Cleaning Reels and Guns

 know it makes me a bad person, but as much as I love to fish and hunt, I hate cleaning reels and guns.  And now, my shaky hands make it very hard to do and gives me a good excuse. 

Fortunately, I have good options. I take my reels to Big Ernie’s Tackle in Bonanza and in a few days get my reels back cleaned and any repairs made.

For years, before getting a magnetic holder that keeps my pistol handy under the dash or my truck, I kept my semiautomatic Glock in a bag at my feet.  It got very dirty and started jamming.  A gun that jams is nothing but a chunk of steel when you need protection.

I took my Glock to Neil Blalock at Mid-Georgia Gunsmithing and a couple days later had it back, clean and with an action smooth as warm butter.  I was very happy with his price and fast service.  If you have guns that need cleaning or repair, call him at 770-584-5892 or visit his web site at www.georgiagunsmith.com.

Beaching It Fishing at Pensacola

Fishing from the Beach

Beaching It Fishing at Pensacola
By Frank Sargeant
from The Fishing Wire

It sometimes seems that half of the population from North Alabama all the way to the Canadian border heads for the Gulf beaches on winter holidays. There’s good reason. Not only is the climate significantly more pleasant, but the emerald green waters and white sand beaches extend for endless miles. Beaches here are regularly adjudged to be among the best not only in the U.S. but worldwide.

And for anglers, the change from a steady regimen of catch-and-release bass—or of punching holes through ice for walleyes and perch– gets “salted” with seatrout, redfish, flounder, sheepshead and many other species—all of them as tasty on the table as they are exciting on the line. While Panama City Beach, Miramar and Destin are well-known favorites for many families, there are other attractive locations where the beach is just as good or better, and where the crowds are far sparser for much of the season.

One of my personal favorites is the shore between Navarre Beach and Pensacola Beach plus the Gulf Islands National Seashore (GINS)beyond, extending all the way to Pensacola Pass.

Much of this area is completely undeveloped, not only on the beach but also on the backwater lagoons, thanks to the vast sprawl of Gulf Islands National Seashore, which begins here on Santa Rosa Island and leapfrogs all the way to the waters of Ship Island, Mississippi—some 135,000 acres total, stretching over 160 miles along the northern edge of the Gulf. There are small communities on Santa Rosa, both on the Navarre Beach and the Pensacola Beach end with hotels, restaurants and shops, but for the most part much of the land and water here is almost the way the Spaniards found it in the 1500’s.

 That’s a particular advantage in access to Santa Rosa Sound, because otherwise it’s lined with high-dollar houses and docks where public access is verboten. The extensive park lands open up lots of backwater wade-fishing for those without boats, or those who merely need a spot to launch a kayak or canoe. There are vast productive grass flats within a few hundred yards of parking areas in much of the parkland.

On my most recent visit, I parked at the GINS parking area in Gulf Breeze and walked less than 50 yards to the lagoon. There was a half-mile-long school of mullet jumping on the outside of the grass where depth dropped from about 2 feet to 4 feet, and both redfish and trout were running the edge with the mullet.  The trout were quick to jump on a 3/16 ounce plastic-tailed jig hopped through the grass, while the reds held out for a LiveTarget Scaled Sardine fished with frequent pauses between twitches. Fish were most abundant where the grass flat extended farther from the shore, as well as in bare sand potholes surrounded by grass. 

As in most inshore fishing, the best stick for this action is a 7-foot medium light spinning rod and 2500 to 3000 size reel and 10-pound-test braid. A couple feet of 20-pound-test mono leader stiffens the presentation and prevents treble-hook lures from circling back on themselves to snag the line.

I caught reds to 8 pounds on this rig over three days, trout to around 20 inches.  My trip was just before the first big cold front of the year and water temperature on the flats was 70 degrees—it’s now in the lower 60’s. It’s likely fish that were in the shallows have now moved to nearby channels, cuts and holes as well as into backcountry creeks, but they won’t go farther than they have to for warmer water.

I didn’t fish the beach, but a couple from Birmingham I ran into at a turnout about halfway between Pensacola Beach and Navarre told me they were catching whiting, and they also hooked up with a four-foot shark, their second of the afternoon, while I was photographing them. The fish eventually nipped the leader and escaped.  There’s also easy-access fishing from the Pensacola Beach Pier here, and the tackle shop rents or sells everything needed for vacationing anglers to catch winter drum, blues, sheepshead and whiting—the sheepshead can be particularly abundant around the pilings in winter—feed them small chunks of fresh-cut shrimp or whole sand fleas on a size 1/0 hook right against the concrete.

The pier is some 1400 feet long, and in the warmer months produces everything from Spanish mackerel and kings, to cobia, lunker reds and lots more, including even the occasional stray sailfish. Dad can fish here while mom and kids swim or surf, or go across the street to the numerous gift shops and restaurants. 

Other things to do here include Fort Pickens National Monument just to the west, where you can take a self-guided tour of this fort built prior to the Civil War and later used as a jail to hold the American Indian chief Geronimo—kids love the dark, winding tunnels within as well as the massive historic canons. It’s possible to spend the whole day in this end of the park because there are swimming beaches, wade-fishing opportunities on the flats and a fishing pier where giant redfish are caught with some frequency; https://www.nps.gov/guis/learn/historyculture/fort-pickens.htm 

The National Naval Aviation Museum is also well worth a visit if anyone in your family is interested in the history of flying or military aircraft—the 350,000-square-foot facility is loaded with every sort of historic airplane, and also has a good selection of entertainments to keep the kids busy while the adults explore the displays; https://www.navalaviationmuseum.org

See details on Gulf Islands National Seashore at https://www.nps.gov/guis/index.htm 

For more on visiting the Pensacola area, go to www.visitpensacola.com

Joining A Bass Club and Fishing A January Club Tournament

This is a great time to join a bass club. 

The Flint River Bass Club meets the first Tuesday of the month and fishes our tournament the following Sunday.  Potato Creek Bassmasters meets the Monday following the first Tuesday and fishes that Saturday.  Spalding County Sportsman Club meets the third Tuesday each month and fishes the following Sunday.  All three clubs have some two-day tournaments, too.

Annual dues are $25 in Flint River and $50 in the other two. Monthly tournament entry fees are $25 to $30 with a variety of pots, like daily big fish at $5, that are voluntary.

We have a lot of fun at the meetings discussing fishing and telling some true stories about it. Tournaments are fun competition, mostly for bragging rights since entry fees are low and there is not enough money involved to really get serious about it.

There are many of us in each of the three clubs that often fish alone, so there is always room for new members without a boat.  If interested in joining one of the clubs call me at 770-789-6168 or email ronnie@fishing-about.com

Last Sunday ten members of the Flint River Bass Club fished our first tournament of the year at Jackson.  The weather was great for this time of year, but the muddy 52-degree water seemed to turn off the bass.

In eight hours of casting, we brought 15 12-inch keeper bass weighing about 22 pounds to the scales. Ten of them were spots.  There was one limit and five members zeroed.

Doug Acree won with five weighing 8.09 pounds and said he caught a bunch of bass, culling in the first hour of the tournament, while the rest of us struggled to catch a keeper.  Don Gober had three at 4.12 pounds for second, Niles Murray placed third with two at 4.04 pounds and his 3.21 pound largemouth was big fish. My three weighing 3.72 pounds was good for fourth and Alex Gober had two at 2.19 for fifth.

Niles fished with me since his new boat has not arrived. We tried a little bit of everything that morning. Niles hooked a nice two-pound bass on a spinnerbait that came off right at the net first thing.

I missed a fish that hit a jig head worm because of my stupidity.  I had switched reels around and forget to check the drag. When I tried to set the hook, the spool just spun around, and I did not hook the fish.  I did land a keeper spot on a crankbait off a boat ramp and another one on a spinnerbait in a blowdown.  Then about 11:00 I slowed down and caught my third keeper on a shaky head worm on a rocky point.

I made the mistake of picking at Niles a little since he didn’t have a fish in the livewell and I had three. Then he caught the three pounder on a jig on a rocky point and caught up with me with one fish.  He added his second keeper with about an hour left to fish. It hit the jig on a point.

We both missed a lot of bites.  I caught two 11-inch spots and a couple of times, when I set the hook on the shaky head, I brought in half a worm, a good sign it was a little fish.

It was a fun day overall.  I am looking forward to the rest of the club tournaments this year.

Catch River Steelhead

River Steelhead

Catch River Steelhead with Worm Jigs
By David A. Brown
from The Fishing Wire

If ever the term “Go with the flow” was applicable, it’s Cameron Black’s worm jig technique. Black partners with Marlin Lefever in the Columbia River-based Addicted Fishing guide service. Mastering this and other salmon/steelhead tactics, these Pacific Northwest anglers have worked with Mustad to develop technique-specific tackle including a Steelhead Jig Kit that contains 1/8- and 1/4-ounce worm jigs.

As Black explains, these jigs feature a sturdy Mustad Ultrapoint hook with the same KVD Grip Pin keeper popularized by several Mustad bass hooks. A key design point is the head shape, a detail that Black finds particularly helpful in fooling perceptive steelhead.

“The difference between a worm jig and a standard round ball jig is that it has a flat surface,” he said. “When you butt a rubber worm against the head, you have a flat surface, so it’s kind of a streamlined look.

“At the end of the day, steelhead probably don’t care if it’s the difference between a round head and the flat back, but when you add weight to a round head jig, the profile gets continuously bigger. When you use a 1/4-ounce flat back, you just extend that piece back so you get the same profile with an 1/8- and 1/4-ounce jig heads.

”Noting that steelhead can be very particular, Black said this streamlined presentation can mean the difference between a looker and an eater. With most steelhead growing up on a diet of earthworms and baby lamprey, the worm jig package, properly presented, can be deadly.Black’s preference is a 4- to 6-inch tube worm — specifically, the Addicted Steelhead Worm — in pink, orange, purple or blue. With worm and jig head suspended under a Mustad Addicted balsa float, the rig is fished with the current for a natural presentation.

“As the worm is drifting down the river, a steelhead keys on it, swims over and grabs the bait, buries the bobber and drives the hook home,” Black said. “A lot of this is in-river fishing — boulder mazes, riffles. This is a really versatile lure because you can fish it in 6 inches of water — sometimes, the steelhead are that shallow — and you can fish it in 10 feet of water.

”As far as imparting action on the rig, Black says: Don’t bother. The water does all the work for you.

“You’ll get some natural movement with the roils in the current and maybe some up and down if you’re fishing it in a little bit of a riffle, but it take such little movement for the worm’s tail to move,” he said.

“Really, what you’re looking for is when you cast upriver, you want that bobber and that worm to drift as naturally as possible. You don’t want to be pulling on it and you don’t want to have too much line in the water to where it’s impacting the bobber and the worm.”

Ideal depth for worm presentation, Black said, is about a foot off the bottom. Keep it in the fish’s face and the worm jig is an easy sell.For more on the Mustad Steelhead Jig Kit, visit www.mustad-fishing.com.

U.S. Boat Sales Reached Second Highest Volume in 12 Years


U.S. Boat Sales Reached Second Highest Volume in 12 Years in 2019, Expected to Remain Strong in 2020
The National Marine Manufacturers Association 

(NMMA), representing North American recreational boat, engine and marine accessory manufacturers, announced today that as it finalizes 2019 sales numbers, retail unit sales of new powerboats are estimated to have held steady in 2019 at approximately 280,000 units, the second highest total since 2007.

 CHICAGO – The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), representing North American recreational boat, engine and marine accessory manufacturers, announced today that as it finalizes 2019 sales numbers, retail unit sales of new powerboats are estimated to have held steady in 2019 at approximately 280,000 units, the second highest total since 2007. The busy winter boat show season kicks off this week across the country with new powerboat sales expected to be up as much as 2 percent in 2020.

“Sales in 2019 were nearly on par with the 11-year high we saw in 2018, even with some softening particularly in the freshwater fishing category, which we attribute to unseasonably cold and rainy weather in spring and early summer. Looking at 2020, with the economy on solid footing and key economic indicators like consumer spending remaining strong, we expect another healthy year for new boat sales, which could be up as much as 2 percent,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, NMMA president. “With approximately $42 billion per year in retail expenditures, boating is not only an economic driver but a unique vehicle for the kind of meaningful experiences consumers are seeking more and more—ones that take you outdoors, bring together family and friends, and create lasting memories.”

The following new powerboat categories drove retail unit sales momentum in 2019:New personal watercraft sales are estimated to be up 6 percent to 73,000 units in 2019; with accessible entry-level price points, personal watercraft are often considered a gateway to boat ownership.Sales of new wake sport boats—popular for wakesurfing and wakeboarding and attractive to new and younger boaters—are estimated to be up 6 percent to 11,000 units in 2019.New cruiser sales—boats between 22 and 32 feet, popular for relaxing, entertaining and ‘cruising’—are estimated to be up 3 percent to 9,000 units in 2019.However, new freshwater fishing boat sales—a high-volume category—are estimated to be down 7 percent to 69,000 units in 2019.

U.S. boat manufacturers and dealers are gearing up for the winter boat show season around the country, an important marketing venue where manufacturers introduce their latest products and consumers come to buy. Based on association estimates, boat shows can generate 50 percent or more of annual sales for exhibiting dealers and manufacturers.

Shoppers at a boat show can expect to find some of the best deals of the year with the added convenience of comparing different boat models, and different dealers, in one location.

U.S. Recreational Boating by the Numbers
Additional statistics on the industry’s size, makeup and demographics include:Annual U.S. sales of boats, marine products and services are estimated to total $42 billion in 2019, up slightly from 2018.Retail unit sales of new boats are estimated to have reached approximately 280,000 units in 2019, the second highest level since 2007 and flat with 2018 totals.Leading the nation in sales of new powerboat, engine, trailer and accessories in 2018 were the following 10 states (2019 estimates available in the spring):

Florida: $3.2 billion, up 8 percent from 2017

Texas: $1.8 billion, up 9 percent from 2017

Michigan: $1.1 billion, up 10 percent from 2017

North Carolina: $914 million, up 9 percent from 2017

Minnesota: $861 million, up 6 percent from 2017

Wisconsin: $781 million, up 9 percent from 2017

New York: $775 million, up 5 percent from 2017

California: $765 million, up 6 percent from 2017

Georgia: $680 million, up 8 percent from 2017

South Carolina: $661 million, up 4 percent from 2017

It’s not just new boats Americans are buying; about 975,000 pre-owned boats are estimated to have been sold in 2019, down slightly from 2018.There were an estimated 11.9 million boats registered and documented in the U.S. in 2019, relatively unchanged from 2018.Ninety-five percent of boats on the water (powerboats, personal watercraft and sailboats) in the U.S. are small in size, measuring less than 26 feet in length—boats that can be trailered by a vehicle to local waterways.

Sixty-two percent of boat owners have a household income less than $100,000, making boating a solidly middle-class recreational pursuit.Outdoor recreation accounts for 2.2 percent of U.S. GDP, generating $778 billion in gross economic output—on par with the telecommunications industry (2.3 percent)—of which recreational boating and fishing is the single largest segment, contributing nearly $40 billion in gross output. (Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis)

About NMMA: The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is the leading trade organization for the North American recreational boating industry. NMMA member companies produce more than 80 percent of the boats, engines, trailers, marine accessories and gear used by millions of boaters in North America. The association serves its members and their sales and service networks by improving the business environment for recreational boating including providing domestic and international sales and marketing opportunities, reducing unnecessary government regulation, decreasing the cost of doing business, and helping grow boating participation. As the largest producer of boat and sport shows in the U.S., NMMA connects the recreational boating industry with the boating consumer year-round. Learn more at www.nmma.org and get engaged with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Loving Warm January Weather, And It Is NOT Unprecedented

I loved the warm January weather while fishing the Flint River club tournament last Sunday at Jackson. 

Many folks are claiming this weather is unusual for January. I even heard one talking head using the most over used word in our vocabulary right now – “unprecedented.” 

On Sunday. January 21, 1967, my senior year in high school, Harold and I talked at church about how warm it was and that we needed to go water skiing.  We wanted to be the first ones to go skiing that year.  As soon as church was over, we went home, changed clothes and grabbed some extra jeans and shirts.

On the way to the lake WBBQ radio station in Augusta said it was 71 degrees and it was sunny.  We got to Raysville Boat Club where my family’s ski boat was tied under a boat shed.  As we pulled up to the lake, we saw one of our friends that had skipped church that day out of the water skiing.

Harold and I both skied, but we were not the first that year. There have been many other very warm Januaries over the years, and many very cold ones. And there will be many more as the weather changes year to year.

Lake Guntersville Weekly Fishing Report from Captain Mike Gerry

Guntersville Keeper Bass

Fishing Report, Lake Guntersville 1/18/20


With the March type weather, we have been experiencing fishing remained strong on Guntersville this past week. There were a few days that we experienced catches of 30 plus fish and some good size mixed in there with them. The water temperature in some areas reached as high as 59 degrees moving the bass to the early spring locations. Being persistent and finding the right location was key but when you did you reaped the benefits.


Baits were pretty-typical winter type baits, SPRO Aruka Shads, Picasso chatter baits and spinner baits, Tight-Line swim jigs along with Missile bait “48” stick baits were the key. We fished mainly in 10 ft. or less of water most of the day. Location, grass, bait fish and timing were key to catching; you just had to be patient until they turned on and then it was on.


Come fish with me I have days and guides available to fish with you no one will treat you better or work harder to see you have a great day on the water. It’s time to book your 2020 fishing days, call me let’s get you set up! We fish with great sponsor products, Vicious Fishing, Lowrance Electronics, Mercury Motors, Ranger Boats, Boat Logix mounts, Duckett fishing, Navionics mapping, Power Pole, and more.

A Primer on Hooks

Hook Parts

A Primer on Hooks, from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission
Knowing the right kind of hook to use, selecting the correct size and keeping it sharp will help every angler land more fish.

No matter how good a rod you’re using, no matter what brand of line is on the reel, no matter what you paid for that lure, it all meets the fish at only one point—the hook. Knowing the right kind of hook to use, selecting the correct size, and keeping it sharp will . . . put more fish on the hook!

The parts of a hook (left) are relatively simple, and will apply to nearly all kinds. There are many different kinds of hooks available, but don’t let yourself be overwhelmed—a few basic hooks will meet most of your needs.

When choosing hook size, go smaller rather than larger when in doubt . . . many large fish have been caught on small hooks! Note that the numbering of hook sizes increases as the hook gets smaller (the bigger the number, the smaller the hook!). The exception is when the numbering gets down to 1 for larger hook sizes (1/0 or greater), in which case the hook size increases as the number does (1/0, 2/0, 3/0, etc.).

The Aberdeen is an excellent all-around choice for light freshwater bait fishing. The fine wire minimizes damage to the bait, and reduces interference with its natural movement. The long shank also makes hook removal easier even if the fish has partially swallowed the bait. This hook is designed to bend and pull loose under heavy pressure if it becomes caught on a solid object such as submerged brush. For this reason, don’t use too heavy a line with an Aberdeen—if there’s a big fish on the other end instead of a stump, you want the drag to slip before the hook straightens! Good sizes include 8-10 for bream, 4-6 for crappie, and 2-6 for light-line bass or catfish angling.

For heavier bait fishing, many savvy anglers have turned to the popular circle hook.

Although not a new design (it’s been in use by commercial anglers for years), the circle hook has more recently been popularized as a valuable tool for recreational fishermen too. This unusual-looking hook is designed to minimize gut-hooking, instead catching the fish near the corner of the mouth almost every time. Not only that, but anglers experience a significantly higher percentage of successful hookups too—circle hooks reduce the number of missed strikes. Instead of setting the hook when you get a strike as you do with conventional hooks, you should simply apply increasing pressure and the fish will basically hook itself. Circle hooks are especially helpful for unusually difficult hooking situations, such as bait fishing for tough-mouthed larger bass or tarpon.

Worm hooks for weedless rigging of plastic baits come in a variety of styles. These hooks usually have a distinct elbow bend in the shank near the eye, where the following part of the hook will emerge from the plastic bait. These are available in straight or offset shank styles. In order to rig a “straight” worm that will not twist unnaturally when retrieved, lay the hook on top of the worm and note where it should emerge from and re-enter the body. By rigging the worm this way, you should be able to avoid making the worm kink. Sizes used generally range from 1 to 5/0, depending on the size of the plastic bait. Wide gap versions have become increasingly popular for plastic baits.

Getting to the point: Modern hooks come out of the package much sharper than their ancestors did! If you are using a name brand hook, you may not need to sharpen it at all, or only touch up the point if it gets dulled. For freshwater hooks, a small whetstone works better than a metal file, which tends to remove too much metal too quickly. Sharpen the hook on each side first, and then finish up by sharpening the point opposite the barb. If the hook hone has a “point groove,” then the final step is that much easier. The traditional test of hook sharpness, seeing if it “sticks” when you touch the point to your thumbnail, still works.

To barb or not to barb: Although more and more hook styles are becoming available barbless, most of the time it’s still up to the angler to provide this option for himself if he wants it. Barbless hooks have the advantages of penetrating a fish’s mouth more readily and being easier to remove (from fish, shirt, or fishin’ buddy!), in addition to reducing the level of hooking injury likely to occur to the fish itself. Especially for beginning anglers, quick hook removal from fish or self is a major convenience. De-barbing is probably most important for bait fishing, where the chances of a fish swallowing the hook are higher. However, many anglers de-barb all their lure hooks, too. Regardless of whether you fish simply for the sport, or strictly for the frying pan, the FWC encourages anglers to use barbless hooks so that those fish that are released have a better chance of survival.

So remember . . . a good rod-and-reel combo and decent line can help you catch fish, but you’ll want to have a good hook too!

What Is the Power-Pole CHARGE?

Power Pole Charge

Innovation is Standard Equipment with the Power-Pole CHARGE
This new power management station will be part of all MLF Cup Series events in 2020
By J. Scott Butherus/Power-Pole Communications
from The Fishing Wire

TAMPA – At the highest level of competition, only the best products on the market will do.

That is why each of the boats used in the Major League Fishing Cup Series this season will come equipped with a Power-Pole CHARGE Marine Power Management Station. Along with their flagship Power-Pole Blade Shallow Water Anchors, the CHARGE is part of the standard equipment package that will be used in each event of MLF’s marquee tournament series in 2020.

The Cup Series consists of four television-friendly events – the Challenge, the Heritage, the Patriot and the Summit Cups — with anglers who have qualified through the MLF Bass Pro Tour. Each competitor is given an identical boat for the competition outfitted with the best products on the market from the tournament tour’s biggest sponsors.

“These are some of the best anglers in the world so it only makes sense that we put the most technologically-advanced equipment available at their fingertips,” Power-Pole vice president Robert Shamblin said. “The CHARGE is an essential tool for any angler who wants to compete at the highest level and, just like with the Power-Pole anchors, being part of the MLF Cup Series shows that our products are vital for these anglers.

”While the CHARGE may not be readily apparent during the televised broadcasts in the same way as the Power-Pole anchors mounted on the back of each boat, the role that the CHARGE plays during competition is no less important. It is more than just a battery charger, it’s an intelligent power management system that performs the functions that previously needed three different devices to accomplish. CHARGE automatically devotes more power to the accessories that need it the most for maximum efficiency.

Whether it is the trolling motor, live wells, or other devices, CHARGE seamlessly manages the boat’s power consumption so anglers can devote their full attention to fishing. Using the C-Monster app or GATEWAY-enabled devices, the anglers can see their batteries’ state of voltage in real-time on smartphone or sonar/gps screen.In the rapid-fire, catch-weigh-release format of the MLF events, that ability to focus purely on fishing and not battery status when the bite catches fire can be the difference between cashing in and elimination.Team Power-Pole pro and Bass Pro Tour competitor Chris Lane was one of the first anglers to use the CHARGE in a tournament setting so he already knows the advantage the CHARGE can deliver in crunch time.

“I am really excited to see that the Power-Pole CHARGE will be standard equipment in the MLF Cup Series event boats this season,” Lane said. “With one MLF Bass Pro Tour season under my belt running the Power-Pole CHARGE, I could not compete with true confidence without it in my boat. Knowing that I have complete power management of my batteries, on the run charging and an emergency start all in one unit is fantastic!

“It’s super lightweight which helps my boat’s performance as well. CHARGE is a game changer for sure.”The CHARGE became standard issue on all Cup Series boats in 2019, where it proved it could keep up with the rigorous demands of these top pros competing at the highest levels.

“The boats we use during MLF Cup Events take a beating during the season with more than 160 hours on the water per boat,” MLF executive vice president Don Rucks said. “Our service crews are always reliable to keep the boats running at peak performance. MLF staff and pros rely on the durability each Power-Pole CHARGE provides day in and day out.”

See a video on using the new Power-Pole CHARGE on Lake Kissimmee here: https://youtu.be/gmQJLJWj9Fk

For more on Power-Pole, visit www.power-pole.com

GPS Coordinates for Catching Lake Jackson Bass

March Bass at Jackson Lake 

with Barry Stokes

     For many years Jackson Lake was known for its big bass.  Then spots got into the lake and it seemed the big lunker largemouth got very rare, but you could catch a pile of keeper size spots.  Stringers with several six to eight pound bass are not seen like they were years ago, but 20 pound tournament catches still happen.

     Filled in 1911, Jackson is the oldest big reservoir in the state.  This Georgia Power lake on the headwaters of the Ocmulgee River covers 4750 acres and its shoreline is lined with cabins, docks, rocks and wood cover.  Most of its channels are silted in but there are plenty of sandy spawning coves on the lake.

     Barry Stokes grew up near Jackson and fished farm ponds but did not get to fish Jackson much. He watched bass boats go by his house headed to the lake and was determined someday to be in a bass boat on Jackson like those guys.  He made those wishes come true in the early 1990s and joined the Conyers Bass Pros bass club. Later he joined Bear Creek Bass Club.

     In the past 15 years Barry has learned the lake well and, starting in 2001, fished as many pot tournaments on it as he could. He fished the old R&R, Dixie Bass and Charlie’s Bait and Tackle trail as well as the night and weekend pot tournaments on Jackson. Now he fishes the Berry’s trail, ABA, and any other tournaments on the Jackson.  He also fishes the BFL, HD Marine and other tournaments on Sinclair and Oconee. He is usually waiting around on a check after weigh-in in them. 

     Barry has learned the lake so well he now guides on Jackson as well as Sinclair and Oconee.  He knows how to pattern the bass on the lake and has learned how to catch them. His best day ever on Jackson he landed a 12 pound lunker and had five fish weighing 30 pounds.  In one string of tournaments he won 11 of 13 tournaments and had big fish in all 13.

     Over the years Barry has figured out good patterns for March bass.  In late February they start staging on rock, clay and sand points near spawning coves and feed up on crawfish and baitfish.  He can usually catch them four to eight feet deep on those points. 

     As the water warms during March Barry follows the bass from the points back into the spawning pockets. Some bass will bed in early March if the water temperatures go up and stay stable for a week and bass move into the bedding areas in waves all spring.  There will often be a lot of pre-spawn fish on the points, some moving back and even some on the beds this month.

     “Details are the key,” Barry told me.  He keeps a variety of baits tied on and also has others ready to try. He will vary the details like lure color, depth and speed he retrieves them all during the day until he finds the key. If the fish quit hitting he will start varying the details again until he unlocks the new pattern.                    Barry will have several kinds of crankbaits in different colors, a Ol Nelle spinnerbait, a Net Boy Jackson Jig and pig, a Net Boy Shaky Head, a Terry Bowden’s Cold Steel lizard worm and a Cold Steel Walking Stick all rigged and ready when he heads out this month.  The colors will vary with water color, with brighter colors for stained water and more natural colors for clearer water.  But he will vary all the details during the day.

     One of the details Barry pays attention to that many bass fishermen get lax on is speed he works the baits.   He will vary his speed until he hits what is working. Too many bass fishermen have a speed of retrieve they are comfortable with when using certain baits and don’t very it. Barry constantly changes. 

As the water warms the fish will get more active this month and chase a bait better, but some cold days they want a fast moving bait, too.  As a general rule you should fish slower in cold water and faster in warmer water, but Barry says pay attention to details and vary your speed constantly.

Barry and I fished the following ten spots in mid-February and bass were already on them.  We caught 20 to 25 bass that day and Barry caught almost all of them on crankbaits, but I managed a few of the bigger fish on a jig and pig.  These spots will pay off all month long as fish move up on them then move back to spawn.

1. N 33 25.195 – W 83 49.875 – Run up the Alcovy to the cove on the left called “Parker Neck” and look at the upstream point.  There is a small concrete piling/pier on the up stream side right on the edge of the water and a blowdown runs out off the end of the point.   The house on the point is brick half way up with green wood above it.

This point is an excellent staging area. The bottom is rocky and the pocket on the downstream side, Parker Neck, is a good spawning place.  Fish hold out on the point on the rocks and in the blowdown feeding then move into the cove to spawn as the water warms.

Barry starts out on the end of the point at the blowdown and fishes the tree and the rocks with a crankbait, spinnerbait and jig.  He will then work the bank going downstream all the way past the cut to the next point with a gazebo on it.  Fish the above baits but also try a shaky head worm, and a Texas or Carolina rigged Lizard Worm along this bank. Work the sand where the bass will be bedding.

2. N 33 24.301 – W 83 49.746 – Headed downstream Price Neck is on your right and a good rocky point is on your left. The point you want to fish has a small cabin on it with lattice work around the crawl space.  There is a white painted tire laying in the yard. Back in the pocket on the downstream side there is a house that runs right to the water’s edge.

This point runs out shallow toward the downstream side and there is some brush on the downstream side.  The bass spawn in the cut on the downstream side.  Stay way out and fish a crankbait, spinnerbait and jig around the rocks and brush, then work into the pocket with the other baits. Try to vary your colors and speed until you find what the bass want.

One trick Barry uses is to Texas rig a Cold Steel Walking Stick, a Senko like bait, and fishes it around all the cover in the pockets. It skips under docks well and has a little different action and look than the jig and pig that most anglers will be throwing. This is another example of the types of details Barry uses to catch bass behind other fishermen.

3. N 33 23.035 – W 83 50.279 – Downstream of the bridge and Berry’s there is a point on your left heading downstream that has a beige house with a brown roof on it. There is a three globe light pole in the yard and a dock on the point with a deck on the bank. The deck has lattice panels around it. There are big rocks on the point and the bass spawn in the pocket on the upstream side.

Barry says this is a numbers game point. Spots stage and spawn here and you can often pick up several fish.  Crank the point then try a spinnerbait. Start on the downstream side and parallel the point fishing from near the bank casting out toward the lake. Then work out around the point fan casting both baits.  It gets real shallow on top so don’t get in too close.

After working the point work into the spawning area dragging a worm on the bottom. Barry likes a green pumpkin Lizard Worm this time of year and dips the tail in JJs Magic chartreuse dye to give it some color. Spots seem to especially like the wiggling chartreuse tails.

4. N 33 22.225 – W 83 51.113 – Go under the power lines and you will see a swimming beach and picnic area for Turtle Cove on your left. There are three buoys in front of the beach and the point that runs out downstream of it is a good staging area. The point is red clay and rock, an excellent combination for holding bass this time of year.  They are often feeding on crayfish on this kind of point.

The point runs at an angle downstream across the mouth of a cove.  Start near the swimming area where the sand transitions to clay and rock. That kind of change often holds bass. Work it then keep your boat way our and go downstream, fan casting around the point. 

There is a real good drop on the inside of this point where the small creek coming out of the pocket runs by it. Fish that drop and the blowdown on the inside of the point.  Flip a jig in it and work a spinnerbait through it.  Then work on into the creek for spawning bass.  This is an excellent spawning area and holds a lot of bass.

5. N 33 22.044 – W 83 51.376 – Go past the next cove downstream and you will head straight in to a high bluff bank.  The old river channel swings in right by it and it drops off fast. There are three small points along this bluff bank you should fish in March.  Start on the outside one at the dock on the rock sea wall in front of the series of decks running up the hill to the house. 

It is rocky and holds the first transitioning fish coming up out of the river channel. Stay out and fan cast it then work toward the next dock. There is a rock ledge that runs out under the dock. You will see the dock with a walkway that runs behind a tree leaning out.  The dock has the numbers “3108” on the walkway.

Stay out from the dock on the downstream side and cast toward the walkway and tree. You can see how the rocks run parallel to the bank coming out. Run a crankbait, spinnerbait and jig along these rocks, then work around the dock and fish the other side. Also drag a plastic bait along the bottom here.

The next point going into the creek is a round clay point and you should fish all around it, then fish into the creek, concentrating on any sand you come to.  The Lizard Worm is a good choice on sandy spots since spawning fish will hit it.  You may not see the bed but can catch fish off the beds with this bait.

6. N 33 22.202 – W 83 51.771 – Round the point headed into the South River and you will see a sharp narrow point on your right.  It comes out and drops off fast on both sides but is shallow on top. There is no house on the point but you will see four benches on it and there is a concrete boat ramp on it.  There are two pines on the point with black protectors around their bases.

The point is rock and clay and bass spawn in pockets on both side of it. It is steep and gives bass quick access to shallow water. They can hold deep and quickly move shallow without moving far.

Start on the downstream side and work around the point, staying way out. Fish along the upstream bank leading into the next pocket up. Rocks, clay and sand along this bank hold bass and they will move along it feeding and working into the spawning pocket. Barry will usually stop fishing about where the seawall starts unless he is going back into the pocket for spawning bass.

7. N 33 22.294 – W 83 61.856 – The next point up also has good deep water access.  This point has a brown cabin and there was a US flag flying on the dock in front of it when we were there.  There are two floodlights on a tree right at the dock. There is a big blowdown on the upstream side and a rockpile out on the point.

The wind can be important here and on other spots this time of year. Some wind blowing across the point or into it helps and Barry will fish wind-blown points as long as he can hold his boat on them.  Wind creates current that moves the food baitfish eat and they will follow it. Bass wait on the baitfish.

Start at the blowdown and fish it. Then get out about even with the flag pole and cast across the point, aiming your casts parallel to the bank toward the cove.  You will hit some rocks on this point and that is where a school of bass will often hold.

The downstream pocket is full of wood and a good spawning area. Especially near the end of the month Barry will fish into it, running his Ol Nelle spinnerbait along the wood. He likes a double Colorado blade bait with white skirt, especially in clearer water, but will go with double willow leaf and chartreuse and white skirt in stained water.  He will also flip a jig around the wood before leaving.

8. N 33 21.446 – W 83 51.763 – Head back down the river and it will narrow down. Straight ahead you to the right you will see a pink house with tin roof on a flat point that runs out upstream of a bluff point. There is a green picnic table in the front yard.

Get on the downstream side of the point and cast in toward the seawall. The bottom is very rough here and often holds a lot of bass. Fish this bank into the pocket, working the dock and fishing to the boat ramp. Be sure to his this boat ramp and any others you come to before leaving.

9. N 33 21.393 – W 83 51.391 – The lake opens up just at this point and the far left bank going downstream has a creek coming out. In the mouth of this creek is a hump that is marked with three danger buoys.  It is deep on both sides and bass stage on this hump before going in to spawn.

Barry likes to stay out on the lake side and cast up onto the hump, bringing his baits back shallow to deep. Wind often blows in here and makes it better.   There are rocks and clay on this hump and you should fish all the way around it before leaving. Try all your baits in different colors and speeds. Assume the bass are here and you just have to figure out the details to get them to hit.

10. N 33 22.047 – W 83 53.882 – For something a little different run up Tussahaw Creek under the bride on up to the last pocket on the right before the weekend “no wake” section. You will see a green metal roof dock in front of a brown house. There is a little narrow point here downstream of two small pockets. The point has a cross tie seawall and a big Pampas Grass clump on it. Downstream of the point you will see a white cabin with a red roof just past a blue cabin.

There are some stumps on this clay point and the bass will stage on it.  Fan cast all around this point and try all your baits here. The water is often clearer in the Tussahaw so you may need to change colors to draw strikes. 

These are some of the places Barry will be fishing this month. They will pay off for you, too.  Barry has caught a lot of bass off all of them and gives credit to Jesus Christ, his lord and savior, for his successes.

Call Barry at 770-715-2665 for a guided trip on Jackson, Sinclair and Oconee or visit his web site at www.barrystokesfishn.com.   You can see Cold Steel products at www.teamcoldsteel.com/, JJ’s Magic at www.jjsmagic.com/ and Net Boy Jackson Jigs at www.netboybaits.com/.