Fishing Report


by David Brayman


     For the freshwater fishermen, there are plenty of shad to be caught in the lower James River up to the fall line with darts and spoons being the primary lure, no specific color. This fishery will continue for another 2 to 3 weeks before it begins to wind down. Along with the shad the Striped Bass have started to get caught with both schoolies and big fish in the mix. A jig head lure with a white body will produce good results, 4, 6, or even 8 inch bodies will work. For the bass fishermen, the fish have begun to work into a pre-spawn/spawn patterns. Top water and plastic lures producing best results. The Small mouth bite is getting better as well with the fish following their larger mouthed cousins. For the crappie live minnows and and jigs are doing well.


     The croaker and spot are a little slow going coming to us, but they are being caught. The Speckled Trout and Puppy Drum are beginning to make their way to the flats areas in places like Mobjack Bay. The large Drum are making their presence in the ocean going inlets like Fisherman’s Island inlet. These big fish are being caught up to the 50 inch marker. Softshell crab, or cut bait will produce for these bruisers. Another good fish to pursue is the Tautaug. These fish are bait stealing KINGS, if you aren’t paying full attention. Cut crabs, sand fleas, or fiddler crabs are best bait for these guys.

     As Spring comes into play around us, we begin to remember those little things we needed to get done last year. Changing that mono line out, sharpen bait knives, replace last years lost tackle. Getting these things done now, can prevent lost time later.

     Our Feature product this month is the Ascend fs128t Angler Kayak. This is one to get excited about, it has GREAT potential to become a big contender in the fishing community. Come by and take a look for yourself!

  • Sit-on-top/Stand up design provides the ultimate kayak fishing platform
  • Solid casting platform with pull up assist strap for stable switch to stand up fishing
  • Removable 360 degree swivel seat with 3 position height adjustment.
  • Multiple watertight dry storage hatches with easy access
  • Deep molded side storage trays accept all kinds of fishing gear and tackle
  • Multipurpose molded dash - catch all trays, cup holder, and recessed tackle tray storage under seat
  • Adjustable foot braces
  • 4 flush mount rod holders - 2 by seat, 2 forward
  • Molded rod tip stagers on bow deck hold top of rod while fishing
  • Fully adjustable rod tender - provides vertical adjustment and 360° of horizontal adjustment
  • 8 scupper drains - big enough to accept transducer (sold separately)
  • Anchor trolley
  • Maximum weight capacity: 350 lbs.

Single Largest Kid's Fishing Event in the USA!

Destin's Bass Pro Shops along with Lowes, Walmart, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Pensacola Recreational Fisherman's Association, many volunteers and other vendors co-hosted the annual Pensacola Kids' Fishing Clinic on Saturday, April 13th at the Plaza De Luna along the Bay in historic Pensacola.  Some 1000 to 1500 kids and their parents attended this event, billed as the largest in the USA, where the lines extended northward from the park for several blocks.  The kids and their parents attended instructional booths where they learned about fishing tackle, casting techniques, knot tying, conservation, and a hands-on salt water touch tank.  The kids received a free rod and reel combo, a tackle box, terminal tackle, a fishing bucket, booklets on fishing, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Rules and Regulations.  Everything was free, including the great food, drinks, and snacks.

General Manager, Ryan Cox, Gary Feduccia, Dave Lockett, and Melissa and Oscar Zepeda hosted instructional booths and helped the kids with fishing and baiting their hooks.  Destin Bass Pro Shops provided many of the combos and tackle boxes given to the kids.

Kids were encouraged and provided the opportunity to fish along the Bay using cut squid.  Several species of fish were caught and released, including a 10 pound Red Drum.  Since 1996, more than 52,000 kids and some 43,000 parents have participated in the Kids' Fishing Clinics.  Destin's Bass Pro Shops is proud to have been a participant and co-sponsor in this annual event for the past 3 years.  We feel that we are helping to teach our kids responsible marine conservation and stewardship that will last them for a lifetime of fishing enjoyment.


Fishing Tips from the 'Nati: Get You Some Big Bass This Spring

eric 2

Here’s proof that those big lunkers are out there this spring waiting for you to get out there and find them. Eric from our Fishing Department caught these 4 lb and 5 lb large mouth in a local lake this past week. He was using a quarter ounce Netbait green pumpkin jig with a Paca Chunk trailer on a Bass Pro Shops Carbonlite Rod with a Abu Garcia Revolution SX Reel.

Netbait jig

Temperatures were in the mid fifties, sunny day, and he caught these big fellas in only about 3 feet of water !!! Get out there and get you some, and if you do let us know and we will post them on our Facebook page !! Good luck and go get ‘em !!

Eric 1


Feature of the Week: April 29

Feature of the Week: Week of April 29

Department: Apparel

Item: $5 Flag Tee

Our Bass Pro Shops Flag T-Shirt is a great way to show your pride without breaking the bank.

$5 flag tee

This short-sleeve tee features "Bass Pro Shops" plus patriotic imagery with a fishing twist—instead of holding the traditional arrows and olive branch, the eagle is holding fishing rods in his talons! The banner behind Old Glory reads "Authentic Gear Since 1972".

flag tee

Pink is 100% cotton; Heather Grey is 90% cotton/10% polyester. Tagless. Machine wash. Imported.

Price S-2XL: $5

Price 3XL: $7


‘Yak Attack!

‘Yak Attack!


            Kayak fishing has been climbing to the top of water sports over the last few years. Every year more and more fisherman turn to kayaks to get into those tight nooks and crannies ordinary boats cannot reach. Whether you chose a sit-in or sit-on-top, outfitting your kayak is not much different than outfitting any other boat. The main obstacle is the storage limitations, however there’s plenty of gear to turn your vessel into a fishing machine.

            Rod holders are critical to kayak fishing, since you need both hands to paddle. Most people install two rod holders behind the cockpit to keep them out of the way when traveling; flush mount holders work well for this as they do not clutter the kayak. Another popular method,kayak and the one I use personally, is mounting a rod holder system, such as the Bass Pro Shops 3-position rod rack to a milk crate or office box. Most sit-on-top kayaks will fit a crate perfectly; you can use bungee cords to help keep the accessory secure when paddling. The best part of this approach is the added storage space the crate gives you. It can help hold tackle boxes and trays, fishing tools, etc. and is within reaching distance for when you get in that sticky situation and need tools fast. Storage is a common topic among kayak anglers, and there is no shortage of options. Use of dry bags and bungee cords will keep your gear dry while remaining accessible. Packing gear into bow and stern hatches also works. Hard plastic, water tight containers will help with the more fragile gear. Another option is the use of deck bags. They have plenty of storage pockets and are easy to store on the kayak. Soft coolers are also great for storing your favorite snacks.

            An anchor system is another great fishing accessory. Use it when fishing to stay put when fishing on a windy day. Sea anchors, also known as drift socks, are especially useful in windy conditions and rough water. It is well worth it to install a kayak anchor trolley kit as they let you fine tune the best position with ease. Some newer kayaks, such as the Ascend FS128T, come with this already installed and ready to use.

            Another necessity when kayak fishing is a kayak specific flotation vest. Kayak-specific designs allow for plenty of upper body movement so that you’re not constricted when paddling or casting. You will want a vest with a mesh back or a thin back to give your more space and comfort. When shopping for the right one keep color in mind. Black may look good but on those hot days you will regret not having a color, like red or yellow, that don’t absorb as much heat. They are also much more visible on the water than a dark color. Safety is, of course, the most important part of fishing or boating. At a minimum you will want to carry the following: a whistle, signal mirror, bilge pump, bail or sponge, throw rope and a flashlight with working batteries. A small first aid kit should also be on the vessel at all times.

            Consider picking up a few of these items when you’re rigging your kayak. They’ll help keep you organized on the water, which should help you catch a few more fish this season!


Chelsea Smith

Front End Lead

Denham Springs


We want to fish other bodies of water and try different techniques. Since the water is still cold, where would you suggest we try and what bait should we use?

Question - We want to fish other bodies of water and try different techniques. Since the water is still cold, where would you suggest we try and what bait should we use?


Kary Ray and Lance BakerLance Baker

"Right now the best cold bait lures to go with are a blade bait, drop shot, and jig. These cannot be beat in cold water conditions!!! "

Kary Ray -

'If you're fishing from the shore it can make it a challenge but it can definitely be done. I would search for some kind of rock or wood in the water, preferably next to some deep water. The fish at this time of year will likely move up and down the water column due to the changes in the weather. The rocks and wood will help warm the water quicker in that area which will make the fish warm quicker and be a little more aggressive.

For bass I would fish either a jig with some kind of plastic trailer like a zoom chunk or a twin tail grub. Another great choice, and my personal favorite, would be a chatterbait. You can use this particular lure in a variety of ways. You can bounce it off the bottom like a jig, slow roll it along the bottom or, when the fish are a little more aggressive later in the afternoon, you can just cast it out and reel it in.

Catfish right now will start getting real good. Go back into the shallow pockets and throw dead bait (chubs or bluegills) or nightcrawlers on the bottom and just wait. Watch your rod carefully, cause if you get one it is probably gonna be a dandy!

Crappies and bluegills will make a push back into the shallow water but most won't hold there. They will come back into the pockets after a couple warm days then move back out and suspend with a cold front. My suggestion would be to use a 1/16 oz. jig head with a minnow on a slip bobber. This way you can adjust the depth of your presentation until you find the fish. Again, wood and rocks will attract this fish as well.

Anytime you have a place on a lake where a creek is feeding into the lake, this is a prime spot. All species of the lake will migrate there to some extent due to the warm water coming in. Think north when fishing in the spring. The pockets on the north side of the lake will warm quicker which will bring the baitfish and larger fish in right behind them."

Rod Woten

Rod Woten -

"Depends on what species you’re after right now.  Pike will be in shallow water spawning or just finishing up with spawning.  If the pike are done spawning, the perch will be next. Crappies will be staged somewhere between the mid-lake basins where they’ve spent the later part of the winter suspended.  Somewhere between that basin and shallower weedy or dark bottom bays, those crappies can be intercepted.  Bluegills should still be relatively close to where we were catching them prior to ice out.  If there are still green weeds to be found, look for them there.  Otherwise, they are probably still located in those deeper water “sticky bottom” areas. They won’t begin moving shallow to spawn until the water warms up considerably.  Catfish should be concentrated anywhere there is a concentration of winter-kill fish….especially shad.  Cats will pretty much be on a feeding frenzy until those dead fish are gone, so lots of folks lie to target them right now with cut bait. 

Think small bait. The water is still relatively cold, so the metabolism of the fish still isn’t firing at full power. It’s okay to upsize a bit for what we were using prior to ice out, but keep it slow, because these fish aren’t looking for a drag race to catch their food yet. Live bait is good…waxworms for just about everything, small minnows for crappies & walleye. This is also a good time to practice up with those micro plastics that we were using through the ice."





The Tungsten Advantge

Tungsten weightsaren't necessarily new, but more and more people are finding out about them, as well as beginning to understand their benefits.  One of the primary benefits of tungsten is that the increased density and tensile strength leads to greater sensitivity.  This is to say that, when compared to lead weights, you feel more with tungsten because of the fact that the impact is not softened by the material itself.  Another benefit is that it is far less likely to cause lasting damage if it ingested by waterfowl, or if fish that have ingested tungsten are eaten by eagles, the eagle is almost certain to have no effects.  (There has been no record of acute tungsten poisoning from ingestion of infect prey species by eagle, unlike lead or tin.)  Lastly, tungsten doesn't oxidize like lead, or lead alloys like tin.  The oxidization is one of the primary damaging materials associated with lead poisoning.

In terms of sensitivity, tungsten is outstanding.  Whether as a worm weight, Carolina rig weight, or as a jig head the increased transmission and feel is second to none.  It allows you to feel the compostion or type of bottom you're fishing over much easier.  In turn, it allows you to eliminate water much more rapidly, making smarter, better use of your time on the water.  You can, much easier, discern the size of rock you may be fishing in, or to determine a transition from a hard sand bottom to pea gravel.  It's quite astounding as to the differences you can sometimes feel.  This is also transmitted directly through the tungsten itself.  Very often, a fish will clamp down on the weight, and not just the lure.  In doing so, often you are unable to feel the bite because lead deforms and spreads prior to transmitting the bite.  With tungsten, that bite is transmitted directly to the fishing line, and then on to your rod.

One of the secondary advantages of tungsten is that it is generally much smaller than its lead counterpart.  In some cases, the size difference can be as much as half.  This allows a much smaller profile in your weights.  A smaller weight profile thereby makes the bait look more natural.  More natural presentations catch more fish.  That smaller profile also allows your bait to make it in and out of tight spots much easier.  As well, with the smaller profile, you're much more likely to get a good hook set on fish.  Very often, if a fish has the weight in its mouth on a Texas rig, what will happen is that you can force the fish's mouth open as the weight comes out the jaw.  In doing so, you oepn the jaw which changes the angle the hook needs to penetrate.  If you reduce the profile of the weight, you lessen the change in angle that the hook needs to penetrate.

There are a couple drawbacks to tungsten, however.  The single largest drawback is the price.  At close to double the price of lead, they're not cheap.  The second drawback is that many tungsten sinkers have inserts in them.  When this insert wears, it allows a very sharp edge to contact the line.  In doing so, you've introduced fray.  That's a bumer not only because you're tearing up your line, but because the weight is then worthless, too.  Higher quality tungsten like is ultimately what you want to be looking for.  There are several manufactureres of tungsten weights currently on the market that offer weights that are insert free and have excellent finishes.  The two best, in my opinion, are those from Bass Pro Shops and those from Strike King.  One of the primary advantages of the Strike King weights is that the bottom side of the weights are large enough to "cup" the nose of most soft plastics very well.  You get a much cleaner look, and when punching with heavier weights, there is a lot less chance of that union coming loose and hanging in vegetation. 

Give tungsten a shot, it can absolutely be the difference maker on how effective you are with your soft plastics.


Fishing Basics For Children

Fishing is just about as wholesome as it gets in our society. There is just something about being on the water in nature that is good for the soul in the busy distracting times in which we live in. While growing up, fishing was always an outlet for me, as well as motivation to do good in school and all around try my best to be a good kid, in fear that I could get in so much trouble that I would loose the opportunity to do what I've loved since the age of 2 years old. I still thank my father often and am grateful for him giving me the opportunity at a young age to get on the water as much as possible. Little did we know that it would lead me to a career in professional fishing, but it did. Here is how you can get your child started in fishing just like my dad did for me.

I started out at 2 years old fishing off of my dock with my dad. The technique of choice, which I would recommend for any beginning fisherman, was a good old worm and bobber. The rig consisted of a Round Plastic bobber, a small Bass Pro Shops premium reusable split shot weight, and a number 4 or 6 baitholder hook. For me this rig with a piece of nightcrawler on the hook was all I needed for countless hours, and even years of entertainment. This simple setup allowed me to catch hundreds of bluegill and sunfish off of my dock and fueled a passion that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Bass Pro Shops also offers children fishing combos that are affordable and perfect for a child that wants to learn how to fish. Right now in the Bass Pro Shops Spring Warm Up Sale the Zebco Bill Dance Select 33 Spincast Combo is on sale for a great price. For very small children like I was when I got started in fishing, the Shakespeare Mickey Mouse Lighted Fishing Rod and Reel Kit for Kids is a awesome option.

As your child gets older hopefully he will want to advance in the sport of fishing, moving away from the spincast combos and in to the spinning and baitcasting combos. At this point I would strongly suggest taking a trip to Bass Pro Shops, and head to the fishing department where knowledgeable associates will be more than happy to point your child in the right direction and get them ready to go hit the water a little more seriously. If you do have a child that really has a passion for fishing, the opportunities in this day and age are endless. There are thousands of youth bass clubs across the country as well as high school and college fishing teams. If you are interested in this just Google youth bass clubs, for your area and you'll be amazed at what you find. The sport of fishing is constantly growing so the sooner you introduce your child to fishing the better, and no child is too young to get outdoors and be in nature. My family still has pictures of me at 2 years old playing in my plastic swimming pool with fish, and trust me they are treasured memories. This weekend at the Leeds Bass Pro Shops the Spring Outdoor Family Fun Event is going on from 1-4 this Saturday and Sunday! It will be a great event and with tons of entertainment and activities for the whole family, so come check it out.

I'll see you on the water!

Joey Nania



Kayak Fishing Evolved

The evolution of every genre of angling has been overwhelming, especially since the beginning of the 21st century. As with most sports and hobbies, each year there are bigger, faster, stronger, lighter, and more stylish additions to the tools available. The sport of kayak angling has certainly been no exception and I am so proud as a kayak angler and a Bass Pro Shops fishing team leader that our company has become so involved particularly with our Ascend line of kayaks! Kayak Angler


The rising fuel prices, increased fishing pressure, and our culture's sudden emphasis on health and exercise have been a catalyst in the evolution of kayak fishing and the kayaks available for becoming involved in this amazing sport. There are a vast number of options available for the kayak angler whether the emphasis is rivers, lakes, ponds, saltwater, beyond the breakers, flats, or anything else imaginable. Obviously, most angling kayaks are created with only one or two of these categories in mind, but I will briefly discuss below the latest and greatest entry into the kayak angling market.


The exciting new entry that I mentioned above is named the Ascend FS128T. This is a 12'8" sit-on-top fishing kayak that is extremely stable and surprisingly maneuverable both when loading/unloading and on the water! This kayak sports a pulley anchor system and five rod holders including four flush mount and one removable/adjustable rod holder that is stationed just to the right of the cockpit. Two paddle clips are alternatively located on the left side of the cockpit and their design allows for easy, yet secure paddle removal or placement single-handedly. The storage space is phenomenal as it includes a bow storage hatch and bungee area, stern storage hatch and bungee area, a storage hatch just in front of the seat, storage hatch just behind the seat, cup holder, and a personal dry storage hatch by the seat! Comfortability is unquestionably outstanding because of adjustable footpegs and adjustable padded seat that can be easily placed in one of three different height locations for paddling comfort and fishing ability.


All of these features alone make this an absolutely incredible fishing vessel, but the best attribute of all is the ability to stand and fish! The stability of this kayak is so exceptional that it allows the angler to actually stand and fish during your trip! The FS128T also includes a stand/sit assist lasso that is durable and securely clipped a few feet in front of the seat.


                                FS128T Fully Loaded


The Ascend FS128T is a kayak angler's dream ride. This new introduction into the Ascend lineup is absolutely loaded with next gen features and is an extremely well designed yet affordable entry into the field of many angling kayaks available today. These are trickling into many of the Bass Pro Shops locations and are available in the camping department for only 699.99. This is an amazing value as most kayaks with this design and these features are Yak Fishing Fun!approximately 1099.99 and up!

If you or someone you know has the slightest interest in this engaging, entertaining, exciting, and fulfilling sport, please don't hesitate to visit with me or any of our friendly staff at the Kodak, TN Bass Pro Shops!


Tight Lines,

Gary G. Garver

Fishing Team Lead

Kodak, TN Bass Pro Shops

Bass Pro Shops


Itching to Try New Gear: Fishing & Family

Have you ever bought new fishing gear only to have "things" come up that prevent you from trying out new gear? Well, that happened to me this year. I bought some brand new Saltwater gear and was forced to wait to try it out!

My family and I finally headed down to Ocean Isle for a Spring Break trip to the beach for some  much needed R and R.

Ocean Isle Arial

Ocean Isle is a wonderful family beach along the southern NC coastline, it has great fishing opportunities both surf and dock fishing as well as the wonderful waterway on the back side of the island.

 I have been dying to use my new fishing gear I bought with a Bass Pro gift card given to me for Christmas. It was a chilly morning with temperatures in the mid 60s for the high. It was early in the morning around 5:30am and man was it cold before the sun came up, but we decided it was better to be fishing and cold than to be warm and not fishing. We were fishing in the canals pictured above just north of the mainland bridge. It was Low tide and we used shrimp bait. I decided to use that type of bait because the bottom of the canal is full of seaweed and oyster shells, and using artificial crankbaits could and probably would have gotten snagged on the bottom. I made another long cast out into the canal after putting on fresh bait, it didn't take long then all of a sudden the rod tip bent down and a fish was on. It gave a great fight but ultimately ended up landing a nice black drum.


Not bad for my first trip out with my new Mako Rod and Reel Combo.  At Bass Pro Shops we feel anglers should have a reliable performing ''grab-and-go'' salt combo that’s versatile enough for surf casting or pier fishing; and with price that would make frugal fisherman proud. We have done just that with the Mako Spinning Rod and Reel Combo. The medium-action, two-piece Mako rod is complete with quality guides, EVA grip handle and graphite reel seat with saltwater-tough, stainless steel cushioned hoods. The smooth Mako reel is built around lightweight graphite frame and side cover and is complete with an anodized aluminum spool, front drag system, die-cast handle and stainless steel main shaft. Its a great rod and reel at an even better price!

The drum seemed to weigh somewhere between 4 and 5 lbs, I didn't have my scales with me but i did have a tape measure!


A 20 inch black drum, man was I stoked!  Can't wait to get back to that fishing spot again soon!

Happy Fishing!

Michael Steele

Team Leader - Apparel Department

Bass Pro Shops

Concord, NC





Friday Featured Fan Spotlight

Featured FanBass Pro Shops Altoona fans are the best in the world! In this Featured Fan Spotlight, meet Rita!  Rita has become a familiar face at Bass Pro Shops Altoona...she has an amazing story and here's just a brief synopsis.  May we all have Rita's zest for life as we go through the years...and her passion for sharing it with the next generation!

Featured Fan - Rita Mae


How Long have you Enjoyed the Great Outdoors?

I have enjoyed outdoor activities all my life. My grandparents were farmers using horses to plow the land and hunting and fishing to put additional food on the table. My parents continued that love for the land and instilled that in me. I got "hooked" on fishing when Dad took me and my brother to MaryFeatured Fanland farm ponds where the big bluegill were plentiful. They were great fun to catch and excellent to eat. We had simple rods and reels with night crawlers we picked up in our yard hooked under those familiar red and white plastic bobbers. I still get a thrill out of catching those big scrappy bluegill and am always looking for new places to catch them with my twin 8-year-old grandsons, Tommy and Torin, and my 14-year-old old neighbor, Rudy.

In my retirement I decided to expand my fishing knowledge and wanted to try something besides worm and bobber fishing. Three years ago I started ice fishing, sitting on a 5-gallon bucket, a borrowed manual auger, a rod I made from a broken longer rod and glued into a wooden dowel, a few tiny jigs and a container of wax worms. I wasn't very successful and got very cold! I went to Lake Okoboji for a three-day "Learn to Ice Fish" event sponsored by Ice Team University and had a blast! I met Dave Gentz, Mr. Ice Fishing, and several other pros who sat with me in a shelter and taught me to ice fish more successfully. I came home and bought a Clam Shelter, Vexilar 20, electric auger, and heater. I used my new equipment and new knowledge to enjoy ice fishing much more. Because I didn't have a boat at that time, I liked the ability to get off the shore and fish anywhere on the water I could walk to. This year I went to Leech Lake in March to fish again with the Ice Fishing University Team. The conditions were tough with 2' of new snow on top of 2' of ice Featured Fanwith cold temps and wind. The pros had to shuttle us around on snowmobiles. Many thanks to Rod Woten from our local Bass Pro Shop in Altoona for taking good care of me and loaning me his Fish Scout camera to learn more about fish habits. The workshops off the ice were tremendous and the friendships made are forever. I can't wait for next year to target walleye and northern on the ice!

This past fall when I turned 70 I purchased a fishing kayak, so I will no longer be stuck on the shore. I can paddle it like a regular kayak, peddle it like a recumbent bike, or use its little motor. I enjoy being able to get out on the lake and go places I can't normally get to. I also bought a used BassTender boat to be able to take "the boys" out on Ada Hayden, Hickory Grove, or Big Creek. We all can't wait for warmer weather to have more adventures on the grandsonboat.

Because I'm interested in all types of fishing, last September I attended a weekend Fly Fishing Workshop at Springbrook Conservation Center (near Guthrie Center) sponsored by the Central Iowa Fly Fishing Association. I learned the basics of fly fishing and fly tying. I even caught some fish on a fly
I made. I loved it!  Now I'm a member of CIFFA and have added a new area in my basement for my fly rods and fly tying stuff.

Since I never fished much with crank baits, jerk baits, spinners, and soft baits, I attended the Bass Pro Shops Spring Fishing Classic Workshop in our Bass Pro Shop Altoona store. Wow...there was so much to learn. I appreciate the knowledge and skill of Kary and Lance, the BPS pros. They have armed me with some new skills and I continue to use the Facebook site to ask questions. It's a bit overwhelming, but me and the kids I fish with will have great fun trying it all out.

Go-To Gear?

The gear that I pack depends on what type of fishing and what fish I'm targeting. Because I want to be more mobile, I no longer carry big heavy tackle boxes. I've sorted my tackle into plastic compartmental boxes and just take along the boxes I need. I have a box for crank baits and jerk baits, a box for jigs and spinners, a box for slip bobbers, weights and hooks. I put whatever boxes I want, along with a fanny pack that holds needle nose pliers, line clippers, extra line, etc., in a backpack. I have a spinning rod with XPS fluorocarbon, crank bait rod with Sufix 832 braid, live bait/bobber rod with Sufix Siege camo mono, and ultra light rod hooked up before I go out. I guess if I was only going to take a few lures with me they would be a Bomber Square A crank bait, a Rapala Rippin Rap, a Strike King Red Eye Shad, a Norman DD22, a Smithwick Suspending Rattlin' Rogue,a BooYaa Blade white spinner, a blue/purple Enticer football jig with a Net Bait Paca Chunk bait trailer, drop shot rig with KVD Dream Shots worms, and a Wacky rig with 5" Strike King Zero worms. These were all suggestions from the Bass Pro Shop pro staff.


Words of Wisdom

I survived a severe heart attack two years ago. So, more than ever, I believe it's important to make time each day to enjoy your family, friends, and pets... AND have fun doing whatever hobby you love!


Fishing for Trout and Salmon in the Finger Lakes

Fishing in the Finger Lakes offers a variety of different species to catch.  The most popular fish  people go for, are trout and salmon.  There are different systems of fishing the Finger Lakes, and here are a few you may just be interested in.


Trolling:  Trolling is the most popular for trout and salmon.  For this type of fishing you can put up to 5 lures per line, and slowly pull or troll behind a boat.  The positive side to trolling over the casting method is, it allows multiple rods rigged with different lures that are set up at different depths.  Trolling does require special equipment and can be very maddening during periods when the waterfleas are plenty.  A good trolling motor to look in to is the Minnkota Terrova Bow Mount Trolling Motor with Universal Sonar 2.   The Minnkota  has a factory installed I-Pilot wireless GPS trolling system which allows you to store and retrieve location and paths on water.  Added, is the co-pilot wireless function to navigate and position your boat which allows you to focus on fishing.  Easy to use and very durable.














Trolling with lures near the surface is referred to as flat lining.  This technique works great with landlocked salmon (best when water is cool).  The best lures to use are stickbaits, streamers and spoons.  During the warm months you need to get lures deeper for the trout and salmon.  Sometimes as deep as 100 feet or more.  A few methods to get lures down deep is a downrigger.  A downrigger is a heavy weight attached to steel cable that lowers and raises by a winch and pulley system.  One downrigger that works well is the Cannon Tournament Series DigiTroll 5TSThe stainless steel spool allows you to re-spool monofilament or superlines.  It has a swival base and integrated LCD screen and touch pad which provides a real time date and is simple to operate.  Best part is its electric.

















Divers:  This device is attached to your line.  This will get your lure down to the depth you want.  Divers are a great option for beginning trollers.  They are cheaper than downriggers and there is no installation to your boat.

WireLine:  This method has become very popular over the years.  When used with a diving device, the bait goes deeper.

Copperline:  This system has been popular for many years in the Finger Lakes area.  Lake trout are the favorite to catch with copper.  Another term people use is "pulling copper".  One tugs the copper by hand using a heavy spoon.  Some people modify an old victrola record player to wind the copper on.

Lures that are popular for trolling salmonids are spoons, plugs, and flies.  Three main styles of attractors are spinners, dodgers, and flashers.

Vertical Jigging:  A very popular method of catching lake trout is vertical jigging.  This method entails lowering the jig to the bottom a few times and then reeling it up rapidly off the bottom for a short distance, before dropping it again and repeating.  This is a nice alternative to trolling when you have water fleas or weed matts.  You also do not need any special rod or reel.

Natural Bait:  Minnows are extremely popular to use.  Make sure you use only certified bait or bait caught from the lake you are fishing on.  Other popular baits are alewives (also called sawbellies or mooneyes), egg sacs, and marshmallow and worm rigs.  The marshmallow and worm rigs are extremely popular on Skaneateles Lake.  The colored marshmallow helps float the worm off the bottom and the bright color of the marshmallow acts like a attractor.  Some people skip the worm and just use the marshmallow. 

So have a relaxing and fun time out fishing on the Finger Lakes, and remember if you need anything we are just a short distance away.


Robin Piedmonte - Events Coordinator








That Takes The Bait

That Takes The Bait

Hey all you guys and gals out there in Blogland.  Let me tell you a little bit about myself and why I am writing this blog.  I retired from the corporate world several years ago and got my dream job here at Bass Pro Shops (eat your heart out Bill Gates).  Since I work here, even though I do not work out on the floor, I though it would be a good idea for me to know a little bit about each of the different departments.  As I got to know more, I realized how much I didn’t know.  Not just about what we sell in the store, but about what you have to know to use what we sell in the store.

Take fishing baits for example.  Do you know how many different kinds of fishing baits there are?  Not to mention all of the different colors.  Did you know you use one kind of bait to catch one kind of fish and another to catch a different kind or you can be trying to catch the same kind of fish but you use a different kind of bait because it is morning or evening?  Or maybe a different color?  So I started out asking my husband what he thought about baits (after 40 some years of marriage that’s what a good wife is supposed to do, right?).  Next I asked his fishing buddies, then I did what I should have done in the first place, I went to the experts in our fishing department.  After hearing what all they had to say, I got to thinking – There might be other people out there just like me who might be in need a basic understanding of fishing baits.  So here goes (and remember, this is not comprehensive just basic and I am no expert).

Baits are divided into six different types – Crank baits, Top water Plugs, Spinner baits, buzz baits, jigs and plastics. 

Crank baits - Diving crank baits are characterized by a bill or lip. Deep running crank baits are used to probe depths of water below crankthe surface.  Minnow type shallow runners are used as top water lures and are twitched across the surface.   The diving depth is determined by the length and width of the bill.  When the bait is pulled through the water, the lip causes it to dive.   When the retrieve is paused the bait will float to the surface. The action of the bait depends on the style of bait, length of cast, the rate of retrieve, pausing and twitching action, and the position of the rod tip. Using a stop and go retrieve around points, channels, stumps, and brush will often trigger a strike.

Shallow, medium and deep running crank baits come in different weights, sizes and color patterns. They can cover a large amount of water in a short time.  The swimming crank bait is similar to the lipped crank bait, except that it sinks when it is paused.  It is very versatile and can be fished at various depths.  They are effective around drop offs, humps, through timber and along edges of grass lines

Top water Plugs - Catching a large fish on a top water lure is one of the most exciting moments an angler can experience.  These top water baits, are often referred to as chuggers, poppers, stick baits and prop baits.  The chugger and poppers have a wide concaved snout that churns the water when they are twitched and popped. Some are equipped with rattles inside them.

Prop baits are equipped with either one or two propellers.  The whirling action of the propellers causes a distinct vibration and sound when it is pulled across the surface.  The stick bait is designed to walk and wobble across the surface.

spinnerSpinner baits - Probably the most versatile bait in an anglers tackle box is the spinner bait.  One of its best features is that it is easy to use and is relatively weedless.  The blades spin and flash during the retrieve and the action of the skirt adds life and shape to the bait.  The depth can be controlled by the rate of retrieve, and the position of the rod tip.  It is most often used to fish the top 2 to 4 feet of water although it can be used to fish deeper structure.     Using the 'slow roll'  method the lure is retrieved with the blades slowly turning, keeping the lure close to the bottom or over other substrate.   

When water is warm and fish are active a good method to use is the bulging retrieve.  As soon as the lure hits the water, immediately engage the reel and use a rapid retrieve to keep the lure coming just under the surface of the water.  The turning of the blades produces a bulge in the water.   Hold on to your rod as strikes can be especially fierce with this method.     

Spinner baits are equipped with single blades or tandem blades of different styles and combinations. Anglers can choose the oblong Indiana blade, the thin willowleaf blade or the wider tear shaped Colorado blades. Trailers of all sizes and makes can be added to a spinner bait.  Spinner baits come in many sizes, weights and colors. Color of the spinner bait is important in that it helps to determine the degree of visibility of the lure.

Buzz baits - The design of a buzz bait is very similar to a spinner bait. The blade on a buzz bait acbuzzts as a propeller that causes the bait to sputter along the surface.   The distinctive noise of the buzz bait will usually agitate bass into striking. Cast it beyond your target area and immediately begin your retrieve to keep the lure on the surface.  A slow or sometimes erratic retrieve will trigger some vicious top water strikes. 

Jigs - A jig is a leadheaded hook with a changeable skirt. A trailer is sometimes added to the jig, the most popular being the pork rind.  This combination is referred to as the jig n' pig.

jigJigs can be effective when most lures just won't produce.  They are virtually snagless, and can be put directly in the fish zone.  They are especially effective on suspended fish that are hiding in deep cover. 

One way to fish the jig is to let it sink to the bottom and then begin a slow and steady retrieve. Other ways are to hop the lure along the bottom; use the rod tip to jig it vertically; flip it; or fish it like a spinner bait.  Most anglers have their own preferred method of fishing a jig. 

These lures come in many styles, colors, weights, etc.  Small tube jigs are effective for catching small sunfish, and crappie.plastic

Plastics - Soft plastics can be rigged with weight or used weightless. Weightless plastics can be used as surface lures or jerk baits. They are commonly used when fishing thick vegetation.  They are also very effective during the spawning season using a float-twitch retrieve over grassbeds.  Plastics with a very light weight can be used when fishing shallow structure.  Heavily weighted plastics are fished along the bottom. There are so many different types of plastics and so many different ways to rig them. There are plastics that imitate frogs; lizards; salamanders; leeches; worms; grubs; centipedes; fish; craw worms etc. that come in all sizes and colors. 

Jettie Whittington

HR Clerk

Denham Springs


What's In A Line?

 What's In A Line?


            Hey everyone this is Brian, I am a Fishing Team Lead from the Denham Springs store.  I just wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the different types of fishing lines out there, no not brands of line but the types.  You know Monofilament, Braided (super) line, Fluorocarbon and Copolymers.  All 4 lines have there advantages and disadvantages, you will have to weigh them for yourself to determine which line is best for you and your specific fishing applications.


Monofilament is a single component product making it fairly inexpensive to make, no doubt at least in part the monoreason it remains the most popular line out there.  But as with all line it has its advantages and disadvantages. Beyond being relatively inexpensive, it is easy to cast, cut and knots well. On the downside, it tends to stretch during hook sets, particularly when there is a lot of line out there. This is a real downside if one happens to be seeking fish with a tough jaw. It is also not particularly sensitive to light hits, as you simply may not feel a light touch. Over time it can develop spool memory and will deteriorate from light and heat necessitating regular replacement.  I have seen too many big fish lost simply because the angler didn’t take the time to replace their line on a regular basis. Also, it is not as abrasion resistant as some of the other lines out there. So one must constantly be on the look out for small abrasions and retie accordingly. Lastly, and this particularly applies to heavyweight line, it is bulky and when attempting to spool a lot of heavy test line it won’t take long to fill the spool.

Superline (braid)

braidThere are actually two types of superlines: braided and fused. Fused is made of gel-spun polyethylene that is heated and pulled into strands that are then fused together. Whereas the braided version is typically made of synthetic fibers such as Spectra that are then tightly woven and compressed together into an ultra thin, incredibility strong and sensitive line.  They can be used  when fishing heavy cover, jigging, or fishing bait in deep water. The lack of stretch in these instances makes for solid hook sets even in very deep water or on steel-jawed fish. Its sensitivity also transmits the minutest strikes for quicker hook sets and when working heavy cover or in high abrasion areas, it is all but indestructible. Lures also sink faster and deeper with superlines. Additionally, because of its small diameter, you can load a lot of line on your spool. It has minimal spool memory and does not require replacement nearly as frequently as most will last several years. Pound-test for pound-test you can also cast it further than monofilament making it useful in situations where long casts are a must.

But on the down side, it is expensive and you may need to alter fishing techniques. For example, it will require different knots as many of your old knots may slip, so when in doubt use a Palomar knot. You may even consider adding a drop of super glue to the knot to make sure that it won’t slip. It is also very visible to fish, which is some cases may not present a problem but in others may just spell the difference between success and failure. Additionally, with this no stretch line, too hard a hook set and you may pull the hook right out of a fish’s mouth. When snagged, it is all too easy to break a rod tip by putting too much pressure on these all but unbreakable lines. And when trolling, don’t set your drag too tight as it may pull the lure or bait away from a fish. A rod with a light action tip will also assist in avoiding this problem. And last, when snagged don’t use your hands, as the line can very easily cut your hands. Point your rod tip directly at the snag and pull directly to you. Either the line will break or the hook will straighten out.


Fluorocarbon fishing line originated in Japan where it was first used as leader material when bait presentation was critical in high-pressure fluorocarbonareas. It has since gained popularity on this continent and in many instances, is the line of choice. Fluorocarbon line has a refractive index close to that of water, making it all but invisible when submerged in water. Unquestionably, it is an excellent choice for fishing in clear water or high-pressure areas. It is particularly useful as leader material when fly fishing in ultra clear mountain streams and rivers. While not on par with the superlines, it still offers minimal line stretch, a quick sink rate and is tougher than monofilament. It has minimal spool memory and is quite abrasion resistant. The later making it a good choice for high abrasion areas such as rocks or submerged logs. It is also more UV resistant so it can be stored and used for longer periods than monofilament. It is quite sensitive and with its limited line stretch it makes for quicker and more solid hook sets without the potential loss of a fish due either to too much or too little stretch. It may well be the ideal fit for line stretch between monofilament and the superlines. 

But it too has it drawbacks, as with the superlines it will require more attention to detail. Knots, for example, will require more attention and always check your knots before using. It is also stiffer than monofilament and as such I would avoid using heavier weight fluorocarbon lines on light gear particularly if you are using lightweight lures. And last, it is certainly more expensive.


copoCopolymer fishing line is another feat of engineering as it originally combined several nylon monomers into a thinner more stable line. New formulas, which include, for example, the addition of fluorocarbon, have been developed to enhance this line even further. P-line Floroclear is a good example of this. Copolymer lines are more impervious to the elements and offer a bit less line stretch than monofilament. It is also less visible and tends to outlast monofilament as well.  But once again, it can be a bit more expensive and may be viewed by some as being a bit tricky to handle. If you encounter a problem with stiffness, I would suggest that you consider dropping down a couple of weight classes.

As a final comment, there is no one perfect line for all uses, so take a look at what you are fishing for, the depth you are fishing at, the type of terrain you are fishing in, the type of tackle being used, the condition of the water, the fishing pressure, and then look at matching your line to these factors and you are sure to not only improve your catch rate but your enjoyment as well.  Please visit your nearest Bass Pro Shops for all your outdoor needs.

Brian Gordon

Fishing Lead

Denham Springs


Spinning vs. Baitcasting

The question of which specific type of rod and reel to use is a very controversial subject. Anglers all over the country are set in there ways that either a spinning rod is the way to go or a baitcaster is the way to go. The truth is, both have there time and place, and to truly be a versatile successful fisherman it is important to get confident and build your skills with both. This being said there are still a few rules of thumb that I like to stick by when selecting which type of equipment to use, and both definitely have there time and place.

Spinning setups such as the now on sale Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier or the Pflueger President Spinning Reel have been very important keys to my success as a professional angler. Accompany these reels with either a Johnny Morris CarbonLite or a TFO Signature series rod and you will have a extremely versatile rod and real combination. There are some things a spinning rod is key for that a baitcasting setup just simply can't duplicate. For me I almost always choose a spinning rod when I am using 10lb test Trilene line or lighter. Spinning rods are designed for these light line applications and with extremely sensitive drag systems they give the angler the best opportunity to fool a finicky fish into biting by using light line and finesse tactics. The sensitive drag system will allow a large fish to run and fight stripping out line but not breaking you off in the process. Another great advantage that a skilled angler has while using a spinning setup is the ability to side arm skip light or weightless baits with ease. This technique is deadly for fishing up under docks or overhanging trees. With a spinning rod you can gently place a weightless soft plastic bait 50+feet under the cover where fish rarely see a lure. This being said do yourself a favor and give the sometimes frustrating spinning rod and reel a try.

What i mean by sometimes frustrating is the spinning setup is notorious for having blowout loops that can all but ruin a day of fishing. While getting occasional loops is inevitable there are a few fundamentals that will almost eliminate loops and tangles on the water. The first step in casting a spinning rod and reel is holding the line with your finger, you then flip the medal bail over and you are ready to cast. Now from then on is where all of the problems happen, watch your bait as it sails through the air and just before it hits the water place your finger back on the line stopping the bait, and then simply flip the bait back over manually instead of using the spring mechanism by just starting to reel. That is all it takes, most loops occur when your bait hits the water and line continues to come off of the spool creating line twist, as well as the twist and ware on a reel that happens when you flip the bail over by cranking the handle. Give it a try and you will be blown away at how much more enjoyable spinning rod fishing will become. Trust me it really works.

Baitcasters are the most popular setups by far in the bass fishing world. Bass anglers often use relatively big lures and heavy line, making a baitcaster the best choice. A baitcaster has more power and strength for fighting a fish out of heavy cover as well as the ability to cast the heavy lures that are sometimes required to catch bass. So as a rule of thumb, most of the time when using 12lb line or higher a baitcaster is the way to go. They are very important for tactics such as crankbait fishing, flipping and pitching, or deep water fishing with carolina rigs and jigs. While you won't have issues with line twist using baitcasters they do have there own challenges that come with them. Backlashes are the thing that turns many recreational anglers away from fishing with a baitcaster. The key to casting them begins before you even get on the lake with tuning your reel just right, making sure you have your tension knob and break systems properly set for the specific bait you are throwing is extremely important. The rest is all in the way you cast, your cast must be one smooth and fluid motion allowing the weight of the bait to do the work. If your going to get a new baitcaster I would suggest a Johnny Morris CarbonLite Baitcasting Reel with a Temple Fork Outfitters Signature Series Trigger Rod and you are ready to go.

It all boils down to practice, it takes countless hours to truly master the spinning setup as well as the baitcaster, and neither one is a all around better option then the other. If you have any questions such as how to set your baitcasting reel or the size of line to use come in to Bass Pro Shops where associates can fine tune your setup and give you hands on instructions on how to use your equipment! Also if you decide you want to take a leap of faith and learn how to use a new type of reel Bass Pro Shops has a sale going on from now until May 5th. SPRING WARM-UP SALE!

I'll see you on the water!

Joey Nania



Feature of the Week - April 15

  • Feature of the Week: Week of April 15

    Department: Fishing

    Item: Daiwa® Procaster Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

    Daiwa procaster spinning reel boasts some of Daiwa's most advanced technology at a great price. Twistbuster dramatically reduces line twist common in less advanced spinning reels, and digitally designed and cut Digigear guarantees smooth performance and long life. Infinite anti-reverse; aluminum body and rotor.

    The Procaster rod is built on an IM6 graphite blank… the world's most popular graphite rod blank material due to its strength, flexibility, light weight, and durability. Split cork grip; a variety of actions for different species.





It Ain't Over 'til it's Over!

By Rod Woten - Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff

Even though the hardwater season is a distant memory in central Iowa, there are still great ice conditions to be found within a few hours’ drive. For those willing to put in some windshield time, they can extend their season well into April, AND possibly experience some of the best fishing of the season. Being a tournament and professional ice angler, traveling to fish is a way of life for me. It’s fairly rare, however, for me to travel to do some “fun” fishing. I had the chance to do that exact thing this past weekend, however, and highly recommend you do the same if you still have that hardwater “bug.”

My favorite fish to chase when the lakes ice up is the yellow perch. There are a few places in Iowa where a hardwater junky can go to get their perch fix, but for a shot at a bucketful of true trophies, or “jumbos,” there’s a few places out of state that are sure bets. Fortunately, for those of us in central Iowa, one of those areas is as close as a six-hour drive. That’s the Glacial Lakes region of northeast South Dakota, well known for its prairie potholes, abundance of waterfowl, and JUMBO yellow perch. Since I hadn’t really had the chance to scratch my jumbo perch itch yet this year, and because there wasn’t a single yellow perch fillet left in our freezer, I decided it was time to revisit this great area of South Dakota.

I called the usual suspects, and soon we were putting our trip together. Our base was to be the town of Webster, SD, near one of the more popular lakes in the area, Waubay Lake. I called The Galley Steakhouse Lounge and Motel and was relieved to hear we could book the last remaining vacancies they had for that weekend. Friday seemed like the longest day ever at work, but as soon as the buzzer rang, we were out the door and headed to Webster. We rolled into town shortly after 11 p.m. that evening. The Galley has a very sportsman-like feel to it with mounted fish, geese, pheasants and ducks adorning the knotty pine paneled walls in the lobby. The rooms are simple, but very comfortable and quite affordable. The Galley also has heated kennels available for the upland and waterfowl hunters, as well as heated game and fish cleaning facilities. The attached restaurant and lounge boasts a menu of hearty offerings at very reasonable prices. We really appreciated the close proximity of the restaurant, as well as the hot hearty meals when we returned from our first day of fishing, famished and nearly exhausted from drilling holes and trudging through slush all day.

ice fishingSaturday morning we decided to attack the north end of Waubay Lake in search of its famous jumbos and walleyes. We divided into two groups: One group would try to fish several likely walleye spots with Arctic Warrior tip-ups, while my crew would fish the mud flats and edges of sharp breaks in search of rapidly moving schools of jumbo perch. Fishing was very slow for the first half of the morning. The tip-up crew only had one walleye to show for their efforts and most in my group hadn’t even marked a fish.  I pulled up my lake map and was able to identify an inside corner in the mud basin adjacent to a sharp break. I was just sure that corner would concentrate fish, so I set off on my own with an auger, my Vexilar, and jigging rod to find out. I drilled about a half-dozen holes over the area I had marked on my GPS and sat down to fish the first hole. No sooner had I dropped my Chubby Darter down to within six feet of the bottom than a red mark rose up to meet it. Within seconds, it felt like something was trying to rip my rod out of my hands. I fought it for several minutes before bringing a nice chunky smallmouth to the surface.

I signaled to the rest of the crew that I had at least found some fish, and soon we were all punching additional holes over the new spot. Before long, just about everyone had caught a smallmouth or two, but we had yet to see any of those elusive jumbos. By continuing to drill holes and move around, we did start to catch a few smaller perch, and a few that were just big enough to keep. Even a few smaller walleyes were caught. We continued to drill holes, working our way south towards the main basin of the lake. I had just finished drilling a string when I saw one of the others in my group pulling a nice perch from the center-most holes. He excitedly told us that the whole bottom of his flasher was lit up like a Christmas tree, and the whole group was instantly drilling more holes around him or fishing holes already near him. Every time a fish was pulled up, someone else would drop down the same hole and try their luck. Not only did this increase our catch rate, but it also helped to ensure that the perch always had something hanging in their faces to keep their interest and keep them under us. This went on for what seemed like a long time, but was probably more like ten minutes. Even despite our best efforts, the perch finally got wise to us, and moved off. At the end of the flurry, about 20 perch in the 11 to 13 inch range were laying on the ice.

For those that have never ice fished for perch on big water, this is a classic perch pattern. Sometimes it takes MANY holes before you happen to land on a nice pod of perch. All that work is well worth it, though, because once you land on that pod, the fish will be stacked 6, 8, sometimes even as high as 12 feet off the bottom, and they’ll be HUNGRY. It often doesn’t matter what you drop down to them when they’re schooled up like this because they are aggressively feeding and will eat anything you throw down there. It’s one of the reasons I LOVE perch fishing so much…..drilling holes across vast amounts of water looking for that BONANZA…and when you find it, the feeling is indescribable!

Drilling holes throughout the early afternoon yielded us only a few smaller single perch, so we decided to head back to the access, load up, and head to the South end of the lake. Reports had indicated that the south end had actually been better fishing than the north end, so we were anxious for what the afternoon might bring. On our way back to the access, we were a little surprised at how often our snowmobiles would punch through the crust that had been frozen and slick that morning. The warmth of the day was definitely taking a toll on the crust-slush-ice sandwich we’d been traveling and the access was definitely beginning to show it.

Arriving at the Kanago access only offered more of the same. In fact, the south end of the lake was actually worse than the north end had been. We had to keep our speed up on the snowmobiles and use our momentum to get us through several of the larger slush pockets, and walking through it was a chore. We fished several likely looking contours on the south end, but didn’t even see a mark. Fortunately, our tip-up crew that had also migrated to the south end was having much better luck than we were, with a couple of guys in that crew actually catching their daily limit of four walleyes.walleye

Before long the light began to fade and we decided to get off the lake while there was still enough light to see the deteriorating conditions at the access. We managed to get off the lake safely, returned to The Galley, cleaned our fish, met in the lounge for a nice hot meal, and then collapsed into bed.  

The next morning we headed south out of Webster to Swan Lake. We had heard decent reports from Swan for prior weeks, but all indications were that it had slowed down recently and there was lots of sorting through small fish to get any keeper jumbos. Regardless, we wanted to try it. We arrived at the north-most access and were disappointed to find a fair amount of open water. There was a very muddy, sloppy detour to the side that ATVs had obviously been using, but that was a definite no-go for our snowmobiles. We continued south to the other access and found it to be in much better shape, so we wasted no time in getting on the lake.

Since contours are not available for Swan, we didn’t have the luxury of using the GPS like we did the previous day. Luckily, a friend that had been out there last week told us about two areas he had seen fish in, so those were our starting points. Upon arriving at our first spot, we drilled a dozen or so holes over the area and immediately got to work. Several minutes without marking a fish meant the augers were soon going again, expanding our field of holes in a northeasterly direction. Finally, on the leading edge of that northeasterly push, we began to mark fish. I settled in on a hole and within a few minutes of aggressively jigging my Chubby Darter, my Vexilar lit up with five distinct marks. I teased and finessed those marks for what seemed like an eternity in an effort to entice a bite, but to no avail. Finally, I shouted out to see if anyone had something smaller tied on that they could drop down the hole and catch one of these marks. I was pretty sure it was a small pod of perch, but until we landed one that was just speculation. No sooner had those words left my mouth than WHAM! One of the marks had inhaled my Darter. Sure enough, the school that had moved in underneath me was jumbo perch. Unfortunately, they were on the move, too. In the time it took me to unhook the fish I had just caught…and before anyone else could make it over to drop down and keep the perch interested…they had moved on. After picking up a nice walleye at another hole, things started to die down on that first area. We decided that since we were only fishing until noon, that we should pack up and move to the second area we had received the hot tip on. 

Rod WotenUpon arriving at our second spot, it was obvious that this had at one time been a community spot. In fact, it had been warm enough recently that we didn’t even need to drill holes; we just kicked open the thin layer of ice over the existing holes. As we dropped our Vexilars down and started to check holes, we were very surprised to see that almost every hole had marks in them. Obviously, we wasted no time in getting right down to fishing. We then realized why all the reports had mentioned all the sorting required to catch jumbos. Nearly every fish we pulled up was between six and nine inches. While it was nice to feel the tug on the other end of the line, these fish were definitely not what we were looking for. We responded by switching holes regularly. It wasn’t long before we caught our first jumbos by doing this. It was nice to see that there were at least a few jumbos still left in this community spot. We continued to sort through smaller perch picking up a jumbo here and a jumbo there. 

Before we even realized it, noon had come and gone, and it was time for us to load up and head back to Iowa. We had caught enough jumbos that each of us could have a nice supper if we wanted to. Most were in the 10 to 12 inch range, but we did manage one very nice 14” piggy off that spot. As we were driving across the lake towards the access to leave, I was pleasantly surprised at how good the ice conditions were on Swan compared to Waubay. We discussed afterwards how we wished we had fished Swan on Saturday, too. Slush was almost non-existent on Swan and the south access was holding up surprisingly well.

The moral of the story is that just because there’s no ice here, that doesn’t mean your hardwater season has to be over. There is still a lot of ice in places like South Dakota and northern Minnesota. Because of the massive amounts of snow they received this winter, the ice has been well preserved. As conditions warm, that snow pack will compact and slush pockets will become less and less of an issue. The ice will eventually get to a point where it will only support foot traffic, but that point is still several weeks away. The fishing will only improve from here on out, too. We had marginal success while we were there, but it was enough that I’m satisfied with the trip, and feel it was a great way to end my season. I am a little sad that I might be missing some of the best fishing of the season up there yet. Trust me, I’d be right back out there in a heartbeat if my schedule allowed. I have fly fishing clients to tend to already, but there’s no reason some of the rest of you can’t put a trip together and enjoy some of this late season ice while it’s still there. There are great accommodations right in the heart of the glacial lakes region of South Dakota in towns like Webster, Watertown, and Grenville. These places cater to sportsmen and are usually very affordable. Get a group together and give one of them a call today to book a room. It’s hard to beat the feeling you get when you’re able to say that you were ice fishing in APRIL! Good luck!



Kid's Outdoor Skills Challenge!

For two weekends only! April 20 & 21 and 27 & 28  Noon - 4pm

Bring the family on out for this fun kid's challenge where the kid's will have fun while they show off and/or learn some important outdoor skills!

Except in the event of rain, all activities will be taking place outdoors.

The Challenges -

Bass Pro Shops East PeoriaCasting:  Casting for accuracy is changing this year. This time the target will be a floating hula-hoop in the pond out front!  

Backpack packing: We’ll have backpack worthy and backpack-unworthy items available for the kids will race each other to pack their bag with the appropriate items!Kid's outdoor archery barn at Bass Pro Shops, East Peoria, IL

Archery: Like in the past, we’ll set the outdoor range up in the parking lot.  Kids will take aim at balloons, which is fun no matter what your age!

Knots: Learning to tie a proper knot is essential when camping or enjoying the outdoors. Kids will learn to make knots around a dowel rod. They will be able to take their string and the helpful knot tying card with them!

  Lighted wristband giveaway from Bass Pro Shops


The first 100 kids to complete the challenges each day will receive
a lighted Bass Pro Shops wristband!



The Bass Pro Shops prize wheel!



Then, Spin the Prize Wheel!

After completing the challenges, all kids will get to spin the Prize Wheel!




The Crafts:

dragonfly craft at Bass Pro Shops Kid's Challenge Weekend Foam Creature craft at Bass Pro Shops Kid's Challenge Weekend owl craft
Saturday April 20   
Dragon Fly craft 

Sunday April 21     
Animal Craft 

Saturday & Sunday  
April 27 & 28    
Color an Owl mask

 Bass Pro Shops, East Peoria, IL



Don't be "one of those guys" at the ramp!

You know who I'm talking about - the guy who puts his boat in the water, hits the key, and listens to it spin and spin and spin, or says, "Do you have a set of jumper cables I can borrow?"  while the rest of us sit in line at the ramp watching as he screams at his wife to back the truck back in! I'm not trying to make anybody feel bad, but I see this time and time again, every place I go. We as fisherman and boaters know that if one thing goes wrong on our trip, it can wreck the entire day.

Maintenance is not my best habit (some of my friends are laughing too hard as they read this). The long winter months drag as I anticipate open water for the first time. Chances are, I'll be working long hours at the job, doing some ice fishing on the weekends, and taking my wife out to dinner on occasion. And before I know it, there's open water around the edges of my favorite pond, or lake. So the first chance I get, I'm spooling rods, straightening out tackle from last year, and scrambling like a mad man to get ready, and- I can't deny it- in the past, I have been "one of those guys." A lot of grief, and the loss of the first day or any other day on the water, could be avoided if that boat gets a little extra attention first thing this season.

The staff at our Tracker Marine Boat Center can take care of all that for us with a service called re-commissioning or summarizing. Lisa, the Service Manager at Gurnee told me, "This process not only starts the motor for the first time for the year in a controlled environment (not expelling storage fogging oil into the water), it also charges batteries, and checks the function of the options on your boat and your trailer. Many times we see trailer light or brake issues. We also can see live well plumbing issues too...Another great idea is to have the yearly maintenance done at this point. If there are any issues, you can be sure your motor's maintenance is up to date and diagnosis is quicker." She also brought up the fact that this is a great time to upgrade your trolling motor and/or electronics.

I have a 2010 Nitro Z-8 with a Mercury Optimax 225 ProXS.  The rapid planing system has really come in handy fishing the backwater areas of the Mississippi River. It allows me to get on pad in shallow water. The boat has lots of storage, and it is a dry ride in rough water. It tows extremely easy, as well. I depend on my boat.  As a guide, and a tournament fisherman, it is important that I don't become "one of those guys" on a trip, or at a tournament. A day on the water is all about memories, good or bad. A lttle TLC goes a long way in making sure more of them are good ones.

This is my first blog. I have met many of you at the Gurnee store over the past 11 years, and have made lots of friends. I look forward to blogging a couple of times a month. It is my pleasure to be a part of the Bass Pro Shops family and I hope to see you on the water. And remember, if it does happen to you, just ask. I'll have a set of jumper cables.

by Dan Hayes 4/5/13


Please wear your life jacket!

PLEASE Wear your life jacket….

Come on folks, how many people have to drown for everyone to begin wearing a life jacket all the time when you are on the water? Just the other day on Lake Lanier, north of Atlanta, Georgia another angler has drowned while fishing when he fell overboard. Read more about this story; follow the link below -

Why does this continue to happen? The National Safety Council, Inc. tells us that almost 7,000 people drown in the United States each year. This number must decrease in the near future; I am tired of seeing fishermen and outdoors people die on the water.  To make this number decrease we must begin to ask others to put on his or her life jacket when they are near or on the water.  For those of you that do not fish in tournaments, it is the rule that every angler in a competitive fishing event must wear a life jacket when the big motor is under power. This is a sound practice that needs to be carried over into a common sense law for all boaters.

In Georgia, for example, all vessels must have at least one USCG–approved Type I, II, III, or V personal flotation device (life jacket) for each person on board. However, Type V PFDs are acceptable only when worn and securely fastened. These types of PFDs are for specific activities. To be acceptable by the USCG, they must be used for the activity specified on the label. Varieties include fishing, kayaking, water skiing, windsurfing, hybrid vests and deck suits.

The current Georgia law requires that all children under 10 years of age wear a U.S. Coast Guard—approved PFD while on board any moving vessel. This law does not apply when the child is in a fully enclosed cabin. In response to several fatal boating accidents this past summer, the Georgia legislature and Governor are expected to introduce legislation in 2013 to establish mandatory boater education, increase the PFD mandate to any child under 13 years old and possibly Personal Water Craft (PWC) education for those who rent PWCs.

Not only is it important to wear a PFD, but I believe it is just as important to make sure your fits properly. Sizing for adults is by using your chest size, not your weight. This will help determine the correct size. For children, their weight will determine the correct size. When trying a PFD on, they should be snug and fit like a glove, yet allow you to move freely and not restrict you while casting, paddling or just playing. To get the best feel and fit, wear similar clothing when trying on a PFD. Women should consider women-specific PFDs versus unisex styles. All PFDs will have a different design and foam placement to fit the contours of the body. Foam placement has more to do with comfort than safety. The more straps a PFD has, the more adjustments can be made to customize its fit. To assure a proper fit go to a repeatable marine store and allow a properly trained assist to help you.

LIfe Jackets

Types of PFDs: There are 5 categories of PFDs.

Type I: Offshore Life Jackets. These vests are geared for rough, open or remote waters where rescue may take a while. Though bulky, they have the most buoyancy, a bright color and can turn most unconscious people face up in the water.

Type II: Near-shore Vests. Made for calm inland waters, where there is a likely chance of a fast rescue is the intent of these PFDs. They will turn some unconscious wearers to the face-up position but not all of them. They are bulky, but less so than Type I.

Type III: Flotation Aids. These are suitable for most on the water activties where there is a chance for a quick rescue. They offer freedom of movement and the most comfort for continuous wear. Type IIIs are designed so wearers can put themselves in a face-up position, but they may have to tilt their head back to avoid being face down in water.

Type IV: Throwable Devices. Cushions or ring buoys are designed to be thrown to someone in trouble and provide backup to a PFD. They are not for non-swimmers, rough waters or the unconscious. The USCG does not require these for canoes or kayaks.

Type V: Special-use Devices. These are specialized PFDs for specific activities. To be acceptable by the USCG, they must be used for the activity specified on the label. Varieties include fishing, kayaking, waterskiing, windsurfing, hybrid vests and deck suits.

Last week, I was given the opportunity to wear and test the new Type V Mustang Survival M.I.T. 100 Auto Inflatable Life Jacket. The new M.I.T. 100 with Automatic Activation is a premium product at a truly affordable price.  The jacket suggested retail is $149.99 at your local Bass Pro Shops. When I put on this PFD and properly adjusted it, I was amazed at just how much freedom of movement I had casting a rod and reel, and moving around in the boat. This life jacket was so light and comfortable I had it on all day and hardly noticed it! So the acceptance of wearing a life jacket on the water all the time became more plausible!

Life Vest

If you don’t know your own state's regulation on life jackets and PFDs, go to the Boat U.S. web site and locate the laws specific to your state.  Web page link:

Please help me eliminate drowning on and near the water across the country this spring by asking others to wear their PFD. My hope is that you, and your family will never have to find out if your life jacket works when you fall into the water. Really, is $150 to much to save your own life?



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

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