May Brings Topwater Action

May Bass Fishing

Take a poll among avid anglers and you’ll find that favorite seasons to fish are varied and opinions run strong.  Some prefer the immediate pre-spawn period in April while others prefer the advantages of finding concentrations of fish during the summer and winter months.  But, one thing that most anglers will agree on is that the late spring topwater bite is the best time of year to be on the water.  Both spotted bass and linesides are feeding heavily at this time.   Aggressive wolf packs of these predators often chase schools of baitfish right up to the surface making for some very exciting opportunities.  Few things in nature rival the adrenaline rush of watching a calm surface erupt with slashes and boils of feeding fish as you’re trying to get your plug into the action.  This phenomenon can get pretty dramatic and it’s common to spot activity from long distances in calm water conditions.  Look for topwater schooling to begin in early May and go strong through the month.  Striper action will typically taper off by early June while spotted bass with continue this activity through the summer months.  Although action can occur at any time, early morning and evening periods tend to be the most productive.  As always during the spring, weather factors can have a big influence on the fishing.  While it’s a great time to exploit topwater action, a strong frontal system can put the bite down for a day or two.  It’s important to have a back-up plan in case surface action does not materialize.  While searching for this, focus your efforts from the middle sections of creeks out to main lake areas near the creek mouths.  Although the predators are keying on roaming schools of baitfish, remember that “points point out the fish”.  Activity will very often erupt in the vicinity of a prominent point or submerged hump which is typically the extension of a point.

V-Wake a Redfin

 If you’re parked off the best looking point in your favorite creek and looking for surface activity, blind casting is always a good idea.  Just remember that you should be covering open water with some significant depth and not targeting the shoreline.  Blind casting a plug can put a lot of extra fish on the end of your line.   What type of topwater plug should you choose?  It’s no secret that fishermen are a highly opinioned bunch.  While “swear by” lure choices will vary widely, there are a handful of tried and true favorites that you’ll not go wrong with.  It’s now been over a decade since the Sammy by Lucky Craft hit the topwater scene.  And, it’s still going strong.  It’s a pricey choice at about $15 per copy but the results are hard to argue with.  The trademark American shad is a great color if you’re shelling out a few dollars for one of these.  If you’re looking for a more modest investment, you’ll not go wrong with the old fashioned Zara Spook.  This plug has been around for quite a few decades with good reason and still evokes lots of strikes from surface feeders.  The classic color for this classic lure is blue shore minnow.  It’s a north Georgia favorite.  While the original Zara Spook is very good, I eventually became a big fan of its newer big brother, the Super Spook.  As the name implies, this is a beefed up version and weighs in at nearly an ounce.  Long casts can be important when pursuing schoolers and this lure can be fired to impressive distances with the right tackle.  It also sports rotating treble hooks that really make a difference in improving the strike to fish on ratio.  Bleeding Shad is the only color I need for the Super Spook.  Another plug to consider is the Redfin by Cotton Cordell.  Technically, this lure is a jerkbait and will run subsurface on a medium to fast retrieve.  Savvy anglers use a different approach.  They use a slower retrieve and keep it on the surface producing what is known as a “V-wake”.  This has a great effect on stripers and will elicit strikes from real bruisers of the spotted bass world.  Die hard Redfin fans pick the chrome and blue color and swear that it’s even better when the finish is chipping off exposing the bone colored plastic beneath.  There is also a sub-cult following of the Smokey Joe color.

Two Rods Are Better Than One

Lures such as the Sammy, Zara Spook, and Super Spook mentioned in the previous paragraph are often called stick baits because of their basic shape.  There’s only one way to present this style of topwater plug.  The proper retrieve is referred to as “walking the dog”.   Reeling combined with short twitches of the rod tip will cause a stickbait to zig-zag or dart from side to side resembling a fleeing baitfish.  It only takes a little practice to master this and some plugs are engineered to walk with a minimum of effort imparted by the angler.  When it comes to topwater tackle in May and early June, opt for medium heavy gear.  Both casting and spinning set ups are appropriate.  Six and a half to seven foot rods get the nod.  Pair these with reels that will handle at least eighty to one hundred yards of twelve pound test line as a minimum.  If you pick up your favorite shallow spool model that’s in vogue with bass fishermen, you’re playing with fire because stripers are out there waiting.  When it comes to line, avoid fluorocarbon products.  While they do a superior job in many applications, they are heavy and will suppress the action of topwater plugs.  This is especially true with maximum distance between you and the lure.  Spool up with your favorite traditional monofilament product and you’ll be in good shape.  On the subject of tackle, it pays to have two rods rigged and ready on deck.  Backlashes and tangles do happen.  This is good insurance for those times when you’re on top of a school of predators kicking up water as they churn the surface.  Simply drop one rod and pick up another.  If you’re downed bait is floating motionless in the attack zone you may want to put one foot on the rod butt or put it in a holder…..just in case.  I’ve actually had fish become hooked up when striking a free floating lure attached to a tangled rod on a couple of occasions.  It can be quite the circus, especially if you’re fighting another fish as well.  On another note, it pays to be cautious when landing fish hooked with large topwater plugs.  I highly recommend investing in a good lip gripper type device.  These have become very affordable for the average angler and are much cheaper than a trip to the emergency room at the local hospital. 

Stay Mobile to Find Fish

If you’re out for striper action, live bait fishing will often pay off while searching for the topwater bite.  When searching an area and making blind casts with your favorite plug, bait up and trail a couple of flat lines about a hundred feet behind the boat.  Tie a small balloon inflated to golf ball size about ten feet above one bait and weight the other line with a medium size split shot about six feet up the line for a slightly deeper presentation.  Frisky blue back herring or shad are great choices when it comes to live bait.  If one rod hooks up on two consecutive fish, switch the other one to the same style of presentation.  If fish are erupting on the surface all around, the live bait flat lines can quickly become more trouble than they are worth.  This is especially true if you’re doing a lot of maneuvering with the electric motor.  This time of year, it really pays off to stay mobile. If conditions are favorable and you’re not seeing signs of life in seven minutes or so, move on to the next spot.  For greater efficiency, have a route planned in advance.  Although topwater action is the name of the game, choppy water can inhibit the surface bite.  However, in these conditions, a good jerkbait can produce well when cast towards the points.  As late spring turns into summer, striper action fades but good news is that the spotted bass continue to chase bait at the surface.  Windows of opportunity during the summer months are mostly early and late in the day for schooling action.  Smaller surface plugs tend to become more effective as the season progresses.  Poppers such as the Pop-R by Rebel are good choices along with smaller versions of the earlier mentioned lures.   Sometimes bass will key on small baitfish and ignore even these smaller topwater plugs.  One classic trick is to use a saltwater popping cork with a trailing leader.  On the end of this leader, tie on a very small shad imitator such as a Pop-N-Stripe or the highly realistic Gummy Minnow.  You’ll find the latter stocked in the fly fishing shop.  In closing, there’s plenty of room for opinion about the best time of the year to go fishing but most will agree that May is hard to beat.  If you’re up for the excitement and adrenaline of some serious surface action, this could become your favorite too.  Until next month, take care and enjoy the lake!

Thank you for reading!

Tommy H. Wilkinson


The one thing no one will talk about…..

The one thing no one will talk about…..

By: Tom Branch, Jr.

 Top Secret

So what type of fishing rod, reel and line should I be using to cast one of these new fangled contraptions called an Alabama Rig (also known as: The Deadly 5, Bait Chaser Rig, The Swarm)? For starters, you’re going to need heavier types of outfits as your Alabama Rig (hope it’s ok to call it this….) fishing rods and reels must be able to handle heavy weighted lures.

It’s not just the weight of the rig which alone can weigh up to 5/8 ounces without any baits attached to it. I add five – 3 ½ inch Paddle Tail Shad in white and five quality jig heads and you will be pushing a total weight in excess of four ounces. Some of us bass fishing guys are just not used to casting a lure that weighs as much as a wet tennis shoe. So, you guys fishing with your light-weight rods – BEWARE. Fishing with a lighter rod, will cause you to make a return trip to your local tackle store to purchase another fishing rod.

In general terms of rod selection for the Alabama Rig, you’re going to need is a minimum of 7' 6" foot fishing rod that is at least medium heavy power. The rod action should be a moderate to fast action. More than anything make sure you are using a fishing rod designed for casting (and retrieving) this particular lure. I like a rod that is light weight, tough and can handle the stress of the weight. Make sure the rod has some nice performance features; which should include a high grade 85 million modulus graphite blank at a minimum, good carbon wall construction, with strength and power. I have been impressed with the Fuji New Concept stainless steel K-guides with Alconite rings. These guides can handle a braided fishing line between 65 and 80 pound without any problems. The reel seat should be comfortable on your hands and be low-profile and a two-piece exposed-blank reel seat with a Soft Touch finish.

When choosing a fishing reel you should remember it will be handling a heavy rig with some very heavy line. You must get a top-quality reel that will be able to give you power and support the torque. I chose a reel that has at least a 6:4:1 gear ratio.  I would suggest finding a reel that is “bulletproof inside and out”! The frame needs to be die cast aluminum and have removable side plates. This allows for a thorough cleaning and allows you to adjust the braking system on most reels.  Lately, the aluminum spools that float on stainless steel ball bearings have become very popular. Quality reels will come with Japanese stainless steel bearing.  Just as important as the bearing, make no mistake a quality drive gear is number-one in my book; the gear does all the work when you really need the torque to reel in that monster bass. A dual braking system on a baitcasting reel will assist you more by minimizing your backlashes. Many companies stated their reel will decrease your backlashes. You are going to backlash your reels when cast this rig, just be prepared. There is no such thing as a backlash-free casting reel! Remember you are only tossing this Alabama Rig not overhead casting it. If you start casting it like a spinnerbait you are not going to last 30 minutes fishing the Alabama Rigs.  I do not like using the slower gear ratio reels on the Alabama Rig because you lose too much power. More than anything chose a reel that is nice and smooth so as not to tangle you’re individual baits in mid-air, and you can crank it for a few hours with minimal stress. 


 Braided line is better designed to handle the complexity of the Alabama Rig. It cast smooth, has a good retrieval, a very strong hook set, and will not break under pressure. The purpose of all braided lines is to have less stretch, be durable, and overall be able to handle heavy conditions and fish. The heavier line will allow retrieving those Alabama Rigs when they get hung up. I would rather straighten a few hooks than lose a complete rig.

Don’t go out there and waste your hard-earned money on junk! I want you to catch more fish so you will buy more rods, reels, lures and line.  So invest in the quality gear and catch more fish with tons of confidence. The fishing success has been incredible using the Alabama Rig and similar baits. I have heard people from coast to coast catching them. It’s a proven tournament winner bait or lure. Take what I have told you to heart and fish with confidence!

My Alabama rig combo of choice is the Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Signature Series II Trigger Rods Model: JML76HT, my reel is the Johnny Morris Signature Series model JMX10HD with a gear ratio of 6.4:1 and my line choice is the Vicious Fishing Braid Fishing Line either 65-80 pound in moss green.


Thanks for reading…… BRANCH

 Tom Branch

About the author: Tom Branch, Jr. is a freelance outdoor writer and a full time Lieutenant/Firefighter-Paramedic with over 26 years of service with the Gwinnett County Fire Service in Georgia.  He has been working and consulting in the Outdoor Industry for over 16 years and is currently creating and managing a pro fishing team, developing new products, promoting products through demonstrations, designing packaging, and participates in different forums, radio & television shows.  Tom and his wife, Kim, live north of Atlanta near Braselton, GA with their two labs “Jake” and “Scout."

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Fishing Report - Lake Sinclair

Date Fished: 4/23/2012
Water Temperature: 70
Water Clarity: 0

Fished Lake Sinclair two days this weekend-Practiced Friday and then the BFL Bulldog Division tournament on Saturday. The bass were on the docks and the small ones bit the shaky head rigged trick worms as usual. In practice I basically ran the same pattern I have in past years and caught keeper bass down lake in the clearer water but I found some larger fish up in Little River. When I say larger I mean the 12-13 inch fish down lake vs. the 13 - 15 inch bass up in the muddy water. Sinclair is a fickle lake for me and some days you can catch 12 pounds and just barely be in the money while other 12 pounds can win. Saturday, the day of the tournament, I started down lake because I had an area where I thought I could catch a quick limit but that wasn't the case. After only 1 keeper for my non-boater in the first hour we left that and headed up Little River. I fished an area back in a pocket that had slightly less muddy water and caught a limit by 10:00 skipping the docks with a one eighth ounce Gamaktsu Alien Head with a June Bug colored Shakin' Squirrel. Then I started culling but the fish I had were all 1.5 pounds so, even though I love skipping docks, I switched over to cranking the brush piles I had marked on my 998c Side Imaging the day before. I caught a 4 pound bass on the new SPRO Fat Papa but couldn't get any more bigger fish. My secret to cranking the brush is to slow roll the crank bait through the branches and if I got hung I would just give the line some slack and 9 out of 10 times it would just float loose. Fluorocarbon or braid are essential when cranking so you can feel everything. I ended up with 11.5 pounds but had a dead fish penalty (the first one I ever had in the BFL) so I lost a place and ended up getting a small check for 17th place. I was happy with that because I moved up into 3rd in overall standings. I will be back out on Lanier for the next month as we have a slight break before the Oconee BFL in June.

Good fishing and God Bless! Eric Aldrich



Hey Dad, can we go fishing?

Hey Dad, can we go fishing?

 Every young boy wants his dad to take him fishing, and luckily, my father is a man with three main hobbies; reading, hunting and fishing. I still remember the days stopping by the Suwanee One Stop and buying two dozen salamanders and heading out to Lake Lanier. We lived just 45 minutes south of the lake. I always preferred fishing during the week because the lake on the weekends was claustrophobic with crowds of 9 to 5'er's jammed on lake with their pleasure boats, jet skies and ski boats. 

In the springtime, my job was to convince him he needed a day off during the week so we could go fishing. Recently, my mom reminded me of a time when I was pleading my dad so hard that I even offered to buy the bait with my grass cutting money.  I would employ any tactic I could to get out and fish. Most of the time, this was not an especially difficult task since Dad was self-employed. So, while everyone else was working and going to school, I got to go fishing. 

Many people said I was a lucky kid and you know what – yep, they were right! Over the years Dad never stopped taking me fishing! Now, it’s my turn to return the favour, “Hey Dad, let’s go fishing next week!”

This is short story I submitted to my friend, Don Barone (The Dude) for his upcoming children stories book to benefit Tackle the Storm Foundation. To read more about the foundation go to:

Thanks for reading..... BRANCH

Tom Branch

About the author: Tom Branch, Jr. is a freelance outdoor writer and full time Lieutenant/Firefighter-Paramedic with over 26 years of service with the Gwinnett County Fire Service in Georgia and.  He has been working and consulting in the Outdoor Industry for over 16 years and is currently creating and managing a pro fishing team, developing new products, promoting products through demonstrations, designing packaging, and participates in different forums, radio & television shows.  Tom and his wife, Kim, live north of Atlanta near Braselton, GA with their two labs “Jake” and “Scout."

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Have you seen the new Maui Jim – Peahi sunglasses?

Oh my gosh, have you seen the new Maui Jim – Peahi sunglasses?

 My favorite time of the year is spring, because I try to be on the water as much as possible to fish and pleasure boat. Last week, I had the opportunity to be on the water for six days at the Georgia TBF Top 6 on Clark Hill Lake. All week I wore tried out the new Maui Jim – Peahi sunglasses. 

Pe’ahi (“peh-AH-hee”), the name comes from an area located on Maui’s northern shore; known for its big waves and extreme high waves, 0 feet tall. This area is a legendary reef break and respectfully referred to by surfers as “Jaws." Peahi is where classic fashion meets versatility.

Maui Jim Sunglasses, newest style sunglasses are called the Peahi. Not only are these glasses stylish, but they are very comfortable. These Maui Jim’s sunglasses will continue to give you the ultimate coverage and protection against wind, debris and UV rays in a generously proportioned wrap that’s big on style. They are very lightweight, flexible, sporty and hypoallergenic. The Peahi’s come with a built-in non-slip nose pad to ensure total comfort. These sunglasses are designed to be worn in salt water with its corrosion-proof nickel/silver alloy hinges. All Maui Jim sunglasses have scratch/impact resistant lightweight polarized lenses that provide incredible clarity on and off the water.

Maui Jims

The Maui Jim Peahi Sunglasses are made to block out harmful glare and still allows you to see the vivid colors around you. They come with a super-thin glass (ST Glass) lens that can be used for general wear. The ST Glass is 20% thinner and lighter than conventional glass giving you a superior optic that is durability and scratch resistance without the weight of a conventional glass lens. Polarized Plus 2 technology purpose is to block the glare and UV from all angles. This allows the lenses to manage blue light and then boost colors for unmatched color clarity and contrast. HCL Bronze Lens is perfect for low-light conditions or for those who like a subtle bronze hue for everyday wear. I personally really like the excellent contrast a bronze lens offers you. The adjustable metal core temples create a personalized fit to anyone face. Spring hinges gently hug a person’s head for a lasting comfortable fit. Interesting fact I noticed is these sunglasses are made in Italy. A case is included with all Maui Jim Sunglasses.

When you purchase a pair of quality sunglasses, you expect a good warranty. Maui Jim's warranties its products against damage and defects. This is effective for the first two years of original ownership with proof of purchase. Though the company will repair or replace the product free of charge at its discretion, shipping fees are the owner's responsibility. In addition, Maui Jim is not responsible for repairing prescription sunglasses' lenses, but the company can repair a damaged or defective frame from a prescription pair.

Maui Jim Logo

“Experience life as it was meant to be experienced with the Maui Jim Peahi.”


To read more about Maui Jim sunglasses go to their web site at:




About the author: Tom Branch, Jr. is a freelance outdoor writer and a full time Lieutenant/Firefighter-Paramedic with over 26 years of service with the Gwinnett County Fire Service in Georgia.  He has been working and consulting in the Outdoor Industry for over 16 years and is currently creating and managing a pro fishing team, developing new products, promoting products through demonstrations, designing packaging, and participates in different forums, radio & television shows.  Tom and his wife, Kim, live north of Atlanta near Braselton, GA with their two labs “Jake” and “Scout."

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 Tom Branch



Turkey Hunting Accessories

Turkey season started Saturday, March 24, 2012 in Georgia and already some of our customers have been in with some great tales of success. One customer showed his success with a picture of a large turkey with an 11” beard and 1 7/8” spurs.

If you are a novice or an experienced turkey hunter we have all types of accessories that can help to make your season a total success.

For archers, the same equipment will work for turkeys as for all other big game animals except when using either the Magnus Bullhead ($39.99) or The Guillotine ($24.88) broadheads you will need a longer arrow so the broadhead will clear the front of the riser. This is one of the best ways to kill a bird aiming at the head instead of the body. Results are amazing.  If you want to shoot the traditional way, a good broadhead choice is the NAP Spitfire mechanical ($34.99).

If you are a bowhunter you know that there is a lot of movement when coming to full draw so the use of a ground blind is a necessity. The Primos Escape Ground Blind is lightweight, easy to set up and is on sale for $89.99. When hunting out of a blind remember to only open two windows so the animals cannot see your silhouette.  Face camo is also a must.

After you have chosen your hunting spot and set up the ground blind, you will need to have several calls and decoys ready in order to get the birds close enough for a shot. Primos Turkey Starter kit,  is a slate and box call in one package and is on sale for $34.99. For the more experienced callers, Redhead RTX Mount calls (triple reed) for 6.99 and the Redhead Pro 4 Pack of triple reed calls for $11.99. Flextone Run & Gun Compact call package is on sale for $19.99.

Redhead Semi Feeding Jake Decoy

The Redhead Semi Feeding Jake Decoy is on sale for $19.99 and the Pretty Boy Decoy Set is on sale for $69.97. Both are excellent choices of turkey decoys.

Pretty Boy

For those archers that are not turkey hunters, 3D season has started with at least one tournament each weekend in the Atlanta area. Come by our archery department and let our associates help to adjust or upgrade your bow for better results either on the range or in the field.

Thank you for reading

Bill Millican

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Line Choices: Which one to use?

In today’s fishing market there are so many fishing lines available the beginning anglers can get confused just by the size of the line walls most major fishing retailers have. So where to start is the question? So let me give you my thoughts on this and you can make your decision from there.

Monofilament: This line has been around for many years I can remember using this as a kid fishing for all freshwater species. Monofilament floats on the water and has a lot of stretch to it. I prefer using monofilament for all my top water baits like a super spook, pop R, and even my baby torpedoes. This helps enhance the action of the bait by keeping the bait up on the water.

Fluorocarbon: This line keeps evolving better and better every year. It is a line with little stretch and sinks in the water this is a great line for multiple applications except for top water baits. The other qualities of this line are its high abrasion resistance not to mention it is nearly invisible in the water to the fish. With fluorocarbon I am going to use this with any soft plastic worms like a Texas rig or a shakey head. I will use this with all my crank baits and jerk baits because this line sinks it helps keep these lures deeper in the water column and specially with my crank baits I can feel every little rock, stump, or lay down tree I come across. So as you can tell I use this line the most do to the fact that it covers most techniques I will be using.

Braided line: This line has gotten more versatile over the years as well and if you pay attention to some of the bass fishing shows today you will see and hear them using the braid more often than not. Braided line is used a lot for fishing in heavy vegetative cover whether you are fishing with a top water frog over big thick mats of grass, or using a big 1oz weight punching through the grass to get to those big fish hiding from the sun.

Braid has no stretch at all and most braids will float however there are some braids out there that are coated with fluorocarbon so they sink as well as have no stretch. Braid has become a favorite of mine to throw on most of my rods however I will use either a fluorocarbon leader or monofilament leader depending on what technique I am using for the day. The reason I use a leader is because I fish a lot of clear lakes and braid is visible in the water so I will add a 24” leader so that the fish cannot see my line and with no stretch in the braid I can feel every little thing I come in contact with on the bottom and even feel the slightest tap from a fish.

So if you are a beginning angler and need to choose a line it all depends on the species of fish you are going after. If you are fishing for a pan fish species I would suggest monofilament it is the most cost effective way to go  and will suit all your pan fish needs. If you are looking to start bass fishing I would suggest the fluorocarbon and braided lines unless I am using top water baits then I would suggest using both braid and monofilament together because they float.

There are a lot more details I could cover with fishing lines but I would be writing forever. In my 30+ years of fishing I have seen it all and then some and again could continue to talk about why I use one line over the other for a long time. So I hope this gives you a good guideline to use and if you still have questions come on in to your local Bass Pro Shops and see the associates in the Fishing department they will be willing to help get you started and answer all your questions.


Fishing Report - Largemouth, Smallmouth, or Spotted bass Report

Largemouth, Smallmouth, or Spotted bass Report

Water Temperature: 65
Water Clarity: 2-3 feet


Went out to the lake Sunday with my wife so she could get some sun. We took my Nitro Z8 out for short run. The pollen is so thick and the weather was more like April or May. I looked for some bedding bass I had seen else where last week with no success-I will go out again this week and cover some water because I know they are doing their thing. I didn't want to drive too far so I ended up staying in Shoal Creek where visibility was maybe 2 feet at best due to pollen and boat wakes stirring up the coves. I did not see any beds but saw a couple of decent cruisers. The temperature was perfect for bedding fish so I am sure they were there. Ended up skipping docks and beating the banks and the fish cooperated. I caught my better fish (all spots) between the docks on Shakin' Squirrels rigged on a 1/8th ounce Alien Head Jig Head or on the SPRO McStick. Caught about 20 in a few hours so they are biting well. The biggest a little under 4 pounds on the McStick with most of the jig head fish being 1-2.5 pounds. Any finesse worms on a Spot Sticker or Spot Remover style jig head should work well around the docks for numbers for the next month at least. I find that the smaller 1/8th to 1/16th or even lighter Jig head works the best in Spring because most of your hits will come on the fall and these lighter heads will keep your worm in the fall zone longer. The jerk bait bite has been very good around secondary points with rock and clay and also between the docks, especially if there is rock or a ditch around. Good Fishing and God Bless! Eric



Eric S. Aldrich

Angler, Writer, Marketing

Sponsored by SPRO, Gamakatsu,

Denali Custom Rods,
Sunline, Big Bite Baits,
Bass Pro Shops, Tracker Marine,
Humminbird and Minn Kota


The Guy is just a WINNER!

The Guy is just a Winner!

Brent Ehrler

On Sunday night my Dad called me on my drive home from the Lake Hartwell FLW event and wanted to know how my 2 buddies (Brent & Marty) did in the tournament. I told him Brent won and Marty finished 3rd.

Dad said “Brent is just a winner, son!” And that’s the truth.

Brent Ehrler is a winner because he has the mindset of a winner and he takes the actions of a winner! There are actions that every one of us can take to directly effect our personal life and our business.

First of all, Brent is passionate about the sport of bass fishing.  When you see him starting a tournament you can tell that a fire burns in him differently than in his competitors. His mental focus is different than anyone I have ever been around; some call it: “In the Zone!” The first person who has to believe in what you have to say is YOU…and then others will get on board. Brent’s work ethic is legendary. The guy is always doing extra work such as studying maps, reading online about a lake and practicing prior to the tournaments from daylight till dark.

There are some competitors that don’t understand him. It’s the same in your personal life and at your business.  The one thing we all have is the same amount of time.  Use your time wisely, have a healthy personal life and a work ethic towards your goals. Your goals might be different than mine, but they are just as important.

Brent is a very focus forward person. He is looking towards the next catch, the next fish, the next spot and now the next trophy. Good things happen fast and you must be prepared to move forward and up.

Finally, there is a mission in that guy’s head. Brent’s focus is on securing a future for his family (wife Kelley and his son Ollie). It’s not all about the fish, trophies & the money. You must have a mission for your personal life and business if you want to make stuff happen.

You are a star my friend! Keep on shining bright! You continue to be an inspiration to many!

Thanks for reading….. BRANCH


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Wal-Mart BFL Bulldog Divison Tournament - Lake Seminole, GA

"Went down to Lake Seminole for the second Wal-Mart BFL Bulldog division tournament this weekend and the fishing was a little tougher than usual for this time of year. Usually it takes 25 pounds plus to win but congratulations to Danny Kirk for his first place finish with 5 bass weighing 22.12 pounds. I think he weighed in right before I put my 6 and a half pounds on the scales so I was pretty discouraged but when I looked back at the weights it shows how tough it was because I think 11 pounds got a check on the boater side and 5 plus pounds was in the money on the non boater side. I prefished two days and the first thing I noticed that the usually gin clear water in Spring creek looked like chocolate. They had 9 inches of rain last week and most of the lake was very stained or muddy. I caught small keepers both practice days on a SPRO Fat John, Texas and non weighted worms and unweighted Big Bites Jerk Minnow with a #4 Gamakatsu Offset Hook (the Jerk Minnow looks like a Fluke but made by Big Bite Baits). I ended up dedicating myself to throwing the Jerk Minnow because later in the day Friday I caught a couple 3-4 pounders on it and that is where I decided what and where to fish. The water was also clear in there so we stayed within a half mile area all day. I actually broke of a BIG fish in the first 5 minutes with I guess was a bad knot because I was throwing a Jerk Minnow on 65 pound braid in the pads-hard lesson to learn but that is life. My non boater even switched over to the Jerk Minnow and that was the bait all of our fish came on. In the morning the fish were very aggressive so I fished fast all day but I realized from a tip from a friend at the end of the day that I should have slowed it down once the sun got up. Ended up in 39th and actually moved up into 5th in the point standings so I am grateful. Just wish I could have earned a check because gas prices are getting crazy with no signs of coming down and my wife (the bread winner) is still out of work. Seminole is beautiful and I saw lots of gators, thousands of birds and even saw a bald eagle and osprey plucking bass out of the water around us during the day. My Nitro has some new scratches on the under sided from all the stumps and I noticed most of the locals boats looked pretty beat up so I guess that lake is just hard on boats. In the past Lake Seminole has eaten a prop and also dented my old aluminum boat over the years so that is just part of it I guess. It sure was nice having a fast smooth running boat because the tournament went out of the Bainbridge Basin Park which is a 25 plus mile run to my first fishing area. It was beautiful and peaceful but it is nice to be home. I will be back out on Lanier this week and will post a report.

Good fishing and God Bless! Eric Aldrich"



Humminbird and such

WOW! The past couple of weeks have been intently exciting…starting with the Miami International Boat Show and then the BASS Master Classic.

 The weather for the Miami International Boat Show could not have been any better and the sales vibe was fantastic for all of the vendors I spoke with after the show. The reported attendance for Miami was north of 100,000 which was down slightly but there was a serious buyer mentality for sure.

 At the Classic, Anglers fishing Humminbird represented very well taking 6 of the top 7 finishes. The crowds for take-off, weigh in and the Expo were very strong. The  reported attendance for the Expo was over 63,000 with another 19,000 at the weigh in and more than 10,000 at lakeside. The sales for everyone I spoke with exceeded expectations and  weather was great with exception of some wind a couple of days. The fishing was great too as evidenced by only two “goose egg” sacks from 49 anglers.

 The buzz of the Classic came following Johnson Outdoors unveiling of the 360. The 360 is the newest generation of electronics assisting the angler with finding structure and fish based on technology that is unprecedented. All other sonar, Down Imaging and Side Imaging technology is “looking” at history….that is something the boat has passed by or over (or that has passed by or under the boat). The 360 provides a “look” at as little as 10° and as much as 360° thus the name 360….and the boat can be sitting completely stationary. The angler can zoom in, out, mark waypoints and screen snapshots all while viewing up to 1.6 acres of 360°.  The 360 will be available to ship sometime in August of 2012 and is compatible with the Humminbird 798HD, 898, 998 and 1198 units….No more looking back….look to the future…..<”)))><

pic 1  pic 2 pic 3



Thank you!

Bill Carson




Kenny Chesney = Costa Del Mar Sunglasses

You know, Kenny is ok in my book!

I got a nice note and picture from my friend Liz at Full Circle PR the other day I wanted to share with the Costa Nation and my fishing friends.   Full Circle PR, is the marketing company for Costa Del Mar sunglasses.  The photo was taken earlier this week of country music superstar Kenny Chesney and Amanda Perryman from Costa Sunglasses.  Kenny and Amanda are presenting a check for $50,000 to Pat Murray to benefit the Coastal Conservation Association.  These funds were raised through sales of the Kenny Chesney Limited Edition Costa Sunglasses throughout his “Goin’ Coastal” concert tour last year.

Kenny Chesney

Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) is to advise and educate the public on conservation of marine resources.  The objective of CCA is to conserve, promote and enhance the present and future availability of these coastal resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public. 

CCA is good group in my eyes because they help us all catch more fish!  So a big thanks goes out to Kenny and the folks at CCA.......

You can read more about Coastal Conservation Association at:

Also don't forget about our friends at Costa - join the nation of Costa!

 Thanks for reading….. BRANCH   

Follow us on  and   

Tom Branch


Dad and Me on Lake Lanier

"Bass fishing has been very good on Lake Lanier and the fishing is more like spring than winter. This morning it was all hit as my 77 year old Dad and I took my Nitro Z8 out for a run. My Dad didn't use the motorcycle helmet I offered him on the first run but he darn sure put it on the rest of the time. Apparently his hearing aid and glasses are a lot more comfortable when running 70 plus with the motorcycle helmet. We chased schooling bass all over a lower lake creek pocket. I have not been seeing any schoolers this year so it was fun chasing and catching them and I even caught 1 on a top water plug this morning! Other that that fish we caught ate the McStick Jerk Baits for a total of about 15 keeper bass from 9:00 until noon which I would call a very good day for a few hours. All of our bass were caught over a flat way off shore. These fish were eating the "stupid bite" on the McSticks. That is when you cast your jerk baits out into the schooling fish and just reel them through them slow and steady. These fish stayed up as long as the water was glassy and then the lake turned over to a mild chop and most of the fish seemed to scatter. It was probably just the fact that we couldn't see as much top water disturbance as when it was glassy. Anyway I sure enjoyed a couple of days on the water with my Dad. He ain't getting any younger and I cant imagine I will every say "I wish I had gone to work instead of fish with my Dad" so it was a great time.

Good fishing and God Bless! Eric Aldrich"




Atlanta Archery

Now that we are in between hunting seasons, deer has ended and turkey is another month away, this is a great time to check your archery equipment for needed repairs or to learn a new skill. This is also time to tune not only your bow but your form as well by participating in an archery tournament.

For the unknowing, there is a 3D type archery tournament somewhere in the metro area almost every weekend.

And since during this time of the year the weather can be not good enough to shoot outside, a great way to tweak your archery skills is to shoot indoor archery

The Georgia State Indoor tournament is being held in Augusta, March 3-4, 2012 and the NFAA SE Regional Indoor is being held at the Archery Learning Center in Snellville, March 10-11, 2012. Visit for details.

If you need a repair or want to upgrade your archery equipment, come to the Atlanta store and check out  some really great deals. We also have some of the best bow mechanics and instructors in the state.

For the female archer, the PSE Pink Chaos Package is priced to move at $379.99 with a draw length of 16” to 27” and a draw weight from 50 to 60 pounds. This package comes with quiver, Whisker Biscuit and a 3 pin sight. Couple that with a Tru Fire Edge Release with a pink strap for $59.99. In the arrow department there are 3 choices. Victory Pink arrows come in 350, 400 & 500 spine for $54.99, Carbon Express  Mayhem Hot pursuit with Pink Fletching in 500 spine for $74.99 and Carbon Express Maxima Blue Streak 500 spine arrows for $84.99.

For the upcoming young male archer, the PSE Rally Package for $379.99 with a draw length adjustment of 18’ to 31” and adjustable draw weight from 15 to 50 pounds. This package has a quiver, Whisker Biscuit and 3 pin sight. Couple that with A Tru Fire Hurricane Release for $49.99 and a dozen Red Head Carbon Fury Arrows at 59.99 and they will be ready to hit the tournament trail.

Another bow to consider is the Diamond Air Raid Package at $499.98 with a draw length adjustment from 26” to 30” and draw weight adjustment from 60 to 70 pounds. This package has a quiver, Hostage arrow rest and 3 pin sight.  Add one dozen Red Head Carbon Fury arrows for $59.99 and you will be set to start shooting.

If you are in need of an archery target, consider the hurricane bag targets that come in 2 different sizes. The smaller one for $49.99 and the larger model for $59.99.

If all of your archery equipment is perfect and your shooting form is really good, you might want to think about learning a new skill such as building your own arrows. When you purchase arrow shafts, they are always cheaper by the dozen than completed arrows. Take for example, one dozen Gold Tip arrow shafts at $64.99 or one dozen Beman arrow shafts for $94.99. When you purchase shafts by the dozen, you can then customize the arrows to your own specific style from arrow wraps to different fletching colors and sizes. Start with a Bohning Fletching Jig for $39.99, add 36 count Bohning Vanes from 9.99, Bohning Fletching glue for 6.99 and you are ready to set your equipment apart from the normal.

So, if you need to make a repair or get help with your shooting form, come by and let us help you.

Thank you for reading,

Bill Millican




Jerkbaits---Hot Spring Producers

In February’s article on spring fishing, I briefly mentioned jerkbaits.  They are undoubtedly among the hottest bass catchers when the water is quite cool in early spring.  During the month of March, you should have one rod devoted to this lure at all times.  In fact, they can be so productive that they are worth an entire article on their own.  As you’ve probably figured out by now, jerkbaits are in the spotlight.  Back in the late fifties, the original Rapala Floating Minnow took the bass fishing world by storm.  The slender profile and subtle action proved too much for bass to resist and fish camps would rent this lure to anglers for as much as $15 per day.  It’s stunning to imagine what that equates to in 2012 dollars.  Needless to say, other lure manufacturers jumped on this bandwagon and these minnow imitators became a tackle box mainstay from coast to coast.  While they fool fish twelve months of the year, they really shine during the pre-spawn period from February to just before the full moon in April.  With floating, sinking, shallow, mid-depth, deep, suspending, and deep diving models available in a dizzying array of colors, we’re not hurting when it comes to choices.  The typical model has a slender body of four or five inches in length sporting two or three sets of treble hooks.  A narrow bill at the front provides action and takes the plug to the proper depth on retrieve.  While most reaction type baits rely on the reel to provide action, with jerkbaits the magic is imparted by the rod.  Short jerks of the rod tip lend an erratic action that mimics a wounded or struggling baitfish.  This looks like an easy meal to predators in the area.  One could also state that just as important as motion are the pauses.  The cadence and timing between snaps of the rod tip can be the key to provoking strikes.  At no time is this truer than in the late winter and early spring periods.  Most anglers give the bait a pause after every two to four jerks.  You definitely want to experiment with the cadence and timing between pauses to find the most productive retrieve for conditions.  In warmer water, brisk action can trigger a lot of strikes but as a rule of thumb, longer pauses produce better this time of year.  As a base line, try two quick twitches followed by a lengthy pause for the duration of the retrieve.


Detail is Worth the Price

If the original Floating Minnow by Rapala was revolutionary, then the invention of the suspending jerkbait was true genius.  Storm may have been the first lure company to break the ice with this concept.  Their Suspending Thunderstick was immensely popular in the Midwest.  As many anglers tried lead solder wire wrapped around hooks and other schemes to make their favorite baits suspend, Storm also introduced Suspendots and Suspenstrips which adhere to baits allowing fishermen to customize their lures to achieve neutral buoyancy without adversely affecting action on retrieve.  These are still available today.  The big deal with suspending jerkbaits is that they allow for really long pauses with the lure hanging in place sending a powerful “eat me” signal.   Luckily, today’s bass fisherman does not have to rig homemade solutions to make lures suspend.  Nearly every manufacturer offers a suspending jerkbait and most market a whole line of these models.  You’ll definitely want to invest in a few of these for the late winter and spring transition period.  During March and early April, reach for deep diving models that suspend.  Expect the deepest diving versions to dig down eight to ten feet.  When looking for these, popular choices include the X-Rap by Rapala, the Deep Suspending Rogue by Smithwick, and the Staysee along with the Pointer DD by Lucky Craft.  Several manufacturers offer high end baits.  While some folks wonder if fifteen dollars plus is worth it for a fishing plug, when it comes to those by Lucky Craft, the answer is yes.  Attention to detail in construction is incredible and finishes are the best in my opinion.  And get this, in the Pointer series, the bait is engineered with an internal brass weight which causes it to gently wobble from side to side on each pause.  When you figure that there is always some imparted action from line movement in the water or what not, this flashes the aforementioned “eat me” signal in a big way.   If your fishing budget does not incorporate plugs that cost fifteen plus dollars, buy lesser expensive models and fish them with confidence in the right places.  Having a good basic lure along with confidence in what you’re doing will bridge any gap. 


Faster is Better After Post-Spawn

Deep diving jerkbaits are not the only game in town during the spring.  Their shallow running brothers can get big bites as well.  This holds especially true during warm spells with abundant sunshine and later in spring as the spawn approaches.  In our area, you’ll definitely want to give the McStick by SPRO a try.  Many anglers report excellent success with the McStick even in true cold water conditions.  This minnow imitator is designed to suspend in lower water temperatures than most baits and adjust accordingly for temperature changes.  Don’t ask me how it does this because I don’t know.  Whether fishing deep diving jerkbaits or standard versions, it always pays to cast well beyond your target.  In fact, this is true in most situations other than vertical fishing and surface schooling madness.  The longer cast will ensure that your bait is at the optimum depth when it reaches the target area or range.  I recommend sticking with suspending jerkbaits until spawning kicks in.  During the spawn, I have historically abandoned these lures in favor of soft plastics.  I expect that some anglers do use jerkbaits with success during this period.  In post-spawn conditions, the jerkbait continues to be a great producer.  Early in the post-spawn phase, fish are reluctant to chase hard and grubs or in-line spinners are typically your most productive tools.  But before summer sets in, bass will become extremely aggressive and feed heavily to restore weight.  This is when non-suspending models come into play.  Work these at a faster pace with shorter pauses.  If you’re looking for a topwater bite that’s not happening early or late in the day, this can be a great back up plan to put fish in the boat.  (I know this is off track but if your jerkbait is not getting bit at this time of year, start swimming the grub again).   I just remembered a couple of things.  While it pays to switch out factory treble hooks for super sharp premium models on most plugs, avoid this practice on suspending baits.  Believe it or not, the difference in hook weight can throw superb engineering out of balance.  Buy a premium lure.  It will be equipped with premium hooks and this whole subject will be a non-issue.  If your lure is equipped with round split rings, switch to oval splits.  Your line will never wear due to lodging at the notch.  Take a look at Lucky Craft plugs and you’ll see that these are standard hardware.


Points Point Out Bass

As always, matching a lure with the right tackle is paramount to success.  Jerkbaits are effectively fished with either baitcasting or spinning tackle.  Choose what you’re most comfortable with.  Rod selection depends on the baits being fished.  The right rod will energize your lure in the right manner.  For deep diving jerkbaits, a medium heavy action is a must.  This backbone is needed to impart action to the lure at depth.  If you’re tossing smaller versions to ply shallower depths a medium action rod will often be a fine choice.  I really like the way a Pointer Minnow works on a spinning outfit spooled with eight pound test line.  In our clear water, I max out at ten pound test on baitcasting rigs for the deep divers.  It’s worth noting that lighter lines will facilitate greater running depths.  Six and a half foot rods are a good standard.  Seven foot models can be a bit awkward when trying to keep the tip low.  The low tip method is part of good technique when making a good jerkbait presentation.   Now that we’ve covered the what, when, and how, let’s discuss the where.  Early in this month, concentrate your efforts on points.  Legendary professional bass angler Rick Clunn has noted that “points point out bass”.  Those near creek mouths and up to half way into the backs of tributaries should get your attention.  If you’ve been observant to low water observations of recent years, key on areas with steep drops along with lots of rocks and tree stumps or brush.  These are true bass magnets in this transition time.  Move from one point to another and cover the water methodically.  When the willow trees show greening color, be sure to target boat docks as well.  These are typical hang outs for bass that are moving into the spawning mode.  When the heavy post-spawn bite comes into play, reverse your movements and areas.  Back out to the creek mouth points and any reefs/shallow submerged humps in the area.  In closing, I hope you’ll make jerkbaits part of your strategy for spring success.  It can certainly pay to keep one entire insert of your tackle bag devoted to this productive lure category.  This minnow thing that’s been working so well for so long will certainly work for you.  Until next month, take care and be safe on the water!

Thank You!

Tommy Wilkinson


Shallow Winter Bass

I was recently getting ready for a BFL tournament on a lake I have never fished before. This lake has been known for it's very deep and clear water. When I say deep I mean some catches where coming out of 80' to 100' of water using either a spoon or drop shot.Like I said I had never been on this lake and had been reading a lot of past reports about these deep catches so that was what I had in my mind that I may need to do.

However we have had a very warm winter here in the South and also this particular lake has a warm water discharge on it. But just for this tournament the warm discharge area was off limits to fish. This being the case I went against the normal approach and focused on shallow pockets and creek arms just to see what I could find? And to my surprise I had found some warmer water in the backs of these areas and with that some nice fish. One of my first catches on the lake was a 4lb. largemouth that was in no more than 5 foot of water and I saw this fish chasing bait all the way up the bank into inches of water.

My second trip to the lake I again focused shallow and found an area in the back of a creek with some warmer stained water. Again I was throwing a crankbait to see if I could find some active fish. I was using one of the the new Bass Pro Shops XPS Nitro Square Bill crankbaits and if you are looking for a very affordable good running crankbait this is the one. It retails for $3.99 and runs as true as can be right out of the package not to mention it does deflect well off of cover. You can come to the store or check them out at to see all the available colors.

Using the crankbait I had found shallow active fish in my first spot catching a nice 3lb. spotted bass within my first four cast. Then caught two more and lost a couple of fish so that told me to continue looking shallow. So one of my last days practicing on the lake before the tournament I made another discovery and yes again shallow. I had moved up the lake above the warm water discharge area to the back of a couple of creeks and to my surprise again found 3 large groups of largemouth bass up shallow in inches of water.

Me and my practice partner caught a few of these fish and found that they were pre-spawn females already staging shallow waiting for the consistent warmer weather and longer days. So here I was with 3 good shallow schools of fish and to my excitement they were very shallow and feeding.

So what the message to this blog would be that if you are fishing a lake that you have never been on before and you are reading past reports about how the fish have been caught don't be afraid to try something different and out of the norm. Again like I said before we have had and unusually warm winter and that had played into my favor and pushed some good fish shallow for me to find. Had the we had a normal winter I probably would have had to find the deep schools of fish to catch any.

I know you want to know how I did so here you go. My fish were still there but do to a major front coming in and the wind blowing upwards to 30mph one of my main schools of fish were impossible to fish. So I went to another area that was a little more protected and only managed to catch 4 fish all largemouth in 2ft of water. I ended up with only 5lbs 5oz and in 69th place out of 160 boats. Unfortunately for me I was watching two 3 pounders feeding heavily on threadfin and could not get them to eat what I was offering. But then again that is why they call it fishing and not catching. So again if you find yourself in this same scenario don't be afraid to go shallow during the winter months you might surprise yourself with some nice fish.

Hope to see you on the water!

Josh Panyard


The New Double Haul from Costa Sunglasses


The New Double Haul from Costa Sunglasses

By: Tom Branch, Jr.


Spring time means a time for bright sunshine and a new pair of Costa’s.  The latest style from the Costa’s collection of performance sunglasses is the “Double Haul”.  They have comfort, and an incredible fit for the serious anglers (fresh water or saltwater). Everyone one who wears these will appreciate Costa’s patented vent system in the “Double Haul’s” frame front to alleviate lens fog in extreme weather conditions, as well full eye coverage to allow full range of vision while on the water.

“Double Haul” feature a large fitting frame with Hydrolite™ no-slip nose pads, sturdy integral hinges and durable co-injected molded temples for a comfortable fit.  The new style is available in tortoise, black and the new translucent crystal frame colors (a super cool look).

Anglers can customize their “Double Haul” in Costa’s patented 580™ lenses in either glass or polycarbonate (580P).  Costa’s 580 lenses block the yellow light at 580 nanometers on the light spectrum.  The results are an unparalleled level of polarization and sharp color enhancement. Anglers can now see more fish and other objects through the water more clearly.  Costa’s 580 lens color options include gray, copper, amber, and blue, green and silver mirror. Double Haul is also available in Costa’s 580 Rx program.

“Costa was born on the water, founded by anglers in 1983.  This is the heritage we bring forward into a style like “Double Haul” – the full eye coverage, the sturdy build of the frame, the unrivaled clarity of our 580 lenses – all of our sunglass technology works together to help anglers see more clearly and comfortably ,” said Chas MacDonald, president of Costa Sunglasses.

Check out all the new Costa Sunglasses at their booth in Shreveport, LA February 24-26 at The Bassmaster Classic EXPO show.

The new “Double Haul” style will retail from $179 to $249 depending on the lens customization, and are available online at and at only authorized Costa retail outlets such as- and



About the author: Tom Branch, Jr. is a prostaffer for Bass Pro Shops in Atlanta, GA, a freelance outdoor writer and a full time Lieutenant/Firefighter-Paramedic with over 25 years of service with the Gwinnett County Fire Service in Georgia. Tom and his wife, Kim live north of Atlanta near Braselton, GA with their 2 labs “Jake” and “Scout”.


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Clear Waters and the Fish Head Spin

Hi my name is Josh Panyard and I have been fishing all my life and here in the last few years have been fishing local tournaments in the area and this year have stepped up into the FLW BFL series tournaments to see how well I can do.

Today I want to talk about the Fish Head Spin from Sworming Hornet lures this is a great tool to use on the water if you have a clear water lake and spotted bass, small mouth bass, and large mouth bass. It is responsible for 2 FLW Forest Wood cup wins back to back years and 1.2 million dollars. If you have not seen this come into your local Bass Pro Shops or visit us online at to see what I am talking about.

I was recently using one here on Lake Lanier where it started its fame with a FLW open win by one of the locals. I was fishing a FLW BFL on February 18th and ended up 10th out of 141 boats with a weight of 15lbs 2oz all caught on the Fish Head. If you have not used this or put it in your arsenal of baits you should. It is an under spin bait meaning it has a lead molded minnow shaped head with a small spinner blade attached under the bait with a single hook. The most popular trailer used on this bait is the Zoom Super Fluke Jr. however some guys are using the new Zoom Swimming fluke Jr. on the back to add a little action.

The best way to use this bait is to throw it up on long points with deep water close by, deep bluff banks, or deep ditches with standing timber. You want this bait to hit the bottom and then give it a quick snap up and a slow reel back to the boat keeping the bait as close to the bottom as possible. Most of the time you will feel the fish tick the bait a few times trying to injure the lure then all of a sudden your line will get heavy like you have run into something. Now here is where it is critical you DO NOT want to jerk to set the hook all you want to do is lean into the rod like you would a crank bait. If you try to set the hook or jerk the rod you will pull the bait out of the fish mouth.

This bait comes in a good selection of sizes and most commonly used are the 3/8oz and 1/2oz I was using the 1/2oz size to catch most of my fish. Now there will be time in early spring where I like to use the 1/4oz size in shallow water. The Fish Head does really well in the winter and summer months when you need a deeper presentation and even when you need a bait that you can cast a long way in the summer for schooling fish.

Give the Fish Head a try but remember don’t try and set the hook just let the line get heavy and lean into the fish to hook up. If you would like to learn how to rig it up or a personal lesson on how to use this bait come see me here at the Atlanta store and I will show you what you need to know.


Hope to see you on the water!

Josh Panyard


Bowhunting Black Bears in Georgia

2011 Bear Taxid CloseBlack Bear season in Georgia coincides with the regular deer season starting in mid September and ending the first of December.
The regulations for Georgia are a little different than in most other states in that a hunter cannot use bait or bait scents to lure bears into range. In other words, you must hunt black bears on their own ground using just your hunting skills. I have been bow hunting bears for the last 3 years taking a small one late last year. Working with a fellow bow hunter has proven to be most helpful and last month all of my preparations became a reality.

First, I had to get my equipment setup for bear hunting. It is a little different in that my hunting is from the ground as I have to hike more than a mile to get to the specific area to see bears. That included purchasing the correct products for the hunt all of which we stock at Bass Pro Shops in Atlanta. Some interesting facts about Black Bears is that they are 95% vegetarian. Finding a good food source is critical. They really love acorns and good crops in neighboring fields. Their nose and ears are great but their eyes are not good at all. Basically, a hunter needs to play the wind and stay quiet when hunting.

I started with Victory Archery Arrows and tipped them with Magnus Stinger 4 Blade 100 grain broadheads. Bears are thicker than whitetail deer so a good sharp broadhead is very important. Next I would need a ground blind and a really good seat pad from Primos Hunting products.
A good backpack would be necessary to get all of my equipment along with my bow and arrows to the hunting location. Badlands makes several packs that are comfortable and will carry not only your gear but can accommodate your gun or bow easily. The last equipment for the bow hunt would be the clothing. Scent-Lok has all of the necessities needed for a great hunting experience from base layers to outer clothing needed to keep you warm and scent free along with a good scent eliminating spray Scent Killer from Wildlife Research Center. Danner boots coupled with Redhead Lifetime socks are necessary as a lot of hiking in the mountains is required. Windicator from Hunter's Specialties will make sure that I am positioned perfectly for the shot.

Finally with all of the pre-scouting done and the animals located, it was time for the season to start. The first few weeks I located several bears but all of them were on the move and would not give me a broadside shot which is required for harvesting a black bear. Some of the encounters were comical and scary at the same time. On one occasion, I came face to face with a large bear at a distance of about 30 yards. We had a stand off for about 30 seconds before the bear turned and walked away. I thought he was gone and settled in for the rest of the hunt. About 5 minutes later I turned to look back in the general direction of the bear only to see him not more than 20 Feet away looking at me through some low bushes. He startled me and then he left the area for good. Black bears can be quiet as a church mouse when the need arises. 

During the third week of the season, I located a place for a good ground blind between two trails that would put me 15 yards from one trail and 30 yards from another trail. October 10 found me in that location 30 minutes before daylight and ready for the day to begin. Shooting light was at 7:30am and I was ready, listening to the day awake and watching the trails intently. Then, at 7:35am I heard a branch break down the hill from me. Then another and another getting closer each time. At 7:40am, the big black bear came into view at 60 yards and closing pretty quick. I grabbed my bow and got ready for a shot. The bear turned to his right and chose the trail that would bring him the closest to my position. At one point he stopped to eat some Rhododendron leaves not more than 25 yards away. I drew my bow and got ready for him to step into the shooting lane. He stopped perfectly at 15 yards and I released my arrow. A perfect broadside shot and the bear turned and ran back down the hill from where he had come. Thank goodness he ran down the hill toward the truck. I was located almost one mile up the mountain in thick brush.

After waiting for about 30 minutes I called a friend to help with the recovery. We found him in no time as the Magnus Stinger broadhead had done its job perfectly. Upon inspection of the bear, he weighed 320 pounds and would make the Pope & Young record books with no trouble. He was a huge male that was around 15-20 years old with a perfect long coat. Black bears need several qualities to make the record books. Pope & Young record for bow and arrows need a measurement of the skull of 18 inches and for Boone & Crockett the measurement needs to be more than 21 inches. Field judging is critical and not that easy but there are keys to when viewing big bears. First look at the ears. Small bears look like dogs with their ears close together. As a bear ages the ears spread to the sides and a crease becomes evident in the middle. The next feature is the legs. Large heavy bears have short thick legs with big bellies hanging down. Once you have those two features, it is time to get into position for the shot. Black Bear hunting with either gun or bow is exciting and I encourage all hunters to put their skills to the test.

Bill Millican
Bass Pro Shops Atlanta
Archery Specialists. 


Archery in the Spring

By: Bill Millican

First let me introduce myself. My name is Bill Millican and I have worked at the Atlanta Bass Pro store since 2005, first as the Archery Lead and now as one of the Operational Support Associates. I have been involved in archery for more than 35 years from local and national competitions to bowhunting all across the United States and Canada. At the present time I hold 6 GBAA State Archery Titles and have shot more than 100 animals while using only my bow and arrow.

During this year I will post information on the equipment, techniques and methods that have brought me success both on the target line and in the field.

Spring is the perfect time to tune up your bow for the tournament season or to get your equipment ready for the upcoming bowhunting season.

You might think about replacing that bow string, upgrading not only your arrow rest but your release and how about getting some new arrows. In the Atlanta store, we have a great selection of products that will enhance your shooting skills. Our archery staff has some of the most knowledgeable technicians in North Georgia and can assist you with a new purchase or help with your shooting form.

If you are looking for a new adventure, why not try Bowfishing? Visit our archery department to see all the bowfishing kits that we carry from a complete setup including a specialized bow to a simple bowfishing arrow, rest and reel. Once you are setup, visit any lake in the state of Georgia and you can find plenty of action starting with Grass Carp and Long-nose Gar.
  • During the spring, the carp start spawning and are easy targets all along the edges of the lakes and in really shallow water. A boat is not necessary but if you want to get back where there is not a lot of competition, you might consider one of our Tracker Jon Boats. We have a great selection.

During the month of April there are two major archery tournaments, with the first being the GBAA State Turkey. This tournament will be held in Savannah, Georgia the weekend of April 16 & 17. Visit the Georgia Bowhunters Archery Association at or Ogeechee Bowmen at for information on registration and directions to the range. The weather should be great and the range is in excellent condition.

The other tournament is the ASA Augusta Pro Am. This tournament is being held April 29 - May 1 on the grounds of Ft. Gordon. Visit for registration details and directions. Plan on a fun filled weekend as there will be more than 1,000 shooters from all across the country competing.

In our great state of Georgia, Turkey season is well under way, starting March 25 and ending on May 15. That leaves about a month to get your turkey if you have not already done so. The limit in Georgia is three gobblers and from all indications the hunting has been great!

During your visit to our store, the hunting department has a wide variety of turkey calls, decoys and ammo and don't forget to check our Camo department. We have some great deals on Turkey gear from complete camo outfits and hats, to headnets and vests designed to make your hunting experience the best it can be.