Monthly Archives: January 2018

What Is the Most Important Improvement In

Bass fishing equipment has made unreal advancements in my lifetime. When my uncles took me fishing in my preteen years we went in wooden jon boats, usually homemade, and paddled them around ponds and backwaters of Clarks Hill. Fishing was always close to where we put in, paddling very far was too hard.

My job was to scull the boat, working the paddle quietly without taking it out of the water, while my one of my uncles fished from the front of the boat. Maneuvering around was difficult and we fished slowly. Sometimes, if I was lucky, I got to make a few casts with my trusty Mitchell 300 spinning reel while my uncle paddled.

Line was a black braid that broke all to easily, or the new-fangled monofilament line that was stiff, weak and hard to tie. Lures were wooden, hand painted creations like Jitterbugs, Hula Poppers or Lazy Ikes. Sometimes we fished a Crème “rubber” worm with a two or three hook harness and a small spinner up front. They came in two colors, black or red.

We used the paddle for a depthfinder and usually fished water where it would touch the bottom. Fish were kept on stringers, either metal chains with clips or cords with a ring at one end and a metal shaft on the other. All fish were kept to eat.

Now bass boats fly over the water at amazing speeds while electronics show depth, water temperature and exactly what is under and out to the side of the boat, like looking at a picture. Rods and reels are light and trouble free and line comes in so many choices it gets confusing.

You need only to walk into Berry’s Sporting Goods to see the vast array of shapes, color and sizes of plastic worms and huge numbers of hard baits that will run from the top down to more than 30 feet. And they come in colors that look exactly like bait.

Bass are put in live wells with pumps that keep fresh water circulating to keep the fish alive, and almost all are released. Pictures are taken with cell phones to share with hundreds of people on social media. And you can win money in tournaments.

But what is the most important advancement for actual fishing. There are discussions of this in magazines and on-line. People have varying ideas but to me, without a doubt, the most important improvement is the foot-controlled trolling motor on the front of the boat.

You can sit or stand on the front of the boat and, with practice, move the boat precisely, without even thinking about what you are doing, while casting. You can go into tight places quietly and cast to spots that would be inaccessible without the trolling motor.

What do you think the most important of all those changes over the past 60 years?

Bad Tournament At Sinclair With Troll Motor Problems

Only one I caught

Last Saturday the Potato Creek Bassmasters held our January tournament at Sinclair. In seven hours of casting in the cold and wind, 12 fishermen landed 32 bass weighing 68 pounds. There were four bass weighing more than five pounds each!

Doug Acree won with five weighing 12.80 pounds, Raymond English placed second with five at 9.14 pounds, Richard Dixon was third with five weighing 8.58 pounds and Mike Cox came in fourth with three weighing 7.72 pounds. Tom Tanner drove up from Florida to catch one bass, but it was the right one, weighing 6.13 pounds for big fish.

I guess I used up all my luck the week before at Jackson. I had taken my boat to “Lanier Jim” in Gainesville to run dedicated wires to my front depthfinders to try to get rid of interference from the trolling motor. When I got home that night I noticed my circuit breakers were flipped so I re-set them. Everything seemed to work ok.

My first stop Saturday I put my trolling motor down and nothing happened, it had no power. The wind blew me against a dock and I checked everything I could think of, first re-setting the circuit breakers, since that is a common problem. Nothing helped.

During the day I tried to fish, letting the wind blow me down banks when it was in the right direction and putting down the power poles to hold the boat in one place when it was shallow enough. It was very frustrating.

At 9:00 as I blew toward a tree in the water I cast a jig and pig to it. Just before the boat hit the tree I felt a bite and landed a three-pound largemouth. That was the only good thing that happened all day!

Not long before weigh-in I set my power poles near a dock and cast around it. I felt a thump in a brush pile and brought in half a worm when I set the hook. After putting on a new one I cast under the dock. At the angle I was sitting I could not really see my line.

Slowly pulling my worm, I felt resistance but thought I was over a board on the dock, and I was, but it pulled back. A bass had sucked in my worm and I was trying to pull it over the board. By the time I realized it was a fish and set the hook it was too late, and I missed it.

That was a terrible start to my year in that club. I hope my luck is better at Sinclair today in the Sportsmans Club tournament at Sinclair. At least the weather is supposed to be much better.

Boat Order for Start of Lake Hartwell Classic March 16-18

B.A.S.S. Announces Boat Order for Start of Lake Hartwell Classic March 16-18
from The Fishing Wire

Earlier this week, B.A.S.S. officials held a random drawing at its headquarters to determine the boat order for the 2018 Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell.

The first two spots in the 52-boat field were predetermined with 2017 Elite Series Angler of the Year Brandon Palaniuk occupying the number one position followed by 2017 Classic champion Jordan Lee.

Here’s how the boat order will look at Hartwell for the Classic, set for March 16-18, according to a report published on

After day 1, the boats will leave the dock in reverse order listed here.

Flight 1
1. Brandon Palaniuk
2. Jordan Lee
3. Jason Williamson
4. Kevin VanDam
5. Luke Gritter
6. Mark Davis
7. Brent Ehrler
8. Cliff Pace
9. Bradley Roy
10. Josh Bertrand
11. Jacob Wheeler
12. Matt Lee
13. Caleb Sumrall
14. Bobby Lane
15. Keith Combs
16. Skeet Reese
17. Ott DeFoe
18. David Walker
19. Brandon Lester
20. Mark Daniels
21. Stanley Sypeck
22. Jacob Foutz
23. Mike Iaconelli
24. Edwin Evers
25. Rick Morris
26. Russ Lane

Flight 2
27. Marty Giddens
28. James Elam
29. Steve Kennedy
30. Mike McClelland
31. Hank Cherry
32. Brandon Coulter
33. Jesse Wiggins
34. Seth Feider
35. John Cox
36. Clifford Pirch
37. Carl Svebek
38. Todd Faircloth
39. Randy Howell
40. Jason Christie
41. Micah Frazier
42. Jacob Powroznik
43. John Crews
44. Ryan Butler
45. Dustin Connell
46. Gerald Swindle
47. Jamie Hartman
48. Alton Jones
49. Casey Ashley
50. Aaron Martens
51. Greg Hackney
52. Luke Clausen

Have You Ever Been On A Snipe Hunt?

If you grew up like I did in rural Georgia, you may have been invited to a snipe hunt. You had to go at night and one person, you, got to hold the sack while your “friends” drove the snipe into the sack. Of course, they left you “holding the bag” out in the dark while they went home.

There really are snipe around here. They live in wet area and probe the mud for worms with their long bills. When spooked they make a strange squawk and take off in irregular, darting side to side flight.

When young I was very curious about them and other birds. Like James J. Audubon, I wanted to examine them up close, so I shot them when I could. Over the years I shot everything from field larks and starlings to killdeers. If they were not good to eat, I killed one to examine and was satisfied.

One bird that was very elusive was a brown one that lived in a marshy area on our farm. I would see them every year but could not get very close, and when I did get into range I could not hit them with my trusty .410 when they flew.

I finally killed one. It was brown with a long, thin bill and I found out in my Encyclopedia Britannica, my google back then, that it was a snipe. I discovered they were related to woodcock, hard to shoot as I knew from experience, and good to eat. But that was the only one I ever killed.

Tomorrow is the last day of woodcock season in Georgia. Woodcock are popular upland game birds further north but here they are mostly limited to the north Georgia mountains. Some folks do hunt them in Georgia and they are good to eat. I think woodcock and snipe are considered the same for the season since they are closely related. And you need a shotgun and dog, not a sack, to get them!

Fluorocarbon Line

Fluorocarbon Line for the Cold Flow
By David Rose
from The Fishing Wire

Flurocarbon LIne Steelhead

Photo courtesy of Jon Ray

It had been well over a decade since I’d last set foot in the fast-flowing river very near Colorado’s Continental Divide with fly rod in hand. The change in esthetics surrounding the waterway was extreme.

The alteration in environment most obvious was how the once little town at its headwaters had grown so substantially it was now surrounding its banks several miles further downstream. One good thing was there was more angler access to the river; the bad was the rainbows, browns, cutthroat and brook trout in this flies-only catch-and-release section had all been fooled at one time or another by just about every type of fuzz and feather combination one could imagine.

To say the fish that reside here all winter are weary of every offering that wafts past them is an understatement. Luckily, I consulted with those in the know at the local fly shop and was able to catch a few of the finicky fish because of the tips and tricks they shared.

What I found interesting was there was little reform from years ago when it came to the tiny, down-to-size-22 nymph imitations that were suggested I drift under my strike indicator. The one thing the fly-flinging professionals were adamant about this time around, however, was that fluorocarbon leaders were a must if one were to fool a fish into striking.

And it worked.

The rod I packed in my carry-on was a 4-piece, St. Croix 5-weight Imperial, perfect for the miniscule nymphs I bought at the shop. A couple packets of Seaguar’s Knotless Tapered Leaders in size 7X (thinning down to 2-pound test at its tip) were also purchased. A few of my casts were actually flawless enough to fool a few fish; in reality, more fish than the last time I was here. And I do believe it was the presentation of my flies and the hook-setting abilities of this thin 100% fluorocarbon line that made the difference.

Fluoro facts for flies

Fluorocarbon is now a standard go-to for so many fishing applications, including fly fishing.

“First off, you need to get your fly down into the water column faster in winter,” says Jon Ray, a full-time fly-fishing guide with Hawkins Outfitters near my home waters in Michigan’s Northwest Lower Peninsula. “Casts tend to be shorter this time of year, and the fish are in smaller areas of a river; fluorocarbon tippets allow your fly to sink quicker, as well it will stay in strike zone from the top to the bottom of the drift.”

More fluorine atoms and less hydrogen than monofilament is what makes fluorocarbon pack more mass into the same space. It’s more compressed because the fluorocarbon resins give it close to neutral buoyancy. It’s a great choice for vertical personations, like dangling a fly under a strike indicator.

It also has less stretch due to its denseness, which allows an angler to get good hook sets; especially when using the light-pound-tests lines needed for proper presentations of such minuscule bugs during the winter months.

“And fluorocarbon is thinner than monofilament, which creates less drag in the water helps your fly drift more naturally,” Ray adds. “And if your fly isn’t drifting perfectly with the current, your bug’s not going to get bit. Period.”

Opposites attract

But it’s not just nymphing on ultra-light tippets that take trout during the winter months, especially when targeting the largest fish in a system.

“While big trout will suck up a little bug once in a while, it’s not their meat and potatoes,” states Fly-Fishing Guide Russ Maddin, who’s created some of modern day’s most popular streamers for trout. “Big fish eat little fish, and I’m not just talking small minnows and whatnot, but other younger, 5- to 8-inch trout in the system, as well.”

Maddin’s been using fluorocarbon tippet material for stripping big streamers for years, and says this tactic is no place for light line and finesse, even when these cold-blooded fish seem lethargic within their ice-water realms.

“You’ll have to slow up your stop-and-go retrieve a little compared to when the water’s warm, with longer pauses in-between pulses, but you really don’t need to lighten up your leaders,” Maddin adds.

Twelve-pound-test (1X in Seaguar’s Max Fluorocarbon Tippet Material) is the lightest Maddin may tie on, but overall 14-pound test (1X in Grand Max Tippet Material) is his go to. No matter the test, it’s the condensed make up of fluorocarbon that keeps his streamers in the strike zone, neither rising or falling on the pause.

Timing and safety

Two things rookie fly anglers often overlook when their planning a winter’s fly-fishing excursion is the time of day to hit the river, as well, taking a few extra precautionary steps for one’s safety.

Unlike summer months when dawn and dusk may be the best times for catching, smackdab in the middle of the afternoon is usually best for fly fishing in winter. It’s during this time when the waters will warm to their maximum for the day, and all it takes is a half-degree rise in water temperature to turn inactive fish active. And unlike other times of year, the brighter the sun overhead the better the bite can be.

Even if your legs are strong, it’s not only a good idea to have a wading staff with you, but to use it. One quick jab into the river bed and you’ll be able to catch your balance if, say, a rock overturns under foot. Donning ice cleats with small carbide spikes, like the slipover Ice Creepers from Frabill ice anglers wear, will keep you steady-footed if it’s cold enough that ice starts forming on the rocks, or in areas with algae covering the bottom.

Up your odds

Overall, fly fishing in the heart of winter isn’t all that different than the summer months. Your goal is to imitate nature to a tee with nothing more than feathers and fur that’ve been spun onto a hook.

As I learned from my last trip to the Colorado Rockies, keeping your fly drifting behind a thin, strong, and nearly invisible fluorocarbon leader will up your odds greatly.