Sunday, December 17, 2017

Point, shoot, record, savor

People send me all sorts of fishing photos. Some are good, some are bad, but all could be better.

A couple of weeks ago, we started posting "Great Catch!" photos on our website. Taking a picture of a fish is a great way to preserve the memory and make a digital trophy that can be shared with family and friends.

The hardest part, of course, is catching the fish. Remember, a 16-inch snook may seem like a major accomplishment to the newbie fisherman, but in a competitive fishing market such as Tampa Bay, that linesider better be a smoking 38 inches if you want to get attaboys from our discerning readers.

Exception to the rule: cute kids. A 3-year-old holding his or her first pinfish scores much higher on the piscatorial scale than a veteran guide posing with an armful of yellowmouth trout.

Now before you get all worked up and head to the grass flats, remember to pack a camera. Technology has improved and prices have come way down on digital cameras in recent years.

A simple $100 point-and-shoot can take a photo that is every bit as good as one that came from a 10-year-old, top-of-the-line SLR that once cost $1,000. And smartphones are also well-adept at taking fishing photos.

But when I'm fishing, I don't take any chances. I have a basic, inexpensive digital camera that I keep in a dry bag in my tackle box at all times.

Why? Because over the years, I have talked to hundreds of anglers about amazing fish they either hooked and lost, or caught and released. Those stories always end the same way: "I wish I had a camera!"

When I'm out on assignment, I start early, because I want to catch that "magic hour" of great light, right after the sun comes up. My best fishing photos are usually taken before 8 a.m.

If you remember one thing about photographing fish, it should be light. Even on a sunny day, a flash can help bring out the natural colors of a fish. A flash also helps remove the shadow cast by ball caps, favored by most fishermen on the water.

Anglers should remember to always shoot with the sun at their back. If not, the picture will look washed out. And when that sun is at your back, be mindful of your own shadow.

A clean background is also important. Shoot with a blue sky and blue water in the background. Don't wait until you get back to the boat ramp or even worse, your driveway, to shoot the picture. Keep the background simple and natural.

Eliminate as much clutter (fishing rods, tee tops, etc.) from the photograph as possible. Look at the details before you shoot. If your subject is shirtless, wait until they cover up; nothing ruins a great fishing photo like a trophy-sized beer belly.

Another common mistake is that many anglers stand too far from the subject. Get close. When you look through the viewfinder, fill up the frame with the angler and the fish.

In most fishing shots, the angler holds the fish horizontally, which means you'll have a lot of sky or water in the frame. To counter that, have your subject hold the fish at an angle.

Once you have a great fishing photo, take a moment to record the pertinent details, such as what species, and when and where it was caught.

Include information such as the angler's name (correct spelling, please), age and hometown, as well as the approximate length and weight of the fish.

You won't believe how many people cannot tell the difference between a black and gag grouper on the boat.

Imagine how hard it is in a photo.


Captainís Corner: Go with live shrimp in deep water

Water temperatures are around 62 degrees throughout most of the bay, so bait has pushed off deep and, for the most part, been ineffective. The cooler water has the fish hunkered down and their metabolism has slowed. When this happens, the inshore fis...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Captainís Corner: Bottom fishing is good with dropping gulf water temperatures

The past few weeks have delivered lots of cold air, dropping water temperatures in the gulf. Thermometers are reading in the low 60s. This is going to change a few things closer to shore. Anglers will find an absence of kingfish on many of the spots ...
Published: 12/16/17

Captainís Corner: Look for that strong speckled trout bite on grass flats

The speckled trout bite has taken off nicely after the first good cold front last weekend. You will find a consistent bite along the grass flats from Apollo Beach down to Pinellas Point. The sweet spot seems to be 4-6 feet of water. If you can find s...
Published: 12/15/17

Captainís Corner: Drop in gulf water temperature means itís sea trout time

The gulf temperature has dropped significantly since our first real cold front last week. One day the water was in the mid 70s, then after the front, it fell to the low 60s. That caused speckled sea trout to become a reliable target. Redfish have bee...
Published: 12/14/17

Captainís Corner: Good time for shallow-water flats fishing

Shallow-water flats fishing can be very exciting this time of year. Trout and redfish are available in good numbers, and the opportunities to catch some gator trout have made recent trips very rewarding. Some of the largest trout have been in very sk...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/13/17

Captainís Corner: Seek clear water for bottom fishing as temperatures plummet

The great weather, calm seas and exceptional fishing we experienced at the end of November and beginning of December came to a screeching halt with the cold front that came through. Surface water temperatures plummeted from an unseasonable 71 degrees...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Captainís Corner: Sheepshead action lively in cooler weather

Conditions after the cold front are cool and are going to be for a while. That doesnít mean you canít or shouldnít fish. Many anglers get stuck on snook, reds and trout and forget how fun it is to catch sheepshead. Many reefs are already holding good...
Published: 12/09/17
Updated: 12/10/17

Captainís Corner: Fishing will return to normal, but when?

The severity of this cold front will determine the fishing forecast for the next several days. Bait that had been abundant inshore will scatter. Nearshore gulf waters will muddy, and water temperatures. at least temporarily. will plummet. How cold, h...
Published: 12/08/17
Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

I canít believe we are in the last month of the year. And while this is one of my favorite months to fish, it will be controlled by weather. As cold fronts become more frequent and harsh, planning your trips around them will make the biggest differen...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/09/17

Captainís Corner: Strong results for redfish, speckled trout

This is a great time for variety. Combined trips for speckled trout and redfish are achieving excellent results. With the correct approach, great catches of both species are a reality now. The best anglers use the lightest tackle. Light rods and reel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17