Saltwater Techniques

Exploring The Salt with Fixed-Line Rods

Article by Alan Luecke

I’ve been interested in multi-species fishing since before it had a name. Seven years ago as I was beginning to explore fly-fishing, I discovered tenkara and fell down the rabbit hole. Since then I’ve split my time between tenkara trout fishing (preferably for wild trout in small streams) and fixed-line fishing for as many species as I can find.

Telescopic rods fit nicely in suitcases, and mine accompany me on every trip. Nowhere has this payed-off more than on our annual winter beach vacations to Isla Mujeres, Mexico and the gulf coast of Florida.

Over time I’ve settled on a basic set up for fishing beaches, sea walls and tide pools. My go to rods are Daiwa Kiyose keiryu rods at 3.3, 4.3 and 5.3 meters. I also bring 2.4 and 1.8 rods for tight places and small fish. Flashy streamers and the ever reliable White Killer Bugger will catch fish, but the reality is that bait is usually required for success. So, I’m fishing keiryu not tenkara with stiff rods and heavy level line(because it’s always windy). Terminal tackle is two BB shot and a #10 or #12 circle hook on 5X tippet. The large Power Isome artificial sandworms from TenkaraBum are my usual bait, but I also use live shrimp when available.

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I’m a walker and wader, not a boater, they don’t fit in the suitcase. If there is access to the water there are probably fish there. The basics of fishing: structure, holes and moving water are the same in saltwater or fresh. I started in small rocky tide pools and then expanded to beaches, jetties, docks and mangroves.

A big surprise for a Kansas boy was the fishing available on flat, open, empty looking beaches with small waves. The thin line of white water at the shore can hold multiple species feeding on the small critters being churned up out of the sand. These fish are usually bright silver in color and totally invisible in the bright light. They range from small Gulf Kingfish (whiting) and Mojarras up to the very exciting and much sought Pompano.

There are a lot of fish in the ocean and figuring out what you just caught is a big part of the fun. I start with the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Fishes and the online guide Fishes: Greater Caribbean, then Google for pictures and finally I just send a photo to my friend Vern and let him find it.

Over these last few years, I’ve caught 40 species of saltwater fish from a very small amount of real estate in a limited amount of time. In the ocean you simply don’t know what’s going to be on the end of the line.

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Alan Luecke is a retired contractor and musician lives that in Kansas City. He chases trout in Missouri spring creeks, the Driftless and the Rocky Mountain west. He fishes for everything else wherever he happens to be.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Tenkara Angler magazine.

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