Saturday, March 27, 2010

Beach seining

Have you ever pulled a seine net at the beach? If not, you're missing out on some great fun, along with the opportunity to catch your own REALLY fresh seafood!

What might you catch while seining in the Southeastern salt waters? There's no telling! We've caught large shrimp, small sharks, redfish, seatrout, whiting, catfish, mullet, flounder, stingrays, croaker, spots, horseshoe crabs, blue crabs, skates, and lots of mminnows.

On our best hauls, we filled coolers with extra-large shrimp and big mullet, along with buckets of big blue crabs. Sometimes we cooked our catch right on the beach! Believe me, the taste of seafood just out of the water is amazing!

This is a great activity for the entire family and can easily be incorporated into your beach vacation.

To get the specifics on seining, along with some great deals on seine nets, go here:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Crabbing - Fun for the whole family!

Crabbing is a great activity for the entire family. Just about anyone can do it successfully with a little practice. Even kids will enjoy it, and catching their own dinner will give them a great feeling of accomplishment.

You don't need any expensive equipment to get started. Some cord, some bait, and a dip net will suffice for basic crabbing. A long handled net will work best, but my grandkids have caught plenty of crabs with dip nets from the dollar store. For bait, use a chicken part. I've found that the backs work best - probably because they have so much fat.

Simply tie the back onto the cord and toss it into the surf, the bay, or the tidal creek. Let is "sit" until you observe a tug on the line. Then SLOWLY retrieve the bait. When you see the crab, scoop it up in the net! For this type of crabbing, I've had the best luck at high tide.

If you'd like to crab from a pier, dock, or bridge, you'll need a crab trap. These range from cheap net traps to metal pyramid traps to large crab boxes. The traps are baited with chicken parts of dead fish and then tossed into the water. Check the traps every so often.

To read all the specifics about crabbing, go here:

At the bottom of the above article, you'll also find links for tips on killing, cooking, and eating your catch!

Fishing Mexico Beach and Port St. Joe, FL

This area of the Florida Panhandle provides some awesome fishing! One of the best spots we've found is under the big bridge between Port St. Joe and St. Joe Beach.

As you're leaving Port St. Joe and heading toward Mexico Beach, turn right onto the dirt road just before crossing the bridge. The road will take you underneath the bridge to the tidal creek that empties into the bay. Wade out into the bay and cast into the deep channel with finger mullet, mud minnows, live shrimp, or artificials.

This is a great spot for flounder! They lie on the bottom near the fast current of the channel, waiting for bait to swim by. I've also seen some large reds taken here, using the same angling methods.

Crabbing here is often excellent, too, and it's a good way to keep the kids entertained. Our kids have caught coolerfuls of large blue crabs along the bank without even using bait! They just walked along the narrow beach, watching for the crabs. When they saw one, they scopped it up with a long handled net.

A word of caution: Don't wade out too far! The current in the channel is deadly.

Another good spot to fish is the Port St. Joe Marina. Fish an hour before and an hour after high tide for the best results. Catches include flounder, trout, and mangrove snapper.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Things I've Caught on the Pier

The great thing about saltwater fishing is that you never know what you might catch! The ocean is full of fascinating creatures, and many of them seem to like hanging around a fishing pier.

Of course, I've caught lots of the ususal species: flounder, trout, pompano, reds, blues, whiting, ladyfish, sharks, spots, black drum, needle fish, pocupine fish, puffers, snapper, stingrays, skates, grouper, sheepshead, and jack crevalle, but my husband and I have also caught or at least hooked other fish not usually caught from a pier, including cobia, tarpon, and barracuda.

And then there were the strange fish. I caught a big silver fish years ago that looked like it had run head into a brick wall. It had a sharply slanted face/head. After some research, I discovered that I had landed a "lookdown," a member of the pompano family.

Johnny once caught a really ugly fish that had the head of a toad. Its pectoral fins looked like wings, and under each fin, this fish had little "legs." It took us a while to find out that this was a Sea Robin.

Another strange species we caught were ribbon fish, also called cutlass fish. These are long, very skinny fish with a terrible mouth and teeth. One day they came through and attacked everyone's bait, so for a while, that's all anyone was catching.

We've also caught large whelks, starfish, octopuses, crabs, and sea turtles, usually when fishing with cut bait.

Once when fishing at Mexico Beach in Florida, we caught a cormorant - diving bird. Releasing this guy from the hook was no simple feat! Hubby caught a seagull once in North Carolina, and he thought the frightened bird would peck him to death before he could set it free.

Saltwater fishing is rarely boring, and it often proves to be educational, as well!