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Long Island’s Harbor Run

Although it’s true that surfcasters focus primarily on ocean beaches in the fall as they attempt to intercept the mass migration of baitfish and the predators that follow them, there are other opportunities. These ocean runs can be spectacular, and I look forward to the fall run with intense hope. I love the pounding surf, the crisp air, and the promise of catching fish amid acres of churning bait and fish. But, what to do when ocean action is spotty or non-existent? The answer is to look for more reliable action in the harbors.

The Harbors

Access is often either difficult or impossible. Nonetheless, there are fish to be caught there, and when the ocean runs are poor, as they were in 2016, I move north. Harbors are consistently productive because the young of many species are nurtured there. Early on, juvenile baitfish find protection from predators in marsh grasses, bottom seaweeds, rock piles, shallow creeks, and even wrecks, and the food they need is abundant in these eutrophic estuaries. As a result, the young bait grows fast. For most of the summer, these young-of-the-year fish go unnoticed because they are so small, but by the time autumn arrives, most are 3 to 6 inches long, and when the schools are large, they offer a banquet to predators.

harbor stripers vary from tiny schoolies to nearly 20 pounds

In the fall, harbor stripers vary from tiny schoolies to nearly 20 pounds. Photo by Eddy Stahowiak

The shoals of bait may include peanut bunker, porgies, weakfish, snappers, spearing, and herring. Of course, there are years when none of these species spawn with huge success and then there are years when several species are successful. However, in most years, it’s one bait species that dominates, like in 2015 when the porgy year-class was off the charts, and in 2016 when bunker spawns were very successful.

The Vast Atlantic

Sure, these same baits pour out of bays into the ocean through Long Island’s South Shore inlets, but the schools spill into a vast ocean and it’s easy for them to get lost. For example, what if schools of bait are emptying out of Fire Island Inlet, but the mega schools of stripers and blues are still east and north? The result is that the bait can skedaddle west and south on their migration mostly unmolested—at least for a while. The migration works a little differently in Long Island Sound because it is, in reality, a huge estuary. In the Sound, there are always schools of predators lurking nearby in deep water. When the vibrations from tens of thousands of small fish in the harbors ratchet up and their smell begins to leak out into the Sound on outgoing tides, it doesn’t take long for the predators to find the food. Sometimes, it’s as if a switch gets thrown and what was once poor fishing turns into an instant rout.

The Harbor Hunt

All Long Island Sound harbors will produce handsomely in years when bait schools are large and numerous; however, each harbor may not produce at the same time. Although not a hard and fast rule, there is a tendency for action to move from west to east through the autumn, presumably because western harbors cool first. Western harbors do abut a narrower and generally shallower Sound that cools more quickly, stimulating the bait to move out of nooks and crannies toward the mouths. On the other hand, to the east where the Sound is deeper and wider, there is more water that takes longer to cool, and thus the bait migration is delayed. Again, also not a hard and fast rule, but action in western harbors such as Little Neck, Manhasset, New Rochelle, and Mamaroneck tend to produce best from late September into mid-October. Action in eastern harbors tends to pick up in mid-October and last into November. It’s impossible to pinpoint the timing of the runs since so much depends on weather patterns and the species of dominant bait. I never count on any run beginning and ending at the same time (or at the same places) year after year because there are no absolutes in fishing.

In the fall, bait and fish can almost always be found in the harbors

When beaches are quiet in the fall, bait and fish can almost always be found in the harbors. Photo by william A. Muller

I don’t count on fishing reports either because they are often days old and may be exaggerated or misleading. However, I do count on my own eyes and ears, trusting them to let me know when things are gearing up. Finding my own fish is not only more satisfying, but also puts me on the action ahead of most folks, which gives me room to work the shorelines without interference—at least for a while.

Unless one is very familiar with a harbor, I suggest fishing in daylight because it’s much safer and because bait schools are easier to spot. Most of the time, the action is quiet and there are seldom flocks of screaming birds to give it away, or even splashing fish for that matter. But where there’s bait, there are fish, especially in the fall. Since I have already figured out where I can legally enter a shoreline and the safe ways to move about, this knowledge allows me to search for bait and fish freely. However, any angler who has not done this homework should make doing so the first order of business; otherwise, you might end up stuck in mud up to your thigh, or worse.

Backwater bluefish

Big bluefish are a welcome bycatch in the backwaters. Photo by william A. Muller

Certainly, there are hard-packed places in the harbors, but there are also holes filled with silt, and debris from storms and the decay of vegetation. I know this because I’ve found many of them over the years, perhaps most of them. Typically, if you don’t know where to step and decide to charge down a shoreline toward a few breaking fish, you’ll end up in one kind of trouble or another. So, safety must be a priority. Next, I wander around in my car and try to find out which harbor has the most bait and which part of a 12-hour tide cycle the fish are using to feed, because each year is different. Once I know these elements, it’s simply a matter of working out the details—lures, presentations, the effects of wind direction, as well as any patterns of bait movement around the harbor.


My lure selection has more to do with the type of bait than it does anything else. For example, in 2015 when huge schools of 3- to 4-inch porgies filled the harbors, bucktails were better than poppers; in 2016 with lots of peanut bunker, poppers and pencils poppers were sometimes best. There was even a period of three days when 7-inch C10 RedFins produced stripers and the occasional big blue when peanuts were pushed into water only about a foot deep.

2 3/8-ounce Super Strike Little Neck Popper

2 3/8-ounce Super Strike Little Neck Popper

As you can see, I like to keep my arsenal simple. Decades ago, I toted a huge bag because I wanted to be ready for any situation. The problem was I had trouble removing a single lure from the bag without lifting a half-dozen others, and it dawned on me that most of the lures I dragged along stayed in the bag only to rust from neglect. It may have taken too long, but I learned my lesson, and today I’m a minimalist.

7-inch Red Fin

7-inch Red Fin

My arsenal includes only the lures that consistently work in the harbors in autumn, and my lure bag is now more usable, with easy access to every lure I carry. (Of course, my back and neck are also beneficiaries of the lighter bag.) I further simplify my choices by carrying lures that are basically white. In the shallow harbors, white bucktails weighing between ½ and 1 ounce suit my needs. I use split-tail pork rind (I stocked up before they went out of production), and also carry Fat Cow Strips in the same 5-inch length that work just as well. When the tide is higher, I’ll primarily use ¾-ounce bucktails, but the ½-ounce size is ideal at the bottom of the tide. The trick is to find the right bucktail to address the following needs: distance, water depth, and retrieve speed. If I normally use a ½-ounce bucktail at the bottom of the tide, but the fish are further out than usual, I’ll switch to a ¾-ounce size and reel faster to keep it above the mud, debris, and weeds.

Cotton Cordell Pencil Popper

Cotton Cordell Pencil Popper

Although I work bucktails low and slow when there’s depth and current, in skinny water without current and modest depth, the speed of the retrieve seems to matter a lot less.

Likewise, the poppers I use are basically white and I’ve found that I typically have the most success with a Super Strike 2 3/8-ounce Little Neck Popper. This size allows for a perfect combination of casting distance, gaudy splash, and an excellent swimming action at slow speed. There is a tendency for anglers to work a popper quickly when blues are feeding, but that isn’t always the right choice for stripers. I fiddle with retrieve speed until I find the day’s sweet spot. Generally, stripers prefer a deliberate action, while blues seem to change their minds from minute to minute.

Gibbs Pencil Popper

Gibbs Pencil Popper

There are also days when pencils poppers outproduce standard poppers, so vary your retrieve speed. Although I do use Gibbs pencils, the Cordell 1-ounce Pencil Popper is ideal for the harbors where there is usually little wind and extended distances aren’t generally needed. Indeed, all colors work well, but I tend to gravitate to chrome-sided ones for just a little flash. However, in the interest of full disclosure, fish have chewed their way through the chrome coating on many of my Cordell pencils, leaving almond-colored plastics that are equally effective.

Light tackle is best for harbor fishing

Light tackle, like the author’s 9-foot rod and Van Staal VS 200 spooled with 20-pound test, are best for harbor fishing.


The stripers feeding in the harbors this time of the year are of mixed sizes, so I suggest tackle that can handle the big ones and provide fun with the smaller fish. I use two outfits: a 9-foot medium-power Lamiglas rod matched to a Van Staal VS200 spooled with 20-pound-test Sufix Performance braid, and a second combo featuring an 11-foot, medium-power Lamiglas graphite rod matched to a Van Staal VS250 spooled with the same braided line.

It may be tempting to believe a smaller or light power rod will perform just as well as the outfits mentioned above, but it just ain’t so! Remember, you’ll sometimes need to cast lures heavier than 2 ounces, make long casts, and steer teen-size stripers away from docks, moorings, and bottom debris.

When there’s a fall ocean-run of fish, I’ll be waist-deep in the suds, but when the ocean pickings are slim, I’ll be slinking around the North Shore harbors looking for the one with the biggest schools of bait.

The post Long Island’s Harbor Run appeared first on On The Water.

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Catch The Rhodie Herring Run!

Pictured above: This homemade fat needlefish caught a large keeper in the surf when the stripers were feeding on herring in late November. Needlefish are good plug choice when stripers are on herring.

Over the last few years, the south shore oceanfront of Rhode Island that stretches from Matunuck to Westerly has seen some of the biggest late-season November blitzes imaginable. The trigger is usually a run of sea herring that migrates through Block Island Sound in mid- to late November. Some years, such as in 2016, the run can be epic; in other years, the run near the shore is fair at best. But, there always seems to be some herring around in November.

Schools of herring can be seen in the curl of this wave

Schools of herring can be seen in the curl of this wave as they move along a Rhode Island south shore beach last November.

Watch the skies to determine where the herring are. Gannets, those large, high-flying birds of the gull family, give away the presence of herring as they search the water from high above and then dive-bomb into the schools of baitfish. While it can be a spectacular air show, it is also a dead giveaway that herring or other big bait are present. This often happens out of casting range, but it sometimes occurs right along the surf line, and mayhem breaks loose.

Sea herring are long, thin baitfish that run from about six inches to over a foot in length. They migrate southward along the beaches of South County Rhode Island in huge schools. They have greenish/blue backs that fade to white/silvery bellies, and give off a silvery sheen in the water–important information for the surfcaster who is trying to imitate them.

Sea herring

Sea herring are light-colored, elongated baitfish that measure 6 to over 12 inches long. Thin, light colored plugs are your best imitators.

If you think of light-colored plugs that are long and skinny, you can come up with a good idea of the most effective lures to catch stripers and bluefish when they are feeding on this sought-after baitfish. Plastic swimmers, like Bombers and Daiwa SP Minnows in white or light colors, are great imitations of sea herrings’ appearance and movement. They are especially deadly when the fish are feeding close to shore.

Many fishermen go with light-colored poppers when the fish are on herring. Yes, these have the shape and color of a herring, and work very well — bluefish seem to really go for a topwater plug. A popper, especially a 2-ounce model, will outcast a swimmer and is a good bet for a surfcaster to try when the fish are farther off the shore. Or, a large pencil popper is an even better choice in this situation.

big bluefish caught on a white popper

This big bluefish was caught on a white popper, a good plug to use in the daytime when bluefish are feeding on sea herring.

I had one experience many years ago in which a light-colored needlefish did the trick. (Once again, a needlefish plug is the right shape and color, and you can impart any action you want on it.) On this day, the fish were a bit fussy, but a homemade fat needlefish worked on top by twitching the rod tip and swimming the plug on the surface caught many large stripers up to 45 inches. It was the best plug I could have used on that memorable day.

On yet another occasion, I was into a blitz of stripers on herring. But, soon after catching a few fish near the shore, everything seemed to move far out past my range. My swimmer and popper just could not reach the fish. That’s when I saw a guy come along with a long-cast outfit and a large 3-ounce Kastmaster that he could toss a mile. The guy outcast everyone, which allowed him to land his lure right into the feeding frenzy. I saw him catch fish after fish, all keepers, on metal that day. So, stock some metals like Hopkins, Kastmasters, or even large Deadly Dicks. It is yet another option that looks like a herring and casts like a bullet.

daytime blitz striper

This keeper was landed on a popper fished during a daytime blitz along a south shore beachfront.

An interesting phenomenon that occurs when herring hit the beach in late fall is that most of the visible action seems to take place in the daylight. Late November is a great time to be a daytime warrior since a lot of big stripers and blues can be caught right under a noontime sun. I’ve seen most late November blitzes when the fish are on herring end with the setting sun. When that happens, just about all the fishermen head home right at dark; however, there is a subtle nighttime game that occurs long after the daytime blitzes have subsided.

Guppy Pencil Popper

Guppy Pencil Popper

I like to stick around those areas that see big daytime action. I’ve never hit the intensity of a daytime blitz on herring while night-fishing, but I have landed good and steady numbers of keeper stripers while plugging the same beaches at night that saw all the daytime action. I suspect that many of those large fish that came in close to shore to feed on herring tend to stick around and forage after dark.

Keep in mind, though, that you will have to adjust your approach and the lures you use to be successful at night. There are three plugs in my bag that have worked quite well at night in places where daytime blitzes occurred. I usually use either a light-colored swimmer, a skinny plastic stickbait such as a Slug-Go, or a light-colored needlefish plug. My approach to fishing the beach at night is simply to walk and cast. Make a few casts, take a few steps to the left or right, and repeat. Using this approach, I can often cover an entire beach at night because I generally find no fishermen once I get a hundred yards or so from a parking lot. If I get a hit or a fish, I work that spot for a longer time to see if I can find more.

bluefish landed on a light-colored Daiwa Salt Pro Minnow

This blue was landed on a light-colored Daiwa Salt Pro Minnow, a good choice in day or night when herring are around.

The swimmer is an easy beach lure to use after dark because it is simple to cast and retrieve. In recent years, I have had very good luck with the Daiwa SP Minnow in a mother-of-pearl color. That plug works well off featureless beaches, and it is a top plug to use in the moving water of an outflow or breachway. Often, when I can’t find fish off the beach, I do well by targeting structure or moving water.

Breachways are prime places that offer moving water to fish at night, especially on the outgoing tides. I know that some of these large fish feeding by day off the beach head to moving water to find food after dark. You will find several outflows that drain coastal ponds along the south shore oceanfront at Charlestown, Quonny, and Weekapaug.

This same beachfront features many areas of structure in the forms of boulder fields, rocky bars, and rocky points that draw bait and predators after dark. Places such as the bars of Matunuck (Deep Hole), Green Hill, Fresh Pond Rocks, Weekapaug Point, and Watch Hill offer rocky structure and good fishing. Swimmers, needlefish plugs, and soft-plastic stickbaits all work well in these areas. Move with caution, as rocks can be slippery and dangerous, especially in a rough surf.

9-inch Slug-Go rigged Texas-Style

9-inch Slug-Go rigged Texas-Style

I often fish an all-white Slug-Go in a 7½-inch or 9-inch length after dark. I rig it with a single hook in the head, either Texas style with an offset worm hook or on a corkscrew swimbait hook. Cast this lure out and retrieve it with short bounces of the rod tip while slowly cranking the reel. Along open beaches, I find that many of the hits occur right in the wash, but the Slug-Go is also very effective in areas of structure. While it can be my most effective lure at night, it comes with its negatives. The biggest drawback is that it does not cast well in general and is an even poorer caster when throwing into the wind. However, with a wind at your back, it works great.

SuperStrike Needlefish

SuperStrike Needlefish

With the wind in my face, I usually go with a better-casting plug such as a needlefish. I make my own, so I have a number of different sizes to use depending on wind and surf conditions. The common thread here is that they are all light colored, with white making up the bulk of each plug’s color. Some have green, yellow, or blue tops, while some are all white. I work them the same way I described using the Slug-Go above.

The beauty of the south shore Rhode Island beachfront is access. Many fishermen will simply ride around until they find the bait and/or stripers and bluefish. The entire beachfront is roughly 15 miles and can be accessed off Route 1, which parallels the shoreline, and there are exits along the highway that will get you to shorefront parking lots. Some of the most popular free public parking areas are at East Matunuck State Beach, South Kingstown Beach, Charlestown Beach and Breachway, Quonny Breachway, East Beach, Weekapaug Breachway, and Watch Hill. All of these spots have hosted big herring-induced bluefish and striper blitzes in recent years. With a permit, limited on-beach driving using a 4×4 vehicle is also allowed along some south shore beaches. A permit can be obtained at Coastal Resources Management Council, Oliver Stedman Government Center, Tower Hill Road, Wakefield, RI, 02879 (401-783-3370 or 401-222-3577). Realistically, though, most of the beaches can be easily walked and fished from nearby parking areas.

late-season November bluefish

The author hoists a huge late-season November bluefish.

The late season herring runs and the blitzes it generates can be like the finale to a fireworks display. It happens as herring, bluefish and stripers are all migrating southward at the same time. Some of the best surf fishing the state offers often comes at the end of the season in November, from about Veterans Day until Thanksgiving. I have seen some warm years during which outstanding fishing even extended into December. For those who run with the herring in late fall, expect to catch some of the biggest bluefish and oversized stripers of the year along Rhode Island’s south shore oceanfront. Yes, it can be that good!

The post Catch The Rhodie Herring Run! appeared first on On The Water.

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Rhode Island DEM Busts Striper Poacher

Reader Frank Algiere shared these photos from Thursday, November 9 in Weekapaug, Rhode Island.

The largest illegally-caught striper was about 18 inches

The largest fish was about 18 inches

“The largest fish was about 18 inches. I complimented the officer on doing a good job. He told me that another fisherman had called in a tip and that is how they caught the poacher.”

RI DEM with seized fish

Report Poachers!

If you see someone violating a fisheries regulation, make a call to your state EPOs!

Program your state’s tip line into your cell phone:
Maine: 207-287-6057
New Hampshire: 800-344-4262
Massachusetts: 800-632-8075
Rhode Island: 401-222-3070
Connecticut: 800-842-4357
New York: 1-844-332-3267
New Jersey: 1-855-OGT-TIPS

The post Rhode Island DEM Busts Striper Poacher appeared first on On The Water.

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First Look: Everglades Boats 335 Center Console

Everglades Boats has unveiled a new 33-foot center console fishing boat.

Everglades Boats has announced its most recent addition to the fleet – the all-new 335cc. The new model made its world debut at the 2017 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show on November 1. Mimicking the best features of the proven 325cc, the 335cc was designed with luxurious comfort in mind, making the 33-foot center console one the whole family can get behind. Its refined layout allows for improved seating throughout – check out the enhanced luxurious bow seating including removable forward-facing bow backrests. The new model also features larger, more lavish fold-down transom seating, providing a comfortable ride from virtually any seat.

In addition to its abundant amenities, the 335cc continues Everglades Boats’ commitment to fishability. It’s larger console and hardtop, plus the bigger built-in coolers and fishbox storage, will serve Northeast anglers well whether chasing stripers inshore or trolling for tuna. The 325cc’s bait prep area and tackle storage were reconfigured to provide a more intuitive experience.

Everglades’ latest model also includes more standard features than its predecessor, including the “diveutility” door and premier stereo system with JL Audio speakers and a Fusion head unit. And of course, the easily recognized RAMCAP unsinkable hull continues to set the standard for safe, smooth-riding boats.

Visit the Everglades website for more information on their line of center console fishing boats.

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Alien Fishery

While exotic species grab the headlines, the truth is that most of the freshwater fish we think of as belonging to New England aren’t native at all.

Years ago, while walking along the shoreline of the Charles River in downtown Boston throwing a spinnerbait for summer largemouths, I was stopped dead in my tracks by the sight of two glowing, pinkish-white creatures milling about in the shallows. As I snuck closer, I saw it was a pair of fish that resembled the tropical cichlids I used to sell when I worked in a pet shop. Their behavior looked familiar too. For a few minutes, I watched the pair of 10-inch fish vigorously defend a small patch of bottom, chasing away two carp, a 2-pound largemouth and numerous bluegills. Typical cichlid spawning behavior, I thought. But could some sort of tropical cichlid really be spawning in the Charles?

tilapia caught on a fly rod by Roy Leyva in the Charles River

Bluegill? Tautog? Cunner? Nope. This tilapia was caught on a fly rod by Roy Leyva in the Charles River, and it’s not the only one. These fish were somehow introduced to the river, and even though they are native to the Nile River, they appear to be thriving in downtown Boston.

They wanted nothing to do with my spinnerbait, but I eventually got one to attack a bare bronze hook, and I snapped a few photos. Karsten Hartel, the Curatorial Associate in Ichthyology at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology—in other words, a man who knows a whole lot about fish—identified the fish to be a Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, a cichlid fish native to Africa and of a size and coloration suspiciously similar to those sold in Chinatown’s live fish markets. An aberration, perhaps, but the spawning behavior, and the fact that I’ve seen as many as a dozen of these fish at the same location in each of the last four years, lends credence to the hypothesis that they may in fact be surviving New England’s winters and reproducing, despite their tropical roots.

The tilapia episode is only the most recent chapter in the long history of nonnative fish introductions into New England waters, a story that dates back to the 17th century. While freak encounters in New England waters with tropical species such as piranhas, walking catfish, pacu, or that poster child of nonnative fishes, the northern snakehead, may get all the press, a look at established, reproducing species reveals that most of the freshwater fish that we tend to think of as native to New England were completely alien to our waters until the 1800s. According to Hartel, 47 percent of the primary freshwater fish species (fish that spend their entire lives in freshwater) reproducing in Massachusetts are not native to the state, but have been introduced by humans. Most of these introductions have not been accidental, but intentional, often undertaken by state or federal agencies to provide New England’s residents with a ready source of nutrition and sport.

northern snakehead

The northern snakehead, may get all the press but freshwater fish that we tend to think of as native to New England were completely alien to our waters until the 1800s

A survey of New England’s freshwater ecosystems prior to the 17th century would seem almost foreign to any freshwater angler used to targeting largemouth bass, northern pike, carp or virtually any other game fish. Small fish like darters, sculpins and especially minnows, dominated the fish diversity composed of 50 or so species. And the apex predators, depending on the locale, were yellow perch, brook trout and chain pickerel.

Before taking a closer look at the cast of interlopers, let’s define the terminology used to describe “alien” species. A nonnative species is, as you’d expect, a species not indigenous to a certain region. All of the nonnative species discussed here are introduced—that is, brought into the ecosystem by humans and not by a natural extension of their range. One type of nonnative species is an exotic species, a species not native to the country into which it was introduced. Another type is a transplant, which is a species moved within its native country into a watershed in which it is not native. The National Invasive Species Council (NISC) defines an invasive species as “a species that is nonnative to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes, or is likely to cause, economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.” Not all of New England’s nonnative fishes can be considered invasive, but there’s little doubt that each has in some way altered the environment in which it lives.

20.5-pound koi caught by Roy Leyva in Jamaica Pond in Boston

20.5-pound koi caught by Roy Leyva in Jamaica Pond in Boston

The first species on record as having been introduced into New England waters is the goldfish Carassius auratus, a close relative of the carp native to much of eastern Asia. They were brought to North America as early as the late 17th century by British settlers, who released them into neighborhood waters with the hope of adding the ornamental species to the local waters. In the late 1800s, the United States Fish Commission, a predecessor of today’s National Marine Fisheries Service, bred and raised the species, distributing them nationwide to meet demand for ornamental fish ponds and aquaria. Those initial introductions have been augmented over the centuries by aquarium releases and escapes from private ponds and other facilities, resulting in a wide diversity in the shapes and colorations of wild goldfish. They’re sometimes caught by anglers targeting carp and are a frequent site in more urban areas, their presence often betrayed by their bright orange hue.

Treasured by some, abhorred by others, the goldfish’s close relative, the common carp, is one of the most prominent nonnative species found in our waters, and one that can truly be called “invasive.” Native to much of the Eurasian landmass, the species was first brought to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century, both by private parties and the federal government. The real arrival of the common carp, however, is considered to be the shipment of 345 adults that the U.S. Fish Commission received from Germany in 1877. Breeding ponds were set up near Washington, D.C., and the fish were propagated and distributed throughout the country. The Commission envisioned introducing carp as an important food fish, due to their hardiness and general palatability, although they were admittedly “hardly equal to the high-priced delicate class of fish which includes the bass, trout, and shad.”


Carp were originally introduced as an important food fish, due to their hardiness and general palatability.

In the Commission’s 1883 Bulletin, C.W. Smiley spoke with optimism of developing carp farming as the harbinger in a nation-wide wave of aquaculture: “The cultivation of fish is destined to become as important among the American farmers and planters as the cultivation of cattle, sheep, swine, poultry, or of grains, fruits, and berries…The hardiness and wide range of diet and the rapid growth of carp especially fit it to be the precursor in fish farming.”

It took less than a quarter of a century, however, for the members of the Fish Commission to realize their mistake. By 1900, it was apparent that the carp, due to their habit of rooting in the substrate for food, brought with them a myriad of ecological complications. For example, their behavior uproots aquatic vegetation that provides important cover for juvenile native fishes as well as food for waterfowl. Their habits also significantly increase water turbidity, a problem for those species that prefer not to pass particles of muck over their gills in addition to water while breathing. Although anglers today might appreciate the fighting abilities of these overgrown minnows, the overall ecological consensus is pretty well summed up in a quote from the book Distribution, Biology, and Management of Exotic Fishes by Walter Courtenay and Jay Stauffer, Jr., published in 1984: “Overall…introduction of the common carp to U.S. waters would have to be considered a monumental mistake and one with which we must learn to live.”

Moving on to the salmonids, it might come as a surprise that neither rainbow nor brown trout are native to New England. Lake trout are native to some regions of northern New England, but are, for the most part, introduced as well, for example in Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs, where they were introduced by The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) in 1952.

Rainbow trout

Rainbow trout were first introduced into Massachusetts in the late nineteenth century as a food and sport fish

Rainbow trout are a transplant from rivers and tributaries flowing into the northern Pacific Ocean on both the Asian and North American continents. They were first introduced into Massachusetts in the late nineteenth century as a food and sport fish and currently are known to reproduce in only about a dozen streams in western Massachusetts, although they’re stocked all over New England.

brown trout

The first brown trout that came to North America arrived in the form of eggs from Germany in 1883

Brown trout, indigenous to Europe, northern Africa and western Asia, are the only exotic species besides the carp that has been successfully established in many parts of the United States for sport fishing purposes. Voracious predators, the first brown trout that came to North America arrived in the form of eggs from Germany in 1883. They were reared by the New York Fish Commission and subsequently distributed to waterbodies in a number of states. Brown trout now reproduce in many New England waters. Indeed, those coveted holdover browns that so many freshwater anglers hope to capture have no business being in New England. And like carp, they can truly be considered an invasive species, competing directly with native species, especially brook trout, for food and habitat, as well as predating on a number of the indigenous fish fauna. Their negative impact on brook trout has been well documented among the sea-run populations of both species in the Falmouth-Mashpee area of Cape Cod.

white catfish

The white catfish is a common quarry or Charles River anglers. photo by Roy Leyva

Of the catfishes targeted by anglers in New England, only one of them, the brown bullhead, is indigenous to the region. The white catfish, a common quarry of anglers who frequent the Charles, Connecticut and Merrimack rivers in Massachusetts, is not native to waters of North America north of the Hudson River. It was introduced as a food and sport fish multiple times by the Massachusetts DFW during the first half of the 20th century, and is now established in a number of ponds and rivers, especially in Massachusetts, but also in Connecticut.

The yellow bullhead, most easily distinguished from the native brown bullhead by its pale, yellowish chin barbels (those of the brown bullhead are dark), is indigenous to the central and southeastern portions of the United States. Like the white catfish, it was introduced into southern New England rivers and ponds in the early twentieth century. Also a clear invasive, it directly competes with the native brown bullhead and in many cases outnumbers it. I’ve been fishing for catfish at night in the Charles River for many years, and although I’ve caught dozens of yellow bullheads, I have caught exactly one brown bullhead.

channel catfish

Chase Stokes’ Lake Champlain 33-inch channel catfish.

The channel catfish, although not as prevalent as its other two nonnative relatives, was also introduced into a number of Massachusetts’s waters in the early 20th century. Interestingly, the species’ introduction into the Charles River resulted not from intentional stocking but from the release of several albino specimens sold in the aquarium trade, which subsequently bred and resulted in a full-blown population.

Northern pike and tiger muskie—the latter a hybrid of the pike and muskie—aren’t native to New England either, besides the Lake Champlain population of northerns. Pike were first stocked in western Massachusetts in 1950, and since then have been stocked in over 40 lakes and ponds in Massachusetts alone. Interestingly, the U.S. Fish Commission had considered introducing pike into non-indigenous waters 75 years earlier, but had decided against it, as James Milner noted in the 1872-1873 Bulletin: “This fish, the merits of which are sometimes defended in regions where it is the principal species, is not only very destructive of other fishes, but is of indifferent flavor and full of bones.” By 1950, evidently, its qualities as a sportfish outweighed these deficiencies. For the same reason, over 430,000 tiger muskies have been stocked in Massachusetts waters since they were first introduced in 1980. Needless to say, both of these carnivorous ambush predators significantly alter the ecosystems in which they live, preying on a variety of smaller or juvenile fishes—although many of those small fish aren’t native to New England either!

Of all the introduced species, the most widespread and perhaps the most surprising of the lot are the transplants of the family Centrarchidae, the sunfishes. The family, which is endemic to North America, includes such high-profile players as largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegills and black crappie, but only a few of the smaller species such as the pumpkinseed are native to New England. The bluegill, while native to parts of Vermont, isn’t indigenous to the rest of New England, but was introduced in the early 20th century as a game fish. It’s now one of the most abundant freshwater fishes in many parts of New England, present even on Martha’s Vineyard. The rock bass, whose native range begins west of the Hudson River, was introduced into Massachusetts in the early 1900s, primarily in the western portion of the state. Black crappie is another popular, nonnative centrarchid that was introduced into many parts of New England during the first half of the 20th century.

smallmouth bass

The native range of smallmouths doesn’t extend east of New York, but the species was introduced to the New England area by state agencies and private parties for sport-fishing purposes as early as 1850.

And then, of course, there are the largemouth and smallmouth bass, two of the most prominent freshwater game fish in the New England area, but interlopers nonetheless. The native range of smallmouths doesn’t extend east of New York, but the species was introduced to the New England area by state agencies and private parties for sport-fishing purposes as early as 1850. Largemouths were introduced in Massachusetts during the second half of the 19th century by the state’s fisheries commission, to “provide angling opportunities during the summer months.” Today, largemouth bass are found all over New England, rivaling the bluegill in abundance.

It’s rather ironic to think about the numerous anglers I’ve listened to over the years who lament the lack of quality largemouths in a given body of water. The culprit, they invariably claim, is the chain pickerel, which they charge with consuming juvenile bass and outcompeting it for limited food resources. Yet in reality, the exact opposite is likely true, resulting in the prevalence of invasive largemouth bass in waters that formerly hosted prodigious populations of native pickerel. These are good for fishermen who detest the “slime darts,” I suppose, but ironic all the same.

Largemouth bass

Largemouths were introduced in Massachusetts during the second half of the 19th century by the state’s fisheries commission

To round out the list, several species of minnows, including the fathead minnow and bluntnose minnow, are native to central parts of North America but have been introduced into New England waters through anglers’ release of unused live bait from their shiner buckets at the end of an outing—sensibly enough, dubbed “bait-bucket introductions.” Although not always a significant part of the ecosystem they inhabit, in some cases these species become a major presence, for example, the bluntnose minnow in the Quabbin Reservoir, where it’s the most common minnow.

For better or for worse, today’s New England freshwater habitats bear next to no resemblance to what they did prior to European colonization. As Karsten Hartel noted in a brief conversation with me a few months back, very little was done to assess the impact of nonnative species in the years following their introduction into New England waters, so how exactly the region’s ecosystems were affected might never be fully known. But as Courtenay and Stauffer mention, “Impacts should not be judged solely on what the exotic [or transplant] can do for man, but also on what the exotic can do to water quality, native biota, and habitat.”

To be sure, what’s done is done, and the irreversible establishment of so many nonnative fishes in our waters is a foregone conclusion—although annual stockings do of course continue. But at the very least, it’s an interesting exercise to consider that more often than not, the fish that’s tugging—hopefully—at the end of your line is no more at home in New England waters than those Nile tilapia that looked so out of place as they cruised the banks of the Charles.

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Fishing Participation On The Rise

Fishing participation is up nearly 20 percent over the last 10 years, according to a report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Anglers also increased their overall spend by 2.4 percent during the past five years.

The data was gathered through the 2016 National Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation national survey, which is conducted every five years in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau.

teaching young angler

Passing along years of experienct to the next generation of anglers.

“Dedicated efforts by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, state fish and wildlife agencies, the recreational fishing industry and independent programs have made increases in recreational fishing possible,” said American Sportfishing Association’s (ASA) Glenn Hughes, vice president of Industry Relations. “Thanks also goes to ASA’s Government Affairs team and our partners who helped ensure that legislation and policy decisions were in place to provide access, clean water, and fisheries conservation, which anglers need for a successful day on the

Fishing participation is the highest level of participation since 1991

Fishing participation is the highest level since 1991 according to a report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Overall, fishing participation increased 8.2 percent for individuals 16 to 65 years of age over the last five years. This is the highest level of participation since 1991. Revenue from equipment purchases and all trip expenditures also increased from $45 billion to $46.1 billion in the last five years.

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Following The Striped Bass Migration

As the striper season wanes in November, surfcasters in New England do one of three things—they dig their heels into the sand and keep casting until the snowflakes fly, they switch to hunting or freshwater fishing, or they hit the road. The fishermen who grind it out in the New England surf may catch their biggest fish of the season, or they may just enjoy the pleasure of having the beaches and boulder fields to themselves. But, for the fishermen who aren’t quite ready to give up on the diving birds and blitzing fish excitement of the fall migration, packing the truck and hopping on I-95 South is more appealing. Here are some of the best spots to keep your fall run going through Christmas.

In the fall, herring move south, occasionally coming into the surf, often aided by storms or onshore winds.

In the fall, herring move south, occasionally coming into Long Island’s South Shore surf, often aided by storms or onshore winds.

Long Island South Shore, New York

While Montauk’s action may be fizzling out by November, the sand beaches and inlets along Long Island’s South Shore can hold good fishing up to Thanksgiving. How you’ll be fishing will depend on the bait, though. Some years, sand eels dig into the South Shore’s sandbars and stay there for weeks, keeping the bass with them. On years with more peanut bunker than sand eels, bass and blues will harass the baitfish schools as they move west, and the hotspots will change from day to day.

Peanut Bunker

Fishing New Jersey’s sand beaches is all about finding the bait.

Ocean and Monmouth counties, NJ

New Jersey surfcasters are still talking about the 2016 Thanksgiving-Day blitz. I was there, sort of, watching the picket lines of fishermen hook up while I dropped green crabs to a seemingly empty wreck—thus beginning and ending my Thanksgiving tog fishing tradition. Last year’s late-season mayhem was fueled by an abundance of peanut bunker—just like we’ve had this year. Fishing these sand beaches is all about finding the bait. The peanuts will be easy to spot as dark blobs just beyond the surf line. Minnow plugs and small metal lips fished outside the schools are the best bets.

back-bay keeper striper that couldn't resist a clam belly

A Cape May back-bay keeper striper that couldn’t resist a clam belly drifted back with the current.

Cape May County, NJ

Southern New Jersey doesn’t get its due as a surfcasting destination. While you won’t see the blitzes of northern New Jersey, fishing clams off the beaches or plugs in the inlets produces large bass every fall. Unique to South Jersey is the bridge fishing scene. Migratory bass enter the bays every fall and stack up along the bridges, intercepting outbound baitfish. Some bridges, like the Rush Chatin Bridge over Corson’s Inlet, have areas specifically for fishermen. Cast Fin-S Fish or Slug-Gos on ½- to 1 ½-ounce jigheads and bounce them back along the bottom toward the bridge. Also, be sure to scan the shadow lines for bass finning on the surface.

Indian River Inlet

Indian River Inlet

Indian River Inlet, Delaware

The top surf spot in Delaware is one of the best places to catch the last of the striper migration. It’s below the striper/rockfish demarcation line, so don’t be surprised if you hear the locals talking about catching “rock.” Bucktails fished on an outgoing tide are the best presentation, but don’t be afraid to do as the locals do and chunk some bunker on the surrounding beaches.

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Charges Dismissed for Canal Striper Poachers

As reported by the Cape Cod Times, all charges against two men cited for poaching striped bass at the Cape Cod Canal will be dismissed if they forfeit their fishing equipment and pay $1,200 to cover court costs.

Jose Rodrigues, 47, and Fabio Sampaio, 40, were both charged with catching over the limit, failure to display fish for inspection upon request and aiding a marine fisheries violation.

Fishermen are allowed to keep one striped bass per day that is at least 28 inches in length. Police said they found Rodrigues, Sampaio, and Sampaio’s brother in possession of 12 striped bass, weighing more than 250 pounds.

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2018 Boat Buyer’s Guide

Discover what’s available for a new year and a new season of boating and fishing.

The idea that there is any boat out there that is better than all the rest is simply a myth. Likewise, there is no such thing as the best fishing boat, best family boat, best center console, or best bay boat.

What does exist, however, is a “best boat” for you – for your fishing needs, your cruising needs, your comfort, and your budget. In fact, somewhere among the 60-plus boat manufacturers featured in our 2018 Boat Buyer’s Guide, you’ll probably find more than one “best boat” that can provide many seasons of enjoyment on the water.

Featured New Boats

Boston Whaler 350 Realm
Boston Whaler, the “Unsinkable Legend,” is celebrating their 60th year with an all-new 380 Outrage offshore fishing platform, a modern edition of the classic Montauk 170, and an all-new model family with the 350 Realm. The Realm family will combine the open cockpit of a center console with the convenience of a cabin boat, redefining the express cruiser to better achieve a balance of capability, comfort, spaciousness and convenience. Versatile seating solutions include a wide lounge seat forward of the console and a clever new mezzanine seat that converts to face forward or aft. Fishing features in the cockpit include large in-floor fish boxes and optional rod holders, a standard transom livewell, a convenient portside dive door, and a cockpit prep area with sink and grill or optional additional livewell. Below deck, the 350 Realm’s cabin delivers considerable comfort and a double berth to accommodate overnight stays. Performance and handling reflect Boston Whaler’s remarkably soft, safe, dry ride.

The new Cobia 301 CC has everything that made its predecessor, the 296 CC, the top-selling 30-footer in the country, and more. There’s an inward-opening side door for hauling aboard a big fish or easy dockside boarding. There’s added space in the cockpit, and the tackle station now has a freshwater sink and rigging station. A new console situates all operational controls and screens to maximize form and function, and the dash can be stylishly color-matched to the hull. Combine all this with popular features like the electric bow table and the hull’s silky-smooth ride, and the 301 CC is sure to be the next Cobia that stands atop its class. Currently, Cobia offers eight center consoles, along with a capable bay boat and two family-friendly dual consoles. Check out a Cobia and expect to find high performance, luxury, and fishing smarts all wrapped in a stunning package and delivered at a tremendous value.

Learn More About Cobia Boats

Crevalle boats are family-friendly fishing platforms built with a focus on reliability, durability, and excellence in design. Head offshore, fish inshore, or sandbar hop in the new Crevalle 26 Open, a crossover-style boat that offers incredible versatility for the family fisherman. Standard features include two removable 72-quart coolers and Crevalle’s trademark gunmetal grey helm that knocks down secondary glare and reduces eye fatigue. For serious fishermen, there’s two 28-gallon release wells, lockable rod storage, and a powder-coated leaning post with rod holders. Design details include livewells that minimize dead water and maximize available dissolved oxygen, and electrical systems that feature tinned copper wires with their functions printed every 12 inches.

Bob Daugherty’s boat-building prowess is legendary. With 17 models—ranging from a 21-foot center console to a 36-foot luxury cruiser—Everglades has every boating lifestyle covered. The Evergldes 253cc is a completely redesigned hybrid bay/offshore boat that includes the best features of Everglades’ 243cc and 273cc. It’s equipped with two Yeti Hopper holders to easily load and unload coolers for drinks and ice, in addition to the massive built-in 87-quart EverCooler beneath the forward console seat. The low-profile, powder-coated bow rails and pop-up cleats combine with the 91-square-foot cockpit to give you all the space you need. Under-gunwale port and starboard rod storage and dry storage, lockable rod storage with cushioned protection under the forward bow seating, a 26-gallon livewell, and a 69-gallon in-floor insulated fish box make the 253cc ready to fish in any conditions. Comfort is easy to find with two foldaway stern seats and forward-facing bow seats with detachable backrests.

Learn More About Everglades Boats

Fountain Powerboats was launched in 1979 with the single-minded goal of building the fastest, smoothest, safest, best-handling and most dependable boats on the water. Their Bluewater series of offshore fishing machines includes a 34CC and a 38CC that will get you to your fishing spot fast with remarkable efficiency and all-out comfort. The Fountain 34CC is descended from trophy-winning hulls and at 40mph with twin Mercury 300 Verados can achieve a fuel range unmatched by most in this size. Step up to a triple-engine configuration and you’ll reach eye-watering speed. Add the optional bow seating, and you’ll have one of the hottest family runabouts on the market.

The latest addition to Grady-White’s popular dual-console series, the innovative Grady-White Freedom 215 features a forward-looking design and timeless style. A roomy 8’ 6” beam combined with spirited SeaV2 hull performance makes a head-turning, dry-riding, versatile fishing boat. The 215 has many innovative features, like swing-away aft-seat backrests that pivot out of the way to access the swim and dockside boarding platforms. There’s also a lockable starboard console compartment with tackle storage trays, four vertical rod holders and horizontal rod racks, plus a recessed cockpit shower, and a 64-quart cooler that can be plumbed as a 16-gallon livewell. The Grady-White line has a great-riding hull built on the design of C. Raymond Hunt Associates’ SeaV2 hull. A pioneer in cabin-style boats since 1959, Grady-White has also built center console boats for nearly 40 years, with 10 models from 18 to 37 feet.

Learn More About Grady-White Boats

Mako’s reputation for being rugged and durable has attracted Northeast fishermen for years. They incorporate super-strong transoms plus a unique stringer grid system that’s bonded to the hull to create tremendous structural rigidity. The whole assembly is foam-filled to produce a boat that’s incredibly strong. The Mako 334 CC has ushered in a new era for Mako—an era of empowered performance, elevated style, and enhanced fit and finish. This offshore craft offers unsurpassed flexibility in its interior plus the overbuilt durability that Mako has provided for half a century. Powered with twins or triples up to 1050 horsepower, the 334 slices through the heaviest chop, rides dry and smooth, and has the range to handle any offshore quest. Far from a “standard” offshore boat, it includes a full Garmin electronics package, two innovative 34-gallon baitwells, a leaning post with freshwater sink, a cooler, massive storage capacity, two 290-quart in-deck coolers, a walk-in head, and an inward-opening tuna/dive door.

New for 2017, the Maritime Boats 23 Defiant, with its deeper more aggressive hull, was designed with offshore capabilities in mind. The 23 remains on plane as slow as 10mph while still capable of speeds in excess of 45mph. Deck space on the 23 is amazing, allowing you to easily walk around with plenty of room for coolers and accessories, and the large step-down area adds additional storage, the use of a porta potti or a quick change of clothes. Flush-mounted stainless rod holders, a large anchor locker, and under-gunwale rod racks make the 23 a perfect fishing platform. Built in New Hampshire, Maritime Boats combine traditional New England looks with modern construction techniques and state-of-the-art bottom design. These wide-beamed, unsinkable boats are easily maintained, operate efficiently with low-to-moderate-sized engines, and are convenient to rig and service.

Inshore or offshore, the new NauticStar 265 XTS is a beast of a bay boat and the largest in the Extreme Tournament Series family of boats. It is the culmination of years of innovation and advanced engineering, with a collection of all the latest bells and whistles. It has evolved into the ultimate fishing vessel from customer feedback. With its large forward and aft decks, ample rod storage, 43-gallon bow fish box, three livewells/baitwells, 35-quart YETI cooler, and plenty of tackle storage, the 265 is an amazing fishing platform. The engineers, designers and craftsmen at NauticStar are rich in boatbuilding knowhow. Their popular Nautic Bay boat series offers bay boats from 18 to 26 feet, an XS series of fishing-first center consoles, and a line of deck-style boats.

Learn More About NauticStar Boats

The recently launched NorthCoast 24CC is a rugged 24-foot offshore center console loaded with big-boat features, such as a console with standing headroom; the boat also has enough sleeping room for two adults. Other key amenities include a large forward lounging area, leaning-post helm seating, transom folding bench and raw-water wash-down. Anglers will appreciate the deluxe rigging station option with sink, livewell and storage drawers, the 72-gallon fish box, rocket-launcher rod racks, and transom door. NorthCoast boats are built by C&C Marine in Bristol, Rhode Island. In the rich tradition of New England boatbuilding, NorthCoast blends classic lines with solid performance and function. These boats are built in a semi-custom fashion, always with the customer in mind.

Learn More About NorthCoast Boats

The all-new Pursuit DC365 takes the sport-utility experience of their dual-console line to the next level. Features include wide walkways from bow to stern, forward bow and port side lounge seating, a swivel seat at the helm, and plenty of large storage compartments. The helm is ergonomically engineered and the cabin is easily accessible via a fiberglass door and features solid wood accents with modern finishes, a full berth forward and a comfortable aft berth. Foldaway seating quickly transforms a social venue to a wide-open, fish-ready cockpit with side door, livewell, gunwale-mounted rod holders and insulated fish boxes in the floor. For more than half a century, three generations of this family-owned business have built distinctive outboard-powered fishing boats in offshore, center console, sport and dual console configurations, in models from 18 to 40 feet. Pursuit boats have a reputation for luxury combined with sport utility, providing the ideal platform for adventures on the water.

The biggest Robalo ever has arrived with the 31-foot dual-console Robalo R317. A perfect blend of versatility for die-hard fishing enthusiasts and family-minded anglers, it has sleek lines and comes loaded with standard features. Under the helm is a large head station complete with storage, sink, and toilet. The cabin features a full fiberglass liner, opening port light, secure rod storage, and a sleeping area. For fishermen, the R317 is equipped with a huge 50-gallon fish box under the aft seats, rod holders, a 36-quart removable cooler, and a 25-gallon cooler/livewell with LED lighting and clear plexiglass lid. With open-concept seating in the cockpit, the R317 offers the combination of durability and toughness along with the comfort and luxury that Robalo Boats are known for.

Learn More About Robalo Boats

The Sailfish 245DC is the latest entry in the company’s very successful dual-console line. Like its big brothers the 275DC and 325DC, it combines Sailfish’s solid fishing focus with family-friendly attributes. With both cockpit and bow fish boxes, a livewell, strategically placed rod holders, and plenty of in-floor rod storage, the 245DC is a fishing machine. Comfortable seating for 12, a spacious step-down head, a retractable ski pole and an optional cockpit galley area make it a fantastic family-fun boat. Its 8’6” beam is easy to trailer and ready to run in all types of water and weather conditions. The cockpit is roomy, with high gunwales to keep people in and water out. Deep, comfortable, full bow seating makes for great times with friends. For 30 years, Sailfish has been dedicated to building quality saltwater fishing boats at an affordable price. Fishing-focused but family friendly, a Sailfish can be a hard-core fishing boat one day and a family-fun boat the next.

Sea Born’s 2017 LX 24 all-composite-construction center console fishing machine is designed for both serious angling and family fun. With higher sidewalls than Sea Born’s bay boats, it offers improved passenger safety in rougher seas. Inside, forward lounge-style seating is included for added passenger comfort, with considerable storage capacity below. A plush rear flip-down bench and a large console inside a practical space-saving layout makes it feel much larger than similar boats within its class.

Sea Born boats are manufactured by Composite Research, Inc. (CRI) in Blackshear, Georgia. Since 1994, CRI has created top-quality, affordable bay, center console, and offshore boats. The Sea Born brand was launched in 2012, and every boat is backed by a 10-year transferable limited warranty. Sea Born now has a full lineup of five bay boats and four center consoles ranging from 19 to 25 feet.

Learn More About Sea Born Boats

The Southport 272 TE (Tournament Edition) is designed and built for one specific purpose: catching fish in most any condition. With a deck layout featuring a large macerated forward coffin box, ample livewell space, and below-deck insulated and macerated fish boxes, it has all the features a serious offshore tournament angler needs. In addition to storage and livewell space, it can be outfitted with nearly two-dozen rod holders, including rocket launchers, ready racks behind the helm seats, and in-gunwale rod holders.

Southport Boats was launched in 2003 by a team of seasoned boatbuilders whose goal was to build a boat that would maximize the performance and power of modern outboard engines. The variable deadrise of the Southport hull slices through waves with little commotion, and the Carolina flare tosses spray back into the ocean where it belongs.

Learn More About Southport Boats

The new World Cat 280 CC-X is sleek, aggressive, and loaded with advanced technology. It offers bow seating for seven, including a forward-facing seat on the console door and a spacious head with fiberglass interior, bright lighting, mirror, and Corian counter. Fishing-friendly features include twin insulated 180-quart storage compartments and an insulated 36-quart cooler compartment in the bow. A large electronics area can hold two 12-inch screens, there is multi-compartment tackle and tool storage, and the leaning post has a 30-gallon livewell.

In 2015, the World Cat brand consolidated, with Carolina Cat folding into World Cat, and Glacier Bay becoming Glacier Bay Edition. World Cat’s mission is to deliver the smoothest ride on the water—making boating more enjoyable and giving boaters the comfort and confidence to cruise, fish, and explore.

Learn More About World Cat Boats

More than 50 years of boatbuilding expertise makes Wellcraft the landing place for fun, fishing, family time, and more. You can find a Wellcraft to handle every type of fishing in the Northeast, from trolling Lake Ontario for salmon to heading offshore for tuna. The Wellcraft 302 Fisherman is a brawny 30-footer built for serious offshore fishing with a safe, rugged hull that slices through chop. It comes with standard fishing-friendly features including twin 23-gallon livewells and loads of tackle and rod storage. Even with a fishing-first deck layout, there’s plenty of comfortable seating options including folding bench seats in the stern and an optional bow-seating package that increases the versatility of this well-designed center console.

2018 Fishing Boat Buyer’s Guide

In 2015, Albemarle merged with Carolina Classic to form “Albemarle, The Carolina Classic.” The company is taking full advantage of the combined 60-plus years of boatbuilding experience and history to position themselves as a leader in high-quality Express sportfishing boats ranging in size from 25 feet to 41 feet. The 2017 Albemarle 29 Express offers the ultimate in hardcore fishing amenities in a compact express package. Serious anglers will appreciate its offshore ability, exceptional handling in rough seas, and fuel economy.

Learn More About Albemarle Boats

Since the late 60’s Cape Codders have been regarded as a quality built, rugged boat suited for the rigors of every day commercial fishing. They are also regarded by many sport fishing anglers as exceptional inshore striped bass fishing boats. The Cape Codder CC19 was born in 1968 as a boat that incorporated all the elements of the most seaworthy boats at the time. Its heavy, rugged hull with an 18-degree deadrise, lifting strakes, and a hard chine exhibits excellent performance.

Allied Boat Works
Allied Boat Works designs and builds high-quality stock and semi-custom Downeast-style boats with an emphasis on safety, efficiency, and affordability while maintaining elegant, classic lines. Every hull and fiberglass component is hand-laid. All Allied boats maximize the use of high-density, closed-cell, USCG-certified foam flotation. The 24’ Unlimited is the newest complete addition to the Allied lineup. This model is customizable so that you can get the layout you need. With options like the U-Berth, Full Plumbed Head, and Bimini top, this boat is ready to accommodate the whole family. From weekend fun to serious fishing machine, this boat is great all around!

Originally a bare-bones, affordably priced work skiff, the Carolina Skiff company has incorporated styling and a quality fit and finish, while still providing durable, versatile, and stable boats at low prices. Carolina Skiff’s new Hybrid Fish and Cruise series includes the Sea Chaser 27 HFC, a multi-function boat that comes with a suite of standard features including fold-down cleats, LED lighting under gunnel, a fully insulated lockable fish box, and tilt steering wheel, just to name a few.

The legend lives on in the new generation of Blackfin with brand-new models that feature yacht-like, high-end design and innovative construction. The result is an exceptional watercraft designed for fishing, family and fun. The Blackfin 272 CC is a battlewagon of a ship with built-in finesse. Prepared to take on the toughest seas, it will slice through any shred of wave while still offering all the creature comforts you want. Whether headed to the tuna-fishing grounds or sandbar hopping, the large freeboard, flip-down transom seating, and massive center console will do the job.

Since 1926, Century Boats has a history of building high quality, classic boats for both anglers and families who demand innovation, luxury, and reliability. Century offers a full line of saltwater boats from 22 to 32 feet. Designed for offshore fishing, luxurious day cruising and family-friendly watersports activities, the new 24 Resorter reignites the popular Century Boats model of yesteryear, updated with all the latest innovations and today’s technology. The cutting-edge dual console design delivers the versatility you demand with the amenities, features and performance needed for hardcore fishing trips.

The Contender’s clean lines and aggressive entry make it a good-looking boat and a comfortable-riding one, too. Contender offers boats ranging from the 22 Sport to the 39 Fisharound. The Contender 22 Sport keeps with their 30-year heritage of building tournament-grade fishing machines. It comes equipped with a wide array of fishing features including a 26-gallon elevated transom livewell, a 94-gallon in-floor fish box forward, and twin 30-gallon fish boxes in the cockpit. For family-friendly appeal, it boasts a custom console that can be equipped with a head, and the forward cockpit quickly converts to a large seating area

Fortier Boats has been building semi-custom boats for over three decades. A classic Eldridge-McInnis design makes their product an exceptional sea boat, and today’s Fortiers have been updated to incorporate the modern conveniences expected by buyers, including the expected fuel economy of diesel inboard engines. The Fortier 26 is an honest sea boat for fishing and cruising. With a standard Volvo electronic diesel inboard engine, economy and performance is outstanding, offering cruising speeds of up to 20 knots. The full-molded keel and skeg offer exceptional stability and excellent protection for the shaft and rudder.

The Eastern is a rugged, classic Downeast-style boat available in lengths from 18 to 35 feet and built by hand in Milton, New Hampshire. Bob Bourdeau purchased the company in 1993, bringing 35 years of boating experience and making Eastern a family boat-building business with tremendous pride in craftsmanship. Eastern Boats builds Tournament, Explorer, and Center Consoles that allow boaters to fish, work, and play in comfort. If you are looking for a boat with loads of room, the Eastern 35 is your choice. Each Eastern is custom-built to meet the owner’s exact needs and taste, so you can choose single or twin engines and whether you want your boat finished as a state of-the-art sportfishing rig.

Hatteras Yachts is recognized as a world leader in the construction of convertible sportfishing and luxury motor yachts. Based in North Carolina, Hatteras began production of its first model in 1959 and pioneered the production of large offshore fiberglass powerboats. With performance and amenities not typically found in a mid-40-foot yacht, the Hatteras GT45X with Flybridge Option is ideal for the owner-captain ready to take offshore adventures to newer lengths. Tournament-ready, it features a state-of-the-art upper helm, full tower, battle-ready outriggers and top-end speed in the mid-40s.

Edgewater fishing boats are used by serious sportsmen who demand practical features, reliability and durability. With their proprietary Single Piece Infusion construction, they achieve a strength-to-weight ratio that, when combined with the sea-keeping ability of their variable deadrise deep-V hulls, produces handling, performance, fuel efficiency, and range better than many other boats of the same size. Designed to perform with a single outboard, the EdgeWater 248CX is equipped with a reliable Yamaha F300 four-stroke. It features a redesigned bow seating area with plush amenities, including forward-facing seat backs.

When Jack Henriques immigrated to the United States, he brought with him four generations of Portuguese boatbuilding experience. He founded Henriques Yachts in 1977, and 40 years later, the company builds to order at their factory in New Jersey. The Henriques 35 Express tournament sportfisherman is beautiful, fast, and extremely well laid out. The hull design is derived from the dry-riding 38 Henriques, which has won many top tournaments. The huge, 100 square-foot cockpit features a walk-through transom door, two in-deck fish boxes, and plenty of storage for your rods and tackle.

While keeping all the angling appointments correct, Hydrasports Custom concentrates on their customers’ comforts. The results are obvious in beautifully finished, tournament-ready, angling-correct boats. The new Hydrasports Custom 39 Speciale can be outfitted as a pure open fisherman deck or with seating port and starboard including the additional option of seat backrests and fish boxes depending on the angler’s style. The oversized cockpit has an aft-facing seat that holds a rigging station as well as 12-volt refrigerators, tackle drawers, and a freshwater sink. With a 526-gallon fuel capacity, it has nearly unlimited daily range.

The Insetta 45 is a 45-foot center-console, tunnel-hull boat designed and built by Insetta Boatworks. It fills the need for a boat between smaller center console boats and large sportfish yachts. Top-quality design, materials, and construction techniques make it a robust and superbly thought-out vessel. This ultimate center console boasts an enormous amount of deck area, while her smooth ride and tight handling can outperform any other boat in her class.

The Invincible 42 Center Cabin is available with triple or quad outboards. With top speeds in excess of 65 MPH (with triples) the 565-gallon fuel capacity will get you to the farthest fishing grounds and back with speed and comfort. The 42 CC is the perfect fit for those wanting to overnight and extend their fishing trips or have a nice place to get out of the weather.

As a limited production builder, Jupiter Marine is committed to yacht-level quality, with execution and precision from start to finish. The
Jupiter 34 HFS is an example of this core company principle and is considered one of the most attractive center consoles on the water today. The hull is designed not only to look great at the dock, but to provide a fast, smooth, and dry ride in various sea conditions. This model can be personalized to fit individual preferences, and is capable of accommodating the offshore tournament angler while at the same time provide the room, comfort, and amenities for today’s boating lifestyle.

KenCraft Boats have been proudly manufactured in North Carolina for over 43 years and has been independent and family owned from the beginning. Their experienced craftsmen build quality, functional boats at a reasonable cost that allows the entire family to enjoy boating. The new Challenger 21 Blue Water is one of the largest center console boats in its class. It incorporates KenCraft’s signature high Carolina flared bow coupled with high freeboard height, making it safe and dry.

Since 1986, the goal of Key West Boats has been to provide high-quality, high-value products enhanced by a commitment to customer service. Their line of outstanding boats is designed primarily for saltwater use, both inshore and offshore. The Key West 239DFS is their largest dual console. Like the rest of the fleet, this big runabout is self-bailing and foam-filled to provide level and upright flotation. Standard features include a forward, in-floor fish box with overboard drain, a freshwater shower station with 9-gallon tank, and a molded-in swim platform with telescoping ladder.

Scout builds sportfishing, fish ‘n ski, walkaround, flats, and bay boat models ranging from 17’ to 42’. Since its founding over 25 years ago, Scout Boat’s goal has been to manufacture the best-built boats in its distinctive niches. The recently debuted Scout 215 XSF combines comfort, style and performance into one center console beauty. The boat boasts a wide comfortable beam of 8’ 6” with an overall length of 21’ 6”. A notable standard feature is forward seating in the bow with a forward sun lounge/coffin box complete with a cushion, making this fishing boat a comfortable family cruiser.

Parker builds solid boats with an efficient hull design that allows them to plane easily and run economically, more than compensating for their heavy construction. Parker offers center console, walkaround and sport cabin designs. The Parker 2320 Sport Cabin can extend your Northeast boating season with its enclosed cabin that offers protection from the sun, rain, heat, and cold. The standard opening windows, lockable cabin door, and upholstered seating sets the cabin models apart. Optional features such as Garmin electronics, second station, and rocket launchers customizes these boats to your boating needs.

Pioneer Boats is a family-owned and operated business that produces center console, fish and ski, and bay boats. They use a high-quality resin/gelcoat system to ensure each boat is built with outstanding strength-to-weight ratio. The hulls are 100 percent composite and filled with pressure-injected flotation foam between the hull and deck. The Pioneer 222 Sportfish, with its tournament-inspired 32-gallon livewell, 96-gallon fuel capacity, and twin insulated fish boxes, is a fishing machine. Its clean, open deck configuration allows for flexibility and roominess.

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Sea Fox Boat Company is South Carolina owned and operated with more than 50 years of boatbuilding experience. Sea Fox offers a full line of fishing boats including center consoles, walkarounds, bay boats and dual consoles. The new for 2018, the Sea Fox 248 Commander is loaded with impressive fishing features and creature comforts. The helm station has smart seating options and LED lighting, and there are rod holders in the gunnels, transom, leaning post and hard top.

Regulator makes classic deep-V center consoles designed for the challenging conditions of the Outer Banks. Their line of sportfishing boats from 23’ to 41’ is designed and engineered for the most discriminating anglers in the world. The Regulator 31 is equipped with twin 300 Yamaha engines, a massive cockpit, oversized tackle center and fishbox, plus every feature needed for a day of serious sportfishing. Taking a cue from the prized Regulator 41, the 31 also features a starboard dive door, integrated forward seat backrests, and other amenities designed to maximize comfort offshore.

Originally founded in 1987, Sea Pro Boats was recently relaunched as “The Next Wave,” an all-new line of bay boats and center console offshore fishing boats. The company has a new manufacturing facility in South Carolina has introduced eight models, including a 259 Deep V Center Console unveiled in late 2017 and a 309 scheduled for spring 2018. The new Sea Pro 219 Deep V Center Console delivers the same fantastic value and standard features that drove the success of the 239 Deep V Center Console. Popular features include the 52-inch folding transom seat and reclining bow backrest.

Seaway Boats of Milton, New Hampshire builds classic, efficient boats with workboat roots. The SeaWay 21 Sportsman was designed to be both sturdy and elegant. The construction of this center console is strong and rugged enough to take on challenging conditions, but it’s also the right size to let you safely beach it or easily tow it. It’s fuel efficient, thanks in large part to its hard-chine hull, buoyant bow, and sharp-hull entry. Boaters who like extra shelter can add a T-top and a folding dodger to cover the bow area.

Skeeter, a Yamaha boat company, first crossed over to the bay boat market in 1992 and today is a major player, with an SX line of saltwater inshore models ranging from 20 to 24 feet. The Skeeter SX2250 is a clean-looking, sharply appointed bay boat with ample fore and aft decks. There’s an amazing amount of storage, including four vertical rod holders on either side of the console and a forward rod box. A tapered deadrise featuring a 24-degree V entry ensures a smooth, dry ride and the ability to fish in 13 inches of water, making it the ultimate multi-purpose inshore, offshore, and family-fun fishing vessel.

Sportsman Boats manufactures an intelligently designed series of center console, dual console, and bay boats with deep forward entries that provide soft and dry rides. Sportsman’s flagship Heritage series center consoles offer intelligent offshore fishing features with yacht-caliber components. The open series, which includes the Sportsman 232 Open center console, is designed for the more serious angler, but lacks nothing for family outings.

Long Island’s last large-volume boat maker, Bellport-based Steiger Craft was founded in 1972 and continues to produce fiberglass boats in six different sizes and various models, ranging from 21 to 31 feet. Their Steiger Craft 23 Block Island is a perfect example of form meeting function. A solid teak windshield encases the helm, and a large couch to port, aft-facing bench seat, and full fold-down transom seat offer plenty of comfort. Above deck, a 40-gallon circulating live-well in the stern, gigantic cockpit, and ample rod storage transform this classic into a sturdy fishing platform

Stur-Dee Boats is a family-run shop in Tiverton, Rhode Island, where mother/daughter team Heidi and Mackenzie Reid continue the tradition of their father/grandfather, Ernie Gavin. All boats are produced in-house from hand-laid fiberglass in the molds Ernie made from his original wooden boat, and completed with furniture-quality mahogany and oak for the seats and gunnels. The Stur-Dee Boat Amesbury Dory 16 is an inshore-fishing platform with an offshore pedigree. When matched with a four-stroke 20 or 25 horsepower engine, it is an incredibly efficient boat for inshore and back-bay fishing.

Tidewater boats have an impressive look, with a Carolina flare in the bow, clean lines, and an even more impressive price range. Their solid feel, dry ride and spacious cockpit will give any captain the confidence he needs to take this offshore machine into the battle-tested Northeast waters where only the strong prevail. The Tidewater 230 CC Adventure is designed to be the little brother of the popular Tidewater 250 CC and is available with most of the same features. The 8’ 10” beam and large Carolina flare help make this 23-foot boat feel like a larger offshore fishing machine. It’s fast, responsive and a pleasure to drive

Trackers have been the top-selling fishing boat for years, and for good reason. In 1978, these boats were the first to be offered as a complete package for a nationally published price, and it didn’t take long for their popularity to skyrocket. Tracker makes aluminum bass and panfish boats, deep-V boats, and jonboats. The Tracker Pro Guide V-16 SC is sized and equipped just right to meet the needs of serious freshwater bass fans and those who revel in the excitement of working back-bay flats.

Started by brothers Bob and Bill Healey in 1964, New Jersey-based Viking Yachts has grown to become a world leader in semi-custom fiberglass yacht production. The Viking 52 Sport Tower runs strong on the popular resin-infused Viking 52 Convertible hull, while incorporating a stylish three-sided fiberglass deckhouse. The 142 square-foot cockpit is a versatile work space for fishing and other water sport activities with a walk-through transom door and lift gate, recessed in-deck fish box and stowage bins, a transom fish box, insulated coolers and twin mezzanine seating.

Yellowfin’s philosophy is to offer serious fishermen the best fishing boats money can buy by using high-quality materials and the best construction methods regardless of cost. The Yellowfin 39 Offshore is a premier large center console built for ultimate performance in conditions that keep most other fishermen at the dock. Designed for triple or quad outboard power, hard-core anglers will appreciate the extra-wide beam of 11’6, which allows the 39 to offer a spacious and well-designed platform. In addition, it features a standup head and shower and a surprising level of comfort.

The post 2018 Boat Buyer’s Guide appeared first on On The Water.

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Free Kids’ Fishing Clinic in Sarasota promises day of learning, fun

Category : FWC Fishing News

Photos available on the FWC’s Flickr site: External Website

Video available on the FWC’s YouTube site: External Website

Teaching children a lifelong hobby, instilling appreciation for our marine environment and providing fun, family outings are the objectives for the Kids’ Fishing Clinic in Sarasota on Nov. 18.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will offer a free Kids’ Fishing Clinic for children between the ages of 5 and 15 from 9 a.m. to noon at Ken Thompson Park, 1700 Ken Thompson Parkway.

 These free clinics enable young people to learn the basics of conservation stewardship, fishing ethics, angling skills and safety. Kids’ Fishing Clinics strive to achieve several goals, but the main objective is to create responsible marine-resource stewards by teaching children about the vulnerability of Florida’s marine ecosystems. In addition, organizers hope to teach fundamental saltwater fishing skills and provide participants a positive fishing experience.

Fishing equipment and bait are provided for kids to use during the clinic, but organizers encourage children who own fishing tackle to bring it. A limited number of rods and reels will be given away to participants upon completion of the clinic.

If conditions allow, participants will have the opportunity to practice their new skills and fish from the pier. This event is a photo catch-and-release activity. An adult must accompany all participants.

Individuals or companies interested in helping sponsor this event or volunteering at the clinic should contact Armando Ubeda at 941-861-9900 or FWC’s Elizabeth Winchester at 850-617-9644.

To find out more about fishing clinics for kids, go to, select the “Youth & Student” option under “Education,” and click on “Kids’ Fishing Clinics.”


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