Savannah's Secret Stripers

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


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

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

Suffix 832 Braid

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

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

Tsunami Swim Shad

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

Big Eye Salty Jig

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

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


-Ty Butler

Savannah Bass Pro Fishing Sales Manager

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

Captain Jack McGowan

Coastal River Charters




November RedFish Fishing Report

It’s Captain Keith again, bringing you news of the great saltwater fishing on the central East Florida coast.  November is a great month full of comfortable weather and big fish.  The waters are usually clear, the flats are not crowded, and the fish are willing!

November tends to be less crowded than other months since many sportsmen are concentrating on hunting, holidays, and football.  But at the same time, the cooling weather tends to get the fish in a fall feeding mood, like they are trying to prepare for the winter.  This gives us some superb conditions to “hunt” t1he flats, stalking big redfish in clear water less than a foot deep—sight fishing paradise.











We are fortunate that many of our fish in the Indian River Lagoon and Mosquito Lagoon are essentially landlocked with over 30 miles to the nearest inlet—despite them being pure saltwater.  They do not “run” like many fish do.  I often get asked “what’s running?”, and I usually answer “redfish”, but in reality they are local natives.  Our redfish and seatrout may get sluggish and more difficult to find during times of cold water, but they are still there, and can be tempted by the right techniques.


I like to use dark lures starting this month to imitate the crabs that the fish are concentrating their feeding activities on.  Favorite colors will be dark greens, browns, and even black.  My lures will typically either be a rubber jerkbait, like a D.O.A. CAL, or a small bucktail, like a skimmer jig from Hookup Lures.


Try to remember that you are imitating crabs, so a slow, hopping action will get you the most strikes.


If you want to see details of how to fish this way, go to the “Articles” page of my website where I have articles describing just how to go out and get those monsters, then let’s go fishing!


Contact Captain Keith at 321-279-1344, and check out for lots of information!


FREE shuttle to the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show, Seminars, Gift Card drawings and more.

Bass Pro Shops is hosting a FREE shuttle to the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show from the Dania Beach Bass Pro Shops location. Shuttle service will begin Friday, October 26 and continue through Sunday, October 28. Each day, the shuttle will run from 10AM-8PM every 30 minutes. 

Come inside the Bass Pro Shops, FREE Fishing seminars will be available on Saturday, October 27 -28 from 1-4PM.Captain Brian will provide some valuable information to fishermen. 

1pm: Speckled Sea trout: Learn where to go to catch this fish in your backyard. He will go over what lures, how to rig, what tackle to use and much more. 

Speckled Sea trout caught with Capt. Brian


2pm: Bottom Fishing: Catch yourself some Grouper and Snappers. He will be going over techniques, locations, bait, rigging and all you need to know on how to catch more fish.

3pm: Offshore Trolling: Go for Dolphin, Wahoo and Tuna. Besides going over everything you need and where to go he will also allow you to ask about any specific fish or techniques you would like to know from Swordfish to deep-dropping.

4pm: Flats and Bay fishing for Snook, Redfish, Tarpon, Bonefish. From Port Everglades to Government cut. Learn how to have some fun catching more of these fish plus learn about the yearly shrimp run.

About Capt. Brian

  • USCG Licensed 50-Ton Master
  • Florida Saltwater Flats, Bay and Offshore Pro. for 40 + Years.
  • Everglades National Park Permitted Fishing Guide
  • Specializes in seminars for Pro and Future Anglers including hands-on experience at our lake.
  • Find out more about Capt. Brian at

Each day of the boat show, you can enter into a drawing for a $50 Bass Pro Shops gift card. Drawings will take place 3 times per day at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm. Entry forms are in the Boat Showroom.

Bass Pro Shops is also teaming up with the Ft. Lauderdale Boat show to provide customers a discounted admission rate ($5 dollars off) with advanced purchase.


Selecting the Right Rod

When it comes to fishing rods, there are a multitude of rods out there, of that there is no doubt.  To many anglers, it's difficult to sort out what it is that we're looking at, and even more difficult to make a decision about which is right one.  We'll cover some of those bases here, in order to make the decision a lot easier.

What is it that you plan to do with your rod?  If you think that all you're going to do is fish for panfish and trout, you really aren't in need of anything more than a light action in a length of your choice.  (Length is something that we will get to shortly, as well.)  In most cases, rod power and action are going to break down fairly succinctly.  There are some anomalys out there, but it's somewhat rare that we really have to deal with it.  The following list of rod powers and actions will help to make the determination of what it is that you're looking for on that base:

Ultra Light- Generally only in spinning rods- very light power intended to be used for casting light lures, in some cases as light as 1/64th ounce.  Primarily used for targeting panfish and trout, not the correct choice if you're bass fishing, period.

Light- Again generally a panfish and trout power.  There are instances in which walleye anglers will prefer a light power rod, sometimes when fishing light jigs and small crankbaits a Light Power rod becomes a necessity.

Medium Light- This category of rod can be somewhat transitional.  It can be found in rods for nearly every species of freshwater fish, and in both casting and spinning models.  That is not to say that this is a very versatile rod power, but it is a rod power that is quite specific in application, hence the availability of those rods in so many applications.

Medium- The vast majority of  bass and walleye anglers will have multiple rods that are of medium power.  There are also medium power rods that are built around the muskie and saltwater templates.  There are a huge number of applications and techniques that can be applied to a medium power rod.  In a bass specific spinning rod, this is far and away the most popular power.  In a walleye specific spinning rod, it's probably the top choice as well.  In bass fishing baitcast rods, a medium is very, very useful for a large variety of techniques that range from small, light topwater baits to weightless soft plastics.  The medium can cover such a wide variety of techniques in will probably become one of your most important rods, whether bass fishing or walleye fishing.

Medium Heavy- Far and away the most popular rod power for a wide variety of applications in a variety of species.  Everything from catfish to walleye, pike, and bass; all can be targeted efficiently with a medium heavy rod.  You'll actually find that the vast majority technique specific rods in bass fishing, Muskie fishing, catfish, even into many saltwater species are of a medium heavy power relative to the quarry. 

Heavy- Most heavy rods are pretty specific as to the intended use and activity.  They're usually not all purpose rods, and are fairly limited by their weight rating and line rating.  There are many instances in which a heavy is very desirable, but again, they're pretty specific. 

XH, XXH, XXXH- this end of the spectrum is most generally so specific to a given technique or tactic that they're branded as such.  Many swimbait rods are designated in one of these categories, as are certain flipping rods.  Muskie rods in these categories are very often those rods that are used for casting "pounders" or Double 10, 12, and 13 bucktails.  They're invariably BIG bait rods, with extreme power in the blank to deal with slinging oversized baits and handling oversize fish.


The second aspect of a rod, aside from power, is the taper of the blank.  Most rods that you're going to deal with are going to be one of the following tapers: Moderate, Moderate Fast, Fast, or Extra Fast. 

To break it down simply, rod taper is where in the blank that the rod bends under load.  that's the long and short of it.  To say a rod has a "fast tip" is completely arbitrary.  A fast tip really has no meaning in terms of rod blanks.  You're looking at the entire blank dimensions and how that entire blank is tapered.  Also, taper, or speed, does not necessarily equate to the stiffness of the rod.  To say that a rod is stiff can mean that it's influenced by the taper, or the blank power itself.  You must look at both of the factors to determine what it is that you're really looking at.

To really dissect what those terms mean is quite simple. 

A moderate rod is going to bend far down the blank; in some cases you can feel the rod bend under load all the way down at the handle.  A moderate fast rod is much the same, it is going to bend deeply in the blank, usually stopping slightly below the halfway point of the blank.  (there's no hard and fast rule, however)  Most moderate and moderate fast rods are best suited to applications such as trolling, or treble hook lures.  Their greatest attribute is that they are capable of storing great amounts of energy, in doing so they're excellent for protecting hooks in fish in those situations that fish can get leverage against the bait, or hook.  Treble hook lures like crankbaits, are a very good example of this.  The vast majority of crankbait rods are moderate, or moderate fast, tapers.  Trolling rods for walleye are another instance of a moderate rod.

A fast rod is probably the single most popular taper.  More rods are built on a fast taper because of their variety of uses.  This is not to say that you can do everything with a Medium Heavy Fast (as an example) but the rod is so versatile that the vast majority of techniques that you will need to perform in a wide variety of situations will be covered.    Speaking in the context of bass fishing, a 7' Medium Heavy fast is the most essential rod in your arsenal.  It will cover more than any other rod can.

Extra Fast rods are very often technique specific rods.  There are situations that they are not, but for most practical situations, they are.  The majority of dropshot rods, finesse plastic rods, finesse jig rods, jerkbait rods, and jig rods are Extra Fast.  Having them broken down as such typically will aid in your search, if that is the direction in which you're moving.

Just as important of the power and taper, or action, of a rod is the material that the rod is made from.  There is a wide range of materials that are used in the construction of rods.  Graphite, fiberglass, boron, titanium, and carbon fiber are all materials that are used in the manufacturing process.  Generally you are going to see Graphite, fiberglass, or a combination thereof.  Those are what we primarily deal with, and what we're talking about here.

Lastly, I'll touch on what all those numbers on a rod actually mean.  When you look at a rod and see IM6, or IM10, or 70 Million Modulus, or 90 Million Modulus, have you ever wondered what it is that you're looking at?  I know that I get asked that question an awful lot so I'm going to try to break it down in a manner that's easily understood.

IM6, IM7, and IM8 are a set of designators used by Hexcel to identify their product.  Many, many other rod manufacturers use those same numbers on rods, even though it isn't an industry standard measurement.  Those numbers alone, though, really have no meaning.  What we need to understand in selecting a rod is actually the modulus.  You can think of modulus like this: The higher the odulus, the stiffer the material is by weight.  This means that less material is needed in the rod blank to achieve the same stiffness of lower modulus material.  In modern rod design, it's all about weight; or rather the lack thereof.  Materials for the manufacture of fishing rods have grown substantially in the past several years.  So much so, in fact, that there are resins available that weigh over 100 times less than their counterparts from just a few years ago.  There are ultra-high pressure resins that actually contain minute bubbles of air- hence "airweight resins." 

So when you're considering a rod, it really helps to break it down and look at it like this.  Having the ability to make an informed decision will help you determine what is, and is not, important to you will also help you eliminate time spent looking through a hundred rods to find just one.  Being able to determine even just a little bit of what that information is will also help ease you in making that decision, as well it will ensure that you're happy with the purchase of that rod.  It will make certain that that rod is going to do just what you want it to do. 

And, when all else fails, that's what we're here for.  To answer those questions and to help you make that informed decision about which rod really is right for you.



iCAST 2012 - Best In Shows And The Hottest Rig

The world’s largest sportsfishing trade show, the International Convention of Allied Sportsfishing Trades, or iCAST for our more efficient readers, has wrapped up its 2012 show in Orlando.


This year more than 9,000 attendees and 3,000 buyers were in attendance as enthusiasts,  manufactures, resellers and more saw the latest and greatest sportfishing trends and technological advances, even before they hit the shelves for the general public to see.


New lures, reels, rods, boats and more are all on display, along with some of the best fishermen in the world giving advice on how and when to best use them.


The Alabama rig has emerged as a trending fishing rig, and that continued at iCAST 2012. FLW Magazine Managing Editor Curt Neidermier was quoted in the Lufkin Times saying, “The umbrella rig [also known as the Alabama rig] was the talk of most tackle companies...Most rod makers have added technique-specific umbrella rig rods, but consumers will also see new jigheads and swimbaits, along with variations on the umbrella rig itself for an array of situations - even topwater frog fishing.”


Bass Pro Shops has umbrella rigs with placements for anywhere from 2-5 lures. Be sure you’re not breaking your states maximum hook requirements though - you can use a 5 lure rig, but just make sure not all five have hooks on them if your local regulations don’t allow it.


Of course iCAST had plenty more to offer in terms of finding the best new gear. Check out the full list of Best In Show winners:


  • Overall Best of Show, Hobie Cat Mirage Pro Angler 12 Kayak
  • Best of Show - Apparel: Columbia Sportswear Airgill Chill Zero Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Best of Show - Boat:  Hobie Cat, Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12
  • Best of Show - Boating Accessory: Power-Pole Drift Paddle
  • Best of Show - Combo: Pure Fishing, Inc., Penn Battle Combo
  • Best of Show - Electronics: Johnson Outdoors, Humminbird 360 Imaging
  • Best of Show - Eyewear: Costa DelMar, Costa 580 P Sunsrise Lenses
  • Best of Show - Fishing Accessory: American Premier Corporation, The Ultimate Line Winding System
  • Best of Show - FishSmart Tackle: The SeaQuilizer
  • Best of Show - Fly Fishing Accessory: Luna Sea, LLC - Master Guide Fly Rod “Cush It”
  • Best of Show - Fly Fishing Reel: Wright & McGill Sabalos Saltwater Fly Reel
  • Best of Show - Fly Fishing Rod:  G. Loomis – NRX Fly Rod
  • Best of Show - Freshwater Reel: Abu Garcia Revo
  • Best of Show - Freshwater Rod: St. Croix Rods,  Legend Xtreme Series
  • Best of Show - Giftware: 3D Picture Store, Inc. - Jigsaw
  • Best of Show - Kids’ Tackle: Shakespeare Hide-A-Hook Bobber Kit
  • Best of Show - Line: Berkley Trilene XL/XT
  • Best of Show - Hard Lure: Koppers Live Target Frog Popper
  • Best of Show - Soft Lure: Lunkerhunt Bento Baits
  • Best of Show - Saltwater Reel: Penn Spinfisher V
  • Best of Show - Saltwater Rod: St. Croix Rods, Legend Inshore
  • Best of Show - Tackle Management:  Magnetic Marine,  Gear Grabbar Lure Hangar Kit
  • Best of Show - Terminal Tackle - Berkley Gulp! Jig Heads


Check out the American Sportsfishing Association (ASA) for more information on upcoming trade shows and events in your neck of the woods. And stop into Bass Pro Shops to find the best fishing gear and pros that can help you maximize your chances at landing the big one on your next fishing trip.


May Brings Topwater Action

May Bass Fishing

Take a poll among avid anglers and you’ll find that favorite seasons to fish are varied and opinions run strong.  Some prefer the immediate pre-spawn period in April while others prefer the advantages of finding concentrations of fish during the summer and winter months.  But, one thing that most anglers will agree on is that the late spring topwater bite is the best time of year to be on the water.  Both spotted bass and linesides are feeding heavily at this time.   Aggressive wolf packs of these predators often chase schools of baitfish right up to the surface making for some very exciting opportunities.  Few things in nature rival the adrenaline rush of watching a calm surface erupt with slashes and boils of feeding fish as you’re trying to get your plug into the action.  This phenomenon can get pretty dramatic and it’s common to spot activity from long distances in calm water conditions.  Look for topwater schooling to begin in early May and go strong through the month.  Striper action will typically taper off by early June while spotted bass with continue this activity through the summer months.  Although action can occur at any time, early morning and evening periods tend to be the most productive.  As always during the spring, weather factors can have a big influence on the fishing.  While it’s a great time to exploit topwater action, a strong frontal system can put the bite down for a day or two.  It’s important to have a back-up plan in case surface action does not materialize.  While searching for this, focus your efforts from the middle sections of creeks out to main lake areas near the creek mouths.  Although the predators are keying on roaming schools of baitfish, remember that “points point out the fish”.  Activity will very often erupt in the vicinity of a prominent point or submerged hump which is typically the extension of a point.

V-Wake a Redfin

 If you’re parked off the best looking point in your favorite creek and looking for surface activity, blind casting is always a good idea.  Just remember that you should be covering open water with some significant depth and not targeting the shoreline.  Blind casting a plug can put a lot of extra fish on the end of your line.   What type of topwater plug should you choose?  It’s no secret that fishermen are a highly opinioned bunch.  While “swear by” lure choices will vary widely, there are a handful of tried and true favorites that you’ll not go wrong with.  It’s now been over a decade since the Sammy by Lucky Craft hit the topwater scene.  And, it’s still going strong.  It’s a pricey choice at about $15 per copy but the results are hard to argue with.  The trademark American shad is a great color if you’re shelling out a few dollars for one of these.  If you’re looking for a more modest investment, you’ll not go wrong with the old fashioned Zara Spook.  This plug has been around for quite a few decades with good reason and still evokes lots of strikes from surface feeders.  The classic color for this classic lure is blue shore minnow.  It’s a north Georgia favorite.  While the original Zara Spook is very good, I eventually became a big fan of its newer big brother, the Super Spook.  As the name implies, this is a beefed up version and weighs in at nearly an ounce.  Long casts can be important when pursuing schoolers and this lure can be fired to impressive distances with the right tackle.  It also sports rotating treble hooks that really make a difference in improving the strike to fish on ratio.  Bleeding Shad is the only color I need for the Super Spook.  Another plug to consider is the Redfin by Cotton Cordell.  Technically, this lure is a jerkbait and will run subsurface on a medium to fast retrieve.  Savvy anglers use a different approach.  They use a slower retrieve and keep it on the surface producing what is known as a “V-wake”.  This has a great effect on stripers and will elicit strikes from real bruisers of the spotted bass world.  Die hard Redfin fans pick the chrome and blue color and swear that it’s even better when the finish is chipping off exposing the bone colored plastic beneath.  There is also a sub-cult following of the Smokey Joe color.

Two Rods Are Better Than One

Lures such as the Sammy, Zara Spook, and Super Spook mentioned in the previous paragraph are often called stick baits because of their basic shape.  There’s only one way to present this style of topwater plug.  The proper retrieve is referred to as “walking the dog”.   Reeling combined with short twitches of the rod tip will cause a stickbait to zig-zag or dart from side to side resembling a fleeing baitfish.  It only takes a little practice to master this and some plugs are engineered to walk with a minimum of effort imparted by the angler.  When it comes to topwater tackle in May and early June, opt for medium heavy gear.  Both casting and spinning set ups are appropriate.  Six and a half to seven foot rods get the nod.  Pair these with reels that will handle at least eighty to one hundred yards of twelve pound test line as a minimum.  If you pick up your favorite shallow spool model that’s in vogue with bass fishermen, you’re playing with fire because stripers are out there waiting.  When it comes to line, avoid fluorocarbon products.  While they do a superior job in many applications, they are heavy and will suppress the action of topwater plugs.  This is especially true with maximum distance between you and the lure.  Spool up with your favorite traditional monofilament product and you’ll be in good shape.  On the subject of tackle, it pays to have two rods rigged and ready on deck.  Backlashes and tangles do happen.  This is good insurance for those times when you’re on top of a school of predators kicking up water as they churn the surface.  Simply drop one rod and pick up another.  If you’re downed bait is floating motionless in the attack zone you may want to put one foot on the rod butt or put it in a holder…..just in case.  I’ve actually had fish become hooked up when striking a free floating lure attached to a tangled rod on a couple of occasions.  It can be quite the circus, especially if you’re fighting another fish as well.  On another note, it pays to be cautious when landing fish hooked with large topwater plugs.  I highly recommend investing in a good lip gripper type device.  These have become very affordable for the average angler and are much cheaper than a trip to the emergency room at the local hospital. 

Stay Mobile to Find Fish

If you’re out for striper action, live bait fishing will often pay off while searching for the topwater bite.  When searching an area and making blind casts with your favorite plug, bait up and trail a couple of flat lines about a hundred feet behind the boat.  Tie a small balloon inflated to golf ball size about ten feet above one bait and weight the other line with a medium size split shot about six feet up the line for a slightly deeper presentation.  Frisky blue back herring or shad are great choices when it comes to live bait.  If one rod hooks up on two consecutive fish, switch the other one to the same style of presentation.  If fish are erupting on the surface all around, the live bait flat lines can quickly become more trouble than they are worth.  This is especially true if you’re doing a lot of maneuvering with the electric motor.  This time of year, it really pays off to stay mobile. If conditions are favorable and you’re not seeing signs of life in seven minutes or so, move on to the next spot.  For greater efficiency, have a route planned in advance.  Although topwater action is the name of the game, choppy water can inhibit the surface bite.  However, in these conditions, a good jerkbait can produce well when cast towards the points.  As late spring turns into summer, striper action fades but good news is that the spotted bass continue to chase bait at the surface.  Windows of opportunity during the summer months are mostly early and late in the day for schooling action.  Smaller surface plugs tend to become more effective as the season progresses.  Poppers such as the Pop-R by Rebel are good choices along with smaller versions of the earlier mentioned lures.   Sometimes bass will key on small baitfish and ignore even these smaller topwater plugs.  One classic trick is to use a saltwater popping cork with a trailing leader.  On the end of this leader, tie on a very small shad imitator such as a Pop-N-Stripe or the highly realistic Gummy Minnow.  You’ll find the latter stocked in the fly fishing shop.  In closing, there’s plenty of room for opinion about the best time of the year to go fishing but most will agree that May is hard to beat.  If you’re up for the excitement and adrenaline of some serious surface action, this could become your favorite too.  Until next month, take care and enjoy the lake!

Thank you for reading!

Tommy H. Wilkinson


Spring Time Fishing in Central Florida with Capt. Keith

This is Captain Keith Kalbfleisch, Bass Pro Shops-Orlando’s Saltwater Pro Staff.  Spring fishing is going great!  It seems like the fish are happy with the warm weather we have been having, and there are excellent numbers of redfish, black drum, and seatrout on the flats.  The saltwater flats just east of Orlando are around the Kennedy Space Center Wildlife Preserve, and not only is the fishing great, but the spring wildlife is spectacular also, with daily sightings of dolphin, manatees, roseate spoonbills, ibis, snowy egrets, and more.

bps 1

I am having my best luck with lures right now, particularly jigs and soft rubber baits.  The advantage to lures in our area is that you can cover significantly more water than you can with bait.  If you are sitting, soaking bait, then you have to wait for fish to come by your bait.  If the fish are not moving significantly, or if they have moved out of the area (they move around all the time), then you may sit quite a while without a bite.  However, with lures you can slowly drift or sneak along, casting to fish you see or covering as much territory as possible.

bps 2

Some of the best lures are flats skimmer jigs, like the ones made by HookUp Lures, I like a dark brown or tan one.  Another good choice is a rubber jerkbait like a DOA 5-inch CAL in a green and white or golden bream color.  Be sure and set the hook quickly, these fish won’t hold onto the lure if they think it is artificial.  Also, if you like topwater, this is the best time of the year.  Try a medium-sized ChugBug for some explosive action!

bps 3

I have some great articles on my website,, which will help you in your sight fishing success.


Go catch some big ones!


Capt Keith

Captain Keith on The MTC

Saltwater Adventures of Central Florida


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bps 5


Saltwater Fishing in California


I'm Garrett Sells,  a supervisor in the Fishing department. 

I grew up with San Diego as my 2nd home, and I now continue to fish out of the Long Beach, California area.  I'm a huge "iron" fisherman off of all the boats.  My two favorite fish to catch are yellowtail and calico bass. Yellowtail are a lot of fun to catch no matter what way you catch them be it on iron jigs or live bait.  They are an excellent fish to eat.   When it comes to catching calico bass, there is nothing better  than to be throwing soft plastic lures at them.

Currently, we are in rockfish season.  Whether you are going out on a half day, 3/4 day, or overnight trip, the head boats will be targeting rockfish.  You can catch reds (vermillion), sculpin (California scorpion fish),  salmon grouper, perch, sand dabs, white fish, starry eyed flounder, copper rockfish, and ling cod. 

You will typically be fishing in water between 200-400 feet deep.   I recommend using 10 to 16oz torpedo weights to get your bait to the bottom and keep it there.  If your bait is not on the bottom you will not get a bite.  If there is a lot of current the day you are on the water use the heavier weight.  This weight will be tied to the bottom of what is called your "dropper loop rig."  This type of rig is going to have two hooks tied on it.  The normal hook size that I like to use is a 1/0-2/0 octopus hook.  This size hook will catch a variety of rockfish.  If white fish start biting, I recommend switching to a smaller hook because their mouth is a lot smaller and you will miss a lot of hook ups if you have too big of a hook.

When thinking about what kind of rod and reel set up you want to use, take these factors into mind.  What size rockfish are you most likely going to be catching?  How long of a trip? How heavy of an outfit do you really need? Do you prefer to use an 8-9ft rod compared to a 6-7ft rod? And as far as the reel goes, you want a lower gear ratio reel, narrow spool,  loaded with either 65lb braid or dacron, then "top shot"  the spool with approximately feet of 30-40lb monofilament leader.

You can use different kinds of baits including squid, anchovies, sardines, sardine filets, and even small mackerel , which is provided by the head boats.  Just like other kinds of fish, certain rockfish like certain baits more than others. When it comes to fishing for rockfish and ling cod, the bigger bait will usually catch the bigger fish.  When using either a larger live sardine or small  mackerel, make sure you let your fish take the bait before you set the hook. 

Now if you are willing to do a little more work to hopefully catch some better grade fish,  you can start using jigs.  These can include diamond jigs, banana jigs, and big boneyard grubs.  Depending on the amount of current there is, you will need to assess how heavy of a jig you will need to be using. If you are trying for ling cod, try using pink and or white for both the jigs and the grubs.

Well, I have given you a lot of information to digest.  Come and visit me at the store and I will be glad to help set you up for a successful saltwater fishing trip.  In the mean time.....

Tight Lines!




The Alabama Rig: Do you have what it takes?

Ed Nelson By Ed Nelson

What’s better than catching a limit…? Catching a limit on one cast. That’s the goal of every angler who ties on the Alabama Rig. What is the Alabama Rig and what kind of equipment does it take to throw it? That’s the object of this month’s blog.

First the rig, the Alabama Rig is the hottest thing to hit the tournament fishing scene since the Sexy Shad color pattern. Oddly enough it’s been around for some time but was made famous when on Oct. 23, 2011, at Lake Guntersville, Paul Elias put the finishing touches on an impressive tournament that included 4 consecutive 20lb plus weigh-ins totaling 102lbs 8oz, an incredible 17 pound margin of victory and a check for $100,000. All caught on the Alabama Rig. So what is it? It can best be classified as a castable umbrella rig. It has a light-weight head (in most cases weighing about 3/8 oz.) and 5 wire arms with swivels for attaching baits. It is designed to resemble a school of shad and that makes some sort of soft plastic swimbait the most common bait of choice. That’s not to say other baits can’t be used. Just keep in mind that the Alabama Rig is designed for a horizontal presentation so the baits you choose should meet that criteria. Anything from soft plastics like worms, lizards, tubes and grubs to hard baits like spinnerbaits, jigs and in-line spinners can be rigged.

The Rig   

The original Alabama Rig is currently being produced by Mann’s Bait Company. There are also a number of other companies producing similar rigs including, Yum Baits making “The Yumbrella”, Swarming Hornet Lures making “The Swarm” and Bass Pro Shops making “The Deadly 5 Shad Rig”. Regardless of the name on the package, they are all pretty much similar in their rigging and presentation. Simply hang your choice of 5 baits then cast and retrieve. Just keep varying your depth and speed and maybe add in a few pauses or twitches until you start getting bites. There’s also something else these rigs have in common; “Go Big or Go Home!!”

This brings me to the most important part of this article, the tackle. This is no finesse technique. It requires you to break out the big guns. Your usual fishing tackle is not going to work here. You need a 7’ or longer heavy or extra heavy action rod. No less than 65lb braided line and a 6.4:1 gear ratio reel. I guess a lot of you are asking: why do I need that kind of beef for a 3/8 oz. rig? Excellent question, to answer it lets look at each component individually.

  • 7’ or longer heavy or extra heavy action rod - Even though your rig starts out at about 3/8 oz. by the time you add in the 5 swimbaits and weighted hooks your rig can easily top out at 2, 3 or even 4 oz. Most medium or medium heavy action rods are not capable of handling that kind of weight. I’ve been throwing my rigs on a Bass Pro Shops 7’ 6” Heavy action Graphite Series Rod. It rates out for 3/8 oz to 2 oz lures and handles the job remarkably well. As far as the rod length goes, I recommend the longer rods for 2 reasons. First, when you cast this rig, you don’t really cast it, you lob it. It’s the same way you would cast a Carolina Rig. When it hits the water it’s anything but stealthy. So the fish in the immediate area of “splash down” are probably going to be spooked. The longer rod gives me a longer cast and the further I can get the rig away from the boat the more fish I can show the rig to on each cast. Second, the longer rod allows me to take up more line on the hook-set, especially on those long casts.
  • No less than 65lb braided line - With a rig that weighs in at somewhere between 2 and 4 oz. there is an incredible amount of stress being placed on the line with every cast. Weaker lines are just not going to be able to handle the workload. I don’t know about you but I don’t think I could stomach having to watch $30 to $50 worth of rig and baits flying freely through the air because my line broke on the cast. Now, let’s say you make a good cast but this time you hang that same $30 to $50 worth of rig and baits on a log. There’s nothing on the bait to break free. Your hooks are attached to snap swivels, swivels to wire, wire to eye and eye to line. You better have a line with enough strength to straighten out a hook or your line will break and again $50 lost. My line of choice is either BPS Excel 65lb braid or 65lb Magibraid both in green. A lot of manufactures are recommending 80-100lb braid.
  • 6.4:1 gear ratio reel - The first reason I like a 6.4:1 gear ratio is for its versatility. I can speed up my presentation when I want to yet I’m still able to slow down when I have to.  The second reason and probably the most important is multiple fish. Doubles and even triples are not uncommon on this rig. When you have multiple fish on you do not want them to swim around each other as they fight with the rig. This will twist up the wires and can cause you to not only loose the fish but can also lead to wire breakage. The 6.4:1 gear ratio allows me a slow enough retrieve to keep my bait down but when I get a double on I have enough speed to keep the fish behind the rig and coming to me. My choice here is the Johnny Morris Signature Series JMX10HD Baitcast Reel. I’ve been throwing the Alabama Rig for about 3 months now and my Johnny Morris has handled the excessive workload with ease.

The Tackle

There is little doubt that the Alabama Rig is not a fluke. It has proven itself at the highest levels of tournament fishing. I have personally used it in three tournaments to date and have a 1st place finish and 2 top 10’s. It does require some special tackle but its worth it in the long run. One last point, the Alabama Rig is not legal in every state. PLEASE, before you use it check with the local DNR office. I have checked with North Carolina and South Carolina DNR offices. Both North Carolina and South Carolina have told me it is legal to use but South Carolina did specify that it was illegal for use in saltwater. I don’t know about North Carolina saltwater. When in doubt, ASK!

For a more in-depth discussion of the Alabama Rig or any other bass fishing questions drop me a comment on my blog at or Bass Pro Shops Facebook page. You can also find me on YouTube at fyafishing or as always feel free to come visit me at Bass Pro Shop. Just ask for Ed.

Tight lines to all and to my bass fishing brethren “See you at the scales”



Fishing Report

March is here, and the early spring weather will play a great part in the spring run of Fish. Here are the main focus points of the fishing opportunities to be had at this time.

Crappie and Yellow Perch (Ring Perch):
Right now is the time to get in on the great Crappie and Perch fishing that is going on. The mild winter weather is providing better fishing days for these species. Common tactics for these species will be curly tailed grubs, beetle spins, in-line spinner baits, small spinner baits, Cicada type blade baits, small crank baits and small swim baits. These fish will also bite live baits such as minnows and night crawlers with equal enthusiasm. This fishery should remain good till mid to late March.

Herring and Shad (Hickory and American):
shadNOTE: As of this year, it is illegal for anyone to have river Herring in their possession.
The Shad fishing hot spots on the James River will be the 95 bridge to the fall line. When the Shad are in full swing boating and Kayak traffic will increase in this area. In addition to fly fishing, Shad are easily caught on Shad darts, Shad spoons, Sabiki rigs and plastic Crappie jigs. This fishery is most fun when using light tackle in the 2 – 6 pound range. Shad typically average in the two pound range, and they put up a great fun fight on the light/ ultra-light tackle with plenty of areal displays, these fish will occasionally be called the “light tackle fresh water Tarpon”. While fishing for Shad you will catch Herring as well. It would be very wise to pay close attention to the Moratorium in effect this year. Also if you are keeping Shad for bait, please keep in mind that there are two different species of Shad, American and Hickory, and you cannot possess American Shad. The number one distinctive feature is that Hickory Shad are darker and have a lower jaw that extends past the upper jaw bone, like a tarpon, and the American Shad are more silver in color, and have equal length jaw bones. The fishing for these fish will be good starting in March, and could go as late as mid April.

Striped Bass (Rock fish):
The Striper, as well as all other big game fish, will follow the Shad and Herring up the rivers on their annual migration to spawn. This gives local anglers a fun opportunity to catch these fish in good numbers, and it is not uncommon to land fish over the 20 pound mark. This is a catch and release fishery, so try to use lure hooks that are easily removed to cause the least amount of stress to the fish. For the fisherman who uses chunked Shad, circle hooks are the safest bet for this type of fishing to help reduce the gut hooked fish that may not survive. Typical lures used will be larger swim baits, wake baits, crank baits, jointed twitch baits and top water lures like Zara Spooks, or Chuggers.  The top color pattern of all these lures will be Shad or Herring.

The Blue and Channel Catfish begin stirring this month with the opportunity of large fish being caught. Your best bait by far will be cut Hickory Shad, with Gizzard Shad being a good second option. Your typical “Carolina” type slider rig will be your most productive rig to use with the flat river style weights. Fish near the shoreline of the James River in the slower moving water, pay attention to drop-offs, deep holes, and sunken trees. These areas will be your most productive.

Spot and Croaker: 
As these fish begin to show up this month, your best tackle options will be a standard two hook bottom rig, baited with Squid, Shrimp, Blood Worms, and artificial scent bait like Gulp or Fish Bites. Medium Heavy tackle will provide plenty of fun for these scrappy fighters for the whole family.

Speckled Trout and Puppy Drum:
Warm days will encourage these fish to eat more often, and begin their shift from their oceanic hide outs into the Bay. Medium weight tackle will be sufficient enough to handle these fighting fish, providing plenty of fun. Mirro lures, curled tail grubs, paddle tail grubs and scented baits like the Gulp shrimp will be the best go-to lures for these fish.

Things to Prepare for:
With the Spring fisheries around the corner, now is a great time to get prepared for the fishing you will do later. Re-spooling reels, lubing bearings, replace hooks, dust off the rods, and re-stock missing tackle. Monofilament line pretty much has a one year life span, so it is best to start the year off with good line. Look at your rods, the reel seats on the rods, and the guides. With the nice fishing weather here, it will continue to get better, so prepare now and enjoy your fishing year!



Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Shrimp

Traditionally, Yo-Zuri lures have been on top of the Saltwater competition which continues still today with there newest addition to their hard-bait series. The Crystal 3D Shrimp is a Ultra Premium Hard Shrimp Lure with very realistic attributes. The 3D enhanced frame, quivering arms, and 3 1/2" body makes it the most realistic Shrimp copy the Red Fish and Speckled Trout have ever seen! It is amazingly effective in shallow salt water and could also be used as a Crustacean imitator in freshwater. Coming in a variety of colors and glows, you have a large selection to best fit your waters!


Holographic UV Chartreuse Purple, Holographic Ghost Shrimp, Holographic Olive, Holographic Hot Pink, Holographic Pearl Blue, Holographic UV Rootbeer, and Luminescent Aurora Chartreuse are the colors out today.

Come visit our Spanish Fort Bass Pro Shop for our low price of $13.99 and check out our very knowledgeable fishing staff.

Shop online with our direct link :

Also check out our Yo-zuri Crystal 3D Minnow Deep Diver for similar results with a larger variety of sizes and styles!


Clark Brownlie-Carey

Bass Pro Shops Fishing Dept.


University of Kayak Fishing - Storage

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


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


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


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



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



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


Indiana DNR Gives the OK to use Umbrella Rigs (Alabama Rigs)

Umbrella RigIndiana DNR director Robert E. Carter Jr. has signed a temporary rule that establishes a limit on the number of hooks allowed on a rig or lure array used for sport fishing, essentially making so-called umbrella rigs legal through the remainder of this year.

(Some examples of these rigs include the original Alabama RigYumbrella Rig, Deadly Five Rig, and The Swarm Rig.)

Until recently, umbrella rigs were a traditional saltwater trolling apparatus used effectively in the northeastern United States to catch striped bass and bluefish, according to Ken Smith’s Fishing Encyclopedia.

The rig is an umbrella-shaped frame of multiple wires from which lures or hooks are attached. It is designed to resemble a school of baitfish.

Professional bass fisherman Paul Elias triggered a frenzy among freshwater anglers when he used a version of the apparatus, The Alabama Rig, to win an FLW Series national tournament in October. Elias caught a 20-fish limit weighing more than 100 pounds to beat his closest challenger by 17 pounds and earn the tournament’s $100,000 first-place prize.

Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society (BASS), the FLW’s rival tour, announced in January that umbrella rigs cannot be used in the Bassmaster Classic or the Bassmaster Elite Series.

In the meantime, states have been scrambling to see if umbrella rigs fall inside or outside of their fishing regulations.

Indiana’s existing rules do not adequately describe whether or not umbrella rigs are legal. Indiana Administrative Code 312 IAC 9-7-2 states that “an individual may take fish with not more than three poles, hand lines, or tip-ups at a time…(and) an individual must affix to each line not more than: two hooks, two harnesses for use with live bait, or two artificial baits.

The ambiguity with the umbrella rig is whether it should be defined as one lure with many parts or many lures on single line.

As DNR officials continue to study the issue, the temporary rule adds a fourth option to the existing regulation that allows “one rig or lure array for use with multiple artificial baits with not more than five hooks.”

The temporary rule expires on Jan. 1, 2013.

“This gives Hoosier anglers an opportunity to gain first-hand experience with the use and effectiveness, or drawbacks, of how umbrella rigs actually perform,” Carter said. “It also gives the DNR time to gather information on what, if any, future definitions or restrictions need to be considered.”

The temporary rule does not apply to trout and salmon streams that are tributaries of Lake Michigan or to the St. Joseph River downstream of the Twin Branch Dam in Mishawaka. The regulations on those waters continue to be limited to one single hook, one harness for use with live bait, or one artificial lure per line. Single hooks, including those on artificial baits, must be no larger than 1/2 inch front point to shank. Double and treble hooks on artificial lures may not exceed 3/8 inch from point to shank. All trout and salmon taken in Indiana must be hooked in the mouth (no foul hooking allowed).

*This post (with parenthetical BPS commentary) was originally from the Feb 26, 2012 Wild Bulletin from the Indiana DNR and used with the written consent of the IDNR Division of Fish and Wildlife. Sign up for the Indiana Wild Bulletin and receive updates from MyDNR to stay up-to-date on Indiana fishing and hunting news!

Liked this? Check out the additional Portage Bass Pro Shops Blog about how to fish these deadly effective rigs the right way! And as always, visit us at to check out all the good stuff we have to offer!


Have an A-rig success story? A question? A comment? Drop us a line in the comment section and let us know what you think!


Tight Lines!

Alex Ferguson

Portage BPS Fishing



Spring Time Fishing

With Spring right around the corner, fresh and saltwater anglers prepare their equipment for the busiest season of the year. Spring brings warmer waters to our coast, bringing in pelagic such as Dolphin, Wahoo, and Tuna’s. It also marks the annual spawning of freshwater species such as Large Mouth Bass, and Peacock Bass.

Water temperatures climb steadily throughout spring, gaining as much as 15 °F, bringing with it prized saltwater pelagics. Fishermen begin to prepare their techniques and tackle for the annual running of Dolphin or Mahi-Mahi (Coryphaena hippuru). Dolphins are a prized game fish, valued for their excellent food quality and powerful acrobatics. They are usually found during the warmer months of the year however, anglers have reported catching them during the months of December and February. Dolphin spawn two to three times a year, producing between 80,000 to 1,000,000 eggs per session. They reach sexual maturity in as little as 4-5 months, this is why the bag limit is set at 10 per person, with a minimum measurement of 20 inches to the fork.

Top water frogs, worms on the bottom, or hard plastics, these are just some techniques anglers turn use to target spawning Large Mouth Bass and Peacock in the Spring. The Large Mouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) are a species of Black Bass, native to North America. These fish are known to have a veracious appetite, often consuming baits that are 25-50% of the Bass’s body length. They are sought after for their hard fighting abilities and their hook shaking acrobatics. Peacock Bass are a species of tropical fish that belong to the Cichla genus. They are native to Amazon River basin of South America. Spring time offers anglers the opportunity to witness schools of these fish travel down local canals as they look for a place to forage. Parental Peacocks become very territorial and aggressive, often hitting nothing more than a spoon in order to protect their young. This aggression often leads anglers to catch two fish at the same time, on the same lure?

Now we know that Spring time is one of the best times during the year to go fish. The question is, will you be fishing in Salt or Fresh water? Or are you adventurous enough to tackle on both?

Tight lines everyone, best of luck.

Erik Medina,

Fishing Associate

Bass Pro Shops Miami


Yankee in the Salt

By Jeff Rowland

In my home state of Iowa, freshwater is our only choice to set a hook. Not complaining…we have thousands of farm ponds, many hold quality fish. Our government entities have provided hundreds of impoundments and city reservoirs. We have 19,000 miles of rivers to fish with the Mississippi and Missouri on our borders. Iowa also has some great multiple species abounding throughout the state. I have fished many different bodies of water in Iowa and in the late 90’s I turned my freshwater passion into a guide service. In 12 years I had taken over 200 clients from 11 different states and two foreign countries. I thought I had experienced everything an angler possibly could be exposed to. This all changed several years ago with a family vacation to the Gulf.

Since I was a total novice to saltwater fishing, I felt it would be best to explore the Internet prior to the trip. I was searching for any info I could find pertaining to the area I was going to visit, what species were there, and what methods could be used to catch them.

Fishing up north in freshwater land I prefer to throw artificial baits to attract whatever species I am pursuing. I decided that I would do the same in the salt. As I began researching species, locations, tides, and preferred forage, a common theme became apparent for what kind of lure I would be tossing… Shrimp. From the info I had, “shrimp” is one bait that few saltwater fish can turn down. My plan of attack was to use Berkley Power Bait Shrimp in two colors, natural and new penny. I had several different sizes of jigs that I could mix up depending on the force of the tide or water depth.

Jeff Rowland, Receiving Manager, Bass Pro Shops Altoona, IowaThe first day’s arrival was a festive one that had several family members hanging out in front of the condo right on the beach. Since it looked like these festivities were going to go through the day, I thought I would just wade out in front of the beach and start chunking my offerings. Before long, I had several other family members wade out with me and we started chatting and hoping to see some action. Many unproductive casts went by until a school of baitfish came through. They were green in color and when the school would turn the sun would glisten off their bodies like a prism. As we were all commenting on how cool that was, large shadows in the three to four-foot range started passing through the school and bait fish were exploding out of the water all around us. I threw right into the scattered baitfish and received a powerful hit right away. I tried to set the hook, but my presentation had been bitten in half and now what was left of my lure was screaming out of the water and right towards me. I ducked out of the way without receiving any hook penetration as the shadows continued to pass through the bait fish and scattering them out of casting range. My heart was pounding and my adrenaline rushing as I was looking at the bait that appeared to be surgically removed with precise teeth marks. I never found out what species of fish were casting those shadows but the whole experience moved my wading a little closer to shore.Jeff Rowland

The rest of that week was spent exploring different areas. I caught some Sheepshead off a bridge piling, a Mutton Snapper in a bay next to a marina and, on my last day, landed a small Snook in a pass on the south end of an island. Far from pro status, but I was thrilled with my results and the opportunity. The best part of fishing the salt is the unknown potential of so many different species and your chance to tie into something very big every time you cast.

I have taken many trips back to the Gulf since that first experience. Been out on some charters and explored many backcountry areas inshore. Yellowtails, Grouper, Snapper, Redfish, Speckled Trout, Sheepshead, small Sharks and some big ones have been on the end of my line. I still consider myself an amateur at saltwater fishing but I am all about trying to improve on my experience and look very forward to my next opportunity to fish in the salt.


From Brownsville to Key West, the Gulf is a paradise for anglers.
If you have never fished the salt I strongly recommend giving it a try. There are so many different locations and options for pursuing many different species of fish. There are plenty of guides and charters that are experts for putting you on some fish. If you are in an area near one of our Gulf-area Bass Pro Shops, the associates in the fishing department are all very knowledgeable and will help you out with presentations, fishing the tide, and whatever equipment you need to use. Check out our World Wide Sportsman’s inventories online. There are many applications and lures that Northern anglers have never been exposed to and it is very fun to look at and expand your fishing horizons.

 Bass Pro Shops Altoona Receiving Manager Jeff Rowland is an avid fisherman, outdoor writer, and former fishing guide. He is the author of Reel Adventures of a Marion County Angler and his expertise has been featured in magazines such as Iowa Game and Fish, Outdoor Life, and Field and Stream.  



Winter isn't over just yet!

The weather may be warm and inviting outside but don't think that winter is over yet.  The sunny warm days have one thing on every ones mind, fishing.  The great thing is you do not have to wait till warmer weather to catch that trophy of a lifetime, you can do it on the coldest day of the year.  The new Arkansas state record was caught just a few days ago, that though is a blog for another day. 

The newest craze is the Alabama Rig.  This multi bait presentation is just a remix of the classic umbrella baits used in saltwater and striper fishing for years.  It is a great lure and will increase you chances of catching multiple quality fish.  Before you fish with it make sure to check you local laws.  To find out more about the A-Rig, check Brandon's earlier blog.

When it comes to late winter fishing one of the go to baits this time of the year is the deep diving crank bait.  Bass are suspended deep and looking for easy meals during these cold months.  The Strike King 5 and 6 XD Pro Model crank baits are great for getting down deep and staying in the murky depths.  To guarantee your crank bait gets down to the 15 to 18 foot levels they are rated for spool your reel with Bass Pro Shops XPS Fluorocarbon

Another get way to attract bass during these late winter months is a slow rolling spinner bait.  The reflection from the blades resemble shad and other bait fish, and bass find them hard to resist.  The Bottom Dweller from Strike King is a great spinner to use during the cold months.  Its gets down to the bottom in a hurry and stays there as you slow roll it. 

Jerk baits are another tried and tested late winter lure.  They jerking actions of these baits mimic injured or dying bait fish triggering bass to strike.  The XCalibur EEratic Shad is a great jerk bait and is found in several colors for every type of water condition.

All in all you can have a great day on the lake no matter what you are using.  From jerk baits to the newest trend like the A-Rig, fishing is fishing.  The old adage that, "A bad day of fishing is better than a good day at the office," is all to true as temperatures are on the rise and spring is in the air.  I hope these few tips will help increase your stringer next time out on the water.

Stewart Williams

Fishing Lead

Memphis, TN


Top Five - Swimbaits

As time moves on and my fishing experience grows, so does my love for the swimbait. Swimbaits are wonderful if you want a lure that will replicate the swimming motion of bait fish. There are so many on the market, but most are used to catch the fisherman, not the fish. I would love to take the time to show you a few that are my top choices.

Here are my own personal favorites...

5. Storm Kickin Minnow

The Kickin' Minnow's segmented body and kicking tail provide more realistic swimming action than traditional soft plastic minnow imitations, while its polycarbonate lip helps get the bait deep quickly. STORM's signature holographic WildEye and body insert add extra fish-enticing flash.

I have had great success with these fishing them in rivers and streams, and slow moving current. These are a go to for me when fishing Brown Trout in the Bow River. Also, have had good success landing bull trout in the Red Deer River with these wonderful soft swimbaits.


4. Yum Money Minnow

Fishing the Money Minnow is a great wait to really make even the most dormant fish strike. My best success with these has been found in warmer temperatures when fishing Walleye in the southern Alberta Reservoirs.

The Yum Money Minnow's life like finish and proven swimming action, these effective swimbaits feature a unique belly slot allows the hook fit inside making the Money Minnow one of the more rigging-friendly swimbaits. The belly slot also means there is less material to pull the hook through on hook sets. A slow retrieve produces the realistic action required to draw strikes from Northern Pike, Walleye and other predator fish.



3. Storm Kickin' Stick

Effective for a wide variety of fresh and saltwater species, the Kickin' Stick's three-part, segmented body imitates struggling baitfish by producing a supernatural swim kicking action that is sure to solicit strikes from all types of brutes. Its lipless front segment is designed to retrieve at a running depth of one to two feet below the surface. Combine that with loud vibrating rattles and the Kickin' Stick Swimbait will persuade big fish to climb the water column for a strike.

These are a fantastic choice for fishing Northern Pike in shallow bays. Bringing the fish to you has never been so easy, with the double joint and the rattles, you'll have em' tailing you all day!


2. Live Target Blueback Herring

A hard swimbait that offers almost as enticing movement as a soft plastic swimbait, the LIVETARGET® Blueback Herring’s segmented body helps this dead-on baitfish imitation produce some serious swagger. Along with the realistic markings, scale patterns, gill plates and eyes, walleye, bass, pike and musky will be seduced by the LIVETARGET® Blueback Herring’s triple segmented body which makes it mimic a fleeing herring with the same hard wiggling, swimming and vibrating action. Plus, with a strategic internal weight transfer system, the LIVETARGET® Blueback Herring casts like a bullet so you can cover loads of water.

These are one of the best looking baits of any kind on the market today! These not only catch the fisherman in the store, but the fish in the water. These are a great lure to throw out there on even the worst days, always triggering the bite!


1. Z9R Swimbaits

This is a relatively new item to the market, but I have never had any bait trigger such a hard strike from a predatory fish. With its 6 joints, it gives this swim baits the best action of all. Slow sinking allows for you to work the bait like nothing else, and the multi-joins system allows the bait to actually swim side to side and up and down in the water... I'd even it this thing!

Get hooked on the realistic swimming action of our Z9R Swimbaits! It's loaded with high-quality components for top performance in the water, all topped off by a premium finish for bass-baiting realism that can't be beat. Plus, the slow sinking Z9R Swimbaits feature a unique bristle-style fin and tail that creates a lifelike look, feel and action.



Livin' to fish, and fishin' to live. Jason Cahoon from BPS Calgary.


A Rig - Is It Really All That?

Yes, I’m talking about the Alabama Rig. Can’t seem to keep it on the shelf. Seems like all bass fisherman, at the very least, must look at it! We just have to, it’s in our blood. Well, I ask for your opinion too? Is it the newest “Flying Lure or Helicopter Lure” all over again? Is it the real deal or is it ideal? For me, the jury is still out on this newest of craze but I have to say if the Bassmaster Elite Series banned it, they did it for a reason. Hmm, brings up a real big question doesn’t it? If this isn’t the real deal then why did the big boys of the sport say, “no way!”? You must form your own opinion on this newest, latest craze.

I have been asked what I think about it many times. I have my own opinion and here is what I think. This type of technique has been used in the saltwater world for years and years, for trolling big baits. A fish is a fish is a fish; the biggest fish eats the smaller fish which eats the even smaller fish and so on. So, first instinct is that if it works and has worked for saltwater game fish or predatory fish, then why not the freshwater bass? Bass are a very mean predatory fish that are always looking for an easy meal. 

My father taught me things about fish and fishing that I will never forget and his teachings have helped catch fish. Imagine if you will, a man telling his young son who had a million questions, about lure presentation. He asks me, “son, if I were to cook 2 identical steaks the exact same way, which one would you eat?” Before I could answer, even though I was thinking, BOTH! He said, “One I put on Mom’s china and fix you a baked potato with the works, pour a glass of ice tea and put all on the dining room table. Then the other, I slap it on a paper plate and drop it on the kitchen floor, which one you want to eat now?” Of course, I said I want to eat at the table! He went on about lure presentation and how the presentation can make the difference in if you want to eat or not. I have used his advice many, many times in years past but now I think back to my original answer to his question, “BOTH!!” Bass are mean, greedy and they will attempt to take food out of another fish’s mouth. So why not present multiple lures? If you have ever watched a bass smash through a school of shad, this rig simulates a small school of baitfish. It just has to play on a bass’s instinct of greed, it just has to. Doesn’t it?? My feelings are, that the late fall of the year is when this lure will show what it’s got. When fish are getting tough to catch late in the year and if presented properly, you just may catch some really good fish. There are a few different variations on the market now; Bass Pro Shops Deadly 5 Rig and the Yum Yumbrella. Have fun; be courteous and safe on the water!

Bass Wishes;

Bert Gibson

 Blake Daughtery and his catch on the Original Alabama Rig

  Blake Daugherty and his catch on the original Alabama Rig




Looking for some awesome radio?


Well look no further, tune your radio to WHKT - 1650 AM, every Saturday morning from 7 A.M. until 9 A.M. Join Host Don Lancaster for all the latest in fishing. Tune-in and catch all the live remote programs for advertisers and local businesses. Got some exciting fishing tales, well then call-in at (757) 454-1650.

Getting to know the Host, Don Lancaster.......

-Retired U.S. Army

-Selected as outdoor journalist, covering U.S. Navy and U.S. Army Professional Anglers in National Championships. Provided coverage to the Navy Times, Air Force Times and Army Times newspapers.

-Attended William Carey College, Hattiesburg, MS., graduating in Aug. 1974. (Military bootstrap program - completed 4 yrs in a 2 yr program, graduating Cum Laude.)

-Military Game Warden in Massachusetts, Maine and Alaska from 1958 through 1966 (Vietnam). Graduated from the National School of Conservation in 1970.

-Act as the Master of Ceremonies for Spring and Fall Fishing Classic events at Bass Pro Shops in Hampton, VA.

-Conducts seminars for the Peninsula Saltwater Sport's Fisherman's Association

-Each year Mr. Lancaster speaks to children at local high schools, concerning his radio show, Fishing Tidewater and his magazine and newspaper articles

-Writes a monthly column for The Chesapeake Angler Magazine

-Part time schoolteacher at Gildersleeve Middle School in Newport News, Virginia. Also teach fishing related classes, upon request, to local schools, Boy Scout groups, and sporting groups.

-Accepted "free lance" position with Daily Press newspaper, Newport News, Va., in 1995. Compiling fishing information from 26 fresh and salt-water reporting stations for a weekly column.

-Professional Bass Angler 1979-1982; one of the founders of the Military Bass Anglers Assn. Tournament Circuit. Accomplished promotional activities for Minn-Kota Electric Motors, Pro-Craft Bass Boats, Crème Lures (AAA Field tester), Stren Monofilament Fishing Line, Bass Buster Lures and Shakespeare Fishing (AAA Field Tester). Conducted in-store promotions demonstrating various lures and equipment; spoke to fishing

-Has continued working in civil service after retiring from the army

In addition to everything that Mr. Lancaster does, he is very involved within the community, he volunteers much of his time to charities and getting young children and disabled individuals into the outdoors. He also is very active at Bass Pro Shops in Hampton, Virginia, appearing at the annual Spring Fishing Classic every year. As a special treat Fishing Tidewater will be hosted live, Saturday, March 3rd, 2012 from Bass Pro Shops in Hampton, Virginia. So be sure and tune-in from 7 A.M. to 9 P.M. on WHKT - 1650 AM, and we are sure you will be "HOOKED."


Swim Baits for A-Rigs

Few lures or techniques have drawn as much attention as the “Alabama” rig, or as it has been known for years in saltwater circles, the umbrella rig. This attention was brought to a head by the almost unbelievable weights that were caught last fall in a couple of major professional bass tournaments. The fire was lit and although there has been a considerable amount of debate about their use and legality it would seem they are here to stay.

The umbrella rig, our Bass Pro Shops model is called the “Deadly 5 Shad Rig”, is fairly simple, usually one tie point with 5 wires with swivels for lure placement, however; there seems to be a lot of questions about what kind of trailer and hooks should be used. Swim type baits are currently the lure of choice for most anglers. The most popular size is 4 inches and sports a large paddle type tail that provides a very lifelike presentation. Some anglers will use 4 of the four inch baits and use a 5 inch or larger bait in the center trying to draw a strike to the larger bait. This is a result of varying state regulations, such as Missouri, which only allows 3 trailers with hooks, but you can use the other two wires with baits (decoys) as long as they do not have hooks in them. A lot of anglers use a lighter head such as 1/8th ounce when fishing in less than 10 feet of water and use heavier heads up to ½ ounce when the need to fish deeper.  Some anglers use jigs with light wire hooks so they can pull the rig loose when it gets hung up, however; trophy fish may be lost when using the light weight hooks.

One of the best jig heads for the rig is the Bass Pro Shops “Deadly 5” jig, the powder coated head is very chip resistant and the hook is strong enough to handle lunker bass. The darter type head helps control swim baits and is designed to hold the baits securely.

Several very good swimbaits  such as the Berkley “Hollow Belly”, the Optimum “Double Diamond Swimmer” or the new NetBait “BK” swimbait are good choices. Quality Swimbaits have paddle tails that have a lot of movement even at slow speeds. Color selection is generally either the prevalent shad or sunfish pattern that the bass are feeding on. One rule of thumb that applies is to use light colors on bright days and dark colors on dark days. Swimbaits are made in several lengths, however; the 4 inch size seems to be a good size to start the day with, bigger baits may be used to target trophy fish.

Special Tip: Use a chartreuse or red Spike-It marker on the center swim bait tail to attract fish!