Category Archives: Where To Fish

Bluefin Tuna Fishing

Boat-Shy Bluefin Tuna Fishing Off Southern California
By Greg Stotesbury, AFTCO Tackle Sales Manager
from The Fishing Wire

Catch bluefin tuna


The past few years in Southern California we have seen epic runs of bluefin tuna as close as 3 miles off the Southern California bight. The schools of bluefin have been showing up in late spring and staying all the way to December or longer. It’s unusual for this many tuna to migrate into our waters and stay for most of the year, but these welcome visitors, in addition to our usual summer fishery for striped marlin, dorado, yellowfin tuna and yellowtail, have created a “new” and exciting opportunity not seen here since the late 1930’s. Our local Bluefin are tough to catch, but worth the effort and are the best eating of any of our local offshore species.

When the bluefin show in the California bight they can usually be located over the offshore banks and ridges, such as the 43, 182, 289 and San Clemente Island ridge in purple-blue 62 to 68-degree water. One of the keys to locating bluefin is to look for fast moving spots of terns or petrels fluttering over the surface and crashing on bait. Bluefin spend a great amount of time at the surface feeding and “breezing”. Their surface roaming, tight schooling behavior makes them particularly vulnerable to the fleets of purse seine boats from Mexico and San Pedro. By the time these fish reach local waters they have usually been harassed several times by the relentless seiners. This makes them even more boat shy and sensitive to engine noise, generators and sonar pings.

Bluefin are notoriously boat shy and difficult to hook from small private boats with smaller live bait capacities than the bigger party boats. Party boats can chum tremendous amounts of live baits and attract the bluefin to the boat, but smaller private boats must take the baits to the bluefin and use stealth tactics to get their share. This requires some modified techniques to get them to bite consistently.

After locating an area with schools of bluefin showing on top and bird schools working around them, we immediately start glassing with gyro-stabilized binoculars to find the larger spots of fish and birds. This past season you could even watch for “jumpers” (free jumping tuna) in the working bluefin schools and then target the spots with the bigger fish. Our secret to getting the bluefin to bite was to turn off all the sonar units, both up-and-down and side scanning, then position the boat above the direction the fish were working. We would then shut down the motor and wait for the bluefin to get into casting range of our fly-lined sardines and mackerel. Many times, the bluefin would shy away or go down for no apparent reason, but occasionally, the whole school would be crashing bait all around the boat in a virtual frenzy! Even when actively feeding, the super-shy bluefin would only hit a perfectly presented bait that swam as soon as it hit the surface. Bluefin tuna can be the most frustrating fish in the world, but there is nothing like the thrill of the first run of a fat Bluefin hooked on medium tackle on your own boat after a stealthy approach!

Kites have also become super popular for trolling imitation flying fish or squid through the boat shy bluefin, but we find the kite fishing to be many hours of trolling with limited bite windows. Therefore, we prefer the stealth approach with live baits. We have also had success using the kites with live baits while drifting or slow-trolling, but the conditions must be perfect and the fish willing to stay on the surface for the kites and live baits to work consistently.

Our favored Bluefin tackle is a medium-fast action, roller-guided 6.5’ to 8’ live bait rod with the best lever drag 2 speed reel available, spooled with 500 yards of 50- 80lb spectra backing, with a long 50-80lb fluorocarbon top shot. Many of the schools of Tuna run 25-75lbs, but then there are the occasional schools of 80-200-plus giants that require the lever-drag, 2-speed reels to land. You won’t land many of the 100-250lb bruiser-bluefin on the medium gear, but then you’ll never get the bite if you don’t use tackle that can fly-line a live sardine or mackerel. We had several tragedies on big tuna this past season, but we also landed a fair amount of fish to 210lbs on the medium live bait gear. We tried using 100-130lb fluorocarbon leaders, but found we got bit the best using 60-80lb pink-tinted 100% fluorocarbon with a 3/0-5/0 ringed Mutu circle hook to suit the bait size. The circle hooks reduce the bite-offs from the larger sharp-toothed Bluefin, but we still lost some of the bigger models to chewed leader after long fights on the light gear.

Due to their superior quality on the table, we handle the bluefin we catch in a special way. Our AFTCO stain protection fishing shirts help to ensure don’t we ruin our clothes in the process. Ideally, we head gaff the fish to avoid any gaff holes in the precious loins or bellies. We then immediately cut a couple of the gill arches with a pair of poultry shears, then make a small cut at the base of each side of the caudle peduncle (tail) just down to the backbone. Once the gills and tails are cut, we place the tuna head down in a bleed tank of circulating sea water and let the tuna bleed out completely before gut and gilling and slipping them into an insulated fish bag full of ice and saltwater slush. This process insures all your efforts to catch the elusive and boat-shy Bluefin Tuna are rewarded with prime sushi loins and bellies at the end of the day!

Loving Lake Martin

Largemouth I caught while fishing with Michael Ward

Although I grew up on Clarks Hill, have been fishing it all my life and still have a mobile home on a lot at Raysville Boat Club, I think Lake Martin in Alabama is my favorite lake anywhere. Last week I got to spend a day on it with Michael Ward, doing “research” for an Alabama Outdoor News September Map of the Month article.

Martin is a pretty Alabama Power Company lake on the Tallapossa River about 2.5 hours from Griffin. Its clear water is full of spotted bass. I caught my first spot there in 1975 in a Sportsman Club tournament, my first trip to it. I have been going back at least twice a year every year since then.

All three clubs here in Griffin have a two-day tournament there in October each year, so I am not used to fishing it during the summer. Michael suggested we start at 3:45 AM to beat the heat and catch fish. Sounded like a good idea but after fishing lighted docks for two hours with only one bass, it was clear that didn’t work too well.

As the sun came up we tried topwater, still with no bites. But after it got bright and hot we started catching some bass from deep brush piles Michael had placed in the lake. He fishes tournaments every week on Martin and does well in them, partially because he works to create cover for the fish.

The fish hit shaky head worms and jigs during the day, a good pattern on any lake. Those spots fight hard and are fun to catch. We did catch a few largemouth, too, but spots are the dominate species in the lake.

I usually camp at Wind Creek State Park but stayed in a motel in Alexander City on this trip. I prefer camping. It is cheaper and more relaxing but when doing an article, I usually just stay in a motel on my trips since it is somewhat easier, and, after all, these trips are work trips!

Plan a trip to Martin this fall. You will enjoy the scenery even if you don’t go fishing.

Fishing Weiss Lake

When your wife decides everything in the house you have lived in for 37 years is unsatisfactory and plans to renovate it, that is a good time to go to the lake for a couple of weeks. So I did, heading to Lake Weiss for five days and then straight to Clarks Hill for another week.

Unfortunately, work was slow and I came home a week too early!

Weekend before last the Spalding County Sportsman Club held our June tournament at Lake Weiss. Ten members and two guests fished 16 hours in two very hot days to land 45 keeper bass weighing about 80 pounds. There were two five-fish limits and two fishermen did not catch a keeper.

Jay Gerson won with nine bass weighing 14.74 pounds. He had a limit the first day and four the second day. Glenn Anders on brought in six keepers weighing 12.49 pounds for second, my six at 9.74 pounds was third and Raymond English was fourth with eight bass weighing 8.52 pounds. Kwong Yu had a 4.95 pound largemouth for big fish.

I spent two days trying to find a pattern for the tournament. The first day I quickly hooked a keeper on a buzzbait so I thought that would be a good way to start each morning. But then I fished shallow water hard to land only one keeper on a worm in the next three hours of casting buzzbaits and worms.

All afternoon, until a thunderstorm drove me off the lake, I rode open water ledges and points looking for fish. I could see fish on my electronics but could not get them to bite. Fish in open water often just hold in place, not feeding, until current makes them active. There was no current.

Friday morning, I caught a nice keeper up shallow around some grass on a chatterbait but that was my only bite shallow. Again, I rode deep structure and found excellent cover like brush piles and rocks, with fish on them, but got no bites. Since some Weiss bass are known to feed very shallow, even in hot water, and I could not get any bites out deep, I told my partner Chris Davies we would probably fish shallow all day both days.

Saturday morning we started on a rocky bank and within a few minutes I landed a 3.46 pound Coosa spotted bass on a spinnerbait, a good start. That fired me up but in the next hour I missed one bite on a frog and nothing else fishing spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and frogs while Chris tried a variety of baits.

We then fished some docks and I landed a little largemouth on a shaky head worm, so I hoped that was a pattern. Over the next five hours we fished all kinds of shallow cover, and Chris caught five keepers, the only other limit in the tournament, but I never hooked one.

At 1:00 on a windblown rocky bank I landed my third keeper on a spinnerbait. That was it for the day and at weigh-in Chris was in third place with 7.66 pounds and I was in fifth with 5.57 pounds, a very disappointing day. There were two four-pound bass weighed in making my spot third biggest fish, but most with a big fish caught only one or two more to go with it, like me.

Sunday morning, we tried a different starting place, running to some lighted docks, but got no strikes. As it got light we ran way up a creek to some grass beds where I have caught fish in past years but did not get a bite. At 7:30 we fished up a shady bank and I landed a small keeper on a spinnerbait, then on another small grassy point I caught two keepers close together on the spinnerbait.

For the next six hours we tried everything we could think of, fishing different places and a variety of baits, but neither of us ever got another bite.

At weigh-in Jay, after leading the first day, held on to first with his four keepers. But the others ahead of me the first day either zeroed or had one small fish. Glenn moved up from sixth to second with three nice fish and I moved up to third with my three small ones. Raymond moved up from seventh to fourth with four keepers, the most anyone other than Jay caught that day.

You never know what will happen in a tournament, as this shows. That is why I try to never give up until the last cast is made.

I heard the better fish were caught on buzzbits, but Chris and I never got a bite on one. I guess we were fishing the wrong places. I caught only one on a shaky head in two days but Chris caught all five of his on Saturday on one. The fishing was very tough and inconsistent!

Hope you had a great, safe Independence Day and remembered the reasons we celebrate, and kept the military that keeps us free and safe in your thoughts.

Fishing Lake Eufaula In March

Bass Statue in Eufaula[/caption]

I had a great trip to Lake Eufaula in March. I met Eufaula, Alabama mayor Jack Tibbs to go fishing and get information for a Georgia and Alabama Outdoor News article. And when my club went back in May, I won on some of the places that will be in the August article – they were good in March, good in May and will be good in August!! Jack has been fishing all his life and fishes many tournaments on Eufaula. He came up with an idea for a spinnerbait designed to fish deep ledges on Lake Eufaula, the Ledgebuster, and developed a tackle company from that start.

Strike Zone Lures now makes all kinds of lures, including spinnerbaits, jigs, worms and others. It is very successful nationwide.

We landed about a dozen bass on Wednesday and the biggest five weighed between 20 and 21 pounds. Although Jack caught most of the fish, I landed the biggest, just under six pounds, and Jack had one about five pounds. I also had one at about four and one-half pounds. All the largemouth hit in three feet of water or less on spinnerbaits, swim jigs and even topwater frogs.

The town of Eufaula is historic, with many antebellum mansions and historic sites. I stayed at beautiful Lakepoint State Park Lodge in a spacious room with a nice view of the lake and marina. Thursday morning before heading home, I relaxed on my private deck, drinking coffee while watching squirrels and more than a dozen different kinds of birds looking for breakfast.

The two nights I was there I enjoyed excellent food. The first night I met Jack and his wife at El Jalisco Mexican Restaurant on Broad Street downtown. I got there first and the owner met me at the door. She was friendly and helpful, explaining some of the menu items.

When Jack arrived, he was greeted by almost everyone in the front of the restaurant and the owner was surprised he was the person I was meeting for dinner. We had to sit in the very back booth, so Jack and I could talk. Otherwise we would have never been able to talk due to all the people coming up to our table to speak to him.

Service was good and the food excellent. I had my favorite, Chili Relleno, and, although a little different than what I am used to, it was very good.

The next night we went to the Cajun Corner Grill, on the corner of Broad Street and Highway 431. Although busy, service was good and I really enjoyed the Gumbo and fried scallops. The salad that came with the meal was a surprise, not the usual bland house salad. It had good cheese, cranberrys, orange slices and mushrooms on it.

One highlight of the trip was a visit to the big bass monument. Since becoming mayor, Jack has pushed to take advantage of the biggest resource of the area, the lake. Fishermen come from all over the US to fish Eufaula and bring in a lot of money to the local economy.

This year the city unveiled the bass monument, with the town’s motto “The bass capitol of the world” on it. That self-proclaimed motto is hard to argue with since Eufaula is known for its quality bass fishing, but people flock to the lake to catch crappie, too.

Eufaula is about 2.5 hours away and is worth a trip for the food and sights, but the fishing is always the highlight.

Top River Trips

Top River Trips on America’s Public Waters
From the U.S. Department of the Interior
from The Fishing Wire

Looking to hit the water? We’ve got you covered.

With approximately 3.6 million miles of streams — including 12,734 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers — the United States has some incredible stretches of water. They’re the perfect place for a quiet float trip, a heart-pumping whitewater adventure or the chance to catch a big one.

Whether it’s a day trip or overnight, below are some of the best river trips on America’s public waters to help you get started in your search for the perfect river adventure. Flow levels, weather and other factors can change the level of skill required to ply the waters or any other river segment. Check local conditions before venturing out. And for those who are unsure of their skills or who want to relax and let others do the planning, professional outfitters offer guided trips on many rivers.

So fasten your life jackets, grab your paddle and #FindYourWay on one of these awesome river trips!

Deschutes Wild and Scenic River


Deschutes Wild and Scenic River in Oregon
Type of river trip: Whitewater
Trip length: Day trip

Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management.

Located in central Oregon, the Deschutes Wild and Scenic River is a playground for outdoor recreation and a great place for your next whitewater trip. Thousands of people visit each year to enjoy its exciting whitewater, beautiful scenery and incredible fishing. The river offers a variety of opportunities for both day and overnight trips. A trip on the river will take you through a rimrock-lined canyon that ranges from 900-2,600 feet in depth. Within this canyon, you will experience an incredible geologic and cultural history, and a diverse community of fish, wildlife and vegetation. Be sure to add it to your bucket list today!

Beartrap Canyon Madison River

Beartrap Canyon Madison River in Montana
Type of river trip: Fishing-boating combo
Trip length: Day trip

Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management.
One of four sections that make up Montana’s Lee Metcalf Wilderness, Bear Trap Canyon Wilderness is an ideal spot for a fishing and boating trip. The 6,347-acre area offers beautiful wilderness scenery — plus exciting whitewater rafting featuring the famous Class IV – V “Kitchen Sink” rapid. The Madison River is one of Montana’s most coveted fly-fishing destinations, as it’s one of the most productive streams in Montana for brown trout, rainbow trout and mountain whitefish. As you travel the river and cast your line, be sure to look up. The 1,500-foot cliffs that border the canyon provide a breathtaking backdrop.

Lab?y?r?i?nth Canyon on the lower Green River in Utah
Type of river trip: Flatwater
Trip length: Overnight

Labyrinth Canyon


Photo by Bureau of Land Management.
For a great flatwater trip, head to Labyrinth Canyon on the lower Green River. An easy stretch suitable for canoes kayaks and rafts of all types, Labyrinth Canyon can be enjoyed spring through fall with the most popular times between Easter and Labor Day. Here, you’ll float through Utah’s red-rock canyons, tracing the path of Major John Wesley Powell through 44 miles of this calm and scenic portion of the Green River. The Lab?y?r?i?nth Canyon section is perfect for a two-night trip, and if you want to float the longer stretch from Green River to Mineral Bottom, you can spend four days or more on the river. Word of warning: The area is remote and services and cell phone service are non-existent. You must be self-contained and self-reliant to deal with emergencies and plan to carry all your drinking water. And be sure to get a permit.

Gulkana Wild and Scenic River in Alaska
Type of river trip: Whitewater
Trip length: 3-day weekend

Photo by Jeremy Matlock, Bureau of Land Management.
Closely flanked by low, rolling hills with the Wrangell Mountains and Alaska Range in the background, the Gulkana Wild and Scenic River is perfect for those who are ready for an adventure. One of 208 river segments of the Wild and Scenic River system, the Gulkana offers excellent three to four day float trips through meandering waters with numerous riffles, and a short stretch of Class III rapids with convenient put-in and take out points at each end accessed from Alaska’s Richardson Highway. It is also one of the most popular sport fishing rivers in the state, providing rich habitat for rainbow trout, king and red salmon, and more. Along the way on your trip, you’ll see stunning views and a wide range of wildlife. There are more than 33 species of mammals and 59 species of birds known to live in the Gulkana River basin. Although by Alaska standards, this river offers convenient access, it flows through roadless areas and visitors must be self-reliant.

Gunnison Gorge on the Gunnison River in Colorado
Type of river trip: Fishing-boating combo
Trip length: Overnight

Gunnison Gorge


Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management.
Just north of Montrose in west-central Colorado lies the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area, a diverse landscape ranging from adobe badlands to rugged pinyon and juniper-covered slopes. At the heart of it is the Gunnison Gorge Wilderness Area with a spectacular black granite and red sandstone double canyon formed by the crystal-clear waters of the Gunnison River. Anglers come for the gold-medal trout waters, while skilled rafters, kayakers and whitewater canoeists come for a true wilderness whitewater float through the 3,000 foot deep canyon. Every float begins with a mile-long hike into the gorge. Outfitters offer guide and packing services.

Delaware Wild and Scenic River in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
Type of river trip: Flatwater with riffles
Trip length: Day trip

Delaware Wild and Scenic River


Photo by Julia Bell, National Park Service.
Flowing along the Pennsylvania and New Jersey border, the Delaware Wild and Scenic River is a spectacular spot for a day-long kayaking or canoeing trip with options to extend to an overnight trip. Divided in three sections (the Upper, Middle and Lower Delaware), the river takes you along a tour of the region’s diverse habitats and history. Sheer cliffs rise 400 feet above the river with a desert-like ecosystem on the southern-facing side and flora and fauna usually found only in arctic-alpine climates on north-facing cliffs. From an historic viewpoint, the river is one of the most significant corridors in the nation. The corridor contains buildings used during Washington’s famous crossing, historic navigation canals, Native American and colonial era archaeological sites and mills.

North Fork of the American River in California
Type of river trip: Whitewater
Trip length: Overnight trip

North Fork


Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management
Arguably the most challenging and spectacular fork of the American is the North Fork, with its emerald green waters and huge granite boulders. Best known for its thrilling class IV and V whitewater, it was designated as one of the nation’s Wild and Scenic Rivers. This awe-inspiring river canyon offers a remote exhilarating experience for those up to the challenge. Hikers and fishing enthusiasts can choose from a number of trails to access the river canyon, most of them dropping steeply from the canyon rim down to the water. Bring your gold pan and you are likely to find some color. Walls tower 2,000-4,000 feet above the river, creating a majestic backdrop for cascading waterfalls, brightly colored wildflowers and the bright, clear water of the river itself. Looking for a more sublime experience? Head downstream where the American softens to a lazy stretch through an urban greenway — you won’t believe you are within the city limits of Sacramento as anglers cast for trout and salmon along cottonwood lined banks — or head up to the South Fork with its easy-access moderate rapids. This California gem truly offers something for everyone looking for an overnight trip.

North Platte River in Wyoming
Type of river trip: Fishing-boating combo
Trip length: Day trip

North Platte Rive


Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management.
Mention Wyoming’s North Platte River to someone who’s fished there, and you’re guaranteed to get an earful of tales of the big browns, rainbows and cutthroats that they have fought on this legendary Wyoming stream. Even though they might not share their secret spots, this river offers plenty of public access points to the best fishing segments. The aptly named Miracle Mile and Grey Reef are just two popular segments — drift boats and shore anglers can both enjoy its waters. The numerous boat launches allow for a variety of trip lengths ranging from an hour or two to the entire day. The popular Bessemer Bend Recreation Site offers fishing, picnicking and interpretive displays discussing the significance of the site as a major crossing for the California, Oregon and Mormon Pioneer National Historic trails. Several public campgrounds are located along the corridor. The North Platte is a true gem of central Wyoming, and a top destination in the state for a fishing and boating trip.

Chattooga Wild and Scenic River in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia
Type of river trip: Whitewater
Trip length: Day trip

Chattooga Wild and Scenic River


Photo courtesy of Tim Palmer.
Flowing through three states and the Ellicott Rock Wilderness, the Chattooga is recognized as one of the Southeast’s premier whitewater rivers. It begins in mountainous North Carolina as small rivulets, nourished by springs and abundant rainfall. High on the slopes of the Appalachian Mountains is the start of a 50-mile journey that ends at Lake Tugaloo between South Carolina and Georgia, dropping almost 1/2-mile in elevation. The Chattooga offers outstanding scenery, ranging from thundering falls and twisting rock-choked channels to narrow, cliff-enclosed deep pools. The setting is primitive — dense forests and undeveloped shorelines characterize the primitive nature of the area — so travelers have to rely on their own skills and strength.

Check out more awesome river trips on America’s Wild and Scenic Rivers.

Fishing Bartletts Ferry with Tyler Morgan

Last Saturday I spent the afternoon on Batletts Ferry Lake just north of Columbus with Tyler Morgan. Tyler is a young tournament fisherman from Columbus and is very good. In the past few years while fishing 33 FLW tournaments like the BFLs as a boater and non-boater, he has finished in the top ten 16 times, an incredible record.

Tyler was showing me how and where he fishes the lake, marking ten good spots for April fishing for the Georgia and Alabama Outdoor News Map of the Month articles. Bigger fish had been up in shallow water getting ready to spawn due to the unusually warm weather, but the cold fronts pushed them back out.

There were still a lot of smaller male bass feeding shallow, waiting on the weather to warm and bring the females in to them. They will start fanning beds to invite the females as soon as conditions are right. We caught 15 to 20 bass but the biggest was about 2.5 pounds.

Tyler impressed me with how he fishes. He covers a lot of water fast, running backs of coves with baits that will draw a strike from hungry bass. He could skip a frog or swim jig far back into cover like overhanging bushes and tree tops, places most fishermen, and I, never get a bait into.

He kept his trolling motor on a fast speed and went down the bank too fast for me to fish a slower moving bait like a jig and pig or shaky head. That is the way I fish. At my age I have to sit down, make a cast and slowly work the bait back out. None of that for him, although I did catch four or five bass that he accidently left for me.

Golden Time for Fall Fishing in Wyoming

Now is the Golden Time for Fall Fishing in Wyoming According to the WGFD.
from The Fishing Wire

Cheyenne – October is the golden month for fall fishing. The fish are active, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department fish managers around the state agree it’s the best time to get outside with your rod.

Brown trout spawn in autumn so expect good action. A trip to the North Platte never disappoints, and there is plenty of public access. The Miracle Mile, Cardwell, Gray Reef and Saratoga reaches of the North Platte are all Blue Ribbon waters, holding more than 600 pounds of trout per mile. Anglers can expect to catch fish on streamers, nymphs and dry flies this time of year. The Miracle Mile is especially popular with fall anglers since October is when large brown trout from Pathfinder Reservoir begin moving into the river.

Brown trout seekers who visit the Salt River near Jackson will be rewarded with strong populations through December or January. The Salt River runs almost entirely on private land, but there are numerous public access areas for fishing. The Green and New Fork rivers are good options, too, that offer plenty of fishing access. Dry flies such as grasshoppers are still working during the day.

Some smaller North Platte tributaries near Laramie will also be rewarding. Laramie Regional Fisheries Supervisor Bobby Compton recommends visiting Big Creek, Brush Creek, Douglas Creek, French Creek, or the lower Encampment River. And, as usual, the Laramie Plains lakes will be hopping as temperatures cool. Good fishing is predicted at Meeboer, Gelatt Lake, Twin Buttes and Lake Hattie. Wheatland No. 3 is also expected to be hot again this season. At Hattie and Wheatland 3, anglers should watch for fall-spawning rainbow trout populations that swim close to the shore.

Rainbows are also flourishing and growing large in Boysen Reservoir this year. Game and Fish is stocking almost double the amount than in year’s past, and people have noticed an increase in quality and numbers.

For an all-around good trout experience, the North Tongue River, Middle Fork Powder River and Sand Creek are northern destinations not to be missed. Also, the Green River below Fontenelle Dam will have plenty of rainbow, Snake River cutthroat and Bear River cutthroat trout eagerly feeding on nymphs, San Juan worms and minnow patterns. The Finger Lakes near Pinedale are a good destination for lake trout — try Fremont, Boulder, Halfmoon and New Fork. Lake trout will move into the shallows starting in October as the nights dip into the 30s. Soda Lake continues to fish well and will be open to fishing until Nov. 14. Healthy looking browns and brook trout over 16 inches are common.

Anglers who target warm-water species should plan to head to waters around Sheridan, Casper and Lander. Healy Reservoir, near Buffalo, is a great destination for bass, with some largemouths over 20 inches and 5 pounds. Keyhole, in the northeast, has good water levels and the summer treated the fish well. Casper and Lander area waters should hold active walleye thanks to higher-than-normal flows from good snowpacks around the state.

“At Glendo, the main forage fish in the lake — gizzard shad — begin to die off in September and October, and the walleye and channel catfish really key in on this,” said Matt Hahn, Casper regional fisheries supervisor. “Anglers should plan on trolling crankbaits that resemble shad or vertical jig schools of suspended fish with jigging spoons.”

Hahn also points walleye-seekers to Pathfinder and recommends casting large swimbaits to the shore, especially in the upper end of the lake.

Farther west, Boysen Reservoir cleared in the late summer and Craig Amadio, the Lander regional fisheries supervisor, has heard excellent reports from the field.

“Walleye fishing is the best it’s been in a long time, and I expect that to be the case this fall. Walleye in Boysen are feeding on bigger fish now — perch and rainbow trout. A lot of anglers will troll open water using crankbaits and planer boards,” Amadio said.

October isn’t too late for an adventure. Many alpine lakes offer quality golden trout and cutthroat trout if you’re prepared to fish in the snow. Higher elevations are known for storms as early as September. Thumb Lake and Atlantic Lake are a couple good golden trout waters, and the Wind River Range has goldens in the Sweeney Lakes and Hobbs Lake. Chasing tiger trout is an option for anglers wanting to reel in something different; visit Upper Silas Lake, Willow Park Reservoir and Cow Lake.

An added bonus of fall fishing is the solitude. Many avid sportsmen and women have exchanged rods for rifles by October. For those looking for a peaceful angling trip, visit Grayrocks and Hawk Springs in the southeast for walleye, crappie and bass. Boysen is also expected to be less crowded as hunters head afield. Robb Keith, Green River fisheries supervisor, reminds anglers that the Hams Fork River downstream of Kemmerer City Reservoir is home to a variety of trout species and has public access through a Game and Fish fishing easement along the river in a stretch of private land below the reservoir. Bring your streamers as the fall progresses, dry flies and grasshoppers won’t do here.

If elbow room and aggressively feeding fish sound like a good combo, the Shoshone River below Buffalo Bill Dam should be on the list. Between Buffalo Bill Dam and Willwood Dam there are 2,500 trout per mile and relatively good access for both wading and floating. Big Horn Lake and the Bighorn River will also be less crowded and the sauger big and active — the biggest tipping 5 to 6 pounds, with an average of 2 to 4 pounds. Sam Hochhalter, Cody regional fisheries supervisor, recommends everything from jigs and crankbaits to night crawlers and live minnows to bring in a big one.

Lake Wedowee Fishing

I fished with Jay Gazaway, a club fisherman from Georgia. I met him when we drew each other two years in a row at the Federation Nation Top Six. Although he lives about 45 minutes from Lake Wedowee, he has a house on the lake.

We caught about 15 spotted bass and a couple of largemouth the day we fished but the biggest one weighed less than two pounds. They were fun to catch; those spots pull hard. And they are good to eat. There is no size limit on them at Wedowee but you have to release all largemouth between 13 and 16 inches long.

Getting to Wedowee takes a lot longer than it should based on the distance. Highway 18 and 109 to Lagrange are not bad, but once you cross into Alabama there are several miles of lower quality road.
Highway 431 north is good but when you turn off it to go to the lake, unless you want to put in way up the river, the roads to the ramps have sharp bends and turns. And there are not a lot of good ramps on the lake.

It is still worth the drive to fish Wedowee.

Fishing Lake Blackshear

My magazine articles took me to two lakes as different as two can be in Georgia and Alabama. Both are about two hours from Griffin but that is just about all they have in common, other than both being great places to catch bass in December.

Lake Blackshear is south of us between Americus and Cordele on the Flint River. Most of it is shallow, with miles of cypress trees growing in the water. There are grassbeds and old docks with wooden post and brush piles. Up the river hundreds of acres of cypress swamp have four or five feet of water around them where it would be easy to get lost.

When fishing your boat will seldom be in more than five feet of water. Largemouth abound in the lake and the water is often murky to muddy. Even when clear it has a brownish tannic tint.

I fished with Stephen Birchfield, a basketball and fishing team coach at nearby Bruton Parker College. His family has a house in Swift Creek on the lake and he fishes it a lot. We had a good day, hooking several largemouth in the two-pound range.

Bruton Parker is a small Baptist College. With only about 350 students, everyone knows everyone there and there is a good sense of community among the students. Stephen told me they are planning on giving some fishing scholarships next year and hope to have 20 fishermen on the bass team.

If you are a high school senior and love to fish, and a small college appeals to you, check out their web site at http://www.bpc.edu/. And you will get to fish Lake Blackshear a lot!

Getting to Blackshear is easy on I-75 or
Highway 19. Veterans State Park is about half way up the river from the dam and has great facilities. There are several smaller ramps scattered around the lake, too.

Lake Wedowee is west of us past Lagrange on the Tallapoosa and Little Tallapoosa Rivers. Highway 431 crosses the upper end of the Little Tallapoosa north of Wedowee, Alabama. Filled in 1983, it is one of Alabama Power Company’s newest lake. Several people from Griffin built houses on the lake when it first filled.
Prices of lots and houses there have dramatically increased over the past 20 years, with many huge mansions on the water now.

The rivers and some of the lower lake, as well as the creeks, have bluff rock banks that drop into 30 plus feet of water. There is standing timber along many of them. Your boat will usually be sitting over water more than 30 feet deep when you are casting to the bank. The docks there may have a few posts but in the winter they are out of the water due to the drawdown. All have a floating platform in front that goes up and down with the water.

Although the lower lake remains very clear most of the year, the rivers do get muddy after heavy rains. Spotted bass abound but average about a pound each. There are big ones there, tournament stringers often have several over three pounds each. And there are some big largemouth, Tom Tanner landed one over eight pounds in a Potato Creek Bassmasters tournament there last March.

Weiss Lake, the Mobile Delta and Lake Allatoona

I love my job! The past week gave me a chance to fish Weiss Lake, the Mobile Delta and Lake Allatoona. Its tough work, but I’m glad I get to do it.

Last Friday I drove up to Weiss and met Cal Culpepper and his dad Saturday morning to get information for a Map of the Month article that will be in the November of both Georgia and Alabama Outdoor News. Cal is a high school senior and on the Harris County High School fishing team, and a very good fisherman. Weiss is on the state’s borders and if popular with bass fishermen in both states.

We had a good day, catching largemouth and spotted bass. The best five we landed weighed about 13 pounds. All were in shallow water around grass, docks and wood cover and hit chatterbaits, topwater and shaky head worms.

On Sunday I drove to Mobile to meet Captain Dan Kolenich, a guide there on the bay, to get information for a saltwater fishing article. I don’t fish saltwater much so I was looking forward to the trip, hoping to catch my first redfish. I knew I would eat some great seafood and I definitely accomplished that goal.

Unfortunately, Monday morning the wind was strong and it was raining. I talked with Captain Dan and we decided to try to go out Tuesday morning when the weather guessers said conditions would be better.

Since I had the rest of the day with nothing to do I went to Battleship Park. This military park has a variety of exhibits, including aircraft, a World War 2 submarine you can tour, and the battleship Alabama docked so you can tour it, too. I spent almost six hours there.

Walking through the submarine I could not imagine being on a crew. The tiny, cramped work and eating areas were bad enough but the racks, or bunks, hung along the walls one over the other, would never have allowed me to get a good night’s sleep. And I could just imagine the smell during missions.

The aircraft fascinated me since I always wanted to fly a fighter for the Air Force. One especially interesting display showed one of the fighters the “Tuskeegee Airmen” flew in World War 2 and a video had very good special effects. It took me several minutes to realize I was not watching actual videos of the dog fights.

Tuesday morning was clear but still very windy. We tried to fish but the wind made it very difficult so I did not catch a redfish. Maybe next time.

On Thursday Wyatt Robinson and his dad met me at my house and we drove through the horrible traffic to Lake Allatoona so I could show them what little I know about that lake. Wyatt is A senior at CrossPointe Christian Academy and on the fishing team. He is a very good young fisherman.

I had a lot of fun and we caught several keeper bass and even more short ones under the 12-inch limit, on topwater plugs and shaky head worms. But the catch of the day was a four-pound channel cat that thought my jig head worm was lunch. Turned out he became dinner. Although that trip was not really part of my job it was fun, except for the traffic going and coming back, and I was impressed, as I often am, with a young fisherman’s ability and knowledge. It is kinda scary that high school fishermen often know more than I do about bass fishing.