Monthly Archives: December 2014

What Is Regional Red Snapper Control In the Gulf States?

Gulf States Continue to Work Towards Regional Red Snapper Control

By David Rainer
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
from The Fishing Wire

To borrow from an old song from the holidays that I was forced to endure for six years as a snaggle-toothed youngster, “All I want for Christmas are my two red snapper.”

It’s obviously not going to happen in a couple of weeks, but there is hope the situation will look much better in the near future.

Good catch of red snapper

Good catch of red snapper

Rep. Bradley Byrne, right, of Alabama’s First District and Rep. Steve Scalise from Louisiana show off the red snapper catch after a trip out of Orange Beach this past summer. (ADCNR)

Congressman Bradley Byrne, Alabama’s U.S. Representative from the First District, and Alabama Marine Resources Director Chris Blankenship think a plan to move red snapper management to regional control could become a reality.

“We’re optimistic going into the new year that we will have a legislative solution in the first half of the year, in time enough to save our red snapper season for next summer,” Congressman Byrne said. “What we did, in committee, is we amended the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the law that governs the fisheries of the United States.

“That language does a couple of things. First is it pushes all Gulf states’ (state waters) borders out to nine miles. Secondly, it relieves the Gulf states, when it comes to reef fish, from having to comply with the quotas established under Magnuson. Thirdly, it puts into the place of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), which currently does the stock assessment, the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, which is different from the (Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management) Council.”

Congressman Byrne said he and many others he has spoken to believe the data collected by the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC) would be much more reliable than the data currently used by NOAA.

“We would get better science,” he said. “We would no longer use the scientists used by NOAA down in Miami. We would use regional scientists, using Dr. Bob Shipp as an example. I feel confident, as does Chris Blankenship, that we will get accurate science as to the health of the stock, which is very healthy, but also more reliable data on the size of the catch. Chris has good information that NOAA is overestimating the number of snapper we are catching. So if you underestimate the stock and overestimate the catch, that’s going to artificially skew the season to be much smaller than necessary.”

The data from Blankenship that Congressman Byrne referred to came from the Red Snapper Reporting System, which was implemented by Alabama Marine Resources for the 2014 season. NOAA estimated the catch off Alabama during the nine-day federal season at slightly more than 1 million pounds. The data collected through the mandatory Red Snapper Reporting System indicated Alabama anglers landed 418,000 pounds of red snapper.

Congressman Byrne invited fellow Congressman Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) on a red snapper fishing trip this past summer to give the new House Whip an idea of how outstanding the fishing is off the Alabama Gulf Coast.

“That was a great opportunity for Congressman Scalise to go out and see just how plentiful the stock is,” Congressman Byrne said. “That’s important because I will be on the Natural Resources Committee next year, so I can drive it through committee. But getting it up on the House floor for a vote is another thing. To have the Whip as an ardent advocate for it really does help. That’s one of the reasons I’m optimistic.

“You may not have your two red snapper for this Christmas, but you may have it for next Christmas. That’s what we’re working on. That’s our goal.”

Blankenship was invited by Congressman Byrne to testify before the House’s Natural Resources Committee recently in Washington.

“I’m glad Congressman Byrne and the Natural Resources Committee asked me to come to Washington to talk about what we’re doing in Alabama and what we’re doing on red snapper,” Blankenship said. “I think it went very well. We talked about our Red Snapper Reporting System and what we’re doing with the University of South Alabama to get information that goes into the stock assessment

“I think it was really eye-opening for some of the congressmen on that committee to see what a small state like Alabama is doing when the federal government is getting all this money to manage the fishery and doing such a poor job of it. I think it was very well-received.”

During those committee hearings, Congressman Byrne grilled Samuel Rauch from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) about the enormous NMFS budget of almost $900 million and how that expenditure failed to produce reliable fisheries data.

“The three things I stressed in my testimony started with what a great red snapper fishery we have off Alabama because of all the work we’ve done over several decades to build artificial reefs,” Blankenship said. “That laid the foundation on why that fishery is so economically important to our state.

“The second thing is we had to implement our own Red Snapper Reporting System because the information gathered by the federal government through its program we felt was incorrect.

“The third thing we talked about was the stock assessment and how NOAA, in their sampling protocol, basically excludes artificial reefs. So we talked about the work we’re doing off Alabama, that we’re paying for out of our own pockets, because NOAA is excluding the artificial reef zones.”

The obviously defensive Rauch said that some of the artificial-reef data has been used in the last stock assessment, although he admitted it was not a large factor.

Blankenship said that is exactly the problem.


Catching red snapper

Catching red snapper

The Congressmen are working on legislation that would give the Gulf states regional control of the red snapper fishery and extend the boundary for state waters of each of the Gulf states to 9 miles. (ADCNR)

“What NOAA did was down-weighted our information because, in their opinion, it wasn’t as valuable as the data they collected,” Blankenship said. “They didn’t use our information at the same level or with the same importance in the model. So we’re really striving in the next red snapper stock assessment that our work will be used the way it should be in the model.

“And I have to commend Congressman Byrne. He was very well-prepared. He’s been down several times to go out on the boat when the University of South Alabama puts the cameras down to see what’s on the bottom around the reefs. He was prepared to ask those hard questions and be able to show the fallacies in the red snapper management where we are now. I have no doubt that he will continue to bird-dog this issue in the next Congress in January.”

Blankenship said he fielded several questions during the hearing and meetings with congressmen after the hearings on how Alabama could manage the fishery.

“The things we are doing in Alabama show that we can manage this fishery regionally,” he said. “We don’t need to have it managed by the federal government. Some changes to federal law would give us the flexibility and opportunity to manage the fishery. We can handle it here in Alabama. I think it meant a lot for them to see that the states are willing to do that.”

A regional management plan is still working through the Gulf Council process as well. The next Gulf Council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 26-30, 2015, at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Ala.

Blankenship said he’s not sure snapper fishermen will see relief in 2015, but he does think 2016 holds a great deal of promise.

“If they start using our red snapper data and get an update on the stock assessment, I hope to see the season back up to between 30 and 60 days in 2016,” Blankenship said. “The stock is required to be rebuilt by 2032, and we’re meeting those goals much quicker than that.

“It’s not a stock that’s in trouble. The federal management has just not kept up with the growth of the stock. We need to break that paradigm and get us off this merry-go-round we’re on at the federal level.”

PHOTOS: (ADCNR) Rep. Bradley Byrne, right, of Alabama’s First District and Rep. Steve Scalise from Louisiana show off the red snapper catch after a trip out of Orange Beach this past summer. The Congressmen are working on legislation that would give the Gulf states regional control of the red snapper fishery and extend the boundary for state waters of each of the Gulf states to 9 miles.

Fishing Reflections and Hopes for the New Year

Its hard to believe this is the last few days of 2014. Every new year gives hope of better things for us, and if we work at it, each new year will offer them. The end of the year is a time to reflect but also to plan, and to make resolutions to better yourself for the future.

Reflecting back, not over just the past year but over all the past years, I realize I have been blessed with a wonderful life. I had two parents that loved me but did not smother me. When I read about “helicopter parents,” parents that hover around their children all the time even to the extent of moving to the town where they go to college, I grimace.

My parents took care of me but allowed me to be free. I spent countless hours out in the woods and on ponds by myself or with friends my age. That taught me independence and to think for myself, something I fear kids now days will never have the change to learn.

I was taught to work for what I wanted, and to keep my wants reasonable. Never in my life would I bite off more than I could chew, as my dad used to say. I can’t imagine using a credit card without paying off the balance every month nor can I imagine depending on others to support my wants. That is something else I am afraid the current generation will never learn.

I know I am the only one responsible for my decisions and the mistakes I make. I call my mistakes “self inflicted wounds” and know to not blame others for them. Anyone can succeed and become almost anything they want to be, as long as they work at it and don’t blame others for their problems.

I often shake my head in amazement when hunters and fishermen blame their “bad luck” on others, or things they can’t control. The wind changed direction and the fish quit biting? Change your pattern, don’t cuss the wind. Someone is sitting on the point you wanted to fish? Go to a better one.

For the new year I plan on living by the things I have learned and that I know will work. I love bass fishing and am determined to think while fishing a tournament, not just go through the motions. If my favorite way of fishing isn’t working I will do something else.

If deer just won’t come by my most comfortable stand I will go to one that is not as comfortable and change my luck. I won’t blame bad luck when I turn my head too fast and spook a deer, I will just move more slowly when scanning the woods. And I won’t climb out of my stand as soon as my feet get cold or I get uncomfortable. I will stay as long as possible to improve my odds.

This next year I hope adults will take the time to work with kids and teach them to hunt and fish. One common character of the students that got into trouble and were sent to my school when I was principal of the alternative school was they did not have parents or other adults that took time with them.

I will never forget the way the kids eyes lit up and how excited they got when one of my teachers organized a scout troop and took them fishing. I hope every kid will have an adult that will light up their eyes. And it seems that kids spending time outdoors somehow insulates them against the things that get so many of them into trouble.

There is an old saying that God doesn’t count against you the time you spend fishing. I hope so, and I am determined to go fishing every time I can, and to enjoy every trip. Even if I make mistakes and don’t do well in a tournament I will try to enjoy the time fishing and learning from my mistakes.

This coming year the counselor and two teachers, with the help of some students at Spalding High are trying to organize a bass fishing club. I will do everything I can to help this club be successful, and encourage members of my two bass clubs to work with them, mentor them and take them fishing.

We live in a fantastic country with unlimited opportunities for anyone willing to take advantage of them. Too many folks scoff at that idea for some reason, but it is true. Nowhere else on earth can anyone achieve their goals like they can here.

I hope parents will be parents, and teach their children to work for what they want and to not blame others for their problems, just like my parents taught me so many years go. The possibilities are unlimited.

Do Women Like Saltwater Fishing?

Introducing Women to Saltwater Fishing
from The Fishing Wire

So your wife, girlfriend or daughter wants to try fishing? How you handle her initial experience can make all the difference.

“Daddy, take me fishing,” are four words any fishing father loves to hear from his son, but it has become a more common refrain from daughters-and it’s just as welcomed. In fact, it’s not just daughters showing a greater interest in the sport, but women across the spectrum. That’s a great thing! While fishing is still a male-dominated sport, there has been a steady increase in the number of women fishing alongside men, and a new breed of distaff anglers who get out there and do it on their own.

Everyone likes to catch stripers

Everyone likes to catch stripers

Tangling with a big striper takes skills for success, and both men and women need a bit of instruction before they hook up the first time on a fish this size.

How you manage any newcomer’s introduction to fishing will have an effect on their perception of the sport and their desire to become more involved. With that in mind, there is no one better to consult on this subject than Betty Bauman, founder and CEO of Ladies Let’s Go Fishing (LLFG).

Betty started fishing as a child and shares a deep love of the sport. Throughout her fishing experiences, she has moved from cane poles and ponds to saltwater. The knowledge and skill she has acquired along the way, combined with her winning marketing skills and outgoing personality, have helped her share her passion for fishing with other women interested in getting started in the sport. Her award-winning seminar series, which she affectionately calls the “no-yelling school of fishing,” has successfully introduced over 5,000 women to saltwater fishing.

“As an experienced angler, the first thing you have to realize is that fishing is not simple,” said Bauman. “You can’t just throw someone into a fishing situation without first spending time talking, demonstrating and providing them the opportunity to practice a little.”

There is nothing more frustrating than putting a rod and reel in the hands of someone who has never fished before, expecting them to be able to use it on the water. For an experienced angler, the tools of the trade might be old hat. But for someone who has never fished before, something as simple as operating a reel or feeling a bite can be challenging. If you don’t alleviate the potential for frustration from the beginning, novice anglers simply won’t have a good time. And if he or she doesn’t enjoy the initial experience, chances are unlikely you will gain a new fishing buddy.

Teach someone to fish

Teach someone to fish

Saltwater fishing is a different ballgame from freshwater, requiring bigger boats, motors and tackle-but it’s at least equally fascinating with a good teacher or two.
Betty explained that it’s important for the experienced angler to become a teacher. Stop and think about why you go fishing and convey that message as clearly as you can.

“You have to explain the whole world of magic that emerges when you’re fishing, and do your best to paint a picture of that magic before she sets foot on a boat,” she advised.

Tell her about the fish you plan to catch, and show her pictures of them. Tell her about the habitat they live in, what they eat, and how you plan to fish for them. Let her know there is so much more to fishing than the act of fishing itself. There will be opportunities to commune with a wide range of sea life; birds, porpoises, sea turtles and hundreds of species of fish, while you’re out on the water. It broadens the experience and takes some of the emphasis off catching fish.

Spend a little time explaining the various techniques: trolling, casting, jigging, bottom fishing. Don’t just show her a lure or a bait rig and tell her this is what we are going to use. Explain how it works and how to use it. She won’t remember everything – no one can. (You didn’t in the beginning either.) But that’s not important first time out; it’s just a good way of showing her that fishing, like any sport, isn’t as easy as it might look. It requires some education and experience to become proficient.

The time for instruction is before you actually get on the boat to go fishing. Teach her about the tackle you plan on using for her first on-water experience, and let her handle it. Show her how to operate the reel, and explain how it works in conjunction with the rod, not just as a casting tool, but as a fish fighting tool. Explain the principle of the drag system and how it comes into play to prevent the line from breaking when a large fish is hooked.

Anyone would be proud of this striper

Anyone would be proud of this striper

Giant stripers like this one don’t come along every day, but when they do, any angler can truly appreciate them.

If you’re using spinning tackle, explain the importance of not reeling when a fish is pulling line off the reel. Teach her how to use the rod to lift and retrieve when fighting a fish. If she will be casting on her first outing, show her how so she understands the basic principles. You should include a practice session with you standing by as her mentor ready with words of encouragement and suggestions on how she can improve when she is doing something wrong. No matter what happens stay cool, keep positive and make the learning experience as pleasant as you possibly can. According to Betty the two most important words to use at times like these, no matter what happens, are “It’s OK.”

If she is not familiar with the boat and how to fish from it, there is that much more to explain. You can also explain how to control a fish at boatside, whether it is to be netted, gaffed or released. Tell her why a lot of fish are released either voluntarily or because of regulations. And be sure to cover the importance of wearing appropriate clothing so she is comfortable for her first fishing experience. Clothing will vary depending on where you are fishing and the time of year, but it is an important topic. Be sure she brings sunglasses and sunscreen, and if there is any chance she might have a predilection for seasickness, simple over-the-counter remedies are cheap insurance for a nice day on the water.

Plan her first fishing experience to appeal to her, not you. Pick a target species that is abundant, easy to find and requires simple skills to catch. Consider keeping the time on the water brief instead of forcing her to get up at sunrise and drag herself back after a ten-hour day on the water.

The most important thing for any newcomer to the sport isn’t catching a big fish or great quantities of fish, it’s catching a fish – period. For that reason, you might consider a morning or afternoon of bottom fishing with simple bait rigs that don’t require a lot of casting. Pick a nice day, anchor on a productive spot, bait her hook, have her drop it to the bottom. Explain what a bite feels like and how to set the hook when she feels one. All she has to do is catch a fish or two, and you’re well on your way to fulfilling all her initial expectations of fishing. From there it’s a matter of moving forward at a pace that is comfortable for her, and seeing how her interest grows. You might be surprised when she starts asking you to teach her more and mentions trying different types of fishing for different species of fish. After all, it is the most addictive of sports whether you’re a man, woman or child.

If you’d like to learn more about Betty Bauman and her educational seminars for women go to

Fishing and Hunting Wishes for The New Year

I like to make New Year’s resolutions that are more like wishes since I really don‘t follow them like I should. The beginning of a new year is always a good time to think about what we want to do better in the coming year and how we can improve ourselves. When making wishes about the outdoors it can be a lot of fun, too.

For everyone else my wishes don’t require much work. They are just things I hope people do and have fun, and maybe think about a little. If you like these New Year’s wishes adopt them. If not, make your own and enjoy the next year.

For all fishermen I hope you catch the biggest fish of your life and thrill to the excitement of landing it and sharing your catch with friends. I hope you go fishing one day and land so many fish you can brag about it without exaggerating. But I also hope you go fishing one day and don’t get a bite, and realize at the end of the day that you still had a great day and there is nothing you would rather do.

For hunters I hope the deer have huge racks, the birds fly into your shot pattern, the turkey fall in love with your calls and the squirrels move around to your side of the tree when you throw a stick to the other side. I hope every time you kill an animal you stop for a minute and regret that it had to die to fulfill the hunting tradition. May you always clean and eat all of your kill, enjoy the bounties of the outdoors, and realize it is part of the natural world.

For bass fishermen may you release almost all the fish you catch, especially the big ones, but may you also take a few home to cook without any bad feelings. Realize fish populations are a renewable resource and you can keep some without hurting the future.

May every child have an adult that will take time to show them how to safely load and carry a gun, and how to be careful every second they are using one. And may that person take them squirrel hunting and let them experience the excitement of stalking a bushytail while it scampers around feeding on acorns. Maybe that training will pay off when it comes to big game at some point, too.

I hope every adult has a kid they can share a day with and let their excitement and exuberance remind you of how it feels. Maybe sharing that feeling with them will re-kindle some of those feelings that have seemed to fade in you over time. And sharing the day will make memories for both of you that will last from now on.

This year I hope you enjoy all the toys that can make being outdoors more fun. Fish out of a big fast bass boat and use a GPS to find a honey hole. Use the most modern rods and reels spooled with high-tech line and throw a $25 lure to catch a bass. But also sit on the dock on a pond with a cane pole and a can of worms and watch a cork float in the ripples, waiting on it to quiver and go under.

Don’t go hunting and concentrate so hard on killing a trophy buck you miss the cardinal that lands in a nearby dogwood to eat berries. Watch a squirrel and try to figure out why we call them gray squirrels and they look gray but don’t have a single gray hair on their bodies. And look up when you hear the distant trilling and think about the huge distances migratory birds travel when a flock of sand hill cranes fly over.

Spend some time flying down a big reservior at 70 miles per hour heading to honey hole full of bass but also spend some time easing along a small creek, dabbling a hand tied fly in the pools for bream and small bass. Enjoy the beauty of every fish you catch, noting the bright colors of a spawning bluegill and the intricate patterns on spotted bass.

Take time to smell the outdoors and note how it changes with the weather and places you visit. Catch a whiff of wood smoke on a freezing cold morning while out on a lake and feel warm just from the smell. Listen to the sounds of nature and note how fog mutes them and seems to make the whole world hush.

If I could make these wishes for all who enjoy the outdoors I would try to make sure they were good ones. But most of all, I hope and wish everyone gets to spend time fishing and hunting and enjoying nature.

New World Record Bass

As of July, 2009 its official – we have a new world record bass. A 22 pound, 4.95 ounce bass caught in Japan last July was certified this past Friday by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) as a tie for the world record.

Way back in 1932 a Georgia boy fishing in a small oxbow lake off the Ocmulgee River landed a huge bass. He took it to the post office in Helena, Georgia and weighted it, then entered it in the Field and Stream big fish contest. That fish weighing 22 pounds, 4 ounces held the world record status for 77 years.

The reason the new bass is considered a tie is the IGFA requires a new record to beat the old record by at two ounces. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that new scales are more accurate then older scales. Also, a spring loaded scale will usually show only pounds and ounces, not pounds and tenths and hundredths of ounces, that the new ones show.

When George Perry landed the big bass in south Georgia, bass fishing was a simple sport and was more for food than sport. Rods and reels were primitive by today’s standards, as were line, hooks and lures. And bass fishermen could not even dream of depth finders, you stuck your rod tip into the water to see how deep it was.

Even when I started bass fishing in the 1950s, 25 years after Perry landed his fish, most of our time was spent in a wooden rowboat sculling with a paddle to move around. We fished with a knuckle busting casting reel that had no free spool or level wind, or one of the new fangled spinning reels. Line was a form of braid since monofilament line was just hitting the markets.

Manabu Kurita, the young Japanese fisherman that now holds the record, was using some of the best rods and reels available and casting a swim bait on high tech line. The swim bait is a very new type bait that has been on the market just a few years.

It took the IGFA months to review the application and make sure all rules were met. They even required the fisherman to take a lie detector test to verify he caught the fish legally and was not fishing in an off limits area as some gossip claimed. And the scales were carefully tested to make sure they were accurate.

The reason for all the care in certifying the record is the fact it will probably be worth millions of dollars to the fisherman. All that endorsement money has caused many false claims of world record bass, none of which have been verified.

A few years ago a bass weighing 25 pounds was caught in California and pictures were taken of it. But the fish was released and no application was made for the record because the fisherman snagged the bass in the side. While trying to get it to hit while on the bed he hooked it in the side and the rules of the IGFA require the fish be caught in a sporting manner.

Is there a bigger bass out there? Maybe. And this record may be beat at any time. But it may stand up for 75 more years, just like Perry’s record.

Would You Want To Go Fishing Every Day Of the Year?

I grew up in Dearing, Georgia, a wide spot on Highway 78 in McDuffie County, Georgia between Thomson and Augusta. Our claim to fame was a caution light at the crossroads at Iron Hill Road. My house was on a small farm a quarter of a mile from that caution light.

Town consisted of six small stores that included a gas station, a tiny grocery store and four stores where you could buy anything you needed, from gas and kerosene to frozen food and bullets. They were true country stores and many shopped in them for clothes, fishing supplies, canned food and cigarettes. Hoop cheese was one of my favorites and you could get any size slab you wanted.

The proprietors of two of those stores also drove school buses. They would run their routes in the morning then open the store. When time to run their afternoon route their wives kept the stores open while they were gone. I rode Mr. John Harry’s bus from kindergarten through my senior year in high school.

One year Mr. John Harry and Mr. Joe Frank made a pact they were going fishing ever single day the next year. And they did. They would fish every weekend but also kept a rod and reel on their bus and often stop at a farm pond or creek crossing on the way home in the morning or afternoon for a little fishing.

This New Year’s Resolution sounded like a perfect one for me and one I wanted to make each year since then. When I retired in 2001 I tried but never was able to fish ever day. Something always messed me up, like surgery on my thumb or a trip on a cruise ship, where there is water, water everywhere but no way to fish!

For several years my efforts ranged from missing seven to 25 days. That is not bad out of 365 days in a year, but not perfect. Then in 2009, I fished some every single day of the year! I finally did it.

My rules were fairly simple. I don’t have to catch a fish every day, but I have to fish somewhere that I could catch a fish. So no fishing in the bathtub or in a rain filled ditch. And there is no time limit. Some days I stand on one foot in my bass boat for ten hours casting for bass, others days I sat in a folding chair on my dock for ten minutes catching bluegill on pellet fish food.

Some days tried my determination to fish every day. On a week long trip to St. Louis to attend an outdoor writers meeting, I stayed at a hotel. There was a small creek with a pond on it on the hotel property but I was told no fishing was allowed. I let everyone know how stupid it was to have an outdoor writers meeting at a place that didn’t allow fishing, but their rule made me explore the Bush Wildlife Area just outside town, a beautiful place open to the public that included over 20 ponds that I could fish. The Budweiser beer people made this place available to the public and is a fantastic resource for people in the area.

I found out the third day of the conference no one watched the pond for fishermen so I did wet a line there, too. I saw some small fish around the edges but didn’t catch anything.

Another tough day was when I had a doctor appointment in Mobile, Alabama and had to leave early in the morning for it. I drove out to my place at daylight and fished for a few minutes before leaving. I was determined not to let anything mess up my record that year.

I fished when it was so cold I had to dip my rod tip in the water to melt ice from the guides to days sweat dripped from my nose and ran into my eyes constantly. And I fished in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Missouri and caught largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass as well as crappie, bluegill, green sunfish, shell cracker, bullheads, flathead catfish, hybrids, stripers, rock bass, gar, carp, bowfin, walleye, muskie and northern pike.

I kept logs on my old web site forum listing each day fishing and what I caught. It is a good way for me to keep up. It was been a fun year. I actually fished every day between November 2, 2008 and the end of the year. That was 424 days in a row. Maybe I will get tired of fishing some day, but not yet!

Gotta go fishing – Day 3 of 2010!

Can I Catch Fish At Night While Ice Fishing?

Scott Glorvigen’s “Happy Hours” for Ice Fishing Are At Night
from The Fishing Wire

Quick-trip tactics for after-work walleyes and crappies

When ice fans dream of upcoming escapades, many optimistically envision epic getaways spanning a weekend or more. Unfortunately, extended adventures can be tough to pull off, given the time constraints of daily life. Indeed, just carving out a full day on the ice can at times be a challenge.

Good news is, opportunities abound for enjoying quick trips offering great fishing for a variety of species. And some of the finest occur shortly after darkness falls.

“My favorites are early evening trips for walleyes or crappies,” says longtime guide, decorated tournament champion and avowed night owl Scott Glorvigen. “With a little planning, it’s easy to get away after work for a couple of hours and enjoy solid action, with a shot at trophy fish.”

Gearing Up

Pre-trip scouting and packing allows you to zip out to evening hotspots on a moment’s notice.

Scout for ice fishing

Scout for ice fishing

Organization is one of the keys to Glorvigen’s getaways. “Having everything you need ready and waiting makes it infinitely easier to hit the ice on short notice,” he says. “On the flip side, if it takes you three hours to wrangle gear, your window of opportunity will close before you ever leave home.”

To hasten your departure and boost on-ice efficiency, Glorvigen advises paring packing lists down to bare necessities. “Keep it simple,” he advises. “You’re not going to be running around, figuring it all out like you would during a day-long trip. Night bites are all about hitting high-percentage spots with one or two top techniques.”

Typically, Glorvigen’s bug-out gear includes a small tackle bag stoked with a handful of key lures, components and tools; a minnow bucket for transporting either shiners for walleyes or small fatheads for crappies; two headlamps; an auger; and Lowrance sonar and GPS electronics.

A lantern is also critical equipment. “I’ve used gas and propane models for years, but last winter I started using Zippo’s battery-powered, LED Rugged Lantern and really like not having to worry about fuel or kicking the light over and burning down the house,” he says.

When chasing either walleyes or crappies, he packs just four rods. Two are rigged for jigging, and two are set up for bobbering or dead-sticking live bait. “For walleyes, I bring a pair of jigging spoon rods, which allow me to experiment with a few different spoon sizes and colors,” he explains. “Bobber rods are rigged identically. The second merely serves as backup in case the first gets hopelessly tangled or otherwise fouled up.”

Jigging rods are typically strung with 6-pound-test Northland Bionic Braid, with a foot-long, 6- to 8-pound monofilament leader, capped with a round-nosed snap. Bobber rods sport 6-pound mono mainline, a small swivel, and an 18-inch leader of similar material as the jigging setup. A size 4 single hook-either standard bronze or phosphorescent glow-and small split shot pinched six inches above it round out the rig.

“I like braid for spooning, because you get a better hooksets, especially with bigger fish,” he notes. “Mono works great for letting the walleyes run with live bait.”

Glorvigen favors 1/16- to 1/8-ounce Northland Buck-Shot Rattle Spoons, in phosphorescent shades of red and orange. “If it’s glow, it’s a go,” he quips. Spoons are tipped with a minnow head or tail. “Try them both to see what the fish want on a particular night,” he adds.

Crappies call for a bit lighter rods and line in the 2- to 4-pound class. Lures lean toward the horizontal orientation, and include favorites like the Northland Bro’s Mud Bug and Gill Getter. “I typically fish glow colors exclusively at night, including phosphorescent blue, red and white,” he says. Spikes and waxworms are top tippings. “You can fish glow plastics, but after dark I like the scent of live bait.” As with his walleye endeavors, two of Glorvigen’s four rods are rigged for live bait duties. Often, that entails deadsticking a small jig sweetened with a maggot.

Glorvigen houses his gear in a Frabill SideStep flip-over, which sports dual side entries perfect for two-person nighttime expeditions. “If one angler wants to head outside to check out a few different holes, he or she won’t have to flip up the entire shelter and stumble over gear on their way out.” He notes that a pair of Frabill light bars positioned strategically over the fore and aft sections of the shelter provide ample illumination for fish wrangling, knot tying and other nocturnal tasks.

Night Moves

Early evening is prime time for both walleyes and crappies.

Early evening is good for ice fishing

Early evening is good for ice fishing

For both species, active jigging attracts attention and triggers its fair share of strikes, while live bait seals the deal with curious ‘eyes that look but don’t bite.

Overall, jigging cadences are tailored to the mood of the fish, but Glorvigen generally avoids over-the-top antics that may work in daylight but fizzle after sunset. “Night-bite walleyes are focused on baitfish that are hunkered down for the evening, so they respond better to subtle jig strokes than aggressive lifts and snap-fall sequences,” he explains.

Instead, he relies on a series of twitch-twitch-twitch-pause maneuvers, letting the spoon’s rattles call fish in. “It’s almost like rattling antlers for whitetail deer,” he adds. “Rattle, pause. Rattle, pause. Waiting for a buck to move in.”

When set up over a school of crappies, steady jigging slightly above the fish often tempts hungry slabs to break ranks and rise to the occasion. “Keep jigging and slowly raise the bait,” Glorvigen says. “The higher you get the fish to move up in the water column, the more likely it is to bite.”

To further boost his odds of success, Glorvigen pinpoints potential hotspots by day, and plots their locations for easy return at night. “Do your homework ahead of time so you’re not hunting for fish after dark,” he says. “For walleyes, look for small shelves and stairsteps along breaklines fish follow from deep water up onto shallow feeding flats. High spots on humps can be good, too.

JIg just over the school of fish

JIg just over the school of fish

Steady jigging just above a pod of crappies tempts fish to rise for the kill.

Crappies typically roam deep basins, but often congregate along some type of structure, such as a steep wall at the edge of a deep hole. “Any kind of irregular break along that edge, like an inside turn or other collection point, can be particularly productive,” he notes. “Such areas gather and hold schools for longer periods of time, giving you more chances at fish from a stationary position. It’s like setting up in the corner of the corral, instead of along the fence line.”

Glorvigen notes that walleye action often peaks during the two-hour period surrounding sunset. “With crappies, the bite window is less intense but more spread out, and can continue later into the night,” he adds.

Along with offering a fine chance to ice numbers of eating-size ‘eyes and crappies, Glorvigen says early evening is a great time to connect with the walleye of your dreams. “Finding the right spot and hunkering down for a couple hours during prime time puts you in great position to hook a giant,” he says, providing yet another reason to enjoy happy hour on the ice as often as possible this winter.

Video link:

Check out more of Scott’s night-bite tips.

What Is Your Best Outdoor Christmas Gift Ever?

What is the best Christmas gift you ever received? Mine all seem to deal with the outdoors, from fishing and hunting supplies to camping gear. Getting up on Christmas morning and discovering what Santa had left me was always thrilling. And there were always presents from my parents, too.

When I was 15 my parents gave me and my brother Mitchell 300 spinning reels and matching Abu Garcia rods. I used my outfit for many years, catching anything that swam in ponds and lakes around my house, including bream, catfish, bass and crappie. I still have that old Mitchell in my garage. Long past its usable days, I keep it to remind me of those great times.

There was always a variety of hooks, sinkers and corks in my stocking, and they were real corks, the kind you had to split with a knife so you could put it on your line. Fortunately I got a knife pretty much every Christmas, too. I used my pocket knifes for everything from splitting corks to cleaning squirrels, and we played games like mumbly peg with them, too.

After Crème came out with “rubber” worms I got a pack of every color they made. Red or black worms were your choices back then. And there was usually a Hula Popper, Snagless Sally or Creek Chub lure to cast for bass. I wore them all out.

I got a BB gun when I was six after having my tonsils taken out and every Christmas after that for several years I got several tubes of BBs under the tree. When I graduated to a .22 rifle and a .410 shotgun I always got a brick of .22 bullets and some shells.

Those ten boxes of 50 bullets in a carton meant many hours of shooting squirrels, birds and targets. But they didn’t last all year so I had to go up to Mr. John Harry’s store fairly often and buy them one box at a time, for 50 cents! And I got a couple of boxes of .410 shells to shoot rabbits and shoot at birds. I could always hit rabbits much better than doves and quail with that single shot gun.

Clothes were always under the tree but I didn’t pay much attention to the school clothes. But my eyes lit up when I got a camo jacket, a set of Duckback briar proof pants and coat or boot sox. I knew I would be doing things I loved when wearing then, as opposed to when the school clothes were worn.

Things were more simple back then. There were lots of fun things from cap pistols and rolls of caps to boxes of sparklers. And fruit was included in the stockings. Bananas, apples and oranges as well as pecans were always there. Strangely enough, the oranges looked exactly like the naval oranges in the big bag we had brought back from our annul Christmas visit to my grandmother in Ocala, Florida. And the pecans looked just like the ones we had been picking up in the yard that fall.

Each year there was one big gift, too. One year I got a shooting range thing that had ducks that revolved on a pole and I shot at them with a gun and rubber stopper bullets. And I will never forget the bicycle I got one Christmas. It still makes my heart ache when I think about it.

Daddy was the Ag teacher at the local school. One afternoon just before the holidays I went out to the shop. There were two bicycles hanging there. Daddy had bought two old bikes, repaired them, sanded them and painted them. I knew immediately they were for me and my brother for Christmas.

When I got my bicycle I was disappointed it was not a new one and I was a little embarrassed about it. But I rode that bicycle everywhere, going squirrel hunting with my .22 on the handlebars or fishing with my tackle box in the basket and my rod and reel across the handlebars.

It was few year later, when I was a little older and wiser, that it hit me that daddy could not afford a new bicycle for me and my brother. So he found something he could afford and worked many hours to make them look brand new. I realized how much love and care went into those bicycles and I am ashamed of my self, even after over 50 years, of how I felt when I first got it.

Decorating the house was always fun, too. And we used home-made ornaments mostly, from stars made with left over foil to toothpicks stuck into sweet gum balls and painted. There was the annual trip to the old house site overgrown with what mama called Smilax, what I know now as green briar. It stayed green all winter and we outlined the door with it and put a red home-made bow on the door.

My job was to find the tree, so all fall when hunting rabbits and quail I watched for the perfect cedar growing in old abandoned fields. There were always hundreds of them and it took a lot of effort to find the perfect one. When I did we would go to it the week before CHristms in our old truck and cut it down. I still love the smell of cedar in the house this time of year.

I think Christmas has changed too much in my lifetime. I hope you will still share some of the old ways this year.

What Are Some Kayak Fishing Basics?

Kayaking Basics from Florida’s FWCC
from The Fishing Wire

Fishing from a kayak

Fishing from a kayak

Thinking of buying yourself a ‘yak for Christmas? Here are some of the points you might consider.

Last year my wife and I finally got a pair of kayaks. I’d had a chance to paddle a friend’s kayak once or twice before, but never had a kayak of my own to spend some serious time with. Even after a couple decades of small-craft boating, I was quite impressed with the portability and versatility of these craft. Here’s some of what I’ve learned in the past year.

Cost: If you’ve been thinking of taking the plunge with a kayak, there’s never been a better time. Kayaks have become very popular in recent years, meaning that more manufacturers are making them and prices for an entry-level kayak are even lower than they used to be. Standard kayak models start at a low of about $200 on sale, but you’ll want to spend more for a fishing kayak that comes complete with rod holders and other angling amenities-expect to pay from $250 on up on sale. You’ll also be buying a double-bladed kayak paddle, which will run you $50-100 or more. Most kayaks don’t include a padded seat, and you’ll probably want one; add another $50-75. Yes, the tab is adding up pretty quickly, but you’re still well under what the cheapest johnboat and trolling motor will cost you. Smaller accessories, such as a light anchor and-of course!-a life vest, you may own if you’re already a boater.

A kayak is a very personal purchase, and you should buy from a vendor that will allow an exchange if you don’t like the way the craft fits you or how it performs in the water. Otherwise, some kayak shops are near water and will let you try before you buy. Keep in mind that you’ll need a way to transport your kayak, if you can’t just throw your new purchase in the pickup and head for the lake. A good roof rack setup or trailer will cost you more than your kayak will, but a kayak is still one of the most economical boating options out there. (See Issue 45 at for more information about roof racks.)

Sit-on-top versus sit-inside: There are two basic kayak types. A sit-on-top kayak is a sealed hollow shell with molded seating on top to accommodate the paddler. It’s easy to get in or out of, a major plus if you plan to kayak-and-wade. The kayaker sits above the waterline, which increases visibility and casting distance, but leaves the kayaker exposed to waves and splashing. Storage space is mostly open to the elements, but is easily accessible. However, there will probably also be one or two watertight hatches that allow dry storage inside the kayak shell. Note the size and location of the hatch openings, as these will limit what you’ll be able to fit inside and whether you’ll be able to reach them from the kayak seat. Water that splashes into the kayak drains out through scupper holes, which can be plugged to prevent water ingress, if you’ll be on calm water.

A sit-inside kayak is self-descriptive: the paddler sits inside a cutout in the open hull. Add an apron, and the paddler is pretty well protected below the waist from waves and water. The angler is sitting at the waterline, and the lower center of gravity may provide a more stable ride but slightly limited visibility and casting distance. The open hull provides plenty of fairly dry inside storage in front of and behind the kayaker. However, this internal storage is not as easily accessible, and entering and exiting the kayak is not nearly as easy. Generally, the sit-inside design is a good choice for river or ocean kayaking but will also serve in quieter ponds and lakes. However, many stillwater anglers prefer the in-and-out convenience offered by the sit-on-top design.

Fishing kayaks: The simplest thing that defines a “fishing kayak” is the presence of rod holders. A fishing kayak will also usually be wider than standard kayaks-around 30″ or so-and therefore more stable. It may have extra storage features, like molded in tackle trays or even a baitwell. Note that you can add after-market rod holders to most kayaks, but you’re better off starting with a fishing kayak, mainly for the added stability. A wider kayak won’t cut through the water as quickly as a standard model, but you’ll be able to cast, set the hook, and land frisky fish without feeling like you’re about to take a spill at any moment. I was really surprised at how stable my kayak is-definitely less tippy than most canoes I’ve used.

Length: Length is important. A longer kayak will travel faster and more efficiently (and have more storage space), but weigh more to load and carry-especially important if you’re cartopping or portaging. Twelve to thirteen feet is a popular range for saltwater anglers, and will provide a roomy and stable freshwater fishing platform too. However, if portability is important, look hard at kayaks ten feet or less in length. My ten-footer is a lightweight at exactly fifty pounds, but I’d still swear it’s half full of water when I hoist it back onto my roof racks at the end of a long paddling day. The weight is much easier to handle if you’re securing your craft to something below shoulder level, like a pickup bed or trailer. A kayak cart can also be a big help moving your boat from car to water (more on that later). Long story short, consider weight an important factor based on how you’re transporting your kayak.

Paddles: Kayak paddles are double bladed, unlike rowboat oars or canoe paddles. This makes the kayak an extremely efficient craft, because you propel it with both the forward and what otherwise would be the “back” stroke. Paddles come in specific shaft lengths, which you choose based on the width of your kayak and your height. The wider your kayak and the taller you are, the longer paddle shaft you will need. Kayak and paddle manufacturers provide tables for making your best choice. Paddle blades also vary. A long narrow blade works well for propelling a kayak nonstop over long distances, while a short broad blade works well for tight maneuvering along brushy shorelines and the stop-and-go travel a kayak angler will likely be making. In Florida’s lakes and ponds, most anglers should stick with a broad blade. As a side note, be aware that some fishing kayaks are equipped with various ingenious pedal-and-propellor systems that make propulsion a lot easier and leave your hands free for fishing. These are nice, but significantly more expensive, and are generally restricted to longer kayaks. Some kayaks can be outfitted with a trolling motor; note that you will have to register the kayak if you go this route, and will need room for a 12-volt battery.

Accessories: Your number one accessory is your life vest, or PFD (personal flotation device). I prefer an inflatable PFD for its coolness and light weight, although many kayakers will tell you that you’re going to tip over (and activate the CO2 cylinder) sooner or later. Your risk is less in stillwater ponds and lakes; however, I’m willing to live with that possibility, especially during the summer heat. Make sure you are also complying with all other boating safety requirements ( Another “must have” accessory will be a dry storage bag for keeping your phone, electronic car keys, camera and other sensitive gear safe from the elements.

If you are going to have to carry your kayak any distance between your parking spot and the water, consider buying a wheeled kayak carrier. These handy little carts strap onto the bottom of your kayak, allowing you to roll your craft to the water. An advantage of these is that you can load all your equipment into the kayak as well and make a single quick trip, rather than going back and forth to your vehicle for paddle, anchor, rods, etc. or having to try to carry them all at once. Strapping the wheels in place near the kayak’s center of gravity will provide a balanced and effortless walk to the water’s edge. Some kayak manufacturers offer carts that will fit right into their kayaks’ scupper holes, eliminating the need for straps.

One of the (few) annoying things about fishing from a lightweight kayak is that it is easily pushed around by wind or waves, so you’ll want a lightweight folding anchor to help you stay put. An anchor works best in deeper water or when you’ll be staying put for a little while, such as when fishing bait. If you use the anchor a lot, you’ll want an anchor trolley that allows you to position the anchor line fore or aft, depending on wind or current and how you want to position your craft. For frequent moving and anchoring-which I’ve found to be the norm for lure fishing-a stakeout pole is much more convenient. This is simply a pole pushed into the lake bottom to anchor the kayak. The pole can be inserted through a scupper hole, or attached to the kayak with a short rope and snap clip. Many anglers prefer a stakeout pole over an anchor, because there’s less chance of tangling with a scrappy fish. You can buy a commercial stakeout pole, or make your own out of PVC pipe or any other sturdy pole such as an old golf club with the head removed. Use is obviously limited to fairly shallow water, depending on the length of the stakeout pole.

There’s a host of other accessories available: extra or specialized rod holders, rod and paddle tethers, depth finder and camera mounts, special kayak tackle holders, baitwells, and more. Kayakers (and kayak manufacturers) seem to be a particularly inventive lot! Customizing your kayak for your comfort and specific fishing needs can not only put more fish in the boat, but also be a satisfying end in itself.

Care and feeding: One of the great things about kayaks (especially if you’ve ever scrubbed down a large boat after a saltwater fishing trip) is that they require almost no maintenance. Just hose your kayak off after a muddy or saltwater fishing trip, stow it out of direct sunlight, and that’s about it! With minimal care, a kayak will last for years.

Fishing from a kayak: Okay-you already know how to fish. But fishing from a kayak is different, even from fishing in a small canoe or johnboat. While fishing kayaks are usually very stable, you must keep your balance in mind at all times-when leaning over to unhook a snagged lure, setting the hook or netting a fish. While fishing kayaks are roomier than their standard-sized brethren, space is still at a premium. Many of your kayak customizations, if you make any, will probably involve gear storage. I don’t like much in my way while kayak fishing, and keep minimal gear (like hooks, plastic worms, and pliers) in a small tackle box or tackle bag in front of me. The rest of my tackle, plus raingear, sunblock, etc. are in a larger waterproof duffle bag stowed behind my seat. I don’t need to move to release a fish, tie on a new hook, or change out my worm. If I need something more, I can reach back to grab the duffel bag, or hop out in shallow water to grab it. Water or sports drinks-a must for the Florida kayaker-go under the bungee straps in the front or rear of my kayak, depending on the rest of my loadout and available space. My kayak actually has a cup holder right in front of the seat, and a sports drink goes there right away when I launch.

I’ll work a shoreline or deeper water the way I normally would from any small boat. However, since I’m sitting low my casting distance and visibility are more limited, so I sometimes have to work closer. Thankfully, a stealthy kayak is ideal for this. I can often paddle along just casting as I go, but sometimes wind or wave action requires me to anchor my stakeout pole at every stop. A stakeout pole or anchor also help when you hook a bigger fish. You’ll be able to land most fish with ease, but I’ve had hard-fighting fish as small as four pounds take me for a brisk “sleigh ride”. This can actually be fun in open water, but if you’re casting anywhere near docks or submerged brush you’ll want to anchor yourself if you hope to have any control when “the big one” hits. And when he does, a kayak will put you closer to the action than anything else except wading.

The kayak advantage: Besides simply being fun and exciting to fish from, kayaks have one more major advantage: portability. Anywhere you can stand, you can launch. Since getting my kayak, I’ve been amazed at the world of new fishing opportunities that have opened up for me. Some of these new opportunities have turned up at my “old” fishing holes, where I can now launch a boat off a 60-degree canal bank, or where a sliver of public shoreline lets me get into an otherwise-inaccessible lake. I recently fished a narrow canal that would have been too brushy even for a canoe. There’s something eminently satisfying about catching a big fish that you know was out of reach of anyone else-except a fellow kayaker.

For more information: Numerous books specifically on kayak fishing are now available. Online, general information about getting started in kayaking can be found at Numerous videos on everything from getting in and out of your kayak without tipping over to paddling and fishing from it can be found by searching at

Fishing Line I Use and Like

I use the following lines when fishing. Sometimes Bass Pro is cheaper, sometimes Amazon is – check both!

Berkley Trilene XL Smooth Casting Line - Filler Spools

Sunline Reaction FC Fluorocarbon Fishing Line - 200 Yards

Sunline Reaction FC Fluorocarbon Fishing Line – 200 Yards

100% Fluorocarbon developed specifically for reaction lures10% More stretch than FC Sniper Utilizes an FC material formulated for easy handling and reel performanceDouble resin processing for a slicker surface Dyed stealth gray colorHigh specific gravity allows crankbaits to reach max. depthsSunlines Reaction FC Fluorocarbon Fishing Line is designed specifically for reaction baits, such as spinnerbaits, crankbaits, rattle baits, and vibrating jigs. Made from a softer, high-strength fluorocarbon material, Reaction FC Fluorocarbon line is very flexible and stress free. Therefore, it handles better on a reel and casts farther than traditional fluorocarbon lines. Formulated to have more stretch than other Sunline fluorocarbons, Reaction FC is double-resin processed for outstanding slickness that delivers improved castability. Its stealth gray color increases its invisibility in water of any color. A high specific gravity allows crankbaits to reach maximum depths.

Sunline Super FC Sniper Fluorocarbon Line

Sunline Super FC Sniper Fluorocarbon Line

Proven reputation from whipping-up on big bass Thin, strong and highly sensitive Outstanding durability High specific gravity is ideal for fishing deep waters 200 yardsLow water absorption for minimal weakening underwaterSunline Super FC Sniper FC Fluorocarbon Line was born in Japan, but earned its reputation as an outstanding line by whipping-up on big bass stateside. Formulated with the stealthyness of a sniper, Super FC Sniper Fluorocarbon Line is nearly invisible and offers a high specific gravity which makes it ideal for picking off bass in deep water. Super FC Sniper Fluorocarbon Line offers outstanding durability, high strength to diameter ratio and low water absorption which minimizes line weakening underwater.