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Fishing on Anna Maria Island

What Do You Really Know About Fishing?

If you find yourself fishing on the weekends or leaving the office a little early with an idea in mind to leave a ‘gone fishing’ memo then you probably already know all you need to in order to enjoy this historic past time. Maybe you’re a catch and release type with no intention to bring your fish friends home for a barbecue or maybe you cook your catches nightly and enjoy your hard work. Whether for sport, pleasure or dinner, there is much you can learn about fishing and the lessons can date back as far as the earliest settlers!

Even some of the richest history lays just beyond the island in historic Cortez Village. Whether you’re visiting Anna Maria Island or have lived here for many years, there is a chance that you’ve driven right through this village and missed all the jewels among it. It was originally named Hunter’s Point, becoming Cortez in 1895, when the U.S. Post Office arrived. The lineage can be traced back so far, in fact, that the people you meet or see at the local restaurants are direct family members to those who settled in Cortez so long ago from North Carolina. Everyone there is kind and for the small village and in some way, has their hands in the fishing industry. There are boat yards that have been passed down generations, fishermen who locally source the restaurants with their fresh seafood and handmade souvenirs to commemorate your visit and all areas of the business here center around the unity of their village as a whole. It’s a family business that is not hard to break into as they are all very welcoming and eager to share their knowledge.

 So as far as fishing goes in Cortez Village, where do you start? What can you catch and where can you catch it? That’s all secret to the trade. There are many fishing charters who will happily assist in guiding you through their waters and into ‘the kitchen’

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Here are some tips we’ve collected from local fishermen in hopes that you will have all you need to fish like a pro! Each charter will know the best places to take you but it’s important to know how to use your rod and reel to be most effective.

Securing a Tough Knot
The Bimini Twist (also known as the Twenty-Times-Around knot) is the only knot that maintains 100 percent strength under all conditions. Use it to double the line for a strong leader connection.

New and Bright Are The Way To Go
To keep your lures bright and new, rinse them after each use and then dry them before returning them to the tackle box. When you are buying lures, look for ones that are bright to make the fish bite! Only pick up lures you know you will need and just enough to last you a few trips.

Big, Rough Lipped Fish
Big fish with rough lips require extra-heavy monofilament. It takes 80- to 100-pound test to land 100-pound tarpon, or 50 to 80 to land a really big snook. But casting a long length of that stuff is difficult, so divide the leader into two stages. Keep the heavy stuff short — 12 to 20 inches, for example — and use lighter (e.g., 30- to 40-pound-test) for the secondary section that is essential when fishing around heavy cover or structure.

Front of the Line: Trimming
In order to keep your line strong and in good shape, it is important to change the filament often because once it visibly appears dull or feels rough, it is no longer strong. If anything, at least cut back the front part of the line to remove and of the weaker section and then retie the leader.

When to Soak It
Before storing a reel for any length of time, soak it in a bucket of fresh water for several hours to get all of the saltwater out of the line and the interior corners of the reel.

To Set The Hook 
Many anglers set the hook before the fish has the bait or lure well inside its mouth. Better to wait an extra second or two if you cannot see the fish, or wait until you actually see the bait or lure disappear inside the fish’s mouth. A good way to time this is to wait until you feel a lot of pressure on the line from the fish.

Three Ingredients for Chumming
Chumming requires three ingredients: fresh or fresh-frozen material, a current to carry it, and judicious use. The idea is to create a line of food that draws fish from far away. Toss in too much food over a short period of time, and the fish may hang too far back and simply enjoy a free lunch. Too little chum may not move them at all. Start slowly and gradually increase the chum until you get results.

Try Noisy Lures
When fishing turbid water, try noisy topwater lures. Lures with a rattle or pop worked slowly are easy for the fish to locate. Smaller is sometimes best on calm days, but bigger is better in choppy water.

Circle Hooks
Hook sizes and shapes are critical with all types of bait. Circle hooks, for instance, are popular because they very rarely hook fish in the throat, and their hookup rate is as good or better than the conventional J-hook. Treble hooks are a poor choice for bait fishing since they are easily swallowed and do far more damage than when attached to a lure. Any fish that escapes with a treble hook in the throat is a dead fish.

Lubricating a New Reel
Lubricate a new reel to make sure no critical areas were overlooked at the factory. Lube it again at the end of the fishing season or every six months if you fish throughout the year. Baitcasting reels may need a touch on the levelwind gears more often. Always use light oil in those areas where grease is not required.

Work With What You Know
Use only brands of fishing line that you are familiar and comfortable with. Unknown bargain lines will often let you down at the worst moment.

Lures Work Best
Most lures work better if attached to the line or leader with a loop knot. This allows a more natural action for bait as well..

Least Resistance with Quick Sinking
Gel braid lines are more sensitive than monofilament. They also have a smaller diameter that offers less resistance in current, which makes them an excellent choice for fishing lures that sink quickly, especially jigs. They have become very popular with heavy jigs in extremely deep water. Some anglers fish them in depths in excess of 300 feet.

Say No to Wire Leaders
Don’t use a wire leader if you can get by with monofilament. You will get more strikes this way. Wire also kinks easily, which may cause it to break. Even toothy fish like Spanish mackerel and bluefish can be caught on mono leaders if the material is heavy enough (at least 50- or 60-pound-test), and if you cut back the mono whenever it begins to look gnawed.

Best Conditions for Keeping Live Bait Fresh
Live bait stays in top condition longer if kept in a well with good circulation. Incoming water is always best, but if that’s not possible, use an aerator. Warm water cannot hold as much oxygen as cool, so temperature is critical. In an aerated, non circulating system the water must be changed every few hours to remove waste material that replaces oxygen in the water.

Wait For The Move
A fish that appears tired and lethargic needs some help. If you simply toss it back in the water, it will likely sink and die. Moving it back and forth in still water or facing it upstream in current will get its respiratory system back in operation a lot faster. Wait until you can feel the fish beginning to move on its own before letting it go.

Shrimp, crabs, and other crustaceans can be kept alive and healthy for many hours in an ice chest if they are packed in wet newspaper or damp vegetation so they do not make direct contact with the ice or ice water.

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