GEAR: He prefers a 7' rod.....7' 6" is even better. Shorter rods = accuracy. Longer rods = distance. Nothing under 7' in his opinion. Medium action rod spooled with 15 lb braided line which allows for a farther cast.
15 lb diameter = 60 lb test
4 lb diameter = 15 lb test (or 15 lb of drag pressure) / you can actually bring in a 50 lb fish with this line.
DOLPHINS: We talked about dolphin activity when they're feeding and when they're mating, which brought up another topic of the FWC's lack of concern when the general public tries to reports something unusual. They're not very responsive.
SNOOK: Kyle briefly discussed how temperature sensitive snook are and that it's not surprising to see them dead in the water after a few days of unusually cold temperatures.
COBIA: The question came up about cobia bait. Kyle said that he uses pinfish for bait and that he mostly sight fishes for them. Cobia will follow manatees and stingrays because when those two use their tails and wings for propulsion, they will stir up quite a bit of bottom soil as they move along which exposes small crabs and shrimp for the cobia (and redfish too), to grab up. "Never pass up a manatee / Never pass up a stingray"
TRIPLETAIL: What time of year can you catch them? "Right now if it were a little warmer. It's really just a little too cold for crab buoy fishing to be effective, but when it gets warmer, live bait hook with no weight - this is called live-lining - and nose hook a shrimp or a thin piece a cut bait." Tripletail will always be facing the current. The problem is that these fish aren't going to move two feet out of their spot to chase a bait. If you don't practically give it to them, you won't catch them. Capt. Messier is a blue crabber by trade, though, so he knows the secrets from both sides of the crab trap, if you know what I mean.
BLUE CRAB: So we moved into the topic of blue crab. All of the crabs that harvesters trap in the winter are males in the river. A short warm spell in January or February will sometimes cause the females to leave the shallows and congregate in the deeper holes to lay eggs. When the males migrate out of the seven rivers, they head N - NW and form this type of bio-mass near the Spoil Banks and pile up next to the barge canal and then will slowly spread back out. This happens every year. Those 3x3 crab traps are packed full and that's when you can successfully target tripletail.
MULLET: That conversation let to mullet. Mullet migrate as well (called a mullet run) but in a different way. In October and November, when the first few strong cold-fronts hit, they leave the spring-fed rivers and head off-shore to spawn. Picture a thousand mullet all jumping at the same time - like the Asian carp do up north. This is the time when the sharks, permit, pompano and cobia show up because of how this mullet mass can stir up the bottom exposing bait food. You'll catch fish you just wouldn't normally expect to find in these waters at that time of year.
TARPON: in all its size and glory, are actually considered "bait fish" to a shark. 80 - 200 lb tarpon congregate in bio-masses of their own, attracting even larger sharks who won't think twice about attacking a tarpon in four feet of water. And this is where people scallop a month later. It's crazy !! But even with all of that 'danger' lurking, we're still going to set up a scalloping trip with the Capt. We a thrill seeking bunch, I tell you !!
SHARKS: Speaking of sharks...Kyle said that this past year, you couldn't go anywhere near King's Bay Springs without seeing sharks jumping out of the water occasionally. Tarpon, manatees, divers and....sharks jumping out of the water. Kyle brought up the fact that many of the shark species are off limits to keep but the bonnet head shark is still on the list for harvesting if someone wanted to. Florida law prohibits the harvesting of so many sharks these days because of past over fishing. They aren't any good to eat if they're over 5' anyway, but a small bonnet head is great table fare. If you decide to keep a shark for dinner, it has to be gutted right away. They have a lot of ammonia and acids that you don't want seeping into the meat. You have to slice them from their 'poop shoot' all the way up to the jaw and clean out the innards really good, especially the small urine sac that runs the length of the shark....that's where the toxic fluid is stored. If gutted right, shark fillets are delicious.
FLY FISHING: Amazingly, we ended where we started, talking about fly-fishing. Capt. Messier was really cool. He invited us to organize again one afternoon so that he could really spend some quality time with us and demonstrate how simple fly casting can be. He offered to supply all the gear if we would consider it. What a generous offer and what a great guy! It sounds like great fun and we'll be putting it on our calendar.
He made us realize what a great area we live in when you can fish inshore from a kayak, or flats boat, or go off shore for a different type of fishing. His energy and genuine love of the sport is contagious and we were grateful for his patience with us as he hammered him with a billion questions. You can tell that he loves to share his knowledge with those who are honestly just wanting to learn - so for that we are very grateful Capt.!