Monthly Archives: February 2014

Remembering Tom Mann

Tom Mann, fishing legend from Eufaula, Alabama and maker of Jelly Worms, the Little George and Hummingbird depthfinders, died on Friday, February 11, 2005.

I first heard of Tom Mann when I found Jelly Worms at Berry’s Sporting Goods. These worms smelled great to me and I, as well as many other bass fisherman, thought they would help us catch bass. They came in great flavors like grape, strawberry, apple, scuppernong and blackberry.

In the first bass tournament ever held, Tom Mann was one of the first fishermen to enter. He fished the pro trail for several years in the late 1960s and early 1970s and became well known through articles in Bassmaster magazine.

One of Tom Mann’s early lures, the Little George – named after then Alabama Governor George Wallace, was one of the first lures made to probe deep structure. I caught many fish on it, and still do, jigging it on deep drop-offs, humps and points. I keep several in my tacklebox.

The Mann’s 20 Plus and 30 Plus are crankbaits that dig deep and catch fish. They are still popular although they have been around for many years. They joined less popular crankbaits from Tom Mann like the Razorback and the Shadmann.

Hummingbird depthfinders were some of the first sonars for sale for bass boats, and many people loved their units. Tom Mann helped develop and improve inexpensive depthfinders for boats.

Tom Mann was in many T V fishing shows over the years as both the star and guests of others. His slow, low drawl became well known to fishermen that never met him in person. His relaxed method of fishing big worms on a spinning outfit was copied by many fishermen.

Mann’s Fish World became famous, and a trip to Lake Eufaula was not complete without a stop there to see the huge bass, catfish and gar in the aquarium, as well as a purchase from his discount tackle shop. Tom Mann himself was often there, talking with fishermen and helping sell his lures.

Another well known fisherman, Tom Mann, Jr. from Georgia, is mistaken for many as Tom Mann’s son. They are not related although the names seem that they are.

Tom Mann was 72 years old when he died. He will be missed in the fishing community.

Watching the Bassmasters Classic Winner from the Road

Bassmasters Classic Draws Roadside Audience for Winning Catch

By Frank Sargeant
from The Fishing Wire

BIRMINGHAM. In one of the more amazing performances in recent Classic history, Randy Howell of Springville, Alabama, leaped from 11th place and a full nine pounds behind leader Edwin Evers on day two to the Classic championship and a $300,000 winner’s check on the final day.

In fact, Howell hardly needed more than the first hour after take-off to put the trophy and the title away.

He stopped at the Big Spring Creek bridge across U.S. 431 right in the midst of Guntersville, and there proceeded to haul in one lunker bass after another, often on consecutive casts, while a crowd that quickly assembled on the bridge right above his boat cheered him on. Howell put over 22 pounds in the live well in that insane flurry, later culling up to his total bag of 29-2. He released what he estimated at close to 30 pounds more.

Howell only stopped briefly during the performance to thank the horde of howling and cheering fans for their support.

“I’ve been fishing tournaments for 21 years and this was by far the best day of fishing I ever had, period,” said Howell. “I might have had some Divine Guidance on that first spot-I was going to run up the lake and something just told me to turn and go back to Spring Creek. A voice inside me said “do you want to be good or do you want to be great? I turned around and went to Spring Creek and that’s what did it.”

Most of his catches were made on a crawfish red Rapala DT6 and a prototype Livingston Lures medium-running crankbait, also in crawfish red.

B.A.S.S. statistician Ken Duke said Howell’s charge from 11th place to first was the greatest comeback in Classic history.

Howell said God truly blessed him to bring the win in front of his home crowd. He said his son had taped a prayer request on the bathroom mirror which said “My Dad to Win the Classic.” Apparently the prayers came true.

Connecticut angler Paul Mueller was second with 66 pounds, 8 ounces for the three-day competition, Edwin Evers of Oklahoma third with 65-11, Ott DeFoe of Tennessee fourth with 63-6 including the big bass of the day, an 8-4, and fifth was Randall Tharp, formerly of Gardendale and now of Port St. Joe, Fla., with 62-12. Jordon Lee of Auburn was sixth with 62-1.

Seven former Classic champions competed in this event-but none of them even made it to the final-day top-25 cutoff. Four-time winner and bassing superstar Kevin Van Dam came the closest, finishing 26th. The other ex-champions who came up short were Chris Lane (36th), Mark Davis (43rd), Alton Jones (45th), Mike Iaconelli (47th), Takahiro Omori (48th) and Skeet Reese (49th).

This Classic will be remembered as the first where personal video cameras delivered full view reports on many of the fish caught soon after the fact. Every Classic competitor had a tiny GoPro camera-from one of the title sponsors of the event–mounted on his boat, allowing viewers of to see uploaded action throughout the day. The cameras also in some cases clearly show the location where the anglers fished, the lures they used and how they worked the baits-an unprecedented access to information for the viewing public.

Randy Howell was only the second angler ever to win a Bassmaster Classic in his home state. Boyd Duckett, now a Guntersville resident, was the first.

Randy Howell Wins Bassmaster Classic

And How: Randy Howell’s Charmed Last Day Leads To Bassmaster Classic Victory
from The Fishing Wire

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Every angler dreams of catching bass after giant bass like Randy Howell did on Sunday.

Randy Howell of Springville, Ala., wins the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro. Bringing in a three-day total of 67 pounds, 8 ounces earned Howell the championship title and $300,000.
Photo by Gary Tramontina/Bassmaster
Howell began hauling in Lake Guntersville lunkers minutes into the final round of the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro. He lost track of how many culls he was able to make, but at one point he was trading 4- and 5-pounders for even larger bass.

When Howell brought his bag to the scales, his five bass weighed 29 pounds, 2 ounces, with the largest going 7-3. The banner day beefed up his total to 67 pounds, 8 ounces.

“I don’t even know if I’m going to win, but it doesn’t matter,” Howell said before all the 25 finalists came to the scales. “It was the best day I’ve ever had in 21 years of professional bass fishing, a day of a lifetime.”

But his day did get better: He became the world champion, the 2014 Bassmaster Classic champ.

“I’ve had this dream so many times, and it’s happening now. I can’t believe I won the Bassmaster Classic. I don’t win tournaments very often,” said Howell as he was announced the winner.

Howell is a two-time Bassmaster event winner, including a 2013 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open presented by Allstate event that earned him his 2014 Classic qualification.

Sunday’s victory – Howell’s first after 11 other tries as a Classic competitor – was worth $300,000 and the most coveted trophy in the sport. From Springville, Ala., Howell became only the second angler to win the Classic in his home state.

Howell edged out B.A.S.S. Nation qualifier Paul Mueller of Naugatuck, Conn., by 1 pound. Mueller, who on Day 2 set a new one-day Classic weight record at 32-3, totaled 66-8 for second place.

Third place was claimed by second-day leader Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., with 65-11. Fourth was Ott DeFoe of Knoxville, Tenn., with 63-6, including the day’s largest bass, an 8-4. First-day leader Randall Tharp of Port St. Joe, Fla., finished in fifth place at 62-12.

Howell repeatedly used the words “perfect” and “effortless” to describe his day on Lake Guntersville.

“I caught my first one on my second or third cast,” he said. “I caught one almost every cast or two and had a limit in the first 10 or 15 minutes. It was quick. It would have been quicker if I hadn’t had to stop and retie every time because of the rocks.”

The rocks were the riprap up against a causeway bridge on Spring Creek. That early flurry included releasing eight 4-pounders.

Howell spent most of his time on the riprap. He moved only once, going farther back into the creek to a grassy area. The move yielded a 6-pounder and allowed him to cull a 4-pounder. He then motored back to the riprap. His largest was a 7-3. It was his fourth bass of the day and the one that told him he’d made the right decision to go to Spring Creek.

His Classic lure arsenal included a Livingston Lures model being developed within the Pro Series. Not yet available to the public, it’s a medium diver in a crawfish color. He also used a Rapala DT6 crankbait in the “demon” crawfish color and a Yamamoto bladed jig.

“I went out this morning believing I could win,” the champ said. “That’s the weirdest thing. Typically, I would never be in 11th place and 9 pounds back and think I had a chance to win. But for some reason I had the feeling I could win on Spring Creek – that something big would happen there.”

Fred Roumbanis’ 9-3 largemouth from Day 1 won the event’s Carhartt Big Bass Award of $1,000 plus $1,500 for wearing Carhartt clothing.

Howell earned a $7,500 Toyota Bonus Bucks award.

Tharp received the Day 1 GEICO Everyday Leader Award of $1,000 plus $1,500 for having a GEICO decal on his boat’s windshield. Evers won the same bonus on Day 2.

Fans can catch 12 hours of Classic coverage on ESPN2 on The Bassmasters. The first hour will air Saturday, March 1, at 10 a.m. ET. The show centered on Sunday’s finale will air in prime time – 8 to 10 p.m. ET – on Sunday, March 2.

2014 Bassmaster Classic Title Sponsor: GEICO

2014 Bassmaster Classic Presenting Sponsors: Diet Mountain Dew, GoPro

2014 Bassmaster Classic Official Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha

2014 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo Presenting Sponsor: Dick’s Sporting Goods

2014 Bassmaster Classic Official Apparel Sponsor: Carhartt

About B.A.S.S.
For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and an expansive tournament structure while connecting directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.

The Bassmaster brand and its multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications – Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times – comprehensive website and ESPN2 and Outdoor Channel television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, B.A.S.S. Nation events, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, Bassmaster High School Series, Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.

B.A.S.S. offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members and remains focused on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.

What Is Castable Sonar?

Castable Sonar

By Frank Sargeant, Editor
from The Fishing Wire

Sonar you can cast

Sonar you can cast

We get an remarkable assortment of information on amazing new goodies to make your fishing better, sometimes dozens in a day, but one that caught our eye recently was the “Deeper” castable sonar-a tennis-ball sized depth-finder you can carry with you anywhere, reading the data on your smartphone or tablet. The rig has some interesting possibilities.

The “Deeper” transducer is encased in a composite ball and weighs 100 grams-3.5 ounces. Where ever the Deeper sonar unit lands or drifts, it reads water depth and temperature, and also marks fish suspended off bottom as well as structure.

Spokesman Rolandas Sereika says the unit includes both narrow and wide beam– the narrow beam returns fish, structure, detail and bottom profile, while the wide beam provides broader search area for fish, baitfish and structure.

It sends this via Bluetooth wireless to your properly-equipped Apple or Android phone or tablet with the free downloadable app which also gives moon phases, air temp, solunar “best times”, Internet sharing of fish photos and other useful tools and info.

It reads to depths of 130 feet and has a Bluetooth range of about 150 feet. It has three line-ties so that you can cast it, troll it or lower it straight down from a dock, bridge or pier.

For kayak and canoe anglers, wade fishermen, shore anglers and bridge and pier anglers, the “Deeper” could be a big help. If you can drift your bait down that break line on every cast, it gives a huge advantage in many areas. You could also use them to avoid brushy snags. Plus, you don’t need a hookup to a 12-volt power source.

You can also probe the depth around a weedbed or dock without actually running your boat close to it and spooking the fish.

And there are some neat new mounts from RAM ( and other companies for both cell phones and tablets used on kayaks and other small boats.

The Deeper system runs on a rechargeable lithium battery that functions for about 6 hours straight between recharges. The housing is watertight to 1 meter and shock-resistant. The system works with most phones and tablets, but be sure to see their website for compatibility. Price is $229. For details, visit

Fishing A Winter Tournament At Lake Sinclair

Last Sunday 18 members of the Flint River Bass Club fished an 8 hour tournament at Lake Sinclair. The water was cold and the breeze off it kept us cool all day, and the fish were hard to find. Ten of the members had keeper bass and there was a total of 20 bass weighing 44.02 pounds.

Bobby Ferris won with 11.17 pounds. He said he caught his bass fishing crankbaits around docks and weedbeds. David Grace had 6.41 pounds and his 4.09 pound bass was good for big fish in the tournament.

Donnie Willis and Tom Perdue fished together and finished 3rd and 4th. Donnie had 5.01 pounds and Tom had 4.45 pounds. I had two bass weighing 4.13 pounds for fifth and Roger Morrow, fresh from driving back from Seminole, placed sixth with 3.36 pounds.

I started out the day pretty good, landing a 3 pound bass on a spinnerbait near a grassbed the first place I stopped. Although I fished that area for over an hour with everything from spinnerbaits, crankbaits, worms, jig and pig and spoons, I never had another hit there.

Then about an hour later I landed my second keeper jigging a spoon under a school of shad back in a creek across the lake from where the first one hit. There were shad and fish all in that small creek, but I fished there for two hours without another bite. After the second one hit just after 9:00 AM I could not catch another fish even though several people said they caught bass in the middle of the day.

Congratulations to Bobby for winning this club tournament.

Are Anglers Satisfied with New Red Snapper Allocations?

Anglers applaud progress of red snapper reallocation

Today’s feature comes to us from Ted Venker of the CCA. It reviews progress on dividing the Gulf red snapper fishery equitably between recreational and commercial anglers–as always both sides would like a bigger slice of the pie. Fortunately, there’s a whole lot bigger pie to work with these days as snapper stocks have come roaring back–hopefully both sides will go away winners. –Frank Sargeant
from The Fishing Wire

Gulf Council moves forward with amendment to modernize allocation

By Ted Venker, Coastal Conservation Association

A nice red snapper

A nice red snapper

During its recent meeting in Houston, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council approved moving ahead with an amendment to update the allocation of Gulf red snapper between the commercial and recreational sectors, a welcome development hailed by the Coastal Conservation Association as long overdue. The Council approved the action by a vote of 9-6, with the representatives of all five of the Gulf state fishery management agencies voting for the measure to proceed.

“The current allocation of 51 percent commercial, 49 percent recreational was set using data from when Ronald Reagan was president. There is a strong case for reallocation based simply on the tremendous changes that have taken place along the Gulf Coast since then,” said Richen Brame, CCA’s Regional Fisheries Director. “Nonetheless, allocation decisions are always contentious and we applaud the Council for continuing its efforts to set the allocation based on modern criteria.”

The Gulf Council voted to send Amendment 28 – Red Snapper Reallocation out to a series of public hearings in the Gulf states and set a special meeting for May in New Orleans to take final action. Amendment 28 contains seven alternatives for reallocating red snapper that range from status quo to shifting up to 10 percent to the recreational sector. The Council selected Alternative 5, which directs 75 percent of any quota over 9.12 million pounds to the recreational sector and 25 percent to the commercial sector, as its preferred alternative. With the current Gulf-wide quota set at 11 million pounds, Alternative 5 would shift roughly 1.4 million pounds to the recreational sector in time for the 2014 season if approved.

“When the original allocation was set red snapper stocks were in far worse condition, and there are questions about the quality of harvest data even today, which makes the accuracy of an allocation set in the mid-1980s extremely suspect. It is quite possible that the allocation of this fishery has never been correct and that may explain some of the issues anglers are grappling with today,” said Brame. “We know that this is not a cure for all the problems in recreational management, but if Alternative 5 is approved it will do a lot to fix the foundation of this fishery and give us something solid on which to build. We would strongly encourage that the allocation be reviewed regularly from now on.”

Efforts to keep Amendment 28 on track were aided greatly by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who highlighted the issue during the nomination process for Dr. Kathryn Sullivan to be the Undersecretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, and Administrator of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“This is huge news for Gulf Coast recreational anglers. After months of urging NOAA and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to take action on Amendment 28, they have finally started moving on it,” said Sen. Vitter. “We intend to follow it through to completion. Proactively managing Gulf fisheries based on the best science and economics should always be the ultimate goal, and this is a positive step in the meantime that could lead to an economic boost for Gulf economies, something we can all support.”

Visit for more information.

Are You Thinking About A Career In the Outdoors?

This is mostly for young people thinking about their future.

Ever thought about working outdoors? Would you like to have a job that would let you stay outside, working in the woods and on the water? There are many that allow that, and you can probably get one if you really want it – if you are young enough to plan for it!

I almost became a game warden in 1974. Back then a college degree was about all that was required, and a good family friend was head of enforcement. Also back then a lot depended on who you knew, and he told my dad if I wanted a job as a game warden I would have one.

In my second year of teaching, working outdoors seemed like a wonderful change! Then I really compared things. As a teacher I worked 190 days a year and made about $7000 per year. Game wardens worked at least 250 days a year and were on call 365 days each year. They often worked nights, weekends and any time they were needed, in all kinds of weather. And they made about $9000 to start.

In teaching, my time off was mine, except for the time I spent working on higher degrees. And I had every weekend off. When on the lake or in the woods I decided I wanted to be able to hunt game and catch fish, not try to hunt game violators and catch people breaking the fishing laws!

I stuck with education. I often wonder how my life would be different if I had become a game warden, though!

If you are still in school and want to work with the state, either as a game warden, fisheries biologists or technician, stay in school. Go to college and major in a field related to what you want – biology if you want that kind of job or something related to law if you want to become a game warden!

I have some suggestions for kids if you want to be a professional fisherman, too. Stay in school! Get a college degree, preferably one that will help you learn about fish – fisheries biology would be good.

Learn all you can about fish. Read all you can about fish and fishing. Read magazines, books and the Internet to learn what others know. Go fishing every chance you get and go to learn. Keep up with every fish you catch, noting all you can about catching it.

Start out fishing with clubs as soon as you can. Go to learn. Try to fish with good fishermen and learn from them. And think while fishing. Exercise regularly so you will have the stamina to stand on one foot in a rocking boat for 8 hours a day, day after day.

Mainly, have rich parents that can support you, or get a good job with lots of time off. That way you can support an expensive hobby. Most pro fishermen just barely make enough money to pay expenses.

I fished with a man from South Carolina a few years ago while working on a magazine article. He had to quit the pro circuits. He had dedicated two years to fishing the pro circuit and in 1998 he won 41,000, but had expenses of 40,000 above what sponsors paid. “Take home” pay of $1000 a year is not enough, even if you do get to fish every day!

Not long after that trip I fished with a pro fisherman from Alabama. He told me he won $60,000 during the year but said his contracting business is what kept him going. He could not win enough or get enough sponsors to really make it worthwhile, even winning that much in one year!

Trying to be a professional fisherman is tough – as tough as being a professional ball player – maybe even tougher. Being a game warden is not quite as tough, but those jobs are very competitive. You need to get a degree and make good grades. Talk to local game wardens and find how they go their jobs. Contact some of your fishing heroes and see what they suggest. If you want either of these kinds of careers, go for it. But be prepared for hard work, lots of study, and a long time getting to where you want to be!

‘Positive Visualization’ Helps Palaniuk Prepare for Tournament Events

‘Positive Visualization’ Helps Palaniuk Prepare for Tournament Events
from The Fishing Wire

Yamaha Pro Credits Technique with His Two Elite Wins

Brandon Palaniuk

Brandon Palaniuk

Brandon Palaniuk knows the mental part of professional tournament bass fishing can be as important as the physical part, so he relies on a technique known as ‘positive visualization’ to carry him through the tough days of competition. It’s something the Yamaha Pro learned as a high school wrestler, and he simply continued when he began fishing professionally in 2010.

“I actually started before high school, when I was about eight years old,” remembers Palaniuk. “I was wrestling then in school, but didn’t really know what positive visualization was. I just did it because the coaches told us to.

“Then in high school, it became an important part of our practices. We would lie on the wrestling mats with the lights out, and the coach would walk us through every part of a match, from warm-ups to a take-down to winning and having the referee raise our hand in victory at the end of the match. It always ended in success, so it wasn’t hard to apply that process to bass fishing.”

The Yamaha Pro credits his two previous Bassmaster® Elite wins, in which he led from start to finish in each, as well as his runnerup finish in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic® to his positive visualization process. He has also learned that this technique is a major part of the training cycle for Olympic athletes in all disciplines. The key is always having the thought process end in success.

During his initial Elite Series win at Bull Shoals in 2012, Palaniuk caught his fish in deep water offshore, so he was casting only to a GPS point. He could see bass on his electronics, so as he lay in bed at night he imagined how the fish related to the structure he couldn’t see, how he needed to position his boat, and how he would make each cast. He continued the visualization process all the way through receiving the winner’s trophy.

“During the St. Lawrence tournament this past season, I also lay awake each night visualizing every detail of the 100-mile boat ride to my fishing spot in Lake Ontario,” he explains. “I would continue that thought process during the ride itself the next morning, visualizing how I would see the bass on my electronics, dropping a lure to them, and then landing them. I would go through this with every single fish, and then I would visualize the 100-mile ride back to the weigh-in, and holding up fish as the tournament leader.

“I would try to be as detailed as possible in my visualization, but at the end I always visualized myself winning.”

Prior to the 2013 Classic,® Palaniuk visited Grand Lake in February 2012, a full year in advance, and found the pattern he actually used during the event itself. Thus, he was able to spend 12 months visualizing very precisely how he would fish the tournament. He finished second by just over three pounds to fellow Yamaha Pro Cliff Pace.

“Sometimes my visualization process takes only about five minutes, and other times perhaps as long as 15 minutes,” he continues. “There are times, of course, when things don’t work out the way I would like them to, and when that happens, I visualize myself making a change in techniques, moving to a new location, and certainly making better decisions on the water. I try to turn that day into something positive I can do the following day.”

As the 2014 Classic® nears, Palaniuk admits he is using positive visualization nearly every day, often during early morning exercise runs through the Idaho countryside near his home. Throughout each entire run, he visualizes himself catching bass at Lake Guntersville, always making good decisions and adapting successfully to different situations.

“It’s difficult for someone who has never tried positive visualization to understand how valuable it is,” concludes the Yamaha Pro, “but it allows me to be more focused on what I’m doing, and it certainly helps me make the decisions I need to make. I really do believe it’s been the difference between winning and not winning for me.”

Why Stop Stocking Hybrids In Some Georgia Lakes?

The Georgia DNR announced in 2005 plans to stop stocking hybrids in Oconee, Sinclair, Jackson, and High Falls. That is the bad news. The good news is that stripers will be stocked in those lakes instead of hybrids.

Hybrids are a cross between a striped bass and a white bass. Stripers live in the ocean and run up rivers to spawn. White bass live in freshwater all their lives. Stripers get big – the all tackle record is 78 pounds, 8 ounces. White bass are much smaller, the record for them is 6 pounds, 13 ounces. The hybrid record is 27 pounds, 5 ounces.

Natural populations of striped bass live in the Atlantic Ocean and run up Georgia’s bigger rivers to spawn. Stripers need many miles of moving water for their eggs to survive, so rivers must flow freely with no dams on them. Some of our rivers, like the Savannah and the Altamaha with its tributaries the Oconee and Ocmulgee, support stripers.

Due to many factors the natural populations of stripers in the Atlantic that spawn in our rivers are threatened. One problem is hybrid bass that are stocked in lakes make their way through the dams and populate rivers below them. When in the rivers, they compete with the native stripers running upstream to spawn.

To lower this competition hybrids will no longer be stocked in lakes that feed the Ocmulgee and Oconee Rivers. Instead, striper will be stocked. Stripers can survive in lakes as landlocked fish but they generally can’t spawn since there is not enough free flowing water above the dams to allow their eggs to survive.

Stripers living in lakes get big though. The record landlocked striper weighed 67 pounds, 8 ounces. In some lakes both stripers and hybrids have been stocked since hybrids are usually easier to catch and have a short life span but stripers live longer and get much bigger. From now on only stripers will be stocked in those lakes.

If you fish those lakes you will have a better chance to catch a huge fish weighing over 20 pounds. Unfortunately, they will be harder to catch than the hybrids. On trips to one of those lakes right now you might expect to catch a dozen or more hybrids averaging about three pounds but in the future you will be fishing all day hoping to catch one or two big stripers.

At public hearings held by the DNR, most fishermen making comments were in favor of this change. Only time will tell if it will change your fishing.

There is a good striper fishery on the lower Savannah River when they run in to spawn every spring. Since 1988 it has been illegal to keep any stripers caught there since the population was in serious decline. In 1990 the DNR started stocking stripers in the river trying to build up the populations.

Stocking has worked well, and they are considering allowing fishermen to keep some stripers now. They are planning a two fish daily limit with a 27-inch minimum length on the Savannah River downstream of the Clark’s Hill Dam beginning in October 2005.

Hopefully, lowering competition from hybrids up the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers will allow the stripers that spawn in those rivers to thrive and establish a healthy population. Stripers are like salmon in that they return to the same river they were hatched in to spawn.

Stripers that live in the Gulf of Mexico are a separate subspecies and they run up rivers like the Flint and Chattahoochee to spawn. Currently there is no plans to change the stocking of hybrids in lakes that are on those rivers.

There has been a good fishery for landlocked stripers in Lake Lanier for many years. They are so numerous and big that trout can’t be stocked in the lake, stripers like them better then I like ice cream. It is probably our best striper lake.

If you fish for stripers at Lanier, watch for orange tags in the fish you catch. The DNR is tagging 500 stripers this month and offering you $5 to return the tag to them. Returned tags will help DNR fisheries biologists know how the striper populations are doing.

Kevin VanDam At the Bassmasters Classic

KVD Prepared To Deliver A KO In This Week’s Bassmaster Classic

Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Watch him: Kevin VanDam says he is better prepared for the Feb. 21-23 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro than he’s been for any of his other 23 Classic competitions.

And that also goes for the four Classics that KVD has won, said the seven-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year and 20-time Bassmaster event winner.

“Most Classics I’m scrambling right down to the wire trying to get ready. For this one, I feel prepared on all levels,” said VanDam, as he was hauling his bass rig Feb. 13 from his home in Kalamazoo, Mich., to Lake Guntersville, the 2014 Classic fishery, to arrive in time for the practice period.

“My tackle prep is done, my equipment is ready — and I feel prepared mentally,” he said.

VanDam prepared in a way he has not for any of his recent Classic appearances: He scouted Lake Guntersville.

“It was a very meaningful trip for me,” he said, “Lakes that have a lot of grass change from year to year. I’m hoping that seeing it last fall will help me.”

VanDam already knows Guntersville well. In his Bassmaster career alone, he’s been in 13 competitions on Guntersville. For the most part, those tournaments produced keeper memories. He won the 2007 Bassmaster Elite Series event on Guntersville. He had a ninth-place Elite finish on Guntersville in 2010. Pepper in a second, three thirds and one fourth-place finish over the years, and the confidence factor working for VanDam builds quickly.

Backed by such a history, he’s prepared to take chances to go after Guntersville’s largest bass. That’s what it will take to win this one, he said.

“It’s all or nothing. You have to be prepared to fail, have the guts to risk coming across the stage with nothing,” he said.

Guntersville’s huge bass population is a positive for all 55 competitors, VanDam said. The choices of where to fish along the sprawling Tennessee River impoundment are almost endless. But having so many choices can flip around to become a negative.

“It’s a ton of water to manage,” he said. “That’s going to be the biggest thing for me to overcome because I know so much of the lake. I’ll have to narrow it down based on the conditions. And it’s easy to get caught up catching fish in a certain area (during practice), then come Classic time, something might happen to make that area not as good as another.”

Not to mention that on Guntersville, there’s little water that can easily be eliminated from a game plan, he added.

There’s a new wild card in this Classic, too. It’s the frigid weather Guntersville experienced in January and so far in February.

“I’m not sure any of us really know the impact of that,” he said. “It’s unprecedented. Fishing’s going to be a lot tougher than a lot of people think. In the overall field, some will struggle. The few people who find the right area and patterns are going to make it look easy.”

At least one of those anglers will beat the five-fish-limit, three-day Classic weight record, VanDam said. The record, 69-11 in the 2011 Classic on the Louisiana Delta, will fall, he said. (And he’s the one who owns that record.)

“Everybody in the bass fishing world knows just how good the Tennessee River chain is,” he said. “I say Guntersville is the crown jewel of that chain. We’re about to showcase it to the world in a way that’s never been done before.”

Fans can catch the Classic in Birmingham at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. Arena doors will open Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. for the weigh-ins. There’s no admission charge. will cover the weigh-ins live, and all online access is free.

To see the Classic competition on ESPN2, fans can tune into The Bassmasters on Saturday, March 1, at 10 a.m. ET for the first hour of five centered on the Classic. The Classic finale show will air in prime time — 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET — Sunday, March 2.

2014 Bassmaster Classic Title Sponsor: GEICO

2014 Bassmaster Classic Presenting Sponsors: Diet Mountain Dew, GoPro

2014 Bassmaster Classic Official Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha

2014 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo Presenting Sponsor: Dick’s Sporting Goods

2014 Bassmaster Classic Official Apparel Sponsor: Carhartt

About B.A.S.S.
For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and an expansive tournament structure while connecting directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.

The Bassmaster brand and its multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications — Bassmaster Magazine and B.A.S.S. Times — comprehensive website and ESPN2 and Outdoor Channel television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, B.A.S.S. Nation events, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series, Bassmaster High School Series, Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.

B.A.S.S. offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members and remains focused on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala.