buy the Walmart special that’s about $50 or $60. She bought me a really nice one. No wonder I was so impressed with the reel when I opened the package. It’s a first-rate conventional level wind reel and the rod was very well made.

    Now I won’t have to fuss with Sabiki rigs and I won’t have to give or throw them away after a single use.

    Here’s a link to it.
    https://eatmytackle.com/collections/sabiki-rod-reel-combos/products/sabiki-bait-rod-7-and-bait-caster-reel-combo-fishing-rod-and-reel

    Thanks, Mrs. H.R.! ❤️

  16. H.R. says:

    @Graeme No.3 re smoked mullet:

    Here in Florida, smoked mullet is made into a spread for crackers. It’s very popular in Florida, and I’m guessing elsewhere around the Gulf of Mexico.

    It’s on many menus as an appetizer and a lot of people like to make their own smoked mullet spread at home for snacking or casual entertaining.

    Also, I didn’t really think about it, but I’m sure there are more species of mullet in the Gulf than I’m aware of.

    Good find on the Australian species. I’ll have to look into mullet species around the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic and see how many types there are. Thanks!

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