Spring can bring some great opportunities to fish inshore, but for the serious offshore angler, some of the best saltwater fishing comes when the more consistent summer weather patterns arrive. TFO Ambassador Captain Jonathan Moss gave us a rundown of the offshore fishing he’ll be doing with his clients in the next few months, including the Seahunter series rods he’s using to land big game species:
“The main things we look forward to with summer are the warmer temps and less wind. During this time of year (April), spring cold fronts often make offshore fishing pretty difficult. Conditions become a lot easier to fish in once we get past the cold fronts, and the warmer, calmer days arrive.
In the summertime, I often joke and refer to the Atlantic Ocean as “Lake Atlantic”. Some days, the water really does look like a lake. With its slick, glassy look, you’d have no idea you were fishing on the ocean. These are my ideal days. It is considerably easier for us to run offshore. It is better for the client, and at the end of the day you don’t feel beat up, like you would in rough conditions.
With those warmer days come rising water temperatures. The typical target species begin to push closer to shore. During the summer, we are typically taking clients to target amberjack, snapper and grouper. Of course when the short season opens, we’ll be catching (and keeping) red snapper.
In order to target these big fish, we have to rely on a heavier rod like the Seahunter that has the backbone to allow you to put the heat on these fish and bring them up off the bottom. These fish are holding in structure – wrecks, reefs, rock piles and artificial reefs. When they come out of these structures, if you don’t have the backbone in a rod or a strong enough drag on a reel, they are going to grab your bait, swim back into that structure and break you off. Having the power in a rod to put the brakes on a fish is crucial.
If we find that we’re not getting the action/bites we desire, we will size down on the leader. Conversely, if fish are breaking off more, we’ll step up the strength of the leader. We’ll adjust until we find that sweet spot.
Pro Tip: Sometimes adding an additional cushion to the butt of the rod can really help reduce fatigue and minimize the bruising of the hip.
For baits, we are typically using grunts in the 8”-10” range. These are great baits to send to the bottom using a knocker rig, for your bigger fish like grouper, red snapper, etc. For the smaller species, we’re using cut baits (squid, shrimp) with a chicken rig.
Inshore > Offshore Trolling with the Seahunter
Another tactic I like to use the Seahunter for is trolling. Typically when we run out the inlet, we are throwing out a trolling bait right off the bat. You never know what you’ll catch as you’re working your way out to your spot to fish the bottom. It’s not uncommon to catch barracuda, kingfish, mahi mahi, or a sailfish while you are running out to your deep water spots. The 7030 rod setup is what we typically use for this.
Offshore Vertical Jigging
One of my favorite ways to fish the Seahunter offshore is vertical jigging. I spend the majority of my time fishing lures inshore on the flats, so being able to fish a lure offshore is an absolute blast.
Amberjacks are what we typically catch while doing vertical jigging. They are also referred to as reef donkeys, because when they hit the lure, they take off like a mean mule. You’ll be vertical jigging – pulling up that lure, popping and jigging it – then it will just stop and take off when an amberjack hits it. Not only do they fight hard, but they are a fantastic table fare. A blue and yellow 9oz vertical jig, with a lot of flash works well at getting the fish’s attention.
Offshore fishing is a ton of fun. It’s hand-to-hand combat. You are literally going one on one with these fish. Having a strong tool like the Seahunter makes all the difference. It’s in my boat everyday and my clients love using them.”
Blog written by Ambassador Capt. Jonathan Moss. You can find out more about his charter Go Castaway Fishing Charters here or follow him on social media here. You can also see Captain Jonathan Moss in action on his hit new show The Captain’s Log, viewable on Waypoint TV, Amazon Prime and his YouTube channel.
Available Now! Temple Fork Outfitters has added five new additions to the TFO family of conventional rods: a live bait casting model to the popular Seahunter Series, fast action Mag Bass rods additions to the popular Tactical Elite Bass & Tactical Bass spinning rod configurations, the all new Tactical Surf available in seven models, three variations of the Professional Walleye series specialized and engineered for trolling, and the fiberglass Tactical Glass rods. See below for more information on these new products.
Tactical Seahunter – Live Bait Casting Rod Addition
The modern center console boat has transformed nearshore and offshore fishing from traditionally passive to an amazingly active, almost athletic sport. Designed by TFO National Advisor Rob Fordyce, the Tactical Seahunter series matches this evolution with cutting edge gear to handle a range of techniques and species while remaining durable and light in hand. Casting, jigging, trolling, kiting, or all the above in concert! Regardless of the demands, these high performance rods allow saltwater anglers to quickly respond to changing conditions and opportunities by offering a wide range of capabilities without the need to change gear. This series is perfect for competitive tournament teams and serious anglers fishing salt-borne techniques and species.
The foundation of the Tactical Seahunter series are moderate-fast action blanks constructed with standard modulus carbon fiber material and a proprietary fiberglass scrim. The blanks are a midnight blue with metal fleck finish topped with braid- and saltwater-safe Fuji® Concept Guides™. The series includes 9 models: 5 casting in 6’0”–7’0” lengths in 20#-50# weight classes and a live bait rod; and 4 spinning in 6’0”-7’0” lengths in 20#-50# weight classes. Componentry includes down-locking reel seats on casting models in aluminum on the #40 and #50 models; up-locking reel seats on spinning models in aluminum on the #50 model. EVA foam fore and rear grips. Fore grips are 7” long in a large diameter for comfort while fighting fish. Rear grips are rocket launcher friendly at 13” in length and all models are equipped with anodized aluminum gimbals.
Every Tactical Seahunter series rod is designed and manufactured to deliver uncompromising performance and proven durability. And when combined with TFO’s no-fault lifetime warranty against defects, these rods are the perfect choice for anglers wanting to insure their fishing enjoyment. Fish the Original ™
Tactical Elite Bass – Fast Action Mag Bass Rod Spinning Rod Additions
The Tactical Elite Bass series of rods are our premier level fishing tools for tournament focused anglers. This series optimizes technique specific rod actions with performance maximizing componentry. When success equates to earning a paycheck, Tactical Elite Bass series rods do not compromise on any aspect of design, engineering, or manufacturing to guarantee anglers consistent performance and durability.
The foundation of the Tactical Elite Bass series are technique specific moderate and fast action blanks constructed with intermediate modulus carbon fiber material. The blanks are a gun metal grey finish with PacBay’s lightweight Titaium SV guides. The series includes 18 models: 13 casting in 6’10”–7’6” lengths in medium-light to magnum extra-heavy powers; and 5 spinning in 6’10”-7’3” lengths in medium-light to medium-heavy powers. Componentry includes down-locking graphite feel-through skeletal reel seats for maximum sensitivity with black anodized hoods. All rods include custom Winn® split grips.
Every Tactical Elite Bassseries rod is designed and manufactured to deliver uncompromising performance and proven durability. And when combined with TFO’s no-fault lifetime warranty against defects, these rods are the perfect choice for anglers wanting to insure their fishing enjoyment. Fish the Original ™
Tactical Bass – Fast Action Mag Bass Rod Spinning Rod Additions
The Tactical Bass series of rods are precision fishing tools for serious anglers. Designed to match optimized rod actions and powers to specific fishing techniques, this series ensures maximum success on the water. From topwater, to crankbaits, to various structure and finesse actions the Tactical Bass series has it covered. And most importantly, TFO’s manufacturing capabilities and quality standards guarantee rod action consistency and durability over time.
The foundation of the Tactical Bass series is technique-specific moderate to fast action blanks constructed with intermediate modulus carbon fiber material. The blanks are a natural satin clear coat finish topped with Pac Bay’s lightweight stainless SV guides. The series includes 23 models: 18 casting in 6’9”–8’0” lengths in medium-light to extra heavy powers; and 5 spinning in 6’10”-7’3” lengths in medium-light to medium heavy powers. Componentry includes down-locking feel-through skeletal reel seats for maximum sensitivity. All rods include premium split cork grips and black EVA foam butt caps with accent rings and all models are one piece.
Every Tactical Bass series rod is designed and manufactured to deliver uncompromising performance and proven durability across a wide-range of fishing situations. And when combined with TFO’s no-fault lifetime warranty against defects, these rods are the perfect choice for anglers wanting to insure their fishing enjoyment. Fish the Original ™
Tactical Elite Bass Spinning Rods – Fast Action Mag Bass Rod Spinning Rod Addition
Tactical Bass Spinning Rods – Fast Action Mag Bass Rod Spinning Rod Addition
The Tactical Surf series is designed for the intermediate to advanced angler and optimized for long accurate casts from the beach, that special rock or fishing pier. And because performance is critical when you reach your spot (or the top of your waders), we’ve designed the Tactical Surf series as powerful casting tools that are durable enough to handle the extremes of the surf environment but light enough to fish by hand all day without fatigue.
The foundation of the Tactical Surf series is moderate-fast to fast action blanks constructed with intermediate modulus carbon fiber material. The blanks are a satin sky-blue finish topped with braid- and saltwater-safe Fuji® K-Series Guides™ with Fuji® Alconite® inserts. The series includes 7 models in 8’0”-12’0” lengths in medium light to heavy powers. All 2-piece models are 70/30 split for one-piece performance and safe transport. Componentry includes up-locking pipe-style reel seats. All rods include blue/gray fish scale heat shrink grips with black EVA foam and rubber butt caps.
The SUS 804-1 through SUS 1103-2 incorporate longer, softer actions perfect for anglers casting and working artificial baits. The SUS 1065-2, SUS 1106-2, and SUS 1206-2 are for anglers focused on fishing bait rigs and making long casts with either spinning or casting gear. These rods are particularly popular along the Cape Cod Canal where the current requires the use of heavier lures and jigs.
Every Tactical Surf series rod is designed and manufactured to deliver uncompromising performance and proven durability. And when combined with TFO’s no-fault lifetime warranty against defects, these rods are the perfect choice for anglers wanting to insure their fishing enjoyment. Fish the Original ™
Professional Walleye – Trolling
With a premium on high sensitivity, the Professional Walleye series is designed specifically for pursuing these finicky and notoriously light biting fish. Beginning with the blank, the grip and the reel seat, everything is maximized for sensitivity and the series lengths, powers and actions are engineered to maximize angler success when fishing the most successful walleye techniques.
The foundation of the Professional Walleye series are blanks designed with technique specific actions constructed with intermediate modulus carbon fiber material. The blanks are a non-glare gold fleck finish topped with PacBay Stainless SV guides. The series includes 12 models: 6 spinning in 6’0”-7’6” lengths in light to medium powers; and 6 casting in 7’0”–7’6” lengths in medium light to medium powers. Componentry includes down-locking split graphite reel seats for super sensitivity. All rods include premium cork grips and black EVA foam butt caps with accent rings. Full cork grips are provided on all casting models and split cork grips are provided on spinning models.
The super-fast actions, light weight, and sensitivity of the WS 663-1 and WS 664-1 are perfect for anglers focused on jigging. The longer 7’0” and 7’6” rods are specifically for the sweeping hooksets of rigging. And the slower actions and light weight of the casting rods make them ideal for anglers cranking. And for 2021, we’ve added three rods in 8’6” and 10’ lengths specially designed for all trolling techniques.
Every Professional Walleye series rod is designed and manufactured to deliver uncompromising performance and proven durability across a wide-range of fishing situations. And when combined with TFO’s no-fault lifetime warranty against defects, these rods are the perfect choice for anglers wanting to insure their fishing enjoyment. Fish the Original ™
Tactical Glass Bass
The Tactical Glass Bass series is designed specifically for anglers fishing crank baits and who want the hook setting benefits of fiberglass, married to the light weight of carbon fiber. These composite rods are sensitive enough to transmit the lure action to the angler, but also have a slightly damped recovery that maximize hook sets because they allow the fish to consume the bait. The Tactical Glass Bass series delivers a higher level of technique-specific performance to anglers focused on fishing action-oriented lures with light-wire treble hooks.
The foundation of the Tactical Glass Bass series are blanks constructed with 60% intermediate modulus carbon fiber and 40% S-Glass fiberglass material. The blanks are a natural satin clear coat finish topped with PacBay’s lightweight stainless steel SV guides. The series includes 3 casting models 7’2”-7’10” lengths in medium to medium heavy powers. Componentry includes down-locking reel seats and premium cork grips and black EVA foam butt caps with accent rings.
Every Tactical Glass Bass series rod is designed and manufactured to deliver uncompromising performance and proven durability. And when combined with TFO’s no-fault lifetime warranty against defects, these rods are the perfect choice for anglers wanting to insure their fishing enjoyment. Fish the Original ™
In Southeastern North Carolina, the Cape Fear River, a rich and beautiful blackwater river recognized for its very large flounder population, flows 191 miles all the way to the Atlantic Ocean where it empties near Cape Fear. In 2018, Hurricane Florence hit coastal North Carolina causing catastrophic damage to the homes and fisheries in the area, but particularly – the Cape Fear River.
In addition to the substantial amount of flooding, other factors contributed that led to the almost complete disintegration of the aquatic life – resulting in some serious efforts from local fisheries and organizations to place a ban on harvesting flounder in the river for a year. After a year of prohibiting the harvest of flounder and letting nature takes its course, the Cape Fear River is now thriving with some very large and healthy flounder, and guides like TFO Ambassador Stuart Caulder couldn’t be happier.
This Sunday marks the end of the moratorium and the start of flounder season. We decided to catch up with Stu to talk about this exciting time for him and the anglers in this area to find out more about how to find and catch these hard fighting flatfish.
This Sunday, August 16th is the opening day for flounder season, but for the last year, harvesting flounder was not permitted. Can you talk about what factors went into implementing those regulations?
What we’ve had here is a moratorium on keeping flounder since last year. It opens back up this Sunday, August 16 and runs through September 30. Two factors prompted the suspension of harvesting flounder for the past year.
1) Shrimp Boat Trawlers – We still have a lot of inshore shrimp trawlers in this area. As the shrimp boats drag and trawl bottom to collect shrimp, they are also picking up a lot of other species – especially flounder. When the nets come up to the boat for the boat hands to unload, the fish are already worn out, and since collecting and icing the shrimp are the main priorities for these shrimp boaters, the bycatch flounder often get neglected or put off for several minutes while out of water, and most end up dying before they get tossed back over board.
2) Hurricane Florence – With the massive amount of rain and floods we got from Florence in 2018, the waste ponds on the pig farms upriver flooded, resulting in a large bacteria bloom. This took out all of the oxygen in the river, and basically killed millions of fish.
With these two factors, and because the flounder population had been decimated so bad, the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries put a moratorium on the species for a year.
Were there any other species that were largely affected by both Hurricane Florence and the hog farm flood aftermath?
Oh yeah – trout, redfish and stripers. Right after the storm, it pretty much decimated our striper fishery for the winter. They’re coming back now, but there’s only the small ones left where they’ve restocked the river. A lot of the fish either left to the ocean or died. You could see thousands of them floating down the river after Florence.
How did the year long moratorium effect the flounder population on the Cape Fear River?
It’s actually rebounded remarkably! A lot of the fish that were close to the mouth of the river could get a sense for what was going on when Florence hit, and they ran offshore. After the storm, they came back up the river, and with the moratorium in effect, these fish have basically sat here for a year and have gotten big.
It’s nothing to get your limit and get a few 3-4 pounders now. An 8 pounder is definitely not out of the question, and there have already been some 10 pounders caught as well. It’s really early for some of those big ones, but it’s a great sign that they’re already in here. It’s go time!
That’s great news! Let’s talk fishing set-ups. Are you using conventional or fly when going after flounder?
The majority of the flounder fishing I’m doing is conventional, and I typically use artificial bait because I can usually cover more ground than I can with live bait. With live bait, you have to slow way down, and you can’t fish it as fast. I’d rather pitch fast and work the grass banks on high tide and just pitch, pitch, pitch.
I like to use bucktail baits with some type of scented trailer behind it. It can be a DOA bait, or a gulp bait – something that has some smell to it. The ones you’re after are going to eat that bucktail. The bigger flounder are very aggressive and they don’t have any problem popping those bucktails, as long as there’s a scented trailer. They really like a scented trailer.
The rod that helps me get this done is the TFO Inshore 7’ Medium. The bucktails I’m throwing are usually between 3/8 – 1/2 oz. in weight. I like using the Inshore Medium as it has a little bit more backbone compared to the Medium Light. Every now and then, you’ll pick up a drum with that same flounder bait, and sometimes the drums you’ll get into are pretty big and can put a work out on those smaller rods. The Medium is a great tool for handling those larger fish.
The 7ft works great because it’s long enough to make a nice long cast, when needed, but short enough to pitch baits tight to the bank, as well. For a reel, I’m using a Penn Conflict in a size 30 with 15lb. Berkley Ultra Cast braided line, and then I use a 20-30lb fluorocarbon leader because they have got some teeth; especially those bigger ones!
Inshore Tarpon – I also like to have a Seahunter rigged up when fishing inshore, because every now and then, you’ll have tarpon roll up on you, and you just can’t pass up the opportunity to cast to a tarpon.
I like to have a Seahunter SHS 7030 rigged up with a Diawa BG 5000 size reel loaded with 50lb Berkley Ultra Cast braided line. For bait, DOA makes a Big Fish Lure, it’s a 5.5” soft plastic swim bait that suspends about 2 feet under the water. You can snap the rod tip a few times and that bait will just sit there and suspend. That’s a great setup for inshore tarpon fishing.
What type of forage food do the flounder key in on this fishery?
Typically, what I find them eating are small baitfish patterns such as small spots, croakers, or popeye/finger mullet. They’ll also eat a lot of shrimp. I don’t get a lot of crabs out of them. So mainly that’s what I’m mimicking, and that’s what the bucktail bait is used for.
Sometimes, a 7-8lb flounder can eat a 6-7 inch baitfish. You can throw a big bait in an area where you know there’s fish and usually bypass the smaller ones to go for a 3-4 pounder or bigger.
Do you typically just stick to white patterns to imitate baitfish?
Mainly white bucktails, and sometimes I’ll switch it up on my trailers. I may run a trailer that’s white on one, then maybe run a chartreuse trailer on another. A lot of that will depend on the water clarity. Sometimes I run a root beer color trailer, something dark. If the water is real dark and dingy, I’ll run dark baits. If the water’s real clear, I’ll run lighter baits.
How are you targeting flounder? In other words, where are you looking for them in the inshore areas within the Cape Fear River?
Flounder aren’t too spooky, it’s not like you’re sitting a really long distance off the bank and casting to them, I’m fairly close to the bank and all I’m doing is just making little underhand pitches. I’m working that first five feet of grass line on high tide. Once you’re out about 5-8 feet, bring it in, then pitch it back over to your next spot, work it out, etc.
It’s almost like bass fishing. They’re going to go right up to that cover and stay there, cause that’s where all the food is. So once you’re back out past that 5-8 feet zone, bring it in and pitch it back in there. The more time you spend in that “hot zone”, the better off you’ll be and the more fish you’ll catch.
Do those larger flounder tend to stick to deeper areas/drop-offs?
It’s mainly tide oriented here. We have about six feet of tide. So on high tide, all the fish push right up to the grass banks/edges. The water on all the grass banks will be at about 3 feet, but they’ll be right up on the grass edge. Now when the tide falls out, and we get to lower tide, that’s when they go to the drops and go from 2 feet to 6-8 feet in the creeks. If you go to the main river, you’re dealing with more of a 12-15 foot drop off.
For the most part, I stick to targeting flounder around high tide. I like to fish the grass edges cause I like to move. When I do go to the deeper spots, a lot of the time I’ll position my boat, throw to the shallows, and just bounce that bucktail right down the shelf. Usually they’re on the slope, or they’re right at the bottom, or they’re right at the top. They’re usually around that release somewhere, so once you get way out off of the release, then you might as well just bring it back in and get back on top of the shelf.
Do you use any type of bobber or indictor to detect a strike?
I don’t. The strike is fairly firm. They’re pretty aggressive, especially with the amount of current we get here. Even if I were fishing somewhere where there isn’t much current I still wouldn’t use a bobber or indicator, because you have to make sure you’re freely getting to the right depth.
With the 7′ Medium Inshore rod accompanied with a braided line combo, it’s very sensitive. You feel everything. You’re definitely going to feel the bite.
How about offshore fishing for flounder? Are you doing much of that, and what setups do you typically use in that scenario?
I like to fish the wrecks offshore, and when I do, I like to make sure I have a few of the Seahunter rods with a couple of different baits rigged up in case a cobia, or a jack, or season king mackerel swims up on me. A lot of times when you bring these flounders up off the wrecks, the cobia will follow them straight to the boat. And when they do, just leave the flounder in the water, take your other bait on that Seahunter rod, then pitch it to them. Usually the cobia will hit it. As soon as he hits that bait, bring the flounder in, then you’ve got the cobia as well. That way you can get a double bang for your buck in that type of fishing.
I think what’s happening is this scenario is that when the flounder are on that way up to the boat, they’re spitting stuff up, and the cobia is just picking that stuff off. Except in the scenario where the cobia is bigger than the flounder, and the flounder just gets eaten.
Pro Tip For Offshore Flounder Fishing – Always have a Seahunter rod ready and rigged up for when you do hook into a flounder for this very reason.
For my Seahunter set up, I’m using the SHS 7030 – so the 20-30lb line size model, and I like the 7 foot version. I run a Daiwa BG 5000 reel with 50lb Berkley Ultra Cast braided line. For my baits, I typically use a big bucktail, or sometimes even a big swim bait. That way if I have another fish follow the first flounder, I can usually just drop it in the second fish’s face and they’ll pop it.
Another way to locate and target flounder off shore, which usually involves using scopes and electronics, is targeting what we call Flounder Hotels. What they are is a big cement dome with holes in it, and the flounder love them. Once you locate one and mark it on the screen, you can usually use a 1oz. buck tail. Fire that sucker down there in about 30-40 feet of water to where it’s near the parameter of those domes/hotels, and the flounder will come out of those holes and pop that bait.
Would you rather fish for flounder in the rivers or offshore?
I prefer to fish the river because that’s where the big ones are. Not that you won’t catch some nice ones offshore. There’s probably more numbers offshore in the 3-5 lb. range, but the bigger fish are in the Cape Fear River.
Any words of wisdom/tips you want to leave with our readers related to flounder fishing that we haven’t gone over?
The main tip is to be patient, and as you make long drifts down the banks, remember where your bites were. What you’ll find is that you may cover a quarter to half mile bank and get all your bites in a little 200 yard area. Once you fish that long stretch and are able to access where those bites were, go back over that area again, because most likely all those fish have oriented themselves to that particular area for that particular day. Just go back and go through those hot spots two or three times, move on to your next stretch and search it out the same way. Rinse and repeat.
Stuart Caulder is a TFO Ambassador based out of Wilmington, North Carolina. He runs Gold Leader Guide Servicewhere he primarily fishes the Cape Fear River in search of flounder, drums, and stripers, but also offers offshore charters as well. To contact Stuart for a trip, find him on Facebook and Instagram, or shoot him an email.
In case you missed one of our recent shares on social media, Florida based TFO Pro Staff angler Capt. Jonathan Moss has a new video series that just launched — The Captain’s Log with Waypoint TV. Check out the trailers for Episode 1 & 2 below.
The series follows host Capt. Jonathan Moss on an educational expedition through Florida and all its vast and beautiful estuaries. Throughout the series, we’ll follow Moss and his crew as they target both inshore and offshore species and learn a few tricks and tactics along the way.
Between guiding with clients and shooting for this series, the TFO Inshore is Jonathan’s Go-To for pretty much all the fishing he does, but when heading out for offshore and targeting big game, Moss switches over to the Seahunter series.
We decided to check in with Jonathan to get some more feedback on the Inshore – along with and what his crew and clients have been saying about these TFO rods.
TFO: Looks like you guys are using the Inshore a lot through The Captain’s Log! What do you like about the Inshore?
JM: The TFO Inshore series rods are the perfect combination of light weight, all day fishability with enough backbone to go toe to toe with fish and win! In addition to the Inshore series’ performance is Its eye appeal! The TFO Inshore rods are aesthetically pleasing with high quality rod components and that catchy blue color!
TFO: Do you have a Go-To size/model?
JM: The TFO Inshore series rods have a wide variety of rod lengths, powers and actions from which to choose! For shallow water sight fishing, my go to inshore rod is the 7ft medium power fast action rod, paired with a 3000 series reel and 10lb braided line. That setup will allow anglers to cast a soft plastic or live bait both a long distance and accurately. That combination is the key to sight casting leery fish on the flats. When the conversation turns to big tarpon, my go to TFO inshore rod is the 8ft Mag Heavy Fast Action rod paired with a 6000 series reel with 50lb braided line. A longer rod means further casting and the backbone of the mag heavy rod gives me confidence in battling the Silver King.
Lastly, I always have an extra 8ft mag heavy combo ready and rigged with a large bucktail jig for the unexpected visit from a Cobia!
TFO: You’ve mentioned that The Captain’s Log will feature a few offshore episodes where you guys switch over to the Seahunter series. What do you like about The Seahunter compared to other offshore rods?
JM: The TFO Seahunter rods are very impressive. When fishing offshore wrecks and reefs, anglers need a rod and reel combo to keep fish from turning their heads back towards the bottom structure. Big fish such as varieties of Groupers, snappers and amberjacks are notorious for breaking lines on structure. The Seahunter series time and time again proves it’s worth as a part of my offshore arsenal by giving the angler the edge over these powerful reef dwellers! When fishing competitively or commercially as a full time guide, I need rods that will hold up to the test of big fish every day and the Seahunter Series rods from TFO gets the job done!
TFO: Do you have a Go-To size/model for this series as well?
JM: Rod selection is dependent on style of fishing. For vertical jigging, my go to is the 7ft 30 power rod paired with a 6000 series reel and 50lb braided line. For dropping live grunts over rock piles for groupers and snappers, my go to is the 6ft 6inch 40 power rod paired with an 8000 series reel and 60lb braided line.
You just can’t beat these rods for offshore fishing!
TFO: What has been the response from your clients and other people that have fished with you about TFO products (Inshore, Seahunter, others)?
JM: I am blessed to be able to make a living on the water! Part of my success has been quality gear. My rods and reels get abused every day and still look and feel like new. It’s a testament to the quality put in to each TFO rod on my boat. From fly rods to inshore to offshore, my clients only get the best that TFO offers. I hear it all the time, “where can I get a fishing rod just like this one?” My clients are quickly making the change to TFO because they recognize the performance, durability and quality of TFO rods.
Keep up with Capt. Jonathan Moss and his crew on the latest episodes of The Captain’s Log here
To find out more information on Jonathan or to book a trip with his guiding service (GoCastaway), you can visit his website here.
The Gold Cupfeatures the best of the best in tarpon fishing. The invitation-only tournament is one of the most prestigious events of the competitive fishing season. TFO advisor Rob Fordycehas set the standard for Gold Cup consistency with 13 second-place finishes, the last of which came earlier this summer.
And he’s always learning.
“I’ve never been satisfied with my knowledge of tarpon,” Fordyce said. “I take fishing seriously. I do it for a living. Tarpon fishing, I take to a different level. That consistent (success) comes from never being satisfied with my knowledge of the game. I’m always trying new things and I’m trying to get better at it.”
TFO blog editor Mike Hodge chatted with Fordyce about his success, and the host of the outdoor series, Seahunter, offered a few tips. Among them:
Get In Shape
Tarpon fishing is not for the meek. It’s physical and fast paced. Many newbies assume the rough stuff comes once the big fish is hooked, and there’s no doubt your biceps, core and thighs will burn as you try to land your quarry.
Often overlooked, though, are the skills needed before the hookup. Good balance is essential. Why? Because if you fish the flats near a pass or a beach, swells can rock the boat. Sea legs aren’t a big deal for a hardened tarpon fisherman, but the newcomer needs to be strong and flexible to maintain good enough balance to spot fish and make accurate casts.
“It’s not a controlled environment,” Fordyce said. “A trout fishing setting is somewhat of a controlled environment. The fish aren’t moving. The fish are holding behind a rock and you know which rock that is. If you make a bad cast in a trout scenario, you get another shot. In tarpon fishing on the ocean side, there can be wind. There’s often extreme current, and sometimes both are in different directions. You can have waves over the bow with wind, and the fly has to end up in a six-inch diameter circle. It’s a game of inches.”
Use the Right Gear
Use gear that’s heavy enough. You don’t want to be under-gunned. A rod that’s too light will result in prolonged battles. A 10 weight is adequate. An 11 or 12 weight is better. For conventional gear, try medium heavy to heavy rods.
The Cockroach may be the most famous and productive tarpon fly. I personally prefer the tarpon toad in black and purple. It’s easy to tie and it works. Rabbit strips are one my tying favorite materials simply because of the movement generated. And movement, as TFO advisor Blane Chocklettexplains, is key to enticing strikes. I had never really thought about this concept before, but it makes perfect sense. Fish are predators. Feed them what they want.
When it comes to movement, conventional lures are hard to beat. Obvious choices are Bombers and DOAs and Yo-Zuri minnows.
“In sight-fishing scenarios we often use unweighted bass worms or flukes,” Fordyce said. “These baits will almost suspend allowing a lot of movement with a short, twitchy retrieve that can still be pretty slow without having to reel much. This can entice traveling fish to bite that aren’t in a feeding mode much the same way as a fly retrieve.”
Entire blog posts have been devoted to tarpon lures and flies. If you want more info, talk with your guide. Local knowledge is always best.
Seeing the Fish
There’s also a mental challenge involved with tarpon fishing. Count on long periods of time between schools of fish. The ability to concentrate through the doldrums is essential and usually acquired with experience.
“There can be times when you’re getting a shot every thirty seconds, and then there could be hours in between shots,” Fordyce said. “It could be four, five hours of just nothing. That’s when you really have to dig deep and focus hard. That’s when the shots are few and far between and you only get so many.”
You and your guide are a team. Ideally, he puts you on fish. The client’s job is to make an accurate cast, hook the fish and then land it. Rarely is it that easy. Mistakes happen and tempers can flare. The key, as in any relationship, is communication, particularly when it comes to the client’s skill level and expectations, so the chaos can be managed.
“There’s a lot of moving parts,” Fordyce said. “It’s a team sport. Your guide is trying to set you up for the most productive shot. There’s a lot going on.”
Headed out to pursue the Silver King? Let us know how you do on one of our social media channels. Want to add more tips or suggestions, feel free to speak up.
TFO blog editor Mike Hodge caught up with TFO advisor and television host Rob Fordyce for a few minutes after the Florida Keys guide finished up working the Miami Boat Show. We discussed a number of topics, everything from outdoors television to University of Tennessee baseball. Enjoy.
How did you get started in TV?
RF: “Actually the first experience I had with television was in 1991 with (TFO’s)Flip Pallot, a friend of mine, who had a show called the Walker’s Chronicles. And he asked me to be a camera boat for him for the first episode of that whole series. And after we did that episode, the show took off. Shortly thereafter, he asked me to do a couple episodes with him in front of the camera, not in the camera boat, but as a co-host. Things went on from there, and I did a lot of shows with a good friend of mine, Jose Wejebe, who was one of my best friends. Shortly before Jose passed in a tragic plane accident, he decided after a 13 years of being in front of the camera that he wanted to be behind the camera and produce, and he asked me to host his show. That didn’t ever come to be, because of the plane accident. The same crew we were going to move forward with to host that show decided that since Jose thought enough of me to host his show, that maybe I should pursue this opportunity myself and that’s what we did. That’s kind of where we’re at now.”
So Seahunter evolved out of your involvement with Jose, correct?
RF: “That’s basically it.”
What’s your favorite part of television, being a television host and being in front of the camera?
RF: “Several things, being a co-host with other people’s shows, I didn’t really have a say. The show didn’t have my personality so to speak, my efforts, my view of how that story should have been told. What I’ve really enjoyed about the Seahunter show, I produce it and the final episode you end up seeing is how I wanted that story to be related to the viewer. It’s a very cool process to go out and do the fishing part. And then when you take the footage, with the fishing part, back in the studio and start editing that and start telling a story and basically taking the viewer on an adventurous ride, it’s really fun to do that whole process.”
What do you think the biggest misconception is from people on the outside, who are not involved in the television process? From the viewers? The public? Other anglers?
RF: “One thing that I run into on a regular basis is I tell people I have to go to work tomorrow. They laugh and say, ‘You’re just going fishing. You’re not going to work.’ I don’t think people understand, whether you’re guiding or filming a TV show, how much work is really involved. There’s a difference when you’re fishing for fun and when you’re paying up to $10,000 a day to shoot a fishing show. You’re paying all these camera guys and for all the fuel and all that kind of stuff, there’s a lot of pressure to make that happen. One of the biggest misconceptions is I don’t fish for a living; I take people fishing for a living, whether it’s on film or as a customer on the bow of my boat, as a guide.”
You live in the Keys now, correct?
RF: “I actually live in Homestead, the last town before you enter the Keys. Most of my fishing is in the Keys and the Everglades.”
Do you have a favorite episode of Seahunter? I remember the one with Chico Fernandez. …
RF: “The most memorable was the one I did with (fellow TFO advisor) Flip Pallot. Flip was a mentor of mine going back to when I was 10 years old, when we started fishing together. And my first TV experience was fishing with Flip on his TV show. It was coming around full circle when I invited him to be on my show. I think it was an emotional experience for him, too, to be part of that circle. Flip and I are great friends. He’s like a brother to me. Though I’ve had other episodes where I thought the fishing was more cool, that is definitely one I’m most proud of.”
I read in your bio that you’re an athlete? What sport do you compete in?
RF: “I grew up as an athlete. I don’t compete now. I do get up and work out five days a week in the weight room, 4, 4:30, five o’clock in the morning before I go fishing. That’s a carryover from competing earlier in sports. I went to the University of Tennessee on a baseball scholarship. Before the baseball scholarship, I had a full ride to Florida State for football, but I injured my neck before I could make that happen, so I always played football and baseball. I went to Tennessee and played there a couple of years. … Going back to the sports thing, one thing that’s allowed me to be successful as a fisherman and TV host is I’ve always pushed myself. Every day is a competition with me. I always try to learn more and become better at what I’m doing. I’ve never been satisfied with my knowledge of the game. I think that stems from being pretty serious about sports in my youth.”
Where are you from originally?
RF: “I was born in Miami, so I’m a native South Floridian.”
Back to the fishing. What is your preferred type of fishing?
RF: “If my last day to fish was tomorrow, and it was my last opportunity, I would take a big fly rod, go down to the Keys and fish for giant tarpon, in clear water.”
How long have you been with TFO?
RF: “I want to say more than 10 years, 12 years going back to where there wasn’t any conventional. It was just a fly company.”
Who was your connection to the company?
RF: “I’ve known (TFO Chairman) Rick Pope for 25 years. We’ve been very good friends. The only reason I wasn’t with TFO from the inception was because I was with a couple other companies for a couple years. Once those contracts ended, I immediately called Rick and he accepted me on as an advisor and I’ve been thankful ever since. I’ve been working with TFO hand-in-hand the last 10 years or so making some pretty cool stuff.”
Describe your relationship with TFO, how it’s helped you and maybe how you’ve helped them?
RF: “I’m fortunate I was able to work with some other companies before I went to work with TFO. I was used to the normal where you give the company a lot of input. It’s up to them whether they take it or not. Some companies do not use their advisory staff to the fullest extent. TFO is the opposite of that. What separates TFO from everyone else is you take their advisory staff and the amount of years those people have been professional fishermen, and it’s hundreds of years of experience behind every rod that you use that says TFO on it. I think that’s something that not everyone realizes when they go into a tackle shop and see a rod with TFO on it. When they look at that rod, there’s hundreds of years of experience in building that rod.”
Any TFO rod that you’re particularly fond of by any chance?
RF: “My favorite until lately was the BVKseries. Since the A2(Axiom II)has come out, I like it the best. I still like the BVKs, but I love the A2s.”
What do you like the best about them?
RF: “I’m kind of a fast-rod caster. It allows you, although it’s not as fast as the BVK, for the short game. We deal with so many quick casts in sight fishing that you don’t always have time to get 30 feet of line out of your rod tip. I think the rod, as a tool, is a good all-around tool. I really like the rod. It does everything well. It casts short and long. If you overpower it, it doesn’t collapse. And when you get a fish on, it’s got plenty of backbone behind the butt to land a big fish quickly.”
Let us know what you think of the interview with Rob with a comment or two below. Your feedback is always welcomed.