Glowing Crappie?

Glowing crappie may help Arkansas GFC evaluate stocking success

PINE BLUFF – Black lights and phosphorescent fish – throw in your standard mod Peter Max poster, some Hendrix on the turntable and maybe a lava lamp, and it would seem like someone’s living room circa 1970. However, more than four decades later, black lights are less a living room showpiece and more useful in the hands of biologists looking for “glowing” crappie to determine how effective a pond-stocking program can be.

As part of a grant administered by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Greyson Farris, a master’s student in the aquaculture program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, is studying the AGFC’s crappie stocking program using fingerlings from two hatcheries: the Joe Hogan hatchery at Lonoke and the William H. Donham hatchery in Corning. Late in the fall of the past two years, about 180,000 fingerlings – half of them white crappie from Lonoke and the other half black crappie from Corning – were treated with chemicals that allow researchers to track the fish after stocking in eight Arkansas lakes, according to JJ Gladden, a biologist at the Lonoke facility.

During the first year, the fish were marked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved oxytetracycline, or OTC, in which the fingerlings absorb in a six-hour bath. The chemical is absorbed in bony areas such as the ear bone. Last fall, the fish were also treated with OTC, but Farris then used another marking agent, calcein, a phosphorescent dye, in another, shorter treatment before the fingerlings were taken for stocking.

The key difference between using calcein over OTC is that fish tested for the presence of the marker do not have to be sacrificed in the process.

“As far as I know, nobody has ever done the calcein marking with crappie,” Farris said. “They’ve done it with largemouth bass, perch, walleye.”

Fish captured for testing that were marked with only OTC have to be cut open for their ear bone, or otolith, to be examined under special light. The nature of calcein, Farris says, is that it’s absorbed not only in the bones but in the fins, around the eyes and mouths, and it offers a vivid green appearance when seen under black light and with specific glasses. Using the calcein as a marker required the AGFC to request a special license from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but the process for marking the fish was far easier, Farris said. Instead of a six-hour soak in OTC, the fingerlings were hit with a 30-second bath of salinized water (about 40 parts per 1,000, he said), a fresh water rinse, then a seven-minute soak in the calcein-water mixture. The salt water bath drew out most of the water from the fingerlings – making them “sponge-like,” Farris said – which then soaked up the calcein.

OTC is a proven method in marking fish, in use for more than 40 years, Farris said. The question is, how long will the calcein last in a crappie? Farris said calcein in fish has been shown to degrade over time in sunlight. However, crappie tend to stay deeper in lakes and the fish’s nature is to not turn on its side; the underbelly of the crappie should be least likely to see much if any photodegradation, Farris said. And in fish he’s tested both at UAPB and in pond nettings, he’s found calcein.

All this is to show how effective a stocking program can be for a lake such as Lake Saracen in Pine Bluff, one of the eight lakes in Farris’ study. Other lakes in the study are Lake Des Arc, Lake Charles, Lake Poinsett, Calion Lake, Irons Fork Reservoir, Sugarloaf Lake and Beaverfork Lake. So far, he has found growing crappie that were AGFC-stocked in six of the lakes. “It’s great to see how many fish are surviving on a month-to-month scale,” Farris said. “Most of the time when you stock ponds or lakes, you don’t know if you’re having a benefit to the Commission unless you have a creel survey or stocked fish come up into your nets. You have to kill the OTC fish, and that’s not beneficial in the long term. Also, every OTC-marked fish will take 15 minutes of lab time, at least, to check. You can tell immediately if you have a calcein-marked fish. Fisheries biologists are better off in the long run, getting it cheaper, faster and easier.”

Calcein marking costs more, about $5,000 to mark 90,000 fish compared to $1,000 for OTC. But the tested fish live. And, “any measure of a stocking program is a measure of success,” Farris notes.

Because of warmer autumns the past two years, the fingerlings weren’t ready for the treatment and stocking until November. Farris tested the lakes through the winter and said he will resume through the summer and fall, netting about 250 crappie per lake to find if they were part of the stockings.

“The objective was to find a way to look at these fish without having to kill them, stock them, see them in the nets with [black lights] and see if they were the fish we stocked,” Farris said.

Leading Conservationists to Shape Immersive Conservation Attraction

Johnny Morris Convenes Leading Conservationists to Shape Immersive Conservation Attraction

Noted conservationist and Bass Pro shops founder Johnny Morris addresses conservation
Springfield, Mo. – More than 25 of the country’s leading conservation organizations are contributing to the creation of one of the largest, most immersive conservation attractions in the world. Scheduled to open in Springfield, Missouri in 2016, Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium will celebrate the critical role responsible hunting and fishing play in conserving the great outdoors.

A vision of leading conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder/CEO Johnny Morris, the 315,000-square-foot experience is intended to inspire future generations to enjoy, love and conserve the great outdoors. To help shape the attraction’s educational message and story, Morris convened a “who’s who” of conservation leaders in America. With expertise ranging from wetlands and waterfowl to coastal waters and international wildlife efforts, leading national conservation groups are collaborating to help tell the untold stories of the conservation movement in the United States and showcasing their worldwide impact.

Consisting of leaders from both nonprofit and government entities, the nationwide collaboration hopes to establish a new conservation capital that highlights past successes and shares important conservation messages with a national audience.

“This will be one of the foremost conservation attractions in the world,” said Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “There is a significant opportunity to reach millions of visitors about the importance of conserving, protecting and enhancing wildlife habitats.”

Convening Inspired by Historic Summit

Participants of the first North American Wildlife Conference in 1936
Morris first convened the leaders at a National Conservation Summit held in Springfield in late 2015. The gathering brought together more than 40 national conservation leaders to discuss fun and engaging ways to inspire the public to appreciate and protect wildlife and natural habitats.

The Summit was inspired by and paid homage to the nation’s first North American Wildlife Conference held in Washington D.C. in 1936. The original gathering, convened by Ding Darling, founder of The National Wildlife Federation, and President Theodore Roosevelt, brought together more than 2,000 hunters, anglers and conservationists from across the country to discuss conservation issues.

The original conference helped unify the nation’s conservation voices and shaped a national platform to advocate on behalf of the outdoors. Instilling the spirit of that gathering, Morris’ modern summit served as a forum to collectively discuss opportunities to educate and engage today’s public in conservation efforts centered at the new museum and aquarium. The group also shared thoughts on impactful educational programming for visitors of all ages, particularly children and families.

National Leaders Contributing to World-Class Attraction

National conservation leaders convene in Springfield, Missouri
Primarily funded and operated by the nonprofit Johnny Morris Foundation, Wonders of Wildlife consists of an all-new 1.3-million-gallon aquarium adventure showcasing 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles and birds and an immersive wildlife museum that highlights diverse habitats and wildlife from around the world.

Each of the 25 participating partner organizations is represented throughout the experience in a variety of ways. The groups are contributing historical photos, videos, multimedia content and artifacts to provide a widespread and engaging look into wildlife conservation practices. Experts from the groups are also assisting with the museum’s interpretive messaging and sharing their conservation success stories.

For example, the museum will become the new permanent home for The Boone and Crockett Club’s world-famous National Collection of Heads and Horns. The exhibit gives visitors a chance to see more than 40 historically significant North American game animals that helped spark America’s conservation movement when it debuted at New York’s Bronx Zoo in 1922. Additionally, The International Game Fish Association’s interactive Fishing Hall of Fame is relocating to the aquarium from the IGFA’s headquarters in Florida. The exhibit tells the stories of some of the sport’s most accomplished men and women.

Nearby, The National Archery Hall of Fame seeks to preserve the sport’s history and tradition with more than 1,500 artifacts including a handmade bow made by the Native American Apache leader Geronimo. By honoring the outstanding men and women in the sport, the experience sends a message that anyone can enjoy archery as a gateway to appreciating the outdoors. The NRA National Sporting Arms Museum showcases the development and evolution of hunting arms in America from colonial times to today. This educational gallery is one of the premier sporting arms museums in the world. Home to nearly one thousand artifacts the gallery tells the story of American icons such as Lewis and Clark and Theodore Roosevelt.

The result of these collaborations is a bold new attraction that leaves visitors with a powerful conservation message.

“We are honored to have the support and input from America’s leading conservation voices as we establish one of the most comprehensive conservation attractions in the world,” said Johnny Morris. “By highlighting the important roles these organizations play in conserving wildlife and sharing their accomplishments with our visitors, we hope to raise awareness of their work and recruit new members to engage in ongoing conservation efforts.”

America’s Conservation Capital

One of the aquarium’s immersive exhibits simulates an artificially created reef to underscore the importance of healthy habitats for fish and wildlife
Wonders of Wildlife is envisioned to be unlike anything else in the world. Inside the immersive aquarium adventure, visitors will encounter sharks, rays, jellyfish, eel, otters, turtles, sport fish and countless game fish such as largemouth bass and catfish as they travel through an elaborate trail system of distinct aquatic habitats, discovering hands-on activities that celebrate the diversity of all aquatic life, including incredible sport fish. The entire aquarium experience highlights the need to conserve these beautiful ecosystems and the animals that live there.

Completely immersive wildlife galleries transport visitors to the wildest places on earth through meticulously recreated 4D dioramas that include the realistic sights, sounds and smells of awe-inspiring habitats from North America, Africa and the Arctic.

The experience will celebrate the vital contributions of sportsmen and women to wildlife conservation and engages leading conservation partners to showcase important success stories and ongoing efforts.

The new experience is located adjacent to Bass Pro Shops’ iconic flagship store in Springfield, Missouri’s number one tourist destination that already welcomes four million visitors per year and further establishes Johnny Morris’ vision of creating America’s Conservation Capital and a new must-see destination for everyone who loves the outdoors.

Participating conservation and wildlife management organizations include:
Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies – Ron Regan, Executive Director
Boone and Crockett Club – Tony Schoonen, Chief of Staff
Center for Coastal Conservation – Jeff Angers, President
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation – Gary Kania, Vice President
Dallas Safari Club – Ben Carter, Executive Director
Ducks Unlimited – Dale Hall, President
International Game Fish Association – Rob Kramer, President
James River Basin Partnership – Joe Pitts, Executive Director
Missouri Department of Conservation – Bob Ziehmer, Director
Missouri Department of Natural Resources – Sara Parker-Pauley, Director
National Geographic – Crista Gibbons, Senior Director, Global Corporate Partnerships
Native American Fish and Wildlife Society – Fred Matt, Executive Director
National Audubon Society – Glenn Olson, Donal O’Brien Chair in Bird Conservation through Advocacy & Public Policy
National Rifle Association – Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President & CEO
National Wild Turkey Federation – George Thornton, CEO
Ozark Water Watch – David Casaletto, President & Executive Director
Quality Deer Management Association – Brian Murphy, CEO
Southwest Tribal Fisheries Commission – Stuart Leon, Executive Director
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership – Whit Fosburgh, President & CEO
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – Dan Ashe, Director
Watershed Committee of the Ozarks – Mike Kromrey, Executive Director
Wildlife Management Institute – Steve Williams, President & CEO
Wild Sheep Foundation – Buddy DuVall, Executive VP Development

About Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium
Scheduled to open in 2016, the all-new Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium will be one of the largest, most immersive conservation attractions in the world. Primarily funded and operated by the nonprofit Johnny Morris Foundation, Wonders of Wildlife consists of an all-new 1.3-million-gallon aquarium adventure showcasing 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles and birds, and an immersive wildlife museum that brings visitors eye-to-eye with the greatest collection of record-setting game animals ever assembled. The 315,000-square foot experience celebrates the critical role responsible hunting and fishing plays in wildlife conservation and inspires visitors to enjoy, love and conserve the great outdoors. Located on the campus of Bass Pro Shops’ iconic flagship store in Springfield, Missouri, Wonders of Wildlife further establishes the site as America’s Conservation Capital. For more information visit www.wondersofwildlife.org.

Frustrating Bass Tournament at Lake Hartwell

Last week 14 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters fished our May tournament at Lake Hartwell. During the tournament fished on Friday and Saturday, 93 keeper bass weighing about 150 pounds were brought to the scales.

Kwong Yu won with ten weighing 21.85, Niles Murry was second with ten at 19.46 and his 5.50 pound largemouth was big fish, Lee Hancock had nine at 18.36 for third and Ryan Edge’s ten weighing 16.92 pounds for fourth.

It was a very frustrating bass tournament at Lake Hartwell for me. I went to Hartwell on Tuesday and got a campsite at the local KOA and set up for the next few nights. Wednesday morning I was on the water before daylight. I knew the best pattern this time of year on Hartwell was to make long casts with a big topwater plug over shallow points and humps to catch bass feeding on blueback herring.

The first point I fished made me know I would not be able to fish that pattern. I cast a Gunfish, a topwater plug that imitates a bass feeding on herring that you have to twitch constantly. Within 15 minutes my wrist and shoulder ached so badly I had to quit. Its tough when you get too old to fish the way you want, but I always said I would rather wear out that rust out.

I spent that whole day trying to catch fish on a slow moving bait that would not hurt so much to fish. After ten hours I had landed exactly one keeper and half dozen bass shorter than the 12 inch size limit. I couldn’t even catch fish off docks, usually a good pattern in a clear lake like Hartwell.

Wednesday I had spent a lot of time looking for bedding bream or bass bedding late in the year, but found none. So Thursday I changed tactics. I started out on a bridge where herring and shad usually spawn, and those baitfish were all over the rocks and pilings, and I could see nice three to four pound bass cruising under them in the shade around the pilings, but I could not get then to hit. So I went looking for stained water, going way back in some creeks where rain had made the water less clear. Some places looked great.

In one I had to go through a culvert just high enough for my boat seats and windshield to get under it. Just as I started under it I remembered my back running light was still plugged in and I looked back just in time to see it hit and bend over, breaking it. Fortunately, a local store had a replacement that afternoon. That stupid mistake cost me only $40!

Back in that creek I thought I had found the perfect place. I knew a lot of bass fishermen would not try to get back there through the culvert and the water had a good color. I could see my spinnerbait down only a foot or so. And there was grass, button bushes, docks and brush piles all around the big area above the culvert.

I spent several hours in there fishing different but never caught a keeper. So Friday morning I ran to the bridge, hoping some of those bass I had seen would bite at first light, and one good keeper did hit a topwater plug. After three hours I gave up and tried to fish topwater but gave up from the pain.

My only hope left was a small creek where I have caught fish in the past. I ran to it and managed to catch two more keepers to give me three for the day. Friday I went straight to that creek and stayed in it all day and did manage to catch a limit, but the five weighed only 6.1 pounds, not nearly enough to do any good!

California Marine Life Protection Act

California Marine Life Protection Act: The Ultimate Bait and Switch
from The Fishing Wire

There is no question that the passage of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) has been the most controversial environmental issue California’s angling community has ever faced. It signaled the state’s shift from a shared philosophy of conserving California’s natural resources to outright protectionism, with little regard to the interests of outdoor recreation, tourism and all of their economic benefits.

As the MLPA established the framework for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), the state promised California anglers that areas designated as off-limits to commercial and recreational fishing may one day be open to fishing. In fact, they were very specific in their promises. Scientific assessments would be conducted every five years, and as fish populations were assessed as sustainably viable, the restrictions would be lifted.

Over time, the state established many MPAs along California’s coastline, totaling over 850 square miles. As new MPAs were introduced, the angling community not only challenged the merits of closing some prime fishing spots, but the process by which they were selected. The locations and boundaries were not set by a presumably objective government agency, rather, a private organization who’s funding was fueled by environmental groups, many of which shared an anti-fishing agenda.

As the plans came before the California Fish and Game Commission, the science or lack thereof was challenged, but to no avail. Even with considerable restrictions on the amount and manner of take already in place, commissioners simply assured anglers that timely assessments would be conducted and such drastic action would only lead to more plentiful fishing in the years to come.

That was then and not now. Deadlines to conduct these assessments have come and gone, and so apparently have assurances that the state can keep its word. This was evident at the April 13 California Fish and Game Commission, where some commissioners echoed the view of environmentalists that no promises were ever made. In fact, the president of commission stated that he didn’t expect fishing to be restored during his lifetime.

In retrospect, this stunning pronouncement was not surprising. At the April meeting, the commission was functioning with only three commissioners and two vacancies after several longstanding commissioners resigned out of frustration. Defending hunters and anglers had become too tiresome. Ironically, it was the two recently appointed commissioners who challenged the assertion that promises were made, as if they had an institutional knowledge of the all the public hearings and stakeholder meetings.

The bottom line is the state did not recruit recreational anglers to serve on stakeholder groups to seek their advice on how best to deny them access to some of California’s finest fishing, permanently. That would have been a none-starter. Rather, stakeholders were assured that environmental mitigation was required to protect the ocean’s natural resources, and their participation aimed to balance the interests of responsible environmental stewardship and outdoor recreation.

The commission would be wise to abandon their current course of action of denying the truth, thereby enshrining the Marine Life Protection Act’s legacy as the greatest bait and switch act ever. It will only further damage their relationship with those who were once their partners in conserving our state’s natural resources. What’s more, their actions have economic consequences. Recreational fishing contributes over $4.9 billion in economic activity each year, and its economic value will only decrease as the state continues to deny access to some of the nation’s finest fishing.

Marko Mlikotin is the executive director of the California Sportfishing League, California’s leading advocate for anglers and businesses dependent on outdoor recreation.

Fishing Lake Weiss

Last Thursday I drove to Lake Weiss near Rome, Georgia to get information for my July Georgia and Alabama Outdoor News magazine article. Since this is a border lake, with most of the lake in Alabama but some in Georgia, and many Georgia bass fishermen go there, it will be in both issues. You do have to have an Alabama fishing license to fish the lake.

I met Wayne Boyd, a tournament fisherman from Rome that knows the lake well, at the boat ramp at 9:00 AM. We fished grass beds for two hours and he caught two nice largemouth about five pounds each on a chatterbait. This pattern will not work well in July so we then spent two hours looking at spots that will be good in July, although bass have not really moved to them yet.

Weiss is a very pretty 30,200 acre lake on the Coosa, Chattooga and Little Rivers that has an average depth of only ten feet. That surprised me when I first went there years ago. The lake is surrounded by low mountains and I thought it would be deep and clear like most mountain lakes, but it is shallow, stained most of the year, and full of grass beds and wood cover to fish.

Since Weiss is on the Coosa River it has a good population of those hard fighting Alabama or Coosa spotted bass. It also has a good population of largemouth bass but the lake is known as “The Crappie Capital” of the world. There is a ten inch size limit on crappie there but fishermen still fill their limits, even with those nice fish.

If you want a good trip to catch bass or crappie, a trip to Weiss in June would be a good choice.

Randall Tharp in First Elite Title

Confidence, Past History Led Randall Tharp in First Elite Title

Earlier Success on Other Ozark Lakes Gave Yamaha Pro Lure Choice, Location
from The Fishing Wire

Whenever you’re fishing a lake you’ve never been on before, look for cover or structure that lets you fish your favorite lure and technique and gives you confidence. That’s the advice of Yamaha Pro Randall Tharp, who followed it without hesitation in winning his first Bassmaster® Elite tournament on not one but two lakes he’d never fished before.

“The biggest factor in my win was that I just had a lot of confidence in the technique I was using and the area I was fishing,” explains Tharp in describing his victory at Bull Shoals and Norfolk Lakes in Arkansas where he weighed in 61 pounds, 10 ounces of bass while competing two days on each body of water.

“I had fished other Ozark lakes over the years,” the Yamaha Pro continues, “and they’re all somewhat similar in the way they look and the way they fish. I also studied how another fisherman had won an FLW® Tour tournament on Beaver Lake (another Ozark lake in northern Arkansas) immediately before ours, so that gave me some additional insight on how to fish.

“That tournament was won fishing a jig in less than 10 feet of water, which is my favorite technique, so all I did was find areas where I could do that.”

Tharp chose to fish structure known as “channel swings,” where a creek or river channel makes a turn, either near a shoreline or across a shallow flat. They’re always good starting points to fish on practically any lake because they offer bass both shallow and deep water adjacent to each other. Tharp chose channel swings in the backs of several creeks where he believed bass were moving in to spawn. These were pre-spawn bass that were also feeding heavily on both shad and crayfish.

“Almost all my fish came from water less than five feet deep,” he noted, “and my largest fish were actually less than two feet deep. I kept my boat in eight to 12 feet and pitched my jig very close to the bank, then worked it down the slope of the channel. The bass were around boulders or small flat areas where they could feed easily.”

The first day of competition was held at Norfolk Lake, the next two at Bull Shoals, and the final day back on Norfolk. Tharp opened with 15-9, followed with 13-12 and 16-4 during the two days on Bull Shoals, and finished with 16-2 back on Norfolk. Another key to his success started the first day on Bull Shoals when he changed the weight of his jig.

“I had been using a ½-ounce jig, but late in the afternoon there on Bull Shoals I noticed the bass becoming more aggressive,” says Tharp. “I started getting more bites, and when I’d reel in my jig, several fish would follow it. I did not want them to get a good look at the lure because I really wanted more of a reaction strike, so I changed to a 5/8-ounce jig.

“It’s hard to understand how much faster that jig falls, even though it’s only 1/8 ounce heavier, but it does, and what that allowed me to do was to not only work the water faster but also cover more water when they were feeding. It was definitely an afternoon feeding bite, because on the third morning, again at Bull Shoals, I started with the heavier jig but never got a bite, so I had to switch back to the lighter jig.”

Even though Tharp had never fished either of the two impoundments before this tournament, he wasn’t concerned about fishing strange water. Whenever possible, he emphasizes, being able to fish with a favorite lure and technique, such as pitching a jig like he was able to do, provides a huge dose of confidence. He advises other fishermen facing similar situations to try to do the same. If nothing else, it’s just a good way to start fishing.

“I feel very fortunate to have been able to fish my favorite technique for all four days of the tournament and have it work so well,” the Yamaha Pro concludes. “I even caught a four-pounder on my very last cast the final day. That’s how fortunate I was.”

Lake Guntersville Fishing Report from Captain Mike Gerry

Lake Guntersville Fishing Report

Check out these weekly updated reports for selected lakes in Georgia and Alabama Lakes Fishing Report. If any guides or fishermen do weekly reports and would like them published on my site please contact me: ronnie@fishing-about.com

Captain Mike with nice Guntersville bass

Captain Mike with nice Guntersville bass

Fishing Report, Lake Guntersville 5-21-16

This past week along with the month of May has been some of best fishing this year; yes the numbers are not where they were in past years but this past week was really good for size and numbers compared to others weeks and months so far this year. It’s different and certainly challenging but persistence is paying off and the fish are active enough that it is really a lot of fun.

I have changed up baits a little this past week working a ½ oz. Punisher “Hail Mary” rigged with a Missile Bait D-Bomb in 6 to 15 ft. of water. We are also still fishing my faithful Tight-Line swim jig in ½ oz. with a Missile Bait Shock Wave Swim Bait as my main two baits. I am still working to find a consistent deep crank bait bite as this has not really evolved this year as it has other times on a daily basis. We are catching some fish on the SPRO Little John crank Bait but as stated it’s not everywhere.

Come fish with me no will treat you better; there is still some great fishing ahead the summer time heat is not here yet and this will keep fishing really good until the water really warms up and the grass thickens. I have guides and days available to fish with you; we fish with great sponsor baits, Duckett rods, Vicious Line, Punisher Lures, Picasso Lures products and more.

Fish Lake Guntersville Guide Service

Email: bassguide@comcast.net
Phone: 256 759 2270
Captain Mike Gerry

Kevin VanDam

KVD’s Comeback: In His Own Words

How Humminbird pro Kevin VanDam cracked Toledo Bend’s big bass code
from The Fishing Wire

Eufaula, AL – Bass fishing is a lot like any sport. Fall into a slump and critics crawl out of the woodwork. And with today’s multitude of media, there are way too many opinions flying around – most of all the realm of social media, where everyone’s an expert.

But the squawk boxes are it’s a little quieter this week for Kevin VanDam as bass fishing’s icon commanded a wire-to-wire win at the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite on Louisiana’s Toledo Bend, ending a five-year drought between major wins.

With the world watching, the four-time Bassmaster Classic champion and seven-time AOY weighed a whopping 96-2 four-day total, eclipsing second place by nearly eight pounds. The $100,000 brings VanDam’s career winnings to just shy of $6 million.

For Kevin, this win was personal. It was a long and torturous road filled with late nights, early mornings, miles of travel, and weeks of being away from home. But there was one thing that didn’t change, his Iron-forged perseverance.

We sat down and talked with Kevin about how it all happened and how it feels to be back on top. Here’s a peek inside the boat and the mind of someone who could be angling’s greatest of all-time.

How did you feel going into the event?

KVD: I didn’t know what to expect going into the first day. Practice was really windy, which made it hard to fish offshore, but I got a few bites, so I knew I’d get to fish how I like. I spent a lot of time studying the new Toledo Bend LakeMaster map on my HELIX 10 and just graphing with Side Imaging, Down Imaging and 2D Sonar.

What kind of offshore structure was key?

KVD: Bass were in transition from post-spawn to summer structure, which on Toledo means deeper ledges, humps and spots close to creek channels or the main river channel itself. The water was also really high, so they were pulling some water and the current through the lake moved these bass to outside points. So I tried to find areas like these outside large spawning flats that would hold a large concentration of fish.

What role did mapping play?

KVD: It played a big role. I know the Humminbird LakeMaster guys surveyed Toledo Bend when the water was low and basically destroyed two boats and a bunch of props to get the very best detail possible. That says a lot. So I knew every Humminbird pro was going to have an advantage over the competition. The Toledo Bend map on the new LakeMaster Mid-South States card version 3 is almost overwhelming because there’s so much detail. I fished around Housen in Six Mile, two major creeks in the lower end of the lake, and it was stunning what that map revealed. But it’s the same thing with LakeMaster HD maps everywhere I go, from Kentucky Lake to Guntersville. Sam Rayburn, too. There are no more secrets. For me, it’s actually kind of bittersweet, because now everybody can see the same things that I used to have to work so hard to find. But it’s going to help a lot of anglers become better fishermen.

If you don’t have LakeMaster you’re at a huge disadvantage.

How deep were the bass?

KVD: I had some spots where fish were as shallow as 15′ or as deep as 30′. One of the biggest fish I caught was on a 28′ hump. So, the big thing for me was zooming in and out when I got to these areas. On a 500-foot scale mapping with LakeMaster, you get a great view of everything that’s in the region – how the spot you’re looking at lays out and what’s surrounding it and how fish might funnel to it. But it’s also critical to zoom into the 50-foot scale so you can get the precise line and cast off the ends of these points, especially after I graphed them. Once I had that plot trail I’d use it as a line to make my cast.

Besides mapping, what technologies helped you dial in fish?

KVD: Because there was so much timber and structure, I used a lot of 2D SONAR and Down Imaging in split-screen view. Being able to see both images side-by-side allowed me to discern the different types of fish, was the key. There are so many baitfish, white bass, and yellow bass in Toledo Bend that a critical part is being able to tell what’s what on your electronics.

When they weren’t pulling water, the bass were setting up on or just outside points and ledges and hanging close to the bottom. The white bass were a lot higher up and farther off the drops. The largemouths would be one or two feet off the bottom and I could actually see them on my Humminbird, turn around, make a cast and catch ’em. And that’s what I found in practice and was able to expand on during the tournament.

Tell us about your winning crankbait program.

KVD: I like to fish crankbaits during post-spawn because I can be very efficient—not only can I cover a lot of water, I can tell the difference between hard and soft bottom. If I’m in 15′ to 20′, I’m going to throw a Strike King 6XD; if I’m in that 19′ to 24′, I like the 8XD; if I’m anywhere from 20′ to 30′ zone, the 10XD is the way to go, especially if you’re trying to target big fish on Toledo. The whole family of baits allows me to cover the 15′ to 30′ zone really well.

I have a cranking system that I worked with Quantum to develop that includes 7′ 10″ or 7′ 11″ medium-heavy or heavy- action composite cranking rods and my signature 5.3:1 gear ratio reel for power. Depending on the crankbait, I use 12- to 17 lb. fluorocarbon.

Speaking of big fish, tell us about your 8-11 from Day 3.

KVD: I reeled my crankbait down over a hump that topped out at 28′, and I got hung up in brush. As soon as I popped it free that fish bit it. I set the hook, loaded up, and I knew it was a big one. It immediately swam into a tree top, so I just kept pressure on it, eventually getting it to swim out of the tree. Once the fish was inside the boat I was so excited that I jerked the hook out of the fish and into my hand! I had the fish in one hand and had to cull a little pound and half fish and put that big one in the live well with a Strike King 10XD 2/O Mustad treble stuck in my hand. Fortunately, I had a camera guy pretty close and walked him through the procedure for the painless hook removal and it worked like a charm.

Following your win, how do you feel about the rest of the season?

KVD: I’ve had an up and down season to this point. I had a couple good events to start off and was in good shape, but I’ve had a couple really bad days, too, the last at Wheeler. To have a great event here at Toledo Bend, unarguably the best bass lake in the country, really makes it special. I could not have done it without my Humminbird units and LakeMaster mapping. It’s a one-two punch with the Side Imaging, Down Imaging, and the LakeMaster map that is second to none. I’m proud to be with a company that understands the importance of investing in accurate mapping.

About Johnson Outdoors Marine Electronics, Inc.
Johnson Outdoors Marine Electronics, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson Outdoors and consists of the Humminbird®, Minn Kota® and Cannon® brands. Humminbird® is a leading global innovator and manufacturer of marine electronics products including fishfinders, multifunction displays, autopilots, ice flashers, and premium cartography products. Minn Kota® is the world’s leading manufacturer of electric trolling motors, as well as offers a complete line of shallow water anchors, battery chargers and marine accessories. Cannon® is the leader in controlled-depth fishing and includes a full line of downrigger products and accessories.

Clarks Hill – Lake Thurmond Fishing Report

Fishing Report for Clarks Hill – Lake Thurmond

Want specific holes to fish each month of the year on Clarks Hill – Lake Thurmond? Check out “Keys To Catching Clarks Hill Bass” in eBook format, with ten spots for each month of the year, with GPS coordinates, how to fish each and lures to use. The eBook is $4.99. Now available on CD ($6.00) or Email ($4.00) – contact me at ronnie@fishing-about.com I may have some copies printed but the price would be about $10.00. If you want a printed copy please email me at ronnie@fishing-about.com to reserve a copy if I do have them printed.

Check out these weekly updated reports for selected lakes in Georgia and Alabama Lakes Fishing Report. If any guides or fishermen do weekly reports and would like them published on my site please contact me: ronnie@fishing-about.com

“The Southern Fishing Report”
By Ken Sturdivant
106 Hickory Ridge
770 889 2654
Cumming Georgia 30040
www.southernfishing.com

May 19, 2016

CLARKS HILL IS DOWN .97 FEET, 70’S

Bass fishing is good. Fish shallow early with a trick worm. Mid day go a little deeper with Zoom Finesse worms on a jig head. If you find docks with brush try a small ¼ ounce mini jig. Use a matching Zoom Trailer and green pumpkin trailer. Remember the many long points as well, back off a bit and throw a Carolina rigged lizard in green pumpkin. The water cooled a little last week but will rebound fast. Try slow rolling a spinner bait after dark across those long main lake points, but again throw right to shore as well. A lot of fish are hanging right on the banks.

Learn how to use the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan and 3D technology with Southern Fishing On the Water fishing schools. Ask for a free sample of the BASS FISHING LAKE CLARKS HILL book. Send a request to kensturdivant@earthlink.net

Learn how to use the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology with Southern Fishing On the Water fishing schools.

Lowrance Pro Staff, KEN STURDIVANT will teach a FREE! SONAR Class on Saturday afternoon, May 28, 2016 at 1pm at the Cabela’s store in Greenville, South Carolina. See www.cabelas.com for details.

Lowrance HDS Gen3 software is now on www.lowrance.com. Here are the highlights TotalScan™ Skimmer® Transducer, Precision 9 Solid State Compass, SiriusXM® Local Weather Feature (North America only), Network Analyzer and Service Assistant

Lowrance Gen2 Touch update is now on www.lowrance.com. Here are the highlights Precision 9 Solid State Compass, SiriusXM® Local Weather Feature (North America only), Network Analyzer and Service Assistant

We have the LOWRANCE Gen 3 Touch and 3D NEW Lowrance Technology on our boat. Bring any HDS machine only to Lake Lanier and learn it ALL in one day. Call Ken for details.

Ken Sturdivant Lowrance Professional Fishing Staff will be conducting FREE Sonar Seminar at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Lawrenceville Georgia on Saturday June 25, 2016 at 2pm. Seminar is subject to change without notice. Be sure to see the NEW Lowrance machines on www.lowrance.com

Our On the Water Schools are Rods Reels and Lures for Bass SONAR and we have a Striper school. Learn how to use the Lowrance Structure Scan and Down Scan technology. Call 770 889 2654 or see the details on our web site for more info and dates.fo

For a free set up sheet for your sonar send me an e mail to ken@southernfishing.com

Anglers have these books for sale BASS FISHING ON WEST POINT LAKE BASS FISHING LAKE RUSSELL BASS FISHING WEST POINT LAKE and BASS FISHING LAKE HARTWELL. These books have lots of bass fishing and covers every week of the year. Each book $39.00. If you would like a sample of any book send us an e mail to ken@southernfishing.com.

We offer these waypoints for sale. You get the coordinates and you load them into your GPS unit.

Lake Allatoona for $99.00 Lake Lanier for $99.00 Lake Oconee for $99.00 Lake Weiss for $99.00 Lake Hartwell for $99.00 WAYPOINTS ARE NOT REFUNDABLE

Insight Genesis announces the Varsity Rewards program for high school fishing teams. See this address www.varsityrewards.com for all the details.

Our mailing address is Southern Fishing Schools Inc. 106 Hickory Ridge Cumming Georgia 30040. 770 889 2654

Stop by www.gon.com on the forum page for current events.

Copyright 2014 Southern Fishing Schools Inc. calls us to set up a school Maps and Depth Finders or SONAR and Rods Reels and Lures for Bass. 770 889 2654.

Lake Lanier Fishing Report

Want specific holes to fish each month of the year on Lake Lanier? Check out Keys To Catching Lake Lanier Bass in eBook format, with ten spots for each month of the year, with GPS coordinates, how to fish each and lures to use. The eBook is $4.99. Now available on CD ($6.00) or Email ($4.00) – contact me at ronnie@fishing-about.com I may have some copies printed but the price would be about $10.00. If you want a printed copy please email me at ronnie@fishing-about.com to reserve a copy if I do have them printed.

Check out these weekly updated reports for selected lakes in Georgia and Alabama Lakes Fishing Report. If any guides or fishermen do weekly reports and would like them published on my site please contact me: ronnie@fishing-about.com

Fishing Report for Lake Lanier

“The Southern Fishing Report”
By Ken Sturdivant
106 Hickory Ridge
770 889 2654
Cumming Georgia 30040
www.southernfishing.com

May 19, 2016

LAKE LANIER IS DOWN 1.15 FEET, THE CREEKS ARE STAINED AND THE MAIN LAKE IS CLEAR & 70’S

This report brought to you by Jimbo On Lanier 770 542 7764 www.jimboonlanier.com

Bass fishing on Lake Lanier has been fair this past week. There is no question that the fish are in their post spawn “funk”. The stripers have certainly been willing to cooperate several of the past mornings however. The morning bite for spots and stripers has been good on some days with a variety of baits to include: jerkbait, swimbait, topwater, spinnerbait, and a fluke. The focus with these baits should be fairly shallow on flats and shallower rocky points and humps as well. The fish continue to move deeper each day as they make their way out to the summer brush locations. When the fun stuff bite slows down, switch to a worm on a 3/16 ounce Davis Shaky Head and work it slow. The Chattahoochee jig bite came on strong this week as well. Experiment with the different baits to figure out which the fish prefer that day. Focus on main lake rocky points and on secondary points as well. As we have seen this week and as I noted above, the post spawners are often lethargic and will be for a couple of weeks. Slow down when the bite is tough and go to the worm or jig as discussed above. A fluke is often a good choice on these less aggressive fish also. Look for the traditional post spawn topwater bite over the brush to start in the next week to 10 days. This will be a fantastic bite and not one to be missed. I only have a few days left in June, so be sure not to miss out on this bite! Here is what I have open in June: 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30. Give me a call and let’s go fishing! Thanks to all and May God Bless.

This Lake Lanier Striper report is from Captain Ken West and Captain Mike Maddalena of www.bigfishonguide.com

Striper fishing is good. Not a lot has changed this week. There is a good top water bite early on points and reef markers in the mouth of the creeks. The Red Fin, Spook and Chug Bug are all working with a slight edge to the Red Fin. You can run and gun points by pulling up and casting 3 or 4 times on a point and then move to the next point or you can use your trolling motor to thoroughly cover an area with top water and a couple of free line Herring. After the sun gets up we are switching to down rods and moving into deeper water off the points. Check your Herring often as the Spotted Bass with kill them without you noticing. We have also had some luck pulling the Umbrella rig. Set your Umbrella rigs at 70 feet behind the boat and troll over a 25 to 35 foot bottom. The South end of the lake outperformed the North end this week. The lake temperature is in the mid 70’s and the lake is one foot below full pool. The water is clear on the main lake and stained in the backs of the creeks.

To book your guide trip call us at 404 561 2564 or contact us on our web site. www.bigfishonguide.com

This Lake Lanier Crappie report is from Dan Saknini, member of the Lanier Crappie Angler’s Club. See our club’s website, www.laniercrappieanglers.net

Water temperature is about 72 degrees. As expected, May fishing remains good to excellent. Concentrate on deeper submerged brush piles, using your Lowrance down scan to locate your brush. Throw your marker down and give the fish a few minutes to regroup from your arrival. Fish the brush pile from a distance that you can cast past the brush pile to the other side of it, and retrieve it slowly toward the boat. If you’re interested in catching fish in larger numbers, zero in on submerged brush piles in 20 to 25 foot depths. However, docks with brush piles are also producing, but not in the larger numbers. Both hair jigs and soft body jigs are working well. The lake traffic is definitely increasing, so be mindful that other fishermen may also be fishing the same spots. If you don’t get bites immediately, move on. Chances are very good that you will find alternate brush piles that will put fish in the boat. If you see a fisherman fishing one of your favorite docks, my advice is to skip it, and go to a different spot. Once you get the fish to bite, the entire school will shallow up as they chase the bait. The night bite remains fair at best, as night temperatures remain cooler. As the evenings warm up, so will the night bite? As always, our recommended line if 4 lb. test, high visibility line; not because the fish like it, but because it is easier for you to see the line movement and set the hook. The 1/24 ounce jig heads is recommended or 1/16 ounce if you feel like the fish are deeper in the water column, or if the wind is working against you. If you like a challenge, use a double jigged rig. Keep them about 16 to 18 inches apart. In my opinion, hair jigs work best in that application. Stay safe on the water and wear your life jacket; it can save your life!

Lowrance Pro Staff, KEN STURDIVANT will teach a FREE! SONAR Class on Saturday afternoon, May 28, 2016 at 1pm at the Cabela’s store in Greenville, South Carolina. See www.cabelas.com for details.

We have the LOWRANCE Gen 3 Touch and 3D NEW Lowrance Technology on our boat. Bring any HDS machine only to Lake Lanier and learn it ALL in one day. Call Ken for details.

For a free set up sheet for your sonar send me an e mail to ken@southernfishing.com

Anglers have these books for sale BASS FISHING ON WEST POINT LAKE BASS FISHING LAKE RUSSELL BASS FISHING WEST POINT LAKE and BASS FISHING LAKE HARTWELL. These books have lots of bass fishing and covers every week of the year. Each book $39.00. If you would like a sample of any book send us an e mail to ken@southernfishing.com.

We offer these waypoints for sale. You get the coordinates and you load them into your GPS unit

Lake Allatoona for $99.00 Lake Lanier for $99.00 Lake Oconee for $99.00 Lake Weiss for $99.00 Lake Hartwell for $99.00 WAYPOINTS ARE NOT REFUNDABLE

Our mailing address is Southern Fishing Schools Inc. 106 Hickory Ridge Cumming Georgia 30040. 770 889 2654

Copyright 2013 Southern Fishing Schools Inc. calls us to set up a school Maps and Depth Finders or SONAR and Rods Reels and Lures for Bass. 770 889 2654.