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Volume 1, Issue 3, September 2010: The Perseverance Lure - What Every Angler Should Have In Their Box

Welcome to our third issue of FRESH FROM THE SALT where we take an inshore charter with Captain Trever Meyer of Tarpon Springs, FL. A Florida Suncoast native, Captain Meyer has over 30 years of both inshore and offshore experience under his belt, fishing the waters from Hudson north to Boca Grande, south. Whether it's limiting out on gag grouper at his offshore hotspots during the winter season or slaying snook, redfish and trout during the rest of the year, Trever is relentless in the pursuit of always finding good bait and putting his clients on lots of fish. Having grown up in the same town, attending the same high school and fishing the same waters, Trever and I have developed a great friendship over the years and have a mutual love for our home turf - the beaches, flats, back country canals and bayous that make up the beautiful and bountiful Anclote Key and Anclote River areas.

As an experiment, I asked Captain Meyer to take me out on a trip as a charter, rather than one of our normal recreational outings. Though getting late in the season and not as practical as the earlier summer months, I asked him to try to put me on some big beach snook. This is what I wanted to target on this particular trip since I had not been able to beach fish for most of the summer. Trever had the fish dialed in, I knew from recent photos, but with rough seas, high winds, and lightning storms chasing us all morning, I knew that beach fishing was out. The weather was so bad, in fact, that the call was made to head for the ramp and to take a raincheck on this charter. I, along with other guests on the boat that day, including both Trever's father and brother, were disappointed but understood the need for safety first. Besides, the tide was gone too so why even bother, right? Well, this is why. Just as we made it back to the ramp, the lightning began to subside, and the rain and wind slowed to a reasonable and fishable pace. The good captain swung the boat around and began to brainstorm. The rest, well, that is one for the books. Our near-bust of a day was about to become one of my greatest inshore fishing memories ever. I like to call it perseverance, or better yet, perseverance in the face of adversity.

This trip became the story known as The Perseverance Lure - What Every Angler Should Have In Their Box. This article is currently published in print in our local Saltwater Angler Magazine, September 2010 issue which covers fishing grounds from the North Suncoast all the way down to Charlotte Harbor. Pick up a copy at your local bait store or tackle shop and see why Captain Trever Meyer is among the most experienced and resourceful guides in the West Central area. In the meantime, enjoy the full-length version of the article here on your Tampa Bay to Tarpon Springs hunting and fishing connection, FRESH FROM THE SALT. And don't forget to tune in next month for a look at what has become one of the best harvests in our woods these days - wild pigs. Whether hunting private land or trapping in your own backyard, these pigs are everywhere, fat and in good numbers, and ready for the smoker!

The Perseverance Lure – What Every Angler Should Have In Their Box

So, what do you do when your highly anticipated beach snook charter results in the following: black skies, tons of rain and lightning heading your direction, heavy wind and choppy seas, water so hot you could bathe in it, scarce bait, no tide, etc.? Do you race back to the ramp? Do you sling artificials around all day, blind-casting the mangroves and hoping for the best? If on a paid charter, do you respectfully ask for a rain check or your money back? If on your own boat, do you curse that it's your only day off and reluctantly head to the dock? I know we've all been in this situation, looked around at each other with blank and wondering stares, just unable to make a decision. Lightning, of course, always mandates seeking shelter and nothing but that. Rain, well, you just have to decide how much rain is too much rain and will it affect the bite. Hypothermia should be monitored too. Despite the fact that it's September and dog days hot, wet clothes, a wet body and no sun can drop your body's core temperature quickly. Low and slack tides can be difficult to fish, but manageable. Combine all of these variables into one morning and someone must make the call

This very same scenario played out for me, two other fishermen and one guide on a scheduled trip on the flats. Led by Captain Trever Meyer out of Tarpon Springs, FL, we launched from the Anclote River Boat Ramp at 7 a.m. sharp. Joined by his father and brother, both seasoned anglers from our east coast, we had our sights set on catching some big snook off the local beaches. Captain Meyer had the fish dialed in all season so we were eager to test our tackle on some of the larger fish being caught. We knew that the fish were not as thick as last summer due to the horrible double freeze which killed so many of our snook, but with summer closing fast, we nevertheless wanted to give it a shot. I asked veteran Tampa Bay area guide, Captain Brent Gaskill, what he thought about the snook bite, and he commented that "I'm still catching snook, just not in the numbers we've seen in the past. Areas we used to catch twenty or thirty snook on a half day charter are now only producing two or three." That information became a sort of mantra for me and, unfortunately, ran through my head for most of the day.

Truly, the snook bite was just not there and after getting chased by thunderstorms from one spot to the next, we more or less collectively called it a day. After having spent more time than usual gathering bait on this tough fishing day, that is - sifting through the net-wrecking whitebait for some select pieces and some large pinfish and pigfish to fill his giant livewell, Captain Meyer nevertheless would not throw in the towel. He suggested a spot or two close to the boat ramp that one could consider "end of the day spots", and despite some pessimistic yawns and sighs from the tired bunch, we headed full throttle through some VERY skinny water to reach our targets. The captain's boat was built for such sandbar jumping stuff. A 21 foot Carvel with a healthy 8.4 inch beam, originally built in 1995 and restored completely by himself in 2003, this huge tunnel-hull skiff with lower deck and tower controls is among the most unique flats skiffs on the North Suncoast. The bow deck is so large and clutter-free that four adults could square-dance on it! Just being on this boat is a special occasion. For us, this monster of the flats was about to prove her worth.

After the eyebrow raising ride that brought us to our shallow water destination, we came off plane to a known spot, according to our guide, that "…has been fished out over the years… but that you just have to hit on the right part of the tide..." The idea was to hopefully find the fish trapped, more or less, in this one particular area. Finding fish trapped in holes is really nothing new to flats guides but this one in particular, even I knew, had been overfished in recent years. Still, the captain, as he explained it to us, based on the pace of the tide, the lack of fishing pressure that day, the type of bait we had left, and the time of day and time of year, said with a big smile as he peered down from the tower, "I just feel it in my gut too". In any case, I'll tell you this – call it gut, instinct, or just tried and true time on the water, he put us on the fish and then some!

With only a handful of big whitebait left and more pinfish than we cared for, the first bait in the water lasted for maybe 30 seconds. The captain's father, Bob, had hooked up and hooked up good. I always like to say, "what do you call a drag screaming snook that doesn't jump? A jack crevalle!" No offense to the jack family of fish but this wasn't one. This was one mean, over-the-slot redfish that took tons of line, bull-dogged the whole fight, and still bent the rod under the gunwale at boatside. Sooner than we could snap a shot of this bronze beauty, the captain's brother, Matt, had his bait – a big pinfish – blasted by an even bigger fish. This fight lasted a solid 10 minutes but ended with a 35" redfish at the boat which would begin an hour long spanking of beefy reds. Whitebait, pinfish, cut bait… we threw the proverbial kitchen sink at these bruisers until the bite stopped and we were all laughs and hugs. I caught my biggest redfish to date, right at 30 inches.

This was in every way a special day for all of us. For Captain Meyer, it was a wonderful family affair with a touch of pride thrown in. For dad and brother, photographic bragging rights to take back home to the east coast. For me, as a good angler but not a great angler, I learned a valuable lesson. I learned the importance of real patience and, PERSEVERANCE. I get frustrated on slow fish days and maybe hang it up too early. So, come on summer storms, super low tides and small bait - I'm ready for you. I'm heading out with a new attitude and a new set of skills. And, if that doesn't do the trick, I'll just go with my gut. I KNOW that works!

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