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
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BLACKFIN TUNA ON FLY!!!

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

gbgsfishing@aol.com

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

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“Kicking Fish Tail Since 1956” by Capt Judy Helmey

2013 INSHORE and OFFSHORE FISHING CLINICS

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 fishjudy2@aol.com

Capt Judy’s Cell 912 429 7671

For more detailed information go to

www.missjudycharters.com 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

 GO FISHING TEAM TYBEE!

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!

FISHING TEAM TYBEE

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

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Captain Judy's Fishing Report

 Inshore Report

Bottom fishing in the sounds can certainly be interesting!

Shark

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 mullet..you 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

http://www.safmc.net/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=5Fp0q3sslVA%3d&tabid=139

Joe Jasmon and Jack Hogan fishing crew!!!

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

Freshies

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 http://www.fishinglanier.com/contact.html for all the details!  For more details go http://stores.ebay.com/Fishy-Racer http://www.youtube.com/fishyracer www.cafepress.com/grapefruitshop

http://fishinglanier.com/

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

CAPTAIN JUDY HELMEY

“Kicking Fish Tail Since 1956”

POB 30771

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA 31410

912 897 4921 912 897 3460 FAX

www.missjudycharters.com

Captain Judy’s email fishjudy2@aol.com

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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.

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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, www.Capt-Keith.com, explaining more about these types of fishing and will help you in your fishing success.

Go catch some big ones!

Capt Keith

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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

 

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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

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Saltwater Fishing in California

Hi!  

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!

Garrett

 

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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 basspro.com 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”

   

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Fishing Report

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

 

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Fishing Reels At Katy Bass Pro

New Reels 

New reels are arriving daily at the Bass Pro Shops in Katy Texas.  They have the finest selection of reels in Texas.  If you are looking for a new reel or want to have the reel you have re-spooled with some awesome line please let them do that for you.

They have many manufactures represented in their assortment you already know the names but they also carry their own signature brand of reels that are the envy of the industry.

Fishermen from around the world know the Bass Pro Shops and rely on their expertise and their products.  If you are looking for Fresh water reels look no further they have a full line of reels for every occasion.  Saltwater reels are our specialty and we have so many to choose from that you have to see them to believe them.

I was looking at the bait cast reels, I received a casting lesson from one of the Katy staff  and instruction on how to set up the reel and what line I needed to use.  I was thrilled with the selection and the incredible knowledge of the personnel at the Katy store.

If you are in the market for a new reel head on out to the Katy Bass Pro Shop and you will be amazed

 

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Yankee in the Salt

By Jeff Rowland

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

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

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

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

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

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

___________________________________ 

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

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

 

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Winter isn't over just yet!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stewart Williams

Fishing Lead

Memphis, TN

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Getting Started in Fly Fishing

Getting Started in Fly Fishing

Fly fishing both saltwater and fresh water are becoming more popular as more and more people both young and old are taking up this fun sport. Taking trout, bass or other game fish in our local ponds, lakes and rivers on a fly rod is a great way to spend time in the outdoors. For the saltwater fly fisherman fly fishing for stripers, bluefish and other saltwater game fish is an exciting way to catch these saltwater predators.

 

Contrary to what some people believe fly fishing is not limited to the experts with all sorts of exotic and expensive gear. It doesn’t take a large investment in time and gear to become part of this growing fishery. Bass Pro Shops starting early in the spring has “Intro to Fly Fishing “classes for people interested in trying their hand at this sport. These classes cover all the basics of fly fishing and also include a hands on fly casting demonstration. There are also scheduled fly casting classes scheduled during the spring and summer months where under the guidance of our “fly fishing experts” you can learn how to fly cast. They will also give tips on equipment you will need and how to rig up your gear.

 

For those people interested in tying their own flies we also have fly tying classes taught by some of our very talented fly tyers. They will teach you how to tie some of the classic fishing flies and show you the techniques so that you can start tying your own creations. The fly tying classes will be tentatively starting up in January. . It is expected that the other classes will begin around the end of March. It is expected that the other classes will begin around the end of March. Keep checking the website to find out the specific dates.

 

For all your fly fishing needs be sure to visit our fly shop whether you are looking for a fly outfit for someone just starting out such as the Dogwood Canyon Special Edition Fly Fishing outfit or a Temple Fork Outfitters BVK Fly Rod for the more experienced fly fisherman we have you covered. Maybe you are looking for a high end fly reel like the Waterworks Lamson fly reel or perhaps a mid range reel like the Orvis Access Mid Arbor reel we have them all. If it is flies or fly tying kits we have what you need there too.

Fly reel 1      Fly outfit 1          Fly rod      Fly reel 2                

 

Be sure to visit our fly shop and talk with our experienced fly fishing associates to see if this exciting and fun sport is right for you. Our associates are always ready to offer tips and suggestions as well as answer any questions you might have about fly fishing.

 

Don Nelson

Bass Pro Shops

Foxborough

 

 

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Save Money by Catching Your Own Bait

By: Ty Butler

Tough times have fishermen looking for different ways to save money.   Combined with high gas prices and other costs, the rising price of live bait has put a pinch on many an angler's wallet.  Artificial lures are one alternative to using live bait.  They are durable and you can throw them in the tackle box to use another day.  However, there are just some days when finicky fish won't accept anything but the real thing.  Many anglers are now exploring ways to catch their own bait, saving money in the process.

BPS Cast Nets Live shrimp is by far the most popular saltwater bait in coastal Georgia and South Carolina.  Depending on the season, live shrimp can sometimes cost upwards of $20 a quart.  A good cast net is a great investment for anyone looking to catch their own shrimp.  Georgia law requires a cast net with a minimum mesh size of 3/8 inch if catching bait shrimp, up to two quarts.  Bass Pro Shops makes an excellent entry 3/8 inch mesh net in a variety of sizes. If catching more than two quarts, or if casting for food shrimp, a 5/8 inch mesh net is required.  A large net is not necessary for bait-catching.  A six to seven foot net is a perfect size for catching a couple of quarts of shrimp.  If you are new to cast netting, practice makes perfect.  Learning to use one can be difficult, but it is very rewarding.



Betts' Mullet NetA cast net is also one of the best tools for catching bait fish in both fresh and saltwater.  A 3/8 inch or  1/2 inch mesh monofilament net is perfect for finger mullet, small pogys, or pilchards in saltwater, and shad, shiners, or herring in freshwater.  These baits usually can be found right near the surface, so a heavy net with a fast sink rate is not necessary.  A bigger 1 inch mesh may be needed for catching larger mullet or bigger "bunker" pogys.  These baits are often in deeper water and the wider mesh and heavier weight on these nets allow the net to sink faster, ensnaring a deep school of baitfish. 

Offshore Angler Fluorocarbon SabikiOffshore baits like cigar minnows and Spanish sardines are easily caught on a Japanese bait rig, called a Sabiki.  This rig is a long string of small hooks with small pieces of fish skin or mylar attached.  One end of the rig is tied to your fishing line, the other end is clipped to a one or two ounce sinker.  These should be fished on the bottom with a bouncing, erratic retrieve.  Drop the rig down over artificial reefs and live bottom, and you'll quickly catch a number of fresh baits.  Care should be taken when handling these rigs, because the many small hooks will blow around in the wind and are notorious for accidentally hooking clothes and body parts.  To prevent this,  bait rig rod and reel combos have been designed, like the Bait Stik.  The rod is hollow and allows the Sabiki rig to be reeled inside of it, keeping the hooks safely out of the way.
   
Wire Mesh Minnow TrapTraps can be used for some types of baitfish.  A cylindrical minnow trap is a popular tool for catching mud minnows (locally known as polywogs) and killifish.  These small baits are popular for inshore fishing and are a good alternative to live shrimp.  Mud minnows are also very hardy baits, and can even be kept in freshwater aquariums for extended periods before use.  The minnow trap is made of two mesh halves which clip together and are attached to a rope or line.  Wet or dry cat food is a good bait for these traps, which should be set in a small tidal creek at low tide to make sure your trap doesn't end up high-and-dry.  Minnow traps shouldn't be left out for long periods of time; a couple of hours is usually plenty to catch several dozen minnows.  Otherwise, small crabs can invade the trap and kill off the minnows. 

Experienced anglers know that good live bait is often necessary for a good day of fishing.  If you find that live bait from a shop is too expensive, or if you simply don't have the time to drive to a bait shop, catching your own baits can be a simple, but fun, alternative. 
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World Wide Sportsman Kid's Fishing Derby

World Wide Sportsman Kids Fishing DerbyWorld Wide Sportsman in Islamorada, Florida is pleased to announce that they will be hosting their 14th annual World Wide Sportsman Kids Fishing Derby on September 18, 2011. This event is open to kids up to 10 years old with no entry fee. There will be give-aways (for kids and adults), free food, a casting contest, seminars, live touch tanks and information booths featuring the International Game fish Association (IGFA), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard. Co-host of TV's Saltwater Experience, Rich Tudor will be here again to present his now famous Kid's Fishing Seminar after the weigh-in cut-off at 1pm. The awards ceremony will begin at approximately 2pm. There are 3 age groups that compete in 3 divisions - shoreline, inshore boat and offshore boat. This event has been a huge success and we are expecting to sign up another 300 or more kids to participate this year. This is the only day of the year that fishing is allowed here on our marina docks and it’s only for the kids in the tournament. Every year we get to witness a stunned look from a youngster that hooks a large, leaping tarpon while fishing from our dock! Store associates and volunteers will be available to help with rigging rods and reels, tying knots, baiting hooks, landing and weighing the fish so shoreline anglers without experience can fish the dock right here at the store and get all the help and instruction they need. Registration begins on August 25, 2011. The first 200 kids registered will receive a "ditty bag" that includes fishing tackle, rod and reel combo, hats, sunglasses, etc. donated by our sponsors and Bass Pro Shops vendors. Call us at (305) 664-4615 for more information or request a faxed registration form. Bring the kids down and witness a true Florida Keys spectacle that is all about the kids and passing along the heritage of sportfishing to the next generation.

derby Kids Derby Grunt fishKids Derby Pinfish
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The Split Grip

Choosing the right rod can be difficult at times especially with a wide variety of different styles, makes, model, and sizes to suit your fishing adventure. Many Brands such as Bass Pro Shops, Abu Garcia, St. Crox, G- Loomis and many more have started to produce many of there rods with a split grip rather than a full body cork. The materials that the handles are usually made are Cork, P-Tec Polyfoam, or an EVA (Ethyl Vinyl Acetate). The main reason for this is to reduce the weight of the rod and also to help balance the rod and reel combo weather you are fishing with a baitcast combo or a spinning combo fresh or saltwater. Bass Pro Shops carries a wide variety of different rods such as the Carbonlite which is a split grip, and the whole line of Abu-Garcia Rods which all have split grips.

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Islamorada Summer Fly Fishing Report

Greetings from World Wide Sportsman in Islamorada, Florida! The Florida Keys are home to some of the most exciting and diverse saltwater fishing in all of North America. Islamorada happens to be located in the center of the action considering our proximity to the Gulf Stream, coral reefs, the backcountry of Florida Bay and of course, Everglades National Park. With all this to offer, Islamorada is well known as the Sport Fishing Capital of the World. Fly fishers simply call it sight fishing nirvana. 

We have had a spectacular tarpon season so far but it's not over yet. A lot of the big fish have moved north but there are still some big tarpon to be found here in the Upper Keys. A 10 or 12 weight fly rod and a reel that holds a floating tropical fly line and 300 yards of 30 pound backing is the right tool for the job. Use smaller flies on 1/0 to 2/0 hooks. White, yellow, rust and chartreuse flies have been winners lately but don’t forget to have some tan, purple and black flies as well. The Hammerhead Jerkbait from Fly H2O is working well. It has a foam head and bunny strip tail on a Gamakatsu SC15 1/0 hook in white, grey/white, chartreuse, tan and purple/black. Use 10 to 14 feet long leaders with 60 to 80 pound fluorocarbon shock tippets.

Opportunities to fish for big bonefish have been best early in the day and focused on flats in close proximity to deeper, cool water on a rising or high tide. On days that are very still and calm, try a small shrimp pattern or sparse Clouser Minnow and on days with a light chop go with a crab pattern from size 4 to 1/0.

The snook are really on the move through out South Florida. They cruise the inlets, channels, flats and beaches very actively during their spawning season. Sight fishing for them is great fun but please keep in mind that the season is closed and will remain closed through August of 2012. You may fish for snook but you must release them immediately. Use a 7 to 9 weight rod and 10 to 16 pound fluorocarbon leaders with 20 to 30 pound fluorocarbon shock tippets so that you can release them in good condition after a short fight. These fish are an extremely valuable resource that deserves our respect. Productive flies for snook are baitfish patterns from size 4 to 1/0 that simulate glass minnows, threadfins, pinfish and pilchards. Enrico Puglisi's Bay Anchovie, Pinfish, Peanut Butter and Finger Mullet are great choices. Gummy minnows, Deceivers and Skinny Water Clousers are good choices as well. Fly Fishing for redfish in Everglades National Park has been excellent lately. You may use the same tackle and flies that you would use for snook. Adding a few flies like the Fly H2o Redfish Toad and Crafty Shrimp is a good idea.


Offshore, the dolphin fishing has been excellent. If you have never tried fly fishing for dolphin you are missing out on an outstanding opportunity to catch these spectacular fish that fight hard, jump high and often and are delicious. Dolphin (or Mahi-Mahi) are basically billfish without bills. You don't need to be a very experienced fly caster to get the  job done but co-operation from your fishing partners will increase the team's success. Blissfully exhausted anglers have been coming into the store to pick up more ammunition. Bright poppers, white Deceivers with green or blue backs, Fuzzy Fiber Baitfish in blue or chartreuse and Fly H2o ALF Stir Fry have been producing excellent results tied to 40 pound fluorocarbon tippets like the Rio Saltwater Light Shock Leader. You can use your bonefish rod for the “schoolies” but be prepared with the tarpon rod if you get into "slammers", dolphin bigger than 30 pounds or so. The heavy rod should have a 60 pound fluorocarbon bite tippet like the Rio Tarpon Leader that works very well is this application. Be prepared to make fly changes quickly. Quite often you will find a school of fish that swarmed on your fly initially will refuse it after it has hooked a few of their buddies. You don't need a radical fly change. For example, just changing your fly from green and white to blue and white get the rest of the school into a biting mood again. 

Thank you for your interest. Please stay aware of current events and potential legislation that could effect your right to fish at www.keepamericafishing.org


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Lobster Weekend at Dania Beach, Fl

July 27 & 28, 2011 are the dates for the 2011 lobster season and mini-season beginning at 12:01 am on Wednesday and ending at 12 midnight on Thursday

The regular lobster season of 2011-2012 starts August 6, 2011 and closes march 31, 2012.
Florida Lobster

Florida spiny lobster can be caught by many different methods and we have the experts to teach these methods at our lobster seminars.  All necessary tools can be purchased at Bass Pro Shops for a successful catch.

Make a weekend of it. Imagine spending part of the day catching lobsters and the other fishing for Dolphin, yellowtails and snappers. Spend one day with our pros and you will learn how to make this one of the most fun trips of your life.

Catching the dolphin:
July 23 @ 2pm
July 24 @ Noon

The dolphin (mahi mahi) season is in full swing from August, September and into October.  We will show the best lures, rigged baits, proper tackle (rods, reels) and where to catch these wonderful and exciting pelagics.

Advanced bully - netting: 
July 23 @ 1pm
July 24 @ 3pm

Put away your sun block and dive gear and come learn first hand the latest techniques and hottest locations to deploy the "bully - net" for catching spiny lobster! Learn how to customize your net and score big from a veteran of the sport Lou Volpe. Lou will illustrate the nuances of how to capture the illusive spiny lobster.

Bottom fishing galore:
July 23 @ Noon
July 24 @ 2pm

If bottom fishing is more to your liking, our pros will provide everything you will need to know in order to catch mutton snappers, yellowtails, mangrove snappers as well as the proper tackle and best places to fish for them.

Diving safely for spiny lobster:
July 23 @ 3pm
July 24 @ 1pm

If you are planning to dive for lobster, snorkel, during the 2 day Sport Lobster Season you must know how to lobster dive safely and within the rules. There are a number of new rules in effect and they change depending where you are diving for lobster during the Mini Lobster Season. You will also need to know what equipment you’ll need and how to locate the lobster. So if diving for lobster sounds the way to go come on down and learn from the experts. 

Net casting workshop:
July 23 @ 4pm
July 24 @ 4pm

Live bait is becoming the most proficient way to catch more fish. How to throw a cast net, the legal size for the different openings of 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 or over 1 inch mesh for the type of bait you will be catching.  Bass pro shop has all the best cast nets and i will teach the proper method of how to cast any size net. Remember bring your cast net with you so you can practice with the pros.

About our experts:

Capt. Brian
Bass Pro Shops Pro Staff since 2008, Captain Brian has over 40 years of experience fishing the Florida's Everglades, Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay and the Keys. A licensed and permitted guide for the Everglades National Park System by the US Department of the Interior, he knows the south Florida waters and where to go to catch fish. He is also a Coast Guard-licensed and award-winning expert guide who has taught hundreds of clients how to fish. Find out more about Capt. Brian at www.Floridabayfishing.com

Capt. Lou
Lou Volpe is a south Florida native and accomplished angler both on the inshore and offshore grounds including the Bahamas. Lou has had the privilege to be part of the largest and most successful running educational saltwater seminar in the nation for the past eighteen years, the saltwater sportsman national seminar series. In addition, for the last ten years Lou has been intimately involved in the production of one of the most popular running salt water fishing shows in the nation; George Poveromo's world of saltwater fishing. With these experiences and many of his own, Lou has had the opportunity to travel throughout the country and many parts of the world to fish and hone his skills along with the best in the sport. Lou can be found in pursuit of many species ranging from dolphin, sailfish and kings to cobia, snook, trout and reds, not to mention shrimp, lobster and scallops. Look for Lou on the east coast of Florida aboard his Mako 221, Dab-a-Doo or on the west coast of Florida aboard his Mako 2201, Dab-a-Doo II.

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