Just Arrived- Columbia UGA Apparel!

Columbia University of Georgia apparel has arrived here out the Savannah Bass Pro Shops- just as the college football season begins to heat up!  We have several great styles of shirts, both shortsleeve and longsleeve, as well as UGA jackets. Come on by and get in the latest college Columbia gear before next Saturday!  These are located right near our front entrance by the Customer Service counter.

Columbia UGA Tamiami Shirt

We also have all sorts of different college-themed apparel and accessories, as well as all the gear you need to make your next tailgate a success.  We've got portable grills, grilling tools, seasonings, and sauces.  Don't forget the cooler, folding table, and chairs!  When tailgating with the family or a big party, a canopy is essential.  We have a great selection of canopies, including our Bass Pro Deluxe Instant Canopy. The 12 foot model provides 144 square feet of protection from sun and rain! Don't forget to pick up snacks, either- we have a great selection of jerky, nuts, and other munchies!


BPS Deluxe Instant Canopy

That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to tailgating accessories here at Bass Pro Shops Savannah, so make sure you head on down before you head to the stadium!

 

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Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater

Mr. Heater Portable

 

In early January the nation suffered through the Polar Vortex.  Temperatures plummetted to the teens in the Savannah area and many people were caught off gaurd by the unusually cold weather.  Due to this weather event Bass Pro Shops had a run on Hand Warmers and our Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater.  This indoor safe heater is an essential item when cold weather is upon us.  This item, listed at $99.99, features a single control for starting and heat adjustment, can put out 4,000-9,000 BTUs of heat with a hi-low setting, and can heat up to 200 square feet of space.  Safety features include a low oxygen safety shut-off system and a tip-over safety shut off.  It can run off of a 16 oz propane bottle or with the addition of a Mr. Heater 5' Propane Hose Assembly users can operate the heater with a 20 gallon propane tank.  A 16 oz. cylinder will provide 3 to 6 hours of heat, while a 20 gallon tank will provide 48 to 110 hours, depending upon the setting you use. It is great for campers, hunters, boaters, and every day general household use.  It is definitely a must have for colder weather. 

 

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Selecting the Right Boot This Season

By Bart Hiter

When it comes to hunting boots, today’s technology creates many different options to choose from.  But when purchasing your new boots, it is important to understand the conditions you will be hunting in. 

Redhead Bayou Zip Men's

Redhead Bayou Side Zip For Men

Early season may require a snakeboot like the RedHead Camo Bayou Side Zip or Bayou Lace-Up for protection in the warmer scouting season and on into bow season.  As the weather begins to cool, a more traditional lace-up boot might be more suited for early conditions.

Redhead Trialblazer Boot

Redhead Trailblazer Boot

Based on your location, there are a number of different boots to keep you warm and dry in any hunting environment.  Here in the southeast where the temperatures tend to be warmer, most hunters will go with a non-insulated, waterproof boot.   Ideal boots for these conditions would be the RedHead Trail Blazer, Silent Hide, or Trekker III.  Similar boots are available from well known brands such as Wolverine, Rocky, Under Armour, Danner and more.  For colder temperature areas, more insulation or Thinsulate will keep you warm as the season goes on.  Thinsulate is measured in grams and when you see a number in a boot description, it identifies the amount of insulation in the boot.  The higher the number, the warmer the boot.  To keep warm in colder temperatures, try the RedHead RCT 9” Insulated, Osage II, or Expedition.  Again, more boots are available through a variety of manufacturers.

Redhead RCT Boot

Redhead RCT Boot

 

No matter the situation, Bass Pro Shops has you covered for all your hunting boot needs.  Stop by and see our footwear specialist today.

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Bone Suckin' Sauce and Seasoning Rub

By Dixie Keese

Bone Suckin' Sauce

Bone Suckin' Sauce

RIB’S cooked indoors our outdoors need that little special sauce to give it that great flavor, well we have a great Seasoning and Sauce that will do just that.  Ladies the next time you want to impress someone with great ribs and make them think you have been slaving over the grill all day, I have a recipe for you.

Bone Suckin' Seasoning and Rub

Bone Suckin' Seasoning and Rub

Bone Suckin’ Sauce and Seasoning Rub, that’s all you need.  The night before you are ready to cook (at least 4 hours) your ribs, about 3 racks, rub them down front and back with Bone Suckin’ Seasoning and Rub, wrap in saran wrap, stick back in the refrigerator. 

Preheat your oven to 300, place ribs covered in the oven, let them cook slow for 3 hours.

 

If you like wet ribs that last hour cover with the Bone Suckin’ Sauce!  That’s it, you're done!  They are easy and taste great. 

Juicy Ribs

 

Of course if you have time you can do this same thing on the grill, just wrap them in tinfoil, let them cook low and slow.

 

Cooked and Tested in my kitchen!

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Z-Man Lures Combining Durability with Fish-Catching Attraction

 By Ty Butler


Z-Man Lures

Z-Man Lures is a company that has been around for awhile, making excellent value-priced baits for bass fishing.  Their ElaZtech plastics are known for being the most durable on the market, and their Chatterbait created a whole new revolutionary style of fishing.  Now Z-Man is taking the world of saltwater lures by storm, making a series of inshore soft plastics that are shaking up a saltwater industry that had been dominated by just a handful of companies.

As one would expect, all of Z-Man's inshore saltwater baits are also made of the incredible ElaZtech material that can stretch out over 3 times it's normal length, and still spring back to perfect shape every time.  This translates to outstanding durability.  I have had many fishing trips where I have caught fish all day on one of these baits without even changing out my bait once!  The fact that you get this much durability is even more incredible when you find out that each bag is priced at only 3.99 USD!  A single bag of these baits can last for weeks of fishing trips!  ElaZtech is also neutrally buoyant, which means that when rigged with a light hook, it floats!

Z-Man's inshore saltwater series are infused and coated with the potent Pro-Cure Super Gel inshore scent, which we also offer in seperate bottles here at the Savannah Bass Pro Shops.  This scent is gel- and protein-based, not oil based like most attactant.  Oil based scents tend to wash off of your lure after a few casts.  However, Pro-Cure Super Gel stays on your lures for a long time.  From experience, I can say that this scent will result in more strikes and fish will hold onto the bait longer.  The addition of this scent in Z-Man's lures just increases their great value even more!

Z-Man Scented PaddlerZ

Z-Man Scented PaddlerZ

Their are several different bait styles offered by Z-Man in their saltwater series.  My favorite are the Scented PaddlerZ- a shad style bait with a boot tail.  It also features articulated slots on the sides that increase the wiggling action of this bait.  It has already proven to be an outstanding bait for redfish, seatrout, and flounder.  I like to rig these baits in two different ways: a 1/4 ounce jighead when fishing dropoffs, structure, or current, and a swimbait hook for weedless presentation when fishing marsh grass or oyster shells.  You can either retrieve it with a fast, darting action or a slow, steady wiggle.  I like the Bad Shad color for clear water or the Electric Chicken color for dirty water.

Z-Man Scented Jerk ShadZ

Z-Man Scented Jerk ShadZ

Another great bait is the Scented Jerk Shad, a fluke-style bait with a split tail.  I find this is an excellent bait to target redfish in the marsh grass or over oyster shells. I like to use either a swimbait hook or completely weightless with a Gamakatsu superline hook.  Either method will allow a weedless, snagless presentation.  See more about using this great bait in our Wade Routes article.  I prefer the same color selection as the PaddlerZ.

Z-Man Scented ShrimpZ

Z-Man Scented ShrimpZ

The Scented ShrimpZ are another great offering that have proven to be especially great for speckled trout.  These are the most durable shrimp baits on the market - no more bitten off legs!  These baits seem to work best when fished under a popping cork or bounced on the bottom with a carolina rig.  A 20 pound fluorocarbon leader works best, and under a cork I will attach a couple of split shot weights to keep the bait down.  I have had the most success with the natural and redbone colors.

Z-Man Diezel MinnowZ

Z-Man Diezel MinnowZ - Coming Soon!

A quick preview of one more bait from Z-Man coming to Bass Pro Shops this fall.  The Z-Man Diezel MinnowZ are 4 inch mud-minnow style paddletail baits.  They feature a recessed hook slot in the top of the bait to help keep it weedless.  Also, the soft ElaZtech material gives it an impressive thump on even a slow retrieve, and they come in a variety of baitfish-imitating colors.

Z-Man has definitely shaken things up in the saltwater inshore bait market.  These baits pack a lot of value with fish-catching attraction.  Stop by Bass Pro Shops in Savannah and check out the entire selection.  Our team can even give you tips to rig up and use these exciting baits.

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Big Game Eyecon Mantis Game Camera

By John Kinard

Big Game Eyecon Mantis

Big Game Eyecon  "The Mantis"

Game cameras have become the focus of many people, not only for hunting, but for animal watching and security purposes. One of the main draw backs on game cameras is not being able to attach them to a “not so straight tree” or at a certain height. Big Game has come out with a new camera that has an adjustable head to address this problem. It is “The Mantis”. This allows the camera to be attached to a limb or tree that is not straight and it can be placed at a height above eye level, which helps when used for security purposes. This camera is also equipped with a no-glow IR flash. 9.0 megapixels, and a 70 ft flash range. The adjustable head has up to 120 degrees of adjustment. For a more detailed description of this camera visit our website here.

The Mantis Pivot Angle

The Mantis can pivot up to 120 degrees vertically

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GoPro Hero 3 Black Camera

By Zachary Naspinski

GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition

GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition

The GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition is the newest of its kind and has the ability to capture the highest quality picture and video available.  It has 4 kp scanning meaning there are 4 thousand pixels that transition or change within each frame.  The camera has a black and white mode, and can be also used to snap pictures that are taken in manually adjusted second intervals that can be controlled through the W.F. remote.

GoPro LCD Touch BacPac

LCD Touch BacPac

The GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition is the only GoPro camera that includes the W.F. remote in the $399.99 purchase.  The WiFi remote can control up to 50 GoPro cameras at a time and has a 600 ft range.  Two adhesvise, a quick release, and a tripod mount are also included in the purchase.  The camera comes with a rechargeable battery and stores video and pictures on a micro SD card which is not included.  Another accessory that is not included is LCD Touch BACPAC (79.99), which is the only way to get instant playback on your GoPro. 

One problem some people don’t see is that when you upload your footage to your computer, the resolution of the video is only as good as the quality of your computer screen.  However, the GoPro is compatible with quality down to 720p scanning.

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North Face Flint 2 Tent

By Noah Formby

North Face Flint 2

North Face Flint 2

The North Face Flint 2 is a great tent for hiking and backpacking.  Weighing in at just over 4 pounds it is lightweight and its simple design makes putting t up and taking it down fast and hassle free.  While the rainfly ensures that you will stay nice and dry, the fact that the tent is mesh means that if the weather is nice you can leave the fly off and enjoy the breeze while gazing up at the night sky and still be protected from mosquitoes and other bugs.  On weekends when you just want to pack up your gear and go camping the Flint 2 still gives a good showing.  A twin air mattress can fit in it while still leaving a border for shoes and other gear, and the headroom is still enough to sit up in comfortably. 

So whether you’re hiking the Applachian Trail or just getting away for the weekend, the North Face Flint 2 is the tent for the job.

 

 

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Wade Routes

By Ty Butler

 

Wade fishing on the Georgia Coast and the South Carolina Low Country is one of the best ways to access the marsh flats which redfish invade on a bimonthly basis.  Most tidal swings in the area average 6 to 7 feet, which is a large swing anywhere else on the Southeast coast.  However, for a few days around the new and full moons each month the tidal change can approach 10 feet or more.  Fishing for species such as seatrout, sheepshead, or flounder can be very problematic during big tidal changes.  These periods, called “spring” tides, flood the higher areas of the tidal flats where bottom predators can’t normally reach.  Redfish (locally known as spottail bass), invade these virgin areas in order to gorge themselves on fiddler crabs and shrimp.  This gives anglers a unique opportunity to sight fish for the premier inshore saltwater gamefish of the South.


Redfish on the flood tide

A beautiful Georgia redfish caught sight fishing.

 

There are some issues with accessing these areas.  Georgia and South Carolina marshes are mostly bottomed with soft, deep “pluff” mud, which is not only annoying to wade in, but can also be life threatening and has taken lives.  There are areas that are much safer, though, and luckily redfish flock to them.  Hard, sandy bottom can be found at the back of most saltwater creek systems, and this is exactly where reds go when the tide floods high.  I recommend that you scout for such areas at low tide before you start targeting fish when the grass floods.  There are several indicators you should look for in a redfish flat, but you need to know what to look for.

 

Coastal Georgia holds a winding maze of inland wetlands within its 100 straight miles that holds one third of all salt marsh on the entire Atlantic East Coast.  The Low Country of South Carolina and the First Coast of North Florida have similar ecosystems.  Most of this salt marsh is composed of smooth spartina cordgrass, which is very tall, thick, and re-grows each year.  It grows in the soft “pluff” mud which should be avoided if one wants to wade fish.  The best areas to look for are those with a compacted sand bottom with a species of short, scattered spartina grass known as “salt marsh hay”.  You can tell from afar that these areas look like “potholes” in the taller grass.  These are the types of areas that fiddler and ghost crabs burrow in large colonies and redfish love to target them.  Old timers will tell you that another plant to look for in a good redfish spot is a short, bright green edible plant known as “saltwort.”

 


A kayak is a perfect choice to attack the marsh flats.

 

Once you find a good spot with firm, safe wading bottom, you need to choose your approach.  There are a select few areas that are accessible by foot from dry land.  However, most areas will require a flats boat or kayak to access.  A flats boat can get you to far, remote areas- but a kayak can get you right up on the fish with a stealthy approach.    Some ambitious anglers combine both by using their boat as a mothership and launching their kayak within striking distance.  Either way, I like to get out of my vehicle and foot it into the enemy territory.  I find this is the most “ninja-like” approach and least likely to spook the fish.  For protection I do prefer to wear a full coverage, draining shoe, such as Sperry SON-R.  You never know when you might encounter a stingray or razor-sharp oyster shells.  For gear, I prefer a fairly long rod, 7 to 8 feet, with a 3000 or 4000 size spinning reel.  This will give you the longer cast you will want.  Braided line is a must as it will allow you to use 17 to 50 pound test line though it is a much smaller diameter.  This will give you much-needed line capacity and abrasion resistance in grass and shells.  I like to end it with a 15 to 25 pound Seaguar fluorocarbon leader.  Fluorocarbon is even more abrasion resistant and is almost invisible underwater.  


So much marsh, so little time...

 

When you arrive on the marsh flat, you will only have a short window to go after the red battlers.  Most flats are only flooded an hour or two before and after high tide.  When the current starts to pull off the flat, redfish know they need to leave quickly.  I like to arrive about 3 hours before high tide and move back through the grass as it floods.  Even though time is short, you need to slow down and be observant.  Use polarized sunglasses, such as Costa del Mar and search for tails breaking the surface and slowly waving.  If the wind is blowing, this can be tricky- but look for anything that doesn’t move with the wind.  These are usually redfish grubbing around on the bottom in search of fiddler crabs and other crustaceans.

 

 

Z-Man Jerk Shad

 

When you spot a redfish, or a school, it is time to make a presentation.  With all the possibilities out there, I have a few select go-to lures.  When fly fishing I prefer Clouser Minnows or shrimp/crab patterns, like the redfish toad.  With conventional gear I almost exclusively use the scented Z-Man Jerk Shad or a weedless-rigged DOA Shrimp.  I buy DOA  baits in the money-saving body kits offered by BPS and hook them using a ⅛ ounce weighted-shank Gamakatsu swimbait hook.  I heavily scent all my baits using shrimp Pro-Cure Super Gel, which we offer at Bass Pro Shops in Savannah.  This scent is a gel-based concentrate that lasts all day and has proven results.

 

The most critical juncture when chasing redfish on the flat is when you make your cast.  If you are off my just couple of inches, you may spook the fish.  Take note of the direction the fish is moving, take account for the wind, and aim just beyond and ahead of the redfish.  When your bait lands, make just a couple of cranks to reel in the slack and pull the bait into the path of the fish.  Then just let the bait sit and hold your rod tip high.  If the fish attacks, you will see a swirl and feel weight through your rod tip.  Set the hook hard, because redfish have rubberlike lips and hard jaws.  If you are successful in your hookset, you will know quickly.

Attwood Folding Net

 

With a fish on, keep your rodtip high, but let your drag do the work.  Redfish, especially large ones, will take a very hard first run.  It will strip yards off the drag, but just let it run and use your rodtip to maintain its direction.  If the fish starts to near a thicker, taller patch of grass (which they all seem smart enough to do), then you should try directing it away or  slightly  tightening the drag.  If you are successful in stopping that first run, you are in good shape.  Reel the fish in, slowing down if the fish shakes its head or takes a secondary run.  I like to use a folding net to land the fish once it gets close.  Attwood makes an excellent net which folds up into a very compact package.

 

 

SpyPoint X-Cel Camera

 

Redfish can only be kept in this area within a slot limit.  In Georgia, they can only be kept in a slot between 14 to 23 inches with a 5 fish per day limit.  Similarly, in South Carolina they can only be kept 15 to 23 inches with a 3 fish per day limit.  A lot of fish caught on the flats, though, are above the slot limit.  Breeding-age fish 24 to 36 inches are often caught on the marsh flats before they move off the beaches.  I would hope that all these fish are released to secure the future of this amazing fishery.  Take a picture with your smart phone or use a video camera like the Spypoint X-Cel Sport or the GoPro Hero to capture the moment for the future.

 

The Southeast coast from the Low Country through the Coastal Empire, the Golden Isles, and into North Florida offers some unique opportunities to target redfish in an environment where they are particularly vulnerable.  Take some time to look ahead to the next new or full moon tide, and plan on visiting Bass Pro Shops to gear up for the next “red dawn” when the spottails invade the territory of the walking angler.

 

Some info provided by our friend Captain “Wild Bill” Jarrell- http://captainwildbill.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Boating Safety Basics

The heat is on…and it’s a great time to jump in your boat and hit the water. It’s a great feeling cruising on the water or heading to your favorite fishing hole. With more boats and boaters on the water now than ever, it’s critical to be prepared and safe to ensure a memorable time. Being stranded or not prepared for emergencies in your boat can be very frustrating, but with proper precautions this can be prevented.

Before your boat trips make sure your rig and trailer are in good working order and have had a recent service performed. Make sure you have all necessary safety equipment required by the Coast Guard. There are a few items not required but would greatly assist in emergencies. A first aid kit, a GPS, VHF radio, Cell phone, anchors, tow rope, knife, tools, boat hook, and of course an EPIRB are some to consider.

Preparation is the key to any boat excursion and boating safety. In Georgia there is a new Mandatory Education Law that requires anyone born after Jan. 1 1998 who operates a power boat must complete a DNR approved Boat Education Course. The Savannah/Chatham Marine Patrol will be conducting boating safety courses at the Savannah Mall training facility Aug. 17 and Sept. 21. You may contact the SCMPD at 912-353-1004 to register. Safe boating and have a great summer!

 

Bass Pro Shops Savannah

Boating/Marine Dept.

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Savannah's Secret Stripers

Stripers are, biologically, a very interesting fish. They are native to saltwater, but are highly tolerant to freshwater. So much so, that many reservoirs and lakes now have large populations of stripers that live their entire lives in freshwater. Ocean stripers of the Northeast live mostly in the saltwater until it is time to spawn, when they move into brackish and freshwater estuaries. Georgia's stripers, though (and those of the St. John's River in Florida) have the opposite life cycle. They live mostly upriver in freshwater during the warmer months, and then move into the brackish and saltwater in the winter.

Striper



The Savannah River estuary, from roughly the I-95 bridge all the way to the Wilmington River, is where you can usually find the stripers this time of year. The best spots have deep, vertical structure, which is why the two hottest spots are at the Houlihan Bridge in Port Wentworth and the old tide gates on the Back River behind Hutchinson Island. The pilings act as current breaks which the stripers can hide behind to ambush prey. Old pilings and channel markers along the Port Wentworth docks hold fish, as well as the mouths of old rice canals feeding into the Savannah Wildlife Refuge.

The Savannah River gets most of the fanfare, but the Forest River and Ogeechee also hold good populations of stripers. Again, bridge pilings and rice canal mouths are good striper-holding structure.
 

Suffix 832 Braid


Fairly stout tackle is a must, because some of these fish top 50 pounds. Heavy spinning tackle with 30-50 pound braided line is the best way to go. Suffix 832 Braid is an excellent choice, as it has added Gore fibers (as in Gore-Tex) that increase abrasion resistance and presvents saltwater from penetrating the line.  Live bait can be a good choice depending on what's available. When stripers are feeding on the top, a shrimp under a popping cork is a treat for them. When they're on the bottom, which is where they will be most of the time, a livelined finger mullet is the way to go.  If you can get your hands on live eels, those are also an excellent live bait choice.

Various artificial lures will work for stripers, but perhaps the best two choices are large swimbaits or bucktail jigs.

Tsunami Swim Shad



Swimbaits are soft plastic baitfish-shaped lures that are pre-weighted and hooked. You just tie them on and cast. These are great baits when the stripers are feeding on mullet and pogies, and several companies make imitations of these baits. A 5' Tsunami swim shad in a mullet pattern is a great imitation for the local forage, and it is perfect for stripers. Keep in mind that stripers often hit big baits. Swimbaits 6 inches or larger are readily taken by even small fish. When retrieving, let the bait fall to the bottom, then retrieve it slowly, letting the current give it action. Pause periodically, letting the bait flutter down. This falling action is often what triggers the striper's instinct to feed.

Big Eye Salty Jig


Bucktail or skirted jigs are classic lures for stripers that have been used for generations. The best jigs for river fishing are in the 1/2-ounce to 3 ounce range. Large tides combined with increased flow from the dams upriver can make the current very strong in the Savannah River at times. Heavier jigs will help get the bait to the bottom. I love the new Salt Life Big Eye Salty jigs built by C&H.  These are best pitched very tightly to structure. A jig falling vertically along a piling is almost unbearable to some stripers. The best color combos are red and white or chartreuse and white. To increase the action, pin a chartreuse grub trailer or other small soft plastic to the hook. You can also tip the hook with a small strip of mullet or piece of shrimp to sweeten the deal even more.

Stripers move with the tide and current, so it can take som patience to locate.  When you do, though, you are in for a real treat as few fish in the river can match the fighting power of the striped bass. Savannah area stripers are a great wintertime foe that get little pressure.  Get after them before the waters warm and they move upstate!

 

-Ty Butler

Savannah Bass Pro Fishing Sales Manager

A special thanks to Captain Jack McGowan for some of the pictures featured in this post.  Captain Jack is a local guide that specializes in targeting stripers.  Be sure to contact him for more information!

Captain Jack McGowan

Coastal River Charters

912-441-9930

www.coastalrivercharters.com

 

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Call Your Bluff

 

Georgia coastal bluff

 

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

Flippin' Timber, Bass Fishing Style

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


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

Gulp Swimmin Minnow


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


Spottails at the Oyster Bar


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


Urban Bite

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

DOA Shrimp


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

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

 

Ty Butler

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Early Summertime Fishing- Clarks Hill

Some say post spawn fishing is difficult and aggravating. I say they haven’t been to Clarks Hill Reservoir in the early summer.

Late spring and early summer are my favorite times to be fishing at Clarks Hill. The bass are completely done spawning and are mostly chasing herring in open water. There are two types of conditions that you will face in the summer time: windy days and calm, slick days.

On the windy days, fishing is fun and somewhat easy. You need to be prepared to get out on those windy points and fish a lot of them.  Figure out which way the wind is blowing and fish every main lake point and hump on that side of the lake. I like to fish the upper water column when the wind is blowing.

The handful of lures I reach for is fairly simple. My big fish bait is a 6” or an 8” 22nd Century Triple Trout in a herring color. I like to burn that big swimbait just under the surface. It is amazing how far some of these big Savannah River largemouths will come to get a piece of that bait.

My number one search bait on these windy points is a clear Ima Skimmer. I think the clear color is the best because the fish never get a good look at the bait. What I like about this bait is that I can cover a ton of water very quickly. If there are fish on a point, they will either annihilate the bait or reveal themselves. The hooks that come standard on these Ima baits are some of the sharpest hooks I have ever dealt with.

If I get a fish to come up and swat at my skimmer and miss it, I will follow up with a Zoom Super Fluke.  I always rig my flukes with a 4/0 wide gap hook.  You will get better hook penetration with a wide gap hook. You will find yourself missing a lot of fish with a regular worm hook. Sometimes, I will even rig a treble hook in my fluke to increase my hook up ratio. I’m normally fishing this bait fast, just under the surface so the color isn’t entirely important as long as it is in a baitfish hue.

If the wind isn’t blowing, I like to slow it down and drop shot humps and bridge pylons.  On herring lakes, the only lure worth throwing on a drop shot is a 4” Roboworm straight tail worm in morning dawn color. The blue streak in the bait really stands out when the bait is in the water. The size of your weight depends on the depth and the amount of current you are dealing with at that moment.

Remember the points you catch fish on. Mark it on your GPS and come back to it later that day. Those fish will regroup and reload on that particular point all day long. They may not be there the next day but the day you find them, they will be there all day long.

Remember to fish fast and fish smart. Don’t spend too much time in an area if you’re not getting bit. The fish may be on the point, next to you. You will never run out of points on Clarks Hill.

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Sheepshead Fishing Like A Pro

By: Cliff Rose

Sheepshead are one of the most trying adventures in all of fishing. Many anglers have nicknamed these brutes the “Jailhouse Fish” for their ability to steal your bait. You can find these fish everywhere; from fallen trees in back water creeks, to bridges, docks, and offshore structures.


The biggest brutSheepsheades are found offshore. Offshore Sheepshead can weigh 14
lbs. and pull like a Mack truck! They possess a mouth full of flat molar teeth
that look more like they belong on a farm animal than a fish. They crush small shellfish and crabs, and then suck the insides out of the shell in a matter of seconds.

Because their bite is so hard to detect, you must use a straight vertical approach for these fish. You don’t have to cast out more than one foot, just let your rig straight down. Use a very short piece of 20 lb. fluorocarborn leader, no more than 16 inches long, a small barrel swivel at one end and a 1/0 short shank hook at the other. I change out hook sizes according to the size fish I’m seeing. In back creeks I may go down to a #1 and offshore I go up to a 2/0 hook. As far as weight goes, offshore I use a 2oz and inshore anything from a 3/4oz to 2oz, depending on the current.

 

When I am wSheepshead mouthorking my bait, I pick up about a foot and then let it float back down to the bottom. When I feel the slightest resistance I set the hook. You will probably get robbed until you can master the feel of the bite. I guess the best way to describe it would be to compare it to worm fishing for bass, when your lure has resistance or a stop that’s him on the other end! Other things to consider are your line and rod choice. I like 20 lb. braid over mono line; I can feel the bite easier using this line. For the rod, I like a 7 to 7 foot 6 inch rod, with a very quick taper and a heavy butt section to add power.
 

So try taking on a few Jailhouse Fish and enjoy the fight, not to mention the fine table fare that night!

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2012 Savannah Wounded Warrior Tournament

Leading up to the second annual Wounded Warrior fishing tournament at Lake Mayer, local anglers were not too excited about how the lake had been producing quality fish in the weeks prior to the event. The previous year the tournament was won with 16.6 lbs and a big fish of 5.5lbs. The fish were in the midst of the spawn and were fairly easy targets in the bulrushes that surrounded the lake.

 

We had an unusually warm winter this year and relatively hot spring. With this warm weather, it warmed up the water temperature in the lake faster then most were expecting. Fish that were caught last year in the bulrushes in mid April were being caught in the bulrushes in the middle of February. The warm weather had put a jump start on the fish’s spawning activities not only at Lake Mayer but at all the lakes throughout the southeast.

 

The fish that were caught at this year’s Wounded Warrior tournament were entirely comprised of post spawn fish. Post spawn fish can sometimes be very finicky and difficult to catch. The large females will retreat back to deep water or some sort of cover near by to recuperate. The males will hang around and guard the beds and the newly hatched fry from other predators until the young ones are able to fend for themselves. Once the fish have recovered from their yearly spawning activities, they begin gorging themselves on shad and other types of forage. This year’s winner, Tim Butler, caught his limit of fish on a medium running crankbait in a shad pattern first thing in the morning. He made one pass down a bank and had his five keepers in 7 casts. He did not have another bite after 8 AM.

 

I finished 3rd this year with only two keepers weighing 5.04 lbs. Our first keeper was caught by my partner, Jason Cox, on a spinner bait. He had several other flashes and follows on his spinner bait. We should have turned around and fished through the area again while the fish were actively feeding, taking advantage of the early morning shad bite. We caught a few other short fish throughout the day on Strike King Series 5 crankbait in a sexy shad color. Our other keep came in the final moments of the day flipping bulrushes with a Zoom ultra-vibe speed craw, in a green pumpkin color, finishing our day in 3rd place. My hats off to Tim for winning this year’s event at Lake Mayer.

 

After the event, I had the pleasure of taking out Bass Pro Shops Promotional Coordinator, Kelly Sisney, for a little fishing adventure. In the first ten minutes of being back out on Lake Mayer, we were able to round up this 8.3 lb bucket mouth on the same Strike King crankbait as mentioned before.

 

Kyle Giella

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Georgia Southern wins Santee Cooper Event

One of our favorite close-to-home collegiate fishing teams, the Georgia Southern duo of Justin Hewlett and Geoffrey Hill, took home top prize in a recent FLW Southeastern Conference clash on Santee Cooper.  Despite a five hour fog delay and a slow start, they were able to fish their way to the top with four fish of 10 pounds 4 ounces.  All their fish were caught on Zoom baits, particularly the Zoom Swimming Fluke and Super Fluke

The duo will now move on to the Conference Championship, with a chance to place in the National Championship up for grabs.   Congratulations to the team, and read all about GSU's big win here!

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University of Kayak Fishing - Storage

Due to the compact nature of kayak fishing, space and access on-board are somewhat limited.  This can make tackle storage a problem.  Tackle is especially vulnerable when exposed to saltwater, something kayak anglers must battle with more so than their boating friends.  Some new storage systems from Plano, however, have solved a lot of the problems facing the saltwater kayak angler.

 

Plano Waterproof Stowaway BoxesPlano recently updated their line of sealed, Waterproof Stowaway boxes.  These boxes carry a heavy-duty O-ring gasket to make them water-tight, as well as three lock-tight cam latches that are best I have found in the industry.  They also feature heavier drop-resistant plastic that seems much more durable than your average storage boxes.  These boxes are available in a number of sizes and configurations: the #3440 size is perfect for keeping a phone or wallet dry, while the #3741 size is large enough to carry larger electronics or tackle.  Plano's Waterproof Stowaway series is now my go-to series of boxes.

 

Plano Hydro-Flo BoxesThere is another new series of boxes from Plano that also has a lot of utility for the kayak angler.  What if you took a regular Plano Stowaway box, and drilled holes in it?  At face value, this may seem silly- but it actually makes good sense.  When using hard baits in saltwater, a big problem can be salt contamination within a box.  If you use a saltwater lure for awhile, then return it to its storage box, it can end up corroding and ruining all of the other lures and tackle in the box if not properly cleaned.  Plano's new Hydro-Flo boxes solve this problem!   Its Swiss-cheese-like outer shell allows the contents of the box to be washed down with fresh water at the end of the day, preventing any saltwater corrosion.  You can even run the box through the dishwasher on a cool cycle to get everything cleaned off!

 

Liqui-bait LockerLike many inshore saltwater anglers, I use a lot of scented live-bait alternatives, like Gulp Alive Shrimp or Fishbites.  These baits are more durable than the real thing, and can often be just as effective as live bait.  This makes them ideal for using out of a kayak.  These types of bait do have special needs for storage: they dry out if not sealed up properly.  Also, the somewhat stinky scents can leak out and get all over your other gear.  Plano has come up with a great method of storage for them in the Liqui-bait Locker system.  Like the waterproof series, they use a heavy O-ring seal and a quadruple latch system to stay air-tight.  However, instead of keeping liquid out, these are meant to keep liquid in.  There are several sizes in this system, but the #4642 model carries everything you need.  It includes one screw-lid bucket and a sealed wallet for your bagged baits, as well as having enough room to hold 2 more Gulp Alive buckets.

 

 

Plano Marine Dry Storage BoxesStoring the boxes within the kayak is another issue many anglers can run into.  Long ago, many fisherman realized that milk crates fit snugly into the tank well of most kayaks and fit a number of tackle tray boxes.  However, milk-crates aren't always easy to acquire and are open to the elements.  Plano's series of marine dry-storage boxes are a great alternative.  The largest size they offer can hold 4 to 5 tackle trays with room to spare, and they will seal up when you need to keep your gear dry. 

 

 

This is the first in our series of kayak fishing courses.  Keep an eye out for new tips and content to help you become a more informed and successful kayak fisherman!

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THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US!

THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US! Most likely not, but we have your attention right? Inspired by the latest in Hollywood television and movie magic, people are buying into zombie protection like never before (you know, just in case). For the sake of this article, let’s say there is an imminent “Zombie” threat, how would you prepare? You can start by swinging by your local Bass Pro Shops to get the latest in all of your Zombie Protection needs.

    First things first, the walking dead in-need of a re-kill will be slowing making their way toward your chosen hold out, requiring a short range, high impact round.  Zombie experts agree that the 12 ga. shotgun is the best choice for a primary weapon to hold off any zombie revolt. Our weapon of choice for an impending uprising is the Winchester Defender SXP (399.99). With a compact feel and an 18 inch barrel, this 12 ga. pump shotgun is easy to pack or carry and delivers a nice wide pattern for maximum zombie stopping power. Now that you have your weapon of choice, it’s time to choose the ammunition to protect your family from the walking dead.


Hornady Zombia Max    Since we are dealing with an uprising of something that has already been declared dead once, we cannot use just any ammunition. Luckily for us Hornady has designed a CZA (Certified Zombie Ammunition) round just for the flesh eating undead. Hornady’s Zombie Max (11.99-24.99) is available in almost all calibers and provides a quality round that you can trust to take care of the legions of shuffling zombies. The Zombie Max shotgun round provides a lightweight, high velocity, and high performance round especially designed for a re-kill. Loaded with a “hard-hitting” 00 buck shot, this round is our go-to ammunition, you know, just in case.


Blood Drive    Zombies are not going to be the easiest of targets. There will be hoards of moaning creatures trying to distract you with their flailing arms and shuffling footsteps, if you are only going to be able to get off one shot, you better make it count. Birchwood Casey has designed the Darkotic Blood Drive Zombie Splattering Gun Target(12.99) to help everyone sharpen their zombie slaying skills. A starch reminder that the zombie uprising will affect animals as well, these 12”x18” splattering targets will help you hone in your ability to disrupt a zombie apocalypse. Practice makes perfect!


Uncle Buck's Beef Jerky    While there are many products available to assist the living against any zombie uprising, these three products will help you start your Zombie Apocalypse preparation. You can visit your local Bass Pro Shops to find all of your Zombie Apocalypse needs, like Uncle Bucks Beef Jerky (you will get hungry)  you know, just in case. Last but not least, if in fact a Zombie Apocalypse does come to fruition, AIM FOR THE HEAD!

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How to Assemble a Speckled Seatrout Live Bait Rig

By Ty Butler

Necessary Components For a Standard Seatrout Rig:

  1. 10 or 12 inch Pole Float
  2. Bobber Stop Knots
  3. Glass Beads
  4. 20 Pound Fluorocarbon Leader Line
  5. 1 and 1 ½ oz Trolling (trout) Weights
  6. 1/0 Kahle Hooks
  7. Line cutters

Directions
  • Lindy Pole FloatsAfter running the main line from your reel through the rod guides, thread it through the tubing on a bobber stop knot.  While pinching the knot in place, pull the tubing down and off your main line.  You may discard the tubing.  Now tighten the knot onto the main line and trim the tag ends down to about 1/10 inch from the knot.  Do not over-trim, as this may result in the knot coming undone.
  • Run a glass bead onto your line and move it up the line until it meets the bobber stop knot.  Make sure the knot is large enough to stop the bead.
  • Thread your float onto the main line.  If you have difficulty doing so, make a loop with wire or thick monofilament and pull your main line through.  Place another bead on the line below the float.
  • If you are using a 10 inch float, you must use a 1 to 1 ¼ oz  trolling weight with swivel  to balance the float properly.  For a 12 inch float, use 1 ½ ounces. 
  • Tie an 18 inch section of fluorocarbon leader line to the bottom of the trout weight.  Finally, tie on a Kahle hook to the bottom end.
  • Now you are ready to fish!  Use live shrimp or mud minnows for best results!
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Save Money by Catching Your Own Bait

By: Ty Butler

Tough times have fishermen looking for different ways to save money.   Combined with high gas prices and other costs, the rising price of live bait has put a pinch on many an angler's wallet.  Artificial lures are one alternative to using live bait.  They are durable and you can throw them in the tackle box to use another day.  However, there are just some days when finicky fish won't accept anything but the real thing.  Many anglers are now exploring ways to catch their own bait, saving money in the process.

BPS Cast Nets Live shrimp is by far the most popular saltwater bait in coastal Georgia and South Carolina.  Depending on the season, live shrimp can sometimes cost upwards of $20 a quart.  A good cast net is a great investment for anyone looking to catch their own shrimp.  Georgia law requires a cast net with a minimum mesh size of 3/8 inch if catching bait shrimp, up to two quarts.  Bass Pro Shops makes an excellent entry 3/8 inch mesh net in a variety of sizes. If catching more than two quarts, or if casting for food shrimp, a 5/8 inch mesh net is required.  A large net is not necessary for bait-catching.  A six to seven foot net is a perfect size for catching a couple of quarts of shrimp.  If you are new to cast netting, practice makes perfect.  Learning to use one can be difficult, but it is very rewarding.



Betts' Mullet NetA cast net is also one of the best tools for catching bait fish in both fresh and saltwater.  A 3/8 inch or  1/2 inch mesh monofilament net is perfect for finger mullet, small pogys, or pilchards in saltwater, and shad, shiners, or herring in freshwater.  These baits usually can be found right near the surface, so a heavy net with a fast sink rate is not necessary.  A bigger 1 inch mesh may be needed for catching larger mullet or bigger "bunker" pogys.  These baits are often in deeper water and the wider mesh and heavier weight on these nets allow the net to sink faster, ensnaring a deep school of baitfish. 

Offshore Angler Fluorocarbon SabikiOffshore baits like cigar minnows and Spanish sardines are easily caught on a Japanese bait rig, called a Sabiki.  This rig is a long string of small hooks with small pieces of fish skin or mylar attached.  One end of the rig is tied to your fishing line, the other end is clipped to a one or two ounce sinker.  These should be fished on the bottom with a bouncing, erratic retrieve.  Drop the rig down over artificial reefs and live bottom, and you'll quickly catch a number of fresh baits.  Care should be taken when handling these rigs, because the many small hooks will blow around in the wind and are notorious for accidentally hooking clothes and body parts.  To prevent this,  bait rig rod and reel combos have been designed, like the Bait Stik.  The rod is hollow and allows the Sabiki rig to be reeled inside of it, keeping the hooks safely out of the way.
   
Wire Mesh Minnow TrapTraps can be used for some types of baitfish.  A cylindrical minnow trap is a popular tool for catching mud minnows (locally known as polywogs) and killifish.  These small baits are popular for inshore fishing and are a good alternative to live shrimp.  Mud minnows are also very hardy baits, and can even be kept in freshwater aquariums for extended periods before use.  The minnow trap is made of two mesh halves which clip together and are attached to a rope or line.  Wet or dry cat food is a good bait for these traps, which should be set in a small tidal creek at low tide to make sure your trap doesn't end up high-and-dry.  Minnow traps shouldn't be left out for long periods of time; a couple of hours is usually plenty to catch several dozen minnows.  Otherwise, small crabs can invade the trap and kill off the minnows. 

Experienced anglers know that good live bait is often necessary for a good day of fishing.  If you find that live bait from a shop is too expensive, or if you simply don't have the time to drive to a bait shop, catching your own baits can be a simple, but fun, alternative. 
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