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.




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!


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.



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



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 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."


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. 


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. 


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.)

   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


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!


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 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


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











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.


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. 



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







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



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











Fall River Fishing



Photo: Spro little john

The leaves changing colors, days getting shorter, and water temperatures getting colder, are a sure sign that the fishing is about to change in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs, across the country. While you don't have to worry about dehydrating yourself with intense heat, this more comfortable time of year can actually be a very frustrating time to really figure out and pattern the fish. During the fall of the year the fish are very scattered and roaming around looking for food. In one single day you could catch fish in 1 foot and then switch gears and go catch a fish in 30 feet. While junk fishing or throwing the kitchen sink at them can be a successful approach, there is an option that in my opinion is at times easier to figure out. Abandoning the wide open lower end of lakes and reservoirs and heading up to the river is a great option when trying to figure out what to do in the fall of the year.

The way I look at it river fish quite simply have less places they can hide. Rivers are pretty simple you have a winding channel with flats, drop-offs, rock piles, lay down logs, shoreline vegetation, and shallow creeks and backwaters. The thing I really like about a river, is that all of these types of structure are generally in close proximity to one another. Where on the lower main lake end of a body of water there are multiple levels of depth changes, channels and structure, which the fish will move back and forth on throughout the year. Sometimes these main lake fish will move half a mile or more to go from a spawning pocket to a creek channel and then on out to a main river ledge or point. In a river often 100 yards is all a fish has to move throughout the year making river fish easier to pattern during scattered out time of year like the fall.

Just like figuring out any part of the lake in the fall finding the bait fish is a very important step. To do this I use my Lowrance HDS 8 Fishfinder, as well as physically looking for schooling fish or balls of bait on the surface. Baits such as spinner baits and crank baits are extremely effective for covering stretches of river bank, in order to search for aggressive fish. If the reaction baits aren't working then baits such as Jig and Pigs, and Texas Rigged soft plastics are also great choices for pitching to shoreline cover. A key thing to always remember in a river system is that current is everything. Current positions the bait fish and the bass use the current to there advantage in order to ambush the bait. Bass will often sit just on the edge of current areas in current breaks caused by lay down trees, stumps, rock piles, and points. An accurate cast or better yet, pitch is crucial for catching river fish with the current running. An underhand pitch is my method of choice because of the accuracy and gentle presentation it can achieve.

When fishing soft plastics or jigs around lay downs and stumps I try to look for little eddies where there is a backup in the current and then present my bait as close to the cover as possible in the slack water. When using this technique bites come quick, often as soon as the bait begins to sink, so being able to either pitch left handed or use a left handed real is critical for hitting the fish quick and getting them out of the cover before they get you in trouble. When fishing points or rock piles I generally throw above, or upstream from my targeted current break and with a semi tight line I feel the bait as it washes down over the structure. With either technique your cast angle and accuracy is critical, but once you master it these river fishing techniques are extremely rewarding, and not to mention a boat load of fun! It is very important to use a strong rod such as a, TFO Tactical Series 7'3" Heavy Action, and a good high gear ratio 7.9:1 Pflueger Patriarch Reel in order to horse the fish out of the often cover littered banks and fast moving water. When fishing your moving baits such as Spro Little Johns and Stanley Spinner baits you should target the same current break areas. I often use a short roll cast to accurately place my bait where I can run it through the slack water past the cover. Another key to river fishing is boat positioning and understanding how to work your boat in the current in order to give yourself the best casting opportunities. If you have a 36 volt trolling motor and the water isn't overly swift then you can slowly move your boat against the current up stream, casting ahead at a 45, or more, degree angle. If you don't have a strong trolling motor to make headway or the current is just too strong then back drifting, holding your boat and then letting it slightly drift down for each cast can work very well.

So if you're having trouble catching fish this fall, check the current generation schedule, and abandon the open water lower end of your local lake or reservoir, and head up to the river portion of your lake for some awesome fishing action. I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania









Fall Schooling Activity


Fall Schooling Activity-By: Curt Samo

       Autumn can be an awesome time to find large concentrations of bass.  The key is to locate the schools of baitfish and shad.  Just recently I visited the Mississippi River at Savannah, IL and had the best day that I have had anywhere all year long.  I literally caught over 100 bass in one day - probably 50 were in the 2 -4 pound range and the rest were 13" and under.  It was a great day!  I had six doubles during the day.  Most of the fish were caught on two primary baits:  Luckycraft Gunfish 115 and Luckycraft LV RTO 50.  These are two great shad imitating baits.  The water was rapidly dropping on the Mississippi for the past 3-4 days and had pulled the majority of the fish at the mouths of the lakes, sloughs, and creeks.  It also had the shad bunched up in those same areas.  The fish were schooling on all of the available shad.  I also had numerous sand bars near some of these backwater areas that the current was hitting, creating an eddy where the shad were piling up, therefore the bass were following and were stacked up in large quantities.  One of the key things to do when trying to find schooling fish is to continually scan the surface of the water, as well as listening, for any breaking fish.  Another good indicator of shad or baitfish is to watch the birds:  seagulls, heron, cormorants are all good indicators that bait is present.

     I can't stress enough the importance of the proper equipment when catching schooling fish on reaction baits.  One of my favorite rods over the past 10 years has been the Crankin' Stick by Bass Pro Shops.  It's one of their least expensive rods, but I think it is one of their most effective rods, especially for fighting and landing fish.  It has two main rod ingredients that make it an exceptional rod:  it has the fiberglass component to give the rod the forgiveness that it needs, and it also has graphite that gives it more sensitivity so that I can feel what that LBR rattling bait is doing.  These rods also seem indestructible.  Til next time, good fishin! 


Fall isn't Just For Hunting

                              Fall Isn’t Just For Hunting

If you are an outdoorsman like me, this time of the year you are torn between hunting and fishing. With the start of the fall season, the long awaited hunting seasons are opening up every weekend. Getting the early season jump on hunting can be very rewarding.  But, the fall fishing is also getting stronger with the cooler water temperatures, and the fishing can be awesome!

The walleye fishing in the Midwest’s many river’s can be the best of the year in the fall months. There are river walleye fishermen that will be targeting ol’marble eyes up till mid December! The pressure is much less and the fish are hungry, it just takes some preparation.

The weather can be anywhere between twenty and seventy degrees, so dressing in layers is the way to go. If you are cold, it’s not going to be enjoyable at all. Start out dressed for the coldest conditions; you can always take clothes off. If you don’t have enough clothes with you, you won’t have them to put on if you need them. A good base layer is a must. No matter what the temp is, it will keep you comfortable on the cold water. Get creative to keep your hands warm. From a portable heater, to disposable hand warmers, keeping your hands warm is a must. I pack extra gloves so I always have a dry pair. Between bait buckets and handling fish, you will get your hands wet! When it comes to footwear, I wear the warmest boots I own. A good insulated pair of boots go a long way it cold river conditions.   

Tie up rigs before the trip in you warm house. It’s much easier to change presentations this way when it’s cold. If you can set up extra rods with different rigs, this will be easier to keep fishing if you get a break off.

Different areas will produce fish this time of the year. Flats, wing dams, mid river holes, current breaks, every one of them will hold fish. Keep moving around until you find areas that produce the most bites.

Jigs tipped with Gulp! Minnows, live minnow rigs, and plastics all will produce fish. Be prepared to have all of the above with you, it’s the fish that determine what to use!

When fishing the deeper water, stay vertical. This will increase your bites. Sometimes it takes having the bait right in the walleye’s face will get you the bite.

Fishing early and late can get you plenty of action, but the warmer mid day temps can bring the best fishing of the day.

Some of the biggest fish of the year are caught in the fall, but a nice fresh bunch of walleye fillets just can’t be beat!

 It’s a hard decision to make, but getting out on the river on a nice fall day with the leaves in color and catching fish makes it tough to decide what is better, hunting or fishing?

Maybe a combo fishing/hunting trip is what I need!





The Return of "Seeker" Rods, Trout Season Approaches & Must See Seminars




Seeker Rods Are Back

 Currently the, "Blue Lighting" and "MGC" Rods                                  

 are in stock with more models in the future.

 The "Blue Lighting" an inshore rod designed for the angler

  targeting inshore species that tend to hide in structure.

 The "MGC" Rod features a mixture of military grade composite

  and resin blank giving the angler a lightweight, fast tapered rod

  ideal for the angler fishing a twilight trip to a 5 day trip.



jIrvine Lake Trout Season Opener

 As our weather cools are local trout season will feature the

 season opener for Irvine Lake.

 Their Season is set to open on November 1, 2013 and will feature a,

"VIP Day" October 31, 2013 featuring over 20,000 pounds of stocked,

"Trophy Trout."

 For more information contact Irvine Lakes or visit Bass Pro Shops and let our

 associates assist you in getting the right tackle to catch that, "Trophy Trout."




The Excitement of Fall Fishing in Rhode Island

Gibbs Lures Danny Plug

Fall is now becoming a thing of reality, crisp air, with the leaves starting to turn and the fall bait/game fish migration is kicking in. Hundreds of thousands of bait fish are making their way to open water from salt ponds and marshes where they were spawned to the delight of our salty game fish species. Striped Bass, Bluefish, False Albacore and Bonito are ramping up for the arrival of these morsels.

    I am a native Rhode Islander and this time of year really gets the blood flowing. Most anglers venture to the hallowed fishing areas of Narragansett, Point Judith, and Charleston and all the way down the coast to Westerly. Chasing and throwing eels, plugs and spoons to hook and hopefully land one of the many denizens that are strapping on the feed bag. However you really don't have to make the long trip to the south coast to catch and I mean catch quality fish. The other day, right in downtown Providence at India Point Park I managed to raise and catch several decent sized stripers and many bluefish as well. I was fishing a 9' Loomis plug rod loaded up with 65lb Power Pro braid on an Ambassador 7000 reel with a 20lb Seaguar fluorocarbon leader. I threw an assortment of baits but my personal favorites were and are a Gibbs pencil popper fished with a "walk the dog" action...color was yellow as well as blue. My all time go to plug though is the Danny Plug, fished slowly so the plug would wake and the strikes were explosive. Gibbs plugs are made of wood. I am still casting some that I have for over 25 years and they are working like they were brand new. My suggestion for tackle for any part of the bay would be an 8 to 10 foot surf rod either conventional or spinning spooled with between 20-30lb monofilament or 40-65lb Power Pro braid. My leader consisted of about 3 feet of 25lb fluorocarbon with a cross lock snap on the end to attach the lure. Above the leader I used a #2, 310lb stainless barrel swivel and was ready to go. Tides at this time of year are still something to be aware of as also the time of day, however these fish are becoming more active during daylight hours unlike the summer time when night time was the only time when fishing from shore.

I hope that this information will be helpful and look forward to seeing a bend in your rod.

Tight Lines,

Lundin Coward




The Jerkbait, A Year Around Fish Catcher?

When trying to imitate a wounded shad their are very few presentations better than jerkbait fishing. Typically the jerkbait is thought of as a winter and early spring time bait, and while it does shine in that specific time period the jerkbait can cover a far wider range of seasons. Growing up in the Northwest jerkbait fishing was very limited and not as effective based on the fact that there are no shad. In much of the country however shad are the primary forage for bass throughout the year. While certain seasons are more effective that others this abundance of shad in many of our lakes and reservoirs makes the jerkbait a very effective technique no matter what the water temperature. While the technique doesn't change the style of jerkbait I prefer, and the way I work my bait does from season to season.

The peak season for jerkbait fishing in most anglers minds is late winter on through to early spring. With cold water temperatures a large amount of the shad population will die off. When this happens you will visibly notice shad slowly twitching around just below the surface. This is a dead giveaway that you need to have a jerkbait in your hand. There are two jerkbaits I will have tied on in this cold water situation, a Spro McStick, as well as a Smithwick Rogue. While the McStick suspends the original Smithwick will actually float slowly, rising when you pause it. The suspending quality of the McStick is what makes me choose it about 90% of the time. In cold water I will fish this bait extremely slow, giving the bait quick sharp twitches and then letting the bait sit for a long pause. During this pause is when a suspending bait works it's magic. Remember bass are cold blooded so when the water is cold their metabolism is slow making them weary about expending to much energy. The suspended bait offers an opportunity that is difficult for a cold hungry bass to resist, they can slowly move up towards the bait using very little energy and lightly attack the bait. In extreme cold conditions a pause of 30 seconds or longer is sometimes necessary. Keep an open mind and very your retrieve to figure out what they are keying in on from day to day. Also don't be afraid to alternate to the slow floating rogue, this slow float will sometimes trigger more aggressive fish into biting.

As the water warms and the annual spawn begins to happen the jerkbait bite, while you can still catch some fish on it, tends to slow down. It's the post spawn feeding period when I pick my jerkbait back up and start to hammer down on them again. What I look for is schools of bass that are aggressively feeding up on shad, in order to replenish their weakened bodies after a long spawn. While topwater baits such as Super Spooks and Bass Pro Shops XPS Professional Series Walkers work great for this situation, a jerkbait can also be very effective. I normally find my schools of bass near a spawning pocket or flat on some sort of secondary point or break line. The bass will stop at these points throughout the lake to feed up before heading out to the main channel. Often you will find these late spring fish suspended as well. I have had some great success working a deeper diving Spro McRip through fish suspended at around the ten foot depth range. For this style of jerkbait fishing I like to work my bait with a fast aggressive retrieve with short pauses throughout the cast. To get the bait to reach deeper suspended fish I will work it on a spinning rod with 8lb test Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. This technique will continue to catch fish all throughout the summer so always keep ready to go if you see suspended fish on your depth finder.

As the summer ends and the water starts to cool my jerkbait is always on the front deck of my Nitro Z-8 boat. During the fall months is when the shad make their annual movement into shallow pockets and flats in the back of creeks. These feeding fish will hammer a suspending jerkbait worked around the cover they are holding on. Seawalls, points, flats, and docks, are all great key shallow water structures to focus on. A good thing about fall fishing is when you find one fish, it's normally not the only one in the area, so it is possible to hit a stretch where you catch multiple all very close to each other. As well as the fact that generally these fall fish are easy to pattern and find success doing the same thing in similar areas all up and down the lake or reservoir. Just look for the key ingredients, shallow water pockets and flats, an abundance of cover, an abundance of shad and then hold on tight, because when you put those factors together the predatory bass are almost guaranteed to be close by. I will generally rely on my McStick 110 just like in the late winter to early spring time period.

In my opinion for those of you blessed enough to live on a body of water that has a large shad population, some sort of jerkbait should always be readily available. The jerkbait can be a winning pattern in certain times of the year, especially in the late winter to early spring, but no matter what the season it's a bait that should be in your arsenal and will put more fish in your boat. For more blogs about how to add more tricks to your repertoire, check out my blog, Expand Your Fishing Arsenal. And if you ever have any questions you can go to my website,, and write me an email, I'd love to help in any way possible. I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania