Inside Scoop on Salt Water fishing

I have a rather lengthy fly fishing bucket list, but recently I was able to check one trip off of it. My husband Chris and I went to Boca Grand, Florida to do some saltwater fly fishing. I planned out my gear weeks before we went to make sure that I didn’t forget anything.

We loaded up 8, 10, and 12 weight fly rods with saltwater line and bass taper fly lines. Why so many rods? Most of the saltwater fish are pretty large and we had a chance at catching a tarpon. Tarpons are huge so a 12 weight is perfect for them. The 8 and 10 weights are great for snook, redfish, and other saltwater species. Bass Pro carries TFO rods which are my personal favorite when it comes to fly rods. However, the models BVK and Axiom are my favorites. Pair these up with BVK reels or Lamson reels and  you have an excellent combo to fish with. The lines that we used were Rio Saltwater lines and Scientific Angler Bass Taper lines. Both are fantastic when it comes to turning over big streamers.

Another important factor was our clothing because no one wants to get a second or third degree sunburn while fly fishing out in the mangroves. We chose to wear Columbia and World Wide Sportsman products which are light weight pants and shirts. The Columbia and WWS clothing can be purchased at Bass Pro Shops.  We also used Buffs over our necks and ears which helped protect us from the sun and the wind (see photo).

My husband and I had a wonderful time and caught snook, redfish, jacks, and snapper. All of these saltwater fish hit hard and pulled like a freight train. It was so much fun! Stop by the fly shop at Bass Pro and let us outfit you for your next saltwater fly trip!

Make sure to stop by the White River Fly Shop at Bass Pro in Memphis to visit me!

Until my next fishing adventure, see you soon!

Mrs. Lesley








Does Choosing the Correct Fishing Line have You in Knots?

Fishing line is arguably the single most important piece of equipment used by all fishermen. It plays a key role:

• in lure presentation
• in hooking fish
• in landing the fish

Nevertheless, most anglers remain confused and uneducated on the distinctive types of line that are available, and the special properties each type of fishing line exhibits. My hope is over the next few paragraphs; I can help you understand the pros and cons of the different products, so in the future you will choose the precise line for the right situations. More than anything I want to help you catch more fish!

Monofilament - “High Stretch” line

In 1938, DuPont announced the discovery of nylon, a "group of new synthetic super polymers" that could be made into textile fibers stronger and more elastic than cotton, silk, wool, or rayon. The following year, DuPont began commercial production of nylon monofilament fishing line. This new line, primitive by today's standards, didn't catch on immediately; older fishing lines, particularly braided Dacron, remained popular for the next two decades.  In 1958, however, DuPont introduced Stren, a thinner line of more uniform quality that could be used for different types of reels, including newly introduced spinning and spincasting tackle. This line was quickly embraced by fishermen, and led to a boom in sportfishing popularity because it helped make fishing much easier.

Monofilament products to this day still remain popular, accounting for more than two-thirds of all fishing lines sold throughout the country. As the name suggests, this is a single-component product. It is formed through an extrusion process in which molten plastic is formed into a strand through a die. This process is relatively inexpensive, producing a less costly product. Cost is the number-one factor that monofilament line is so widely popular. Even so, it's important to remember that cheaper brands of monofilament usually don't receive the quality-control attention, additives and attention in the finishing process that premium-grade lines receive. As a result, they may not offer the tensile strength, limpness, abrasion resistance, and knot strength characteristic of more expensive monofilament fishing lines.  In other words, you get what you pay for! Cheap off-brand mono usually doesn't perform as well as  more expensive name brands, so "buyer beware." If you decide to use monofilament, test several name brands and stick with those you come to know and trust.

• What baits do you fish on monofilament

1. Deep Crankbaiting
2. Top water popping baits
3. Shakeyheads
4. Shallow-water crankbaits

• Branch’s purchasing suggestion:

Inexpensive: Bass Pro Shops Tourney Tough™ Monofilament Fishing Line
Moderate: Berkley® Trilene XL Smooth Casting™ Line
The Best: Seaguar SENSHI – World-Class Monofilament

Braided - “No Stretch” line

Before the discovery of nylon, braided Dacron was the most popular fishing  line. Dacron possessed poor knot strength, low abrasion resistance and little stretch. So it was used much less after the superior nylon monofilaments were introduced. Today braided line maintains only a very small-market interest, but it does have its usages.

 In the early 1990s, gel-spun and aramid fibers such as Spectra, Kevlar and Dyneema entered the fishing line market, creating a new category of braided lines often called "superlines" or "microfilaments." These synthetic fibers are thin and incredibly tough (more than 10 times stronger than steel). Individual fiber strands are joined through an intricate, time-consuming braiding process to produce ultrathin, super strong, sensitive, yet expensive lines. Anglers who experimented with early superlines were frustrated by low knot strength, backlashes, poor coloration and damaged equipment. To many of these disadvantages outweighed the benefits of strength, microdiameter, and ultra sensitivity considering the high cost of these products. Makers of superlines have made continual advances and improvements to the raw material fibers and the process that converts them into fishing line. Coloration, castability, and strength have all been improved, overcoming some early disadvantages.

Lures do dive to deeper depths and at a faster rate when connected to superlines. And because it's smaller in diameter, superline is less visible to fish than monofilament, and anglers can spool more line on their reels; this is a great advantage for the salt water fishing man. Superlines have little stretch, transmitting strikes instantly to the rod tip, thus providing more positive hook sets. Superlines also allow longer casts, making them ideal for shore-bound anglers. High break strength and low stretch permit better handling of big fish.

Saltwater anglers do use more of the braided superlines than fresh water fishermen. Sometimes, the line is used as a backing for mono, allowing anglers to utilize small reels while increasing line capacity. Many anglers prefer the softness of braid for vertical jigging and trolling. Superlines do require a Palomar knot for best results with a small drop of superglue on the actual knot.  Put mono backing on your reel before spooling these lines to prevent it from slipping on the spool. Using a Uni knot to connect the braid to the monofilament is recommended.
Do not overfill reels with braided line. Overfilling creates loose strands after a cast and which will cause more backlashes. Fill them up to one-eighth inch from the spool rim.

• What type of baits do you fish with braid on?
1. Flipping heavy cover
2. Top water baits
3. Drop shotting
4. Carolina Rigs
5. Spoons

• Branch’s purchasing suggestion:

Inexpensive: Spiderwire EZ Braid™ Line
Moderate: PowerPro Braided Spectra® Fiber Micro Filament Line
The Best: Seaguar Kanzen™ Braided Fishing Line

Fluorocarbon - “Low Stretch” line

Fluorocarbon is a polymer that's nearly invisible in water because it is a refractor to light. It is inert, so it resists deterioration by sunlight, gasoline, battery acid, or insect repellents. Fluor also doesn't absorb water.

Fluorocarbon fishing leaders originated in Japan, where anglers are very particular about their bait presentations. Japanese fisheries are heavy pressured; so lifelike bait presentations are extremely important. Most fluorocarbon lines are invisible under the water.

Lately, the popularity of the fluorocarbon line has landed in the U.S. with many anglers. Many of us started using fluorocarbon leaders, primarily in saltwater and fly fishing applications because of its low visibility. Sales currently have increased drastically because fishermen are catching more fish with it. The original fluorocarbon leaders were stiff and very expensive, but new technologies have produced more flexible fluorocarbon at more affordable prices.

Fluorocarbon certainly offers advantages in clear-water situations where fish are heavily pressured or slow to bite. Because  fluorocarbon does not absorb water, it won't weaken or increase in stretch like a monofilament fishing line. Added density makes fluorocarbon very abrasion-resistant, so it's ideal for rough conditions, and makes it sink quicker than other styles of fishing lines. Lures do dive deeper and faster. Fluorocarbon line stretches slower and less than nylon, particularly when compared to wet nylon, and it's more sensitive.

Fluorocarbon lines, like superlines, require special attention. The Trilene knot is the best to use for this type of line. Make all 5 wraps when tying the knot, and excessively wet the line before cinching the knot to prevent line weakening. Always test the knot before fishing, because the knot is the weakest place in your line.

Fluorocarbons are still stiffer than nylon, even when they are wet. This requires more attentiveness to the line when casting. Heavier fluorocarbon line is made to be used on heavy rods, strong reels and big lures. Baitcasting reels may require additional adjustment for the extra momentum created by the larger weight of fluorocarbon. Adjust the brakes on the reel to the weight of the line to maximize casting distance and minimize professional overruns.

• What baits work best with Fluorocarbon?
1. Deep water jig
2. Shallow running crankbaits
3. Worm fishing
4. Spinnerbait fishing

• Branch’s purchasing suggestion:

Inexpensive: Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon
Moderate: Bass Pro Shops XPS Signature Series Fluorocarbon
The Best: Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon

Fishing line doesn’t last forever that is why you need to store it properly. Heat can have effects on fishing line, but studies have shown that light seems to do even more to break down fishing line. If at all possible, try to store all your fishing lines in a cool dark space. To me, the best place would be an interior closet in your house.  That will prolong the fishing line life and keep it fishing like new line every time you go fishing.

No single type of line is perfect for all fishing conditions. To choose the best line, anglers should consider the size and species of fish being targeted, water type and conditions, the type of tackle being used, and other factors. Nevertheless, today more than ever, with the many types of lines available, it's important to devote time to studying each line and its characteristics so you will have the best for each fishing situation. By doing so, you'll improve your catch rate. And catching more fish, after all, is what we all hope to do.
About the author: Tom is a freelance outdoor writer and full time Firefighter, Paramedic/Lieutenant in Georgia for the past 28 years.  He has been working and consulting in the Outdoor Industry for over 18 years and is currently creating and managing a pro fishing team, developing new products, promoting products through demonstrations, designing packaging, and he participates in different forums, radio & television shows.  Tom and his wife, Kim are volunteers with Operation One Voice. They live north of Atlanta near Braselton, GA with their lab “Jake”.

Have Fly Rod, Will Travel

Rod WotenBy: Rod Woten, Bass Pro Shops Altoona Pro Staff

Iowa isn’t exactly the first place that comes to mind when someone mentions fly fishing. Granted, we don’t have any epic saltwater flats that hold line-stripping bonefish and we don’t have any glacier-fed rivers that hold stunningly beautiful cutthroat trout. There are, however, plenty of fly rod opportunities in Iowa if you know where to look. The opportunities below are just a few of my favorites from around the state.


Farm Pond Panfish

I learned to fly fish on southeast Iowa farm ponds growing up as a kid.  Minnesota may be the land of 10,000 lakes, but Iowa is the land of 10,000 farm ponds and many of them rarely, if ever, get any fishing pressure. That can equate to trophy panfish and the opportunity to be THE ONLY ONE with permission to fish a farm pond or two. Often, all it takes is a knock on a landowner’s door and sharing a bag of fillets with them every once in a while. 

The great thing about panfish on the fly rod is that every fish seems like a monster. One of my favorites tactics for catching farm pond bluegills on the fly rod are foam poppers.  Trust me - if you love the adrenaline of catching bass on top water lures, then catching bluegills on fly rod poppers is definitely right up your alley. Don’t limit yourself to poppers only, though. Almost any dry fly, grasshopper, cricket, or beetle pattern will make an excellent top water presentation for bluegills. If you’re lucky enough to be fishing a pond that also contains crappies, you also stand a very good chance of landing a few of those silver-sided panfish.

For those days when the bluegills just won’t feed on the surface, I’ll tie on a small beadhead nymph of some sort, add a strike indicator above that, and experiment with the depth between the two until I find the exact depth that the bluegills are feeding at.  Another variation on this theme is to tie a foam hopper on and then add a nymph to a short length of line tied to the hook of the hopper. This is often referred to as a “hopper-dropper” rig, and will not only catch those deeper feeding bluegills, but can pick up surface strikes as well.

All of these tactics also work well on any Iowa lake with a good panfish population, so don’t be afraid to give those a whirl either.

Down a Lazy River

Iowa is blessed with a few rivers that have pretty good smallmouth bass fishing. One of my favorites is the stretch of the Raccoon River between Panora and Redfield. On a hot summer day, it feels pretty good to wade a stretch of this river while tossing wooly buggers to likely looking smallmouth haunts and waiting for the strike. Other than an occasional passing flotilla of kayakers, we often have the river to ourselves when we do this. For those that are willing to wade far enough from the access points, you can often forget you’re only minutes away from the nearest highway.

My favorite fly for this is a black wooly bugger with a gold cone head.  Fishing this fly is as simple as casting to a likely looking spot, and stripping line to retrieve the Bugger.  The stripping action causes the Bugger to gently rise and fall through the water with each stroke and looks a lot like a minnow swimming through the current. Smallmouth can’t resist it, but it’s also not uncommon for us to catch walleye, largemouth bass, channel catfish, white bass, yellow bass, crappies, green sunfish, flathead catfish and carp on any given cast. I think that’s one of the things I love the most about wading the Raccoon River; even though we’re specifically targeting smallmouth, you just never know what you’re next fish will be.

The Queen Mother of All Iowa Fly Fishing

WCreek Fly Fishingithout a doubt, the pinnacle for fly fishing in Iowa is chasing brook, brown and rainbow trout in the cold water spring-fed streams of northeast Iowa. Most folks don’t even realize that we have trout in Iowa, but they are there and the fly fishing for them can be EPIC at most times of the year. Iowa’s trout streams are often small, and the close proximity of overgrowth can be a true test of anyone’s fly casting ability. It is often said that if you can successfully fly fish the trout streams of Iowa, you can fly fish anywhere with success.

Whether your goal is to fool a truly wild trout, take home a limit of stockers for the grill, chase a true trophy fish, or simply get away from it all and spend the day casting in the solitude of nature, you can find all of these on a northeast Iowa trout stream. Because of the unique geology of the area, (which, in large part is why these streams are there in the first place) you'll be blessed with rock outcroppings, scenic overlooks and flora and fauna that will take your breath away. In this area of the state it is truthfully hard to tell most of the time that you are still even in Iowa! It’s something you truly have to experience for yourself to fully understand, and what better way to do so than with fly rod in hand.

Give it a Try!

It is said that almost any fish that can be caught with rod and reel can also be caught on the fly rod. Contrary to popular belief, Iowa has some humdinger fly fishing opportunities available to anyone willing to pick up a rod, learn to cast and give it a try.  From farm pond bluegills and largemouth to river smallmouths, and from carp (often referred to as the “poor man’s bonefish”) to spring stream trout, Iowa can offer it all.  Bass Pro Shops can provide you everything you need to get started; not only on the equipment side of things, but also with expert guidance on selecting things like line, rod, reel and flies for whatever fish you decide to chase as well as offering casting workshops and fly tying seminars all done in-store. Be sure to stop in and pick their brains if this whole fly rod thing is something that peaks your interest. I also own and operate Coldwater Guide Service, which specializes in guiding beginner fly anglers. While our forte is Northeast Iowa trout, we also offer trips for all of the scenarios I’ve described above, as well as many others, including ice fishing adventures during the winter. If you’d like to have us take you out and show you what this fly fishing thing is all about, be sure to check us out at

Whatever avenues you might take to learn fly-fishing, I highly encourage you to at least give it a try….even if it only remotely interests you. As a fishing professional, I spend many hours fishing with an array of techniques ranging from pulling planer boards for walleyes and spinnerbait fishing for bass to drifting for crappies and fishing through a 6” hole in the ice with a 20-inch rod in the winter…and everything in between, but some of my most satisfying moments in my life have come with a fly rod in my hand.


Have a question for Rod or other members of our pro staff? Ask here or :

Like us @  Bass Pro Shops Altoona or Tracker Marine Center

Tweet us @bassproaltoona

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Itching to Try New Gear: Fishing & Family

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

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

Ocean Isle Arial

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

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


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

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


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

Happy Fishing!

Michael Steele

Team Leader - Apparel Department

Bass Pro Shops

Concord, NC





Kayak Fishing with Alex, Daddy/Daughter Day

What is it about going fishing that causes lost sleep? Wednesday night, I mean Thursday morning, was the perfect example. It is Spring Break for most of Texas and what better way to usher in a new season than by going fishing with your eldest child? It was Daddy/Daughter Day, going fishing as we have done since she was three years old. Rather than hitching up the boat or heading for the pier, this trip, was to be a little different. Our newest Pro Staff member at Bass Pro Shops, Pearland, George Young of Texas Coastal Kayaks, invited Alexandra and me to spend a morning paddling a kayak.

I’ll have to admit a sense of elation when she thought the trip was a great idea. After all, children have different interests as they mature and we have gone from the days of the Snoopy fishing rod to cheerleading, to driving and to ‘gulp’ college visiting - as if there weren’t enough reasons in that sentence to lose sleep, so her immediate “that would be really cool” meant a lot. After spending a fitful few hours tossing and turning while endless questions ran through my head “packed both reels, rods are by the door, new pliers ARE in the dry bag, right? Waders are in the truck, it is March, we only have one pair, she can wear them, how cold can the water be, toilet paper… toilet paper… oops, don’t forget that” we were headed for coffee and breakfast.

We met George before sunrise and headed off to Christmas Bay. I personally have not used a kayak in a few years and have never fished from one, but my daughter’s summer camp has several. George was careful to cover safety and how to maneuver, especially with the added encumbrance of fishing gear. Perhaps the most important lesson was how to board. I paid careful attention. You know that five minutes after an unplanned exit, there would be a video on YouTube entitled “Look at Dad Upside Down in the Bay, or What We Did on Spring Break.” Within 15 uneventful minutes though, we were paddling, rather than motoring towards one of our favorite fishing locations.

Remember the earlier comment about dry bags and the sleepless nighttime question of ‘how cold can the water be’? No matter how careful you are, kayaking is a wet sport. It’s Spring, it’s March, it’s a little chilly. Warm, dry towels and clothing at the end of the day are wonderful things to find. To ensure their availability, we used the Ascend Light-weight 10 Liter Dry Bags. They weigh almost nothing and are perfect for backpacking too. I trusted them enough to include a small pair of Zeiss binoculars for bird watching, which if you understand my phobia about nice things being immersed in saltwater, you would recognize as a high degree of confidence in the dry bag.

For fishing equipment, we took the Johnny Morris Carbonlite series rods, a matched set of 7’2” medium-action spinning rods, with Bass Pro Shops Offshore Angler, Inshore Extreme spinning reels. Mine has served faithfully for the past two years. I liked it so much that last summer, I purchased a second one. Being ever so gallant, I handed Alexandra the brand new, never been near the water combo, certain that she would find it comfortable and easy to use.

Over the past few summers, the advantages to using braided fishing lines has become apparent so both reels are loaded with 50 pound test Bass Pro Shops branded XPS 8 Advance Braided line. While it is true that the reel would hold more if a lower test line was used – the 50 lb braid has the size equivalency of 12 pound test monofilament, it’s just easier for some of us in our advancing decrepitude to tie knots using slightly larger line with wet fingers and no reading glasses. The water of Christmas Bay is usually a little murky, but to be safe, we added some fairly stout leaders using Bass Pro Shops XPS Fluorocarbon.

We also brought a new product that I have wanted to test since they were first introduced, the Bass Pro Shops XPS 7” Aluminum Pliers. They have an excellent balance and feel. Lightweight, made of machined aluminum, they have a set of replaceable tungsten carbide clippers which were perfect for trimming braided line and will not corrode, always a positive feature for tools that will be used in saltwater. In addition to the 7” pliers, there is a ‘Mini’ set which has a split ring tip, and a larger pistol-grip pair for releasing fish from a distance. Given my proclivity for catching hardhead catfish, the latter is on the Father’s Day Present List. The 7” pliers were easy to use, gripped small items securely and made it possible to open and close swivels with ease. I cannot recommend them more highly, but I’d also invest a few dollars in a retractable lanyard rather than the extra piece of braided line I used to attach them to the lifejacket.

All in all, we had a fantastic time. George Young could not have been any more patient and instructive. Every piece of fishing equipment functioned exactly as expected. The only real equipment problem occurred at the end when I suddenly found that I no longer owned a matched set of Carbonlite rods and Offshore Angler reels. Apparently I own one and my daughter who caught not only her first speckled trout, but also her first flounder and first redfish (her first Texas Slam!), owns the other. How did I do you ask? It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words so I’ll just let the last photo of the day do my bragging.

To reach George Young of Texas Coastal Kayak, call 713 501 0636, and check out their website at

For more information about the products listed in this article, view them online at BassPro.Com.




Warmer weather means more Fishing!

Last month, I featured a blog about camping posted on February 15th. This month, I will move into our fishing department. Now, for those of you who have not been to visit our store, fishing is the department to see! It covers the whole back half of the downstairs area of the store. It is one of the largest departments with a lot of product to see. I will try to highlight a few.

fishing poleBass Pro Shop's fishing department carries a vast variety of rods, reels, and combos to choose from. Your reel selection includes types such as baitcasting, spinning, spincasting, and saltwater fishing reels. We also offer center pin & mooching reels, as well as, line counter reels. You will find great name brands in our department such as Shimano, Abu Garcia, Quantum, Zebco, Browning, and Shakespeare. You can partner these reels with rods such as casting rods, spinning rods, and saltwater fishing rods. If you are looking for combos, Bass Pro Shops fishing department carries baitcasting, ice fishing, saltwater, spin casting, and spinning combos. You'll find a great selection including Johnny Morris' signature series and the Johnny Morris' CarbonLite series.



Our fishing department has one of the largest selections of lures available to the public. Our lure selection includes soft baits, hard bits, buzzbait, and spinner baits. We also have saltwater lures, for those offshore fishers. If you are looking for a specific bass jig, catfish, and carp bait, we have what you are looking for. The fishing department offers lure kits, panfish baits, and spoons. These lures are available in a variety of name brands from practically A to Z. A few of the more known brands that we carry include: Strike King, Zoom, Rapala, Yum, Berkley (including Berkely Gulp!, and Gulp Alive!) and Booyah. If there is a specific lure you are looking for, look no further because our Bass Pro Shops fishing department is sure to have it.


fishing holder

Bass Pro Shops fishing department also carries an array of fishing accessories. We have a variety of rod and reel accessories that include rod racks (available in vertical, horizontal, wall mounting, or floor styles), rod socks, reel oil, even an emergency rod tip repair kit, just to name a few. We also carry a wide variety of fillet knives and accessories. These accessories include folding processing tables, knife sharpeners, fish scalers, fish skinners, and fillet boards. Don't forget to check out the selection of tools, pliers, and gaffs. We have everything that you need to have a successful fishing trip. Make sure you pick up your maps, charts, nets, and lights, while you are here. 


fishing hooks

Once you have decided on your rod/reel set up, you must stock up on the terminal tackle for your tackle box. Our fishing department has more tackle than one person can imagine. We offer a nice selection of fishing lines, leaders, fishing hooks, floats, and sinkers. Our terminal tackle also includes jig heads, fish attractants, tackle rigs and components. Our terminal tackle is available in a variety of sizes and colors, depending on your fishing needs. Make sure you fill your tackle box up with a little bit of all of it. You never know if your fishing excursions will be daytime or night., or if they will be short-lived or all-nighters. It never hurts to have extra supplies for those fishing trips.  


fly fishing

For those who are fans of fly fishing, we didn't forget about you! Bass Pro Shops has their very own White River Fly Shop located just inside the fishing department within the store. We carry name brands from A to Z when it comes to the types of fly rods we have available. Some of those brands include White River Fly Shop, World Wide Sportsman, and Orvis. There truly are too many to mention. We have a multitude of fly lines, leaders, and tippets to choose from in our fly shop. Our accessories include maps, DVDs, tackle boxes, and flies. We have an endless selection of flies to choose from. Whether you are fishing for bass, panfish, pike/muskie, salmon/steelhead, saltwater/inshore, saltwater/offshore, or trout, our Whiter River Fly Shop is sure to have exactly what you need.


While you are in Bass Pro Shops visiting the fishing department, don't forget to browse through the saltwater fishing area or check out the tackle boxes and bags. Maybe even stop by the reel counter and get some great fishing tips/advice from our knowledgeable associates. Once your fishing destination and equipment has been decided upon, don't leave without checking out the waders, sunglasses, and rain gear. These last few items will ensure a great fishing trip no matter what time of the year or what the weather may hold for you. Most of all... get out and get fishing!

catching fish


To check out these products and more, go to










Friday, March 8 – One Day Only Specials at our 2013 Spring Fishing Classic!

To get you ready for the season, we’ve added some daily specials to our already fabulous sale!

The following specials are available in-store, on Friday March 8 only!Sage 1650 Series Fly Reel

Save $20Sage 1650 or 1680  Series Fly Reels    $79. (Reg. $99)     Limit 2
Unbeatable Quality and Price!

~1650 for 4-6 wt. lines
~1680 for 7-9 wt. lines


Offering incredible performance the Sage 1600 Fly Reel series features light, all-aluminum construction, and are equipped with a large-arbor quick-release spool change and premium sealed graphite drag system. Innovative floating tripod drag gives you smooth startup, consistency and the power you'd expect from a reel costing three times as much.

Averaging 5 out of 5 consumer review stars!

divider  bar

 Lowrance® Mark-5X Pro  $119.97 (Reg. $159.99 each) Limit 2Lowrance Mark 5x Pro Fishfinder

~ 5" 480x480 16-level gray-scale display
~ Dual-frequency 83/200 kHz Skimmer® transom-mount transducer Up to 120° of wider sonar coverage
~ 300 Watts RMS; 2400 Watts Peak-to-Peak
~ Depth to 1,000' special purchase only and not available online
~ Optimized automatic mode for high-performance out-of-the-box fish finding
~ Sealed and waterproof—suitable for saltwater use
~ Simpler menu text and icons
~ BackTrack™ tool
~ New keypad design for smooth one-hand control
~Save $40 Easy on and off

The Lowrance® Mark-5x Pro Fishfinder is perfect for any angler who doesn't want to spend a bundle to make the leap from an entry-level finder to a pro-caliber finder. Optimized with automatic mode for high-performance finding with turn-on-and-fish ease, the Mark-5x Pro Fishfinder is designed with a high-resolution 5'', 480 x 480 pixel Film SuperTwist LCD that maximizes visibility, target detail and separation even in direct sunlight. The adjustable, bright-white LED screen and keypad backlight make for simple viewing, day or night. The dual-frequency 83/200 kHz Skimmer® transom-mount transducer with internal temp sensor provides wider sonar coverage, while the powerful 300W RMS sounder finds fish to 1,000'. In addition to the easy-to-view monochrome display and wide sonar coverage, the Mark-5x Pro Fishfinder also features simpler menu text and icons including Advanced User Mode, a new keypad fLowest Price Ever on bestselling 5" Unit!or smooth one-hand control and a unique BackTrack™ tool that allows you to immediately scroll-back to review multiple pages of sonar history. Plus, the Mark-5x Pro offers a new case/mounting design for simpler installation and easy one-hand tilt/swivel view adjustment, removal and re-install. Size: 5.4'' H x 6.9'' W x 2.5'' D. One-year warranty.

New uniplug 1/4-turn connectors are compatible with earlier Lowrance® and Eagle® uniplug installations to simplify upgrades.

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XPS Micro SpinXPS Micro Spin  $1 ! (Reg. $2.69 each) Limit 12

XPS Micros~ Intricate, textured scale pattern
~ Holographic lazer tape
~ Hand-tied hair skirt
~ Glass eyes
~ Willow blade
~ Mustad® hook

Bass Pro Shops Lazer Eye Micro Spin is one incredible lure! Our 10-step manufacturing process creates an intricate, textured scale pattern, enhanced with unique holographic lazer tape plus a hand-tied hair skirt for increased attraction. Glass eyes add realism; a Mustad treble hook provides a solid hookset.


Bass Pro Shops, East Peoria, IL

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Products you must have in 2013

A new year means more new fishing gear to buy. This past weekend I enjoyed some down time and got a chance to sit in front of the fireplace and review the latest Bass Pro Shops Master Catalog and locate some of the other hot items for fishing online. Now is the perfect time to get your shopping list prepared for new gear coming out later in 2013. More than anything, I want my readers to be ready to catch more fish using quality products. So over the next few paragraphs I will mention some of the excited gear coming to a tackle store near you very soon.





Bass Pro Shops Bionic Blade XPS Micro Guide Trigger Rods are engineered for sensitivity and feature Pacific Bay Micro Guides for smooth casting and virtually friction-free line flow. This is the latest entry in the fishing rod class with micro guides. The revolutionary IM8 blank is created with our innovative ArmorCore Technology, which is a stronger than steel aramid fiber core that is wrapped with ultra-light IM8 graphite to make this one of the most powerful, lightweight rods you'll ever fish. EVA split grips add to your control and fishing comfort. The casting rod comes in two distinct lengths and three different actions. This is a quality product with a good price. Suggest Retail $79.99






Professional Angler and Bassmaster Classic champion Kevin VanDam has spent close to two years designing and testing the new Strike King KVD Slash Jerkbait. It’s unlike any jerkbait on the market with a crazy, wilder action than any other jerkbait Kevin has ever fished, and I believe fish will choke on this bait! This bait has a really wide side-to-side travel on the jerk from the angler, and it also has a lot of erratic wiggling and darting action. A weight transfer system means an angler can cast it a mile. The  3D eyes and an incredible detailing. The smaller 200-size features two super sharp treble hooks, while the larger 300-size features three treble hooks for maximum hook-ups. Available in a wide range of colors handpicked by KVD. The suggested retail is $9.29






Costa Sunglasses rings in the New Year and its 30th anniversary – early with the introduction of three styles from its 2013 collection: Tuna Alley, Saltbreak and Cat Cay. Each of the brand new is part of Costa’s core performance sunglass category, with signature features such as a nearly indestructible co-molded injected nylon frame construction, sturdy integral hinges and a lifetime warranty against manufacturer’s defects. I really like the look of the newest Saltbreak style for the fisherman or woman. These sunglasses provide a large frame fit with performance features such as a no-slip interior lining and temple tips for a “forget-they are-on” fit. It’s available in tortoise, matte black, silver, white and the new blackout frame colors, and retails starting at $179.





This new Shag Proof Poppin’ Phattie was designed by Bassmaster Elite Series Pro Angler, Ish Monroe. The Poppin' Phattie is the ultimate popping frog! Its unique double concave face allows it to pop and spray water everywhere, generating explosive strikes. Featuring ITT - Snag Proof’s Inner Tube Technology, a separate tube for the hook and line-tie keeps water out and makes the Poppin’ Phattie virtually unsinkable. The bait weighs 5/8oz, and it casts very well - even on windy days. Its legs are arranged farther back to facilitate better hook-sets from its super sharp Gamakatsu 4/0 EWG frog hook. This bait is available in six different colors. Snag Proof's baits are proudly made in the USA! The suggested retail price is $9.95.





 Vicious fishing line is taking a leap into the saltwater business in 2013 with the new Vicious Offshore. This line is built with the same A.C.T.™ characteristics as their Ultimate fishing line, but with big fish and saltwater conditions in mind. The Vicious Offshore is manufactured for the die-hard saltwater enthusiast. Advanced Copolymer Technology (A.C.T.)™ will stand the test of time. Utilizing more than 30 years experience in the line business, ACT formulation means dependability. Built with high-tensile strength, very low stretch, superior knot strength, excellent castibility and ultimate impact characteristics make this line top-notch by any standard. A must have if you are looking for a heavy and super-strong line. The line comes in ¼ lb spools in sizes 20lb. to 50lb. test. The suggested retail price is $8.99




 Stanford Lure's new cedar topwater Turbo Shad lure has almost complete neutral buoyancy. This brand new topwater lure has the edge over most other floating top waters. This spectacular topwater lure resembles a wounded bait fish. When you go to twitch this top water bait through the water, the Turbo Shad displaces water to either side with both props, and it provides a proven fish catching sound. Once the bait returns to a stationary position, the Turbo Shad will sit slightly back on the tail end to ensure better hook ups and reveal the enticing profile of a wounded shad or bream, when pulled, the heavy-duty props on both ends of the Turbo Shad will be sure to call up all bass from any depth and produce some of the most violent topwater strikes you have ever seen! The bait weights: 0.63 Ounces and come in 4 different colors. The suggested retail price is $17.99.





Bass Pro Shops has totally re-conceived the Bionic Plus Baitcast Reel; which feature a rock-solid all-aluminum frame and a white finish. They have also added their proven, externally adjustable Smart Cast anti-backlash system, which allows you to modify settings at the beginning and the end of the cast which virtually eliminate backlashes! Another features include a smooth six-bearing system; Powerlock instant anti-reverse; forged, double-anodized aluminum V-grooved spool; smooth - powerful drag system; comfortable ribbed grips; a recurve handle, and drag star. I am excited to test this reel very soon. The suggested retail price is $79.99


Lake Lanier's fishing guide and Pro Angler Ryan Coleman now owns SpotSticker Baits and is introducing a new Football Head jighead in 2013. The Pro Series now includes Football Stand-Up Heads with screw-type soft plastic keepers. These heads feature the same ultra-tough powder coating and premium Mustad 4/0 hook as our Ball Head SpotSticker jig heads. The Pro Series Football Heads are currently available in Green Pumpkin and Black. Choose from 1/8, 3/16, or 1/4 oz in packs of 5. You can locate this product at: The suggested retail price is $4.99 for a 5 pack






This is my favorite hook when flipping baits into the heavy cover.  Bassmaster Elite Angler Greg Hackney has helped The Strike King design the Hack Attack Heavy Cover Flipping Hook. This bad boy is super sharp, super tough, black nickel Gamakatsu Siwash hook made exclusively for Strike King. Its line eye is sealed closed, so your tough braided line won’t slip out, and its injection molded rebarb keeper holds your bait in the proper position even when pulled by the heavy cover. A big wide gap throat of the hook offers plenty of bite for good strong hook set, yet is compact enough to accommodate smaller creature baits. Use it with heavy rods and strong line, the Strike King Hack Attack Heavy Cover Flipping Hook has what it takes to consistently get giants out of heavy cover. The hook comes in 3 large sizes 4/0, 5/0 & 6/0 with 5 per pack.  The suggested retail price is $7.49.






Our friends at Chaser Fishing Products have the latest/greatest item for the crappie fishing folks; a fully rigged (Umbrella Style Bait) aka the CC-Rig that comes with your choice of jig size and color, as well as a painted head of the rig. The CC Rig has now struck stardom in the Crappie world. Customers have reported catching multiple fish at a time on these umbrella rig style baits. You can use them trolling, casting and jigging. They come with your choice of 10 different jig colors to choose from. I would recommend first trying the "Rainbow" rig. This rig comes with 7 different colored jigs. After trolling this Rainbow rig, you will determine what color jig is the color they want to eat that day. You can locate this product at: The suggested retail price is  $19.99.






Finally, a company has come out with a quality box to hold the Alabama Rigs. Designed to securely hold the Rigs, the Alabama Rig Box from Plano was created using Plano's Stowaway 3700 footprint. The box will hold four rigs in individual compartments and can be used with any Plano Guide Series or FTO Elite tackle system that holds 3700 series Stowaways. Constructed from sturdy, clear polypropylene with ProLatch fasteners, the Alabama Rig Box features two unique and adjustable dividers protect and organizing your Alabama Rigs. The first is the V-channel leader slot that clips firmly to the top of the rig. The second is a patented star channel that collects and secures the rig's wire arms for multi-arm rigs, without bending or crimping them. The suggested retail price is $7.99.






Everyone has been asking, “When is Lowrance coming out with a more affordable down scan unit with a big screen?” Well, they did it with the new Elite 7 x HDI Fishfinder. This is a highly reliable navigation unit that is very easy to use. The Lowrance Elite-7x HDI Fishfinder features a Broadband Sounder™ (83/200 kHz) plus DownScan Imaging for depths to 1,000 feet. DownScan Imaging signal features a maximum depth capability of 300 feet. The Elite-7 Combo boasts a 70% larger Elite Color 7" display for brilliant, wide screen visibility and viewing detail in all conditions. A multi-window display capability lets you choose split-screen mode or single wide-screen view. Broadband Sonar is ideal for marking fish arches. DownScan Imaging reveals easy-to-understand, picture like detail about the structure and the bottom. Now you can even overlay DownScan Imaging onto Broadband Sounder display for one stunning view that will separate and clearly expose your fish targets from the surrounding structure. Save time and fuel by using the Elite-7's TrackBack into Sonar History to review covered areas and pinpoint spots. The suggested retail price is $549.99





 There is a new look for a great product for cleaning your GPS and sonar units in 2013. The safest and effective way to clean and protect your expensive marine electronics, sunglasses, digital notebooks, smart phones and televisions is by using Wave Away. The Wave Away solution easily removes dust, fingerprints and water spots without harming screens. The spray bottle contains enough of the cleaner for approximately 500 applications. Each kit includes the cleaning solution and a 12"L x 12"W microfiber cloth. Using general-purpose cleaners or window cleaners isn't recommended for LCD screens because alcohol or ammonia-based formula cleaners, and harsh detergents strip off the protective surface and scratch your display over time. The Wave Away Sonar and GPS Screen Cleaner is specially formulated to clean and protect LCD screens. Not only is it alcohol and ammonia free, but it is designed to stick where it's sprayed - resisting dripping into sensitive electronics, which can cause permanent damage or failures. The suggested retail price is  $14.95.




The latest tackle system is now available from Bass Pro Shops in the all new “Freestyle Satchels”. The Freestyle Satchel features an interlocking handle for secure storage, a padded shoulder strap, plus two side tool holders and additional front storage for personal items. The Freestyle gear bags also feature two side pockets for more storage, and will hold up to three utility boxes. This soft tackle bag is crafted of rugged, 600-denier polyester backed with a PVC coating. The Freestyle Satchels has two models to choose from, and they will hold up to three Plano 3600 or 3700 utility boxes. The suggested retail price is $19.99.


I hope my list of new products excites you for the future. In 2013, one of my resolutions was to take my wife fishing more. Don’t use the excuse your wife does not fish; she will if she has fun doing it. Make it a weekend outing of more than fishing. If you don’t have a wife, take a kid fishing. Trust me that will make you a better person! So let’s get excited and get outdoors, it's only 60 days until spring.






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


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The wait is worth it! Red Drum Citation!

Working here in the store, I talk to a lot of customers on a day to day basis, and I hear a lot of stories of frustration.  The ones about fishing all day and catching nothing, the one that broke off, terrible conditions at fault, the “should have been there the day before” syndrome,  the list goes on and on and I’ve heard them all.  Now through my fishing “career”, I’ve caught many different types fish, fresh and saltwater, and I can promise you, it has been absolutely FULL of these moments.  There have been so many that I can’t possibly recall all of them.  But,  I would like to share with you my most recent fishing trip, where lots of time and effort finally paid off, and I reached one of the highlights in my angling career.  Enjoy!

I woke up bright and early on Monday morning, the 8th of October…. Okay, I’m not going to lie, it was more like 10:30; I was on vacation after all!  It was the last full day of my dad and I’s annual fishing trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. 

I am a dedicated pier fisherman, and I enjoy fishing from several of the pier’s on our coast for different species at different times of the year, but early October on the northern Outer Banks means only one thing to me.  Red Drum.  Big ones.  Now let me go ahead and say that, while over the past 5 years, for 4 days each October, I dedicate myself to the confines of the end of a pier, throwing a heavy weight and a piece of bait on a long surf rod, trying to catch one of these large fish (between 40 and 50 inches is the norm).  Over those 5 years, I would not be exaggerating if I told you that I have logged well over 100 hours trying to accomplish this, and up until Monday the 8th, I had yet to even hook one, much less put one on the deck.  I’ve caught plenty of redfish, from under-slot-limit fish on up to 36 or 37 inches, but none over 40, and none from the end of a pier.  It hasn’t been for lack of trying though. 

Now here comes the aggravating part…..  One particular situation from early in this journey comes to mind when I couldn’t quite cast far enough; longer casters were catching fish, short casters weren’t.  There have been a couple times when as soon as I showed up, the bite quit, and when I got home 4 days later, I checked that day’s report and the bite started back up.  Other times, it’s been the weather and water temperatures not being right, or good conditions and the bait fish not being there, so on and so forth.   I’ve got the right tackle, I’m fishing the right places, put up with and fished through some less-than-desirable conditions (from too nice of weather to weather conditions where I think the pier was only staying open cause I was dumb enough to stay out there); I’m doing everything right, but as the phrase of frustration goes, “There’s always something”.  None the less, my quest has brought me back to the same piers over and over, and I’ve kept coming back for more, despite my lack of success. Well as fortune would have it, the fish-god’s, Poseidon, the Kraken, or what-ever forces control the luck of pier and surf fishermen everywhere, were on my side this day. 

As I said, it was 10:30, and I woke up, and the first thing I did was check the early morning fishing reports.  A pier north of us, just the day before had caught and released 30 drum the previous day, and not surprisingly, a continuous north east wind and put the fish on fire, and they were chewing the end of the pier off with 50 of the beasts caught before 10.  Now a hot drum bite means a crowded end of the pier, and from first-hand accounts, there were close to 50 rods resting on the end of that pier, and that is just something that I don’t want to deal with.  With the conditions being as good as I’d ever seen (Wind direction was right, water temperature was right, bait and some current moving. It was perfect), I was confident, and pepped my step up and got on over to the pier I was fishing.  When I got to the end, a fellow drum fisherman, who I have fished with over the past several years, promptly said “You’re late buddy.  I caught a 48” fish at around 8:30, and another guy lost one at the net”.  This was very promising, because for the past 3 days, we hadn’t seen any drum, just big butterfly rays.  So, I rigged up my first rod, baited up with a fresh spot head (been in the cooler only 20 minutes, thanks to dad), and heaved it out against the 15 mph northeast winds.  I got my second rod rigged up, baited up, made my cast, and immediately back-lashed my reel into one of those all too familar birds nest looking things you usually see on a dune.  A backlash in this type of fishing means getting out a sharp knife, and start cutting (there’s no picking these out!).  After a brief pause to man my rod while 2 drum were caught, I got my second rod under control, I re-rigged, re-baited, and successfully re-cast. 

I leaned myself on the rail next to the rod I cast first, and stood there to wait.  I didn’t wait long, and the bait-clicker on my reel started to slowly creep out, then accelerated to a blistering scream!  Adrenaline kicked in and I picked up my rod, thumbed the spool, pumped the rod, turned the clicker off, and tightened the drag, all in same instant.  Fish on!!  He immediately ran probably 30 yards of line out, and I felt that distinct head shake that lets you know what ever you’ve hook has a head and a tail and is not a big ray.  But I’m not entirely convinced yet.  My past luck has consisted of sharks, and I wasn’t going to jump to conclusions before I saw it.  The fish headed south, so I made my way to the south side of the pier, going over and under other lines and rods as needed, and fought the fish, unobstructed, on the south corner.  All the while, I kept my eye on where the line entered the water a 100 yards or so out, looking for confirmation.  A minute or so later, I saw that copper-bronze color I was looking for (queue angelic music), and my first red drum was coming to the pier.  As I got the fish to the pier, a fellow angler lowered the large drop-net, I guided the fish in head-first, and a few seconds later, my first citation-sized red drum hit the pier deck.  A beautiful 45.5” fish!  After getting the measurements and a few quick photos, the fish was lowered to back to water in the net, and swam away, no worse for the wear.

Red Drum

  As customary, I shook the hand of the guy who netted my fish and got re-baited.  I threw another long cast, and as I tightened up on my line in preparation to prop it on the rail again, there was a very distinct tug on the rod and the drag started peeling out.  I’m hooked up again!!  Well, to fit the rest of an afternoon into a blog it won’t take you hours to read,  I went to catch 3 more for a total of 5 for the day, and the pier total for a dozen or so guys was 42 fish.  At the end of the day, I filled out my citation forms at the pier house, and I am now waiting for the certificates from the NCDMF.


So, if there is one thing that I have learned from this, one piece of advice that I can give to any fisherman who maybe struggling or striking out in their attempts to catch their fish of a lifetime, it is to not give up and never get discouraged.   Try to learn something every time you go out.  Pay your dues, put in the time and effort, and you absolutely will be rewarded.

Thats why they call it fishing!

~ Keith Scott





Braided Fishing Line Tips

There are many different types of fishing line that you can use for fishing. The most commonly used types are Monofilament, Fluorocarbon, Braid, Lead core, and Dacron. Each is used for a different situation. For example, one that is fishing for Trout can use a 2 to 8 pound test in monofilament line to bring in the catch of the day, but an angler trolling in search of a fighting Striped Bass or King Salmon would want a 50-65 pound braided line to ensure maximum strength and line capacity for their reel in case the fish decides to take a run. If braid is a line that fits your fishing adventures take a look at some new products available for you at your nearest Bass Pro Shops®

Bass Pro Shops® Xps® 8 Advanced Braid- Provides optimum knot strength, abrasion resistance and casting distance.  It is constructed of 8 Dyneema® fibers, making the line exceptionally round and smooth.  This also gives it a small diameter, while still remaining strong, quiet, and offering enhanced color protection.

Uses- Saltwater, Freshwater, Trolling, Casting, Floating Line, or Heavy Duty Fishing.

PowerPro Braid- High performance Spectra® braid handles just like regular monofilament, but with one of the highest strength to diameter ratios available!  Enhanced body technology™ delivers a compact, abrasion resistant line with a smooth surface texture and virtually no spool memory. Near zero stretch for an awesome feel!

Uses- Saltwater, Freshwater, Trolling, Casting, Floating Line, or Heavy Duty Fishing

PowerPro Super 8 Slick Braid- The most exceptional braid yet from Power Pro! Built for the advanced angler, but also ideal for the first time braid users due to its user friendly design. 8 Spectra® fibers are braided under high tension to deliver extreme strength and castability, reduced friction, improved roundness, and better over all line management. Passes almost silently through rod guides. The bottom photo shows The original PowerPro Braid(Top Spool) and the new and improved formula PowerPro Super 8 Slick Braid (Bottom Spool).

 Uses- Saltwater, Freshwater, Trolling, Casting, Floating Line, Heavy Duty Fishing, or for a smaller diameter braid.

pp Comparison

Juan Ramirez

Bass Pro Shops®

Fishing Associate

Store 49 




BPS Cincy Christmas Wish List Item #5: BPS Rolling Rod and Round Floor Racks

Our fifth entry in our Christmas Wish list will help keep your fishing tackle organized. And, hopefully make your "honey dew" list a little smaller:

Jumbled Up Rods

Does your significant other store their fishing equipment like this? Tired of trying to untangle this mess? Show them your holiday spirit and help them get out of the doghouse with our Bass Pro Shops rolling and stationary rod holders.

rolling rod rack

Constructed from solid hardwoods with an oak finish, Bass Pro Shops® Rolling Rod Carts make organization—and short-distance transportation—virtually effortless. Standard (38-1/2"H x 26"W x 11"D) holds up to 16 rod-and-reel combos; Large version (42"H x 30"W x 11"D) also holds up to 16 combos, but with more space for oversized saltwater combos that require extra room.

  • Solid hardwoods with an oak finish
  • Holds up to 16 rod-and-reel combos
  • Large version has more space for oversized saltwater combos




Round Floor RackThe rustic look of oak in a durable and attractive veneer finish highlight our Bass Pro Shops Round Floor Rack. Holds up to 16 rods   or rod and reel combos in secure comfort; soft rubber grippers for the rod blank eliminate the possibility of damage. 30"H x 14"D. Easy to assemble.

  • Rustic look of oak
  • Holds up to 16 rods or rod and reel combos
  • Soft rubber grippers for the rod blank
  • 14" diameter


You never know when the magic's going to happen.  Full moon, neap tide . . . it just didn't matter on September 29th.  We rounded Ft. Pickens Point looking for FA (false albacore . . . aka bonito) and hit incredibly clear, blue-turquoise water like you don't usually find around here until winter.  We headed out toward the "Mass" (the sunken ship, Massachusetts) and saw a large congregation of birds including pelicans over a school of fish east of buoy #4.  It looked like a mix of Spanish and albies, but there were some big explosions in the mix which I took for sharks.  My client, Mike Youkee from the UK was ready with a 9wt Sage Xi3, Tibor Everglades, floating line with 10' intermediate "ghost" tip, 20# fluoro tippet, and a #6 clear gummy minnow.

Mike put the fly into the melee, got an immediate take, and the line started screaming off the reel. Hot Dang I thought . . . he'd managed to hook a nice FA out of the middle of all the Spanish.  Mike was "bowed up" in a big way but seemed to have control of the situation, so we just sat there along the edge of the school while he battled the fish.  Then I saw some big fish boiling around the edges of the school but couldn't figure out what they were . . . until one jumped.  Blackfin!  They were all around us.  These were the biggest tunas I've ever had around the boat . . . 20 - 30 pounders, and I grabbed the 10w and started casting like a mad man.  No takes in the first few casts.  Mike was well into the backing fighting his fish, and I realized in all the excitement that I was coming dangerously close to crossing his line.  So I put the 10wt down and concentrated on helping him land his fish which was looking more and more like a blackfin.

Then we saw his fish, and it was definitely a 3' blackfin moving in slow circles around the boat.  The fish couldn't sound because the water was only 25' deep, and Mike played it beautifully within range of the net.  The iridescent lavender color of the fish's back was simply incredible . . . indescribable.  I've never seen anything like it before.  It took two shots, but I eased the net over the magnificent fish's head, grabbed the tail, and lifted it into the boat.  We only kept it out of the water long enough to get the photos and then released it with a head-first thrust and watched it power away.  It was an unforgettable, breathtaking experience for both Mike and me.  I'm hoping the clear "bluewater" will be with us for a while.  If so, the blackfin will stick around and so will the sailfish.  Kayak fishermen are landing both species regularly close to shore just east of the Navarre pier.

The Gulf is absolutely loaded with Spanish mackeral, and these schooling fish are a couple sizes larger than normal.  You'll find them at the Mass and on both sides of the channel.  There are also huge schools of ladyfish close to shore both east and west of the pass.  I think they stack up better on outgoing water.  We spent some time in a big school a few days ago and landed some real monsters (for ladyfish) . . . up to 4#.  That was on spinning tackle, but man, what fun on a 6wt!

The false albacore are as unpredictable as always.  We found them numerous times during the month on spin-fishing trips, but they always seem to be AWOL on my fly fishing charters.  I think they're a little farther offshore at the moment, but they'll be moving in as the water temperature drops in October.  The bull reds are starting to show up occasionally in the Gulf.  A buddy of mine called one day last week while hooked up in a school of a "thousand redfish" (his words) just south of buoys 3 & 4.  He was so excited he could hardly talk, and I could hear the reel screaming in the background.  He told me later that while he was fighting his fish the school drifted down and out of sight.  Never could find them again.  That's a pretty good disappearing act for a thousand redfish.  I've also heard of schools of big reds under bait balls between the Perdido Bay condos and Alabama Pass.  Later in October the millions of baitfish in Pensacola Bay will start migrating to the gulf.  There will be a time when their scent travels with the outgoing currents into the Gulf, and the annual "Running of the Bulls" will commence.  It's time to get your 10wts ready . . . one with a sinking line and the other with a floater.  I think it's going to happen early this year. 


Captain Baz Yelverton

Gulf Breeze Guide Service

Gulf Breeze, Fl  32561-0251

For all your saltwater inshore and offshore tackle needs come by Bass Pro Shops.


“Kicking Fish Tail Since 1956” by Capt Judy Helmey


It’s time to sign up!!

Our newly revised inshore handout material is going to be considered “priceless!”  We are going to give you the best times to fish for what, when, and where for the entire year of 2013.

Any inshore fisherman that is considering going offshore they need to attend my offshore class.  For more details scroll down …

Two Inshore Schools

Saturday February 9 2013

Saturday February 23, 2013

One Offshore School

Saturday March 9, 2013

Time: 8:00AM – 2:00 PM

Place: Tubby’s Tank House 2909 River Drive, Thunderbolt, Georgia 31404

Cost: $90.00 (included one day class, breakfast, and lunch)

Please call 912 897 4921 now for reservations

Please sign up as soon as possible!  There is limited entry!

Capt Judy’s email

Capt Judy’s Cell 912 429 7671

For more detailed information go to OR GIVE US A CALL 912 897 4921


 Inshore fishing just got really interesting!!

Captain Alan’s Red Fish Corner

Captain Alan Collins of Miss Judy Charters along with his customers has had a great inshore catching month.

Wilmington Island Autoplex fishing team

Captain Alan Collins of Miss Judy Charters and the Wilmington Island Autoplex fishing team!!

Saltwater Catfish Oh My!!

Salt water Catfish

Captain Alan Collins is holding up a nice and live saltwater catfish, which was caught while floating fishing for spotted sea trout.  Believe this or not, but over the 20 years we haven’t caught many of these fish.  Before this time we used to catch lots of catfish, then one day none.  My father said, “Some sort of vises must have killed them off!”  Well, it looks like slowly but surely they seem to be making a come back…this fish was released alive and kicking!!

Big fish catching smiles!

 Please meet Skylar Wellington  and Jocelyn Dundisky 

Spotted Trout and Red Fish

Skylar Wellington holding a nice 22 inch spotted sea trout and Jocelyn Dundisky holding a nice 17 inch red fish.  This catching duo didn’t stop with these two fish. they also caught several others biters!!

Captain Ray Crawley Trophy Red Fish Catching Man

The Terry Hubbard family fishing team

The Terry Hubbard family fishing team

 Captain Ray Crawley of Miss Judy Charters also known as the “Trophy Red Fish Man” took the Hubbard fishing team to a line stretching event.  As you can see they kept a few and release a whole lot!!

Two reds and Captain Ray’s fish catching smile!

2 Reds

 Captain Ray Crawley certainly knows how to find the red fish bite.  His secret is a simple one ..and it goes like this…you have to think and eat like a red fish to catch them…so therefore when he not fishing he thinking!!  It time to go inshore fishing!!

Dennis Johnson fishing team

Captain Ray Crawley of Miss Judy Charters and Dennis Johnson fishing team.  While inshore fishing with Captain Ray they caught fought, kept a few, and release many trophy red fish!

Artificial Reefs

It’s time to go!!

Summer Trout are back!!

Summer Trout

Captain Kathy Brown of Miss Judy Charters is holding up a nice summer trout also knows as a weak fish.  When the water temperature got a warm 82 degrees these fish basically left the artificial reefs for parts unknown.  However, here’s the good news…the water temperature is teeter toddle ring between 79 and 80 degrees.  With that small fall in water temperature the summer trout are back.  Our inshore captains have also been catching quite a few really nice size fish inshore while fishing on the bottom in the sound area. 

Savannah Snapper Banks


Please meet Tybee Island’s newest fishing team.  Captain “Triple Trouble” Steve Howell has fished with me (Captain Judy) for many years and has always talked about getting a team together.  Well, on Sunday September 23, 2012 it all came together, the team and the fish!


Captain “Triple Trouble” Steve Howell is holding a nice gag grouper, which he caught while bottom fishing over a “Topless Tunnel” located at the Savannah Snapper Banks. Back row left to right: Captain Bob “Big Fish” Rothman, Captain Frank “Snapper Man” Murray, and Captain Kathy “Hubba- Hubba Cotton Top” Brown of Miss Judy Charters.

Red Snapper

Captain Bob “Big Fish Rotham” holding his fine specimen of a genuine red snapper and Captain Kathy Brown of Miss Judy Charters.  Captain Bob’s snapper inhaled the first peeler crab that was dropped on the first spot.

On the deck at the wreck!

Our first stop was a secret spot that not only were we aware of it, but also the fish.  On the bottom near the wreck were red snapper, porgy, and vermilion.  In the upper water column there were numerous schools of banded rudder fish, almaco jack, little tunny, skip jack, and amberjack.  With a full packed fish stadium Captain Steve went into the jigging mode, stayed hooked up, and had a blast reeling in fish.  Captain Bob and Captain Frank used what we called a “bottom fish cocktail” as bait.  The definition of this type of bait is small pieces of squid, cut bait, and topped off with a live fish. I know this sound like a lot of bait on one hook, but it’s not.  The reason being is the live bait gets the fish’s attention and if the hook doesn’t get them on the first attack the leftovers will most always bring them back.  For about one hour the team caught, fought, and landed fish. Captain Bob and Captain Frank dropped, set the hooked, reeled the fish in, were re-baited, they dropped back to the bottom, hooked up, reeled fish in, and I think you get the just of what happened at the old wreck. There is a strange thing that happens after you fish one area such as this for a while and that’s the fish tend to scatter.  When this happens this is your sign that it’s time to move on to the next catching adventure and that’s exactly what we did.

Our bottom works

While Captain Kathy was getting the back deck in order I did a little looking and seeing.  It’s my belief that the bottom in our area isn’t so cut and dry meaning you really don’t have to find a wreck or a ledge to get the best opportunity to catch some quality fish.  Now don’t get me wrong a ledge or wreck does definitely hold the attentions of all fish from upper to lower holding species. And you can see it very plainly with your fish finder.  However, there is more to look for when it comes to scouting our bottom. 

Ditches also known as Topless Tunnels

Yes, there is more to look for than the obvious wrecks and ledges.  These are special areas that I call ditches and sometimes refer to as “topless tunnels.”  These areas are located on what looks like a flat lifeless bottom.  There is a secret as well as a chance for finding these areas.  The secret is to know that there is a possibility that they can be anywhere on the ocean bottom.   The chance is that those fish that live in it happen to be out of the ditch when you ride over it.  When I see a flat bottom area, which shows absolutely no bottom life I watch out for any sort of bottom detail such as small bait fish hovering or a single large fish moving.  I have my fish finder set up so that I can zoom right to the bottom, which offers quite a bite of detail.  However, with anything detailed such as this you have to know what you are looking at.  In my case it’s using the same style fish finder for over 20 years.  

Red Snapper

On April 18, 2012 Captain Frank, “Snapper Man” Murray fished with Captain Triple Trouble Steve at the Savannah Snapper banks. He is holding a nice genuine red snapper, which he caught while using a live ruby red lips.  Captain Frank’s main goal is to catch a MAHI MAHI!   My main goal is to see that this happens!!!  And the best thing is we still got time!!

With my thoughts of finding more fish in mind I started slowly making way while looking for a particular bottom detail.  Just as I have hundreds and maybe thousands of times over my past 50 years of fishing and as luck would have it “there was this one fish.”  I quickly wrote coordinates down, screamed bait the hooks, and get ready.  As I made a turned back up current of the area I was excited about what I had found.  When the hooks hit the bottom big strong hook ups happened!!  We caught everything from trigger fish, porgy, white grunts, and vermilion snapper.  And I almost forget to mention that one big fish that was swimming near the bottom that turned my head.   Whether or not this was the big fish, but Captain “Triple Trouble Steve did catch a big gag grouper.  And this is why I love fishing so much, because you really never know what is going to bite your hook when!!  However, with years of knowledge and real fishermen that can fish I really don’t know how any of us in the Tybee Fishing Team can go wrong!!  GO TEAM TYBEE!!

Best fishing for grouper is yet to come

October through December!

With ocean temperatures on the drop these fish are making way.  When a fish moves it’s got to eat.  This big gag inhaled a large live vermillion snapper while bottom fishing in 130 feet of beautiful blue water. 

Gulf Stream Bite

 Bottom fishing and trolling options!

Yes there big grouper  at them there deep water drops!! Give jigging a try, because big bottom fish such as this big grouper are making plans to move!!  And they have already gone into their bulking up mode!!

Gag Grouper

Johnnie Wilson on the E-FISHIN-C with a deli ledge gag grouper.


Thanks for reading!  Captain Judy


Captain Judy's Fishing Report

 Inshore Report

Bottom fishing in the sounds can certainly be interesting!


Shane Hogan of Savannah Georgia and Captain Judy are having a lot of fun holding up his just caught shark.  Shane was plain old bottom fishing when this 4 footer came a calling!!  After the smiles the shark was released to swim once again!!

It’s spotted sea trout time!!

Spotted Sea Trout

Just ask Colby Chapman

Captain Greg Davis of Miss Judy Charter takes Colby Chapman and his father Josh fishing!

Spotted Sea trout

Best tide time to target spotted sea trout, at least for this week is…21/1 hour into the falling tide.  Best baits are going be live shrimp, mud minnows, or finger can serve these baits up under an adjustable float or rig them up with leader and hook only. 

 Ethan Perry goes inshore fishing, which boils down to a “whole lot of CATCHING!”

Black Drum

Ethan Perry is showing off his black drum, which was caught in the Savannah River Area.  This fish chased Ethan’s live shrimp around until big bites happen.  This all boils down to when you go saltwater fishing you really never know what might bite your hook.


Artificial Reefs

Bottom fishing in these areas can be very interesting.  The bottom line is all you have to do is to bait your hook, drop in to the bottom, get ready for a bite, start reeling, and catch your fish!!


Circle hook catch more fish!!

Since we are now using circle hooks when bottom fishing offshore most bites results in a solid hook up!  The only down side to circle hooks is the fact that you can’t set the hook!  The up side is circle hooks means more fish for tomorrow!!

  Reminder:  Circle hook requirement in the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery effective March 3, 2011 (It’s the law and it’s a good thing!!

For more information

Joe Jasmon and Jack Hogan fishing crew!!!


Joe Jasmon and Jack Hogan

I have to tell you it’s amazing what you might catch while fishing at one of Georgia’s near shore artificial reefs.  The group photo proves it too!  All fishermen are holding a nice summer trout also known as a weakfish.  The legal size limit for the summer trout is 13 inches and over.  The bag limit is one per person.  On this particular 6 hour fishing trip we caught 45 legal trout.  The boils down to the fact that we kept 6 fish and release 39 summer trout.  We also caught an assortment of different size black sea bass and trigger fish!  A good day was had by all!!

 July 17, 2012 Tuesday

Fishing at the CCA artificial reef

Chad Kendrick on boat “Always Rollin’s” his son Brennan Jamar, and Austin Grimes headed out for a fun day of fishing!!

King Mackerel Smiles!!

King Mackerel Smiles

Austin Grimes holding very nice king mackerel while Brennan Jamar definitely makes this fishing pictures complete.

While fishing with Captain Chad Kendrick on boat “Always Rollin’” at the CCA artificial reef the crew had a very interesting fish day.  Austin sent me a fishing report, which was very helpful, because it’s loaded with lots of good information as well as some darn good fishing tips.  The team’s first stop was a little east of the Ossabaw Island, which is where they cast the net and caught quite a few pogies.  These baits were quickly put in the live well and off to the east they headed to destination Savannah Snapper Banks.    

With weather conditions to the east it was decided to stop at the CCA artificial to start their fish day.  This is where I was fishing at the time for the exact same reason.  My weather machine was showing lots of scattered, but severe looking clouds with water spout possibilities.  I decided to hold tight and fish right where I stopped, which turned out to be a very good catching thing!

When “Always Rollin’” called me on channel 68, asked about what I thought about the weather?  I told him that I was holding tight at this spot.  

Once we talked we both decided to hang tight at this area.  I was already bottom fishing and was having some pretty good luck with 13 plus inch black sea bass.  Always Rollin after trying a little bit of bottom fishing decided to do some slow trolling, which turned out to be the right decision.  

While in the trolling mode Brennan (Always Rollin) spotted a huge pod of bait fish.  Once putting over the bait they were literally surround by at least 5 different giant pods of baitfish.  According to the report received from Austin, “I’ve never seen that much baitfish holding in one area for so long!”  Austin reported that the different pods stayed on the surface for a good 4 hours.  In my book this is what you would call a “target rich environment!”  It screams, “Fish here,” which they did. 

While working the pods of bait they had plenty of action from the toothy monsters (barracuda).  They then, caught a nice king mackerel, and two nice cobias. 

What did we learn from this great fishing report?

It’s best to always take a cast net on the boat with you when heading offshore, because catching live bait can make your catching day!   Fishing where your see surface bait is always a very good idea.  This is called from a fisherman’s prospective, “thinking like a fish and then catching one!”  It’s always good to consider changing destinations when there are any sort of visible weather concerns. The bottom line is this if you see weather holding to the east, which is where you are headed “just fish” closer, because as you can see that works too!! A big congratulation goes out to Captain Chad Kendrick on boat “Always Rollin” his son Brennan, and Austin Grimes!!

Savannah Snapper Banks

Big bottom fish catching days have arrived!  More next week!!

Gulf Stream Report

The 2012 blue water fishing season has not let us down.  According to bill fish reports from those that know, it has been one of the best years ever!  With that being said, “It’s time to pay the bills some attention!”


Freshies Report


Captain “Uncle Bob” Morrissey doing what he does best, which is catch fish every time he goes fishing!     This is one nice rainbow trout, which was caught at Hauser Lake, Montana on July 18, 2012

Bill Vanderford is “Lake Lanier’s Legend!”

For more about my long time friend Bill Vanderford as well as his accomplishments, his freshwater charter trips or wildlife tours, books written and his special line up of tackle offered, please visit his site for all the details!  For more details go

 Little Miss Judy Believe it or not!!  To be continued next week!!


“Kicking Fish Tail Since 1956”

POB 30771


912 897 4921 912 897 3460 FAX

Captain Judy’s email


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.


Summer Time Fishing In Central Florida

This is Captain Keith Kalbfleisch, Bass Pro Shops-Orlando’s Saltwater ProStaff.  Summer is here, and while it is hot, so is the fishing!  This is the best time of the year to catch big fish here in Central Florida.  On the flats the redfish and trout are active and willing to bite, and on the open ocean there may be chances for tarpon, king mackerel, jack crevalle, and more just off the beaches, while out in the offshore areas you can expand the selection to cobia, dolphin, barracuda and more.

Two areas that are spectacular during the summer are nearshore and inshore on the flats.  Nearshore fishing is fishing along the shorelines of the open ocean form right along the beach to about a mile out.  This is where many of our big fish migrate as they come up the coast on their yearly pilgrimage to eat and grow huge.  The stars of this type of fishing are tarpon, jack crevalle, king mackerel, little tunny, and barracuda, but others will crash the party.  This is often fished in a small boat, using live baits, and the fish can be huge, so it is an exciting and radical fishing!  Here is a jack crevalle caught on my boat, The MTC, this weekend by Jeff Sutton of California.  It is 30 pounds, and one of the meanest fish that swims!

fish 1The typical day nearshore is to catch your live bait (sometimes this is difficult, and others ridiculously easy) then slow-troll the baits behind the boat.  It is “buffet” fishing, since you don’t know what may attack the live bait, but it is exciting when it disappears in a huge swirl and the reel starts screaming!


But if the open ocean is not your thing, or if the weather does not cooperate, then head inshore to the flats where big redfish are waiting!  This is the most popular fishing on our Florida east coast, with calm waters and fun fishing, not to mention a plethora of birds and animals like dolphin and manatees.  And you can catch some big fish.  Here is another picture from this weekend, it is Gene from South Dakota, who is 11 years old with the biggest fish he has caught in his life—we got three this big that day!
fish 2

While it is hot during the summer, you will find it is not really that bad.  The water and breezes keep you comfortable, and if you start out early you can take advantage of the cooler mornings.

I have some great articles on my website,, explaining more about these types of fishing and will help you in your fishing success.

Go catch some big ones!

Capt Keith


First Timer Offshore

I have lived in either the "Low Country" of South Carolina or the Gulf Coast for most of my life.  Because of this, my fishing experience has been a combination of offshore, bay, or bayou fishing.

Adapting to the Central Alabama style of fishing has been challenging for me.  Geographically speaking, Central Alabamians tend to fish for trophy bass in the surrounding lakes.  I have a lot of experience with this having fished Lake Murray and the Santee Cooper in my home state of South Carolina.

Culturally speaking, people who live and fish in the Coastal Carolinas, Lower Alabama or South Louisiana don't really trophy fish, rather they tend to fish for what they like to eat.  This is the subject of this week's blog.

As a fishing associate in the Leeds, AL store, I often get approached by customers who are avid bass anglers and ask me, "I'm going to Gulf Shores on vacation and I'm going offshore on a charter boat, what do I need?"  I will sometimes jokingly respond that they will need to stop by apparel and get some really cool Red Head fishing shorts and some sunscreen.

The truth be told, I've met several customers who are avid bass fishermen that are going on their first trip offshore.  As much as I'd like to sell that customer $700 or $800 worth of equipment, the truth is that most charter boats will provide all the equipment needed in the price of the charter. 

I'll then ask the customer, "How much time do you plan on visiting down there?".  If their answer is "a couple of months a year.", I will then tell them about my experiences fishing in the Intracoastal waterway and the bays.  I will recommend to them my favorite combo for saltwater which is a 7 ft Slammer rod, with a Penn 850 reel.  This is a good multi purpose combo that can be used for a variety of fishing opportunities around the coast.  More on this in a separate blog.

The next question from this type of customer is usually something to the effect of "What do you think I'll be fishing for?".  Coastal fishing is seasonal, and there is a variety of fish that can be caught year round, but for the Spring and early Summer, most everyone is searching for my favorite...Red Snapper and Grouper.

This makes for exciting fishing for the first timer who is used to catching 4lbs to 7lbs bass in freshwater. For example, imagine that a 20 lbs grouper is being brought up from 100 ft of water. This is a great fight considering that you're also fighting the current and racing to get in the boat before another predator sees your distressed catch and tries to snatch it from you. All the while, not only are you trying to keep your balance on the boat, but you also have to concentrate on your drag as to not break your line.  This too, will be a part of another separate blog.

The final question from my "first timer" customer is usually "What do I do with it?".  Let me first say, that there is no better feeling than coming home and cooking your catch of the day.  Therefore, treat your catch like your favorite steak. If Snapper is the filet mignon of the sea, then grouper is the prime rib.  In other words, don't just put lemon and butter on it and throw if on the grill.

In a future blog, I'll go in to more depth on cooking salt water fish, but for now, here is an easy recipe idea that will make you look like a culinary genius.

* Take a large Portobello mushroom cap, clean it out thoroughly and brush with olive oil.

* Pan sear a fish filet.

* Fill the mushroom cap with grits (if you're from the South and don't eat grits, shame on you and substitute mashed potatoes).

* Place the filet on top of the grits and mushroom and top with parmesan cheese and bake at 350 for about 5 minutes. Drizzle with raspberry vinaigrette dressing when out of the oven.

That's all for this week. In the meantime, support the troops, thank a veteran and it's never a bad day in the Great Outdoors. John Murphy



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


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”