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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides


Be On The Lookout For Nick Honachefsky’s Saltwater Underground Shows!


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From friend Nick:

NEW FISHING SHOW! – I am more than amped to finally spread the word that after months of planning and shooting, Saltwater Underground with Nick Honachefsky is going to go live! I’ve been blessed to partner up with the dedicated team at TackleDirect, the world’s premier fishing outfitter, where viewers will be able to watch the 8 to 12 minute episodes online, whenever, wherever they want via the TackleDirect website. Stay tuned for upcoming teaser reel, film shoots, swag to purchase and details about our launch party premiere on Saturday March 3rd! It’s time for a fishing show that all walks of life can relate to, follow the new movement – Saltwater Underground.

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Capt. Rick Grassett’s Jensen Beach & Sarasota, FL Fishing Report for 10/8/2016


I traveled to Jensen Beach on Florida’s east coast on Sunday afternoon, 10/2 to fish the DOA Fishing Lures “Outdoor Writer’s Festival” out of River Palm Cottages and Fish Camp. The annual event features a couple of days of fishing with outdoor writers from around the country and other fishing industry sponsors. It’s always good to see old friends and see what’s new in the fishing world. New from DOA Fishing Lures this year are the “PT”, a weedless top water, surface walking bait and a new and improved 2 ¾” DOA Shrimp. Good friends, good music, good food and good fishing!

We worked docks in the Indian River where we caught and released snook and jacks on CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms. Surprisingly several bonefish, which usually aren’t found that far north, were caught and released on CAL jigs with jerk worms by other anglers. In addition to bonefish, anglers caught and released snook, trout, reds, jacks and tarpon on a variety of DOA Lures. A few anglers headed over to Lake Okeechobee where they had good top water action with DOA PT’s on largemouth bass. Their “mullet run” was in full swing, which had jacks and tarpon blowing up in mullet schools. They were fast moving and tough to get on but several anglers hooked up with huge jacks on DOA Airheads and PT’s. I’ll be at the DOA booth today (Saturday, 10/8) at the Florida Sportsman Fishing Expo at the fairgrounds in Tampa so stop by to say hello and check out the new stuff.

Back in Sarasota, anglers fishing Sarasota Bay with me during the past week, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, caught and released trout and jacks on DOA Lures. Although there is still some red tide in areas of Sarasota Bay, particularly close to passes, there are areas that are fine.

John Freeman and Dave Willer, both from MN, fished Sarasota Bay with me on Thursday. We fished the east side of the bay, which had good, clean water. They had steady action catching and releasing trout and jacks on DOA Deadly Combos and CAL jigs with shad tails and jerk worms. Friday’s trip was postponed due to high winds associated with Hurricane Matthew.

I look for action in the coastal gulf with false albacore (little tunny) and Spanish mackerel to take off as the water cools down and baitfish become more plentiful. Tripletail will also become a good option since stone crab traps are being placed in the coastal gulf, increasing the amount of available structure for them. Night snook fishing around lighted docks and bridges in the ICW with flies and DOA Lures should be a good option. You might also find a few juvenile tarpon and reds in the lights along with snook. In addition, there should be good action with trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish and more on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay.

Tight Lines,
Capt. Rick Grassett
IFFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Orvis-Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters
Orvis Outfitter of the Year-2011
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.
www.snookfin-addict.com, www.snookfinaddict.com and www.flyfishingflorida.us
E-mail snookfin@aol.com
(941) 923-7799

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Fishing Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass by Hobie “Pedal” Craft!

by on Jun.18, 2016, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, Ft. Myers, Sanibel and Captiva, Middle Charlotte Harbor, Siesta Key to Boca Grande





Charlotte Harbor “turns into” Pine Island Sound at an imaginary line drawn east from the mouth of Boca Grande Pass.  And for the most part, all the water in the upper half of the sound, as well as much of Charlotte Harbor, is moved by the action of that pass.  The lower half of the sound is affected by the pull of water from the Caloosahatchee River at Fort Myers and generally feeds into San Carlos Bay, to the south.  Matlacha Pass lies to the east of Pine Island and it’s water typically flows more strongly to the south on falling tides. What all this has to do with fishing is that the ebb and flow of the tides here and the constant filling and flushing of the harbor, the sound and Matlacha Pass all move bait, and with it–lots of inshore species of game fish.

This is big water, and that generally calls for big boats.  However, there’s plenty of good fishing within range of paddle or pedal craft.  On a recent trip, sponsored by the Hobie Cat Company, the leading manufacturer of pedal craft, I had the opportunity to fish the shoreline of Pine Island in a variety of weather conditions.  With summer thunderstorms building and winds howling, I experienced the ease with which I was able to move about, using my legs to power the boat, and all the while being able to continue fishing. Hobie not only pioneered pedal-style “kayaks”, but that segment of their business is now significant–with fishing “boats” the largest part of that segment.  I’ve paddled conventional kayaks and tried to fish from them, but there’s no comparison.  The ability to navigate your craft while still fishing has tremendous advantages.   Hobie’s MirageDrive, Turbo Fins and Vantage Seat have made their Pro Angler the go-to boat for serious kayak anglers!

Fishing a fully rigged Hobie Pro Angler in Matlacha Pass

Fishing a fully rigged Hobie Pro Angler in Matlacha Pass

While there are several primitive roadside launch spots on Pine Island, Hobie did their research and put us in the water (in about 15 kayaks!) at some places where we’d have easy reach to the fishing grounds.  That’s not to say that we didn’t pedal as much as 5 miles, but the beauty of the rugged Pine Island shoreline is such that you don’t have to go far to catch fish.  And, when you get “home” you want to be able to easily load the boats onto trucks or trailers and have a cold beverage.  Luckily, locals like Frank Stapleton (Hobie’s Sales Rep) and John Donahue (local writer and man-about-town) know the area well and provided welcome guidance for fishing, launching and cold beverages.

The flats west of Pineland Marina and the Tarpon Lodge offer excellent kayak fishing.

The flats west of Pineland Marina and the Tarpon Lodge offer excellent kayak fishing.

Buzzard Bay, north of the bridge at Matlacha, offers great kayak fishing in protected waters.

Buzzard Bay, north of the bridge at Matlacha, offers great kayak fishing in protected waters.

Hobie, along with PR Pro Ingrid Niehaus, put on a first class event.   We stayed at The Tarpon Lodge at Pineland, and even had a fun dinner at Cabbage Key, also owned by the Wells family.  The event was also sponsored by the local tourism office, The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel.  And, in terms of easy access to water, we found great kayak launches at Pineland Marina and at the county park/boat ramp at Matlacha, on the east side of the island.

Dollar bills….a Cabbage Key tradition–along with the original “Cheesburger in Paradise”


Tarpon Lodge

Tarpon Lodge

Cabbage Key

Cabbage Key

Dollar bills....a Cabbage Key tradition--along with the  original "Cheesburger in Paradise"

Dollar bills….a Cabbage Key tradition–along with the original “Cheeseburger in Paradise”

There are lots of options when it comes to fishing the waters here.  But there are no limitations to tackle.  Some of our group used light spinning gear, while others used baitcasters or fly rods.  The Hobie boats are stable, making it easy to get out and wade, or to stand while fishing.  The waters are generally shallow, making it a perfect place to throw topwater plugs (MirrOlure Top Dogs) or soft plastics (D.O.A. 3-inch shrimp or CALs).




Fishing the flats in Pine Island Sound, just a short paddle from the Tarpon Lodge and Pineland Marina




There’s no problem standing up–or fly fishing–from a Hobie Pro Angler kayak!



It’s just a short paddle north from the Matlacha boat ramp to the backwaters of Buzzard Bay.



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Charts, Navigation and Weather Seminar in Panama City Beach Feb. 28, 2015

by on Feb.24, 2015, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, Destin and Ft. Walton Beach, Panama City, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach and St. Joseph Bay

MarineMax, Panama City Beach, February 28, 9:00am – 11:30am
Join MarineMax Panama City Beach and host Bob Fowler as we offer another free seminar at our 11th Annual Charts, Navigation and Weather Seminar. Learn valuable skills for navigating and forecasting when out on the water.

The seminar will feature special guests and multi-media presentations from:

  • Dr. Wil Hugli, Commander with Regional United States Power Squadrons
  • Mark Wool, Warning Coordination Meteorologist NWS Tallahassee for 16 years
  • Emma Weston with NOAA on gathering helpful information from buoys

Take advantage of this FREE seminar and receive a discount coupon from Half Hitch stores! Of course, half-time entertainment will be provided by host Bob Fowler, with a special vocal solo for the occasion.

For more information or to RSVP, visit MarineMax online or contact Cassie Anderson at cassie.anderson@marinemax.com, 850-708-1317.

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Media Invited to Attend CCA STAR Tournament Kick-Off, Spring ’15



Now’s the time to start learning about the 2015 CCA STAR Tournament.  Media events are planned in Tampa, Fort Myers and Tallahassee and I urge media members to attend.  More to follow soon about the event and how the general fishing public can (and should!) participate!!!

Fort Myers, Florida — Join local recreational anglers, fishing celebrities, political figures and other media for the launch of the inaugural Coastal Conservation Association Florida STAR Tournament.   The kick-off for STAR is Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 1:45 on the main stage during the Florida Sportsman’s Expo at the Lee County Civic Center.  CCA Florida will roll out the particulars on how catching one of the eighty specially-tagged redfish offers a registered STAR angler the ability to win a new truck or boats including a Contender 22 Sport, a Pathfinder 2200 TRS and a Hell’s Bay Waterman. All packages come complete with Yamaha motors and custom trailers.
STAR begins on Memorial Day weekend and the tournament ends at 5 p.m. on Labor Day, offering participants a total of 108 fishing days!  STAR will be one of the most angler-inclusive tournaments in the state of Florida and will provide all anglers an opportunity to win. With nearly $500,000 in prizes & college scholarships, STAR anticipates recruiting over 4,500 participants, making it Florida’s largest saltwater fishing tournament. To learn more, please attend this special invitation launch on Saturday, January 31 at 1:45 on the main stage during the Florida Sportsman’s Expo at the Lee County Civic Center. Provide an RSVP to lfitzgerald@ccaflorida.com or by calling 352-665-4868. Complimentary parking and entry to the FS Expo will be provided to attendees with reservations.

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“A Reel Future” Fishing Fund Raiser, October 12, 2014, Clearwater

by on Sep.25, 2014, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, Dunedin, Clearwater and Largo, FLORIDA'S BIG BEND AND EMERALD COAST, St. Pete Beaches, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA, Tarpon Springs

Join Co-Founders Misty Wells and Capt. Tommy LaRonge aboard the Double Eagle on October 12 for a great fund-raising fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico.  For complete information, go to areelfuture.com or email misty@mistywells.com This event will certainly make a difference in the lives of foster children throughout Central Florida and the state.

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Tips from Yamaha on Understanding Marine Electrical Systems


The electrical system on your boat is the power behind the power. Without it, the outboards won’t start, the pumps won’t pump, the lights won’t illuminate and the navigational electronics show only black screen. Many boat owners don’t have a basic knowledge of the electrical system on their vessels and that lack of knowledge can result in lost days on the water or worse. Today’s outboard powered boats have sophisticated power distribution systems that incorporate multiple batteries, isolators, chargers, breakers, switches and fuses – you should understand the function of each.

Multi-engine installations, like this Contender with triple Yamaha F350’s, have complex electrical systems that require a basic understanding from the operator.
Power systems vary with the size of the boat, the number of engines and the power demands of the systems on board. Vessels with multiple outboard engines and a larger compliment of electrically-powered accessories require a more robust and complex system than a single-outboard skiff. Keep in mind that not all of the components covered in this issue are found on all outboard boats.

Joe Vizzosi recently took delivery of a new Yamaha-powered 39-foot Contender® with three F350 outboards. While he only had the boat for a week when he welcomed us aboard, he was already able to walk us through the components of the electrical system, from the batteries to the breakers at the helm switch panel, allowing us to shoot pictures along the way. This boat has a far more complex electrical system than smaller outboard-powered boats with fewer engines and batteries. Vizzosi’s understanding of the systems onboard was impressive.

“It’s critical to know where everything is located and its function in the system,” he said. “While electrical systems on newer boats are pretty foolproof and trouble-free, you never know when you’ll run into a problem with the power supply to your navigational electronics or running lights. If that happens offshore, you have to be able to fix it.”

Here’s a brief rundown of the major components commonly found in modern outboard-powered boats.

Cranking Batteries

Cranking batteries as well as storage or deep-cycle batteries benefit from on-board smart chargers that keep them topped off and ready for use.
Cranking batteries are dedicated only to starting your outboard engines. Once they do their job, they’re immediately recharged by the engine alternator. They are designed to provide a burst of amperage to the starter motor and, therefore, must be capable of providing the cold cranking amperage (CCA) required by the engine manufacturer to accomplish the job. CCA is a rating that defines a battery’s ability to start an engine at 0°F (-17.8°C), and can range from 250 CCA for low horsepower electric start outboards to 750 CCA for high horsepower V6 and V8 outboards. New boats come equipped with appropriately sized cranking batteries, but be sure to check your outboard owner’s manual when the time comes to replace old batteries.

Storage Batteries
Also called house batteries, storage batteries provide the power to run all the boat’s electrical accessories like running lights, bilge and bait well pumps, navigational and communications electronics, entertainment systems, anchor windlass, bow thruster, power steering, and air conditioning. Storage batteries also power refrigeration on larger boats or electric trolling motors on bass and walleye boats. This system can range from a single battery on smaller boats to a bank of batteries on boats that require more amperage, and they are typically deep-cycle type. Deep cycle batteries are designed to provide constant power over long periods of time and, unlike cranking batteries, are capable of withstanding extreme discharges and recharges without damage.

Battery Isolator

A battery isolator is useful for distributing charge from the alternators to batteries that most need charging.
A battery isolator is a single-direction pathway used for directing the power from the engine’s alternator to two or more batteries. For example, a vessel with twin outboards charging two cranking batteries and a house battery has the current from the alternators pass through the isolator, which distributes it to the batteries. Battery isolators also prevent competing batteries from discharging from one to the other during operation.

Battery Switch

Battery switches allow shutting down current to all stations when the boat is not in use, reducing chances of electrolysis and fire.
A battery switch, or switches in the case of multiple outboard applications, is used to engage or disengage the various batteries on the boat. When the boat is not in use, they are turned off. There are switches designed for single or twin battery applications. For example, a single-outboard boat with two batteries can be operated from a dual battery switch, which can engage them individually (battery 1 or battery 2) or in unison (both). Boats with more than two batteries typically employ a switch for each battery in the system with just an on-off configuration.

Smart Chargers
Smart chargers are more popular than ever for maintaining batteries at maximum capacity when a vessel is not in use. They are available in configurations capable of handling any number of batteries. Smart chargers are installed on the boat with a receptacle for plugging in a shore power cable for connecting them to a land-based 110-volt power supply. They distribute power on an as-needed basis to all the batteries on the boat. They are called “smart chargers” because they automatically detect when a battery falls below full charge, and then they send just the right amount of current to bring it back to full charge without overcharging.

Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers are a part of every electrical system on modern boats, allowing a quick reset after an overload.
The circuit breakers on a boat do the same job as the circuit breakers in your house or apartment. They are an automatic emergency power cut-off in case of a power surge, providing protection for the system and electrical components. Circuit breakers can be found in various locations, not just at the switch panel at the helm. You should always know where all the breakers on your boat are located in case one trips. This will help you to troubleshoot a problem and reset them to restore power to a circuit.

The fuses are the last line of defense for accessories like your navigational and communications electronics that are not on individual breakers. A fuse panel is usually found in the vicinity of these items and can be traced by following the power cables from the electronics back to the panel. Most newer boats use automotive-type fuses, but many older vessels are equipped with glass fuses. You should make it a point to carry replacements for every fuse on the boat in case of a failure.

The list above details the common components that make up the power grid on your boat. You should take the time to familiarize yourself with the entire system, from the power source to the batteries to the distribution panels. Knowing and understanding your electrical system is as important as making sure there is gas in the tank before you head out for a day of boating.

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Get ready for Steinhatchee- Jena area Paddling Adventures October 2-5, 2014

by on Aug.18, 2014, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, Steinhatchee

Steinhatchee/Jena Florida • $100 for 100 participants maximum
October 3-5, 2014 with early bird trips October 1st and 2nd

4 more paddles have just been added due to the heavy registration so far

Registration is open here NOW

and here’s what we’re giving you – – – – –

  • Access to 27 guided paddles in the area, a kayak fishing tournament and a power boat cruise on the beautiful Steinhatchee River. One of these for the early birds is an approximately 5 mile paddle Wednesday from Shired Island through scenic marshy islands, just off shore in the Gulf of Mexico, to Butler Island for an overnight camping experience, returning the next morning.
  • A get-together for early-birds Thursday evening including 2 drink coupons.
  • Primitive camping absolutely free.
  • Friday breakfast and a bag lunch if you want one.
  • A great dinner Friday night including an informative program.
  • Saturday breakfast and a lunch if you want one.
  • Entry to the kayak fishing tournament Saturday.
  • Saturday night you’re on your own but there will be discount coupons to the area’s best restaurants.
  • Sunday Brunch at the beautiful 3 story Dixie County owned Freeman House overlooking the marsh and the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Best of all – you get to enjoy a stay in the Steinhatchee/Jena, Florida area with people who love the outdoors just like yourself – it’s different here – where the wild places are ! !

Registration is open here NOW

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Court Upholds Florida Gill Net Ban, July 8, 2014


Yesterday, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal issued an opinion upholding the state’s net ban amendment…again. CCA Florida once again led the charge to support the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) regulations implementing the Constitutional Amendment that was passed by 72% of the voters in 1994. The same small group of commercial gill netters that have filed one lawsuit after another were rebuffed in the appellate court after finding a sympathetic judge at the circuit court level. The three judge appellate panel held that the trial judge, “…erred in determining [the netters] claims were not barred by [past legal precedent]”. They also held that the judge was wrong to allow the gill net season to open while the case was pending in the appellate courts. “This is a big win for all recreational anglers and CCA Florida will continue to be the outspoken advocate and protector of the Constitutional Amendment which has protected Florida’s marine fisheries and the multibillion dollar economic value of fisheries to Florida’s economy,” said CCA Florida Chairman, Fred Crabill. Last October, Florida waters were again open to the slaughter of illegal gill nets for six days, reminiscent of pre 1994 Florida where use of these nets devastated our near shore and inshore waters crushing recreational fishing for Redfish, Trout, Snook and other fishes. The net ban has had dramatic effect on bringing bait back to our near shore waters, with the resulting increase in catches of pelagics like sailfish and cobia along the coast. But, the fight may not be over. It will be up to the netters whether or not to file an appeal at the next level, the Florida Supreme Court. While legal scholars doubt the success of such an appeal given the reasoning by the First District Court of Appeals, stranger things have happened in the courts where gill nets are concerned. After all, no one dreamed that the same gill net interests that have pushed this fight for twenty (20) years would find a willing judge last year. “CCA Florida would like to thank FWC, Attorney General Pam Bondi and especially Assistant Attorney General, Jonathan Glogau for their tireless efforts on this case and for protecting Florida’s saltwater fisheries,” said CCA Florida Executive Director, Brian Gorski. CCA Florida will continue to monitor the case and file legal briefs if the matter is appealed. Lawyers representing CCA in the current appeal were pleased with the results but wary of what may come next… perhaps a trip to the Supreme Court. For the full First District Court of Appeals opinion click here… http://www.ccaflorida.org/images/Net_Ban/Opinion_140707.pdf -
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