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The inside scoop on ladyfish

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POSTED: August 29, 2007 5:03 a.m.

Ladyfish are one of those inshore fish that look and fight like a tarpon. The fact of the matter is, they are cousins and have great fighting characteristics. Although the lady isn’t even close to being as large as the tarpon it still can wear a fisherman out especially on light tackle.

This fish sometimes referred to as a "ten pounder," once hooked, can jump six to eight feet out of the water with line in tow and is known for making scorching runs toward the boat. I think you get my point. It jumps, make fast serious runs, and offer some real good fighting entertainment. I can’t say much for it as table fare.

However, I did a little researching and found some interesting suggestions in regards to preparing this fish for the table. I can’t suggest trying it, but here goes, according to what I have read and know first hand. The meat of the ladyfish is very soft when raw. However, once cooked it firms up. The small bones left after filleting dissolve or soften once cooked. If you want to be adventurous, give them a try! If not, please carefully release unharmed! Back in the old days it was said, "catching a ladyfish was a sign of good luck to come!"

During the hot times the ladyfish, especially when the water is a little dirty, can spot your live bait offering long before "Mr. Spotted Sea Trout!" This is a fish that is a sight feeder, if you don’t believe me "look at that set of eyes!" Mixed in with this feeding fool, you might find the chopping minded blue fish, which is another true line stretcher! The bottom line to this report is a simple one: During the "hot times" and while fishing with the standard traditional rigs, you never know what you might catch. However, it seems that most fish listed are known for making strong runs offering lots of action! It’s time to just fish and catch!

Here are some more real good suggestions for fishing during the "Hot Times!" Fish aren’t where you think they are. They are just like you and me especially when the water is "hot" like it is now. When it’s "low tide," it’s suggested that you fish the "drop offs" away from the bank. Hot water times push most fish to deeper water to find their comfort zone. When the tide moves back in and gets into the grass it’s said, "to fish the grass’s edge." Another good point is to pick edges that have the least sun exposure. Areas that have their "backs to the sun" (morning or evening) offer up a bit of shade bringing the surface water temperature down a notch or two. This situation offers a "shading line," which also can be fixed.

Your best rigs are going to be those that allow you to fish deeper than normal such as the traditional cork. This rig offers up, with just a slide of the cork, instant bait depth change. Some fishermen have added extra beads to their traditional cork so as to add a little extra popping noise.

Another suggestion is to use Cajun-popping corks. It’s best to use the longest leader that you can successfully cast without tangling up. During these hot times the rule of thumb is "lighten up on the leader and use smaller hooks!" With this in mind, it’s a great idea to have 30, 25, 20, 15, and 10 pound test leaders in your old tackle box. I know this sounds like a lot of line to have on hand, but sometimes you have to change up a lot until you find the "pound test" that works the best. When it comes to hooks I suggest having 1/0, 2/0, #1, #2, #4, and #6 Kale hooks to choose from. If you need a prescription for this order, please let me know, because these additions are a "must to have in the old tackle box."

Lets talk about leaders for a second. During these times as it was suggested to use longer lighter pound test leaders. When going down the road of using "longer leaders" it’s said that you lose control of your bait. This boils down to the fact that the bait had more freedom to avoid an attack, which definitely is a good thing in getting their attention in the first place. However, sight feeders such as trout, be-line to bait that gets their attention as their killing instincts take over. However, if the bait can move too much and avoid the trout’s serious approach, nine times out of ten when the bait is passed it sends the trout off to other feeding opportunities. To successfully get more control of your bait, but still allow it to move about naturally, I suggest adding a small split shot about 11" inches above the hook. Get that ruler out!

Inshore Shark Action

I can’t tell you how many times I have seen all types of sharks circling and feeding about in surface schooling bait. This goes for inshore as well as offshore. When we cast for menhaden, especially when the schools are "holding strong on the surface" I, as well as the one throwing the net, "look first and then cast next!" The reason is that there are lots of other fish feeding on the perimeter of a school of baitfish. Over the years we have tangled sharks as well as tarpon up in our cast net. About ten years ago we had a charter boat captain pulled right out the boat when his net momentarily entrapped a large tarpon. (It wasn’t me!) For that reason we don’t loop the net’s line around our arm. We tie it to the boat! For those that don’t want to cast the net I suggest fishing the perimeter of the schooling fish, because there is plenty of action in this natural feeding/chumming zone!

With all this bait the sharks have gone into a "feeding frenzy!" It’s not usual to see a shark before it hits your live bait offering. The reason is that they normally hit your cork first and then your bait. So therefore you are getting double hitting action. The good news is that sharks are fun to catch and good to eat. However, "where the shark feeds others won’t wait around too long!" So therefore, "if it’s sharks it's sharks that you are going to catch at least until you move to that next fishing spot!"

Spanish Mackerel Times

The artificial reefs as well as areas in between are holding these. It’s finally that time where you can troll the beachfronts, offshore channel, artificial reefs, and around any feeding birds that you might happen up on, because the Spanish have arrived! This occurrence normally happens the first of July.

However, as you know it is August. The good news is that they are here and still available for us to fish for. I have noticed that some of the fish that have arrived are too small to keep.

My suggestion is that when you find yourself catching those that are too small, stop and switch to king mackerel light tackle rigs, because these larger fish are probably staging on the out skirts of the area.

If you don’t want to change up, don’t worry, all you have to do is to move on until you find another school of fish that are a little larger. It will and can happen. Now for better news, smaller Spanish means that our years to come stocks are going to be good.

 

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