Fishing Forum
 Hooked Something Huge While Night Fishing Under Bridges

Fishing Forum Charter Fishing Ft. Lauderdale Topsh0tfishing Happy Day Today Shark


 
Fort Lauderdale Fishing with Top Shot Sportfishing Charter Boat and Capt. Zsak

Matt Gasparro from Phoenix, AZ was down in Fort Lauderdale on a business convention held by Cisco, along with Todd, Chris, Kim and Dave and decided to charter the Top Shot Sportfishing charter boat team to do some deep sea charter boat sport fishing in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Fifteen/twenty minutes after leaving the dock, we were fishing by the sea buoy north of Fort Lauderdale, 1.8 miles from shore. We started off trolling with two plainers down, one with a pink and blue sea witch and the other with a blue and white sea witch, both had double hooked Bonito strips. For surface baits we went with two Mullet strips and two Bonito strips. As we trolled the reefs, ranging from 80 ft. out to 200 ft. of water, we got a couple of short Kingfish bites and caught a couple of Bonitos.

From there we decided to do some Shark fishing and headed out to 300 ft. of water. In the past few days, we have caught three Thresher Sharks out here, and now we were hoping to catch #4. We put out one surface, midrange and bottom Shark baits. It did not take too long before a dorsal fin popped up by the surface bait – hooked up. The Shark peeled off the line from the 80 International Reel. Matt was our angler and he jumped into the fighting to do battle. After a 45 minute battle, Mark, our mate, grabbed a hold of the leader and wired in the Hammerhead Shark. Pictures were taken, hooks were removed and the Shark was set free to fight again. Congratulations Matt on a job well done.

It was now time to head back to the dock. The anglers retired into the a/c salon and enjoyed the relaxing trip back to the dock at Bahia Bar Yachting Center, 801 Seabreeze Blvd. Fort Lauderdale 33316. At the dock, Matt filet the Mahi for the anglers to enjoy for tonight’s dinner.

For a successful and adventurous deep sea fishing charter in Fort Lauderdale FL for Sailfish, Shark, Bonito, Mackerel, Swordfish, Snapper, Wahoo, Tuna, Mahi Mahi and Grouper, contact Captain Zsak. – 954-309-7457 or email us at tzsak@bellsouth.net Website: www.topshotfishing.com.



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Everest Marathon – Our Guides are Taking it on for Charity


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Already heard about Mel and Elder’s Everest Marathon challenge and want to donate?

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Our guides are pretty amazing people. They’re understanding, adaptable, enthusiastic, hilarious, superhuman backpack carrying superstars, who also happen to be awesome drivers and talented chefs, among lots of other great things. Mel, from Christchurch, New Zealand, and Elder, from Puerto Maldonado, Peru, are no different.

Elder began working for Active Adventures in Peru, and has since moved to New Zealand to be with his partner Ellie, where he guides for us. Elder now also guides for us in the Himalayas.

Elder Everest Base Camp Peru Flag
Elder proudly displaying the flag of his home country, Peru, at Everest Base Camp

Mel has guided for us in New Zealand for a number of years, and also guides for us in the Himalayas during the New Zealand off-season. Our Himalayas trips are overseen by experienced Kiwi Dan Keys, a New Zealand and Nepal guiding superstar.

Mel selfie EBC training
Mel grabbed this selfie whilst out training in the Everest Region. We’re not sure if it’s a smile or a grimace. You decide!

DK spends a large portion of each year in Nepal, and has established the Active Hearts Foundation, a charity focused on helping remote villages of the Himalayas.

Gokul-and-DK
Guides Gokul and DK grab a quick selfie during a rest on the trail

Here’s what DK had to say about Active Hearts Foundation:

“The Active Hearts Foundation is a group of trekking guides, family and friends from New Zealand, Nepal and the world, who lead expeditions through the Himalayas and want to give something back to the communities they live and work in. The Nepalese are wonderfully humble and caring folk who constantly make trekking tours magic by sharing their homes, culture and friendship. Active Hearts was formed to build school libraries in the remote villages of our local guides and porters and to assist with other small community projects. Since the devastating earthquakes of 2015 the focus has been on emergency shelter, food, water, sanitation and medical assistance.”

Having spent a lot of time in Nepal, the amazing local people, and the story of their resilience in a life with almost nothing have become a big part of the lives of both Mel and Elder. So they’ve decided it’s time for them to try to give something back to all of the smiling faces they pass every day on the trails of the Himalayas – so they’re doing the Everest Marathon and raising money for the Active Hearts Foundation. How cool is that?!

The race is on the 29th of May this year, and the pair are squeezing in as much training as they can alongside their busy guiding schedule in the Mount Everest region. You can follow both Mel and Elder’s training by checking out their blogs, Mel’s is here, and Elder’s is here. Watch this space for some more photos from the Himalayas, the guys’ training sessions, and the race day itself!

If you feel like donating to this amazing cause, then you can do so by clicking the button below. DK, Mel, and Elder will be extremely grateful.

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Guides Nick and Elder Take on the Motatapu Race

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Fishing Forum
 Hooked Something Huge While Night Fishing Under Bridges

Fishing Forum Fishing Fort Lauderdale Topshotfishing Happy Day Today Sailfish


 
Fort Lauderdale Fishing with Top Shot Sportfishing Charter Boat and Capt. Zsak

We had repeat customers, Ron and Ray, back for more sport fishing with the Top Shot Sportfishing charter boat team to do some deep sea charter boat sport fishing in Fort Lauderdale, FL. On this day, we had easterly winds at 15 mph with some clouds and 75 degrees, along with a light north current – the color of the water was deep blue.

We purchased a dozen live Goggle Eyes for baits from the marine store on the way out. Goggle Eyes are great baits, especially when the wind is blowing. Our plan was to do some kite fishing, as well as bottom fishing after we got a few hours of trolling in.

We started trolling the reef in 150 ft of water 1.8 miles from the shore north of Fort Lauderdale with two deep plainers and four surface lines. After trolling, we caught a couple of Bonitos, which are not edible fish, but are good fighting fish – we use the Bonitos for cut strips. I trolled north for an hour and found a good body of water with current and blue waters. At this spot we put out two kites in the air with four live Goggle Eye baits. We drifted with the current to the north passing over good reefs, along with schools of bait fish. A Sailfish showed up and fed on the long bait – we gave him some line, then set up on the fish, and we were hooked into a Sailfish. Ron was the first angler, and using our Shimano TLD 25, he worked the Sailfish up to the boat – we got our catch and then released it.

At this time we got pulled out to deeper waters, so we brought all the gear in, ran back to 120 ft. of water, where the live baits were schooling up. We reset our two kites back out with the four live baits and went back to fishing. Flying fish started showering around the boat with packs of a few dozen at a time. A Sailfish came up to the short bait, swam around the bait several times then swam away. Again, another Sailfish swims up to the short bait, sticks his dorsal out of the water and slowly swam away. Frustrating, but at least we knew we were fishing in the right area. This time the Sailfish crashed the long bait – we gave him some line then set the hooks. Ray was the angler on this second Sailfish. The Sailfish headed off shore, stretching up current and down current. With gains and losses, Ray got this 7 foot Sailfish to the side of the boat and was then released.

Next, we decided to try for Mahi Mahi and trolled out to 700 feet of water until the end of the trip. We had a great day fishing, but now it was time to head back to the dock.
The anglers retired into the a/c salon and enjoyed the relaxing trip back to the dock at Bahia Bar Yachting Center, 801 Seabreeze Blvd. Fort Lauderdale 33316. We hope to have Ray and Ron back in the near future.

For a successful and adventurous deep sea fishing charter in Fort Lauderdale FL for Sailfish, Shark, Bonito, Mackerel, Swordfish, Snapper, Wahoo, Tuna, Mahi Mahi and Grouper, contact Captain Zsak. – 954-309-7457 or email us at tzsak@bellsouth.net Website: www.topshotfishing.com.



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Fishing Forum
 Hooked Something Huge While Night Fishing Under Bridges

Fishing Forum Deep Sea Fishing Fort Lauderdale Topshotfishing Happy Day Today Shark


 
Fort Lauderdale Fishing with Top Shot Sportfishing Charter Boat and Capt. Zsak

JP Fyans, his wife, Kristin, and sons, 9 year old Jackson and 5 year old Chuck, were down in Fort Lauderdale from Illinois on a work/ vacation trip and decided to charter the Top Shot Sportfishing charter boat team to do some deep sea charter boat sport fishing in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The boys were pumped up to get their first salt water fish – whenever we have junior anglers, we use light tackle spinners

We started fishing by the sea buoy in 110 ft. of water, 1.8 miles from shore north of Fort Lauderdale, using a chum bag and cut bait. Both Jackson and Chuck started catching Blue Runners, Rainbow Runners and File Fish. One after another, they took turns on the spinning tackle.

After the boys caught a bunch of fish, we then moved off to deeper waters looking for larger prey. We set out one live Goggle Eye bait and one dead bait on the kite and two deep baits, which were set at 200 ft. and 300 ft. We had a shark come up to the surface bait and attempt to eat the bait more than 5 times. He would charge the bait, then turn away and disappear. The Shark finally fed, and we set the hooks just for a short period before pulling the Shark off.

We reset our baits and waited for another opportunity. Along comes another nice Shark. This time he fed properly, and we got hooked up on the Shark. Our mate cleared out the rest of the lines, and JP started angling the Shark, with a lot of big runs, diving deep and from side to side – this Shark wanted nothing to do with us. JP brought the Shark to the side of the boat where we removed the hooks and took a quick photo. This awesome Shark was released to fight another day.

It was now time to head back to the dock. The anglers retired into the a/c salon and enjoyed the relaxing trip back to the dock at Bahia Bar Yachting Center, 801 Seabreeze Blvd. Fort Lauderdale 33316.

For a successful and adventurous deep sea fishing charter in Fort Lauderdale FL for Sailfish, Shark, Bonito, Mackerel, Swordfish, Snapper, Wahoo, Tuna, Mahi Mahi and Grouper, contact Captain Zsak. – 954-309-7457 or email us at tzsak@bellsouth.net Website: www.topshotfishing.com.



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Fishing Forum
 Hooked Something Huge While Night Fishing Under Bridges

Fishing Forum SW FL-Bonita Beach Lots of nice catches offshore and inshore



Sunday morning, 2/25, I headed out to 19 miles west of New Pass to fish with Charles Bisgaier and his friend, Andy. The red grouper bite was active, and the guys released twenty red grouper shorts to18 inches, along with two mangrove snapper shorts. They loaded the cooler with twenty-one grunts, all around 14-to 15 inches, along with one 14-inch porgy.

Todd Plastaid, his three sons, Alec, Brennen and Dave, their friend, Cam Field, and the boys’ grandfather, John Plastaid, fished 24 miles west of New Pass with me in calm seas on Monday, 2/26. The family used squid and cut-bait to catch twenty-one keeper lane snapper to 16 inches, a dozen grunts 12-14 inches, and three keeper porgies. They released twenty-six red grouper shorts to 18 inches, along with a 14-inch triggerfish.

Mike and Kristen McCarthy and their five-year-old twin sons, Danny and Jonathan, fished southern Estero Bay’s backwaters with me on Tuesday, 2/27. Kristen landed a nice, 17-inch trout, and the boys had fun catching and releasing ten sheepshead to 12 inches and two mangrove snapper to 10 inches. Everything bit on shrimp. The boys enjoyed fishing, but had even more fun watching a dolphin or two chase the boat for a good while, and also siting a manatee.

Mike Conneally, his brother-in-law, Rodney Bromm, and friend, Jim Schaber, fished 24 miles west of New Pass with me on Wednesday morning, 2/28, where they used cut-bait and squid to box seventeen lane snapper keepers, a 13-inch mangrove snapper, and a few grunts. They released twenty-one red grouper shorts to 18 inches.

Frequent fishers, Ron Musick, Eddie Alfonso, and Richard Arnett fished 24 miles offshore with me on Thursday, 3/1, and used squid and cut-bait to box twenty-one lane snappers to 14 inches and two keeper mangrove snapper to 14 inches, along with a few grunts. They released twenty-two red grouper shorts to 17 inches.

Friday morning, 3/2, Kathy Kunscher and the McNally family—Seth and Val and their young children, Liam and Alta—fished southern Estero Bay with me, using live shrimp. The group caught a 17-inch permit and two sand bream, and released a half dozen sheepshead shorts and a dozen mangrove snapper shorts, along with four big sailcats that were all about five pounds. Red tide was obvious, but it wasn’t impairing our catching!

Bob Eckle and friend, Ken, had to nix their plans to fish in the gulf on Saturday, 3/3, with strong winds and surf causing a small craft advisory to be issued for offshore. We fished in southern Estero Bay, using live shrimp, and the guys caught and released a drum and two sheepshead, while boxing two keeper mangrove snapper.

Frequent customer, Mike Connealy, wanted to treat his brother-in-law, Rodney Bromm, to some sport fishing for big fish on Monday, 3/5, so we headed out about fifteen miles to one of my goliath grouper spots. The guys caught a bunch of blue runners for bait, and then caught and released four goliath grouper, one estimated at 40 pounds, two estimated at 60 pounds, and one estimated at 90 pounds. They figured the fun was worth the sore arms that would no doubt result!

Bart Arrigo, joined by friends, Steve, Doug, and another Steve, fished 35 miles offshore with me on Tuesday, March 6th. The guys were busy catching all day, using squid and cut-bait to box sixteen vermillion snapper, nineteen nice-sized porgies, three 15-inch grunts, two 13-inch mangrove snapper, and two 14-inch yellowtail snapper. They released three dozen red grouper shorts and a few gag grouper shorts.

Weather canceled out four consecutive trips, with various combinations of high winds and seas, rain, and low tides. I finally got out fishing again on Tuesday, 3/13, when I fished the backwaters of southern Estero Bay with Tom Schilli, his wife, and their two grandsons Steven and Sonny Barclay. The family used live shrimp to catch and release a dozen sheepshead to 12 inches, four black drum to 14 inches, six mangrove snapper shorts, and a 14-inch sand bream.

Mike Jansen, his son-in-law, Matt Menting, and Matt’s seven-year-old daughter, Lily, fished in Estero Bay with me on Wednesday morning, 3/14, using live shrimp. We had a great morning o sheepshead catching, boxing thirteen keeper sheepshead to 19 inches and releasing a dozen more consisting of shorts and some keepers that weren’t needed. The family also boxed a 17-inch trout, and they released a 17-inch snook, along with a dozen short mangrove snapper.The photo shown below is of Matt Menting with a 17-inch trout.

Mike Jenson and Matt Menting fished with me again on Thursday, 3/15, this time joined by Mike’s son, Chris Jenson, to fish offshore. Seas were choppy early on, but we all knew they would be and we were prepared for the three-to-four foot seas we encountered heading out to 19 miles west of New Pass. Seas calmed down later in the morning, as predicted. The guys used squid and cut-bait to loan up on lane snapper, boxing twenty keepers to 14 inches. They added to the box a 14-inch mangrove snapper, a nice 17-inch mutton snapper, a 14-inch porgy, and a 13-inch grunt. We had to be quick to boat the mutton snapper, since an 8-foot hammerhead shark was in pursuit of it, but we got the mutton safely into the boat. The guys also released five yellowtail shorts, along with a 9-foot sandbar shark. The photo shown below is of Chris Jansen with a 17-inch mutton snapper.

Ian McKinnon, his son-in-law, Remi Nickel, and Remi’s three young sons, Mark, Luke and Jack fished 19 miles west of New Pass with me on Friday, 3/16. The kids had fun catching a mess of grunts to 12 inches, and releasing blue runners and short red grouper. But the highlight of the trip was when we caught the hammerhead that I had seen lurking in the area the previous day—he bit on a blue runner on a heavy rig, and we were able to get some good video before releasing him.

St. Patrick’s Day Saturday, I fished from 19 to 23 miles offshore with Darren and Linda Rachman and their friends, Craig and Heather Laudenslager. The group used cut-bait and squid to box twenty grunts to 14 inches, a half-dozen lane snapper to 14 inches, a 15-inch porkfish, and a 13-inch porgy. They released twenty-five red grouper shorts.

You can view our fishing action videos at http://fishbustercharters.com/fishing videos.html



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Fishing Forum
 Hooked Something Huge While Night Fishing Under Bridges

Fishing Forum Fort Lauderdale Fishing Topshotfishing Happy Day Today Shark


 
Fort Lauderdale Fishing with Top Shot Sportfishing Charter Boat and Capt. Zsak

Walter, Victor, Ryan and Andy were down from Buffalo, NY to do some sport fishing and decided to charter the Top Shot Sportfishing charter boat team to do some deep sea charter boat sport fishing in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

We started out the fishing trip targeting large fish and went right out to the deeper waters where the Sailfish and the Sharks have been traveling. We put out two kites with two live Goggle Eyes for baits from each kite as well as one deeper Shark bait. From there we went to the drop off, and put out three baits, two baits were for Sharks – one bait on the surface and one bait 200 ft. deep. Within an hour, a Shark came swimming around the surface bait and made a few turns searching for the bait. The Shark found the bait, ate it and the Shark was on. The Shark dumped a few hundred yards of line, screaming out drag. The angler battled the Shark for over an hour with some gains and losses before the Shark finally came close enough to grab the leader line – it was a 250 lb Hammerhead Shark. Pictures were taken and the Shark was released to fight another day.

Next, we came into shallower water and put out a full live bait spread with two Goggle Eye baits on the left and right kites. After an hour of keeping the baits in their positions, a White Marlin came up to the left short bait. He slashed at the bait a few times missing it until his final attempt, engulfing it. The White Marlin swam and fed for 60 seconds, then came up jumping out of the water a few times. Ryan was the angler – we strapped him into the fighting chair and he started fighting the White Marlin. Ryan had him on for 30 minutes but the White Marlin ended up breaking the leader. An exciting time was had on this fishing trip.

It was now time to head back to the dock. The anglers retired into the a/c salon and enjoyed the relaxing trip back to the dock at Bahia Bar Yachting Center, 801 Seabreeze Blvd. Fort Lauderdale 33316.

For a successful and adventurous deep sea fishing charter in Fort Lauderdale FL for Sailfish, Shark, Bonito, Mackerel, Swordfish, Snapper, Wahoo, Tuna, Mahi Mahi and Grouper, contact Captain Zsak. – 954-309-7457 or email us at tzsak@bellsouth.net Website: www.topshotfishing.com.



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Fishing Forum
 Hooked Something Huge While Night Fishing Under Bridges

Fishing Forum CHL’s NEW Herring Grub Tantalizes Bluefin Trevally!


Completely Hooked Lures New 4in “Herring” Grub!

Today i decided to try a new deserted cove to try out Landon Yamamoto’s new grub lure The Herring. A new style of life-like soft plastic grubs for Completely Hooked Lures. In the first hour i had a hug hit followed by a medium hit, then watched a Barracuda cutting another Herring grub in half. Yup, the fish love them.

It was COLD & the first day in weeks that the sun came out. So i decided to stay and freeze my butt off wading out to the drop-off. After freezing in the water i went back to shore & bingo! A small hit, but a hit that held. My drag was to tight from my previous hit so i was lucky the hook didn’t tear out. I did go out at night a week ago & caught a 5gal bucket full of fish, but my new headlamp red light wasn’t strong enough to video so decided not to use that night’s footage as the quality was very poor.

I tried using a sickle bait-holder hook but threading the hook through 1/4 of the 4in grub caused the grub to run straight (though the fish were hitting it). After texting My Yamamoto on what was going on he suggested hooking the front tip only. Bingo! The lure started zig-zagging and within minutes got a solid hook-up on a young Bluefin Trevally “Omilu”. After taking a quick pic i released it back.

I ended up using up all my available Herring grubs. Only brought the new “Halloween” grubs, i stupidly left all the other colors at home with my Mutsu Circle Hooks. So i was forced to use the few new Herrings i had in my insulated cooler backpack & a few loose bait-holder hooks that i had for spin-fishing. But i was happy with the results. Found the optimum way of presenting the grubs & saw that the fish loved the reaction & color.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWIVR74Xnvc



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Fishing Forum
 Hooked Something Huge While Night Fishing Under Bridges

Fishing Forum Spoprt fishing Topshotfishing Happy Day Today Sailfish


 
Fort Lauderdale Fishing with Top Shot Sportfishing Charter Boat and Capt. Zsak

Dave and Rick from California and Gary and John from Pennsylvania were down in Fort Lauderdale and decided to charter the Top Shot Sportfishing charter boat team to do some deep sea charter boat sport fishing in Fort Lauderdale, FL. We had choppy seas ranging from 3 to 4 feet and the wind was blowing out of the southeast.

As we left the inlet, we headed to the northeast of Fort Lauderdale where a structure lies in 300 feet of water – we started the day fishing in this spot. The water had a deep blue color, as well as some north current going about a nautical knot. We put out two kites – a right kite and a left kite – with two live Goggle Eyes for baits per kite. We had a perfect spread of baits, and I knew a Sailfish would be showing up.

After some time of working the kites, a Sailfish’s dorsal fin popped up on the left kite bait. Matt, our mate fed the Sailfish, and as the Sailfish got hooked, he came jumping out of the water. The Sailfish started ripping drag out and running all over to get away. Dave was the angler, and he did a super job reeling in the Sailfish to the side of the boat. The Sailfish was brought into the boat for photos, and was released into the water to swim away.

We went back to kite fishing and put the same set back out. This time a Mahi Mahi ate the Goggle Eye bait, and it gave us a good fight. The angler brought the Mahi to the side of the boat, where we gaffed him and put him on ice. Mahi’s are good eating fish.

It was now time to head back to the dock. The anglers retired into the a/c salon and enjoyed the relaxing trip back to the dock at Bahia Bar Yachting Center, 801 Seabreeze Blvd. Fort Lauderdale 33316. At the dock, Matt filet the Mahi for the anglers to enjoy for tonight’s dinner.

For a successful and adventurous deep sea fishing charter in Fort Lauderdale FL for Sailfish, Shark, Bonito, Mackerel, Swordfish, Snapper, Wahoo, Tuna, Mahi Mahi and Grouper, contact Captain Zsak. – 954-309-7457 or email us at tzsak@bellsouth.net Website: www.topshotfishing.com.



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Fishing Forum
 Hooked Something Huge While Night Fishing Under Bridges

Fishing Forum Off Shore Fishing Fort Lauderdale Topshotfishing Happy Day Today


 
Fort Lauderdale Fishing with Top Shot Sportfishing Charter Boat and Capt. Zsak

Tony, Bill, Rick, Ryan, Neil and George, a group of guys from the Boston area, were down in Fort Lauderdale and decided to charter the Top Shot Sportfishing charter boat team to do some deep sea charter boat sport fishing in Fort Lauderdale, FL. We had nice temperature today, in the mid 70’s, and easterly winds blowing 15 mph. The seas were choppy at 3 to 4 feet.

We started the trip with kite fishing in 150 ft. of water, 1.8 miles from shore north of Fort Lauderdale. We put out two kites with two live Goggle Eyes from each kite. The first couple of baits in the water got attacked right away – within the first 5 minutes – catching one Kingfish and missing another one. We reset our spread of baits back out only to have another couple of Kingfish tear through the spread, cutting our Goggle Eye baits in half with their razor sharp teeth.

We moved out a little deeper to avoid the Kingfish attack, and after some time, we caught a Mahi Mahi, followed by a nice big Barracuda, which gave us a good fight.

With little to no time left in the trip, the dead bait we had put out close to the bottom got hit, and the rod bent over so hard it almost touched the water line. We were hooked up to a real nice Shark. The Shark ripped off a ton of line as he headed offshore. We hooked up the Shark in 350 feet of water, and after an hour fight, it took us out to 500 feet of water. All the guys in the group took turns fighting this Shark until we got him to the side of the boat. The Shark turned out to be a 10 ft. Big Eye Thresher. Pictures were taken and the Shark was released.

It was now time to head back to the dock. The anglers retired into the a/c salon and enjoyed the relaxing trip back to the dock at Bahia Bar Yachting Center, 801 Seabreeze Blvd. Fort Lauderdale 33316.

For a successful and adventurous deep sea fishing charter in Fort Lauderdale FL for Sailfish, Shark, Bonito, Mackerel, Swordfish, Snapper, Wahoo, Tuna, Mahi Mahi and Grouper, contact Captain Zsak. – 954-309-7457 or email us at tzsak@bellsouth.net Website: www.topshotfishing.com.



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The Secret to Hiking in South America

The Secret to Hiking in South America


Want to be the BEST prepared
for the WORST to come? Click here to sign up NOW! We'll even throw in a FREE survival tool! (just pay s&h)

Want to be the BEST prepared
for the WORST to come? Click here to sign up NOW! We'll even throw in a FREE survival tool! (just pay s&h)

Chewing coca leaves might not sound like the best idea in the world, but in Bolivia and Peru, it’s an art form. For centuries, these leaves have been boosting the energy of Andean farmers, laborers, and explorers; keeping them going through the hard times and the good. However, like any art form, there’s a trick to it.

It’s Not Cocaine

Before we get chewing, it’s worth pointing out that there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the coca leaf. First, coca leaves are absolutely nothing like cocaine. Instead, they’re more like a shot of espresso, if the caffeine high lasted half the day. Your heart will get pounding, you might sweat a bit and suddenly feel the urge to climb a mountain. Your mouth may also go numb. That’s about it.

It’s Still Illegal Pretty Much Everywhere

Despite being widely consumed across much of the Andean region, coca leaves are illegal under international law. The United Nations, 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, prohibits the use of coca leaves for everything except scientific and medical purposes. However, this prohibition is ignored in Peru and Bolivia. Countries who have been lobbying for the leaf to be legalized internationally. Along with these two countries, possession of the leaf in small amounts for personal consumption is legal in Argentina and Colombia. The leaf is technically banned in Paraguay and Brazil, though enforcement against individuals with small amounts is unusual. Even so, respect for local laws should always come first.

While you’re in the Andes, why not try the region’s most awesome survival plant, the frailejon?

In virtually every other country on the face of the Earth, coca leaves are treated no differently than cocaine. While coca tea can be found on sale in commercial, neat little boxes in Peru and Bolivia, you’ll face possible arrest and drug trafficking charges if you try to take them to a country like the United States. There are more than enough horror stories of innocent travelers being treated like criminals in the U.S. for merely carrying coca tea, so don’t risk it. Only chew coca in the countries where it’s legal.

You Won’t Feel Much…At First

Many first-time coca chewers are disappointed after their first try, with the effects being mild at best. This is because, like many substances, coca leaves just don’t seem to give users much of a buzz until your system has gotten used to them. So if you’re not getting anything, try again in a few days. However, scientific evidence that proves coca leaves improve physical performance is shaky at best, leading many researchers to conclude the leaves don’t do much at all. This, of course, flies in the face of the experiences of generations of Andeans. Either way, don’t be surprised if you don’t find coca leaves anywhere near as stimulating as you may expect.

Not All Leaves are Equal

After sampling a few coca leaves, you might notice some massive variations in effectiveness. This is normal, and as a general rule of thumb, you can expect leaves to be pretty mediocre around tourist areas, such as Cuzco. Generally speaking, the best leaves are fresh, dark green, and flexible.

Check out Chewing Coca Leaves: The Secret to Hiking in South America at https://survivallife.com/chewing-coca-leaves-south-america/
Photo by Logga Wiggler

It Can Have Some Nasty Side Effects

On the flip side, if you chew coca leaves while hiking in South America, you might still experience some adverse side effects. Some of these include exacerbating asthma, worsening heart conditions, and raising blood pressure, while potentially impacting the sugar levels of people with diabetes. If you’re pregnant, stay away from cocoa, and even after giving birth, don’t chew coca leaves until long after you’ve finished breastfeeding.

While we’re on the topic of hapless tourists, my first experience of coca leaves was pretty unpleasant to watch. On a hiking trip in Peru, I watched a fellow gringo shovel a few handfuls of coca leaves into his mouth, and munch them like a koala. A few minutes later, he was outside, face covered in green goo, coughing up stems. Part of the problem comes down to the language barrier: you don’t chew coca leaves per se. Instead, your objective is to suck on the leaves, gumming them to draw out the alkaloids.

Speaking of surviving the Andes, check out this insane survival story of the passengers of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571.

Remove Stems

Once you’ve got some nice, pliable leaves, the first thing you’ll want to do is remove the stems. Do as locals do, and fold each leaf in half, peeling the bulk of the stem from the end. Try to get as much of the stem as possible, without breaking the leaf in two.

Having a Ball with the Catalyst

Now, select somewhere between 10-15 choice leaves. Pile them neatly, and add the catalyst. Traditionally, powdered limestone is used, though I’d strongly recommend against this. Limestone can strip the enamel off your teeth, and cause a real headache for both you and your dentist. Instead, opt for something gentler, like a bit of bicarb soda. Bicarb does a perfectly good job of activating the alkaloids, and won’t destroy your dentistry.

Once you’ve added a small amount of catalyst, roll the leaves up like a tiny little cigar. Fold the ends if needed, and keep the package nice and tight – again, without damaging the leaves. What you should be left with, is a little ball of leaves packed around a small amount of bicarb soda.

Be a Sucker, Not a Chewer

Finally, you’re ready to try your coca. Insert your little package of leaves into the corner of your mouth. Ideally, you want it lodged between your cheek and molars. Leave it there for a few hours, giving it a bit of a loll or gentle chew every so often. Throughout the day, expect your mouth to go numb and get filled with bitter flavor. It might not sound fun, but the boost of energy can be well worth it and may save your life in a survival situation. After a while, you might even start to enjoy the taste.

What do you think? If you’ve tried coca leaves for yourself, then we’d love to hear about your experience. Let us know in the comments below.

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