Stuart, Florida and Hope Town, Abaco Now “Sister Cities”

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
Hope Town is the home of the Elbow Reef Lighthouse, probably the most recognizable land mark in Abaco.

Hope Town is the home of the Elbow Reef Lighthouse, probably the most recognizable land mark in Abaco.

On the weekend of July 25th, City of Stuart Mayor Troy MacDonald, along with his wife Portia Scott and Ricardo Treco, Consul General of the Bahamas Consulate in Miami, Florida paid a formal courtesy call to Hope Town District, Elbow Cay, Abaco. During this visit the group signed a formal resolution declaring Hope Town, Abaco and Stuart, Florida “Sister Cities”. Greeting the Mayor and his group at the new Marsh Harbour Airport terminal were Edison Key, Member of Parliament for Central and South Abaco, Senator Gary Sawyer, members of the Hope Town District Council led by Chief Councillor Jeremy Sweeting, Island Administrator Preston Cunningham, Abaco Director of Tourism Wynsome Ferguson and Abaco Superintendent of Police Noel Curry.

Stuart, Florida has long been considered the Gateway to the Bahamas. Countless fishing and boating enthusiast from around the U.S. have utilized Stuart as a waypoint in their travels to and from the Northern Bahamas for decades. This is particularly true for boaters from the Gulf of Mexico that utilize the Cross Florida Canal/Okeechobee Waterway to reach Florida’s east coast, as well as boaters traveling the Intracoastal Waterway from points north. In addition, there are many Stuart residents that are second homeowners in the Abacos.  The formalization of this relationship will allow for increased tourism promotion between the two destinations as well as provide enhanced cultural and economic opportunities.

Wading The Flats For Summer Redfish

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Special Correspondent Tobin Strickland

The Desperado 22’ chewed up waves like nobody’s business. We can all agree that this spring, in addition to being cooler, has been windier and longer. We set our course for the grass flats and let the Desperado take care of business while cranking tunes on the Rockford Fosgate stereo system.

We were wading a grass flat for redfish looking for flags to tell us where they were going to show up today. Many times we talk about winter and cold-weather wading gear, but warm-water wading gear gets overlooked. Protecting our feet and skin are of the highest safety priorities during wet wading.

In the past it was thought OK to wade with high-top tennis shoes and cotton socks. One or two wades on sand flats with degraded shell will quickly change your mind. Those tiny shell fragments easily rub your skin raw and allow the flesh-eating bacteria vibrio vulnificus an open sore to enter. The Gaurd Socks made by Simms Fishing are 4mm neoprene socks designed to protect your skin in your wading boot.

redfish heating up (1)

Choosing a quality well-designed wading boot is also essential to protect your feet and ankles from scrapes and cuts as well as from that redfish hooked with multiple trebles as it runs between your feet. Wear long pants to protect from stinking jelly fish, and wear a quality wicking long-sleeve shirt with a sun collar to keep the sun off your neck and face. Follow these simple summer wade-fishing rules, and you’ll certainly have many more days on the water ahead of you.

As July heats up, so will the redfish action. Increasing water temperatures will increase the metabolism of redfish in the afternoons, causing them to surge the flats and shallow oyster reefs in small schools from 10 to 15 fish ranging in size from the lower to upper end of the slot. They tend to run in packs of similar age.

Find a flat with fish. An area with 20- to 22-inch redfish will likely have you repeating the scenario over and over. Generally, the larger redfish are going to found on main bay and secondary bay shoreline structure nearer deeper water. These are fish that have moved away from the juvenile baitfish of the marsh and are looking for bigger meals, mullet, menhaden and an occasional crab. These will all be upper-slot reds, and in the summer they’ll have ravenous appetites.

Probably the biggest learning factor to this style of fishing can be the speed at which the schools can move. These fish aren’t tailing for shrimp and crabs in the grass. They are aggressive and charge schools of baitfish and white shrimp utilizing their large tails and forceful surges to concentrate their quarry. The angler in search of these fish will have to be ready to be on the move as well. Top lure choices will be plastic baits on a ¼- to 3/8-ounce jig head, as well as ½-ounce gold spoons. The redfish will eat practically anything that gets in their way. The key is hunting them aggressively in the right areas and boat positioning. No one does this better than Capt Brent Juarez of Galveston, Texas.

Boat Towing Tips

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014


If your boat trailer has brakes, typically they’re of the surge type. A whole column can be written on maintaining and repairing surge brakes. We’ll get to that in another issue. A quick check over includes:

  • Check fluid level in the coupler master cylinder reservoir and top off if necessary. Be sure to use the correct type of fluid for your system (check with your dealer).
  • Ensure there’s no water in the reservoir (if so, the system must be drained, cleaned and refilled with fresh fluid).
  • Check the brake lines and fittings for excess rust, rust-through or kinks, cuts and breaks.
  • Tow a short distance and stop forcibly, ensuring that the surge brakes are doing their job.
  • Check the safety breakaway cable and make sure it’s not kinked, frayed or broken—and connect it to the hitch when towing!


While you’re checking the brakes, the tires and wheels should be given the once-over. Check for correct tire pressure, and give the tires a visual check for sidewall cracking or abnormal tread wear. Look underneath at the axle, suspension and mounting hardware as you check for cracks, rust and loose fasteners. Make sure the fenders aren’t so close to the tires that they’ll cut into them. Check the lug nuts for proper tightness. Take a look at the wheel bearings to make sure they have enough grease. Grease them or change the grease if necessary. Finally, lie on a creeper and roll around under the trailer as you visually inspect the frame for cracks, rust or broken frame members.


With the vehicle, tires and tools loaded, check the trailer’s ride attitude. Is it level, or tilted to one side? Make sure your load is distributed evenly both side-to-side and fore-to-aft.

Lastly, make sure your load is secured with adequate tie downs and that all the tie downs are in good condition with no frayed webbing or loose ratcheting mechanisms. While a complete checkup like this can delay your departure for a half-hour, you’ll be surprised at how much more confident you are while trailering—and that can translate to a more-rested attitude out on the water. That’s what it’s all about, right? After all, what’s worse—getting there a half-hour later due to a thorough pre-trip check, or a day or more later due to a malfunction that could have been corrected before the trip?

Boat Towing Tips

A Short History of Boats

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013


“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

Kenneth Grahame (1859 – 1932)

What are we to make of this love affair mankind has with vessels that transport us to and fro across the world’s waterways? Since as early as the Mesolithic age (10,000 to 5,000 BC) the human race has been drawn to bodies of water for both sustenance and serenity, and has, in the process, devised countless variations of watercraft designed to either float or plane them atop these waters. Whether propelled by human power, sails or motors, boats and boating is a way of life that has been embraced by every civilization, in every era, that has lived astride or had access to waterways since the middle of the Stone Age.

The earliest boats for which we have archaeological evidence are logboats, or dugouts—hollowed out tree trunks propelled by crude paddles dating back to the Mesolithic age. A seaworthy vessel constructed from reeds and tar from around this same time period has also been recovered in the Middle East. Aside from their use as a means to hunt and gather varied species of fish, since ancient times boats have served as a viable and economical means of transport for everything from commerce to warfare. The Mesopotamian rivers of the Nile, Tigris and Euphrates were host to a vast transportation network from 300 BC onwards. The Phoenicians—thought to be the greatest of the ancient world seafarers—advanced the art of boat building to include sailing vessels and warships that commanded the Mediterranean, but which were, eventually, supplanted by Bronze Age advances in ship construction made by the Greeks and, later, the Romans. In the East, boats made commerce viable in the Indus Valley Civilization and in its trade route connections with Mesopotamia.

When one looks at all the technological advances and materials available in boats today, it is almost difficult to fathom that, up until the mid 19th century, vessels were almost exclusively constructed from natural materials. Even the first boats built with either iron or steel frames were planked by wood. During the 1930s, boats and ships constructed with steel from frame to plating were gradually replacing many, if not most, of the world’s wooden boats used for industrial purposes—including fishing fleets. By the 1960s a new material comprised of glass-reinforced plastic, or fiberglass (Fibre Reinforced Plastic, or FRP boats) became the standard for boat construction—especially those designed for recreational use. Today, advances in FRP construction includes composites made from KevlarTM, or other similar advances in the design and manufacture of plastics.

Throughout the ages—regardless of the materials used for the construction of vessels, the means of propulsion have also advanced from the earliest types which utilized human power, such as poling, paddling and rowing, to the use of simple to extensive arrays of sails to harness the power of the wind. With the advent of steam as a means of generating power, motor powered propellers transformed commerce, human transport and warfare by vastly increasing both the speed and capacity of vessels throughout the modern world. The internal combustion engine and both inboard and outboard motors fueled by diesel, gasoline and heavy fuel oil eventually supplanted steam power. Today water jets and air fans are used to propel the ever-growing and popular personal watercraft and airboats that are available to consumers.

Common to boaters of all ages was, and still is, the necessity to navigate from one destination to another whether it is up or down a river, across a lake, or circum-navigating an ocean. The earliest navigators stayed close to shore and utilized piloting, the sighting by human eye of landmarks and particular characteristics of land masses, to get from place to place. This method was soon expanded to include celestial means of dead reckoning navigation that is still is use today, along with the use of such tools as the compass and the astrolabe. With the figurative fixing of longitude and latitude on the world’s surface, mariners were able to utilize maps in conjunction with their various tools to determine their position and course more accurately. Twentieth-century advances in navigation methods included the gyroscopic compass, radar, and Loran, or hyperbolic navigation system. Today, of course, modern boaters have only to access their GPS (Global Positioning System) to pinpoint, via satellite, precisely where they are and exactly where they’re headed.

Throughout the history of the advances of the world’s many and varied types of vessels, the spirit that drives us to enjoy boats and boating, whether for fishing or just a quit day’s escape from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, has ever remained the same: a man, a woman compelled by some instinctual, perhaps primitive urge to leave this land we were born to and venture out there, on the water.

Outfitting Your Boat for Offshore Fishing

Monday, June 3rd, 2013


One of the most enjoyable experiences we have in our industry is helping our clients outfit or purchase their boat for offshore waters. Sharing the optimism of new and endless fishing and boating opportunities is special to us and we take a lot of pride in our customer’s success stories and growth. A lot of people who move to a coastal location or have just purchased their first vessel may feel intimidated as to what equipment is mandated by law, needed for success and what may be simply a waste of money and time. With modern marine technology being what it is and the endless fishing rods, reels and tackle on the market, minimizing your learning curve is an asset to the offshore fishing rookie.

When working with a new boater in prioritizing equipment, safety gear and knowledge always trump the wants. With that in mind, here are a few tips to get a new offshore boater started.

First and foremost, take a boater’s education course. Our school offers a lot of fishing curriculum, but the Coast Guard Auxiliary or your local Power Squadron should be the first call you make after signing the paperwork on your new boat. Nothing trumps education and experience on the water. Enroll in a structured course and take copious notes. Commit what you learn to memory and put it to use on the water. Take a more experienced boater along with you on your first few ventures. Offer to buy them lunch at a waterfront restaurant and you will be amazed at what knowledge they will share with you. Boaters enjoy helping other boaters—take advantage of it.

Spend more money on safety gear and buy more than the minimum gear required; with lifejackets and flares being good examples of such. If you plan on spending a lot of time in open waters, invest in good Type I lifejackets. These are designed for rougher waters, have more built in floatation and will turn an unconscious person over so they can breathe. Flares should also be of the proper specifications for where you are boating. Don’t buy cheap hand-held flares for near coastal waters and expect a good response when you fire them up twenty-five miles offshore.

A quality GPS and fish finder, VHF radio and some sort of emergency locator are necessary. Never have I heard a fisherman complain that the screen size on his GPS is too big or his VHF radio transmitted too far. Get the most your budget will allow to avoid regrets and wasted money down the road. A Personal Locator Beacon (P.L.B.) such as a “SPOT” messenger is a great alternative to an expensive and bulky E.P.I.R.B. and is better than nothing. What I like about my SPOT is that my family and friends can track my adventures and always know where I am located in case of an emergency.

Once the required safety gear and electronics are narrowed down, I start looking at things like redundant bilge pumps and ground tackle. There is no worse feeling that seeing water sloshing around in the bilge and wondering why the auto-float switch hasn’t kicked on yet. Even more disturbing is hitting the manual bilge pump and nothing happens. A secondary bilge pump, wired to a separate battery is a must, as is a manual bilge pump.

As you may already know, the majority of fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is bottom fishing for bottom dwellers. I see a lot of guys make the mistake of using the anchor, chain and line that came with their vessel and wonder why the boat keeps drifting off the mark. Properly match up the correct size anchor for your boat and have more than enough chain and as much line as you can fit in the space provided. One thing people forget is that an anchor is also a safety item. Imagine sitting off the southwest Florida coast with a good east wind and having an engine failure. The wind will push you out towards deeper water, making a tow or rescue more difficult unless your anchor will hold you firmly in a stationary position.

A ditch bag is also great peace of mind should something catastrophic happen and you have to go in the drink. Having a handheld GPS and VHF radio, along with a blow up raft and bottled waters will greatly up your survival odds.

Moving away from all of the serious talk, fishing tackle is the next area you should invest in with quality and not necessarily quantity the objective. Having one or two good rod and reel combos that can handle multiple tasks is a better value than a cheap setup for every species of fish that swims. Shimano TLD 25’s and Penn 330 GTI’s with a compatible 7’ Star rod rated for 30 lb class line will handle all grouper, cobia, kingfish and shark needs, while a Shimano Baitrunner or Penn Battle spinning reels on matching rods will handle all casting chores and snapper fishing.

An assortment of circle hooks ranging in size from 1/0 to 8/0 and leader from 20 lb to 60 lb will suffice in most scenarios. Sinkers, barrel swivels, a few lures and a good pair of pliers/cutters will round out the tackle box. Venting tools, de-hookers and any other mandated equipment should also be obtained. One other area that I see a lot of wasted money is in fillet knives. Again, here is where you get what you pay for, but don’t forego one more life jacket over a high-end knife. This is where we are getting more into the wants than the needs.

The best tool you can have on a boat is an educated, experienced skipper at the helm. Don’t leave common sense at the dock and if it doesn’t feel right don’t do it. Pay attention to your surroundings, other boats and the weather. One thing that scares me is the boater that knows it all, has done it before and is experienced. The best means to a safe experience on the water is a good attitude and an open mind.

Tidying up Your Boat and Making It Fishing Ready

Monday, March 25th, 2013


Freshwater anglers use boats a lot in their search for the best catch. These include canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, small jon boats, V-bottoms for larger waters, etc. Often they are best for one to two anglers, since most range from ten feet to 20 feet in length.

This means that they lack extra space for the essentials of fishing, after you have stored the required PFDs (or wear them—which is even better). Tackle boxes take up deck space and you still have to include several or more rigged rods.

The best way to store rods on a small freshwater fishing boat is to use rod racks. These are available from tackle shops, but you can also easily make your own.

Check with a Home Depot, Lowe’s or similar outlet for a length of PVC pipe. The best to get for your purposes is the schedule 120 (thin wall) in sizes 1-1/2 inch, 2 inch or 2-1/2 inch. The diameter you need is based on how you are going to use the pipe. For inserting handles the 2 to 2-1/2 inch diameter is best. This is ideal for vertical rod holders for sheathing handles on canoes, paddleboats and kayaks. You only need about a six- to 12-inch length to hold the handle; the tip end of the rod sticking straight up.

To keep the rods from swinging around, cut an inch-wide slot in one end to stabilize the stem of a mounted spinning reel. Cut a wider slot to do the same thing for a casting (revolving spool) rod.

For supporting rods horizontally, use 1-1/2 inch or 2 inch diameter pipe, rigging it to the inside of the boat or outside (kayaks and paddle boats) to hold a rod as a sword fits into a sheath. For the handle end, use larger diameter PVC of 2 or 2-1/2 inch into which to “back up” the handle of the rod after sheathing the tip.

You can also flare the end of the pipe. For this you will need a glass soft drink bottle, a torch to heat the pipe and a towel. Stand the bottle upright and gently heat the end of the pipe with a torch. Realize that you want to soften it—not melt it or burn it black.

With the pipe softened, hold it with a towel and slowly push it down on the neck of the bottle. (The towel is a good safety implement should the bottle break.) The bottleneck will easily flare the end of the pipe. Hold the pipe in place on the bottle until it cools.

Once you have your pipe cut to length, notched, and flared, figure out how to fasten it to your boat. In some cases, you can buy brackets for this, in other cases you may have to make brackets of pipe strapping.

With this, you have an easy way to store spinning, casting and fly rods. Using this method, I have racks for six rods on each side of my 14-foot jon boat.

BoatsGo Daily Deals

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Daily deal websites are awesome, right? There’s no denying that sites like Groupon are an amazing resource for unbeatable deals and discounts. But what if you don’t get your haircut at the mall, already have a gym membership, and don’t need another cheesy family portrait? If this is the case for you, these types of daily deal websites have probably lost your interest — at least, until now.

[sws_pullquote_right]“We are new, fresh, young, and nerdy. We know boats and we know technology.”
Stephen Munive
Stephen Munive, founder of, looks to make daily deals appealing again. Scheduled to launch this coming month, the new company aims to be the first and only daily deals website for boaters.

As an online products services portal dedicated exclusively to those in the pleasure boating community and the merchant businesses that serve them, BoatsGo will be offering deals ranging from SCUBA certification courses to boat maintenance work such as hull repair.

“We are new, fresh, young, and nerdy. We know boats and we know technology,” explained Munive.

For easy access to BoatGo’s awesome deals on marine products and services, all you need to do is register on their website for free. Watch the video below to learn more about how BoatsGo works. If you’re a marine vendor and would like to list your product/service on BoatsGo, you can learn more here.

Meet the BoatsGo Crew!

If you’re cruising the waters of South Florida, look out for Stephen and the crew. They’re out to mingle with local boaters every weekend in the 2012 410 Sea Ray Sundancer. You can also find them at the upcoming Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (Oct. 25th – 29th) at booth 3113. Also, be sure to follow them on facebook and twitter!

[slider_pro id="11" effect_type="fade"] is an easy way to find Amazing Deals on Marine Products and Services


Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Dear Fish Wench,

My husband has been bugging me for a couple of years to buy a boat. He loves to fish and with the weather warming up, he is starting to complain all the time about not owning a boat. I have been reluctant to purchase one because I’ve heard that the two best days for a boat owner are the day he buys it and the day he sells it. What should I do?

All Dried Up


How to “Float” Your Trailer, Rather Than Damage it, if You Ever Get “Hung-up”

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Many years ago, A (very wise) older gentleman at Oregon Inlet Fishing Center Boat Ramp showed me how to get my trailer “un” hung, rather than go swimming in 45 degree water and/or destroy my axel(s) trying to muscle it up, and over, the end of the concrete with the power of the truck.

This is something that I have meant to share with the public for years now, but never have. I have seen the results of people getting aggravated and just give the truck more fuel to force the trailer tires up and over the corner of the concrete at the end of the ramp, and it’s not a pretty picture. (more…)

Know Your Way Around a Boat, And How to Operate It

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

There is more to fishing then just fishing

We talk so much, in fly fishing circles, about how to cast into the wind, fight fish and what types of flies to use, but we rarely cover the importance of being able to operate a skiff if called upon to do so.

It’s about safety

It’s simple. If you’re on the water in a boat, and or skiff, miles offshore or somewhere on the flats, and the guide, captain or fishing buddy for some unforeseen reason is unable to run the skiff due to illness or injury it’s a good idea for you, as the angler, to be able to run the skiff back to shore and safety. This may be a seldom experienced scenario, but it has happened to me, and I am relieved and thankful that I was able to operate the boat and perhaps avoid a tragic ending to a fishing trip. (more…)

Self Propelled

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Kayaks were originally developed by the Eskimos over 4,000 years ago. For the most part, they were used to hunt on inland lakes, rivers and coastal waterways.

The word kayak means “man’s boat” or “hunter’s boat” due to the fact that they were always personally made by the man who would use it. These Native Americans would stretch sealskins, sewn by their wives, over a wooden or whalebone frame. They made their vessel waterproof by sealing it with a special skin jacket called a Tuilik that was laced into it. (more…)

Visiting the Hardware Store to Make Your Boat Fish-Worthy

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Visiting the Hardware Store to Make Your Boat Fish-Worthy


For lots of fishermen, a boat is a platform from which you fish. I agree, but I am also inclined to jazz up any boat with some easily added appointments.

Just what you do depends upon whether your boat is a 15-foot canoe or 12-foot pram or stretching out to a 21-footer for a big lake or wide river. Regardless, a trip to the hardware store for some PVC plumbing supplies will help you a lot. (more…)