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MORE COVERAGE IN SOUTHERN SALTWATER FLY FISHING MAGAZINE

With the release of the summer edition of Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing Magazine, readers will see the first of several coming changes – all of which are for the better. We are expanding from our present format of four destination features in each issue to six, which provides the opportunity for us to bring you more fishing, in more places, from more of the best writers in our coverage range.

Stay tuned for more improvements in the near future as well.

NEW BOOK FROM CAPT. JOHN KUMISKI

Capt. John Kumiski is a veteran fly-fishing guide in the Indian River waters of east Florida. He also is an accomplished freelance writer and contributor to Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing Magazine.

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The Indian River Lagoon Chronicles - A Narrative Paddle Adventure Through the History and Natural History of the Indian River Lagoon, an exciting new book by John Kumiski, delves into the fascinating lore and natural history of the Indian River Lagoon.

On December 1, 2013, five intrepid paddlers launched their vessels at JB's Fish Camp in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Their destination was Jupiter, Florida, 160 miles distant. During the 19 day voyage of discovery, they travel the length of the Indian River Lagoon, meeting birds, snails, manatees, mangroves, dolphins, scientists, restaurateurs, seagrasses, other paddlers, the ghost of Henry Flagler, and much more. 

Into the tale of their journey is woven the forgotten history of the people who lived along the lagoon's banks - Indians, soldiers, settlers, agriculturalists, fishermen, treasure hunters, entrepreneurs, dredgers and many others. 

"The story of the Indian River Lagoon, one of Florida's most fantastic natural resources, needed to be told," the author explained. "What better way to tell it than by using a paddle adventure as a narrative thread to bind it all together?"  

The Indian River Lagoon Chronicles - A Narrative Paddle Adventure Through the History and Natural History of the Indian River Lagoon, by John Kumiski, (6 inches x 9 inches, 192 pages) is available from Argonaut Publishing Company, 284 Clearview Road, Chuluota, FL 32766, (407) 977-5207, spottedtail.com/indian-river-lagoon-chronicles. The price is $19.95, plus tax and $5.95 shipping. 

BAHAMAS ANGLER CATCHES BONEFISH TAGGED BY BONEFISH & TARPON TRUST

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Is there anything more exhilarating than scrambling to recover line that’s buzzing off your reel, then landing a well-deserved bonefish? Believe it or not, there is: landing that bonefish and finding it has been tagged. Not only are you having the time of your life; you’re contributing to BTT's ongoing bonefish research. Take it from renowned angler Meredith McCord, who recently caught a tagged bonefish off of South Andros while fishing with the Eleven Experience. 

Many are familiar with the term “tagging” due to projects like the Tarpon Acoustic Tagging Project, but BTT and collaborating scientists employ more than one type of “tag” when studying saltwater flats species. Research involving acoustic telemetry help us identify movement patterns and spawning sites, in addition to regional population and habitat connections that inform flats conservation. These acoustic tags do not, however, track health indicators like growth rate and sexual maturity—those data are found using something called tag-recapture.

This particular type of tag resembles a small post with a diameter similar to that of a toothpick’s. Each individual tag is marked with a unique serial number and is inserted just below the dorsal fin. Scientists record the tag’s serial number and measurements specific to the individual fish—weight, fork and tail length, gender and any other observations about its condition. In keeping with best handling practices, researchers release the fish in hopes of another encounter.

That hope was recently fulfilled when Meredith McCord caught a tagged bonefish in the Bahamas. She was able to record its serial number and length measurements before releasing it again.

According to Dr. Aaron Adams, BTT’s Director of Science & Conservation, and Bahamas Initiative Manager Justin Lewis, bonefish spawn during full and new moons from October through April. The bonefish Meredith helped recapture was first tagged at a pre-spawning aggregation site in January 2015. Its recapture, over three years later, occurred only 34 miles from the initial tagging location—not uncommon, since bonefish typically remain in or near their home ranges except for when they leave the flats to spawn in deeper water.

MARYLAND TROPHY STRIPER SEASON STARTS APRIL 21

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The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announces the 2018 Spring Trophy Striped Bass season begins at 5 a.m. April 21 in Maryland’s portions of the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries.

The fishing season will continue through midnight May 15, with a catch limit of one fish daily with a size limit of 35 inches or larger.

“The beginning of trophy rockfish season generates a lot of excitement for anglers,” Fishing and Boating Director David Blazer said. “All fishing provides fun and challenges, but there’s something about trying to make that trophy catch of a striped bass that stands out from other experiences.”

Starting May 16, fishing locations and daily creel limits will expand through May 31. Beginning June 1, the entire Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay and tributaries will be open for the summer and fall season, which ends Dec. 20. 

The department is advancing emergency regulations that would reduce the minimum size of striped bass for charter boat and recreational anglers in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries from 20 to 19 inches. These regulations would not affect the spring season.

Striped bass fishing in the Atlantic Ocean and Maryland’s coastal bays and tributaries is open year-round with a two-fish daily limit. Stripers on the coast must be between 28 and 38 inches or larger than 44 inches.

IGFA RELEASES 2018 WORLD RECORD GAME FISHES PUBLICATION

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All the facts and figures behind recreational angling’s most amazing catches are now available in the 2018 edition of IGFA World Record Game Fishes published by The International Game Fish Association.

The IGFA World Record Game Fishes is the world’s definitive publication of recreational angling records. The 2018 edition includes comprehensive information on all freshwater, saltwater and fly-fishing world records for all-tackle, line classes and length-based catch and release records, including new world records set in the last year. 

 “We’re excited to fulfill our longstanding role as the angling world record keeper through the release of our iconic annual publication,” said IGFA President Nehl Horton. “Angler recognition, game fish conservation and education are the cornerstones of our association. With the latest edition of IGFA World Record Game Fishes, we aim to inform, educate and inspire those who are interested in our sport by celebrating the achievements of anglers around the globe.”

The 2018 edition is also available online as a digital magazine, providing IGFA members with access to the entire list of IGFA records and valuable content about freshwater and saltwater fishing techniques, personalities and conservation topics.

Since 1939, the IGFA has set international angling rules and maintained world records for saltwater game fish. In 1978, its global rules and record-keeping mandate expanded to include freshwater species and fly fishing records when Field & Stream magazine, the Salt Water Fly Rodders of America and the International Spin Fish Association turned over their record-keeping responsibilities. In 1979, the IGFA first published freshwater, saltwater and fly-fishing records together in its iconic annual world record book.

The 2018 world record book also includes information on IGFA member clubs, captains, weigh stations and discount programs designed to help recreational anglers connect with each other and access a wealth of relevant and timely information.

As part of their membership, IGFA Lifetime and Corporate members receive a printed copy of the annual 2018 IGFA World Record Game Fishes as a valued keepsake and easy offline reference resource. The publication is available for purchase through the IGFA’s online store and IGFA Premium members are sent a promotional code for purchasing books at a discounted rate. To purchase the world record book simply visit igfa.com.

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February 15, 2018

NEW FLY SHOP ON THE GEORGIA COAST

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On The Fly Outfitters is a new fly shop that has opened in Brunswick, Georgia. Owners Jared DiVincent and Adam Hein have now been open for business since November of 2017. They recently participated in their first First Friday event in downtown Brunswick and drew a big crowd. The store is located at 1501 Newcastle Street, Brunswick, Georgia 31520. Drop by when you are in the area or check them out on Facebook at facebook.com/ontheflyoutfitters.

 

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The First Friday Event at On The Fly Outfitters.

Tampa Bay Fly Fishing Club Meet & Greet

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The Tampa Bay Fly Fishing Club is hosting their 4th official Meet & Greet on March 3, 2018. This is their flagship event that has gotten bigger and better every time. The activities take place at E.G. Simmons Park in Ruskin. A family friendly round of activities are planned, along with their biggest raffle ever. Vendors will be on site representing many local companies from the fishing industry. Food will be provided by Tampa Food Trucks, offering a variety of food options.

Anyone interested in sponsoring or vending can contact the club via e-mail at tampabayfishingclub@outlook.com.

Bonefish Successfully Spawned in Captivity

The Bonefish Restoration Research Project (BRRP), a major initiative sponsored by Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, has successfully induced spawning of wild bonefish and hatched the fertilized eggs into larvae. This is a first for this species, and a major step in the organization’s efforts to spawn and raise bonefish in captivity. 

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The project, which is based at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, achieved this milestone during field experiments in January in the Bahamas. A team led by Dr. Jon Shenker of the Florida Institute of Technology and Dr. Paul Wills of FAU-HBOI successfully used reproductive hormone injections to induce final mature eggs in a female that had been captured from the wild in a pre-spawning state of development. The female was stripped spawn and the eggs fertilized by a stripped spawned male, which resulted approximately 24 hours later in live bonefish larvae.

“We now know that we can indeed get bonefish to spawn in captivity,” said Dr. Shenker. “This success will help us optimize methods to induce spawning of fish brought in from the natural habitat, and to spawn fish maintained for a long time in a controlled aquaculture facility. Our newly-hatched larvae will also enable us to start learning how to culture these very unusual leptocephalus (“slender head”) larvae.”

“Observations of development and behavior of bonefish larvae will also indicate critical habitat and larval drift characteristics needed for refining oceanic models of larval dispersal that other Bonefish & Tarpon Trust research has developed,” added Dr. Paul Wills. “We are gaining a wealth of information about the biology of this species from this one successful spawn and future spawns will only yield more.”

Through BRRP, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, in collaboration with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, is seeking to pioneer the methods of spawning and rearing bonefish in captivity as a means of providing fish to replenish the Florida Keys bonefish population as part of the broader restoration strategy. The primary goals of the five-year-long program, which began in mid-2016, are to learn how to spawn bonefish in aquaculture systems, rear the resulting larvae and juvenile fish, and ultimately help habitat restoration efforts in the Keys ecosystem.

Bonefish are integral to Florida’s travel and tourism industry. It is estimated that bonefish, tarpon and other species in the ‘flats fishery’ contribute more than $465 million to the economy in the Florida Keys.

“This is a great step forward in our research and development of methods to rear bonefish in captivity,” said BTT President Jim McDuffie. “Our team was able to produce eggs and larvae from wild bonefish that had not gone through the species’ usual spawning behaviors in the wild. Ultimately, success in this project will give us another tool in our toolbox as we work to restore the bonefish population in the Florida Keys.”

Comprehensive Oyster Restoration Plan Announced in Maryland

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The Maryland Department of Natural Resources today announced a comprehensive plan on oyster restoration, including its intention to recommend Breton Bay and the upper St. Mary's River as the fourth and fifth tributaries to satisfy the state's commitment to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement goal of restoring native oyster habitat and populations in five tributaries by 2025.

The department's selection complements ongoing large-scale oyster restoration activities in Harris Creek, the Little Choptank River and the Tred Avon River.

"Maryland is committed to restoring the oyster population throughout the Chesapeake Bay for both ecological and economic reasons," Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. "This keystone species builds the foundation of a healthy marine ecosystem, cleaning and filtering water, while also serving as the backbone of our fisheries-based economy, be it aquaculture or commercial harvesting."

The recommendations will be shared with the Maryland Oyster Restoration Interagency Workgroup, which includes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The department will also gather input from citizens, communities and stakeholders in an open and transparent public comment process.

Breton Bay intends to be restored with the assistance of the state's federal partners while work in the upper section of the St. Mary's River would be conducted by the state. All contracts for seed planting and substrate placement in the final two restoration sites will be competitively bid.

"These restoration recommendations strike the right balance between the environment and the economy by concentrating limited yet targeted resources on existing sanctuaries with the most potential for success, based on the best available science," Belton said. "These two sites have the broad support of environmentalists and riverkeepers as well as county leaders and watermen."

Along with its restoration selections, the state also plans to study and survey existing state oyster sanctuaries around Annapolis and the Lower Eastern Shore. For the first time, the department will design and develop oyster management plans for the Manokin, Nanticoke and Severn rivers to determine how the strategic use of state investment and resources, including seed, shell and spat, could spur natural oyster growth and reproduction.

Lastly, the department intends to move forward with developing a rotational harvest system, designating a seed study area, and renewing the state's oyster shell collection and recycling programs.

The state's oyster restoration plan was formed, in part, from feedback from the Oyster Advisory Commission, which includes academics, conservationists, legislators and watermen.

 

 

 

January 15, 2018


Legendary Guide Steve Huff Headlines Florida Fly Fishing Expo

The 2018 Florida Fly Fishing Expo in Crystal River on February 9-10 has scheduled legendary Florida Keys guide Steve Huff to show and tell some of his secrets for catching giant permit, tarpon, snook and other trophy gamefish on a fly rod.

Huff, who has been described as “the top fly fishing guide on the planet,” tops a schedule of more than 20 expert-led seminars and new fly fishing product displays at Plantation on Crystal River on Florida’s west coast. Admission to the two-day expo is $25 but free for those 12 and younger when accompanied by an adult.

The Florida Fly Fishing Expo is put on annually by the Florida Council of Fly Fishers International. President Tom Gadacz said, “We are so pleased to have Steve Huff coming to the Expo. This guy has a bank-vault of knowledge about catching big fish on the fly and he’ll share some hard-earned insights.

After earning a marine biology degree at the University of Miami in 1968 Huff started guiding in the Florida Keys. He pioneered fly fishing for tarpon, permit and snook in the Keys and also led clients to IGFA record tarpon near Crystal River and Homosassa. Sandy Moret, his good friend and a fellow fly fisher, once described Huff as “without question, the top fly fishing guide on the planet.”

On Friday, Feb. 9, Huff will present a tutorial about how to locate and catch permit on the fly. On Saturday he will discuss the importance of and how to make quick fly casts in all directions. As the featured speaker at the Expo’s closing banquet on SaturdayHuff will share insights he has learned from 50-years of guiding fly fishers to saltwater trophy gamefish.

More than 20 other sessions about how-to fly fish, fly cast and tie flies are scheduled indoors and outdoors at the spacious, waterfront resort of Plantation on Crystal River.

  • Fly Fishing for snook at night by Capt. Rick Grassett
  • Paddleboard fly-fishing by David Olson.
  • Fly casting tutorial for women by Mona Brewer, youth fly casting by David Lambert, emergency casting clinic by Pat Damico, and casting games led by John Hand and Jim Patchet.
  • Beginner and intermediate fly casting demonstrations by Capt. Pete Greenan.
  • Fly fishing for warm water fishes in North Florida by Tom Logan
  • Wading the flats by Leigh West.
  • History of women in fly fishing by Jen Ripple.
  • DIY bonefishing in the Keys and Bahamas by Capt. Bryon Chamberlin.
  • Fishing Mosquito Lagoon secrets by Capt. Frank Cantino.
  • Fly fishing for baby tarpon in the Indian River Lagoon by Capt. Eric Davis.
  • Effortless fly casting by Joe Mahler.
  • Fly fishing the Everglades by Ed Tamson.
  • Fly tying with synthetics by Dave Schmezer.

Sandy Moret Named Fly Fisherman Conservationist of the Year

  Photo Credit: Sage Fly Fishing photo by Greg Poland.

Photo Credit: Sage Fly Fishing photo by Greg Poland.

A founding member of Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, Sandy Moret serves on the BTT Board of Directors and is the leading force behind the Now or Neverglades coalition. Moret, owner of Florida Keys Outfitters, has been fighting Florida's water management policies that favor Big Sugar for more than 40 years. He has worked to protect the Everglades and, of course, the region's amazing fisheries. Check out the organization at gladesdeclaration.org and learn why his partners at the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust nominated him.

A Call to Action for Anglers

   Photo credit: Paul Dixon

 Photo credit: Paul Dixon

In November, the Atlantic States Marine Fishing Commission, will decide on proposed changes to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for menhaden.
         One of the most critical issues for anglers is the development of menhaden-specific management metrics that account for the ecosystem-wide benefits they provide, including their critical role as forage fish. But we must also urge the commission to immediately move management of menhaden to a conservative harvest, while giving ASFMC experts time to develop these menhaden-specific metrics.
         Our future days on the water—not to mention the $27 billion in economic activity that recreational anglers generate depends on sportsmen and women taking a big stand for this little fish. We've made it easy to be a part of this public review process online—share your story with decision makers now.
         Support bringing forage fish management into the 21st century and ensure that future generations will have an opportunity to scan the horizon for the frenzied swoop of birds and the roiling waters of a striper blitz.

Beyond Bait

Photo credit: Paul Dixon

Menhaden are also the most heavily commercially fished species in the nation, though you will never see it on a menu or in a fish market. Billions are ground up and used in products such as fertilizer, pet food, and cosmetics. More individual menhaden are caught each year than any other fish species, and they are second only to Alaskan pollock when measured by pounds harvested.
         That commercial harvest could be costing sportfish a valuable food source. Unfortunately for the "most important fish in the sea," current management of menhaden stocks does not account for their critical role in the marine food chain. As a result, menhaden are managed in a way that puts gamefish populations, and our recreational fishing opportunities, at risk.
         However, anglers now have a brief window to speak up for improvements to the immediate and future management of menhaden, which would benefit sportfishing, water quality, and coastal communities.

Modernizing Management of the Most Important Fish in the Sea

John Gans - Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

Anglers up and down the Atlantic coast know that a shortcut to finding gamefish is to follow the birds. When birds are working on the horizon, dive-bombing schools of menhaden—the meal that's also critical to many popular gamefish—you can't get out of the no-wake zone fast enough. It is going to be a good day of fishing.
          Atlantic menhaden, also known as pogey or bunker, are high-protein forage fish that striped bass, tuna, mackerel, sharks, drum, cobia, and tarpon from Maine to Florida depend on for food. You name it, if you are casting a line to it, it's most likely feeding on menhaden.
         Menhaden also help filter water and improve marine habitats. By feeding on algae-causing plankton, an adult menhaden can filter 2.4 gallons of water per minute. Their importance to the ecosystem is clear. Remove them, and the system breaks down.
         Simply put, there is no fish that means more to the East Coast than Atlantic menhaden, and their future is being determined right now.

Cold Snap Unlikely to Kill Florida Snook This Time

Brett Fitzgerald - The Snook & Gamefish Foundation

It’s chilly out there. In fact, it’s downright cold in some of Florida’s typically balmy coastal regions. Whether you appreciate the break from the heat or you are suddenly longing for our typically warm weather, it is worth taking a minute to think about how the weather impacts our snook and other tropical fish.

For many, the current dip in weather immediately reminds us of how badly snook were impacted back in 2010. Luckily, the current weather event is not projected to be nearly as impactful. Back then, we had freakishly cold temperatures for over a week, with drizzling rain and consistent wind. That led to a lot of ‘cold kill’ fish deaths.

So far, this event is shaping up to be less severe for a few reasons. First, it shouldn’t last nearly as long. Water cools much slower than the air, so a couple days of chilly nights and cloudy days is far less damaging than a week or more. It also has been a little cooler for a few days, which might have provided a signal for snook up in shallower waters to skedaddle to deeper, safer waters before the chill sets in.

Another difference between this snap and 2010 is the wind direction, which has a bigger impact on the fish along the west coast. Waters from the Everglades up through the Tampa area are a lot more shallow than on the east coast, where deeper waters – warmed from the tropical Gulf Stream – are right next door to many fish hang-outs.

If you’ll recall, the 2010 freeze featured consistent NE winds which blew the west coast tides out and never let them come back in. That trapped a lot of snook in the shallow back country, where they froze by the tens of thousands. If the current winds hold, there might be enough water in the cuts and runs for snook to head to the safety of warmer, deeper waters for a few days.

All that said, there will be cold related fish kills over the next week or so, and many of them will be snook. As usual, you can expect to see more of that along the northern fringes of the snook populations.

Usually, as the trapped snook start to chill, they will slow down and start to swim erratically near the surface, then eventually roll on their side or back and lay still in a stunned state. If it is only a short cold snap and the sun warms water right away, they might survive – at least for a while. But more than likely this leads to death.

As retired FWC snook guru Ron Taylor has pointed out to me many times in the past, many snook that survive the initial cold blast end up dying within a few weeks because their slime coating and/or immune system is damaged, and they are more susceptible to parasites and diseases.

If you are on the water a lot, you will probably see some stunned or dead snook. Here’s what you should do.

First, don’t touch them. If they look dead, they might not be and bothering them in their severely stunned state won’t be doing them any favors. And if they are dead and an FWC officer happens to find out you are grabbing them up, you won’t be doing yourself any favors either.

Your second move should be to report the killed fish to FWC’s Fish Kill hotline. You can do this by phone (800-636-0511) or online at http://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/health/fish-kills-hotline/. This is actually better than calling your regional FWC office, even if you know there are snook researchers there. The reason is, the hotline is where the information is consolidated across the state, and that is the source of info that will tell the regional offices where to look for issues.

Finally, this little snap needs to serve us all as a reminder of the importance of logging all of our catches in iAngler, using the app or website (www.angleraction.org).  The 2010 snap is what started the iAngler program in the first place. Since then, the data has been used in stock assessments for a variety of species in Florida, and has branched out to help other fisheries better their understanding of the fisheries (most recently Atlantic Red Snapper). But it only works if we log our catches. It’s free, and it is a superior personal log book for you. Visit your app store and download the free app, iAngler, and start logging ASAP. This will help across all facets of fishery conservation, including how best to respond after a cold episode like this one.