Captain Mary A. Fink
South Florida summers are steamy and hot and full of afternoon and evening thunderstorms of varying degrees of intensity, so good preparation and weather awareness is a must for a safe and successful day on the water. It’s often best to plan to leave early in the morning while the air temperatures are still pleasant and the threat of storms is lower than it is during the hot, afternoon hours. Be sure to take along adequate rain gear, should you find yourself caught in a storm. A protective hat, sunscreen, lip balm and polarized sunglasses will give you added protection from the sun, making your experience more comfortable. Wear light-colored clothing that breathes well. Wearing clothing that has sun protection built in is a real plus, as well. Bass Pro Shops, West Marine and Ace Hardware sell fishing apparel with sunscreen protection that is well worth the investment. Plenty of water should be taken along especially during hot summer months to avoid dehydration.
To stay ahead of the game, have at least three rods pre-rigged with different bait offerings. A good bet is to have one rigged with a soft plastic, one with a hard bait or lure, and another prepped for live bait. Soft plastics come in many sizes, colors and options like shrimp, crab and baitfish imitations that have proven to be effective for most all inshore species. Hard baits include Rapalas, spoons and other lures that imitate baitfish of varying sizes. Live bait options include shrimp and baitfish like mullet, killifish, pilchards and sardines. Circle hooks are used when using live bait and come in a large variety of sizes. I prefer to stick with small hooks and light leaders whenever possible, enhancing the presentation of the bait in the water. For all of the mentioned pre-rigging suggestions, use 20-lb fluorocarbon leaders and 20-lb yellow braided line when fishing inshore around hard structure. Doing this will help reduce the number of “break off’s” in the line that occur when fish swim for cover once hooked.
Never leave the dock without a few simple tools. First, sissors or clippers are necessary for changing rigs and working with tackle. Pliers are a must for a number of small jobs, including removing fish hooks and any number of small jobs required on a boat. A hook removing tool is a good idea due to the number of catfish and sharks that are caught in our inshore waters. Using this device will allow you to remove the hook while the fish is still outside the boat or dock. Once the device is secured to the hook, the fish is simply flipped over, effectively removing the hook. These can be purchased for under $10 at any Ace, West Marine or Bass Pro Shop. Finally, be sure to have plenty of spare tackle, leader material, braided line and glue in your box, as it’s easy to go through tackle at a good rate when fishing around structure and cover provided by the mangrove maze of the islands.
To ensure a safe and successful day on the water, be prepared! Watch the weather, be mindful of storms and have your tackle ready to go prior to leaving the dock.
Captain Mary specializes in fishing the beautiful Ten Thousand Islands. She holds a “six pack” captains license and has a knack for finding fish. A passionate angler possessing over 35 years of extensive experience in both backcountry and offshore fishing, Mary offers fishing expeditions through her Island Girls Charters company. When fishing with Captain Mary, you will be exposed to a variety of successful techniques including cast and retrieve, drift fishing, bottom fishing and sight fishing. Visit www.islandgirlscharters.com to learn about fishing with Capt. Mary, or reach her at 239-571-2947.