Mercury is always raising the bar. For years we have been looking for the right motor to go on our flat skiffs. Mercury Marine came out with this Pro XS, it has the lightest wait, the most power for anything from a 18 footer down to a 16 footer.
Glenn Housman of FMT (Florida Marine Tracks) shows how his product works on a Simrad unit in the Lower Florida Keys. This is significant because this is a very tricky path to run. It can be done under good tide conditions with good light, but the repercussions of being even slightly off track are serious.
The Lower Florida Keys are home to some of the best fishing and also the fewest boats found almost anywhere in the entire chain of the Florida Keys. Why? It is because the bottom is concrete hard and extremely unforgiving. Many lower units have met their watery grave in these waters.
In my professional as a fishing guide in the Florida keys, the most important thing that I can do is continually learn new spots. Learning how to explore areas quickly is one of the most valuable skills a guide or angler can acquire. I used to run up to a flat and then pole it as fast as I could. The first time I ever went to the flat, I wasn’t completely concerned about actually catching the fish that are there, but more concerned with discovering if this was a spot worth returning to.
You know you are approaching the halfway mark to Key West when the Seven Mile Bridge approaches into view. If this is your first time visiting the Florida Keys, you will quickly notice stretches of unaccessible bridge close by. Built from the instruction of Henry Flagler, Flagler had designed a railway that transported people to Key West, known as the Overseas Railroad. Due to a hurricane in 1935, the railroad bridge was destroyed (now referred to as the Old Seven Mile Bridge) and a new bridge was built in it’s place in 1982 for automobile use only.
In a recent episode on the Tom Rowland Podcast, Captain Tom Rowland talked about ways to keep shrimp alive overnight using the Frabill Bait cooler. You can listen to the podcast below:
Many people have asked about how to keep shrimp alive. It isn’t as easy as it might sound and I have certainly killed my share of shrimp. Over the years, I have worked out a continually improving system that allows me to keep shrimp alive overnight without a problem. I go into this in detail in the podcast episode offered above, but here is the Cliff Notes version:
Keep your crabs and shrimp separate. Never try to keep shrimp with pinfish either
Make sure the shrimp have plenty of oxygen but also a place that they can rest.
Keep the water cool
You can make your own apparatus to create this type of environment or invest in a Frabill Magnum Bait Station . It has everything needed to transport and keep shrimp alive overnight or out on the bridge or pier.
If we have shrimp left over at the end of a day this setup allows us to also save money by keeping these alive through the week. On tournament day, the starter gun goes off before the bait shop opens so we have to be ready to go the night before. Our bait has to be alive and kicking. Dead bait means no fish.
I have gone through many different setups and experienced failure and success before settling on this method. Give it a try and let me know if you are able to keep all your shrimp alive as well. If you liked the podcast, share it with a friend and please consider rating and reviewing it on iTunes.
Let me know if you have any more questions, comments or concerns,
See you on the water,
Braided line has revolutionized inshore saltwater fishing. The thin diameter and extreme strength enables us to use lighter tackle to cast farther and fight bigger fish than ever before.
Over the years my preference for braided lines has changed as technology has continued to evolve. I am confident that the new Daiwa J Braid is my favorite braided line to date. The line is made with eight strands braided together to form a perfectly round profile. This is important to the performance as it really seems to help avoid tangles while being able to cast farther. In addition, this line seems to be the strongest line per diameter that I have ever used. Check out this chart from the Daiwa J Braid Website that compares traditional monofilament diameter and strength to J Braid:
10 lb test braid is the diameter of 2.5 lb test monofilament. 15 is the same as 4 lb and 20 is the same diameter as 6 lb test mono. The diameter is important to me because I can cast farther than ever before. I can also use much smaller reels and much lighter tackle than it used to require to fish for the same fish. For situations that I was using a 5000 size reel I am now quite confident in using a Daiwa Saltist 3000. The difference in weight and castability is big for me but a game-changer for a little kid. Tackle that is easy to handle and lightweight results in kids being more comfortable in fishing situations and they tend to stick with it longer.
I like that the line comes in several colors. Traditionally, I have preferred dark green, but I am coming around to the light blue shade. I like to think that our inshore saltwater fish may think it looks like the sky. I guess if cast properly, the fish would never see the line but I am confident in the dark green as being pretty invisible and from my experience lately, the light blue seems to do an equal job.
The most common question I receive is about knots with braided line. “How do you tie braided line to fluorocarbon?” I find that all my favorite knots work just fine with Daiwa J Braid and I haven’t needed to alter anything.
Here are videos of my top 3 braid to fluorocarbon knots:
Let me know if you have any other questions about braided line. Happy to help, and feel free to leave a comment.
If you are interested in purchasing Saltist reels, I suggest going to Bass Pro. Here is a link for easy reference:
See you on the water,
As a charter guide in the Florida Keys, I have seen some bad sunburns, but 3 stand out in my memory very well.
3. The 3rd on my list is a guy from England who at first did a good job of covering up his pasty white skin and wearing sunscreen but unfortunately insisted on fishing barefoot. Well, this was a horrible idea. I don’t think his feet had seen the light of day in many years and chose a beautiful sunny May day in the Florida Keys to let his feet breathe a little. The end results were blisters the size of quarters all over his feet and wasn’t able to put on shoes for the rest of the week. To improvise, he had to fish in his black suit socks for the rest of the week. I think he did manage to catch a tarpon in the few minutes he was able to stand on the bow one day.
SOLUTION: Wear shoes. Unless you are used to having your feet in the sun, keep them covered up. Your feet are some of the most sensitive skin you have. A vacation in tropical climates is NOT the place to let them get a little sun.
2. Back of the hand burn - One of my clients was slightly fair skinned and did a decent job of covering up but failed to remember the backs of the hands. After two days standing on the bow in the ready position, his hands were red and blistered. He had the best “watch tan” (or watch burn) I have ever seen. Many people do put sunscreen on the backs of their hands, but get super burned anyways because they wash off their sunscreen going into the livewell or by releasing a few fish.
SOLUTION: Wear Buff Gloves. The Buff gloves are made for sun protection. They are certified UPF 40+ so you don’t have to worry about sun getting through. They have several models, but my favorite is the simplest version called the Solar Glove. These do exactly what they are supposed to, which is to keep my hands from getting sunburned. They dry quickly when wet and I hardly feel them when on.
Here is a picture that I am quite proud of. It is my best work as a hand model with the Buff Solar Gloves and Arm Sleeves. George Castanza would be proud:
The #1 worst sunburn I have ever seen was a young lady on her honeymoon. She was a good angler as was her new husband and they both knew how to avoid sunburns. For some reason, however, the Florida Keys sun simply ate her alive. The top of her head was blistered all the way through her dark hair. The side of her face had blisters the size of a dime when she showed up at the dock the next day. I saw that this was a major problem and gave her my Buff Headwear and a full hat. She wore these for the rest of the trip and was able to make it through the week.
SOLUTION: Always, always, always have a Buff Headwear with you on EVERY trip. This thing is a lifesaver, literally. A full hat and a Buff Headwear will protect you from the sun like nothing else except pure darkness. Over the years the Buff products have gotten better and now offer 4-way stretch and fabrics that block 95% of UV rays.
St Croix is known the world over for producing some of the highest quality rods on Earth. Did you know that they also produce some of the best fly rods?
The new St Croix Sole is a unique idea in fly rods. It is a 2 piece fly rod, but the breakdown is unusual. The tip section is where the rod breaks down and the rest of the rod remains a one piece. This is a cool concept for the fisherman that fishes both fly and spin because when you break down the rod, the one piece portion is the same length as all the spinning rods. It is easily transported along with all the other rods.