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Safe at Sea: Tips for the boating angler

By PAT SCHMIDT - | Nov 24, 2020

Fishing and boating are synonymous for many recreational boaters. So, this week’s column will present a few random “tips” I’ve acquired over the years from well-seasoned Florida anglers.


When fishing, to calculate the depth to which solid wire line sinks while trolling, count 1-foot of depth for every 10 feet of line. For example, when trolling 150 feet of wire line, your lure should be working around 15 feet (deeper if you are using a trolling weight).


To replace an International Game Fish Association world record for a fish weighing less than 25 pounds, the replacement weight must be at least 2 ounces more than the existing record. To replace an IFGA record for a fish weighing more than 25 pounds or more, the replacement rate must be at least one-half of 1 percent more than the existing record. (Good luck at breaking records!)


Seven signs that fish are probably nearby:

– Distinct change in smell or an odor like cucumber or watermelon means that fish have been foraging for bait in the vicinity. The unique smell comes from the oils in the chopped up fish as it floats toward the surface.

– Smooth, thin surface slicks may indicate fish feeding below. The slicks are also caused by fish oils.

– Birds do not lie. If birds are working the water surface, something is (or was) there. If the birds are sitting on the water, it may mean fish moved on or went deeper or are not actively feeding.

– Acclimate your eyes so you can scan the water surface for long distances. Look for anything unusual. It may be tiny white splashes in a sea of blue. These are often the tails of fish feeding near the surface. A sudden eruption or explosion of white over a large area says fish are feeding.

– What appears as a dark stick might, in fact, be a fish bill or fin. Dark shapes may be fins. Shadows could be the entire fish.

– Surface rips where you can see the color of water change or where currents come together churning the surface often cause bait fish to panic. Bigger fish know this and come to eat.

– Weedlines, driftwood and buoys are typical offshore structures that offer small-fish protection in open water. If small fish are present, big fish will not be far behind.


The American Cancer Society (strongly) recommends using a sunblock with an SPF of 15. Recent studies have shown that the advantages of increasing the SPF above 15 may not increase the effectiveness correspondingly.

Pat Schmidt is a member of America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva. For more about the chapter and its boating education courses, visit www.sancapboating.club or contact education@sanibelcaptivasps.org or 612-987-2125.