Lowrance Sonar Tutorial- Part II

 

After last weeks blog a few people asked to see Part 2 of the basic sonar article, so here it is.... Enjoy this "oldie but a goodie" from LOWRANCE... Tom, Jr.
 
Fish Arches
One of the most common questions that we receive is "How do I get fish arches to show on my screen?" It's really pretty simple to do, but it does require attention to detail, not only in the way you make the adjustments to the unit, but to the whole sonar installation.

It also helps to see the Why Fish Arch section below. This explains how arches are created on your sonar's screen.

Screen Resolution
The number of vertical pixels that the screen is capable of showing is called Screen Resolution. The more vertical pixels on a sonar's screen, the easier it will be for it to show fish arches. This plays an important role in a sonar unit's capability to show fish arches. The chart below lists the pixel sizes and area they represent down to 50 feet for two different screens.
 
PIXEL HEIGHT
 
PIXEL HEIGHT
100 VERTICAL PIXEL SCREEN
 
240 VERTICAL PIXEL SCREEN
RANGE
PIXEL HEIGHT
 
RANGE
PIXEL HEIGHT
0-10 feet
1.2 inches
 
0-10 feet
0.5 inches
0-20 feet
2.4 inches
 
0-20 feet
1.0 inches
0-30 feet
3.6 inches
 
0-30 feet
1.5 inches
0-40 feet
4.8 inches
 
0-40 feet
2.0 inches
0-50 feet
6.0 inches
 
0-50 feet
2.5 inches
 
 
As you can see, one pixel represents a larger volume of water with the unit in the 0 - 100 foot range than it does with the unit in the 0 - 10 foot range. For example, if a sonar has 100 pixels vertically, with a range of 0 - 100 feet, each pixel is equal to a depth of 12 inches. A fish would have to be pretty large to show up as an arch at this range. However, if you zoom the range to a 30-foot zoom (for example from 80 to 110 feet), each pixel is now equal to 3.6 inches. Now the same fish will probably be seen as an arch on the screen due to the zoom effect. The size of the arch depends on the size of the fish - a small fish will show as a small arch, a larger fish will make a larger arch, and so on. Using a sonar unit with a small number of vertical pixels in very shallow water, a fish directly off the bottom will appear as a straight line separate from the bottom. This is because of the limited number of dots at that depth. If you are in deep water (where the fish signal is displayed over a larger distance of boat travel), zooming the display into a 20 or 30 foot window around the bottom shows fish arches near the bottom or structure. This is because you have reduced the pixel size in a larger cone.
 
               
100 pixels
 
240 pixels
 
 
On the right above is a section of a 240 vertical pixel screen. On the left is a simulated version of the same screen with only 100 vertical pixels. As you can see, the screen on the right has much better definition than does the one on the left. You can see fish arches much easier on the 240 pixel screen.
Chart Speed
The scrolling or chart speed can also affect the type of arch displayed on the screen. The faster the chart speed, the more pixels are turned on as the fish passes through the cone. This will help display a better fish arch. (However, the chart speed can be turned up too high. This stretches the arch out. Experiment with the chart speed until you find the setting that works best for you.)

Transducer Installation
If you still don't get good fish arches on the screen, it could be the transducer's mounting is incorrect. If the transducer is mounted on the transom, adjust it until its face is pointing straight down when the boat is in the water. If it is angled, the arch won't appear on the screen properly. If the arch slopes up but not down, then the front of the transducer is too high and needs to be lowered. If only the back half of the arch is printed, the nose of the transducer is angled too low and needs to be raised.

Fish Arch Review

1. Sensitivity

Automatic operation with Advanced Signal Processing (ASP™) turned on should give you the proper sensitivity settings but, if necessary, the sensitivity may be increased.
2. Target Depth
The depth of the fish can determine if the fish will arch on the screen. If the fish is in shallow water, the fish is not in the cone angle very long, making it difficult to show an arch. Typically, the deeper the fish, the easier it is to show an arch.

3. Boat Speed
The boat's engine should be in gear at an idle or just above. Experiment with your boat to find the best throttle location for good arches. Usually, a slow trolling speed works best.

4. Chart Speed
Use at least 3/4 chart speed or higher.

5. Zoom Size
If you see markings that are possible fish, but they do not arch, zoom in on them. Using the zoom function lets you effectively increase the screen's resolution.

Final Notes on Fish Arches
Very small fish probably will not arch at all. Because of water conditions such as heavy surface clutter or thermoclines, the sensitivity sometimes cannot be turned up enough to get fish arches. For the best results, turn the sensitivity up as high as possible without getting too much noise on the screen. In medium to deep water, this method should work to display fish arches.

A school of fish will appear as many different formations or shapes, depending on how much of the school is within the transducer's cone. In shallow water, several fish close together appear like blocks that have been stacked in no apparent order. In deep water, each fish will arch according to its size.

Why Fish Arch
The reason fish show as an arch is because of the relationship between the fish and the cone angle of the transducer as the boat passes over the fish. As the leading edge of the cone strikes the fish, a display pixel is turned on. As the boat passes over the fish, the distance to the fish decreases. This turns each pixel on at a shallower depth on the display. When the center of the cone is directly over the fish, the first half of the arch is formed. This is also the shortest distance to the fish. Since the fish is closer to the boat, the signal is stronger and the arch is thicker. As the boat moves away from the fish, the distance increases and the pixels appear at progressively deeper depths until the cone passes the fish.
 
 
If the fish doesn't pass directly through the center of the cone, the arch won't be as well defined. Since the fish isn't in the cone very long, there aren't as many echoes to display, and the ones that do show are weaker. This is one of the reasons it's difficult to show fish arches in shallow water. The cone angle is too narrow for the signal to arch.

Remember, there must be movement between the boat and the fish to develop an arch. Usually, this means trolling at a slow speed with the main engine. If you are anchored or stopped, fish signals won't arch. Instead, they'll show as horizontal lines as they swim in and out of the cone.

Actual On-The-Water Chart Recordings
The following chart records are from a Lowrance X-85 liquid crystal graph sonar. It has 3000 watts of transmitter power, a 240 x 240 pixel screen and operates at 192 kHz.

X-85 Sample 1
 
 
This shows a split-screen view of the water beneath the boat. The range on the right side of the screen is 0 - 60 feet. On the left, the screen has a 30-foot "zoom" rangeof 9 to 39 feet. Since the unit is in the automatic mode, (shown by the word "auto" at the top center of the screen) it picked the ranges to keep the bottom signal on the screen at all times. The water depth is 35.9 feet.

The unit was used with an HS-WSBK "Skimmer®" transducer mounted on the transom. The sensitivity level was adjusted to 93% or higher. Chart speed was one step below maximum.

A. Surface Clutter
The markings at the top of the screen can extend many feet below the surface. This is called Surface Clutter. It's caused by many things, including air bubbles created by wind and wave action or boat wakes, bait fish, plankton and algae. Many times larger fish will be seen feeding on the bait fish and other food near the surface.

B. GRAYLINE®
GRAYLINE® is used to outline the bottom contour which might otherwise be hidden beneath trees and brush. It can also give clues to the composition of the bottom. A hard bottom returns a very strong signal, causing a wide gray line. A soft, muddy or weedy bottom returns a weaker signal which is shown with a narrow gray line. The bottom on this screen is hard, composed mainly of rock.

C. Structure
Generally, the term "structure" is used to identify trees, brush, and other objects rising from the bottom that aren't part of the actual bottom. On this screen, "C" is probably a tree rising from the bottom. This record was taken from a man-made lake. Trees were left standing in several areas when the lake was built, creating natural habitats for many game fish.

D. Fish Arches
The X-85 has a significant advantage over many competitive units in that it can show individual fish with the characteristic arched mark on the screen. (See Why Fish Arch for more information.) On this screen, there are several large fish holding just off the bottom at "D," while smaller fish are hanging in the middle of the screen and near the structure.

E. Other Elements
The large, partial arch shown at "E" is not a fish. We were trolling near the entrance to a cove that had hundreds of tires banded together with wire cables. Other cables anchored the tires to the bottom. The large arch at "E" was created when we passed over one of the large cables that anchored the tires.

X-85 Sample 2
 
 

 
This shows a full-screen zoom view of the water beneath the boat. The range is 8 - 38 feet, which gives a 30-foot zoom. Since the unit is in the automatic mode, (shown by the word "auto" at the top center of the screen) it picked the ranges to keep the bottom signal on the screen at all times. The water depth is 34.7 feet.

The unit was used with an HS-WSBK "Skimmer®" transducer mounted on the transom. The sensitivity level was adjusted to 93% or higher. Chart speed was one step below maximum.

A and B. Fish Arches
The X-85 has a significant advantage over many competitive units in that it can show individual fish with the characteristic arched mark on the screen. (See Why Fish Arch for more information.) On this screen, there are several large fish holding just off the bottom at "B", while an even larger fish "A" is hanging directly above them.

C. Structure
Generally, the term "structure" is used to identify trees, brush, and other objects rising from the bottom that aren't part of the actual bottom. On this screen, "C" is probably a large tree or trees rising from the bottom. This record was taken from a man-made lake. Trees were left standing in several areas when the lake was built, creating natural habitats for many game fish.

D. Surface Clutter
Surface Clutter "D" at the top of the screen extends below 12 feet in places. Small fish can be seen beneath the surface clutter. They are probably feeding.



Original article from Lowrance, unknown author.... Tom, Jr.

0 Comments »

Harkers Island for some Redheads

I just recently I got back from what has become an annual duck hunting trip out to Harkers Island, NC. We were hunting on the Core Sound (pictured below) in search of some Red Heads.

Core Sound

The Core Sound is located in Carteret County. South of popular fishing in Hatteras, Okracoke and the Pamilico Sound.

Core Sound Map

Like many old communities on the Southern coast, Harkers Island is undergoing a transformation. People from elsewhere in the state and country are arriving and buying land on the island, building summer houses or settling in as year-round residents. Fishing and hunting and boatbuilding no longer form the core of Harkers Island’s daily life,but rest assured the duck hunting is still as good as yesteryear!

Historical Waterfowl hunting

Photo credits: Harkers Island; photo by Roger Haile. In Carteret County, and hunting party aboard a menhaden boat; photos in the collection of the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum.

The Core Sound Waterfowl Museum, at the southeastern tip of the island where Shell Point juts into Core Sound, provides a snug haven for the centuries’ old traditions of these maritime communities. The museum serves as a center for the preservation and documentation of the region’s material culture, and a gathering place where Down Easterners celebrate and renew old ties.

Museum exhibits display beautiful historical and modern-day examples of the region’s finest decoy carving, as well as handmade nets, crab pots, and other tools of the region’s trades, all of which require a high level of skill and experience to make. Exhibits lovingly showcase the daily lives of their hardy forebears, with handcrafts like quilts and tatting, implements of their various maritime occupations, family letters, sports regalia, and many other treasured items.

Given the history of this region and the success of our trips, Harkers Island will no doubt remain an annual staple in our duck hunting season.

Pictured Below one of the first Red Heads harvested during our trip.

Red Head

This trip we ended up having some extremely cold weather to deal with and I was concerned I did not have enough gear and clothing to stay warm and be able to truly enjoy the trip.

I am extremely cold natured but when I checked the weather after hunting Tuesday only to find that they had changed low yet again to bone chilling 8 degrees wind chill, I was worried to say the least.

This was by far the coldest weather I have hunted in yet since I was born and raised right here in North Carolina and temperatures like this are really not that common.

Some of the clothing I used:

Our premier base layering system, RedHead Enduraskin Long-Sleeve Cold Mock Shirt for Men features AXE Anti-Odor Technology and extra-thick 4-way stretch fabric that is ideal as a base layer in cold temperatures. Moisture-wicking, quick-drying, easy care 82% polyester/18% spande

480 gm, 100% polyster spun fleece fits snugly against your skin yet stretches easily to allow for walking and bending. Elastic waist and handy rear zippered pocket. Gives you total moisture control in all types of waders, keeping you completely dry!

Made with 100% waterproof, windproof, breathable Refuge HS with HyperShield 2.0 Technology, the Drake Waterfowl Systems MST Eqwader Plus 1/4-Zip Long-Sleeve Shirt for Men features pullover style with placket-length zipper for easy on/off, fleece-lining, taped seams, midchest adjustment, neoprene cuffs, magnetic call pouch, and zippered security pockets.

RedHead Waders deliver 100% waterproof protection for the entire family. The flexible 3.5mm neoprene construction traps and holds body heat to give you a shield from the chill of the water. The wader's durable ozone-resistant rubber boots are lined with 600 gram Thinsulate Ultra Insulation to keep your feet warm. Adjustable nylon shoulder straps with quick-release buckles and nylon wading belt help provide a comfortable, customized fit.

 Wader Jacket is a shorter version of our 4-in-1 Parka in a warm waist-length style with elastic bottom for wearing over your waders. The jacket features a 100% waterproof/breathable Bone-Dry membrane; 150 gram ThermoLite Insulation in the body, 100 gram ThermoLite Insulation in the hood and arms; Taslon oxford shell; Ripstop-oxford honeycomb fabric at shoulders and articulated elbows; double storm flap with rain drain; lined collar with chin flap; 3-piece hood; side-seam adjusters; hook 'n' loop cuffs with neoprene barriers; 2 large snap-close cargo pockets; magnetic-closure chest pockets with hidden drainage; lined hand warmers; and license loop. The liner features a water-resistant nylon camo with 100% poly microfiber lining which reverses to brown; built-in shell holders; knit wrists; elastic waistband; micro tricot-lined hand warmers; and 150 gram ThermoLite insulation. Mesh ambidextrious shooting pad pocket with shooting pad included.  

Our Cold Weather System—C.W.S.—is your shield from the full frontal assault that mother nature can unleash in the coldest months of the year, and it will soon become your favorite cold weather system. In driving sleet and blinding snow, you'll stay warm, dry, and comfortable while you stalk your prey. The quiet, waterproof/breathable warp knit suede The quiet, waterproof/breathable warp knit suede features our BONE-DRY 100% waterproof, windproof, breathable membrane, a technical barrier to pounding moisture that also lets your body exhaust perspiration, increasing your comfort level while hunting in inclement weather. C.W.S Bibs feature ultra quiet, waterproof, breathable warp knit suede with 150 grams of Thermolite insulation. Features include integrated adjustable stretch suspender system with dual clip release, 2 front waterproof lock down zipper chest pockets, 2 front slash pocket, 2 waterproof lock down zippered cargo pockets, extra wide belt loops, and two 20 inch waterproof lock down slider leg zippers for easy on and off. 60% cotton, 40% polyester.

 

Thanks to the hunting gear I had with me I will have to say I stayed warm from the boat ride out until we got back to the landing. After looking over all of the gear I had you may think wow that is a lot of clothing and you are right. I think I looked like the Michelin Man walking around on the marsh that day but I was warm and was able to enjoy the hunt instead of being cold and completely miserable.

Group Photo Limit Out

We had a great hunt, almost limited out all three days as a group, enjoyed the great outdoors and got to experience God’s amazing creation. I have used our Red Head hunting clothes for the last thirteen years that I have been working here and they continue to get better and better. Next time you are looking for new hunting clothing make sure to check out our Red Head brand and compare it to the other.

Red Head Logo

     "150 Years in the Outdoors Since 1856"

 

Just like one of our print ads says, “ Ducks Don’t Care About The Label On Your Camo”.

 

Happy Hunting,

Dale Rice, Hunting Manager

 

 

0 Comments »

Meet a Pro! Brad Whitehead

This year, don't miss out on the "Crappie Madness" sale and event that is going on at Bass Pro Shops on February 14-15. During the weekend of February 14-15, come listen to crappie pro fisherman, Brad Whitehead from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, as he conducts workshops here at the store. The workshops will be held on February 14th at 7pm and February 15th at 11am and 2pm. The workshop titled, Learn tips and techniques of various styles of crappie fishing, will be filled with lots of useful information and tips.

Get to know Brad Whitehead just a little before you get here. Crappiecrazy.com wrote an article on Brad Whitehead, asking questions and revealing the answers with the fishing pro. here are the questions and answers:

Years Pro: 12
Tournament Partner: When I fish it’s Bevan Berry
Home Lake: Pickwick Lake
Favorite Lake: Pickwick Lake
Boat & Outboard: WarEagle 754VS, 50 Yamaha
Sponsors: BnM Poles, WarEagle Boats, Lake Fork Tackle, ORCA Coolers, Browning, Hi-Tek Rodholders, RoadRunner, Mister Twister

10 Crappie Fishing Related Questions:

1. What is your favorite Crappie Fishing Technique and why? Sidepulling, its the best guiding technique I have ever seen.

2. When you fish a lake that has Black Crappie and White Crappie, which one do you target? Do you have a different approach for fishing for one or the other? If so please explain. White Crappie for me.  I fish deep, fast and with large baits.  If I go for blacks, they seemed to like smaller baits and structure I don’t care to fish.

3. What is your go-to lure or bait and why? (favorite lure & color) 1/4 oz hairjigs, red, black, orange.  This bait I have confidence in and that is what matters.  If you don’t have a confidence bait, you don’t need to guide or tournament fish.

4. How do you approach a new body of water that you have never fished before and what are you looking for? Call anybody that has fished it.  Then take half of what guys tell you and throw it out the window because it will not work the day you go.  The main thing I gather is the area of the fish.  One part of the lake will hold more fish. 

5. Do you pre-fish before your tournaments? If so, please explain your approach. Do you thoroughly cover water catching as many crappie in the area or contact fish and keep moving not to pressure an area? The few tournaments I have fished. I just showed up.  Crappie fisherman I think “wear the fish” out to much before tournament day.  There not bass.  Most guys are greedy and take them out of the place there going to fish.

6. Name the most important tool/equipment in your boat or tackle that you could not fish without. Confidence in your equipment.  Just because its the most expensive, does not mean you know how to use it. 

7. How do you locate tournament winning fish? I’m normally guiding during tournament season.

8. Please name the gear you fish with; (Poles, Reels, Line, Electronics, etc.) BnM Poles, Lake Fork Panfish Line, 1197 Hummingbird

9. Do you have a Pre-Tournament Routine? If so please explain. No, normally guiding

10. To date, what is your proudest moment in your Crappie Fishing Career? I guess, being in the fishing industry long enough to start getting my son put in catalogs and on the cover of magazines.  With him being 8 years old I hope he thinks about this stuff we did together one day with his kids.

 

10 Questions Non-Crappie Fishing Related:

1. What is your favorite hobby/activity other than Crappie Fishing? Duck Hunting with my 8 year old

2. What is your favorite meal? Any meals my wife cooks!

3. What kind of music do you like? Who is your favorite singer or band? Country or any 80′s to eariler 90′s groups

4. Name your favorite vacation getaway and why? The mountains, its cool and I’m away from any lakes.

5. When you were a child, what did you have dreams of becoming for a profession as an adult? Yes, maybe not as a crappie fisherman but a fisherman that everybody knows.

6. Do you have any pets? If so, what are their names? One, a mix, name Izzy

7. Name for us the most influential person in your life, past or present and why? An older friend I meet on a guide trip about 5 years ago.  He is a self made million dollar man and you would never know he had a dime. 

8. If you had a warning label, what would yours say? Don’t open unless you want the truth!

9. Do you prefer watching the sunrise or the sunset? Sunrise

10. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? Being a parent and a good husband

 

0 Comments »

Bring in the new year!

Bring in the new year with an after Christmas sale!

We've got great prices in the fishing department! Bass Pro shops Tournament Series Micro Spin Lures!

lure

$1.79 a piece with many different styles,weights and colors. Colors such as the hot tiger tiger, Tad pole tad pole, Cinnamon cinn,

Copper Frog copper, Hot Pink Hot pink, Salmon Salmon, and sooo many more!

 

 

 

 

 

They're your ticket to boat loads of fish. They have aggressive vibrating blades, effective color patterns, and hackle tail. We also have 10 packs of plastic float assortments. They are made for easy use. Designed to just snap on your line. They are nice for your little fisherman just starting to learn. 10 packs includes: two 1 3/4", two 1 1/2", three 1 1/4" and three 1" floats for just $1.79!!

float

 

 

 

 

 

For our little fishermen and women of the future we've got Barbie, Spider man, Disney Princess, Star wars and Cars backpacks with rods a reels!

barb cars  princessprincess2spidermanstarwars

 

All come with sunglasses, casting plug, and a mini tackle box all in an easy to carry backpack or bag! $17.99!

 

 

 

 

More for the great outdoors, we have decorative La Crosse Thermometer.

"Texas born" texas      "Early Catch" early catch  "Mountain Retreat" mountain.

These beautiful thermometers are great for indoor and outdoor. It has a secret hide a key slot on the back with a spot for your spare key. $14.97!

 

 

 

While you're shopping in the fishing department we also have a Bass Pro Shops fisherman Icon wireless weather station.

fisherman. It has a sunrise, sun set, moon phase, latitude and longitude. Updates automatically for daylight savings time, temperature and frost alarm icon! Stay organized and prepared with a 12/24 hour time display with time alarm, snooze and monthly, date and weekday calender!

 

 

Remember it's not just the fishing and gifts department with great sales, it's our whole store! So be sure to stop in, you won't want to miss it!

 

0 Comments »

"A Daydream Come True"

A Daydream Come True

By: Jerry Costabile

Going back to when I was a young boy growing up on the shores of Lake Michigan, I was fascinated by the late season divers that would appear in late December and January.

Hunting in the southeastern Wisconsin, I saw and hunted mallards, teal and occasionally we would see a diver or two late in the duck season. But I couldn’t wait until those later months when the big water divers started showing up on the lakefront and in the harbors. Goldeneyes, Buffelheads, Redheads, and the duck that fascinated me the most, the oldsquaw.

When I saw a beautiful drake oldsquaw, I watched him dive and reappear 20, 30, 40 yards or better away from where he disappeared. I don’t know why, but I would watch him dive over and over, always hoping to one day to be able to hunt them.

By luck or fate, in early October, I met a gentleman while walking thru the fishing department who was looking at salmon lures. Being the salmon fisherman that I am, (and I love to talk fishing!) I approached him and we learned that we had a lot in common, including duck hunting. Within minutes of introductions, we were on the subject of hunting oldsquaw! Without a hesitation, my new friend, invited myself and my sons to hunt with him and his son in November. This was too much too believe, I wasn’t going to get my hopes up just yet. I have been here before and could only hope that this stranger was going to take us out on this duck hunters dream hunt.

Well, the first week of November I get a call and it is him with the invitation still alive, asking me when we could come up and hunt. I couldn’t believe it; I was going to get to hunt oldsquaw! When I got home that day, I told the boys that this hunt was on and we were going to go on the hunt in the next two weeks. I showed both of my boys what an oldsquaw looked like and how we were going to hunt them. You see this time of the year, these birds are miles off the shores of Lake Michigan and we would be hunting them in lay-out boats in the open water. This is something else that I have always dreamed of doing. Hunting divers from a boat that is about 10 feet long and is only about 6 to 8 inches above the waterline. Most of the boat is below the surface of the water, this allows the hunter to lay very low to the water and create a low profile helping to hide from the ducks. I was coming apart at the seams waiting for that day to come!

With a phone call the evening before we were leaving, I found out that we were going to have good weather and an ideal wind to hunt the big water. The Dodge Ram was packed and ready the night before and I got no sleep with anticipation of the hunt I have thought about every time I saw a drake oldsquaw swimming in the harbor during the winter for all of those years. We pulled out of the driveway at 2:30am and headed north to Two Rivers, Wisconsin. I had a cup of coffee and pure adrenaline to keep me awake for the 2 hour drive, this was it, I was going to be hunting oldsquaw and it looked like nothing was going to stop me!

Upon arriving at the boat launch, there was our crew setting up the boat and equipment for our hunt. To say I was excited was an understatement, I was beside myself! But I had to keep myself under control because I had two teenage boys who were also on a first time hunt. For my youngest son, this was his first real duck hunt, and what a way to be introduced to duck hunting!  After loading our gear into the boat, we were headed down the ramp and launching the tender boat, a 25 foot Duck Water Ocean. This boat is a beast! Loaded on the tender, is a 10 foot Waterfowl-Works UFO layout boat and a 14 foot Bankes Hercules layout boat.

The boat was in the water and we boarded with excitement! Decoy bags stacked everywhere, camouflaged bags and cased guns tucked under the shelves that line the inside of the boat. There were milk crates lined up filled with anchor line and buckets loaded with 100’ and 50’ decoy lines. This boat was well equipped and ready for work!

  With the sun just making a thin line to the east, we headed out for our spot already marked on the GPS. We were in a two to three foot waves and the boat was cutting thru them like a Naval U- Boat.  I must have looked like a dog with its head out of the truck window, I had my chin up and my eyes closed. At that moment, I was thinking how lucky I am to be there and with a prayer and thanks to the man upstairs, I was ready!

Once we determined what the morning flight pattern was going to be that the ducks would use, we started to set up. Layout boats in and anchored, and then the lines of decoys were stretched out to form a perfect pattern that would later pull in hundreds of ducks. When the man said that I would be one of the first in a layout boat, my heart started racing! This was it, I was about to live out a hunt that I have daydreamed about since I was kid. I was watching thousands of ducks flying all around us and knew that we were in the right location.  I want to confess that I studied Outdoor Life and Field & Stream while I was in school, like a valedictorian studied all of those other books! Even though I had never done this before, my long days and nights of cramming and memorizing was about to be put to a test. I knew I was going to pass this one!

I was given a quick rundown of how to enter the layout, and over the side I went. Once I got in and lay down comfortably, my gun and ammo was handed to me and that fast, the tender boat was gone. The other layout would be occupied by my youngest son Kyle. I was a bit nervous with him about thirty yards to my right and this being all new to him. I guess being a dad and not being there to guide him every step of the way, had me feeling a little uneasy. But within minutes, he showed me he was up for the challenge. He dropped his first ever duck, a drake oldsquaw at that, with a beautiful shot! Man was I pumped, now it was my turn, the first pair came in on my left and banked into the decoys perfectly. As they reached the decoy spread, I sat up, took aim, and missed. Not once, but twice! “OK Jerry, calm down and figure it out!” I said this out loud and reloaded. Then another pair came beautifully into the spread, and flying directly at me. When they got into about twenty yards, I sat up and followed the lead duck and fired. Bingo, first bird down! Just like Kyle had done, I radioed the tender boat that I had a bird down and they pushed the throttle of the 250 hp Mercury Optimax Pro X/S down and raced into scoop up my bird with a fish net and raced back out to about 400 yards to wait for the next downed bird.

This went on for about 45 minutes until we both had three birds. The last bird I shot was a gorgeous drake oldsquaw and when the tender crew picked up the bird, over the radio I heard “Jerry, you will want to have this one mounted, it’s a beauty!” If my day would have ended right then, I was happy. The one duck that I had wanted to harvest since I was a young boy was now waiting for me.

After the next two guys got in to the layout boats, and I was on board the tender boat, I held in my hand, this amazing bird that I had so much respect and admiration for. I bowed my head and thanked its creator for allowing me to fulfill a dream with this beautiful bird.

The morning finished with a limit of oldsquaw for everyone, and after the gear was stowed in the tender, we headed back to shore. Once pictures were done and everything loaded back in the Dodge, we headed north to hunt the next day in a new location and another species of duck. But that’s another story.

Thank you to my boys, Jake and Kyle, for living this lifelong adventure with me. As I get older, these times together mean a lot to me. I love you guys.

Mike and Greyson, you guys are true ambassadors to the waterfowl nation!

 JJ, of JJ’s Guide Service, nobody works harder to see that the job gets done.

 

 

 

 

0 Comments »

Keys To Locating Productive Brush Piles

Across the country fish use many different types of structure or cover to live and feed in. Weather it's rocks, docks, lay down logs, or brush piles, as the year goes on and the seasons change you will notice certain ones being more productive then others. And trust no matter how random it can sometimes seem, there is a rhyme and a reason to why they are using cover in a specific area or more importantly depth range. It is based on factors such as time of year, weather conditions, water color, water temperature, and last but not least the amount of baitfish in the area. Most species of fish are predators and if there is no food there then obviously the fish will go elsewhere if they have the option. In this article I really want to focus on brush piles. Whether they are man made or natural from trees and debris falling in the water the simple fact is that most times of the year there are fish holding on some sort of brush.

Brush piles are a perfect place for baitfish such as bluegill, and shad to live around and hide in. With the presence of the bait fish the predators such as bass are going to be close by. Now throughout the year like I said some brush piles will be more productive then others. As the water temperature changes the fish move, and this is related to the thermocline level. This is the level where the water temperature is the most comfortable to the fish and where the water is the most oxygen rich. The hotter the water temperature the deeper the thermocline will be. In lakes that have clear water the thermocline will also be deeper so don't be surprised to find fish in extremely deep water in the summer on a clear lake or reservoir. To find the this productive healthy water depth having good quality electronics such as the Lowrance HDS Gen2 Fishfinder is important. Just idle around your local lake or reservoir and pay attention to what depth you see the majority of the baitfish. Next check suspecting areas where brush piles might be placed that are close to that same depth range and there is a good chance that baitfish and bass will be near by.

So now that you have the proper depth figured out the next step is actually physically locating the brush. People will sink man made brush piles in a variety of different places such as points, creek channels, river channels, or probably the most common, docks. In my opinion the easiest to find brush piles are near docks. They are easy to find because of a few keys that are normally a dead giveaway that a fisherman lives there and has possibly sunk brush around his dock. Two things I really like to look for are lights, and rod holders. These are definitely things that should be paid attention too when looking for brush. The next step to this simple method of finding brush is physically stopping and casting a weighted soft plastic and feeling around the bottom with the bait. This is a no electronics fool proof way to find brush. Now if you have side imaging technology then this process is much easier. All you have to do is idle by the front of a row of docks and your graph will show you which docks have brush around them within 200 ft of either side of your boat. In order to find brush on the points and dropoffs having electronics is critical and will really make your search easier and more effective.

Once I have brush located no matter where it is there are a couple really important things I like to do. The first is marking the piles physically before I start to fish them which is very important for brush that is way out on points or sometimes in the middle of the river on a ledge. To do this I use a Bass Pro Shops Marker Buoy. There are a couple ways to do it, you can drop the buoy right next to the brush or one of my favorite methods dropping it where you want the boat to be positioned, and then using a reference point on the shore to line up and cast at. Normally when I'm fishing brush for bass I will use slow moving baits such as Jigs, Carolina Rigs, Texas Rigs, and Shakey Heads. Fishing these slow on the bottom I will crawl and work my bait through the cover letting it lift and then fall in the limbs. I always try and do this on a semi tight line, if you have to much slack in your line the fish will often pull you deep into the brush which makes them almost impossible to get out. So be ready to set the hook quick and get the fish moving up and out towards the boat. I like to use pretty heavy tackle when fishing my jigs, texas rigs, and carolina rigs for that reason exactly. I like to use Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line from 17lb to 25lb test, on a heavy action rod and a high speed reel. The only exception is when I'm using a shakey head set up and in that case I will use either 8lb flouro, or a 20lb braid mainline with a fluorocarbon leader. At certain times of the year baits such as Spro Little John DD crankbaits and heavy 1oz spinnerbaits can be very effective when bumped into the brush. I would suggest going to Bass Pro Shops and picking up a weighted lure retriever or retrieving pole for getting your baits free from deep brush.

So go out on your local body of water and look for the key ingredients. First find the depth the baitfish are using whether it is 2 feet or 30 feet, next locate and mark the brush, and finally present your lure properly to the waiting fish. Always be patient and if you are getting frustrated and having limited success just keep searching because you never know when you might run into the right brush pile that is holding the mother load of big fish. I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania

 

 

 

 

 

0 Comments »

A Day on the Water: Special Blessing

I believe that every day on the water is a blessing, but some days are even more special….the following is one of those days.

The day begins as a thin layer of fog is lifting from water and sun is about to peek out over the edge of the lake. It is a cool morning in the North Carolina mountains when my fishing partners arrive at the ramp.

Sunrise

 

Every year I donate a trip for the YMCA to auction off to raise money and this year’s winners wanted to bring their young ones out for a day of fun. John and his 2 young boys John Peter, aka JP, age 8 and Jacob age 6 were chomping at the bit to get on the water. Wes and his daughter Jeannie age 7 were also ready to put some fish in the boat. Since there were 2 families I brought a great friend and fellow Bass Pro employee Stokes McCellan to help me hopefully give these folks a trip of a life time.

pre blastoff

Stokes and the boys headed out for a few hours of trolling, while the rest of us set out for some top water and early morning bass action. It didn’t take long for Jeannie to start pulling in the fish. She had us down 3 to zero in just 5 minutes. We had a blast over the next 3 hours and caught more fish than we could keep up with. Wes even took a break from bass fishing for Wes to work on his fly rod fishing techniques.

2 boys with bluegill

 

While we were catching fish like crazy the other boat was getting loaded as well. That team caught some monster bluegill, crappie and a ton of bass while trolling the banks and the middle of the lake. There wasn’t a minute or two went by that we didn’t hear ‘fish on’ coming from that boat.

fishing

When we met back at the ramp to swap around partners Jacob and John were ready for big time bass action. Once again it doesn’t take long before boats are calling out ‘ fish on’ .  Jacob was only 6 but that little man was fired up and was catching fish on nearly every cast. He was throwing a shakey head and catching fish like crazy. John and Wes got serious and started throwing jigs and creature baits and the big fish started chewing. We started landing 3 ,4 and 5 pounders all afternoon.

Wes

Wes with his Bass!

John with bass

It wasn’t too long before Jacob was ready for a snack and to get back to trolling, so we met on the water and we picked up JP, dropped off Wes and Jacob with Stokes , and got back at it.  JP wasted no time and was sacking fish left and right. Although he was only 8 he was making great casts and figured out quickly where the bass should be. He also relieved me of some of my guiding duties and wanted to take all the fish off and release back into the lake. My thumb was extremely grateful as it was torn up from all the fish we had caught that morning. I am not sure who had more fun …JP catching fish or his Dad taking pictures and capturing the moment on film.

Eric with Fish

I have a great passion for fishing and truly love to share that passion with others, especially when it is young ones. I believe that these kids would have a good time even if we didn’t catch a fish, but the fact that we whacked them all day made it easy for the young ones to enjoy the day. Every day you won’t catch like fish like we did on this trip, but you have to go and spend time with youngsters and give them the opportunity to fall in love with the outdoors. In today’s world there are so many other things for kids to do, that if we as outdoorsmen don’t take the time to introduce kids to the outdoors our way of life could be lost in just a few generations. I am blessed that I get to work with people that have my same passions.. I am blessed that every day I get to share with customers a little bit of knowledge…I am blessed that I live in a country that affords me these luxuries.

Jacob and eric

Jacob and I with our Catch!

girl with fish

So at the end of the day we stayed and fished a couple hours past our time, but the fish were biting so what are you gonna do…stay and fish of course. When all was said and done we had caught well over 100 fish on our expedition. Not too shabby for a ½ day trip in August. I am not sure when I will see these kids again but I believe when they close their eyes( at least for few days) they will remember the fish they caught today and hopefully when they wake up be ready to go again.…

 

tuckered out

 

Eric Winter

General Manager

Bass Pro Shop

Concord NC

 

 

1 Comments »

Local Fishing: Fishing Table Rock Lake

Summer is back in force making fishing as interesting as it gets. With water in the 80’s, the local lakes are getting a little harder to fish. Even for those with a lot of experience. The thermocline is set now that the temperature is finally at the summer highs, making the fish a little harder to pin down. Now that summer heat is finally here the humidity is making it hard for seasoned fisherman to be out on the water for too long or risk heat related illness. Here are some tips and tricks to keep your fishing fun and productive on one of our favorite lakes in the area!

As a general rule of thumb a fisherman on Table Rock should stay relatively close to areas where fish like to congregate. Some of these spots can be seen from your boat or shore. These formations are shallow spots or underwater hills. Whether these are man-made such as brush piles or simply submerged hills from when the lake was formed both are hot spots for fish during this time of year. Drop Shotting a 4” BPS Plum Cut Tail down in this area can bring up some large fish! This can grab both Crappie and Bass so be ready for some subtle bites and some big yanks on the rod!

If you are really out to catch some good size fish the best time of day is definitely the first few hours of sunlight. This not only is easier on the fisherman but also the fish are far more active and ready to feed. Simply by fishing from the crack of dawn to 10a.m. to 11a.m. you can make your chances of a catch higher. One of the best things to fish with in the morning is a White Strata Spoon. By running this lure in the morning the fish are more attracted to the actual lure as it flies over the water and lands. The fish being closer to the top of the water makes them far more likely to take a quick pass at the bait. Another great bait to use is the Chompers 4” Brown/Purple 1/2 oz. Drop Shotting this on a submerged hill or brush pile in the morning is an awesome way to attract fish and get some big strikes.

Fishing Table Rock Lake here in the Ozarks can be one of the most fun and exciting activities during the summer. While the summer heat might be here for a little longer you can still have a good fishing experience by fishing in the morning and knowing your fishing spots. Another great way to keep those morning hours a little less hot is by using one of Bass Pro’s Frogg Togg Neck Coolers. These little cooling towels have saved more than one trip and have made the summer far more bearable. Good luck on your fishing, stay cool, and take a look at what Bass Pro offers to make your fishing experience complete! http://www.basspro.com/Fishing/_/T-12100000000

 Table Rock Lake

0 Comments »

Tournament Talk - Lessons of Tanks and Thanks

Lance Baker and Kary RayBy: Lance Baker, Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff

It has been a little while, with Kary's and my busy schedule, since I've had time to sit down and update everyone on our season! The summer is starting off normal with a lot of driving and adapting to different areas...the high water and endless rain has shown us that preparation and studying is the only way to survive this game we all play.

Kary and I set off for our second Bass World Sports tournament of the year on May 23 for what would end up as one of our toughest tournaments to date. We had three solid days to put our game plan together and knew that every minute had to count due to the stiff competition and absolutely terrible water conditions.  We spent time on two different pools and probably put in an easy 100+ boat miles searching for what we thought it would take to put us towards the top of the leader board on Sunday the 26. We managed to find a very small area with a good number of quality fish that were guarding fry and seemed aggressive enough to give us five bites to succeed.  The only problem was...these fish were a LONG ways from take off and we had a difficult decision to make. If we made the decision to go after them we would have to dedicate our entire day to this one area and make a risky move of making it in AND out of the lock on time. 

Sunday 5:30 a.m., 27 teams took off in an effort to conquer the tough conditions. It was raining and absolutely miserable! We headed towards the lock with everything my boat had and just about a mile before the doors we passed an early morning barge heading that way as well.  I pulled in and thought, "Man we made it." But, I was very wrong. 

The lockmaster informed us that the barge was on its final approach and we would have to wait until they were done locking before any of us could go through. MY HEART SANK & PANIC SET IN. We turned around and headed out watching a big group of the field coming to the same problem.  I had made a huge mistake of not scanning the river the night before to see where barges were located before we trailered.  I honestly was in a panic………this is where FAITH AND TRUST in your partner comes in. Kary looked at me and said, “Lance, I promise, buddy, if you will just stay focused, we will catch 'em.”  We knew we had at least two hours of delay before we could get to where we needed to be. It seemed like an eternity, until we finally got back in and through the lock and made our LONG run to our fish. We finally arrived and had just a few hours time to put five in the boat, head back to the lock, make it through, and get back to weigh in. 

Now here is where the fun begins. :) In the process of preparing the night before, I had filled my boat with ¾ of a tank and did the approximate math on mileage to make it there and back and not be too heavy; to make sure we could succeed in outrunning what part of the field we needed to.

BIG MISTAKE! What I didn’t plan for was the extra running around waiting on the barge to get through and the gas that was burned at that time. On our way back with about 20 minutes to spare it happened. 

One mile from the ramp the boat said she didn’t wanna let her horses sing anymore! OMG, I JUST RAN OUT OF GAS!  In shear disbelief, we quickly went to work. Kary jumped on the trolling motor and I started flagging down any of our competitors to PLEASE help us in any way possible. We ended up having a team stop, sacrifice their last few fishing minutes of the day, load our limit in their spare side of the livewell and high-tail me back in to weigh our five fish on time and try and save any points that we could.  (Yes, you can do that if it happens to you...just make sure you check the rules and with the tournament director.)

Because of that team, Kary and I managed to weigh in just shy of 11lbs and finish 13th to save points for the Angler of the Year race. Folks, there are a few lessons to be learned from this..,here are my thoughts:Keith Kulow and Glen Sunken

1. Always fill up your boat no matter what…speed doesn’t catch fish, trust me on that one.

2. Your fishing partner is your backbone for everything from catching fish to helping you stay calm and focused in all situations….take time to make sure they know how much you appreciate them. 

3. Never, and I mean NEVER, count on making it through the locks without ALWAYS having a backup plan. 

And last, but certainly not least,

If you ever have the chance to stop and help a fellow angler/competitor out, or have one help you, remember the sacrifice they made that day. 

TRUE SPORTSMANSHIP is something that is earned not given.

Kary and I would like to say "Thank You" again to Team 19 DAVID GIESE & SCOTT ANDERSON and Glen Sunken and Keith Kulow.  You, my friends, are what we all strive to be - True Sportsmen.  Thank you so much and we will always be in debt to ya’ll!  

Lance Baker and DadOn a final note, I want to take a minute and wish ALL fathers out there a Happy Father’s Day! We are truly blessed to have the opportunity to pass on our traditions.

Thank you, Dad, for always letting me tag along - my little girl is learning what you took time to teach me!

x

0 Comments »

Deep Summer Cranking

Summer is here and while many fish still live in shallow water the majority of the fish population spend most of the summer months on deep water structure. A wise man once said while fishing the bank 90% of the fish are behind you. This statement is generally true, and while deep water fishing can be overwhelming and difficult to master, it can also be very rewarding.

When fishing the bank generally you are looking for individual fish catching one here and there. Now when fishing off shore you are searching for the honey hole, a spot or area holding sometimes hundreds of fish. Some keys to look for when searching for deep water fish are points, humps, ledges, rock piles, shell beds, or man made brush piles. Having a good depth finder and GPS unit is very important to mastering deep water fishing. When I am looking for a school of fish offshore I generally will use my GPS on my Lowrance HDS-8 Gen2 Fishfinder to study and locate where drop offs or humps are located. Once I've chosen a couple different places to look I will drive my boat over the hump or drop off, while using my fishfinder to look for brush piles or rock piles. While searching I always have my Bass Pro Shops Marker Buoy in my hand ready to drop it where I see structure that looks promising. This will give you a perfect reference point so you can properly work the structure. The final key to look for while searching is bait fish, if you don't see balls of bait near the bottom you are probably not going to get bit and should search for a different area.

So all of this preparation and searching takes place before an angler has even made a cast. Deep water fishing is really more like hunting, where the preparation and searching is just as important as making a good shot. Once your preparation is complete and you have found an area with all of the proper ingredients then it is time to go to work. There are many different ways to catch offshore fish once you have them located, such as a, carolina rig, football jig, or a texas rigged worm, but my very favorite is a deep diving crankbait. Crankbaits allow you to make relatively quick casts fanning around the area searching for the proper angle to trigger a strike. What I mean by proper angle is, every fish has a certain presentation or cast that will be the best for triggering it to strike, and this can very from day to day or week to week, so keep an open mind. With your marker buoy in place a circle the wagon technique is hard to beat. Simply begin on one side of the structure and work your way around the buoy throwing casts from many different directions and at many different angles. Once you have triggered a fish to bite always throw back with the exact same cast. More often then not you will find that one specific cast through an exact spot will get you bit over and over again.

When deep cranking I like to use a 7'9" TFO Gary's Tactical Series Rod accompanied by a Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier Baitcast Reel with a 5.2:1 gear ratio. This slower gear ratio will make cranking in big billed crankbaits easier as well as allowing your bait to reach deeper depths with still a good amount of line out. With high speed reels by the time your bait hits the bottom your bait will be half way back to the boat. The slow winch type reel is the way to go. The bait that I have the most confidence in is the SPRO Little John DD Crankbait. Others such as the Strike King 6XD Series and the Bomber Fat Free Shad will also catch fish, and sometimes the fish can be very picky changing which one they prefer from day to day. To make the baits achieve their maximum depth potential, long casts and light line are very important. Generally I will use 10lb or 12lb Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. And don't forget the key to catching crankbait fish whether in shallow water or deep water is to make your bait hit the bottom and contact the cover.

Keep your bait down where the fish live and are feeding and find the proper angle, and then hold on tight. Deep water fish are generally big and healthy and i'd be willing to bet that the very biggest fish on your lake lives on deep structure in the summer months. Remember starting today May 28th and ending June 16th Bass Pro Shops Father's Day sale is going on. One of my favorite items on sale is the Bass Pro Shops Crankin Stick which is a perfect affordable rod to get started with crankbait fishing from deep water to shallow. This would also make a perfect gift for a fisherman looking to expand his arsenal and grow as an angler!

I'll see you on the water!

Joey Nania

0 Comments »

How to Choose the Correct Life Jacket or PFD

A new boating season is here, and it is time to take inventory of things that you may need, or things that you may need to replace. Put Life Jackets or PFD’s at the top of that list. Every year in Alabama, people drown by falling in the water without a PFD on them, and, many times, there is one available in the boat. How many times have you heard that someone could “swim like a fish”, yet they drowned because they were not wearing a proper PFD? The old adage that “it is better to have it on and not need it than to not have it on and really need it” applies here. For your safety, make sure that you have a US Coast Guard approved PFD in good working order for everyone in the boat, and a good US Coast Guard approved throwable Life Ring or Cushion with a rope, just in case. At Bass Pro Shops, we carry many types and styles of PFD’s, so let’s go over a few so that you can make the best choice for you, your family, and your friends.

Type I Vest - A Type I type vest is usually referred to as an Offshore Vest. Normally these are offered in high visibility colors to aid in finding the man overboard. They also feature a design which includes a neck pad that rolls the wearer over in the water, leaving them in a face up position, reducing the chance of an accidental drowning. These vests are better in rougher water, and are generally the most buoyant available for long periods in the water, which is why many members of the military use them. The normal buoyance is 22 lbs.

Type II Vest – A Type II Vest is normally referred to as a Near Shore Buoyant Vest as is more comfortable, less restrictive, and less buoyant than a Type I Vest. This type is used when quick rescue is expected. The normal buoyancy is 15.5 lbs.

Type III Vest – A Type III Vest is usually the most comfortable and this category includes most of your general Recreational Vests and Fishing Vest. These are designed to be used in your more protected waters and lakes. They still offer ample buoyance for larger people, but may not roll a person over to a face up position in the water. Many of the Type III Fishing vests have pockets for stashing smaller items and are made with mesh for cooler comfort. Bass Pro Shops also carries a big selection of Type III Recreational or Ski Vest offered in nylon or neoprene. The neoprene vests are also sized to fit ladies, men, or children. The buoyancy rating for these vests is 15.5 lbs. Finally, for added convenience, Bass Pro Shops offers 4/packs of either Mae West Vests or Recreational Vest in a handy carrying case and sized in an adult universal one-size-fits-most size.

Type IV PFD’s – Type IV PFD’s include your throwable devices such as Life Rings and Seat Cushions. These can also have a rope attached for easy retrieval, and typically have 16.5 lbs. of buoyancy.

Type V PFD – Called a Type V Special Use Device, this category includes work vests, deck suits, and hybrids for restricted or special use.

Inflatable Life Vest – Depending on the design, they can fit into different categories, but all are US Coast Guard approved. Some of the vests are inflated automatically with a Co2 cartridge upon immersion, some are inflated manually upon demand by pulling a ripcord, some have oral tube inflation tubes for manual backup if the cartridge deployment fails, and some have a combination of these features. The higher end vest with Hydrostatic Valve technology can help reduce the chance of accidental deployment by rain, humidity, or bad luck. Replacement re-charge kits can cost anywhere from $25.00 to $75.00. All of these vest come with adjustable straps to ensure a comfortable all day fit for the larger boaters, and more than enough buoyancy at 24lbs or more to keep you floating until help arrives, or the gators get you. Either way, you’ll be floating.

Well, now that you have an idea what we offer at Bass Pro Shops, come on down and see us and get fixed up for the new season. We currently have several styles in all sizes on sale, so check the BPS Facebook page for constant updates. As for sizing, we do carry an extensive offering of PFD’s for infants from 0 lbs. to 30 lbs., children from 30 lbs. to 50 lbs., and youth from 50 lbs. to 90 lbs. In adult sizes, we carry everything from XS adult to 6XL adult.  

I hope to see at Bass Pro Shops in Leeds, Alabama, real soon. In the mean time, check out our website at www.basspro.com

Thanks, Jim Mann

 

 

0 Comments »

Step Out & Step IN to Iowa State Parks

If you’re anything like most avid outdoors people, you’ve probably got a go-to list of local spots that you repeatedly visit for your favorite activities. Whether it’s fishing, camping, hunting or water sports, folks most often choose the same locations either as a result of familiarity or tradition. But why not step outside your comfort zone…even if it means going out of state?

Bass Pro Shops Altoona Camping Lead Steve Leverett shares some of his favorite Iowa state parks in the hope that Iowans and non-Iowans will be inspired to try something new…Iowans may even find that some favorite spots were actually state parks all along and non-Iowans may learn that we're far more than cornfields!

Walnut Woods and Raccoon RiverA frequently overlooked area (and the closest to Bass Pro Shops Altoona) is Walnut Woods State Park in West Des Moines (east of I-35 and north of Hwy 5). My wife and I have hiked the park on a number of occasions when not in the mood to drive a long distance or just short on time.  This park is geographically situated along the Raccoon River and offers picnicking, hiking, fishing (walleye, catfish, and smallmouth bass), camping and bird watching.  Walnut Woods is certainly what I would define as a more casual outdoor experience as the hiking is leisurely and there were no areas that were difficult to navigate.  Do keep in mind that the river has been hit particularly hard by erosion and decreasing water levels, therefore the riprap (rock formations used to protect shorelines) is excessive on both sides of the shoreline and can make fishing interesting. Stay on your toes!

 

In south central Iowa, just to the west of Moravia, is the man-made Lake Rathbun complex. Originally built Honey Creek @ Sunset - Iowa DNRas flood protection for the hundreds of acres of surrounding farm land, it has since become a very popular camping spot. Although the dam, reservoir, and six of the eight parks are operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, two parks are state-managed…Honey Creek State Park and the relatively new Honey Creek Resort. Both locations offer a wealth of activities not limited to kayaking, canoeing, fishing, golfing, hiking, and a plethora of water sports. Due to the nature of the state park, it’s easier to just drop in if you’re looking for a particular activity, whereas the resort will require advance booking. I can’t say enough about this area as my family has spent a smattering of weekends at Rathbun and I was genuinely surprised at the area’s beauty. This is definitely a hidden jewel in southern Iowa.

 

Ledges State Park BridgeLocated just northwest of Des Moines, near Boone, Iowa, is Ledges State Park, an extremely popular state park due to its signature sandstone cliffs and the fact that it's one of our oldest parks. Featuring a modern campground and abundant hiking, the star attraction at Ledges is the stunning descent into the park valley. It certainly isn’t the Grand Canyon, but for a land-locked Iowa boy I’ve always been awe struck by the contrast it presents to the surrounding corn fields. Not to mention, it’s a bit of a workout heading in and back out so be prepared! The creek at the bottom of the valley is a blast for kids and adults alike (my beagle, too!) as it’s usually only ankle to knee deep and winds back and forth underneath the cliff walls. As previously mentioned, the number of trails to choose from is just excellent and they all offer a worthwhile payoff at some point in your hike (i.e. breathtaking views of the Des Moines River valley).

 

Lake MacbrideI have an old college roommate whose parents are kind enough to, every so often, loan out their lake house on beautiful Lake Macbride. I’ve spent numerous weekends enjoying this unique location in eastern Iowa. It’s really easy to get to this area and its affiliated state parks, as it’s situated between I-380, I-80 and Hwy 1 about four miles west of Solon, north of Iowa City. All the usual activities are available (fishing, picnicking, swimming, hiking, camping, and boating), in addition to being simply a gorgeous location filled with 2,180 acres of rolling hills and valleys. Named after the distinguished botanist and former president of the University of Iowa, Thomas Macbride, the lake has also been noted as one of the only in Iowa to feature the Kentucky spotted bass.

 

These are some of Steve's favorites. However, Iowa is BLESSED with 72 state parks, most with camping, and each with its own unique feature. Whether it’s thePikes Peak State Park equestrian trails of Rock Creek, the majestic views of the mighty Mississippi from our own Pikes Peak, the shores of Clear Lake, or the historical treasures of the Lewis and Clark State Park area, there is something for everyone who decides to step Out of the box and step IN to Iowa’s state parks!

For more information on Iowa's state parks, park events, and the reservation system, visit http://www.iowadnr.gov/Destinations/StateParksRecAreas.aspx.

0 Comments »

Catching South Carolina stripers, Alabama stlye

What would cause a man to get out of bed at 3:30am on a January morning when the air temp is 28 degrees? What would cause a person to get up at that insane hour on their day off…the fish must be biting!

My friends were discussing that the stripers were starting to move up in the river on Lake Murray. So a friend and I met up around 4 am and headed south with visions of hooking up with some quality stripers. After a couple of hours of driving and swapping fish tales we arrived at our destination(to remain unknown as we fisherman cant share all our secrets.)

We were the 6th boat to launch that morning and we were ready to go at day break, however mother nature had another idea. As we were idling out of the no wake zone we ran into a wall of fog that was thick. It was so thick that we couldn’t see past a cast length in front of the boat. As hard as it was not to plow through and use our gps to get out to the honey hole, common sense prevailed as we waited out the fog.

wall of fog

 

Once we were able to get moving we made a quick run up in the river and it wasn’t long before we saw the birds chasing some bait and it soon after it was on. For those of you who don't know, when the birds go for bait fish in the water, this means that the stripers are usually the cause of this phenomenon. As the striper chase up the bait fish the birds take advantage. So when you see birds feeding there is a good chance some fish is pushing that bait to the surface.

Our bait of choice was the Alabama rig. I am not a huge fan of the rig, however there are times and applications when it is hard to beat. I was throwing 2 different rig combinations over the day and caught fish on both presentations. I was throwing a Bass Pro Shop deadly five on 50 lb power pro. I teamed that up with a Bass Pro Shop Pro Qualifier reel and a 7 ft heavy carbon light rod.

BPS Deadly 5power pro

 

pro qualifiercarbonlight

 

 

It didn’t take long find out that the fishing was gonna be tough. Several boats were chasing birds while others were drifting with minnows and corks, but no one was hooking up…including us.

After getting over the early frustration and disappointment we began to notice small pockets of bait fish popping near the banks. So far that morning we had been fishing the creek channels like everyone else. When things are rough its always a good idea to change things up. We eased our way into the shallows and began to chunk our A - rigs toward the bank. On my first cast to the skinny water I hooked up with a nice Lake Murray striper. If you have never thrown the Rig on braid and hooked up with a striper, let me warn you that it can be..AWESOME…

It almost ripped the rod from my hands when it hammered my KVD swim’n caffeine shad.

Swim'n Caffeine KVD Strike King

 

To make a long story short we landed that fish and over the next couple of hours several more stripers were tamed.

When we went back to the ramp several boats were leaving the lake early, most of them said they were leaving because they hadn’t caught any stripers. We were leaving because we had reached our limit.

limit reached limit reached 2

Bragging at the Ramp!

On the way home we talked about the choices we made and the attention to detail that allowed us make a simple adjustment that turned our day from a disappointment to a success.

As Jimmy V use to say ..”never give up”… when your day on the water is not going as planned, just clear your head, look around and use your experiences to help you figure out a game plan to change your day.

Good luck, tight lines and God Bless!

Until next time, Eric Winter

 

 

 

 

 

0 Comments »

The Best Christmas Gift Idea's

Thanksgiving has passed and now it’s time to get your favorite outdoor's man or women something you know is tested and is a quality product for a Christmas gift. I am going to make this easy, so sit back, relax and read my suggestions of gifts anyone would be happy to receive. But first, I am going to have to go “Dave Ramsey” on you: create a budget on how much you’re willing to spend on a gift and follow your budget!  

 

Here's a great starting point for you...

 

blackfins

Costa Sunglasses has your outdoorsy family member covered this Christmas with the introduction of its latest new sunglasses line -  RealTree® AP camo line. Available in Costa’s popular Fantail, Blackfin, Double Haul and Zane, these limited-edition styles are the perfect gift for the avid hunter or angler.  Each of the four Costa styles featuring RealTree AP camo are part of Costa’s core sunglass collection – meaning they offer superior wrap shape to protect against glare, proprietary anti-fog vents in the frame front, sturdy integral hinges and nearly indestructible co-injected nylon construction.  Costa is a great choice when it comes to a quality pair of sunglasses. Read more at: https://www.costadelmar.com

 


Plano Storage Tubs are very practical, reliable, and truly are a quality product. These tubs offer roomy, lockable storage for objects large and small, and feature two durable latches to keep contents safe even during transportation or shipping. Both models feature molded grooves for simple, sturdy stacking if needed. These Plano's Storage Tubs offer versatile and long-lasting protection to keep contents dry, safe and together. And when in the field, their reinforced lids can even double as a work surface for many chores. I have cleaned fish and ducks on the lid, and it did an incredible job. Read more at: http://www.basspro.com/Plano-56Quart-Storage-Tub/product/120618/.

 

 

Look good and support a great charity by purchasing Wounded Wear Forever T-Shirts. These are a high-quality pre-shrunk Gildan Pure Cotton T-shirt with the Wounded Wear logo on the front chest and “Forever Recognizing the Cost of Freedom” underneath the logo. On the back of the shirt is The Wounded Wear logo and the Wounded Wear flag. “What have you done for your Country lately?” is printed on the bottom of the shirts. This is one of Wounded Wear's original shirts and is one of our best sellers! You will be supporting of troops by purchasing clothing from Wounded Wear. You can purchase these items at: http://woundedwear.org/Wounded%20Wear%20Forever%20T-Shirt

 


The latest fishing craze is the face covers, or buffs. Wearing one of these means you can wear it as a face mask to skip the sun screen on your face, or stay warm during the winter. The stretchy, seamless microfiber polyester buff’s fabric comes in different patterns and looks. The material is designed to wick moisture from the surface, while being lightweight and comfortable protection from sun and wind. These buffs may be worn easily as a neckerchief, scarf, headband or balaclava. They are perfect for fishing, hunting, hiking, paddling and many other outdoor activities. All of them machine wash, and just allow them to air dry before the next usage. More than anything, I really like all the different ways you can wear them! Pick out a great design from http://www.basspro.com/UV-Buff-Headwear/product/97319/

 

 

Number one (#1) most important thing we all should never go on the water without is a good-quality life jacket. I personally never go fishing, or even just boating without wearing it; I love my family too much. A life vest worn on top of everything else it is really hardly noticeable, and it could save your life. I wear the Mustang Survival automatic inflatable type vest, there is no substitute. The competition version of this vest is stylish. It features a secure zip closure that can withstand rigorous activity; heavy duty coated nylon for increased durability, and is very lightweight, comfortable, and compact. It will keep you on top of the water long enough to allow you to get back in the boat. Remember to attach your kill switch to your life vest any time your gas motor is running. http://www.basspro.com/Mustang/_/B-4294650442.



Lowrance Gen2 Touch includes all the best features from the HDS (High Definition System) series, plus it comes with the company’s Broadband Sounder and Structure Scan HD built in to the unit. The touch screen interface is very user-friendly and seems to be a big hit! One of the cool features is you can customize and configure and make your own screen views with up to four panels at once, plus the Touch offers a new three-panel vertical-page view. The Gen2 HDS Touch 7, 9 or 12 units come with an internal 1 Hz GPS antenna and are preloaded with Insight USA coastal cartography. The Structure Map feature allows anglers to scan and overlay underwater images onto a chart real time or create saved Structure Map views. These units will cost from $1,299 to $3,249. Read more at: http://www.lowrance.com/en-US

 

 

Anglers can never have enough lures in their arsenal when they go after those illusive green fish called largemouth bass. If they do not have them already, this is a great addition to any fisherman’s tackle box. The Bass Pro Shops – XPS Nitro Square Bill crankbait boasts a fat body style that creates a very good displacement in the water over the bill of the bait.  Remember, the purpose of a square-shaped bill crankbait is that it deters snagging on stuff during the retrieve back to you.  For those looking for a silent approach, the Bass Pro Shops – XPS Nitro Square Bill crankbait model possesses all the action and snag-resistance that is standard on most square bill crankbaits, but with a quiet approach that makes a shallow-water bass a predator for this bait. Read more at: http://basseast.com/xps-nitro-square-bill-crankbaits

 

 

 

Every fisherman and outdoor's person needs a multi tool. These are the greatest gadget, as they contain everything you'll need in one compact tool. From knife blades to screw drivers, to bottle openers and more, a Multi Tool is the perfect gift for every angler on your shopping list. Leatherman survival products have been around for decades. Beginning with the Pocket Survival Tool in 1983, Leatherman now manufactures over 30 models of knives and multi tools. Every product I have ever purchased has been high quality, and lasts forever. I personally love giving these as gifts they are always well received. See all the different models and price ranges that are available at: http://www.basspro.com/Brand-Leatherman/_/N-1z0xd5x/Ntk-Search_All/Ntt-leatherman.

 

These are some of my favorite gifts - both to give, and or receive. If you receive a great gift this Christmas that has passed your usage test, let me know maybe I can include the information in one of my future product reviews …...  Merry Christmas everyone!

 

THANKS FOR READING..... BRANCH

 

About the author: Tom Branch, Jr. is a full time Firefighter, Paramedic/Lieutenant in Georgia for the past 28 years and he is a part owner of Wave Away, LLC.  He has been working and consulting in the Outdoor Industry for over 18 years and is currently creating and managing a pro fishing team, developing new products, promoting products through demonstrations, designing packaging, and he participates in different forums, radio & television shows.  Tom and his wife, Kim are volunteers with Operation One Voice. They live north of Atlanta near Braselton, GA with their lab “Jake”.

 

 

Blog: http://outonalimbwithtombranchjr.blogspot.com/

0 Comments »

Ronald and I Boated Well Over 150 Fish ...

Ronald Cooling BPS winner of a one day guided fishing trip, holding one of his blue gills.As everyone knows the weather has been a little different this year. I think we have gotten more rain in the past month than we had all summer. In between the rain and the wind I have been trying to setup a guided fishing trip. I pretty much fish in any conditions but when I am trying to put someone else on fish… it’s a different story. I want them to have the best experience possible.  Well we finally set a date and made it happen.  Last Monday I had the privilege of taking Ronald Cooling (to the left with one of his bluegill) out on the water. Ronald was the winner of one of the Bass Pro raffle drawings. In this case, for an all day guided fishing trip.

So there we were pulling the boat down the road, all pumped up to hit the lake. What you don’t know was the windshield wipers were going 100mph and lightning bolts were putting on a show all around us. Yea that’s right, most people would have thought this is crazy, and would have turned around. I have to admit the harder it stormed, the more my anticipation for the day was getting shut down. I told Ronald we were going to make it happen and I just kept driving. That’s called wishful thinking.

Well it worked. When we were just about to arrive at the lake, the sky opened and there was light. Prayer works by the way! I took him to a lake owned by Chris Rock. Yea, he is a funny guy I know. Seriously though, Chris is a cool guy that owns a beautiful piece of property.  He basically flooded a bunch of rock quarry ground and now has two awesome lakes. As most people know, I fish for bass the majority of the time. Well Ronald is a panfish guy and he wanted some fish for the frying pan. This was going to be a bit of a challenge for me, to break away from largemouths and just focus on big panfish. Honestly I was a little worried how the bite would go considering the big front that just moved through.

That worry changed quickly when five minutes into it I had a bass, then another one, followed by a couple more. Then I said to myself ‘wait PANFISH, PANFISH, have to catch PANFISH.’ Okay, after that I put the rod down and picked up the ultra light. I told Ronald I am going into bluegill mode. Then boom, it happened, I caught the first big bluegill off the deep end of a tree, then another one. We figured out that the majority of bigger gills were in about 8 to 12 feet. Once we figured out the pattern, Ronald downright went to work on those panfish. He also caught big ol’ slab of a crappie.Ronald Cooling and guide, Chad Fargher Let’s just say the cooler lid was getting a workout. The bait of choice for the bluegill was a 1/16 ounce head and a 2" Bass Pro Shops  Squirmin’ Squirt tube. The key was to tip the jig with a wax worm. After the cooler and livewell were filled, I asked Ronald if he was satisfied yet. I looked back, and he was laid back in the seat, just laughing. He said he was wore out and needed to take a break from catching fish. Of course I took that opportunity to pick the bass rod back up and began to boat one after another. Needless to say we caught fish all day. Ronald and I boated well over 150 fish.

You learn a lot spending the day with somebody.  Ronald is an avid outdoorsman. He is a hardworking family man that put 30 plus years in at Komatsu. He most of all enjoys deer hunting and ice fishing with his family. My goal was to give Ronald a great day of fishing, and we definitely got it done. He said he won’t soon forget it. Ronald went home with a cooler full of fish, and I went home with the satisfaction of knowing that the guy in the back of the boat had a great day of fishing. See you on the water!                          

Chad Fargher, Lead Archery, Fishing
East Peoria IL, Bass Pro Shops

0 Comments »

“Kicking Fish Tail Since 1956”

Inshore fishing Tips

Berkley Gulp

This is called a root beer gold screw tail made by Berkley Gulp!  Back in the old days there were not that many colors to choose from.  Now a fisherman has many choices and the fish do too!!  Hope you pick the right color!!  My father liked white, brown, and light green.

Trolling and strolling for spotted sea trout

 This is the time of the year where old timers really know what it take when it comes to catching spotted sea trout.  My father loved inshore fishing and he especially loved it when mid September rolled around, because it was trolling strolling time of the year.  We spent many hours talking and trolling the marshes during this September and October.  His favorite lure was the forever popular lure of its time, which was called “the screw tail.”   We would troll his screw tails way back behind our rowboat, which was powered with a 31/2 horsepower Evinrude motor. When we got a hit, sometimes we would circle back, anchor, and fish the spot.   Then there were times where he just made a mental note of the location and just kept trolling.   So now you know when trolling you can catch spotted sea trout, you can find spotted sea trout, and you can stop or not!!

Casting for your own bait!

 It’s that time of the year where a fisherman can catch his own live shrimp as well as others baits.  Best tides are out going and incoming isn’t bad either.  Shrimp have to go into the evacuation mode when the tide is falling. And their main goal is to get back into the marsh grass when it starts to flood.    The rule of thumb is a simple one; a shrimp needs water to hover in and grass to hold on to.  

And other live baits while throwing the old cast net

While casting you just might happen to catch a few small croaker, mullet, pin fish, or any other small fin fish.  I suggest that you put them in your live well with the shrimp.  The pinfish also call sailor choice is a very good bait to use when targeting the larger trout.

The reason being is a bigger trout prefers bigger bait, because they are smart enough to know that it fills their bellies quicker with less work!

Pinfish are great baits!!

Pin Fish

This is about the size of pinfish that we catch offshore. While casting inshore if you happen to catch smaller versions of pinfish please put it in you live well.  They make for great bait when targeting larger spotted sea trout!

It’s time to do a little triple tail watching

Triple Tail

Ralph Lattke and his mother Cathy are holding up as nice triple tail, which was caught while inshore fishing with Captain Jack McGowan.  According to Captain Jack this triple tail was cruising the flats while packing itself with small shrimp. Then best bait as you already most likely guessed is going to be small live shrimp. It’s time to do a little triple trail watching!

Captain Alan Collins Fishing Catching Corner!

Red Fish

This is Karen Griaier visiting from Indianapolis, IN. with her 28" Redfish. Before she boarded Captain Alan’s boat she said, I have never caught a fish 8" long.”  Well, that saying no good now!!

Savannah’s own gator catching man!!

Gator Catcher

 Peter Lenares is holding the jaw open of 11.6 foot 700 pound alligator, which he caught while hunting with Captain Mark Jonas. I know this is supposed to be a fishing report and it is.  This gator was caught on a hook and line!!  Proving once again when going fishing you really never know what you might catch

A Six Pound Story!

A flounder that would certainly feed two!!

Flounder

Captain Rick Reynolds of Miss Judy Charters is doing what he does best that that’s catch fish!  While doing a little scouting he caught this 6 pound flounder, which we all known see like rabbit, cunning as a fox, and strikes like a cobra!  Here’s the good news when targeting red fish and spotted sea trout it’s not unusual to get the attentions of a six pounder!

A big jumping sturgeon! 

Sturgeon

While heading the fishing grounds this past Saturday with a charter party on board Captain Rick experienced and unusual phenomenon.  Captain Rick was cruising at about 40 knots when he slowed down to idle speed to go under an over pass.  Right before passing under a large at least 200 pound sturgeon jumped in front of the boat’s bow and almost landing inside the boat.  Well, I am certainly glad this fish did not land in the boat.  The reason being is not only was this a big fish it is a strong fish.  While being a green fish meaning full of life it would have destroyed whatever it hit including those on board right down those things attached.  I am so thankful that this did not happen not only for the customers, but also the fish.   I suggest, especially when in  boat on the water to always having eyes wide open all of the time!!

Both Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon are protected from harvest by state and federal law. In fact, both species are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, which means anyone caught in possession of one is subject to very stiff penalties. So, if one lands in the boat, the best thing to do is to get it out of the boat ASAP, regardless of whether it's dead or alive.

Artificial Reefs

Blue Fish

The blue fish has arrived at the artificial reefs. 

Bringing On the Fish Bite!  Please meet our resident fishing wizard!

   Biting Spell

Believe this or not!  This fisherman is not waving at the fish.  He is putting a biting spell on them.  Since this is not a video you can’t get the true value of the waving of arms and squeezing of the fists.  The fisherman aka bringing on the fish bite wizard did his thing around the trolling rods.  And I know the question that you wan to ask but don’t dare.  Did it work?  Yes, it did 50 percent of the time!  When wizard man waved it didn’t take long before hits happened!!

Savannah Snapper Banks

Bottom fishing is very and the keeping it too!!

Vermon Snapper

Vermilion snapper bite is good

The vermilion snapper bite has been pretty good.  These fish are fun to catch and good to eat.  The best baits are live cigar minnows or Spanish sardines.  However, after you get the bite going you can switch to bait your hooks with cut fish and squid combo.  The bag limit is 5 per person and they have to be 12 tail length to keep! 

 

Our red snapper six day only season is closed

Red Snapper

 Please know that our brief red snapper season is over and closed.  However, you can still catch them, take a picture, and release them back to the wild.  Best news that I can tell you is that there are plenty of them at the artificial reefs, Savannah Snapper banks, and the deep waters near the Gulf Stream.

 

The amberjack fishing is very good!

Amber Jack Fish

 The amberjack bite has picked up at the Savannah Snapper banks.  Once hooked up this is one fish that really knows how to fight while being pulled to the surface.  They are also known as the reef donkeys, because they are known for guarding the upper water column above the ledge.  The best bait is live fish such as ruby red lips, sand perch, and cigar minnows.  Once hooked up you had better hold on!!

Gulf Stream Bite

Early Edge is taking form!!

Triggering the bite for a strong fight

The grouper can’t stand anything, including your lure that tries to past it by.  This is called triggering the bite for strong fight!

When September rolled around a best temperature change started taking place.  The waters to the west of the Gulf Stream are going into a cooling mode. When this happens the fishermen are not the only ones that know this is happening.  So do the fish and I am talking about all sizes start to make a move. 

A good plan at this time especially if you are going to make a blue water run is to be prepared to change up and fish or should I say “catch what is biting!”  For those dead hard trolling machines well you can troll till you can’t stand it any longer.  The best news that I can tell you is that you just might catch quite a few fish and then you might not.  The rule of thumb especially during this time of the year is to be “catching flexible!”  This just boils down to fishing for what’s biting.  So therefore if the top water fish aren’t there I suggest going to the bottom for some solid action.   After all you can catch those down deep with lures you jig and your catch those on the surface with lures that you pull.  The bottom if you want to catch fish you can certainly get lots of solid pulling action at this time!!

Freshies Report

 Joe Vennarini 2.5 days of hard fishing!!

Nice looking fish and nice looking fisherman!!

Salmon

Joe Vennarini hold salmon that he caught while fishing the Salmon River Pulaski, NY while using a standard fly!!

According to Joe’s fish catching report the salmon were so thick that they were tripping over them. All of the fish that Joe landed were caught on standard with 8 pound test line.  In 2.5 days of fishing Joe caught way over 2.5 fish meaning many fish were landed and lots of fun was had by many!  Sources say, “Best salmon run that the locals have ever seen!” 

Bill Vanderford is “Lake Lanier’s Legend!”

For more about my long time friend Bill Vanderford as well as his accomplishments, his freshwater charter trips or wildlife tours, books written and his special line up of tackle offered, please visit his site http://www.fishinglanier.com/contact.html for all the details!  For more details go http://stores.ebay.com/Fishy-Racer http://www.youtube.com/fishyracer www.cafepress.com/grapefruitshop

http://fishinglanier.com/

 

Little Miss Judy Believe It or Not!

  Old Time Navigation My Daddy’s Way

LOng RAnge Navigation

Here’s a picture of the 1965 wooden version of the Miss Judy Too!  Believe me, when I say, “There was plenty of room to prop your feet up on the dash.  NO electronic here only a compass that may or may not have been set right!” 

Back in the real old days long before Loran we had to navigate the old way, which was anyway you could to get back to shore.  My father had his standards on getting us back to shore.  Some of them were simple.  The most important one for this time era was to drop out a buoy as soon as you got to where you thought you were going.  Please re-read that last sentence of “where you thought you were going!” He also drilled in my head that it was important to watch the compass and try to keep the boat on as straight of a course as possible. He suggested to always keeping mind the direction in which the wind was blowing.  In other words was it changing directions or just holding. As a child I figured out quickly that the waves went with pretty much in the same direction as the wind.  However, that’s not always true.  Sometimes all is completely different in this respect, but when you don’t know in the first place it really doesn’t seem to matter. 

Once I arrived to what was perceived as the designated fishing spot I was to throw the old sacred buoy out.  This would become the center of my fishing universe. I fished around and circled this area until it was time to go home. During this time era, which fell in the late sixties and early seventies “Loran A” was invented.  Loran stands for “LOng RAnge Navigation.” To be honest I especially during this time had absolutely no idea how it worked much less if it did.  My father had one of the first loran’s installed in his charter boat for this area. I had the second, which he also brought as a present for me. In fact I still have one of those old lorans that he purchased from Maricom Electronics of Thunderbolt.  But that’s another story.  The bottom line to the story is short, simple, and to the point.  Even with all the electronics onboard I had certain instructions from my father.  To this day I remember exactly what he told me to do.  My father told me that even after using the newly installed navigational “Loran” that I was to never not for one minute to forget that it was a machine and it might not work.  So therefore I was to use it as a navigational aid only!  With all that being said, his main suggestion was then to just head home the old way!  As you can see I am still doing that! 

Here’s My Line Now Bite My Hook!

Captain Judy

“Fish Physic!”

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA 31410

912 897 4921Phone

912 897 3460 Fax

www.missjudycharters.com

Captain Judy’s email fishjudy2@aol.com

0 Comments »

Call Your Bluff

 

Georgia coastal bluff

 

The Georgia coast brings to mind endless seas of spartina grass and miles of serpentine creeks and rivers.  For the uninitiated, it can be very daunting to pick a good fishing spot out of the huge marsh expanses.  All along the coast of Georgia you will find numerous bluffs and cut-banks of various sizes, from 6 feet to 40 feet.  They have been carved out of old sand dunes and shell mounds by the huge twice daily local tidal swings, averaging up to 8 feet between low and high tide.  Fish find these bluffs irresistible due to the numerous advantages they have over open water.  They provide shelter from predators, wind, and current.  In the winter, the water around the bluffs is warmer because the bank absorbs the sun's rays and radiates the heat back into the water.  In the summer, when water temps soar over 80 degrees, a bluff offers a shady spot for a fish to cool off.  This adds up to a year-round habitat that will harbor redfish, seatrout, flounder, and other inshore species. 

Flippin' Timber, Bass Fishing Style

    You will find three main types of bluffs on the Atlantic Coast from Northeast Florida through Georgia and South Carolina: Oyster shell banks, developed bluffs reinforced with a seawall or rip-rap, and mud cut-banks.  These mud cut-banks are usually wild spots found in the interior of barrier islands or farther up in the larger estuary systems.  Barrier islands like Ossabaw, Sapelo, and St. Simons have numerous creeks running into them that cut out banks up to twenty feet high at low tide.  Locals keep these sheltered spots a well-guarded secret, but many of them are within a few minutes from the boat launch.  As the tide eats away at the banks, trees fall into the water.  It is amazing how rapidly these blowdowns will begin to attract fish.  A few years ago I was fishing a cut-bank in the Savannah area and watched a large chunk of bank slide into the river carrying a small oak tree with it.  Three days later I was catching trout out of that very same tree.  Redfish showed up a week later.


    The way I fish these trees is very similar to the "flipping" technique used by freshwater bass anglers when they are fishing timber.  You will need to use braided line or heavy monofilament, paired with a fluorocarbon leader, to ensure good abrasion resistance against line-eating tree bark and barnacles.  Anchor about ten yards up-current from the tree, or use a trolling motor to hold your position.  I like to use a soft plastic paddle-tail or screw-tail body on a 1/8 or 1/4 ounce weedless jighead, but a live shrimp or mud minnow can also be used with great results.  A three inch Gulp Alive Swimmin Minnow is excellent in this situation. Flip the bait toward the tree, letting the current drift the bait the rest of the way.  When you feel the bait touch the bottom, give a few jerks of your rod tip and let it sit for a few more moments.  Redfish and flounder tend to congregate on the creek bottom, inside or underneath the tree, waiting to ambush prey that falls down from the submerged branches.  If you get no hits on the bottom, begin a slow, jigging retrieve back up through the tree.  Seatrout will often be found suspended inside of the tree and around its edges.   With such an abundance of snags, you should be prepared to lose some jigheads, but the rewards are great.

Gulp Swimmin Minnow


    It is a good idea to scope out a bluff during a time of extreme low tide.  Make a note of any normally submerged structure.  Sloped or undercut bluffs, ledges, and logs are all things to look for.  Redfish and flounder will hug the bank in order to corral unsuspecting prey.  Redfish are chiefly in search of fiddlers and blue crabs falling off the ledges into deeper water.  In mid to late summer, it is common to find juvenile reds with bright blue tails and fat bellys that have been gorging themselves on these tasty crustaceans.  Around these ledges, drift a scented soft plastic, such as Berkley's Gulp! shrimp or crabs, under a popping cork with about 18 inches of fluorocarbon leader.  Allow the cork to drift down-current, parallel to the bank.  Feed line out slowly, but be ready set the hook when the cork goes under.  Trout will tend to be found further out from the bank in a creek's main channel bottom, holding near ledges and dropoffs.  If you want to go after them, set aside the popping cork and try drifting a weedless jighead with a mud minnow or Gulp! shrimp, instead.  The current in the main channel will be strong, especially on an outgoing tide, but you need to keep in contact with the bottom to find fish, so you may need to use up to a 1/2 ounce jighead to keep your bait down.  When you feel contact with the bottom, jerk your rodtip a couple of times to pop the bait up and let it drift a few more feet.  Sometimes the strikes will be very light, so feel for any tick or sudden slack in the line and be ready to set the hook.


Spottails at the Oyster Bar


    Thousands of years of shell accumulation have created huge oyster banks that rim the coastal sounds and bays along the Georgia coast.  Where you find oysters, live or not, you're almost certain to find fish.  These shell mounds are teeming with life, from small crustaceans and minnows, to the higher predators on the food chain.  Fishing around these shell bars is always seems best during the few hours before and after low tide.  Braided line or a fluorocarbon leader in the 20-30 pound range is essential in fishing around razor-sharp oyster shells and barnacles.  When the water level is too low for redfish to get back into the marsh grass, they tend to gravitate to the shells in search of shrimp and mud minnows.  They are the last to leave the oyster bars and the first to return.  Using live bait under a slip float or popping cork is a good way to fish over the shells to avoid snags.  Look for submerged live oyster reefs that jut out from the bank and fish around the edges, as the redfish will hold tightly to the structure.  Reds will cruise up and down the banks in schools, so if you catch one, there's bound to be more.  Black drum will make an appearance as well, and often these bruisers will top fifty pounds as they munch on crabs hiding in the shells.
    Flounder and seatrout usually return to the shell banks an hour or two after low tide.  While local anglers predominantly use live shrimp, I prefer live mud minnows or small finger mullet lip-hooked on a 1/8 ounce slipper jighead.  Drag them slowly through the soft mud bottom potholes you will find between shell bars.  While shrimp will catch plenty of trout, you'll get fewer throwbacks and larger trout on average with baitfish.  As for flounder, an old salty local once told me, "A flounder will knock your shrimp out of the way to get to my polywog."  I've been following his advice ever since and I've never been short on flounder fillets.  At about mid-tide, another common visitor to shell bars arrives: sheepshead.  Fiddler crabs are like candy to the "convict," but they are notorious bait stealers, so make sure you use a stiff, but sensitive graphite rod to detect the slightest bites.


Urban Bite

    As the population of Coastal Georgia continues to boom, a lot of property with deepwater access has been developed for residential use, and they have usually been hardened with seawalls or riprap and lined with docks and pilings.  While not as pristine as some of the more remote locales, these bluffs are no less fishy.  In fact, man-made structure can enhance a bluff's "fish-appeal."  Rocks and seawalls warm up very quickly in the sun on a cold winter day, attracting all sorts of species.  One of the prime winter seatrout spots, for both bank and boat fishermen, is the long riprap banks of the Greenwich Cemetary bluff on the Wilmington River in Savannah.  Word gets out quickly when the big seatrout are on the rocks, and during the weekend anglers will be lined up on the bluff for a good chance at trout over 4 pounds.  Common practice is to throw a chartreuse screw-tail soft bait on a 1/4 ounce weedless jighead.  This bait is best retrieved slowly, bouncing it over and between the submerged rocks where the seatrout settle to warm up and ambush an easy meal.

DOA Shrimp


    Docks and pilings next to sea walls are always good fish attractants.  In the summer time, redfish and flounder use shady docks to cool off, but they are still actively feeding.  I like to skip artificial baits back under the docks and work them back out slowly.  DOA Shrimp work well in this situation, as do weedless-rigged shad baits like a Bass Assassin.  Summertime saltwater in Georgia ranges in color from tea-stained to pea-soup green, so I like patterns with a lot of contrast such as Electric Chicken or white with a red head.  In the winter time the water can be nearly gin-clear, so try to use natural-looking or translucent baits in that situation.  Once again, braided line is highly recommended if you want to work the fish out from heavy structure.  These same docks and seawalls will also hold the odd sheepshead year round, and seatrout will congregate under dock lights at night.

__________________________________________________________________________

Anglers often cruise right past bluffs on their way to the marsh flats, but they are missing out on an over-looked and little-pressured fishery.  Bluffs provide a unique and vital habitat for saltwater species on the Georgia coast, and those who know where to look will reap the rewards.

 

Ty Butler

0 Comments »

The Summer Time Shark Bite by Captain Judy

The Summer Time Shark Bite!

It’s time to go shark fishing or I should say, “Shark Catching!”

 As far as the shark bite goes it has been simply fantastic!  This means that we have catching and releasing lots of all size sharks from the sounds to the ocean.  It’s that time of the year where bait locations dictate where the shark bites take place.  It’s a known fact that where you have bait-swimming-you-got-sharks-a-feeding!

pic 3

Sharks in the old shark hole

I know I sound like a broken record, but shark fishing in the old shark hole can be and it very interesting.  This past week our customers while using cut and live whole fish caught about 10 nice sharks from lemons to bulls to spinners.  All sharks were fought caught, and released.  So the bottom line to this report is they are still in the sound and growing while they are swimming!

 Artificial Reefs

Black sea bass are on the Wide Open Mode!

pic 5

Black sea bass continue to be the main fish caught while bottom fishing at the artificial reefs.

 Savannah Snapper Banks

 The bottom fishing is great and even there is a top water bite!

What’s on tap???

 Bottom Condition

As far as bottom fishing the bite has been awesome.  The reason being is in most cases is that every time you drop your hook you get hooked up!  Now I am not going to say, “It’s a big fish every time! However, what I will say, “Lots of action to be had for those that love the reeling the fish in!” 

 Mid Water Condition 

Our 2012 Cobia also known as ling and lemon fish has been very good.  Our customers have been having a great time catching this fish.  Did you know that if you pull this fish will pull back? Did you know that if you don’t pull on this fish it will basically swim right to the boat?  These fish can be caught at any depth at any time from the sound to the artificial reefs to the snapper banks to the blue waters of the stream 

Amberjack also known as Reef Donkeys can now be found guarding the reef.  This means that if this fish is guarding it’s in the feeding mode, which is exactly what us fishermen want! We have been also catching quite a few banded rudder fish also known as the cousins to the amberjack!

Top Water Condition

For top water we now have king mackerel, little tunny, Spanish mackerel, and dolphin also known as Mahi Mahi.

pic 5

 Banded rudder fish

While bottom fishing in about 100 feet of water our customers caught some nice banded rudder fish.  This fish looks just like a miniature version of an amberjack, but in my fish world I say they are 2nd cousins!  The bottom line is that they are fun to catch and make for good table fare too!!

 Out in the Gulf of Mexico

Drew Zeigler finds fish!

2,700 feet of water

 pic 6

 Captain Drew Zeigler is holding a nice dolphin fish also known as a mahi mahi

While fishing in 2,700 of water in the Gulf of Mexico off a crew boat Captain Drew Zeigler caught this nice size dolphin as well as a few yellow fin tuna.  Yes the whole crews had fresh fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner!!  I would call this the freshest fish ever!! 

 Blue water report

The bills are the deals!!

Pic 7

Photo by Captain Kevin Rose

 Bill fish doing what it does best, which is getting lots of air! 

The blue waters have and always will be an interesting place to fish.  The reason being you really never know what you might catch.  However, you can be sure that when you do it most likely will be big and powerful! Bill fish such as the one shown in the picture are also called “the man dressed in the blue suit!

 Freshies Report

Bill Vanderford is “Lake Lanier’s Legend!”

For more about my long time friend Bill Vanderford as well as his accomplishments, his freshwater charter trips or wildlife tours, books written and his special line up of tackle offered, please visit his site http://www.fishinglanier.com/contact.html for all the details!  For more details go http://stores.ebay.com/Fishy-Racer http://www.youtube.com/fishyracer www.cafepress.com/grapefruitshop

http://fishinglanier.com/

 Little Miss Judy’s Believe It or not!

Pic 8

Yes this is me, (Captain Judy mid eighties) holding shark caught at the shark hole, which is located inshore!  This is when I wore white shorts instead of blue.  As you know from the time I can remember I wore white and navy blue.  I guess I tried stepping outside the box, but it didn’t work for long!!  Been back in my uniform since late eighties!

Atlantis the Lost Empire

I think everyone has an opinion about Atlantis the lost empire and then there are some that lived it.  Since I am no stranger to interesting people visiting I would like to share yet another story about this unbelievable visit.  This happened in the late eighties and I wouldn’t have remembered about it, but I made a note of it in one of my diaries.  And while flipping through the many loose pages I came upon the story about the man that received information from the back of his head.  I am getting ahead of my self.  So with that being said, “Let me start from the beginning!”

Thanks for reading!  Captain Judy

CAPTAIN JUDY HELMEY

“Kicking Fish Tail Since 1956”

POB 30771

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA 31410

912 897 4921 912 897 3460 FAX

www.missjudycharters.com

Captain Judy’s email fishjudy2@aol.com

0 Comments »

PETS - SUMMER AND FALL

It's Summer and while we are enjoying the heat, hiking, swimming and the good old outdoors, our pets want to be right beside us enjoying time also.  We worry about our safety on boats and keeping ourselves hydrated, so lets not forget man's best friend.

Bass Pro has a few ideas for Summer that keep your pet safe, fed, and hydrated while you both enjoy the outdoors and get the most out of your day.

Out in the boat for the day?  Well don't forget a flotation vest for your dog.  Bass Pro has one that performs great! This vest fits large chested dogs as well as small.  A plus is that this vest is a great price so you get more bang for your buck!  Now, with your pet safe and comfortable you can relax on that boat.

Going to take a day hike?  Well your best friend will be right beside you and while you are taking a snack break with some water and GORP (good old raisins and peanuts), your pet is needing the same. Bass Pro sells a few different things that will make it easy to carry water and food for your pet..  A great idea for hiking is to put a Ruff Wear Approach Pack on your dog.  This recreational dog pack has external gear loops, waterproof zippers, and reflective trim.  Great for day hikes and overnights.  Not camping or hiking but planning on a long car ride to your destination? One item to get your pet through the long journey is a PortablePET food tote.  This tote is very easy to carry.  It will hold eight cups of food, it has a bowl for water, and one for food. The tote has a canteen to hold water while traveling.  I know most people use flea and tick control on their pet this time of year, but you should always be aware of ticks regardless.  I personally love the Tick Key.  The key is very easy to use and can be attached to your keychain, leash, or dog collar.   

Its hard to believe that Fall is right around the corner.  August is a great time to think about training.  Hunting or obedience Bass Pro has what you need. 

Electronic dog training collars are good for training that stubborn but loveable pet.  Bass Pro has many to pick from, but one in particular that is popular would be the Red Head RH2.   It has 16 levels of stimulation.  Now if your dog is sensitive, this collar has a Gentle Touch option that tickles the dog to get his attention.  It has a orange collar which is extremely durable and waterproof.  Read our customer reviews on line to see you won't be disappointed.

Red Head has a great camo neoprene dog vest.  This lightweight rubber vest is exactly what your dog needs to avoid any briars, thorns, or barbed wire he/she may come in contact with.  If its orange you want, Red Head has a a durable vest with a padded high density foam chest protector. 

On with the training!  Bass Pro has a variety of dead fowl trainers.  Dokken makes mallards to pheasants which are great way to stop dogs who may shake their game too hard.  The body of these trainers are made from a soft natural feel foam.  The head and feet are free-swinging, the body floats on water, and the weight is lifelike.  It also have the ability for internal scenting. Speaking of scents!  Remington has a selection of scents such as duck, rabbit, quail, and grouse.   

Now that was a lot of information to take in. You say "I am just starting out and don't want to invest in absolutely everything until you I see how my dog reacts to training"!  Remington has a dog training kit for under $30.  It comes with a canvas dummy, scent, whistle with thermometer and compass.  It also has a 25' nylon check cord and training book with techniques.So you can start slow.

So keep your pet safe whether its Summer or Fall.  Remember, they are loyal friends who just want to spend as much time as they can with you.

Robin Piedmonte - Events Coordinator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

vestruff approachtraining collarneoprene vest

 

food totescents http://www.basspro.com/Bass-Pro-Shops-Flotation-Vests-for-Dogs/product/104531/83605remington kit

 

 

 

 

0 Comments »

Finding Fish in the Dog Days of Summer

Well, the dog days of summer are here, the hottest months of the year in this region,  For those who know how to find the fish at this time, the fishing can be rewarding. It pays to have the right tools in your toolbox, so lets look at a few of the fishfinders that Bass Pro Shops has to offer.

Bass Pro Shops Pond Prowler. These stable little two man boats come in 8' , 9' , or 10'  lengths, but pack a lot of potential in their smaller size. Each can fit between the wheel wells in a standard pickup truck bed, so transportability is not a big problem. At only 130 lbs or less, 1 person can launch or load the boat under most conditions. The 10' Pond Prowler holds a whopping 600lbs of payload, enough for a motor, battery, 2 people, and all of the gear they need for a long day on the water. They come pre-wired for a trolling motor and a fishfinder, and even have a drop in storage box that can double as a livewell for all of the fish you will catch. You could even put a 5HP gas motor on it if you wanted. The padded seats offer all day fishing comfort, and the rod rack offers storage capability for a couple of your favorite rods. This Bass Pro Shops 10' Pond Prowler boat sells for $829.99, with the 9' boat selling for $749.99, and the 8' boat selling for $619.99. All 3 are great values, and all 3 are in stock.

The Bass Pro Shops Prowler Trolling Motor is a great companion to the Pond Prowler boat, and we carry the most popular choice for this boat, a 30 pound thrust trolling motor with a 30" shaft. This is a great little motor, value priced at $99.99, and it will push this boat around a lake very nicely. Larger size motors are available by MinnKota and MotorGuide if you prefer, and all will fit thid boat nicely.

As with any boat, you can spend as much as you want on the electronics. The prices start at $79.99, and go up to $2799.99. For this boat, the more popular choices are the new offerings by Lowrance, the Mark-4 Fishfinder and the Elite-4 Fishfinder. These are identical units, except that the Mark-4 is grayscale and the Elite-4 is color. Both units have eye-catching graphics, and both units have a built in GPS. You can mark and save your waypoints, allowing you to return to the same productive fishing spots time after time. The GPS screen offers pre-loaded maps of most of your major lakes, and both fishfinders are capable of using the Navionics cards, which are the ultra-detailed fishing maps for almost all of the major lakes in each state. The cards are set up by regions, and Alabama is in the South region. The Navionics map cards sell for $149.99 each. The Mark-4 Fishfinder sells for $199.99, and the Elite-4 Fishfinder sells for $299.99, and Bass Pro Shops keeps all of these in stock as well. Bass Pro Shops caries many other fishfinders that will work well on these Pond Prowler boats as well.

So, come on down to your Bass Pro Shops here in Leeds, Alabama, and let us show you how you too can be fishing the hot spots from your own boat today.

Jim Mann

Bass Pro Shops, Leeds, Alabama

 

0 Comments »