When fishing for mangroves, Capt. Lane Zimmer always keeps a few rods at the ready in case he spots a curious lemonfish cruising the surface.

“Take that last rig we fished today,” he said. “That was a perfect example of how this typically plays out. We got the mangroves fired up with the chum, and all that activity got that lemonfish fired up, too.

“He wanted to come see what all the fuss was about.”

Notoriously curious, lemonfish can be anywhere from the bottom to the surface, and they are known for coming up to investigate any strange noises or commotion on top of the water.

“When we spot one, everything stops and we focus entirely on the lemonfish,” Zimmer said. “We try to keep him excited by throwing more chum out because once he loses interest he’s gone.”

Zimmer said a lemonfish at the surface will eat a bait put in front of it 99 out of 100 times.

“We lost that fish because we hooked it on a mangrove rod, which had the drag locked down,” Zimmer explained. “Had we hooked it on one of the rods I keep ready for lemonfish, we would have probably landed it because the drags were set right.”

Zimmer’s lemonfish rods are typically spooled up with 80-pound fluorocarbon line and a big 5/0 hook on a conventional reel rather than a spinning reel. And instead of a piece of cut bait he’ll hook on an entire Spanish sardine.