October - December 2019
Our Purpose: To identify excellent Florida freshwater fishing opportunities and to provide anglers with relevant information that will enhance the quality of their outdoor experience.
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In this issue:
Here's where our current Season 7 catch submissions are coming from around the state.
Angling qualities: This fish is the best all-around live bait for both largemouth bass and butterfly peacock bass. Shiners can be taken legally with a cast net (see the Florida Freshwater Fishing Regulations for details, and be sure to immediately release any sportfish taken in this manner). Experienced cast-netters will often chum an area with uncooked oatmeal, laying mash, bread, or similar baits to attract and concentrate schools of these fish before throwing the net. For more tips on netting your own see the Bait Net Basics article below. Shiners can also be easily caught on hook-and-line with a tiny (size 12 or smaller) Aberdeen hook baited with a small doughball and fished under a tiny bobber.
Shiners, although not nearly as delicate as live shad, should still be kept in an aerated livewell or in a ventilated bait bucket placed in the water. This bait is usually hooked below the dorsal fin or through the lips. Use a float that is just large enough to keep the shiner from pulling it under; small balloons are also popular as shiner bobbers because they do not hang up in surface vegetation as easily as hard plastic or foam bobbers. Alternatively, shiners can be freelined around promising looking cover with no bobber or weight at all for a more natural presentation.
Where to find them: Golden shiners are common to abundant throughout the state. They are usually found near vegetation.
Interesting facts: When spawning golden shiners release adhesive eggs that stick to nearby vegetation. Their chief food includes freshwater plankton and insect larvae.
Minnow seine - Minnow seines are not as effective or convenient for shiners as a cast net, and are more cumbersome for shrimp or minnows than a dip net. You also can’t work one solo — it takes two for this one. They do have the advantage of being capable of covering a lot of territory, however. And seines make great educational tools, if you want to see (or teach your kids about) the variety of life in your local pond. If you’re going to use a minnow seine, do yourself the favor of attaching five- or six-foot broom handles or one-by-twos at the ends. This will make the net much easier to work, and make it much easier to keep the lead line on the bottom. They also make the net easy to roll up for storage — but make sure it's completely dry first. To work the net properly, choose a path that will run the net through promising-looking water a few feet deep and then up onto the bank. A gently-sloping bank without much vegetation or brush on it is best if available. Both team members should grasp the broom handles upright and try to keep the lead line on the bottom as they work. There will be a deep bow in the net as you both walk forward in unison. Move as fast as you can to prevent fish from escaping, and do keep that lead line on the bottom or fish will also escape under the net. Run the seine right up onto the bank to inspect your catch, giving priority to releasing any game fish first.
Staying safe - Obviously, you should exercise the same caution when netting as you would when shoreline fishing or wading, watching for deep spots and wildlife. See FWC's Living with Alligators brochure for more information.
"Netiquette" - There are some final points every net-toting angler should consider that have nothing to do with catching fish. First, don’t trespass. Respect the space around other resource users nearby. Also, don’t leave a trail of weed piles along the shoreline behind you. Some people, including anglers, don’t like seeing people with nets, so be polite to anyone that asks you what you’re doing. Take a moment to explain how much fun it can be to catch your own bait, and maybe even show them some of the interesting creatures you come across doing it.
Freshwater Fishing and Net Regulations - Methods of taking bait: Freshwater shrimp and golden shiners of any size, or other freshwater nongame fish, including catfish, less than 8-inches total length may be taken for bait by the following methods, unless specifically prohibited:
■ Cast nets having a stretched mesh size not greater than 1 inch in fresh waters of the
state, unless specifically prohibited.
■ Minnow dip nets not more than 4 feet in diameter.
■ Minnow seines having a stretched mesh size not greater than 1 inch, a length not more than
20 feet, and a depth not more than 4 feet.
■ Any game fish taken by these methods must be released immediately.
The Bobby Hicks Park fishing pier and a number of other enhancements provide a variety of outstanding fishing opportunities for the whole family.
Bobby Hicks has a hard sand and clay bottom with plenty of depth that, thanks to ongoing management work, offers great angling opportunities all year long. Largemouth bass anglers have good luck dragging Texas-rigged stick worms or casting crankbaits around drop-offs and humps in deep water. The fishing pier at Bobby Hicks presents excellent opportunities for trophy-sized channel catfish due to the feeders positioned on the pier. Each day the feeders distribute fish feed at 9:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. Channel catfish at Bobby Hicks can be caught on chicken livers, night crawlers, stink baits and live bluegill fished on the bottom. Live bait is best presented for catfish on a slip sinker rig, and non-live bait is best presented on a 3-way swivel rig to suspend the bait just off the bottom. Bream species such as redear sunfish and bluegill can be taken on small minnows or red worms, concentrating effort around brush and cattails in shallow water. Snook are caught casting artificial lures such as fluke-style baits and small paddle tail swimbaits around the brush-covered shorelines on the north end of the pond. Kayaking anglers enjoy the opportunities to catch phenomenal fish at Bobby Hicks; although there is not a formal launch site the pond provides ample areas for hand launching. To find a pond near you visit our list of Fish Management Areas!
To contact the Florida Freshwater Angler, email John Cimbaro.