An Interview with Roland Martin

The Teacher, The Angler, The Legend

The Great American Fisherman

by Nichole Delio

Roland Martin is “The Great American Fisherman.” There is no contest in that, just look at his competition track record! He’s a constant source of education and inspiration and a true fishing idol for anglers, many who grew up watching his TV Show, “Fishing with Roland Martin.” He is an absolute fishing legend and I received the amazing opportunity to interview him and discover the man behind the legend.

  Roland Martin

Roland Martin

When we connect, I’m immediately greeted with a man who is personable and down to earth. He’s funny with a great sense of humour and most of all- passionate about fishing. I want to know when he first starting fishing, before the TV show, before he was “The Great American Fisherman.” 

“When the you first realise that you wanted to fish?” I asked him. 

“Well it’s kinda funny. My father did not fish. He was not a fisherman.  But I had these neighborhood friends we would all fish.  When I was seven, I had broken my leg.  It was in a cast.  I hobbled down this little spot called Mystic Lake.  There was a little culvert.  I seen some bluegill, I fished it and caught my first fish, blue gill.  I was so excited.  I hobbled back up on my crutches to show my mom and dad.  With a broken leg and all, my first fish.”

Roland went on to tell me about the man who helped to influence the beginning of his career,  Jason Lucas“Before electronics, before modern bass boats. We would take a row boat and he would do this thing where he would countdown to figure out the water depth. He would throw the lure and when it would stop sinking he would know the depth of the water. Even though it was a really basic, it was really practical. It helped me out as a fisherman.”

  Roland Martin

Roland Martin

Roland also mentioned mentors such as Bill Dance and Bill Curtis, who he became friends with when he started fishing tournaments. 

As the winner of 19 Professional Bass Tournaments, Roland is no stranger to competitive fishing.  He can claim 100 top ten finishes, 24 appearances in the Bass Fishing World Championship, and holds 9 B.A.S.S Angler of the Year Titles. Roland was also the first professional bass fisherman to be inducted into all three angling Hall of Fames. No easy feat!

I want to know more, so I ask, “Which personal best was your favourite or most memorable?”

I can hear the smile in his voice as he explains, “I always talk about this giant fish I lost. The biggest bass I have ever hooked in my life. It weight 15 pounds and 12 ounces.  I was fishing with my wife and another fellow. I had the monster bass on the line, but it got hung up around a log.  I want to dive in and free it up, but my wife refused. I finally broke the line. Later that night, my fishing companion came running over and was yelling about this big bass he caught. It was 15 pounds and 12 ounces. That was my bass!” Roland is good-natured about his loss.

When talking about his favourite fish to catch and the most challenging fish to catch, Roland treats the subject with a lot of reverence, “Well, bass is absolutely the most important fish, with all my respect. But the most glamorous fish I’ve fished is tarpon fishing. Particularly with a fly rod!” 

  Roland Martin

Roland Martin

He also goes onto tell tales of catching yellow fin tuna, “I take these long range trips out of San Diego, down to the Mexico coast,” his voice grows excited, “The only problem with tuna fishing is there are sharks! They come in and get your tuna before you reel it in” he exclaims. 

I then turn the conversation onto something that a lot of anglers might worry about- keeping the passion for angling alive. I wonder, has he always been passionate about fishing? Does he worry about losing his passion? His answer is simple. “No.” But he goes on to say, “I can tell you how to fix that. You have to keep new perspectives. Try to fish with different people. Fish in different areas- don’t get in a rut and fish in the same place all the time! And try different things. There are so many different techniques to try in fishing. It will make you a better fisherman to challenge yourself."

Since Social Media is king for communication these days, I ask Roland about his perspective on the modern angler and how they should approach new angling sources, such as Fishbrain. I think it’s a great concept! I like Fishbrain but the average fisherman is selfish. They are secretive about where they catch their fish, but when I’m Fishbrain I post everything. I post where I caught the fish, how I caught it, and what I used to catch it on. So I’m trying to set an example, I want everyone to be more open about their catches. What a great source of information that will be!” 

  Roland Martin and Gary Yamamoto

Roland Martin and Gary Yamamoto

Roland has always been a teacher, he even taught at a school back in the 60s. “It’s the same format when I take people fishing or do a television show. I’m always educating and teaching.” Across various forms of media and even from this interview,  I could sense just how truly he loved teaching people how to fish and to share his knowledge of fishing. The wealth of knowledge that a legend like Roland Martin has access to is invaluable to anglers. If I’ve learned anything from talking to Roland it’s to share the information and work on creating and educating the angling community. To teach and to keep those lines tight! 

Guide to Catch-and-Release fishing

Whether you’re new to fishing or an experienced pro, chances are you practice some form of catch-and-release fishing. Something that was once only popular in fly-fishing has now found its way into mainstream angling. The reasons for releasing fish vary: from anglers who like to fish but hate the taste, to anglers who practice strict conservation methods in the hope of sustaining a healthy fishery for future generations. To best ensure the lowest mortality rate possible for your catch try to follow these simple rules.


Source: Blog

First Ever Spotted Bass

Firsts can be a good reason to celebrate. First catch. First time driving alone after getting your license. First place in the annual pie eating contest at the county fair. It's pretty easy to make this a long list.

Let's add one more achievement: first spotted bass. 

 Nichole Delio holding her first-ever spotted bass...

Nichole Delio holding her first-ever spotted bass...

Here are Nichole's words -

Caught this beautiful fish in Table Rock Lake, MO fishing with my family.
I was actually fishing for smallmouth bass, but I landed this guy on a spinner bait, and he weighed in at 3 pounds.


Fishing Tips: How to Set the Hook

Content courtesy of

You have to know how to set a hook in order to catch fish. Although different fish require different methods, we’ll take a look at the basics.

When to Set the Hook

A good rule of thumb when learning how to set the hook, is to wait and feel the weight of the fish before setting it. If the fish is cautious and just tapping your fishing line and bait lightly, and not biting it, it's best to wait. Let the fish take the bait, and then set the hook after you feel its weight.

How to Set the Hook in Two Steps

  1. To help you better know how to set the hook, look for common signs a fish is biting such us: your bobber is pulled under water, you feel a “thump” on your fishing line or your fishing line starts moving.
  2. Reel in slack and keep your line tight with the bait or lure. This helps increase sensitivity so you can feel the fish bite and be in a better position to set the hook.

The motion of setting the hook is relatively simple. But it can sometimes be difficult to tell if you have a bite or if you're just feeling the current or a fish bumping into the bait. The more you know about the fish species you’re after, and the more time you spend on the water practicing, the better you’ll get.

Now that you know how to set the hook when you feel the fish, the next task is reeling it in!

Peacock Bass Fishing

By Paul Daigle

Whether it's the beautiful colors or the sound of a screaming reel, peacock bass have a way of mesmerizing anglers. Stocked in the coastal canals of southeast Florida in 1984 to control over-abundant tropical invasives, they range from south Miami to as far north as West Palm Beach.

  Fishbrain P  ro-Staffer Patrick Gonzalez with a stud. 

Fishbrain Pro-Staffer Patrick Gonzalez with a stud. 

Line Choice

Fighting a three-pound peacock bass is like fighting a six-pound largemouth; they are a blast on light tackle. I find it best to use fluorocarbon or monofilament.

 The author with his very own peacock bass.

The author with his very own peacock bass.

Where to Find Them

You can find them in canals, lakes, and ponds of south Florida. They like to hide around docks, culverts, bridges, and overhanging vegetation and trees.

 @Adriel_knows (Instagram) with a massive peacock bass over 8lbs.

@Adriel_knows (Instagram) with a massive peacock bass over 8lbs.


These fish will go for a wide variety of baits They can be caught on topwater poppers, spooks, torpedoes, and prop baits. Also great are lipless cranks, crankbaits, jerkbaits, swimbaits, spinnerbaits, and flair hawk jigs. For a local Florida lure company, try Gill Reaper lures. 

For live bait, use shad, shiners, tilapia, and mayan cichlids. 


We have some great guides in south Florida to put you on some big peacocks - I recommend Capt. Shane Procell, Capt.Patrick Smith, and Capt.Bill Lepree. For land-based guides, try Chris Licato, [verify: Reel Reel Adventures], and Hai Truong fishing. 


On instagram as @Adriel_knows with a massive peacock bass over 8 lbs

Patience Is a Virtue

By Nichole Delio

Just like most things worth practicing, fishing requires a lot of patience. You might not think about it on the days when you cast into the water and the bite happens non-stop, but fishing is unpredictable enough to give you a range of experiences.

Think about the other kinds of days. You know the ones I mean - they're the character building ones, the days that test the limits of your patience. Days like that, you might cast for hours and not even get a single bite. The pattern might be this: Breathe in and cast and exhale as the lure flies through the air toward its landing spot in the water. Crank it back in with a motion you've done thousands of times...over and over without the slightest indication that a fish is on the other end.

The key to enjoying all of fishing is patience. You could say that fishing helps you build that quality of character, but it also takes a certain amount to get started in the sport in the first place.

Fishing should be enjoyed. Don't take it so seriously that it ever transforms a good day into a bad one. There's a saying you might have heard: "A bad day of fishing beats a great day at work, any day." There's truth behind that. Think about how fishing helps us step out of the everyday boxes that we live in. Your box might contain a 9-5 job, family obligations, an office, long hours in a car, or stress from deadlines.

Fishing is a release from all that.

Fishing is also connection. It's time we can spend with people we love. Think of a father and son sharing that special first-catch moment - there's a special twinkle in the eyes of the boy and a big, beautiful smile on his face. Fishing can also bring a couple closer together; a husband and wife might spend hours together on the water, enjoying one another's company. Maybe they're talking, or maybe there's only the sound of their fishing and the nature around them. 

Something happens to you when you're fishing. You can't help but take notice of your surroundings. Mother Nature surrounds you until she's cascading through your awareness. The sun shines bright on your face, the birds sing and chirp and fly overhead, and there's a fresh breeze that passes through your hair. Life passes by so fast - fishing is a way to slow it all down. It's a way to appreciate what's right in front of you, right now.

If you ever lose a fish, learn to accept that. Maybe you'll be frustrated, and maybe you'll get upset, but let that feeling pass. Then pick up your rod and make another cast. And another one. As long as we take good care of our environment, there will always be more fish to catch. 

Try not to hurry, even if you think you should. It rarely helps, and usually makes matters worse. Hurrying is how I ended up with a hook through a finger. I hadn't been catching anything all day long, and then, out of the blue, I had a carp on the line. When I got the fish to shore, I realized that my net was on the other side of the pond. My panicked thinking was that I'd lose the fish if I waited for someone to bring me the net, so I reached down to grab the carp out of the water. BAD IDEA. The carp flailed and flopped (as I should have expected it would) and I got a hook all the way through my finger.

 Where the hook went through my finger.

Where the hook went through my finger.

What should have I done? Secured the fish with the net before trying to pull it out of the water.

Fishing is a wonderful sport and hobby, and for some of us it's a passion. Just remember to take the time to enjoy everything it has to offer. Have patience with it. You're not going to go out there and catch a trophy bass in five minutes of fishing. (Well, you might get lucky and do so, but generally, you are not.) So have fun with it. Get dirty, get your hands wet, be a kid again. Enjoy that sunshine, take in that fresh air, and soak up all that Mother Nature has to offer. But most of all, be patient. After all, it is fishing, and unpredictable is the name of the game.


Inside Tips from an Outsider: Jigging Tips for Panfish Anglers

by Austyn Butler

For most fishermen, the bait of choice is usually minnows and various types of worms while targeting pan fish. For those of us who do not have a bait shop in the area, or the patience to dig our own worms, we are forced to use whatever lures and tackle we have on hand.  For me, I like to use jigs nearly every time I go pan fishing. Over the last 25 years I have noticed that, if presented correctly, you can have just as much success catching fish on artificial baits as on live bait. Many anglers, including myself, feel that jigs are the most versatile and productive of all artificial lures.

Today, I would like to share a few tips that I have learned over the years. I have found these tactics to be very effective when I am out hunting for crappies, bluegill, and perch. Moreover, I will give you my personal guidelines for selecting the right jig color to match the color of the water. Lastly, I will explain the importance of watching your line instead of relying on feel while jig fishing.

Jigs for Success

Don’t be afraid to try different color combinations! Fishing is all about reading what the fish tell you, then your giving them what they want. Yes, I confess - I am formerly guilty of using only two or three colors throughout the year and usually only one style of tube jig and one type of jig head. Basically, if it wasn’t black, white, chartreuse, or a combination of the three, I wanted nothing to do with it. One specific tube and three colors were what I was most confident with when live bait wasn’t available. So, like the old saying goes, I stuck to the “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” motto.

Well, that abruptly came to an end when I moved to Northern Illinois. I was quickly introduced to a wide variety of jig heads and jig styles that I would have never thought to use back in the past. Naturally, I was hesitant to explore outside of my normal jig and plastic color spectrum. However, I quickly realized that I was holding myself back from a whole new level of fishing. By broadening my use of different jig sizes, styles, weights, and colors, then matching them to the conditions I was fishing in, I ultimately increased my odds of finding what the fish wanted to eat. I have learned over the past several years just how important it is to have variety in your jig selection, especially when it comes to fishing an unfamiliar body of water.

Whether it is slab crappies, big perch, or bull bluegills that I am targeting, I always bring a variety of colorful grubs, tubes, and minnow relics. As far as sizes go, I prefer using a Lindy 1/32oz Micro Slick Jig tipped with Gulp Waxies for bluegill and perch. You can find them just about anywhere that sells tackle. They are very affordable and come in many different colors.

When it comes to crappie, I like to use a 2 inch, or 2.5 inch (3 inch when fishing deeper, darker water) Mister Twister or similar style curly tail grub. I often experiment with different colors, but nine times out of ten I will catch them on chartreuse and another color, usually pearl with silver flake, red, orange, or white. I also like black/green, solid pink, pink/white, yellow/white, and red/white tube jigs. I use different sized jig heads, usually 1/32oz, 1/16oz, or 1/8oz depending on fishing depth, water current, and weather conditions. You can also experiment with jig head styles and colors, though I usually use round or fish head style in white, green, orange, or pink.

Last but not least, one of my new favorite baits to use in murky or muddy water is The Pro Series Road Runner with gold willow leaf blade and red hook. It is a very versatile lure, as it can be casted, trolled, and jigged. More importantly, the blade is easily seen in muddy water and puts off a vibration that fish can’t resist!

Keep in mind, the lighter the jig you choose, the slower it falls in the water. Using a smaller, lighter jig earlier in the year seems to work a little better for me as it matches the mood of the fish. Once the water warms up, a faster jig presentation should produce more fish.



Recommendations for Selecting Colors

1. Clear water- red, orange, white, green, blue
2. Murky water- pink, yellow, chartreuse, light blue, and black
3. Muddy water- darker color combos and/or Underspin head

Eyes on Your Line

If you are casting or vertical jigging, it is imperative to watch your line the entire time your jig is descending to the bottom. A lot of times the fish will hit the jig as it is falling, so if you aren’t paying attention you could easily lose a fish. You have no idea how many times I’ve had a fish bite my jig without even feeling it hit. In fact, some of the bigger crappies I have caught earlier this year were caught by closely watching my line. You’ll know you have a strike when your slack line has a twitching or jolting action at the surface.

By adding these three simple tactics to your arsenal (jig variety / color matching to water conditions / watching your line), you will easily improve your pan fishing game, improve your confidence in jig selection, and improve the chances of making your next fishing adventure a successful one!

How to Catch More Fish in Over-Pressured Ponds

by Willie Luker

In my entire fishing career, spanning a measly year and a half, I have caught around 200 fish. When I tell people this, they immediately conjure up images of zooming across vast reservoirs in a tracker boat loaded to the gills with the latest technology. However, only one of those fish was caught in a large body of water!

I feel most at home sitting on the shore of public neighborhood lakes, often times the most pressured bodies of water available for miles. Fishing these ponds can be extremely frustrating to beginners and veterans alike, as hours can be spent without a single hint of action. Due to the often minuscule amount of space they have to roam, fish are likely to have seen countless techniques and lures, and are therefore more prone to spook and clam up than their non-stocked brethren holed up in massive impoundments. However, with a bit of luck and a lot of practice, you too can fill the stringer without emptying your gas tank! 

Tip #1: Use the Ned Rig

My first tip is a quite plain, yet often overlooked rig that shines in these heavily fished ponds – the Ned rig. What is a Ned rig? It's when you thread a two to three inch chunk of a worm onto a 1/16th-1/8th oz jig head, similar to how you rig up a grub. Deceptively simple, this combination is deadly effective with easily spooked fish. You can bounce it through the water like a jig, retrieve it like a swim bait, or dead stick it by cover or in shade. Its small profile and slow fall rate are irresistibly similar to the natural movements of minnows that the bass are already used to feeding on. But don't let the bass part fool you; the Ned rig is effective on many species, ranging from sunfish and crappie to striped bass and everything in between. The traditional worm to use is a senko, though I prefer a finesse worm for a thinner silhouette. If you aren't throwing this rig yet, give it a go!

Tip #2: Location, Location, Location...

My next tip has to do with location. With many of these neighborhood ponds, the largest structure the fish have to hide among is the shore of the lake itself, maybe complimented by a pier if you are lucky. If you are used to fishing offshore, this can prove incredibly difficult due to the lack of textbook “fishy” spots to target. Therefore, many people choose to simply chunk their bait as deep as possible and hope. Personally, I have had very limited success doing that, so I've been forced to adapt. Finding where the fish are is actually much easier than it may seem, as the lack of space can play into your favor. For instance, I almost universally start by working a worm through the area closest to where the pond is fed from. The increased oxygen levels in the water cause algal blooms, which provide much needed cover and sustenance for the bait fish. This, in turn, draws the bass in as they search for an easy meal. These inlets can be extremely shallow, but don't be afraid to work them anyway. You might be pleasantly surprised! The next spot I examine is the shadiest spot I can find. I often fish midday due to other obligations, and the Alabama sun can definitely turn the bite off. Bass aren't that different from humans, in that they search for comfort, and will often be found shallow and in the shade. An overhanging tree, the shadow of a building, and even the thin shadow of a support beam provide slightly cooler water, which the bass crave. Thoroughly fishing these areas with a slow, Texas-rigged worm can prove fruitful on even the most scorching of summer days.

Tip #3: Downsize Your Bait

My third tip is one gleaned from watching semi-pro fisherman attempt to score at my home lakes during the off season. In a local pond, the smaller the bait, the better. Sure, throwing a 10 inch ribbon worm or a frog may prove productive some days, but most of the time it's more of a hassle than it's worth. In these tiny pools, bass rarely get the sustenance needed to grow to trophy levels, and rarely get the opportunity for a large meal. They're more used to chasing yearling bluegill than bullfrogs, and are more likely to attack a finesse worm than a senko. You might not catch the largest lunker in the lake, but you're definitely going to catch more than you would should you ignore this crucial information.

The Wrap

All in all, fishing these often overlooked ponds can be a fun way to waste an afternoon or hone a new technique. Don't pass these opportunities up, especially during the off season when making the trek to a larger lake might be uncalled for, or a waste of time and money. Experimentation is key with these types of pools, so don't be fraid to tweak how you do things until the action picks up. You might just hook a big one! 

Good luck, and tight lines!


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Keep Your Rods Unbroken

by Joe Mahler

At one time or another in every fly fisher’s life he will find himself quietly looking down at a broken rod. That sinking feeling. Maybe it was a favorite, or maybe it’s the night before a bonefish trip. There are many ways to break a rod and, over the years, I have been guilty of more than my share. Sometimes the fault lies in the rod, but more likely it is operator error. If you buy a quality rod in today’s market, you can expect that it will come with a “no questions asked” guarantee. The rod maker will repair or replace your rod, but you will be out of commission for a few days or a few weeks and you will pay a shipping and handling charge from $25-$100, depending on the manufacturer. Here are some of the most common causes of breakage and a few tips for keeping your favorite rods in service.

High Sticking

It is estimated that 75% of breaks are not related to fighting fish. Of the remaining 25%, almost all can be attributed to high-sticking. High-sticking occurs when the rod is raised to the vertical when fighting a fish or freeing a snag, placing undue stress on the tip section of the rod. It makes for a striking pose in oil paintings and catalog covers, but here in Florida it can quickly turn your four-piece rod into a five-piece model.  A better choice is to apply side-pressure forming a deep bend in the rod. For freeing a snag try a quick side-to-side motion, or roll-casting toward the snag. If breaking off is necessary, point the rod tip directly at the fly and pull the line steadily. 

Another type of high-sticking is gripping the rod above the cork handle when fighting a fish in hopes of gaining leverage. In many cases, this will hinder the action and place too much tension on the weakest part of the rod.

Stringing Up

 The wrong way to string your rod.

The wrong way to string your rod.

Some rods are broken before the fishing starts. When stringing up your rod, be sure to pull an ample amount of fly line through the tip and pull straight out while cradling the rod in the opposite hand. Pulling against the rod will result in a “U” formation in the top six-to-eight inches of the rod and likely cause breakage.

Nicks from Weighted Flies

Heavily weighted flies can be deadly on fish and equally deadly on fly rods. When a passing fly collides with the rod, a nick can occur, weakening the blank. This weak spot is usually discovered when fighting a big fish or making a particularly long cast. To avoid this, open your casting loop or use an elliptical or “Belgian-style” cast. Many top-quality rod blanks have high-tech resin coatings to resist impact. If you regularly fish with weighted flies, the extra money spent will be well worth it.

Improper Seating of Ferrules

Multi-piece rods come equipped with flexible ferules to give the most uniform action. In order for them to perform, they must be securely seated. Loose connections will give a “wobbly” feel when casting and can possibly break from the inside out. To properly seat your rod, push together with guides ¼ turn off and then rotate into position. When taking apart, reverse by turning the rod sections ¼ turn in the opposite direction and then pulling apart.
Keep ferrules lubricated by applying paraffin, candle wax, or bar soap. If your rod is hopelessly stuck together, enlist the help of a buddy. Each of you should place one hand on each side of the connection and pull apart. Rods that are left assembled for extended periods tend to be the hardest to free.

Walking with Rod in Hand

To avoid breakage by “feeding” your rod to a tree or bush, simply carry your rod with the tip pointed behind you, leaving the rod strung. Many rod tips have been left behind by catching the top eye on a limb and pulling the rod apart and not having the line to keep it together.  Better yet, break your rod down when hiking through heavy brush.

Boating a Big fish

When a big fish comes to the boat, things can happen fast. It is sometimes necessary to stick the rod deep in the water for a final dash under the boat. A rod under full load that touches the gunwale is likely to explode. Once the line is grabbed by hand, immediately allow slack and plenty of it. From this point on, the fish should be hand-lined to submission, but be ready if the fish makes another run.

Road Rage

Car doors, trunk lids, and tail gates have all claimed their share of rod casualties, but my latest close call came when I left my rod and reel on top of my car. Luckily, as I drove away, I saw my outfit hit the road out of the corner of my eye. Amazingly, it resulted in only a little “Road Rash” to my reel.

Hazards in the “Great Indoors”

I had always heard of rods falling prey to ceiling fans, but frankly I never really saw the danger. One day I walked into my family room, holding an assembled rod and looking toward the “Breaking News” on the television. News Flash: Ceiling fans do break rods. Sliding-glass doors, spring-loaded doors, narrow hallways, and lanai screens also pose potential hazards around the house. It is always best to disassemble your rod outside.

And one last word of caution- DOGS LOVE CORK!

I hope that you will find these tips useful, and wish you and your rod many days of great fishing.


Real Catch Stories: SUP Fishing Gets Rowdy

SUP Angler vs. Channel Catfish

by James Setvin

It was a blue sky Saturday morning in Florida. At 6:30, I launched my paddleboard on the canal off of US 192 connecting Alligator lake with Lake Lizzy east of St. Cloud. I was rigged up for bluegill SUP fishing; I'd spotted them starting to make beds a couple weeks earlier.

You can easily spot bluegill along the canal and around just about everyone's boat dock - big cleared out patches cleared away by bedding fish. For gear, I was using slip bobber rigs with red worms and also fly fishing with a cheap pole I'd bought at a garage sale.

It wasn't long before I found some nice copperhead bluegill; they jumped all over a cheap white fly from an assortment pack. 

That was when I felt it. 

My board started getting pulled through the water. My reel started screaming as line whipped out. The bobber was nowhere to be found, and I was getting pulled into the weeds. It took a good fight to find out what was on the other end of my line - it was a nine pound channel catfish.

I got the fish onto the paddleboard. Then, while I was taking pictures of me and the fish, it got a sudden burst of energy and slapped me across the face with its tail. I dropped my phone into the water out of surprise; as it was going down, I could see the picture I'd just taken still on the screen.

I jumped off my board and got in the chest-deep water to look for my phone, feeling for it along the bottom with my feet. The fish was on my stringer on the board. A moment later, I noticed my board moving away from me. I grabbed the board and heard the distinct sound of chain clinking along the back of the board. In the mayhem of being slapped by the fish and losing my phone in the murky water, I hadn't secured the stringer.

Not only did the fish get away, but he took my good stringer with him. If a fish could laugh, I knew he was chuckling as he disappeared. Fortunately, my silver lining was that my phone and the pictures I'd taken survived thanks to Uncle Ben and his fabulous rice!

An Invasive Fish for Your Dinner Table

by Paul Daigle

What's a Bullseye Snakehead?

The bullseye snakehead is an invasive fish in Florida; it's native to south and southeast Asia. Some people believe that this fish provides wound healing and other recuperative benefits when eaten. In my opinion, the white flakey meat is unmatched in fresh water. This fish can be grilled, fried, or stewed. I use a Cajun spice and grill - it makes for great eating.

Where Can You Find It?

The epicenter of its range is the Margate / Coral Springs / Coconut Creek/ Pompano area; it can be caught as far north as southwestern Palm Beach County. It inhabits canals, lakes, and ponds, and it's tolerant of stagnant water due to air-breathing capabilities.

This fish is capable of migrating up to 1/4 mile over land by wriggling its body and fins.

Natural features to look for when fishing for the snakehead include overhanging and submerged vegetation as well as culverts.

What Gear Should You Use?

Use a stout rod - med/heavy to heavy so it can be pulled out of heavy vegetation. For line, use 50 to 65lb braid; some anglers will also use a mono leader of at least 30lbs. Snakeheads love top water frogs but can be caught with spinnerbaits, paddle tailed swimbaits, craw jigs, jerkbaits, and live bait fish. 

For a local Florida bait company, try the Razor Baits Okeechobee Toad.  Or JD's Custom Baits.

How Do You Catch One?

Cast parallel to shore staying within two to three feet from the bank. Use a fast retrieve. Or cast to the bank on the other side and slow roll it off the weeds.

Although FWC recommends them not to be released, it is legal to release them in the same waters they are caught in. I don't like to kill a fish just to kill it - they have been here for 16 years and put up one of the best fights in freshwater, so hold on and enjoy. And like I mentioned above, they are also delicious.

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Best Bass Lures: Blue Fox Inline Spinner Review

One of the Best Bass Lures?

by Nichole Delio

There's nothing like catching a nice bass on an inline spinner. When that fish wants that bait, it will hit it, and it will hit it hard. There is no better feeling in the world than when you are spinning that lure along, everything is quiet, maybe something catches your eye, and out of nowhere...BAM! FISH ON!


Why I Love the Blue Fox

One of my go-to lures is the Blue Fox inline spinner. And not only is it my favorite inline spinner, but my absolute favorite lure of all; I consider it my confidence lure. That's because I have caught so many fish on it, including bass, catfish, crappie, bluegill, and sunfish.

Another reason I love this lure so much is that you can really feel when that fish first grabs on.


The flash and action is irresistible to fish. With the blue fox, they stay on more than any other of my lures. I have not lost many fish with this lure. It is definitely made well. It's also very easy to use. You just tie it on, cast, and reel in with a nice and slow, steady retrieve.


They make many different sizes; as you go up, not only do the spinning blades get larger, but the hooks as well. They have sizes 0-6. They have many different colors, but my favorite one is the blue color. It's always worked best for me. In terms of size, I always stick with a number 2 and a number 3.

The number 2 is perfect for smaller fish such as bluegill and smaller catfish, as well as smaller bass. The number 3 is perfect for those hogs. I've caught anywhere from a pound up to almost 6 pound bass and catfish; I've also caught 1 pound crappies.

The price is reasonable, being only $4 for one.


The only downside, and I do mean ONLY, is that I have lost a lot of them. Because they are made so well, and their hooks are always so sharp, they grab onto EVERYTHING. I've lost them in trees, in the water on logs, and hooked on rocks. In fact, if they ever drained half the ponds and lakes around my house, they would find tons of my Blue Foxes at the bottom. But with this lure, the good outweighs the bad; the number of fish I have caught with it makes it all worth it.

Strong Buy

In my humble opinion, every fisherman new and experienced should have a Blue Fox spinner in their tackle box.

Follow Nichole on Fishbrain


Fishing Tips: How to Reel in Fish

Content courtesy of

Many small fish can be landed simply by reeling them in. Hold the tip of your fishing rod at a 45 degree angle and reel.

Learn the basics here.

When a fish feels the hook, it struggles to get free. This might involve jumping, making a long run, swimming back against the line or swimming around obstacles. Each species of fish reacts differently. Fish hooked in shallow water are more likely to jump and behave more frantically than those hooked in deep water. Deep-water fish often seek the bottom.


Bigger fish pull harder, and can be more challenging to reel in. You will know it is a big fish if it starts to take line off of your fishing reel while you are holding it tightly. You’ll know this is happening by the sound the reel makes when it goes into reverse. An important part of learning how to play a fish is knowing not to reel while the fish is swimming away.

  1. Relax and let the drag and rod do the work. Just keep the fishing rod up at about a 45-degree angle to the water, aim it straight towards the fish, and be ready to reel when the drag stops moving and buzzing.
  2. When the fish slows down and stops taking line off your reel, it's time to go to work. When learning how to reel in a fish of greater size, a great technique to try is the pump and reel.
  3. Without reeling the fish in, lift the tip of the rod up like you’re trying to point it skyward to about 90 degrees. A stronger, or heavier fish will often put a major bend in your fishing rod, but don’t worry this is normal.
  4. Then reel as you lower the rod tip back down to about 45 degrees, keeping even pressure on the fish.
  5. Repeat this process.

Crowdsourcing for Conservation

Hold onto your wide-brimmed fishing hats: Fishbrain and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have teamed up to use the power of crowdsourced app data for conservation.

How it works is simple: (1) Fishbrain anglers log sightings of endangered species in the app; (2) Fishbrain shares the information with the USFWS; (3) the USFWS then uses the information to build a much more comprehensive picture of the field situation for endangered animals. 

This project means that you have a chance to contribute to the conservation of endangered species. Just go fishing, keep your eyes peeled for endangered animals, and capture the Moments that count with Fishbrain.

There's more to this project. A lot more. You might want to know which 50 aquatic species are on the endangered list, for starters. Lucky for you, this is where you get more information. (And that's also where you see a lot more awesome pictures.) 

Conservation Minute: A Win for Access

First, we want to announce that we're working with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP). These magnificent people are passionate about both conservation and access to our Public Lands.

Both of those issues are kind of a big deal for all of us, especially as anglers.

Now here's another piece of news, courtesy of our friends at TRCP. The Senate just passed a bi-partisan bill (suspend disbelief for a moment) that includes Permanent Re-Authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). 

Why should you care?

Because LWCF is a critical program for establishing and expanding recreational access to national public lands.

You can read more about the Bill and how it will help sportsmen at the TRCP blog...

Real Catch Stories: Husband and Wife Fishing Team Reels One In

by Skye Garver

This snook was caught in Johns Pass; it was a calm, beautiful day, and the ocean was very clear. We were in a tournament for snook/trout/red.

We got our trout and were heading to our red spot - that's when my husband was looking down and immediately stopped the boat. He told me to hook the menhaden and pointed to where to throw it. Seconds later, my line started screaming....

I pulled back, and then we were off - the snook pulled us around for a good five minutes. She finally gave in and my husband crept in the knee high water and was able to gently pick her up.

This is my biggest snook to date. It definitely got my heart racing, and the fact that I caught it with my husband makes it one I'll never forget and one of my best! 

Ten Tips for Better Catch & Release

by Joe Mahler

  Illustration copyright   Joe   Mahler 2016

Illustration copyright Joe Mahler 2016

Certainly there is nothing wrong with keeping a few fish for dinner, maybe even putting a few away in the freezer for later. But if you are a skilled angler, you will most always catch more fish than you can use. Practicing good catch-and-release skills is more than just a good idea - it is a responsibility.

Living in Southwest Florida and frequently driving along the causeway and the beach, I see all sorts of mishandling of fish - not that it is intentional, but it represents a lack of understanding of just how fragile even the heartiest of fish really are.

There are a few things that you can do to greatly increase the chances that the fish you just landed will swim away to fight another day.

#1 Fish barbless 

This serves two purposes. First, a barbless hook comes free much easier than a barbed hook, allowing you to get the fish back in the water more quickly. Second, the barbless hook does much less damage to the delicate inside of the fish’s mouth and gills.

While many think that you will lose more fish in a battle using a barbless hook, in most cases, the opposite is true. Studies show that the barbless hook actually penetrates deeper for a solid hook-set. To de-barb your hook, simply take a pair of fishing pliers and gently smash the barb so that it lays flush with the hook wire. Some hooks can be purchased in a barbless model.

#2 Have the camera ready

I know it is an old superstition to not bring out the camera until the fish is in the boat (I was even yelled at by a Keys guide for grabbing the camera bag), but if you plan to take a photo, have the camera ready and turned on while the fish is on the line. Besides, action shots are often more interesting than “Grip and Grins.”   

#3 Practice the “No-Touch” release

This offers the highest level of protection for the fish and is the most effective technique. Leave the fish in the water. Grab the leader and guide the fish to your pliers and pop the hook.


Another tip: If possible, get out of the boat and land the fish while in the water.

The “no-touch” method causes the least amount of stress on the fish and gets him back on his way in no time.

#4 Wet your hands before touching the fish and NEVER use a towel

Most fish (especially seatrout and bonefish) have a delicate protective mucus coating that when removed by dry hands, or even worse a towel, invites infection and signals predators. Dip your hands fully into the water and be sure to remove your sun gloves. Never lay a fish in the sand or concrete.

#5 Land your fish quickly

Once you hook a fish, apply enough pressure to land the fish as soon as possible. During the fight, a fish will experience a lactic acid build-up, and the longer she fights, the more serious it becomes - especially in the warmer months. Once a fished is released, it can take up to 24 hours(!) to recover. During that time, it can become easy prey for sharks, birds, and other predators. Land it fast to give it a fighting chance after you release it.

#6 Use a rubber net bag

Rubber net bags are widely available and much more fish-friendly that the nylon versions. Freshwater trout anglers were quick to champion rubber net bags, and more and more saltwater fishermen are following suit. 

#7 Always have pliers on you

Wear them on your belt, around your neck, in your pocket, or attach them to your boat. Having a pair of pliers or hemostats makes hook removal easier on both the fish and the angler.

#8 Don’t keep the fish out of water any longer than you can hold your breath

Try it, and it will give you a better appreciation of what our finned friends are feeling.

#9 Never lift by the jaw

Some may disagree with me on this, but I never hold a fish by the jaw, and it breaks my heart when I see photos of pro bass anglers hefting a seven-pounder by the jaw. Fish spend their lives in a near zero-gravity condition and simply weren’t intended to be held vertically with undue strain put upon the delicate muscles of the underside.

In the case of large snook, tarpon, and others, lifting a fish by the jaw can PERMANENTLY damage those parts and, even though the fish may swim away, it may no longer be able to eat.

Lift your fish from the water horizontally by holding the jaw and cradling the underbelly.

#10 Revive your fish

It is your responsibility to make sure that the fish you just enjoyed fighting swims away healthy and happy. Hold the fish in the water and gently move her back and forth until she's strong enough to take off on her own.

Follow these tips and you will keep your trophy catches alive and fighting for years to come.