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Skittish Fish

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Do this

Skittish Fish 2

Don’t do this


Why are fish Skittish

Many areas around Amelia Island and the rest of Florida receive heavy fishing pressure and frequent boat traffic.  This makes all species of fish skittish.  When a boat or noisy kayak enters an area the fish know what is next and will leave the area.  So how do you combat this behavior?


A fast-moving boat is easy for fish to detect.  Hull slap is another alarm for fish.  The noise of a trolling motor will also turn fish off.  If fish ignore your lure or disappear be patient and continue to keep the sound to a minimum.   In a kayak be careful how you handle your paddle and any tool that you place on the deck.  In a boat walk with care and use caution when moving rods.   It’s not uncommon for a school of fish to move several hundred yards then turn around and swing by you a few minutes later.  There may be more than one school in an area.  Other times there are small schools or singles waiting until the right tide phase enables them to reach their preferred hangouts.

Those who consistently catch fish in easy-to-find or popular places do it by moving quietly and slowly.    Either drift or use a push pole to move around, then use a Power-Pole or stakeout pin or beach a kayak in a spot while waiting for fish to come within casting range.


Make enough blind casts to cover a stretch of shoreline or a bottom feature such as an oyster bar, sand hole, rocks, or a stump — before moving another 20 or 30 yards and repeating the process.  When casting to an oyster bar first cast the deepest water to the side of the bar then cast closer to the bar.  Each cast should be closer to the bar.  Repeat this on the opposite side of the bar.  The last cast should be over the top of the bar.  Keep your rod tip high to help keep your lure higher in the water column and off the oysters.  Fish sometimes wait for a different tide along a shoreline.   Move the boat or kayak as close to the shoreline as is safe and cast parallel alone the shore keeping your lure in the strike zone.


Use smaller lures to attract more bites from skittish fish.  You may need to downsize your tackle to accommodate smaller lures.  Upon entering the water smaller lures produce less noise and splash, and they appear easier for a fish to catch.  Long battles with tarpon or bull redfish will be more of a challenge with lighter tackle but you will get more strikes with the light line.  Fluoro­carbon leaders help because they resist chafing better than mono, and they are less visible under the water

Three feet of 20-pound fluoro is adequate in areas with heavy fishing pressure and boat traffic.  If small tarpon are in your area or the area has many oyster beds or barnacle-encrusted pilings you may want to increase to 25-pound fluoro.
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Heddon Super Spook & Spook Jr


When downsizing for more finesse consider the comparison of the Heddon Super Spook at 5 inches long and weighs 7/8 of an ounce Heddon Spook Jr at 3 1/2            inches and 1/2 an ounce  


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Owner Zip’n Ziggy


Owner Zip’n Ziggy at 3 1/2 inches and 1/3 of an ounce.



                                                           The Johnson Spoons come in sizes from 1 1/8 inches to

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Johnson Sliver

3 3/4 inches with weights from 1/16 of an ounce to 1 1/8 ounces.  The 2 inch 1/4 ounce gold spoon is an ideal size for skittish fish.



Gulp! Alive! Shrimp

Gulp! Alive! Shrimp

When using live bait particularly shrimp pick the smaller size  around 2 or 3 inches.
Gulp makes a 2 inch Alive Shrimp in a variety of colors. 







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