There’s Silver Out There
Fall Fishermen Score in the Tidewaters with Kings and Tarpon
by Capt. Ted Lund
Fall months along the Southeast US translate into some of the best fishing of the year for coastal anglers from South Carolina and Georgia down to South Florida. This is a great time of year for offshore anglers, but anglers owning crossover boats like Tidewater’s 2200 Carolina Bay can get in on the action, too. If weather permits, its a great time for anglers to stretch there legs and head off to the nearshore coastal waters to chase these migratory coastal pelagics.
The first cold fronts of the year kickstart the annual moveable feast that is the silver finger mullet run, and vast schools of pogies (menhaden) start making their way south with toothy predators like blacktip sharks, king mackerel and suction feeders like tarpon and bull redfish in tow.
Feed ‘Em What They Eat
Live bait is key to this type of fishing, and anglers will appreciate the Tidewater’s dual live wells, totaling nearly 50-gallons of capacity and featuring both hi-speed, through-hull pickups and recirculating pumps. Anglers cast-netting silver mullet or pogies will have no problem keeping plenty of bait alive for a day on the water.
When hunting for live bait, birds such as pelicans and terns can be good indicators. Pelican’s tend to make high dives on schools of pogies and mullet. If feeding on glass minnows, the birds make shallower dives, keeping their heads in the water as they drain their pouches. Terns often indicate different types of baitfish, such as threadherring or scaled sardines. Although castnets are the preferred method of procuring hardier baits such as mullet and menhaden, threadies and sardines require a little more finesse. Most serious anglers prefer using sabikis, allowing them to catch 4 to 7 baits at a time; but it is critical to handle them gingerly. Use a dehooker to shake the baits off the sabiki quills and into the live well.
Generally, where you find the bait during this fall run, you’ll find the predators. It’s a very visual style of fishing; tarpon tend to show themselves when rolling to gulp air or when cartwheeling through schools of baitifish while feeding. Kingfish also belie their presence with their breathtaking skyrocketing feeding behavior, often jumping 15 feet in the air when ambushing prey.
The Terminal End
Thanks to the Tidewater’s generous allotment of gunwale-mounted rod holders, anglers will have no shortage of options when targeting kings, sharks or tarpon.
15- to 20-pound spinning outfits are favored when casting or drifting live baits for tarpon. You’ll want a 7-foot, medium heavy rod with a light tip for casting and heavy backbone for lifting. One of the most effective methods for targeting tarpon in this scenario is by setting the boat up on the edge of a bait school and casting your live bait to rolling fish.
Circle hooks are preferred as they prevent the tarpon from guthooking themselves when swallowing livies. You’ll want to match your hook size to the bait, but most makes of 4/0 to 6/0 light-wire circles will do the job. Attach the circle to a 7- to 12-foot length of 50-pound or heavier fluorocarbon via a snell or Uniknot.
Anglers can either wind down and lift slowly when they detect a bite or let the rod holder do all the work. In the latter case, you’ll want to fish a medium drag and leave the spinning real engaged in the rod holder. A good rule of thumb with tarpon is to let them jump three times before beginning the fight. This makes sure they’re solidly hooked and puts on a spectacular show.
Down to the Wire
Although toothy predators like blacktip sharks and king mackerel like the same type of a prey, a little different strategy is required. Single-strand wire ranging in size from #4 to #6 will prevent cutoffs. Most fishermen prefer to use three feet or more of the hard stuff on the leading hook, followed by a stinger with just enough wire to reach the last third of the baitfish. If specifically targeting sharks, opt for a circle or j-hook for the leader and a treble hook for the stinger. This makes the fish a little less dangerous when attempting to release or remove the hooks.
For king mackerel, popular kingfish trebles by Mustad and Eagle Claw in 2/0 and 3/0 sizes work best, both as the lead and trailing hook.
In either instance, a rod-length of 40- to 50-pound flouro attached to the wire leader via a small swivel helps make casting easier and prevents line twist while casting or trolling.
Its a great time for anglers to get out along the coast regardless of what size boat they have, but Tidewaters entire range of boats expand those options even more. For more information, visit tidewaterboats.net
Original Source: Sportsmans Lifestyle.com