Monthly Archives: March 2019

Lake Guntersville Fishing Report from Captain Mike Gerry

Lake Guntersville Fishing Report

Check out these weekly updated reports for selected lakes in Georgia and Alabama Lakes Fishing Report. If any guides or fishermen do weekly reports and would like them published on my site please contact me: ronnie@fishing-about.com

Captain Mike with nice Guntersville bass

Captain Mike with nice Guntersville bass

Fishing Report, Lake Guntersville 3/16/19

This past week took a hit on productivity as we seemed to be in a constant state of change
and getting to where it appeared the fish moved was a tough move. Water current on the
main river was so strong that working into the current pull was nearly impossible and fishing
with it was too fast to create a bite. Consequently, for me we struggled this past week as
bites were at a premium.

We tried to stick to our pattern of rattle baits SPRO Aruka shad, Picasso shock Blades, SPRO
square bills and Tight-Line swim jigs rigged with Missile bait swim baits. The biggest thing we
tried to do was cover water all week as finding groups of fish was spotty at best and unless
you stayed on your trolling motor it was tough. We were forced to stay is less than 6 ft. of
water most of the week because of the current.

Come fish with me I have guides and days available to fish with you, no one will treat you
better or work harder to see you have a great time on the water. We fish with great sponsor
products, Lowrance Electronics, Ranger Boats, Boat Logix Mounts, T&H Marine products,
Duckett Fishing, Vicious Fishing, Navionics mapping and more!

Email: bassguide@comcast.net
Phone: 256 759 2270
Captain Mike Gerry

High Falls Lake

Every time I go to High Falls Lake, I am reminded of what a great fishing spot we have close to Griffin. The lake is very quiet since motors are limited to 10 horse power and there are no skiers, skidoos or run-abouts there. And the fishing is excellent.

Jim Berry and I went there last week to try to find some bedding bream. We were disappointed, the few beds we found had only small bream on them. We caught a good many fish, but most were not at big as what we were looking for.

On Friday I talked with Keith Weaver, the state fisheries biologist that keeps up with High Falls. He told me this was a strange bedding year for all species of fish because of the unstable weather. Bream usually bed on the full moon but the cool mornings last week may have delayed them some. They might be in full bed right now.

Keith said High Falls has an excellent population of bluegill and you should be able to catch a lot of fish in the half-pound range. That is a good size for lake fish. I have been spoiled catching 12 to 14 ounce bream in my pond, but I feed them every day. Lake fish don’t have it that easy.

There are a good many shellcracker in High Falls, too. Keith says they are probably done bedding by now and you could catch them along the old creek channels in 5 or 6 feet of water, especially in Watkins Bottom. He also told me the bigger bream would probably come from the deeper water nearer the dam and up in Buck Creek.

Jim and I met Tommy Lance at the boat ramp as we loaded my bass boat back on the trailer. He said he did not know you could put a big boat in the lake, but we told him it was ok if you did not crank the big engine and used only the trolling motor. If you put a boat in with a motor over 10 horse power and crank it, you can just about bet a game warden will be waiting on you with his ticket book before you leave.

Tommy said he caught a lot of big bream up the river near the area called the Duck Pond, and in Buck Creek. He said those were good bedding areas. All this information will be used in a June Georgia Outdoor News article I am working on.

Bream should be bedding now at High Falls. Grab a bucket of crickets, a tub of worms and your light fishing stuff and head to High Falls to catch some fine eating, hard pulling bream.

Weather I Hate in March

This time of year produces weather that I hate. For most of my life lightning and tornados have terrified me and both are way too common in March.

When I was 12 years old a couple of us boys “camped out” on our big screened in porch. During the night a big thunderstorm hit and produced constant, bright flashes. Although I was completely safe, it scared me badly. Since that night my heart beats faster and I want to find a safe place in storms.

Last Friday I drove to Anderson, South Carolina to meet a Clemson Bass Team fisherman on Saturday to do an article on Hartwell. Sunday, I left and drove I-85 to Montgomery to meet an Auburn Bass Team fisherman to do article on the Alabama River on Monday.

Passing through Atlanta around noon I hit rain. It was not bad and did not slow me down much. But it got worse the further I went. The rain was so bad in places it was hard to see, and many drivers stupidly drove less than 30 miles per hour with their emergency flashers on, even in the far-left lane. Others pulled to the side of the road trying to wait for better weather.

About 20 miles from Montgomery, just after passing Talledega, brake lights ahead warned me traffic was stopped. All lanes came to a complete stop. Suddenly, my cell phone screeched with a weather alert. When it looked it was a tornado warning.

The rain was pouring, and the wind started rocking the truck. My concentration went to the ditches on both sides of the highway. I was looking for the safest place to hide.

Traffic started crawling along, and I gradually got to the wreck blocking the left lane. Several law enforcement vehicles with blue lights flashing sat in that lane. As I went around it, I wondered if a faster moving car had come up on one barely moving in the left lane. More that two cars were involved.

Although the wind and rain continued, I made it to Montgomery without any other problems. The next morning, I saw the news about the tornado that killed so many people less than 20 miles from where I had been sitting on the interstate.

My heart still beats fast when I remember the wind and how close I was to the death and destruction.

The fishing trips were not very successful. It was a pretty day on Hartwell, but there was a big high school tournament with about 200 boats in it that Saturday. They were everywhere, fishing places we wanted to put on the map for the article. We saw a couple of them catch bass while we were near them.

We fished a couple of places and caught some small spotted bass, but that was it. I was impressed the college fisherman would not get close to them. He was polite and courteous, which is unfortunately rare for many younger fishermen.

I was warned the Alabama River was running high and muddy, and fishing would be tough. But it was worse than expected. The water was eight feet high and the current so strong the boat at idle speed pointing upstream would actually go backwards downstream.

We tried to fish a couple of places but if the largemouth were shallow they were so far back in the woods we could not get a bait to them. And on the main river the spotted bass were probably hunkered down deep behind a break in the current and our baits swept by over them. Even with a heavy jig, the current swept it away too fast.

The wind and cold made it miserable to be on the water, too. We did not stay out long.

The warm weather we had in February worried me. If it warms up fast, it seems we have violent weather in March. That has been the pattern during my life. This weekend is supposed to be very warm, but thunderstorms are predicted. The Flint River Bass Club is on Sinclair Sunday and I expect to spend at least part of my day hiding under bridges and docks.

This year reminds me of 1975. It was the first spring after I bought my first bass boat and the last two weeks of February that year were very warm. I had ordered two plugs, Deep Wee Rs, that had just been introduced. Linda and I went to Clarks Hill the last weekend in February.

In two days, we landed 78 bass, including one over six pounds and another just under five pounds, on those two plugs. We found them feeding on three points near our place at Raysville Boat Club. On one of them, a hard clay point, Linda caught most of the fish on her brown crawfish plug.

On another, my chartreuse plug caught most of the fish. It was covered in white gravel and I think shad were the main food the bass were eating. On the third, a combination of rocks and clay, we caught about the same numbers.

Catching all those fish was fun. It got to the point we could call our bites. If we cast across the point at the right angle, as soon as the plug bumped the bottom we would get a bite. We would say “There’s the bottom, and there’s the fish,” each time we made the right cast.

Fish were constantly reloading those points that weekend. We would go to one, catch four or five then go to the next one and catch four or five. We rotated through them constantly all day both days.

I have caught a few fish on those points over the years but never those kinds of numbers again. Maybe someday.

Spring White Bass Fishing in Central Texas

Spring White Bass Fishing in Central Texas
Places To Go
from the Fishing Wire

Some of the best white bass fishing in the spring can be done from the bank and while wading in the upper reaches of tributaries. County road maps available from the Texas Department of Transportation, or “The Roads of Texas” (Shearer Publishing, Fredericksburg, Texas (800)458-3808) are invaluable for locating some of the access points described. Always get permission from the landowner if you cross private land to enter a river or stream. Topographical reservoir maps are often available from controlling authorities or at retail fishing stores. White bass in Texas are currently managed with a statewide 10-inch minimum length and 25-fish daily bag limit.

Canyon Lake
Canyon Lake, an 8,308-acre reservoir located just north of San Antonio, has a strong spring white bass run in the Guadalupe River above the reservoir. Rebecca Creek boat ramp is located in the river, and anglers with small boats can easily access the area without crossing open water. Off State Highway (SH) 306 (past the lake) turn south on Eagle Rock Drive which becomes Tanglewood Trail. Go 2.3 miles, and take the first road on the right past “Chapel in the Cove”. Rebecca Creek boat ramp is at the end of this road. Most anglers head upstream to an area called “the rapids” but other areas can be good and less crowded. Look for high spots in the river channel that concentrate fish as they move upstream. The area around Cranes Mill Park is legendary in the winter and early spring as white bass school up, staged for the spawning run up the river. In late spring check the mouth of major creeks. Main lake fishing can also be quite good. The island near Comal Park and humps near the dam are good during the summer. There are many good boat ramps available. For those without a boat, a fishing pier at Crane’s Mill Park is a good option. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (830)964-3341 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Lake Georgetown
Lake Georgetown is a 1,297-acre impoundment of the San Gabriel River located just west of Georgetown. White bass fishing in the spring can be excellent if water conditions are right at Tejas Camp, which is located on County Road (CR) 258 between Farm to Market (FM) 305 and SH 183. In addition, anglers can access the entire southern and most of the northern shoreline of Lake Georgetown from Tejas Camp via marked trails. Three public boat ramps are available on the main lake as well. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (512)863-3016 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Granger Lake
Granger Lake is a 4,009-acre impoundment of the San Gabriel River located just east of Granger. A good place to access the upper river for spawning white bass in the spring is Parking Lot 7. From SH 95, go east about 1.5 miles on county road 347 until it T’s, then turn right. No ramp is provided, but small portable boats can be launched. Shore anglers can also access the river at a pull-off on county road 347 about ¾ mile east of SH 95. Be careful, because the bank is steep. Willis Creek is another option for anglers and can be accessed at two locations. Head east on FM 971 from SH 95 at the town of Granger. Take CR 348 south, to Parking Lot 4, which is by the bridge over Willis Creek. The second location is Willis Creek Park, which provides full-service camping, shore angling, and a boat ramp year-round. Take CR 346 east from SH 95 at the sign for the park and follow the signs. Four other public boat ramps are available on the main lake. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (512)859-2668 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Lake Limestone
Lake Limestone, located 50 miles east of Waco between SH 164 and SH 7, is a 13,860-acre impoundment of the Navasota River. It provides cooling water for the Houston Power and Light generating plant. In addition to opportunities for schooling white bass throughout most of the year, white bass migrating up the Navasota River to spawn are especially vulnerable in the spring. There are four public boat ramps on the main lake. For more information, contact the Brazos River Authority at (903)529-2141 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (254)666-5190.

Lake Lyndon B. Johnson
Lake LBJ, located near the town of Granite Shoals, is a 6,449-acre impoundment of the Llano and Colorado Rivers. Both rivers can be accessed from two fee boat ramps in the city of Kingsland. Riverbend Marine and Storage ramp is accessed via Harris Loop, directly across from the Llanorado Lodge just west of the CR 1431 bridge crossing. The Kingsland Lions Club also maintains a ramp. Take Euel Moore Drive off of CR 1431 (there is a sign advertising the ramp at the turn-off). Go about ½ mile and take a left on Williams street. This road ends at the ramp. The Llano River directly above Kingsland is popular with fly anglers targeting white bass. For more information, contact the Lower Colorado River Authority at (800)776-5272 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Lake Somerville
Lake Somerville is an 11,456-acre impoundment of Yegua Creek located about 25 miles southwest of Bryan/College Station. It provides outstanding white and hybrid striped bass action, particularly in the spring. Beginning in early to mid-February, both species migrate up reservoir tributaries, primarily Yegua Creek. The lower reaches of Yegua Creek can be accessed by boat from the main lake, but two public areas provide access for the shore angler. Newman Bottom is reached from SH 21 at Dime Box by taking FM 141 south. Turn left on FM 1697, then left on CR 125 to CR 140. Follow the signs on CR 140 to a self-pay, day use only, parking area. Irvin Bridge can be accessed by following the same directions to get on FM 1697, and then turn left on CR 124 to a primitive parking area on Yegua Creek. During the summer months, numerous “humps” and main-lake structure provide hot-spots for white and hybrid striped bass anglers. For those limited to fishing from shore, Welch Park on the main lake provides good opportunities for bank and wade fishing. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (979)596-1622 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (979)822-5067.

Lake Travis
Lake Travis is an 18,622-acre impoundment of the Colorado and Pedernales Rivers located just west of Austin. Traditionally, strong white bass runs have occurred on the Pedernales River. Travis County Milton Reimer’s Park provides bank, boat, and wade fishing opportunities to the public. The park is located on Hamilton Pool Road (CR 3238), about 11.5 miles west of the intersection of Hamilton Pool road and SH 71 and 1.3 miles east of the low-water bridge over the Pedernales River. Anglers should contact Travis County Parks for more information on this park (512-854-7275). The area near Pace Bend Park, where the Pedernales River enters the lake, is always a good bet for early season deep water jigging spoon fishing. The area upstream from The Narrows boat ramp, located on the upper reaches of the reservoir, as well as the area directly below the Lake Marble Falls dam can be very good during the spring, if there is adequate water. This area should be boated with caution especially if the reservoir is below normal pool. The Narrows boat ramp is located west of Austin, near the town of Spicewood on County Road 411. Some of the bigger creeks in the lake also have good white bass fishing. These include Sandy, Cypress and Cow creeks. The main body of Lake Travis is good during the winter for fishing lighted boat docks. At least nine public boat ramps provide access on the main lake. For more information, contact the Lower Colorado River Authority at (800)776-5272 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

Lake Waco
Lake Waco is a 7,173-acre impoundment of the Bosque River located in the city of Waco. White bass migrate up the North, South, and Middle Bosque Rivers in the spring, resulting in dense concentrations and excellent opportunities for anglers. Six boat ramps provide access on the main lake. For more information, contact the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers at (254)756-5359, or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (254)666-5190.

Lake Whitney
Lake Whitney is a 22,180-acre impoundment of the Brazos River located approximately midway between the cities of Fort Worth and Waco. White bass run up the Brazos and Nolan rivers, with best angler catches below sand and gravel bars and along sandy shorelines. Sixteen public ramps provide access on the main lake. A popular spot for white bass anglers is Kimbell Bend Park, which has a 2-lane boat ramp and is located just off of SH 174. For more information, contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at (254)694-3189 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (254) 666-5190.

Lake Buchanan

Lake Buchanan is a 22,211 acre reservoir located in Burnet and Llano Counties near the town of Burnet. It is the uppermost reservoir in the Highland Lakes Chain and has excellent white bass and striped bass populations. The Colorado River above the lake has one of the strongest white bass runs in Central Texas. For wade or bank fishing Colorado Bend State Park, near the town of Bend, is a great place to try your luck when water conditions are right. This portion of the Colorado River is popular with fly anglers. Bend is located about 20 miles out of Lampasas on SH 580. Call the park (325-628-3240) to check on conditions before going. Several private fishing camps in the Bend area also have bank access. Signs in the town of Bend will direct you to the camps. The area from Silver Creek (also called Beaver Creek) to the town of Tow is an excellent choice from winter to late spring. Buchanan has lots of main lake structure to try during the summer months. Public and private boat ramps are located on the lake. For more information, contact the Lower Colorado River Authority at (800)776-5272 or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512)353-0072.

The authors wish to thank Texas Parks and Wildlife Inland Fisheries employees Floyd Teat and Mark Webb for contributing to this report.

Bald Eagles

When you see a bald eagle soaring overhead, floating on the air like it is weightless, you can see why it is a symbol of our nation. The bald eagle is an impressive bird, looking strong and in charge of everything in its world. The dark brown body and stark white head contrast vividly against the sky that holds it.

I will never forget the first time I saw a bald eagle. I was fishing at Lake Oconee and followed it for about 15 minutes as it soared over Double Branches. Several other boats stopped and also idled along, watching it as it hunted for fish in the lake.

While I was growing up there were no bald eagles in the east Georgia area around McDuffie County. I spotted a few like the one at Oconee while fishing area lakes in the late 1980s and they have gotten more numerous since then.

During the 1970s there were no active bald eagle nests in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. They have made a gradual comeback since 1979 when the DNR started “hacking” or releasing young captive birds on the coastal islands of Georgia. They have spread to the extent that last year nests were found in 35 different counties in the state.

During the 2003/04 nesting season the DNR found a total of 84 occupied eagle territories across Georgia and there were 67 successful nests in them. Those nests produced a total of 104 young eagles. That is an increase of 4 successful nests and 7 more young eagles than the year before.

Bald eagles are some of our biggest birds, reaching a huge size. They can be 40 inches tall and have a wingspread of 7.5 feet. They probably mate for life and produce only one or two young each year.

Eagle nests are amazing. They are usually built in tall dead trees on or near the water and eagles will use them year after year. Some eagle nests are huge, getting up to 5 feet wide, 12 feet tall and weigh up to 1000 pounds. They are made out of sticks and really stand out in a tree out on the lake.

Although eagles will eat waterfowl and carrion, their main food is fish they catch out of lakes, rivers and the ocean. It is amazing to watch one soar high about the water and suddenly swoop down with talons outstretched, plucking a fish out of the surface of the water. It is surprising how big a fish the eagle can grab and fly away with, heading to a perch to eat it at its leisure.

The most eagles I have ever seen at one time as on a trip to Pamlico Sound on the coast of North Carolina. We went into a big swampy area off a river and there were a lot of dead trees standing in it. Almost every tree had a eagle nest in it. There were probably 20 nests with pairs of eagles flying around, catching fish and taking them to their young.

Ospreys are often mistaken for eagles. They live in the same areas, build similar nests and fish for food. Ospreys are smaller than eagles and are lighter in color. They breasts are speckle white and brown, unlike the dark brown breast of eagles. They are more common that eagles and you are more likely to see them on area lakes. If you are looking at a big bird from below it, and it has a light colored breast, it is an osprey, not an eagle.

Eagles face a new threat. Last year several dead eagles were found around Clark’s Hill lake and it was determined they died from Avian Vacuolar Myelinopathy(AVM), a disease that attacks the nervous system of eagles and coots. Coots that are infected are sometimes eaten by eagles and they seem to get the disease from them. Not much is known about AVM and there is nothing that can be done about it at this time.

Eagles were sacred birds to Native Americans and there are a lot of myths and tall tales about eagles from our history. I hope their populations continue to grow and everyone has a chance to stand in awe as a bald eagle soars by.

Excise Tax on Tackle

Excise Tax on Tackle Helps Support America’s Fisheries
Most people don’t realize that when they buy fishing gear, they are directly helping the fish they love to catch.

By Joe Overlock, Fisheries Management Supervisor, Maine DIFW
from the Fishing Wire

Most people don’t realize that when they buy fishing gear, they are directly helping the fish they love to catch. It is all thanks to a law passed in 1950 called the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act (named after the congressmen who spearheaded the effort). This law created an excise tax on fishing tackle, equipment, boat fuel, and other items. Most consumers aren’t even aware that this tax exists because it is paid by the manufacturer. Every time eligible equipment is sold, the tax is applied. Federal agencies collect the tax and direct it to a special fund that is distributed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. A requirement of the DJ Act essentially says that for a state to receive funds, all money generated from the sale of licenses must only be used to support the functions of that agency and cannot be used for other purposes. Because Maine’s license revenues are constitutionally protected, Maine is eligible to receive this funding.

This agency partnership between MDIFW and the USFWS is a huge win for Maine’s inland fish populations and our anglers–and for conservation across the nation. For eligible activities, these funds match state dollars at a rate of 3:1. Yes, for every $1 of state funds, we receive $3 of match through this program! This money is utilized to pay the salaries of fisheries biologists that work every day to preserve, protect, and enhance fisheries resources; funding is provided for special restoration and enhancement projects such as the Reclamation of Big Reed Pond; funds are used to develop water access sites so that we have the ability to recreate on Maine’s waters forever; plus a whole lot more.

In addition to the DJ Act there is also an important fund created to benefit wildlife species. The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act was the model for the DJ Act and was enacted in 1937. The revenue for this funding source comes from a tax applied to the sale of firearms and ammunition. Wildlife resources benefit from this tax in the very same way fisheries populations benefit from the DJ Act.

The coolest thing about these programs is that you, the users, see a direct return on your investment. You buy gear to pursue the activity you love, money from that purchase goes to preserve, protect, and enhance those populations, you get better fishing or hunting, and then you want to buy more gear! It is truly a “user pay – user benefit” system.

So, don’t feel guilty the next time you buy a new fishing rod or spend a little extra on that expensive lure that you might not “need”. Your purchase is an important piece of the puzzle that drives the work we do, and I thank you for your help.

To learn more about the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program please visit: https://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/

Get Hooked On Fishing At the Bassmaster Classic

Get Hooked On Fishing Will Put Smiles On Faces At Bassmaster Classic

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Hundreds of children will get a first chance to experience the thrill that comes with the feel of a fish on the line during Bassmaster Get Hooked on Fishing presented by Toyota, Shakespeare and TakeMeFishing.org at the 2019 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

Young anglers and would-be anglers will find that opportunity daily, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 15-17, outside the Knoxville Convention Center where the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’s Sporting Goods will be underway.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re from or who you are, if you’ve never felt a catfish tug on your line it is a thrill,” said organizer David Healy. “The chaos ensues, and the smiles and the taking photos, every time, it’s just a fantastic thing to be a part of.”

A section of World’s Fair Drive, between World’s Fair Park and the Knoxville Convention Center, will become a playground for parents and children outside the Expo Friday through Sunday, and all experiences at the Get Hooked venue are free.

This is the third year for Get Hooked on Fishing at the Classic and an annual highlight always is the catfish pond, where hundreds of aggressive catfish are stocked and just waiting to hit a line and make a child squeal with delight. Knoxville-area B.A.S.S. junior high, high school and college anglers are lined up as volunteers to help youngsters with baiting their hooks, casting and, of course, catching a first fish.

Grownups get to hang back and stand ready to take the pictures.

Get Hooked On Fishing volunteers will give out Shakespeare rod-and-reel combos each day, while supplies last, and Toyota has a build-a-bait station where children can work with volunteers to create their own spinnerbaits with a variety of choices of blades and skirts provided by Strike King. Toyota will also have a spot where kids can learn how to make their first cast and then start to test their accuracy with a bunch of big inflatable largemouth bass as targets. And all youngsters who attend will receive free B.A.S.S. activity books.

Children and parents alike will thrill at the sights and splashes of Eukanuba Super Retriever Series Super Dock dogs sometimes soaring 20 feet or more as the best dog-and-handler teams from around the country compete on the venue.

Kids will also have a chance to Meet the Elites Friday with pro anglers Bill Lowen, Harvey Horne, Brock Mosley, Clark Wendlandt, Jay Yelas, Jesse Tacoronte, Brad Whatley, Keith Combs, Shane Lineberger and Scott Canterbury at the venue.

“It really is designed for parents who have little ones, probably about age 4 to 12 is the ideal age, but anyone can come,” Healy said. “The Expo is so big and busy and full, it’s family focused, too. But it’s cool to have this area that just focuses on the kids, where they can have maybe a 45-minute experience, and it’s all about them and having fun.”

Experienced hands at helping families find their way to the water for fishing and boating adventures, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF), creators of TakeMeFishing.org, will be on hand with activity books for the kids and lots of information for parents looking for more ways to enjoy the great outdoors.

“We are so excited to welcome the Bassmaster Classic and Get Hooked On Fishing to Knoxville, and share this excitement with our community,” said Kim Bumpas, President of Visit Knoxville. “The partnership between the Visit Knoxville Sports Commission, the City of Knoxville, Knox County, and the state of Tennessee was instrumental in bringing this event to our destination. We hope everyone from the folks who have been fans for decades to the littlest anglers will find ways to enjoy the Classic in Knoxville.”

The Take Me Fishing initiative has introduced thousands of children across the country to fishing and this year RBFF is partnering with B.A.S.S. not only at the Classic but for four more events, the first of which will be the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, May 4-6 at Lake Fork, near Emory, Texas. Three others are to be announced across the country, including one planned for Central Park in New York City, with that date to be announced.

“RBFF has a sterling reputation for their strategy and communication skills when it comes to engaging more people to get involved in recreational fishing,” said Angie Thompson, vice president of sales and director of Get Hooked On Fishing at B.A.S.S. “This aligns perfectly with our goal of exposing more kids to the sport. The outreach through their Vamos a Pescar program will also help us strengthen communication to Hispanic families to welcome them to the fishing family. Together we have a big opportunity to make it possible for many more kids to experience the excitement of feeling that vibration of the rod as you catch a fish.”

“It’s important to get to other communities and at other events,” Healy said. “It’s especially important to bring this to urban and minority communities where families might not have as much access to fishing. That’s one of the core missions, to give the opportunity to under-served kids.”

During the Classic, the Knoxville Boys and Girls Club will be bringing children to the Get Hooked on Fishing event daily as well, Healy said.

“It’s all pretty simple,” he said. “We’re trying to make kids smile, and maybe when they leave they’ll ask mom and dad, ‘can we go fishing some time?’”

2019 Bassmaster Classic Title Sponsor: GEICO

2019 Bassmaster Classic Presenting Sponsor: DICK’S Sporting Goods

2019 Bassmaster Classic Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2019 Bassmaster Classic Premier Sponsors: Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Skeeter Boats, Talon, Triton Boats, Yamaha, Abu Garcia

2019 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo Presenting Sponsor: DICK’S Sporting Goods

2019 Bassmaster Classic Local Host: Visit Knoxville Sports Commission

2019 Bassmaster Classic Local Partners: Calhoun’s, Pilot Flying J, TVA

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport. With more than 510,000 members internationally, B.A.S.S. is not only home to the nation’s premier fishing tournament trails, but it also boasts the most expansive and comprehensive media network in the fishing industry. Its media include The Bassmasters on the ESPN networks, more than 130 hours of tournament programming on the Pursuit Channel, 250 hours of on-the-water streaming coverage on Bassmaster LIVE and 1 million monthly visitors to the flagship website on bass fishing – Bassmaster.com. B.A.S.S. also provides more than 4.4 million readers with the best in bass fishing coverage through Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times, and its radio and social media programs and events reach hundreds of thousands each month.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, culminating in the ultimate event on the biggest stage for competitive anglers, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. The trail also includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, BassPro.com Bassmaster Open Series, B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series, and the Bassmaster Team Championship.

Pet Raccoons

Cute pictures on Facebook of pet raccoons eating and playing reminds me of how much I wanted one. For years I thought it would be great fun to have one, but when I got one it did not turn out so well.

In the mid-1970s Linda and I lived at Grandview Apartments. I hunted on some land near High Falls, using our VW bug as a hunting vehicle. One night as I walked from my stand back to the car, a mother raccoon and her five kits walked across my path.

I took off my heavy hunting coat and threw it over the last one in the line. It was about the size of a small housecat and it struggled and snarled, but I managed to wrap it tightly and tie the arms together, forming a bundle.

At the car I put the bundled raccoon in the small luggage area behind the back seat, got in and cranked the car. For some reason I flipped on the overhead light. All I could see were teeth and claws as the young raccoon came over the seat toward me.

Somehow, I managed to catch it again and get it wrapped back up in the coat without getting bit. This time I tied it tightly with some rope and made it home without any more trouble.

At the apartment, I carefully slipped the raccoon into the small downstairs bathroom after putting some food and water on the floor. I shut the door and we went to bed.

The next morning, I eased the bathroom door open an inch or so and peeked in, expecting the raccoon to be huddled in a corner, but did not see it. As I opened the door more I glanced up and there it was, perched on a shelf in the small medicine cabinet over the sink. I have no idea how it got up there, opened the door and huddled on the shelf.

It stayed in the bathroom a couple of days until I could build a cage for it. I made a nice one out of two by fours and hardware cloth that had legs so it sat six inches off the floor. It was four feet long and two feet wide and high, giving my new pet lots of room.

After about two weeks the raccoon gradually got less afraid of me. It stopped hissing at me and slowly started taking food through the wire. I was making progress.

Just when I had hope. Linda decided to vacuum the room with the cage. When she ran the hose under the cage, the raccoon went wild, bouncing off the wire on all sides, top and bottom. It never calmed down. Any time I got near it, it went wild again.

After a week, I gave up. I took it back near where I caught it and released it. That was my only experience with a pet raccoon and I still want one, but a tame one.

Search of Old Sawfish

SawSearch search of old sawfish goes to the United Kingdom
from The Fishing Wire

Old sawfish saw


Not only the most distinctive feature of a sawfish, the rostrum (saw) also contains vital information.

“SawSearch” has taken researchers Kelcee Smith, from Louisiana State University, and Annmarie Fearing and Dr. Nicole Phillips, from The University of Southern Mississippi, to all corners of the U.S. in the search of old sawfish saws over the past five years. Last June, with support from the Shark Conservation Fund and The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, this research led them all the way to the United Kingdom. SawSearch is a global initiative to find, photograph, measure, and collect tissue samples from old sawfish saws. Phillips, Fearing, and Smith are extracting DNA from the tissue samples they collect, using the data to assess the relative health of remaining sawfish populations. The DNA from the old saws provides the researchers with baseline information of what sawfish populations were like before they were heavily exploited, which can then be compared to DNA from the sawfish populations of today.

SawSearch UK might sound like a leisurely holiday, but most of their time in the UK was spent working in the basements of museums, entering data, riding trains, hauling equipment from city to city, and conducting outreach events. After a year of intense planning, the team spent a total of 30 days in the UK, travelled ~12,000 miles, visited 31 collections, collected data and samples from 528 sawfish specimens, and held 11 outreach events. The rewards of the long days of sampling and travelling came with each collection visited, every specimen pulled from a drawer, and every museum curator they met along the way.

Museums play a critical role in all SawSearch expeditions by preserving natural history specimens and revealing the unique stories behind them in their data archives. The people behind these collections, the curators, conservators, and collections managers, dedicate their time to the maintenance of these collections for decades. “We were enthusiastically welcomed into every collection we visited during SawSearch UK and everyone was so excited about our project. After long days sampling, traveling, and conducting outreach, these interactions with the museum staff really kept our energy up,” says Fearing. “During our visits, they went above and beyond by helping us take photographs, record data, searching for extra information, and even connecting us with other curators to help us find more saws. I don’t think there was a museum curator that didn’t offer us tea as soon as we arrived, even though it was 80 degrees outside. They put kindness first and I’ll never forget that,” says Smith. The team also used each visit to a museum as an opportunity to connect with the public, teaching them about sawfish and the importance of natural history collections. They often set up a table right in the middle of museum galleries, answering questions about sawfish while collecting tissue samples from the saws. “Making that connection between museums, the public, and research is one of the greatest things about SawSearch. It’s my favorite part and I know Nicole and Annmarie love it too,” says Smith.

In addition to the museums and universities the research team visited, they were also able to find a few saws at some not-so-traditional venues. During their stay in Edinburgh, Scotland, Fearing and Smith discovered a saw in an unexpected place, at a fish and chips shop across the road from their hotel. “As we walked passed a fish and chip shop, I heard Kelcee gasp and then felt her yank me backwards.” says Fearing. “She told me to look inside the fish and chip shop and there, hanging on the wall, was a green sawfish saw.” The next day, they went into the restaurant to talk to the owner, explaining how they had traveled all the way from the U.S. to sample saws just like the one he had on his restaurant wall. The owner was perplexed, but kind, and allowed them to collect a sample; excited to tell the story of how he got the saw and intrigued that it could be used in scientific research. “I mean really, what are the chances that we would find a saw across the street from the hotel? Sawfish aren’t native to the U.K.,” exclaims Smith.

One pervasive idea that the researchers came across was that if specimens do not have location data, they are not useful in research. “These saws are valuable to us and there is a longer-term vision for this initiative. The goal looking forward is to be able to take a tissue sample from a sawfish from an unknown location and be able to determine where that animal came from. Such a tool could be used for enforcement purposes, to improve our knowledge of historic sawfish populations and understand how they have changed over time, ultimately translating this data into more effective conservation strategies to promote recovery” says Phillips. “Not only are sawfish saws without location information still valuable, I hope to go back to these curators one day and tell them where these specimens most likely came from”. “One curator was so happy when we told her specimens without location data are still valuable. She had been keeping these saws in hopes that one day someone could potentially use them and was relieved that she had been keeping them in the collection for a reason. Moments like these are one of my favorite parts of using collections for this project,” says Fearing.

You can help! If you own a sawfish rostrum and are willing to donate a small sample for this important research or have seen one somewhere, please call 1-844-4-SAWFISH or email n.phillips@usm.edu.

(Samples are collected under Endangered Species Act permits # 20590 and 17787)

November Tournament Memories

Last fall 13 members of the Potato Creek Bassmasters fished our November tournament at West Point. We landed 47 keeper bass weighing about 71 pounds. There were at least four limits.

I won with five keepers weighing 9.75 pounds, Mike Cox was second with five at 7.66 pounds. Raymond English placed third with five weighing 7.55 pounds and Frank Anderson had five at 7.19 for fourth. Kwong Yu’s 2.94 pounder was big fish.

In comparison, Highland Marina held its Georgia State Championship that weekend. That tournament in invitation only that includes the top fishermen from clubs and other tournaments in Georgia. Entry fee is $300 per team and some of the best fishermen in the state, many of them West Point guides and experts, fish it. They are attracted to fish it due to the guaranteed first place prize of $12,000!

Guide Ken Bearden fished it and after Saturday, the same day we fished, was in fourth place out of 114 teams. He had 17 pounds! The two-day tournament was won with over 30 pounds. That just shows what really good local fishermen can catch on West Point!

I started slowly, not getting a bite the first hour we fished. I had heard some quality largemouth were feeding way back in the creeks and that is usually a good pattern this time of year. Shad move back in the creeks as the water cools and bass follow them.

At blast-off I ran to the back of my favorite creek. There are several brush and rock piles in it that I thought would have some feeding fish on them. Unfortunately, there is a boat ramp in it and when I arrived there were two jon boats, a kayak and a Bass Hunter boat fishing the key places.

That must have been a good pattern, since within five minutes of me getting there three boats from the big tournament came in the back of that creek, too. All day I saw fishermen in that tournament run into backs of creeks. But I never got a bite back in where I started.

After an hour I went out to a main lake rocky point and caught a keeper spot on a jig and pig, then a largemouth off a blowdown on it. So I started fishing those kinds of places. At 10:00, two hours later, I had my five-fish limit but all but the largemouth were just 13 inch spots.

I started fishing a little deeper on those kinds of places and caught my biggest fish, a 2.5-pound spot, at 11:00 and a keeper largemouth a few minutes later. With only 30 minutes left to fish I went to another deep rock pile and landed two good keeper largemouth and lost one. So I managed to cull all but one of the first five I landed and had four largemouth and one decent spot for the win.

From now to Christmas is one of my favorite times to fish. After Christmas the water gets cold enough fishing gets tough until late February, then it gets real good again. Enjoy the cool weather and good fishing while you can!