Fresh From The Salt

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Feature Stories 2010

Volume 1, Issue 1, July 2010: Intro. and The Grouper Years

Hello fellow anglers and hunters!

Welcome to the first issue of FRESH FROM THE SALT, a monthly journal sharing fishing and hunting stories and photographs from the Sunshine State. Our focus is mostly on the West Central Gulf Coast region of Florida where we weekly stalk skinny-water fish and bottom fish nearshore to offshore from Tampa Bay to Tarpon Springs. In addition to hunting in the water, we will also feature stories and how-to articles on hunting wild pigs, turkey and deer.

FRESH FROM THE SALT itself is designed to cover more of the tiny little pockets of water that crisscross this huge peninsula of a state. We will of course bring you exciting and up-to-date articles on where to fish, and how to fish the larger bodies of water and more common and well-known waterways. However, we also aim to bring attention to those not-so-common places to wet a line: dead-end bayous, shallow back-country creeks, urban and residential freshwater ponds, brackish runoffs... you know - ANYWHERE that holds fish. Some of these places might be in your back yard and some a far boat ride away (and some of them places we wouldn't advocate eating the fish!). Nevertheless, whether it's fresh water or salt, private or public, big water or small, we'll cover it all. Some articles may draw attention to the regular and usual tactics like fishing for reds and snook with piles of live chummed whitebait. Other stories will introduce you to the unusual and bizzarre like fly fishing for giant Grass Carp in local lakes, catching, cleaning and eating softshell turtle, or perhaps free-dive spear fishing with more ancient tools like the Hawaiin Sling and pole spear. And every once in a while, just to stay superbly "fresh", we will cover the disc golf scene as just about every one out of three disc golf courses in this state has some sort of water hazard - read: FISHING OPPORTUNITY! Of course, I would be remiss not to mention that disc golf is my second favorite passion in life.

For our introductory issue, I would like to close with some insight of what's to come. Or, rather, what has BEEN the absolutely hottest and most consistent saltwater bite I have had the pleasure to discover throughout the past couple of years. This pinfish-thumping, stout rod-bending, back-breaking workout which is Gag Grouper fishing at the Skyway Bridge has turned out to be a fishery that could almost make one call it quits on the crowded grass flats. Despite the fact that folks have been trolling the Egmont and Skyway shipping channels for many decades now and catching plenty of big gags, you less often hear about the phenomenal bottom fishing bite. Trolling covers lots of bottom, lots of structure, thus lots of fish. But if you can find that honey hole or two, they just seem to keep producing over and over and over. Better yet, they keep producing month after month after month - summer, fall, winter and spring. Truthfully, we have become a bit spoiled when it comes to fishing the bridge. A couple of weekends ago me and a buddy of mine failed to reach our bag limit for the day. The previous weekend we caught our limit in a matter of minutes, plus put a fat cobia in the box, par for the course it seemed. The "bad" day, we made it back to the dock with only one keeper. A ripping current, heavy winds and big seas could have been our excuse. But with a bite like we've come to know, we could only blame ourselves. Yes, spoiled indeed.

So, FRESH FROM THE SALT's introductory issue would like to share the following great gag grouper catches from the past two years. Stay tuned for Issue 2, August 2010, for the most amazing saltwater encounter of my life - Amberjack Spearing and The Whale Shark Experience.

Joshua W. Broer (Pondfisher)

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