Monthly Archives: October 2018

Arctic Grayling in Michigan

Efforts Continue to Reintroduce Arctic Grayling in Michigan

By MAKENZIE SCHROEDER
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
from The Fishing Wire

Michigan Grayling


It’s been a little over two years since the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, announced a new initiative to bring back a long-gone historical species – Arctic grayling – to the Great Lakes state.

Michigan’s Arctic Grayling Initiative – with more than 45 partners, including state and tribal governments, nonprofit organizations, businesses and universities – is committed to reintroducing this culturally significant species, with steady progress made since June 2016.

“Our formal mission as an initiative is to restore self-sustaining populations of Arctic grayling within its historic range in Michigan,” said DNR Fisheries Division Assistant Chief Todd Grischke.

Michigan’s history with the Arctic grayling is long and storied. A striking fish with a sail-like dorsal fin and a slate blue color on its body, it was virtually the only native stream salmonid (a family of fish that also includes salmon and trout) in the Lower Peninsula until the resident population died off nearly a century ago.

“The fact we have a town named after this fish indicates just how iconic it was, and still is, to many in this state,” Grischke said. “When you add in other factors – such as the fact they’re only native to Michigan and Montana out of all the lower 48 states – it just adds to their legendary status.”

In the 19th century, Arctic grayling were found in many coldwater streams in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula and in one Upper Peninsula stream – and large populations of grayling flourished in the Manistee and Au Sable rivers – offering anglers plenty of opportunity to catch these unique fish.

But a variety of factors slowly erased their presence, including the cutting of Michigan’s vast virgin forest in the 1800s.

“Logging practices during that time period used streams to transport trees that were harvested. The streams carried logs to mills for processing,” explained Grischke. “These practices greatly impacted the physical nature of those streams and basically destroyed stream habitats for fish, including grayling spawning areas.”

Additionally, the cutting of the trees caused blockages in many of those same streams, often displacing grayling from where they lived, but this was just one issue that affected Michigan’s Arctic grayling, another being the introduction of non-native fish species.

“Other types of trout were introduced into Michigan’s waters to create additional opportunities for anglers to pursue – but a consequence of this action was that grayling couldn’t compete with more aggressive fish like brown, rainbow or brook trout,” Grischke said.

The other factor that led to the species’ demise was overfishing, as people harvested grayling in large quantities with no possession limits or other regulations to stop them.

The last native Arctic grayling on record in Michigan were caught in 1936. Since that time, natural resource managers have repeatedly looked for options to reintroduce the species.

“In the late 1800s and early 1900s they tried stocking millions of Arctic grayling fry into Michigan streams, but that didn’t work,” said Grischke. “And then in the 1980s we, the DNR, stocked hatchery-reared yearlings into lakes and streams, but again to no avail.”

In each of these previous reintroduction efforts, something critical was missing that prevented these populations from flourishing, but the Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative hopes to rectify that.

“We have learned from the previous reintroduction events and plan to capitalize on new approaches, dedicated partnerships and advanced technology,” Grischke explained.

Much of the initiative’s focus is detailed in its official action plan, reflective of the vast work to be done by various partners.

The group is gleaning as much information as possible from the state of Montana and its successful effort at re-establishing stable Arctic grayling populations. In addition to Michigan receiving help from biologists in Montana, both states also have been collaborating with Alaska.

“Within our action plan we’ve identified four focus areas and associated goals that were developed by all the partners and that we believe will give us the best chance of success moving forward,” said Grischke.

The four focus areas of the action plan are research, management, fish production, and outreach and education.

The research focus area includes work – already under way – on understanding relationships between resident trout and grayling, prioritizing streams for grayling introduction and evaluating in-stream remote site incubators. These incubators allow fish to be reared and released directly in the streams to better allow them to imprint to the waters they hopefully will reproduce in later.

Better imprinting means the initiative will be one step closer to establishing a self-sustaining population of Arctic grayling, which is the ultimate outcome of this effort.

The cost to reintroduce the fish will total around $1.1 million, according to DNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter, with virtually the entire amount being supplied through private and foundation support.

To date, nearly $325,000 has been raised for the initiative. Contributors include the Consumers Energy Foundation, the Henry E. and Consuelo S. Wenger Foundation, Rotary Charities of Traverse City, Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, Oleson Foundation and Little Manistee River Watershed Conservation Council. Plans are under way to recognize donors at Oden State Fish Hatchery.

“A diverse group of partners has invested themselves toward attaining a shared goal, and that says something about the nature of this project,” said Dexter.

Funders are critical in financially supporting various projects within the initiative.

“I am delighted to play a role in returning the Arctic grayling to northern Michigan’s streams,” said Charles Wilson, a member of the Henry E. and Consuelo S. Wenger Foundation’s board. “There has been a void in Michigan’s biotic community for way too long, but thanks to knowledge gained from Montana’s experience and research performed elsewhere, a reasonable chance exists today for successful reintroduction.”

Goals for the management focus area will include evaluating key habitat criteria, establishing population goals, and working on regulations related to fishing for grayling.

The fish production focus area’s work will center on experimenting with remote site incubator designs, ensuring fish health standards are upheld and maintaining a genetically diverse broodstock (fish used for breeding purposes) that will be housed at a hatchery facility.

Lastly, goals for the outreach and education focus area will be concentrated on informing the public about this initiative’s efforts, identifying future partners and creating a stewardship plan.

“The goals of these focus areas will be accomplished by partner representatives working together,” Grischke shared. “The only way this initiative will be successful is if we continue to work together towards our mission.”

To learn more about the Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative, visit migrayling.org.

Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories in our archive at michigan.gov/dnrstories. To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email delivery at michigan.gov/dnr.

Food For Deer

I admit I am a deer shooter, not a deer hunter. For years I have not done much scouting. One big reason is the Lyme Disease I got from a tick bite about 12 years ago. Being in the woods when ticks are active in late summer and early fall does not sound like a good idea after fighting that disease for a year.

I am also lazy – the older I get the lazier I get. But I have hunted the same areas since 1982 and watched them change due to logging, but the deer movements have not changed a lot. They may make new travel routes around fresh clear cuts, but they still feed under the same big white oaks they have been using for years.

For the past 20 years I have planted winter wheat, Austrian Winter Peas and clover on a couple of food plots. But this year I got lazier and did not plant much. It is too easy to put out corn now that it is legal. Although you don’t hunt over corn, or over food plots, you just shoot deer that come to you, I hunt only for venison.

On both food plots and corn piles you are more likely to see does and yearlings during shooting hours. Big bucks that are the goal of deer hunters are too smart to come out in the open during the day, except for a few weeks in early November in our area, when they lose their minds during rut.

I have shot a few decent bucks over the years, but they did not excite me any more that shooting a doe or yearling. I think that I mainly because I shot them more by accident than effort. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I respect trophy buck hunters for the efforts they make to put themselves in the right position to kill their dream buck. But for me it is like fishing a tournament. I often know that if I want to catch big fish to win, but most likely won’t catch many and could possibly zero, I have to dedicate my day to trying to get quality bites.

Instead I typically go after keeper fish, hoping for a limit. That does not always work, either, but the odds are better to catch something to weigh in. I do luck up on decent bass sometimes, but it is just luck for me, like shooting a big buck.

When I cut my food plots recently I was happy to see the clover was still growing and doing well. I could not see it until I cut all the weeds off it. And most years some winter wheat comes back from the year before. I can tell this because I usually change areas where I plant it each year.

I was happy to see a couple of the crab apple trees I got from the Forestry Service two years ago doing well. There are no apples yet, but I hope for some in another few years. The natural persimmon trees on the edge of the field have a few fruit each year, including this one, but they never produce much.

I am real disappointed in the dozen persimmon trees that came up in the field. I have carefully cut around them and fertilized them. Last year I saw a couple of persimmons on a couple of trees, but the trees in the field are 15 to 20 feet tall so they should be old enough to be producing a lot of fruit.

I found out there are male and female persimmon trees and no way to tell them apart, other than the female trees are the only ones that produce fruit. I was afraid they were all male but seeing even one or two fruit on a tree tells me they are female.

The biggest tree had two fruit on it last year so I hoped this year would produce a lot more, but although the tree is healthy and lush, there is not a single one on it. I probably should have ordered persimmon trees from the Forestry Service to insure I had good ones, but my laziness made me just do a little work on the volunteer ones.

A few years ago, I got excited to see a tree in the corner of the field loaded with fruit. I thought it was an old crabapple tree near the old house site. But when the Forestry Service tech came to plow my field, he said it was a Bradford pear tree. Deer really don’t eat the fruit for some reason and they cause problems. When birds carry the fruit into my planted pines, the seeds start growing and the young trees put out some chemical that stunts other growth around it. I want those pines to grow!

There is a good article by Eric Bruce in this month’s Alabama Outdoor News magazine about natural food sources for deer. Eric is a true deer hunter and he goes out and finds natural food, travel routes and places to hunt big deer.

I know about a lot of the food sources he describes like Trumpet vines, honey suckle, black berries, green briar, privet, mushrooms and wild grapes. After reading this article I realized I have other natural food like ragweed, pokeweed and beggar weed I did not think about.

Other surprises were sumac and beauty berry. I saw several sumac bushes around the edge of my field, so I made sure to miss them with the mower.

Gun season opens in two weeks and many hunters, and even more shooters will be in the woods looking for food or a trophy. Which are you?

Alabama Red Snapper

Snapper Anglers Can Offer Input at Gulf Council Meeting in Mobile

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
from The Fishing Wire

Alabama red snapper


Gulf anglers who are dedicated to catching Alabama’s most popular reef fish species – red snapper – will have an opportunity to share their opinions with the policy makers at the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meeting in Mobile later this month. During the meeting, members of the Gulf Council will continue discussions on a change in red snapper management that would give the individual Gulf States more flexibility in establishing the length of the fishing season within each state.

Alabama Marine Resources Division (MRD) Director Scott Bannon and MRD Chief Biologist Kevin Anson urge all anglers who want to see the individual states manage the reef fish fishery to become a part of the process when the Gulf Council meets Oct. 22-25 at the Renaissance Battle House in downtown Mobile.

The Reef Fish Committee meets at 8:30 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 23, to discuss Amendment 50, which deals with state management of red snapper. The segment of the Gulf Council meeting Bannon and Anson highlight as the chance for the public to participate in the process is the comment period from 1:30-4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24.

“In this particular Council meeting, we really need to make some decisions on the state management plans that could come into effect after 2019,” Bannon said.

Alabama’s 2019 red snapper season remains under the exempted fishing permit (EFP) that NOAA Fisheries granted for the 2018-2019 seasons. That EFP allowed the individual states to set seasons that would allow harvest of a specific number of pounds of red snapper as long as it did not exceed the overall quota.

Alabama anglers showed a renewed enthusiasm for red snapper fishing this past summer, and MRD officials were forced to close the snapper season early. The Marine Resources Division based its proposed 47-day 2018 season on the data gathered from the 2017 snapper season. That data included daily catch rate, size of the fish and the amount of angler effort (man-days fishing for snapper).

Alabama closely monitors the red snapper harvest through its red snapper reporting program, known as Snapper Check. After the data came in on July 8, MRD realized that red snapper fishermen had taken advantage of near-ideal conditions to catch fish at such a rate that the quota of 984,291 pounds of red snapper would be exceeded unless the season was closed after 28 days.

“Everything that you would be concerned about as an angler wasn’t a concern,” Anson said, explaining why angler participation and harvest rates skyrocketed in 2018. “When you go offshore, you have to make sure you have enough money to pay for fuel and supplies. The economy is good. They didn’t have to worry about the weather, as winds and seas were great this year during the snapper season days for the most part. And, the fish are there and they’re easy to catch.”

Although the 2019 snapper season will still fall under the EFP, no plan is in place for 2020 and beyond. Without a new plan, the private recreational angler would revert to a federal season, which was ridiculously short before the EFP was granted.

“If we go back to a federal season, that may not work out very well for private recreational anglers,” Bannon said. “There will be a lot of discussion on Amendment 50 at this Council meeting.”

Anson, who is MRD’s representative on the Gulf Council, said Amendment 50 is an alternative to the traditional federal form of fisheries management. “Basically, it’s a form of management that apportions a percentage of the recreational quota to each state. Then the states set their seasons based on those available pounds,” Anson said.

“Amendment 50 states that the Gulf states have a portion of the total recreational allocation, which may or may not include federal charter boats,” Anson said.

Alabama’s charter-for-hire fleet opted to abide by traditional federal management for the 2018 season, which gave them a 51-day season, fishing straight through from June 1 through July 21.

Anson said charter-for-hire vessels are included in Amendment 50, although there is discussion to exclude them from the amendment.

Anson said several options are on the table in Amendment 50 to determine what each state’s apportionment would be, including traditional harvest data and a biomass estimate.

The biomass (number of red snapper in the Gulf) estimate may not bode well for Alabama’s share.

“The assessment estimates that the majority of red snapper are west of the Mississippi River,” Anson said. “That would be Louisiana and Texas. The proportion of red snapper for the other three states is lower. Compared to historical landings data, our allocation of fish would go down in that situation.”

Anson said if Amendment 50 is passed and goes into effect, it will give states as much control over the fishery as federal law allows through the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Congress must amend Magnuson-Stevens to give states more control than what is currently being considered under Amendment 50, Anson said.

“Under this amendment, states could set their seasons,” Bannon said. “The seasons will be set under a total allowable catch for the entire Gulf. Probably the number one topic for Amendment 50 is can the states agree on the allocation percentage for each state and vote that forward so that everything will be done in time for the 2020 season.

“The other topic has to do with the federal for-hire boats. Do they totally come out of the amendment? Two states are fighting very hard to keep the for-hire boats in the amendment, and the federal for-hire folks in the other three states would not like to see that. They want to keep the federal season. The meeting in Mobile is a chance for the owners of federal for-hire vessels to express that to the Council.”

Bannon said historically the private recreational anglers have been reluctant for whatever reasons to provide public testimony and participate in the process. He hopes that will change later this month.

“Red snapper fishing in Alabama is a huge deal,” Bannon said. “This Gulf Council meeting is being held in Mobile. I want to encourage people from Alabama who consider this to be very important to come and provide public comment during the process. My take is that if you can take a day off to go fishing, then you can take a day off to come to the meeting and be a part of the solution for 2020 and beyond. We get a lot of people whose response is ‘The process is stupid’ or ‘It doesn’t work,’ when they don’t know how it works. This is their opportunity to see how the Council process works.”

PHOTOS: (David Rainer) Large red snapper have become abundant in Alabama’s unparalleled artificial reef zones. Alabama-based charter vessels take advantage of the plentiful snapper during the summer federal season.

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 10/6/18

What is generally a great time of year is being over-powered by extreme heat and seasonally
unprecedented averages way above normal. The daily catch this time of year is really-down
as the bass remain extremely subdued by the lack of oxygen in the water. Sure, we are having
some success and I expect any day for the bite to pick up but so far you just got to take what
you can get and enjoy the fishing.

The best bites for me are still the frog bite, patience, persistence and ability to take the heat
are the key to making it work. If you persist your SPRO frog will put some good fish in the
boat daily. My next best bait this week came on Tight-Line Swim jig just really twitching and
working it around grass trying to get a reaction from the fish. Lastly the Missile Bait ‘48’ stick
bait rigged weight-less is producing around the grass.

Come fish with me no one will treat you better or work harder to put you on fish and make
sure you have a great time on the water. I have days and guides available to fish with you.
We fish with great sponsor products, Ranger Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Vicious Fishing,
T&H marine products, Boat Logix Mounts, Navionics mapping, and more.

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

Justin Lucas Wins BASS Angler of the Year

Justin Lucas: The Path to Angler of the Year
from The Fishing Wire

Justin Lucas wins BASS Angler of the Year


This time, just one year ago, Justin Lucas watched the Angler of the Year championship tournament come and go from the sidelines. 2017 would mark his worst year on the Bassmaster Elite Series and leave him without a bid to the following Bassmaster Classic. With only a short winter to reflect and prepare for the 2018 season, Lucas went to work.

“I had a tough year last year. I’m not exactly sure why, but I think it was because things got out of whack in my fishing,” said Lucas, referring to his season in which he finished tied for 64th place. “I put too much emphasis on practicing to win instead of practicing to do what I do best. I’d fish a technique that I wasn’t good at just because I thought that was the way to win.”

Frustration and forcefulness has proven to be the downfall of many anglers’ seasons. For Lucas, there’s no question in defining what set him free on his route to winning AOY.

“The birth of my son, Cooper Jack, had a huge impact on me. It’s unbelievable what something like that can do to your thinking. I realized that regardless of how I fished or where I finished in a tournament I had a responsibility to help take care of him and to set an example for him, even at a young age.

“Recognizing that there were other things more important in life than the tournament I’m fishing in allowed me to relax and just do my thing. In the end, that was what I needed to get things back on track.”

From the first cast of this season, it was noticeable the tides had turned. The 50th year of Bassmaster and the 2018 Angler of The Year would belong to Lucas.

With most of his focus on becoming an elite father, Lucas settled back into the zone on the water. Lucas relied heavily on a set of techniques he perfected through a childhood on the California Delta and nine years on professional tours. Whether flipping, finessing, or showing off topwater dominance, Lucas tallied five straight top 12 finishes doing what he does best.

“I had something to prove to myself this year. Nobody else. I didn’t want to be that guy who had three awesome years and couldn’t come back.”

There is no path leading to an AOY title. No formal coaching or game script that guides young anglers. Lucas was no exception to the uphill climb. He owed his introduction to the sport to his grandfather Jack, but the journey thereafter, to an internal fire. Passion and intensity fueled a progression from local tournaments through the ranks, into the forefront of the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) tour and, ultimately, to hoisting a Bassmaster AOY trophy.

I feel like I’m the most competitive person I know. Others might see me as this 5-foot, 9-inch guy. But I’m the most intense person I know. I hate to suck.

– Justin Lucas, 2018 Angler Of The Year

Amongst recent dramatic shifts in the professional bass fishing landscape, this victory serves as a testament to the next generation of anglers. Young and hungry, Lucas exemplifies that the baseline of a champion is a humble appreciation for sport and pursuit. But throughout each elite performance and the persistent competitive drive, the bond that tied skill and success was Cooper Jack Lucas.

“He’s not going to learn to be the man his mother and I want him to be if all I show him is that winning a tournament is what matters in life. A real man is honest and has integrity. He lives a life that makes everyone around him proud. I’d like to be the man who teaches Cooper Jack to be like that.”

Looking ahead to the 2019 season, Lucas said, “There’s no way to know what next year will bring. I hope it’s good on the fishing side of things but more importantly I’m going to do my best to make things good everywhere else.”

Congratulations Justin Lucas, Angler of the Year.

Raking Leaves and Eating Pecans

I have noticed a few leaves starting to fall around my house. And while in town Monday one tree with pretty yellow leaves was showering them down every time a little breeze hit it. Its about leaf raking time!

I miss folks using rakes rather than leaf blowers. Their whine around the house is bad enough but that sound on lakes in the fall is almost as irritating as the whine of skidoos. Its hard to fish in peace.
But they surely are convenient and easier to use than a rake.

We had a huge pecan tree in our front yard where I grew up on Iron Hill Road in Dearing. There was another big one in the side yard and two smaller ones on that side near the road. Another big one was just past mom’s flower garden on the same side.

Those trees provided hundreds of pounds of pecans each fall, but also produced what seemed like a million bushels of leaves. I hated the boring, tedious job of raking leaves, made even slower by having to stop every pass and pick up pecans. But I did enjoy cracking a few open and eating them to break the long hours.

We would start at the house and rake everything to the ditch out front, where we burned them. I worried that my “pet” red ants in the bed in the ditch, where I had fed them flies all summer, would be killed but they always started scurrying around as soon as the ashes cooled.

I spent a lot of time in that ditch. There were always a few pecans we missed, and they were nicely toasted in the leaf fire. I would scratch around in the ashes, finding enough to keep me happily full. Mom was not quite as happy with the conditions of me and my clothes!

For some reason I never even thought of jumping in piles of leaves. I see many cartoons of kids and dogs having fun in leaves, but we were working. And I would never consider scattering them and having to rake them up again.

After cleaning the yard dad would take a long pole and knock remaining pecans to the ground. Sometimes I would climb the trees as high as possible and shake the smaller limbs to do the same thing.

We had three kinds of pecans, but I never knew the names. One tree had what we called “papershell” pecans, big nuts with very thin shells. But we did not get to eat them, they brought the highest price, so we sold them.

Another tree, the one past mom’s flower garden, had “peewees,” very small nuts. They were not worth much but we sold them, too, since they were such a pain to crack and open for little meat.

The other three trees were just regular pecans and we ate many of them. There were always bags of them in the den, where we sat at night watching TV and cracking them and picking out the meat. Some went into our mouths, but most went into the freezer for toppings for mom’s cakes and pies. We often roasted a pan while cracking them and also later when they went from the freezer to the oven.

I miss eating those nuts but not the raking leaves!Raknig

Shrimp Imitating Baits

The Wrong Place to be a Shrimp
Modern shrimp-imitating baits save live shrimp for the dinner table
By Dr. Jason Halfen
from The Fishing Wire

Catch big fish on shrimp


The ocean is the wrong place to be a shrimp. Here, you’re at the top of the menu – everybody’s menu. Not only must you avoid the diesel-powered trawlers, but you must also evade incalculable fish, honed by evolutionary pressures to become exceptional shrimp predators.

Anglers can exploit this innate relationship to catch more and bigger fish in the saltmarshes and on the flats. Indeed, live shrimp are a mainstay of light-tackle anglers targeting a wide variety of marine predators. Nevertheless, even live (or recently dead) shrimp presentations have their limitations: anglers must collect or purchase their own fragile crustaceans, maintain them in healthy, fishable condition throughout the trip, and rig the shrimp with extreme care to keep them feisty. And, like every natural presentation, live shrimp used as bait can result in deeply hooked fish, making injury-free releases a challenging proposition.

Meticulously designed and engineered for performance and durability, contemporary artificial shrimp reap all of the benefits of the natural predator-prey relationship that pervades the coastal flats, without any of the limitations that accompany the use of live shrimp. Perfect for any inshore predator, including speckled trout, flounder, snook and redfish, artificial shrimp can be presented using many of the same techniques that are appropriate for live shrimp. Two exceptionally productive methods are to present shrimp lures beneath a popping cork, and to swim or jig shrimp on or near the bottom.

Chug, chug, chug – the rhythm of the popping cork

To the untrained eye, popping corks look like clumsy, oversized bobbers bejeweled with clacking beads. Yes, popping corks do suspend a bait just a few feet below the surface, well within the strike zones of fish prowling these coastal flats. And yes, when the cork submerges, it’s time to set the hook – and hold on. But the link between conventional bobbers and popping corks ends there.

Generally constructed of foam, popping corks are tapered on the end closest to the lure and convex on the other. This curved face imparts the same chugging sound and water-displacing commotion associated with a traditional surface popper. Anglers can rip the popping cork forward aggressively to capture the attention of larger fish or twitch it more subtly when targeting trout.

These movements of the cork have a bite-triggering impact on the lure suspended beneath. Below the popping cork, separated by a 2-3 foot length of 30 lb. test Seaguar fluorocarbon, is where we’ve laid our trap – an artificial shrimp. As the cork chugs forward, the shrimp darts toward the surface; when the cork stops, the shrimp pendulums downward toward its original position – where it rests vulnerably until the next chug.

Two different soft plastic shrimp lures are particularly effective under popping corks. The LIVETARGET Rigged Shrimp is designed to accurately mimic the appearance of a live shrimp darting in a forward direction. Designed around a stout, saltwater grade hook and boasting an internal rattle to mimic a live shrimp’s clicking sound, the LIVETARGET Rigged Shrimp is available in 3” and 4” lengths that have broad appeal to coastal predators.

The Z-Man Rigged EZ ShrimpZ is another stand-out performer under a popping cork. With a sweet-spot length of 3.5”, a segmented, high-action body and a robust Mustad hook, the EZ ShrimpZ features a notched ¼ oz keel weight that can be easily trimmed to 1/8 oz to adjust the rate of the lure’s pendulum swing. Molded from Z-Man’s proprietary ElaZtech material, the EZ ShrimpZ won’t rip or tear, even after being extracted from the mouths of multiple toothy predators.

Fortify your popping cork presentation with the right line and rod. There’s a reason that most guides select Seaguar Smackdown braided line as the foundation of their popping cork combos: not only is it strong enough to withstand the unforgiving coastal environment, but its tight, eight-carrier weave gives it a completely round profile for long casts, as well as a velvety-smooth feel that resists kinks and wind knots. Smackdown in 30 lb. test (8 lb. test mono equivalent diameter) is a great choice on a 3000-series spinning reel, such as a Penn Battle II. A St. Croix Mojo Inshore medium heavy power, fast action rod in 7’ or 7’6” lengths pairs perfectly with popping corks.

The 7’6″, medium light power, fast action Legend Tournament Inshore rod is a great choice for speckled trout, while the 7′ or 7’6″ medium power, fast action Legend Tournament Inshore rods are terrific for snook, flounder, smaller reds, and more.

Jig it – shrimp on and near the bottom

When shrimp are un-harassed by predators, they swim leisurely in a forward direction. But when faced by their own mortality, trying to delay their final entry into the coastal food web, they pulse their muscular (and tasty) tail and flee backwards. This is the motion and erratic action we seek to emulate as we swim and jig artificial shrimp on and near the bottom.

Jigging presentations are particularly effective in regions with high water clarity, areas where the commotion of a popping cork would scatter wary predators. Think sand flats and marsh ponds – places where sight fishing for trout, reds, and more is possible. The deception here will be visual, using lures with the right profile, color, and action, supported by other sensory inputs like sound, vibration, and even scent, to elicit bites.

The Z-Man TroutTrick Jerk ShrimpZ is a great choice for tempting shrimp-munching speckled trout. This 3.5” soft shrimp lure boasts lively appendages and twin paddletail antennae, yielding strike-triggering action as the shrimp is hopped and twitched, especially when dressed on a 3/16 oz jig. The Jerk ShrimpZ also benefits from another unique ElaZtech feature: buoyancy. At rest, the head of the Jerk ShrimpZ rises gently off the bottom, creating a highly visible, upright posture complemented by gently swaying antennae – a lifelike stance and subtle action that trout can’t resist.

When bigger, older, and wiser predators are on the agenda, a soft plastic shrimp with extreme attention to visual detail will turn lookers into biters. Available in 3/8 oz and ¾ oz weights, the new LIVETARGET Fleeing Shrimp bristles with three-dimensional anatomical features and is armed with a corrosion-resistant hook. The Fleeing Shrimp’s proprietary skirt masterfully emulates the motions of a living shrimp’s front legs, both in motion and at rest. Coupled with a subtle internal rattle and a long-lasting shrimp scent, the LIVETARGET Fleeing Shrimp may be the ultimate artificial shrimp for deceiving inshore predators.

The Z-Man TroutTrick Jerk ShrimpZ is a great choice for tempting shrimp-munching speckled trout.

When casting these generally lighter shrimp lures, it’s best to back down in your rod’s power rating. When rod sensitivity is critical for bite detection, consider the SC-IV graphite St. Croix Legend Tournament Inshore series. The 7’6”, medium light power, fast action Legend Tournament Inshore rod is a great choice for speckled trout, while the 7’ or 7’6” medium power, fast action Legend Tournament Inshore rods are terrific for snook, flounder, smaller reds, and more. Spool up with 30 lb. test Seaguar Smackdown, and complete the visual deception by tying in a leader of 20 or 25 lb. test Seaguar Gold Label 100% fluorocarbon leader (available soon). Substantially thinner than any other fluorocarbon of comparable strength, Gold Label is less visible to fish underwater and also enhances lure action – two critical line attributes that dramatically enhance catch rates.

The ocean is truly the wrong place to be a shrimp. Use the innate connection linking predators and their favorite prey to your advantage by presenting artificial shrimp whenever you target trout, snook, flounder, or redfish on coastal flats – and save the live shrimp for the dinner table.

About the author: Dr. Jason Halfen owns and operates The Technological Angler, dedicated to teaching anglers to leverage modern technology to find and catch more fish. Let your learning begin at www.technologicalangler.com

Trying To Catch Bass At Sinclair

Last Sunday 12 members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our September tournament at Sinclair. After seven hours of casting we brought 26 12-inch largemouth weighing about 33 pounds to the scales. Thankfully no spots are showing up at Sinclair yet. There was one limit and three people did not catch a keeper.

Raymond English wore us all out with five weighing 11.40 pounds and had big fish with a 5.37 pounder.
Robert Proctor placed second with three weighing 5.46 pounds and had a nice 2.96 pounder, Chris Davies was third with three weighing 4.47 and fourth was George Roberts with four at 4.21 pounds.

I’m very glad the hot summer fishing is about over. I managed to place fifth with three weighing 3.69 pounds for the second time in the last two tournaments. It can be very frustrating this time of year, but I keep telling myself I am just happy to be able to be out there.

First thing that morning I thought I could catch some fish on topwater, but I guess I started at the wrong places. I did hook and lose what looked like a short fish on a buzzbait and missed a hit on a frog, but those were my only two bites the first hour.

At 8:00 I gave up and started fishing brush with a shaky head worm. I quickly caught a keeper in some deep brush, then 15 minutes later caught a small keeper from some shallow brush. After running to another cove, I caught my biggest keeper out of some brush beside a dock, then caught a short fish in more brush.

At 9:00 I felt pretty good with three keepers in the live well and five hours left to fish. I spent another hour fishing brush but never got a bite. I was mostly letting the sun get higher and creating shade under docks.

Usually I can catch some small keepers at Sinclair this time of year by skipping a weightless Senko under docks, but after trying that for three hours without a bite from even a short fish, I gave up.

The last hour I went back to fishing brush and rocks but never got a bite in the last five hours of the tournament. I must have been in the wrong places using the wrong bait at the wrong time, or maybe the bass were just not eating.
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