Better Off Wet Winter 2016

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INSIDE:<br />

WINTER<br />





POOCH!<br />


FOR DOGS<br />


FREE<br />

WINTER <strong>2016</strong><br />



Kodiak Disc Brake, Vortex Hub and<br />

Torsion Axle Assembly<br />

Standard LOADMASTER Features<br />

• Aluminum I-Beam Construction w/Tongue Wrap<br />

• Aluminum Cross Members<br />

• Aluminum Bunk Brackets on Trailers up to<br />

6000# GVWR<br />

• Stainless Bolts/Nuts in Main Frame<br />

• Zinc Plated U-Bolts<br />

• Adjustable Cypress Bunks w/Marine Carpet<br />

• Blue U.V. Protected Bow Roller and Keel Pads<br />

• Front V-Bar<br />

• Galvanized Tongue<br />

• Galvanized Winch Stand<br />

• 2000# 2-Speed Winch w/DOT Approved Strap<br />

• 1200# Tongue Jack w/Castor Wheel up to<br />

7000# GVWR<br />

• 2500# Tongue Jack w/Drop Leg on 8600# GVWR<br />

and up<br />

• Galvanized Torsion Axles w/Hubs<br />

• High Performance Vortex Hubs – 5 Lug & 6 Lug<br />

• Hot Dipped Galvanized Posi Lube Hubs – 8 Lug<br />

• Radial Tires w/Galvanized Spoke Wheels<br />

• Durable H/D Diamond Plate Step on Fenders<br />

• Guide-Ons w/PVC<br />

• Submersible Lights and Wiring<br />

• All LED Lights<br />

Standard LED lights.<br />

(tail, side marker, 3 Bar ID)<br />

Optional — Kodiak Dacromet or stainless<br />

steel disc brakes with life time<br />

warranted ceramic pads<br />

Optional — Stainless steel u-bolts, bolts<br />

and lock nuts for your<br />

aluminum trailer.<br />

• Single Axle<br />

• TAndem Axle<br />

• Tri-Axle<br />

Standard torsion bar with quick change<br />

spindle and Vortex ® hub.<br />

Vortex ® hub comes with 100,000 mile, 6<br />

year warranty.<br />


Tri-Axle<br />

We build them one at a time...to fit.<br />

813.689.3096<br />

10105 Cedar Run • Tampa, Florida 33619 www.loadmastertrailer.com


Tel: 1-888-272-9838<br />

Jupiter, Florida<br />


The perfect companion to a day on the water!<br />


Benjamin Chewning<br />

ben@betteroffwet.com<br />


info@betteroffwet.com<br />

863-623-8452<br />


Theresa Barzyk<br />

TIBCreativeStudio@gmail.com<br />


TIBCreativeStudio.com<br />

TIBCreativeStudio@gmail.com<br />

WEB<br />

Juan de Leon<br />

juan@outonalimbglobal.com<br />


Capt. Jimmy Nelson<br />

@extremefishingadventures on Facebook<br />

Luiza<br />

@FishingWithLuiza on Facebook<br />

Hank Cushard<br />

United States Coast Guard Auxilary, Stuart, FL<br />

Debbie Rivera<br />

divers4heroes@yahoo.com<br />

divers4heroes.org<br />

Beth Bowere<br />

mbowers8@fau.edu<br />


<strong>Better</strong> <strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong><br />

P.O. Box 1096<br />

Palm City FL 34991<br />

863-623-8452<br />

www.betteroffwet.com<br />

info@betteroffwet.com<br />


1600 East 8th Ave. Tampa, Florida 33605<br />

TampaBayBrewingCompany.com | DraftBeerToYourFace.com<br />

<strong>Better</strong> <strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong>, all rights reserved.<br />

No part of this magazine or any of its<br />

contents may be reproduced, copied,<br />

modified or adapted without the express<br />

written consent of the Publisher.<br />

4 BETTER OFF WET | WINTER <strong>2016</strong>


16<br />

22<br />

26<br />

36<br />

12<br />


6<br />

12<br />

Want to swim with sharks...just kidding. But,<br />

check out why folks want to communicate<br />

with them and how current technology allows<br />

us to do just that!<br />

Have you tried SUP? Stand Up Paddle<br />

boarding is great exercise, fun, and provides<br />

you with a unique perspective of the wonderful<br />

Florida waterways.<br />

26<br />

30<br />

Get out and catch some Sea Trout this<br />

winter from your kayak. Don’t have a kayak?<br />

Learn about some basic rules of the road<br />

and how you can get started in this fun<br />

sport.<br />

Let’s get more of our children outside and on<br />

the water! Read great tips on how to get kids<br />

comfortable in, on, and around the water.<br />

16<br />

20<br />

22<br />

Have a dog that likes to head out on the water<br />

with you? Check out some tips on how to keep<br />

your 4 legged friend happy and safe.<br />

<strong>Better</strong> <strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong> always promotes safety on the<br />

water. Here are some smart tips from our<br />

friends at Clubtails.<br />

On the Cover - Capt. Jimmy Nelson and Luiza.<br />

Captain Jimmy shares some tips on trolling for<br />

those nice <strong>Winter</strong>time Grouper!<br />

36<br />

40<br />

Ever hunted a Florida lion? <strong>Better</strong> <strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong><br />

believes more of us should get out and do<br />

just that. Hunt Lionfish! Learn why this<br />

invasive species needs to go.<br />

Make sure you and your boat are “up to<br />

snuff” before heading out for a day on the<br />

water.<br />



SHARK M<br />

NOT A<br />

THREAT,<br />




6 BETTER OFF WET | WINTER <strong>2016</strong>



of Blacktip sharks at any time from a desktop<br />

computer. The sharks basically call home and<br />

announce their arrival with the “shark phone.”<br />

We now know that the Blacktip, a popular area<br />

shark, migrates to Florida coastal waters each<br />

year during the winter months.<br />

Now before you get overly excited, understand<br />

that the Blacktip averages about 5 feet in length<br />

and is not a great white like Jaws. They feed on<br />

small fish such as herring, not large prey like<br />

humans, okay?<br />

by Beth Bowers<br />

Snowbirds flocking South to Florida to escape<br />

the cold and enjoy our warm climate have some<br />

interesting company; sharks. A ton of articles<br />

have appeared in the press recently. This article<br />

goes beyond that sensationalism to give you<br />

the facts about our very typical and important<br />

shark population.<br />

Before scientists began tracking sharks, more<br />

known’s than unkown’s existed about this sea<br />

creature. Recent efforts, however, give us new<br />

insight into shark migration.<br />

One of the leaders in this field of research is our<br />

own Stephen Kajiura; a professor at Florida<br />

Atlantic University and head of its shark study.<br />

Kajiura spends time in the air spotting shark<br />

populations in the Atlantic, off Florida’s coast.<br />

Then, accompanied by a group of University<br />

students, he catches sharks, logs types, sizes<br />

and sex to learn more about this ocean predator.<br />

A unique part of this undertaking is inserting<br />

tiny transmitters into the sharks’ bellies as a<br />

way of tracking their movements.<br />

Beth Bowers, a doctoral student at Florida Atlantic<br />

University studying shark migration explains<br />

how it works. The acoustic transmitters<br />

emit a signature ping that uniquely identifies<br />

each individual shark. When these sharks<br />

swim within range of one of the acoustic<br />

listening stations deployed along<br />

the Florida Eastern seaboard, their<br />

presence is recorded.<br />

Previously, the listening<br />

stations were standalone<br />

receivers that required retrieval<br />

by a SCUBA diver,<br />

a data download via Bluetooth<br />

technology on the<br />

boat and subsequent<br />

laboratory analysis; a<br />

process lagging by a few<br />

months in determining<br />

the presence of a shark.<br />

Recently, Beth deployed<br />

a cabled receiver; a “shark<br />

phone” that delivers real-time<br />

data to an IP address enabling<br />

her to check for the presence<br />

Continued on page 8<br />



Read more articles like this with a free subscription<br />

to <strong>Better</strong> <strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong> Magazine. Learn<br />

about all sorts of marine related facts in Florida.<br />

You can also place and access free classified ads<br />

and learn about events and places to see. To<br />

subscribe to <strong>Better</strong> <strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong> Magazine, just click<br />

HERE. And don’t forget, you’re <strong>Better</strong> <strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong>.<br />

The good news, according to marine biologists,<br />

is that the shark population is important to<br />

Florida’s marine ecosystem, so they deserve a<br />

vote of thanks for helping to preserve our pristine<br />

waters that offer a great waterway lifestyle<br />

to locals and tourists.<br />

Like New Yorkers and Canadians, sharks don’t<br />

like the cold. Their survival depends on southward<br />

migration. They seem to prefer water<br />

that’s about 73 degrees, according to Professor<br />

Kajiura, which is typical of South Florida in the<br />

winter.<br />

Sharks like to eat, so they track food. Since<br />

many other fish follow similar migration patterns<br />

as sharks, sharks can stay on their “tails”.<br />

Ask any avid Florida angler about the abundance<br />

of fish in our coastal waters during winter<br />

and you’ll be assured that sharks have a full<br />

menu filled with a great variety of cuisine.<br />

Don’t wear shiny jewelry in the water. Leave<br />

this to fishermen who like to use shiny lures to<br />

attract fish.<br />

Be observant. A big school of fish such as mullets,<br />

herring, or squads of diving seabirds is<br />

indicative that larger predators will soon be attracted<br />

to the area for a delicious lunch.<br />

Okay, now you’ve decreased your odds of a<br />

shark encounter, so you can confidently enjoy<br />

great water sports all winter long.<br />

<strong>Winter</strong> is one of the best times to enjoy South<br />

Florida, so don’t be alarmed if you read one of<br />

the recent many articles about shark migration.<br />

It’s part of nature’s way of keeping our locale<br />

such an attraction. So get moving! Get outside<br />

and get wet!<br />

Now think about how attractive 73-degree<br />

water and a sun-filled sky can be during frigid<br />

winter months. Again, don’t worry about the<br />

sharks. However, if you want to remain extra<br />

safe, follow these tips:<br />

Try to avoid swimming between sand bars.<br />

These are not the safest places to swim even<br />

without sharks present. Sharks tend to hang<br />

out between sand bars to feed.<br />

Don’t swim around jetties or openings from the<br />

ocean into a bay. Water moves fast in those areas<br />

posing a threat to even the strongest swimmer<br />

and also carries lots of food for awaiting<br />

sharks.<br />

8 BETTER OFF WET | WINTER <strong>2016</strong>


Paddle Boarding<br />


in South Florida<br />

Staff Report<br />

10 BETTER OFF WET | WINTER <strong>2016</strong>


Sup? SUP: Stand Up Paddle Boarding. It’s<br />

what’s up in South Florida, and it’s up in a big<br />

way. Get in on the fun and join the fastest growing<br />

water sport in the area. Outdoor sunshine,<br />

exercise, and awesome sights are at least of<br />

what’s expected!<br />

If you’re not familiar with paddle boarding, it’s a<br />

simple activity that combines surfing (it’s similar<br />

to a surf board) with kayaking (a paddle). You<br />

can cruise the calm South Florida waters for a<br />

fun-filled, eye-popping excursion. Paddle boarding<br />

opens up a new and exciting world as you<br />

explore some of the most spectacular sites South<br />

Florida has to offer.<br />

There are hundreds of waterway miles to satisfy<br />

your sense of adventure. The mangrove forest is<br />

one of the more popular spots. Much of the area<br />

is a protected ecosystem, so it’s teeming with sea<br />

life. Stingrays gliding gracefully are seen regularly;<br />

crab, sea stars, and sea cucumbers abound.<br />

Great White Heron and Green Heron can be<br />

observed on these fishing expeditions. The occasional<br />

Manatee can be spotted. Or, you can<br />

mingle with sea turtles and an abundant number<br />

of saltwater fish as your paddle board meanders<br />

Continued on page 12<br />



along the South Florida coast. This route also<br />

gives you the opportunity to absorb the beach<br />

scenery filled with bikinis and six-pack abs during<br />

the warm, winter months. You’re guaranteed<br />

to get an eyeful.<br />

<strong>Winter</strong> couldn’t be a better time for paddle<br />

boarding in this locale. While we boast the<br />

warmest winter temperatures in the country, it’s<br />

not too hot or too humid to enjoy.<br />

New to paddle boarding? No worries. All it takes<br />

is a board, a paddle, and the willingness to experience<br />

fun. You can get outfitted with local rentals<br />

and trained by certified professionals. You’ll<br />

be an expert South Florida paddle boarder ready<br />

to navigate the South Florida winter wonderland.<br />

You won’t have to look far to find gear, tours,<br />

and services. Rates are low. Paddle boards are<br />

likely your least expensive rental option for water<br />

sports.<br />

Mastering paddle boarding is simple, and it<br />

doesn’t require the physical conditioning of a<br />

pro-athlete. Cruising along the water is easy<br />

and effortless and provides a cardio work out<br />

at the same time.<br />

Experienced guides who know the best spots<br />

for paddle boarding serve as your personal<br />

Sherpa to take you on a fantastic journey.<br />

They’ll share their passion and enthusiasm for<br />

the unsurpassed Florida nature explorations<br />

and lead you on a must-see South Florida paddle<br />

board safari.<br />

Whether you’re a local looking for a new and<br />

exciting experience or vacationing to take a<br />

break from cold weather and snow, winter<br />

Florida paddle boarding is the<br />

easy, fun, and inexpensive way<br />

to go.<br />

12 BETTER OFF WET | WINTER <strong>2016</strong>



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POOCH<br />

Staff Report<br />

Enjoying Florida’s waterways is best with<br />

friends. For many of us, man’s best friend comes<br />

along. But too often, failure to heed water safety<br />

tips for dogs can lead to complications. Take<br />

a look at these water safety tips to ensure your<br />

pooch is safe when spending time on the water.<br />

Don’t assume your dog is a good swimmer—or<br />

even knows how to swim. It’s best to gradually<br />

introduce dogs to the water at a young age until<br />

they learn how to swim and become comfortable.<br />

Keep in mind that some dogs aren’t built<br />

to swim. Bulldogs, for example, who have large<br />

chests and comparatively small hindquarters,<br />

aren’t good swimmers. Other breeds that have<br />

a tough time emulating Olympic swimmers include<br />

those with short muzzles and those with<br />

short legs, like Pugs.<br />

So, be prepared when “Spot’s” ready to splash in<br />

the water. Buy a pet water-safety life vest especially<br />

when on a boat. Many affordable vests are<br />

available for pets of all sizes and shapes. Learn<br />

basic pet first aid such as CPR and how to treat<br />

cuts and injuries, from your local veterinarian.<br />

Read more to learn why.<br />

16 BETTER OFF WET | WINTER <strong>2016</strong><br />

Continued on page 18


UR<br />



Even if your furry companion is a water dog<br />

with a protective coat and webbed paws built<br />

for swimming, there are hazards that can present<br />

risks. Before letting “Rover” go for a romp<br />

in the water, check for strong currents, rip tides<br />

and choppy seas. All of which can be challenging<br />

for even the strongest athletic swimmers.<br />

Other water safety tips to look for include algae<br />

or dead fish, that can make “Fido” sick, and<br />

underwater branches that can cause canine injuries.<br />

Speaking of underwater branches, it’s a good<br />

idea to remove your canine’s collar to avoid<br />

potential snagging. Take flea/tick collars off as<br />

well, so the protective ingredients don’t wash<br />

off.<br />

Remember: when fishing, the idea is to snag<br />

some fish; not your four-legged friend. So keep<br />

your gear stowed safely and keep your dog away<br />

from sharp hooks that may cause harm. One<br />

injury veterinarians see is dogs chasing lures or<br />

hooks. Be mindful when casting and stowing<br />

your finishing poles.<br />

Heat from the sun intensifies on water, even<br />

on relatively cool days. Keep a supply of fresh<br />

water on hand to keep your pup hydrated and<br />

to curb his/her desire to drink ocean, lake or<br />

stream water which may not be good for him/<br />

her. One product that can help keep your dog<br />

cool is a simple slip-on, evaporative, water vest.<br />

And, believe it or not, dogs can sunburn too,<br />

especially ones with shorthaired, light-colored<br />

coats. The ears and nose are especially susceptible<br />

to sunburn . Avoid overexposure to the sun,<br />

and add a little extra protection with sunscreen<br />

made just for pets.<br />

When your outing is over, bathe “Old Blue” to<br />

rid his/her skin and fur of any potentially irritating<br />

minerals or algae. Be sure to completely<br />

dry ears to guard against infections.<br />

So, follow these basic water safety tips to make<br />

your time on the water fun, safe, and remember<br />

to enjoy your Pooch’s companionship.<br />

Sign up today for Fall, <strong>Winter</strong>, Spring and Summer<br />

editions of <strong>Better</strong> <strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong> Magazine! Each<br />

issue includes insightful articles, and keeps you<br />

in the know about anything marine related. Get<br />

yours now and remember you’re <strong>Better</strong> <strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong>!<br />

18 BETTER OFF WET | WINTER <strong>2016</strong>


20 BETTER OFF WET | WINTER <strong>2016</strong>


Booze and Boating Don’t Always Mix<br />

A day on the water with a cold drink... Sounds appealing? <strong>Better</strong> <strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong> doesn’t want<br />

ruin your boating bash, but we do want to share our top three tips for alcohol and<br />

Florida water sports: health, safety, and, uh oh, here it comes, the law.<br />

Health. Even Florida winters present the possibility of dehydration. Risks range<br />

from mild headaches and cramps to life-altering conditions. Alcohol increases dehydration.<br />

Drink lots of water. Try drinks that include hydrating juices like Clubtails’<br />

tasty tropical mixtures.<br />

Safety first. Reaction time, judgment, and vision are all affected. Water adds more<br />

variables—currents and underwater hazards to name a couple. Cut back, or assign<br />

a designated driver, and PLEEASE NO GLASS! Use cans. Glass is bad for bare feet,<br />

marine life and the environment.<br />

Florida laws. Only some beaches allow alcohol. Check before visiting the beach bar.<br />

Most people know DUI but many may now know BUI: “Boating Under the Influence.”<br />

Florida treats them the same—drink and drive, boat and drive. Assigned fines,<br />

suspended licensing, an impounded vessel, and jail time are all possible penalties.<br />

Fun on the water? You’re <strong>Better</strong> <strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong>. Adult beverages? You’re better off consuming<br />

moderately. Enjoy your winter fun in sunny Florida safely and responsibly.<br />



winter<br />

GROUP ER<br />

fishing<br />


JIMMY<br />

Staff Report<br />

Ever notice how every fisherman you ever<br />

met is an expert? Well, we cut through<br />

the “fish tales” and the fish bait to bring you<br />

the real deal from Captain Jimmy Nelson<br />

known for his fishing adventures on television.<br />

<strong>Better</strong> <strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong> had an opportunity to<br />

pick the Captain’s brain about one of the favorite<br />

sports’ fish in Florida; the Grouper<br />

Before we get to the expert tips, here’s a thing<br />

to know about fishing for Grouper in Florida.<br />

Cooling waters coax grouper to move close<br />

to shore and even into inland waterways<br />

where they enjoy the warmer temperatures..<br />

Continued on page 26<br />

&NELSON<br />

TIPS<br />

22 BETTER OFF WET | WINTER <strong>2016</strong>




Favorite Groupers for sport fishing include<br />

the Gag Grouper that averages 30 pounds,<br />

and the Black Grouper is a much heftier<br />

species that can top 100 pounds. The Red<br />

Grouper is a moderately sized yet robust.<br />

The Florida state record catch for a Red is 42<br />

pounds 4 ounces. They all hit hard and dive<br />

to the bottom fast. Stay secure on your boat<br />

or these warriors will pull you right out of<br />

your boots!<br />

The Goliath Grouper, true to its name, can<br />

weigh in at over 800 pounds with a length<br />

of eight feet or more. These heavy weights<br />

put up quite a battle if you hook one, but understand<br />

that the Goliath is a protected species,<br />

so catch and release is a must. You can<br />

spot them by their brown or yellow mottling<br />

(small black spots on the head and fins and<br />

rounded tail). Younger Goliaths show dark<br />

stripes on their bodies.<br />

If you haven’t eaten it, fresh Grouper is a<br />

lean, moist flaky fish with a firm texture and<br />

a mild, but unique flavor. The Red Grouper<br />

is slightly sweeter and milder than the Black<br />

Grouper. Some chefs prefer the taste and texture<br />

of Red Grouper while both are tasty. If<br />

you like Bass and Halibut, you’re sure to enjoy<br />

Grouper; fried, baked, and grilled.<br />

One interesting side note about Grouper—<br />

they may change sex when mature—but that<br />

has nothing to do with fishing, so let’s get on<br />

with the tips of the day from Captain Jimmy<br />

Nelson.<br />

24 BETTER OFF WET | WINTER <strong>2016</strong>

Captain<br />

Jimmy<br />

Nelson’s<br />

Personal Tips<br />

and Tricks:<br />

According to the Captain, November-December<br />

and March-May are the best times<br />

to fish for Florida’s West Coast Grouper.<br />

December is Capt. Jimmy’s favorite over all<br />

month to seek out these tasty game fish. The<br />

water temperatures are to their liking, about<br />

68-72 degrees, maybe even a little cooler<br />

with a higher oxygen concentration. Both<br />

combine to put a little more fight in these<br />

great fish.<br />

The Central and North Central waters of<br />

Florida’s West coast are hotbeds for Grouper;<br />

a favorite spot for Capt.ain Jimmy to<br />

head out from is at Plantation (www.plantationoncrystalriver.com)<br />

in Crystal River, FL.<br />

Trolling Tips:<br />

When trolling, keep your speed to about<br />

4.5 to 5 mph. Troll over wrecks, specific rock<br />

piles, and structure in a figure 8 pattern.<br />

Otherwise, troll over areas of good structure<br />

or straight from one spot to the next when in<br />

an area that has good bottom structure.<br />

Capt. Jimmy recommends using the Shimano<br />

Tallus Trolling Series 20-40 class rod<br />

paired with a Shimano Tekota 700 Convential<br />

Reel (www.fish.shimano.com), 65 or 80<br />

lb TUF-LINE Donin8 line (www.tuf-line.<br />

com), and Yo-Zuri Pink 80lb Fluorocarbon<br />

leader (www.yo-zuri.com).<br />

Water Depth:<br />

In 10-20 ft water depth Capt. Jimmy recommends<br />

Yo-Zuri 3D Crystal Minnow Deep<br />

Diver (Luiza’s favorite is the pink Crystal<br />

Minnow).<br />

In 25-40 feet of water depth, Capt. Jimmy<br />

says go with Yo-Zuri Hydro Magnum lures.<br />

In 40 feet maximum depth, Capt. Jimmy likes<br />

to troll for Grouper when he heads out of Crystal<br />

River. A good rule of thumb when heading<br />

offshore is a foot of depth per mile offshore<br />

when thinking about trolling for Grouper.<br />

These tips will also lure a wide variety of<br />

by-catch fish which, of course, just adds to<br />

the great fun of a day out on the water!<br />

If trolling<br />

is tough<br />

due to sea<br />

conditions:<br />


Anglers can use the same rod and reel setup<br />

mentioned above, with the Yo-Zuri Pink<br />

80 lb Fluorocarbon leader, sinker, and Mustad<br />

Demon 8/0 Perfect Circle hook (www.<br />

mustad-fishing.com) on a “knocker” or “sliding<br />

sinker” rig.<br />

Set your boat up, up-current of the structure<br />

where you plan to fish, and leave yourself<br />

plenty of room to fish over the structure.<br />

Capt. Jimmy also recommends using The<br />

Chum Buddy (www.thechumbuddy.com)<br />

with threadfins. It is the same kind of bait he<br />

uses, and it helps keep the scent in the water<br />

along with being cleaner than traditional<br />

chum bags.<br />

Okay, you got the straight scoop from a great<br />

fisherman. Many thanks to Capt. Jimmy<br />

from <strong>Better</strong> <strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong>. So what are you waiting<br />

for? It’s December. So plan to get your Grouper<br />

this winter in sunny Florida. Tantalizing<br />

tastes and trophy treasures await you.<br />

Get all the latest tips and tricks you’ll need<br />

for fishing and catching on Florida’s fabulous<br />

waterways with a free subscription to <strong>Better</strong><br />

<strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong> Magazine. Reel in your free subscription<br />

now by signing up here. And remember,<br />

you’re <strong>Better</strong> <strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong>! Take the time to get<br />

out on the water and have some fun!<br />



<strong>Winter</strong><br />

Kayak Fish<br />


Staff Report<br />

<strong>Winter</strong> is a great time to fish Florida Speckled Sea<br />

Trout. From December through February, the<br />

Speckled Sea Trout (also known as Spotted Sea<br />

Trout or “Speck”) catch is rated, not good, but<br />

excellent! Specks up to 3.3 feet and 17 pounds<br />

can give any angler a challenge. The Florida state<br />

record, by the way, is 17lbs, 7oz.<br />

Any experienced trout fisherman will tell you<br />

that landing one of these spirited fighters is quite<br />

a thrill. This sense of excitement intensifies when<br />

you fish winter Florida Sea Trout from a kayak.<br />

The excitement of kayak fishing is greater than<br />

you might think. First, you’re much closer to nature<br />

in these light craft and once you’ve hooked<br />

a Speck and the chase is on, you’re in for an entirely<br />

new experience. Read the tips below and<br />

you’ll understand how to be safe and avoid a Tallahassee<br />

toboggan ride.<br />

Accessibility: If you can’t find ‘em, you ain’t<br />

gonna catch ‘em. As you’ll see later in this article,<br />

Sea Trout’s’ favorite haunts in the winter include<br />

places a lot of boats can’t realistically reach.<br />

Kayaks allow you to embark from just about<br />

anywhere and to go where the Specks are most<br />

abundant and hungriest.<br />

Kayaks are quiet. Cruising along on a kayak is<br />

26 BETTER OFF WET | WINTER <strong>2016</strong>


ing<br />

fun<br />

and relaxing, but more importantly, you can<br />

sneak up on these cagey critters. Specks spook<br />

easily, especially in shallow water, so the element<br />

of surprise give you an edge over motorboats. It’s<br />

an adventure. Just like Louis and Clark did in the<br />

1700s, you’ll be winding your way through the<br />

spectacularly scenic Florida waterways for an up<br />

close and personal look at wild life that won’t be<br />

scared off by a motor’s disruptive din.<br />

Kayaking costs are low compared to other craft.<br />

Whether you rent or own, setting up a wellrigged<br />

kayak can get you on the water for pennies<br />

on the dollar.<br />

There is comfort also. Modern fishing kayaks<br />

are well equipped with cushy seating options so<br />

your day will be spent as if you are hanging out in<br />

your favorite chair.<br />

Now that you have good reason to try kayak<br />

trout fishing, here are a few pointers for landing a<br />

passel of these sports fishing favorites.<br />

As the winter waters chill, Sea Trout seek the<br />

more stable water temperature in deep channels<br />

and brackish backwater mangroves and estuaries.<br />

In the morning and evening, look for them in the<br />

deeper channels, deep holes, near drop-offs and<br />

ledges, and around structures below ten feet.<br />

Sea Trout metabolism slow significantly during<br />

cool winter months, so artificial lures worked<br />

at a pace slower than used during the summer<br />

months, and live bait a few inches off the bottom,<br />

will produce better results.<br />

During the middle of the day, Sea Trout will<br />

move to shallow areas where water temperatures<br />

Continued on page 34<br />



warm. You’ll find them in sea grass meadows<br />

and mangrove-fringed shorelines. Black,<br />

mud-bottom, inshore areas absorb heat well<br />

and make good fishing spots. These areas, in<br />

particular, can open up a whole new world<br />

when kayak fishing.<br />

Local anglers typically use a seven and a half<br />

foot medium-action spinning rod good for<br />

long casts to cover a broad area. Match it<br />

with a good spinning reel that can handle 15<br />

lb braided line.<br />

Specks aggressively attack artificial jigs and<br />

top water bait-like lures. If you’re a fan of live<br />

bait, then shrimp, mullet, porgy and pinfish<br />

are popular choices. You might even try a<br />

popping cork to attract attention.<br />

Bear in mind that Sea Trout run in pretty<br />

large schools, so don’t be in a hurry to relocate<br />

after landing a few of these beauties;<br />

more are likely to be around.<br />

So, armed with the above tips, you’ll be ready to<br />

push off on a kayak to go fight some sturdy Sea<br />

Trout. Here’s some information about fishing<br />

kayaks to get you “underway”.<br />

Most fishing kayaks run from 10 to 14.5 feet. Different<br />

hulls are designed to accommodate open<br />

ocean waters or inshore and backwater environments.<br />

You can find them rigged and equipped<br />

with optional accessories, including rudders,<br />

handles, rotating rod mounts, a GPS holder and<br />

even coolers. Options are virtually limitless, so<br />

you can customize your craft to meet your fishing<br />

fancy.<br />

One tool you won’t want to economize on is a<br />

good paddle. It can make a significant difference<br />

in ease of propulsion and maneuverability, so it’s<br />

well worth a few extra bucks if you’re purchasing.<br />

You might find that gloves come in handy also.<br />

28 BETTER OFF WET | WINTER <strong>2016</strong>


Other gear that are musts in Florida include a life<br />

vest, a whistle or horn, and a light if you venture<br />

out in the evening.<br />

Plenty of local paddle shops offer kayak rentals,<br />

so test driving a few different varieties can help<br />

you decide what suits your style.<br />

Once you’re outfitted, keep a few tips in mind<br />

when kayak fishing. First, be mindful of wind<br />

and currents, both of which can take the joy out<br />

of your journey. If it is breezy, find a sheltered<br />

spot on the leeward side of the wind. An anchor<br />

or power pole is a good idea if you want to stay<br />

stable and not undergo the experience of a free<br />

Uber ride courtesy of a large, powerful fish.<br />

There’s not much more to add. Now you know<br />

where to find Florida winter Sea Trout, especially<br />

those hard to reach spots that a kayak can carry<br />

you to and how to catch ‘em, All you have to do<br />

now is wander out on the Florida waterways and<br />

start snagging some winter Sea Trout for your<br />

dinner plate or your trophy wall.<br />

All the ins and outs of navigating, fishing and<br />

exploring Florida’s water wonderland are at<br />

your fingertips with a free subscription to <strong>Better</strong><br />

<strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong> Magazine. Sign up today for Fall,<br />

<strong>Winter</strong>, Spring and Summer editions. Each issue<br />

includes insightful articles and keeps you in the<br />

know about anything marine related. Get yours<br />

now and remember you’re <strong>Better</strong> <strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong>!<br />

Any experienced trout<br />

fisherman will tell<br />

you that landing one of<br />

these spirited fighters<br />

is quite a thrill.


WILL<br />

WEE<br />

YOUR<br />

LITTLE<br />

ONES<br />


Staff Report<br />

Water sports are a way of life on Florida coasts for both locals and vacationers. For<br />

families, fun in the Florida sun improves greatly when children are taught to respect<br />

the water, understand the potential dangers, and practice safety procedures. <strong>Better</strong><br />

<strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong> compiled a list of tips to help your children become comfortable, capable,<br />

and confident enthusiasts.<br />

For a child to embrace his or her parents’ love of water sports, it helps, of course,<br />

if they like the water. The process can begin very early. But don’t rush it too soon.<br />

Usually benign lake, river and ocean pathogens pose threats to fragile infant immune<br />

systems.<br />

Continued on page 28<br />

30 BETTER OFF WET | WINTER <strong>2016</strong>




When on the water,<br />

safety first<br />

is the rule.<br />

Formal introductions to swimming<br />

can begin as early as six months of age.<br />

“Water babies” techniques stress basic<br />

survival skills such as floating and<br />

grabbing the poolside that can save a<br />

life. Parents also learn an important lesson—babies<br />

can swallow lots of water<br />

during these classes. Also, come prepared<br />

with extra waterproof pampers.<br />

Around 3-4 years of age, swim classes<br />

help tots become more comfortable in<br />

the water and teach basic swimming<br />

skills, but stay within an arm’s length of<br />

toddlers when in or near water. It’s likely<br />

to take a few more years before they<br />

become good swimmers.<br />

Sparking kids’ interests in the great<br />

outdoor Florida waterways can include<br />

a variety of activities that stimulate<br />

imagination and foster fascination.<br />

Coloring books, toy boats, movies like<br />

Finding Nemo, and trips to an aquarium<br />

can encourage eager appetites. Books<br />

about marine life that help kids identify<br />

specific marine species are instructive<br />

which enables them to appreciate native<br />

plants and animals and to identify<br />

and avoid jellyfish, eels, and other critters.<br />

Safety is the first rule when on the water.<br />

Life jackets are not only a good<br />

idea on the water but are required by<br />

law when boating. Learn about how to<br />

properly fit children with life vests, critical<br />

to their safety, by visiting the U.S.<br />

Coast Guard site at www.coastguardfoundation.org.<br />

While children should<br />

wear life vests at all times, it’s a good<br />

idea to teach them how to don and secure<br />

vests in the event of an unexpected<br />

emergency.<br />

Any responsible boat skipper knows<br />

the potential hazards of boating, so<br />

pass knowledge on to your youngsters,<br />

and orient them to water sports carefully.<br />

Set specific rules. Explain the<br />

reasons for these rules to help them<br />

understand and comply. A young mind<br />

absorbs content like a sponge soaking<br />

up knowledge. Take the opportunity to<br />

teach them safe and responsible behavior<br />

on the water.<br />

Enlist older children as deck mates.<br />

Involvement in activities teaches skills<br />

they’ll use later as adults. Let them help<br />

with tasks such as dropping boat fenders<br />

or “tying off.” Practice safety measures<br />

such as “man overboard” drills,<br />

and involve kids in drill activities such<br />

as tossing a life ring. Teach them to tie<br />

knots; a skill that comes in handy for<br />

fishing and boating.<br />

Speaking of fishing: a great way to introduce<br />

kids to fishing is to outfit them<br />

with kid-friendly gear. Look for no-tangle<br />

rods and reels, plastic safety hooks,<br />

and fish and cartoon characters sponge<br />

32 BETTER OFF WET | WINTER <strong>2016</strong>


lures. All are great fun for fledgling<br />

fisherman to help avoid the frustration<br />

of tangled lines and keeps it safe.<br />

Young ones often have little patience<br />

for fishing, so plan other activities to<br />

make the adventure enjoyable.<br />

When it’s time for older children<br />

to try their hand at boating, paddle<br />

boarding, or kayaking on their own,<br />

you’ll be much more confident in<br />

their independent abilities if you’ve<br />

instilled best practices concerning<br />

water safety and common sense.<br />

Take the extra step to enroll them in<br />

Certified-Instructor training. They<br />

will learn a lot about technique and<br />

safety, and you’ll enjoy greater peace<br />

of mind knowing they’ve received<br />

the best training. Before you hand<br />

them the wheel of a motorized boat,<br />

know that in Florida, any motorboat<br />

operator born after January 1, 1988<br />

requires a boating safety class; something<br />

everyone can benefit from.<br />

There is no minimum age requirement,<br />

and anyone, including out-ofstate<br />

visitors, can take it online at:<br />

http://www.boatus.org/florida/ or<br />

https://www.boat-ed.com/florida/.<br />

At 8 years old her father said she is<br />

the youngest girl to have a record in 2<br />

lb line class! The <strong>Better</strong> <strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong> Crew<br />

had the pleasure of going fishing with<br />

her father Mike. We commend the Shramko<br />

family for sharing the beautiful<br />

Florida outdoors with us!<br />

<strong>Better</strong> <strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong> Magazine regularly brings<br />

you updated information about boating,<br />

fishing, safety, local events, classified<br />

sales, and all things marine for your<br />

Florida waterways’ enjoyment. Stay<br />

current with your free subscription.<br />

Get it today and don’t forget: you’re<br />

<strong>Better</strong> <strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong>.<br />

Water sports, like other activities,<br />

require certain skill sets that develop<br />

with guidance, coaching, and, of<br />

course, the added element of safety<br />

instruction. Keep your expectations<br />

aligned with your kids’ physical capabilities<br />

and maturity levels. Keep<br />

them actively involved to learn how<br />

to safely enjoy a lifetime of enjoyment<br />

on Florida waterways’ wonderland.<br />

Photos courtesy of: Patrice Shramko<br />

Even though Lauren Shramko is<br />

only 8 years old, she currently holds<br />

5 IGFA Women’s Line Class World<br />

Records (Butterfly Peacock 2 lb, 4<br />

lb, 6 lb, 16 lb, and 20 lb Line Class).<br />


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DIVING<br />

LION HU<br />

36 BETTER OFF WET | WINTER <strong>2016</strong>

DIVING<br />

NTING<br />

in Florida<br />

Staff Report<br />

Belying its beauty, the lionfish is an ugly menace<br />

that threatens the Florida water fauna and flora.<br />

Left unchecked, this invasive species possesses<br />

the capability to completely upset the local ecosystem,<br />

including both the Atlantic and Gulf<br />

coasts. Thought to have been introduced to the<br />

area by aquarium enthusiasts who unwittingly<br />

released them in local waters, a handful of these<br />

creatures soon turned into an invasion.<br />

The rapid spread of these native Indo-Pacific ingrates<br />

is attributable to their booming, breeding<br />

habits. Lionfish reach sexual maturity 2-4 years<br />

earlier than native fish. Females lay millions of<br />

eggs over the course of a year and can reproduce<br />

every four days making the productivity of a rabbit<br />

appear more like that of an elephant. Compounding<br />

the problem, Lionfish have no natural<br />

predators in the Atlantic and Gulf waters to “curb<br />

their enthusiasm.”<br />

Not only are Lionfish conquering native species<br />

in numbers, these voracious carnivores eat just<br />

about everything devouring more than 70 species<br />

of fish as well as shrimp and crab. Lionfish<br />

can eat up to 30 times their stomach volume and<br />

90 % of their body weight daily. The impact on<br />

local fish populations can be devastating. Although<br />

beautiful, Lionfish can reduce young fish<br />

populations on a reef by nearly 90% in as little as<br />

five weeks and the overall population by 65 % in<br />

just over two years.<br />

With the potential to wreck havoc on Florida<br />

reefs and saltwater wildlife, this insatiable species<br />

does appear to have one weakness; they taste<br />

great! A flaky white fish with a texture described<br />

as somewhere between Mahi Mahi and Grouper,<br />

Lionfish is a healthy choice. It’s high in heart<br />

healthy Omega 3 fatty acids and low in saturated<br />

fats and mercury. Culinary consumption has led<br />

to the coastal battle cry: “Eat ‘Em To Beat ‘Em!”<br />

Lurking around reefs, wrecks, and rocky overhangs,<br />

the most effective way to catch Lionfish is<br />

Continued on page 38<br />


DIVING<br />

cially harvested Lionfish. You can now enjoy this<br />

delicacy in many local restaurants. Wholesale<br />

dealers are offering cash for these carnivores.<br />

Last year the total commercial Lionfish market<br />

topped 72,000 pounds representing a hefty profit<br />

for those in the market. Harvesting Lionfish<br />

for sale does require a Saltwater Products license.<br />

One word of caution if you dare to catch some<br />

of these critters: armed with up to 18 venomous<br />

spines for self defense, stings can be quite<br />

painful, and may cause swelling, blistering, and<br />

nausea. So be advised, and protect yourself accordingly.<br />

by using SCUBA. The Florida Fish and Wildlife<br />

Conservation Commission has enacted fisherman-friendly<br />

regulation to help this cause. Divers<br />

using spears and handheld nets do not require a<br />

fishing license, and the season is open year round.<br />

Lionfish hunting popularity has grown with the<br />

introduction of Lionfish Derby’s all across Florida<br />

and throughout the year. This Lionfish hunting attracts<br />

an abundance of divers who enjoy the camaraderie<br />

of fellow dive aficionados while helping to<br />

rid the environment of these pesky predators. The<br />

Derby’s, also named Roundups and Rodeos by<br />

some, is usually a daylong competition with cash<br />

prizes awarded for quantity and size. You can learn<br />

more about these events at http://myfwc.com/<br />

fishing/saltwater/recreational/lionfish/events/.<br />

Another factor increasing successful dives and<br />

the decline of Lionfish is the sale of commer-<br />

If you enjoy diving, suit up and join the effort to<br />

eradicate these Lionfish. You can enjoy the beauty<br />

of the Great Florida Reef; the only living coral<br />

barrier reef in the continental U.S., and pocket a<br />

few bucks while you’re at it. If diving is not you’re<br />

thing, you can still sign up for the cause by treating<br />

yourself to a tasty plate of Lionfish at a local<br />

restaurant. Either way, you’re helping the environment<br />

and helping Florida “Eat ‘Em To Beat<br />

‘Em!”<br />

Stay current on Florida events, sports fishing,<br />

pleasure boating, and all things marine with a<br />

free subscription to <strong>Better</strong> <strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong> Magazine.<br />

It’s just a click away at <strong>Better</strong><strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong>.com. Stay<br />

active, eat healthy, and don’t forget, you’re <strong>Better</strong><br />

<strong>Off</strong> <strong>Wet</strong>.<br />

38 BETTER OFF WET | WINTER <strong>2016</strong>

DIVERS<br />

4 HEROES<br />


By: Debbie Rivera<br />

How do you feel when you see a wounded warrior?<br />

The sight provokes many emotions, but for some<br />

they feel called to action. Which is exactly what inspired<br />

the founders of Divers 4 Heroes (D4H).<br />

While on vacation in the Florida Keys, the founders<br />

of the organization did such a thing. Debbie Rivera<br />

saw these young men and women and decided to<br />

take action…“Let’s teach them how to SCUBA<br />

Dive!” Now 9 years later, D4H is still serving wounded<br />

veterans continuously in many ways, with SCU-<br />

BA Discoveries every month, quarterly Open Water<br />

Certification, Lionfish roundups, shark tagging,<br />

turtle releases, sea cleanups, continuing monthly education,<br />

fun dives and several international trips annually<br />

to Bonaire, Bimini, Caymans, Bonaire, Roatan,<br />

Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Fiji in 2017!<br />

We have wonderful volunteers with collaborative<br />

partners, that allow us to serve the veterans who have<br />

served and been injured prior to and after 9/11, from<br />

all branches of our military.<br />

“I want you to know that being involved has become<br />

an important part of my life, and recovery. The different<br />

levels and certificates for diving achievements<br />

have allowed me to set attainable goals, and successfully<br />

achieve them despite my injuries. I always<br />

look forward to the knowledge, laughter, experience<br />

and the comradery that I share with the other Veterans<br />

whenever I participate in any D4H’s events.”<br />

Wounded Warrior Damon Zeigler<br />

SCUBA is an opportunity to be free. Many injuries<br />

are visible, however, so many are not. Our goal<br />

is freedom, free from crutches, prosthetics, wheel<br />

chairs, and all the cares that life brings, not leaving<br />

anyone behind. Water is truly the great equalizer.<br />

Join us in “giving back to those who gave so much of<br />

themselves”.<br />

There are many ways to help Divers 4 Heroes 501c3.<br />

Please contact us: WWW.Divers4Heroes.org<br />


SAFETY<br />




by HANK CUSHARD - United States Coast Guard Auxiliary - Flotilla 59<br />

A STUART, Fla. | All recreational vessels must<br />

carry on board at least one approved wearabletype<br />

life jacket for each person on board or being<br />

towed. All life jackets, otherwise known as<br />

PFDs(personal flotation devices), must be the<br />

proper size for the intended wearer, be in good<br />

condition, readily accessible and United States<br />

Coast Guard (USCG)-approved. Furthermore,”<br />

while on Florida waters, any person under six<br />

years of age must wear a PFD of proper size<br />

while on board any vessel less than 26 feet in<br />

length that is underway.” (Florida Fish and Wildlife<br />

Con-servation Commission, MyFWC.com).<br />

Information below will give you an idea of what<br />

it all means.<br />

United States Coast Guard Life<br />

Jacket Classifications:<br />

TYPE I: The offshore life jacket provides the<br />

most buoyancy. It is effective for all waters, especially<br />

open, rough or remote waters where rescue<br />

may be delayed. It floats you best but is bulky and<br />

not comfortable for extended wear.<br />

TYPE II: The near-shore vest is intended for<br />

calm, inland water where a quick rescue expectation.<br />

These are the basic orange vests most boaters<br />

have on board.<br />

TYPE III: The flotation type vests are good<br />

for calm, inland water, or where there is a good<br />

chance of quick rescue. These are the most common<br />

jacket used for recreational purposes.They<br />

are light weight and comfortable.<br />

TYPE IV: Throwable devices like a cushion or<br />

a ring and can be thrown to anyone in the water<br />

needing assistance. TYPE V: Special-use devices<br />

are intended for a specific activities and may be<br />

carried instead of another life jacket if used according<br />

to the approved conditions. These include<br />

work vests, board sailing vests, etc.<br />

Some other<br />

noteworthy requirements:<br />

A Readily accessible means you must be able to<br />

put the PFD on in a reasonable amount of time<br />

in an emergency. PFDs should not be stowed in<br />

plastice bags, in locked or closed compartments.<br />

•All vessels 16 feet or greater (except canoes and<br />

kayaks) must carry one Type IV throwable preserver<br />

(i.e., ring or cushion).<br />

A Inflatable PFDs are authorized for persons<br />

over 16 years of age and are not recommended<br />

for use by weak swimmers or non-swimmers.<br />

A Personal watercraft operators and all passengers<br />

must wear a PFD at all times.<br />

Remember this, 90 % of those who drown while<br />

boating were not wear-ing a life jacket. They<br />

work if you wear them.<br />

This information is provided as a guideline and<br />

not to be used for any other purpose. Some information<br />

reprinted from the U.S. Coast Guard<br />

Auxiliary’s About Boating Safety.<br />

40 BETTER OFF WET | WINTER <strong>2016</strong>

SAFETY<br />

Is Your Boat<br />

U.S. Coast Guard Compliant?<br />

by HANK CUSHARD - United States Coast Guard Auxiliary - Flotilla 59<br />

A STUART, Fla. | The most cautious boaters can<br />

sometimes experience unexpected problems on<br />

the water. That is why the U.S. Coast Guard “recommends<br />

that all recreational boaters, including<br />

personal watercraft and paddle sport users, take<br />

advantage of the FREE Vessel Safety Check provided<br />

by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.”<br />


Boats that pass the examination are awarded a<br />

distinctive Vessel Safety Check (VSC) Decal<br />

that alerts the Coast Guard, Harbor Patrol, Sheriff<br />

and Police, FWC, and other law-enforcement<br />

agencies that your boat was found to be in full<br />

compliance with all Federal and State boating<br />

laws. Frequently, such agencies will not detain or<br />

board boats displaying a current-year decal that<br />

are otherwise boating safely.<br />


If your boat does not pass, no report is filed. Instead,<br />

you are provided a written report that<br />

aids you in correcting any discrepancies<br />

noted. Often, a quick trip to your local marine<br />

store is all that is necessary to obtain<br />

missing safety items and easily pass a reinspection.<br />

Some companies give you<br />

a discount on the safety equipment<br />

you purchase.<br />

WHY DO THIS?<br />

In a word-safety. You are left with the peace of<br />

mind that your boat meets minimum safety standards<br />

and that in an emergency; you will have<br />

the necessary equipment to save lives and summon<br />

help. Additionally, you will avoid substantial<br />

fines should you ever be boarded by law-enforcement<br />

and found to be in violation. Finally,<br />

your insurance rates may be lowered-check with<br />

your agent.<br />

WHAT CAN I DO?<br />

Log on to www.CGAUX.org to locate the closest<br />

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel examiner. And<br />

it is FREE! These vessel examiners are trained<br />

specialist and are there to make recommendations<br />

and discuss safety issues that will enhance<br />

your boating experience.<br />



A Life Jackets<br />

A Registration and numbering<br />

A Navigation lights<br />

A Fire Extinguishers<br />

A Distress Signals<br />

One aspect of this safety check is that the Coast<br />

Guard requires that all boats over 16 feet carry<br />

visual distress signals, a minimum of 3 approved<br />

signals. Flares have an expiration date and must<br />

be replaced. Failure to have such devices or expired<br />

flares could result in fines and put you in<br />

danger if they are too old. The majority of boaters<br />

that do not pass this inspection are because<br />

their flares have expired.And did I say the inspection<br />

is free? Even experienced boaters need<br />

a Vessel Safety Check!<br />


Roll with the Best!<br />

“Launch and Load like a Pro”<br />

813.689.3096<br />

10105 Cedar Run • Tampa, Florida 33619 • www.loadmastertrailer.com

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