The Undercover Angler……Picking Up On South Florida Tactics
Many of us are guilty of fishing in the same place time after time. When you combine that with fishing the same way each time, fishing can get less than exciting. Fishing new places and trying new tactics can make you a better angler and you’ll have a great time while you’re doing it. Charleston, SC, fishing guide, Captain Blair is living proof of that concept. In recent months he’s scaled down his charter business to take a more chilled-out approach to his fishing and just life itself. Since the first of the year, he’s been hitting the road to places like Minnesota and Florida so he could start filling his species bucket list and learn some new ways to fish that he can take back to Charleston. It’s a great way to see and enjoy the many fishing places that this county has to offer. Ironically, rather than fishing on his own, Kevin hires a local there to share knowledge and fishing tactics. Those guides never know that he’s a veteran fishing guide himself. He’s…… “THE UNDERCOVER ANGLER.”
My first stop was Fort Myers, Florida. My father lives nearby, so it made a perfect place to start my journey. This trip was based on my desire to fish for Permit off the reef. I had never caught a Permit and it was near the top of my bucket list. I knew that Florida was the right place to start….and I was right. I’ve fished the Florida waters for years, but I’m still amazed at the many species the region holds. This is something that I noticed the locals somewhat take for granted. Coming from the South Carolina Low Country, we only have about a half a dozen primary species, like Redfish, Speckled Trout, Flounder, and a few more. We went from fishing for Permit to Snook to Grouper, to inshore Cobia, and Pompano in a matter of a few days, sometimes in a single day. It was unbelievable.
I learned that the art of casting was an important skill in Florida due to the clear water and shallow conditions. Being able to cast long distances with pinpoint precision was almost a requirement to stay out of view of the fish. With that in mind, I found that many Florida anglers depended on longer rods to make those long-distance casts. They also used longer leaders. Where I commonly use an 18” to 24” fluorocarbon leader, these guys were using longer leaders that at times went up to 60″. Part of this tactic was also due to that clear water I spoke of earlier. These guys are truly casting pros and hit a small target with nearly every cast. It is impressive to watch.
While in the Charleston South Carolina region, most guides start out just after daylight. I quickly learned that the South Florida guides started a little later. They commonly left the dock around 8:00 to 8:30 am. This was because a large portion of the guides I’ve fished with don’t rely on plastics as we do in the Carolinas and other areas. Instead, they fish with fresh-caught shrimp. It’s plentiful and easy to catch in the shallow Florida waters. The guides find that waiting until the sun comes up a bit better enables them to see and catch the live shrimp.
Speaking of shrimp, I also learned a valuable lesson about simplicity while fishing with a guide in the Florida Everglades. This “good ole boy”, third-generation guide rigged me up with a simple jig head, a basic float like I used as a kid. It looked like it was straight out of Walmart. He then pinched a fairly piece of the shrimp off and put it on the jig head and I was ready to fish. I caught fish all day. I later asked why we used only a piece of the shrimp rather than a whole one. He told me that he needed to use a lure with scent and he got that by pinching off a piece of the whole shrimp. It also gave him 2 or 3 times the bait.
As always, I learned a lot and I hope you have as well. Fishing with other anglers in other places can change the way you fish. You’ll be surprised by what you learn and even who you learn it from.