Everglades National Park

Few places truly embody what nonresidents envision when you mention Florida than the Everglades and The Everglades National Park, and I’ve finally been able to spend some time camping, hiking, and kayaking through the seemingly endless grasslands, the cypress forests, mangrove swamps, and marine grass flats of “The River of Grass.”

Head south through the city of Homestead, Florida that was nearly wiped out by Hurricane Andrew back in 1992, turn onto Highway 9336, and it won’t take long before you’re totally lost in a vast region of nothingness and limited cell signals.  There isn’t a better place to get away from everything and experience natural Florida the way it was when inhabited by only the indigenous tribes.  Just imagine what it was like for the original settlers, the Florida “Crackers,” when they carved their path across the state.  There isn’t much to maintain your ties to civilization after stepping off the concrete ribbon leading from the entrance gate to the Flamingo campgrounds.

The wildlife variety is absolutely amazing and for the bird watchers among us, there can’t be a better location to view a more varied species list.  Wood Stork, Osprey, Black Vulture, Turkey Buzzard, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Ibis, Limpkin, Swallowtail Kite, all manner of hawks, and water birds abound in the skies, the swamps, and grass fields.  Florida Panther, American Alligator, Crocodile, Whitetail Deer, Raccoon, Otter, Eastern Indigo Snake, and many others hide in plain sight, just off the trail’s edge, so watch your step.  The fishing can be quite spectacular in both the fresh and saltwater sections of the park so be sure to take a couple rods rigged for everything from bass and bluegill to redfish and tarpon.  The plant life including wild orchids is spectacular but much of it takes an adventurous heart to experience since you can’t see everything from a parking lot.

Everglades

So take a trip south and experience what this state used to be like back in the days before computers, cell towers, high-rise hotels, and strip malls.  Commune with nature for a while and enjoy the peace and quiet of Everglades National Park.

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Q&A With Fly Expert Joe Mahler

I am interested in tying my own leaders for freshwater and light saltwater fly fishing. Is there an easy formula to follow for a range of line weights?

Alex B. Fort Myers, FL

 

There is. For most all of my fly fishing, I use the same simple formula. I call it the “50-25-25 leader. The name refers to the percentage of leader material with respect to diameter or strength. This leader is comprised of three parts- the Butt, the midsection and the tippet. The butt is the heaviest and will be 50% of the leader. For an eight foot leader, this section would be eight feet long.  The midsection will be 25% of the overall length, or two feet for our eight foot leader. Lastly, there is the tippet, the remaining 25%.

To determine how heavy to make the butt section, a good rule of thumb is to multiply the line weight times five. An example would be if you are using a weight forward #8, your butt material will be 40 pound test. If you ware using a six weight line, your butt material will be thirty pound test. From that point you can step the diameters down, but no more than a difference of ten pound test per connection. Here is an example for an eight foot, eight weight, twenty pound tippet leader:    4 ‘ 40lb.+ 2’ 30 lb. + 2’ 20lb.

If you would like to drop down to a smaller diameter line, you may simply add more sections to this basic leader formula.

 

 

About Joe Mahler

Joe Mahler is an author, illustrator and fly casting / fly tying instructor living in Fort Myers, Florida. Joe has spent his life fly fishing for anything with a “tug” and teaching others to do the same. His articles and illustrations appear regularly in Fly Fisherman Magazine and other national publications. Mahler’s “StrawBoss” fly pattern, for both fresh and salt water, is currently featured in the Orvis line-up in three color variations and has been featured in several magazine articles and most recently in Drew Chicone’s book “Feather Brain”. Joe is also the author and illustrator of “Essential Knots & Rigs for Trout” and “Essential Knots & Rigs for Salt Water” (Stackpole Books). You have seen Joe casting away in national television commercials for Bass Pro Shops, Tracker and Mako Boats.

Joe is currently a SAGE ambassador and member of the Dyna-King Professional Tying Team. When not fishing the crystal waters of Southwest Florida, he can be found teaching fly casting and tying to enthusiasts of all levels. Joe’s easy-going approach has made him a popular guest speaker at fishing clubs and sports shows. To learn more, visit www.joemahler.com

 

 

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An Office with a Different View

Bass Pro Shops Altoona AquaristWe welcome Chris Schuehle as our new aquarist at Bass Pro Shops Altoona!  Chris is a 2012 Drake University Business graduate, which may sound like an interesting background for taking care of a giant aquarium in a big outdoor store.

However, Chris has been around aquariums since he was young. He started with freshwater and went into saltwater aquariums and still has a large reef tank at his parents in Minnesota. But his experience now is to learn the industrial side of things, from the giant pump room to the 33,000 aquarium in the main store and the 1,000 gallon aquarium in Uncle Buck's FishBowl and Grill.

Chris also has scuba experience, which is integral, of course, to maintaining the large aquarium. His scuba experience started after his freshman year in college, when he and friends worked as divers in Minnesota, diving to the bottom of  lakes to remove weeds. He has also been to the Keys diving several times.

He says the most interesting thing about his new position is the size of everything and learning so much more from the experts from other stores who have been training him.

"It's pretty amazing to think about all the goes into making it possible for one little kid to have so much fun running up to see the fish and then running off again!"

That's what it's all about at Bass Pro Shops.

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The Most Productive Fly Ever?

A Box of ClousersIf you were stranded on an island surrounded by your choice of fresh or salt water, what one fly would you choose to have along with your favorite rod?  This is a question we often ask ourselves in the shop while surrounded by hundreds of flies that are meant to catch fish just about as well as they catch fishermen’s attention.  Each and every one was designed to produce, but many of them are so specific that put in the wrong conditions, they would be just about worthless except in catching a blind fish with no sense of what his natural prey should be.  What makes a good fly?  What makes a fly universally fishable?

Fishermen have asked the same questions since the first fly was attached to the end of a leader and the first fish was landed.  But even today we still haven’t decided what the end-all, be-all best fly to have on hand in most situations might be.  I know two would top my list after 17 years of throwing, and I’m sure there are more than a few folks that would agree with my choices.

The Clouser Minnow in all its iterations is probably the most productive fly overall ever created and we have Bob Clouser to thank for his ingenuity.  He developed the fly to fish for smallmouth bass in Pennsylvania without realizing that it would be a productive pattern on just about anything that swims in fresh or salt.  Thanks to Lefty Kreh, the Clouser Minnow became a legend overnight, and proved itself on the water for years to come.  I’ve landed more varied species on Clouser variants than any other fly in my box because I have faith, and it works.  Even though it doesn’t really imitate anything specific, it approximates just about everything when tied with the right materials and colors.

The Wooly Bugger is another fly that has gained a loyal freshwater following but did you know that it’s productive in saltwater as well, and there are plenty of flies loosely based on it?  The Crystal Schminnow we know and love bears a striking resemblance to a Crystal Bugger outfitted with mono eyes.  Regardless of what it looks like, it sure catches fish of varied types, especially snook along the beach.  Even a wooly bugger tied in the traditional manner will catch just about anything that swims if you use the appropriate hooks.

So to borrow a phrase spoken by Sean Connery in one of my favorite movies, “There can be only one!” Which would you choose if stranded on an island?  I know my box will contain a Clouser Minnow, or a Wooly Bugger because I know I'll be catching fish.  What color should it be?  That's a question for another day.

 

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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A Simple Guide to Cold Water Fishing Tactics

     No doubt midwinter is the most challenging time to consistently catch fish . Often the coldest water temperatures are accompanied by dingy water and even cloudy days which further impinge on the fishes’ desire and ability to feed.  Ask any ‘old school’ fisherman and the answer will be “low and slow is the way to go.”

     Bottom bumping with Carolina rigged soft plastic ‘wavy tail’ worms (like Culprit, Zoom and Bass Pro) in freshwater or soft plastic ‘minnow tail’ bodies (by Fin-S, Zoom, Saltwater Assassin, and Offshore Angler) on a ¼ ounce jig head in salt and brackish water rivers and creeks is the normal pattern for cold water fishing in this area.  While that ‘low & slow’ adage is true much of the time in winter, there are days or even periods when the fish respond to prevailing environmental stimuli of sun and sustained  warm temperatures which affect their schooling and feeding behavior. After all, fish being ‘cold-blooded’ simply means they tend to take on the activity level of their surroundings. So when the water is cold (or ‘cooling off’) they tend to be less active than in times when the sun or air may warm the water even by a few degrees. The days are getting a little longer now and at our low latitude, the sun angle is high enough in the sky to occasionally ‘energize’ shallow waters, especially those that are clear and dark or containing vegetation.  

     These times may simply be an hour or two at the end of a sunny afternoon when the wind has died off and allowed the shallow end of a pond or lake or backwater oxbow (in fresh water) to get a few degrees warmer than the surrounding (deeper and dingier) waters. Or (in saltwater) similar warming occurs in small, shallow, protected bays especially if the water is clear and the bottom dark. The whole foodchain sparks to life during these episodes as the sun promotes activity at each level leading up to the fish, which are stimulated by the relative warming of the water and the availability of food. Gamefish may briefly move into shallower waters or rise up in the water column to follow their foodsource, providing a brief feeding frenzy or even a prolonged pre-spring ‘fling’ which savvy anglers have learned to capitalize upon.

     Mild winter evenings spent fishing the edges of shallow weed-lined freshwater lakes and ponds may provide an hour or two of ‘heart stopping’ bass action using a variety of topwater lures or dark colored frog imitations rigged weedless. Bass Pro has an extensive selection of plastic frog and toad lures well suited for this as well as the weedless double frog hooks.

     Similarly, in saltwater bays or brackish river bends at the end of a ‘warm’ winter day speckled trout often go on a feeding binge just before dark. This is a great time for majestic sunsets and sizzling topwater action using lures like Rapala Skitterwalk, Mirrolure Top Dog,  or Heddon Spook especially in the vicinity of mullet schools. The hours preceding an evening topwater bite can often be productively spent throwing or slow trolling suspending or sinking hard baits like Rapala X-Rap, Mirrolure Mirrodine, Glad Shad, Catch and TT series or the NEW Offshore Angler Red Eye Mullet .     

     Taking advantage of these winter ‘windows of opportunity’ is not only a great way to overcome a case ‘of cabin fever’, but will keep your tackle and fishing skills polished and just maybe get you a fresh fish dinner ;-)

 

David Thornton

January 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fly with the Best!

White River Fly Sign.JPG

 

Rods and Basics

Those who have been fly fishing for several years probably have several rods for different purposes. Each rod is designed for a purpose - to cast a particular weight line. Why? Let's start with how rods are defined. The size number of the fly rod is directly tied to the size or number of the fly line intended to be cast. The numbers and sizes work like shoe sizes.

A 3-weight rod will ideally cast a 3-weight line. An 8-weight rod will ideally cast an 8-weight line. The bigger the number, the larger the rod and the heavier the line the rod will cast.

Rod and Line Weight.JPG

Keep in mind, you do not cast the fly rod. You cast the fly line. A fly rod is simply a lever or extension of your arm. It is possible to cast a fly line without any rod at all, but not for very long. Fly rods are actually machines or tools that allow you to cast the fly line very comfortably even when casting big rods on saltwater for extended periods of time.

White River Fly Shop® Dogwood Canyon® Pre-assembled Fly Outfits

WRF Dogwood Canyon Pole.JPG

 

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Waders

When fly fishing, light, breathable waders are the way to go. There are numerous styles as well as the boots that accompany the waders. Be aware of your state’s regulations for felt bottom boots as they partake in a little disease known as “Whirling’s” disease.

White River Fly Shop® Classic Chest-High Stocking-Foot Breathable Waders for Men and Women

White River Fly Waders.JPG

White River Fly Shop® ECO-CLEAR™ Wading Boots for Men

WRF Boots for men.JPG

White River Fly Shop® Extreme Wading Shoes for Ladies

WRF boots for women.JPG

 

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Puttin’ this gear to WORK!

 

Tying Flies

Fly tying sign.JPG

The first flies were produced after man discovered, much to his surprise, that covering the hook with feathers fooled the fish into thinking that what was really a piece of sharpened bone, was a nice tasty fly. The technique used by these early fishermen was to simply 'lay' the artificial fly on the water's surface. A method similar to “dapping” is much used on Scottish lochs today.

Obviously from this stemmed the intricate and skilled art of tying flies. Talk to anyone who ties flies and they will tell you how passionate they are about creating their own bait and the accomplishment of a big catch from start to finish.

 

White River Fly Shop® WR-Emerger Fly Tying Bench with Vise, Tools and Material Kit

This fine piece of work will eventually be in the budget for my future purchases. This is a great starter kit, and easy to use.

Fly tying kit.JPG

White River Fly Shop® 20-Piece Streamer Assortment

20 piece streamer assortment.JPG

Here is a basic sample of flies to start you off. Not too complicated but just enough variety for your needs. If you prefer to have one of our master tiers make your flies or even take a gander through our selection. You can also talk to our fine gentlemen and ladies and ask them for a personalized fly….they created one for me and named it the “Katiebird”.

 

Books and DVDs

Stop on in to grab one of these books or a DVD to give your skills an extra boost.

Arizona Fly Fishing Book.JPGAZ trout steams and their hatches book.JPGCharlies fly box book.JPG

fly tying  book.JPGTrout DVD.JPG

 

Here is our very own Christian Wolff in northern California catching a fine brown trout.

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If you are interested in how to become an avid fly fisherman/woman, stop in the store and get ahold of our fine folks. We are having fly tying nights on Tuesdays. These dates and times will be posted on the store website as well as in store. This is a great way to get in touch with others and swap stories and events.

Catch ya later!

 

KatieKins

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Hometown Winter Steelhead

Elk Creek SteelheadingPart of taking up fly fishing is trying to figure out all the different fly combinations and methods for delivering them to the water and hopefully the fish that live there.  Dry fly, indicator, high-stick nymphing, streamer, hopper/dropper, bottom bouncing, popper, chuck-and-duck, swinging, and a few others are methods developed to fit a particular circumstance, location, or fish species.  Little did I know that fly fishing would require learning a whole bunch of knots and a bunch of ways to lose the flies I worked so hard to tie.

I recently took a trip to my home waters of Erie, Pennsylvania to catch up with family members over Christmas break, and to hook some fresh Lake Erie Steelhead if possible.  I’d never tried winter steelheading in the past, so I did a lot of reading up on the subject before packing my vest with tons of useless junk.  The Steelhead Guide by John Nagy, and Great Lakes Steelhead, Salmon, & Trout by Karl Weixlmann became my bibles for a month or so before hitting the road.  Part of the problem though is not knowing how the weather is going to affect the water.  The conditions can change drastically; ranging from free-flowing and clear, high and muddy (blown out), and ultimately, frozen solid.  Your fly type has to change accordingly and the presentation style must follow suit.  Winter fishing is mainly a nymphing or egging prospect with tandem rigs drifted below strike indicators.  In other words totally foreign to me.  We don’t have to use splitshot or strike indicators in saltwater.  What the heck is mending anyway?

Elk Creek SteelheadI left home with 180 flies but still bought more once reaching the northern waters, and guess what….  The ones I tied worked wonderfully.  I had experimented with a few nymphs that combined some desirable features of other stock patterns and they proved killers on the only day I actually got to fish productive conditions.  Every fish I hooked over the course of the day (nine), and ultimately landed (3) were hooked while utilizing a presentation style I’d never tried before, on flies I tied myself.  More would have been landed had I paid attention to the chapter on fighting steelhead differently than you do tarpon.

There’s a great deal of satisfaction in catching fish with a fly rod and even more when you learn a new and productive method for delivering the fly.  Never stop learning and never stop trying to create your own unique patterns.

 

Brian “Beastman” Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando

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Not So Fast! Preparing your fishing equipment for the off season: Part 2

Umpqua-Glide-Fly-Line-Dressing-KitBaitcast Line WinderNot So Fast! Part 2

Suggestions for preparing your fishing equipment for the off season.

by Captain Jim Barr- www.SkinnyWaterChartersRI.com- Bass Pro Shops, Foxboro, MA- Pro Staff- 10/23/13

 

Fly Lines and Backing:

Inspect your fly line backing closely. Dacron and Gel Spun backing is very durable however it can become damaged from exposure to the elements or if a fish takes you deep into structure during the fight and rubs the line against abrasive surfaces. If it is frayed in spots or simply has not been replaced for some time, replace it with fresh backing… it’s cheap insurance to prevent losing the fish of your life. In most cases 30 lb Dacron backing is perfectly adequate for saltwater fishing. (Use 20lb for freshwater). If you desire a thinner backing that will allow more line to be added to your large arbor spools, Gel Spun is a good choice, albeit a bit more pricey. In most cases, 200 yards of backing is plenty for stripers, bluefish, false albacore and bonito. For other faster and longer running fish, best to consult with an expert shop or guide who can advise what’s necessary. 

 

Inspect your fly line closely, particularly the first 30-40 feet, for cracks in the plastic coating. Repeated casting and exposure to salt, sand, and the sun’s UV rays will take a heavy toll on fly lines. If your line has cracks, it will likely be to the “head” section of the line and the line should be replaced.

(You may want to cut off the head section of the fly line and retain the running line portion for fashioning shooting head systems.)  If the fly line is undamaged clean it with warm soapy water and apply a dressing.  Regular cleaning and dressing of your fly lines is absolutely critical in preserving your investment.

 

Rather than rewinding your fly lines back onto the spools, coil the lines in large coils and secure the coils using pipe cleaner ties. Label large plastic re-sealable food bags with the specifics of each line (line type- floating, intermediate, fast sinking etc, and weight) and store the lines in a cool, dry location. Keep these lines stored until spring when you will wind them back onto the reel and spools using your line winder or by hand. Storing lines in large coils will mitigate line memory so that come spring you are not dealing with "slinky toy" coiled lines resulting from being tightly wound on your spools during the off season. I would also suggest that you discard all leaders/tippets tied to your fly lines and await the arrival of spring to replace them with fresh material.

 

Spinning and Baitcasting Lines:

As a fishing guide the lines on my spinning and baitcasting reels take a beating. I go back and forth between using monofilament and braid. Both have good and bad qualities. Monofilament is inexpensive and tangles less frequently than braided line. Mono’s primary downfall from my perspective is that it does not cast as far as braid and has too much stretch. Braided line permits very long distance casts, it’s strength to diameter ratio is a real plus, it does not stretch under load and it creates a super sensitive connection between the angler and the fish, however it is prone to easily developing wind knots and it is prohibitively expensive to replace each season. As for monofilament line maintenance, I simply replace it with fresh line on all reels after each season. As for braid, I replace it when I need to.

In both cases for removing old line from reels, I use empty line spools and attach them to a variable speed drill using a “MacGyver”-type bit or the line winder mentioned earlier in this article. On the spinning reels I secure the open bail with a hair tie to prevent it from accidentally tripping while the line is being rewound onto the waste spool or line winder. In both cases the use of a line winder for adding new line makes the job infinitely easier. Remember to recycle your lines to prevent injury to animals and the environment.

Baitcast Line Winder: http://www.basspro.com/Bass-Pro-Shops-XPS-Aluminum-Line-Winder-for-Baitcast-Reels/product/104172/

Spin casting line winder: http://www.basspro.com/Bass-Pro-Shops-XPS-Aluminum-Line-Winder-for-Spinning-Reels/product/20677/

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Not So Fast! Preparing your fishing equipment for the off season: Part 1

Not So Fast!

Suggestions for preparing your fishing equipment for the off season.

by Captain Jim Barr- www.SkinnyWaterChartersRI.com- Bass Pro Shops, Foxboro, MA- Pro Staff- 10/23/13

Ardent Reel Clean KitBass Pro Shops Reel Tote

Now that the 2013 northeast saltwater fishing season is at an end for most anglers, excepting the “die hards”,  don't be so quick to put away your equipment for the winter months in "as is" condition. End of the season maintenance of fishing equipment used in saltwater requires careful cleaning to avoid ugly surprises when spring arrives and you’re ready to get back on the water. The following suggestions will help you “wind down” from what I hope was a great fishing season by helping you prepare your equipment for its winter slumber. Another reason to clean and prepare your equipment now is for that unplanned opportunity that may arise to fish in the southern climates this winter. If your stuff is ready to go, it’s one last set of chores you need to deal with when you’re getting ready to wet a line. The process of cleaning and organizing your equipment now can also be helpful in identifying those items you’d like to add to inventory or replace that can go onto your personal holiday wish list (to avoid the socks you don’t want and the stale fruit cake!)


The following is a review of what’s critical:

 

Fly Reel & Spare Spools:

Use a line winder and remove all the fly line from your reels and spare spools (or carefully coil the fly line by hand). Anglers Image makes a simple, low cost line winder. Preferably use a high speed line winder with an electric drill to remove the fly line and the backing.

Once the lines (and backing) are removed, thoroughly clean the reel and spools using hot water, mild soap, a spare tooth brush (mark it so you don’t end up using it later to brush your chops) and a clean rag. The following YouTube video by Captain Bruce Chard may assist in the steps for both a short and longer term cleaning regimen.

I keep my fly reels and spools organized in compartmentalized reel cases. As a fly fishing guide I have several of these and they are great for keeping equipment organized and protected. I have separate cases for fresh and saltwater reels and spare spools. You can easily overspend in this category and it’s totally unnecessary:  A very good choice is Bass Pro’s Reel Tote.

For fly, spin and baitcasting reels, purchase a reel cleaning kit that contains the simple tools, solvents, oil and grease your reel needs to say healthy.  Always save your reel’s maintenance instructions that become very helpful in knowing the specific lubrication points for your equipment. If you’re not the type of angler who likes to personally maintain your equipment, find a local shop that is professional and get your equipment to them sooner than later while they are not busy.

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Liven Up Your Game with Livingston Lures!

As an associate of the fishing industry, I'm fully aware of numerous marketing tactics that are used to entice fisherman to purchase vibrant new baits and must have new gear that practically makes the gamefish jump into the boat! I do, however, fall prey to several of these hare-brained schemes and gimmicks like a river smallie repeatedly seems to do with a wacky rigged Stik-O.

 

Sometimes, a new lure company or bait design comes along that I just know that I should try simply for product knowledge reasons. Product knowledge being one of my many, many excuses for falling for the aforementioned tactics that every lure manufacturer uses from time to time. The latest lure manufacturer to employ new technologies that actually increase strikes by imitating injured baitfish is Livingston Lures.

 

Livingston Lures

 

Livingston Lures are designed to "call" fish to the bait which basically enlarges the strike zone and therefore generates more strikes from aggressive fish. This line of baits appropriately includes options covering surface fishing with the Pro Sizzle and Pro Sizzle Jr. down to 20 feet deep with the DiveMaster 20 crankbait. These options, along with various jerkbait, rattle bait, and crankbait options covering the water column between, create a lineup of colors, sizes, and designs that can catch fish across the world including Saltwater conditions.

 

The Livingston Lures lineup features several incredible features such an advanced rattle system, hand painted finishes, weight transfer systems, and premium ABS plastics. These features are a solid foundation for fishing success, but the greatest new technologies included in these baits are the LED lights and the EBS ( Electronic Baitfish System ) sound chamber. The lures actually emit a sound imitating an injured baitfish when immersed in water. The DiveMaster 14, DiveMaster 20, Pro Wake, and Pro Sizzle also feature a 4 second LED glowing light with a repeating cycle to further increase the number of savage strikes! These features are powered by an internal battery that functions for approximately two years!

 

LivingstonPro Sizzle BassIf you are looking to break away from the norm this Fall, I highly recommend that you give the Livingston Lures lineup a shot! I have already had the pleasure of catching several fish on the Dive Master series and the Pro Sizzle series! The bass to the left was caught on a Pro Sizzle from my Ascend FS128 kayak! There are many of these baits now available at your local Bass Pro Shops and also on our website www.basspro.com.

 

Tight Lines,

Gary G. Garver

Fishing Team LeadBass Pro Shops

Kodak, TN

 

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Saltwater Fly Fishing Here in New England.

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

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

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

Lundin Coward

Fly Fishing Department

Bass Pro Shops, Foxborough

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

 

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Free Surf Fishing Classes

Join Destin's Bass Pro Shops' staff at beautiful Henderson Beach State Park, across from the Destin WalMart for upcoming Fall Surf Fishing Classes!  All tackle, bait, and equipment will be provided and there is no charge for the classes. You bring your Saltwater Fishing License, sunscreen and water.  Admission to the Park is free when you pre-register. 

We have had these successful Surf Fishing Classes the past two Springs, but cooler weather brings another run of different species of fishes along our coastlines.  Learn the proper rigs and baits to use for Fall fishing!  Learn how to properly cast  a surf fishing rig and make the most of your fishing experience at one of our most beautiful State Parks!

Classes will be held from 8 am til Noon on Saturday, October 5th; Saturday, October 12th; Saturday, October 26th; and Saturday, November 2nd.

Please call our Customer Service Department at (850) 269-6200 to register.  Class size is limited to the first 10 callers.

For all of your saltwater, freshwater, or fly fishing needs or Licenses, check out our Fishing Departments at Destin's Bass Pro Shops.

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Saltwater Drop Shot Rig Fishing

The drop shot rig has roots in the eastern U.S., dating back to the mid-70's and was first seen in "Fishing Facts" magazine.  In the 1990's, Japanese anglers resurrected the method for use on their highly pressured waters.  The Japanese refined the technique and it soon returned to the States.  In 1997, the drop shot rig was relatively unknown except to a few Southern California fishermen who had ties to Japanese manufacturers and pros.  The system worked extremely well, and those that knew about it did their best to keep it a secret.  Then, in winter 1999, two major tournaments were won using the drop shot rig - the B.A.S.S. Invitational at Lake Oroville, and the WON Bass Classic on Lake Cachuma.  The proverbial cat was out of the bag - way out!

While largely viewed as a fresh water tactic for finessing finicky bass or fishing in highly pressured waters, the drop shot rig is readily adaptable for presenting soft baits such as Berkeley Gulp or DOA's in our bays for redfish and speckled trout.  The presentation is different from using a jig or a popping cork in that the bait can be rigged to be held just above the weeds.  This will put the bait in full view of the fish we want to catch.  In addition, the weight being below the bait allows for anglers to feel the soft bites more easily.  But this is more of a rig to use when we have a good idea of where the fish are, rather than when we are searching water using a lure.

The basic rig resembles a standard dropper used in the ocean and for freshwater catfish, with one difference - there is no line (dropper) between the hook and the main line.  Tie a standard Polomar knot - start by going through the "hook-point" side of the eye, and leaving at least two extra feet of line on the tag end.  The extra line will be used to attach the sinker.  Once the Polomar is tied, take the tag end and thread it back through the "hook-point" side of the eye, again.  This last step forces the hook shaft to lie against the line, which aids hook setting.  Another option is the VMC Spinshot wide gap hook, which has a swivel through the eye of the hook, allowing the bait to move without twisting the line. 

Once the hook is in place, attach the weight.  Drop shot leads have an eyelet on the top that pinches the line, allowing the lead to pull off if snagged.  Choose one that is heavy enough to stay in contact with the bottom, but not too heavy.  In most situations, use a 1/8 to 5/16 ounce, but a 3/8 to 1/2 ounce can be used in extremely deep water or during windy situations.  I use 1/4 ounce normally or 3/8 ounce when the wind is up a little.  Experiment with the weight, as this rig will cast well, and increasing the weight slightly will let you cast further.  The "drop" (distance from hook to weight) can range from six inches to four feet, or more, depending upon how high the grass is relative to the bottom.  Remember, we want our bait just over the top of the grass we are fishing.  Another thing to consider is bottom composition.  Use a cylinder weight over grass, and save the round sinker for a rocky bottom as the round is more likely to snag.

I am just starting to experiment with this rig.  My first trip using the drop shot rig resulted in five specks in about half an hour.  After casting, take the slack out of the line and hold the rod at a 10 o'clock position.  After raising the rod tip slowly 2 or 3 times, reel up the slack to get a tight line again.  Fish this rig slowly.  This rig has a lot of versatility and I cannot wait to try variations of the drop shot rig.  I can see a lot of different ways to use this and to target different species.

Jim Martino

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Risk Mitigation for Wade Fishing at Night- A Lesson Learned the Hard Way

Risk Mitigation for Wade Fishing at Night- A Lesson Learned the Hard Way

by Captain Jim Barr of Skinny Water Charters

 

Personally I would rather saltwater fish in very shallow water (preferably with a fly rod), thus the name for my charter business, Skinny Water Charters. (www.SkinnyWaterChartersRI.com).  Most seasoned striped bass anglers know these fish prefer to feed heavily at night and in the low light of early morning and evening. It’s true that in the spring and fall months stripers can be found in the middle of the full light of day, typically when they are making their spring and fall migrations or when they have pushed bait to the surface creating those dreamy sustained top water blitzes. This top water action is found in both shallow water as well as deep water environments. In Rhode Island, during July and August, stripers will often retreat to deeper and colder water that can significantly degrade our shallow/top water fishing opportunities.

In Rhode Island we are blessed with many shallow water /tidal estuaries, flats and salt ponds, absolutely wonderful places to fish for stripers and hickory shad. During those warm summer months one of my favorite places to fish are the salt ponds along our southern coast, each of which is connected to the ocean via narrow breachways that supply cold and highly oxygenated water, and striper forage that includes crabs, shrimp and a variety of small baitfish. Ideally I like to target fishing in darkness, during an incoming tide, and in skinny water. During periods at and surrounding the new and full moons that bring big tidal exchanges and fast moving currents, the incoming night tides can produce spectacular fishing in a beautifully serene environment… few if any competing anglers, no waves or engine noise from passing boats, only the composite sound of the ocean breaking on the distant barrier beach, the occasional screech of a seagull or tern… and the nearby slurping of stripers feeding in shallow water.

Tragedy Narrowly Averted

Several years ago on an early July evening, the stage was set for such an outing. In two canoes, three of us crossed the narrow breachway as the tide began to turn. The new moon would guarantee no light except the faint glow of a starry sky. We each wore a life vest for the crossing, and brought our chest waders, chest packs, and headlamps that would provide the light we’d need to change fly patterns and hopefully unhook fish. We anchored the canoes in a foot of water on the southernmost end of an expansive sand flat that was beginning to come alive with gulls and terns wheeling over clouds of sand eels that were beginning to school on the flat. We removed our life vests and stashed them in the boats for the return trip, wet waded the short distance to dry land to put on our waders and packs, string our fly rods and tie on our starting fly patterns.  In short order we were positioned on the flat and casting to nervous water as the sun set and the salt pond began to fill with cold ocean water.  Our timing was near-perfect, as the light fell from the sky and the “sun setters” on the far shore packed up their beach chairs and wine glasses, the parking lot emptied, and the stripers began feeding… heavily.

As expected the top water fishing became spectacular. We had the entire flat to ourselves on a warm summer evening with all the striped bass we could ask for feeding on the surface as close as a rod length away. We continued to wade the flat casting to pods of breaking fish as they recklessly fed further north on the flat into the belly of the salt pond. During those several first hours of the incoming tide the fishing was so fast and furious that we paid little attention to the gradually deepening water and the distance we were opening from our anchored canoes. The sky was black, the only light being our headlamps that we turned on occasionally to change a fly and unhook a bass. I glanced at my watch and realized there were two more hours of incoming tide before the water went slack. Panic set in when I realized we were roughly 200 yards from where we anchored the boats, that the current was still flowing heavily against us and that I recalled having crossed through several  low areas on the flat where the water would be deeper than the waist high depth I was now standing in.

We soon realized our peril. I was the strongest wader of the three of us, so the plan was that Paul would stay with his girlfriend, turn on their headlamps and make whatever progress they could as I pushed hard against the current and deeper water to get to the boats before we were all swept off the flat into the deep water where with all our gear weighing us down there would be little chance of avoiding being drowned.

As I crossed several deeper areas on my way to the boats, as feared, the current pushed water over my waders so that by the time I reached the relative safety of the canoes I was exhausted and my waders were nearly full despite wearing a tight wading belt.  I stripped off my beach shoes (I never wear wading boots when fishing in saltwater estuaries) and waders and piled into the canoe and floated them down-current to my friends. Together we found shallower water further west on the flat, and eventually paddled back to the launch.

Lessons Learned

I have since wade-fished that same flat during similar conditions but I do a few things different than the night we came so close to tragedy. What’s different?

and the case is inserted into the Lifeproof Lifejacket  Float http://www.basspro.com/LifeProof-LifeJacket-Float-for-iPhone-4-and-4S-Case/product/12091205013851/

  • I tether my canoe or kayak to my wading belt as I wade across the flat. Gone are the days of having to fight against a strong current to get back to my boat.

As anglers we generally are in “overkill” mode when it comes to gear that we take fishing. At the end of every wade fishing venture I take, I can easily identify half the inventory I brought that I didn’t use, but the problem is I don’t carry forward that lesson to the next outing. If you can build into your behavior a discipline that steers you away from toting stuff you never use and backfill some of that space and weight with the safety gear noted above, you’ll be more inclined to fish some of those quasi-risky locations and conditions where the big ones prowl.

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Musky Bite Is On!

 

 

Every time I leave the launch on Lake St Clair, I can’t stop to wonder why more people don’t take advantage of Great Lakes largest predator.  St Clair’s enormous ecosystem produces trophies that would put the most experienced anglers in awe. Yet, the fishing pressure is unbelievably lite. I’ve been fortunate to be able to spend the past twenty years decoding the annual patterns these fish follow.

 

Trolling for Musky is a high demand sport that requires a run and gun approach. To be proficient you must be able to adapt with the changing conditions. The fish are ambush predators which feed where there next meal hangs out. Finding their forage will certainly put you one step closer to your quarry.

 

The flowing waters of the St Clair River have carved a very unique under water landscape. The swirling currents have created large flats with sporadic points and slight drops which ultimately descend to the channel that divides the US and Canada.

 

A GPS incorporated with Navionics is by far the most important piece of equipment for a musky hunter. I’ve found that if I’m marking forage fish in the top half of the water column, their on the feed. This situation will have the predators on the move as well. Marking these areas and trolling thru in different directions will produce fish which are on the hunt. Thru-out time you will create a database for future use.

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Early in the season the immense weed beds are beat down from the long winter and have just begun to regrow. The Musky are in the post spawn and hungry. The majority of their diet consists of sheep head, smallmouth, walleye, perch and any other creature that swims. These weary fish congregate on the breaks where the weeds and cover are thickest.

 

As the summer progresses the underwater weeds can literally reach the surface in thirteen to sixteen feet of water, limiting the area that can be trolled effectively. Luckily, musky have a bad habit of hunting the edges of the lush green under water forests and the channels that dissect the 275,000 acre body of water

 

Understanding wind direction in correlation with lake currents will keep your lines free from floating weeds which have been torn from their roots from wind, weather, and props. This important factor will determine where you may fish on any given day.

 

A variety of lures are needed to cover a muskies vast environment. Running multiple lines with large offerings requires lures that track well at fast speeds and others that can handle the turbulent prop wash. I’ve found that on my boat ten rods work well, but at times, I’ll only run six when floating weeds create issues.

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Every rod on the boat suits a purpose. In good conditions,  each side of my rig consists of  three lines running off big plainer boards, one down rod out the side, and one in the prop wash, covering no less than 40 yards of water at any time and up to a hundred when conditions allow. The goal is to cover as much ground as possible, literally raking large expanses of water.    

 

Recently I had the opportunity to field test a few new lure designs produced by Bass Pro Shops. The XPS Deal Sealer Buck Tail has a two blade design which helps slice and clear unwanted weeds. The bait has an ounce of lead incorporated in the design that helps keep them down at high speeds.

 

Running the buck tails off the plainer boards with a four ounce inline weight and a five foot leader proved to be a lethal tactic for pulling fish out of the foliage that nearly reaches the surface. These musky magnets will draw fish right in the wash as well. The only modification is using a heavier weight to help get the attractive offering into the strike zone.

 

The second lure was the Off Shore saltwater Down Under. These deep diving crank baits track extremely well at any speed and can be used to reach any depth needed. They can be run off the boards letting the amount of line out dictate how deep they run.

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The Down Under is a solid lure that adapts to any position on the boat, Weather it’s in the prop wash, on the planers, or on the outside rods. They dredge with powerful Accuracy pulling any hungry or inquisitive fish right to their capture in the net.

 

When the crank bait bite is on, the Rapala Super Shad Rap series is a go to lure as well.  Muskellunge have a hard time resisting this well-built lure. They track well in any rod holder, and really put fish on deck. Every trip I have several ripping through the water behind the boards.

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Years of caught fish and marked way-points have created my map to success but running the right lures, with the right presentation, in the right location, can put anyone on the fish. Lake St Clair at this point in time, has the healthiest population of Musky that I have seen in the last twenty years. If musky intrigue you, now is the time to enter the sport!

 

Dave Lee

Bass Pro Hunting Staff

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Oakley Redfish Tour at Destin Bass Pro Shops

Join our first annual Destin Open - Oakley Redfish Tour at Destin's Bass Pro Shops on Friday, September 6th and Saturday, September 7th  .All anglers are welcomed and registration will be on Friday, September 6th from 5 til 6 pm.  A Captains' Meeting will be held immediately after registration from 6 til 8 pm, where we will review all rules and tournament information.  Food will be served to all participants.

The first 50 teams to participate will receive a pair of Polarized Oakley sunglasses and a pair of Wright McGill inshore rods with a combined value of $600!  Entry fees are $500 per team.

All participating teams will launch on Saturday, September 7th, from Joe's Bayou ramp in Destin for this one day event.  Weigh-Ins will begin at 3 pm at the Destin Bass Pro Shops, 4301 Legendary Drive, Destin, Florida.

Based on a minimum of 50 teams, the following payouts are scheduled:

1.  Guaranteed MAKO LTS 18 ($30,000 value)

2.  $5,000

3.  $4,000

4.  $3,000

5.  $2,000

6.  $1,000

7.  $900

8.  $800

9.  $700

10. $600

ATX, "Big Fish"  $1,000

For ALL of you freshwater and saltwater fishing needs, come visit the Destin Bass Pro Shops!

Gary Feduccia

 

ATX "Big Fish"

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Coming Up: 2013 Salt Water Expo

Saltwater Expo

Join us for the 2013 Saltwater Expo. This year's event will be bigger than ever. Come join us on Saturday Sept. 7th from 10:00am to 5:00pm. The event will host a day of hands on educational seminars, great door prizes and a silent auction table benefiting Wounded Warriors.

 

Keynote speaker George Poveromo, host of the NBC Sports TV show George Poveromo's World of Saltwater Fishing will be on hand for seminars and autographs.

George Poveromo is a world-renowned angling authority, National Seminar host, television host, and Editor-At-Large for Salt Water Sportsman Magazine.

Poveromo, a native of South Florida in the United States, has fished most of the U.S. coast as well as many countries. He demonstrates his expertise through his column "Tactics and Tackle" in Salt Water Sportsman. Poveromo is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America, Southeast Outdoor Press Association, and Boating Writers International. He is an advocate of catch and release fishing, and is a member of the Coastal Conservation Association.

Poveromo is Editor-At-Large for Salt Water Sportsman magazine, the oldest and most widely distributed sport fishing magazine in the United States. Salt Water Sportsman has a paid monthly circulation of over 150,000 readers. Poveromo has been part of the Salt Water staff since 1983.

In addition to Salt Water Sportsman, George has been the host of their National Seminar Series for all twenty five years of the tour. The National Seminar Series, which has eight country-wide stops per year, instructs people on how to catch popular coastal and offshore game. The Salt Water Sportsman National Seminar Series is the largest and most successful fishing seminar in the nation.

George Poveromo is also producer to a line of how-to videos and DVDs regarding sport fishing. These educational videos are published under High Hook Incorporated and are hosted by Poveromo himself. The High Hook videos range from bottom-fishing to sailfish tactics and everything in between. These videos are the top-selling salt water fishing DVDs on the market.

Most popularly noted would be George's television program, George Poveromo's World Of Saltwater Fishing, which runs on the NBC Sports Network. The show, which aired on ESPN2 for 10 seasons was picked up by the NBC Sports Network, formerly Versus (TV channel) when ESPN cancelled its coverage of fishing television lineup. Each week, Poveromo presents a cool and informative fishing episod from a U.S. coastal, or Bahamas fishing destination. Poveromo's show entered into its 12th season on national television in 2012.

Plan on a great day with some of the top fishing guides/captains of the carolinas; along with some of the top manufacturers and the latest in saltwater gear. See some of the pictures from last years vendor / captain area!

lowrance

Lowrance will be on hand to talk electronics again this year!

vendor

Come see the latest in saltwater gear and technology!

Penn Battle

Penn let the battle begin!

This years Seminar Schedule will promise to be exciting, educational and experiential.

  • 10:30 – Mark Patterson – Kayak Fishing NC/SC intra coastal water
  • 11:30 – Sonar Class - Navionics
  • 12:15 – 12:45 Lunch Break
  • 12:45 – Capt. Ricky Kellum – Fishing for Speckled Trout
  • 1:30 - Capt. Fred Rourke - Fishing for Redfish
  • 2:15 – How to Throw a Cast Net
  • 3:00 – George Poveromo – Rigging Ballyhoo
  • 4:15 – Navionics Side Imaging

The Ballyhoo Rigging class will be hands on, you will acutally get to rig your own bait while George Poveromo instructs you on the how to. This class will fill up fast!

There will be a silent auciton table benefiting Wounded Warriors in NC.

Wounded Warrior

Items on the auction include but are not limited to, fishing technical gear, rods, reels, combos, fishing electronics, other useful satlwater items and Artwork by Guy Harvey.

overview

 

Check out the vendor tables from the 2012 Saltwater Fishing Expo! Most of the vendors will be back this year!

vendors

Last years event had an amazing turnout, this year looks to be even bigger still. Make sure to come out and experience the 2013 Saltwater Expo at your Charlotte, Bass Pro Shops!

Happy Fishing! & Tight Lines!

~Dave Miller, Fishing Manager

 

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Bi-Weekly Bites: Steamed Mussels

I love mussels. I MEAN LOVE THEM! And guess what I saw on the Islamorada Fish Company menu when I sat down last week?

Yup, its mussels alright. And what’s that? Garlic?! Yes, please!

That’s how you know a restaurant knows what it is doing, when it involves multiple forms of garlic in the same dish. Not only do they sauté the mussels in a garlic-butter sauce, they include some delicious garlic bread on the side.

Now I like having fun with my food and mussels are a fun food. Sure, you can use a fork to pluck the tasty treats out… or you can slurp them out with a little work.

And once you have one shell clean you can use it like tongs to get at the rest of your sensational shellfish friends. Using the shell of your food to eat more of your food is going to be half of the fun with eating mussels.

21 mussels and 3 minutes later…

Once you have devoured all of them, you can use that godsend known as garlic bread to soak up the remaining sauce at the bottom of the dish. Mama Mia, here I go again!

Just like I included about the actual grouper fish that goes into the World Famous Grouper Sandwich, here are some fun facts about mussels.

Mussel is the common name used for members of several families of clams from saltwater and freshwater habitats. They have a shell whose outline is elongated and asymmetrical compared with other edible clams, which are often more or less rounded or oval.

The word "mussel" is most frequently used to mean the edible bivalves of the kind that most of which live on exposed shores in the intertidal zone. How do they hang out in such a continually changing climate? Like most mountain men and early pioneers actually, by having a strong beard!

Their beard is made up of byssal threads. What does byssal mean? No clue, and don’t care. Not when I know that they taste good.

Come on by and slurp down a couple marvelous mussels next time you are in the area. You won’t be disappointed. Panhandling Pelicans! Yee-Haw!

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Z-Man Lures Combining Durability with Fish-Catching Attraction

 By Ty Butler


Z-Man Lures

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

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

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

Z-Man Scented PaddlerZ

Z-Man Scented PaddlerZ

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

Z-Man Scented Jerk ShadZ

Z-Man Scented Jerk ShadZ

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

Z-Man Scented ShrimpZ

Z-Man Scented ShrimpZ

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

Z-Man Diezel MinnowZ

Z-Man Diezel MinnowZ - Coming Soon!

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

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

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Wade Routes

By Ty Butler

 

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


Redfish on the flood tide

A beautiful Georgia redfish caught sight fishing.

 

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

 

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

 


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

 

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


So much marsh, so little time...

 

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

 

 

Z-Man Jerk Shad

 

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

 

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

Attwood Folding Net

 

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

 

 

SpyPoint X-Cel Camera

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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