Monthly Archives: April 2018

April Lanier Tournament

Last Saturday the Potato Creek Bassmasters had our April tournament at Lanier. Dan Dupree won with 13 pounds and had big fish, Kwong Yu had 11 pounds for second, Lee Hancock was third with ten pounds and Niles Murray placed fourth with nine pounds.

I wanted to go up early, so I made reservation at Van Pugh Campground, the closest one to where we would take off with an open campsite, but about 20 miles away by road. I did not realize until I got there Thursday afternoon the gate stayed locked until 7:00 – 15 minutes after blast-off for the club.

Fortunately, a boat ramp is available in the campground. The first thing I did after launching the boat Thursday morning was to ride to Balus Creek ramp, where the tournament would be held. That left a track in my GPS I could follow in the dark Saturday morning. It took me about 15 minutes to make the trip at 30 miles per hour, about as fast as I would run in the dark, so it was seven to eight miles by water.

Friday, I spent a lot of time looking for bedding bass. The clear water at Lanier makes it easier to see them but even with the good conditions I could not find any. I just could not see them.

I did catch one three-pound spot under a dock on a whacky rigged worm. At a dock back in a creek I skipped a frog under a dock and watched a five to six pound largemouth come up and look at it. Then I saw one just as big right beside it. That excited me even though they did not hit.

Saturday morning the ride up was dark but no problem. I went to two of my favorite points but never got a bite. Then I went to the dock where I had caught the three pounder the day before and landed a spot just under three pounds on a swim bait. At another dock a little later I got another two pounder on the swim bait.

Then I went to the dock with the big fish and spent way too much time trying to find them, but never did. I caught two more keepers and several short fish on the whacky rig before time to quit. I ended up with four weighing just under eight pounds.

The ride back to the campground took a lot longer that afternoon due to the big waves from all the sail boats and off shore yachts that plough Lanier during pretty weather.

When Trash Fish Get Trendy

How Fisheries Managers Respond When Trash Fish Get Trendy

Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2013 National Survey

By Chris Macaluso, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
from The Fishing Wire

Fisheries management can be influenced by the American appetite for (certain kinds of) seafood, which makes it even more important that the system works better for anglers

My brother Joey and I were weird, I guess. When we were kids, we loved to fish for sheepshead, which, at the time, were generally thought to be a “trash” fish and were despised by most Louisiana anglers.

Sheepshead are ugly by any objective standard. They have big, goofy buckteeth, gray and black skin, and a row of foreboding spikes along their dorsal fins. They’re also an absolute pain to clean. Some charter guides I knew when I was in my teens refused to even put them in the ice chest, for fear that they would wind up on the cleaning table along with the better speckled trout and redfish.

But I never agreed with sheepshead getting a bad rap. First of all, they fight like caged, rabid raccoons. And on our summer trips to Grand Isle or fall excursions to Cocodrie, the sheepshead aggressively ate a piece of shrimp or hermit crab on a jig head when the speckled trout wouldn’t cooperate, and they guaranteed that we had some fresh fish to go with our suppers of canned beans, and French bread.

Sure, you had to hack through some thick rib bones and tough scales to get a filet. But crabs are hard to clean, and I don’t know too many folks who consider boiled and steamed blue crabs to be “trash,” just because the meat is difficult to pick out.

Then, about 15 years ago, sheepshead started showing up on restaurant menus under the pseudonym “bay snapper.” Suddenly, a bunch of anglers who would never have kept an ugly, stubborn sheepshead were raving about how tasty their fish-of-the-day lunch special was.

Now, pretty much every restaurant in South Louisiana has sheepshead on the menu or as a fresh-fish special. I guess the cliché about one man’s trash being another man’s treasure applies.

I’m often struck by how frequently recreational and commercial fishermen are pitted against each other over a handful of “popular” fish because they taste good or they fight hard or simply because they are easy to catch. How many fish like sheepshead, once considered less desirable by both recreational and commercial fishermen, are out there? How can fishing for these species lessen the animosity that has been built over fish like red snapper?

I’m also dumbfounded, at times, by the argument that states are not as equipped to manage commercial fisheries as the federal government, especially when states have responded to the increased popularity of sheepshead with adapted management for both recreational and commercial harvest. And still we don’t fight over sheepshead at state commission meetings like we do over red snapper at the federally directed Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council.

State fisheries agencies generally do a good job of conservatively managing commercial and recreational fishing, which is one of the reasons the TRCP and many of its sportfishing partners support the Modern Fish Act—because it would increase the role that states play in federal management and data collection for recreational fishing.

CMac’s special recipe.
Cats, Carp, and Courtbouillon

Like sheepshead, there are other fish thought of as trash, simply by reputation. On a late-March trip to Grand Isle, my fishing buddies got to tie into a handful of gafftopsail catfish, another much-maligned, yet hard-tugging and good-eating saltwater predator. I kept the fish, despite some dirty looks, and I used the filets to make a catfish courtbouillon, a rich tomato-based stew my family ate on Good Friday.

Everyone said it was delicious. They had no idea they were eating trash, I guess.

Gafftops, unlike their cousins the hardhead catfish, aren’t bottom-dwelling scavengers. They strike lures as aggressively as redfish and speckled trout and fight every bit as hard. On a memorable day in late August a few years ago, several five-pound gafftops exploded on topwater plugs in the Grand Isle surf when I was aiming for specks. The surface boiled and my drag screamed as if a redfish or big trout had busted the bait. But when the fight was over, my friends looked in disgust at what was on the end of the line. Similar to the way sheepshead were looked at 30 years ago, some of my friends won’t even put a gafftop in the ice chest for fear of scorn at the cleaning table.

But the list of reformed trash fish is growing each year. Bonito were once only kept for cut bait and chum, but if the meat is taken care of, they are just as tasty as their blackfin tuna relatives. Even the dreaded invasive Asian carp is pretty tasty after being dredged in seasoned corn meal and dropped in hot grease. There are more than enough of them available for those who want to give them a taste.

Making the Most of Our Time on the Water

I’m not suggesting that I would give up on a good trout bite or a school of hungry redfish to chase down gafftops or throw chunks of hermit crabs at sheepshead. But, like many fishermen who have busy home- and work-lives, I like to catch something while I’m out there—I’m not going to turn down the opportunity to hook aggressive-striking, hard-pulling fish and keep a few of them for the grill or the fryer.

And I’m not suggesting that improving the management of popular species like red snapper or cobia is less important because there are other fish out there to catch. My point is that, too often, anglers fall into the trap of getting hung up on catching one fish or another, and it can lead to a less enjoyable time on the water if a particular season is closed or the target species doesn’t cooperate that day. It might be up to us to “dig in the trash” more often.

But as attitudes towards these fish evolve and change, it will be even more important that our system of federal fisheries management does not ignore recreational fishing—because restaurant trends will come and go, but the importance of predictable seasons to local outdoor recreation businesses will not.

Read more conservation news at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership here

Planting A Garden

Did you plant tomatoes of Good Friday as tradition says you should? Are they still alive?

Growing up, we always planted a garden, a big one, supplying our family with most vegetables for the year. Mom canned or froze everything possible from it, so we ate good food year round. And she could cook anything and make it taste very good.

I usually hated working in the garden, wanting to be fishing or running wild in the woods in the spring when we had to plant and during the summer during harvest time. But I surely did like eating the products of our labor.

After my brother and I got married and moved away from home mom and dad continued the big garden and we helped a little when we could be there. Every visit home meant carrying frozen and canned goods back with us to eat until our next trip.

When I bought my house in Pike County with enough land for a garden, I tried to have my own. My lot was nothing but trees, so I cut and cleared about a half-acre of it behind the house. I will never forget dad visiting soon after I got it cleared and tilled, and he commented that it looked like good dirt.

That first spring I planted squash, tomatoes, corn, butterbeans, cucumbers and several other things. I got more squash than I could eat but, as the corn and butterbeans grew, we had a dry early summer and I found my well would not supply enough water to keep then alive.

Watching things I had worked so hard to plant and weed wilt and die was terrible. So I gave up.

After a few years I decided I had to have fresh tomatoes, so I crawled under the house, cut the shower drain and ran a pipe out from under the house to a small patch I had tilled. In it I planted eight tomato plants and four bell pepper plants.

Every time we took a shower the water drained out to the plants and kept them watered. It worked great for several years then the plants started dyeing way too early. I realized I had to move the plot every few years so did that, and it worked until I ran out of places the drain pipe would reach.

A few years ago, I dug a hole at the end of the drain pipe and buried a 55 gallon drum without a bottom or top. I put a sump pump in it so when the shower drains into the can it pumps the water anywhere
I want it around the back yard. That works well and I can move my tiny tomato and pepper garden around without running out of space.

I often wait too late to plant. Growing up we always planted on time and had fresh tomatoes by
July 4th. Procrastination this year could be a good thing. Hopefully sometimes in July this year I will be eating tomato sandwiches from just picked tomatoes. Nothing is better!

Losing Patrick F. McManus

Voices from the River: Losing Patrick F. McManus
By Chris Hunt
from The Fishing Wire

Years ago, after being abruptly transplanted from the high-mountain meadows of Colorado to the hot, sticky pine forest of East Texas, I found solace in the loss of my Rocky Mountain roots in the writings of men like Bob Saile, Ed Dentry and Charlie Meyers.

And I found the spirit to laugh about my predicament—for a Colorado kid, being transported largely against his will to Texas amounts to a premature death sentence—in the words of Patrick F. McManus. There were nights, early in my Texas furlough, that I giggled through tears at the books McManus shared with the world. I read them under the covers, of course, by flashlight until the D-size batteries faded and sleep followed soon after.

Sadly, McManus died Thursday at 84.

His vivid descriptions of fishing and hunting with the characters that influenced his own upbringing in rural northern Idaho inspired me to adapt to my newfound home and make the best of it. While I didn’t have friends named Crazy Eddie, Rancid or Retch, or a sister he called the Troll, I eventually collected enough buddies an annoying little brothers to stir up enough mischief in the Sabine River bottoms to while away sticky summer days in a state my mother would have been horrified to see in person.

Pat McManus was my inspiration. In fact, he may be why I gravitated to journalism after high school and college, and why that journalism took on a serious outdoor-writing bent shortly after that.

I know I’m not alone in my adoration for the words produced by the outdoor humorist. To this day, I occasionally find myself using phrases from his books and back-page columns in Outdoor Life in conversation and giggling all over again. From his books ranging from They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They? to A Fine and Pleasant Misery (My favorite was The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard), he provided a source of outdoor artistry that motivated me and many others to get outside, uncover the mysteries of the outdoors and experience life away from the television. He was, in a sense, the Mark Twain of his generation, an unassuming, gifted writer who found humor behind every tree and under every rock. We should all be so lucky.

I’ve handed his books down to my own kids, but, sadly, their magic seems to have faded a bit in the face of hand-held screens and an ever-running series of Ridiculousness videos that keep young minds sadly captivated and entranced. My daughter read his books voraciously as a youngster. My son never caught the bug.

His death has inspired me yet again—I’ll try once more to gently push his words on Cameron and see if, by chance, he’s ready to let them stick. McManus’ stories are often silly and slapstick, but from his writings about his days spent as a near-vagrant youth following tracks into the woods to his later descriptions of fatherhood and family, he has provided generations of outdoors people with true joy. I hope my son can experience that, too.

Rest in peace, Pat. Thank you for leaving behind so much inspiration. Your words have made my world better, and I know I’m not alone.

Chris Hunt is the national digital director for Trout Media. He lives and works in Idaho Falls.

McManus was one of my favorite outdoor writers. Ronnie

Flint River April Oconee Tournament

On Sunday, April 8, 11 members of the Flint River Bass Club fished our April tournament at Lake Sinclair. We landed 46 keepers weighing about 92 ponds. There were eight five fish limits and one fisherman zeroed.

New club member Bubba Siren won with five weighing 15.10 and had big fish with a 5.35 pound largemouth. Doug Acree was second with five at 14.02 pounds, my five at 10.65 pounds was third and Chuck Croft placed fourth with five at 10.05 pounds.

For me it was a tough day. At my first stop I was excited to see shad spawning in the grass and on a seawall, often a sign bass will be feeding. And I quickly got a hard hit on my spinnerbait, but it was a three-pound hybrid. Within a few minutes I landed two more that size.

My luck got much better when I cast a chatterbait behind a dock. The wind took my line over the post, and as I started reeling it up to the post to try to get it off a nice bass hit. I was able to pull the fish completely out of the water against the post, use my trolling motor to ease over and get it. I could not believe it did not come off.

Then it got tough. I fished several places for the next 90 minutes and caught a couple of small fish, but at 9:10 I cast the chatterbait to some boat house rails, got a good thump and caught my biggest bass, a 3.06 pounder.

It took over two more hours with a few more short fish before A nice two pounder hit my chatterbait in a ditch, the kind of place I expected them to be. For the next two hours I fished places like that without a bite.

At 1:00 I was fishing a seawall with a jig head worm and caught my smallest keeper. That gave me four. I decided to spend my last hour in a small cove I like, but when I got to it there was a boat fishing there so
I went to another cover where I have never caught a fish.

With ten minutes left to fish another two-pounder hit my chatterbait on a seawall, giving me my limit. That I why I never give up and cast right to the last minute in tournaments!

Potato Creek Bassmasters Club Classic

The last two days in March the Potato Creek Bassmasters had our end of the year “Classic” at Lake Martin in Alabama. Sixteen members of the club qualified for this tournament by fishing at least eight club tournaments last year.

We weighed in 152 keeper bass weighing 223 pounds. Almost everyone had a five-fish limit both days. Ryan Edge won with ten weighing 17.58 pounds, Kwong Yu was second with ten at 17.42 pounds, Raymond English placed third with ten weighing 17.16 pounds, my ten at 16.83 pounds was fourth, Tom Tanner was fifth with ten at 16.48 pounds and his 3.76 pounder was big fish.

It was close! As usual, I had one bad day and one good day. I got back from the Top Six at Clarks Hill Tuesday and went to Martin Wednesday for one practice day on Thursday. I went to some of my favorite places that day and caught some decent fish on a spinnerbait so I decided to fish that way Friday.

Friday morning started out frustrating. Everything I did seemed wrong, with many backlashes and no bites in the first two places I tried. I had heard the fish were biting pretty good until about 9:00 AM but very poorly after that, and I and not gotten a bite at 9:00!

I started dragging a worm around, not the best way to catch quality fish most of the time, way earlier than I wanted to, and did manage to catch six small keepers and several throw-backs. But at weigh-in my five weighed less than six pounds and I was not even in the top half of the club that day.

That night I decided to go for broke since this tournament is a one-shot deal. Most tournaments at Martin are won in Kowaliga Creek, far from where we start at Wind Creek, and I hate to make that long run. But I did, getting lost one time around some islands and thinking I was lost another time in the dim light.

I finally made it to a rocky point where I have caught some quality spotted bass at first light but caught only two small fish. At 8:30 I headed to another point but slowed down to idle between two islands. I was not sure how deep it was and did not want to run aground. I am glad I slowed down.

As I idled through the gap that turned out to be 18 feet deep I saw some fish on the bottom on my depthfinder. They were in a position that looked like they might be feeding, and wind blowing through the gap had created a slight current, always a good thing. There were also some brush piles and rocks in the gap.

As soon as I dropped a swim bait to the bottom a two-pound spot hit it. I stayed in that gap for over four hours, catching close to 20 keeper spots between two and 2.68 pounds. It was fun and they hit swimbaits, jig head worms, a jig and pig and a Carolina rigged worm. They were still biting when I left at 1:00 to try to find a kicker fish the last hour we fished.

I really messed up at that point. At some brush piles known for producing big fish I got a bite on my Carolina rig but when I set the hook I broke my line. I was in too big a hurry and had not checked my line for nicks in it. I have no idea how big the fish was and I will never know.

Lesson learned, again. Slow down and check your line!

2019 Bassmaster Classic On The Tennessee River in Knoxville

April 11, 2018

Knoxville To Host 2019 Bassmaster Classic On The Tennessee River

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — For the first time in its 49-year history, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will be held on the Tennessee River out of Knoxville, it was announced today by B.A.S.S. and the host organization, Visit Knoxville.

The prestigious championship bass tournament — widely known as the “Super Bowl of Bass Fishing” — will be held March 15-17 in downtown Knoxville and on The University of Tennessee at Knoxville campus.

“Knoxville meets and exceeds all the requirements we have for the Bassmaster Classic — great fishing on the Tennessee River, first-class facilities to accommodate crowds of fishing fans, a vibrant city with plenty to see and do, and a corps of state and local tourism professionals who will ensure its success,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin.

“Bass fishing is hugely popular in this part of the country,” he added. “In fact, 10 of our 109 Bassmaster Elite Series pros are from the Volunteer State, and most live in east Tennessee. This is going to be a very exciting Classic.”

“Hosting the 2019 Bassmaster Classic is an incredible privilege for the Visit Knoxville Sports Commission. This has been a total team effort over the past two years to land this highly respected event. We look forward to welcoming the anglers and their families, along with all of the loyal Bassmaster fans from around the country to our great city,” said Visit Knoxville Sports Commission Senior Director Chad Culver.

“Knoxville is honored to welcome the Bassmaster Classic to Knoxville in 2019. We hosted the Bassmaster Elite in 2017 [held on nearby Cherokee Lake], which was a great success. We anticipate the 2019 Classic to really showcase the partnership between B.A.S.S., our own Visit Knoxville Sports Commission, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, and both Knox County and the City of Knoxville. The Tennessee River is the perfect setting for this competition, and anglers and spectators alike will enjoy the beauty that surrounds our city,” said Visit Knoxville President Kim Bumpas.

The Bassmaster Classic pits 50 of the world’s best bass anglers against one another for shares of the $1 million purse, including $300,000 for the winner. Jordan Lee of Grant, Ala., a 26-year-old former college fishing champion, is the current defending Classic Champion after becoming the youngest ever — and one of only three in history — to win back-to-back titles.

Lee is guaranteed the right to defend his title. Other anglers will spend the rest of this season trying to qualify from several B.A.S.S. circuits, including the prestigious Bassmaster Elite Series.

Tournament waters include Fort Loudoun and Tellico lakes, twin reservoirs connected by a canal and comprising about 30,000 acres. Competitors can fish either lake and anywhere along the Tennessee River upstream from Fort Loudoun Dam to the Interstate 40 bridge on the Holston River and the Highway 168 bridge on the French Broad River.

B.A.S.S. Nation Championship tournaments for top-ranked amateur club fishermen were held on the Tennessee River at Knoxville in 1998 and 2000, but B.A.S.S. has never held a professional bass tournament on that section of the Tennessee River.

“Anglers can expect to catch good numbers of bass in Fort Loudoun and have the potential of catching some above-average smallmouth,” said Bart Carter, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) Region 4 fisheries manager. “Largemouth will be the go-to fish for both reservoirs.”

Since 2015, TWRA has been stocking those waters with Florida-strain largemouth, which have the potential to grow much larger than the native “northern” largemouth, but the agency pointed out that it’s probably too early for those bass to reach trophy size.

Still, 7-plus-pound bass are not uncommon in early spring, and a one-day tournament held on Fort Loudoun a year ago was won with a 27 1/2-pound limit of five bass, which is considered a game-changing catch in any fishery.

The Classic is a catch-and-release event, with bass being returned to the fishery under the supervision of the TWRA. The 2018 Classic saw a 99.7 percent survival rate among the bass weighed in.

Daily takeoffs will be from Volunteer Landing in downtown Knoxville each competition day, and weigh-ins will take place in the Thompson-Boling Arena on the University of Tennessee campus — a 20,000-seat facility that is fifth largest in the country.

The fan-favorite Bassmaster Classic Outdoor Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will be held Friday through Sunday, March 15-17, in the Knoxville Convention Center and the adjacent World’s Fair Exhibition Hall, which is being newly renovated this spring.

For the past decade, combined attendance at Classic venues has averaged more than 100,000 per year, and the event typically generates about $25 million in economic impact.

All activities and venues are free and open to the public. For more information, visit

The Value of Fishing in North Dakota

The Value of Fishing

(Today’s feature, from Greg Power of the North Dakota Game & Fish Commission, is written for anglers in his home state, but many of the thoughts he offers could apply to many states nationwide in terms of the value of our fisheries.)
from The Fishing Wire

Have you ever wondered why the diamond on a ring may cost $10,000 or more, yet it has no material utility other than to shine? Or why a teaspoon of salty fish eggs may run $100, even if the majority of people would prefer nothing more than just the cracker on which the eggs are served?

Economists use various terms for these peculiarities, but in the end it frequently comes down to societal values. These values are often determined by demand and markets based on consumption and desire. Value is a broad term that is inherently difficult to fully understand, but is driven by a balance of human wants and needs.

Readers of North Dakota OUTDOORS are likely outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy fishing and hunting. If you pick apart why we participate in these recreational activities, the word “value” will surface. But due to history, backgrounds, income and so on, we “value” our resources differently.

For example, while some people are willing to pay a lot of money for a North Dakota bighorn sheep auction license, many others are not willing to hunt prairie dogs even though no license is needed.

After a long winter of snow and cold, the value of fishing in spring for northern pike that have moved into shallow water, some anglers would argue, is high.
In simple dollars and cents, tracking value is doable as defined metrics that are often used. According to a 2012 North Dakota State University economic study, on average, resident anglers spent $178 per day of fishing. Cumulatively, fishing in North Dakota generates considerable money, as the annual gross business volume of fishing totals $885 million. That’s a lot of money by any standard, and it is obvious that a high percentage of North Dakotans participate in fishing and spend a lot of money doing it.

Interestingly, this same study also assessed how much anglers value fishing. Survey respondents were asked to place a monetary value on a single day spent fishing. According to the study, these values do not imply spending levels, but rather indicated a measure of the importance for the participant of time spent fishing in the state.

The average North Dakota angler valued a day of fishing in our state at $178. Of real interest was that these were independent determinations, one asking how much they did spend fishing, the other asking how much they valued fishing (in dollars), and both groups came up with the same sum of $178 per day.

The value of fishing is far more than just about money. Societal shifts over time often change the significance of value. For example, there was time in human development where availability of fresh water was not an issue for inhabitants, but they did expend a lot of time procuring salt. Fast forward to today, and we often witness on many levels shortages of fresh water, but seldom give any thought to how to find salt.

Changes over time have also influenced angler interests and how individuals value fishing. If you go back 35 years, the North American (including Lake Sakakawea, North Dakotas’ largest walleye fishery) average harvest rate for walleye (hours fished per walleye harvested) was 8.5. Today, on average, it takes less than 3 hours to harvest a North Dakota walleye. (Incidentally, the average angler will harvest 25 walleyes over the course of the year with fillets valued at nearly $500).

If fishing/catching would revert to one walleye every 8.5 hours of fishing, its highly likely many anglers would no longer fish. Today’s anglers still value fishing, but it needs to include “catching” far more frequently than what was the norm a generation or two ago.

Another change in the value system is the desire from some anglers to conserve large fish (especially walleye, and to a lesser degree, northern pike). It’s hard to argue that walleye fishing on North Dakota’s Big Three – Lake Sakakawea, Devils Lake and Lake Oahe/Missouri River – isn’t better today than it was decades ago. And despite respectable walleye harvest during that time, our fishing regulations have remained the same. Yet, the opinion of some anglers to conserve large walleye has changed.

Often nowadays when anglers legally harvest a number of large walleye and take them to a fish cleaning station, they are met with disapproval by fellow anglers. If the same event would have occurred 20-30 years ago, they would have been met with high-fives and backslaps. Even without good supporting biological rational, it’s obvious that some people value conserving large fish today more than yesteryear.

The evolving thought process of anglers has also shifted in recent years in terms of wanting to protect the intrinsic value of fish. When it comes to game fish, this has been most apparent with northern pike. Many anglers enjoy catching pike, but lose interest when handling the fish.

The value of fishing, be it from shore, in a boat, on waters large and small in North Dakota, is far more than just about money.
Unfortunately, there is a small minority in the fishing community who consider all species other than walleye as trash fish, pike included. These individuals will even catch, keep and dispose of these pike in the weeds, cattails and elsewhere. This wanton waste of a valuable resource is looked upon poorly by a growing number of the angling public and these unwanted actions surely devalue the significance of fishing.

To that end, anglers should treat fish, whether kept or released, with care. The Game and Fish Department has some information resources on proper fish handling techniques on its website that all anglers should review. The worth of a walleye, pike, bass or other species is more than simple table fare, and all should be treated with respect.

Some argue that simply fishing in North Dakota, if not undervalued, is often underappreciated. Considering the bargain cost of a fishing license ($16 for an annual individual license), year-round angling opportunities and fewer fishing regulations than most states, fishing in North Dakota is truly a bargain.

Again, the value of fishing to the North Dakota angler varies dramatically, depending on the perspective of the 160,000 residents who fish.

Many anglers define the value of fishing by the number of hours or days on the water, while others value targeting big fish, or filling the livewell. Then there are those who simply value the smile on a kid’s face when the bobber dips below the surface.

No matter the motivation, most anglers generally value what North Dakota has to offer when it comes to fishing.

Spalding County Proposes Gun Restrictions

Want to buy your kids or grandkids a BB gun, take them out in your back yard and teach them gun safety and shooting skills? Not in Spalding County unless you live in an AR-1 Zone if a proposed county ordinance passes. You could not even shoot a bow of any kind in your own yard. Spalding County proposes gun restrictions on law abiding citizens.

The proposed ordinance as originally written, Section 11-1005, has many restrictions on shooing a gun in the county. You probably could not hunt on your own property if you have five acres or less, due to the distances shooting a gun is restricted from property lines. At least it exempts use of a gun for self-defense on your property.

The hearing last Monday night did not get much attention until the last minute, and the ordinance was tabled until the first meeting in May, on May 7th. Apparently, some changes have been made to the original ordinance that restricts shooting firearms within 300 feet of a residence and 150 feet of a property line, but I have not seen the changes in writing.

I am fortunate that my property in Spalding County is large enough that only one of my deer stands is near a property line, and that property is thickly wooded and grown over, with no buildings on it.

Supposedly this ordinance is trying to address “inconsiderate neighbors.” There are already laws that address it. How about enforcing them rather than creating another law to harass neighbors that are not inconsiderate.

In other news trying to harass gun owners and businesses. Citi Bank will not longer allow its customers to do any business related to guns. I will be mailing them my Citicard since I might be tempted to buy a gun or ammo with it.

Good Practice, Frustrating Tournament at Clarks Hill Top Six

Catching fish like these in practice at the Clarks Hill Top Six gave me hope!

First chatterbait fish

Six pounder in practice at Clarks Hill

A week ago last Wednesday I went to my place at Raysville Boat Club on Clarks Hill to practice for the Top Six tournament. I have no TV there and it was wonderful to escape the insanity of the world for six days. No talking heads babbling about how they have to take my guns to protect kids, no whining about the actions of a duly elected president, no stupidity about how words upset some people, so they need to be banned.

The weather was not great for fishing. It was so cold and windy Thursday morning I did not go out until noon. While idling around looking at brush piles and trying to find schools of bait fish, I kept looking at the bank. The lake had come up about three feet and the shallows were full of dead weeds.

At one shallow cove that was protected from the wind I decided to try fishing it. After just a few casts with a Chatterbait I hoked and landed a three-pound largemouth. I was surprised it was in two feet of water with the bright sun and hoped it was not a fluke I caught it.

After fishing a couple more places like that without a bite I was afraid it was, but then I pitched a jig head worm to a tree top in a couple of feet of water back in a pocket. I thought I had a bite and when I tightened up my line in the wind I realized it was headed for deep water.

When I set the hook my heart almost stopped when a big bass took off then jumped clear of the water. After two more jumps I managed to land a bass that weighed six and one quarter pounds on my scales. That made me feel pretty good there were some quality bass in shallow water, although the temperature was only 56 degrees.

The first bass looked like a male, without the fat belly of a female this time of year. The big one was very fat, and her tail was bloody and raw, like she was fanning a bed. Many bass tried to bed a few weeks ago when the weather had been unusually warm so many days, but the cold weather made them back off. I tried a few more places without a bite before heading in.

Friday morning was even colder and the wind blowing even more, but I got up and on the water as the sun came up. After trying two shallow coves with weeds I caught a bass a little over three pounds on the Chatterbait, strengthening my faith in that pattern. I fished some points and brush piles where the bass should be holding this time of year, waiting to go in and spawn, but got no more bites before giving up and heading to a warm place to take a nap about noon.

Saturday was better, with little wind and much warmer. I fished several places where I had caught bass in the past under these conditions and hooked and lost one over four pounds and several smaller bass on the Chatterbait. I also lost one over three pounds on a crankbait and caught several on other baits. That make me think the bass were responding and moving into shallow water.

Sunday morning was colder, and I hooked only two bass in the weeds, but at least there were some still in them. When I headed in to get ready to go draw for partners I thought I could run a lot of shallow backouts with the Chatterbait, catch a quality bass out of a few and have a good limit after eight hours of fishing.

At the meeting I was told I would have an observer fishing with me Monday morning since there was an uneven number of boaters and no boaters. But the next morning, after meeting him and getting his stuff in my boat and lining up to launch, the tournament director called me. Another no boater had dropped out and they wanted me to leave my boat in the parking lot and go out as a no boater.

After a lot of confusion and me telling them I
would just go home and not fish, they finally made arrangements for the extra boater in the club that had a no boater back out at the last minute swap and take his place, I was the last boat to go out, about ten minutes behind everyone else. We made a 30-minute run in very rough water to the place I had caught the six pounder, but the wind was blowing right into it and it was almost unfishable.

After three hours of not getting a bite trying the Chatterbait pattern I gave up and started fishing just to try to catch a keeper and landed four. With an hour left to fish I decided to try the Chatterbait one more place and hooked and lost a bass that looked like it weighed close to four pounds. In the very next pocket I landed a bass over 3.5 pounds.

At weigh-in my five weighed 7.67 pounds and one of them was as heavy as the other four put together. The next day we again tried the Chatterbait pattern and my partner and I caught one each doing that, and each had four more keepers. The bass again didn’t hit the Chatterbait until there was only an hour left to fish.

My five the second day weighed 8.64 and my biggest fish was about half of that weight. I ended up with 16.31 pounds and 41st place out of 130 fishermen, not the finish I had hope for!