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January 21, 2009

Freelance Free-for-All

Fish the Gulf's easternmost fringes in late winter to catch anything and everything


 
Fly rods can get a workout here, particularly on calm days when chum brings an array of game fish prowling off the transom.
 
Of course, most charter skippers carry a fair complement of gear. Still, I find that not all have the gear I like and am used to, nor is it always in   the same tiptop shape, so I suffer the embarrassment of walking aboard with a half-dozen or more (OK, more!) rigs; it pays big dividends to have what I want to use when I want it, with so much varied action possible in a single day.
 
Most charter skippers here also know enough to watch the weather. That's a good thing, advises Richard, who after more than 30 years of fishing the Gulf knows it can get nasty in a hurry. The water may be fairly shallow, but it's all open, and a stiff wind quickly produces a nasty chop. Summer often brings blistering dog days (time to  lather on the sunscreen) with some spectacular afternoon thunderstorms (often including awesome and generally readily avoidable waterspouts).
 
But each year, many days dawn with the weather as perfect and the water as flat as the late February day I had the good fortune to freelance the teeming rock piles and wrecks on the Gulf's eastern fringes off Florida Bay.