After vacationing on the gulf, it’s safe to say that the fishing culture is as paramount as high SPF. There are boats everywhere, fresh seafood at all the restaurants, and more fish artwork than selfies (with the exception of 30A, obviously). While on vacation, I spent some time with a one-time local who was a part of the fishing culture in the gulf for years. He still fishes, but his job moved him off the coast. After a few long conversations about his experiences in tournaments and as a guide, there were more stories about guys doing it wrong rather than stories about big fish. That got me thinking…this is a great opportunity for a post. Who’s a better source of truth and a pro? He was more than happy to help.
To qualify, we’re talking about backcountry, inshore fishing – NOT deep sea fishing. They are two totally different animals, and shouldn’t be combined. This discussion was for the guy who wants to land an Apalachicola Super Slam. What’s an Apalachicola Super Slam? Here you go:
Clockwise from top right:
Speckled Trout, Tarpon, Flounder, Redfish, & Triple Tail
In addition, this isn’t for the guy looking for a booze cruise with his buddies hoping to land something. Those trips are fun, but not for the serious fisherman; not even a weekend warrior. The guy this post focuses on has done his research and found a great guide. He fishes two or three times a year, and it’s usually with a friend or alone. He knows a good guide costs money, doesn’t mind spending it. He knows he’s going to spend a day on a skiff boat:
From the guide’s perspective, there are few rules that separate the fishermen from the casual casters:
1. Leave your fish stores at the dock. They’ve heard them all.
2. Pack light. Ounces = pounds & pounds = pain.
3. You aren’t the boss. You hired a guide, not a caddie. Let the guide do just that: guide. You are there to learn as much as you are to fish.
4. Offer the guide an extra hundred for a personal best or an area trophy, and they’ll take you straight to their honey holes.
Preparing for the trip is just as important as how much you catch. It’s important to know what you are doing, and to be prepared. This is how to do it, without a guide rolling his eyes:
From top left:
1. Flood Tide Co.’s ‘Good Clean Livin’ Cap: A good hat is a must. A trucker hat is going to breathe, and break in nicely. Wear it a little tight so it doesn’t fly off while riding in the boat. Flood Tide hits the nail on the head with some ‘good clean livin’.
2. Costa Del Mar Saltbreak Sunglasses: Polarized sunglasses are a must out on the water, and Costa has cornered the market. The lens color should match the water…blue or green for deep sea fishing, and amber or silver for backcountry.
3. Ziess Lens Cleaning Wipes: Clean lenses are a must while fishing, and finding something on the boat to clean them can be a chore. These wipes are great for cleaning saltwater, fish slime, sweat, and/or sunscreen off your lenses. Pack a handful of these in your bag. Speaking of your bag:
4. Orvis Safe Passage Angler’s Daypack: Back to rule number two (above): pack light. This is ALL YOU NEED to pack your gear for the trip. This is probably going to get stuffed behind a cooler, so this bag’s real estate is valuable.
5. Chums Glassfloat Classic Sunglasses Retainer: For sunglasses straps, get something that is bright and something that floats. You aren’t cool enough to use 10 lb. test and a bobber, so go with these from Chums. If they fall off while you are on the water, they will float and be easy to spot.
6. Orvis UV Bandana Buff: A neck buff is important in the backcountry, as the sun and mosquitoes are relentless. The old school way to do it is with a bandana, but Orvis kept it old school, with their new school technology.
7. Yeti Guide Belt: The belt needs to be able to get wet, and the bottle opener is a nice touch. This is a nice new addition to the Yeti lineup.
8. Rapala Digital Scale & Fish Gripper: OK, your wife got you something fishing-related for Christmas, and even though your guide will probably have one of these on the boat, using yours in the picture with your trophy is a sure-fire to help her feel like she contributed.
9. Pelican 1040 Micro Case: A must for your cell phone, keys, and wallet. Pack ’em up and put them in your bag.
10. Simms Ebbtide Fishing Shirt: Here is the thing with fishing apparel: while pastel colors are all the rage at the Fraternity house, fishermen wear white shirts. Why? Because white can be bleached clean. Don’t be the guy that looks like he just stepped out of a Bass Pro Shop catalog. Keep it low-key.
11. Aftco 16″ Fishing Shorts: Back to the easter egg colors: you have to earn the right to wear those shorts. Until you have some trophies, or at least a couple plaques, stick with khaki, sage, or blue shorts. Your guide doesn’t want to drive around a clown.
12. Thermacell Mosquito Repellent: According to my guy, most fishermen don’t realize how bad the bugs are in the backcountry. These Thermacell repellents are excellent for the boat. They provide a 15′ x 15′ bug-free bubble. Your guide will thank you.
13. High SPF Sunscreen: You are fishing, not getting a golf tan. Six to eight hours in the gulf sun will take it’s toll on some mayonnaise-esque skin. Load up.
14. Bullfrog Sunscreen Stick: These sticks are outstanding for hitting your ears, nose, and the top of your hands. Apply liberally. All day.
15. Frogg Toggs Rain Suit: These rain suits seems like overkill, but this is one of those things that you are really glad you have when you need it. We’ve all seen those Gulf of Mexico ‘scattered thunderstorms’ pop up. Just make sure the suit packs up tightly. Remember the advice from #4: real estate inside that backpack is key.
16. Island Slipper Non-Marking Flip Flops: The guide is cleaning his boat after you leave, so don’t leave a bunch of shoe marks that need to be scrubbed. Next time you go shopping for flip flops, make sure they have ‘non-marking’ soles. From what my ex-Pro said, they all wore Island Slippers.
17. Wasp Camera Gideon Action Sports Camcorder: Nothing wrong with capturing the moment. Wasp Cameras are absolutely outstanding, and can be controlled from a watch. Just mount it and let her rip.
18. Van Staal 6″ Titanium Pliers: Another want rather than a need; these titanium pliers are really great to have vs. a pair of (heavy) steel pliers. Show up with these (with a lead attached to your belt loop) and the guide will know that this isn’t your first rodeo.
So that’s that. Thanks to RM for his help.