Friday, June 23, 2017

 
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ACQUISITIONS
Navico – the world's largest manufacturer of marine electronics and parent company to the Lowrance®, Simrad® and B&G® brands – announced today the finalization of an agreement to acquire Naviop, a global leader in marine monitoring and control systems.

APPS
Updated and brand new for 2017, this year's app puts the show floor, show events, free business sessions, a searchable list of exhibitors and much more right in the palm of your hand.

BOATING
The Army Corps of Engineers has lifted the small craft advisory for the Arkansas River as flows have receded.

ENFORCEMENT
As the July Fourth holiday approaches, Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers will focus on keeping boaters safe through heightened awareness and enforcement of boating under the influence laws.

EVENTS
Looking for a great way to beat the heat and enjoy some outdoors-related fun? Visit the Arizona Get Outdoors Expo in Flagstaff this weekend.

FISHERIES
NOAA Fisheries has released a new video to help recreational anglers identify and safely release prohibited shark species.
The Pacific halibut nearshore recreational fishery in the Columbia River Subarea will close for the remainder of 2017 effective 11:59 p.m., Friday, June 23.

FUND RAISING
During the 12-day fundraiser, $2 from every life jacket purchased in stores and on westmarine.com benefited the Waterlife Outfitter's nonprofit BlueFuture Fund.

INDUSTRY
Todd King will drive marketing initiatives for Confluence Outdoor's eight watersports brands.
Greg Cattrano has been named VP of Confluence Outdoors, parent company of Wilderness Systems, Mad River Canoe and other well-known brands in paddlesports.
Yamaha Marine Group announced today a new mechanical control version of its 300-horsepower 4.2-liter V6 Offshore outboard, available in both left and right-hand rotation.
The 2018 Imperial USA fly rod is a great example of what occurs within the friendly confines of St Croix's Park Falls, Wisconsin facility when rod designers, engineers and builders decide it's time to improve upon the past.

INVASIVE SPECIES
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) public water access site at Newman Lake in eastern Spokane County will be closed June 28-29 for treatment of the lake with herbicide to control Eurasian milfoil and other aquatic invasive weeds.

MARINE ELECTRONICS
A new semi-automated wetland and coastal habitat mapping product that is part of the BioBase Cloud Mapping Platform, EcoSat uses the unique reflectance properties of vegetation and sea bottoms from high resolution satellite imagery and creates distinct polygon objects with spatial properties like area and perimeter.

RADIO
Danielle Rudd, manager of Ballard's Resort, reports good walleye action on Lake of the Woods and invites listeners to join Dan for a week of fishing at Black Island Resort in September.
Join host Rob Keck for a unique show featuring the inventor of a handy fishing tool that helps fishermen remove hooks from toothy fish, Keith Lawrence and Quality Deer Management Association's Director of Education and Outreach, Kip Adams.

STATES
Steve Cook of Malvern was recently elected Chairman of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission at its regularly scheduled June meeting in Jonesboro.
A broken dam board in the outlet structure at the lower Ice House Pond on Fort Robinson State Park caused the water level to drop about 10 feet during the weekend.
Iowans interested in the results of a DNR study to improve water quality in Lake Rathbun in south-central Iowa can attend a meeting July 6.
With the recent conclusion of the Louisiana legislative session, two resolutions related to marine fisheries management clearly demonstrated the legislature's support for recreational angling in the Sportsmen's Paradise state.

TELEVISION
By showcasing a variety of anglers in their respective fishing environments, the show allows the audience to view the world of tournament fishing through the anglers' perspective.

TOURNAMENTS
Jamie Hartman, who fished the lake as a child, may be the hometown favorite in the event set for June 29-July 1.
Major League Fishing (MLF) officials announce the 12 anglers who have qualified to compete in the inaugural General Tire World Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops, and that the first matches are scheduled to debut on CBS and CBS Sports Network beginning Saturday, June 24.

WEATHER
The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) now has web pages where you can hurricane and tropical storm information and more.

Back Bay Flounder North and South

Fishing inside waters for aggressive flounder can benefit from the right boat and the right techniques no matter where you chase them

In the world of gamefish, flounders probably don't come to mind. Then again, maybe you're not that familiar with two of the more popular recreationally caught species that make up the clan. In fact, they are two of the most sought-after gamefish on the East and Gulf Coast. Why? Because they are readily available for a good portion of the year, they are fun to catch and they are good to eat. Now that's a fishing trifecta!

The summer flounder's range extends from North Carolina to Massachusetts and for a good portion of the year, they frequent bays and tidal rivers. The southern flounder has a more extensive range. In the Atlantic, the range stretches from North Carolina to northern Florida. In the Gulf, the range stretches from Northern Florida to Texas. They are most frequently caught in bays, tidal rivers, bayous and inlets. The two species look surprisingly similar in shape, coloration and dentation. Both species are aggressive predators, capable of putting up a good fight on appropriately sized tackle.

Both species of flounder share the characteristic flat or laterally compressed form. Both eyes are on the topside of the body, along with a large mouth filled with needle-like teeth for gripping their prey. They lie on the bottom using a chameleon-like ability to alter their top skin color to blend in with their surroundings like a warrior in camouflage. These adaptations make the perfect ambush predator. Regardless of which species is found in your area, they are actively pursued by recreational fishermen and most fun to catch when inhabiting estuaries and near shore structure. The ideal boat to pursue this species is a bay boat equipped with the right accessories to get you into position and help you maintain it.

A few years back we spent a couple days fishing with the captains Vickers, Mike Junior and Senior, both northeast Florida fishing guides, ostensibly for sea trout and redfish. We were working backwater channels and creeks off the Intracoastal Waterway near St. Augustine, Fla., using a powerful electric trolling motor on the bow of their 23-foot Yamaha-powered Pathfinder® bay boat to cruise silently through the narrow passes. We were casting a variety of soft plastic lures on jig heads when a fish smashed one in just a few inches of water, close to a school of finger mullet. It was the most aggressive strike of the day, and the fish immediately ran for the deep water through the middle of the channel taking line off the light-spinning reel with ease. We all thought it was a nice redfish but as it came to the net, it turned out to be a 7-pound southern flounder. What a surprise! It wasn't the last one we caught during our outings.

On a more recent day of fishing, we joined Ken Pontari of Valhalla Yacht Sales, a Contender®/Yamaha dealer in New Gretna, N.J. We went to fish for summer flounder, also called fluke in some of the Mid-Atlantic States. Ken has been chasing them in the backwaters for years, and has more than a few flounder tournament wins under his belt to prove his prowess. We launched his 25-foot Contender® bay boat at a public ramp in Brigantine, a shore town on a barrier island just north of Atlantic City. The bays, channels and creeks sheltered from the ocean by the barrier islands extend along a good portion of the State's coastline. There was a striking resemblance to the places we fished with the Vickers and other Yamaha backwater pros in the Gulf States. The scenery is beautiful, tranquil and teeming with bird life. It's home to a vibrant population of summer flounder from spring through mid-summer. Ken promised to show us his techniques he uses to target the flounder, as well as how his bay boat and its specialized equipment play into his success.

The 25-foot Contender® is a hybrid bay boat with a step-hull, modified Vee-bottom that makes it ideal for fishing skinny water as well as open ocean. Powered by a Yamaha F300 outboard, it's capable of incredibly quick holeshots in mere inches of water and top speeds in the 50-60 MPH range. The shallow water capability is aided by the hydraulic jack plate, which is located between the engine and transom. It can lift the big outboard high, reducing the depth of water needed to get the boat on plane. During the day, we ran through passes and over shallow bars (that would have left most boats hard aground) to get to some of Ken's secret flounder holes. When the bigger flounder finally exit the bay in the late summer and fall, Ken runs the Contender® offshore to an artificial reef to fish for flounder. He uses some of his shallow water tricks there, too.

Ken's boat is equipped with a 36-volt electric trolling motor on the bow and a Power Pole® shallow water anchor system on the transom. Both units are controlled via wireless remotes that Ken wears on a lanyard around his neck while fishing. He can put the boat into position to present lures from the bow-casting platform using the trolling motor, then press a button on the remote to deploy the Power Pole® to remain stationary. He can be jigging from the aft casting platform and use the other remote to control the speed and direction of the trolling motor without having to run back to the bow or stop fishing. These tools make any back-bay fishing experience more productive whether it's for flounder, redfish, sea trout, weakfish or striped bass.

We left the dock cruising down a well-marked channel at a brisk 45 MPH, and Ken turned the boat hard into a narrow reed-lined channel passing over a shallow bar without slowing down. We were able to fly over grass beds, sand and mud flats to reach a spot where two creek channels met away from boat traffic. There, the current has scoured out a deep trench about 200 feet long and 12 feet deep. This is an ideal ambush point for flounder waiting for baitfish pouring out of the channels on the outgoing tide. The current was running pretty hard, and there was a strong breeze that would have made it nearly impossible to drift the length of the hole effectively. Ken dropped the trolling motor and used it to keep the boat in the exact position he desired.

The fishing technique we used in this condition was jigging beneath the drifting boat, Ken broke out two light action graphite spinning rods filled with 10-test braid tipped with long fluorocarbon leaders. They were rigged with two jigs, one above the other in a high/low fashion, each fitted with a Berkley® Gulp!® scented soft body. He likes both shrimp and baitfish-shaped bodies, and will vary them depending on where he is fishing or general conditions. The bottom jig was about 2 ounces and the top about a half-ounce. Using the trolling motor remote control, he adjusted the boat whenever the wind or current caused it to stray from his desired drift path. We dropped the high/low rigs straight down and began to work them with a rhythmic action. Ken snaps the soft rod tip up and down rapidly, which doesn't move the heavy bottom jig, but causes the lighter top jig to jerk around imitating a live shrimp. It's a technique that he has been using to fill the freezer and also place high in a variety of local flounder tournaments. It didn't take long to produce a nice fat fluke. A few fish later, Ken picked up the trolling motor, he hit the throttle on the big Yamaha and whisked us away to another spot. He took us to the back of Abescon Inlet where the tide was about an hour away from incoming high. He set up a drift, again using the trolling motor to be sure we floated over some very subtle structure spots where he often finds bigger fluke. The water was deeper so we had switched to a heavier bottom jig, but he used the same jigs and technique.

"Flounder move into the estuaries from offshore in early spring, well before the season opens," Ken said. "Some of the first places I fish are way back in the bay and very shallow where the water warm earliest. I like places where a creek enters a channel or pond-like area and flounder wait in ambush for baitfish coming out of the grass beds, with the falling tide. I fish with a single light jig with Gulp!®, and I use the Power Pole® to hold the boat in position to cast to likely ambush points. A little later in the season the flounder will spread out around the bay, gathering in spots where there are deeper holes, channel bends or structure in and around inlets. The larger flounder will begin moving out of the estuaries in midsummer, and fishing along the beaches and further offshore around structure like artificial reefs will produce a lot of nice fish.

"The Contender® is the ideal boat to catch them on the reefs, too," he continued. "The trolling motor has a GPS guided system called iPilot that can hold the boat in a spot regardless of the current or wind effecting the boat. It can also be set to follow a specific track or just maintain a heading with a touch of the remote, so the boat will move over the exact bottom at the exact speed I want it to. This makes jigging flounder with the high-low rigs I like to use incredibly productive."

A little later in the tide, Ken ran the Contender® to an expansive area of marsh grasses swaying in the morning breeze until he came to a back channel that emerged through an opening in the tall reeds. It was emptying into a large shallow bay, and protected by a wide sandbar that made access to the spot impossible for more traditional fishing boats. He used the jackplate to raise the big Yamaha high enough to idle into position. He cut the motor and deployed the Power Pole,® putting us in the perfect location to cast to spots where fluke will often gather to feed.

"This is a pretty good flounder spot, but we catch a lot of striped bass here in the spring and fall," said Ken. "And the fishing for big bluefish in the early spring has been fantastic in the bays the past few years. This boat lets me get wherever the fish are, and has all the whistles and bells to make catching them easier."

Our thanks to Ken Pontari for a beautiful day on the water in an awesome fishing boat, and for sharing some of his tricks for catching flounder. These are techniques that will work for summer and southern flounder regardless of where you fish.

The Fishing Wire welcomes your comments and actively solicits letters and guest editorials from readers as well as fishery managers, scientists and industry experts in boating, fishing and related equipment. Please send your comments and suggestions to frank@thefishingwire.com.
Outdoors Calendar

» Got an event you'd like to see posted here? Send it to frank@thefishingwire.com.

June 21 - June 25: Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic, Sandestin, FL. $1.5MM+ in cash prizes; fishecbc.com

June 23 - June 25: Yellowtail Shootout, San Diego, CA; http://www.yellowtailshootout.com

June 24: Swan Island Family Field Day on Maine's Kennebec River; http://www.maine.gov/ifw/education/swanisland/PDFs/2017fielddayregistration_waiver.pdf

June 24 - June 26: Outdoor Writers Association of America annual convention, Duluth, Minnesota; www.owaa.org.

June 29 - July 1: European Fishing Tackle Trade Expo (EFFTEX) in Budapest, Hungary; www.efftex.com.

July 8 - July 9: California B.A.S.S. Nation State Team Qualifier #3, California Delta, Oakley, CA, www.calbn.com

July 11 - July 14: ICAST Convention at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida; www.icastfishing.org.

July 11 - July 17: Blue Marlin Grand Championship, Orange Beach, AL. $1MM+ in cash prizes; thewharfmarina.com

Aug. 3 - Aug. 6: Saltwater Showdown; www.bluewatermovements.com.

Aug. 12: 10th Annual Fly Fishing Festival. American Museum of Fly Fishing, Manchester, Vermont. Samantha Pitcher (802) 362-3300 ext. 208 or spitcher@amff.org www.amff.org

Aug. 12 - Aug. 18: Pirate's Cove Billfish Tournament, Manteo, NC. $1MM+ in cash prizes; pcbgt.com





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