Tracker Time: Tahoe 195

OK so when it comes to the Tracker Time blogs I have covered boats from Tracker, Mako, Grizzly, Regency and Ascend. That has left me with a couple companies that I have not taken a deeper look at concerning just one of the many awesome vessels they offer. This month, with the weather so nice my mind slips to thinking about getting away for a trip. A trip to Tahoe sounds nice, and so does taking a look at the Tahoe brand of boats. But where to begin? I mean we have a few of them at our location and they always get my attention. But when I started to check out the Tahoe 195, I knew I had my star for this month’s Tracker Time blog.

The Tahoe 195 is considered a deck boat, which makes it great for a few different options. You can fish out of it, you can be towed behind it and you can just lay out on it! You can calmly cruise the water or tear it up with the 220HP Mercury® engine. You’ll notice quickly how easy it is to fall in love with this boat and then fall asleep in it. The interior is comfy and very roomy. This makes it especially nice for the do-all boater because you never know who you are going to be taking out with you.

  

It comes with a removable table and plenty of storage. There is storage under most of the seating and there are even special in-floor storage spots for skis or a trolling motor! Head towards the back and you will find a refreshment center that even has a 5gal sink with sprayer! For the fishing trips there are two moveable chairs that can be stowed while not in use. There is also an aerated live well and 3 rod holders. The boat itself is roughly 20 feet. It can hold up to 8 people. It comes with a 36 gallon tank. The aft swim platform with boarding ladder and Bluetooth®-capable AM/FM stereo with MP3 & USB ports might just be your favorite parts about this boat.

   

So next time you are thinking about hitting the water in style, think about the Tracker 195. It may be the best decision you have made in quite some time!

-Giddy-Up!!

Previous Tracker Topics

Mako 17 Skiff Grizzly Sportsman 1860 CC Wildcat Special Edition Regency 254 DL3

Tracker History ProGuide V175 Ascend FS10

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Tracker Time: 1860 CC Sportsman

Ever seen something so cool and different that you just had to know more about it? That is exactly how I felt when the 1860 CC Sportsman showed up at our store a few months ago. Things have been busy here so my curiosity was put on hold, until now. I got a few moments to talk to one of the several rock stars in our Tracker Department to get the lowdown on this beast. And a beast it is! Which can be expected with the name Grizzly attached to it!

This boat is all-welded and built to be tough. The guys at Tracker know what you will put their boats through, because they do the same. A new passion that is taking our company and the nation lately has been bow fishing. The 1860 CC is built specifically for that purpose.

For those who do not know about bow fishing it is exactly what it sounds like. You are fishing with a bow. But while that explanation is simple, the sport itself is not. There is a complexity that is engaging while still getting back to one of the most basic forms of catching fish. Our ancestors had to become experts at fishing with a bow or spear. Just like modern archery gives new life to that sport, so does bow fishing. You can expect a blog in the future that gets more into the sport, but back to the boat.

The 1860 CC (along with the other Grizzly models) have an awesome powder-coat finish that will stand up to the wear and tear of the outdoors and for years to come. It also replaces the liquid paint of old, that has been proven to harm the environment. The hull is all aluminum and has added bracing in all the important areas. The awesome VersaTrack system allows one to add, remove and move accessories with ease. This will let you get whatever you need on your boat to exactly wherever you need it.

The first thing you will notice on the 1860 CC is the raised platform up front. You can comfortably fit two archers up here at a time. Of course you will want to stay off of here when the main engine is on for safety reasons. Being higher up gives a direct advantage for bow fishing. There are even holders to keep your bows while up there. There is also a hatch that allows one to access the trolling motor quickly.

 It also comes with seven Seelite spotlights. Bow fishing is commonly done at night and having all of these lights is a huge help, especially since each light gives off 5000 lumens.

Not that big into bow fishing? This platform will lend itself to regular fishing and other outdoor activities well. It is also removable. It takes roughly 3 adults to lift in on or off. This boat comes loaded with storage space as well which is extremely nice. There are rod holders and storage that can hold your bow. So if one kind of fishing isn’t working you can easily switch to the other. It also has a livewell and generator.

So next time you are at our store, make sure to stop by and check this beast out. It surely will impress and intrigue. And like they say, these boats are “Tougher than Necessary”.

Giddy-Up!!

Other BEASTLY Boats

Mako 17 Skiff

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Fishy Facts: Brook Trout

The lovely Mary in Fishing chose this month’s species for our Fishy Facts Blog. Which is ironic, considering she has never caught or even eaten one but it is on her “to-catch” list. This month’s species star is the Brook Trout!

The brook trout is a species of the salmon family that is native to North America. Like many other fish it has several nicknames including: squaretail or speckled trout. The brook trout also finds itself in a peculiar place as it is called a trout but is actually a char. And don’t forget that it’s also part of the salmon family, so things can get quite confusing.

The brook trout is a favorite among many anglers, especially fly-fishermen. Affectionately called “brookies” these fish are both beautiful and delicate. They are so cherished, that eight states have elected the Brook Trout to state fish. Those states being: West Virginia, Virginia, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Michigan.

Due to expansion of the species, brook trout can be found in most states throughout the U.S. They prefer cool and clear streams or ponds to live in. They are also found in lakes, rivers and creeks. Brook trout are not the most tolerant fish as they require water with high purity and only a narrow pH range. These fish are drastically affected by changes in pollution, pH range and oxygenation.

Brook trout are known to feed on a diverse diet. They consume insects, all forms, and more. Their diet can include crustaceans, amphibians, other fish and some small aquatic mammals. As mentioned before, these fish are extremely attractive. They have vivid colors and spots that stand out. A while back I caught my first brook trout and honestly it was tiny. But the deep purple color and vivid yellow dots made it truly the prettiest fish I have ever caught. Different areas though do produce differently colored or patterned fish.

Two somewhat of a subspecies of these fish are coasters and salters. The coasters are a population of brook trout native to Lake Superior. They migrate into rivers to spawn and then return back to the main body of water. They are typically larger than other brook trout but have had their numbers drastically reduced from overfishing and habitat loss. Salters are a sea-run brook trout found on the East Coast. While these fish are in the saltwater, they will lose some of their markings and get a grayer color to them. Once they return though, it only takes a short time for their true coloring to come back.

What is interesting about brook trout is that they are playing two roles in our ecosystems. Much of their native range has been destroyed or developed. Areas that once had thriving brook trout populations now have none. Outdoor organizations like Trout Unlimited have worked hard at restoring and protecting such habitats. In other areas though, the brook trout is considered an invasive species. They can out-compete native fish species and have had adverse effects of other species such as the cutthroat trout. Certain places have an unlimited bag limit or must harvest ruling to try and reduce brook trout numbers.

I wish Mary the best of luck in her goal to catch one. They are fascinating fish that put up a good fight and taste good as well. We tip our rods to you, the majestic Brook Trout! Until next time!

-Giddy-Up!!

Former Finned-Friends:

Grayling

Northern Pike

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass

Walleye

Billfish

Dolphinfish

Crappie

Catfish

Bull Shark

Tilapia

Smallmouth Bass

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Kayak Trip: What to Prepare For

It was the night before our first Kayak trip of the season, I was excited re-spooling reels and getting lures tied on, also planning where to mount the GoPro, I got everything just the way I wanted it on my Acend D10T sit on top Kayak.

The setup

I had decided to get creative, using a standard milk crate, (you can get these at office supplies stores for less than $5); I attached two Bass Pro Shops Rod Holders to either side and a three rod holder to the back of the crate.

Rod Holders

It was the perfect size for my XPS cooler. Notice how this gives you multiple locations for rods and other accessories.

Setup

The following day March 11th we were forcasted to hit 70 degree weather in the afternoon. I had been itching to plan a trip ever since winter sat in.  So I planned a trip out with some fellow coworkers to explore the S. Yadkin River near my family's farm in Northern Rowan Co.

Map

We started our adventure at the Green Star above and headed south to the red star. We used the Davie County South Yadkin Access along 601 hwy. We exited the river on my families farm, but if you wanted to recreate this journey you could exit at the Salisbury Pump Station Access just below where the South Yadkin and North Yadkin come together.

We planned to start early morning around 8:30, due to previous weather conditions we didn't get in the water until approximately 9:00am. The previous weather conditions were actually notable, two days prior we recieved three inches of rain in 2 hours. which had the water up considerably. The boat ramp or kayak launch and parking lot were in about 2-4 inches of mud; which slightly complicated our launch, which you will see in the video below.

Ready to Launch

My Ascend D10T is in the center, Nick and Jeremy's are the FS10 sit ins on either side.

Nicks FS10

Nick paddling his FS10 shortly after we launched. Nick's boat is the desert storm color.

Jeremys FS10

Jeremy paddling his FS10, notice his Ascend Dry Bag, Lowrance Elite 4 Depth Finder and custom GoPro Mount. His boat began life as a camo green, but with some personal touches it sports a great custom paint job that helps it blend into any wetland area. Kayaks are really easy to customize to the needs of any fisherman or women or kayak enthusiast.

We contiuned on down the river, learning quickly that the current was a little faster than we had expected, Jeremy's depthfinder was clocking us at 3-4 mph without paddling. Given the swell of the water and the increased current we found ourselves constantly trying to avoid floating trees and other debris in the water. If we had it to do again we would have waited a few more days before making the trip. Due to water conditions the fishing was less than desirable.

Later in the trip Jeremy lost a lure in a tree, since I have the D10T sit on top and its pretty stable, (I have fished standing up in this kayak numerous times) I made what would prove to be a bad decision, check out the following video chronicaling our launch and the river conditions prior to me taking the plunge.

Keep in mind that although this is a bad decision given the weather conditions we will use this as an example of what to do from a preperation standpoint.

  • Always pack a dry bag.
  • a change of clothes
  • towel
  • first aid kit
  • fire starting device

If it had been any cooler or if the weather hadn't been forcasted to warm to 70 degrees, I would have been in trouble. We were 2 miles in to a 7 mile paddle, and to make matters worse the current was so fast that going back to the launch point would have been all but impossible.

We floated further down the river until we came to a good place for me to stay in the yak, change clothes and continue our paddle. If it had been colder we would have been looking for a place to get out and build a fire. After going in the guys asked me on a scale of 1-10 how cold are you? I responded with about a 7. It took about a half hour before I stopped shivering and began to warm up with the mid day sun. Since this trip, I always inform customers of our Ascend Dry Bags and how they can come in handy. Also when conisdering the size of your bag, I suggest bigger is better, especially if you ever plan on a camping float trip.

Overall our trip was a pretty good one, the day progressed with little hiccups after the plunge. Just remember to be prepared, although this was a mistake on my part it could have easily been a log just under the water that couldn't be seen or some other factor that leads to a wet kayaker. Either way go prepared for the situation at hand, and the unlimited possibilities for your adventure.

~ Happy Fishing,

Matt Holland

Events and Promotions Coordinator

Your Adventure Starts Here!

 

 

 

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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!

 

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Fishy Facts: Largemouth Bass

Ah yes, here we are with the one and only largemouth bass. A simple creature that has quickly become one of the most well known and identifiable fish species in the world. From being the main star of numerous fishing tournaments to being on the polo that I wear every day to work, the largemouth bass could be considered the King of Sport Fish Species in the United States.

Several states have even recognized the largemouth bass as the superstar that it is. Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi have made the largemouth bass its state freshwater fish and good ol’ Tennessee made it the official sport fish of their state.

Now largemouth bass are a species of black bass, and just so happens to be the largest (not sure if they are also the mouthiest but I’d bet so). They are typically olive-green with dark a splotch that forms almost a stripe along the fish’s side. Now of course anyone who has caught these fish knows that they can come in all sorts of variations.

Luckily for them, largemouth bass are not considered the tastiest fish. This leads many to practice catch-and-release when going after them. This ensures populations will remain strong and little fish will grow into big fish for future generations to catch. But not all fishermen that practice catch-and-release know the proper way to do so. Did you know that holding a largemouth bass horizontally at a degree greater than 10 degrees is dangerous and typically deadly to the fish? That is why you will see many pro fishermen holding the fish vertically by the lower lip.

But why catch them if not to eat them? Well one can still appreciate an animal even if it is not paired with garlic mashed potatoes. Largemouth bass can be the apex predator in an ecosystem and put up a good fight. They are extremely fun to catch which is why many become addicted to catching them!

Largemouth bass will prey upon food sources that can be up to half their own size! They will consume crawfish, worms, shrimp, insects, smaller fish, frogs, lizards, snakes and salamanders. They have even been known the eat small water birds, mammals and baby alligators. Because of all this, largemouth bass can be caught on both artificial and live baits.

Because of their ferocity they can also be viewed as a nuisance and may destroy an entire body of water’s ecosystem if introduced in the wrong place. They are popularly stocked in ponds for public or private uses and must be well managed to ensure a healthy population.

                            

As mentioned earlier, they are the main stars of most professional fishing tournaments within the country. What was once a simple fishing trip has now evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry. Bass fishing has revolutionized and changed almost every aspect of fishing, from boats to hooks. The two dominant fishing circuits belong to FLW and Bassmaster (organized by B.A.S.S.).

The second time I ever went fishing was the first time I caught something. It just happened to be four largemouth bass on my uncle’s farm pond in Arkansas (which by the way it is illegal to mispronounce the state’s name when in the state). Since then I have caught only two more in my entire fishing career. But with the help of the great people I work with, I am sure to blow that number up tremendously.

So tip of the rod to you oh mighty largemouth bass. May you swim straight, hit strong and forever be the only symbol I wear while in a green polo.

Fix One’s Flint While Fishing!! Giddy-Up!

Fellow Fishy Facts:

Peacock Bass

Rainbow Trout

Walleye

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The Mullet Are Running! The Mullet Are Running!

 

Mullet in Waves

The stars are going to align one of these years and I’m going to get the chance to fish the fall mullet run during a peak in the activity.  Then I’ll be able to experience those things I keep talking about with people wanting to find Florida fishing at its best.  So far this year I've enjoyed beautiful days on the beach with little success other than a bit of a sun tan and a bit of quality time with my loving wife.

Fingerling mullet congregate at the inlets then exit the intercoastal waterway as they begin their migration south along the Florida coast, headed to locations that provide a warmer climate than our waters once winter settles in.  Their numbers are mind boggling in immensity and every predator along the coast will rush into the near-shore waters in search of an easy meal.  Sharks, tarpon, snook, redfish, ladyfish, mackerel, bluefish, jacks, and just about anything else you can imagine will form a gauntlet of destruction and mayhem in the shallow coastal water, so swimming through mullet schools in the fall might not be the best idea given what lurks below.  But dragging a mullet shaped bait or fly is a ticket to fun when your timing is right.

The mullet concentrations are highest close to the inlets where the ocean schools meet up with those coming out of the Indian River Lagoon System.  So Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Matanzas, Ponce, Sebastian, Ft. Pierce, St. Lucie, and all points south will have ever increasing numbers of fish running along the coast.  Your task is to find them and their predators.  Hopscotch along the coast by checking out the sea conditions at each beach access point and county or city park.  Don’t spend too much time in any one location if you don’t see any activity either below or above the surface.  Bird activity is a surefire indicator of good things to come.

Theresa CastingLive bait, artificial lures, and flies can all be productive as long as they imitate a…..Wait for it…..MULLET.  Not much else will work this time of year so don’t bother carrying a whole bunch of shrimp and crab imitations.  The big boys are looking for a bite-size meal not some little appetizer.  Rapala, MirrOlure, Yo Zuri, Bomber, and others have created very lifelike imitations but even a simple bucktail jig can produce.  Flies would be my choice but the conditions have to be right for a fly rod to be an effective tool.  Medium to heavy action spinning tackle, and eight through 12 weight fly rods all have their place depending on the intended quarry.  Be prepared for anything.

Regardless of your tackle choice, the month of October can be some of the best angling of the year if you have the time to hit the east coast.  Keep heading south till you find favorable conditions and signs of activity.  Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have success the first day.  Keep at it and try again next year about the same time.  Things will come together for you someday just like they will for me and my wife……  Hopefully!

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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A 94-year-old angler has another great fish story to tell

By Lee Williams       

leewilliams@star-telegram.com

Moses Lopez spent his early days hunting with a slingshot.

He mostly bagged rabbits and squirrels and was handy with a rod and reel as well.

“I’d tag along with my brother,” Lopez said. “That’s where I learned to hunt and fish.”

It was during the Depression in the 1930s, and Lopez lived in Winnie just east of Galveston Bay with his mother, four brothers and two sisters. Besides hunting and fishing, he found odd jobs and worked in the fields, planting and harvesting crops, doing whatever he could to help out.

“My father had passed away when I was 12,” Lopez said, “and we had a family to feed.”

Now a spry 94 years old, Lopez doesn’t hunt anymore — “that’s too much work” — but he still loves to fish.

“I’ll fish whenever I can find someone to go with me,” Lopez said.

He’s put away a few stories over 80-plus years of dropping lines, but few rival the one that he told a couple of weeks ago.

Fishing Aug. 22 with grandson Nicholas Griffin near Harbor One Marina at Eagle Mountain Lake Lopez said it had been an uneventful day as he cast his line toward the docks.

He felt a little tug, but then the line held.

“I thought it was stuck on a stump,” Lopez said, “but then it took off. It was fast.”

The black bass was a fighter and shot out of the water, giving them a glimpse of its size.

“He was big,” Lopez said. “Both me and my grandson knew that. He said, ‘That’s a big fish!’”

As he maneuvered the fish near the boat, it spit out the Bandit lure — but Nicholas had a net in position and grabbed the largemouth.

“He was so big you could put your fist in his mouth,” Lopez later told his son, Ray Lopez.

Lopez had an electronic scale, but the batteries were low, so after measuring it — 231/2 inches long — and taking a few photos, he turned to Nicholas.

“That was a thrill, but it’s time to turn him loose,” Lopez said.

“I figure it was about 91/2 or 10 pounds,” Lopez said. “That’s the biggest fish I’ve caught that wasn’t a striper or catfish.”

‘I’ve always loved fishing’

After Ray Lopez told his father that the record for a black bass at Eagle Mountain Lake was 11.65 pounds, Lopez suggested that he might have turned loose a trophy.

“I guess I’ll have to go back out there and catch him again,” Lopez told his son. “After all, I know where he lives.”

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Products you must have in 2013

A new year means more new fishing gear to buy. This past weekend I enjoyed some down time and got a chance to sit in front of the fireplace and review the latest Bass Pro Shops Master Catalog and locate some of the other hot items for fishing online. Now is the perfect time to get your shopping list prepared for new gear coming out later in 2013. More than anything, I want my readers to be ready to catch more fish using quality products. So over the next few paragraphs I will mention some of the excited gear coming to a tackle store near you very soon.

 

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Bass Pro Shops Bionic Blade XPS Micro Guide Trigger Rods are engineered for sensitivity and feature Pacific Bay Micro Guides for smooth casting and virtually friction-free line flow. This is the latest entry in the fishing rod class with micro guides. The revolutionary IM8 blank is created with our innovative ArmorCore Technology, which is a stronger than steel aramid fiber core that is wrapped with ultra-light IM8 graphite to make this one of the most powerful, lightweight rods you'll ever fish. EVA split grips add to your control and fishing comfort. The casting rod comes in two distinct lengths and three different actions. This is a quality product with a good price. Suggest Retail $79.99

 

 

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Professional Angler and Bassmaster Classic champion Kevin VanDam has spent close to two years designing and testing the new Strike King KVD Slash Jerkbait. It’s unlike any jerkbait on the market with a crazy, wilder action than any other jerkbait Kevin has ever fished, and I believe fish will choke on this bait! This bait has a really wide side-to-side travel on the jerk from the angler, and it also has a lot of erratic wiggling and darting action. A weight transfer system means an angler can cast it a mile. The  3D eyes and an incredible detailing. The smaller 200-size features two super sharp treble hooks, while the larger 300-size features three treble hooks for maximum hook-ups. Available in a wide range of colors handpicked by KVD. The suggested retail is $9.29

 

 

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Costa Sunglasses rings in the New Year and its 30th anniversary – early with the introduction of three styles from its 2013 collection: Tuna Alley, Saltbreak and Cat Cay. Each of the brand new is part of Costa’s core performance sunglass category, with signature features such as a nearly indestructible co-molded injected nylon frame construction, sturdy integral hinges and a lifetime warranty against manufacturer’s defects. I really like the look of the newest Saltbreak style for the fisherman or woman. These sunglasses provide a large frame fit with performance features such as a no-slip interior lining and temple tips for a “forget-they are-on” fit. It’s available in tortoise, matte black, silver, white and the new blackout frame colors, and retails starting at $179.

 

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This new Shag Proof Poppin’ Phattie was designed by Bassmaster Elite Series Pro Angler, Ish Monroe. The Poppin' Phattie is the ultimate popping frog! Its unique double concave face allows it to pop and spray water everywhere, generating explosive strikes. Featuring ITT - Snag Proof’s Inner Tube Technology, a separate tube for the hook and line-tie keeps water out and makes the Poppin’ Phattie virtually unsinkable. The bait weighs 5/8oz, and it casts very well - even on windy days. Its legs are arranged farther back to facilitate better hook-sets from its super sharp Gamakatsu 4/0 EWG frog hook. This bait is available in six different colors. Snag Proof's baits are proudly made in the USA! The suggested retail price is $9.95.

 

 

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 Vicious fishing line is taking a leap into the saltwater business in 2013 with the new Vicious Offshore. This line is built with the same A.C.T.™ characteristics as their Ultimate fishing line, but with big fish and saltwater conditions in mind. The Vicious Offshore is manufactured for the die-hard saltwater enthusiast. Advanced Copolymer Technology (A.C.T.)™ will stand the test of time. Utilizing more than 30 years experience in the line business, ACT formulation means dependability. Built with high-tensile strength, very low stretch, superior knot strength, excellent castibility and ultimate impact characteristics make this line top-notch by any standard. A must have if you are looking for a heavy and super-strong line. The line comes in ¼ lb spools in sizes 20lb. to 50lb. test. The suggested retail price is $8.99

 

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 Stanford Lure's new cedar topwater Turbo Shad lure has almost complete neutral buoyancy. This brand new topwater lure has the edge over most other floating top waters. This spectacular topwater lure resembles a wounded bait fish. When you go to twitch this top water bait through the water, the Turbo Shad displaces water to either side with both props, and it provides a proven fish catching sound. Once the bait returns to a stationary position, the Turbo Shad will sit slightly back on the tail end to ensure better hook ups and reveal the enticing profile of a wounded shad or bream, when pulled, the heavy-duty props on both ends of the Turbo Shad will be sure to call up all bass from any depth and produce some of the most violent topwater strikes you have ever seen! The bait weights: 0.63 Ounces and come in 4 different colors. The suggested retail price is $17.99.

 

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Bass Pro Shops has totally re-conceived the Bionic Plus Baitcast Reel; which feature a rock-solid all-aluminum frame and a white finish. They have also added their proven, externally adjustable Smart Cast anti-backlash system, which allows you to modify settings at the beginning and the end of the cast which virtually eliminate backlashes! Another features include a smooth six-bearing system; Powerlock instant anti-reverse; forged, double-anodized aluminum V-grooved spool; smooth - powerful drag system; comfortable ribbed grips; a recurve handle, and drag star. I am excited to test this reel very soon. The suggested retail price is $79.99

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Lake Lanier's fishing guide and Pro Angler Ryan Coleman now owns SpotSticker Baits and is introducing a new Football Head jighead in 2013. The Pro Series now includes Football Stand-Up Heads with screw-type soft plastic keepers. These heads feature the same ultra-tough powder coating and premium Mustad 4/0 hook as our Ball Head SpotSticker jig heads. The Pro Series Football Heads are currently available in Green Pumpkin and Black. Choose from 1/8, 3/16, or 1/4 oz in packs of 5. You can locate this product at: http://www.spottedbass.org. The suggested retail price is $4.99 for a 5 pack

 

 

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This is my favorite hook when flipping baits into the heavy cover.  Bassmaster Elite Angler Greg Hackney has helped The Strike King design the Hack Attack Heavy Cover Flipping Hook. This bad boy is super sharp, super tough, black nickel Gamakatsu Siwash hook made exclusively for Strike King. Its line eye is sealed closed, so your tough braided line won’t slip out, and its injection molded rebarb keeper holds your bait in the proper position even when pulled by the heavy cover. A big wide gap throat of the hook offers plenty of bite for good strong hook set, yet is compact enough to accommodate smaller creature baits. Use it with heavy rods and strong line, the Strike King Hack Attack Heavy Cover Flipping Hook has what it takes to consistently get giants out of heavy cover. The hook comes in 3 large sizes 4/0, 5/0 & 6/0 with 5 per pack.  The suggested retail price is $7.49.

 

 

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Our friends at Chaser Fishing Products have the latest/greatest item for the crappie fishing folks; a fully rigged (Umbrella Style Bait) aka the CC-Rig that comes with your choice of jig size and color, as well as a painted head of the rig. The CC Rig has now struck stardom in the Crappie world. Customers have reported catching multiple fish at a time on these umbrella rig style baits. You can use them trolling, casting and jigging. They come with your choice of 10 different jig colors to choose from. I would recommend first trying the "Rainbow" rig. This rig comes with 7 different colored jigs. After trolling this Rainbow rig, you will determine what color jig is the color they want to eat that day. You can locate this product at: http://shop.chaserfishingproducts.com/main.sc The suggested retail price is  $19.99.

 

 

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Finally, a company has come out with a quality box to hold the Alabama Rigs. Designed to securely hold the Rigs, the Alabama Rig Box from Plano was created using Plano's Stowaway 3700 footprint. The box will hold four rigs in individual compartments and can be used with any Plano Guide Series or FTO Elite tackle system that holds 3700 series Stowaways. Constructed from sturdy, clear polypropylene with ProLatch fasteners, the Alabama Rig Box features two unique and adjustable dividers protect and organizing your Alabama Rigs. The first is the V-channel leader slot that clips firmly to the top of the rig. The second is a patented star channel that collects and secures the rig's wire arms for multi-arm rigs, without bending or crimping them. The suggested retail price is $7.99.

 

 

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Everyone has been asking, “When is Lowrance coming out with a more affordable down scan unit with a big screen?” Well, they did it with the new Elite 7 x HDI Fishfinder. This is a highly reliable navigation unit that is very easy to use. The Lowrance Elite-7x HDI Fishfinder features a Broadband Sounder™ (83/200 kHz) plus DownScan Imaging for depths to 1,000 feet. DownScan Imaging signal features a maximum depth capability of 300 feet. The Elite-7 Combo boasts a 70% larger Elite Color 7" display for brilliant, wide screen visibility and viewing detail in all conditions. A multi-window display capability lets you choose split-screen mode or single wide-screen view. Broadband Sonar is ideal for marking fish arches. DownScan Imaging reveals easy-to-understand, picture like detail about the structure and the bottom. Now you can even overlay DownScan Imaging onto Broadband Sounder display for one stunning view that will separate and clearly expose your fish targets from the surrounding structure. Save time and fuel by using the Elite-7's TrackBack into Sonar History to review covered areas and pinpoint spots. The suggested retail price is $549.99

 

 

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 There is a new look for a great product for cleaning your GPS and sonar units in 2013. The safest and effective way to clean and protect your expensive marine electronics, sunglasses, digital notebooks, smart phones and televisions is by using Wave Away. The Wave Away solution easily removes dust, fingerprints and water spots without harming screens. The spray bottle contains enough of the cleaner for approximately 500 applications. Each kit includes the cleaning solution and a 12"L x 12"W microfiber cloth. Using general-purpose cleaners or window cleaners isn't recommended for LCD screens because alcohol or ammonia-based formula cleaners, and harsh detergents strip off the protective surface and scratch your display over time. The Wave Away Sonar and GPS Screen Cleaner is specially formulated to clean and protect LCD screens. Not only is it alcohol and ammonia free, but it is designed to stick where it's sprayed - resisting dripping into sensitive electronics, which can cause permanent damage or failures. The suggested retail price is  $14.95.

 

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The latest tackle system is now available from Bass Pro Shops in the all new “Freestyle Satchels”. The Freestyle Satchel features an interlocking handle for secure storage, a padded shoulder strap, plus two side tool holders and additional front storage for personal items. The Freestyle gear bags also feature two side pockets for more storage, and will hold up to three utility boxes. This soft tackle bag is crafted of rugged, 600-denier polyester backed with a PVC coating. The Freestyle Satchels has two models to choose from, and they will hold up to three Plano 3600 or 3700 utility boxes. The suggested retail price is $19.99.

 

 
I hope my list of new products excites you for the future. In 2013, one of my resolutions was to take my wife fishing more. Don’t use the excuse your wife does not fish; she will if she has fun doing it. Make it a weekend outing of more than fishing. If you don’t have a wife, take a kid fishing. Trust me that will make you a better person! So let’s get excited and get outdoors, it's only 60 days until spring.

 

 

THANKS FOR READING..... BRANCH

 

 

About the author: Tom is a freelance outdoor writer and full time Firefighter, Paramedic/Lieutenant in Georgia for the past 28 years.  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”.

 

Follow him on www.facebook.com/tombranchjr   and http://twitter.com/tombranchjr   

 

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

 

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Learn how to be a Famous Fisherman or Women

If you're a fisherman or woman then chances are you've entertained occasional thoughts or even dreamed seriously, of being a famous fisherman/women. Here's a simple recipe for you. Take a kid fishing. You can be a fishing hero to a child.

So you're not on the same level with Kevin Van Dam or don't even know who he is, you can be the most famous fisher a young person may have ever experienced. All you have to do is take a pocketful of patience and embrace a few guidelines. Here's how it works:

You've probably got the first step down and don't even know it. You may already have a candidate in mind. Maybe you deem it time for a particular youngster to take a break from the 3D-HD, Playstation, X-Box and computers. See how easy this is going to be? There is, however, a Murphy's Law governing kids' curiosity, energy level, and patience quotient. Don't take too many, you will not be able to attend to them efficiently.

Second: have a place to go that has some fish. Most kids don't have the patience to sit for a long, long time. Check the internet, talk to your fishing buddies or stop by Bass Pro
Shops in Garland to get some ideas if you don't already have a place in mind.

Third: A memory does not have to be expensive, but your equipment should work properly. Remember, you get to be the guide on these trips so guess who gets to fix unruly reels, untangle old twisted line and explain equipment problems. Bass Pro Shops has a huge selection of fishing equipment for youngsters and their "guides." Whether your youngster prefers to use a Barbie or Star Wars rod or perhaps something a bit more "grown up" you don't have to spend a fortune. Some simple, easy to operate combos start as low a $13 and that includes line!

Ok, now you have your recipe for success shaping up. One facet of being a good guide is to understand that there are people who do not consider fishing to be a sacred institution. Lighten up a little. I've seen youngsters who could not be bothered with casting, sitting, watching bobbers or even listen to my most "impressive" feats of fishing. Don't be demoralized if they'd rather count minnows, net fish, count clouds or just keep the seagulls out of the bait bucket.

In the end, what you catch can't be weighed, they won't get away and there are no size limits to the smiles you get to take home. Time well spent, laughter and memories are the trophies of a lifetime. See you on the pond... hero.

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Go Outdoors! It's good for you!

Go Outdoors

GO OUTDOORS!  IT’S GOOD FOR YOU!

Free Outdoor Essential Classes and Kids Summer Kickoff Challenge

Springfield, Missouri—(May 1, 2012)—Ask any adult what they remember best about childhood and chances are they will recall riding their bikes, building forts and tree houses and generally playing outdoors until after dark.  Kids were connected—to each other, their family and the outdoors.  And, according to several studies, they were physically and emotionally healthier. Information taken from The Conservation Fund website at http://www.conservationfund.org/children-nature states that researchers suggest “that the decline in children’s health is linked, in part, to their growing disconnect from nature and outdoor activity.”

Much national attention is being paid to this dilemma—so much that in early 2011 a report entitled America's Great Outdoors: A Promise to Future Generations”  was released that was part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative.  It’s an effort to reconnect Americans to the outdoors. A separate report was produced based on "youth listening sessions" in which young people expressed a strong desire to spend time outdoors.  (Read more about the report )

Bass Pro Shops has long recognized the short and long term benefits for kids and adults being involved in the outdoors.  Their National Go Outdoors Event was developed as a way to give families the opportunity to learn all of the outdoor skills needed to make their next outdoor adventure a great one and to reconnect with each other in the beauty of the great outdoors.  This year’s Bass Pro Shops Go Outdoors Event will take place at 55 store locations in the United States May 18th-28th.

Exciting free events at the stores could include canoe and kayak demonstrations, casting contests, rock climbing walls, GPS classes, kid’s crafts, outdoor skills workshops, Dutch oven cooking, outdoor survival training and much, much more. There’s even the opportunity to get a great FREE 4x6 Family Photo download. (Events will vary per store.  Please visit www.basspro.com/gooutdoors ((beginning May 7)) and select individual store location for events listing.)

The Go Outdoors event offers great Outdoor Essentials classes for adults May 18th - 20th .

Friday, May 18th :

  • 6pm :  Hiking Basics --learn about the best equipment to use for a successful hike
  • 7pm:  Campfire Cooking --discover a new way to prepare tasty, over-the-fire meals
  • 8pm:  Kayaks & Canoes --find out how to select the best kayak or canoe for float trips

Saturday,May 19th:

  • 1pm:  Life Jackets –learn about proper life jacket fit and how to choose the best one for your needs
  • 2pm:  Inflatable Life Jackets –see how they work
  • 3pm:  Camping Essentials –if you’re a beginner camper this is the class for you
  • 4pm:  GPS Tips & Techniques –bring your GPS for hands-on advice
  • 5pm:  Backpacking –discover the latest features and benefits of backpacking gear

 Sunday, May 11th:

  • 1pm:  Dutch Oven Cooking –learn tips and techniques using this delicious cooking method
  • 2pm:  Inflatable Life Jackets –see how they work
  • 3pm:  Tent Set-up --learn tent set-up and the importance of choosing the proper tent
  • 4pm:  Smoker Tips & Techniques –learn the tips and techniques of smoker selection, food preparation and cooking

The Go Outdoors Event includes a “Summer Kickoff Challenge” with free weekend activities for kids Memorial Day weekend May 26th and 27th. From 11am to 4pm kids can learn how to set up a tent, compete in a sleeping bag race and enjoy a metal detector treasure hunt.  The first 100 kids in each store to complete the Summer Kickoff Challenge each day will receive a fun bug glider.  Kids will also be able to do a sand art craft from 12noon until 4pm Saturday, May 26th and paint a wooden insect craft Sunday, May 27th  (while supplies last; styles may vary).

Kids may also bring in their best wildlife photo for a chance to win the Summer Kickoff Photo Contest.  First place prize is a Bass Pro Shops 10x26 mm Compact Binoculars and a $25 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card and Second Place winner receives a $20 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card.

 “One of the most exciting and invigorating places to go this summer is just beyond your front door,” said Larry Whiteley, Bass Pro Shops Manager of Communications.  “Bass Pro Shops is committed to helping adults and children across the nation put away their laptops, video games, and cell phones and head outdoors.  Whether it’s fishing, hiking through a local park, or simply laying on your lawn watching the stars at night, there are so many great things to do outdoors this summer.”

While at Bass Pro Shops, register to win the “Outdoor Maui Adventure”—a 7day, 6-night trip to Maui, Hawaii.  One National Grand Prize will be awarded to one winner and their guest who will win the Maui Jim® and The North Face® Adventure Package that also includes airfare, hotel and car rental.  The total combined approximate retail value of the prize is $5,667.  (No purchase necessary to enter or claim prize. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and District of Columbia and Canada ((excluding Quebec)) who are 18 years of age or older at time of entry.  All federal and other tax liabilities are the sole responsibility of the winner.  Sweepstakes begins on 5/18/12 and ends on 5/28/12.  See store for more details.)

Each store location will also select a First Place winner who will receive a gift package of one MasterBuilt Cookmaster propane smoker, one Pacific Bamboo BBQ tool set, one The North Face Terra 45 backpack, and one pair of Maui Jim sunglasses.  The total combined approximate retail value of the prize is over $500 (specific items are to be selected by Sponsor).

This year, commit to getting outdoors with your kids for all your health’s sake.  Visit Bass Pro Shops during the National Go Outdoors Event, interact with your family in the great outdoors and make some memories to last a lifetime.

About Bass Pro Shops Group:

Bass Pro Shops -58 retail stores in 26 states and Canada visited by over 112 million people annually; international catalog and internet retailing; American Rod & Gun wholesale division selling to over 7,000 independently owned retail stores worldwide; Outdoor World Incentives also selling Bass Pro Shops gift cards through over 132,000 retail outlets across America and a restaurant division with 26 locations.

For more information regarding Bass Pro Shops store locations, products or special events, please visit www.basspro.com.  To request a free catalog call 1-800-BASS PRO.

Tracker Marine Group – Manufactures and sells Tracker, Nitro, SunTracker, Tahoe, Grizzly, and Mako boats through Bass Pro Shops retail stores and dealers worldwide. For more information go to www.trackermarine.com.

Resort Group – Big Cedar Lodge and other resort properties including restaurants and golf course. For more information go to www.big-cedar.com, www.bigcedarwildernessclub.com, or www.dogwoodcanyon.com

1 Comments »

Go Outdoors Event 2012

go outdoors

GO OUTDOORS!  IT’S GOOD FOR YOU!

Free Outdoor Essential Classes and Kids Summer Kickoff Challenge

Springfield, Missouri—(May 1, 2012)—Ask any adult what they remember best about childhood and chances are they will recall riding their bikes, building forts and tree houses and generally playing outdoors until after dark.  Kids were connected—to each other, their family and the outdoors.  And, according to several studies, they were physically and emotionally healthier. Information taken from The Conservation Fund website at http://www.conservationfund.org/children-nature states that researchers suggest “that the decline in children’s health is linked, in part, to their growing disconnect from nature and outdoor activity.”
Much national attention is being paid to this dilemma—so much that in early 2011 a report entitled “America's Great Outdoors: A Promise to Future Generations”  was released that was part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative.  It’s an effort to reconnect Americans to the outdoors. A separate report was produced based on "youth listening sessions" in which young people expressed a strong desire to spend time outdoors.

Bass Pro Shops has long recognized the short and long term benefits for kids and adults being involved in the outdoors.  Their National Go Outdoors Event was developed as a way to give families the opportunity to learn all of the outdoor skills needed to make their next outdoor adventure a great one and to reconnect with each other in the beauty of the great outdoors.  This year’s Bass Pro Shops Go Outdoors Event will take place at 55 store locations in the United States May 18th-28th.

Exciting free events at the stores could include canoe and kayak demonstrations, casting contests, rock climbing walls, GPS classes, kid’s crafts, outdoor skills workshops, Dutch oven cooking, outdoor survival training and much, much more. There’s even the opportunity to get a great FREE 4x6 Family Photo download. (Events will vary per store.  Please visit www.basspro.com/gooutdoors ((beginning May 7)) and select individual store location for events listing.)

The Go Outdoors event offers great Outdoor Essentials classes for adults May 18th - 20th .
Friday, May 18th :
• 6pm :  Hiking Basics --learn about the best equipment to use for a successful hike
• 7pm:  Campfire Cooking --discover a new way to prepare tasty, over-the-fire meals
• 8pm:  Kayaks & Canoes --find out how to select the best kayak or canoe for float trips

Saturday,May 19th:
• 1pm:  Life Jackets –learn about proper life jacket fit and how to choose the best one for your needs
• 2pm:  Inflatable Life Jackets –see how they work
• 3pm:  Camping Essentials –if you’re a beginner camper this is the class for you
• 4pm:  GPS Tips & Techniques –bring your GPS for hands-on advice
• 5pm:  Backpacking –discover the latest features and benefits of backpacking gear

Sunday, May 11th:
• 1pm:  Dutch Oven Cooking –learn tips and techniques using this delicious cooking method
• 2pm:  Inflatable Life Jackets –see how they work
• 3pm:  Tent Set-up --learn tent set-up and the importance of choosing the proper tent
• 4pm:  Smoker Tips & Techniques –learn the tips and techniques of smoker selection, food preparation and cooking

The Go Outdoors Event includes a “Summer Kickoff Challenge” with free weekend activities for kids Memorial Day weekend May 26th and 27th. From 11am to 4pm kids can learn how to set up a tent, compete in a sleeping bag race and enjoy a metal detector treasure hunt.  The first 100 kids in each store to complete the Summer Kickoff Challenge each day will receive a fun bug glider.  Kids will also be able to do a sand art craft from 12noon until 4pm Saturday, May 26th and paint a wooden insect craft Sunday, May 27th  (while supplies last; styles may vary).

Kids may also bring in their best wildlife photo for a chance to win the Summer Kickoff Photo Contest.  First place prize is a Bass Pro Shops 10x26 mm Compact Binoculars and a $25 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card and Second Place winner receives a $20 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card.

 “One of the most exciting and invigorating places to go this summer is just beyond your front door,” said Larry Whiteley, Bass Pro Shops Manager of Communications.  “Bass Pro Shops is committed to helping adults and children across the nation put away their laptops, video games, and cell phones and head outdoors.  Whether it’s fishing, hiking through a local park, or simply laying on your lawn watching the stars at night, there are so many great things to do outdoors this summer.”

While at Bass Pro Shops, register to win the “Outdoor Maui Adventure”—a 7day, 6-night trip to Maui, Hawaii.  One National Grand Prize will be awarded to one winner and their guest who will win the Maui Jim® and The North Face® Adventure Package that also includes airfare, hotel and car rental.  The total combined approximate retail value of the prize is $5,667.  (No purchase necessary to enter or claim prize. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and District of Columbia and Canada ((excluding Quebec)) who are 18 years of age or older at time of entry.  All federal and other tax liabilities are the sole responsibility of the winner.  Sweepstakes begins on 5/18/12 and ends on 5/28/12.  See store for more details.)

Each store location will also select a First Place winner who will receive a gift package of one MasterBuilt Cookmaster propane smoker, one Pacific Bamboo BBQ tool set, one The North Face Terra 45 backpack, and one pair of Maui Jim sunglasses.  The total combined approximate retail value of the prize is over $500 (specific items are to be selected by Sponsor).

This year, commit to getting outdoors with your kids for all your health’s sake.  Visit Bass Pro Shops during the National Go Outdoors Event, interact with your family in the great outdoors and make some memories to last a lifetime.

About Bass Pro Shops Group:
Bass Pro Shops -58 retail stores in 26 states and Canada visited by over 112 million people annually; international catalog and internet retailing; American Rod & Gun wholesale division selling to over 7,000 independently owned retail stores worldwide; Outdoor World Incentives also selling Bass Pro Shops gift cards through over 132,000 retail outlets across America and a restaurant division with 26 locations.
For more information regarding Bass Pro Shops store locations, products or special events, please visit www.basspro.com.  To request a free catalog call 1-800-BASS PRO.

Tracker Marine Group – Manufactures and sells Tracker, Nitro, SunTracker, Tahoe, Grizzly, and Mako boats through Bass Pro Shops retail stores and dealers worldwide. For more information go to www.trackermarine.com.

Resort Group – Big Cedar Lodge and other resort properties including restaurants and golf course. For more information go to www.big-cedar.com, www.bigcedarwildernessclub.com, or www.dogwoodcanyon.com

 

 

0 Comments »

Ice Fishing: Then & Now…

Ice Fishing: Then & Now…

New to the Ice Fishing scene, I am asking questions, learning some history, and exploring tactics, past and present.  Thanks to our local experts and the continued appreciation of the sport, which in some cases remains sustenance-harvesting, I am being enlightened and sometimes entertained by this fascinating topic.  If ice happens this winter in Central New York, I may even try my hand at it.  Please enjoy my facts and findings…    

 

Fishing associate, John Grace, knows his ice fishing history.  He comes from generations of ice fisherman who have handed down the pasttime and history for some three hundred years of living on the Chemung River-meaning “Big Tusk” in the Seneca tongue, for the many mammoth tusks found on the river banks.  With access to ice used for refrigeration in by-gone years, fish for sustenance, and lately, sport, John is a great wealth of information on the Then & Now topic of ice fishing.  

Cutting Ice and Skating on the Chemung, pre WWI

Cutting Ice and Skating on the Chemung, preWWI

Photo (above) provided by Joyce M. Tice’s Tricounty Collection

 

On Jan. 3rd I sat down with John who was kind enough to provide a brief historical
 
perspective. One main theme became obvious during our discussion
Ice Fishing has evolved to say the least!

Ancient Ice Fishing

Its beginnings are estimated some 4,000 years ago when Native Peoples used stone tools and axes to dig through the ice in the Bering Strait, spearing their prey with barbed bone tips which sometimes even included strings for pulling in their harvest.  Most fresh water fishing occurred on rivers and streams and shallow perimeters of lakes in order to gain access to panfish and top feeders like Pike.  Deep water species like trout were not practically feasible.

Centuries later, after the European-Scandinavian migrations, North America adopted new tactics using chisels and saws to gain water access.  Poles became “fishing rods” and spinning reels replaced wooden thread spools.  In effect, specialized equipment was developed.

Man Fishing
Pieces of plank and cotton string were the extent of the fishing technology, as late as fifty years ago.  The “pole” was thrown down and the catch was hand- lined.

 






Some countries like Russia still employ old school tools as preferred standards.  
Fish biologist, Mikhail Skopets points out… [The] ice-auger is not very useful at Amur River ice - the ice has lots of sand in it, so the blades of a drill get dull after 2-3 holes.  Ancient tools - ice-pikes - are still popular in Khabarovsk.Amur Ice


Chisels remain a modern ice fishing asset, especially when using a power or hand auger is not feasible.  These are simple, but effective.  Our Auburn store carries several sizes and brands including, the
Eskimo® Redneck Dual Headed Bucket Ice Chisel and the Eskimo® Redneck Economy Ice Chisel.  Frabill and Eskimo each make short chisel options as well.


Modernity has altogether revolutionized ice fishing, making the odds more favorable at a time of species decline and optimized feeding habits (prey selection).  This is largely due to the advancements in mobility, and technologies like sonar and temperature probes.  Once found, bringing in the catch is less of a gamble, at least from an equipment perspective.  And that’s because rod manufacturing has come a long way.  The first productions were steel, (Horton Manufacturing, 1913); and then fiberglass followed in the 1940’s; boron fiber had a short run in the 70’s, and now we’re in the era of graphite and carbon fiber hybrids… with seemingly endless choices to sometimes confuse the consumer…

Rods today are specialized to target species and personal tastes.  The general idea is to have something with both sensitivity and the best suited action.  It is all a custom fitting process these days, but many rods will deliver success for a number of various species at a time.  This is the case especially with non-casting rods like the shorter ice fishing rods.

Bass Pro Shops, Auburn carries eleven different brands of ice fishing rods, many with multiple series options.  Popular choices include:

Ice Team and Ice Busters series by CLAM

Fenwick                                                                                             South Bend

North Star                                                                                     Uglystick (multiply series)

Frabill, Bro Series and Panfish                                         St. Croix (multiply series)

Uglystick (multiply series)                                                      Berkley (multiply series)

Eagle Claw                                                                                    Frost Bite

 

Getting started doesn’t have to break the bank, with affordable combo options from Clam and Shakespeare®. One of our Leads here, Frank Doll, has used an inexpensive rod like one of these for years fishing professional tournaments.  Much like the car industry, it’s as much about personal preference-your particular tastes, or in this case, fishing style (more on this later) as it is about finding a rod that you have confidence in.  It doesn’t take a seer or a magical connection; I recommend the help of our fishing experts to outfit you for your next (ice) fishing adventure.

Maybe I’ll see you on the ice?

 

Anita Michels

In collaboration with John Grace, Ryan Hyde and Frank Doll


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'Bama Madness! White Bass Magic!

What a great year!  This is one year in a million, as the perfect marriage, between an up and coming star (the Alabama rig), and a much warmer winter than usual.  Put the two together, and you find bass, in both Table Rock and Bull Shoals lakes, neither suspended in deep water, in the middle of the lake, nor staged deep, off main lake points.  This warm water winter, the bass are in the shallows, and with a three to five lead Alabama rig, passing through them, with shad like baits attached, the result is successful carnage!

Many anglers,
who in a normal winter day of fishing, can go all day without catching a single bass, are experiencing the great pleasure of catching keeper bass, some even whoppers, and often catching more than one of them in a single cast!  The Alabama rig is currently fooling even the careful, savy, monsters of the deep (bass over 5 lbs.).

How do you rig it?  Well, first you need a three to five lead Alabama rig (only 3 leads are currently permitted in Missouri waters, while 5 leads are permitted in Arkansas).  Next, you will need 50-80 lb. fishing line (braid is recommended).  Then, you will need 1/4oz to 1/16oz jig heads, and finally, you will need some type of swim bait or single tail grub (shad imitations are preferred).  Put these together, and throw them with a medium heavy to heavy rod, and stand by!  Giggling and even screaming and whooping is being heard all over the lake!  What are you waiting for?  Get out there!!!

White bass are already moving up the creeks!
Every warm rain
will bring white bass up the creeks.  They will stay up the creeks until a cold night drives them, temporarily, back into the main lake.  While they are up, they will feed on shad imitations.  Try any white jig setup, or white Rooster Tail type baits (1/16oz to 1/4oz), and get ready for the fight of your life, each time you hook up!  This run will continue, off and on, for the next two months, so get ready for plenty of action!  Forget the TV, get out there, and set a hook on one of these worthy opponents!

Steve Fritz
Fishing-Fly Lead
White River Outpost
Bass Pro Shops
Branson, MO









0 Comments »

Backlash Lessons

Ed Nelson

By: Ed Nelson

 

 Congratulations on your new baitcast reel. Let me guess, you can’t wait to get out there and give it a toss. I know the feeling and to my bait-cast veterans “Enjoy”. For my newbie’s however it’s not that easy. Your new hawg-hauler is not the same as the spin-cast or spinning reels you’ve been using for years. Just spool her up and hit the water is not going to cut it this time. If you’re a member of the “How hard can it be” club, my advice to you is to make sure you have a pocket knife and a large spool of spare line handy. You’re going to need it. For those of you that want to learn how to do it the right way, kick-back, relax and let’s cover some bait-caster basics.

 

Click For Video

* Getting Started
* Taking It Outside
* On The Water
* An Easier Way

 

The first thing you will need to know is how the darn thing works. If you know what the knobs and buttons do, you will know how to adjust them to correct whatever problems you are having with your cast. As I’m sure most of you have figured out already, your new reel doesn’t have operating instructions. You get a parts list, lubrication instructions and warranty information in no less than 3 languages. I have no idea why but that seems to be the industry standard. Fear not, you can do this; Lets get started.

 

 Parts To Know

 

PARTS TO KNOW

 

  • Thumb Bar – Releases spool
  • Cast Control Knob – Maintains control of spool through entire length of cast
  • Star Drag – Used to fight fish, has no effect on cast
  • Magnetic Brake Control – Controls the end of the cast after the centrifugal brake has released the spool
  • Centrifugal Brake Control – Controls the beginning of the cast when spool speed is at its greatest

  Centrifugal Brake Control

 

All bait-cast reels have some sort of cast control. Some may have one, two or even three ways to control your cast. The reel I teach with is the Bass Pro Shops, Johnny Morris Signature Series. I use this reel not only for its superior quality but also it has all three types of cast controls in one reel. By learning how this reel works you can incorporate its operation into whatever reel you have. So the first logical step is to look at your reel and see what kind of controls are on your particular model. While you are doing this you might want to lightly snug down the cast control knob. This way if you accidentally hit the thumb bar, the spool won’t take off out of control. Also, set the magnetic brake controls to zero. Now, find the release button or lever that will allow you access to the side cover where the centrifugal brake (if equipped) is housed. If you have adjustable pins on your reel, I like to start with every other pin out. I lock one pin in and one pin out all the way around. Replace the side cover.

 

 Cast Control-1

Cast Control-2 

Now, with the reel reassembled, its time to spool it up. I highly recommend you use the cheapest line you can find. Something in a 14lb or 17lb test mono should do quite nicely. When you are done spooling, thread up your rod, pick out your practice weight and tie it on. I like to use an old jig in 3/8oz. but a plain lead weight or old crankbait with the hooks removed will work just fine. Reel your practice weight up to the tip of your rod and hold it at the 11:00 position. Hit the thumb bar and hold the spool with your thumb, slowly release your thumb pressure. If the spool starts to move tighten down on the cast control until it stops moving. Now with your weight at the tip of your rod and your rod at the 11:00 position slowly loosen your cast control knob until your weight begins to fall very slowly. You want it to fall but not pick-up any speed on the way down, a nice steady fall. Great, you’ve just adjusted your cast control.

 

 Magnetic Brake-1

Magnetic Brakes-2Next, its time to adjust (if equipped) your magnetic brake system.  Reel your practice weight back up to the tip of your rod. This time when you let it fall allow the bait to hit the floor. Watch to see if the spool stops spinning as soon as the bait hits the floor. If there is any extra spinning of the spool adjust the magnetic brake control knob to a higher number and try it again. Keep doing this until the spool stops as soon as the line stops. If you can’t get the spool to stop in time then your bait is falling too quickly. Go back and readjust your cast control. Remember to reset your magnets back to zero before you readjust your cast control.

 

Excellent, now you’re ready to go practice. PRACTICE… yes I said practice. You have to practice with your new bait-cast reel before you go out to the pond and try to fish it. The main lesson that you need to learn here is what the line feels like as it spools out under your thumb. Thumb pressure is the main control in using a bait-cast reel. All the brakes do is assist your thumb, you are in control of the spool. Well, this is where I have to leave you. Casting is something you have to be shown, reading about it would cause you more confusion than help. I can however start you down the right road. I teach all my students in this order:

 

  • Basic bait-cast reel operations and adjustments
  • Pitch casting
  • Side-arm roll casting
  • Over-hand casting

 

By following this progression I’ve found over the years that you will develop thumb control faster with less time spent picking out backlashes. Another hint, when you are out on the lawn practicing, don’t just stand out there casting at random but always have a target you are trying to hit.

 
One last tip, when you’ve picked out your target, release the spool, place the rod on the ground at your casting spot and walk your bait out to your target. Place it on the ground and return to your rod. Now strip about 10 more feet of line off your reel, use a 1” piece of electrical tape to tape down your line. Then, retrieve your practice weight back. Now, when you are practicing, if you make a bad cast you can only backlash down to the tape. This saves you having to cut out an entire spool of line over 1 bad cast.

 Tape Off Spool-1Tape Off Spool-2

As for your casting demonstrations, click on the links above or you can access my YouTube site at fyafishing. If you prefer a more hands on approach the gang at Bass Pro Shop would be more than happy to give you a 1 on 1 lesson. So don’t be shy, grab that new combo and come on down to Bass Pro Shop.

For a more in-depth discussion of bait-cast reels or any other bass fishing questions drop me a line on my blog at basspro.com or on Bass Pro Shops Facebook Page and as always feel free to come visit me at Bass Pro Shop. Just ask for Ed.

 

Tight lines to all and to my bass fishing brethren “See you at the scales”


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The Outdoor Experience

 

ClearwaterWhat is the “outdoor experience”? At Bass Pro we talk about it a lot, but sometimes we forget that not everyone grew up with a fishing rod or a rifle.

                The outdoors is about more than rocks, trees and streams. It’s about something wild – something that lives closely to our hearts. It’s the distant memory of wood smoke and pine, or the loud sound of snow crunching beneath our feet in the silent winter forest. It’s the feeling you had as a kid laying on the grass and watching the clouds run across the sky.

                We’re so far from all that. We’re divided from those things by our cars, buildings and weather forecasts. Do you even remember how nice rain smelled when you weren’t worried about getting wet? The Outdoor experience is about opening your eyes to the space of nature. We live in a world of time restrictions and sight constrictions. But out here in nature there is no time and the green world opens before your eyes to drink in. It’s a tall glass of something different and I hope you all have the opportunity to partake in the freshest of air, cleanest of water, and old fashioned purity of the outdoors.

                I remember when I was a kid my dad used to take me camping and fishing. Those are some of my fondest memories of the man. He was in his element. The immortal bearded outdoorsman who knew the name of every single tree I ran too. I always wondered how he could know so much. But I didn’t understand that his relationship with the woods was his silent religion. The purest thing for him in his life. He never told me why he brought us out there so often in our childhood. He never explained to us his special appreciation for nature. He was a quiet man. But every weekend we drove to the middle of nowhere to find the most important destination of his life. As a man thinking about having kids of my own I can dig that.

                The last untamed frontier for us all is our relationship with nature. At BassWhite Otter Pro we’re a gateway to that relationship. We have all the supplies, tools and experience you need to make sure when you head into nature you head in prepared. All of us that work here have a special relationship with the outdoor experience. We have those memories of our dads or grandfathers or mothers that took us to the trees. Who lit the fires that we sat around and cleaned the fish that we ate. If time is our dearest currency in life, I can think of few better ways to spend it than that. At Bass Pro Calgary we’ll take our passion and do everything we can to transfer it to you. Because if you’ve never camped you’ve never seen all the stars. And they’re out there, have always been out there, and will always be out there for you and your family. Isn’t it time you left the city? How many stars have you seen?

                Chris Wragg is an outdoors nut at Bass Pro Shops Calgary


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Saltwater Reel Buyer's Guide

By Capt. Joe Richard

Saltwater Reel Buyer 
Thanks to the advent of superlines and high-quality components, modern spin tackle can take on jobs considered impossible only 15 years ago. 

Life is certainly more complicated than it used to be, and fishing reels are no different. Thirty years ago in Texas, my friends and I all used the "red reel" (an Ambassadeur 5000 baitcaster) for almost everything, both fresh and salt. We picked out many a backlash but caught thousands of fish, from reservoir big bass, to coastal redfish and trout, to offshore cobia, mackerel and snapper. Except for a cheap but sturdy Penn "snapper reel" for partyboat trips, that was our sum total of reels. Period.

Being regional kept it simple. After all, back then, any Texan using spin tackle was regarded with suspicion. It was only in far South Texas on the Laguna Madre, where the wind cranked up by 11 a.m. each day (and casting distances are quite long) would you find spin tackle. Folks down there had to use spinning tackle for good reason. Ever try a 40-yard cast into a gusting wind with an older baitcasting reel? It's hard, just hard.

Spinning reels are better than baitcast reels when it comes to long casts that don't require pinpoint accuracy. If you pack the reel correctly with line, you'll rarely experience backlash or a tangle. Spinning gear also maximizes a fight you can savor, if you're hooking fish that won't dash into cover. That would include seatrout on the grassflats near Flamingo, where I started. Years later I was amazed to have a bonefish smoke off more than 100 yards of line on a shallow flat. That's classic spinning tackle action.

On the other hand, we wouldn't use our older spin gear in serious mangrove tree country, where snook grab on and then ducked behind fallen trees and roots. We needed stronger baitcasting reels for that. Today it's changed in that some anglers are using oversize spinning reels for this same job. They load spin reels with 30- or 50-pound braid line and pull hard, which can wear out a smaller reel's drag system. (There's a joke about a new spin reel picked off the shelf in a tackle store, talking silently to the angler/buyer as he cruises over to the fishing line section. The reel says, "Don't pick braid...don't pick braid...Doh!")   

Saltwater Reel Buyer
Sailfish crew using baitcast reels with high line capacity, normally used under fishing kites. Twenty-pound line is the norm here.

You see, lighter monofilament line is easier on a spin reel, probably adding years to its life.

Baitcasters, on the other hand, are precise casters in experienced hands. They're quite accurate at brush-busting or pinpoint casting at shoreline targets. Using topwater plugs in weed-choked reservoirs? No problem. All it takes is casting practice for dropping lures within inches of fishy structure. Mangrove tree shorelines are notorious for stealing lures, but with the right reel you can toss a plug way back under the branches, into the shadows. If a big snook grabs on you can stick him, get seriously mean with him, before he turns and lunges for cover.

Before superlines and braid, it was the baitcaster that horsed fish away from mangrove trees, dock, jetty rocks and production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Offshore at the oil rigs, spin reels were pretty much useless, even for catching big blue runners. Those pesky critters would turn-and-burn into the platform, dragging line over razor-sharp marine growth, and you were left with nothing. The same happened with cobia and red snapper. You needed hard-pulling baitcast reels to seriously lean on those fish, to turn them around.

That meant using the aforementioned Ambassadeur 5000 reel, then the improved 5500 model, which is still around, then the wider 6000 and then the bigger 7000 reel. We've won tournaments with all of these reels, ranging from seatrout to cobia to kingfish. Biggest fish was a 66-pound wahoo on my 7000 reel, a fish caught while casting and working a three-ounce jig. (That was a heavy jig -- thus the bigger 7000 reel with a long but stout rod. You would never work a jig of that size with a smaller 5000 reel). 

We were drift-fishing, which was fortunate, because that blue torpedo of a wahoo ran at least 300 yards and probably more. There wasn't that much 30-pound line on the reel, but we cranked up the boat and chased after the fish, finally subduing it.

During a different summer, a 55-pound king mackerel grabbed on and we swiftly unhooked the boat from the oil rig (using an 8-foot rig hook), cranked up the boat's engine and took off after that fish. It was landed on 40-pound line a fairly good distance from the oil rig, using a lever-drag reel that we will get to in a moment. That kingfish won the state championship for that year, which yielded a new boat, motor and trailer.
 
We will cover more of the heavier reels used for bigger fish, but keep in mind that becoming proficient with both spin and baitcaster reels certainly makes for a better angler. Buy at least one of each and fill it with quality line of the right caliber. Doing so enables one to cover virtually all freshwater, inshore and coastal fishing. Some anglers keep a dozen of each. Look at the bass pros -- they carry perhaps 10 rod outfits on deck and within reach, while they cast from the bow (and drive the electric motor). They're busy people with lots of options, under pressure.

Saltwater Reel Guide
A pair of pompano caught while climbing on a production platform. The baitcast reel was useful for horsing these fish away from barnacle-covered structure.

If you're looking at bigger fish -- from Alaska's halibut to Florida's tarpon -- you'll likely need something more robust. The reel used on my big kingfish was a lever-drag outfit, a Shimano TLD 15 reel. Such a reel will cast, but backlashes were fairly common. Our earlier Ambassadeur 7000 reels had the levelwind feature, which certainly made for better casting. However, for catching true offshore speedsters, you don't want a levelwind reel at all. After all, the poor "worm gear" that controls the levelwind has to rotate and keep up with the fish, and sometimes that's not possible.

So the open-face, lever-drag reels, with their smooth feed compared to star-drag systems, are filled with 20- to 80-pound line, and used for taming speedy marlin and other offshore pelagic fish. (Atlantic sailfish, which average around 50 pounds, are caught on these reels too, but anglers may use 20-pound spin tackle as an option.) Remember: lever drags mean smooth and reliable.

If you don't plan on trolling blue water, but want to tame a variety of heavier fish, then an open face reel with a star drag, with 40- or 50-pound line is a great general-purpose reel system. Take the Penn 4/0 reel; it's been around forever, has a star drag, and you can find dozens of copies on any big offshore partyboat today. This is a workhorse reel (though, admittedly, not as sturdy as the earlier models, which could only be described as bullet-proof). Countless smaller charterboats also use this reel today, as they've proved reliable under daily punishment.     

Buy a four-pack of these reels, mount them on sturdy boat rods, and you're good to go on one slugfest after another, such as inlet fishing. In Texas, we would anchor up at an inlet or jetty and set out four of these rods, baited with a big mullet head or a 6-inch live bait of some sort, including menhaden or croakers.

When a rod bent double and line was ripping off the reel, it meant a big circle hook had bitten into something big down there. We caught countless redfish from 37 to 44 inches, crevalle jacks that were typically 18 to 24 pounds, blacktip sharks that averaged 40 pounds, tarpon from 80 pounds ranging on up into the scary size (over 200 pounds) that fought until hours after dark, and also stingrays that were locally called "barn doors."
    
Out at the inlet we never caught anything that was really manageable on standard casting or spin tackle. You needed sturdy reels that could survive constant salt and big fish. We wore out the drag systems on several TLD reels out there, by using 40-pound line all the time. These were finesse reels, not meant for brute force and constantly dragging up big fish in fast tides. The cheaper Penns (these were the older models with the purple finish) worked well and survived much longer under harsh conditions.
    
And, if we wanted to run offshore and bottom fish for snapper, we used the very same gear. We could troll lures, drift-fish while using 2-ounce jigs, or tie up and drop big weights and baits 80 feet to the bottom. If a cobia showed up on the surface, we had him covered. If the crew wanted kingfish, we tied on short wire leaders and simply fed line and baits out behind the boat, into the chum line. That sturdy 4/0 reel did it all, once we left the bays behind.
    
Before going offshore, check out a variety of saltwater reels. Whatever style and size you choose, make sure it's appropriate for your intended application.   

View all Saltwater Reels.

Joe Richard is a Gainesville, Florida writer and photographer who manages his own stock photo website of outdoor images: Seafavorites.com.

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Heavy-Metal Crappie

By Don Wirth

Harold Morgan

Doubles! Harold Morgan's heavy sinker rig is one of the deadliest crappie methods ever devised. 

Listening to Harold Morgan play those sweet, fluid sounds on his pedal steel guitar, you wouldn't think he'd be too fond of heavy metal. Harold played steel on the road for years with some of Nashville's most legendary country music stars, and has swapped licks with the hottest pickers on the Grand Ole Opry.    

But it's a fact -- Morgan's a metalhead.

No, he hasn't traded in his axe for a Les Paul and a stack of Marshall amps. Harold, you see, is as skilled at catching crappie as he is at coaxing those shimmering notes out of his steel guitar. And he has a system for probing structure and cover that'll be music to any crappie angler's ears. It's based around sinkers -- big sinkers. The weights Morgan relies on are heavier than those used by most catfishermen, let alone panfishermen. But once you understand why they work so well, we think you'll become a metalhead, too.

Just Shy of an Ounce

No question, crappie fishing is viewed by most folks as an ultralight sport. Tiny minnows and jigs, buggywhip rods and wispy lines are favored by the vast majority of crappie anglers. They leave the heavy stuff to the bass and catfish crowds, believing that in the world of the papermouth, the light touch reigneth supreme.

But Harold Morgan doesn't buy into that line of thinking. The friendly Nashville crappie guide is a legend in the Southeast for his uncanny ability to find and catch these scrappy gamefish regardless of season or conditions. I've shared a boat with him on many occasions, and can promise you his approach is anything but light.

Morgan routinely uses heavy sinkers when hunting slab crappie. No, I'm not talking about a couple of BB-sized split shot pinched on 4-pound line -- I'm talkin' magnum-size sinkers, ones that weigh, as he puts it, "just shy of an ounce."

Harold Morgan1

Morgan keeps plenty of sinkers on hand -- breakoffs in deep brushpiles are common. 

"Most crappie anglers would never dream of using sinkers as heavy as mine," Harold said with a chuckle as he idled his boat into a creek arm on Priest Lake, a 14,000-acre impoundment close to Nashville. He circled around one of the hundreds of submerged brushpiles he's sunk in the lake over the years, noted the presence of a big school of crappie on his graph, and shut off his outboard. Then he proceeded to pulled a tray of lead that looked like it weighed a ton from beneath the boat's console.

Morgan selected a pear-shaped bell sinker with "7/8" stamped on its side. "If you took all the split shot in the average crappie fisherman's boat and melted it together, it wouldn't weigh as much as this one sinker!" He then took out a spinning rod that appeared stout enough to do battle with one of the Priest Lake's big smallmouth bass, and tied the hunk of lead to the end of his line. He next baited up two tuffy minnows to leader lines dangling stiffly off the main line -- an unorthodox-looking rig if ever I'd seen one. The weight caused the tip of his rod to sag. "Let's see if we can hit one over the head," he joked as he lowered the ungainly-looking setup over the side of his boat into the tangle of brush below.

The rod tip relaxed, indicating the sinker had hit bottom. Morgan engaged the reel spool and began s-l-o-w-l-y turning the handle. In a matter of seconds, the rod buckled and he lifted not one, but two  slab crappie into the boat! "Love those doubles," he smiled, dropping both fish into his livewell. He rebaited and handed me the rod, urging, "Here, you try it."

The heavy sinker swinging from the end of the line reminded me of some bottom-fishing rigs I'd used for stripers in the past. I flipped the bail and THUNK! the sinker dropped to the bottom like a Buick falling off a bridge. Following Morgan's instructions, I held the rod steady and turned the reel handle slowly. When the weight lifted off bottom, I instantly felt one, then two fish on my line.

Harold and I fished for a little over two hours and caught over 70 crappie -- all from the same brushpile, all on his heavy metal rig. Hmmm . . . so much for ultralight fishing!

"The first time I saw the heavy sinker rig used was on Kentucky Lake years ago, long before there were any depthfinders," Morgan said.    "After the lake was formed, we fishermen needed a way to find submerged structures such as creek channel drop-offs, humps and ditches. Many of us started sinking brushpiles for crappie, and we needed a way to locate these as well."

Harold Morgan3

When combined with tube jigs, Harold Morgan's heavy sinker rig is pure dynamite on big crappie. 

Lacking sonar units, Morgan and his Kentucky Lake cronies started tying heavy sinkers to the end of their lines so they could literally feel their way along the bottom. "We'd hold the rod with one hand and work a sculling paddle with the other, moving slowly along, tapping the sinker on the bottom. When we'd locate likely structure, we'd anchor the boat and start fishing. At first, the sinker was nothing more than a crude depthfinder."

But even after Morgan got his first "green box" sonar unit, he kept relying on that magnum chunk of lead. He experimented with the heavy rig and eventually refined it into a deadly crappie fishing tool. "The way I use it now, it's a combination bottom probe and presentation device," he explained. "No other crappie technique I've seen gives you more precise control over your bait or lure, especially in thick cover and deep water."

The Setup

Morgan's heavy-metal crappie system is unusual and ingenious. Here are the elements that make it work:

  • A heavy bell sinker, from 1/2 to 1 ounce. After years of fishing the rig, Harold has grown most comfortable with a 7/8-ounce weight. The sinker is tied directly to the end of his fishing line.   
  • Abrasion-resistant monofilament for the main line, normally 8-pound test.   
  • Two 6-inch leader lines of stiff, heavy monofilament -- Morgan recommends bargain-basement 20- to 30-pound catfish line for this application. "Don't use premium line for your leaders -- it's way too limp," he cautioned. "You want the leader lines to be stiff and springy so they'll stick out at right angles from the sinker line. This will present the bait or lure more effectively to fish in thick cover, and will help prevent the leaders from wrapping around the main line."      
  • Two 1/0 or 2/0 Eagle Claw lightweight gold crappie hooks baited with tuffy minnows, or two 1/32-ounce tube or twister jigs. Tie either to the stiff leader lines.       
  •  A 6- to 7-foot medium-action spinning rod. This is a much heavier stick than most crappie anglers are used to fishing, but necessary for handling the heavy sinker. "I don't like an ultralight rod with this setup because of the sinker's weight, and because the rig often catches two fish at a time," Morgan noted.       
  • A standard-size spinning reel, not an ultralight. "The spool of an ultralight reel is too small to hold a good quantity of 8-pound mono," he said. "You need some line capacity because when you fish thick cover like I do, you have to constantly check your line for abrasion and retie often."

Morgan attaches the first leader line 18 inches above the sinker, and the second 18 inches above the first. This gives his presentation a 3-foot spread, ideal when crappie are suspending. The leaders are attached to the main line with loop knots so they will not slip.

The Approach

Crappie Grubs

Tube jigs and heavy metal -- a winning combination for crappie. 

Morgan surveys the fishing area with his LCR until he locates structure, usually brushpiles he has set out earlier in the year. "I set out cover at various depths to attract crappie in all four seasons," he explained. Once the cover has been pinpointed, he pitches a marker buoy over the side and lowers his heavy sinker rig to the bottom. Most crappie anglers anchor when they're on a honey hole, but not Harold -- he works slowly around the target area with his electric motor on a low-speed setting. "The sinker tells me better than any depthfinder when I'm in the right spot," he emphasized. "Because it's so heavy, the line is straight down over the side of the boat at all times, and I can feel the weight tap against brush and submerged trees. If I bump wood, I reel up line. If I don't feel anything, I let out more line until I do."

The best part of Morgan's unorthodox sinker rig: it's amazingly tangle-free and user-friendly. "Unlike standard crappie rigs, this one is very cover-intensive," Harold said. "It bumps, knocks and crawls over brush and branches without hanging up, letting you present your bait or lures right where the fish are. The sinker gives even a novice angler a positive feel of what's down there, so they can react quickly and lift the rod or reel in the line to stay out of trouble. And if you do happen to get hung up, it's easy to get the rig out of the brush -- just tighten down until there's a bow in the rod and release the reel's bail. The line will pop off the spool and nine times out of 10, the sinker will flip off the branch." 

Movin' on Up

Morgan demonstrated a deadly tactic he's developed with his heavy rig. He bumped the sinker along the bottom near a submerged creek channel in 23 feet of water. Soon he encountered a deep brushpile; he slowly circled this while keeping an eye on his LCR. When the graph revealed fish suspending in the 18-foot zone above the brush, he shut off his electric motor and slowly began reeling the sinker rig straight up. About halfway to the surface, the rod bowed and two fat crappie came aboard. 

"Suspended crappie are hard to catch on conventional rigs," Morgan said, "especially when they're deeper than 15 feet. You invariably lose touch with your bait or lure in deep water on a standard split-shot rig. But with the heavy sinker on the very end of your line, everything's tight and your line is straight under the boat. Bites are easy to feel since the hooks are above the weight."

Morgan continued, "By reeling straight up from the bottom, you'll eventually reel your bait or lure through the fish, and when you do, multiple bites are common. This technique is also conducive to catching the biggest crappie in the school, which often hang out at the bottom of the pack. By using the conventional approach of lowering a bait down through a suspended school of fish, the smaller, more active fish usually bite before the big boys even get a chance to see your presentation." 

Year Long

Morgan uses his heavy sinker rig throughout the year. Here's how he alters his approach to meet changing seasonal conditions:

Spring --   The heavy rig is not intended for shallow spawning areas -- Morgan opts for a conventional float rig when fishing for spawners in 7 feet of water or less. "But not all fish will be on the beds at once -- many will be in the pre- and post-spawn mode; these fish will be suspending on drop-offs adjacent to the spawning areas," he explained. "Look for a ledge that falls from around 10 to 20 feet, drop the sinker rig to the bottom, then reel up slowly until you contact fish. These drop-offs are usually ignored by other anglers in spring, but they can hold a ton of fish."

Summer --    "This is usually the hardest time to catch crappie, but you can load the boat if you locate suspending schools. Follow the edge of a channel drop-off with your electric motor on low speed, and troll several sinker rigs at various depths. When one of them gets bit, quickly mark the line with a marking pen and adjust the other rigs to that depth. I often have better luck using jigs in the summer than minnows."

Fall --    "Crappie will return to spring bedding areas, but don't go as shallow as they did when spawning. The 12- to 15-foot zone is often loaded with fish, and the sinker rig lets you put your bait or lure right in their faces."

Winter --    "Crappie can be super-deep -- I've caught 'em in 56 feet of water in January! Keep the sinker very close to the bottom and try to be extra careful not to bang into brushpiles too much -- for some reason, these fish are extremely spooky in cold water, and the entire school can vanish in a heartbeat."

J. Percy Priest Reservoir guide Harold Morgan can be reached at (615) 227-9337. 

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Baiting Summer Stripers

By Don Wirth

Baiting Summer StripersStripers move into the headwaters of river-run reservoirs and find near-perfect water temps and plenty of dissolved oxygen -- along with a never-ending supply of forage fish.

My buddy Jack has caught some humongous landlocked stripers -- I was with him when a 48-pounder ate his prop bait one evening, giving an entirely new meaning to that phrase "a loud sucking sound" uttered by former presidential hopeful Ross Perot during a debate about NAFTA. But that fish was a mere minnow compared to the cow he hooked on a foggy morning last August.

We arrived at the river at daybreak, and I promptly caught some gizzard shad in a cast net. As they finned in the cool confines of my bait tank, we made a couple of drifts across a big stump flat where I'd taken many nice stripers in the past, chunking Red Fins in hopes of drawing a surface strike. Anticipation ran high as the big minnow plug sashayed across the surface, throwing a wake that telegraphed its presence. Unfortunately we hauled water, so as the fog began to dissipate, we broke out the heavy artillery: saltwater rods armed with 7000s and 50-pound mono. I ran to the next flat upriver, and started pulling shad behind planer boards.

Jack dipped his arm in the bait tank and pulled out the biggest shad either of us had ever seen, a real toad of a bait that spanned over 14 inches. "This oughta catch one!" he said hopefully as he ran the 9/0 hook through its lips.

We let out three boards and a float line, and on our first drift, Jack's big shad swam to the surface, a sure sign it was being harassed by a striper. Instantly a sloshing wave big enough to surf on closed in on the baitfish, and Jack braced himself for the strike. You could almost see the terror in the shad's eye as it darted this way and that, trying to escape the inevitable. 

There was no explosion, no tell-tale boil. The line simply pulled tight, the rod loaded up, and Jack was hard into the biggest striper either of us had ever encountered. It ran straight up the river, ripping line from the big red reel in short, angry bursts. As I frantically reeled in the other lines, Jack shouted, "Hurry, it's gonna spool me!" He tightened the star drag slightly; this didn't seem to impede the behemoth one bit. With all the lines finally in, I stowed the trolling motor, cranked the outboard, and chased down the fish.

Jack was able to regain most of the line he'd lost, and after 5 minutes, had worked the striper directly under the boat, where it sulked in a 20-foot hole. But when he attempted to move the fish to the surface, it shook its massive head and made a powerhouse run to the bottom.

Ever hear 50-pound mono break on a straight pull? The closest thing I can compare it to is a .38 going off. It's a sound I hope I never hear again. "Damn!" was all Jack could manage to say as the beast disappeared into the depths.

Stripers are seldom thought of as summertime fish, but in the right places, and with the right baits and presentations, you can experience some unbelievable action in hot weather with these monster predators. I'll reveal my summer livebait striper strategies under one condition: that you practice catch and release with these great gamefish.
 
Summer Striper Hotspots

Landlocked stripers crave cool water (temps ranging from 55 to 65 degrees are ideal) with plenty of dissolved oxygen (up to 8 ppm). In summer, they're unlikely to find these conditions in slackwater reservoirs. In a non-current Sun Belt reservoir, where surface temperatures can skyrocket into the 90s by July, stripers typically have to move so deep to find cool water that they run low on oxygen, and in water with dissolved oxygen lower than 4 ppm, they'll become seriously stressed.

Rivers offer far better summer striper habitat than slackwater impoundments. The water below some of the dams near my home port of Nashville, Tennessee may be a bone-chilling 52 degrees even in August. Stripers move into the headwaters of river-run reservoirs and find near-perfect water temps and plenty of dissolved oxygen, along with a never-ending supply of forage fish. Depending on what river you're fishing, stripers will dine on gizzard shad, blueback and skipjack herring, even eels and rainbow trout. And best of all, live release is highly likely in this cool, highly-oxygenated environment, even in midsummer.

I've touched on the tackle I use in rivers. Thirty-pounders are common where I fish; 60s have been taken, and far bigger fish are possible, as my friend Jack can attest. Couple this fact with the abundance of snaggy cover in most rivers, and you can see why this is no place for Mickey Mouse gear. My favorite bait rod is G. Loomis' BR863C Bucara, a 7 foot 2 inch medium-heavy saltwater stick that's perfect for heavy-duty baitfishing in rivers -- incredibly strong, yet light and comfortable to fish with in oppressive heat. I pair this with an Ambassadeur 7000 baitcasting reel spooled with either 50-pound mono or 130-pound braid. Both lines have their good and bad points: mono has more stretch and is therefore a better shock absorber; braid is softer and resists coiling and twisting. Try both to see which works best for you.
 
Planer Board Tactics

Planer boards are most often used by Great Lakes walleye and salmon fishermen, but they're becoming popular with landlocked striper anglers as well. They're used to present your bait to either the left or right of the boat, and are handy tools for coaxing spooky stripers into striking. In big, open water, planer boards are employed to spread out your presentation over a wide area, but in striper rivers, they're used mainly to deliver your baits close to shoreline cover such as downed trees, logs, boulders, etc.

When fishing large gizzard shad, I use a standard offshore planer board, and add a large split ring to the trailing end, one big enough to pass a heavy-duty Gamakatsu Octopus hook through. I then hook the shad upward through both lips, peel off from 6 to 12 feet of mono or braid, and pinch the release to my line. The split ring keeps the board on the line when a striper hits, which doesn't impede a big striper's fight in the least and is a lot more convenient than chasing after a loose board floating downstream in swift current.

For skipjack herring, which can weigh upwards of 2 pounds, I'll use a modified Offshore board with a homemade super-heavy release clip fashioned from a stout spring and plumber's washers. A strip of aluminum stock attached to the bottom of the board acts as a keel to keep the board vertical when using these big, heavy livebaits.

In summer, river stripers prowl shallow bars, shoals and flats early and late in the day, and tend to retreat to holes, undercut banks and submerged trees once the sun gets high. These fish are highly catchable even in mid-day when planer boards are used. The object is to run the board/bait as close to the bank or cover as possible. With two anglers aboard, I'll normally let out three boards, two running tight to the bank or other structure I'm fishing, one on the opposite side of the boat in open water, with the shad or skipjack trailing 6 to 12 feet behind the board. Where there's an abundance of wood cover along the bank, I may shorten the distance from the bait to the board to as little as 3 feet; this helps prevent the bait from swimming down into a tree and constantly tangling your line. "How will I know when I've got a bite?" a first-time striper fisherman asked me on a guide trip several years ago as he fished his shad behind a planer board. As if on cue, a 45-pounder blasted his bait, blowing a hole in the river the size of my truck. Trust me -- you'll know!

Unlike other baitfishing methods, planer boards let you cover a lot of water fairly quickly, a great asset when you're not exactly sure where the stripers are hanging out -- these fish may move several miles overnight. They're an absolute must in clear rivers because they let you keep a safe distance from the places you want to fish. They're not as effective as bottom-fishing in a deep hole, but all things considered, they're the most deadly presentation method I've found in rivers and tailraces.

Float Fishing

Suspending a lively bait beneath a cork bobber or balloon is another deadly summer tactic in rivers, one that works either by itself or in conjunction with planer boards. I generally use a float line as an adjunct to my planer board presentations -- I'll run one line with a large cork float on it directly behind the boat, about a cast and a half back. I find this line most often gets smacked early or late in the day, when stripers are roaming shallow structure and aren't holding tight to cover. But once the sun gets high, I'll use the float line for a totally different kind of presentation, one I call Kamikaze striper fishing.

Often I'll spend the first hour of the fishing day casting topwater plugs, and big stripers, like muskies, have a habit of following a lure to the boat without striking it. When this happens, I'll make a mental note of the stretch of bank, sunken tree or boulder where the fish was, then go back later and cast a big shad dangling beneath a cork to its lair. This is absolutely the most exciting freshwater fishing imaginable, especially in clear rivers where you can see the fish react to the bait. With the boat positioned as far from my target as possible, I'll lob the bait slightly upstream of the target and let the drifting cork pull it downstream. Often the loud, wet splat! of a big shad smacking the surface is enough to trigger one, two, even a dozen big stripers to move in for a look-see. Hookups can be instantaneous, violent and downright scary with this extreme form of striper fishing. However, it also pays to be patient with a float rig when conditions are tough. I've soaked a shad in a submerged tree as long as 20 minutes during a cold front before the hawg striper sulking there finally couldn't stand it any more and ate it.

Don't be afraid to cast a baited float line into any likely-looking striper spot you come to, whether or not you've previously raised a fish from it. High-percentage holding areas include large pockets or indentations in the bank, current eddies and switchbacks, submerged logjams, etc. A submerged tree in the middle of the river is an especially good place to try this technique.

Float lines can also be employed to tempt fish holding around downstream cover or structure in clear rivers. For example, if I know several stripers are prowling a shallow gravel bar downstream, I'll tie my boat to a tree limb and let my float line out so the shad swims downstream into their lair. If the current isn't too swift, I'll engage the reel and let the bait swim back and forth over the bar until it gets plastered.
  
Down Lines

The river-run reservoirs I frequent have many sheer limestone bluffs; these are a popular haunt for stripers in hot weather, especially during high-light periods. Often the old river channel runs along these bluffs, making them the deepest structures available to stripers, and thus a likely haven during a frontal passage. In summer, with the water temp in the low to mid 60s, I'll often find stripers suspending around these bluffs anywhere from 12 to 20 feet deep.

Bluff banks are best fished with downlines, a bread-and-butter striper presentation method that slackwater reservoir anglers use when targeting fish suspended in open water. I'll alter the rig to work in swift current and snaggy cover by using a sliding egg sinker weighing between 1 and 2 ounces, depending on current speed, to keep the baited line as straight down as possible, and 40 to 50 pound mono on both the main and leader lines. Rods are placed in holders with the reel drag adjusted to slip some, but not much. I've had big stripers bust downline rods like matchsticks, so take the time to get that drag adjusted right!

Long-time striper hunters will tell that when fishing downlines, you should keep your bait positioned at the level of the stripers or slightly above them, but never below them. This is a good rule of thumb to follow. Watch your graph for tell-tale hooks indicating stripers, then peel off line a foot at a time from the reel, taking care not to get it too deep.

Stripers often school along bluffs, which can make for some frantic fishing. On more than one occasion I've had four downlines "go off" at once, and the ensuing Chinese fire drill is not to be forgotten.
 
Bottom Fishing

River stripers will actively feed on dead, injured and healthy baitfish on or close to the bottom. They'll also devour bits and pieces of dead fish, especially below dams, where the turbines act like a Cuisinart to chop up shad and herring. These facts make bottom fishing a deadly option.

In summer, most of the river rats I know bottom-fish at night -- it's a good way to escape the heat. Using a Carolina rig with a heavy sinker, they'll anchor above a hole and cast either a live shad or skipjack, or cut-up chunks of these fish (known as "cut bait"), on a stout hook. A leader from 18 inches to 3 feet long is employed; this enables the live bait sufficient freedom of movement to attract the attention of a striper, and allows cut bait to dangle enticingly in the current like so much sushi.

If you crave fast action, bottom fishing isn't for you. I consider it a last-resort method, one to try during cold fronts when the fish have lockjaw. However, I also know that some of the biggest landlocked stripers ever taken have been caught using this tactic. If you know where a big cow hangs out, and you can't get her to bite using the other tactics I've mentioned, try bottom fishing. You just might get your string stretched.

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