Archive for July, 2007

Into that good night

Monday, July 30th, 2007


He was 4th generation Floridian, a hard-scrabble farm boy whose family made an honest living in the state’s cow country, a placid region located between the open, rolling fields of the panhandle above and the vast wetlands of the Everglades below. He grew up among the fading remnants of the Old South, where he was taught to cherish natural wonders and the region’s beautiful and vilified past. His was a world of shotgun shacks, spring-fed rivers, moss-laden live oaks and a unique backwoods culture that harbored a fading innocence now mourned by few. As the child of dyed-in-the-wool Baptists, he considered the words aimed at souls in rough-hewn church pews by high-pitched, piney-woods preachers, and his faith blossomed. He was vibrant and full of promise.


First step toward an angling cartoon series

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

I’ve wanted to publish a series of cartoons for some time now. To move toward that goal, I’ll start with some simple designs/ideas. Here’s a first stab:


Fishing Tip: fishing eddies and rips

Monday, July 16th, 2007

pilings4.jpgFreshwater trout anglers have long known that fish like to lie in the “broken water” on the downstream side of rocks, downed trees and the like. That same philosophy applies to shallow saltwater flats, shorelines, and bays where a tidal current is present. Snook, redfish, sea trout and striped bass (to some extent) are ambush predators that often linger in spots where the flow boils and eddies, saving valuable energy and surprising prey by shooting out from cover to feed. Look for water washing over, around or by oyster bars, submerged trees, sand bars, reefs, bridge pilings, or other structure, and concentrate most of your casts on the down-tide side of these objects.

What is the best flats boat?

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

Each month I field a question from a reader and answer it as best I can, focusing on those inquiries and responses that I believe will be of general benefit or interest…or at least of interest to me. Blogger’s prerogative. I recently received this email from sometime Florida angler Tom G. from Dayton, Ohio: “John, what in your opinion is the best flats boat on the market? I’ll be moving to Florida in the next year or so and I’ll be buying a shallow-water boat.”


Tom, I can help, but to do your question justice I’d need to write many pages in reply, which is beyond the scope of this website. Bottom line is that (contrary to the claims of several manufacturers) there is no “best” flats boat for all conditions.


Fishing Tip: keep your used lures rust free

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

yellaplug1.jpgIf you fish in saltwater, you know how quickly used hooks can develop rust and turn your tackle box into a lure graveyard. At the end of trips most of us wash down our tackle and boats, but lures are often overlooked. The solution? Get in the habit of maintaining a section of your tackle box — a plastic tray, a Tupperware box, etc. — for the lures you use each trip. I personally write the word “used” across a single channel within each of my trays. When you switch to a new lure, place the salty versions in that devoted spot — not back among your other goodies where they can spread rust. When you get home, squeeze a bit of soap in the “used” container, fill it with water, give it a good shake, empty the water and place the lures back where they belong. Takes only a minute or so, but it can save you many dollars in new tackle.

The casual snook

Friday, July 6th, 2007

Date: July 6, 2007
Location: Dependabay
Time: 7 PM to 8:30 PM
Weather: Overcast, surprisingly mild, sporadic rain
Tide: High outgoing


Joe called me late this afternoon asking if I could go fishing. Naturally, I replied that I had a lot to do and that a man can’t just neglect his responsibilities. Then I drove to his house with my gear.

Weather was funky–overcast and threatening rain. Radar, however, showed little of the heavy stuff, so we rolled the dice. Turned out to be a good call. We ran back to a new stretch of shoreline while we waited for the tide to fall and the heat to wane. A light rain began to fall–enough to soak our shirts thoroughly–but no lightning accompanied it so the cooling effect was welcome. After squeezing through a tight tunnel of mangroves, we glided into an open area and began casting. A few minutes later I placed a good cast (who am I kidding–it was spectacular) into a dark little pocket, and the lure went “poof” inside a big swirl.


The homeboys score big

Friday, July 6th, 2007

Gotta break the shallow-water code early so I can post pics of two buds who had banner trips this past week. First is of Big Joe who scored his first big permit on a rare offshore trip. Group he was with caught everything from huge yellow-tail snapper (which I’ll be sampling shortly…right Joe?) to African pompano. Right on the heels of that news came an email from my buddy Pete (on left, second pic) who also bagged a nice permit on a guided offshore excursion. Great stuff, guys. While I was slogging away at work you were racking silver dollars. Looks like my two pards are getting seduced by the wiles of the offshore crowd. Begone with you, then. More snook for me.



Blog/journal content schedule

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

I’ve spent the past week or so (on and off) adding new tips and tricks, helpful links, etc. to the blog page. I’ll continue to add content of value to the shallow-water crowd. Going forward, my intention is to follow a rough script which’ll ensure that there’s always something relatively new to read or see. That’s the goal, anyway. Shallowfish will feature revolving content in this basic sequence:

  • Feature article (1st of each month)
  • Tech tip/trick (5th of each month)
  • Reader’s write (10th of each month)
  • Fishing tip/trick (15th of each month)
  • Cartoon (20th of each month)
  • Journal entry (when I find time to fish)
  • Product review (when I buy or try something new)
  • Miscellaneous entries (unscheduled ramblings)

I’m open to suggestions, as always.


Tempting Fate

Sunday, July 1st, 2007


Lightning can quickly lend perspective to a great angling opportunity.

It was a hot day in late September, the time of year when I can be found once or twice a week stalking the shallows of a favorite flat. Big redfish tend to school up then, and the fishing can be sensational. When the (rare) opportunity presents itself, I check local radar, hit the door running at closing time, fly home to grab my gear and head toward a local bay just as the heat starts to wane.

After unloading the skiff I took a circuitous route to a favorite flat. The sun was dropping lower and the shadows lengthening, a precedent to the hour or so before sundown that is often the best time to fish. I cut the motor before bottom showed under my hull, trimmed it up so the skeg acted as a rudder and lowered my trolling motor. As I went through my pre-casting routine, I heard a menacing rumble in the distance. By that time the water on the flat had slicked out, the sun had fallen low toward the horizon and big wakes were starting to show off my bow. I clicked the trolling motor onto the slowest speed and scanned for signs of tailing or cruising fish, turtle grass flicking softly against the underside of the hull. I was in my element.