I remember as a boy fishing on the charter boats out of Sheepshead bay, NY that a tile fishing trip meant at the least an overnight adventure. I am very lucky to now live in South Florida where I can enjoy Golden Tilefish fishing a mere 3-4 miles off of Miami Beach. Although the fishing grounds in the north east have a much greater population of these tasty denizens of the deep, you have to travel more than 100 miles offshore to the various canyons and deep water trenches to reach them. Fishing for Golden tilefish usually begins at a depth of a bit over 500’ to over 750 foot of water.
I have many friends who cry and whine like school girls just bringing up a big Amberjack from a 200’ wreck so these depths usually require the use of electric reels. With calm seas and a moderate current its possible to use a smaller reel that can handle a substantial amount of say 50lb test spectra line on a 4/0 size reel and a stout standup rod such as a Tuna stick. We found that a small Electra mate motor on this set up does the job quite nicely. Many anglers still prefer to use wire line with massive reels and electric motors that can life a small car! Remember the size of the fish you are trying to catch, as Golden Tilefish only average about 7-10lbs. Bringing back a Golden Tile of over 20lbs will surely bring plenty of onlookers and questions back at the dock, but more commonly expect fish in the 3-15lb range.
There are many Fishermen who fish for Golden Tilefish with a simple deep drop “chicken rig” commonly used for snappers and deep water groupers but many Anglers have been switching over to a strip rig. Similar to what Fisherman in the North East have used for ages, a 3 way swivel with a hefty weight tied to the bottom of the swivel with a few feet of mono with the main line to the top of the swivel. From the middle of the swivel a few feet of mono with a circle or J-hook will do just fine. If you are using expensive terminal tackle and lights on this rig, remember to set it up so a snagged weight on the bottom won’t end up costing you the next car payment.
Golden Tilefish prefer muddy bottoms and live in holes that they dig. It is said that a Tilefish will never occupy a hole dug by another Tilefish. Finding the right soft bottom that is in proximity to other structure or hard bottom is the key to finding fish. Of course this bottom needs to be located in the proper depth range to hold Golden Tilefish.
Fresh chunks of Ballyhoo or squid work very well for Golden Tilefish as well as a number of other species that inhabit the deep dark waters over 500 feet down. Many fish that inhabit the dark waters rely on scent to a large degree so making sure the bait is fresh is extremely important for success. A moderate Northerly current is needed for this type of fishing, too slow of a current and Golden Tilefish will not feed, too quick of a current and you may need to deploy a sea anchor to slow you down or bump your vessel in and out of gear to slow down the drift.
Fishing for Golden Tilefish is more than merely dropping a line deep into the ocean and drifting for a while. You must know where to look, and prepare your gear and bait properly. Having said that, there is nothing more fun than drifting a few miles off the coast of Miami, sharing fish stories with friends and waiting to come across the extremely tasty Golden Tilefish. Regulations are constantly changing so do not forget to check your catch and size limits for the Golden Tilefish, and don’t be surprised if a Swordfish, Grouper or deepwater shark may pay you a visit as well!
Jamaican Jerk Swordfish with Orange Mango Salsa and Arugula
I think the only thing that comes close to the thrill of catching a swordfish on rod and reel is getting to eat a really well prepared meal made from your catch!
- 2 tb Thyme
- 1/4 c Green onion; sliced thin
- 2 Jalapenos; seeded and diced
- 1 ts Allspice
- 1 ts Cinnamon
- 1 ts Nutmeg
- 1 ts Cracked black pepper
- 2 tb Jamaican Jerk Spice
- 2 Swordfish; (6-ounce) steaks
- Oil for grilling
- 3 Oranges; juiced
- 2 Ripe mangos; diced
- 1/4 c Cilantro; chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 bn Arugula; cleaned
- 1/4 onion finely diced
Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl or in a food processor. Season the Swordfish with jerk spice and drizzle with oil. Place on the grill for 3 minutes. Spoon 1/4 of the rub on each fish and flip to the other side. Spoon the rest of the rub on each fish and cook for 1 minute. Remove and serve over salsa. For the salsa, heat orange juice in a pan over the grill until it is warm. Add mangoes, cilantro and salt and pepper and let it cook for 3 minutes without boiling. Spoon onto plate over arugula then top it off with the Swordfish.
To the farmer, they may be the most ugly, vile animal to set foot on this planet as they tend to destroy much of the land used for agriculture, but to the hunter they are a wonderful and tasty treat that can be harvested year round in many areas. A hunt never lacks excitement and amazement. Of course I’m speaking of wild boar. I first got into hunting wild boar (or feral pigs as they are called by some, but are actually different) when I began trying to find some dry land excitement between my days of offshore fishing near my home in South Florida. In many places, you can hunt wild hogs on private land year round, but there are usually some restrictions or quota systems that must be adhered to on public grounds and wildlife management areas.
Many of the techniques that are used to hunt hogs are the same as for whitetail deer, as are the weapons. Depending upon the area of the country or the specific land you are hunting you need to determine what distance you may be shooting when gun hunting. These hogs and feral pigs are really tough animals, so I would suggest a .30-06 if shooting from any distance, I prefer to use my .44 magnum Ruger Super Red Hawk revolver from 25 yds and in. An injured wild pig can be quite dangerous, given their sharp tusks and teeth that can inflict serious damage.
Take the time to thoroughly scout the areas you wish to hunt. It is especially useful to set up trail cams along well used game trails to not only see what kind of game is passing through but at what time of day or night. Hog tracks and rubs are always a good sign. A good friend once reminded me that it is not only about where you plan on setting up, but more importantly, when. Be aware of water and food sources and scout for wallows as well. I have seen huge numbers of wild pigs come back time and again at the same time of day to enjoy a mud bath. If you are hunting on private land, you may want to set up a feeder to entice the animals to come to a particular location and set up a feeding pattern, allowing you to sit in a tree stand and wait for them to come to you. I won’t go into the ethical points of view on feeders, but for some, it is a very useful method of increasing their chances of success. This is best started during the off season.
I live in the Southern Part of Florida where it can get extremely hot during the day. Most game activity takes place in the early morning or late afternoon and twilight hours; this is especially true for wild hogs since their skin is prone to sunburn, similar to ours. Wild boar, much like deer, will venture from their bedding areas to forage for food early in the morning and return from foraging at night utilizing the same game trails the majority of the time. As I said earlier, once you know their patterns it becomes more of a question of “when”.
Wild hogs and boar are very tough animals, so be sure to place your shot correctly or you will have a very angry animal to track down. The boar does not have the same shape and placement of the vital organs as the deer so you need to adjust your shot accordingly. Most agree that the best shot placement is low in the shoulder region, but take care not to shoot so low that your shot is under the animal. A broadside shot should end up between the shoulders. Choice of bullet is important to ensure sufficient penetration. If you are hunting with a bow the shot placement is the same but since you are much closer to the animal, and there is a very good chance that a hog may charge and attack the hunter. Always keep in mind that this can be a very dangerous animal and be prepared to shoot a second or third arrow if the animal charges. When bow hunting for wild boar get ready for a lot of excitement and noise after the shot; the squeals and running around can really get your adrenaline pumping.
Now that you have made the shot and hopefully tracked down the animal, approach with extreme caution! Quite often this hearty animal is not dead and you should dispatch it with a swift slitting of the throat to ensure the kill is quick and humane.
Now that you have field dressed your wild hog you should take it to a local butcher or meat processor that is adept at turning your prize into wonderful sausages and pork roasts, steaks, etc. Many places will also have affiliations with taxidermists in order to make a head mount for you. This is just another way for a successful hunter to truly bring home the bacon!
The Unexpected Thrill of Pier Fishing
If you’ve never fished off a pier, I suppose you don’t really know what you’re missing, so I’m here to tell you. Whether you choose to pier fish during the day under the hot Florida sun, or take advantage of a warm night on a pier in the north Atlantic, you never know what you may catch, which is part of the attraction. Unlike surf fishing, or casting your rod from the deck of a chartered boat, pier fishing allows you and possibly your family (kids love it) to spend time at your ‘camp’, dropping your lines (you’ll want to drop them, rather than cast when out on a pier since the fish prefer to stick close by), having some lunch, reading a book, enjoying your iPod, and reveling in what the other anglers around you are reeling in.
Most piers, or rather those intended/expected for fishing, have a small ledge for you to cut your bait on, the piers are usually equipped with a few benches scattered here and there (depending on the region you are in) and there is typically a wash station nearby as well. Because not all piers have benches, or if they do, chances are they will be full, plan on bringing a chair in addition to a cooler for your catch. Be prepared with plenty to drink; the last thing you want is to ruin a nice day of pier fishing with dehydration and you certainly don’t want to lose your spot along the rail to go off in search of a cold bottle of water or a snack. Chances are you’re going to be there a while, so plan for it. Even with the best intentions of only stepping out on the pier for a ‘few casts’ , once you start to see someone nearby bring up a snapper or a skate, you’re going to want to stick around to see what else is down there waiting to bite!
Its always a good idea to call ahead to see what has been caught recently as pier fishing like other types of angling will produce a variety of species depending on the time of year and where along our coastlines you happen to be. Most fishing piers have a bait shop on them and you can give them a call to see what has been biting and the best baits. In addition to the cut bait you can purchase from any local bait shop you may want to bring along a rod for catching some live bait. A light rod with a sabiki rig is great for catching small baitfish such as pilchard and sardines, but remember you must have bait bucket capable of keeping them alive once caught.
Most fishing piers have a limit on the number of rods that can be brought out on to the pier; usually this limit is about 3 fishing rods. A good rule of thumb is to have one bait rod, one rod that is used for casting and another rod that can be used for straight bottom fishing. Since you will already have a good idea of what species of fish have been caught recently you can outfit your tackle box to include a variety of hooks and lures commonly used to catch that species. If you are fishing the piers in South Florida you can expect to catch many of the more popular species of fish such as Snook, Jacks, Cobia, Tarpon, Mackerel and many kinds of bottom fish including snappers. Have a good assortment of hook sizes and sinkers along with various swivels in your box so you can see what others who are fishing on the pier are using and adjust if you notice one rig is more successful than another.
The number one tip to being successful while pier fishing is to locate any structure or reefs near the pier. Remember that it is the structure that will become the haven for the baitfish and that in turn will attract the larger fish you are targeting. Many times fishing piers are built over the remains of previous piers that have been destroyed by storms, or they could be built around reefs or rock structures. Try and learn where these structures are located as fishing the very end of the pier may not put you in the best position to catch fish.
Although pier fishing may draw a very “unique” crowd, most people you encounter will be very helpful if approached courteously, but remember not to crowd others who may be having more luck than you. Just make note of what type of rig they are using and the kind of bait that is catching the fish, so the next time you come you can try to follow their success and enjoy the fine art of pier fishing.