By Peter Krause
Angling fanatics may occasionally run into people obsessed with other activities. This isn't easy to do when most of one's free time is sitting in a boat in the middle of a lake, but it does happen.
There are people who actually claim to enjoy golf, for example, and those who climb tall chunks of rock for the view.
When describing their passion, these strange folk may talk about the time spent in solitary thought, or the test of man against nature, or even the paradox of peaceful times interrupted by bouts of joy or frustration.
At times like these, they sound suspiciously like fishermen. This can be disturbing, because it can cause us to ask ourselves how these other nuts categorize fishing. Is angling considered a mere sport? The nerve.
When it comes to treating our own obsession as sport, anglers have come up with a variety of contests, which can be played by the solo fisherman, or with others.
Among groups, there are competitions for the biggest fish, or the most fish caught. At times, I've heard there may even be wagering involved.
Solo fishermen have similar competitions, often lasting a lifetime, such as a personal best length or weight for snook or grouper, for example.
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), along with the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), has a grand slam recognition program for angler slams, based on region of Florida.
Their definition of an East Coast slam is catching a redfish, seatrout, and tarpon on the same day. Details of their program, which is fun for younger anglers, can be found on www.myfwc.com.
Slams can diversify to different types of fishing, and, warming waters throughout the county and offshore are driving fish appetites. This is beginning to be the best time of year for what is commonly considered the inshore slam of Indian River fishing - catching a redfish, spotted seatrout, and a snook, all on the same day.
The local offshore trolling slam is usually considered a mahi, wahoo, and kingfish on the same day, though again, variations are possible. I've heard of snapper slams and grouper slams, involving three different species on the same day.
Frustrated anglers have even come up with a "trash can slam" of nuisance fish. For the Indian River, I've heard it as a ladyfish, stingray, and catfish all on the same day. Pufferfish are a fine local variation, as where else could you include a fish with potentially poisonous meat?
Mahi are the guests of honor for many offshore anglers. In clear conditions with decent weather, they can still be found in as shallow as 120 feet, but the bigger fish hang near the western wall of the Gulf Stream, from 20 to 30 miles off the coast. For those with the skill and range to cross the stream, yellowfin tuna are hitting on the "other side," with reports of big blue marlin as well.
Pier and jetty fishermen are reporting whiting, black drum, and sheepshead catches, using live shrimp, clams, or small crabs. Snook are being found on beaches near Sebastian Inlet, usually after dark, but often around tide changes as well.
Several varieties of slam-worthy fish are biting up and down the lagoon. Redfish tend to be low in the column, trout tend to be high, and snook ambush from roots and structure, but each can be coaxed to nibble a live shrimp, or follow a spoon.
While fishing some of the creeks and rivers emptying into the lagoon, try for a "brackish slam" of snook, tarpon, and bass. These may be caught on similar artificials, such as soft plastics or bucktails. When using live baits, salinity will be a factor.
Peter Krause has fished all over the Florida since his childhood, when he pulled bream out of the Everglades canals. He can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org. Pictures of great catches can also be sent to him at that address.