Monthly Archives: March 2019

Success During Late Ice

Increase Your Success During Late Ice
from The Fishing Wire

Late ice fishing is good

Photo courtesy of Aqua-Vu
Four Late-Winter Tips for Catching More Panfish

Seek, Drill and Stay Mobile for Late Ice Crappies. In smaller, shallower lakes, crappies are typically located and caught throughout much of the winter season over main-lake basins. In large, deep lakes, however, they tend to avoid the deepest areas and use flats, humps and basins ranging from 20 to 40 feet deep. But crappies are also notorious for suspending. Depending upon conditions, they can be found anywhere in the water column, creating an additional variable in the angling equation.

As the ice-fishing season nears its end, crappies transition from deep water wintering areas towards shallow bays, channels and river mouths in preparation for spawning. Depending on where and when you fish, concentrations of crappies will be present along a relatively straight line between these distinct areas.

During the late-ice period, take a stab at identifying some of these likely travel paths between wintering areas and spawning areas on the lake you plan to fish using the Fishidy app or map on your Sonar/GPS. Look for potential staging locations where cover, structure or current variations are present along those paths.
Once you’ve identified attractive areas, gas up the auger and get to work. Use your GPS to confirm your location on the ice, and pick a variety of sweet spots over the particular structure you plan to fish. A larger fishing party is beneficial because you can share the work of drilling holes and checking them for fish with sonar. Once you mark fish, take the time to drill more holes. It’ll save you time in the long run as you’ll waste less time fishing an unproductive hole when an entire school may be located just 10 or 15 feet away.

Once the crappies are located, hole hopping is the key to keeping busy catching them. Anglers willing to leave the comfort of their fish houses and use their electronics to fish from hole to hole are the ones who catch the most crappies. Keep moving if a hole doesn’t show a fish on your sonar. Keep drilling more holes if necessary until you get a sonar return. Then drop down, catch a fish or two and move on once the action slows.

Fish Fast for Late Ice Crappies. Crappies display a variety of moods, and their responsiveness to various presentations can change throughout the day – often rapidly. Late-ice crappie anglers should be prepared with a variety of offerings, from small tungsten jigs tipped with thin plastics to relatively large jigging spoons tipped with spikes, waxes or minnow parts. The key is being prepared and willing to show fish a variety of presentations and profiles to determine which one best matches their mood at that moment. Then it becomes a game of presenting the preferred bait to numbers of fish, which means moving on quickly from barren holes.

When a fish shows on sonar, try stopping the bait 4 to 5 feet above it and slowly working it down if necessary. You’ll often see the fish begin drifting up towards your bait immediately. If they do, slowly raise the bait while twitching it ever so slightly to make them chase it. Once you get them moving, they’ll usually charge it. If they refuse it, it’s time to try a different bait.

Fishing fast means fishing heavy. Getting down to a fish fast — hopefully before it leaves — is critical to maximizing opportunities. Tungsten jigs sink fast while retaining a delicate profile, and are the best choice when crappies show a preference for smaller offerings. Jigging spoons are great options anytime crappies are aggressive and eager to attack a larger profile. They easily punch through slushy holes and get back down to other fish quickly once one has been caught.

Turkey Baster Panfish?. One surefire strategy for determining the types of wintertime foods preferred by bluegills, perch and crappies is to take a living, breathing sample. Fly fishermen use a small stomach pump (resembles a miniature turkey baster) on stream trout in order to match the hatch. It works with panfish, too, and it’s completely harmless to fish, other than depriving them of recent eats.

Fill the pump with water with a quick squeeze, insert the tube into the fish’s mouth and a few inches down its pharynx, which leads directly to the stomach. Be gentle! Squirt the water into the stomach and release the pump, which vaccums up any recently ingested critters. Squirt said contents into your palm and have a looksee.

A fish’s recent meals reveal the anatomical details of each eaten bug, as well as plenty of the goo that represents zooplankton and other partially digested “whatnot.” You also learn potentially productive lure colors, and can quickly tie on something you know panfish will want to eat. Identifying specific prey items also suggests fruitful jigging cadences. Mayfly larva, for example, swim with undulating tail kicks that can be mimicked with various soft plastic baits.

The Strength of the Snell. While most ice anglers rely on one or two favorite knots, the truth is you can do a lot better than an improved clinch, Trilene or other customary line-to-jig connection. If you’ve never tried a snell knot, including versions such as the Marka knot or a Uni-Snell knot—you’re missing out on a ton of advantages for almost any jig presentation, particularly for panfish jigs and ultra-thin mono or fluorocarbon lines. Actually, the advantages of a well-tied snell overwhelm those of traditional knots.

One, a snell knot positions your jig at the ideal horizontal position—no need to reposition your knot, ever. Two, the knot is recessed and tied around the shank of the hook, so it rarely requires retying (you can often fish most of an 8-hour day with the same snell knot and jig.) Three, snell knots are almost bulletproof-strong. Finally, the knot itself acts as a form of soft plastics keeper, pinning the chosen bait tight to the jig collar. The plastic further protects the knot by sliding right over the top of it. Moreover, you can tie either version with traditional eyelet jigs, or Russian “through-head” jigs. Here’s a link to a few top ice jig knots (see #3, #6A and #6B).

About Fishidy:

Fishidy is a location-based fishing app and online community of over 1 million users that features interactive mapping technology, data-rich fishing maps, and social networking to help anglers identify the most productive water and head straight to the action. Users discover shared catches and local Fishing Hot Spots®, stay up-to-date with the latest fishing reports, and find detailed waterway information so that they are fully prepared for their next fishing trip. Learn more at

Why Do You Camp?

I have always loved camping. From “camping out” in lawn chairs and sleeping bags in our back yard a few feet from the house to trips to Clarks Hill with the family setting up a big Army Surplus tent, I enjoyed my time outside.

When I started bass fishing, I camped in tents at lakes the night before a tournament. Then I bought a cargo van in 1977 and fixed it up with a bed and used it. Two more vans took me to the lake many times, each one converted a little better for my needs, until last March.

My old back finally convinced me I wanted to be able to stand up to get dressed, so I got a slide in pickup camper. It takes a little more work loading and setting up at the lake, but it is a lot more comfortable once that is done.

Last weekend I camped in it at Lakepoint
State Park on Lake Eufaula for five nights for the Potato Creek Bassmasters tournament there. When making reservations, I went to their web page to make sure there was no tornado damage. It hit the airport about five miles from the campground, destroying hangers and planes, but did not damage the park.

Modern “campers” amaze me. On the website comments about the campground proved people do not want to camp to enjoy the outdoors. I am not sure why they even go. They could stay home and do the same thing they do in the campground.

The oddest comment was about alligators. There are big signs in the campground warning “Alligators Present, Swim at Own Risk” and there are usually several in the water late in the afternoon.

One person complained in their comment that there were alligators at the campground but the park ranger did nothing about them. I’m not sure what they were supposed to do, the lake is full of them and they are wild animals, moving wherever they want in their natural environment.

Another person complained there were puddles in the campground after it rained. Duh. I guess those folks wanted a nice huge paved area like a Walmart parking lot, sloped so the water runs to drains. Get rid of all the trees and dirt so nothing natural, like a puddle, is possible.

Over the weekend the sites filled, many with families with children. I think this past week was spring break there. All the kids brought their toys, riding scooters, playing basketball and having faces buried in electronic gadgets. The same thing the probably do at home.

One of the first things many of the folks did was put out their TV satellite antennae and set up their big screen Tv. If you are going to sit inside and watch TV, why pay for a campsite? I like being away from TV and all the other day to day distractions at home. It is nice to hear no news for several days for me.

At their age I would have been fishing every minute I could. That is one thing I loved about camping at the lake, all that water so close by and I just knew it was full of fish.

I still love camping, sitting by the picnic table first thing in the morning drinking coffee, then going fishing. After coming in, grilling and sitting outside is a big part of it, enjoying the peace and quiet of the great outdoors. But sometimes that is destroyed by all the noise of camper air conditioners, TVs blaring, and other non-natural sounds.

Spring White Bass Runs

Decoding Spring White Bass Runs
from The Fishing Wire

FRANKFORT, Ky. – With all of the rain we received early this year, many anglers are wondering when the white bass run will begin this spring.

“We are about there, 60 degrees is the magic number for water temperature,” said Mike Hardin, assistant director of Fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The redbud blooms are as good an indicator as anything.”

Redbud trees began displaying buds in parts of central Kentucky over the past 10 days and will pop out across the South soon. “We haven’t missed anything yet and the run may arrive on time this year,” Hardin said. “Last year was spotty, starts and stops with the fish as confused as the anglers. We had up and down weather and water levels.”

Reports surfaced last week of a few white bass making a headwater run in the Salt River above Taylorsville Lake, but nighttime temperatures in the 20s this week blunted that movement a bit.

“This week, the night temperatures are increasing, so you won’t get those big cool downs as much now,” Hardin said. “It will be warmer compared to what it was.”

Lakes are dropping dramatically, allaying concerns expressed by anglers about the impact on the white bass runs from the record or near record water levels in some of our major reservoirs in February. Nolin River Lake is now just below summer pool, while Taylorsville Lake is still just above summer pool, but dropping rapidly.

“Knowing when to fish is always a mystery, especially for white bass,” Hardin said. “It’s temperature, light and flow with temperature being the main thing. All you need is that trigger. If you have everything right and you get that flow, it is time to go. If you have the correct water temperature, but no flow, you still should go. You can’t catch them at home.”

Hardin explained white bass runs can occur anywhere from 54 to 68 degrees. Water temperatures in major reservoirs now hover just below 50 degrees. The sunny days and huge warm up expected over the coming weekend and into next week should push water temperatures into the 50s.

“It can happen over the course of one day,” Hardin said. “Someone is going to discover they are running soon.”

The headwaters of Taylorsville Lake and up into the Salt River make one of the best bank fishing spots for white bass in central Kentucky. The best access is via a parking lot on Palmer Road.

It is a matter of walking, casting and then walking a bit more until you find fish. A 1/16-ounce in-line spinner in combinations of silver, white, chartreuse or pink are hard to beat for the Salt River. A pink or chartuese 1/32-ounce feather jig suspended under a bobber and allowed to gently float in the current also scores white bass.

The Nolin River above Bacon Creek boat ramp and upstream to Wheeler’s Mill Road (KY 694) is arguably the best white bass run in the state. The white bass in the Nolin River Lake earned an “excellent” rating in the Fishery Division’s 2019 Kentucky Fishing Forecast.

A white 2 1/2-inch boot-tailed grub or 3-inch swimbait is a deadly lure for Nolin River white bass. Rig them on a 1/8-ounce head for good casting distance. Broad Ford offers good bank access at the bridge over the Nolin River on KY 1214. Boaters using Bacon Creek Ramp to travel upstream must watch the rocky shoals to prevent motor damage.

The headwaters of Green River Lake produce good numbers of white bass up to 14 inches long as does the headwaters of Herrington Lake. Bank anglers may access the Dix River just above the lake at Dix River Voluntary Public Access Area, off Rankin Road via KY 52 between Danville and Lancaster. This area drips with fishing history as Herrington Lake was a white bass mecca in the era after World War II. These waters still produce trophy white bass 14 inches and longer.

Small shad-colored topwater propeller baits make great choices for fishing both Green River Lake headwaters and Dix River.

The Kentucky River below locks and dams produces surprising white bass action. A 3-inch white curly tailed grub rigged on a 1/8-ounce leadhead makes a great lure choice for the Kentucky River. Keep probing the water column until you find fish. Lock and Dam 2 at Lockport in Henry County grants excellent bank fishing access for white bass.

All of the ingredients are now here for the white bass runs to commence. Running white bass, once located, provide as much action as any form of fishing.

Remember to buy your fishing license if you have not already. The new license year began March 1.

Author Lee McClellan is a nationally award-winning associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. He is a life-long hunter and angler, with a passion for smallmouth bass fishing.

March Lake Eufaula Tournament

In the March Potato Creek bassmasters tournament at Eufaula, 23 fishermen cast for 16.5 hours to land 107 bass weighing about 211 pounds. Most of us caught fish but not as many as hoped. The cold, muddy water made fishing tough.

Tom Tanner won with nine bass weighing 22.60 pounds and had big fish with a 4.53 pound largemouth. Trent Grainger was second with nine at 22.23 pounds,
Lee Hancock was third with ten weighing 19.15 pounds and Mitchell Cardell placed fourth with nine at 18.36 pounds.

I knew I was in trouble when a couple of local fishermen told me most tournaments were being won on deeper ledges fishing big crankbaits. I am worse at that method than any other. And they were catching them near the dam, a 30-mile run by water from Lakepoint. With the wind and cold I knew that was not something I would do.

On Thursday I caught a couple of fish on spinnerbaits while checking out some creeks closer to our launch. Friday, I went out for just a couple of hours, mainly marking a GPS trail to follow to where I wanted to fish during the tournament.

We started well before daylight, trying to beat all the other tournaments. Lakepoint has two launch areas, one with six ramps and a parking lot that can handle about 150 vehicles with trailers, but there was a big high school tournament using it. We put in at the smaller launch, with a ramp barely wide enough for two trailers at a time and parking for about 50 rigs.

It was crowded, too. When we came in there were 35 boats sitting out from the ramp waiting to take out. There was a big tournament using it, too.

I did not want to run far in the dark so I started on the riprap and landed a small keeper spot at 7:50. After trying a bunch of other things I went to a creek and, as I idled across a point going into a cove, I saw fish on it, but could not get them to bite.

I did catch a three-pound largemouth in the cove on a spinnerbait, but that was it for me for the day, two fish.

Sunday, I went to that creek and caught three keeper largemouth on a jig and pig before 10:00, then tried the point. The fish hit, I landed four keepers on my first four casts and for almost an hour caught fish every time I got to the GPS waypoint and made the right cast from it. I landed 14 bass in that hour, so I had a limit. I really needed three of them the day before!

Costa Sunglasses® Adds Four New Styles

Costa Sunglasses® Adds Four New Styles to Popular Del Mar Collection
Press Release

Daytona Beach, Fla. – March 26, 2019 – Inspired by a life on the water, Costa Sunglasses has added four new styles to its Del Mar Collection originally released in 2018. The collection includes fresh designs collected from our watery world and feature colors, patterns and textures inspired by adventures on the water. The new sunglasses come in a variety of color options, including Shiny Ocean Current, and are aptly named for historic beach towns and islands – Apalach, Bimini, Coquina and Isla.

The Del Mar Collection frames are constructed with Mazzucchelli acetate, a renewable, non-petroleum, plant-based material, with frame colors and designs mirroring the beauty of beaches, oceans and waterways. The sunglasses feature a custom corewire, visible inside the frame arm, with either a topographical or fish scale pattern tying back to Costa’s history of being born on the water. The new styles are available with Costa’s patented 580 Lightwave® Glass lenses, providing 100 percent UV protection and polarization while also reducing glare and eye fatigue. Costa’s lens technology combines the benefits of greater contrast and clarity with some of the most elegant, stylish frames available.

Known for its oysters, pristine white sand beaches and maritime culture, Apalachicola is full of old-world charm in the heart of the Florida Panhandle. With sleek lines, Apalach offers an extra-large fit that will enhance your ocean views, and the new style looks good on multiple face shapes. Apalach is available in four color options – Shiny Tortoise, Shiny Black Kelp, Matte Gray Crystal and Shiny Sand Dollar.

Bimini, named after one of the most iconic islands in the Bahamas, is a large female frame available in four colors inspired by the sea – Shiny Abalone, Shiny Vintage Tortoise, Shiny Deep Teal Crystal and Shiny Ocean Current. The epitome of island style, Bimini is a large cat-eye frame style perfect for soaking up the sun and the island’s rich history.

The medium-fit Coquina frame conveys a relaxed, laid-back feel and is available in four bold color options – Shiny Ocean Tortoise, Shiny Vintage Tortoise, Shiny Deep Teal Crystal and Shiny Taupe Crystal. Named after one of the fine white sand beaches of Longboat Key, Coquina is the perfect companion for sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico. Coquina is a square-shaped frame with bold oceanfront style.

Isla is a small round-shaped frame style available in four vibrant colors – Shiny Tortoise, Shiny Tiger Cowrie, Shiny Deep Teal Crystal and Shiny Seashell. Named after Isla Mujeres, a beautiful island in Mexico known for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, whale sharks, diving and white sand beaches, Isla is a must-have for activities on and off the water, and delivers an elegant vibe.

“The expansion of our Del Mar Collection was in response to the popularity of this colorful, ocean-inspired collection we launched last year,” said John Sanchez, vice president of product development at Costa. “Our goal with the new frames in the collection was to fit a variety of face shapes while infusing even more of what we love about the ocean into each unique design.”

The Costa 580® color-enhancing lens technology selectively filters out harsh yellow light for superior contrast and definition and absorbs high-energy blue light to cut haze and enhance sharpness. In addition, Costa’s lens technology reduces glare and eye fatigue, and its Lightwave glass is 20 percent thinner and 22 percent lighter than average polarized glass.

The new styles range in price from $229 to $249 based on frame style, color and lens selection. For more information on the new frames and Costa’s full line of sunglasses, visit

About Costa
As the first manufacturer of color-enhancing all-polarized sunglass lenses, Costa combines superior lens technology with unparalleled fit and durability. Still handcrafted in Florida, Costa has made the highest quality, best performing sunglasses and prescription sunglasses (Rx) for outdoor enthusiasts since 1983, and now its product portfolio includes optical frames. Costa’s growing cult-brand status ties directly to its mission to provide high quality products with a focus on sustainability and conservation as the company works hard to protect the waters it calls home. From the use of sustainable materials to its Kick Plastic initiative, IndiFly Foundation and strong partnership with shark research organization OCEARCH, Costa encourages people to help protect the Earth’s natural resources in any way they can. Find out more on Costa’s website and join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter at @CostaSunglasses.

Springtime Largemouth

Jackpot Bassin’ for Springtime Largemouth
By Dr. Peter Brookes
from The Fishing Wire

March best month to catch bass

Photo: Shutterstock, via Virginia DGIF

Pssssst! Here’s a dirty little secret for you: If you want to catch your biggest largemouth bass of the year, this month—March—may be your best bet to net “basszilla.”

That may sound a bit odd, but, according to John Odenkirk, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) biologist, a lot of very big largemouth bass are caught this time of year as Mother Nature moves us from winter to spring.

As water temperatures increase, largemouth bass will shake off the cold and become increasingly active. In the pre-spawn, they’ll fatten up; while spawning, largemouth bass will become more aggressive, protecting against threats to their eggs.

As Virginians, we’re really blessed with some incredible largemouth bass fisheries right here in the state. Indeed, anglers are known to travel big distances from across our great land to throw a lure at an Old Dominion “lunker.”

If you didn’t already know from the number of largemouth bass fishing tournaments that take place there, Lake Anna is considered one of the top “bucketmouth” fisheries in Virginia.

One of the largest reservoirs in the state, Lake Anna is easily reachable from Northern Virginia, Fredericksburg, Richmond and Charlottesville. You just can’t argue with that sort of accessibility—or fishing.

And then, of course, there’s the powerful and plentiful Potomac River. It turns out that our beloved Potomac and its tidal creeks aren’t only an incredible fish factory, but one of the—if not the—top largemouth bass fisheries in the United States.


The other awesome thing about these two water systems is that, as Odenkirk wisely pointed out to me, if the Potomac River is looking unfishable, Lake Anna may well be totally fishable or at least fishable in spots.

That means if we have a really rainy year like last year—which, I understand, was one for the record books—when the Potomac River is high and off-color, it’s likely, that as a reservoir, most parts of Lake Anna could be eagerly awaiting your fly, lure or bait.

The mid-lake region along Rose Valley, Ware Creek and the State Park along the outside edge of water willow beds can produce outstanding spring angling, Odenkirk told me.

In other words, while we all need to heed Mother Nature (e.g., thunderstorms, high water, etc.), there may be no good excuse for leaving your bass tackle box and rods at the back of the gear closet if the weather has been on the wet side.

Photo: Shutterstock, via Virginia DGIF

Of course, these fish are available in Virginia beyond the Potomac River and Lake Anna.

DGIF notes that Gaston, Buggs Island, Chickahominy, Chesdin, Smith Mountain, Prince, Briery Creek, Western Branch and Flannagan Lakes are all top-notch largemouth fisheries. For rivers, hit the Chickahominy (below Walkers Dam) and James (below the fall line).

According to DGIF, plastic worms and other plastic imitations, crankbaits, spinner baits, surface lures, jigs and other artificials, imitating minnows, crayfish, frogs, salamanders and nightcrawlers are good bets for the spin rodder.

Live bait options recommended by DGIF include jumbo shiners, small bluegills, minnows, crayfish, nightcrawlers and frogs. For the fly guys and gals, streamers and large poppers on the end of an 8-pound to 10-pound leader can be productive.

Nothing quite like the thrill of seeing a largemouth slam an artificial on the surface.

In terms of where to find largemouths this time of year, target horizontal and vertical structure (e.g., down wood and docks) and southern exposed flats near drop-offs late in the afternoon to bag these early season bass.

With an average weight of 2 – 4 pounds—with monsters tipping the scales at up to 10 pounds—there’s no question that the hard-fighting Micropterus salmoides is arguably America’s most popular freshwater game fish.

And, even better, this month would be an opportune time to bring a Virginia “bassquatch” to hand.

Dr. Peter Brookes is a DC foreign policy geek by day and a Virginia outdoor scribbler by night.

Stormy Weather

Thank goodness the guessed at stormy weather did not appear while we fished at Sinclair last Sunday. Just the thought of being on the lake in a lightning storm and memories of past experiences made me shiver. But I didn’t have to hide from them.

Two of my worst experiences were back in the 1970s. One June, Bobby Jean Pierce and I went to Bartletts Ferry several days before a tournament to practice. We camped at a marina near the dam but wanted to explore up the Chattahoochee River

Back then, the river channel was not marked, and dangerous big mud flats were unknown to most fishermen. We spent some time working our way up the river, learning how to run it. And we caught fish. They were unpressured since few bass fishermen went up there.

One muggy, cloudy afternoon we were fishing near the mouth of a small creek. It was very hot and still. Suddenly, without warning, lightning cracked nearby. We thought about running the 20 minutes back to camp, but we were afraid to try it in the wind and pouring rain that immediately started.

We eased into the creek that was about five feet deep and 30 feet wide and had overhanging trees. We thought the lightning would surely hit the trees, not us, back in there. I sat up front running the trolling motor, keeping the boat in one place since the wind tried to push us out of the creek.

After a half hour I noticed the boat was not moving. When I looked down, there was several inches of water in the bottom of the boat. The rain had filled it up so much the weight had pushed the big motor into the bottom, anchoring us.

Finally, about an hour later, the storm moved off.
We managed to pump the water out, crank up and get back to camp just before dark. That was a miserable 90 minutes, sitting in the boat hunched over and jumping every time the lighting cracked around us.

The second time I was at Jackson on an August Friday afternoon, getting ready for a tournament the next night. It was just me and my dog Merlin this time. After putting in at Kerseys in the middle of the afternoon, I had found some fish biting on a point up Tussahaw Creek, but I wanted more than one place to fish.

About an hour before dark I ran to the dam to fish a point right beside it. The afternoon had been hot and muggy with thick clouds, but no rain fell. I guess those conditions should have warned me.

A little before dark wind started howling over the dam and rain started coming down in the proverbial sheets, blowing over the dam like a waterfall in reverse. Within seconds lightning started. There was no flash then a pause before the thunder. There would be a flash – crack – boom all together, indicating the lighting was on top of me.

Back then there was no buoy line at the dam, so I eased the boat right against the concrete. It rose 20 feet over me and I thought the metal railing and walkway on top of the dam would protect me like a lightning rod.

I put the front of the boat on the rocks and got down in the driver’s seat, wanting to be as low as possible. Merlin had the same idea. She huddled under the console at my feet. I wanted to join her!

We sat like that over an hour, twitching every time the lightning popped. Finally, about an hour after dark, the storm moved off and we went back to the ramp and headed home. Another miserable night!

Suddeth Crankbaits

Suddeth Crankbaits In Cold Water
with Joey Baskins

Some of the great colors from Suddeth Crankbaits

I wrote this for Georgia Outdoor News in February, 2012. Joey kept his promise of quality control for his crankbaits and you can count of them!

Bass fishermen dream of caching fish, but many also have the fantasy of working in the fishing industry, spending all their time fishing and thinking about it. Few make that dream come true but Joey Baskins did, developing and making lures for bass fishing.

Joey worked in a plant but loved fishing. He fished bass tournaments and made contact with many sporting goods stores, and saw a need for good, reliable baits that caught bass.
He developed Blademaster Lures then acquired Suddeth Crankbaits, and now spends his time coming up with new lures and colors and testing them out. He has been fishing for over 30 years and is fishing the some of the BFLs and Fishers of Men tournament trails.

The Blademaster side of the company produces spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, all kinds of jigs and jigs with belly blades. Suddeth Crankbaits were developed in South Carolina back in the early 1980s and Joey bought the company from the brothers that started it about ten years ago.

A few years ago there were problems with Suddeth Crankbaits. Joey had some health problems, took about a year and a half off from working with the crankbaits, and the crankbaits produced during that time often did not run right. Those problems have been corrected now. Each and every crankbait he produces is now hand tuned in a tank at the plant before they go out the door.

Joey has also invested many thousands of dollars in new molds to insure each bait is exactly right. The new molds mean better quality and uniformity of the baits. A thicker, sturdier wire is used in them to keep them from becoming “untuned” when they bounce off cover, too.

“I try to make the baits fishermen want, and will make any color bait a customer wants to order,” Joey said. All of the baits produced by Suddeth and Blademaster are hand made and painted. He has also teamed up with John Kissel of Kissel Krafts Custom Rods to develop the perfect crankbait rod, called the Little Early Rod.

Crankbaits in the Suddeth series include the well known Little Earl and Boss Hog. The Fat Earl is made to bounce off cover better and the new Pot Bellied Hog is coming out soon. It is a square billed bait that runs shallow and has a profile that should drive bass wild. He is also coming out with the Big Boss Hog, a bigger version of the Little Boss Hog.

All Suddeth crankbaits currently come with sharp hooks but the hook design Joey likes best is being discontinued so he is looking at different companies for future hooks. No matter which company he goes with he will make sure the hooks are sharp right out of the box and hold bass that hit.

Suddeth baits currently come in 67 different colors and color combinations. One of the best for February fishing in stained water is the 049 color. This bait has a brown back and chartreuse sides and produced most of the bass we caught a couple of weeks ago.

The most popular color of Suddeth Crankbaits is the GGG “dollar bill” color, or green/gold/glitter bait. The 026 color is very good in clear to stained water and looks like a baitfish. Both the 049 and 026 are good colors to have with you on any lake you fish this time of year.

Joey took me fishing in mid-January with one of his pro staff, Ken Cothran, who fishes the Bulldog BFL, Stren series and FLW Tour and FLW Series tournaments, the last two on the co-angler side. He also fishes many local team, pot and charity tournaments. They showed me where and how to fish crankbaits in February on Jackson Lake, a small lake in middle Georgia known for good crankbait fishing in the winter.

“Where you fish a crankbait in February is important,” Joey said. Points are always a key, with main lake points with deep water nearby usually producing the best bites this time of year. Rocks and hard clay are needed to draw bass to the point to feed, and some brush or stumps definitely help.
Main lake points are usually best in early February but as the days warm later in the month the bass will move back into the creeks and coves. Start out on the main lake but don’t hesitate to work back into the creeks, hitting points in them near deep water.

Sunny days draw bass up on the points in more shallow water and a little wind helps make them bite better. Some current running across the cover on the point definitely makes the bass more active. Bass will move in on these points and feed, so Joey and Ken keep moving, looking for active fish. If they catch one they will stick around for a while but will definitely come back since fish move in and out where they are feeding.

Crank the bait down with seven or eight turns of the reel handle then slow down the retrieve, working the bait very slowly across the point and through the cover. Suddeth baits are tuned to have good action at a very slow speed, which makes them ideal in cold water.

Ken says water colder than 40 degrees makes the bite extremely tough but water 45 to 50 degrees, which is more typical in February, means decent fishing. A few warm days in a row, making the water temperature increase, turns the fish on and we often have series of warm days this month like that. When the water temperature goes over 50 degrees the bite gets much better.

Keep your boat in fairly close to the point and work around it casting at an angle, fishing from the bank out. Angle casts like that keep your bait in the feeding zone and does not waste time. Bass usually feed from very shallow out to about ten feet deep on these points and that is the depth you want to cover.

We have all had it happen. The guy with us, using the same bait, line and even rod and reel, will catch more bass than us. The way you work the crankbait can make a huge difference. Joey and Ken both say try different things until the fish tell you want they want.

Try a steady, very slow retrieve first. Always try to bump the bottom with your crankbait. Most crankbait strikes are reaction strikes and bumping cover will make them hit. When you are reeling slowly the bait will turn on its side then move off, much like an injured baitfish, just what the bass want.

Also try a stop and go retrieve. Crank your bait down to the bottom then work it with your rod tip and reel, making it pause and then move forward. Again, it looks like and easy meal when moving erratically like this.

Suddeth makes both floating and sinking models of their crankbaits. With the floating models when you pause the bait will sit in one place, and then slowly rise. Try pausing floating baits for varying amounts of time, going from a pause where the bait just hesitates in one place, to one where the bait floats up several inches to a foot.

The slow rise of a bait will sometimes make a reluctant bass hit it. If you don’t get the reaction strike this pause and rise can make the difference. When a bass is not feeding actively they still can’t turn down such an easy meal.

With the sinking baits, do the same thing. The very slow fall of the Little Earl sinking model makes it look easy to eat, and the baits will settle to the bottom upright, looking like a baitfish that is trying to hide from the bass by not moving.

Wood cover definitely holds bass this time of year on the points and the square bill Pot Bellied Hog is made to bounce off shallow wood. It will run about three feet deep and is perfect for those sunny warm days at the end of a warming trend when the bass hold very shallow to take advantage of the warmer surface water.

Run it over any wood you see or know is there and the bait bill will hit it and make it deflect off it without getting hung like a round bill will do. Try the stop and go and the steady retrieve even when fishing this shallow, offering the bass different views of the bait.

Try to hit the wood. This seems like a bad idea when throwing a crankbait but the deflection off wood is often what is needed to get a bite. You may get hung up some, but you will get hung up on a bass more often if you bump your crankbait through the wood cover. The floating models of both baits work much better than the sinking models around wood cover.

With deeper wood try the Fat Earl. The shape of the lure will help it stay off the wood when you hit it, doing the same kind of action as the square bill in more shallow water. Bump the wood and pause it, or bump the wood and keep it moving, for different actions. But try both and let the bass tell you which they like best.

The line, rod and reel can make a big difference in crankbait fishing. A rod designed for crankbait fishing like the Kissle Little Earl rod has a parabolic action that makes for better casting and helps keep bass from pulling off when hooked. Reels are a personal choice but should have a good drag system and allow you to reel the lure at different speeds.

Joey and Ken like monofilament line like Trilene Big Game in ten pound test. Monofilament line has some stretch and is less likely to allow the bass to pull off the hook. Ten pound line is heavy enough to get bass away from cover but thin enough to let the bait work at the depth it is designed to run.

Most of the Suddeth crankbaits come with a rattle but some don’t, and Joey says he thinks bass in cold water often want a silent bait. If you are throwing a rattling model and not getting bites, try the ones without a rattle. This often happens in water that is clear. A rattle almost always helps in muddy water.

Crankbaits are great baits to fish right now, no matter where you fish. Give Suddeth baits a try and see if they produce for you like they do for Joey and his pro staff. You will be happy with the new, improved versions of the older models and the new baits coming out right now will offer you the ability to fish even more ways.

Joey’s website at shows all his lures and great colors. And you can check out more information on their facebook page at

Many sporting goods stores carry Blademaster Lures and Suddeth baits and you can order directly from the site, as well as contact Joey about any custom colors you want him to paint a bait for you on the site.

Skinny Leaders for Fishing

The Real Skinny on Skinny Leaders for Fishing
from The Fishing Wire

Use a skinny leader

Photo courtesy of Heliconi
How Fishing with Fluorocarbon Leaders Can Up Your Odds

Louisville, KY – Here’s an unfortunate fact: a lot of fish are leader-shy. Especially fish that roam shallow, clear waters and are physiologically all eyeballs. Take for instance permit and bonefish, two saltwater fish that experts agree require the assistance of a quality fluorocarbon leader.

A new fluorocarbon leader option that’s designed to fool leader-shy fish and is catching the attention of anglers nationwide is Seaguar’s Gold Label. It is the thinnest and strongest leader Seaguar makes—18% thinner with 17% better knot and tensile strength compared to other Seaguar leader material.

One expert who is familiar with Gold Label and dealing with leader-shy fish is “The Kayak Fishing Show” host Jim Sammons. Now in its tenth year of production, Sammons’ travels have taken him to waters and fish around the world.

“I’ve been using Gold Label since it was first introduced and the beauty of it is it has a smaller diameter so I get action on lures and my bait can swim that much better. The smaller the line the less resistance that lure or live bait is going to have to deal with and swim more naturally. And obviously, the more natural something looks, the better your chances of getting bit. I fish all over the world and many of those places have crystal-clear water, especially in saltwater you tend to encounter that and you need every advantage you can get. My experience with Gold Label is it increases the number of bites you get because of its smaller diameter. Fluorocarbon is already difficult to see in the water but if you can give yourself any advantage at all, like making the diameter even smaller, it’s even better. So the benefits are two-fold: the line is going to be seen less and your baits and lures just swim more naturally. And, if you can do that, you just up your chances of getting on fish,” says Sammons.

Some of the examples of where the line has excelled for Sammons are fishing in both Belize and Louisiana.

“I used it as my leader in Belize where you’ve got bonefish and permit and super clear waters where the fish can be really spooky. It made a big difference in getting those bites. Even in water that looks dirty it could be crystal-clear down below the top layer, like fishing for redfish in Louisiana where you’re sight-fishing for the fish. Just having that bait move more naturally, for me, has made a huge difference. I use Seaguar 16-strand Threadlock Hollow Core Braid and make my own wind-on leaders, so rather than having a short, four-foot leader, I can have a leader that’s 20 feet long. So, having that much distance of fluorocarbon, and that narrow diameter, it’s just less resistance for that bait to have to pull and just that much more invisible,” adds Sammons.

“One situation where Gold Label really made a difference was in Louisiana fishing redfish in really skinny, skinny water. We were standing on top of our kayaks trying to sightfish – and not only redfish but black drum, and sheepshead, which are very finicky and tough to get to bite. Nobody else was getting bit, but I was still getting bit. Another situation was also fishing redfish in some fairly dirty water and a friend of mine told me I didn’t need a fluorocarbon leader because the water was so dirty. So I tied straight to my braid but just couldn’t get bit. You don’t necessarily think about dirty water having to have a fluoro leader but it can help immensely because a lot of times there’s clear water underneath that dirty water on top. I tied on a Gold Label leader and immediately, first cast, I caught a red and after that it was constantly fish on all morning. It made that much of a difference. For people who aren’t believers in fluorocarbon, they’re just wrong.

Another bonus to Gold Label is that it has very little memory, which has made a huge difference for Sammons. “It’s all very supple when you’re casting—especially on my fly rods—so the line just lays down on the water nicely. It’s just got all the qualities you want in a high-quality fluorocarbon. And when I’m using a baitcaster or spinning gear, being able to use the combination of the Seaguar Threadlock and making those long wind-on leaders out of Gold Label, it’s just amazing.” Sammons describes Gold Label as fluorocarbon with the abrasion resistance and strength of Blue Label but the softness of Seaguar’s Fluoro Premier. It’s currently available in five versatile pound test ratings, ranging from 15 lb test to 40 lb test, on 25 yard spools.

As mentioned, Sammons is the host of “The Kayak Fishing Show” on the World Fishing Network, a show whose premise is to travel the world and catch the biggest fish possible from kayaks while also casting a spotlight on the interesting people and cultural experiences along the way. He mentions how critical of a part the line actually plays in producing compelling TV content.

“When you’re shooting a show, you need those fish on camera and the best chance to land fish for the show. I’ve been using Seaguar forever for that very reason—it makes what I do much easier.”

He continues: “It’s so easy for me to promote a product that I believe in. And I’ve been using Seaguar since long before I had a TV show. It’s something I really believe in.”

For more information, call 502-883-6097, write Kureha America LLC, 4709 Allmond Ave., Suite 4C, Louisville, KY 40209, or visit us on the Web at or on Facebook.

Sinclair Bass in March

Sunday, March 10 only five members showed up for the Flint River Bass Club March tournament at Sinclair. Maybe the weather scared most off. After eight hours of casting we brought in 38 keeper largemouth weighing about 38 pounds. There were three limits and no one zeroed.

Niles Murray won again with a limit weighing 11.16 pounds and Chuck Croft placed second with four at 8.50 pounds, including a 4.25 pound largemouth for big fish. I placed third with five at 7.22 pounds, Doug Acree had five at 5.82 pounds for fourth and Brent Drake was fifth with four at 5.35 pounds.

The cloudy weather and fairly warm water temperatures had me excited. I just knew quality bass would be shallow and hit crankbaits and spinnerbaits. The day before Niles had placed fourth in an ABA tournament there with just over ten pounds but it took about 14 to win, so I thought bigger fish would hit.

Oddly enough, for the second tournament in a row, two of us headed to the same place to start.
Brent said he caught one there, but nothing hit for me.

At 10:30 after three hours of casting, I had not had a bite. I tried a bunch of different things, fishing deep and shallow and everything in between, with no luck. I finally caught a 2.23 pound largemouth on a crankbait on a deep rocky point, but others similar to it produced no bites.

At 1:15 I was even more disgusted Then I cast a shaky head worm to some deep brush and caught my second keeper, and the next cast to it produced a short fish. But repeated cast to it didn’t work.

The sun came out about 2:00 so I started skipping a shaky head under docks into the shade. I quickly hooked and lost a keeper, but then landed four more keepers on docks by 3:00. I was happy to finally catch some bass!