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Updated: 02/25/2016 08:30:12AM

Enjoying paradise

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By Capt. Van Hubbard

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Wow, we do live in paradise and this is how it’s supposed to be: Blue skies and light breezes. Fishing has a long way to go to satisfy a spoiled old salt like me, but this past week has been a marked improvement. Sheepshead and some snapper are on the local artificial reefs. Redmouth grunts (or silver snapper, just because it sounds better) are abundant and tasty, even though they are small. If you get farther out, lane snapper are chewing it up again. No, they’re not as big as grouper, but they’re as good an eating fish as we can find. Grouper are more trouble than they’re worth for the few fish we can keep. The snapper provide fast action and easy to clean. Pan-fry some and see for yourself.

Everyone has their favorite rigs, but we use 20-pound spinning gear with one-ounce sinker on fluorocarbon leader with a 1/0 circle hook. Look closely for signs of hard bottom on your sounder. Live shrimp are best, but cutbait and squid will also produce fish. Keep your bait presentations small because these are small-mouthed fish. Let the fish eat on it long enough to get the hook inside his mouth. If you are consistently pulling up half a shrimp, slow down. Most of us are too quick to set the hook. Remember these are circle hooks. I lift the rod slowly, just enough to feel if there’s resistance, and then pull up against the fish. If I don’t feel any resistance, I just slowly lower it back down to the bottom. If you aren’t feeling any bites, check your bait — you might be fishing on credit!

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