I just returned from the Penn Media Summit. It was held out of the famous Sailfish Marina, in Palm Beach, Florida.
The crew at Penn Fishing brought together a talented group of South Florida captains and a diverse group of outdoor writers, editors and photographers from around the country to fish with the latest innovations from Penn and more. Each day we split into small groups and fished with a different captain.
Each captain had their own style and specialty, but all of them demonstrated their vast knowledge of the area, its fishy inhabitants and the versatility of the gear.
The sheer variety of the fish we caught in three days was a reminder of how lucky I am to live in Florida, where you truly never know what you might catch next. Collectively as a group we caught dolphin, blackfin and skipjack tuna, blue marlin, sailfish, red grouper, mangrove, yellowtail and lane snapper, snook, tarpon, ladyfish, yellow, amber and crevalle jacks, goliath grouper, various sharks including a 400 pound hammerhead, spanish and king mackerel and a red cornet fish. I’m sure there are some I have missed, but you get the idea.
A big part of this variety is the fact that deep water is so close and you can be catching snook in the inlet one minute, and then run two or three miles to the edge of the Gulf Stream and chase tuna and dolphin. Wrecks and hard bottom in between hold a wide variety of bottom fish and wreck dwellers. The water was clear and full of bait of many types. Pilchards and sardines were cast netted along inshore beaches, while cigar minnows, blue runners and goggle eyes were sabikied on offshore structures and bouys. Mullet and ballyhoo were showered along the beaches by inshore predators, while flying fish were sent into the air by the offshore varieties.
Penn’s new line up of rods and reels were also a big part of this success. There new lines of Torque and Squall conventional reels coupled with Rampage Jigging rods were lightweight, versatile and incredibly tough, yet smooth. Most were spooled with Spiderwire invisi-braid and the combo was deadly for the fish. Long casts and solid hook sets were the order of the week. We did quite a bit of jigging for many of the species and these new outfits were the tools for the job. Penn has struck the balance of quality and affordability.
Speaking of jigging, I had the pleasure to fish with Patrick Sebile of Sebile Lures. He brought a wealth of knowledge, experience and a bag full of his creations. The fast cast jig in various sizes caught more than half of the species I listed earlier. It casts a mile, sinks quickly and can be worked in a variety of ways. The white one worked best for us, but all of the colors are sure to put fish on the line. We also used the Stick Shad and Magic Swimmer lures and got vicious strikes on both.
Everyone loves to watch a topwater bait get blasted and the Splasher will not disappoint.
This offshore popper has a concave face, which will splash and gurgle, thus drawing in predators like the real thing. It was cool to fish with the inventor of these lures and hear about the background of each lure’s creation and testing.
We often fished the half-ounce fast cast on a lightweight Penn Spinfisher V 3500 series spinning reel with spiderwire. A three foot, 30lb fluorocarbon leader tied with a double uni knot was a tried and true fish catcher. Though many of the fish were not giants, the light tackle and smooth drags made it a blast and the action was pretty steady.
Fishing with Capt. George Mitchell aboard his yellowfin “snake dancer”, we jigged, plugged topwater, flew kites with helium balloons and deep dropped by hand for golden tilefish in 700 feet. He left no stone unturned in a quest to put us on fish. All of the captains went above and beyond to make our trip a memorable one.
Capt. Butch took a group of us back out after dinner to catch tarpon and snook in the inlet. Even after three long days he had spent offshore, he put us on fish and entertained us. Capt. Butch runs a 29 foot Twin Vee that he customized for his style of fishing out of Jupiter, Florida.
Last, but not least by any means, I fished with Capt. Steve Gordon on his 26 foot Goldline. Capt. Steve is the local go to for live bait, but he knows the big fish just as well. We jigged tuna, and jacks on the Sebile fast cast jigs, but when a mangrove snapper made a showing, we anchored and dropped live sardines and cut bait for a few more mangroves and a handful of tasty lane snapper. This is one of my favorite types of fishing, so I felt right at home. Then Capt. Steve said the tide would be right for snook back in the inlet. A few minutes later we were releasing snook despite the afternoon rain showers.
If it’s been a while since you fished with a Penn reel, you need to go get some. They have kept up with the times and make many excellent styles for all types of fishing. If your already using a Penn, then you already know the quality and innovative features I’m referring to. I was impressed and I’m going to set up a lightweight Penn outfit myself since being reminded how much fun light tackle fishing can be.