Steve Kantner’s new book a comprehensive guide to catching gamefish

From time to time over the past couple decades, South Florida authors have published how-to guides for catching snook or largemouth bass or peacock bass from shore.

But no one has written a comprehensive volume targeting nearly every gamefish that shows up here in the surf, local canals, spillways, lakes and marshes — until now.

Fort Lauderdale author and self-styled “Land Captain” Steve Kantner, 66, who guided anglers on shore and in a canoe to outstanding catches for years, has written the Ultimate Guide to Fishing South Florida on Foot (Stackpole Books, $29.95).

Besides fishing tackle, it is literally all you need to catch everything from snook to snakeheads in the de facto fishing capital of the world. No need for a boat or hiring a professional guide.

For 272 pages, Kantner details pretty much every factor involved in catching fish from land — rod-and-reel selection; favorable tides and moon phases; best baits, artificial lures and flies; even where to park and how to figure out which of the hundreds of spillways dotting the landscape are most productive and when.

Kantner draws mostly from personal experience, but he doesn’t hesitate to include information from other local experts (and credit them) where needed.

His tips aren’t just superficial, i.e. “fish the falling tide with a Zara Spook.” Instead, here’s a nugget that many experienced anglers might otherwise overlook:

“The secret to spillways lies in knowing where to fish them, which depends on where the fish are feeding. The big mistake that most spillway fishermen make is standing directly across from their quarry — if it’s rolling tarpon — wherever there’s a fast moving current. No lure looks natural from this approach. … Learn to look at the current the way a predator does. It’s impossible, for example, to dash across it while all the time fighting the flow. That’s why baitfish heading for the nearest bank drop downstream in their escape attempts. So in order for your offering to resemble the naturals, it must also make that downstream swing. … ”

Before writing the book, Kantner was a frequent contributor to a host of outdoors publications, including Florida Sportsman, Salt Water Sportsman and Fly Fishing in Salt Waters. He also conducted fly-fishing and shore-fishing seminars.

“I always believed, based on the number of requests I and other professional fishermen got about ‘where can I go fishing when I’m not on a boat,’ that a guide like this was needed,” Kantner said.

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As fly-fishing great Lefty Kreh writes in the book’s foreword: “For anyone who wants to jump in the car with his kids or friends and drive to a place where he can fish on foot at very little cost, this book is the most useful piece of fishing gear you can own.”

And for far less than the price of a surf rod-and-reel combo.

Now here’s some breaking news that happened too late to make it into the book: Miami Beach’s new South Pointe Park Fishing Pier, located at the beach’s southernmost tip on Government Cut, is slated to open Aug. 15 at 6 p.m. The area has been closed since demolition began in November 2012.

The new facility will include shaded sitting areas, a fish-cleaning station and an artistic gateway entrance.

It’s uncertain how productive fishing will be, however, amid the ongoing deep-dredging project in Government Cut. But anglers will probably want to check it out anyway.

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