Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fishing with Salt Life Captain Don Dingman

It's been a couple of weeks since the King Buster 400. Today I am scrolling through the pictures, realizing the deep impact and positive memories that are a result of this event. I guess I'm a little biased as the Brian Dingman Memorial Junior Angler Tournament was named after my son who passed in 2004.

Watching ten-year-old Alan Damon and his family bringing their huge kingfish to the scales with even bigger smiles brought back vivd memories of the days Brian and I were racing to the scales with his big catch. You know, when you are out on the water with your kids its funny how your job, their homework, the chores- they never come up. That's what makes sharing the salt life so special. A bond that can't be broken.

Spade Fishing

originally posted on 7/15/2011

The last two days have been incredible! My good friend Captain Greg Hildreth from Brunswick, called and said, "just about everything is biting up here. You should come up and do a show." So we we laoded up the Hook the Future crew and cruised the Salt Life Edgewater 318, Miss My Boy, from Jacksonville up to St Simon's Island,Georgia. The ride alone, crusing North along the coast line, passing the shrimp boats working, the pelicans diving, just being out on the water, delivered the break I needed. After a 50 mile ride or so we tied up at Morning Star Marina of Golden Isles, then headed over to the Beachview Club on Jeckyll Island to rest up for the day ahead. The next morning, we met Captain Greg at the docks with his 8 year old daughter Logan, and her two friends, Emilee (9) and Ava (7). These girls didn't know what to expect, but were ready for anything! We decide to take the girls on there first offshore adventure!... maybe catch a few jelly-balls, head to a close by wreck and catch some big spade-fish.
Once we were a mile off the beach everyone on board began looking for Jelly-balls. The girls loved scooping up them up in the net and checking each one for any spider crabs or any other sea creature that might have hitched a ride.

After loading up with Jelly-balls, we headed offshore to a wreck about 9 miles out and dropped anchor. Immediately dozens of 9-12 pound spade fish pop up just behind the boat. Capt. Greg throws a jelly-ball in the water and the spade-fish attack it like Piranhas! They can't get enough! We put a small piece of jelly-ball on a hook and we're on! While Logan is battling the fish of her life, it's time to turn the camera's on and get to "work", filming the show. Over the next three hours the girls took turns boating fish after fisheven kissing a few!
After they had their fill Greg, our cameraman Conrad, and myself all caught a couple. We even caught a few by hand ! Talk about fun! What a day!
I'm fortunate enough to live the Salt Life everyday....usually trying to catch something a lot bigger than a spade-fish, but there's just something special about sharing the ocean with someone else for the first time. No marlin in the sea would've provided more smiles today!
Livin' The Salt Life.....

Slimy 5's,

Capt Don

Deep Water Jig Fishing

originally posted 7/18/2011

Jigging for fish in deep water in now one of my favorite types of fishing. I first became interested when Shimano came out with the Butterfly jigging system. I bought in for a while but soon discovered that loosing thirty dollar lures could become very painful to your wallet. They do work, but in the Bahamas the bottom is just too rough. My last trip To the Bahamas’ I used eight ounce Alien jigs from C&H Lures. One of my best days produced a thirteen pound Hog fish, several nice amberjack, a Horse eye jack, a twenty pound red grouper and six nice red hind groupers. At one time I dropped seven times and caught six fish. It is not always this hot. The best conditions are on an outgoing tide, sunny day and a light wind to move you along. I usually start my drift in about 190 ft and drift out to a depth of 300 ft. Your best chance of getting a hit is when your lure drops off the ledge at 200 ft. As soon as my lure gets near the bottom I start jigging. I give the lure three good jerks, roll up several times and give three more jerks. If I don't get a hit I drop back to the bottom and repeat the process. You do not have to be right on the bottom to get hit. Big groupers will swim up and take the lure as much as 40 feet off the bottom. If you are fishing too close to the bottom, all you will catch is small Red Hind Groupers.
I have tried lots of rod and reel combos but find the Shimano Tarus 16 is hard to beat. It has a 5.7 to 1 gear ratio and can handle the 40 pounds of drag that is sometimes required. I use a star rod 50/80 pound. I prefer the wire guides; they last a long time in salt environments.
It took several days on the water to get the feel for this type fishing, but now I'm the one that's hooked.

Good luck and live Salty
Captain Don Combs

Mini Lobster Season

originally posted 7/27/2011

This morning we woke up at 4:45 a.m. to head out for mini lobster season. We had already gone out yesterday and did some pre diving to check our spots. We saw a lot of lobsters at my favorite secret spot, so we knew we wanted to be the first ones there.

Right before we were about to pull up on the spot another boat got there first. We were pretty mad but we decided to head out a little deeper and dive some ledges. We ended up getting 24 lobsters and 2 hog fish.

Captain George Cheshier

Snook Fishing

originally posted 8/1/2011

I went snook and red fishing on back to back days last weekend. The snook fishing was great! The snook were biting real good before the sun came up. We had more snook jump and shake the hook than we landed but we still did great.

The next day when we went red fishing and ended up with about 15-18 reds. Around half of them were in the slot with the other half being undersized. After the tide turned and the red fish bite slowed down so I told John I wanted to take a short run to a rock pile I had in 15 feet to see if we could get some gags for fun on the C&H alien jigs. We got plenty of short gags but a nice surprise was I caught a keeper red grouper in only 15 feet of water. That was completely unexpected.

Team Lowrance and Salt Patrol Win Salmon Smackdown Tournament

originally posted 8/10/2011

Team Lowrance fishing onboard Salt Patrol held on to their day one lead winning the Northwest’s newest big dollar salmon tournament the Salmon Smackdown.
Day one found boats leaving the shotgun start at Jeff Head fishing from Bremerton to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Marine Areas 4-11 were are all open. With a 5 PM weigh in back at the Bremerton Marina by 5 PM each of the two day event it was an interesting team strategy to see how far teams would run to find fish.
The tournament fishing format is a 4 man team with the biggest eight fish (4 salmon each day) for total combined tournament weight.

This event is the brain child of Defiance Marine owner Bo Palmer. The idea is to show who the best fishing teams are over a couple of days not just the luckiest one day big fish winner; which is the normal format most NW salmon derby events are setup for. Bo Palmer hopes to explain the event into several tournaments with a grand finally similar to the Red Fish Tournament Series held on the east coast.
Most of the teams found day one fishing very tough, with not many fish turned in across the field of anglers that included teams from the Outdoor Line, All-Star Charters, Team Defiance (corn fed) and Defiance Marine.
Team Lowrance caught the bulk of their fish right at the end of the day Sunday on Mid Channel Bank near Port Townsend fishing a Pro-Troll Coyote Flasher with 40-inches of leader to a Silver Horde White Lighting Coho Killer. We notice the bait starting to setup on the Wilson end of Mid Channel Bank and trolled using our Lowrance Structure Scan to stay on the bait. We were able to land several fish giving us the win.
Team Lowrance Members:
Capt John Keizer, Capt Mark Abetz, Steve Ng, Gary Lukenvill
Overall Results:
1. Team Lowrance
2. Team 8-Balls
3. Team Outdoor line
More information on the Salmon Smackdown visit:

2011 St. Pete Open World Spearfishing Championships

originally posted 8/22/2011

This past weekend, Captain Dane Karcher (Team Salt Life) competed in the 2011 St. Pete Open World Spearfishing Championships. Salt Life wants to congratulate Dane for a strong finish. He placed 3rd overall for Grouper.

Salt Life in the Bahamas

originally posted on 8/23/2011

Last Friday, we woke up at 5:00 a.m. to get the boat ready and head over to Bimini for my Girlfriends birthday. I couldn’t wait to get over there to do some diving and fishing. The wahoo bite doesn’t pick up for about two more months so we were planning on doing some deep dropping, bottom fishing, and diving. We wanted to go diving right when we got there and bottom fish later that night once it got dark. After we checked into customs we went right out front for some lobsters. We ended up getting a lot of lobsters, some strawberry grouper, and hogfish.

Later that night once it got dark we anchored up in front of south Bimini and put out our chum. We started catching a lot of yellowtail and school master snappers. Right before we were about to head in for the night, one of the rods started pulling line pretty hard and it turned out to be a nice black grouper.

The next morning I woke up everyone early so we could run over to cat for some better free diving and deep dropping. I took us to a spot I like to go to for Hog fish that’s around 30 feet deep. We all jumped in with our spears to get some fish. I ended up spearing 5 hogs, 1 black grouper, some lobster, some School Masters and of course a few lion fish.

My girlfriend got to spear her first fish, which was a Hog and she even ended up getting another one later on in the day. My other buddies ended up with some flounder, hogs, and lobsters. After free diving for around three hours we decided we were tired and headed back to Bimini.

On Sunday when we woke up we packed up our stuff, checked out of our room and began the cross back over to Florida. We planned to look for stuff floating on the way home and see what we could catch. My buddy Adam rode on top of the T- top so he could look for floating debris. The first thing he spotted was a wooden crate. He jumped down from the T-top to try and catch a Wahoo on a vertical jig and sure enough first cast down he hooked up to one. After catching the Wahoo, we did a few more trolls by the crate but didn’t catch anything else. We decided to keep going and find something else. The next thing Adam spotted was a nice size tree branch. As soon as we pulled up I saw a nice size triple tail, I decided to spear it from the boat. I hit it dead on for a nice head shot. After catching the triple tail we decided to head home, we barely had any ice left and we thought we had a nice variety of fish to bring home.

Now I am packing my stuff getting ready to leave tonight to go to Nicaragua to go live the SALT LIFE in another way and hopefully catch some nice waves.

Captain George Cheshier

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jigging for Wahoo in the Bahamas

My friend and I were trolling about fifteen mile offshore of Powell Key when we came on a giant weed line. As we passed by, we had several Dolphin strikes and caught one fifteen pounder. The water was so clear that it was hard to get strikes on big game lures. We pulled up to the weed line and caught several Jacks on jigs. We then cut up the jacks and started chumming for the Dolphin. The action was steady. We caught about 20 fish and released all small Dolphin. While gaffing on of the Dolphin I saw a Wahoo swimming down about a hundred foot below the boat. I had heard about Jigging for Wahoo on the West Coast but never had an opportunity to try my luck on the east coast. I pulled out a Shamino Butterfly jig rigged with 80 lb. Fluorocarbon and dropped it down about two hundred feet. I made about two good jerks and hooked a nice Wahoo. Unfortunately it bit off the lure rigged with mono. We searched around and found one piece of number seven wire. We divided it in half and dropped two jigs at a time. To our amazement we caught a Wahoo on every drop. Most fish were very small and were released. Some of the small Wahoo were bit in half on the way up by larger Wahoo. We did catch several over twenty pounds and they were grilled the same night. There was a lot of life under the weed line and I could not resist jumping over to get a few shots. Here are a couple of photos taken under the weed line. The water depth was five thousand feet.


Haven't had much time to check in lately because the swordfishing has been so good. The weather finally got bad enough to keep me from going, so now I have time to write.  I've been doing really well swordfishing.  I caught a 450 pound sword a week ago then went out the next day and caught one over 500 pounds. I also recently went out for some night time swording and caught 15 swords needless to say it was a good night! I am planning on writing a blog soon all about it.  


Last time I checked in with everyone, I was headed to The Boom in Nicaragua to do some surfing with a few of my friends.  The first day we got there, it was breaking overhead and we all caught some really good waves.  The second day the waves stayed consistent, everyone was really stoked and having a great time surfing together. 

On the third day, the tide was messed up and the waves weren’t good so we decided to go to the marina down the way from where our hotel was.  We brought a few fishing rods down there with us to try and catch some snook. R.T. caught a nice snook, and we brought it back to our hotel so I could fillet it and we could eat it.

When we woke up on the fourth day we decided to paddle out even though the conditions hadn’t improved but we had run out of things to do.  On my very first wave of the day, I fell and when I did the fin from my board slammed into my shin causing it to cut my leg down to the bone.  I didn’t realize how bad it was till I got out of the water and could see the bone in my leg.  I had to be taken to the hospital that was an hour away to get stitches.  I decided to end my trip early after that since I could no longer surf, and I flew home the next morning. 

I wasn’t able to do much for a few days when I got back to the United States, and all I could think about was Swordfishing.  After a few days, the pain went down enough and I was able to wrap up my leg good enough to head out to the sword grounds.  On our first drop we got tight and hooked a 450 pound sword that we landed two hours later.  The same day we caught two other swordfish that weighed around 150 pounds each. 

I was really happy my first day back out Swordfishing was a success after having to leave my surf trip early.  I took the next day off to sleep but was ready to go again after that.  I headed out early for some daytime Swordfishing and ended up landing an even bigger sword, this time it was over 500 pounds.  So, even though my surf trip was cut short, having such good days Swordfishing helped make up for it.

Capt. George Cheshier