FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- If you don't have a boat but want to catch fish, then Steve Kantner's new book "The Ultimate Guide to Fishing South Florida on Foot" is required reading.
Kantner, 66, of Fort Lauderdale, has fished the region from beaches, piers, docks, spillways, canal banks and roads for nearly 60 years.
In his book, he shares everything you need to know about where, when and how to catch fish ranging from snook, bass and tarpon to mackerel, pompano and grass carp on everything from fly and spinning rods to heavy duty conventional outfits.
Even if you have a boat, you'll catch more fish after reading this book.
Kantner goes into great detail about what lures, flies and baits to use and how to rig them. The book also includes detailed instructions on places to fish and how to get there, and is crammed with color photos of fish, lures and fishing spots, as well as maps.
Known as the Land Captain, Kantner covers fishing the Everglades from shore and from a canoe, fishing urban canals from West Palm Beach to Homestead and fishing salt water from beaches, piers, jetties and bridges.
There's also information you can't get anywhere else, like what side of a canal snook and tarpon will swim on during the incoming and falling tide.
Published by Stackpole Books, with a suggested retail price of $29.95, the 260-page softcover book is available at area tackle stores and numerous online sites.
I have fished with Kantner many times over the past 20 years and I've never ceased to be amazed by how he can glance at the water and figure out exactly what we need to do.
After reading his book, I now know that he considers the wind strength and direction, the tide stage, the water clarity and flow and the presence of bait, among other factors.
If conditions are right, we'll fish. But rather than just flinging a lure or fly or live bait into the water, Kantner puts it in a specific spot and retrieves it a certain way to elicit strikes from the fish we're after.
My trip with Kantner this past Saturday was a perfect example. We'd heard reports of snook biting flies and small plugs off local beaches, but with unstable, stormy weather in the forecast, Kantner said the prospects were not good. So instead we headed west to the canal along Griffin Road in Davie to fish for peacock bass and grass carp with Kantner's buddy Fred Ade.
Ade, of Cooper City, frequently fly fishes in the canal and has a good feel for what the fish are doing. Soon after we met him there, the skies opened, so we sat out the storm in our vehicles, and I was glad we weren't on the beach somewhere.
When the rain stopped, we headed to a ficus tree that both men knew about where ripe berries would fall into the water and be eaten by grass carp.
The problem, Kantner said, was a lack of wind, so the berries were falling only every now and then. With a breeze, berries would have been constantly dropping and the carp would have been feeding with abandon.
Still, Kantner made several casts with a berry fly, which he describes how to make in the book. He had one carp grab the fly and spit it, but none of the other fish showed any interest.
While Kantner fooled with the carp, Ade cast a fly in the middle of the canal for tarpon and got a hit that turned out to be a peacock bass.
Then we were off to another stretch of canal with bedding peacocks. Kantner pointed one out to me, gave me his fly rod and then explained how to catch the fish:
I was to drop the fly close to the peacock and let him blow it away from the bed. After doing that several times, I was to quickly strip the fly past the agitated peacock. On my third attempt, the fish charged out and grabbed the fly and, after a spirited battle, I landed and released the fish.
It was textbook Steve Kantner.
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