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 5/26/18

There’s no doubt that the lake came back this past 10 days the bite is on, the lake is on fire
and catching is as good as its been this year and maybe for many years. You just can’t deny
the results there are lots of bites, big fish and schools of fish throughout the lake. What a
difference a year has made.

The difference maker is the lake is behind, so the patterns are not typical but only a week or
so away as the bite is catching up quickly to this time frame from the extreme early heat. The
bite has expanded to many different presentations, in short, it’s about what you are
comfortable doing; your confidence bait will catch fish.

My presentations were, Tight-Line football jigs, Tight-Line swim jigs, SPRO DD 90 crank baits Missile Bait swim baits and Missile
“48’ stick baits. Fishing from 10 to 30 ft. of water depending on the sun, time of day and bait
action.

Come fish with us I have guides and days available to fish with you no one will treat you
better or work harder to see you have a great day on the water. Six-hour days are perfect to
avoid the extreme afternoon heat and catch some quality fish. We fish with great sponsor
products, Lowrance Electronics, Vicious Line, Duckett products, T&H marine products, Picasso
Lures, Lews reels and more!

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

Acoustic Tagging Program for Tarpon

Bonefish & Tarpon Trust Details Acoustic Tagging Program for Tarpon

Tagging Tarpon


The Tarpon Acoustic Tagging Project is a collaborative, five-year program designed to broaden our understanding of tarpon movement and habitat uses. The results will help shape future conservation measures, including the protection of critical habitats and improvements to fishing regulations. The project is generously sponsored by Maverick Boat Group.
Tarpon Acoustic Tagging is addressing the following questions:

Is the tarpon population large and robust or small and vulnerable? If anglers in a particular location are fishing for the same fish every year, then the tarpon population is probably smaller than we think, and issues like shark predation will become a bigger concern. If fish move among regions every year, and anglers are fishing for different fish each year, the tarpon population is probably relatively large.

Do tarpon gather in the same areas for spawning each year or move among areas? On average, ocean currents will carry the larvae from a spawning site to juvenile habitats in a specific geographic region. If it’s the same adults at the spawning site every year, then local adult losses will cause local declines in juveniles. If tarpon move among spawning sites, then the population will be more resilient.

How do changes in freshwater flows into coastal waters influence tarpon movements? Do the problems with Lake Okeechobee and Everglades restoration impact tarpon? Are the water issues in Apalachicola causing changes in tarpon movements?

What are the movement patterns and habitat use of mid-size tarpon (20-50 pounds)? How will these tarpon be impacted by coastal water quality issues? This size class, which is the future of the fishery, is very vulnerable to changes in coastal habitats and water quality.

Until the Tarpon Acoustic Tagging Project began, there was little information available to answer these questions. Satellite tagging provided spatial and temporal data that was limited to tarpon weighing 80 pounds and larger. After a few months, most satellite tags detached from the fish, making it difficult to study their movements over the important multi-year time frame. Acoustic telemetry has helped to combat these limitations.

Why Acoustic Tagging?

Acoustic tags provide the ability to track tarpon for five years. They are also small enough that they are being used on tarpon as small as 5 and as large as 200 pounds!
Acoustic telemetry has helped to broaden the scope of tarpon research. When deployed, a tag is surgically implanted in the fish’s abdomen before safe release. The tagged fish swims within range of an underwater receiver, which detects and stores the tag’s unique code. BTT and collaborators have approximately 100 receivers deployed, but we are also able to take advantage of the network of receivers being used by collaborators studying everything from redfish to sawfish. This vast network exceeds 4,000 receivers deployed from Chesapeake Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. As scientists detect tagged fish on their receiver networks they share data with other scientists, effectively expanding the study area.

How You Can Help

Sponsor a Tarpon: Sponsor an acoustic tag for $3,000. You can name your tarpon and will receive a certificate with its name and initial capture info (general location and measurements). Sponsors will receive access to a password protected site where they can see periodic updates of their tarpon’s movements.
Sponsor a Receiver: Sponsor and name an acoustic receiver (listening station) for $3,000. Sponsors will receive periodic reports summarizing the tarpon detections it has recorded.
Help us tag tarpon: Prior to every tagging trip, our team of scientists will notify sponsors about when and where they will be working, along with contact information. If you are fishing in that area on tagging dates, all you need to do is call us when you catch a tarpon. We’ll come to your boat, transfer the tarpon to our sling, and take implant a transmitter. Remember to always keep the tarpon in the water!

For more information and to sponsor a tag or receiver, please contact Mark Rehbein, Director of Development at 703-350-9195 or mark@bonefishtarpontrust.org

Fishing Lay Lake and Blue Ridge Lake

I love my job. Who would not love going fishing and getting paid to write about it? But it does get hectic at times. I have been on the road so much the last two months I met myself on the highway Monday – twice!

After a five-day trip to Clarks Hill I got home a week ago Monday then went to Lay Lake in Alabama Wednesday for two days to get information for my June Map of the Month article in Alabama Outdoor News. Then I got up this past Monday at 4:30 AM to drive to Lake Blue Ridge for my article in Georgia Outdoor News for June.

Lay Lake is a Coosa River lake south of I-20 near Birmingham. It is different from our Georgia lakes, with shorelines covered with grassbeds. And the Coosa Spots grow big and fat and fight harder than you would think possible.

I met 21-year-old David Gaston, a tournament fisherman and guide on the lake. We got out at daybreak and found shad spawning in the grass and bass feeding on them. Unfortunately for us, they were feeding on very small threadfin shad and we had a hard time catching them on our bigger baits.

I did manage to catch a spot weighing about 2.5 pounds on a swim jig, my first fish ever on that bait. Swim jigs have a bullet shaped head to come through grass and, with a trailer on them, look like a fleeing baitfish.

Those jigs work great on any lake with grass, but we just do not have grassbeds on many of our lakes. I do not fish that bait much, so it is unlikely for me to catch fish on a bait in my tacklebox. Fishermen tell me they work good around docks and shallow brush, cover we have here, so I am going to learn to fish it more.

Another difference with those lakes is the current in them and the relatively shallow ledges where flats run out to the river and creek channels. Most of our channels are in much deeper water and harder to fish. There, you can cast crankbaits up to five or six feet of water and bump the bottom with them out to the drop into 25 to 30 feet of water where the bass hold.

David showed me many such ledges on our trip since that is the best kind of places to fish after the sun gets high in June. We caught several bass on out trip.

Even more impressive was the pond on David’s family’s land. They feed the bass in it bologna and crawfish. The bologna surprised me, I had never heard of that, but David said I could easily catch a ten to 12-pound bass if I wanted to. He had one over seven pounds for pictures.

I didn’t fish the pond. There is something about catching easy bass that does not give me a thrill. That is the same reason I have never gone shiner fishing in Florida. Although I have always wanted to catch a 12-pound bass, and my biggest ever is one that weighed nine pounds seven ounces, I just don’t think I would really fulfil my goal with one that I did not make much personal effort to catch.

Lake Blue Ridge is totally different. A beautiful mountain lake near the Georgia/Tennessee/North Carolina junction, it is deep and clear, with little shoreline cover. It is the lake in Georgia where you have the best chance of catching a smallmouth bass, but their population has been decimated by the introduction of spotted bass.

I met Barron Adams who grew up in Mineral Bluff near the lake and now fishes tournaments and guides on Blue Ridge. The water was also much colder than on Lay and the shad had not started spawning. Neither had the bass. We saw one on a bed but many more cruising the shallows getting ready to spawn as soon as the water warms a little more.

This has been a crazy spring, with warm weather in February that made many central Georgia spawn early, then cold weather that stopped everything. Now the shad are starting to spawn and so are the herring, so fishing should be fantastic for a few weeks. I am afraid the water will get hot fast, shorting the time bass are in the shallows this year.

At Blue Ridge David caught a nice three pound largemouth and a two-pound spot, as well as some smaller bass. He also caught a big crappie and a small trout that was either a rainbow or brook trout. Neither of us know enough about trout to be sure which one it was.

We marked ten spots with deep brush and rocks where the bass live and feed in June. The baits to use are very different for June on Blue Ridge than Lay, with the best baits those that you can drag along the bottom 25 to 35 feet deep.

The fishing can be good there, but it is worth a trip just for the scenery. And there are many local points of interest in the area to visit other than the lake.

Either lake would be a good weekend trip for a fisherman and family. But traffic to Blue Ridge is awful since you have to go through downtown Atlanta. It took me 2.5 hours to drive up but over three to get home.

Downtown traffic was not bad that morning since I got through town before 6:30 AM but southbound traffic on I-75 and I-575 was already backed up by 6:30. And coming home it was bumper to bumper at less than 20 miles per hour from the junction of I-85 and 75 on the north side of town all the way to I-285 on the south side. And I saw four wrecks in that area.

If you go to Blue Ridge, plan your trip to avoid rush hours. I do not see how people stay sane driving in that mess daily to go to work!

Northern Pike Spawn

Northern Pike Spawn Delayed But Strong in North Dakota
Ron Wilson, North Dakota Game & Fish
from The Fishing Wire

Northern pike grow big!


Justen Barstad, Department fisheries technician, holds a trophy pike he caught while ice fishing March 1, 2018 on Lake Oahe. The fish is one that Barstad tagged during spawning work on April 8, 2017.
When North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists set trap nets in Lake Oahe in spring for the northern pike spawn, they were as late to the game as they’d been in years.

With such a delayed ice-out on Oahe and other waters around the state, the only certainty regarding the spawning of North Dakota’s state fish were the uncertainties.

“This is one of the latest springs we’ve ever encountered as Mother Nature threw a monkey wrench into our plans,” said Paul Bailey, south central district fisheries supervisor in Bismarck. “Typically, we’re collecting northern pike eggs around the second week of April. We’re about two weeks behind right now, which has only happened once before (1989 at Devils Lake).”

Fisheries biologists set nets on April 23, the latest in the last 30 years. The first pike eggs and milt were stripped into a stainless steel bowl and gently stirred with a goose feather three days later, also the latest since 1997.

While photoperiod, or day length, and water temperatures are the combined ingredients pike need to spur reproduction, there was some question when Oahe’s shallower back bays would warm enough to initiate reproduction.

“It’s definitely going to be a very short, intense spawning period this year,” Bailey said. “Usually, things are spread out over a several week period where we have lots of opportunities to collect eggs.

“Things are happening very fast right now as it has warmed up quite quickly,” he added. “Two days ago (April 24) Cattail Bay was covered in ice. Today (April 26), it is wide open and water temperatures are up into the low 40s, which is triggering these fish to spawn.”

To be prepared for the inevitable – be it the first or second week in April or much later – the trap nets used during the spawning operation were repaired in winter.

“There is nothing worse than getting to a lake with potential to find out that a muskrat has chewed a hole in a net,” said Scott Gangl, Department fisheries management section leader. “When the spawn is on, our staff don’t like to waste time.”

Turns out, when the pike decided they were ready, there was hardly a surplus of time.

Game and Fish Department fisheries personnel went into spring with a goal of 150 quarts of pike eggs. Between spawning efforts on Oahe and Lake Sakakawea, more than 220 quarts were collected in just two days.

“Certainly, because it’s nearly the end of April, some of the fish spawned before we had the opportunity to collect their eggs,” Bailey said. “But a pretty high proportion of these pike did delay spawning as they waited for the appropriate water temperatures.”

Even though the pike spawn was weeks later this spring than typical, it likely won’t influence operations at the federal fish hatchery where room will soon be needed for walleye eggs.

Jerry Tishmack, fisheries biologist with Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery, said the plan was to gradually increase the water temperature in which the pike eggs will incubate to make up for the late spawning date.

“Typically, I will incubate northern pike eggs at 50 degrees, which means they will hatch in 10-12 days,” Tishmack said. “This year I will bump it up to 60 degrees and incubate them in nearly seven days. That will buy me nearly four or five days, which will close the window a bit.”

After hatching, the pike are raised in hatchery ponds until they are about 1.5 inches long. From there, Game and Fish Department personnel transport the pike to lakes around the state.

Taking the eggs from mature pike, and walleye after that, is simply the first step in nourishing the many lakes across North Dakota’s landscape that are enjoyed by thousands of anglers.

“This is an extremely important process as a number of our pike and walleye fisheries across the state lack the ability to sustain themselves through natural reproduction,” Bailey said. “These waters either do not have suitable spawning habitat, or in many cases, the salinity levels are too high for eggs to successfully hatch. Our pike and walleye spawning operations, and our partnership with Garrison Dam and Valley City national fish hatcheries, are essential for maintaining a number of important fisheries around the state.”

Trophy Study

North Dakota Game and Fish Department fisheries biologists tagged dozens of big northern pike in 2017 as part of an ongoing study to determine how anglers utilize trophy fish.

While some of those jaw-tagged pike were caught by anglers in winter and the tag numbers reported to Game and Fish, biologists understand that the findings so far are preliminary, considering the small sample size.

Scott Gangl, Department fisheries management section leader, holds a trophy northern pike. The fish was fitted with a jaw tag as part of study of Lake Oahe’s trophy pike fishery.
Yet, understanding the interest by anglers today in trophy management of big northern pike, the small sample size signals a start.

The Missouri River System study was initiated last spring during Department pike and walleye spawning efforts on lakes Oahe and Sakakawea. Tags were secured to pike measuring 39.4 inches (1 meter) or longer.

In total, 75 qualifying pike from Lake Oahe and 62 from Lake Sakakawea received tags in spring 2017. Paul Bailey, south central district fisheries supervisor in Bismarck, said biologists hope to tag more fish this spring during spawning to increase the sample size of a study that could run the following three to five years.

Of the 75 trophy pike tagged in Oahe, Bailey said 19 were caught by anglers. Fifteen were released and four were harvested.

“The number of fish netted and tagged (from Oahe) by biologists is, understandably at this point, a small sample size,” Bailey said. “Yet, I’d say it’s interesting that anglers did encounter 25 percent of that sample size.”

And they harvested just 5 percent, Bailey said.

“Preliminary findings say that anglers are not harvesting an excessive number of the trophy fish,” he said. “It doesn’t look like anglers are having an impact on trophy pike in Oahe.”

Of the 62 tagged pike on Sakakawea, anglers caught and released four and harvested four, according to Dave Fryda, Missouri River System fisheries supervisor in Riverdale. Fryda said one jaw-tagged pike was also taken by someone darkhouse spearfishing.

Bailey said it takes a pike in Oahe about a decade to reach trophy size, or the 39.4-inch bar set by Game and Fish for the study.

The biggest pike fisheries biologists tagged from Oahe in 2017 was 47.6 inches. It weighed 29 pounds, 7 ounces.

“Oahe is definitely a world class trophy pike fishery now and, at least preliminarily, it looks like our current regulations and angler harvest rates will continue to allow Oahe to produce a trophy pike fishery into the future,” Bailey said.

The 42.1-inch pike was about 1 pound lighter from when it was tagged to when it was pulled through the ice.

“This fish should put on a bit more weight prior to spawning, but it does confirm how variable weights of these large pike can be over time,” Bailey said.

What Are Soft Shell Turtles?

Forty or fifty years ago, it was rare to see soft shell turtles on our lakes. But for the past ten years or so I have been seeing more and more of them while fishing. Soft shell turtles are seldom seen out of the water, but they look very distinctive when near the surface.

Common painted turtles that we often see sunning on rocks and logs in the water have a dark shell and yellow markings. They are everywhere, and I see them so often I even named a cove at Clarks Hill “Turtle Cove” there were always so many in it.

Soft shell turtles, named Florida Softshell Turtles, are a different family from other more common turtles. They are much flatter and look brown in the water. Rather than the sharp beak-like nose of other turtles, softshells have a long hog-like nose. And they have very long necks and much bigger webbed feet.

Softshells spend most of their lives lying on shallow, muddy bottoms, blending in with the mud. They don’t move around much. Their long neck and snout allow them to stick their nose above the surface to breathe. Bigger ones can extend to the surface from more than a foot deep. They feed on fish that swim by, grabbing them in their mouth by shooting their neck out.

The first softshell I ever saw was one caught on a trotline at Clarks Hill back in the 1950s. We were camping at Germany Creek and someone else in the campground brought it in. It was as big as a #2 wash tub.

Back then folks put out a lot of hooks for catfish, and sometimes, but rarely, caught a softshell turtle. If one was caught it was cleaned and eaten, since softshells are much easier to clean than other turtles. I think that is the reason they were so rare back then. Few people run hooks for catfish now so a big threat to the turtles has been removed.

The biggest one I have ever seen, and the only one out of the water sunning they I ever saw, was lying on a log at Lake Hartwell. It was huge, at least three feet across its back. Most of the time they are very shy and spooky but this one let me get close enough to get a good look before splashing into the water.

This time of year, turtles, including softshells, crawl out of the water to lay their eggs in holes they dig on the bank. You are much more likely to see them in the shallows. At Hartwell last week, in one small sandy cove, I counted five of different sizes. The biggest was about two feet wide and the smallest about a foot across.

In the ten days I fished Hartwell I saw more than a dozen softshells. I am glad they entertained me since I didn’t see or catch many bass!

Fish For Multiple Species

Dominate Your Early Season Fishing Trips – Fish For Multiple Species
Five tips for multi-species success in warming waters
By Dr. Jason Halfen
from The Fishing Wire

Fish for multiple species like big crappie

The natural world bristles with life in the spring. Your lawn’s formerly brown grass transitions to a lush, vibrant green. Bare branches on trees and shrubs become dressed wardrobes of blossoms and leaves. And beneath the water’s surface, once dormant shallows now teem with life, from the smallest insects to the largest aquatic predators, as the sun’s powerful photons drag water temperatures out of their wintertime lows.

Early season fishing can be a daunting proposition for many anglers. Which species of fish should we pursue? Which part of the lake holds the most active fish? Once we start fishing, which baits or lures might be most effective?

These five tips are proven winners in the spring and will get you on your way to early season multispecies success.

1. Water temperature is the key. No matter which species of fish you decide to pursue as your season opens, water temperature is the key to success. Surface water that is even just a few degrees warmer than surrounding areas will tend to concentrate actively feeding fish. In general terms, focus your efforts on soft-bottomed bays that are off the main body of water. The best bays will frequently be sheltered from the prevailing wind to minimize the influx of cold water. Within these bays, shallow, near-shore areas are generally better than deeper ones.

Interestingly enough, current from river inlets can be a double-edged sword in the spring: while current will help to attract and retain species like walleyes, cold runoff delivered by river inlets can also reduce local water temperatures and turn the bite off. Monitor surface temperatures with your electronics as you approach river inlets; if you encounter a plume of substantially colder water, it’s time to continue your search in another area.

2. Think small and subtle for panfish. Many a panfish has landed in a livewell after munching a chunk of nightcrawler or slurping a crappie-sized minnow in the spring. Nevertheless, savvy anglers recognize that they will typically catch more and larger fish by using artificial presentations. Such an approach has the added advantage of making fish far more releasable, as bluegills and crappies are rarely hooked deeply when caught on lures.

Oversized bluegills respond favorably to slender-profile soft plastics, rigged on the same small tungsten jigheads that northern anglers use all winter through the ice. A particularly potent combination is a 5 mm tungsten jig dressed with an inch-long orange, red or black soft plastic tail. Suspend this offering beneath a bobber so that the bait rides near the tops of the season’s first green weeds and retrieve with a series of twitches and pauses to imitate an emerging insect larva or small baitfish.

Early season crappies love minnow imitations. I enjoy presenting a 1-1.5” minnow-profile soft plastic dressed on a 1/16 oz jighead that features a wire bait keeper, which helps to keep the bait rigged correctly on the jig over many fish catches. A long cast and slow swimming retrieve that keeps the bait above emerging weed or standing wood cover can be highly effective. On windy days, suspend the same lure beneath a float, and allow wave action to provide all the swimming motion needed to land a bounty of spring crappies.

My favorite rod for both bluegills and crappies is the 7-foot, light-power, extra fast action Panfish Series Rod (PFS70LXF) from St. Croix Rod. The length of this rod helps to propel lightweight offerings long distances on the cast and moves a lot of line fast to ensure productive hooksets what a strike occurs far from the boat. Its light power rating ensures abundant sport from our panfish targets, yet also retains plenty of backbone to handle the incidental bass and pike that you’ll encounter in the panfish zone. Seaguar Finesse fluorocarbon is an excellent choice.

3. Early season bass are ready to feast. Cold water bass are notoriously fickle feeders. However, this lethargic attitude is rapidly replaced with an aggressive, predatory stance as water temperatures rise into the 60s. Their rapidly warming environment puts bass on the feed, as they increase their calorie counts in advance of impending spawning rituals.

Hardbaits are excellent choices for targeting early season bass. In southern reservoirs, the LIVETARGET HFC Craw can be fished productively along swing banks as creek channels run from the main lake toward the backs of bays. In the north country, where prespawn bass congregate near shallow weedgrowth, the LIVETARGET Sunfish Rattlebait is an outstanding option. In this situation, a steady retrieve through the tops of submerged weedgrowth in 4-8 feet of water is all that is required to catch and release vast numbers of early season largemouth. The Sunfish Rattlebait’s ultra-lifelike appearance and profile, three-dimensional anatomical features, tight swimming action and high-frequency rattle all contribute to the lure’s remarkable effectiveness.

When fishing the Sunfish Rattlebait, I rig with 20 lb Seaguar Smackdown braided line, which maximizes my casting distance so I can rapidly cover lots of water in search of actively feeding schools of largemouth. I also fish without a leader, opting instead to tie on a cross-lock snap; this strategy makes it far more likely that I will land marauding pike and prespawn muskies that frequent the same bass-infested zones, without breaking off and donating my LIVETARGET offerings to the fishing gods.

4. Rattle up post-spawn walleyes. Once water temperatures have risen into the 50s, walleyes will have completed their annual spawning movements, but will remain in relatively shallow water in search of recuperative meals. Contrary to popular belief, these fish can be targeted with great success using lures that provoke aggressive reaction strikes. A great place to look for postspawn walleyes is on the edges of near-shore sand flats, frequently in 8-12 feet of water.

Lipless rattlebaits, like the LIVETARGET Golden Shiner Rattlebait, are outstanding choices for targeting postspawn walleyes wherever they swim. These baits excel at provoking reaction strikes, especially when presented with an active rip-jigging motion. Within this family of lures, the ½ oz size is preferred for beefcake Great Lakes walleyes, while the smaller, ¼ oz rattlebait is a good choice for inland waters, pressured fish, or post-frontal conditions when a more subdued presentation may be required.

Line selection for presenting lipless rattlebaits to walleyes is similar to that used for bass in the bays, with 20 lb test Seaguar Smackdown serving as an excellent foundation, terminated with 2 feet of 15 lb test Seaguar AbrazX 100% fluorocarbon leader. A powerful, responsive rod is preferred when rip jigging rattlebaits. Indeed, the Legend Tournament Walleye “Snap Jig” (LWS68MXF) rod from St. Croix Rod is an outstanding choice for this presentation. This 6-foot-8-inch, medium-power, extra fast action rod is the backbone of many aggressive walleye techniques that you’ll use throughout the season.

5. Don’t forget the fundamentals. Whether your boat took a long winter’s nap under a blanket of snow, or you fish throughout the year on soft waters, pay attention to the basics of boat and motor maintenance to ensure enjoyable trips in the early season. Arrive at the ramp with a tank of fresh gas, oil for two-stroke motors, and a fully charged complement of batteries. Ensure that your boat and trailer registration are current, and that you possess this year’s license documents.

Planning to fish before sunrise or after dark? Take a moment to check your boat’s navigation lights, as filaments may have snapped during the cold winter months. And for goodness sakes, wear your lifejacket, as the cold waters of the early season dramatically increase the threat of hypothermia and limit survivability, should an unplanned swim be added to your early season fishing trip.

Fishing season is at our doorstep. These five tips are guaranteed to bring you early season multispecies success and help you to build some great memories on the water this spring. Enjoy the fast action while it lasts, as the dog days of summer will be here soon enough!

About the author

Dr. Jason Halfen owns and operates The Technological Angler, a company dedicated to training anglers to leverage modern technology to find and catch more fish. Visit them online at www.technologicalangler.com.

Fishing Lake Hartwell

Five pound largemouth and nice spot from Hartwell

I went up and camped, practicing and fishing a Flint River Bass Club weekend before last and a Potato Creek Bassmasters tournament last weekend. The first day there, the day before the Flint River tournament, I spent all day fishing shallow, looking for the big largemouth that inhabit the lake but saw mostly turtles.

I did catch eight bass, all small male bass, on six different baits. I saw some big largemouth cruising the shallows but if I cast within 30 feet of them they took off, running from the bait even if it entered with barely a ripple! There was no pattern to where they were or what they would hit, not a good sign for the tournament. Saturday morning I went to a point where I caught bass last year this time, and in the first 30 minutes landed two six-pound hybrids and five keeper spotted bass, filling my limit.

All the spots were small so at 7:00 I went to shallow docks, trying to catch a kicker fish. After fishing docks for almost two hours with one bite, a short spot, I decided to fish one more dock then try something else. But a cast to it got a bite, and I landed a 5.08 pound largemouth.

It was a miracle fish. I had cast over a dock cable and the fish ran back under it. Normally the cable will cut your line when a fish pulls against it, but I managed to net the fish, unhook it then get my line back over the cable.

When I stopped shaking and put the fish in the live well I counted and had fished 31 docks. But the big one made me keep trying. After two more hours of casting to 30 more docks without a single bite I went back out on the main lake and caught more small spotted bass that did not help. With just an hour left to fish I caught three big spotted bass that culled three of the four remaining small fish I had caught first thing that morning.

The first day I led with 13.54 pounds. The second day I tried everything I could think of except shallow docks. I caught only a hybrid on the point where I had the limit the day before. I landed exactly five small spots weighing 6.41 pounds and dropped to second with 19.95 but my 5.08 was big fish. New member Gary Cronin won with ten at 20.07, Don Gober was third with nine weighing 14.60 and Brent Drake placed fourth with ten weighing 13.77.

I spent four days trying to find some pattern the next week but caught only two or three fish a day. I started Friday in the tournament on my favorite point but caught only a short fish. On shoal markers I managed to land 11 keepers, the best five weighing 9.77 pounds and putting me in first. But as the weekend before, on Saturday I could land only four small spots weighing 6.10 and dropped to fourth with nine weighing 15.52.

Lee Hancock won with ten at 17.74 and had big fish with a 3.75 pound largemouth. Ryan Edge was second with ten at 17.34 and Kwong Yu placed third with ten at 16.55.

The lake was very crowded since there was a BFL tournament there Saturday and fishing was much tougher than it should be this time of year, even for them. It took only 14-14 to win it and 10-3 for tenth even though many of those guys are experts on Hartwell.

Try “Skating” a Fly for Fast Trout Action

Try “Skating” a Fly for Fast Trout Action
Chris Hunt, Trout Unlimited
from The Fishing Wire

Ah, the dry fly, cast upstream over the perfect current seam. Is there a better sight in all of fly fishing?

And when it works out … Damn, it’s awesome. It’s inspiring, effective and, well, it’s proper. But things don’t always line up just right, do they? Sometimes, you’re faced with a downstream run, and getting that perfect drift means you have to cast that Elk-hair caddis downstream, breaking that tweedy rule, but maybe catching a trout in the process. And, as often as not, sometimes, you end up “skating” that fly over the foam line. Why? Because it works.

Skating is nothing new in fly fishing, but the riverkeeper on the River Test might offer some strong words for the angler who dares pursue the noble trout with anything other than an upstream presentation. Just ignore him—he’s old school. Skating is one of the best ways to bring trout to the top, and there should be no guilt acquired when your caddis skis lightly over the seam and a nice rainbow rises to take it.

Just this past weekend, my best fishing buddy and I were chasing trout in a small stream high in the mountains above Cascade, Idaho. We charged through a few snow drifts looking for clear-ish water to fish as runoff pulsed off the mountains and into every creek, gully and wash. We came across a really small creek, and by the looks of it, I was certain it would be fishless. In fact, I was certain that, during high summer, this “creek” was probably dry (and it very well might be). But the water was clear (well, clear-ish) where most other creeks were stained with snowmelt.

We’d driven the hills for hours, enjoying that first real sojourn into the mountains. Fishing was more of a hopeful afterthought. When we came across this little stream, I noticed a really sexy run—long, slow and frothed with the perfect foam line.

“If there are fish in here,” I said. “They’re going to be right there.”

We only strung up one rod—I’ll be honest. I thought it was a long shot. I greased up a size 16 Elk-hair caddis, and my partner flipped the fly into the foam. She fed some line downstream (because approaching it from upstream was impossible, thanks to brush and a big, woody snag), and when the fly reached the end of the run, she lifted her rod, and the caddis skated it appreciatively. It took a second, but a small-stream rainbow darted from the depths and ate the fly.

Skating isn’t just a steelheader’s game. It works for trout, too. Last summer, I caught easily the biggest brook trout of my life in northwest Ontario by skating a fat Chernobyl over a deep run in an unnamed river that ran between two lakes. It was the brookie of a lifetime, without a doubt, and I didn’t catch it “upstream and dry.”

In austere mountain streams, skating works wonders. On mountain lakes, don’t hesitate to occasionally skate a fly back to you. It’s not illegal. It’s not even unethical. It’s just one more way to bring trout to hand.

— Chris Hunt, Trout Unlimited

Conservation VS Preservation

If you spend much time on Facebook, you will see many videos of people rescuing animals. A recent one shows a couple in a boat picking a hawk out of the water with a paddle and easing it toward the bank where it flies off. Many show divers cutting ropes from turtles and even whales.

Several videos show people helping bucks that have gotten their antlers tangled together while fighting. One shows a man carefully cutting a small tree to free a big buck with his antlers wedged around it, probably from rubbing it in the fall.

What is it in us that makes people want to take care of animals? Most of us have that desire to help when we see injured animals. Although we may hunt the same animals and catch fish to eat, we want to do it when legal, and in a sporting manner.

Kids as well as adults have this desire, even more so. Growing up there were many times I found baby birds that had fallen from their nests, doomed to die on the ground. It took only a couple of times putting them back in the nest, only to find them dead on the ground later, to realize the mother bird would push them back out, rejecting them probably because of the human smell.

One time while cutting our field with a rotary mower I saw a rabbit run ahead of me. I stopped and looked in the grass and found her nest, with several small rabbits in it. I carefully marked it and made sure to cut around it, leaving a small island of refuge for them.

That fall we were hunting that same field and killed a couple of rabbits. I remember thinking they may have been some of the same ones I avoided killing with the mower the past spring. But I felt no guilt killing, cleaning and eating them. That is the way of nature, predators killing and eating prey. But it is only human compassion that makes us want to protect the same animals at other times.

Dearing Branch on our property had some small bream and catfish in it. During dry summers it would dry up, being reduced to a few deep pools where all the fish went for refuge from the receding water. Many times, we would get the fish out of those pools, carry them to the house and put them in wash tubs with hoses keeping them full of water.

A few times we were able to keep some of them alive until the branch filled from rains. We would then take the survivors back to the branch and release them. But when the branch was full we would fish for them and eat any we caught.

The same attitude about protecting the resource is common among hunters and fishermen. We are the real conservationists. We believe in using our resources while protecting it. Taking some fish and game to eat does not harm the population.

Some “tree huggers’” the folks that want to totally protect everything in the environment without any human interference or change, never learned the ways of nature. They demand we leave deer alone and not hunt them. But that does not work.

There are almost no deer predators, other than humans, left in nature. Many examples, like Red Top
Mountain State Park on Lake Allatoona, show the facility of that approach. Deer got so overpopulated at Red Top Mountain that they ate all available food. Even the bark was stripped from young trees as high as the deer could reach.

Deer there were starving to death. Some do-gooders wanted to feed them. Others suggested giving them birth control to control he overpopulation. But the Department of Natural Resources realized the cost and inefficiency of both of those approaches, so they opened the park to archery hunting.

Within a few years the problem was solved, at no cost. Not only did hunters take enough deer legally to reduce the population to sustainable levels, they got food for their families. That is a much better solution for deer and people than the other silly suggestions.

Also on Facebook, you will see condemnation of trophy hunters that go to Africa to take game. The do-gooders want those hunters stopped, even suggesting killing them. The taking of Cecil the Lion is a good example. They are out of touch with reality.

Those hunters are strictly controlled, taking only specified animals. They spend a lot of money, often hundreds of thousands of dollars, for their trip. That money goes to local governments and much of it is used to control poachers, local folks that kill animals for monetary gain, with no though to long term effects. They often decimate animal populations to dangerously low levels.

Not only do local governments use money from hunters to protect animal populations, any animals killed are eaten by local people, feeding them. And the money hunters spend on local supplies help those same people.

In tournaments strict rules protect bass. Any fisherman bringing in a dead bass is penalized and catch and release is almost a religion among bass fishermen. After a tournament, bass weighed in are released back into the lake, with big tournaments going to the trouble of using boats with holding tanks to release fish all over the lake rather than concentrating them in one area.

Hunters and fishermen want to protect but use resources. Our license fees go to state agencies that are tasked with that goal. And money spent on fishing and hunting supplies have a special tax that is used for protecting resources.

Don’t condemn us. Join us in helping the natural environment while enjoying the products of it.

A Mother’s Story A Few Days Late

A Mother’s Story
By Hillary Hutcheson
Loon Outdoors
from The Fishing Wire

People often ask me about my first fish. Honestly, I don’t remember it. Something interesting happens when I’m asked about my biggest or best fish, or the one that got away. The fish I think about aren’t even my own…they’re my daughters’.

Ella and Delaney have never been wildly passionate about fly fishing. For them, it’s a like, not a love. I imagine it’s similar to how my old truck is stuck on my favorite radio station, and their only option is to listen to music that they didn’t choose. Sometimes they like the song and sing along…but usually they just endure it. They’ve been thickly immersed in fishing culture throughout their lives, so I’m not surprised they sometimes resent it. While fly fishing has taken me to remarkable places, it’s taken me away from them. There have been band concerts and softball games that I’ve missed because I was on the river or the salt. Their clothes have been ruined in the wash by floatant and flies I forgot to take out of my pockets. It’s no solace to them that they’ll always have a summer job in my fly shop…they’d rather it was a pizza joint or bakery. When Ella was in seventh grade, she told me she was “over it”. I asked why, and she said because a boy had come up to her at school and talked her ear off about the new fly reel he got for his birthday. And she was thinking, “dude, I don’t care…I’m not my mom.”

Since then, I’ve been more keen on taking them fishing when it’s their idea…not mine. They know I’ll let them bring their friends, listen to music on the boat, eat unhealthy snacks like those nasty Peachy-O gummy rings, and lounge on the beach in the sun throwing rocks as long as they want. I’m careful not to buy them fishing-related gifts, I don’t decorate the house in inescapable fishing decor and I no longer coach them through every cast. The result is that we are happily fishing together more often.

“And as their skills and desire grow, they’re catching more fish. And I remember every one.”

I still remember the northern pike minnow Delaney caught on a handline with a hook and a Cheez-it. I remember the whitefish her best friend Julia caught on a fly she tied just an hour before in my fly shop. I remember the rainbow Ella thought was a stick until it jumped. Oh, and wait, now that I’m recalling all this, I DO remember my favorite fish! It was a cutthroat that Ella saw eating midges along a cliff wall and expertly rowed me into. I missed that fish three times, and every time she caught the eddy, rowed me back up river and gave me another shot. When I finally hooked it, she tried to hide a smile and mumbled something sarcastic about anglers who think they’re professionals. She rowed into the eddy again where she dropped anchor and Delaney netted the most important fish of my life.

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