Winter Fishing Report

By: Captain Jon Fetter

Captain Jon Fetter doing what he does best!

 

This past week the fishing really picked up in the backbay. The redfish bite was really good with incoming water around the grass flats with nearby oyster bars. The fish are moving on and off the oysters with the tides and will take cut bait soaking on the bottom. Cut ladyfish on 2/0 circle hooks was the bait of choice. Patience is the key to fishing cut baits as it can take a while for the scent to attract the reds. Set-up with the tidal flow and put out at least three rods to increase your chances. Anglers should stay closer to the oyster bars on high tides and move away as the tide recedes. There has also been a decent red bite along the mangrove islands on high water with shrimp tipped jig heads the go-to method. The sheepshead bite has also picked up around the oyster bars and any blow down near the mangrove islands. 1/0 circle hooks with #3 split shot will work fine, and remember to just use enough shrimp to cover the hook. Anglers will also pick up mangrove snapper with this method. The sea trout bite should start as the water temps decrease over the grass flats in 2-4 feet of water, with Shrimp under a popping cork the best way to locate and catch them. You will also pick up ladyfish, catfish, and a few bonnethead sharks with this set-up.

 

Gearing Up For Chistmas

 

Well Xmas is quickly approaching so it is time to get that list ready for Santa. There are plenty of new items out there worth looking at. Rods, reels, and various tackle are always appealing, but this year I am looking at fillet knives. The Bubba Blade is the one that stands out to me. Great blade with a comfortable handle makes a great combination for hours of fish cleaning. They are rather costly, but it will last and hold an edge for a long time which makes it the perfect gift for the angler that has everything. Make sure to put this on your list for this year and hopefully you have not been naughty and Santa will make the stop at your house and drop one off. Leave plenty of cookies and milk for the guy, he always appreciates good grub. Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!!!

 

Captain Jon Fetter works in our very own fishing department in Ft. Myers, FL., and has been known to be a reservoir of knowledge in all things fishing related. Please stop by his very helpful page if you would like to learn more at www.catchfishnow.com

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Christmas Gift Ideas for the Bass Fisherman

Santa FishingStruggling on what to buy those fishermen and women in your life?  We asked our Pro Staffers, Kary Ray and Lance Baker, for some Christmas advice...

Lance says:

Top 5 must have Christmas Gifts for the Fisherman!

  1. Daiwa Tatula Series Rods and Reels
  2. Lowrance Elite 5 or 7 DHI
  3. Bass Pro Shops Bionic Blade Micro Guide rods
  4. TroKar Hooks...great stocking stuffers!
  5. A Barbie or Superman rod to take the kids fishing!

Lance says throw in some other items like War Eagle Spinnerbaits, Berkley Havoc plastics, Bass Pro Shops line spooling station, Bass Pro Shops XTS Rod Socks, and Bass Pro Shops XPS Line Saver and you've got your fishing guy or gal set!

 

Kary Ray has some additional wishes on HIS list:

Clam two-person ice fishing shack (Kary just got married, so this makes sense!)
Electric or gas-powered auger
Set of Pro Qualifier Rain gear
A new boat cover for my Nitro
A new pair of polarized sunglasses

 

Kary and Ray have been very good this year, so maybe Santa will help them out...at least we hope they helped YOU out with ideas!

 

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Ice Fishing Cadence

During our recent Facebook Ice Fishing Q & A, a participant had a question for our Pro Ice Fisherman Rod Woten about his presentation.

Question -

"Rod, knowing you fish the North American Ice Fishing Circuit (NAIFC), for each lake you fish, do you need to change your jig presentation style?"

Rod's Answer - 

"Not necessarily. I almost always stay horizontal. More important is your jigging cadence and color. I might change jig size, but I fish the same profile a lot."

We asked Rod to expand on this a bit, so check out his tips and demonstration in this YouTube video!

 

Our Ice Fishing Event is January 4, 2014!

________________________________

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You Can't Beat the Black Finesse Worm Bite

I have moved to upstate NY from Alabama and I have learned quickly that fishing is not the same up here as it is back in Bama. I had joined the Capitol District Bass Master fishing club to meet other folks that loved fishing as much as I do. Also, to fish as many new lakes to see how it compares to the lakes I fished back home. Well I did learn one thing throwing a crank bait here isn't like home. Deep lakes and clear waters made it tough to catch the big ones. On tournament day I was the only guy with 8 bait cast rods on the deck with big baits tied on, just like I used in Bama.

After a struggle in the first half of the tournament season I noticed everyone else was using spinning rods with finesse baits. Not that I have never used them, but it wasn't a strong suit. Well knowing I have used the small black finesse worms in Bama for smallmouth bass I picked these up on a trip to bass pro and they produced just like I thought they would. I would suggest these anytime with your drop shooting in deep clear water on North Lake Champlain or in muddy water on Southern Lake Champlain. The year ended up great! I placed in several tournaments and winning rookie of the year in my club. Without these I would just be in the background watching everyone else weigh in fish. Buy them you want regret it.

Name: shawn lipscomb
ProductDescription: Zoom® Finesse Worm - 4-3/4" - Black

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Great Ice Fishing Gear

With the changing of the season comes the changing of the fishing conditions. In many of the central and northern states this means the transition of open water to fishing on a big slab of ice. This has long been a favorite winter tradition for many residents of the northern states; however, there is a new generation of anglers out there looking to get involved in the sport of "Ice Fishing". The following is a guideline to some of the current products on the market that make this past time easier and more enjoyable.

First thing you will want to think of before venturing out on early season ice is safety. Here are a few things that are good items to consider. The first is some sort of life preserver. I prefer to use something lightweight and non restrictive like the Bass Pro Shops auto/manual inflatable life vest. http://www.basspro.com/Bass-Pro-Shops-Auto/Manual-Inflatable-Life-Jacket/product/11090805012133/

life vest

The next safety item is a pair of ice picks. These will help you pull yourself back up onto the ice should you happen to fall through.http://www.basspro.com/HT-Enterprises-Deluxe-Retractable-Polar-Ice-Picks/product/10228938/

ice picks

The last and most used safety item is a good pair of ice cleats or traction aids. These will help you keep from slipping and falling almost constantly on clean ice.http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Navigation?storeId=10151&catalogId=10051&langId=-1&searchTerm=ice+cleats

ice cleats

Good gloves and boots will make dealing with the cold and wet conditions bearable, make sure whatever you select are waterproof. The next thing you will want to think about for your ice fishing expedition is a way to access the fish under your feet. This can be achieved with a variety of tools the following are most common; a ice chisel, a hand auger, or a power auger. There is even an attachment to make your drill into an ice auger. http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Navigation?storeId=10151&catalogId=10051&langId=-1&searchTerm=ice+auger

chislehandpowerplate

 

The next few items are where the selections may become overwhelming for the new angler because of all of the options on the market. I will try to narrow down some top choices and give brief explanations why.

Next I would recommend  a sled of some kind to assist in transporting your gear onto the ice. Just about any sled will work but the deep sleds or the ice fishing sleds carry the gear much more efficiently. Combine that with a bucket and you should be able to easily carry everything you need onto the ice. The bucket will serve as your livewell and a seat for you.

sledbucket

Another essential item would be an ice rod and reel combo. There are all kinds of options to choose from and all of them will work, but one I really like and recommend is a large spool reel that does not wrap the line around a fixed spool, instead the spool roles the line up onto it. The reason is so you have less coiling in you line making your jig more responsive and your jig will not spin upon retrieve.

ice reel

This inexpensive schooley reel works great for this application.http://www.basspro.com/Schooleys-Spring-Bobber-Pole-Package/product/12082905321612/

The next item you will need is some sort of jig or bait, there are many options but a good variety in your arsenal is recommended. http://www.basspro.com/Fishing-Ice-Fishing-Rods-Reels-Accessories-Ice-Fishing-Lures-Baits/_/N-1z0ux9f?cm_sp=IceFishEnchPgBaitsSep2013_CFM

jigs2

There are a few more products like heaters, shelters, and fishfinders that make long days out on the ice more enjoyable and cold days more bearable but they are not as essential for getting involved in the sport.

heatershelterflasher

 

Here is a list of all of the items that are in my ice fishing sled, hopefully this helps with your next adventure.

1. Sled

2. Ice fishing bucket

3. Heater

4. Rods and reels

5. Tackle Box with ice jigs

6. Wax worms/ Minnows (bait)

7. Pop-up shelter

8. Flasher (fish finder)

9. Ice cleats & picks

10. Ice Skimmer

 

For many more products used for ice fishing please visit us at www.basspro.com . There are many great ice fishing articles and blogs from our prostaff if you would like to view them please click on the links provided. http://blogs.basspro.com/blog/bass-pro-shops-altoona-ia/prepping-for-ice-season, http://blogs.basspro.com/blog/bass-pro-shops-council-bluffs-ia. Thank you for your business. Good luck and be safe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ice Fishing by Map

Not everyone owns a GPS. If you're ice fishing, without a GPS, and not familiar with the body of water you're on, a map will be your best friend.

When looking at a game and fish map, what should you look for to find the fish?  In our recent Q & A with our Pro Staff Ice Fisherman Rod Woten gave some advice and we asked him to expand on it a bit:

First thing I look for is sharp break lines...contour lines close together. Then I look for the flats that are either above or below those. Depending on water clarity one of those is going to be a weed bed. If the lower one isn't a weed bed, it's going to be a sticky bottom area.

If it’s still early in the season, or snowfall is minimal and weeds are still getting sunlight through the ice, they will continue to grow and this makes them a sure bet for panfish. Later in the season, as the weeds die off, these panfish will slide off the weed flats in to the deeper water at the base of these sharp breaks. I’ve indicated sharp break areas on the example map with a “1."

These aren’t the only things to look for, though. Basically, I look for anything that will cause fish to pause or concentrate them into groups. Two great examples of this are inside turns and funnel areas.

A.  Funnel areas, as the name implies, are areas where the contour lines “neck down.”  These locations are also referred to as “pinch points.”  Because of their shape, these areas funnel travel routes for fish down to a smaller area and concentrate the fish. Funnel areas on the map are marked with a “2.”

B.  Inside corners concentrate fish. When fish come into one, they can no longer continue forward…the other side of the corner is directly in front of them. This causes them to pause before deciding whether to deviate from the contour they’ve been traveling along or to turn and follow the corner.  Sometimes this pause is only momentary and sometimes it’s lengthy.  In either case, fish will start to stack up in these kinds of areas. Outside corners are not nearly as productive, because the far side of the corner does not impede the travel of the fish, so they do not pause to redirect their travel. Inside corners have been marked on the map with a “3.”

Ice Fishing by Map

More questions for our Ice Fishing Pro? Just post them here and we'll get them answered! 

Our Ice Fishing Event is January 4, 2014! Watch for details!

___________________________________

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My Letter To Santa

My Letter To Santa

Dear Santa,

It’s that time of year again and I just started making my list of things I need.  “Want” is the more correct term according to some members of the family who shall remain unnamed.  Let’s just say they wear dresses, have long hair, and have more shoes to wear with black skinny jeans, than I have total.  Regardless of what we call it, there are a few things on my list this year.

  • 12’ 7weight Switch Rod.  I sure could use one even though I have no idea how to throw it.  Spey and TFO Deer Creek Switchswitch rod casting just looks so cool that I can’t be left out.  A bunch of guys and I plan on taking a trip to Michigan for salmon and steelhead and I figure it would be a great addition to my fly rod collection.  I guess while we’re talking about fly rods, we could add an 8’ 8weight for peacocks in Miami, an 8’6” 5weight for trout in Georgia, and a decent 9’ 10 weight for fishing the beach next fall.
  • New kayak:  Theresa really wants to join me a bit more on kayaking trips so putting a new one in my garage would be greatly appreciated.  If it just happened to be “TOO BIG” for her to handle that wouldn’t be a big disaster.  I’d just have to make the sacrifice and take it off her hands.  Oh yeah, she could use a new Bending Branches paddle, a high-back paddling seat with gel padding for my (I mean her tush), and a bunch of rod leashes so she doesn’t drop any rods overboard.
  • Thermal underwear:  After all these years of freezing my butt off while hunting or fishing in the cold weather, I’d really appreciate some warm clothes.  I still think my father believed the snowmobile suits we wore during deer season in Pennsylvania were “warm enough” for sub –zero temperatures.  Effective layering with micro fiber materials wasn’t around yet, but it’s still a wonder that he didn’t find me frozen to a tree like John Torrence in “The Shining.”  I’d have looked like a 13 year old, blaze orange creamsicle stuck to the base of a Hemlock tree on the first day of deer season.
  • 6’ Ultra-light action spinning rod:  Theresa wants to begin trout fishing and she could use a new rod.  I’ll make sure it works as advertised during the upcoming shad season so I won’t argue if you want to add it to my rod rack for safe keeping.
  • An AR-15:  Theresa is a bit concerned about home defense so she has been shopping for a weapon she M&P 15can use for repelling the attacking hordes whether they’re zombies or apocalyptic raiding parties.  Oh who am I kidding?  I want one too, so you may as well bring a matching pair.
  • Fly boxes:  Despite my best efforts to whittle down my fly collection, it continues to grow each month as I find more and more patterns to tie.  I’ve got a pretty sweet collection of flies for Giant Trevaly, and Golden Dorado even though there aren’t any in Florida and the prospects of making a trip to Seychelles or Argentina seems pretty remote right now.  You never know when they’ll come in handy.
  • A new Kindle:  I seem to have misplaced the last one and despite looking in all the normal places (the freezers, jelly cupboard, clothes hamper, the kayak hold, under the bed, under the truck seat, under the couch, on top of the refrigerator, etc…) I can’t seem to find it.
  • Hearing Aids!!!!:  These aren’t so much for me as for my loving wife.  She’s getting tired of repeating herself and I’m getting tired of her yelling.  At least then I can blame my not paying attention on the “DEAD” batteries.

Well Santa, you can see there are a few things on the list this year that would come in handy and I would be grateful if I got one or more of them.  I’ll even leave it up to you to decide which of the gifts would go the furthest towards maintaining family harmony so don’t feel any pressure.  Marriage counseling is much cheaper than it was 20 years ago.

I hope you and the family have a blessed holiday and a prosperous new year.  Be safe while gallivanting across roof tops and please wear your seatbelt while flying.  I’d hate to hear that you fell out of the sleigh while doing barrel rolls at 20,000 feet!

Thanks in advance for the gifts.  Oh, and by the way....  If you're looking to do some fishing in Florida once the holiday season is over, you could check out the fly shop newsletter for some nifty tips and info.  Not that I'm trying to move myself up the "NICE" list or anything.  But, every little bit helps.

Sincerely,

Brian

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Prepping for Ice Season

As temperatures promise to drop into the single digits this week, the "ice dance" continues! Right now, if you haven't already, you should be going through all your equipment and gear to make sure there's no rust and everything works. Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff Ice Fisherman, Rod Woten, shares his key tips in this video on prepping for ice!

 

 

Keith KavajeczJoin us December 21 and 22 as Keith Kavajecz from The Next Bite joins us!

Saturday, December 21 - 9:00 to 4:00, with a seminar at 1 p.m.

Sunday, December 22, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. - Visiting with customers and answering questions on the sales floor!

 

 

 

Our Ice Fishing Event is January 4, 2014 - watch for details!

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Ice Fishing 2013 - Shacks and Accessories

While there are those who might do everything they very basic way, most ice fishermen and women want more than just a rod and reel when they hit the ice. The fishing team and Pro staffer Rod Woten show off what's new in shacks and accessories this year.

Auger Drill PlateThe Clam Ice Auger Conversion Kit Drill Plate - This great new item allows you to hook up a regular electric drill to a manual auger to drill holes.

Our Pro Staff member, Ice Fishing Pro Rod Woten, is excited to see this product!

ION Electric Ice Auger

Ion - We had the 8" hole ION Electric Ice Auger last year. This year we have a 6", too!  The ION has an onboard 40V MAX lithium-ion battery. It also has an extension - the ION is the only auger that comes with an extension that increases the length of your auger to 48".

The insulated Clam Spill-Proof Bait Keeper is still a popular item, and there are new larger jig boxes available now from Clam.

Ice Shacks - There's a new two-person sled - the Shappell Bay Runner Sled-Based Cabin. The Bay Runner has a one-piece frame and allows for great mobility while fully set-up. Plus, we have the new, very cool, Frabill Fishouflage Ambush Ice Shelter! ThAmbush fishes 2-3 people plus gear, is full-length with a padded bench seat and two large side doors with heavy duty zippers.

 

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Fishy Facts: Largemouth Bass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                            

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

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

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

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

Fellow Fishy Facts:

Peacock Bass

Rainbow Trout

Walleye

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With all the colors on the market for plastics, how do you know when and what color to use for ice fishing?

From Rod Woten, Pro Ice Fisherman and Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff:

"Almost always start with a pink and then change it from there...pink can look like a lot of different things that swim in the water, without being specifically one thing. Clear water - I go with pastels, pinks, whites, lighter colors. Stained water - I like browns, blacks, purples, and glow."

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Ice Talk 2013 - Ice Creepers

The new "glare ice" that forms at the beginning of ice fishing season can be dangerous. In our recent Q & A, a Facebook fan asked:

"I noticed last season that people wearing the latest creepers on the market were making an awful amount of noise walking around. As we know, on thinner ice and shallow water conditions, fish can be very spooky to noise and movement . What kind of ice creeper are you using and why?"

Ice Fishing Pro Rod Woten, also a Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff member, is pretty comfortable on ice. If he's in a shallower water situation, where the sounds are spooking fish, he just doesn't use anything. But, if Rod is in a situation where he needs better traction and can't just inch his way across in boots, the Kahtoola Microspikes are his choice. Check out this YouTube video to hear his take on it:

 

 

Whether on the lake or on the street, Kahtoola Microspikes help keep you upright!

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Fall Jerkbait Fishing

Once the water starts dropping below the 60 degree mark, jerkbaits are a hot bait to throw.  The fish are stockin up for winter and you will probably have the entire lake to yourself.  There are many things to consider when throwing a jerkbait: water clarity, location, forage, line and rod are a few.  10 lb florocarbon is a good starting point, aiding in the suspending action of any given jerkbait. 

line

There are days where a tight wobble versus a wide wobble are preferred.  Running depth varies per brand of jerkbait.  A good medium action rod will not over work the jerkbait and allow the rod to load up on a strike.  Some jerkbaits will suspend evenly right out of the box, others may require a few suspend strips/dots. 

dots

Jerkbaits are meant to entice those suspended fish relating to cover or depth changes into biting.  A natural match the hatch approach is always a good start, but that is not to say a brighter reflective finish will not coax a cold water bass into biting.  

Once you find some good structure ie rockpiles, brushpiles, channel swings, creek channels let the fun begin.  Pick a jerkbait that will run/supsend according to the depth of structure you are fishing and tie one on. (Retailers like Bass Pro Shops have a wide variety of Jerkbaits to choose from.)http://www.basspro.com/Hard-Bait-Lures/_/N-1z0uxaq/Ntk-Search_All/Ntt-jerkbaits?Ntx=mode%2Bmatchallpartial

   Monofiliament or Florocarbon line may help your choice if you need to help keep the bait higher in the water column a mono line will be better, if you need to help keep the bait down in the water column, a florocarbon line will be better.  Confidence is the best bait in your tackle box, if you have had success with a given color of crankbait, match that in a jerkbait.  Throw your jerkbait out, reel it down 5-6 times to get it in the strike zone, a good 5-10 second pause is a good rule of thumb to start with, the colder the water, the longer you may have to let it set.  You may give the bait 2-3 quick jerks with your rod tip down or you may just turn your reel handle 2-3 times.  Experiment with the retirieve and length of pause until you get bit, letting the fish tell you how they want it and how long it set each time, duplicate the retrieve and you are in business.

You can read more about Jerkbaits and Jerkbait selection at the following link: Jerkbaits

Spro Mc StickStaysee 90

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Ice Fishing 2013 - Rods

We continue to take a look at what's new in ice fishing this year. Our Bass Pro Shops Altoona Fishing Leads, both avid ice fishermen, say there are a number of new reels and combos in the store for the ice angler.

Jason Mitchell Meat Stick

Clam's Jason Mitchell Elite Series Meat Sticks - New in stock at our store, the Jason Mitchell Meat Stick is Jamie Renshaw's rod of choice.

"The sanded tip is soft, making it a very sensitive bite sensor. It bends right into the backbone."

Our other Fishing Lead Chris Grocholski says they are excellent for walleyes, too!

"They have a super sensitive tip, with an extra fast action, but also have a strong backbone to fight larger fish like walleyes or bass.  The rod comes in two models - a 24” great for fishing inside your shack or, my personal choice, the 28”, which I feel gives you better leverage when fighting fish." 

Also new to the mix are the Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Rods. The reliability of the #1 rod in the U.S. now comes made for ice fishing!  The graphite/fiberglass rod , features Ugly Tuff guides, a 1-piece stainless steel hood, and Ugly Stik's famous clear tip.

There are a number of new combos, too, including the Abu Garcia Veritas and the Ugly Stick GX2 Ice Fishing Combo.

“I really like the Frabill quick tip combos - with the combination of a sensitive rod and smooth reel they are a perfect match,”  says Grocholski.

Clam Lady Ice Buster

Ice fishing combos - Bass Pro Shops AltoonaLadies, listen up! More prevalent this year are the items to appeal to you! The Clam Lady Ice Buster Series Spinning Rod and Reel combos feature a pink rod and is pre-spooled with 4 lb. Ice Line. The lower-end Apache combo comes in a multitude of bright colors. 

For beginners, the Panfish Popper is a good starting combo. It comes with line on it, a couple of jigs, and a spin bobber. Renshaw still uses a couple of these, too.

 

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Watch for our upcoming Ice Fishing Q and A on Facebook!

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Fishing Jacksonville Flood Tides

Scott Fishing Flood TideLike I’ve said in the past, Florida has more than its fair share of interesting fishing opportunities if you’re willing to drive a little ways from home.  My home base of Orlando allows me the luxury of reaching some superb fishing within just a few minutes, or if I want to make a trip of it a few hours.  Unfortunately though, there isn’t enough time to get everywhere and sample all the opportunities.  Now that my wife and I are empty-nesters, we have a little bit more freedom, and making these little jaunts is much easier than when we had to worry about getting the kids fed and to school on time.

Fishing Jacksonville on the flood tides is something I had only gotten the chance to do one other time, so when we noticed that the fall tides were going to be nearly six feet, my fishing partner and I just had to hit the road.  Redfish, black drum, sheepshead, and flounder were calling our names and we had multiple boxes of flies waiting to be thrown.  Unfortunately for us, the first “Noreaster” was blowing in and gale force winds were being called for in the open water, with rough conditions on the intercoastal.  None of that mattered though when we pulled up to the waterfront and spied mullet being blasted along the spartina grass edges.

Predators move up into the small creeks as the tide rises and then they’ll venture onto what was dry land only moments ago when the tide reaches its highest point.  They root around looking for small baitfish, shrimp, crabs, and snails that abound in the grass.  At times their bodies will be more out of the water than in.  After having read all this you’d almost think catching fish under these conditions would be a pretty simple matter?  Well think again! 

Redfish BittersBait was clinging to nearly every stalk of grass and there was an almost constant ticking of shells off the sides of our kayaks leading us to believe that fish should be feeding somewhere around us.  And they were!  Just not on the carefully prepared fly meals we had prepared.  Spoon flies and small crab/shrimp/snail imitations are necessary and we had a great selection of them available, but the extreme wind made casting a fly rod all but impossible.  The real trick of this fishery is to get the fly to the fish without hanging up in the grass, smacking it on the head, or landing too far away.  None of which I was able to accomplish on this most recent trip.

One of the best things about this particular location is the accessibility and relative protection of the surrounding landscape including the grass banks and creeks.  You can fish it from canoe, kayak, stand-up-paddleboard, or larger craft if your heart desires.  The water conditions can be exceptional even though the wind is howling above your head and ten-foot seas are of little consequence when moving across water that’s only one to two feet deep.  The Jax Kayak Fishing.com website has a pretty extensive list of launch sites throughout the area if you can’t find them on your own.  Check them out

The opportunity to experience the dramatic transformation of these tidal grass flats was the reason we made the drive even though the conditions and fish conspired against our prospects of having success.  Although we didn’t hook up this time, the tide will rise again tomorrow and it will be another chance to cash in on a very unique type of fly fishing.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Weightless Baits Catch Big Bass

 

In this day and age there are numerous of ways that an angler can rig a soft plastic bait. To name a few you have the, Carolina Rig, Texas Rig, Shakey Head, Drop Shot Rig, Mojo Rig, and more. These are all great options in the right situations throughout the year. But one way to fish soft plastics that gets less attention than the rest is fishing them weightless. In this case the only weight you have is the hook and the bait, and trust me this is a great way to catch big bass.

Silver GhostSome of my best tournament finishes I've ever had came from fishing with light tackle and weightless baits that have a slow, almost irresistible fall. One of my go to baits that works great in the spring and also in the fall is a weightless Bass Pro Shops Shadee Shad or a Zoom Super Fluke. When rigging my Shadee Shad I use a 3/0 Gamakatsu EWG Hook and I do what is called a texpose method for making the bait completely weedless. What I do is rig my bait just like a normal texas rig worm, where I come all the way straight through the plastic and then slightly burry the point of the hook into the worm. This results in a hook that is ready to release and stick the fish, as well as a perfectly straight Shadee Shad once rigged. Figuring out how to rig your fluke bait as straight as possible is very important, if the bait is off center on the hook just the slightest bit then the bait will spin and not swim like it's supposed to. One great thing about the weightless Shadee Shad is that it is a very versatile presentation. I like to very my retrieve when fishing it. Specifically, I will at times work the bait extremely fast making it twitch like a fleeing shad on the surface of the water and then when I come over a piece of cover or have a fish roll on the bait I can stop it and just let it slowly sink, which will trigger a lot of strikes. So weather they are extremely aggressive and chasing or if they want a slow falling presentation this bait is going to cover it all. It works near lay downs, docks, rocks, and seawalls, as well as in open water situations! It's definitely something that all anglers need to have in their arsenal.

Purple Brown

Another excellent bait that was truly designed to fish weightless is the Bass Pro Shops Stiko. This bait looks like nothing but catches fish like crazy! Rigging it weightless is by far my favorite method and I rig the bait exactly the same as I rig my Shadee Shad, using the texpose method. The key to the Stiko is generally the less you do with the bait the more fish you catch. I like to let the bait do the work 90% of the time, just casting it out and letting it sink slowly. The way it falls and wobbles on the way down parallel to the bottom is just to easy of an opportunity for a bass to slowly swim up and inhale the bait. When fishing the Stiko or any weightless bait you always need to watch your line looking for a little twitch when the bass takes the bait, as well as watching for your line to swim off if the bite was too light to be detected. Now occasionally I will twitch and pause the Stiko just like I fish a Shadee Shad, I do this specifically when I'm fishing around shallow scattered or matted grass, when doing this don't be surprised if a fish blows up on the bait just like they would on a topwater Spro Frog! Another bait that I rig and fish the same is a Zoom trick worm as well as a lizard. These techniques work exceptionally well when fishing during or close to the spawning period for bass, when the water is in the 60 to 72 degree range!

So whether you spend your time fishing big lakes and reservoirs, or small private ponds you will be blown away at the success you can have fishing weightless baits. I generally like to fish them using a 6'10" or a 7'3" TFO Tactical Series Spinning Rod, accompanied by a Pflueger President 30 Spinning Reel, spooled up with 8 to 12 lb Trilene 100% Flouro Carbon line. The spinning tackle makes for easier casting with light weight baits as well as the opportunity to skip these baits like a stone way up under cover such as docks or overhanging trees. If you are fishing extremely heavy cover and are very talented then a bait caster can be used, but your simply not going to be able to get as far up under the cover as with the spinning reel. So head over to Bass Pro Shops where you can get everything you need, because the weightless soft plastic bite is on now! I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ice Fishing 2013 - Reels

There's a chill in the air this week! For ice fishing fans, weather like this gets the itch going. We asked Bass Pro Shops Altoona Fishing Lead Jamie Renshaw to show us what's new this year in ice fishing gear, while you're waiting for the ice to form.

This post will focus on reels. Future posts will tackle rods, jigs, shacks and augers.

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What's new this year in ice fishing reels is fly-style reels. Many ice fisherman use fly reels anyway, but these reels are specifically designed to use for ice fishing and have gears.  

Two new reels at Bass Pro Shops Altoona come from 13 Fishing - the Teardrop and the Black Betty, which is a fly-style reel. The fly-style reels eliminate line twist as the jig goes down, which is what often happens with a spinning reel. Having gears allows for faster line pickup and better for deeper waters.

Fish 13 TeardropTeardrop:

6.2:1 gear ratio

13 lbs ultra-smooth carbon drag

 

 

Black Betty

Black Betty:

2.7-1 gear ratios

Smooth carbon drag system

Anti-reverse and bait alarm

 

 

Ice Fishing

Also new is the Eagle Claw Inline Reel and the Frabill 261 Ice Reel. 

Don't forget to start going through your gear NOW, instead of an hour before you head out to the ice. There may be residual water in your plastic storage cases and you may have rust. It happens to the best...check your augers, too. 

 

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Crankbait wind blown banks

November brings lots of changes and many of opportunities for the anglers and hunters in Colorado. You can go out and hunt some critters or head out to the reservoirs and chase some bass and walleyes. I am not ready to trade in my fishing rod for my shotgun and park my boat just yet.

The water in Pueblo Reservoir is the lowest I have seen it in years. I am praying for a good amount of snow in the high country this winter to help out with the water level come spring. There are points and islands I have never seen exposed and I know now why they hold fish when the water is up.

I took an afternoon with a few friends to head down and chase some walleyes during the day. The water is unusually stained for this time of year and the night bite has been slow. There was a strong wind blowing out of the west and I knew just where I wanted to look for feeding fish.

At Pueblo Reservoir I tell everyone the wind is my friend. I fish the wind blown banks and points as much as I can. The shad are usually stacked in those areas and the walleyes and bass take advantage of the mud line to ambush their prey.

I like to cast parallel to the bank and keep my Bomber crank bait in the strike zone as much as possible. You need to cover as much water as possible and when you find a stretch of bank that is holding a lot of fish, you beat it up and make pass after pass. When the bite slows down continue to look for the active feeding fish. Find the shad and you will find the fish. A good indicator to look for arekids craknin the bank22'' walleyekeeper walleye2 keepersgood day on Pueblo the feeding birds, they know where the shad are schooled up.

Shad imitation crank baits are what to throw this time of year. Chunk and wind is the name of the game. Have your buddies throw a different color phase or a shallower or deeper diver to see which one the fish like better and then change up to what is working best.

Take a trip down to Pueblo with some buddies for a great crank bait bite right now. Run the wind blown banks and keep it in the strike zone. The shad are schooled up and still shallow. It wont be long before they will be starting to move deeper as the weather gets colder. See you on the water.

                               Best of Luck,

                                                    Sam Heckman / Pro Staff

 

 

 

 

 

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Saltwater Fly Fishing Here in New England.

 The best time of year is now here, when the leaves are changing, apple picking and saltwater fly fishing are at it's finest. I am talking about boat and inshore fishing with the fly rod for Striped Bass, False Albacore and Jumbo Bluefish. These fish are tracking and eating a lot of bait that is entering the bays and shores of our coast for their fall migration from Massachusetts all the way to Montauk, NY. They are focused on bait fish like; Bay Anchovies, Peanut Bunker, Spearing, Sand Eels and Silver Sides and what better way to catch these predators than on the fly rod.

    Fly fishers utilize patterns that so closely mimic these bait fish that we have an edge over most conventional anglers by offering patterns that are the right size, shape and color of the natural. When it comes to the right size shape and color, fly rodders use patterns such as, Lefty's Deceivers, Clouser Minnows, Sand Eels and Silver Sides. Hook sizes vary, from 3/0 on the larger size down to size 2 to represent the proper size of the offering with such an appropriate proportion to the bait fish being represented. Most patterns are tied on Gamakatsu SC15's or Mustad 34007's as these hooks are an awesome saltwater choice due to their inherent strength. Materials used for these fly patterns can be anything from bucktail, marabou, crystal flash in addition to many other types. Some utilize lead dumb bell eyes or stick on eyes as I am a huge fan of eyes as we are trying to make our flies look lifelike. The lead eyes ensure that the fly sinks quickly to get down to where the fish maybe, whereas the stick ons simply make the fly look alive.

    The tackle that I use in saltwater here in New England are rods that are 9' in length for a 9 or 10 weight line, like the TFO Professional II series, the Sage Response or World Wide Sportsman Gold Cup . I prefer to use an Intermediate line as the entire line sinks slowly and I am able to fish sinking flies and poppers equally well. I fish a RIO Striped Bass line in a size 10wt, weight forward and the line is easy to pick up for those fast shots that need to be taken sometimes to busting fish on the surface. My leader consists of a 7'  16lb RIO as these aren't for trout or bonefish and the shorter leader turns over the heavier and larger patterns. When Bluefish are around I use Tyger Ty-able wire for my tippet,  as it is quick to attach with regular fishing knots and doesn't effect the flies ability to be retrieved or swim properly.

Lundin Coward

Fly Fishing Department

Bass Pro Shops, Foxborough

http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CFPageC?storeId=10151&catalogId=10051&langId=-1&appID=94&storeID=58&tab=3

 

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Junk Fishing 101

Junk Fishing 101

For each specific time of year there are generally one or two patterns that really shine. In those situations if you are not fishing one of those specific patterns or techniques than your fishing results and definitely tournament results will show it. The key seasons for dialed in patterns are the middle of spring, summer, and winter. At these times the weather although different from one another is generally stable for a period of time. But there is however the often dreaded transition time period where fish seem to be neither hear nor there. This can be extremely frustrating and can sometimes baffle even an experienced angler. While tough at times, it does offer a unique opportunity to do what many know as junk fishing. If you've ever heard the phrase," I through the kitchen sink at them", this is just that. The key times of year when junk fishing really comes into play is during the spawn to post spawn transition from spring to summer, as well as the summer to winter transition. During either transition period you better keep an open mind and don't leave any technique or lure un tested.

During these transition periods I will often have as many as 12 or more rods on the front deck of my boat all rigged with different baits. Fast moving, deep diving, shallow running, finesse fishing is a good way to look at what a junk fishing pattern is. Now it is extremely important to keep an open mind during this time period and to remember one consistent fact. While the fish are very spread out one pattern holds true, this pattern is, if you find the bait you will find the fish. During both of the major transition periods feeding is the one common thing that is on the fish's mind.

Having a wide variety of baits to choose from is important and one of the main ones that I like to start my day with is a topwater lure, that I can cover allot of water with before the sun gets up. Baits such as the Spro Dawg 100 and the Zera Spook, are great early morning and late evening choices that can put a couple big roaming fish in your boat. This bite can slow as the sun gets up but occasionally under the right conditions you can actually throw the topwater bait all day long covering as much water as possible. But that is not the case all the time so generally once the sun is up I will switch over to some sort of crankbait. My crankbait I choose depends on the size and type of baitfish I am seeing. So if you are fishing shallow cover in the spawn to post spawn season and you are seeing things such as an abundance of bluegill then I would definitely go with a bigger square bill style crankbait such as the Strike King 2.5 or a Spro Fat John. Now if you're fishing during the fall transition period then generally a smaller shad imitation lure will get you more bites such as the Spro Little John MD in a shad color. Now these techniques and many others will work great for targeting shallow roaming fish during either transition periods, but remember there are also fish that will be out in deep water at this same time and trying to catch them can be very rewarding as well.

So if I have tried the shallow water bite with limited success then I will often completely switch gears and begin to use my Lowrance electronics. I like to begin my search for deep transition fish by graphing around areas that are neither here nor there. Places such as secondary points leading in or out of spawning pockets or creeks as well as looking at deep river ledges that are close by to main river flats. Transitioning fish in the summer and the fall will use these in between places as stopping points to feed. They are generally relatively close to shallow and deep water. Fishing medium to deep diving crankbaits is sometimes a great way to trigger these fish into biting and if you find the right school of fish it is not uncommon to catch fish after fish on one specific piece of deep structure. Once you have a group of fish located that are feeding deep on baitfish you need to be ready to slow down if the fish seem to suddenly shut off, and work them thoroughly with carolina rigs or shaky head worms. Having this versatility will maximize the amount of deep transition fish you can catch on one spot. One thing to remember about the deeper transition fish is that they will often suspend, specifically in lakes that have and abundance of shad, or blue back herring in them. If you are seeing surface schooling activity or, large amounts of bait fish on your depth finder then there are a few baits that you need to have ready to catch these suspended fish. The first is an umbrella rig such as the Bass Pro Shops Flashy Times rigged with some sort of soft plastic swimbait. Other baits such as jerkbaits and spoons can also work very well on the suspended fish.

So keeping an open mind is really what junk fishing is all about. Many tournaments I have fished during transition periods I have caught fish on topwater early, shallow crankbaits mid morning, flipping cover mid afternoon, and targeting deep suspended fish later in the day. This fast pace multiple pattern type of fishing is not easy to master but if you have a wide variety of techniques in your angling arsenal then making the adjustments and switching things up throughout the day will become more and more natural to you. So get every rod you own and don't be afraid to throw the kitchen sink at them during the tricky but fun transition periods. I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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