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Is Today a Good Day For Fishing? Where Can I Go Fishing Near Me?

When’s the best time to fish? If you love fishing, the only bad day is the one where you aren’t on the water. But there are certainly better and worse conditions for catching fish, and countless variables that can be taken into consideration if you want to know whether or not it’s a good day for fishing.

The weather alone is tough to judge. Has there been a big change in barometric pressure? What about temperature? Is a storm coming? Did it just blow over? Are the water levels different? Muddy? Is it day or night time? What about the lunar cycle? Full moon? New moon? Neither?

Those questions and more are worth discussing. But if you just want to know whether you should hit the water today, there are many sites that can help you find times when fish are most likely to be active.

Is the Fishing Good Today? Let’s See…

Many sites eliminate the guesswork from knowing if it’s a good day to fish by taking all those types of variables into consideration for you and then giving an overall rating for the conditions of a specific day.

In some cases, the sites will also show you current information about those variables, such as barometric pressure, and it doesn’t take long to start recognizing when it’s the best time to go fishing.

Jump to the end for tips on some favorable conditions for fishing…

Farmers’ Almanac’s Fishing Calendar

While it doesn’t have local forecasts for fishing, the Farmers’ Almanac’s Fishing Calendar gives a broader sense of whether it’s a good day to fish based based on factors including lunar cycles and zodiac signs.

Farmers' Almanac's Best Times to Fish Chart
The best times to fish according to Farmers’ Almanac’s Fishing Calendar (not location-specific).

The site makes it easy to scroll through a calendar month and see roughly how good the fishing is on a given day by glancing at four color-coded ratings: poor, fair, good, and best. There’s also an indicator on whether its better go fishing in the morning or evening on specific day.

In-Fisherman Interactive Solunar Calendar

Getting more detailed, In-Fisherman has a similar monthly solunar calendar, but it can be filtered down to your exact location by zip code and the type of fish you’re trying to catch (or the animal you’re trying to hunt).

In-Fisherman Solunar Best Fishing Times Calendar
In-Fisherman’s solunar calendar for fishing times based on your location and target species.

Days of interest are rated from “average” to “excellent” and the calendar even shows ideal time frames for hunting and fishing in the morning and evening, as well as times for sunrise and sunset.

Tides4Fishing – Local Fishing Conditions

Looking to dive deeper? Tides4Fishing displays a ton of data for finding good days to fish based on solunar and tidal activity, barometric pressure, water temps and more. It presents you with a wave of info for your local weather and it shows different overall ratings for various weather factors.

Tides4Fishing best times of day for fishing.
This screenshot barely scratches the surface of the local data displayed on Tides4Fishing.

More than just displaying lots of numbers for conditions like air pressure, the site accounts for whether the pressure is rising, falling, or stable, and how that might affect your bites. This level of detail makes Tides4Fishing a go-to for keeping tabs on local fishing conditions.

Tidal forecasting: Worldwide Tide Time Charts | NOAA Tide Predictions

PrimeTime’s Best Period & Day Calendars

Still not deep enough? PrimeTimes offers a paid service that provide ratings based on a balance of both lunar and solar activity, including dawn, dusk, and noon – more than you get with most moon tables.

Prime Times 2 Fish Wall Calendar
A preview of PrimeTimes’ October 2019 Wall Calendar. Here’s the full high-res calendar.

What’s more, the charts lets you know when ideal lunar and solar conditions overlap so you get that extra edge. There are charts that show the best days and the best periods to fish, and the days are rated with a 100-point scale for good or bad conditions – way more than the four-point scale that most sites offer.

And Where Can I Go Fish Near Me?

 

TakeMeFishing – A Map of Fishing Locations

TakeMeFishing has an interactive map with blips and addresses for seemingly every location relevant to fishing, including bodies of water, boat ramps, marinas, charter services, as well as gear and bait shops.

Places to fish and boat in the United States according to TakeMeFishing’s map.

Along with showing locations relevant to fishing, when you zoom in far enough on a specific area, you can see forecast information and what species are available there. This includes how many of each species have been caught and recent pictures that people have submitted of their catches. Cool stuff.

Your State’s Local Fish & Wildlife Website

Each state has a site dedicated to information about local fish and wildlife. This often includes a state-specific map similar to the one from TakeMeFishing that shows where you can go fishing in the area.

Check the table below for a link to your state’s fish and wildlife site:

AlabamaHawaiiMassachusettsNew MexicoSouth Dakota
AlaskaIdahoMichiganNew YorkTennessee
ArizonaIllinoisMinnesotaNorth CarolinaTexas
ArkansasIndianaMississippiNorth DakotaUtah
CaliforniaIowaMissouriOhioVermont
ColoradoKansasMontanaOklahomaVirginia
ConnecticutKentuckyNebraskaOregonWashington
DelawareLouisianaNevadaPennsylvaniaWest Virginia
FloridaMaineNew HampshireRhode IslandWisconsin
GeorgiaMarylandNew JerseySouth CarolinaWyoming
All state fish and wildlife websites. Also, here’s a list of the US Fish and Wildlife offices in your state.
 

TrailLink – Trails with Outdoor Activities

Run by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, this map isn’t made for fishing but you can filter the results down so only trails with fishing are shown. The site also doesn’t have every trail mapped judging by the results we got for our area. But it does have a ton of places listed and can be useful for finding somewhere new to cast your line, or more than a dozen other activities.

A screenshot of TrailLink's activity map.
The main map shows all trails. Check this page instead for trails where you can fish.

How to Find a Good Fishing Spot Yourself

Still looking for the perfect spot? Wired2Fish has a guide on how you can use Google Earth and other map software to find great places for fishing. They give a quick rundown on what to look for when scouting bodies of water, such as shaded banks, downed trees, funnel points, and how seasonal conditions play a part in finding good locations to fish.

Wired2Fish shows an ideal fishing location from Google Earth.
Wired2Fish shows a shaded bank and structure created from downed trees. You can bet there’s fish here.

There are some generally favorable conditions that can indicate when it’s a good time to grab your rod. That said, even when some conditions are ideal, other factors might be working against you that day. Maybe you’re entering a full moon but the fish are less active because the water temperature is too low.

Weather Underground’s 10-day forecast tab gives you all of this information and more at a glance.

Here are some of the best times to go fishing:

  • Dawn & dusk Both classic times for fishing. Most life wakes with the rising sun and that’s a likely time for fish to be feeding. Heading out before dawn can be especially great for beating the summer heat. Meanwhile, increased insect activity and the coming darkness tend to encourage bites toward the evening.
  • Sunny afternoon Perhaps less intuitive than fishing at dawn or dusk, but PrimeTimes makes a strong case for fishing during high noon (see #8 on their FAQ page). The short of it: plankton blooms are their strongest, leading to feeding minnows and active predator fish. Noon is also halfway between dawn and dusk so fish may be hungry again, the sun is at its highest electromagnetic period, and the afternoon warmth can bring fish back to life during a cold winter.
  • New & full moon – The lunar cycle affects tide levels and that’s one indication of how active fish are. The gravitational effects of the sun and moon pull in the same direction during a new moon, while they pull on opposite sides of the earth during a full moon.
  • Temperature changes – Fish get lethargic when water temperatures get too low and spring back to action when temps reach an ideal range for that species. For example, certain trout start turning on when the water gets into the mid-40s Fahrenheit. Mepps has a great chart showing the favored temperature ranges of different species:
Looking for a water temperature chart? Mepps has one with ideal water temps for different fish.
 
  • Pressure changes Watch for sudden changes in barometric pressure. Big drops in pressure before a storm will often make for good fishing but then conditions get worse as the pressure dips too low. Spikes can also be great and stable pressure in an ideal range is fine too. An ideal barometric pressure range for fishing is suggested to be roughly between 29.8 inches and 30.4 inches but varies by elevation.
  • Overcast & light rain – Less sunlight reduces visibility in the water, making fish feel more comfortable with swimming away from structure and exploring for food. It also helps eliminate your shadow from scaring fish. Likewise, fishing in light rain can obscure surface visibility and trigger feeding from insects and worms being washed into the water.
  • Windy days – While challenging to endure if you’re trying to cast a lure, high winds create choppy water that drives bait fish toward the shore and predator fish inevitably follow along.

Need some fishing gear? Fishing Lures | Fishing Tools | Gear We Use

How much is a fishing license? Check the information for your state.

Republished with permission from Top Strike Fishing.

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Adventures Follow This Fresh Salt

Reel Talk: Jennifer Lampkin rings our belle!

Everything is bigger in Texas–and bass are no exception! As if on cue, Jennifer Lampkin (@southernbellefishingtx)is on site pulling up a monster largemouth bass, smiling from cheek to cheek.

Born and raised in East Texas, Jennifer knows a thing or two about tackling big fish that northerners might only dream of. For her, though, it’s often the sights and sounds along the waterway that make her day, not necessarily a lunker catch. Above all, it’s the relationships she fosters with friends and loved ones that makes fishing special to her.

I find it very important to teach my children patience through fishing,” Jennifer adds. “It can be a challenge, but getting them away from technology and appreciating nature is what makes it all worth it.”

Fishing is very much a family endeavor for Jennifer. Her father is also a Texas native, and the love of fishing has spread to the next generation as well. Her greatest, most cherished moments are those times spent sharing the water with her own children. Thus, fishing isn’t necessarily about the fish to this Texas belle, it’s about getting outdoors and sharing experiences with others.

That’s not to say there isn’t a rip-roaring angling persona behind the smile–Jennifer doesn’t back down from a fight! In fact, about a year ago she was set to join her dad in a tournament, but he broke his hand before the start. That just wouldn’t do. She had to get out and compete!

She saw a women’s-only bass kayak tournament, so someone offered to lend her a kayak. She had tried a pelican kayak in the past, but this was the first time she was in a real tournament kayak fishing. She met some folks at the tourney and they have been a great help in getting her set up and out on the right foot. She caught only a bluegill in the first tourney, but got hooked with the love to kayak fish.

After the first kayak tourney, someone told her there was a benefit tournament hosted by Heroes on the Water. She borrowed another kayak and joined with her friend John Mooney in Pinkston Lake, TX. Together they won the tournament, and Jennifer decided it was time to get her own kayak to enjoy these adventures more often.

True to her frenzied nature, Jennifer won’t be relegated to just Texas. She recently headed to Marathon Florida on a photoshoot organized by Gillz Gear. While there, she made sure to make the most of it: she joined with the famous Two Conchs charters and made some memories! She says that Captain Mike Macko made the trip a special treat: she reeled in her personal best–a 100lb goliath grouper!

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My fish Goal was a Goliath Grouper! I had no clue that when @gillzgear invited me to Marathon Florida I would be going after a Freaking Goliath! This fish was a beast! Talk about a full body work out!!! It took everything I had to hold this fish up for a picture. My whole body was sore, my arms weak but my smile big Y'all!!! Sure I'm not a picture perfect model but y'all this is a dream come true! I had caught a Jack and @capt_mike_macko broke the tail stuck a hook through it and said hold on! Guys i still can't believe how amazing this fight was! I am so so Blessed to be Part of Gillz Gear Pro Staff! Traveling across country had me a little nervous but everyone involved with Gillz Gear and @twoconchs was AMAZING! They really care for the Pro staff and women anglers! Two Conchs best charter you can use in the Marathon! I loved all the guys I met down there it was EPIC Thank you all so much! LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YALL AGAIN! DREAM IT AND GO FOR IT! DONT LET ANYTHING HOLD YOU BACK! For a 25% discount use Lampkin25 😘 ON Gillz Gear performance wear! #gillz #gillzgirl #gillzgear #gillzbassteam #twoconchs #ladyangler #fisherwoman #angler #lovetofish #goliathgrouper #grouper #keywest #florida #floridafishermenmagazine #bassgrls #largemouthbass #saltlife #laughmore #lovelife #epic #blessed #fishing #fishinglife #amazingadventures #adventure #performancewear #bestsunprotection #momoftwo #reelife #reelgirlsfish

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Still, she has some unfinished business. In the near future, she wants to catch a tarpon while on an ocean kayak. That’s not the end of her plans, either. Peacock bass are on her radar south of the border, but alligator gar are a little bit closer to home.

Jennifer is still getting used to being seen as an authority in her sport. She received messages and questions all of the time, and tries her best to help get people started on their own escapades. Looking to try kayak fishing? She recommends her Hobie Outback–not too big, easy enough to move, and stable enough to keep mostly dry. Want to get into bass fishing? Try the chartreuse H&H spinner, a classic that always earns more fish than its $2 price tag implies.

To that end, she’s hoping to start a series of Youtube videos to introduce kayak and fishing tips to new fans. It’s so important to get out there and try–not everyone has a family with the fishing know-how that she has been blessed with. One of her most cherished memories was pulling in a 4lb 2oz largemouth bass with her father a few years back– not her largest catch, but certainly a milestone memory for a budding angler. Helping others create similar milestones for themselves and their families is what drives Jennifer to keep chugging on!

For those that can’t get out and explore on their own, she hopes to continue mixing philanthropy and fishing whenever possible. This past year, she volunteered with Adaptive Sports to help people with disabilities catch fish. Additionally, Angling for Relief, a non-profit led by a remarkable young man named Jake, is an organization that attempts to improve the lives of those suffering from pediatric cancer by introducing them to fishing opportunities. Jake remembers that fishing was the greatest joy he and his best friend Ryan could share before cancer took Ryan away before the 2nd grade. Angling for Relief wants to share fishing with young patients by organizing “dry fishing packets” that help young learners practice before they head out to the stream. Wonderful souls like Jennifer are planning to be on hand to facilitate future on-water events as they are organized.

While her heart might be Texas-sized and her catches might occasionally tip the scales, Jennifer clearly likes her fishing to make a deeper impact on others around her.

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Adventures Blog Posts Charters, Guides and Outfitters Salt

So You Want to Be a Fishing Guide? Chandler Williams Offers Some Tips

When we last connected with Chandler Williams (@chandler_williams_fishing on Instagram), we told you about his grit: Working for a neighbor to earn his first fly rod; teaching himself how to fly cast; sleeping all night on a dock as a young teenager in order to hitch his first ride with a sport fisher. You get the idea.

In light of the way Chandler went from mulching lawns to get a fly rod to guiding 250 days a year at such a young age, we thought he might have some tips to offer reelers who might be interested in becoming guides.

It starts with a passion for fishing.

“Ever since I was at a young age, I’ve been super passionate about it,” he says. “I always used to watch Jose Wejebe, even when I was a little kid, and some of these other big names, like Chris Owens, Brian Jill, and Carter Andrews. Seeing what their lifestyles were [traveling and fishing], I thought, ‘I want my lifestyle to be that way.’ There’s just something about watching the sun on the water, that fish kick his tail, and the drag screaming. That’s something I just can’t get enough of. It’s like I’m hungry for it.”

Sustainability is also a big part of being a steward of the sport for Chandler.

“I hate killing fish so they can be mounted on the wall,” he says. “We need to practice better conservation now so that more young people will practice it, and get the message out across the world. That will make a big difference for future generations who want to work in this industry.”

“There’s so many young people these days who want to become a guide or live this lifestyle on the water,” Chandler says. “And if we don’t protect the fisheries, they won’t be able to do that.”

And you have to be willing to put in the work and pay your dues along the way.

“You’ve got to step on some toes,” Chandler says. “And go where the anglers go. I went to iCast the first time when I was fourteen. No one really showed or taught me anything up until now. I’ve learned a lot from others, but I basically taught myself. Do your research and study a lot — figure it out. Figure out how to be a good fisherman at the level you want to be at. Get on the Internet before you go on these boats and show them what you’ve already figured out and learned on your own.”

Even after doing all that research, though, you’re not likely to find an e-vite onto a boat in your inbox.

“Step on toes. Aggravate the shit out of people, you know?” Chandler says. “Demonstrate that you have the drive for it, and show them that you’re going to be at the dock at 5:30 in the morning and ready to go. If no one hires you, go to the dock every day at 6:00 in the morning when they go out, and be there when they get back, if you can. Over time, somebody’s going to eventually pick you up because they see you’re dedicated. There’s a lot of people who go out and drink at night and don’t show up for the boat the next day. So, your opportunity will surely come.”

Hitting the docks and industry shows is a great way to network, which is key to breaking into the industry.

“Make as many connections as you can,” Chandler says. “And if you burn bridges, mend them as quick as you can.”

For most folks who want to get into guiding, there are no short cuts.

“It’s not about the sponsorships or getting free stuff,” Chandler says. “It’s about having a dedication for it. Work hard and build your name, and over time, those things will come.

And if you want it, you have to go for it.

“For the younger kids coming up,” Chandler says. “This isn’t the easiest path in life, but it’s the most rewarding. And one thing I can say is never give up — no matter what.”

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Chandler Williams: Reel Salty

These days, Chandler Williams (@chandler_williams_fishing on Instagram) splits his time between South Carolina and Key West. But the Columbia, South Carolina native has fished all over the Western Hemisphere. It took a lot of grit and gumption for him to get there, though.

“I think I went fishing for the first time when I was three,” he says. “My dad took me fishing, got me a fishing rod for my third birthday and took me bream fishing. I caught one. But when I didn’t get one on the second go-round, I threw my rod in the water.  We had to fish the rod out.”

Clearly, Chandler  was serious about fishing from the very beginning.

“Yeah, I fish more than 250 days a year, now.”

But it took a lot of determination for him to get to where he is today.

“When I was ten or eleven, I was helping a neighbor mulch his yard,” Chandler says. “And he wanted to pay me. And I told him that I wanted to get a fly rod. So, I got a fly rod from Wal Mart and taught myself how to fly cast.”

At that time, he was still fishing freshwater.

“Around the time I was fourteen, though, I was down at Edisto Beach,” Chandler says. “I went on the docks and walked onto this sports fisher and begged the guy to take me fishing or let me do a ride-along with him the next day. He said, ‘Yeah.’”

But Chandler didn’t have a way to get to the dock that early the next morning.

“So, I packed a bag for the next day, and went back to the dock,” he says. “And I slept on the dock. The captain kicked me in the foot at 5 a.m. the next day to wake me up and tell me it was time to go.”

After he graduated high school, Chandler got a job offer at a fly fishing lodge in Montana.

“I went out there and paid my dues,” he says. “It didn’t work out. But I was eager to get back into it. That was when I got a job guiding in Argentina. It was my first international guiding job.”

While in Patagonia, he was guiding for sea-run brown trout.

“After that, I went to Bolivia and did exploratory fishing for golden dorados,” Chandler says. “For four months, I lived with indigenous Amazon people, in a tent, going up and down in dugout canoes.”

Apart from the guiding he does in South Carolina and Key West, Chandler’s next plan is guiding in the Seychelles.

“I’ll be working as a head guide for Blue Safari,” he says. “We’ll be doing blue water and guiding fly fishing on the flats.”

For him, a little fly fishing and a blue water fishing is the perfect combination.

“Blue marlin are my favorite offshore target species,” he says. “But I love bonefish on the flats.”

Does he prefer offshore or flats fishing?

“It would be hard to make a choice,” Chandler says. “I love it all! I can’t separate the two. I’m addicted to both.”

Check out the second part of our interview with Chandler Williams for some tips and advice about getting into the guiding business – Coming soon. 

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Salt

Jamie Smith is a Fishin’ Mama

Although she started reeling as a little girl, growing up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, Jamie Smith (@fishinmama511 on Instagram) was a long way from water.

“My dad started me fishing when I was little-bitty, like I don’t even remember how old I was,” she says. “There’re no lakes anywhere near where we lived. So we would have to drive at least an hour or an hour and a half to go fishing.”

“We would go trolling,” Jamie says. “And it was always hot dogs. All we ever used for bait was hot dogs.”

But, by high school, Jamie’s interests moved on to other things.

“I eventually did hair and even owned a salon for a while,” she says. “And then I met my husband, who was in the Air Force.”

Jamie’s husband is a Texas native.

“We eventually moved back to Texas,” she says. “So, we decided to find the halfway point between where my parents were building a house and where his family lives. And we literally picked a dot on a map.”

They settled in Temple, “about an hour north of Austin. Smack-dab in the middle of Texas.”

They’ve lived in Texas for about four and a half years now, along with their two children.

“One day, my husband said, ‘I want to go fishing.’ So, we bought some worms and some rods, and we went,” Jamie says. “But we didn’t really do it again.”

It was her step-father that really sparked Jamie’s renewed interest in reeling.

“My mom and stepdad had decided to build a house on the coast, in South Texas,” she says. “And my stepdad really got me into it. He started showing me how to fish right from the banks.”

There, Jamie learned how to go after inshore species.

“It’s mostly redfish and black drum,” she says. “I’ve caught a lot of stingrays and hardhead catfish, too.”

Initially, it wasn’t the fishing that interested Jamie.

“I just did it to spend time with my stepdad at first,” she says. “He passed away from cancer not this last December but the one before. And that kind of triggered everything. I was like, ‘This is it. This is what I’m going to do.’ And I started doing it by myself all the time.”

Jamie is trying to pass her passion for fishing on to her children.

“They’re not as interested in the fishing, yet,” she says. “They’ll throw a  pole in the water, but then they also want to go dig under rocks for bugs and stuff. I tell them to bring them to me for bait.”

Closer to home, Jamie is a bass angler.

“Being in Temple, Texas, largemouth bass is what I try and go for,” she says. “But if I go saltwater fishing, reds are my absolute favorite. They’re so fun!”

Belton Lake is Jamie’s go-to spot. But she was reluctant to divulge that information. “I don’t know if I should give away my favorite fishing spot.”

But the lake is close by and Jamie’s had good luck there.

“I catch largemouth mostly,” she says. “I’ve caught a needlenose gar in there, a lot of catfish, and we’ve caught a lot of hybrids, stripers, and also smallmouth bass.”

She swears by her Texas-rigged YUM dinger plastics.

“The summer before last, I bet I caught 150 fish on a Texas rig and my YUM,” she says.

And it’s the excitement that she feels that keeps Jamie throwing cast after cast.

“Honestly, for me, it’s an adrenaline rush like no other,” she says. “People talk about jumping out of planes, but I’m not interested in doing that. Every time I hook up with a fish — it doesn’t matter if it’s little or small, you can feel the fight — it’s a surprise like scratching a lottery ticket. You don’t know what you’re going to get, but you know you’re going to get something because you can feel it on there. Every time, it’s a rush!”

 

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For Kim Hurt, Saltwater Reeling Was a Gamechanger

Kim Hurt (@kimhurtay on Instagram) was born and raised in the great state of Texas, where she has been fishing since she was a little girl.

“I’m from South Texas, but I live in Boerne now,” she says. “But I was living on the coast, out of Corpus Christi, on North Padre Island, where I got to fish all the time! But I was raised on a ranch just south of San Antonio.”

She started on freshwater, and it was her parents who sparked Kim’s interest in fishing.

“I started fishing with my daddy,” she says. “I grew up going to Colorado for several weeks every summer, and we’d fish up there in the mountains. We’d catch rainbow trout and fish like that.”

But Kim also fished closer to home.

“Obviously, we’d fish the rivers and lakes around where we lived, too,” she says. “I have a river that goes through my ranch, and we’d go, like, noodling for catfish and all sorts of stuff.”

Saltwater came later for Kim.

“I’ve been fishing my whole life,” she says. “But it wasn’t until I moved down to Corpus that I got into the saltwater fishing — and it was a game changer! Once you go salt, you can’t go back.”

Kim didn’t really think about fishing when she made the move.

“I lived on the water, when I was on North Padre,” she says. “I moved there in 2015, and my backyard was literally the water. I started fishing when my friends would go out. They would come by in their boats, and I’d just hop on with them and go! ”

Kim was immediately taken with reeling on the Gulf.

“Once I started doing saltwater fishing — the adrenaline I’d get was just a whole other level,” she says.

Kim loves both inshore and offshore fishing.

“We’d do lots and lots of bay fishing, we’d get monster trout and big schools of reds,” she says. “But I started going offshore, too, out of Port Aransas.”

Offshore fishing was just as big a rush for Kim.

“That was so much fun!” she says. “The biggest fish I ever caught in my life was offshore out of Port A. It was a giant mahi — 42 inches. I guess it wasn’t huge, but it was huge for me — I’m pretty little!”

Redfish are still Kim’s favorite, though.

“It’s just so fun!” she says. “They’re not always easy to catch, and they put up a big fight. It’s fun to chase them, standing up on top of the boat and trying to find them. There’s no better feeling than that — it’s so much fun. It’s just addicting.”

The challenges posed by saltwater fishing are what differentiates it from freshawater reeling for Kim.

“The fights — and the size of the fish. I’ve seen this whole ‘River Monsters’ thing, but I’ve never caught a monster unless it was a big ol’ catfish,” she says. “But in saltwater, you can catch a monster everytime.”

Kim relies on Waterloo Rods to ensure that whatever she hooks makes it to the boat.

“Saltwater fish are a lot harder to catch. You can’t always see through the water, unless you’re in Florida,” she says. “When you’re saltwater fishing, it’s just an adrenaline rush like no other, something you don’t get when you’re just sitting on the side of a riverbank. On saltwater, you’r in their territory!”

Besides the fish, Kim sees other benefits to being out on the water.

“There’s something about just being out on saltwater, whether you’re catching them or not,” she says. “That’s my kind of church. It’s just the most wonderful thing for your soul, as cheesy as that sounds.”

It’s important to Kim that the opportunities that she’s had are there for future generations.

“Coastal conservation and doing our part to keep beaches and water clean is so important,” she says. “Keep taking your kids fishing. It was a big part of my childhood, and I just think that it’s so important that kids get out there and do that, whether it’s with grandparents, parents, or whoever. It’s one of life’s most basic joys, and I want the younger generations to be part of that, too.”

 

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Reelin’ Strong with Kimmi Stark

Melbourne, Florida native Kimmi Stark (@kimmistark_ on Instagram) has only been fishing for about two and a half years. But she’s coming on strong!

“I just won my first fishing tournament up in the Mosquito Lagoon,” she says. This was not just her first tournament win — it was the first tournament she’d ever fished.

Although she’s always been a water girl, Kimmi didn’t get started fishing until she met her boyfriend.

“I’ve always loved being outdoors and in the water,” she says. “I’ve always surfed, and fishing is my boyfriend’s hobby, so I thought fishing was something we could on the water together. After I caught my first fish, I was hooked. I was like, ‘Alright — here we go!’ And I’ve been all-in ever since.”

“We do mostly inshore fishing,” Kimmi says. “On the Indian River Lagoon.”

Although Kimmi is happy to chase any inshore species, one, in particular, has captured her heart.

“My favorite fish are tarpon,” she says. “My personal best, right now, is about two and a half feet.”

Kimmi tries to get out at least every weekend to chase those silver kings.

“I use spinning gear,” she says. “And a combination of live and artificial bait.”

Although Kimmi is new to artificials, she’s taken a liking to them.

“I just got into artificial baits, and I actually like them a lot better,” she says. “It’s more fun and requires more skill and more precision. So, when you catch a fish, it feels like you had to work harder for it.”

Parts of the Indian River Lagoon are ideal for sight casting.

“We are mostly sight casting when we fish,” Kimmi says. “We have a flats boat, so we’re able to pole and see the fish before we cast. But when it’s tarpon, it’s often blind casting — you have to wait and see them roll. And then you go for it.”

As much as she loves chasing them, Kimmi doesn’t limit herself to tarpon.

“We’ll also go after trout and redfish,” she says. “The Indian River Lagoon is a really diverse ecosystem, so you can catch a little bit of everything.”

Remember that tournament Kimmi won?

“I had the biggest redfish at that Mosquito Lagoon tournament,” she says. “It was 32 inches. There wasn’t a just-girls category, so I outfished all the guys and the girls that day.”

Kimmi is hoping to step up her tarpon game in April with a trip to the Florida Keys.

“We want to do some wading and go after the monster tarpon they have down there,” she says. “Eventually, I want to try fly fishing, but first I want to perfect my spinning gear and artificals game before I move on to the next skill. I just want to practice and practice, learn new skills, and get better every day.”

Angling skills are not the only skills that Kimmi was motivated to learn because of fishing.

“I got into fitness because of fishing,” she says. “The first thing I ever caught was a jack, and it, like, ripped my arm off. So, I started working on getting stronger and healthier, and eventually got my personal training certificate.”

Now a personal trainer, Kimmi owns her own business, Tarpon Fitness. The business focuses on “fishing and Florida style,” she says.

As much as she gets out of exercise, it’s still the water that Kimmi goes back to.

“It’s relaxing, like therapy,” she says. “You can just go be in or on the water and feel connected with yourself, and all your worries just go away. You know how they call it salt water therapy? It’s the best thing for the mind.”

 

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Larissa Marchsteiner: This Gator Girl Loves H2O

Larissa Marchsteiner (@gatorgirl1183 on Instagram; @GatorGirl on Facebook) was born and raised — and still lives — in South Florida. And reeling has almost always been a big part of her life.

“I’ve been fishing since before I remember,” she says. “There are pictures of me when I was about five years old holding fish. I started by fishing off the back dock of my grandparents’ house on Lake Okeechobee.”

It was her dad that introduced Larissa to fishing. And clearly, she started out as a freshwater angler.

“For the longest time, I didn’t I liked to eat fish,” she says. “Because it would always be bass or other things we caught out of Lake Okeechobee. I always though it was disgusting.”

But she had an epiphany when she started fishing Florida’s coastal waters.

“I was introduced to saltwater fish,” Larissa says. “And I was like, ‘Oh! This is really good!’ It was a different thing altogether.!”

These days, Larissa spends most of her fishing time offshore.

“These days I’m usually out on the water trying to get my wahoo,” she says. “I have yet to get one. That’s next on my bucket list.”

Apart from her wahoo, though, Larissa has a pretty solid offshore track record.

“I caught my first swordfish,” she says. “It weighed in at about 400 pounds, so I’m probably pretty spoiled. I can hold off catching another one for a little bit so that I’m not disappointed.”

But Larissa’s heart belongs to mahi.


“Mahi are probably my favorite,” she says. “I love the colors — watching them in the water and seeing them when they come out. And they’re delicious.”

She’s still chasing a big bull, though.

“I still want to get a big one,” she says. “I’ve caught decent-sized ones, but I still want to catch a good sixty-pounder.

Although, most of her reeling is offshore, Larissa still finds time to do some occasional inshore fishing.

“I go down to to Islamorada and fish with some charters down there,” she says. “We go after mangrove snapper and trout mainly.”

With all the time she spends on the water, Larissa needs to make sure she’s outfitted with the right gear and apparel. Recently, she tryed some pieces from TH20 Gear — who make apparel to reflect the mahi colors that Larissa loves so much.

“I love it,” she says. “It’s bright and vibrant. It really gets people’s attention — which is always good.”

She even modeled some of the apparel for a shoot with renowned marine photographer, Tony Ludovico.

When she’s not fishing herself, she’s an insurance agent (“I sell AFLAC — I sell the duck.”) and she’s teaching her 10-year-old son to fish, as well.

“He loves it,” Larissa says. “He likes bottom fishing because he feel it — there’s more action to bottom and ishore fishing, as opposed to trolling for mahi.”

To a certain extent, it doesn’t matter to Larissa whether she catches whatever species she is targeting.

“My favorite part about fishing is always seeing what is going to come up,” she says. “Because, obviously, even if you’re fishing for a specific species, you still don’t know what’s going to be on the end of the rod. I love looking for the color, whether I’m the one holding the rod or I have the gaff — what is it going to be? That excitement… that’s the adrenaline rush I love so much.”

But regardless of why she’s on the water, H20 is a big part of Larissa’s life.

“Fishing clears my mind,” she says. “It makes me at peace. Out on the water, I’m away from everything — usually, I don’t even have cell phone service — I can not think about everything else that’s going on. It’s my get-away place, whether I’m catching fish or not, just being out on the water makes me happy. It’s how I deal with life when it’s rough.”

 

 

 

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Lelani Bright: Reeling Sunshine in the Florida Keys

Lelani Bright (@beautifullifemember on Instagram) was born in South Africa, growing up in Pretoria and Durban.

When I asked if her name was Hawai’ian, she schooled me.

“Lelani is actually a very Afrikaans name,” she says. “It also means ‘just cried’ in Zulu.”

She moved to the United States in 1997, and landed in the Florida Keys, settling on Key West.

“I only spoke Afrikaans, at the time,” Lelani says. “So, I learned English from Hooked on Phonics. But I still go back to South Africa every year for two months or so.”

Lelani has loved the water for, essentially, her entire life. She surfs, dives, snorkels, spearfishes, and “just about anything on or in the water.”

“My mom put a snorkel mask on me in the bathtub when I was one and taught me to snorkel,” she says. “Later, she would show me waterproof books in the ocean, while I wore my mask — I learned to read that way. We’d vacation on Mauritius, an island east of Madagascar, and I would spend the whole time in the water. I was just a total water baby.”

Fishing is a big part of her love for the water — especially offshore fishing.

“I feel like fishing is honorable hunting. You’re not just sitting there with a gun and a bullet, waiting for something to come along,” Lelani says. “You have to know what the winds and tides are doing, what fish are running and what they’re eating. You have to know how to maneuver the boat. It’s very deliberate and calculated, and that’s one of the reasons that I love the sport.”

The only piece of equipment Lelani insists on having with her is her Hookerstix rod.

“My buddy Jason Smith makes these custom rods in colors and styles that are particularly geared toward lady anglers,” she says. “They’re awesome.”

Regardless of the gear she uses, self-sufficiency and sustainability are crucial to Lelani.

“There’s also something about going out and catching a fish and knowing exactly where tonight’s meal came from and that I caught it myself,” she says. “Every day out on the water is different, they’re never the same. All fish are beautiful and there is always something to learn about them.”

One of her most memorable fishing experiences was when she hooked a blue marlin south of Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands.

“I was on this eighty-two-foot Hatteras called Aquaholic,” Lelani says. “But I was in the fighting chair, and I had this creature that was bigger and heavier than me on the end of my line. I saw its fin and saw it come out of the water. It was a bright and sunny day. I didn’t bring it to the boat, but it was just the day, the boat I was on, the people I was with and this beautiful animal basically surfing waves with us. It was surreal —  just beautiful — and the experience of being at the mercy of this creature was something that felt magical to me.”

Make no mistake  — Lelani enjoys catching fish, as well.

“Another time, I was fishing off of Galveston — we were out two days. Just me and five other people bouncing around on a boat,” she says. “I caught my first yellowfin [tuna]. I also caught several lionfish around the structure of an oil rig. It was a beautiful experience.”


Wahoo and sailfish are the next two species on the bucket list for the tennis coach, writer, and private aviation flight attendant.

“Fishing, for me, is something that I will enjoy all my life,” she says. “Like tennis, it’s something that I will be able to enjoy when I am old. I also love the community — the people I meet when I fish, the friends I make. The fishing community is like a family, and I am always learning about new species, new gear, and new techniques.”

But being on the water is not just about the fishing for Lelani. It’s clearly a happy place for her.

“When you’re in the water, you’re away from anything that’s been touched by man — sure, you may see some garbage or other things — but you’re in this serene world, seeing the fish and animals in their habitat, doing their thing. There’s just something spiritual about that,” she says.

“When I’m in the water, I feel like I’m one with nature — like I’m closer to God. I love the serenity. You put your ears in the water and you can’t hear anything except that snap, crackle and pop. You know what I mean?”

 

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Brian McGill: The MC who Gave up Bass for Snook

When I called Brian McGill (mc_snook_mcgill on Instagram) for this interview, the Tampa, Florida angler was about to start fishing.

“Call you back in 15,” he texted. “walking to a fishing spot. Soon as I get setup I can chat.”

Less than 10 minutes into our conversation, Brian tells me that he’s got a fish on. Asked if he needed to call back, he responded, “No, I think I got it.”

But then he thought better of it and said, “You know, let me call you back once I land this fish.”

After we hung up, Brian sent me a picture of the beefy redfish he hauled in during our conversation. He’d got the fish to shore, snapped a pic and released it… and then brought in a fat black drum. He needed a flash for both pics, because it was pitch dark where he was.

“I’d say I do ninety percent of my fishing at night,” he says. “But since I got my kayak, I go out a little more during the daytime.”

Although Brian has been reeling since he was very young, he didn’t start out fishing the inshore waters of Florida’s Gulf Coast.

“I’m originally from New York. Orange County,” he says. “I grew up fishing mostly for salmon and smallmouth bass. I started fishing rivers for salmon with my dad at five [years old].”

After moving to Florida, though, he took immediately to the Gulf’s stellar inshore fishery.

“Bass fishing techniques translate pretty well to redfish,” Brian says.

But snook, another of his favorite target species, were a different story.

“Snook have really soft mouths,” he says. “So, it took me a while to get the hook-setting technique just right.”

Unlike his redfish methods — which is more topwater — Brian prefers to bounce a jig along the bottom, near structure, when he’s after snook.

Last year, red tide choked off many of the fisheries in the Tampa area.

“They’re starting to come back, now,” Brian says. “But it was bad there for awhile.”

Last winter’s cold snap also killed off a lot of the area’s snook, which are warm-water fish with extreme sensitivity to temperature changes.

“I fish mostly in the canals and inland waterways,” Brian says. “And when the water was cold, a lot of snook sheltered there. So, I did okay.”

In spite of snook’s reputation as a delicacy, Brian is a strict catch-and-release reeler.

“I’d rather put them back and catch them again another time,” he says.

It turns out that Brian’s snook techniques sometimes work on other species.

“I was out fishing by myself once,” he says. “I usually go with a buddy, but this time I was alone, bouncing a jig off the bottom. Suddenly, it felt like my hook it a snag. It just stopped moving — and then it took off, stripping line off my reel.”

It turned out, Brian had hooked his first tarpon.

“I fought him for close to twenty minutes,” he says. “Fortunately, I was close to a beach, so I was able to get him in gently, by myself, and then release him. I figure it was a sixty-pound fish.”

After that experience, Brian started purposely targeting tarpon on occasion.

“I love hooking into a tarpon,” he says. “They strip line and jump, and put up a really tough fight. I work hard to get them in quickly, so I can release them when they’re still green and not exhausted and stressed after too long of a battle.”

I could hear the excitement in Brian’s voice, as he was talking about tarpon fishing.

“For me, fishing is an addiction,” he says. “Some people are addicted to money, some to substances. I’m addicted to fishing. My passion for fishing grows day by day, fish by fish.”