The great outdoors is…well–great. The trouble is, human exposure to these often delicate ecosystems can lead to damage, pollution and even full-stop extinctions if not carefully monitored. Your favorite waterway to boat or fish in is no different. For that reason, it is important to know the easy ways you can enjoy eco-friendly boating without sacrificing the fun of getting out on the water with friends and family.
Five Easy Ways to Implement Eco-Friendly Boating Techniques
- See the Signs: Many waterways, especially near vulnerable flora and fauna (manatees, seagrass, coral, etc.), will post “no wake” signs that warn boaters to slow their vessels. High-speed boats can cause wakes that damage shorelines and make it more difficult to maneuver around seagrasses and slow-moving wildlife. Just as you should in a car, follow posted speed limits and heed all warning signs.
- Don’t Spill: Fuel and oil are both awful for the environment. Though you may be extra careful when filling your oil and fuel tanks on the water, you may not be able to avoid a spill. Add to that, the risk of your engine or tanks leaking these pollutants and you can see why it is so important to report any incidences of oil or gas leaks to the Environmental Protection Agency as soon as possible. If you come across a vessel leaking or dumping pollutants, it is your responsibility to report it as well.
- Maintenance and Mess: Always ensure that your engine is up to snuff before hitting the water. It is especially important to check all hoses, which can become brittle after months of exposure to the sun and water.
- Trash Troubles: Do your part to ensure that no one on your boat is throwing garbage overboard. It is tempting to simply toss that soda can or potato chip bag into the open water, but this has an immediate and terrible impact on the entire ecosystem, no matter how little the litter.
- Overfishing: If you’re new to fishing, you may not realize that there are strict regulations on both saltwater and freshwater fishing to avoid overfishing or the capture of protected species. Follow these rules to stay on the right side of the law and preserve the delicate ecosystem.
If you love boating, you must also love and respect Mother Nature. Do your part every time you hit the water by following waterway speed limits and warnings, reporting oil and fuel spills, maintaining your engine and never littering. As boating and fishing enthusiasts, we are also the guardians of the waters we love spending our time on.
Smart, eco-friendly boating has come a long way since the “save the manatees” days (a campaign that actually accomplished just that). With more awareness, there is no excuse for leaving our waterways worse for future generations of boaters, fishers and anglers.
Though the movie, Jaws, has terrified generations of beachgoers, divers and boaters, as it turns out, a great white holds nothing on an invasive species taking over the waters North Carolina down to parts of South America and the Gulf of Mexico. Its name is “lionfish” and, though not king of the jungle, this invasive species has the potential to have a quite destructive reign over our waters.
Luckily, people like us like boating, and many boaters also enjoy fishing and angling across our coastlines. Yes, we are saying that you can make a difference in the world by catching your dinner tonight.
But let’s get some facts on the lionfish first.
What You Need to Know Before Catching and Cooking Lionfish
- Are Lionfish Dangerous? Lionfish have 13 sharp spines that are venomous and should be avoided when catching these creatures. These spines must be removed before cooking to avoid injury. When cleaning a lionfish, it is recommended that your use a pair of puncture-proof gloves to make the process both easier and safer.
- Can I Eat Lionfish? Not only is lionfish edible, it is now served in many restaurants in an effort to drive down the numbers of the invasive species. Heat neutralizes the lionfish’s venomous spines (though it’s still recommended to just remove them beforehand) and the meat of the fish is apparently mild and easy to prepare as everything from filets to fish tacos.
- How Can I Catch Lionfish? Unfortunately, lionfish are rarely caught on lines. Instead, you’ll have to resort to spearfishing or using a net. Note that the lionfish can be found year round and have an unlimited daily bag limit, so fish away. If you don’t care to catch the fish yourself, contact the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), Nonindigenous Aquatic Species (NAS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to report sightings.
- How Do I Treat a Lionfish Sting? If stung, do not panic. The venom of a lionfish, though painful, is rarely deadly.
- Immediately get back on your boat and inspect the wound.
- If necessary, remove any remnant of the lionfish’s spine and disinfect the area.
- Run the injury under hot but non-scalding water, then let it soak for approximately 30 minutes.
- Contact the Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 and seek professional medical attention as soon as possible.
Again, this injury has very low chances of being life threatening, but it is better for have a professional monitor your reaction to the toxin than go without treatment.
With a high reproduction rate and no natural predators in our waters, we have to step up and start eating the lionfish before it eats the the native fish of our waters.
We know, we know. It’s tough–yet another reason to get out on your boat and spend the day on the water, just to go home to a fresh fish dinner. However, lionfish are our burden; and we are hungry for more.
There are few things more hotly contested than fishing spots. Like trying to compile a list of the best pizza toppings of all time. You are bound to upset the mushroom and sausage crowd if you dare to leave it off of your list. In that way, our list of locations for the best fishing in Texas is kind of like pizza.
Have we lost you yet?
The point is, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the best fishing in Texas. The famously sizeable Lone Star State offers more than a few options for those looking to reel in some Texas-sized fun.
(Some of) The Best Fishing in Texas
- Toledo Bend Reservoir: Featuring excellent sunfish and largemouth bass and known as a quality year-round fishery, the Toledo Bend Reservoir is the largest man-made body of water in the South.
- Port Mansfield: Located on the Laguna Madre, this saltwater fishing favorite features plentiful speckled trout and easy access to the Gulf.
- Lake Texoma: If you’re in search of bass and catfish, this is your spot. Featuring abundant striped bass, smallmouth bass, blue catfish and a number of others, this large reservoir should not be overlooked.
- Lake Fork: One of the country’s top trophy bass lakes, Lake Fork serves up plentiful largemouth bass and catfish, as well as some crappie and sunfish in the spring and summer.
- Rollover Pass: Summer and fall fishing at its finest, this man-made straight is an extremely active fishing spot on the Bolivar Peninsula that connects East Bay with the Gulf.
If you’re an active fishing enthusiast visiting for the first time or a local who has recently caught the fishing bug, give these spots a try for some of the best fishing in Texas. Though these are far from all of the best fishing spots in the state, this list may just get you started off with a few big stories to tell. Don’t be afraid to frequent a few fishing supplies and bait shops to meet fellow boaters and anglers–they may be able to teach you a thing or two.
As always, boat safely and enjoy your time on the water!
For more fishing spots in Texas: http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/texas/fishing-tx/
“Let’s go fishing.” The phrase perks the ears, raises the blood pressure and gets many a boater champing at the bit. There is nothing like hitting your favorite fishing spot at the crack of dawn, cool breeze mixing with the warmth of the day’s first rays of sunlight. Spending the day catching (or at least trying to catch) Florida fish is a Sunshine State pastime that we love.
However, Florida is such an eclectic bastion of fishing hot spots that it’s sometimes hard to figure out exactly which Florida fish are in season and where to drop your lure.
Which Florida Fish Can I Catch?
- Grouper – Generally found at lower depths, there are multiple species of grouper found throughout West and Southwest Florida.
- King Mackerel – Often found near shore and migrating south during cooler months, this fish is popular among tournament fishermen.
- Red Drum – Residing in mostly shallow, salty or brackish waters of Southwest Florida, these fish used to be overfished but are now allowed to catch up to two fish per day (outside of federal waters).
- Red Snapper – This pink-hued Florida fish is allowed to be caught in the Gulf up to nine nautical miles from shore and up to three nautical miles in the Atlantic.
- Sailfish – A fish known for its sword-like nose, large dorsal fin and ability to jump out of the water, this beauty is a prized catch in the tropical/subtropical waters of South Florida.
- Spotted Sea Trout – Found in the shallower waters of Indian River Lagoon and Clearwater areas, this is another extremely popular sportfish.
- Tarpon – Though not known for its good eating, tarpon is a gamefish that’s sure to put up a noble fight. Find this super popular gamefish across the east of the state, including Tampa, the Keys, and Fort Myers.
Note that all of the fish listed above may have varying rules and regulations associated with them. To make sure you’re following Florida’s fishing regulations, be sure to check in on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for a comprehensive list. If you need any help finding a boat lift that can help keep your vessel safe after that big fishing trip, we may just know a thing or two. Oh, and feel free to let us know if you need help with leftovers from your fish fry.
Spinners, spoons, poppers, jigs; no we’re not listing the latest in hip-hop slang that you’ll have to get your kids to translate. We’re talking bait and lures, one of the biggest battles raging in many a fishing household. Are bait or lures better for your favorite fishing hole? Well, we’re going to have to play Switzerland in this conflict, and for good reason: both natural bait and artificial lures have their respective pros and cons depending on your fishing spot and targeted fish. So, what do you need to know before picking the right tools for your next fishing foray?
Bait or Lures: Variations, Pros and Cons
Live bait is mostly utilized in freshwater fishing, including a number of small critters, such as worms, minnows, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, snails, fish roe and leeches. Though the squeamish may have some trouble with this practice, live bait has been used for eons, preferred by many for its natural color, odor and texture. There is no beating the allure of all-natural bait when it comes to sheer, instinctual attraction for many fish.
Live bait is not without its downsides, however. For one, it’s often much more work to ensure that your bait is kept alive and kicking. Besides storage, acquiring local bait can sometimes be a tall order. Sure, you could just pick up bait from anywhere, but local bait is often much more effective since it’s familiar to the fish that you’re trying to reel in.
To the live bait fans, we say the most sincere form of flattery is imitation, and that is precisely the aim of artificial lures. Providing a level of variety and options for any fishing hole, artificial lures have live bait beat when it comes to flexibility. Though you’d be hard-pressed to find a lure that can perfectly imitate live bait, many modern lures do a pretty darn good job. Crankbaits, plugs, flies, jigs, spinners, spoons, poppers and more can all add up to an arsenal of options regardless of where you’re casting your reel.
On the downside, again, at best, these lures are simply imitations of the real prey of the fish you’re trying to catch. Not to mention the learning curve of mastering the right tool for the job. Are you looking to catch fish at the surface, subsurface or bottom levels? Should I go high or low tech? What colors or movement will work best? There are often a stifling amount of questions that could deter beginners from making a decision.
Though choosing between live bait and artificial lures is not always an easy decision to make, always remember that fishing is supposed to be fun. Don’t sweat the small stuff when planning your first fishing fun. As always, this boating and fishing community that we’re all a part of is more than happy to share a few friendly tips, so don’t be afraid to ask for some advice when picking up your gear. You may have to sit through a big fish story or two, but you may just come back from your trip with a few stories to tell of your own.
For more information on the bait or lures debate: http://www.discoverboating.com/resources/article.aspx?id=532