The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 10 No. 44 - August 4, 2010

reel time

DOA lures hosts writers and guides

From the August 4, 2010 Issue
Reel time

Captain Charlie Fornabio shares a light moment with
Sam Huston before releasing a trout that took a DOA C.A.L. Jig.

If you've followed this column over the years, you've heard me talk often of DOA Lures and its charismatic designer Mark Nichols. Nichols didn't start DOA with seed money or a public offering. He started his company with an idea, the most rudimentary of materials and most importantly an indomitable spirit. Oh, and yes, the fact that he had a nose for fish didn't hurt. Nichols didn't ask you to believe him, he was willing to show you firsthand how his creations enticed fish. What started out as an idea for an artificial shrimp has blossomed into a multi-million dollar operation that has made believers out of some of the state's top anglers.

Nichols made his name with his first lure, the hugely popular and effective DOA Shrimp. As a young man, he spent hours as a hand on a bay shrimper where his natural inquisitiveness led him to examine the shrimp in the holding tank, most of which were destined to end up on anglers' hooks. The days of observation on the water, coupled with the concern for by-catch created by the bay shrimping industry gave Nichols the idea to create a life-like shrimp imitation. After a move to Florida, he started experimenting with plugs carved out of cedar which he weighted with lead tire weights he picked up along Florida's highways. The prototype became a plastic shrimp imitation that lead to other creations like the Baitbuster, the TerrorEyz and the C.A.L. jig, just to name a few. Now his lures are a standard in tackle boxes across the country and have many tournament wins to their credit.

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the 11th Annual DOA Writer's and Guide's Outing in Jensen Beach at the River Palms Cottages and Fish Camp. I made the trip with my good friend Captain Rick Grassett, one of Florida's premier guides and the first DOA Pro Staff Guide. The River Palms Camp is one of those special old Florida destinations that hugs the banks of the Indian River where it is draped in tropical foliage and features a traditional Florida chickee and dock that make a perfect setting for the event. The cottages are also hugely popular with fishing tournaments, weddings and other events.

The DOA Writer's and Guides Outing pairs writers with guides to fish the waters from Fort Pierce to St. Lucie Inlet near Stuart. It also gives the the opportunity to test some of the newest products on the market from companies like Minn Kota, Shimano, Power Pro, Costa Del Mar and Hummingbird. I had the pleasure of fishing with Captain Charlie Fornabio, ( who has been fishing the Vero Beach and Sebastian area of the Indian River Lagoon for over 30 years. Joining us was Sam Huston, associate editor of Florida Sportsman Magazine, the voice of Florida fishing. We fished from Fornabio's 1998 Egret flats skiff, deciding to trailer to a ramp on Hutchinson Island near Ft Pierce. The heat and the high winds made fishing challenging, but we still managed to catch numerous trout in the 18-inch range. We also caught a number of ladyfish and assorted other species, even hooking (and losing) a big pompano. The C.A.L Jig and the DOA Shrimp took top honors in the catching division.

After a night of fine food, libations, and networking with writers, guides and manufacturers, we enjoyed the comforts on River Palm, resting for the next day's fishing.

The following day I was paired with two good friends, Rufus Wakeman, owner of River Palms, and Sam Heaton, of Johnson Outdoors. The day before the action had taken place in St Lucie Inlet, and on Tuesday, it happened again. Unfortunately, we were a bit late for the early morning bite, hooking and losing two nice snook on TerrorEyz before the bite ended. We stopped a couple of places in the St Lucie River, catching several trout and ladyfish, but the heat of the day sent us back to River Palms for a cool breeze, cold drinks and lunch.

Several anglers and guides had impressive catches of trophy-sized snook, trout and even redfish, but everyone had a terrific time as guests of DOA and River Palms. DOA Lures, especially the Shrimp, TerrorEyz, C.A.L. Jig and Baitbuster should occupy a place in every dedicated angler's arsenal. If you use the lures, you'll know what I mean. If you haven't, you're in for a pleasant surprise on your next angling adventure. Check out all the fine products from DOA at The many impressive features of the incomparable River Palms can be seen at

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper