Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Titans, Part III (Mingling with Mortals)

Gods be Gods no longer! Any passionate angler can identify with large collections of tackle- each item cherished, useful and even, memorable. Perhaps Zane could tell us a story connected with each and every rod and reel. What seems heroic to me is Zane Grey's actual efforts to assemble such an impressive aggregate for the camera! Can you identify with him and all those things? I surely can. This is the stuff of the passionate angler's life- it may not show the extent of his travels, but certainly some of its tools. Zane Grey has always been somewhat of a hero for me, because his desires for new and exciting angling adventures took him all around the world in his pursuits: fishing and traveling, such sources of joy, anticipation, and inspiration. Bonefish or makes no difference: pursue that tail, just another minute, one more cast, do we have to stop? Give me all of that, and more!


Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Titans, Part Two: A Passionate Life!

Let's get back to the Titans, in exploring the results of their fishing and the collective effect of their guiding spirits on anglers today: Mike Lerner and Tommy Gifford with a swordfish taken from a small dory, Ernest with his first non-"apple-cored" tuna taken off the Bimini Banks, and Zane Grey "at one" with his adversary, no doubt a giant gamefish. Take a look at their faces or the ambience of the action of the moment- their involvement is complete. In all kinds of weather and conditions, these people pursued gamefish with a singularity of purpose, not because they wanted to, but had to! I think of the popular phrase that" you could take comfort in the fact you never had a choice!" when I marvel at these early pioneers.


Days of The Titans

One cannot simply reduce- as I've heard some do- that early big game fishing was the sole province of the egotistical rich. The notables above-Michael and Helen Lerner, Ernest Hemingway, Zane Grey, Captain Tommy Gifford, and Kip Farrington not only brought the global exploration of big game angling destinations into the living rooms of anglers everywhere, but they put the unique stamp of their individual personalities on their angling achievements. All of these people had an astonishly powerful and unique charisma that was built on a core strength- Lerner's power and bravery, "Giff's" guiding creativity, Farrington's finesse, Grey's world-hopping travels and writings, and Ernest's purity of passionate living. Though these giants have passed into history, their memory lives on, and fuses with the spirit of true anglers everywhere. For so many of these magnificent people, fishing was everything-something only real anglers understand-breathe it, eat it, sleep it, live it!


Friday, February 17, 2006

The Microbraid Revolution


By Jan Stephen Maizler

Thanks to modern day technology, fishing line has taken on a whole new feel.You’ve just finished stocking your brand new tackle bag. You’re pleased because you’ve chosen its contents governed by the principle, “every thing for every situation.” Likewise, every rod and reel combo you own is chosen for maximum effectiveness for each species under any given condition. You’re content because you know every piece of your gear has its purpose.

Curiously, my survey of many South Florida anglers indicates that most don’t apply the same strategic thinking to their fishing line, and spool up every reel they own with monofilament. If one of those anglers is you, you need to know more about the advances in microbraid technology that have occurred over the last five years.Ultra-thin line made of spectra fiber has begun, and will continue to be a permanent part of every angler’s armament. These new super-lines can, and should replace monofilament in a number of saltwater applications. As a recreational angler, you’ll want to know the basis for the most effective executions.

I have been experimenting with different brands of microbraid line for the past few years, and I’ve been most satisfied with PowerPro. Let’s find out why:
*In comparison to monofilament, PowerPro matches the breaking strength, but in a vastly thinner diameter. This allows for greater line capacity on reels and longer casting potential. *PowerPro has practically no stretch, getting you to the bottom faster with less weight and current drift, and you'll feel your lure perfectly the whole way down.
*With PowerPro, you'll feel strikes impossible to detect before. The lack of stretch provides much better sensitivity and more effective hook-sets.
*PowerPro is limper and has substantially less memory than monofilament, again resulting in longer casts.
*Where PowerPro shines the brightest is with it’s substantially enhanced abrasion resistance. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t break this stuff!There are a number of angling situations in South Florida where you may find that switching from monofilament to PowerPro may benefit you, as it certainly has for me.

Please keep in mind that microbraid is not recommended for every saltwater application, though utilized effectively in the correct applications, will undoubtedly help you land more trophy fish.

Mangroves, docks, bridges, & heavy cover fishing:When you’re throwing artificial baits against dense structure for snook, trout and redfish, you’ll find that PowerPro exceeds your old choice in the following ways. With the increased sensitivity you’ll feel strikes better, and also sink that hook deeper due to the lack of stretch. Most importantly, you’ll be able to pull your fish out of encrusted pilings and jagged mangrove roots with the strength and momentum not possible before.

Flats fishing:As a shallow water angler, you know you must make your presentation to the fish before it realizes your presence and ‘blows-out.’ You want to avoid close proximity casts, particularly with extremely wary bonefish and permit. In addition, you may need to shoot a cast upwind at a cruising fish. Clearly, you want your spinning outfit spooled with line that provides the furthest casting potential. Which would you choose: 12 lb. monofilament, or ultra-thin PowerPro of the same breaking strength with about a 4 lb. test diameter? When you’re fishing patchy flats or shallow rocky ledges you’ll want to have the highest abrasion resistance to diameter ratio possible: PowerPro is unsurpassed in these harsh conditions. Permit are commonly found on the reefy flats of Florida and the Bahamas. Your presentation to these gamesters may be close to some crusty bottom structure and once hooked up, they’ll be sure to give your line an in-depth tour of every single cutoff point. It’s in situations like this where PowerPro reigns supreme.

Surf fishing:The ability to cast long distances is absolutely crucial in this angling specialty. You’ll want to be able to reach that attractive slough or break situated way outside the breakers that you know holds schools of pompano. In your surf and beach experience you know that gamesters like snook and jacks can also be taken at surf’s edge. However, it’s the schools of mackerel, bluefish and tarpon, that often seem just out of reach…just ask a handful of Sanibel fishermen! Imagine having your surf reel loaded with a 30 lb. test microbraid that has the diameter of 8 lb. monofilament. No trouble flinging your spoon, plug, or sand flea over the horizon now. The no-stretch property of PowerPro will keep your striking ability effective, even though there will be more line out between you and the fish.

Reef & Bottom fishing:PowerPro is an excellent option when reef fishing with bait or jigs. Consider the following characteristics. PowerPro’s ultra-thin diameter offers the fastest, most effective drops to the bottom. This is true even in high velocity currents.PowerPro’s low stretch insures the most sensitive strike detection possible: this is especially crucial when fishing for wily mutton snapper. Ditto for flag yellowtails, but add a three foot trace of 20 lb. fluorocarbon above your hook for maximum stealth. You’ll feel hits with a new sensitivity, and one quick snap of your rod is all you’ll need for a solid hookup! PowerPro’s abrasion resistance will always keep the odds in your favor as that big gag or black grouper side-slaps the rocks in its battle to escape.

Bluewater Fishing:PowerPro has found a permanent home in many anglers’ offshore trolling arsenals where long lines are a necessity. Oftentimes your best results trolling for blackfin tuna consist of fishing your baits way, way back. Solid hookups are a problem when comparatively stretchy monofilament is used, but the no-stretch qualities of PowerPro again compensate for the long line hookup challenge.The small diameter of this super-line adds two more perks while trolling South Florida’s offshore waters. You’ll appreciate the added line capacity while maintaining breaking strength- more line means less chance of your reel being dumped by that smoker king or grey-hounding sail. You’ll also appreciate the way PowerPro’s tiny diameter allows your diving plugs to get deeper, faster in your quest for that trophy wahoo.Remember that your entire angling arsenal has been chosen with the variety and versatility that make the tools perfect choices for each angling moment- you’ll want the only thing between you and the fish to follow these guidelines as well.

*PowerPro Tips:

Spooling Up-unlike monofilament, PowerPro will not stretch on the reel and cling to the barrel. This can result in line sliding around the barrel, which can seem like a problem with your drag mechanism. Rest assured, your equipment is fine. To avoid slippage, attach PowerPro to your spool using one of these methods:1) If your reel has a hole or knob on the barrel, use it.2) Leave at least 5 to 10 yards of monofilament on the reel (enough to cover the bottom of the spool) before attaching PowerPro with a Uni to Uni splice.3) Put a piece of compressible tape on the barrel before attaching PowerPro.

Setting the Hook-anglers on Saturday morning TV shows often set the hook in bass like Samurai warriors beheading the enemy. This may be a fine technique with monofilament line, but PowerPro doesn't require such a violent motion. When you get a strike, relax; a gentle snap of your wrist is all that’s required for a solid hook set.

Setting your Drag-PowerPro is so small for its strength that you may be tempted to set your drag higher than normal, but remember, your rod or reel may not be designed to handle the same unbelievable loads as your line. To make full use of PowerPro's amazing sensitivity without risking damage to your equipment, try one of the following tips:1) Set your drag to match the weakest component in your tackle system. 2) Set your drag to match the size of mono line you would normally use. 3) When using ultra-light equipment set your drag to no more than 1/3 of the line's rated strength. You can properly set the drag with a fish scale. At lower drag settings, a little extra line may pay out at the hookset, compensating for PowerPro's lack of stretch.

Cutting PowerPro-PowerPro is extremely strong. We recommend sharp scissors which are fairly inexpensive and easy to find. Look for models with blunt ends to protect your pockets.

Retie your Line-Although PowerPro is extremely strong, it isn't indestructible. If the line starts to look frayed, especially after fishing around structure, it's probably time to cut off the worn section and retie. This way your line will always perform at rated strength.

Using a Monofilament Leader-Attaching a monofilament leader to your PowerPro line may prove useful in the following situations:When bait or jig fishing requires extra finesse, especially in clear water, use a 3 ft. fluorocarbon leader to cut down on line visibility. When fishing for species that strike hard and fast, use a monofilament shock tippet. For big game applications, you may want to use a top shot of up to 100 yards.CAUTION:PowerPro is remarkably thin and strong. To avoid injury, never wrap PowerPro around your fingers or hand. If you need to bust out of a snag, wrap the line around a solid object and pull like heck!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

'Buncha Fronts!

Few people, much less anglers, get deep enough into the weather. It's usually extends for most citizens to comfort, choice of clothes, and effects on activities. For me, it's a fascination-every last bit of it! My sourgraping over lost fishing time has been nicely sublimated into ardent studiousness- so much stuff!- fronts, clouds, showers, thunderstorms, hurrricanes, the winds (or vinds, as the Count vould say). But today and for the foreseeable future-what a conundrum!-there's the fronts.

A front to this fisherman is a winter visitor from as far away as Canada- kind of a bit of Kris Kringlish flatulence, the Man Who Came To Dinner, Grandma's Mothball Kiss: we're forced to deal with it as it spreads its own enveloping charateristics into our tropical midst. All fronts are different and have their own special stamp, just like a snow flake. I'm choking this blog with a butterly collection of frontal (yes, both senses) images. This partcular specimen-as he lifts it with continental-sized tweezers- is cascading through the Gulf with near freezing temperatures as it passes through and into Florida, the Northwest Caribbean, and the Northern Bahamas. Comment from Acklins- "See mon, we're still sunny." Sure, until later today, or not!

This particular front will surely be a shallow water "temperature- dropper", a particularly good time to reawaken from its slumber, " Once Upon A Time In Cozumel."


Friday, February 10, 2006

Pleasureful Anticipations

The flats angler's life in South Florida's February is spent hopscotching between cold fronts- water days and then, armchair days of swooning for warmer tropics. Somewhere out on the southern rim of passing cold front tails, deep in the splendor of the northwestern Caribbean lies the Caymans. Though I'd been to Grand Cayman, I'd always dreamed of exploring the fish-rich waters of Little Cayman Island to dive, snorkel, and maybe get a Grand Slam on its exquisite flats. I'm happy to now be looking ahead to Little Cayman's premier resort, Southern Cross Club ( as a future destination. What a gratifying prospect!


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Cold Front Claims, Part 2

Here's another front doing a sweep across the balance of the Bahamas, although the thin line of its "tail" shows less power and organization than the thicker part east of the Carolinas. These weaker fronts support the claims of the southeast Bahamas that fronts have less influence on them, but weaken their claim that they never get fronts or "have different weather." The frontal line in the satellite image that precedes the cooler weather is about to cross Crooked and Acklins islands. Yet how much this front will drop water temperatures on the flats of the southeast Bahamas is a fine academic question, since it appears that its effects will be negligible. Yet it's clear that the cloudiness and coolness of fronts this time of year easily cross the Greater Antilles. The best bet, again appears to be Bonaire and Los Roques far to the south.


Grand Bahama Island

Grand Bahama Island


by Jan S. Maizler

You start to focus on the possibilities. Perhaps someplace easy and economical to reach yet a destination that is really tropical. You want to make it a family vacation. No doubt, the stay will be longer and more enjoyable if there is plenty to do for everyone: shopping, beaches, swimming with porpoises, maybe even a couple of nightclubs and casinos. Above all though, you want great fishing, pristine waters and plenty of rod-bending action. Your mind is spinning with ideas: safe, easy to reach, activities, amenities, attractions and lots of angling adventures. If your thoughts pointed east toward the Bahamas, you’re definitely headed in the right direction. Considering everything you’re looking for, your best choice would certainly be Grand Bahama Island.

A direct bulls-eye, Grand Bahama is the Bahamian island which has the most contact with the United States. Its proximity and the frequency of daily travel options make Grand Bahama easily accessible. Interestingly, many Florida based anglers head straight for Bimini and miss the incredibly diverse offering this wonderful island has to offer.

Important facts for traveling anglers to know when considering visiting Grand Bahama:1. Grand Bahama Island is only 55 miles east of Palm Beach, FL. and only a short 30 minute flight.2. The Island is 96 miles long and 17 miles wide at the widest point. From Freeport or Lucaya,most attractions are within a 30 minute drive.3. The currency is the Bahamian dollar which is equivalent to the U.S. dollar. However, U.S. dollars are widely accepted.4. The weather and attire requirements are basically the same as Florida.5. On Grand Bahama Island, there is plenty of available transportation. Rental cars are easilyaccessible at the airport near Freeport and you can always find a taxi. Additional options include jitney and tour buses which seem to be everywhere. If you are driving, remember that driving on this island is on the left. A taste of Old England! 6. To be granted access to Grand Bahama Island, U.S. citizens are required to show proof of citizenship. This consists of a passport or a certified copy of your birth certificate and additional photo identification.7. Medical care is available in a government run hospital and there are also three private medical clinics.8. Tourist centers located at the Harbor, International Bazaar, airport and Port Lucaya Marketplace are there to provide all the information you need.9. There is a departure tax for everyone over 6 years of age leaving the Island,it’s $18 and payable at the airport.

Good news for anglers:When fishermen think of Grand Bahama and its major cities of Freeport and Lucaya, they tend to think of the island as a shopping megaplex awash in tourists and gamblers. It is true that the Island has incredible duty-free shopping, plush hotels, lush championship golf courses, fine dining and posh casinos. One would think that anglers seeking un-pressured marine habitat would avoid this destination and for the most part, they have!The avoidance of the masses becomes your gold mine as 70 miles of fertile coastline have been left to only 15 inshore guides. Compare that with the more popular bonefish destinations and you’ll quickly get the picture. Countless bays, flats, beaches, creeks, channels and cuts which often see no boats at all await you. Anglers who avoid Grand Bahama do so with the mistaken impression that ‘downtown’ covers the entire island. The truth is that urban areas cover only a very small percentage of this paradise. In fact in 2002, The Bahamas World Invitational Bone Fishing Championship was held on Grand Bahama Island at Pelican Bay in Lucaya. Plus, each spring sees the Island come alive with the Annual Bacardi Rum Billfish Tournament.

This island truly has an excellent mix of flats, reef and blue water fisheries. Let’s take a brief look at each.I turned to Bahamas experts Scott and Brad at Angling Destinations (1-800-211-8530 to get the current ‘short list’ of the top fishing lodges and clubs on Grand Bahama Island. Here they are in no particular order:

Deep Water Cay Club – Lying on the eastern end of Grand Bahama Island, this venerable lodge has a tradition of excellent service and a prestigious history. Its location amidst productive creeks and channels offers great fishing opportunities in almost all weather conditions. If you go, bonefish will be your target but wily permit as well as barracuda and jacks may cross your path.

North Point Riding Club – This facility offers a close-yet-far quality by being located only twenty minutes east of Freeport. They accomplish this by trailering their superbly outfitted skiffs to new locations every day, many of them remote spots. North Point Riding Club offers deluxe accommodations, superb staff and they keep their fishing ‘holes’ fertile by rotating the flats they fish every day.

Grand BahamasBonefishing Ltd. – An ideal choice for angling families because it is in town. You’ll stay at Lucaya Resorts Lighthouse Pointe Hotel. While non-angling family members play tennis, golf or take part in any of the island’s many amenities, the world-famous Pinder brothers whisk you away towards distant flats and trophy size bones.

Pelican Bay Bonefishing at Lucaya – This is another excellent in-town place to stay and is within sight of The Lucaya Marketplace. Pelican Bay is a resort community that offers everything an angler could ask for. Pelican Bay was awarded the prestigious Small Treasures of the Bahamas designation by the Ministry of Tourism. Explore miles of excellent flats with famous Captain’s Rolle, Cooper and Thompson in their crisp Maverick skiffs.

Bootle Bay – This popular destination offers a more remote, native experience, yet is only about 30 minutes west of the airport. Bootle Bay employs some of the best flats guides. It provides an excellent value while retaining quality. This lodge also has a 26’ center console for offshore opportunities.

Water Cay Bonefish Club – After much research, I believe this destination really stands out for the following reasons. The economical prices of their lodge and guided fishing trips are hard to match. In addition, this is an authentic Bahamian fishing lodge that gives you the real thing on an island not far off the pristine North Coast. The hard-working Lewis family has built a six-room lodge that offers air conditioned rooms and a central dining room with a fabulous menu. The major perk with this destination is that the club lies directly in the midst of prime bonefish flats. You’ll be waking up and fishing within minutes in an area that other club members travel an hour to reach!

Reef and Bluewater Fishing: Grand Bahama Island is ideally situated at the juncture of two huge oceanic channels: the Gulf Stream to the west and the Northwest Providence Channel to the south. The juncture meets at the island’s southwest corner and produces superb action. These western and southern coastlines have an excellent bottom topography that slopes through reef areas into the deep blue. This structure creates wonderful reef fishing and blue-water habitat for a number of favored species. The common angling misperception of over-fishing again has left a large number of offshore haunts un-pressured and extremely productive.The reefs surrounding this island offer up snapper, grouper, jacks and mackerel. You can quickly get into hot action not far from most southern ports. Often, excellent reef action can be had by using vessels smaller than the usual 50’ charter boats that frequent the deep blue.Boats plying the high seas off Grand Bahama often encounter blue marlin, yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, bonito, kingfish, barracuda and plenty of dolphinThe good news is that all the methods you have learned, perfected and employed in local waters work quite well on Grand Bahama’s reefs and blue-water. The calmer months of spring through late summer coincide with some of the best offshore action, although other times of the year do produce outstanding results.Because Grand Bahama’s offshore angling locations lie to the south and west, most of the charter vessels are centralized in the Freeport/Lucaya area.

You’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty of charter services you can hire to ensure great offshore action for yourself, family and/or friends. All you need to do is check-out the area or schedule a trip through one of the charter’s websites. I would recommend keywords like Grand Bahama offshore fishing in your internet searches. Remember, you can also charter a Florida based charter operation and cross the Gulf Stream to Grand Bahama Island. Many southeast Florida based vessels advertise Bahama trips. A facility that demands mention is Port Lucaya Marina. This is a large, comprehensive, modern and full-service marina. It sits adjacent to the Port Lucaya Marketplace, Lucaya Resort, the Yacht Club and the Isle of Capri Casino. All of these offerings make Port Lucaya Marina a total service paradise for the boating anglers’ every need, morning, noon or night.

Your trip is slowly winding to a close as the lights of Port Everglades come into sight. Munching on a snack, you look across at your wife and kids: they’ve got that slightly sunburned afterglow. You look back down at the digital images you took of your first big dolphin and that big bonefish you were craving to catch. Suddenly, the kids ask, “when are we going back?”, and you know that your trip to Grand Bahama Island provided everything you needed and more.

There are many ways for you to reach this magnificent Island...BY AIR: The international airport receives daily flights from major airlines and getting there from Florida is a cinch. In addition, you can charter a small plane which allows you the freedom to fly in and out based on your particular schedule. Check the travel websites into Grand Bahama Island and you’ll find no shortage of information. BY SEA: You again have excellent options. Discovery Cruise Lines has daily service from Port Everglades to Grand Bahama Island. The ships sail from Fort Lauderdale at 7:45 am. and depart Grand Bahama for the return trip at 4:45 pm. The five-hour cruise includes meals and entertainment. In addition, Discovery has a cruise and stay program that includes a large variety of hotels on the island: you stay as many days as you would like, then return on the ship!The all new Cat is an exciting alternative as a modern day ferry service between Port Everglades and Grand Bahama. This rocket ship like ferry can take as many as 900 passengers to the Island in less than 2 hours, in speeds up to 55 mph. The CAT offers food, beverages, movies and a casino.Your third choice by sea would be to hire a large charter boat to cross the Gulf Stream to Grand Bahama from one of our local ports. You can create your own mothership adventure by fishing from your vessel on the many reefs and offshore spots off the Island. When you want to visit the Island, stay at a hotel, or flats fish, have your captain make the proper advance berthing/mooring arrangements. This option is perfect for small families creating their own celebration cruise.Another fun choice applies to anglers who own boats capable of making a safe crossing. If you have gone over to Bimini, you know the drill. Be sure to include Grand Bahama in your cruise destination list.

A very brief list of what you should take if you are heading over in your own boat or simply want to rely on your own equipment to forestall any problems:7’- 8’ spinning outfit with 6 lb. or 8 lb. line for flats and shallow water fishing 7’ rod with 15 lb. or 20 lb. line for ‘cuda, kings, dolphin and sailfish30 lb. conventional outfit for reef fishing and offshore50 lb. conventional outfit for tuna and marlinBonefish fly-rod- 9’-10’ rod; 8 weight linePermit fly-rod- 9’-10’ rod; 9 weight lineArtificial Lures:Wiggle jigs. Flat head in various small sizes for bonefish and permitTube lures for barracudaVarious swimming plugs for inshore and offshore speciesBucktail and nylon jigs in a variety of sizes Skirted trolling luresBonefish flies:Clouser Minnow #4, #6 in tan/whiteCrazy Charlie #4, #6 in tan/whiteBonefish Special #4, #6Permit flies:Del’s Merkin Crab #1,2The McCrab #1, #2Terminal Tackle:•Hooks in various sizes for all flats to offshore species•Various weight egg sinkers•Leader material and extra line for all inshore andoffshore applications•Polarized sunglasses with side shields•Multi-purpose tool•Pliers•Portable water bottle•Hook file•Reel lube•Bic Lighter

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Fishin' Kid Meets Captain Butch Constable

There's just something about a kid that loves fishing- you can tell that it is a born attribute, not an acquired taste. It's in their eyes, hands, and soul- the excitement they feel when a jack whisks by the seawall or a snook is spotted in the shadows. Kids like this are blessed because they have a passion-something that moves their soul. It will always be with them, no matter what happens, no matter where they go or what they do. My own father never had "the fever", but I did. He had his own fever- for building, drawing, and all things mechanical. Mine was for fish, words, minds, and faraway shores.

But, back to "The Kid", "The Fishin' Kid". He was a complete natural with his big fishing background to deal with and fish with the Jupiter Genius and my friend, Captain Butch Constable. I could not have a better mentor to refer to not just for teaching refined technique, but also for providing a fishing experience so rich, knowledgeable, and productive. Based on my experience with Butch, I couldn't think of anyone more suited to "The Kid." Given a winter day with simply reasonable weather, Butch put him on countless mackeral, giant jacks, and sharks. In the summer, Butch served up endless snook and bonito. Whatever Butch provided in finny nourishment, "Fishin Kid" gobbled up.