Captain Macks’ Lake Lanier Fishing Report

Nice Lake Lanier Striper with Captain Mack

Also see: Lake Guntersville Weekly Fishing Report from Captain Mike Gerry

Lake Country Fishing – fishing reports on Lakes Sinclair and Oconee, and more. (subscription required)

Happy 4th of July! I hope you have a great
Holiday weekend!

The weather for the 4th, and
most of next week indicates hot and humid,
with a pretty good chance of afternoon
showers, a typical July weather forecast. It is
really the type of weather that should make for
good fishing conditions, so get out on the
water! The lake level dropped to 1070.12, .42
feet down form last week, and .88 feet below
full pool. The surface temps also dropped
slightly from last weeks readings to an average
of 84 degrees.

Striper Fishing

Striper Fishing patterns and techniques are
really the same as last week, although some
days the fish were a little reluctant to bite. We
still have several patterns that are producing,
so be versatile and take advantage of patterns
that vary during different times of the day as
well as different areas of the lake.

Live baits on down lines and weighted free lines continue to be consistent producers, and
remain one of the better patterns, Fishing the bait in pockets, as shallow as 35 to 40 feet is a
good strategy, especially early on the day. This pattern has application on the lower and middle
parts of the lake. There are also fish in the backs of the creeks, target pinch points and timber
lines, with some fish holding in timber as deep as 70 feet. Power reeling is a viable technique on
these deeper fish, and I would definitely have a couple of rods ready to go with the spoons and

Trolling has been very good, with umbrellas over the humps being a strong technique,
especially from mid morning on. Target humps that top out around 30 feet, or clip points in the
same depth, keeping your rigs in 15 to 20 feet. Contour trolling over a 35 foot bottom is also
effective, and may be more efficient than moving from place to place. I think this method is best
on the lower end, but has also been effective in the middle parts of the lake. I am not sure if
there is a favorite rig, I think it is more about depth control and keeping the rigs in the strike

Lead core trolling is a decent pattern, the numbers are OK, the average size of the fish has
been very good. A Chipmunk Jig, Under spin bait, or Mini Mack fished 7 or 8 colors back behind
the boat, have been consistent producers. Target the river or creek channels, and don’t ignore
the back 1/3 of the major creeks. This pattern will be effective on the lower or middle parts of the
lake, and should only improve as July progresses.

Bass Fishing

25 foot brush is not the only place the fish are calling home, but it’s safe to say many of them
are. There are still several baits the fish will respond to, and that varies from day to day.
Topwater continue to do well, Chug Bugs and Spooks remain favorites, and a fluke worked over
the brush is also a consistent producer. Keep a swim bait tied on, they are also effective over
the brush and for the schooling fish that have been consistently showing up. One footnote on
the schooling fish: casting spoons to the schoolers can be a great technique. Try jigging spoons
such as the Flex -it, Super Spoon, or War Eagles, and almost any type of spoon should get the
bite. Cast them to the fish, if they are still on top retrieve it on or near the surface. If the fish
sound, allow the spoon to sink and then retrieve with a yo-yo or ripping motion, Asl always,
watch for the bite to occur on the pause or fall.

If the fish are hesitant to chase down the moving baits casting a spy baits to the tops of the
brush will be effective. A Fluke fished on a slower retrieve and subsurface will also be effective
on the finicky fish. Worms on the drop shot, Texas Rig, or shakey will also get plenty of bites.
Falling lake levels indicate increased water releases, typically occurring in the afternoon hours,
which can energize afternoon and evening fishing. The techniques and structures I mentioned
above will still apply. The moving water will in most cases unnoticeable to us, however, the fish
and bait will feel it. This often causes the fish to become active, move, and feed a little more. If
your schedule allows, planning a trip to coincide with the water release can be a big plus!

Good Fishing!
Capt. Mack

Cooking and Camping Growing Up

 The smell of bacon frying over a campfire made my stomach growl.  That enticing smell, mixed with the aroma of wet canvass, was a staple of our “wilderness” camping trip in the woods a couple of hundred yards

behind Harold’s house.  Although we camped like this several times each summer, each one was special.

    I was glad we had taken precautions and made a lean-to cover of an old tarp to keep firewood dry in the rain.  The lower end was stacked with everything needed from twigs to sticks of firewood cut with our hatchets, and the upper end was high enough to shelter the fire from the falling water that seemed to mark every trip. Our Cub Scout and Royal Ambassador training paid off.

    Last night we had tried to stay awake all night, but as usual sometimes during the dark we gave up our talking and drifted off to sleep.  It was not always easy to go to sleep in the army surplus pup tent with a ground tarp. No matter how hard we tried to remover them all, we always left some sticks and rocks to poke us through our sleeping bags. They seemed to grow during the night.

    When we first woke in the dim green haze of tent light our voices sounded strange as they always did early in the morning.  They took on quality never heard anywhere else.  And there was the usual treat of a rainy morning.  Small puddles had formed on the ground tarp where water had worked under the edge of the tent.  Those puddles made an interesting game of floating our mess kit pans and making them spin when we tried to eat inside sheltered from the rain.

    A mess kit contained all our necessities.  The knife, fork and spoon clipped together with two small brads to hold them in a stack.  The frying pan handle swung over the pan holding them together, making a container to hold the small pot with a top and coffee cup. 

    Perfectly cooked bacon, eggs and toast at home never seemed to taste as good as strips of bacon half burned in the middle and rubbery on the ends, scrambled eggs that ranged from watery to too dry, and toast with black burned areas.  Cooking over an open fire was a slowly acquired skill and we were not there yet. 

    Coffee was not as good as at home, though. We all tried to drink it black with a little sugar but missed the cream that was mixed about half and half with coffee at home. Without no way to keep it cool, cream or milk was not an option on those trips.

    The night before we had cooked our favorite dinner on the coals.  We called it a “Hobo” meal and it was perfect for a camping trip. Before leaving home, we had made a huge ground beef patty and placed it in the center of a square of tinfoil.  On top of the meat went a slice of onion, then slices of potato. Sliced carrots topped the pile of food then a big chunk of butter was placed on it.  A little salt and pepper finished up the preparation.

    The edges of the tinfoil were pulled up and twisted into a seal to keep it all together. If the tinfoil was formed perfectly, and we didn’t poke a hole in the bottom when placing them on the coals that were carefully drug from the main fire, they would cook evenly and be floating in butter.  But we seldom had any butter when the tinfoil was opened.  At least we did not have a plate to wash, the tinfoil served fine.

    We never camped for more than one night. We had to go home to get some sleep, put iodine on the inevitable cuts and scrapes and Watkins Salve on the ever-present chigger bites.  It was also a lot easier to wash up our mess kits at home. We had only one each and although we tried various cleaning methods in the woods none worked very well. And we had to dry out tent, tarps and sleeping bags.

    After carefully covering the fire pit with the same Army surplus folding foxhole shovels we had dug it with, we packed up our gear into army surplus duffel bags.  We would not have survived without Army surplus equipment!

    The trip home seemed to be miles longer that the trip to the campsite.  Although everything was usually heavier from water at the end of the trip, I think our hearts were the heaviest load since the trek home meant the camping trip was over.

NOAA Fisheries Calls on Anglers to Report Sturgeon Sightings and Catches on Sturgeon Hotline

Wild animals, especially those living underwater, can be hard to find and track. Biologists compile and use public sighting information to learn more about different animal species. Atlantic sturgeon are found along the Canadian and U.S. Atlantic Coast as far south as Florida. Understanding where they go, how they get there and where they spawn (lay their eggs) is important for resource  managers. It helps them to put protections in place for this endangered species. With their built-in “armor,” also known as scutes, sturgeon appear to be indestructible. They actually face a number of threats including:

Unintended catch by fishermen

Dams that block access to spawning areas

Poor water quality

Water withdrawals from rivers

Vessel strikes

NOAA Fisheries monitors a sturgeon hotline, (844) STURG-911, as a way to collect sightings information. Recent reports to the hotline have come from as far away as California and as far north as Maine!  One of the most common reporting locations is New Jersey.

About a week ago, while walking along the shore in Cape May, New Jersey,   a family discovered a sturgeon that had washed ashore. The fish, which was about 2.5 feet long, did not appear to be injured. The family found an odd yellow “streamer” with number 53869 attached to the animal. It turns out that yellow streamer was actually a scientific tag applied by a sturgeon researcher!

Our partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed the tag was issued in North Carolina in 2019. Thousands of miles away, we received another tip via the hotline that a sturgeon was spotted off Marina Bay Beach in Richmond, California. The animal had a large bite on its underside. Based on what we know about the abundance of sturgeon in the San Francisco Bay area, this animal was likely a white sturgeon. Without photo evidence, it’s tough to know for sure.

Regardless, calls like these provide valuable data to NOAA researchers. Closer to home, we’ve had more than a dozen reports so far this year. There were two from North Carolina, one from South Carolina, three from Georgia, and three from Florida. You might wonder, how can scientists learn anything from a dead fish, but depending on the animal, we gain lots of useful information. We can determine if it’s been growing, we can determine where it might have hatched using genetics. We can also get a sense of where and when they are migrating (traveling between locations).

For example, by re-sighting a sturgeon, like the one tagged in North Carolina but found in New Jersey, we are able to compare size. We can tell how much the animal has grown between when it was first caught and when it washed up dead.

Your information helps! If you find a stranded, injured, or dead sturgeon, please take a photo, if you can do so safely. In the Southeast you can report it to (844) STURG-911/(844) 788-7491, or send us an email at

In the Northeast please call the NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office at (978) 281-9328.

Provide additional information such as: Where you saw the animal (latitude/longitude)Approximately how big it was

Any weird marks (like a tag) or wounds you notice when you saw it These are also very helpful pieces of information! 

Hot Tough Tournament At Lake Sinclair

Last Saturday 14 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters fished our July tournament at Lake Sinclair.  Fishing from 5:30 AM to 12:30 PM unsuccessfully trying to beat the heat, we landed 24 bass longer than the 12-inch minimum with a total weigh of about 39 pounds.  There were three five-fish limits and six people did not have a keeper.

    Lee Hancock had a good catch far outpacing the rest of us with five weighing 11.80 pounds for first.  Raymond English was second with five weighing 5.42 pounds, Dan Dupree’s three weighing 5.23 pounds was third and my five weighing 5.19 pounds placed fourth. Donnie Willis had one fish but it weighed 4.94 pounds for big fish.

    Since we started before daylight I just knew I could catch some bass around lighted boat docks, but after hitting three in the first half hour I had not gotten a bite. I then went to a rocky point leading into a cove with grass beds and docks where I have caught many bass in the past.

    A good fish hit my buzzbait on the point but I missed it. I did not get another bite in that cove.  The next stop was a deep rocky point with a brush pile on it and I caught a short bass there. In a nearby cove nothing hit around docks but I finally caught a keeper at 8:00 AM in a brush pile about eight feet deep on a jig head worm.

    I got no more bites until 10:00 when a bass hit my jig head worm on a point. I set the hook and the fish came to the top and I saw it was a two pound plus bass. I guess I got too excited and tried to get it in the boat too fast.  It came unhooked as it came over the side of the boat, hit the deck at my feet, bounced twice and went over the other side. I almost went into the water trying to grab it.

    After that I was totally disgusted.  It was hot and I had lost a fish. But at 11:00 I decided the sun was high enough to drive some bass into the shade under docks. The third dock I fished, skipping a Senko under them, I caught my best fish of the day, about a pound and a half.

    I continued to fish docks and at noon caught my fifth keeper. I just had time enough to secure all my tackle and make a long run in very rough water back to the ramp.

    The Sportsman Club is fishing our July tournament today at Sinclair. I wonder if I can catch a bass under docks?

Mike Frenette, Legend of the Louisiana Saltmarshes, On the Segar Fishing Line Pro Staff

from The Fishing Wire

The biggest, baddest fish swim in salty water, and the limitless saltmarshes and bayous of the Mississippi River Delta are home to more than their share. The allure of hard-charging bull reds, aggressive speckled trout, wary black drum and slashing jack crevalles draws anglers from around the world to quietly glide along roseau cane-bordered channels and pursue these tackle-testing adversaries. Few anglers know these waters as intimately as Capt. Mike Frenette, who has been fishing, guiding, and competing in and near the Mississippi River Delta for more than 40 years. Seaguar, the inventor of fluorocarbon fishing line, is proud to partner with Capt. Frenette to deliver his hard-earned wisdom to an eager inshore audience, and to enhance our braided line and fluorocarbon leader offerings for saltwater fishing. 

Capt. Frenette first ventured into the saltmarshes near Venice, LA while enrolled in high school, and began building his saltwater fishing business in the early 1980s. His primary targets during his early years as a guide were found offshore. “We chased marlin, tuna, wahoo – you name it,” notes Capt. Frenette, “and during those early years, we didn’t have any competition at all. Nobody was offshore, just us and the fish – big ones, and lots of ‘em.” Indeed, Frenette was the first full-time guide in the now bustling Venice Marina, hanging his shingle for offshore and inshore trips in 1985. Recognized by Sport Fishing magazine as one of the Top 50 Charter Captains in the World, Frenette and his clients are responsible for 28 top 10 Louisiana State Records and four World Records, including a 117 lb wahoo caught on 30 lb test line.

 Fast forward into the 21st century, and most of the trips that Capt. Frenette runs from the Redfish Lodge of Louisiana – his family-owned, full-service lodge in Venice – take him inshore rather than to the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. “First, fishing inshore gets my clients into the boat for more days than the volatile offshore environment permits,” asserts Frenette. “Moreover, fishing inshore gives me the chance to do what I do best: teach my clients the technical aspects of chasing trophy-caliber reds. I don’t pick up a rod when I’m guiding; all of my time and attention is devoted to helping my guests find and catch the redfish of a lifetime – and then, to catch another.”

While the Mississippi River Delta offers a broad spectrum of fish to pursue, Capt. Frenette does have his favorite. “There’s nothing more exciting than sight-casting to redfish in skinny water,” confesses Frenette, “which is really hunting and fishing combined into one all-encompassing experience!”Capt. Frenette remains an active competitor in saltwater fishing circuits and has tallied 25 top 10 finishes in professional redfish events, as well as wins or top-three placements in a variety of billfish, tarpon, and other big game tournaments.

“Tournaments are my ‘selfish’ fishing time. I’m a very competitive person, and tournament fishing is what drives me,” states Frenette. “I embrace the challenge of going to places that I’ve never fished before, because dissecting that bite teaches me new ways to succeed – not only in that event, but also back home with my clients. I still learn something new every single day, and that desire to keep learning – and to keep teaching – makes me a better guide.”Seaguar lines and leaders are integral components of Frenette’s arsenal. “Whether I’m guiding clients, fishing a tournament, or just looking to pop a couple slot reds for dinner, I’m spooled up with Seaguar.

For example, my favorite set-up for sight fishing reds is a seven-foot, medium power baitcasting rod, with the reel spooled up with 30 lb test Seaguar Smackdown. Depending on water clarity, I’ll add an 18-36″ leader of Seaguar 100% fluorocarbon. My favorite leader material by far is a new Seaguar product that will be all the rage at ICAST this year; it’s really terrific and precision engineered for the inshore environment. I’ll finish the rig with either a spinnerbait or a weedless jig tipped with a soft plastic. That combo – from rod to line to lure –  has brought more redfish to the boat than anything else I can think of.

”Reflecting on what the future may hold, Frenette notes that, “in 10 years, I’m planning to be just as excited and motivated to fish, learn, and teach as I am today. I’m truly blessed to have the opportunity to work with Seaguar, where I enjoy an unparalleled level of engagement, particularly when it comes to product development and refinement. Watching a prototype that I have worked on come to the market, so that other anglers can use it to catch more fish, is both gratifying and humbling.

”Seaguar is proud to welcome Capt. Mike Frenette into its family of angling professionals. Follow Capt. Frenette on his social media channels and make plans to visit the Redfish Lodge of Louisiana, and you’ll quickly learn why Frenette – and the Seaguar lines and leaders that he relies on – are Always the Best!

Sandwiches and Other Food Eaten Growing Up and While Fishing

I loved the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches served at Dearing Elementary School, probably because they always went with the vegetable soup.  We had that meal about once a month and it was one of my favorite.  And there was always plenty for us to have seconds and even thirds.

    At home during the summers we ate tomato sandwiches almost daily, with delicious tomatoes from the garden. But I never heard of a BLT until I went off to college.  My tomato sandwiches were simply two slices of loaf bread, salad dressing and thick slices of tomato.  And yes, it was always salad dressing, never mayonnaise, although we used that term.

    During the winter we had the sandwiches just without the tomatoes. A mayonnaise sandwich, two slices of bread slathered with so much salad dressing it was hard to keep them from sliding on each other, was both a lunch and after school snack.  Another simple one was a catsup sandwich. Slices of bread soaked with catsup an eaten mostly as a after school snack.

    Pineapple sandwiches had the same bread and salad dressing and we always had canned, sweetened crushed pineapple.  By putting the salad dressing on one slice of bread, piling it with pineapple and putting another slice of bread on top the top slice got delightfully soaked in pineapple juice.  

    On fishing or hunting trips a can of potted meat and Ritz crackers was all I needed, unless I carried a can of Vienna Sausage.  With them I wanted saltine crackers, not Ritz.  The meat had to be paired with the right crackers.

    Those same canned delights made good sandwiches at home.  A thick layer of potted meat and so much catsup on it globs of the mixture fell into the plate from the bottom of the sandwich, to be licked up as a dessert, made a great meal.  I learned at an early age to line of the Vienna Sausage on the bread from side to side with two on top of the row, then the last on in the can on top of those two, filled up the bread. Again, lots of catsup completed my sandwich.

    We always said loaf bread at my house but some of my friends called it “white bread.”  Mom was a great baker, making cakes and pies to sell, as well as fantastic biscuits and corn bread, but she never baked loaf bread. 

    Corn bread was in sticks, muffins or pone that was baked in a black frying pan in the oven. Left over cornbread of all kinds was eaten as an afternoon snack, with a bowl of catsup to dip it in. Yes, I liked and still like catsup!

    My favorite cornbread was something we called “splatter bread.”  Sometimes mom would heat lard in the black skillet until there was a pool a half inch deep and pour a thin mixture of corn meal and water into it.  The edges were amazing, crisp and crunchy, and the center cooked just right.   I still make it to go with steamed cabbage, peas and creamed corn, and soup.

    Writing this has made me hungry, I think I will go make a batch of splatter bread and get a bowl of catsup.

Livebait Spinner Rigs for Summer Walleyes

By Northland Pro Eric Brandriet
from The Fishing Wire

There are countless presentations that anglers use to catch walleyes throughout the open-water walleye season.  Angler strengths and confidence often steer their preference, and in South Dakota a livebait rig pulled behind a traditional bottom bouncer probably tops them all.  Very simple, yet effective livebait spinner rigs can entice the weariest of eyes!

After spawn concludes and water temps increase, walleyes transition off shorelines and shallow areas to weedlines and mid-lake structures.  While other presentations can be effective, spinner rigs become the summer norm allowing anglers to cover large areas of water with varying baits, at various speeds, often producing some of the best walleye angling of the year.

Even though spinner rigs are often seen as simple, they have not avoided evolution through the years.  As a young angler, I saw 2-3 hook harnesses with solid colored #3 Colorado Blades topping the options.  Today’s multi-colored blades on snells, with a variety of hook types, was the farthest from my dreams.

It has been no secret that many walleyes have succumbed to the Northland Tackle Butterfly Blades after their introduction last year.  Butterfly Blades brought spinner blades to an all new level due to their weight or lack of, color variations and sonic-like vibrations.   Endless versatility with the ability to troll at speeds as low as 0.25 mph, use hook variations of choice and catch everything from panfish to pike have made them my favorite. Northland Tackle has now introduced the NEW Butterfly Blade Float’n Harness and the Butterfly Wing-Nut Blade Rig.  I quickly realized after a couple of trolling passes that these just uncovered even more trolling options.

The Butterfly Blade Float’n Harness quickly proved very effective trolled over emerging weeds and rocky areas.  Its ability to avoid snags (weeds/rocks) but remain in the strike zone made this a favorite.   The 12 NEW colors in two different blade sizes will give us options complimenting forage and water/weather conditions.The Butterfly Wing-Nut Blade Rig without a doubt became my favorite enticing almost every species of fish.  The small blade produces a slightly more erratic action unmatched by any other blade.  This unmatched action coupled with three hook configurations (2-Hook, 1-Hook and Super Death) only add to versatility allowing this harness to be tipped with your choice of minnows, crawlers or leeches.

There are characteristics that allow these blades to stand alone and simply will put more fish in your boat.  Their composition (polycarbonate) allows less line sagging when trolled at slow speeds, on turns or while drifting.   The action and vibration is atypical of standard metal blades and this action and vibration attracts fish of all species.  The unique color blade options and two sizes of Float’n Harnesses allow matching the size profile preferred by fish on any given day.

I was born and raised in Northeastern South Dakota. Currently living on Big Stone Lake, also with a property on Lake Oahe, I’ve quickly realized I’m surrounded by “walleye” country! Spinner harnesses are a fishing backbone on many bodies of water as they can be fished easily by anglers of all ages with success, great for a guide like me.  The NEW Northland Tackle Butterfly Blade Float’n Harnesses and Butterfly Wing-Nut Blades have definitely earned space in my stowaways.

Digging Bait and Other Ways To Get Fishing Bait Growing Up

Digging bait was always fun, mainly because it was preparation for a fishing trip.  We used all kind of bait in local ponds to catch bream, catfish, a few bass and a good many turtles, and red wigglers were one of our favorite baits.

    On our farm we had seven chicken houses with a total of 11,000 laying hens.  The four old houses were long wooden sheds with chicken wire walls. The birds ran free inside on the wood shaving floor.  Their roosts were wooden frames set down the length of the house on either side of the center. 

    The support posts inside divided the width into thirds. On the downhill side, a galvanized trough three inches wide and five inches deep ran the length of the houses at a slight slant.  At one end was a faucet that dripped constantly. At the other end a nipple in the drain stuck up about four inches and acted as an overflow pipe much like the one in a pond, keeping water up to four inches deep the length of the trough. Water slowly ran over the top and out a pipe to the outside.

    The water was very fertile since chickens are not real careful where they leave their droppings, and every morning one of my jobs was to remove the nipple, turn the water on at the other end and walk the length of the trough with an old broom, cleaning out the mess.  It flowed out the drain pipe.

    The ground behind the house near the drain was always wet from the constant flow of water and extremely rich from all the droppings washed out every day.  Red wigglers found it an ideal habitat and we could dig a can full in a few minutes with just one or two scoops of dirt with a shovel.  There would be dozens of worms in every shovel full and picking them up from the ooze was easy.

    Every critter that lives in water loves red wigglers. We even caught crawfish on them when fishing for catfish on the bottom.  They were our staple bait when fishing but we did have many others.

    The chickens themselves provided great catfish bait.  With that many birds on the farm, a few died every day and I would cut them open and take out the heart, liver and gizzard.  Those innards put in a jar and set in the sun to ripen made an irresistible bait for catfish of kinds.  The livers were soft and hard to keep on the hook but gizzards and hearts were tough enough to last through several fish, if we could get past the smell when putting them on the hook.

    One of mom’s favorite baits were meal worms. We didn’t buy them, we grew our own.  Mom would fill a coffee can half full of corn meal and flour siftings and let it sit open for a few days, then put a cover of cheese cloth or old curtain sheer over it. 

    The eggs the flies laid in the corn meal while the top was open soon hatched into grubs, also called maggots, and grew from tiny white worms barely visible to light brown bait about an inch long. If left too long they turned black and tough and fish did not like them much.  After that stage they soon emerged as young flies.

    Although maggots stunk when taken from dead critters, taking on the smell of rotten meat, they were clean and odorless when grown in corn meal.

    Anything we could catch was tried as bait. Grasshoppers, wild crickets, caterpillars, crawfish, big white grub worms and wasp eggs were all good and most harmless. But wasp eggs were a special problem.

    First, just getting the nest with the larvae growing in it was dangerous. We did not want to spray the nest with poison to kill the adults guarding the nest since it tainted or killed the larvae.  What I would usually do after locating a good nest during the day was go back in the dark, knock it to the ground with a long pole and run off. 

    Wasps do not fly in the dark so after a few minutes I could go back and pick up the nest, being careful to step on any adult wasps that had stayed with the nest.  You could not wait too long to go back for it since ants would quickly find the source of food and be all over the nest.

    The nest was then put in the refrigerator in a paper sack to slow down the growth of the larvae.    You had to be very careful when taking the sack out for a fishing trip since some larvae would come out as an adult even in the cold.  Since they were cold they were sluggish but you had to open the sack carefully and kill any adults that were barely able to move around and sting you.

    I found out the hard way that a sack with a nest in it, left in the sun while fishing, would make any larvae close to changing make the transition to adult quickly. More than once, in the excitement of catching fish, I would reach into the bag to get a new bait and get stung by a newly changed adult wasp.

    A friend once told me how he would take tiny pieces of meat and stick a little strip of cigarette paper on it.  Left outside, a yellowjacket would often pick up the piece of meat to take to their underground nest. He could follow them to the nest by tracking the tiny white dot of paper.

    Yellowjackets build big underground nest with paper cells that look like wasps nest.  My friend said he could sell a big nest to fishermen too timid to try to get them on their own for several dollars.

    I did not know about yellowjacket nests as a kid or I am sure I would have tried his trick to get my own bait!  

5 Things We Know About Juvenile Tarpon

From Bonefish & Tarpon Trust
from The Fishing Wire

1. They begin their lives looking like a clear worm

Adult tarpon spawn offshore: 80-100 miles in the Gulf of Mexico and 5-10 miles in the Atlantic Ocean. Once eggs fertilize and hatch, tarpon begin their larval stage looking like a transparent flat ribbon. This particular larva, similar to eels, bonefish, and ladyfish, is known as a leptocephalus. Although leptocephali do have the ability to swim, they are mostly drifting with currents to make their way back inshore. A study on the Indian River Lagoon found that tarpon larvae enter the passes at night and make their way into far reaches of the estuary to find calm, tidal backwaters where they metamorphose into juveniles.

2. They can breathe air 

Although we can’t exactly compare juvenile tarpon to Flipper, tarpon have a unique capability of taking oxygen from above the surface instead of relying on dissolved oxygen in the water. Tarpon have a modified swim bladder that has rows of vascularized (i.e. spongy) tissue that can act as an extra set of gills. In contrast, other fish typically have a balloon like swim bladder that can only help with buoyancy during pressure changes. Gulping air is a major benefit to juvenile tarpon who seem to prefer habitats with low dissolved oxygen that exclude other fish that could be competition or predators.

3. They eat anything and everything

Another good strategy for juvenile tarpon in backwater habitats is that they are opportunistic feeders. A study on the east coast of Florida looked at the diets of juvenile tarpon compared with prey availability for seven locations and concluded that tarpon eat everything. The only limiting factor was if the food would fit in their mouth; therefore the larger the juvenile tarpon grew, the more things it could eat. Fish and copepods are the main organisms consumed, but tarpon also eat ants, crabs, shrimp and fly larvae. (Photo: Jeff Harrell)

4. Their growth rates depend on habitat quality

Although the scientific literature is limited on juvenile tarpon studies, there are some that show tarpon in captivity and natural habitats exhibit growth rates of 10-12 inches per year. Likewise, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) found comparable growth rates of juvenile snook (who use similar habitats) in the Tampa Bay estuary. However, BTT studies in southwest Florida and coastal South Carolina of juvenile tarpon in human degraded habitats found average growth rates of 1-2 inches per year. These studies underscore how detrimental coastal development, altered waterflows and nutrient runoff are to our fisheries.

5. About 2/3 of angler reported juvenile tarpon habitats are degraded by humans

 In 2016, BTT started a juvenile tarpon habitat mapping project to find locations of tarpon 12 inches and smaller.  Anglers reported almost 300 locations and were asked to described the site as natural or altered. About 64 percent of reported sites were described as having some level of degradation. Couple this information with our slow growth data in human impacted sites and it’s clear just how important habitat protection and restoration are.

 Click here to learn more about BTT’s habitat restoration efforts. (Photo: SWFWMD)

Hard To Catch Fish for Me In A Guntersville Tournament

I could have stayed home and cut grass last weekend rather than going to Lake Guntersville for the Potato Creek August Tournament.  In two days nine of us landed 24 keepers weighing about 58 pounds.  There were no limits and three fishermen didn’t catch a keeper in two days, I think.

    Kwong Yu won with six weighing 17.15 pounds and had big fish with a 5.47 pound largemouth, Tommy Reeves had four weighing 10.52 for second, Ryan Edge came in third with four weighing 10.35 pounds and Raymond English was fourth with five at 10.27 pounds.

    Fishing was tough.  The first day I tried everything I knew to do, from shallow grassbeds to deep ledges.  I caught some short fish that I could not weigh in.  The size limit at Guntersville is 15 inches for largemouth and smallmouth and there is no limit on spotted bass but our club has a 12-inch size limit on them.

    At 11:00 I hooked and lost what felt like a decent fish that hit a jig and pig on a shellbed on a 14-foot-deep ledge.  I fished several other places then at 2:00 went back to the shellbed and caught a 15-inch spotted bass on my first cast with the jig and pig.  An hour later I landed a 16-inch spot there that hit my jig as I reeled it in for another cast. That was a suicide spot that was just meant to get caught.

    That day Ryan led with four weighing just over ten pounds and Raymond was second with four weighing eight pounds.  The second day I never hooked a keeper although I fished the shellbed hard, starting there at daylight. 

    Kwong had the kind of day we all hope for the second day. On the first day, like me, he had two keepers weighing three pounds. But on Sunday he landed four weighing almost 14 pounds, including the big fish, and won.

    Fishing will continue to be very tough for at least another month, then the cooler weather should make fishing more comfortable and encourage the bass to bite.