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Updated: 08/21/2014 08:00:02AM

The changing face of reef fishing

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By Capt. Ralph Allen

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Mrs. Capt. Ralph is very wise and often gives me insightful counsel which helps me to steer my course through life. A good example of this wisdom came last week, when she pointed out that our clan was way, way overdue for a family fishing get-together and then suggested that an offshore adventure might be fun for us and the kids. Guys seldom are able to gracefully accept advice from their gals. I at first offered some token resistance to her prodding by referencing our busy and diverse work schedules, but in reality there was no denying that she was on target with her observations. As a result, when the sun rose last Saturday morning, wife Patti, daughters Jan and Elissa, Jan’s husband Kyle and I found ourselves loading the boat for a trip into the Gulf.

Our objectives were probably the same as the goals for most anglers on most fishing trips: We wanted to have fun, we wanted to catch a bunch of fish, and we wanted to end up with enough fillets that we’d be able to enjoy at least a few meals. A day spent dropping baits on some of Southwest Florida’s very productive offshore rocky areas is an almost sure-fire way to catch fish, though we took a slightly different approach than is followed by many Gulf fishermen. Rather than charging way off over the horizon to drop heavy tackle into very deep water in search of lunker grouper, we opted to stay within about 15 miles of the coast and to fish with light tackle for snapper, triggerfish, and whatever else might bend a pole.

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