Organize Your Bags

Tackle bags can sometimes be compared with our backyard sheds. We buy a great tool, maybe use it once or twice, and then need a place to store it before the next use. And that next use may not be anytime soon.  So we place it in the shed and then the next thing we know, the shed is full and when we need that tool, you can’t find it.

Well, our tackle bags are a lot like those backyard sheds. We need a place to store our go-to items along with that special gear we purchased with the hope that it would work. And like storing dozens of tools in the shed, the fishing gear somehow gets shoved in our tackle bags and frequently gets lost or damaged.

Not only can gear get damaged but the angler can get injured reaching into their bag for something only to get stuck by a hook or bait knife.

Organization of fishing tackle and gear is imperative. Most anglers use plastic trays or zip lock bags to store items in their bag. Hooks, sinkers, floats and other items should be kept in their original containers if possible. Bags and boxes have many compartments which can be used for frequently use tools, extra line, scents.

So when the fish are biting or the blitz is on is no time to begin digging into you gear box or bag to retrieve something. It’s best to put things in their place where you can access them quickly before the big rush occurs.

Remember, your target species won’t wait around for you to rig up the right gear and catch them.  You must be ready at any moment.

“Because most times you only have a moment to make that cast”.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Know the Rules

Fishing in Florida during the colder months can be an extremely rewarding experience if you know the rules. Now we are not talking about the rules and regulations on creel and bags limits. Although knowledge of these regulations are mandatory in every region, it’s the small subtitles that can make a difference of success for the visiting angler.

We hear all the time that fishing is the same regardless where you fish. But in Florida that can’t be further from the truth. The various species are stealth and they spook very easily. And catching them can test even the most passionate angler.

There several interesting techniques that can increase the potential for success.

Know your target. Some of the most important items to be aware of when fishing in Florida is to know your targets specific tendencies. Temperature preference, tide phases, feeding habits, and movements and means of comfort and hideaways are important tips that help the angler. Being familiar with these can help improve your success potential

Match the hatch is probably the second most important tip to remember. Many species are creatures of habit and they will feed on the most plentiful and easiest bait available. So the best way to increase the success rate is use a lure or bait that is similar to what’s in the water. Color is also important but it’s the contrast and presentation technique that can have more influence. The key: mimic the food source and try to “BE THE BAIT”.

Downsize your gear. The lighter the gear the easier it is to place the bait in the proper location, present it naturally and then feel the bite. Minimize any foreign objects from the environment. Anything outside the lure should appear natural. So use the lightest leader materials, limit you connections to only small knots and avoid any type of metal on your tackle or baits.

Technique and Presentation. Regardless of your lure or bait selection, it’s the natural presentation that can make all the difference. The retrieval technique can make the difference between a strike and spooking your target. Remember, most strikes occur during a pause in any retrieve when the prey is most vulnerable.

Change it up. Some anglers will switch their salt to fresh water gear to encourage the strike. Modifying baits such as adding a rattle or cutting a slice from a plastic swim bait that mimics a wounded fish may spark the interest of a feeding fish. As a general rule, “change is always good”.

Although there are dozens of other techniques, I have found these to help increase my catch rate.

Never be satisfied with the basic package, experiment and challenge yourself and you will not be disappointed.

Until Next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

“March” into Spring

We are rapidly heading into the spring fishery on the Outer Banks with numerous reports of blow toads and sea mullet beginning to show up on the Hatteras Island beaches. Water temperatures are gradually increasing and it won’t be long before our spring species are well settled in both the ocean and sound waters.

But are you ready? At the end of the last fishing season, there were many things to address.  Let’s look back to our new year’s resolutions and see what still needs to be done.

First item – Get more knowledge. This doesn’t mean we have to go back to school but fishing seminars do help. Learning new things is important for increased success. The best way to gain more knowledge is look back at your log book. What worked best and when? The variables were time of day, tides, weather conditions but probably more important was the water temperatures and barometer readings. One of the best sources of knowledge you can have.

Another way is stopping by your local tackle shops. They can help with any new gear or specific techniques. You may even want to check the various manufacturer’s web sites. Lots of tips can be found there. These are the professionals – they make it their business to make you a better angler.

The next one was “logging-it”. Most anglers don’t have time to jot specific notes or keep a log about the day’s fishing trip. At the end of the day, it’s all we can do to clean and organize our gear. Added time if you need to clean your catch.  Some cases, you may have to add boat maintenance.  But if you don’t document it, the information won’t be there when you need it.

The best way to increasing your success rate, is logging your trips. Not just important but basically imperative.  Other reports can be a ‘guess-estimate” or second or third hand information. Your log is real data. Can’t get any better than that.

It is extremely simple to create your own log or purchase one already designed for the type of fishing you do. If neither of these work. Email me and I will send you a copy of my log. Not sophisticated but it has worked for me for years.

Rods and reels are the most important part of your fishing system. Hopefully, these were not overlooked. These need to be checked, cleaned and stored in a location away from harm. If not, there is still time to do the maintenance.

Remember even a small defect in your rod or reel could cause you to lose your trophy catch. So check your rod and reels closely and don’t skimp here when maintenance or repair is needed.

Finally, you need to organize your gear. Remove everything from your box/bag and lay it out on the table. Place the defective or rusty items in one place and the good ones in another. I separate hooks, leaders, bottom rigs and other odd size items in plastic zip lock bags. Everything else goes in the see-thru plastic trays. If needed, replace the old plastic lure boxes with new ones. Final thing to check your pliers and other tools. If you find them rusty or defective, now is the time to replace them.

That first run of spring species is just around the corner. Take the time now. The fish are heading our way.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Habit-Forming Fun

Fishing on the Outer Banks is one of the easiest and the most enjoyable activities you can do when on your vacation.  Many of our visitors travel hundreds of miles to enjoy this region.  And sometimes these visitors are unaware of what brings many others to our beaches every year.

Saltwater fishing is not only fun, relaxing but can be habit-forming for the entire family.

So how can you and your family begin enjoying this great past time? I would first recommend stopping by a local tackle shop. They can give the best overall advice on getting started. What species are being caught, the proper gear and bait and any other specific information you will need. They might even be able to offer you a complete fishing package at a reasonable price. Fishing licenses can also be purchased here.

The next thing I would do is head for a local ocean pier. All of our ocean piers have a tackle and bait shop. They are staffed with knowledgeable professionals who can give you “real time” advice.

Bring your own equipment and gear but find out that it won’t work for the current conditions or species? Pier staff can rent everything you need including rod reel outfits, rigging and fresh bait..

For novice anglers, fishing on an ocean pier is usually the best way to start. They can help you select the right gear for the species being caught. North Carolina requires a fishing license and if you fish on an ocean pier, the admission price includes a one-day or multiple day license. And the best part is that other anglers on the piers are more than willing to lend a hand to both new and experienced anglers.

All of the piers on the Outer Banks are family friendly.

In addition to fishing gear, each pier provides sheltered areas, snack shop, amusements and restroom facilities and more. All piers are designed to accommodate physically challenged anglers.

So if you are looking for something new and exciting during your visit to the Outer Banks then fishing might just do the trick.

Forever be warned though – saltwater fishing can be habit forming.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Try Something New

Live bait always trumps fresh (dead) or artificial baits.  One technique that has been used frequently in other areas where fresh live bait is not available is the Hook, Line and Threader system.

The Hook, Line and Threader system is a technique where anglers actually use a live fish or a variety of crustacean species with a hook already embedded in them to catch fish.

This technique involves placing a hook into a live species body without harming it. And has been used by many anglers around the country with mixed success.

The system uses a stainless steel threader or needle, notched on one end,  inserted in the mouth of the live bait fish and pushed completely through the organ cavity and out through the anal opening. Then a leader, looped of one end and attached to either with a double or treble hook, is then connected to the notched end of the needle and is slowly and very carefully pulled back out of the mouth of the fish. In essence, using the organ cavity as a path from anal opening to the species mouth.

Once loop end of leader is through the fish’s mouth, it is attached it to the main line on the fishing rod.

The threaded bait could then be fished by free lining in the current or with a split shot weight allowing it to sink.

If done carefully, the placing of the looped leader and hook assembly does little to no harm to the fish. And most of the time, the fish or crustacean will survive in the water for quite a while.

The Hook, Line and Threader can be used on almost any species of bait fish and many different crustaceans. Insertion technique will vary so the angler should be creative.

Does it work in your region? That’s anybody’s guess. Could be one of many gadgets anglers purchase each year that hook more anglers then fish or could be that magic technique which can produce more action and results.

These devices are typically found in both brick and mortar stores and on the internet. Give it a try and let me know how you do. For more information go to: http://www.hooklineandthreader.com/

 

Until Next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Know and Use Structure

What is structure and why is it important when fishing?

An angler can significantly improve the potential for a successful during an outing is with their ability to recognize the presence of structure and how to use it to their advantage. This knowledge along with several other scouting skill sets can give both the novice and experienced angler that competitive edge.

Structure can be defined as anything having an unusual characteristic found either under water or protruding vertically. Many structures are created by nature or placed there to either support another structure or another purpose. Regardless of the types of structures, they can also be found at various locations and water depths.  Either way, structure is beneficial for both anglers and many saltwater species.

Vertical structure could be pilings, bulkheads, tree stumps or jetties that extend above the surface. Horizontal structures are submerged and may include depressions, holes, drop-offs, ledges, rocks or sunken logs. The most common horizontal structure are small holes or depressions and the change where sand bottom meets a grass flat.

Structure provides safety and food source for many species. The fish’s ability to move around this formation provides their ability to avoid another predator. Also, many small bait fish and crustaceans remain close to structure adding to the larger species food source.

When fishing a vertical structure, the angler should focus on the leeward side. Fish typically remain in the calm leeward side waiting for a bait fish or other species pass by.  When fishing a horizontal structure such as a depression or grass flat, let your bait pass as close as possible, changing speeds and action of the retrieve.

When fishing structures, anglers should mimic the action of a bait fish or crustacean. It must be a natural retrieve. Bait or lure presentation here is extremely important as not to spook or chase the fish out of that zone. The bait or lure should be retrieved slowly both in the current and static areas. Then repeat.

Proficient anglers have the ability to use various retrieval or twitching actions that cause either anger, fear or even a keen interest that increase the bite.  But it is imperative that the action must be natural and lifelike.

Some structure is easily located but others are not.  Vertical structures are obvious. But horizontal must be discovered. One way to locate a bottom structures is to take either a bank sinker or a lead jig head with the hook removed attached to a break-away light test leader and cast out in various locations. Feel and resistance during the retrieve can reveal uneven and structure components.

Ability to recognize and use structure is the easiest way for an anglers to improve their catch rate.

And although it’s an important part of finding fish, its only one tool in the angler’s catch box. The ability to recognize structure and use it to catch fish can be a game changer.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Back to the Beginning

Why did I start the “Walkingangler” website? This website was started ten years ago in July 2008 to provide a local resource for Outer Banks boat-less anglers who like to fish on the surf, sounds, jetties, piers and local bridges.

The site was designed as a self-help guide. There are lists and drop down menus throughout the site indicating some of the best places to fish, what gear works best and many subtle techniques to help give the angler a little better advantage.

The idea for this website originated several years ago while I was browsing the fishing section at a local big box store. Walking down the aisle, I overheard an aggressive and unfortunately very inexperienced salesperson attempting to sell this new vacation/visitor hundreds of dollars of gear that would never work in our area.

I could sense that this first-time visitor was tired from their travels and wanted to just look around this department and move on. As any excited vacationer, they just wanted to try some surf fishing and maybe catch some crabs.

What this visitor left the store with was hundreds of dollars of worthless gear that they would never be able to use in this region. And if they did find a way to use it, the frustration of failure would have turned them off to fishing our area for many years.

I felt helpless and then a little frustrated. That’s when I found myself committed to do something.

This commitment lead me to begin searching for any local Outer Banks fishing resources. I found many local websites which included minimal support but none that contained the basic information a new angler needed. What the Outer Banks needed was a one-step local resource that contained specific species information, locations to fish, tried and proven techniques and hints and special tips that are easy to follow and understand.

What resulted was this website where visitors and experienced anglers can find basic fishing information. And then use this information data base to help either the novice or experienced find new locations or proven techniques or just hone their skills to improve their catch success.

This website is the one-stop shop resource for boat-less fishing on the Outer Banks.

The success of this website can only be measured by the success of its users. My intent is to help visitors and locals alike to begin their journey.

Like many resources, the only constant is change. And so it is with this website, it always under change and updating. Ten years and counting and hopefully many more.

Thank for visiting using my website. Check back frequently for new and revised local fishing information. If there is something missing, email me and I will try to add it.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony