Posted on


Every year starting around mid-september a special phenomena occurs that is national geographic-esque. Dating back ages, scores and scores of mullet make their annual migration southbound for the winter time.

In Fort Lauderdale, August is one of the toughest months of the year to find mullet. A couple weeks into September the stock slowly starts to get replenished, beginning with scattered schools of bait, bringing relief to many inshore fisherman who have struggled for the past 3 months to score enough live bait to fish with.

Usually by the first week of October the run is full blown. This year the run ‘ran’ a little late not reaching its peak until well into October. The iconic image of the mullet run is acres of bait pushing down the beach with all the players at the event. Meeting the frisky, loggjammed, schools of bait are all the predators and more. Tarpon, snook, jacks of all sizes, sharks, bluefish, ladyfish, and mackerels all line up for the annual feast.

Running north from your local inlet on the search for diving birds and showering mullet can put you right in the heart of the action. If you are there at the right time, the scene can be spectacular with hundreds of thousands of bait being herded south. Tarpon performing aerial displays as they crash through schools, mullet continuously showering in an effort to elude predators, and of course rod bending action.

The mullet run is certainly a site for sore eyes, but it can be a frustrating fishing experience given that your bait is essentially one in a million. It’s sometimes unbelievable that a fish picks your bait out of the chaos. The key to fishing the mullet run, just like any other type of fishing, is patience. Often you will be around a school of bait for hours with nothing hitting them, and then all of a sudden someone hits a switch and mayhem ensues.

So when this happens how do you make your bait stand out in the crowd? The first thing to do is to match the hatch – in other words if a school of 10 inch blacks is pushing down the beach don’t be fishing with finger mullets. Have a wide array of hooks for the size of baits you’re using from a 2/0 or 3/0 for the fingers all the way up to 7/0 for bigger baits. An owner mutu circle hook is pretty hard to beat. Try to fish your bait on the edge of the school where often times the predators hang out looking to pluck off a lonely victim. In deeper water adding a weight to your line to get your bait below the school is another alternative. Some anglers like to use a knife to slice their bait to make it bleed or even throw a dead bait underneath the school hoping theres a lazy fish willing to wolf a mullet head off the bottom. Everyone has their preference – so it’s all a matter of finding out what works best for you.

Not only does the mullet run move down the beach, but it also infiltrates the canals and intracoastal. By doing your homework early and fishing the other ten months of the year, you can find out certain points, canal mouths, and edges where predators like to ambush prey. Fishing these spots during the mullet can be exceptionally fruitful even if there is no sign of bait as these fishing are laying in wait for a school (or your slow trolled) live mullet to come swimming by.

By fishing constantly you increase your awarness of what’s happening and you can stay on top of the pulses of bait pushing south. The more you’re out there the more likely you are to run into a mullet run ‘event’. So next year instead of waiting for the Dolphins to finally have a winning season, use those Sunday mornings to have a day you’ll never forget.

Posted on


One of the benefits to living and fishing in South Florida is the proximity to the gulf stream and continental shelf. This makes it readily accessible to fish pelagics out of a boat in any size. Kayak offshore fishing has even grown in popularity in recent years. From the palm beaches all the way down to Miami the ocean floor drops off within a couple miles from shore.

The most important thing to consider when venturing offshore in a small boat is the weather. Always keep an eye on the weather reports up to the day you head out and check the forecast before leaving the dock. Another smart idea is to wear an inflatable life vest and attaching an PLB (ACR has great handheld options) to a belt loop can mean the difference between life and death in the case of a disaster. In regards to weather typically the summer months bring calmer days while the winter months bring cold fronts that can bring strong NE winds, and the spring can be quite windy too.

Each season brings a different variety of fish, but generally speaking sailfish, dolphin, tuna, kingfish, wahoo, and sharks can be caught year round.

The next consideration before heading offshore is bait (as it is with every trip). The gold standard (gold in price too) for offshore live bait is a goggle eye, but threadfin herring, pilchards, ballyhoo, blue runners, and even mullet can be just as effective. Sometimes the fish are feeding on tiny baits and you have to match the hatch. Recently huge schools of some sort of tiny glass minnows were just offshore. Schools of tuna were herding the tiny baits into bait balls. The tunas didn’t want anything to do with a live bait larger than a couple inches and the only thing they would eat was a small suspending twitchbait, spoon, or a fly moved quickly through the schools.

Unless running way offshore to chase down dolphin, there is no need to fish more than a couple miles offshore in depths of around 100-300 feet of water (sometimes less and sometimes more). Even dolphin frequent these depths. If you don’t have a depth finder there is no need to worry. There are a number of landmarks (seamarks?) you can use to determine your depth. For instance anything east of fowey rocks lighthouse in Miami is fishable territory for pelagics. The whistle buoy in Fort Lauderdale is ~120 feet, and the tankers at anchor are generally in 150-160 feet. Another good point of reference is to align yourself in the middle of the charter fleet, those guys tend to be in the right depths. The hardest part of the trip is often the drive out, once in appropriate depth you can set out lines and the effects of the ocean aren’t nearly as strenous on the boat nor the angler.

The key to fishing offshore in a small boat is to remember the old adage, keep it simple. Slow trolling energetic fresh livebaits or simply drifting with them can procure a strike from just about anything. Hook your bait through the nose (or bridle them if you want to get fancy) while trolling so they swim better. 20 lb test line with a 40 lb leader is more than enough to catch 95% of fish that you will encounter just offshore. If you are getting cut-off frequently a trace of wire leader can be added with or without a stinger rig.

Fish your live baits with a very light drag or run your running line through a hooked piece of copper wire wrapped around the base of your reel that will release when a fish strikes and freespool your live bait until the fish has it for a few seconds before locking up.

Fishing live bait certainly isn’t the only option, but is certainly the go-to for sailfish. Trolling spoons, feathers, and bonita strips can be equally if not more effective. Teasers and dredges aren’t necessary all you need is two rods inserted into rod holders trolling anywhere from 4-7 knots.

The cool part about fishing the ocean is you never know what is going to show up, so be ready as it can happen to anyone at anytime. There’s no better feeling than hooking into a tailwalking sailfish in front of a center console with 3 engines or a state-of-the-art sportfish when you’re out there in a 17 foot boat.

Posted on


Fishing tackle, gear, and rigging methods is all a matter of personal preference and finding out what works best for you. Most anglers end up sticking to what they were taught when they first started fishing. Perfecting knots takes countless hours of practice. As a kid nothing frustrated me more than losing a fish due to a poorly tied knot leading to a perfectionist mentality when it comes to knot tying. It is one thing to be able to tie something together sitting on a comfrotable stable dock or at your favorite rigging station. It’s a whole new ballgame trying to rig lines when the wind is blowing and the boat is rocking.

Having a wide range of knots in your arsenal certainly allows you to do more things, but it is just as important to master your basic knots first before venturing outside of your comfort zone. The Uni knot is a simple yet highly reliable knot that can be used in a variety of situations. What makes the uni knot so special is that it is easy to tie, yet is exceptionally strong. The uni knot can be used for the most basic of fishing rigging: tying a line to a hook.

Simply pass the line through the eye and loop the tag end of the line back onto the running line. Wrap the tag end over the running line and through the loop six times. Pull the tag end, but do not tighten the knot. Moisten the knot (saliva works great) and pull on the running line sliding the knot down to the eye of the hook, tighten, and boom you’re ready to catch fish.

Alter the number of loops based on line diameter. For example 80 lb leader only requires about 4 loops, this is because it is harder to slide the knot down to the hook and tighten the more wraps you make. Another neat trick with the uni knot is to leave a little loop when tying on a hook or a lure to allow for more play. The only difference is when you slide the knot down to the eye, do not tighten it all the way with the running line. Once the knot meets the eye just pull on the tag end and it will tighten away for the eye leaving a tight knot, but with a loop.

The uni knot can also be used to tie your initial line onto a spool (although if you get to this point while hooked up to a fish its usually game over anyway). Another application is tying your running line to a leader, or just a basic line-line connection. This can be accomplished by tying two uni knots together so that the tag ends face away from each when the knot is complete. This knot is just as effective as the popular blood knot.

Few knots are as versatile as the uni knot. It can be used on braided line as well as mono and can double as tying the two together. It can be tied to swivels, which works great for the angler who has not mastered the albright when using wire. Just tie a uni knot to a swivel and then a haywire twist to the swivel and hook, which is just wrapping the wire on itself. Perfection of your knots and sound gear preparation will put the angler in a position to land more fish.

The uni knot is a great knot to learn for the novice angler, but yet is also used by high end tournament anglers around the world.