Monthly Archives: April 2016

How To Catch Spring River Walleyes

A Double-Barreled Approach for Spring River Walleyes

Dr. Jason Halfen

Dubuque Rig

Dubuque Rig

The versatile, double-barreled Dubuque Rig targets river walleye and sauger in the lowest portions of the water column.

River anglers are renowned for developing unique rigs and bait presentation methods to help them tackle their ever-changing, current-driven environment. Many of these rigs have unique names that refer to their developer or place of origin, like the venerable “Wolf River Rig” that has put so many walleyes and white bass in anglers’ nets over the decades. One of my favorite river rigs for both early- and late-season walleye fishing, when the water is generally running high, fast and dirty, is one that simultaneously offers two opportunities to catch walleyes and sauger within the lowest portions of the water column. That exceptionally versatile, double-barreled rig for targeting river whitetips is the Dubuque Rig.

Dressed Dubuque Rig

Dressed Dubuque Rig

The Dubuque Rig can be dressed with a wide variety of live and artificial baits, although soft plastic offerings from B-Fish-N tackle are mainstays in most instances.

The Dubuque Rig is designed for trolling, generally upstream (although downstream is possible when flows are low), and is centered around a standard 3-way swivel. Attach your main line to one of the swivel eyes. To a second and third eyes, attach mono leaders with two different lengths: a “short” leader that is about a foot in length, and a “long” leader that is 24-30″ in length. We will use these mono leaders to connect two baits to the rig. I tie a heavy jig (1/2-3/4 oz) to the long leader, and dress that jig with a bulky soft plastic like a 4″ ringworm or a Pulse-R Paddletail from B-Fish-N Tackle. I prefer to tie a light jig (1/16 oz) to the short leader, and dress that jig with a low-profile soft plastic like a shortened ringworm or a small fluke-style bait. These two baits, presented at two different depths, provide the angler with the opportunity to target walleyes feeding close to the bottom, as well as those that might be tempted to rise several feet off the bottom to strike.

The Dubuque Rig is designed to be presented from a moving boat. Position your boat downstream of your intended fishing area, and start moving upstream at a speed of 0.5-0.8 mph. I rely on my Minn Kota Ulterra 112 to provide me with quiet, consistent power throughout a long day of targeting spring walleye in heavy current. With the boat moving, lower the rig into the water, allowing the heavier jig to contact the bottom. Present the rig with a series of lifts and drops, releasing enough line to allow the heavy jig to remain in contact with the bottom during the drop. It is important, however, to resist the temptation to simply drag the lower jig across the bottom, as this is a sure-fire way to donate tackle to the river gods. In high-flow areas, you will likely notice that most of your bites occur on the bottom jig, while the top bait, fluttering off the bottom, will be a key producer under low-flow conditions and in cleaner water. As such, this double-barreled approach excels under a wide variety of river flow and clarity conditions that anglers encounter throughout the year.

St. Croix Avid X

St. Croix Avid X

Introduced just last year, St. Croix Avid X series has become a mainstay for river walleye enthusiasts.

The Dubuque Rig is quite versatile. Common modifications include using a much longer leader for the “upper” bait, and connecting that leader to a long-shank live bait hook dressed with a minnow, leech, or the front half of a nightcrawler. In some parts of the walleye belt, a trolling fly will take the place of the bare hook. Another variation is to attach a small floating crankbait to this elongated leader, allowing the heavy jig and the bottom of the rig to pull this crankbait down to depth. Likewise, some anglers will cast a Dubuque Rig to fish the front faces of wingdams from fixed position, maintained by using the Spot Lock feature of the Minn-Kota i-Pilot Link system. Day in and day out, however, I use the Dubuque Rig as described above, with two jigs each dressed with a soft plastic, presented from a moving boat.

Big Walleye

Big Walleye

When you fish the Dubuque Rig, you’ll be presenting relatively heavy baits in moving water, and as such, this is no place for a wimpy walleye rod. Two rods are particularly well-suited for presenting the Dubuque Rig. On the spinning side of the family, I like a St. Croix 6’8″ MXF rod, which you can find in series ranging from the Eyecon all the way to the Legend Xtreme. I like the same length and action in the Avid X casting series; look for the AXC68MXF to find a rod that can pull double duty for chasing walleyes and summer bass. When paired with a casting reel that features a flippin’ switch, presenting the Dubuque Rig with casting gear can be accomplished with a minimum of angler effort. When fishing either rod style, spool up with 20 lb test braid, and you’re ready to hit the river.

Where To Fish In Georgia Each Month of 2016

Georgia Fishing Calendar

Species: Hybrids
What To Expect
Two years ago over 500,000 hybrids were stocked at Hartwell. Those fish will weigh up to three pounds now and there are much bigger hybrids in Hartwell from previous years stocking.
How To
Feeding schools of hybrids can often be found by watching for gulls or terns diving on them. The lower lake is the best place to find them schooling, usually near humps and long points in sight of the dam. Cast white half-ounce bucktails or silver spoons to fish hitting on top.
If you don’t see surface activity, ride humps and points on the main lake watching for baitfish with bigger fish under them. Drop a live blueback herring to the depth the bigger fish are holding. Those fish will also hit a spoon or bucktail jigged at the depth they are holding. Also try crankbaits and bucktails trolled at the depth they are holding.
Big largemouth bass move to spawning areas on Seminole in January. Fish rattle baits on the flats just off the river channels around grass. Rainbow trout are stocked below the Lake Lanier dam in the Chattahoochee River and can be caught on small spinners and nymphs in eddies.

Species: Largemouth Bass
What To Expect
Jackson Lake produces some big largemouth every winter and February is one of the best months to catch a wall hanger there. You may not get many bites from largemouth but may land your biggest ever.
How To
On sunny days fish pockets on the north bank that get sun all day, and concentrate on seawalls, sandy bottoms and wood cover. A shad colored crankbait in clearer water or a chartreuse bait in stained water, fished slowly around structure and cover, is a good choice.
Also try a brown jig and pig in clear water or a black and blue bait in stained water around the same cover. Fish very slowly to interest the sluggish fish. Bump every limb in a blowdown or brush pile to excite big bass.
Large numbers of keeper size spotted bass can be caught on rocky points and humps at Lake Allatoona on jig head worms during February. To fill your freezer with yellow perch, fish a small minnow or jig below the Thurmond Dam, letting it drift with the current into eddies.

Species: Crappie
What To Expect
Big crappie move toward the spawning areas at Walter George this month. You can easily get you limit and fill your freezer with fileting size keepers.
How To
Tie up under a bridge on one of the lower lake creeks or drift over standing timber in the mouths of creeks like Bustahatchee Creek with live minnows or Hal Fly jigs suspended at different depths. Change depths and color of jigs until you start catching fish.
You can also troll small jigs in the creeks, following the channel, to find schools of fish. When you catch a crappie circle back over the same area since they are often moving in big schools.
White bass are running up the rivers at Lake Allatoona and can be caught on small spinners and jigs from a boat or the bank in the channels. Catfish on Lake Thurmond move shallow in March to feed and spawn and will hit live bream and shad on hard bottoms near channels.

Species: Largemouth Bass
What To Expect
Largemouths are up shallow spawning and feeding on the shad and herring spawn at Lake Thurmond this month. The herring spawn offers some of the fastest and best fishing for big bass of the year.
How To
Fish blowthroughs, shallow gaps between islands or between an island and the bank, in the Georgia Little River arm of Thurmond. Have a big topwater walking bait like a Zara Spook ready to cast to surface feeding fish. Also fish a big spinnerbait or crankbait over the gravel bottoms of these areas.
Fishing is best at first light when the herring spawn but you can catch fish in the deeper water off the sides of the blowthroughs on Carolina rigged lizards after the sun gets up. Drag the lizard in eight to ten feet of water.
You can choose from several ponds at McDuffie PFA to catch bluegills on earthworms or crickets this month, and fishing piers and clean banks offer the non-boat fishermen good places to catch fish. Sight fish for Trippletail holding on the surface off the Jekyll Island beaches with live shrimp.


Species: Flounder
What To Expect
Flounder are feeding in the sounds and inlets on the coast this month. These excellent tasting fish can be caught from the shore or from a boat.
How To
An outgoing tide pulls food from the marshes and flounder wait on it anywhere a small creek comes out of the grass. Anchor your boat off to the side of the current coming out of the creek and cast a small mud minnow or jig to the edges of the current.
You can get to some of these small creek and inlets from the bank on Jekyll Island. A good one is near the fishing pier on the north tip of the island and you can park and walk to it and fish from the shore.
Redbreast are plentiful in the Ogeechee River and have come back from the bad fish kill a few years ago. Catch them on earthworms or crickets in eddy areas out of the current. Lake Lanier is a quality spotted bass fishery and they are feeding on blueback herring on top in May. You can catch many three and four pound spots on topwater plugs this month.

Species: Catfish
What To Expect
The catfish population at Lake Oconee is excellent and you can catch blues, channel and flatheads, with some quality bragging size fish available.
How To
Anchor your boat on humps or shallow points and let the current take cut shad or bream out from the boat. Put out several rods to cover the area better. Current makes the catfish bite better but you can catch them when the current is not strong, too. The current will move both ways, depending on generation or pumpback at the dam.
During the summer stick with main lake points and humps or those in the bigger creeks. Shallow water near deep water is best, so a long shallow point with the channel bending off one side is an excellent place to set up.
Shark move into Georgia waters to spawn in the early summer and can be caught from piers on both Jekyll and St. Simons Islands. To beat the heat tie up under a bridge on West Point at night and catch crappie on minnows and jigs.


Species: Tarpon
What To Expect
Tarpon move into the coastal sounds and river mouths in the summer. These huge fish, some weighing 150 pounds, can be seen rolling and feeding on top in hot weather.
How To:
Cast a live menhaden to tarpon feeding on top in the Altamaha River Sound or drift near oyster beds with live menhaden free-lined in the current. An outgoing tide is usually best. You can also troll a big crankbait or cast a crankbait or spoon to the fish you see on top.
Anywhere the current breaks will attract feeding tarpon. Shell beds are good but so are ditch and creek mouths. Current coming out of the marsh grass pulls baitfish out where the tarpon feed on them.
Fish a spoon or spinner over grass in the lake at Hamburg State Park to catch Chain Pickerel, a cousin of the Northern Pike. Fish live bream in holes on outside bends of the Altamaha River for big Flathead Catfish.
Species: Blue Catfish
What To Expect
The state record blue cat, an 80 pound, 4 ounce monster, was caught in the upper end of Lake Andrews, below the Walter George dam, in the summer. There are many big catfish in the area.
How To
Fish live bream or cut shad in the current below the Walter George dam. When current is strong from power generation the bite will be better. Use a heavy sinker to get your bait to the bottom and keep it there in the current.
Fishing from a boat is best but you can catch fish from the fishing pier there, too. You need heavy tackle and line to land a big catfish. Smaller eating size cats are also common in these waters.
You can have a blast catching carp from a boat or the bank at Thurmond by baiting up a hole on a flat near deep water with sinking catfish food. The fishing pier at Amity Park is a good place to do this. Fish small shrimp from the Tybee island beeches in designated fishing areas to catch good eating whiting.


Species: Shoal Bass
What To Expect
Shoal bass fight hard and remind fishermen of smallmouth. Native to the Flint River, they inhabit the shoals all along the river from near Atlanta all the way to Lake Seminole.
How To
Access the river at any bridge and wade nearby shoals, fishing eddies and current with small crankbaits, spinners and Texas rigged worms. Fish your baits with the current, casting upstream as you wade.
You can also put a jon boat or canoe in and drift down to the next bridge to take out. Plan your trip for a section of the river that will match the time you have to fish. Stop and tie up at shoals and wade fish them, too.
Go up the river at Lake Harding and find gar in back-outs. Cast a spoon with a six inch frayed white nylon cord on the hook to them for fun and good eating. Cast a small topwater popper or spoon to surface feeding hybrids near the Highway 109 Causeway on West Point.

Species: Walleyes
What To Expect
Although walleyes are not abundant in Lake Raburn, you can catch decent numbers of two to four pound fish. The Walleye is claimed to be the best eating freshwater fish so catch some at Raburn in October to find out.
How To
At night, fish small minnows and earthworms on shallow points on the main lake. During the day fish nighcrawlers in 20 feet of water on channel edges near the points. Fish the nightcrawlers on the bottom with a small split shot
Light line is important to increase the number of bites you get as well as letting the walleyes fight more. Use six or eight pound line on a light to medium spinning outfit for the best action.
Bull Red Drum move into the shallows around St. Simons Island this month to feed and you can catch 30 pound fish on live shrimp from the beach. Fish earthworms ten feet deep around standing timber at Big Lazer PFA for big shellcracker.


Species: Rainbow Trout
What To Expect
The Toccoa River below Lake Blue Ridge dam produces consistent catches of eating size rainbow trout with the chance of a big fish. Several nine to ten pound rainbows have been collected during shocking sampling by the DNR.
How To
Wading the river in November can be cold but productive. Floating between access points in a canoe will keep you dry and give you access to less heavily fished spots.
You can use live bait like earthworms but no live minnows on the Toccoa River. Artificials for fly fishermen like nymphs, wet flies and streamers are best in November. Small spinners and minnow baits are good for spinning fishing.
Blue, channel and flathead catfish are common in the Coosa River, with blues up to 50 pounds caught each year. Fish wood cover with live bream. Good size crappie are caught at High Falls Lake by trolling minnows and small jigs in open water this month.


Species: Striped Bass
What To Expect
Ten to fifteen pound stripers are common on Lake Thurmond but 40 pounders are landed every December. The big fish will often be in very shallow water in the winter, chasing baitfish.
How To
Freeline live herring around main lake points and humps. Planer boards will help you get them up close to the bank, big stripers may be in very close and shallow. Also try going up the bigger creeks like Fishing and Soap Creek and Little River and fish the backs of the channels.
Baitfish are the key. Find the schools of bait and stripers will be nearby. Baitfish move up the creeks and back in coves in December and may be all the way in the back and the stripers, even very big ones, will be there, too. Big baits like an eight inch herring is usually best for big stripers, but if they are feeding on smaller herring or shad try smaller baits.
Lake Blue Ridge is the only lake in Georgia with a decent population of smallmouth bass. Fish main lake rocky points with small crankbaits and jig head worms to catch one. Good catches of big largemouth bass at Walter George are caught on the ledges on big crankbaits this time of year.

What Is Pro Angler Jimmy Houston Doing Now?

Catching up with pro angler Jimmy Houston

Editor’s Note: Today’s feature comes to us from Kevin Kelly at the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources
from The Fishing Wire

Jimmy Houston

Jimmy Houston

The growth of outdoor television and an expanding library of videos available online means anglers no longer have to wait until weekend mornings to get their fill of fishing shows.

Viewers would tune in each week to ESPN, TBS and The Nashville Network to watch the likes of Jimmy Houston, Bill Dance, Roland Martin, Hank Parker, Jerry McKinnis and others catch big fish, and lots of them. As entertaining as it was, there was educational value. The shows introduced generations of anglers to new equipment and new lures, but also taught them new ways to fish.

“There is some satisfaction in the fact that you’ve been a part of the sport growing to what it is today,” Houston said.

Now in his early 70s, the pro bass angler from Oklahoma, known for his shaggy platinum blond hair, infectious giggle and penchant for planting kisses on fish, remains one of the sport’s best-known ambassadors. He continues to keep a busy schedule fishing selected tournaments, filming his television show and making personal appearances. Last summer, one of those appearances brought him to Kentucky.

Houston is no stranger to the state and raves about the quality of the fishing on Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake.

“Bass fishing is better right now than it’s ever been in the United States,” he said. “You have a lake right here close by, Kentucky Lake, and its sister lake, Lake Barkley, those are some of the greatest places to fish in the country.”

While in the state for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway – he drove the pace car – Houston filmed a segment fishing with Fox NASCAR in-race analyst Larry McReynolds at one of the ponds on the track’s property. McReynolds had never caught a fish before, Houston said.

“We caught eight or 10 bass and Larry caught two,” he said. “The first one he caught was about 12 inches long and his first question was, ‘Would that win a fishing tournament?’ I told him it depended on the tournament and how big they needed to be. But, no, that probably wouldn’t win any tournament. We still had a lot of fun.”

For anybody trying to teach a new angler to fish, one of the keys to success is keeping it fun and simple.

“Where so many of the dads make the mistake, particularly those who love to bass fish, is they want their kid bass fishing,” Houston said. “They go out there and throw a plastic worm around for two or three hours and don’t get a bite and think they’re going to get a bite on the next cast. A kid does it for about 20 minutes and says, ‘Dad, this isn’t fun.'”

Farm ponds, small lakes and any of the Fishing in Neighborhoods program lakes across the state are great places to take a new angler. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources stocks FINs lakes with rainbow trout and channel catfish. Some also receive stockings of hybrid sunfish.

“Start them out on something where they can catch fish,” Houston said. “Depending on where you are, that might be a lot of different species. It might simply be bluegill in a farm pond.

“A kid will have just as much fun catching bluegill because they can catch them. They don’t really have very long attention spans, so if they go very long without catching a fish they’re going to get bored with it.”

Houston’s daughter used to accompany her parents in the boat while they pre-fished before a tournament. When she got tired of fishing, she always had something else to keep her occupied.

“We’d let her bring all her toys and stuff,” Houston said. “She’d get down on the floor of the boat and make her a little tent by the console. She’d play with her toys, get up and fish for a little bit, and then she’d go back to playing.”

Many of the anglers who grew up watching fishing shows on weekend mornings are finding the roles reversed now. Teaching a new angler to fish helps ensure the future of the sport.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s NASCAR or baseball or football or anything. They’re the future,” Houston said. “So it’s an honor to get to take kids fishing. It really is.”

Author Kevin Kelly is a staff writer for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Get the latest from Kevin and the entire Kentucky Afield staff by following them on Twitter: @kyafield.