Sunday, January 23, 2022

Preparation, Key to Success, Comfort, Safety

A guide can help you learn the local catch, use the right bait, keep you from getting lost and even provide you with fresh filleted fish to take home!

A guide can help you learn the local catch, use the right bait, keep you from getting lost and even provide you with fresh filleted fish to take home!

Captain Mary A. Fink

Among the characteristics most all successful anglers possess is that of proper preparation for a day of fishing. Preparation involves things like the selection of a fishing location, tackle and bait requirements, targeting specific species, awareness of tidal exchange and weather, as well as packing proper clothing and gear. When these factors are carefully considered prior to departing for a day on the water, your chance for success, safety and comfort will be greatly enhanced.

Once you have determined your preferred fishing location, the next step is to get acquainted with the tidal exchange forecast that is predicted for that area. When will the tide be coming in or going out? The tide chart will become your best friend, especially when fishing our local inshore waters where tidal influence plays a key role in fishing success. I have found some of the most productive inshore fishing to be at the onset of the incoming tide, when baitfish move into backcountry areas, bays, passes and mangrove islands. Outgoing tides can also prove to be productive when seeking species like mangrove snapper, grouper, black drum and sheepshead. What’s most important to take from this is that tidal exchange is important. Slack tide is usually the best time to eat lunch or to take a break. Once the water and food begin moving again, start fishing again.

Relating to tackle, the best advice I can give to you is to have at least three rods pre-rigged for specific purposes. My idea of ideal inshore tackle preparation is to have one rod rigged for free-lining (nothing but a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader and a hook or lure), another one rigged with a light jig head (preferably an 1/8-ounce with 20-pound fluorocarbon leader) and another with a heavier jig head of up to ½ ounce. The beauty of jig heads is that they come in a wide variety of shapes and colors, and can be tipped with a live bait, offering or an array of soft plastics and making them quite versatile. Braided line (20-30 pound) is suggested for inshore use due to its abrasion-resistant qualities and lack of flexibility or stretch. Having these rods pre-rigged will allow you to take advantage of any opportunities that may arise. There is nothing worse than coming across a feeding blitz of fish and finding yourself unprepared. In the time it takes to prepare the rig, the fish are often gone.

The advantage of having jigs of various weights pre-rigged is that you can adjust to changes in tidal strength and varying water depths with convenient ease.

Proper gear should never be overlooked when spending a day on the water. Invest in a good pair of polarized sunglasses which will help you to see into the water with enhanced clarity. A hat and sunscreen is a must when fishing our beautiful Southwest Florida waters. Always keep rain gear close by, especially during our rainy summer months. During the winter months when cold fronts are common, being wet from spray or rain can be most uncomfortable and distract you from experiencing an enjoyable day.

Be sure to properly plan your next fishing trip by pre-rigging at least three rods, reading a local tide chart, following the weather forecast and packing the proper gear.

Tight Lines!


Captain Mary specializes in fishing the beautiful Ten Thousand Islands. She holds a “six pack” captains license and has a knack for finding fish. A passionate angler possessing over 35 years of extensive experience in both backcountry and offshore fishing, Mary offers fishing expeditions through her Island Girls Charters company. When fishing with Captain Mary, you will be exposed to a variety of successful techniques including cast and retrieve, drift fishing, bottom fishing and sight fishing. Visit to learn about fishing with Capt. Mary, or reach her at 239-571-2947.

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