Category Archives: Fishing Tackle

Rods and reels to live bait

September Sinclair Tournaments

In our September tournament, 14 members of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished eight hours at Lake Sinclair to land 43 keeper bass weighing about 60 pounds. There were three five-fish limits and no one zeroed.

I managed to win with five weighing 8.95 pounds and had big fish with a 4.58 pounds largemouth. Sam Smith was second with four weighing 6.19 pounds and Robert Proctor and George Roberts tied for third with five at 6.06.

I landed five keepers, including the big one, the first hour we fished. I also missed six or seven fish during that hour, all on a top water popper near grass beds and docks. After the sun got up I caught one more fish in seven hours!

I did have some excitement at about 11:00. I had cast a topwater plug to a seawall and as I worked it across the flat leading to deeper water something blew up on it, missing it by about two feet. I reeled in and threw a floating worm to where the fish had hit, and as it sank my line started moving toward deeper water. I set the hook and something big pulled for about four seconds before coming off.

I knew there was some brush there so I reeled in and cast a jig head worm to it. I felt the bait hit a limb then something took off, running about five feet before pulling off. Although exciting it was disappointing. All I can figure is there were gar around that brush and would hit, but I could not get my hook into their bony snout.

———-

On Saturday the Sportsman Club held a youth tournament at Sinclair. There were five youth competing and three of them caught keepers. Blaze Brooks, fishing with JR Proctor and Zane Flake, won with 5.80 pounds and his 1.78 pounder was big fish. Austin Lynch fishing with Raymond English and two other youth was second with one 1.95 pounds and Treston Cheeves, also fishing with Raymond, was third with 1.59 pounds. The other two youth, Kamron Cheeves and Caleb Dague, fishing with Sam Smith, fished hard but did not land a keeper.

How To Catch Spring River Walleyes

A Double-Barreled Approach for Spring River Walleyes

Dr. Jason Halfen
www.technologicalangler.com

Dubuque Rig

Dubuque Rig

The versatile, double-barreled Dubuque Rig targets river walleye and sauger in the lowest portions of the water column.

River anglers are renowned for developing unique rigs and bait presentation methods to help them tackle their ever-changing, current-driven environment. Many of these rigs have unique names that refer to their developer or place of origin, like the venerable “Wolf River Rig” that has put so many walleyes and white bass in anglers’ nets over the decades. One of my favorite river rigs for both early- and late-season walleye fishing, when the water is generally running high, fast and dirty, is one that simultaneously offers two opportunities to catch walleyes and sauger within the lowest portions of the water column. That exceptionally versatile, double-barreled rig for targeting river whitetips is the Dubuque Rig.

Dressed Dubuque Rig

Dressed Dubuque Rig

The Dubuque Rig can be dressed with a wide variety of live and artificial baits, although soft plastic offerings from B-Fish-N tackle are mainstays in most instances.

The Dubuque Rig is designed for trolling, generally upstream (although downstream is possible when flows are low), and is centered around a standard 3-way swivel. Attach your main line to one of the swivel eyes. To a second and third eyes, attach mono leaders with two different lengths: a “short” leader that is about a foot in length, and a “long” leader that is 24-30″ in length. We will use these mono leaders to connect two baits to the rig. I tie a heavy jig (1/2-3/4 oz) to the long leader, and dress that jig with a bulky soft plastic like a 4″ ringworm or a Pulse-R Paddletail from B-Fish-N Tackle. I prefer to tie a light jig (1/16 oz) to the short leader, and dress that jig with a low-profile soft plastic like a shortened ringworm or a small fluke-style bait. These two baits, presented at two different depths, provide the angler with the opportunity to target walleyes feeding close to the bottom, as well as those that might be tempted to rise several feet off the bottom to strike.

The Dubuque Rig is designed to be presented from a moving boat. Position your boat downstream of your intended fishing area, and start moving upstream at a speed of 0.5-0.8 mph. I rely on my Minn Kota Ulterra 112 to provide me with quiet, consistent power throughout a long day of targeting spring walleye in heavy current. With the boat moving, lower the rig into the water, allowing the heavier jig to contact the bottom. Present the rig with a series of lifts and drops, releasing enough line to allow the heavy jig to remain in contact with the bottom during the drop. It is important, however, to resist the temptation to simply drag the lower jig across the bottom, as this is a sure-fire way to donate tackle to the river gods. In high-flow areas, you will likely notice that most of your bites occur on the bottom jig, while the top bait, fluttering off the bottom, will be a key producer under low-flow conditions and in cleaner water. As such, this double-barreled approach excels under a wide variety of river flow and clarity conditions that anglers encounter throughout the year.

St. Croix Avid X

St. Croix Avid X

Introduced just last year, St. Croix Avid X series has become a mainstay for river walleye enthusiasts.

The Dubuque Rig is quite versatile. Common modifications include using a much longer leader for the “upper” bait, and connecting that leader to a long-shank live bait hook dressed with a minnow, leech, or the front half of a nightcrawler. In some parts of the walleye belt, a trolling fly will take the place of the bare hook. Another variation is to attach a small floating crankbait to this elongated leader, allowing the heavy jig and the bottom of the rig to pull this crankbait down to depth. Likewise, some anglers will cast a Dubuque Rig to fish the front faces of wingdams from fixed position, maintained by using the Spot Lock feature of the Minn-Kota i-Pilot Link system. Day in and day out, however, I use the Dubuque Rig as described above, with two jigs each dressed with a soft plastic, presented from a moving boat.

Big Walleye

Big Walleye

When you fish the Dubuque Rig, you’ll be presenting relatively heavy baits in moving water, and as such, this is no place for a wimpy walleye rod. Two rods are particularly well-suited for presenting the Dubuque Rig. On the spinning side of the family, I like a St. Croix 6’8″ MXF rod, which you can find in series ranging from the Eyecon all the way to the Legend Xtreme. I like the same length and action in the Avid X casting series; look for the AXC68MXF to find a rod that can pull double duty for chasing walleyes and summer bass. When paired with a casting reel that features a flippin’ switch, presenting the Dubuque Rig with casting gear can be accomplished with a minimum of angler effort. When fishing either rod style, spool up with 20 lb test braid, and you’re ready to hit the river.

How To Find Fish

Follow the ‘Birds to find fish

Where to Fish (and How To Get There)
from The Fishing Wire

Big redfish

Big redfish

EUFAULA, AL (March 17, 2016) – Most honest anglers would tell you that every great day on the water is offset by countless days of head-scratching and asking questions like: “Where are they?” and “Where should I fish?” And to be completely honest, these questions are often peppered with a few choice expletives, because let’s face it, the process can be frustrating. It’s a dilemma that goes back to the first nets and lines cast into the water.

Decades ago, Ron and Al Lindner came up with the revolutionary F + L + P formula, which helped scores of anglers reach a new level of fishing success. In a nutshell, they taught how a combined understanding of your target species, location and presentation are the prerequisites for success. The system still holds water today.

Of these prerequisites, Location is often the toughest nut to crack. You can have a brain-full of fish biology and know how and when to throw every bait in your box, but if you can’t find fish, it’s all for naught.

Fact is, good fishing is a lot like buying commercial real estate: success hinges on location, location, location.

Old School Fish-Finding

Many of us remember the early days of fish-finding, learning how to repeatedly position our boats over fish-holding structure by triangulating off landmarks like a radio tower, a tall pine tree, or “that big red barn.” Or timing the distance travelled to our outboard’s speed, a water-logged paper map in our hot little hands, and eyes trained for red blips on a primitive flasher.

We also learned to study shoreline terrain and topography for clues of what might be underwater. And, during periods of low water, we took photos of rock and brush piles for future reference during high-water periods. We also kept our heads on a swivel for busting bait and birds, sentinels of the quarry we pursued. It was a ton of work! That all sound familiar?

This is why the advent of GPS is probably the most significant technological advance in fishing since the birth of the first sonar flasher. Now add new GPS-enabled technologies and our fish-finding arsenal becomes even more powerful. At the forefront of this brave new world is Humminbird’s suite of technologies, which allows anglers of all levels to find fish faster and easier than ever before. Here are a few examples from anglers around the country who use it day in, day out.

Catch a big crappie

Catch a big crappie

Mapping the Far North

With decades of guide experience under his belt, Fishing Hall of Famer Tom Neustrom has seen fishing technology come and go. But he’s bullish on user-generated lake mapping via Humminbird LakeMaster AutoChart Live. “It’s probably the single most important fishing tool to emerge since GPS. The fact that it comes standard in Humminbird HELIX 9, 10 and 12 CHIRP units is big news for anglers of all walks,” says Neustrom.

Legendary Minnesota guide Tom Neustrom says Humminbird’s AutoChart Live is “good for business.” He says he’s learning new patterns while simultaneously mapping and pre-fishing waters for client trips.

“When AutoChart Live came out, a lightbulb went off … this is going to crack the code of uncharted Canadian waters. Now I can create my own map in real-time, right on my Helix units. It helps me find, understand and get back to productive spots time after time. Cuts down on exhaustive looking, too.”

Case in point, this past fall Neustrom and wife Renee dialed in giant Rainy Lake crappies with the help of AutoChart Live. At nearly a quarter of a million acres, finding Rainy Lake fish can require more pre-fishing than your average lake. “Sure, it’s big water, but my system puts me on fish pretty quick,” says Neustrom.

“First thing I do is look at the lay of the land with Humminbird’s new Lake of the Woods/Rainy PLUS card, which gives me satellite imagery overlay on depth contours. Before I even leave the dock, I drop waypoints on the map, setting up a milk run of back bays and main lake points with adjacent deep water.”

Next, he idles over waypoints with Side Imaging, looking for massive schools of crappies. Once found, he positions directly over the fish with his HELIX 10 SI GPS set to 2D Sonar and Down Imaging in split screen view.

“In fall, crappies will set up on rock-to-mud transitions to feed on roaming baitfish or clouds of bugs that emerge out of the mud, both of which I can see on my sonar. If the red marks are stair-stepped I know the crappies are actively feeding,” says Neustrom.

Speaking frankly, he says AutoChart Live is good for business. “As a guide, your job is to get customers bit, so time is everything. With AutoChart Live I’ll go out to a new lake and map while I’m pre-fishing. It’s made a huge difference. I’m not only finding fish faster than before, I’m learning new patterns that translate to other waters.”

That’s especially good news for retailers: Once limited to ONIX units, anglers can choose units from the HELIX 9, 10 and 12 CHIRP families that best suit boat size, fishing style and budget, and still benefit from the ability to create maps in real-time with AutoChart Live, no PC, Cloud or server required.

Bulls By Satellite

Maps from Lakemaster

Maps from Lakemaster

1,500 miles south of Neustrom, pro redfish anglers “Cajun” Phil and Kevin Broussard are putting another brand-new Humminbird product through the paces deep in Louisiana’s backcountry.
That new tech is Humminbird’s Louisiana Delta v.1 card, which provides unprecedented high-resolution satellite photography of the Louisiana Delta on one micro card (with SD adapter). Anglers get real-life aerial views of shorelines, waterways, landmarks, obstructions, roads, marinas, canals, and channels. Also includes navigation aids, lake names, points of interest and more, visible right on the chart view of Humminbird units.

“Kevin and I got the new product and right off the bat, we loved it. Super-bright readout on our HELIX units, even in the sun. We’ve used it all across the state of the Louisiana: Houma, Delacroix, Shell Beach, into the Biloxi Marsh and beyond. Incredible detail and accuracy that eliminates a lot of guesswork,” says Cajun Phil.

In practice, the card helps Phil and Kevin bee-line to virtually unexplored big redfish waters nearly impossible to reach with standard paper maps. “The LakeMaster aerials show us which inlets are going to get us in and out to these little ponds; eliminates running down dead-ends and having to back all the way out. And when you’re back in these little ponds, it shows you the true cuts. And man, some of these spots hold redfish that likely hadn’t ever even seen a lure …”

Florida: Inshore and Off-Shore

Releasing a fish you dont't want to eat

Releasing a fish you dont’t want to eat

Meanwhile, in Florida’s big redfish country, Sarasota-based pro angler and guide Captain Geoff Page is similarly excited by what Humminbird’s doing.

“I’ve been blown away by the HELIX 10 SI GPS I installed in my Pathfinder. Big, bright display plus the power of AutoChart Live. And having fished in Louisiana with Humminbird’s new aerial imagery card, it’s gonna be a big deal with our light-tackle inshore and off-shore structure fishing,” says Page.

Fishing inshore, Page typically chases snook, redfish and flounder near flowing water or in backcountry bays. “Other than shipping channels and deep intercoastal waterways, we fish a lot of 4-6 feet, even less. It’s about the edges of shallow water. Only a foot difference can be a fish magnet. Over a year many of these areas will change: where water was running may be a sandbar now. If I’m blowing through shallow areas – especially at low tide, I need to know that my data is dialed-in. You can see how this will be an even bigger deal to guys who don’t get out on the same waters every day.”

Florida’s Captain Geoff Page is impressed with the brightness of the Humminbird HELIX 10 screen in full sun, and the power of AutoChart Live gives him to dial in on fish-holding spots and navigate ever-changing inshore waters.

He adds: “From a navigation perspective, Humminbird’s AutoChart Live is data that I know I’ve collected, so I have a high confidence that it’s accurate and it was done right! Technologies like AutoChart Live help me stay on what’s happening.”

Like the Broussard’s search for isolated redfish ponds, Page keys in on difficult-to-reach back bays: “I look for oyster bars and shallow areas with deep waters behind them. But you have to navigate through some shallow water areas to get there. Tides are lower in winter due to predominant north winds, and that only adds to the challenge. That’s the power of Humminbird’s aerial imagery over regular charts.”

But Florida is more than stellar inshore fishing, it’s got some serious off-shore haunts as well. Equally passionate structure anglers run a few miles into Gulf of Mexico, chasing grouper and red snapper in 28-foot center consoles or Contender-type boats up to 40 feet.

“The Gulf can be a desert for miles, then you hit one area of bottom change and fish are everywhere. Now, with AutoChart Live, you can map while you’re running and discover new areas, like sharp ledges or hard-bottom edges, where structure guys jig or troll plugs.”

Thanks to these technologies, Page says Humminbird is rapidly gaining ground with offshore anglers who once associated the brand with freshwater bass fishing. More anglers are discovering Humminbird’s ability to map in real time, giant bright displays, touch screens, MFDs like ION, plus CHIRP in HELIX, ONIX and ION—not to mention intuitive navigation features.

“There’s a real shift going on,” says Page.

Fact is, from the Canadian Shield to the Gulf of Mexico, anglers are still following ‘Birds to find and catch more fish. Some things never change.

For more information visit humminbird.com, contact Humminbird, 678 Humminbird Lane, Eufaula, AL 36027, or call 800-633-1468.

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.

What Are Missouri Paddlefish and When Does Season Open?

Missouri Paddlefish Season Opens March 15

Editor’s Note: Here’s an interesting look at a sport many of us have never tried, but it’s apparently one of the few ways to harvest the giant “spoonbills” that populate many of our big Midwestern rivers and lakes.

MDC makes paddlefish snagging possible through annual stockings of fingerlings.

tagging a mature paddlefish

tagging a mature paddlefish

Missouri DOC biologists tag a mature paddlefish. Thousands of fingerlings are stocked in larger state lakes and rivers each year. (Credit MDOC)

Missouri’s annual spring paddlefish snagging season is a popular pastime for thousands of anglers. The state’s major paddlefish snagging waters include Lake of the Ozarks, Truman Lake, and Table Rock Lake with the season running March 15 through April 30. The season for the Mississippi River is March 15 through May 15 with a fall season of Sept. 15 through Dec. 15.

Also known as “spoonbills” because of the shape of their snouts, paddlefish take seven or eight years to grow to legal size. The fish feed on plankton and other microscopic prey. These filter feeders therefore do not take bait from hooks and must be snagged using large hooks that catch in the mouth, gills or other areas of their bodies.

The success of paddlefish snagging is dependent on weather conditions, primarily water temperature and flow.

“The best snagging conditions occur when water temperature reaches 50 to 55 degrees and there is an increase in water flow,” MDC Fisheries Management Biologist Trish Yasger said. “This prompts them to move upstream to spawn. We don’t usually see a lot of big fish being caught on opening day. Harvest early in the season is typically dominated by local fish and small males with the occasional large female. As water temperature and flow increase, you will start seeing more of the larger females.”

Stocking Efforts

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) makes paddlefish snagging possible in the Show-Me State through annual stocking of up to 38,000 fingerlings raised at Blind Pony Hatchery near Sweet Springs. The fingerlings are released into Lake of the Ozarks, Truman Lake and Table Rock Lake, plus the Black River. The annual stocking is necessary because dams and other barriers to spawning areas have eliminated sustainable natural reproduction in the lakes.

“Without annual stocking by MDC staff, this popular pastime and food source would go away,” said Yasger. “And we need help from snaggers to learn more about and to better manage this popular game fish.”

Yasger added that MDC released an especially large number of fingerlings into Lake of the Ozarks, Truman Lake, and Table Rock Lake in 2008. The more than 164,000 fingerlings released are now eight years old and should start providing good numbers of fish for snaggers to harvest.

Snag A Tag – Get A Reward

MDC is beginning its second year in a five-year tagging project to help monitor paddlefish numbers and improve species management. Department staff are placing metal jaw tags on up to 6,000 paddlefish netted in Lake of the Ozarks, Truman Lake, and Table Rock Lake and up to 1,000 netted from the Mississippi River. Yasger encourages all snaggers to help out by reporting tagged paddlefish and to NOT remove tags from undersized paddlefish.

“We will send a special ‘I caught a Missouri paddlefish!’ t-shirt to each snagger who returns or reports their first tag on a legal-sized fish,” Yasger explained. “All returned and reported tags will be placed into an annual drawing for cash prizes with a grand prize of $500.”

Tags or photos of tags from harvested paddlefish must be submitted for rewards. Snaggers must include the following information with each tag:

Date caught
Location of catch including reservoir or river, mile marker, and county
Tag number
Fish length from eye to fork of the tail
Snagger’s name and complete address

Report tags by calling MDC at 573-579-6825 with the information, or mail the information with the flattened tag to: Missouri Department of Conservation, 3815 East Jackson Blvd., Jackson, MO 63755. Learn more about the tagging project from MDC online at http://on.mo.gov/1VA1E6B.

Report Transmitters

MDC biologists are also implanting ultrasonic transmitters in adult paddlefish at Truman Lake, Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake, and the Mississippi River to track their movements and gain other important information. MDC asks that all snaggers who harvest fish with a transmitter to report it by calling 573-579-6825 or by e-mailing Trish Yasger at Trish.Yasger@mdc.mo.gov. It is important to return transmitters so they can be implanted in other fish.

Help smaller fish survive

Yasger reminds snaggers to help undersized snagged fish survive to grow larger.

“Do not land paddlefish with gaffs. This can fatally injure sublegal fish. Use large landing nets,” she said. “Remove hooks carefully and get sublegal fish back into the water as quickly as possible. Wet your hands before handling fish and avoid excessive handling. Do not pass them around for photos and hold fish firmly to avoid dropping them. Never put fingers in the gills or eyes.”

Regulation Requirements

Paddlefish snagging

Paddlefish snagging

The state’s major paddlefish snagging waters include Lake of the Ozarks, Truman Lake, and Table Rock Lake with the season running March 15 through April 30. The season for the Mississippi River is March 15 through May 15 with a fall season of Sept. 15 through Dec. 15.

Unless exempt, anglers must have a current fishing permit to snag or to operate a boat for snaggers. The daily limit is two paddlefish and snaggers must stop snagging after obtaining the daily limit on Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Lake and their tributaries, and the Osage River below Bagnell Dam. The minimum legal body length for paddlefish at Lake of the Ozarks, Truman Lake, Table Rock Lake, and their tributaries is 34 inches, measured from the eye to the fork of the tail. The minimum legal body length is 24 inches on the Osage River below Bagnell Dam and in other Missouri waters. All paddlefish under the legal minimum length must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught.

The Wildlife Code of Missouri requires the head, tail, and skin to remain attached to all paddlefish while on the water so paddlefish should not be cleaned until off of the water. Also, extracted paddlefish eggs may not be possessed while on waters of the state or adjacent banks and may not be transported. Paddlefish eggs may not be bought, sold or offered for sale. Additionally, paddlefish or their parts, including eggs, may not be used for bait.

Learn more about Missouri’s official aquatic animal, regulations, snagging reports, and more at http://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/fishing/species/paddlefish.

What Is A Winter Tackle Tune-up?

Time for a Winter Tackle Tune-up

By Frank Sargeant
from The Fishing Wire

It hasn’t been pretty outside the last few weeks across much of the nation, to say the least. Boat ramps on lakes across the Southeast were empty, and though we’re seeing some warmer weather the last few days, spring is still a long way off.

What’s an angler to do?

One good use of a Saturday between the end of college football and the start of pre-spawn bassing is a tackle tune-up. If you’re like me, your gear is looking a bit the worse for the wear by this time of year.

The seasons change seamlessly from the buzzbait bite to the spinnerbait bite to the crankbait bite to the jig bite to the frog bite to the rattlebait bite, and my stuff simply keeps getting tossed into the box and progressively forgotten as I move on to the next season of the bass. By now, everything is a tangled mess, and digging out or even finding a particular lure that I might need for early spring is going to be a serious challenge that has me picking through a Chinese puzzle of treble hooks to get it free.

One of the major solutions to the lure morass is to add more tackle boxes, or more dividers in your existing tackle boxes. In my experience, it’s actually better to have fewer lures that you can actually find and get out of the box without tangles than it is to have hundreds that you can’t locate or can’t extricate when you need them.

Tackle box from Plano

Tackle box from Plano

Tackle boxes like this model from Plano are ideal for keeping crankbaits and other treble-hook lures out of tangles and ready for instant access. (Plano, Inc.)

Plano is the big dog in tackleboxes, of course, and their venerable 3700 size is the standard of the industry–it fits the slots on every make of bass boat. Buy enough of these boxes–and they come designed especially for spinnerbaits, for small crankbaits, for large crankbaits and lots more–and you will solve your tackle tangles permanently.

It’s best to use only one lure per partitioned slot in any box–put two in one and you’ve got a tangle. I like to point all my lures the same direction and separate them by color and size or the “dives to” depth–it makes finding that one you need a whole lot easier. Label each box according to the class of lures they hold, and you’ve come a long way towards a far more organized and fishable boat. (If you’ve got vertical tackle racks, label the boxes both on the top and on the front, the part you see when they’re in the racks.)

This is also the time to review the “walking wounded” among your lures. Any plug that has been used for a few months is likely to have hooks that are dulled or bent out of shape. Dull hooks lose fish, and out of shape hooks change the action of many lures, making them less effective. Buy several sizes of new trebles from one of the quality makers–VMC, Mustad, Trokar and Gamakatsu among others–and a pair of split-ring pliers, and replace any hooks that look at all doubtful. (This is not a bad time to try some larger hooks on some of your crankbaits, either–many anglers find they get better hookups by going up one size, particularly on the front hook.)

Tackle box from Bass Mafia

Tackle box from Bass Mafia

Bass Mafia boxes are reinforced plastic with rubber gaskets and locking latches that make them watertight—great protection for tackle, though they’re among the more expensive on the market. (Frank Sargeant Photo)

If you’ve got some spare change rattling around in your pockets, you might even consider adding some Bass Mafia tackle boxes to your rig. While these bullet-proof, water-proof boxes cost an arm and a leg, they’re cool looking and they do keep your stuff absolutely safe from damage anytime that lock-down lid is secured on the rubber gasket.

Last but not least, this is a good time to peel off all your old line, clean and lube your reels, and then install fresh line. Then, just wait for those first warm afternoons to announce that spring is finally just around the corner.

Acquisition of Cabela’s by Bass Pro Shops

Industry Rumbling: Cabela’s

Here’s the latest on the Cabela’s situation, from our publisher and editor of The Outdoor Wire, Jim Shepherd.
from The Fishing Wire

With SHOT Show barely ended, there are plenty of interesting reports filtering out regarding the industry. More, in fact, than those we were hearing when we arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada for the nearly-impossible task of covering a trade show that has grown more than a quarter-million square feet over the past five years.

Not all the reports we’re hearing are about new products or services, despite the fact we have been fixated on the latest and greatest offerings from the more than 1,200 exhibitors. In fact, most of the questions being asked concern rumors that had begun circulating prior to SHOT.

When a rumors of an acquisition of Cabela’s by Bass Pro Shops died shortly before Christmas, speculation began to spread (on Wall Street) that Cabela’s (NYSE: CAB) was one of those companies that was ripe for change.

That change, according to Wall Street sources, wasn’t necessarily something the company was seeking.

On November 23, Bloomberg Business reported that speculative investors were in favor of seeking a suitor, but would not accept an acquisition price than something “in excess of $60/per share.” Other reports had a target price of nearly $72/share. Those prices, according to sources on Wall Street, were the primary reason BPS quietly disappeared from the picture.

At that time, Bloomberg reported that Hirzel Capital Management, owners of 2 percent of the company, were the activist investor. Bloomberg reported Hirzel was pushing the retailer to consider “strategic alternatives, including selling its credit-card unit and property.” Hirzel’s suggestion was reportedly rejected by Cabela’s CEO Tommy Millner who advocated for spending more than $500 million in a share buyback to boost value.

At that point, Cabela’s rumors quieted.

In today’s news section, you’ll see that Cabela’s is again back in the investment news.

With the fourth quarter and full-year 2015 earnings release set for just before the market opens on February 18, the New York Post is now reporting that the company plans to divest itself of its credit card unit. Nothing from Cabela’s on those reports as of the close of business last night. Meanwhile, the company’s activist investors continue to push for the company to sell- either the credit card division or the entire company.

Cabela’s shares gained eleven cents yesterday, closing at $41.49.

As the rumors continue across the New York and Chicago investment communities, both officials and residents of Sidney, Nebraska remain on edge. Of the approximately 7,000 residents of Sidney, nearly 2,000 work for Cabela’s.

We’ll keep you posted.

Costa Galveston Sunglasses Review

I like my Costa Galveston sunglasses and they work well for fishing. They are very comfortable, even after an eight hour tournament.

Costa Del Mar Galveston sunglasses are good fishing sunglasses. The Galveston model sunglasses are polarized with very clear lenses. Their light weight helps when wearing them a long time. They are fairly expensive sunglasses, but worth it.

An old saying states: “You get what you pay for,” meaning if you buy cheap products you get poor results. That is often true in fishing and some expensive equipment does not give good results. But there are lures, rods, reels and even boats that are not expensive but give good results. For years I felt that way about sunglasses. Cheap ones were just as good as more expensive sunglasses.

I received a pair of Costa Sunglasses to try out several years ago. Costa released three new styles of sunglasses that year and I was offered a chance to test the Galveston style, the one that seemed most suited for the kind of fishing I do most often. They have large square shaped lenses that let you see better on the water while covering your eyes. The lenses are set “frameless,” which means they have no bottom or side rims.

This makes them lighter, and the pair I tried are very light, something extremely important when wearing them nine hours straight as I did in the tournament the second Saturday in January.

The ear pieces are straight and don’t hook over your ears. I worried a little about that, fearing they would slip off in the boat, but the soft, non slip ear pieces stayed on and were comfortable. The nosepiece was soft and comfortable, too, and it is adjustable to fit your nose.

My pair are polarized with copper colored lenses that work well in the bright sun. The glasses are amazingly clear and everything looks very sharp through them. I could see underwater cover like stumps and rocks better than with other glasses I have tried. In the spring I have been able to see bass on the bed better than in the past, a combination of the lenses and color of these glasses

The glasses cost around $175 so they definitely are not cheap, but if you take care of them and put them in the case that comes with them when you take them off, they should last a very long time. I am definitely happy with mine. You can check them out at www.costadelmar.com and also at authorized Costa retail outlets.

Buying a Family Boat

Buying a Family Boat is not always the same as buying a fishing boat.

By Frank Sargeant
from The Fishing Wire

Attendance looked pretty strong at the boat show in Huntsville, Alabama, Saturday, and being there with my son and his family–who are more or less looking for their first boat–reminded me of how challenging it can be to buy a boat that suits everybody.

Triton Allure

Triton Allure

Fish-n-Ski boats like the Triton Allure are a good compromise between an all-out fishing boat designed to suit hardcore fishermen and a runabout that’s just right for the family.

Brian wants a rig he can do some serious bass fishing in at Lake Guntersville, while Louise wants a roomy runabout that will be a fun ride, stylish and comfortable for her and the four kids–plus maybe sometimes the neighbors with their kids as well.

The boats I tried to steer then towards were what is known as “fish-n-ski” models, which are equipped with all the gear for both sports. For the angler, there’s a bow seat and a bow mount trolling motor, a sonar fish finder and a live well plus a rod box, at the minimum. And for the ski crowd, there’s an aft swim platform with ladder, an aft facing (or swiveling) observer seat so someone can keep an eye on the towline and a tow pylon. There are also usually lounging areas forward and aft for the sun worshippers, and maybe a fold-down Bimini top for when the sun gets to be a bit too hot.

These boats, usually fiberglass, have vee bottoms and are typically powered by outboards from 90 to 225 horses. They give a comfortable ride, and with the max power can exceed 60 mph, though they’re most often going to be run at 25 to 35 mph by most families–white-knuckle speeds do not make most Moms happy. They have some style appeal, a plus for many families. With smaller motors, prices start around $22,000.

A similar solution is the deckboat with some fishing extras. Deck boats have much broader bow areas than fish-n-ski models, which gives them room up front for couch type seating and a portable table. There’s space at the bow for an add-on swivel seat and trolling motor mount, though these are usually options, not standard. For families where a larger passenger capacity is called for–if you boat with another family, for example–this is the way to go. However, the greater bulk of the boat and the blunt bow means a larger motor is required, and the price goes up significantly in most cases, to around $35,000 or more.

A less handsome but more practical solution is a pontoon boat, which combines a ton of deck space with all the amenities of your back porch at home, including sometimes a barbecue grill, sink, shower, changing room, toilet and even a TV. Amazingly, it’s possible to find a 22-footer, big enough to carry two families with ease, for around $25,000.

Pontoons don’t have nearly the eye appeal of more svelte boats, but one ride aboard is often all it takes to convince a family that this is the boat for them–with room for everybody to spread out and all the comforts of home, it’s hard not to love them. And, they perform adequately on a 90 horse motor, running fast enough for most tow-sports. They don’t require much care, and they’re practically bulletproof. There’s even room aboard for the family dog.

The big negative, for the fishing family, is that pontoons don’t behave well on trolling motor power, and because they have railings all around, they can make casting awkward in some situations. They’re fine for crappie fishing or for jigging up some stripers or baiting catfish, but as a bass boat used to ease along a shoreline, they are far from the best choice. Most of them are relatively slow, as well–30 mph is about tops with entry level pontoons, which means long runs to distant fishing spots take a lot of time.

Not to say that fast, luxury grade pontoons don’t exist–there’s a whole new class of triple-pontoon planing rigs that run in excess of 50 mph when powered with a 300-hp outboard, and these boats are equipped at a level approaching that of some serious coastal yachts. Unfortunately, the prices go up astronomically, with six figures not out of the question for some.

Bottom line is that boat shopping should be an exercise in compromise for the young family–with some careful study and a close eye on the budget, it should be possible for everybody to get most of what they want in a boat that will provide years of entertainment and family bonding.

Should I Use Barbless Circle Hooks?

Catching Fishermen’s Attention with Barbless Circle Hooks

By Joseph Bennington-castro | NOAA Fisheries
from The Fishing Wire

In the summer of 2007, a Hawaiian monk seal got caught on a fishing hook off the coast of the Big Island of Hawai’i.

Barbed and barbless hooks

Barbed and barbless hooks

A barbed circle hook converted to a barbless circle hook using a crimping tool to flatten the hook’s barb.

The NOAA Fisheries Big Island monk seal response coordinator and his volunteers rushed out to aid the unfortunate animal, hoping to capture it and carefully remove the hook before the fishing gear could cause any serious damage. But before the volunteers could become rescuers, the monk seal shook its head, easily dislodging the hook in the process.

Was this, somehow, a defective hook?

No. It was a barbless circle hook, or a circle hook whose barb had been forcibly pressed down to reduce the severity of post-hooking injuries to endangered or protected species — such as Hawaiian monk seals and green sea turtles — that are accidentally hooked, and allow them to self-shed the hooks or be de-hooked easier.

This fateful event was a kind of vindication for the then-nascent NOAA Fisheries Barbless Circle Hook Project, which seeks to increase the awareness and use of barbless circle hooks among Hawai’i’s shoreline fishermen. Until this point, many NOAA researchers and fishermen alike questioned whether barbless hooks could really make any difference to protected species and fish that were accidentally hooked, says project manager Kurt Kawamoto, a direct yet welcoming man who tends to express his thoughts succinctly.

Though it seemed that the hooks would work in theory, “everybody was left hanging until that happened,” Kawamoto says. “And then it was like, ‘Okay, here it is. Here’s the proof.'”

The beginning

Aside from managing the Barbless Circle Hook Project, Kawamoto is a fisheries biologist for the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC). “My real job is fisheries monitoring,” says Kawamoto, who holds an undergraduate degree in zoology from the University of Hawai’i.

In this position, he manages the logbooks that fishermen must fill out while working in federal fisheries. These logbooks contain information on everything from the species of fish caught, to the fishing methods used, to the protected species disturbed during fishing practices. This data is available to PIFSC scientists who are conducting research on stock assessments and other things — the information is then used in fisheries-management decisions.

 Barbless Circle Hook Project

Barbless Circle Hook Project

Left to right: NOAA Fisheries’ Kimberly Maison, Mike Lamier and Kurt Kawamoto, along with DLNR’s Earl Miyamoto in front of the Barbless Circle Hook Project booth at a Lāna’i fishing tournament in 2009. Credit: NOAA Fisheries.

Before joining NOAA Fisheries 28 years ago, Kawamoto was a commercial fisherman himself. “I’m still a commercial fisherman,” he says. “But commercial fishing is very difficult and dangerous, and it’s hard to do when you get older.”

It was his background as a fisherman that may have ultimately allowed Kawamoto to develop the Barbless Circle Hook Project.

After a fisherman accidentally hooked a monk seal in the early 2000s, NOAA Fisheries held a meeting to discuss how to prevent this from happening again and help fishermen decrease their impact on protected species. Kawamoto was invited to this meeting because he’s a fisherman.

Before the meeting, switching to barbless circle hooks came to mind as a solution to the problem, Kawamoto says. “What else were we going to do? Shut down shoreline fishing?” Immediately after this meeting around 2005, he approached then-PIFSC director Sam Pooley with the idea of creating an outreach program to convince local fishermen to use these safer hooks, and sought financial support for at least 5 years.

“And he said, ‘OK.'” Kawamoto says. “That was it. And off I went.”

Getting off the ground

In Hawai’i, anglers predominately use circle hooks, particularly because they’re most suited for fishing the rugged near-shore areas around Hawai’i and for catch-and-release fishing, Kawamoto says.

Compared with the aptly named J-hooks, which can easily hook onto a fish’s innards and cause internal damage, circle hooks are self-setting and are designed to catch in the corner of the mouth as the fish swims away. What’s more, circle hooks are far less likely to get stuck on the bountiful reef and rocks along Hawai’i’s shoreline.

Ulua on circle hook

Ulua on circle hook

Ulua caught by Stephen Kilkenny with a barbless circle hook. Credit: Austin Kilkenny

Barbless circle hooks, however, are not manufactured or sold in the islands, so fishermen who want to switch to these hooks need to make their own — an easy, free process that only requires smashing down the barb (located near the tip of the hook) with a bench crimper or pliers.

A preliminary study presented at a conference in 2006 — shortly after the barbless project kicked off — suggested there is no difference between the effectiveness of barbed and barbless circle hooks in catching and landing various types of fish in Hawai’i. And in that same year, a local fisherman named Randall Elarco Jr. caught a 117-pound ulua (giant trevally) using a barbless circle hook — then-Mayor Mufi Hanneman later presented Elarco with the first “100-pounder” NOAA Barbless Circle Hook award.

“Just before that I was thinking, ‘What’s a milestone for the project?'” Kawamoto recalls. “And I would say to myself, ‘A 100-pounder would be really nice.’ The shoreline guys always want to catch a 100-pounder because it’s the equivalent of a troller catching a 1,000-pound marlin.”

Still, getting people to use the barbless circle hooks was an uphill battle from the get-go. Changing a person’s habits and perceptions is no simple matter, especially when that change appears risky. Fishing is the livelihood for many anglers, so the prospect of using a modified hook and not catching anything with it scares them, Kawamoto says.

Kawamoto, however, was up to the task, using a common-sense, honest approach to help win people over.

When he first started the project, Kawamoto made sure to exclusively use barbless circle hooks when he fished, allowing him to communicate his own experiences to fishermen. “It was very important to me, personally, to lead by example and to know what the fisherman might expect,” he says, adding that honesty and integrity were vital for getting fishermen’s cooperation. “Without that trust, I would have had nothing but words and theories.”

“He is so well known and respected by the fishermen,” says Earl Miyamoto, coordinator of the Marine Wildlife Program of the State of Hawai’i’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, who has successfully partnered with Kawamoto on the barbless project for nine years, helping to expand the crucial outreach efforts. “He would be a hard person to replace.”

And when clout and common sense isn’t enough, Kawamoto has persistence. In one early case, he spent four years trying to convince a fisherman to try out a barbless circle hook — he finally succeeded by jokingly questioning the fisherman’s courage.

“If I were to put my finger on it, I would say it’s the way he engages with people that convinces them,” Miyamoto says. “I think its Kurt’s directness and forwardness, and how he jokes a lot. He can come off as being serious, but he laughs a lot.”

Ever the modest person, Kawamoto stresses that “open-minded fishermen,” who are often part of the older generation of fishermen, also deserve credit for enacting change in the community. These people, he says, adopted the barbless circle hooks early on and even took to mentoring younger anglers.

“It’s not just me,” Kawamoto says. “I want to thank all of the anglers out there who have tried these hooks.”

Convincing the masses

To increase fishermen’s awareness of barbless circle hooks, Kawamoto is involved in various outreach activities. Grassroots help from many clubs, organizations, and individuals, including PIFSC volunteers, keep the project moving forward and enable the common-sense message to be integrated into public awareness.

For instance, Kawamoto and his collaborators attend events at numerous adult and keiki weekend fishing tournaments across the islands each year, and also work closely with the fishing clubs that often organize these tournaments.

“But we don’t go any place where we aren’t invited,” Kawamoto stresses. “Because you don’t want to go there and push your way in — that’s the quickest way to turn people off.”

Giving up weekends for these tournaments speaks volumes to the fisherman, Miyamoto says, adding that Kawamoto makes sure to come in “very local style,” arriving early and staying late to help setup and dismantle the tournament equipment. “It’s that approach and demeanor that’s contributed a lot of the success of the project,” he says.

100  Pound Ulua

100 Pound Ulua

Stephen Kilkenny with a 102.3 pound ulua, which he caught using a barbless circle hook in 2015. This catch is the third 100-pounder for the Barbless Circle Hook Project. Credit: Austin Kilkenny

Of course, the fact that the barbless circle hooks actually work also helps — fishermen using the hooks sometimes sweep the tournaments, taking the 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-place prizes in the top money-winning categories, Kawamoto notes. Furthermore, two additional 100-pounders have been caught with the hooks since the first one in 2006.

Aside from attending fishing tournaments, Kawamoto and his volunteers frequently show up at different ocean and fishing expos when they can. At these outreach events and tournaments, they hand out free barbless circle hooks, about 20,000 to 25,000 each year, Kawamoto says.

Kawamoto and Miyamoto attend established keiki events, during which Miyamoto takes the lead in holding a “Make It and Take It” activity. Here, they teach keiki how to make their own small barbless hooks using just pliers, and also give them take-home kits, which include fishing start-up information, protected species information and regulations, and a sampling of barbless hooks.

“That’s how we’re going to change people’s minds — with the kids,” Kawamoto says, adding that the kits are just as much for the keiki as they are for the parents.

At their various engagements, Kawamoto and his collaborators teach people about the benefits of going barbless. Over the years, the focus of this message has shifted from protected species to fish.

“Although we did focus a lot on the protected species problem at the start, the bigger thing that we keep telling the fishermen — and this is true — is that they interact with so much more fish than protected species,” he says. “After all, we’re fishermen and we want to catch fish.”

Sometimes fish get away because the line breaks, but they still have the hook in their mouths. If this circle hook is barbless, however, the fish can get it out sooner, allowing it to get back to eating quicker, improving its chance of surviving and getting caught again another day.

Additionally, many anglers target certain fish and release unwanted species that are accidentally caught — the barbless hooks allow them to de-hook the fish easier, resulting in less personal frustration and injury to the animal.

Kawamoto estimates that only a small percentage of fishermen use barbless circle hooks all the time, and that the lowest usage rates are among the general fishing public, who are not part of fishing clubs and tournaments. Still, he’s optimistic that barbless circle hooks will catch on with time. “We have made a lot of strides in getting people to use it,” he says.

Miyamoto is also hopeful about the project, and believes Kawamoto’s courteous nature — particularly how he sends out “thank you” emails after each event — will get them far.

“I don’t know if we’d be where we are were it not for that and him,” Miyamoto says. “He’s so unique to the program. It’s not just a job for him.”