Monthly Archives: September 2015

How to Winterize Your Yamaha Four-Cylinder Outboard

DIY – Winterize Your Yamaha Four-Cylinder Outboard
from The Fishing Wire

I am so glad I get to use my boat year round!

Have the Right Tools

Have the Right Tools

Yamaha offers a popular line of four-cylinder four-stroke outboards that are used in a wide range of single and twin installation applications, in both fresh and saltwater, all over the world. From pontoons to center consoles, bass boats to work skiffs and even water taxis, they are great performers and real workhorses. The most popular are the F90, F115 and F150 models, and many are used in climates where they are taken out of service for the winter months.

While there’s definitely merit in having your outboard winterized by a certified Yamaha dealer, the process is simple enough for owners to do themselves when armed with the right tools, products, and a bit of proper education. Pete Reils, a long-time certified Yamaha Technician at Garden State Marina in Pt. Pleasant, New Jersey, recently took the time to show us how he winterizes Yamaha outboards. The boat featured here is a late model Cobia® center console powered by a single Yamaha F150.

Prep Work

Clean and Oil

Clean and Oil

Prior to winterizing the outboard, it’s a good idea to give the boat a good cleaning inside and out, power wash the bottom, and put a coat of wax on fiberglass hulls.

Before you get started, check out Yamaha’s Maintenance MattersTM publication under Extended Storage then put together a checklist of everything you’ll need, and be sure you have the proper Yamalube® lubricants, additives and filters for the job. (A list is available in your owner’s manual, and on our website at The correct amount of engine oil for your four-cylinder model can be found on late model Yamahas on the engine cover under the cowling. Your dealer also has handy Yamaha Outboard oil change kits that have the correct amount of Yamalube 4M, the Genuine Yamaha oil filter, and the drain plug gasket you’ll need to do the job right.

Draining the Oil

Drain the Oil

Drain the Oil

Pete’s process starts with changing the crankcase oil. Place an oil pan under the lower unit and with the engine trimmed all the way up, remove the drain plug located inside the rubber tube below the rear of the cowling (most mid-range models).

Pete places a piece of plastic tubing as an extension over the rubber tube to direct the oil into the pan. Lower the engine using the trim switch on the starboard side to start the oil flowing. After the oil has finished draining, replace the gasket on the drain plug and re-install the drain plug, tightening to spec (see Owner’s Manual).

Draining the Lower Unit

Drain Lower Unit

Drain Lower Unit

With the engine still down, slide an oil catch pan directly underneath the lower unit and remove both the vent screw and the drain screw on the starboard side of the lower unit to remove the old lubricant. Depending on the temperature of the air and the outboard, this may take a while. Be patient, until all the oil is drained. Check the old lubricant for any milky residue, which is an indication that water could be getting into the lower unit through a damaged seal. If this is found, it’s time to contact your authorized Yamaha Marine dealer for a seal replacement and a pressure test. Also, check for any large metal particles in the oil or adhering to the drain plugs (they’re magnetic). This would be a reason to see your dealer, too.

The most common cause of lower unit water ingestion is discarded fishing line caught behind the propeller. While you’re here, remove the propeller, remove any line or other debris, and grease the propshaft with Yamalube Marine Grease. Keep the prop off in a safe place until you’re ready to use it again.

Replacing the Oil Filter
While the gearcase is draining, remove the engine oil filter found on the port side. You can use the Yamaha special tool like Pete or on these smaller engines, a simple strap wrench works fine. Just be careful not to disturb the oil sensor located on the block just above the filter.

Lubricate the rubber gasket on the new filter with a little fresh engine oil to assure a proper seal, and then install by hand tightening the filter to specification (the procedure and spec are printed on every Genuine Yamaha outboard oil filter).

Refill the crank case with the proper amount of Yamalube® engine oil (see owner’s manual).

Filling the Lower Unit
Now it’s time to refill the lower unit. Pete winterizes so many outboards he uses a bulk can of Yamaha lower unit lubricant with a pump, but you can use quarts and a hand pump available from your Yamaha dealer. Thread the fill hose into the drain plug hole and carefully pump in the lubricant until it starts weeping out of the upper vent. Pause for 5 minutes to allow all air to escape, then slowly pump additional lubricant until it comes out the vent hole again. Make sure to change the gaskets on both the vent and the drain plugs (do not reuse them).

Reinstall the vent plug until tight, then remove the fill hose from the bottom and reinstall the drain plug.

Fuel Filters
Now it’s time to turn your attention to the fuel system. First, carefully remove the 10-micron fuel/water separating the filter located in the boat (Yamaha’s is light blue) and discard filter and contents appropriate to your local regulations. Then, reinstall a new 10-micron canister, using another thin film of clean oil on the gasket surface.

Stabilizing the Fuel
For the next step, Pete uses a portable fuel tank with a small amount of fresh gas treated with Yamalube® Ring Free, Yamalube EFI Fogging Oil and Yamalube Fuel Stabilizer and Conditioner. Start by placing a hose flusher over the main lower unit water pickups and turn on the water.

Disconnect the rubber fuel hose at the inlet side of the primary on-engine fuel filter by loosening the spring clamp with needle nose pliers and connect the hose from the portable tank. Pump a primer bulb installed in the portable tank’s fuel line until firm and then start the engine, after turning on the water. Run it for 10 minutes at fast idle until the mixture is thoroughly distributed throughout the fuel system and combustion chambers. This lubricates the injectors, valves, cylinder walls and piston rings for the long storage period ahead.

When 10 minutes are up, quickly rev the engine very briefly until you see a puff of smoke caused by the fogging oil exit through the prop hub and shut it down. Turn off the water and remove the flush muff. Remove the fuel hose from the portable tank and securely refit the onboard fuel hose.

Trim the engine fully “in” to drain the water from the cooling system and disconnect the onboard flushing hose so that it drains, too. Then reconnect.

Don’t Forget

Tilt the engine up and use a grease gun charged with Yamaha marine grease to lubricate all grease fittings. There is one on each side of the steering slide forward of the engine, another found on the steering column, and one on the shift mechanism where the shift cables enter the cowling.
Spray the engine and rubber components with a liberal application of Yamalube® Silicone Engine Protectant and Lubricant or YamaShield. Once the boat gets to its final winter resting spot, trim the engine full “in” for storage and disconnect the negative battery cable(s).
Remove the battery or batteries to a cool (but not freezing), dry place. Charge the battery fully before storage.
Return the cowling to its proper position and your outboard should be ready for winter storage and start up in the spring.

The typical Do-It-Yourself-er can usually complete the entire job in a couple of hours. Just be sure you have all the supplies you need on hand and take your time, covering all the steps.

You’ll find more information in Yamaha’s comprehensive “Maintenance Matters” publication, available at your nearest Yamaha Marine dealer or online at

Not a DIY’er? No worries. Just contact your local dealer and set up an appointment, but don’t wait too long. The threat of winter’s first freeze is almost always too late. Taking time now helps ensure good times come spring.

Where Can I Catch March Bass In Georgia?

Georgia bass fishermen dream of days like this in March. You get up early to head for the lake. The weather has been warm for several days with bright sun warming the water. When you get to the lake there is a slight wind blowing out of the west. You just know you are going to catch bass.

In early March bass in Georgia are really coming out of their winter doldrums, feeding heavily as soon as the water warms. They are shallow and will hit a wide variety of baits as they feed up for the coming spawn. By the end of the month some are already on the beds and others are cruising the shallow spawning pockets, searching for suitable bedding spots.

Even in bad weather the bass will bite in March. Heavy winds can be a problem for the fisherman but wind can be your friend, blowing baitfish onto banks and points where bass take advantage of the confusion of the shad to gorge on them. Cold fronts are a problem but the bass recover quickly, returning to feeding as soon as the front settles down.

Try one of the following lakes to have a great catch this month. You can fish just about any lure you like and catch fish if you follow patterns that are consistent every March in out state.


My best ever catch of bass in a tournament was several years ago in March at Oconee. The weather had been warm all week and it was beautiful by the mid-March Saturday when we launched. I just knew I would catch bass, and I did, landing nine in two days that weighed 37 pounds. That catch included a 6 pound 15 ounce and an 8 pound 11 ounce bass on Saturday and a 9 pound, 5 ounce beauty on Sunday.

All those fish hit a spinnerbait slow rolled on riprap in Lick Creek. Riprap always attracts bass in March from the beginning of the month to its end. The rocks hold heat and warm fast from the sun and riprap on bridges are great holding areas as bass move up the creeks as the water warms.

Oconee is in the middle of the state on the Oconee River and has a lot of different kinds of cover and structure. The slot limit allows bass to grow and put on weight until they reach the 14 inch size limit that tournaments require and most fishermen observe, releasing the smaller bass they can keep legally.

Big houses line much of the lake and riprap seawalls cover the points and coves they are on. Clay points are common as are natural rocks, all attracting bass in March. Shad are the most common baitfish but bass also feed heavily on crayfish and bream this time of year.

A spinnerbait is a good choice in March. You can fish it fairly fast to cove a lot of water and the active bass are attracted to the flash. Use a chartreuse and white skirted bait with two willowleaf blades, one gold and one silver, and stick with a 3/16ths to half ounce bait. Cast it near rocks and reel it back at varying speeds to find what the bass want.

A crawfish colored crankbait like a #8 Shadrap is a good choice around rocks and clay points where mudbugs live. Cast it near the bank and try to bump the bottom as you reel it in. That erratic darting motion and puffs of mud from hitting the bottom attract strikes.

Main lake points through-out the lake are good but the ones near the mouths of pockets and smaller creeks hold the most bass. They stage on them and feed all month long. Near the end of the month a buzzbait will allow you to cover water faster and draw explosive strikes. Use a white bait with a silver blade and run it near any cover you see.


Lake Hartwell is a big 55,000 acre impoundment on the upper Savannah River. It has a variety of water color, with the main lake staying clear most of the spring but the rivers like the Tugaloo staining up from runoff. It has a wide variety of types of cover, from shallow creeks with lots of brush and other wood cover to rocky points. You can catch largemouth, spotted bass and redeye bass on Hartwell.

Jeff Jones is president of the Georgia BASS Federation Nation and does well at Hartwell, placing second in the Top Six there in 2010. He was top man on the Georgia team at the Regional tournament and went to the Nationals, competing for a spot in the Bassmasters Classic last year.

Bass move out of their deep winter holding area in the standing timber in early March, according to Jeff. They stage on rocky points and steep banks near the spawning pockets and can be caught there on a variety of baits. Roadbeds crossing spawning pockets are also key places for catching March bass.

As soon as the water starts warming bass start moving and, as the month progresses and the water gets warmer, they move further back into the pockets. Spawning pockets with standing timber in deep water nearby improves your chances since this is where Hartwell bass live in the winter.

You can catch spotted bass in the same areas but they tend to move to them a little later in the month and spawn in deeper water, so a cove with gravel and rock in six feet of water is ideal for them. Most of the time both species will be holding in the same area by the middle of the month.

Jeff likes a Lucky Craft 1.5 DD shad pattern crankbait and a Pointer 78 XD in ghost minnow for working the points and banks fairly fast. For a slower presentation he has a three sixteenths ounce jig head with a red crawler Robo worm rigged on it. These baits are best early in the month.

As the bass move more shallow Jeff switches to a regular Lucky Craft 1.5 crankbait but sticks with the same jerk bait. He also likes a white Shaddie Shad soft jerkbait and a five sixteenths ounce Bi Hawg Jig with qn Okeechobee Craw Net Bait trailer.

The best places in March are the creeks and pockets off the main lake from Big Water Marina to Mary Ann Branch. You can fish this area without running all over the lake and the water tends to stay more stable, not mudding up with rains.


Lanier is a 40,000 acre lake just outside Atlanta on the upper Chattahoochee River. It is famous for its big spotted bass, clear water and deep structure and cover. Spots turn on in March, moving into more shallow water where they are easier to catch for most fishermen.

Mike Millsaps is well known on the tournament trails in Georgia and has had some incredible catches at Lanier, like a five fish limit weighing 23.5 pounds in a couple’s tournament there. He says the big spots are easy to follow in March.

As the water warms early in the month the big spots move out of the deep structure and cover and work back into spawning pockets, holding on any cover in the pockets as they move back. Early in the month they will be near the mouths of the pockets and by the end of the month on the cover near the backs of the coves.

Boat docks are the key to the cover and most spawning pockets are lined with them. The bass will also hold on stumps, brush, blowdowns and rocks. Mike likes the lower lake below Brown’s Bridge and will catch some largemouth there, but most of his catch are spotted bass.

You need only three baits for March at Lanier, according to Mike. He throws a Team Diawai TD Minnow jerk bait, a one eight ounce Money Maker jig head and worm, and a Blademaster Jig with a Zoom Chunk.

Pick a pocket on the lower lake, start on the outer point early in the month and work back, hitting all the cover you come to with those three baits and you will catch fish. As the month progresses start further back in the coves and pockets and work all the way to the back. By the end of the month start in the back and work out until you find where the bass are holding. It will be consistent on most other similar places.

Lake Harding

Also called Bartlett’s Ferry, Harding is a small Georgia Power Lake on the Chattahoochee north of Columbus. It is a deep, rocky lake near the dam but has many shallow flats in the river above the mouth of Hawalakee Creek. Grassbeds are common on the lake, with water willow the most prolific weed.

Harding has produced good largemouth and spots over the years but spotted bass are most common now. There are lots of small bass in the lake and a limit of five spots weighing six pounds is not unusual. It is a good lake in March to catch large numbers of fish.

Nick Roberson lived near Harding and fished it often until recently. He weighed in a five fish limit weighing just over 22 pounds there a couple of years ago. He also has an 8 pound, 8 ounce largemouth from the lake.

After a warm winter Nick often finds bass on the beds up the river in oxbow lakes as early as February, and they are usually spawning heavily in March there. Bass in the river oxbows spawn a lot earlier then most people realize, according to Nick. The bass on the lake will be spawning by late March most years.

Several baits catch bass in March and Nick will have a Jawbreaker jig and pig, a jig head worm, a Senko, a spinnerbait, a crankbait, a topwater bait and a jerk bait tied on this month. The Senkos and spinnerbaits work best in the oxbow lakes where there is a lot of grass and he drops the Senko into holes in it. The spinnerbait is worked through more open grass.

On the main lake throw the crankbait, spinnerbait and jerk bait on rocky points and around docks. Fish the jig head worm in the same places but work the jig and pig in brush and other wood cover. Use dark colors in stained water and lighter browns in more clear water.


Lake Blackshear is west of Cordele on the Flint River and it just looks “bassy.” Cypress trees, grass beds and stumps are everywhere and all hold bass. Huge shallows up the river warm early and attract bass to them in March.

Jim Murray, Jr. is a well known Georgia pro fisherman and he grew up on Blackshear. He guides on Blackshear, Seminole and Eufaula and makes lures with his Custom Bass Tackle business at

In March most of Blackshear bass will be prespawn, feeding around shallow cover, so stay in shallow water to catch them. Cypress trees and grassbeds are the key and Lee fishes for them with a three eights ounce chartreuse and white spinnerbait with Indiana blades and a eight inch green pumpkin Zoom lizard behind a one eight ounce sinker or a green pumpkin Senko rigged weightless.

Lee will go up the river above the bridge at Veterans State Park and fish pockets and backouts, hitting all the grass beds and cypress trees in them. Points and edges are best and he fishes them fairly fast, looking for active bass.

Isolated cover is where you are most likely to catch a fish so trees out from the others, a tree or clump of grass on a point or a single clump of grass on a bank a few feet from other grass is best. Make repeated casts to isolated cover.

These lakes will all give you a good chance to catch bass this month. Choose the one you like best and get on the water.

Where and How To Catch Catfish In Georgia

Georgia’s Catfish Bonanza
Where and how can I catch catfish in Georgia?

If you want variety in your fishing, go for catfish. They are in all our waters so you have a wide choice of places to fish. You can try for small eating size channel cats or you can go for a huge flatheads that approach 100 pounds. And you can use just about any method you want to catch them, from jugs to rod and reel.

The following offer a place to catch cats in a wide variety of waters around our state. Check them out for some fun this summer.

McDuffie Public Fishing Area

Located about eight miles east of Thomson and a couple of miles off Highway 278, McDuffie PFA offers seven ponds ranging in size from five to 37 acres. Six of the ponds are stocked with channel catfish. Bank fishing is good and you can use a boat with an electric motor. In most cases you will need a Wildlife Management Stamp as well as your fishing license.

The ponds are maintained for easy bank access and offer bank anglers good fishing. Some of the ponds have fishing platforms on the water that are handicapped accessible. Concrete boat ramps make loading and unloading your boat easy. Restrooms on the PFA as well as hiking trails and picnic tables make this a good place for a family outing. Camping is available on-site but fishing is limited to sunrise to sunset.

Channel cats are the only cats you are likely to catch here and most will be eating size in the one to two pound range. There are cats up to 20 pounds in some of the ponds so be prepared for a strong fight at any time. You can not use live baits like minnows so stick with earthworms, chicken liver, stink baits and crickets.

I grew up less than three miles from the McDuffie PFA and spent many happy hours there. My best luck for catfish came late in the afternoon although cats will bite all during the day. Warmer months were best so right now through the end of September is a good time to go.

Find a sandy spot on the bank near the pond dam and drive a forked stick or rod holder in the ground. Cast out a cricket, earthworm or piece of liver on a #4 hook and a light split shot, let it hit bottom, tighten up your line and place the rod in the holder. Watch your line for bites but wait to pick up your rod when the cat starts swimming off with the bait. Channel cats often bite slowly and you can pull the bait away from them if you try to hook them too quickly.

High Falls State Park

This 660 acre lake in a state park is just a few miles east of I-75 north of Forsyth. There is limited bank access at the dam and at the park and boat ramp on the Buck Creek arm, but most fishing is from a boat. Motors are limited to 10 horsepower and two concrete ramps offer easy loading and unloading. You can be on the water only from sunrise to sunset each day.

Some big flatheads are caught each year with fish in the 30 pound range showing up fairly often. There are tales of much bigger flatheads, too. I took a picture of a 35 pounds flathead from High Falls that was the state record for a short time many years ago so there can be some huge fish in the lake.

But your best bet will be for channel cats. In 2008 there was an exceptional spawn and survival rate and those fish have now grown to a good size for eating. Almost half the channel cats will be in the 12 to 18 inch size and weigh an average of about two pounds. You will have a good chance at a five pound channel cat.

The best fishing for all cats will be in the deepest water in the area this time of year. The old channels at High Falls are silted in badly but the depressions formed by them are still the deepest water. A depthfinder helps find this deeper water to concentrate your fishing and the lower lake will be best.

If fishing for flatheads a live bream or shad is best, and bigger channel cats will hit them, too. For smaller fish go with cut bait. You are more likely to catch channel cats if you use earthworms or stink bait.

Rig up a sinker heavy enough to keep your bait near the bottom and tie your hook on a short leader. Put the bait on a #2 to #4 hook for smaller cats and slowly drift the bait right on the bottom. There is a lot of slimy “moss” on much of the bottom at High Falls and the leader will allow your sinker to stay on the bottom without getting the gunk on your bait.

Lake Oconee

I-20 crosses the upper end of Lake Oconee west of Greensboro and the lake extends south, covering 19,000 acres and 374 miles of shoreline. Access is good for boat anglers at several marinas and public boat ramps, and bank fishermen can fish around bridges and in the parks. The lake is so big a boat is definitely the way to fish.

There are lots of channel and white cats and bullheads in Oconee but the population of big flatheads and blues is increasing. Oconee may be the sleeper lake in the state for big catfish. I landed a 20 pound blue cat on a spinnerbait three years ago in Double Branches and a 35 pound flathead on a jig and pig last summer in Lick Creek while bass fishing. If you target cats there is no telling what size you might catch!

There are a lot of 15 pound plus blues and flatheads in the lake so use stout tackle if you are fishing for them. Live shad or bluegill are best for the bigger fish but cut bait also works well. For smaller channel cats and bullheads live earthworms are good.

Both big cats I caught hit in the middle of the day but late afternoon to early morning is the best time for catfish. On a big lake like Oconee it pays to bait up a hole for them. Pick out a small cove that drops off to deep water and throw out sinking catfish food for several days. Although cats like the standing timber on Oconee, make sure you pick a cove a good ways from it or any big cat you hook will likely wrap you up.

Come back late in the afternoon and anchor, cast out several rods baited with live bait, cut bait and earthworms and wait for the action. Offer a variety of kinds of baits and sizes of baits since you may draw in smaller channels or trophy size flatheads and blues. You can fish all night during the summer and catch fish.

Andrews Lake

Although Andrews Lake offers good cat fishing, the best area of it is just below the Walter F. George dam. The bigger cats tend to move up the lake to the fast water in the tailrace just below the dam on the Chattahoochee River and feed there. There is some bank access but a boat is a better way to fish. The dam at Walter F. George is near Fort Gaines.

You can catch a lot of ten pound plus flatheads and blue cats here and a real trophy is possible. The state record blue was held for a short time by a 67 pound, 8 ounce monster caught just below the dam in 2006. Then in February, 2010 an 80 pound, 4 ounce monster caught here set the new state record. There are good numbers of 40 pound plus blues in the area. Channel cats are also abundant and will average from two to four pounds.

For smaller blue and channel cats try earthworms and blood baits fished on the bottom. Bigger fish are used to eating shad injured or killed at the dam so live or cut gizzard or threadfin shad are excellent baits here. Bream and live shad or suckers are best for flatheads but will also catch big blues.

During the day fish your bait on the bottom in the deepest water near the Walter F. George dam. At night you can anchor and cast your bait up onto flats and sandbars near the deeper water. The big cats hold in deep water during the day and move up into the shallows to feed at night.

Use heavy tackle and a one ounce sinker will often be needed to hold your bait on the bottom in the current. Try to find eddies or slack water where the current washes injured baitfish and let your bait soak on the bottom in those places.

Be careful of water release at the dam when fishing from a boat or the bank. Water can rise quickly and become very strong when power is being generated so be aware of the changes. Don’t get caught by rising water and strong currents.

Coosa River

Most fishermen think of spotted bass when the Coosa River in northwest Georgia is mentioned, but it is a quality catfish river, too. From its start north of Rome to where it crosses the state line into Lake Weiss, big cats are caught in this river. Boat fishing is the best way to find the fish here since you need to seek out the places they hide.

One thing may help to make this river a trophy catfish hole is the restriction on eating big cats from it. The Georgia DNR says you should not eat blue cats over 32 inches long from the Coosa and should limit eating smaller cats, so many of the cats here get released to fight again. If you want a fight the Coosa is a good place to head but if you want catfish to eat you would be better fishing another spot.

You can catch blue, channel and flathead cats of all sizes in the Coosa and 50 pound blues are not uncommon. For smaller fish use stink baits, earthworms and liver. For the bigger trophy size cats the best baits are live bream and shad, or cut bream and shad.

The Coosa is full of log jams on the bank and big blues and flatheads love to hide in them. Drift a live bream or shad into eddies created by brush and log jams and be ready for a strong fight. Use very heavy tackle to get the fish away from the wood and out into the main river to have a chance of landing it.

Deep outside bends in the river where the current creates slack water can be excellent, too. You can anchor on the inside part of the bend and fish your bait on the bottom toward deeper water. Drifting it with the current will also take it to where the catfish hold, rather than waiting for them to come to your bait. But they are going to be harder to get out of the place they are holding since it is likely to be in heavy cover.

Also look for current breaks in the middle of the river. Bridge pilings, logs and deeper holes will hold fish. Let your live bream or shad or cut bait drift into those areas and the current will take it right to where the catfish is waiting. Use the current to move your bait in a natural way.

These spots offer you examples of the wide variety of cat fishing hole we have in Georgia. Check them out for some fun fishing and, in most of them, good eating. There are many similar lakes, rivers, state parks and Public Fishing Areas around the state to try if one of these is not near you. The same methods that work on these should work on one closer to you.

Would A Hammerhead Shark Travel Widely?

Would a Tagged Hammerhead Shark Travel Widely”
from The Fishing Wire

Smooth Hammerhead Shark

Smooth Hammerhead Shark

Smooth Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna zygaena), Nine Mile Bank, San Diego, California.
Credit: Richard Herrmann/NOAA
The first hammerhead shark fitted with a satellite tracking tag off Southern California has traveled more than 1,000 miles to Mexico and back again since NOAA Fisheries researchers tagged it near San Clemente Island about two months ago.

The shark, which is now off Ventura, California, is providing new insight into the great distance hammerheads may cover in search of food, mainly fish and squid. Unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Southern California Bight since last summer has drawn hammerheads north, making them more visible off Southern California.

“The surprising thing we’ve learned from this is just how much they move around within a season,” said Russ Vetter, Senior Scientist at NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, Calif. “This one went way down to central Baja and then shot back up here again just to find food, and that is a lot of territory for an animal to cover.”

Hammerheads have been sighted off Southern California more frequently in recent weeks, including one case last weekend where a hammerhead on a fishing line bit the foot of a kayaker reeling it in. While hammerheads are not usually aggressive, scientists warn that caution is warranted around sharks since they can act unpredictably.

Researchers on an annual NOAA shark survey caught the tagged female hammerhead June 30 off San Clemente Island and attached the satellite tag to its distinctive dorsal fin. The satellite position only, or SPOT, tag relays high resolution location data as the animal travels. The shark is known as a smooth hammerhead, one of three types of hammerheads that occur in California waters and also include bonnethead and scalloped hammerheads.

attached a satellite tag to a hammerhead shark

attached a satellite tag to a hammerhead shark

Researchers attached a satellite tag to a hammerhead shark captured in a regular offshore survey June 30. The tag should last two to three years.
Credit: NOAA Fisheries/SWFSC

The smooth hammerhead shark traveled more than 1,000 miles to Mexico and back after it was tagged near San Clemente Island June 30.
Credit: NOAA Fisheries/SWFSC
The tagged shark measured more than seven feet long from its head to the fork of its tail. NOAA Fisheries scientists tagged a smooth hammerhead in the same area in 2008 with a different kind of tag that stores data for a few months and then detaches from the animal.

The shark tagging was conducted in collaboration with the Tagging of Pelagic Predators program.

Hammerhead habits are poorly known and researchers took advantage of the animal’s catch to learn more about its movements ahead of an approaching El Niño climate pattern, which typically boosts water temperatures along the West Coast. Patches of unusually warm water known collectively as “the warm blob” had raised temperatures off Southern California last year prior to El Niño, initially attracting warmer water species such as hammerheads.

 shark traveled more than 1,000 miles

shark traveled more than 1,000 miles

The new satellite tag shows that the hammerhead swam more than 400 miles south after its capture to an area off the central Baja Peninsula known for its production of sardines and anchovy, Vetter said. The shark then returned north to an area off Ventura this week.

The sharks’ distinctive hammer-shaped heads carry special sensory features and widely spaced eyes that may help them see and detect prey. The tagged hammerhead mostly hugged the continental shelf along the Pacific Coast but in one case made an open-ocean foray of a few hundred miles off of the Baja Peninsula. Vetter hopes the satellite tag will remain active for two to three years, providing a long-term record of the shark’s movements.

“It’s very interesting to us to see the neighborhoods this shark frequents,” he said. “For an animal to swim all the way to Baja just to see if there’s food suggests its food supply is not super abundant, which tells us something about conditions out there.”

The opportunity to track the shark during a warm El Niño year may provide clues about how hammerhead habitats may shift during gradual warming expected with climate change.

“It’s certainly possible they may spend more time farther north,” Vetter said. “We’ll be very curious to watch how far north this shark goes, which could give us an idea what to expect in the future.”

PETA Loses!

PETA Loses Last-Minute Bid to Block DC-Area Urban Bowhunting
Editor’s Note: Today’s feature first appeared in our companion service, The Archery Wire.
from The Hunting Wire

A judge in Bethesda, Maryland on Friday ruled that the Pilot Archery Managed Deer Hunting Program in two Montgomery County parks could proceed as planned, despite a desperate, last-ditch effort by the notorious and publicity-mongering animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), to block the bowhunt through a court order.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Callahan denied a motion filed Thursday, September 10 for a temporary restraining order sought by Bethesda resident and PETA member Eilene Cohhn to stop the managed archery deer hunts approved earlier this year by Montgomery Parks.

Bethesda Magazine reported this week the ruling marked the second setback in two days for PETA’s the effort to derail the archery deer hunt, after seeking an immediate restraining order upon filing the suit Thursday. Judge Callahan refused to issue the order before an initial hearing Friday, at which she formally denied the restraining order.

PETA’s legal attempt served only to temporarily delay the parks hunt, which was originally scheduled to begin Sept. 11, the same day as the regular Maryland archery deer season. As a result, the bowhunts designed to control the problematic deer population were free to commence yesterday (September 15) at sunrise and will run through October 21.

The hunt will mark the first time the parks department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, will use archers to safely cull the county’s deer population.

The archery program utilizes pre-approved hunters to take part in managed hunts over a combined area of 733 acres in the Watts Branch Stream Valley Park in Potomac and one section of the Great Seneca Valley Stream Park in Germantown. Candidates for the hunting program were required to provide a resume outlining their archery-hunting experience and written, verifiable references. Further, hunters must have completed the Maryland Hunter Education and Safety Course and a National Bowhunter Education Foundation (NBEF) course.

Other participation qualifications included:
– Minimum age of 18 years.
– At least 3 years of archery hunting experience AND harvest records indicating harvest of at least 5 deer with archery equipment.
– Fulfillment of the requirements of a background check.
– Successful completion of Montgomery Parks Archery Shooting Qualification standards (at specified ranges, only).
– Current Maryland Hunting License and Archery Stamp.

Predictably, a statement issued by PETA this week contained the usual handwringing and anthropomorphic references to animals using human terms and pronouns.

“We are extremely disappointed by the ruling and deeply saddened about the fate of the deer, who are Montgomery County’s gentle Cecils. The day will come when human beings must recognize that wild animals have a right to live on their ancestral lands and not be forced out and slaughtered simply for living as they have for generations.”

Here at The Archery Wire, we believe the only thing better than a victory for bowhunting over animal-rights extremists will be the taste of venison loins in Montgomery County, Maryland during the coming weeks.

– J.R. Absher

Electronic Fishing Equipment I Use and Like

The following electronic fishing equipment, from depthfinders to cameras, are things I use and like:
You can never have enough charging cables!

Audio System for GoPro Camera

SD Cards

GoPro Hero 3 Silver

GoPro Skeleton Case

Batteries and Charger for GoPro Camera

Mic Adapter for GoPro

Underwater Camera

Underwater Camera
Aqua-Vu AV710 Underwater Camera

Does Cooler Weather Help Bass Fishing?

The cooler weather has me fired up to go bass fishing, but I keep reminding myself this happens every fall. The weather changes and I think the bass change their feeding patterns immediately but they don’t respond as fast as I hope. But does cooler weather help bass fishing.

I went to Lake Oconee last Sunday with Cody Stahl and Tate Van Egmond for a Georgia Outdoor News article. For the first time in many months I was actually cold riding in a boat!

Cody and Tate won the Georgia BASS High School Championship at Eufaula last fall then came in 10th in the National High School Championship on Kentucky Lake this past spring. They attend CrossPointe Christian Academy in Hollonville and represent their school well. Both are very nice young men.

Cody and Tate both play sports and are good at their positions in football, but Cody really loves fishing and plans to attend a college next year with a fishing team so he can continue what he likes best. There are many colleges in Georgia and Alabama that offer scholarships for bass fishing, just like other sports.

Cody and Tate are very good fishermen and work together as a team while fishing. I was impressed with their skills and knowledge of fishing and bass patterns. Although fishing was still tough, we landed several short bass and Cody caught three keepers, including one weighing 3.5 pounds.

We fished shallow docks, the same thing I did the week before when I zeroed a Flint River Bass Club tournament at Oconee. The way Cody fished them was a little different. He can skip a bait under a dock much better than I can.

Bass under docks see baits a lot since a lot of people fish around them. If your bait doesn’t get back under the dock a long way they often won’t hit. And if the bait makes a big splash when it hits it seems to turn the fish off. They know it is not real.

Fishing has improved some and will get even better during the next few weeks. The Potato Creek Bassmasters fished their September tournament at Oconee last Saturday and did much better than the Flint River Club did the week before.

In their tournament, 12 members landed 24 keepers weighing 50 pounds. Kwong Yu won with a five fish limit weighing 9.57 pounds, Mike Cox was second with four at 8.10 pounds, Wesley Gunnels came in third with three weighing 6.45 pounds and Niles Murray was fourth with three at 6.27 pounds. Donnie Willis had big fish with a 3.50 pound largemouth.

In comparison, Niles came in second in the Flint River tournament the week before with two bass weighing 3.04 pounds and the nine Flint River members caught only six keepers. That is a good sign the fishing is getting better.

Bass are cold blooded so their body is the temperature of the water they are in. They are most active when water temperatures are between 68 and 72 degrees. At Oconee in the Flint River tournament the water was 88 degrees, making them sluggish. By the next week it had dropped to 81 degrees, still hotter than the best range but much better.

As the water cools and bass become more active they will chase a faster moving bait, and go further to eat it. They also move to more shallow water. They will feed more and more until the water drops into the 50s in December. Then they become more sluggish until it warms in the spring.

When water is too far above or below the best range the bass tend to go to deeper water and not feed as much so they are harder to catch. Fishermen have to change the way they fish and the baits they use to catch fish as conditions change all year long.

In water near the optimum range faster moving baits like crankbaits and spinnerbaits allow you to cover more water, fish more places and catch more fish. Slower moving baits like worms and jigs usually work best when the water is too cold or hot.

For the next three months fishing will be much more comfortable for the fisherman and fishing will be better. Combine that with the fact most pleasure boaters are off the water so you don’t rock and roll all day, and many part time fishermen are in the woods hunting or stuck in front of TVs watching football. That is why fall is my favorite time of the year to fish.

What Is the Wisconsin Sturgeon Fest?

Wisconsin Sturgeon Fest to Celebrate a Decade of Progress
from The Fishing Wire

MILWAUKEE – Efforts to return lake sturgeon to the Milwaukee River will enter a second decade with growing support and new evidence of progress thanks to a partnership involving the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Riveredge Nature Center and Fund for Lake Michigan, among others.

The efforts will be celebrated at the 10th anniversary of Sturgeon Fest – a free, family oriented event on Saturday, Sept. 26 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Lakeshore State Park near the Summerfest grounds. This year’s event includes a free presentation by Scott Sampson, also known as “Dr. Scott,” a dinosaur paleontologist at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science who serves as host and science adviser of the Emmy‐nominated PBS KIDS series Dinosaur Train.

Lake sturgeon

Lake sturgeon

Lake sturgeon hatched from eggs collected on the Wolf River were raised at a streamside rearing facility operated by Riveredge and DNR so they imprint on the waters of the Milwaukee River.
WDNR Photo

“Lake sturgeon are sometimes referred to as living fossils but despite the 150 million year history of the species, they’ve faced a variety of challenges in modern times,” said Jessica Jens, executive director of Riveredge Nature Center. “In partnership with DNR and the Fund for Lake Michigan, our past decade of work to reintroduce a naturally reproducing population of sturgeon to the Milwaukee River has shown tremendous progress and we are excited to welcome everyone to Sturgeon Fest.”

The event features the opportunity for youth and adults to sponsor and release young sturgeon into Lake Michigan. The fish, hatched from eggs collected on the Wolf River, have been carefully raised at a streamside rearing facility operated by Riveredge and DNR where they have imprinted on the waters of the Milwaukee River.

If all goes according to plan, the fish will return to the river for spawning – a day that may well come before the 25-year Return of the Sturgeon project officially concludes. Brad Eggold, DNR southern Lake Michigan fisheries team supervisor, said the department’s lake sturgeon juvenile assessment work shows many of the more than 7,500 sturgeon released over the past decade appear to be doing well.

Releasing sturgeon

Releasing sturgeon

The festival offers an opportunity for youth and adults to sponsor and release young sturgeon into Lake Michigan.
WDNR Photo

In July, fisheries team members caught and released a 5-year-old sturgeon that measured 35 inches and weighed nearly 10 pounds. The fish, which has been growing about 6 inches per year, was the 57th lake sturgeon captured in the Milwaukee River and harbor area and adds to evidence that a number of the stocked fish are staying nearby and using the harbor as a nursery.

Fisheries team members are able to identify the age and origin of the stocked fish thanks to tiny passive integrated transponder – or PIT tags – inserted into the sturgeons before they are released. The pencil-lead sized tags and nets used to conduct the juvenile sturgeon assessments come thanks to additional support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Great Lakes Fishery Trust of Lansing, Mich.

“During the past year, we also picked up a young sturgeon that was reared more than 100 miles away in Kewaunee at the C.D. “Buzz” Besadny Anadromous Fish Facility and released at a sturgeon sponsorship event there,” Eggold said. “We’re pleased to see that conditions in Lake Michigan appear to support survival of the fish; habitat work on the Milwaukee River will further improve the odds for successful reproduction.”

Given current growth rates of the fish, some of the males are likely to reach sexual maturity in the next five to six years and the females within 10 to 15 years. That timeline is not lost on Vicki Elkin, executive director of the Fund for Lake Michigan, which has provided nearly $150,000 in the past three years to restore spawning habitat and support improvements to the streamside rearing facility that should lead to higher survival rates for the fish.

“We’re pleased to work in partnership with Riveredge and DNR on projects including construction of a spawning reef in the Milwaukee River that now provides more than an acre of prime habitat for sturgeon as well as walleye,” Elkin said. “Healthy populations of lake sturgeon were found in Lake Michigan as recently as the late 1800s and we hope our shared efforts contribute to natural reproduction in the decade ahead. Lake sturgeon serve as an important indicator of ecosystem health, so work to improve habitat for sturgeon benefits many species.”

Families and individuals interested in sponsoring a sturgeon for Sturgeon Fest are encouraged to register online before 2 p.m. on Friday, September 25, although it will still be possible to sign up at the event. The sturgeon are typically released between noon and 3 p.m. following a short presentation and a blessing of the fish by a Native American representative.

The free, family oriented presentation by Dr. Scott runs from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Johnson Controls World Stage on the Summerfest Grounds, a short walk from the sturgeon release site. Free parking for Sturgeon Fest is available at designated Summerfest parking lots and a shuttle to Lakeshore Park will be available.

To learn more about sturgeon, visit and search for “lake sturgeon” as well as “lake sturgeon rehabilitation.” For more about the festival, visit the Riveredge Nature Center website and search for “Sturgeon Fest” (both links exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Eggold, DNR Lake Michigan fisheries supervisor,, 414-382-7921; Jessica Jens, Riveredge Nature Center executive director,, 262-375-2715; Vicki Elkin, Fund for Lake Michigan executive director,, 414-418-5008; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084,

How To Cook Jack Gaither’s Fish with Cheese and Wine Sauce

Jack Gaither sent me a recipe for bass filets in cheese and wine sauce I have cooked many times. It is very rich but delicious! The recipe seems complicated but it is not really difficult to cook.

All the ingredients

All the ingredients

You need the following ingredients:

bass filets – or any other mild white fish
cheese – several kinds of shredded cheese
bell peppers
sour cream
white wine

Chop filets into bitesize pieces and put in greased baking dish. Sprinkle with white wine and let sit.
Chop up an onion fairly fine – I use a medium onion if I have about a dozen filets

Chop up onions and bell peppers

Chop up onions and bell peppers

Saute Onions and Peppers

Saute Onions and Peppers

Saute the onions and peppers in a little olive oil until the onions are clear. I don’t brown them.

Melt cheese with peppers and onions

Melt cheese with peppers and onions

Add shredded cheese to the onions and peppers. I like cheddar, Mexican mix, Colby, Monterrey Jack and similar fairly mild cheeses. I do not use American cheese

Add sour cream to melted cheese

Add sour cream to melted cheese

Add sour cream to melted cheese and stir constantly to keep from sticking or burning

Add wine until the sauce is the desired thickness

Add wine until the sauce is the desired thickness

Add wine while stirring until the sauce is thick but will pour.

Pour cheese sauce over fish and bake at 300 degrees until fish is done.

I serve with broccoli – the cheese sauce is delicious on broccoli, too! And i usually make potatoes au gratin to go with it. You can bake the potatoes at the same time as the fish. Or just chop up and boil potatoes and cover them with wine sauce. Make a lot of sauce to use with side dishes!

Plate of fish and sides ready to eat

Plate of fish and sides ready to eat

Crankbaiting Deeper Water Works Well in Late Summer for Bass

Crankbaiting Deeper Water Works Well in Late Summer

Yamaha Pro Mark Davis Offers Suggestions to Improve Your Technique
from The Fishing Wire

Mark Davis

Mark Davis

Even though it’s September and the next major move bass make will be into shallow creeks and bays, Mark Davis still has a deep diving crankbait tied on and ready to cast. For him, the deep cranking season will continue for at least another month.

“It’s been an extremely hot summer across much of the country, and the water temperature in most lakes is still pretty warm,” explains the Yamaha Pro, “so neither the bass nor the baitfish seem to be very anxious to move shallow. They’re going to remain in deeper water until the lakes start cooling, and until they do, a deep diving crankbait will still be one of the best lures to use to catch them.”

Mark Davis Lands A Bass

Mark Davis Lands A Bass

The technique of deep cranking depths between 10 and about 18 feet is not an easy one to master, but Davis, a three-time B.A.S.S.® Angler of the Year and winner of the 1995 Bassmaster Classic,® began using the presentation more than three decades ago as a guide on Lake Ouachita. Today, he’s considered one of the best deepwater crankbait fishermen in the sport.

“There are some shortcuts to deep water crankbaiting I’ve learned over the years,” smiles Davis, “but it took me a long time to accept them. Probably the most important one is not to even start casting until you know what you’re fishing. About 90 percent of the time, deep cranking is about fishing some feature in deep water, such as a ridge, a hump, or a channel, and you really can’t fish it effectively until you know what it looks like.

“I always idle slowly over the structure and study it with my electronics. Today’s depthfinders and side-scan units will show you the shape of the structure, how big it may be, and provide clues on how you can fish it most effectively.”

While the Yamaha Pro studies the structure, he’s not always looking for bass, either. Instead, he concentrates on trying to identify some smaller, special spot on the structure that might attract and hold a school of fish. Among bass fishermen like Davis, this is known as a ‘sweet spot,’ and it might be a sharp bend in a creek channel, a depth change on a ridge, or a group of stumps on the edge of a point. Sometimes, a sweet spot may not be as large as a bass boat, but even that is large enough to attract bass.

“One type of sweet spot I always try to locate is an area of hard bottom,” emphasizes Davis, “which is particularly important on older lakes where silt usually covers most of the bottom. A hard bottom can be rock, gravel, a shell bed, or even just smooth clay, but it will show up very well on today’s electronics and isn’t hard to identify. When I find hard bottom like this, that’s what I’m going to fish.”

Mark Davis and Bass

Mark Davis and Bass

Initially, Davis keeps his lure choice as simple as possible, choosing either a shad or chartreuse-colored crankbait capable of diving deep enough to reach that hard bottom with a long cast and light, 10-pound line. If the hard bottom or cover is deeper than about 20 feet, he may use a presentation known as long-lining to get his crankbait eight to 10 feet deeper.

“Boat positioning is an important part of deep cranking, too,” continues the Yamaha Pro. “I want to be as far away from my target as possible, but still get my lure down to that target. I’ll also experiment with casting angles, circling the spot to see if the bass want my lure coming from a certain direction. Most of the time, I’ll have my boat in deep water and cast shallow, but sometimes it’ll be just the opposite, and I’ll usually learn this by making a complete casting circle around the target.

There is no way to tell what your best casting angle will be until you experiment like this.

“Deep cranking doesn’t have to be that difficult or that complicated,” concludes Davis, “especially if you learn as much as you can about the structure before you start trying to fish it. In fact, with the quality of today’s electronics, deep cranking has probably never been easier.”