Largemouth Bass, Shark Fishing, and Barbless vs. Barbless

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It’s hot as hell. You’re sweaty, thirsty and hungry and now you have to tie a new hook.

You can’t tie the hook because you can’t see and your readers are there between the cooler and the bait pit. It doesn’t matter, really, since a combination of sweat and sunscreen got into your eyes and left you both desperate and helpless.

Somehow muscle memory gets you through the work but you’re physically and mentally exhausted and seriously is it still time to take one more minute to pinch the barb of this hook ?

Yeah, probably. Take a deep breath and grab the pliers.

Look: Mako shark goes ballistic after taking hookless bait

Weighing the pros and cons of barbless hooks, you should probably incorporate barb nipping into your routine.

For starters, barbless is obviously better for the fish.

“With many fish regulations now in place, barbless hooks are more suitable than ever,” says Gene Lytwyn, longtime owner-operator of The Fishin’ Hole in Daytona Beach. “With almost every species of fish having either a size limit, a quantity limit or a closed season, we are releasing more fish than ever.

“Barbless hooks cause less trauma and are easier to remove from the fish, so the fish have a better survival rate.”

Looking at that barb, it seems obvious that a fish would have a harder time jerking that hook than a fish without the barb. True, but not if you’re on the ball.

“Barbless hooks require the angler to keep the line taut throughout the fight, otherwise the fish may cast the hook much more easily than they could with a barb hook,” says Lytwyn.

And yes, barbless will end up being better for the person on the other side of the fishing equation. It would be you. Fish often enough with kids or rookies scattered around, it’s only a matter of time before the business end of a hook sinks into the flesh.

How do you like your beard now, hoss?

Of course, you can buy barbless hooks, but you should probably do your own nipping. Some seasoned anglers, and probably some aerophysicists, will point to that little bump on the hook where the barb was most flattened.

This bump is not a barb, but it provides a little extra resistance for a hook that might otherwise slip off a fish’s lip.

Ready for the “however?” Here is.

However, there may be times when the beard is the best.

“When using softer baits like shrimp, the barb will hold the bait better,” says Palm Coast captain Mike Vickers. “The reverse is true when using hard baits such as crabs – the barb makes a large exit hole making it easier to cast the bait.

“When using minnows or mullets I find the type of hook is the main factor. A barbless circle hook is best. With a J hook I find the minnow can literally swim off the hook sometimes.

All things being equal, Vickers says to go barbless.

“I’ve fished a lot of small bodies of water where you’ll catch the same fish multiple times throughout the year,” he says. “The survival rate of fish with barbless versus barbles deep hooks can be as high as 4 to 1.

“I’ve seen fish pass barbless hooks, but I haven’t seen any fish pass barbed hooks.”

This is a guy who pays attention to detail!

SNAPPER: The weekend comes and goes. The word of the season? ‘Help!’

FISH: The idea for Fishbites started with young Billy Carr in New Smyrna Beach

Halifax/Indian River

During the hottest days of summer, your best bet in the intracoastal seems to be early morning around the oyster bars and mangroves, where you might catch a mangrove snapper or summer flounder.

So says Captain Jeff Patterson (Pole Dancer charter), who has spent more time in Ponce Inlet and just beyond to find fish. But even that can be difficult.

“The entry was a little more risky for me,” he says. “The water has been quite dirty, especially at the rising tide and during the first half of the rising tide. I collected redfish, with splits and surges, using live shrimp and pinfish.

Reminder time: Your fishing app probably refers to mangrove snapper as gray snapper. Either way, you can call them good eaters. Must be 10 inches to be legal, and the daily bag limit is five.


BJ Taylor (Southern Bred charters) confirms Patterson’s water quality review and says to be patient with the rising tide, which eventually brings cleaner flooding.

Yet these days it’s mostly croakers and small whiting.

Oh, and the sharks.

“Sharks have been a big problem hitting surf rigs,” Taylor says.

Flagler County

Back to Captain Mike Vickers (Hammock Beach Bait & Tackle) for the north side muster.

“The beaches bring in whiting, trevallies, Spanish mackerel, bluefish and sharks,” he says.

All the usual suspects can be found in ICW and Matanzas Inlet, he adds, but you could be doomed if you wait for the sun to rise above the trees.

“The summer pattern has become firmly established,” says Captain Mike, “so fish early and late in the day, and just after storms for best results.”


While the Sea Spirit found quantity and quality ‘out there’, some of Captain Jeff Patterson’s customers aboard the Pole Dancer requested shark fishing adventures closer to shore.

Coincidentally, or maybe not, the Discovery Channel’s 34th annual Shark Week begins on Sunday.

“There was a bunch of them just outside the cove,” Patterson says. “There were hammerheads, blacknose, blacktip and Atlantic sharpnose mostly. Pointy noses are pretty fun in my opinion – they are 3-4 feet tall and smaller sharks run faster. It’s fun for all ages.

Also: The Halifax Sport Fishing Club‘s annual Kingfisher Tournament is scheduled for August 13, with a Captains meeting on August 11 and an awards banquet on August 14 at First Turn in Port Orange.

More info:

St. John’s

Same old, same old. Climb up with the milkman and exit at Dark-30, you have a chance.

“The first few hours of sunshine will be your most productive for anything you pursue,” says captain Bryn Adams (Highland Park in DeLand).

The best shot at a largemouth bass is not just early, but deep, in the main St. Johns, where the deeper water may be just cool enough to entice a fish to chase food.

Several miles upriver in Astor, Kerry McPherson says afternoon heat and thunderstorms slowed things down at her South Moon fishing camp.

“We get boaters on weekends, but other than that it’s pretty slow,” he says. “Last Friday some people came out and they caught a 9-pound bass, so they were pretty happy.”

Hook, line and clicker

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Please include the first and last name of the angler(s), as well as the type of fish (sometimes we are confused). All are included in our online fishing report, and some occasionally make the print edition.

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